the daily musings ... of faith and culture, of life and love, of fun and games, of a song and dance man, who is keeping his day job.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Until the 1998 movie Saving Private Ryan, we heard very little from veterans of World War II about what really happened to them. Of course, I heard quite a few war stories from the guy who hired me to come to Washington in 1980. But for most GIs, the catharsis was something to avoid. Then came the movie. Then came a miniseries on cable, then more documentaries with old soldiers opening up, and sobbing over lost buddies, as if it happened yesterday. Recently, the last veteran of "the war to end all wars" passed away. Now those who fought in "the last good war" are right behind them.
But not before one final chance at paying tribute.
For this Memorial Day, I watched the 1970 movie Patton on DVD, as well as the extra documentary features that came with the set. To each his own.
“On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there ...” (John 2:1)
Last Saturday, I had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies for a Solemn High Nuptial (Wedding) Mass, for a gentleman who had been instrumental in assisting me in bringing the Traditional Latin Mass to Saint John the Beloved, as Karl Selzer was joined in Holy Matrimony to Mary Crnkovich. The night before, we had a rehearsal, and I was invited to the dinner afterwords by the groom's father. As it was an unexpected overture, I was hardly dressed for it, though, and had to rush home and put on the first thing I could find that matched -- my latin dance outfit. (That's not quite as ridiculous as it appears, okay? The shirt buttons all the way up.) People took turns paying tribute. For some reason, many people thought mine was the best (if somewhat at the groom's expense, naturally).
The reception after the wedding was held at the Columbus Club, affiliated with a Knights of Columbus council in Arlington. (That's the one I must join eventually; it has a swim club, and a bar.) I was seated with some married people my own age. The place where Sal would have sat appeared to be taken by a seminarian. They were all nice folks, and were curious about a form of the Mass that they had never seen.
Still, I missed my comrades, most of whom are younger than my own son. Naturally, they were sitting elsewhere.
I don't remember the poet who said that "love is wasted on the young." For my money, it seems that weddings are meant to be celebrated by the young, which is one reason I usually avoid attending them alone. The music was outstanding, if a bit loud at times, a sign that I might be getting on in years. Some of the young men who have taken one swing dance workshop are of the impression, that the genre consists mainly of throwing the woman around while still (barely) holding on to her. (A word of counsel to these gentlemen: You do not apply icing where there is no cake. It'll just sit there in a lump, okay?)
I regretted all the more that Sal could not get back from the Philippines in time for the gala event, inasmuch as the hoi-polloi did not get to see her resplendent in the outfit you see here, nor witness our combined superiority on the dance floor. I did get to dance with a few of the ladies, though. It is a shame that some women's husbands don't take them out enough. Try telling someone for the first time, that social dancing is more like walking than ... well, than it isn't.
Speaking of husbands, one of them did ask me to speak to hers, and explain how it is that "you know so much." I think she was referring to my role in the Nuptial Mass which they had attended. What else could I tell him? “Why, thank you, sir, but it's quite simple, really; I read too damn much.”
VIDEO: Saint Marie Church, Manchester, New Hampshire, 2007.
Quite a few of the guys are leaving the the Server Corps this spring, after graduating from high school. I'm going to miss the camaraderie we've had, and which was evident last night, as we gathered at one point in front of the crowd, en masse, to toast our fellow Knight of the Altar.
I found myself wondering how it was, that I identified more with the younger ones than those my own age. It wasn't just the occasion. I see this in a good many people as they approach midlife, becoming sedentary not only in body, but in mind and spirit. They have their wives or husbands, they have their children, their house in the suburbs, their nice back yards. What else is there? I wonder when the last time was any of them actually went dancing. Sal and I haven't been out much ourselves since she started working seven evenings a week. We both agreed that it has to change upon her return.
I don't feel eighteen, nor would I wish to return to that age. I also don't feel fifty-six. Some mysterious place in between, perhaps. But wherever (and whatever) it is, I do wish the best to Karl and Mary.
Sal is still trying to get a flight out of the Philippines. She will occasionally grace me with a call from Skype, while continually I send her pasalubong in the form of digital photos from her rose garden in progress. It won't be until after the first of next month that she returns, such is the extent of the delay. Naturally, I'm not happy about it. But, for the rest of you, it's another excuse to share the latest from our Pinoy Boy Mikey Bustos.
There is a national folk dance known as the “tinikling,” which involves dancing between two bamboo poles that are struck together at every third beat. There is a bird native to the marshlands, for which the movements of the dance are said to get their name. I'm trying to imagine what creature inspired greeting each other at a distance, by pointing with their lips (which is how Sal and I first met, by the way). In any case, Filipinos are a very imitative people, which may be how they are able to adapt to whatever country in the diaspora in which they find themselves.
The rest of this I leave to Mikey. (Dude, there is no way Filipinos are ever going to take over the world. They can barely run their own country, never mind everyone else's. Why do you think your parents left for Canada in the first place -- for the weather???) As for Sal, she should really reconsider Korean Airways as her carrier of choice.
I have had two occasions to work with priests closely, and get to know them on that level. The first was in the early 1990s, when I was a paid sacristan at a Jesuit parish in Georgetown which shall remain nameless. The second is my current apostolate, as a Master of Ceremonies for a Traditional Latin Mass at a parish in the Virginia suburbs of DC. I have been with the latter for three and a half years.
Some of the priests in my diocese come from other parts of the country. When they go home, even to the parish where they were "bread and buttered," they are reluctant to celebrate Mass, never mind CONcelebrate. With the former, they can't predict the level of aggressiveness on the part of "communion ministers" approaching the altar, or they are reluctant to use female servers. With the latter, they cannot predict how the main celebrant -- usually the pastor, and often one drowning in narcissism -- will behave at any given point. Sometimes it puts them in an awkward position. So they resign themselves to saying a private Mass for their parents and/or family members.
Another delicate area concerns funerals. People expect to be able to give a "eulogy" after Communion, a form of remembrance of the deceased. There are good intentions to bring comfort to those who grieve, but often it occurs at the expense of the true nature of Christian burial, which is the occasion to pray for the repose of the soul of the departed, not assume they are already in Heaven. To paraphrase The Bard, you have come to bury them, not to praise them. (Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2.)
It is a fact that . No kidding, they really are not. The instruction in this area is quite specific. The most that can be permitted is for a person close to the deceased to make some sort of brief remark, but “never a eulogy of any kind.” In the interest of full disclosure, I have done two of them. The first was for a friend, and I regret that occasion (although I was quite good at it). The second was for my very saintly paternal grandmother, who lived to be one hundred. I read a transcript composed by a cousin who could not be present, then added a postscript of my own. I regret that occasion as well, but only a little.
Of course, the bishops themselves make matters worse, probably more so than even Mr Voris suggests in his latest video. Even "conservative" bishops are not above practically canonizing a departed priest, even as the latter's confreres in concelebration will go back to their parishes, and tell Mr and Mrs Dick and Jane McGillicuddy, that their dear sweet Aunt Minnie McGillicuddy will NOT have her praises sung while HE'S in charge. (Yes, Diocese of Arlington, that means you!)
I have already written something for Dad. It is very brief, includes an appeal to pray for his soul as he would wish, and is most assuredly not a eulogy. Alas, I will probably be outvoted by my brother and sisters, who will naturally assume I'm being Mister Big Shot From Washington coming home to show off. (It could happen.) I will have a Requiem Mass said for him at a privileged altar downtown, which will release him from Purgatory. But if there's a eulogy, I'll get up and walk out. As the Irish love to say: “Their friends already know, and their enemies wouldn't believe you anyway.”
I know the Old Man all too well. He'd walk out too. .
Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.
Recently, our research department here at mwbh stumbled upon this segment of the CBS program Sunday Morning from August of 2000. Paul and I were acquainted with the band during their heyday in the 1990s, and although we didn't literally follow them from one city to another like their more devoted fans, Paul did manage to be featured on stage with them -- twice. He even got a stage name; “Virtual Boy.” That would take some explaining.
“There are 57 states, it’s 2008, and George W Bush is an idiot. I think I’m getting the hang of it ...” -- Tim Ferguson
President Obama was in Ireland the other day, according to his statement, searching for the apostrophe that was missing from his last name, as he is at least partially Irish. Unfortunately, this would make his name Gaelic for “Son of Bama.”
But the real gaff that has made the rounds of the right-wing blogosphere, is the date he gave on the guest book today at Westminster Abbey. He marked the year as 2008. (Go ahead, click on it. You know you want to.)
A couple of things are worth considering. First, many of us are prone to writing the previous year on personal checks well into January. It's possible that he hasn't had to open his own car door, much less personally write a check, since that year, if not earlier. (That, and you have to admit, that was a pretty good year for him.) Second, if he had been a Republican, the mainstream media, and every late-night show host, would be milking this one for all it's worth. Just like they did with Dan Quayle in 1988 when he supposedly misspelled “potatoe” even though some parts of the English-speaking world (if not necessarily Indiana) actually spell it that way.
Even after referring to 57 states in the Union a while back, our current President seems to get off pretty easy, don't you think?
“Pay no attention to that scam behind what’s certain ...”
They show this movie at least once a year somewhere in the States, so next time you catch the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, see if you can spot all the things the continuity director on the set just happened to miss. Later, of course, there is the scene where the "Great and Powerful Oz" is discovered for who he really is. (Click here to see it.)
According to "fox9ninja," there is more here than meets the eye.
The whole story is a satire of the corruption in the businesses and corporations of America in the late 1800's. The Scarecrow represents the western farmers with no brains, the tin man represents the eastern industrial workers who worked in the factories with no heart, and the lions represent the congressmen with no courage to stand up against the corporations. The yellow brick road represents the gold standard, and the munchkins are the average citizen. I thought the wizard was McKinley.
I'm wondering what the poppies planted in the field by the wicked witch represent. Perhaps they are Lenin's reference to religion as "the opium of the masses." Hmmm ...
In today's Washington Examiner, columnist Harvey Mackey writes a piece on “The ABC’s of Negotiating.” It was worth reproducing for our viewing audience.
A is for authority. B is for beware the naked man who offers you his shirt. C is for contracts. D is for dream. E is for experience. F is for facts. G is for guts. H is for honesty. I is for information. J is for judgment. K is for know about no. L is for leaks. M is for maybe. N is for never say no for the other person. O is for options. P is for positioning. Q is for questions. R is for reality check. S is for smile. T is for timing. U is for ultimatum. V is for visualization. W is for win-win. X is for (e)xit strategy. Y is for yield. Z is for zero.
Some of these leave something to the imagination as rendered here, which means you have to read them there.
The marathon may be over, but our favorite Filipino has returned once again, to regale us in all things Pinoy.
Filipinos are people of the islands, so naturally they love seafood. But if they're like Sal, they still don't know how to swim. (Born and raised on an island, ano ba?) She actually has to hang on to me for dear life whenever we're in the pool.
I could get used to it.
Whenever we go shopping for produce, we go to Great Wall Supermarket (aka 大中华超级市场), a Chinese-owned franchise in nine locations in the Eastern USA, which caters to the growing Asian-American market. Sure they're a little rough around the edges, because they always take over square footage abandoned by the white people, but you would not believe the prices of meat, produce, and seafood. Too good to be true. Of course, Sal cannot resist picking up five or six of her "buddies" to take home, steam the living daylights out of them, and chow down.
Personally, I prefer them in the form of crab cakes. To each his own. Go ahead, Mikey, show 'em how it's done.
As this is written, governors in states around the Mississippi basin had the most difficult of decisions to make. In order to save major cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, and Vicksburg, Mississippi, the flood gates had to be opened in select areas to relieve the pressure of rising flood waters, sparing the major cities, but destroying farmland in the surrounding rural areas. That did not deter a few brave families from the ultimate of undertakings. For those who succeeded (as seen here), and for those who have failed, we give this week's Tip of the Black Hat. It is they, not the governors (however justified they may be), who embody all that is good about the American spirit.
There I was, in my favorite thrift store, minding my own business, when I came across this volume in the "religion/spirituality" section of used books. That's when it occurred to me ...
As a boy, I may have been bored by religion class (oh, yes, the truth can now be told), but I very much enjoyed reading about the lives of the saints. It always fascinated Grandma Rosselot that I knew as much as I did about saints by the time I received my First Holy Communion, which is probably why (ahem!) I was one of her favorites.
In this volume, edited by Bert Ghezzi, and published by Doubleday in 2000 (and for two dollars, I couldn't go wrong), we are reminded of the advice of Saint Philip Neri:
From Aelred of Rievaulx to Willibrord, there is a summation of a life for every day of the year. They can be read alphabetically as presented, or you can begin with "Mary" and follow the "Go to" command at the end of each entry, to follow the history of the Church. There is also an index for topic, as well as patronage.
I do believe this is the one that will occupy my nightstand, along with whatever light-hearted selection is pulled from my library for retiring. Today is day 141 of the year of Our Lord. Tonight's selection will be Gregory Nazianzen, one of the Eastern Forefathers.
We are back from a (very) temporary slump in activity. Remember last year's "Five Second Theatre"? Well, the cast and crew of 5secondfilms are still at it, making the most of so little. This writer cannot claim to have had much experience with roommates, and this makes it seem just as well. Something to consider for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy. .
... Julie Davis of Happy Catholic is your one stop for all news concerning the coming zombie apocalypse, and what it means to you as a Catholic (whatever the hell that means). Yours truly is in the middle of relocating his office and fighting a case of higher-than-usual blood pressure. Right now the prospect of zombies headed this way is not a top priority. At least not until Saturday. Don't ask me why. (Pray for me if you get a chance, eh?)
Time once again (if earlier than usual) for our usual midday Wednesday feature.
Cincinnati has long been a border town for the Appalachian Mountain region. The hill people would migrate there for jobs at the Ford plant in Norwood (now long closed down), or for whatever work they could find.
Occasionally I'd be approached at the bus depot downtown by some guy with greased-back hair and worn-out pointed shoes who was down on his luck. It was a formulaic story, and I'd have to hear the whole thing. He came up from Kentucky or West Virginia, looking for a job, or a lost cousin. One thing led to another, and then another, and on and on ad nauseum. He needed just enough bus fare to take the Greyhound back to wherever it was he tried so hard to escape to begin with. I was a bit more gullible then, but not enough to give him any more than a dollar. Usually that was enough to send him on his way.
Washington is a city full of beggars, sometimes as many as three on one city block. I've seen some of the same ones, off and on, for the entire thirty-plus years that I have been here. At least the ones in Cincinnati wanted a job, or at least to go where they wouldn't bother anybody.
+ + +
You would never know that Gillian Welch is no more a “hillbilly” than I am, having been born in New York City, and raised in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California. She gets the job done, though, I'll give her that. And if a generation of country music artists who ever stood behind a plough is to be lost forever, we may be consigned to those who have the presence of mind to at least act the part, and pull it off.
Photo montage in first video produced by Wilferd T Knight.
Archbishop Emeritus Daniel Pilarczyk of Cincinnati once said that there is no "us and them" in the Church, only "us." That can be taken any number of ways, usually the wrong one.
I'm posting this today, not just because Michael Voris said something important about the Vatican's recent bloggers' conference, but because Michael Voris said something original. (Sorry, Mike, that sounded worse than was really meant.) You can imagine, as many did in advance, that the "official" event was going to be overborne with what passes for "diplomacy" (which is why someone planned an "alternative" event before they got invited to the real one).
One of the gifts of this medium, is that you really don't have to be "nice" to win an audience, or tell people what they want to hear. “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Brother would be set against brother, men would shake the dust off their feet as they left a town that would not accept the Truth. That was the Divine warning in Scripture, even as Christ gave us a peace that was not of this world.
Since we're not in the next world just yet, this one is the one with which we must contend. Michael gets a lot of grief, even from "conservative" bishops, for reminding us.
In college, it was when a candidate for a fraternity had to juggle his course work with a 24/7 initiation process -- one of several reasons why, in this writer's opinion, the "Greek life" is a waste of time, if only how it has devolved in recent years.
Closer to the present, and to the day job, the headquarters building near the White House is undergoing extensive renovation, half of it at a time. Most of the communications office moved to the "swing space" in a new office building north of the Capitol. Since they didn't know how to cope with our equipment needs, the graphic design unit stayed at the old building. But with the discovery of excess space, and just to let us know they didn't forget about us, they made room for us, so we're moving to join the rest of the communications office, by the end of the week. Five of my colleagues in the unit are moving to one place. I am moving to another, several cubicle rows away, with the video people. So goes the motions to convert my career track to something that won't leave me hanging around counting the days till retirement -- by the end of 2020, at the earliest.
(It's one way to get around a midlife crisis.)
Nobody likes it, but I don't see a way around it. We'll have half the space we had before, and it's hard to convince people who have all the answers, that several questions regarding common use equipment have barely been addressed.
As with all administrations, this too shall pass. How to break the news to them ...?
From National Review Online, watch as Tampa Bay Ray's finest makes a catch with his bare hand, just before it could strike a reporter. See the eyes in the back of his head do the job at 0:08, and then see it again on the instant replay.
Then watch him shrug it off. Just another day at the office.
It was out "on the wires" by this morning. Real estate magnate and reality-show host Donald Trump has decided, "after considerable deliberation and reflection" (reinforced no doubt by a sudden dip in the polls), to drop out of the running for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. This despite every confidence that he would have won had he stayed in the race. (A debate with him and Obama would be major theater, one must admit.) Trump also cited that he was "not ready to leave the private sector." Indeed. Given his successful appropriation of "imminent domain" laws to expand his enterprise, as we reported from columnist Michelle Malkin earlier this month, his rise to the Oval Office would be the death knell of private property rights in America.
Besides, the country club Republicans have had their way with both Bush administrations, and failed miserably in pushing McCain. But alas, the day is still young, and it ain't over til it's over.
The Supreme Court of the State of Indiana has ruled that the police can enter your home without warning, and for any reason, even for no reason. The solace they provide is that it avoids the escalation of violence, and that the citizen still has recourse to file a civil complaint with the police -- for all the good that will do.
And so, on that forbidding note, nine hundred years of English common law tradition is out the window, at least in the Hoosier State. Let's look at the Fourth Amendment one more time, while we still have one.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Until this case goes all the way to the High Court (and it's too easy for it not to), this writer has one more reason to order one pair of these babies to wear on the next flight, should the folks who sell them ever get them back in stock. (C'mon guys, you got a problem getting rich off an idea?)
(H/T to Bruce McQuain. I got this single by R Dean Taylor when I was fifteen. I don't remember it being red though. Eh, whatever ...)
If you're a "cradle Catholic" and over 50, chances are you remember when Catholics would always abstain from meat on Friday as a form of penance, and under pain of sin. Those were the days when parishes held weekly "fish fries" as a matter of routine. It was also in 1962, when a McDonald's franchise owner from Cincinnati's predominantly-German-Catholic west side, a man by the name of Lou Groen, developed the fish sandwich that is now part of their menu the world over.
Then somehow, at some point, the "rules" changed. Later to be enshrined in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, a "competent territorial body of bishops" (usually a contradiction in terms, but never mind that for the moment) could decide whether to leave it to Catholics to substitute an alternate penance on those days. But most people didn't realize the universal law remained on the books.
This week, the bishops of England and Wales have decided to relieve the faithful of the task of finding alternative penance.
Well, I wish they would do it in the States. I abstained year-round for much of my adult life anyway (beyond the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent), but lately I'm having a devil of a time coming up with a different penance every week.
Now, if only McDonald's would offer that sandwich for 99 cents every Friday.
Imagine, if you will, that a certain movie based upon a Stephen King novel were remixed as a romantic comedy. Imagine people telling yours truly that he reminds them of Jack Nicholson; the facial expressions, that rapiér sarcastic tone of voice, the hairline (assuming there was still ... uh, whatever), and you have the makings of this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
(Oh, by the way, we're back on Blogger. Did we mention that today was Friday the 13th? Coincidence? You decide.)
In the UK, the Catholic Herald refers to him as "The World's Most Powerful Catholic Blogger." It is most fitting. A former staff member of the Roman Curia (the bureaucracy of the Holy See in Rome), whatever Father John Zuhlsdorf, writes as author of What Does The Prayer Really Say?, someone in high places in Rome is reading it. And if he should tell a tale of devious shenanigans in your diocese, any formal action might take its usual course, but it is possible that their bishop will get a phone call within 24 hours. No wonder so many Catholics come to this man who speaks truth to power, and teaches others how to do the same.
This is only one of his unique qualities, another being to take one of a number of subjects on more than one occasion, and beat it into the ground like a dead horse. An example was regurgitated earlier this month.
(I should say, in the interest of full disclosure, that I have known Father Zuhlsdorf for over ten years now, and have served Mass for him on more than one occasion. Whatever his human foibles, he is a good man, a most dedicated priest, and is a welcome addition to dinner conversation. That being said ...)
So, the distinction that makes it a Catholic rite, is that they are not in formal schism. Or is it? Marcin asks:
Father has been asked in the past, in his comments section, point blank, how the Byzantine Liturgies of Saint Basil the Great and/or Saint John Chrysostom can each be defined as a "Catholic rite" according to Canon 1248, when celebrated in an Eastern Church that is in perfect communion with Rome, but CANNOT be so defined when celebrated in an Eastern Church that is of the Orthodox communion, which remains in a state of formal schism. This distinction does not appear to be a problem when the Traditional Roman Rite is celebrated in a chapel of the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which, while not in formal schism -- You got that, you über-trad bozos? I did not say they were in schism! -- is not in perfect communion with Rome.
So, according to Father Z, one is a Catholic rite, the other is NOT a Catholic rite. Right?
The aforementioned Divine Liturgy of the Orthodox Church IS a Catholic rite. In its essential qualities, it has all four marks -- one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, as professed by their faithful in the Nicene Creed. Its sacraments are valid, and its priesthood is valid. These qualities are what it shares with the sacraments and priesthood of the SSPX. The latter gets a pass from Father Z; the former does not. At this writing, he does not answer Marcin's challenge, nor has he answered similar challenges in the past.
The issue here is not one of validity, but of licitness (lawfullness). There is a difference. The Eucharistic Liturgy (what western Catholics refer to as the "Mass") may be celebrated, and the priest may confect the Eucharist validly, but in so doing, will either be inside or outside the law, which is to say communion with Rome. And so, the fundamental question is this:
How can an unlawful means be used to accomplish a lawful end?
There is only one answer: it cannot. The reply to a Catholic writer several years ago, which addressed the issue of attending Mass at an SSPX chapel, said that there were circumstances where this COULD meet one's Sunday obligation (the part upon which said writer lays great stress), but that the Holy See did not really recommend it (the part which said writer, and damn near everyone else, has downplayed). The reason is that the lawgiver is ill-advised to recommend seeking a remedy OUTSIDE THE LAW!
Some might be afraid of upsetting "the world's most powerful Catholic blogger," because he might throw them off his comments section, or barring that, interject his "rubrics" (red text) into their comments. Oh, the humanity! It'll show everybody who's boss. But we are not engaged in such fora to prove that; rather, in a search for the truth, don't you think?
I've always wanted to work in a gun store so I could reach under the counter, say "check out THIS baby," and pull out an actual baby.
+ + +
I feel like the a well written pop song makes you feel nostalgic for something that either never happened to you, or you can't articulate. [This is an obvious reference to Lionel Richie, as seen in this example. -- DLA]
+ + +
All damn day I had Cheap Trick's "Surrender" stuck in my head, and then it randomly came on Pandora at work. Conclusion: I am Professor X.
+ + +
I've never caught my parents pulling out my KISS records and rolling on the couch, but "Surrender" takes me there.
+ + +
You think you hate Tyler Perry now, but wait til he comes to your neighborhood and his film crew takes all the parking.
+ + +
They catch the fish and then let it go. They don't want to eat the fish, they just want to make it late for something.
+ + +
I've always wanted to work in a gun store so I could reach under the counter, say "check out THIS li'l number," and pull out a small number.
+ + +
[NOTE TO PAUL: FYI, we never had any KISS records in the house. You're probably having someone else's flashback. Photo: mannytoodope.]
We are well on our way to reaching the goal of over four thousand visits for this month, a man with black hat record. There are at least three more pieces in the works (including a "lost interview" which now is found), in addition to the usual various and sundry topics. Of course, April and May are the busiest months of the year here at Chez Alexandre, but that will not stop us from achieving our goal.
So, join the “4K Plus” campaign, stay tuned, and stay in touch.
If yesterday's episode wasn't indication enough, our special series continues beyond Mother's Day, as our star continues to come up with surprises. In this episode of the TV game show Jeopardy, contestant Michael John Yadan Tumanguil Pestano Bustos literally finds himself in jeopardy, and by way of being Pinoy, he manages to find the answer ... literally!
Jackie Gingrich Cushman Explains It (Almost) For You
Jackie Gingrich Cushman, daughter of former Speaker of the House (and potential Presidential candidate) Newt Gingrich, is out to clear her father's name. There has been considerable misinformation about him, in relation to the circumstances of his two failed marriages.
Meanwhile, at Father Zuhlsdorf's What Does The Prayer Really Say? (WDTPRS), the combox capers were pretty lively on this one, to the point of speculating that, since his first wife died of cancer while he was cheating on her, that second marriage would have been invalid anyway. That means that the third wife that he was making time with while still married to the second wife is party with him to a valid marriage.
So you see, kiddies, everything is hunky-dory. There's just one problem.
So the first wife, we are happy to report, is alive after all, which blows a few would-be canonists' theories out of the water. Try though we may, we don't KNOW the facts that led to up to two marriages being declared null and void. We never will. Marriage may be a public act, but the process of determining validity or invalidity, in conjunction with a petition for a declaration of nullity, is private. Our system of civil law is based upon English common law, whereas canon law is based upon old Roman law, which places a great deal more emphasis on the role of discretion in proceedings. That is also why the details of certain cases of errant priests are never made public. Our desire to dish the dirt stops at the chancery door.
But here's what we do know.
Scandal is an offense in and of itself. It gives the impression that what is not okay is perfectly okay. It compounds the offense which is the subject of scandal, and takes on a life of its own. At one time in the history of the Church, there were three offenses that consigned a member of the faithful to the order of penitents, permanently: murder, apostasy, and ... adultery. That doesn't happen anymore, of course. Our understanding of the role of God's infinite Mercy, which didn't originate with either Vatican II, or the visions of Saint Faustina, has evolved. Our sins can be forgiven, and we can move on.
But that's not the problem here, is it?
Even for those sins which are forgiven in the confessional, we will still be called to account at our Personal Judgment. They weigh into our need for purification (Purgatory), through which only then are we truly ready for the vision of Heaven.
And so, we are left with another problem in this life, one that begs the question. Is it possible for Mr Gingrich to court the Catholic vote, secure not only in the knowledge that past offenses are forgiven, but with the illusion that they never happened? (Personally, I can't help but wonder if an ordinary stiff like ME would get off so easily. Probably not.)
Depending on your answer, over a millennium after a life of sackcloth and ashes, you can beat the rap on a technicality, and be a keynote speaker at the annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, where any guy who cheats on two successive wives can still be a Catholic poster boy, if certain other credentials are in order, and thus (ahem!) can serve a larger purpose.
Every culture from time immemorial is endowed with a mythology. It serves a purpose that transcends the history of a people; whether the result of collective imagination over generations, or a mere embellishment of actual events (General Washington standing in a rowboat? Not likely. Good theater? Definitely.)
When he was but a wee lad, Paul would hear stories of ancestors long past, significant events in their lives, related to him as though they happened yesterday.
Filipino folklore is so rich in its variety of mythical beings and entities, stories of which, many strange and eerie, have been passed down through countless generations. (And here I thought a "moomoo" was a shapeless form of house dress.) This video explores some of the creatures and entities that our friend Mr Bustos learned about growing up.
EXIT QUESTION: Isn't Lemuria where lemurs come from, or was it always Madagascar?
We here at mwbh would like to thank everyone for their continued support of our work; whether visiting, reading, sharing on Facebook, or retweeting on Twitter. At this writing, the month of May has seen 1179 visitors. We want to reach our goal of 4000 for this month. We came very close in March, but, as we say back home, “Almost ain’t good enough, except for playing horseshoes.” Current projections are most promising. If you'd really like to know how you can help ...
There does seem to be a lot of interest so far this year, in the Archives from May of 2010. As much as one-fourth of our hits go to that page. So, click here and have at it. And if you manage to determine the attraction to that body of work, drop us a line. We'll do s'more of it.
My mother wouldn't be caught dead in a scene like this, but as we used to say back home, "it takes all kinds to run a railroad." This song by Mikey Bustos can be purchased on iTunes with a portion of the proceeds going to The Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Cristina Bustos is a 2006 breast cancer survivor.
Meanwhile, we were doing a bit of research on Mother's Day tributes, when we came across one starring Laurence Tureau, also known as "Mister T," and best known for his role as B A Baracus in the NBC television series The A Team (now a kick-@$$ motion picture starring Liam Neeson as Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith).
Lovely Lady dressed in blue, Teach me how to pray! God was just your little Boy, Tell me what to say!
Fayetteville is a village in Brown County, Ohio, founded in 1818 by an Irish immigrant named Cornelius McGroarty. You can see in this photo looking south, at the convergence of US 50 and US 68, what little there is to show for it. In 2000, the population was 372, but in 1950, it wasn't much less than that. If you look toward the horizon, you cannot see the farm where Dorothy Ann Rosselot was born and raised, but it's there.
She was a middle child, one of seven sisters and four brothers. She was driving a tractor and pitching hay when she was twelve, and no one ever accused her of shirking hard work. But when she finished high school, having just turned eighteen, she couldn't get away from the farm soon enough. She made her way to Dayton, where she took a job as a clerk at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
She did not escape without notice. You can see her here in the graduation picture, placed third in the top row, the salutatorian in a class of seventeen. If you look in the lower left hand corner, you will see a handsome young man who taught English and Latin -- when he wasn't driving the bus or refereeing basketball games; this was definitely a low-overhead enterprise -- a twenty-four year old ex-seminarian named Paul Alexander. A few weeks after graduation, he got up the nerve to ask her out on a date, swearing to this day that he harbored no such intentions while she was a student.
They were married two years later.
Did you lift Him up, sometimes, Gently, on your knee? Did you sing to Him the way Mother does to me?
Did you hold His hand at night? Did you ever try Telling stories of the world: O! And did he cry?
As I recall, Dad took care of most of the storytelling, if there was any. But in the days when "new math" determined how long division was taught in the third grade, Mom was the one who taught me the short cut. Occasionally, I forget to use a calculator in favor of it. And although we were left for most of the year to say our night prayers by ourselves, it was Mom who led us in the Rosary in October, and the Litany of Loreto (the one with the many titles bestowed on Our Lady) in May.
She never spent a day in college -- even her mother graduated from "normal school," which is what they called teachers' colleges back in the day -- but she had a highly disciplined mind, which makes this biologist's tribute to motherhood all the more appropriate. (CONTENT ADVISORY: Lots of big words.)
Do you really think He cares If I tell Him things -- Little things that happen? And Do the Angels' wings
Make a noise? And can He hear Me if I speak low? Does He understand me now? Tell me for you know!
For a girl who left the farm at the first chance, she was still getting up "with the chickens" at about five in the morning, until about ten years ago. Dad has been slowly deteriorating, having been diagnosed with multiple slcerosis at 45. And now, at 85, he requires around-the-clock care. Mom hasn't been feeling too sprightly herself lately. In recent years, my sisters both see to their care, with my brother managing their affairs, and maintaining the upkeep of the house. From a distance of five hundred miles, I just stay out of the way and keep the damage to a minimum.
Lovely Lady dressed in blue Teach me how to pray! God was just your little Boy, And you know the way!
Whatever the demands, there is no mistaking who is in charge. Here's to you, Mom. Keep it up.
Go to a Jolibee or a McDonald's in the Philippines, and they won't even bother to ask “do you want fries with that?” The staple of their diet, as with most of the Asia-Pacific region, is rice. Even in the diaspora, Filipino households keep it in bins, the kind that would otherwise hold potatoes. Sal buys her rice in twenty-five pound bags. She has never fixed a meal without it.
Filipino cuisine, for the most part, is influenced by the Spanish, and to a lesser extent, the Chinese. (They use this marinade for chicken that makes it almost taste like pork; I forget what it's called, but it's really yummy. Anyway ...) This tutorial also emphasizes the use of a fork and spoon for eating. I don't recall ever seeing Filipinos using chopsticks, even though many of them, including Sal, are at least part Chinese.
Sometimes, though, they eat rice with their fingers. Didn't see that one coming.
Osama Bin Laden dies and goes to Heaven. At the Pearly Gates he is greeted by George Washington.
"How dare you attack the nation I helped conceive!" yells Mr Washington, slapping Osama in the face.
Patrick Henry comes up from behind. "You wanted to end the Americans' liberty, so they gave you death!" Henry punches Osama on the nose.
James Madison comes up next, and says "This is why I allowed the Federal government to provide for the common defense!" He drops a large weight on Osama's knee.
Osama is subject to similar beatings from John Randolph of Roanoke, James Monroe, and 65 other people who have the same love for liberty and America. As he writhes on the ground, Thomas Jefferson picks him up to hurl him back toward the gate where he is to be judged.
As Osama awaits his journey to his final very hot destination, he screams "This is not what I was promised! I lived a holy life and fought the infidel. I want the 72 Virgins promised to me!"
Thomas Jefferson replied, "that was 'Virginians' not virgins. Welcome to Heaven."
(H/T to Ken Cuccinelli. No mention that many of these Virginians would take issue with America's current extent of foreign entanglements. Eh, whatever ...)
If you're a practicing Roman Catholic, you've either heard this song, and/or wish you hadn't. It is a contemporary hymn penned by Marty Haugen, a Lutheran composer who enjoys some measure of popularity with Catholic audiences. Between him and David Haas, they are more or less the kingpins of the Catholic contemporary liturgical music scene. (How's that name for a niche market?) Despite what everyone says, it's not a bad tune. In fact, it's rather catchy, in a sort of guitar-slinging, barroom-singing sort of way. Maybe that's why there are so many "drinking song" alternative lyrics floating around the internet. (Yo, Marty, you know what they say about imitation. You go, boy!)
The problem is with the words, which is something of consequence inasmuch as singing in church is a form of praying, and we pray what we believe.
Verse 1 Here in this place new light is streaming, Now is the darkness vanished away, See in this space our fears and our dreamings Brought here to You in the light of this day.
Chorus 1 Gather us in the lost and forsaken, Gather us in the blind and the lame; Call to us now and we shall awaken, We shall arise at the sound of our name.
Okay, so it goes on like that for a while, with a verse about bringing the bread and wine and eating and drinking it and (urp!) stuff like that. But it's all rather vague, as if the priority were for the words to fit the rhyme at all costs. (Most of the "underground rock" of the late 1960s fits into that realm, which should tell you something.) But it's in the fourth and final verse that it starts to get weird.
Verse 4 Not in the dark of buildings confining, Not in some heaven light years away, But here in this place the new light is shining, Now is the Kingdom, now is the day.
Now, if this is what I believe, why the h*** did I get up early on a Sunday morning to sit in the “dark of buildings confining” hoping for a place “in some heaven light years away” when I could have slept in late? Other than the prospect of a free nosh of bread and wine, the song doesn't give me an answer. Not one worth living for, at least, never mind dying for, don't you think?
It's that time again, a Friday afternoon, and we here at mwbh know exactly what our dedicated fans want:
Admit it. You secretly like his snarky, condescending attitude, if only on the rare occasions when he's not a marionette for the bourgeois elite. And, what with the kind of news cycle we've had in the last week, you just know there was comedy gold waiting to be told. And we've got it for ya! [CONTENT WARNING: Occasional muted expletives.]
Not that it was easy for our host of high jinks, since ...
When the United States were established -- referred to in the plural before the "Civil War;" more on that later -- the Founding Fathers were wary of foreign entanglements. They knew that a policy of interventionism created strange, even dangerous bedfellows. We've been working with what passes for a stable, workable government of Pakistan, and Osama's right in their pocket the whole time. But can we complain to them? Can we cut off $1.5 billion in foreign aid? No, that would be racist, or something.
But who cares when it's this hilarious? Just sit back and watch the world descend into utter chaos, for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.
The building of the Church in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries, was not only one of soul and spirit, but of bricks and mortar. It entailed the bending of the knee, and the shoulder to the wheel. Such small numbers of priests embarking on a life in this new land, could barely keep pace with an expanding westward frontier, and called upon the temporal assistance of the laity. Together, they worked hand in hand, laying one stone upon another, forming the schools, hospitals, and great centers of charity which flourished into the mid-20th century.
IMAGE: Panoramic map of Scranton, Pennsylvania, 1890
Most notable among these edifices was the parish church, the nerve center of Catholic life. A pastor was not only the healer of souls, but an arbiter of personal disputes, and a counselor on matters of the soul and of business. Each wave of immigration came to these shores. First it was the English and Welsh, then the German and Irish, later the Italians, Lithuanians, Poles, Rusins, Slovaks, and many others. For them, the parish priest was the educated, English-speaking advocate within the community at large. Different ethnic peoples, with the blessing of the local bishop, built parish churches where they worshipped in a universal language, and heard sermons each in their own tongue. A working-class neighborhood of a few city blocks could hold several parishes; one for the Germans, another for the Irish, still another for the Italians, another for the Poles, and so on.
IMAGE: Washington Avenue, Scranton, PA, 1907
So it was with the growth of the Catholic Church in the coal-and-iron epicenter that was Scranton, a proud and prosperous city in eastern Pennsylvania, nestled in and among the hills gracing the Lackawanna Valley. For each ethnic enclave, the parish church became the center of worship and reception of the Sacraments, of fraternal aid societies for those wary of the banks run by suspicious Protestants, of schools to assist them in raising their children in the Faith, and of fellowship with kindred in sharing the same language and customs from "the old country."
The years following the Second World War saw unprecedented prosperity for America, and the promise of a bucolic life in the suburbs. The working classes of Scranton were no exception, as many left the old enclaves in search of that promise. They would return to their places of worship for years after their exodus. But this new era of "the good life" was a double-edged sword. There were social and political upheavals in the 1960s, combined with intermarriage among the progeny of those from the Old World, not to mention the sweeping changes in parish life for which the Second Vatican Council was a catalyst. With the unraveling of the old neighborhoods, and the shortage of priests in the 1970s and 1980s, there was the hard choice of dwindling attendance at the old churches, and the Diocese of Scranton was faced with the hard choice, of which parishes would survive, be combined with others, or closed altogether.
This scenario caught the attention of Ivana Pavelka, a local artist and photographer. Together with Mary Ann Moran Savakinus, Director of the Lackawanna Historical Society, they endeavored to chronicle the history of ten local parish churches which were slated for closure. The result, which is beautifully narrated by author Sarah Piccini, is a work published by Tribute Books, entitled Framing Faith: A Pictoral History of Communities of Faith. Within its pages are the stories of ten parishes in Scranton and the surrounding Lackawanna County, their triumphs and tribulations, and the events that led to their eventual fate. It is here that something of their legacy may be preserved for years to come. The accounts are similar yet unique, under the shadow of heartbreak, and the knowledge that these beacons of Faith for hundreds, indeed thousands, of pilgrims toward Heaven, must bring their stories to an end.
Their sojourners must go ever onward, eyes on that Final Beacon, leading to that One True Home.
+ + +
IVANA PAVELKA is a co-founder and co-manager of the photographic gallery Camerawork in Scranton and is a professional photographer who has had many solo and group shows. Her professional career includes teaching in the art department at Keystone College (La Plume, PA), giving workshops and residencies as a rostered artist in schools, and working as a commercial photographer. She is also a professional bookbinder who was trained in European methods in Prague, where she grew up. When she came to the United States in 1980, she free-lanced as a bookbinder for such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She has lived in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, since 1991.
SARAH PICCINI graduated from the University of Scranton with a degree in History and Communications. In 2010, she received a Master’s degree in History focusing on the ethnic and labor history of the Lackawanna Valley. She collaborates with the Lackawanna Historical Society on many projects and programs, and serves the Vice President of the board for the Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces Associates.
We must acknowledge the cooperation of the Catholic Diocese of Scranton in securing historical information, as well as access to the properties themselves, most notably in the person of Diocesan Chancellor James Earley.
For more information on the book, and to order copies, go to www.framingfaith.com, or its Facebook page. Continuing information about the work can be tracked through its Twitter account.
UPDATE: This review is now published on the framingfaith.com website, and can be accessed here.
For this installment of our usual midday Thursday series, we show a vignette from Australia's Got Talent. Known only as “JP” as this is published, he employs the use of electronic recording pedals, in a manner that we've seen here before (“Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Theresa Andersson” 01/26/2011).
Mikey Bustos: Uncanny Artistic Talents of Filipinos
Someday I'll get a very expensive acoustic guitar. It won't be made in America. I will go to the Philippines, either to Cebu (a popular tourist destination) or Baguio City (the "summer capital" of the nation, as it is in the mountains, and the climate is quite temporate), and find the best luthier around, and have one custom-made to my specifications. This is because Filipinos are known for their meticulous craftsmanship. And the American dollar goes a long way in that country, particularly in the area of any labor-intensive goods or services. (Manicurists who make house calls, personal drivers for your personal vehicle, etc.)
Just one question remains: must I settle for the back and sides being made of Indian rosewood, or does the country lack import restrictions which would allow for the superior (and increasingly rare) quality of Brazilian rosewood?
Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Change your words. Change your world.
Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.
In an era when people toss around words like "fascist" without the slightest idea of what they mean, this short film illustrates the power of words to radically change your message and your effect upon the world. This is a homage to Historia de un letrero (The Story of a Sign) by Alonso Alvarez Barreda.
I had planned on doing a comprehensive review of the English-speaking authors on the list -- a summary, the pros, the cons, the upshot. But while some of them were a fair representation of the medium, others were not so much, and one of them in particular was an outright embarrassment. The latter was to such an extent, that I did not believe I could speak the truth in charity. I did not believe I was capable of making a case to anyone open to persuasion, and I also risked raising the ire of this author's very dedicated (albeit pedestrian) fan base. So, after taking the matter under advisement with a few other bloggers of my acquaintance, I declined.
... for responses to the piece entitled “Married But Not With Each Other: A Call For Entries” from last week. I did get one response, from a very well-known Catholic blogger, via Facebook, that was particularly unkind. When I inquired whether they were sure of what they meant, they offered a profuse apology, which is to their credit. (I only mention this because it was the closest thing to a response so far, not to embarrass them.)
Most Catholics who go through a divorce, if they do remarry, end up doing so outside the Church, which is one factor that mitigates the "too many annulments" canard. I don't imagine this is solely because they wake up one morning and decide they don't believe what the Church teaches. I believe it's because they simply do not know how else to move on. "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him." (Gen 2:18) It is against our nature to be any other way. While this does not necessarily end in marriage -- priests have a nuptial relationship to the Church, while women in Religious life have the same with Christ Himself -- there is a gap that longs to be filled. Some handle this better than others, apparently.
So, we're keeping the lines open until someone gets up the nerve.
In the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled “Chain of Command” (Season 6, Episodes 10/11), Captain Jean-Luc Picard is captured during a black ops mission, and is held prisoner by a sadistic Cardassian interrogator. In one scene, the Cardassian is eating from a hatched egg, in which is contained a live bird. He invites Picard to try eating one, who then overcomes his initial distaste, and eventually devours it whole.
Now, imagine the bird is a duck, is cooked only a few days before hatching, and is obviously not live. The result is a delicacy unique to the Philippines (or so they tell me) known as the balut (pronounced bah-LOOT). When he was a boy, Mikey's father always said, “You’re not a true Filipino if you haven’t eaten balut!” Sal would agree, so he's probably right.
I am encouraged to one day try one, but I'm not even sure they're legal here. Maybe they serve them at Jollibee (the major fast food chain of the Philippines) at their locations on the West Coast here in the States. I just know I'm going to hurl the first time. At least my son won't be there to announce the event on Twitter. He's a twisted little fellow.
Because you knew, sooner or later, that this would happen, we're just getting it out of the way here. I would have expected them to show the President personally leading the SEAL team and shooting the guy himself, as well as fixing the downed helicopter with duct tape. But no, they pretty much stuck to the script. [CONTENT ADVISORY: Mature content towards end of piece.]
Maybe now his wife can finally be proud to be an American. It comes in handy when you're the First Lady, don't you think?
Young women in the Philippines today are perhaps the most Westernized of the Asia-Pacific region. They are highly educated, and are as devoted to a career track as their American counterparts. It is in matters of the heart, however, that the resemblance ends, when they are as "old-school" as their mothers and grandmothers were before them. To some degree, this carries over to young Filipinas in the diaspora. Dating a non-Filipino can be a challenge, as her parents are unable to resort to the usual way of "vetting" the young man, determining whether he is of good character, and/or comes from a good family.
A gentleman may spend months, or even years, currying the favor of a lady (to the exclusion of others), who must exercise a certain reserve, at least until she is certain. Then the relationship changes from "tuksuhan" (the "teasing phase") to genuine courtship. When the time comes to announce their engagement, the young man and his parents must undertake the "pamamanhikan" -- literally, "to go up the stairs of the house" of her parents, to seek their approval. (In Cebu, the entourage will often bring musicians to serenade. Sounds like quite a distraction to me personally.)
It is an arguably more civilized arrangement, but one which flies in the face of the 21st century American sensibility.
As you can imagine, the elimination of Osama bin Laden brought jubilation to the streets of Washington. The video clip below was the scene in front of the White House last night. It's only two blocks from my office, and parking nearby would not have been a problem for me. Alas, it was nearly midnight when I heard the news.
It should be noted that bin Laden was an ally of the United States when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and he was supplied with guns and ammunition by us. Perhaps now we can see peace come to this land, and its people learn to stand up for themselves, rather than merely side with whomever is winning. But it is a lesson for us, first taught by our Founding Fathers, of the pitfalls that often accompany foreign entanglements.
Most of all, we hope that the troops can finally come home to their loved ones. God bless America. HOO-rah!
“Our entire daily lives cannot be occupied with purely religious practices; all of us have to eat, and most of us have and want to do many other activities besides. So though we cannot always be religious in this sense, we can always be Catholic, that is, the round of our daily activities can be conducted in such a way as to express and be in harmony with our Faith. And [this] can involve more than avoiding sin and exercising virtue.”