Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Ad Random, Ad Nauseum

My class at the Art Institute has kept me busy over the past week, taking more time than I originally expected. And yet it is manageable, if I budget my time well enough. That's what it's all been about, really. For our class project, we must assemble a website of a particular artist. I have been given Georges Seurat, one of the great French Impressionists. From my lectures in art history, I remember that as one of my favorite periods, so I should enjoy this.

What I don't enjoy quite as much (as much as would rise to the occasion), is the confusion over the code that is written to compose a page, such as that which the viewer sees here. Most webloggers who use a service such as Blogger, choose from a variety of pre-coded templates. Such was the case with me, although I did alter the color scheme slightly to enhance readability. Still, I wish I could do more. The state of electronic print design is such, that one can work on the computer screen as if it were a drawing board back in the day. The interactive media of the Web, on the other hand, has yet to be so "idiot-proof." Layout programs such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver are either too clumsy (as in the case of the former) or very very complex (as with the latter). Why can't the interactive media be as easy to assemble as the print media, as it is with Quark Xpress (the industry standard) or Adobe InDesign (the up-and-coming upstart)?

I suppose I'll find out in the next few years. In the meantime, there is a certain thrill that comes with the prospect of regenerating one's professional calling in midlife. I am one of a class of twenty-five, and old enough to be the father of most if not all of them.

In other news...

Over the weekend, we learned of the death of Christopher Reeve, the actor who portrayed Superman on the silver screen in recent years, and who spent the last decade or so, paralyzed from the neck down after a horse-riding accident. One can give him great credit for his determination to live a full life, but not for advocating the wholesale murder of the unborn, merely to harvest their stem cells for various cures. This is especially so, when there are alternatives.

Witness this recent piece in the National Review, where Senator Kerry's evasion of the issue gives himself away:

"Every reporter covering the election should, after the second presidential debate in St. Louis, be demanding of Kerry an answer to the following question: Who are the scientists who told you that 'we have the option' of curing Parkinson's, diabetes, spinal-cord injuries, or any other disease using embryonic stem cells? If they won't ask him, the Bush campaign should defy him to name the names. He won't be able to do it. No scientists — even those most pro-Kerry and aggressively in favor of the federal funding of embryo-destructive research — ever told Kerry any such thing...

What Elizabeth Long (the woman who asked Kerry the stem-cell question) said is true: 'Thousands of people have already been cured or treated by the use of adult stem cells or umbilical-cord stem cells. However, no one has been cured by using embryonic stem cells. Wouldn't it be wise to use stem cells obtained without the destruction of an embryo?'

Indeed. But there is the potential cash-crop of dead babies waiting to be stripped of spare parts. If such a scenario seems so indelicate, consider the state of mind of those who would profit from it.

Speaking of those who have passed on...

The Holy Father recently beatified Emperor Charles of Austria-Hungary, who was forced to abdicate his throne after the end of the First World War, and died in exile and near-poverty, surrounded by his family. This included his devoted wife Empress Zita, who passed away only a few years ago. His family, the Hapsburg, remain as pretenders to the dynasty of what was once a great empire of Christendom, and who are loved and admired by Catholic Monarchists the world over.

Also beatified was Anne Catherine Emmerich, the 18th-century German nun and mystic, whose visions of the life of Christ inspired Mel Gibson's rendering of The Passion of the Christ. She didn't stop there: "I saw many pastors cherishing dangerous ideas against the Church... They built a large, singular, extravagant church which was to embrace all creeds with equal rights: Evangelicals, Catholics, and all denominations, a true communion of the unholy with one shepherd and one flock. There was to be a Pope, a salaried Pope, without possessions. All was made ready, many things finished; but, in place of an altar, were only abomination and desolation. Such was the new church to be, and it was for it that he had set fire to the old one; but God designed otherwise." (from Life and Revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, Vol 2, pp 352-353)

Meanwhile, the Spectator gives the broad view of the current state of revision of official books of Catholic worship:

"Three years ago [the Holy Father] issued a document entitled Liturgiam Authenticam, calling for accurate translations from the Latin. For the new translations were not merely ugly, they also tended strongly towards a merely secular vision of life, and away from a perception of human existence understood sub specie aeternitatis. These texts, as one authority puts it, ‘repeatedly overestimate the value of human effort and undervalue the role of divine grace in human life, that is, they tend towards the Pelagian heresy’..."

For one to believe that revising a set of books will magically restore a sense of the sacred to Catholic worship, is to assume that "liturgy" -- from the Greek work for "work of the people" -- is merely a series of words and texts to be gotten through, rather than an action performed. It is as if, on the night He was betrayed, Christ did not say "Do this," but rather merely "Say these words." Most of the ceremonial detail of the classical form of the Roman Rite could be properly employed in the reformed ritual, if the majority of pastors weren't so damned lazy about it, or so easily cowed by their rectory staffs. Still, the trend toward restorationism (the "reform of the reform," as it is known in some circles) is a step in the right direction. Perhaps elevating the spoken word has the power to elevate hearts and minds as well. Someday, I shall write more of this.

But first, can somebody tell me what the hell is going on here???

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