Saturday, July 31, 2010

Life After Helen Thomas

There is an effort underway to influence the White House Correspondents Association, in the matter of filling the front-row-center seat once occupied by Helen Thomas. You may remember how she laid a sizable egg earlier this summer, by suggesting that the Jews leave Israel for parts of central and eastern Europe -- you know, where their parents and grandparents were gassed to death, right? For their meeting tomorrow, the choice has come down to Bloomberg News, Fox News, or National Public Radio. The petition reads:

FOX News is a right-wing propaganda operation, not a legitimate news organization. Award the seat vacated by Helen Thomas to NPR, which has provided public interest coverage of the presidency and the White House for almost four decades.

Uh, make that partially-taxpayer-funded public interest coverage. Oh, yeah, no way that could possibly be viewed as propaganda! Maybe we should split the difference and let Bloomberg have it. Then we could all have a good laugh and get on with our lives.

UPDATE: The vote is in, and it's unanimous: Fox News Channel gets the Helen Thomas chair. The Hill reports. Hot Air comments. You decide.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Road Goes Ever On

The Road goes ever
    on and on
Down from the door
    where it began.
Now far ahead
    the Road
        has gone,
And I must follow,
    if I can.

Pursuing it
    with eager feet,
Until it joins
    some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

People love to speak of life as a journey, as if to romanticize it. But what if it is neither the serene joyride, nor the travail through Dante's infernal regions. What if it is a lonely walk, a moving exile? To be a Catholic, is to speak of our earthly life as in the prayer Salve Regina, of "this vale of tears" and "this, our exile." We may have joys and sorrows, but we are never truly at ease. When we celebrate the Traditional Mass on Sunday, I lead the servers' crew back to the sacristy. After we say the prayers and put things back in order, there is occasion to make note of the mistakes we should have known better than to make. Our pastor, The good Father will often respond: “The only perfect liturgy is in Heaven.”

He is right, of course. But it also true of our time here. In the play by William Nicholson, Shadowlands, based on the life of C S Lewis, the main character tells us of the meaning of suffering:

Pain is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world ... Why can't He wake us more gently, with violins or laughter? Because the dream from which we must be awakened is the dream that all is well ... Self-sufficiency is the enemy of salvation. If you are self-sufficient, you have no need of God. If you have no need of God, you do not seek Him. If you do not seek Him, you will not find Him ... [and] this world that seems to us so substantial is no more than the shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet.

And so the search continues for the remainder of our lives. Inasmuch as the Church on Earth is a line of souls on pilgrimage, we are among the collective. But there are those along the way, who do not see their fellow sojourners alongside them. Often it is through our own blindness, but just as often, it is the estrangement of others. Even as our Lord was betrayed by one, and rejected by all, there are those who share in that aspect of His suffering, and who walk the long loneliness.

The Road goes ever
    on and on
Out from the door
    where it began.
Now far ahead
    the Road
        has gone,
Let others follow
    it who can!

Let them a journey
    new begin,
But I at last
    with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

Until we find the only perfect destination, the heart's true home.

FAMW: Who Is Webb Wilder?

An iconic A-list roots rock musician, a B-movie film star, a man with a Credo to live by, a former DJ on XM Radio and an Electrifying artist. He mixes British invasion rock, Hank Williams country, Elvis soul, Screaming Jay Hawkins theatrics and Dick Dale surf punk (with a bit of rockabilly thrown in) who Rolling Stone says “flat out rocks.”

Lots more info at, and see his movies at We might do a more detailed feature on this guy at our Guitar Workshop. Until then, this will have to do for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I am still exhausted from the National Jamboree yesterday, especially since I didn't sleep all that well. But for the chance to see 45,000 fellow Scouts in one place, it was a melancholy day, nearing the end of a rather tumultuous month at the office. But a man can still dream, can't he? (H/T to "K.L.")

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Five Second Theatre: First Date

Our regular midday Wednesday feature is running a bit late. More on that later. For now, this video just illustrates a point I have been thinking for years. Yes, teleportation, between two adults, is a very wonderful and happy thing. But forced teleportation, when one of the adults is not consenting, is a dangerous crime. Kids, just remember, when it comes to Inter-dimensional Insta-Travel ... No Means No! (H/T to "TheBrianJ.")

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Have you noticed ...

ahaha.gif... that we here at mwbh have been leaving more of our submissions to the evening?

And there's a reason. The bulk of our material is prepared the night before, or some days in advance, and is scheduled to be posted at regular intervals throughout the day -- 10:30am, 12:30pm, 3:30pm, and 7:30pm, are the most common release times -- because of this day job with which we must contend. And for reasons that we'll disclose later, that day job has more of our attention of late. There has been less time for research during the lunch break, and longer hours in the day, both of which put the squeeze to the other end. But we are still committed to bringing you the same (cough!) quality of material despite everything.

Goodnight, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Mister Tingles Goes To Washington

You can tell that Chris Matthews of MSNBC was taught by Jesuits at some point in his life, or at the very least, was influenced by them. If he were anything more than an empty suit with nice hair, he'd shut his pie hole long enough to let someone finish a damn sentence. But this is the sort of shenanigans that Jesuits try to pull when they know they can't win an argument.

Here he is, modus operandi at the ready, for the recent interview with Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. But Ryan is able to finish more than one sentence with this clown, mostly because he has his facts straight and sees the whole picture. But you also have to have some hair on your chest to stand up to this guy, and most people don't have it. Democrat Joseph Crowley of New York does not, although he loves to chime the mantra about "the failed Bush agenda." After all, we're almost two years into this four-year term, and it's still the norm to blame the previous term.

Matthews is starting to get tired of fawning over the President and his ilk as a knee-jerk reaction, and he should do more segments like this. Shooting fish in a barrel is poor sport. Give us some red meat, Mr Tingles!

(Note to Matthews: That's "trillion" with a "T," not "billion" with a "B.")

Divorce: Outside the Box(es)

I've gotten a number of responses about my three pieces last week that dealt with Catholics and divorce. About half of those responses have been private. One of them was from a man, an active Scout leader and practicing Catholic, who was told by another Catholic man: “My kid will never be in your troop because you aren't married.” A lot of Catholics are just idiots, who can't think outside the box -- literally. And until science finds a cure, I don't know what we can do about them.

Maybe just slap them around.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Best Governor Christie Interview ... EVAH!

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plays down references to his being a political "rock star," reminding the public that “All politics is temporary.” But when you make the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows -- yo, fuggedaboutit, you'se a rock star, pally! And with Jake Tapper at the other end, a man who can actually come off as a journalist (on ABC, the least biased of the "big three" not that that's sayin' much, but hey, know what I'm sayin'?), you've got something to keep all of us Chris Christie fans -- Republican, Democrat, and us Independents -- begging for more.

(NOTE: There's another blog posting this. I ran it by them earlier today, but I'm publishing it here anyways. You know what I tells 'em? “Fuggedaboutit!”)

Scouts March on Washington: Parade

I walked to the gathering area at 7th and Madison NW, after attending Sunday Mass at Old St Mary's in Chinatown. About 24 hours earlier, I had finalized my assignment at Council headquarters. I was to be a "pacer" (or whatever they called it) for "Element #68," a group of over two hundred Scouts and Scouters from California and Ohio, including the contingent from my old Dan Beard Council in Cincinnati. The various elements were spread out among the floats and grand marshals, which were grouped by historic decade. Ours was to march behind the "1940s" exhibit.

We waited for over an hour, listened as one parade staffer after another gave us vague instructions, until we got someone who had command of things. My cohort was an Assistant Scoutmaster from Denver by the name of Andreas Wisemann. He got our instructions from the parade managers, and we were set: ten lines, evenly spaced, behind our lineup of flags. I was already worn out from barking instructions to a bunch of guys who had to find it hard to pay attention amidst the excitement. But once we were queued up along Madison, and inserted behind one of the cars, we were good to go.

There is something about the camaraderie of a parade. The banter between Ohioans and Californians, the shouts of “B-S-A! ... B-S-A! ...” between them and the crowd, humoring a middle-aged Scouter when approaching the review stand: “Eyes ... LEFT!” “Scout salute ... ONE!” “Ready ... TWO!” And so on. The guys in California were trying to come up with a pop song to march to. I forget to consider the one from the movie Stripes with Bill Murray: “There she goes just a-walkin' down the street ...”

I'd be lying if I said the one-hundred-degree heat wasn't getting to me. And although I wasn't all that hungry all day, I really should have eaten more. But my cane was enough to get my arthritic knee through the event, and I had just enough water in the bottle. Fortunately, I know just how many streets to go before we reached the end. Going down Constitution Avenue from 7th Street to 18th Street. Arriving at the right job starting up Virginia Avenue, we stopped. “Gentlemen, it has been an honor and a privilege to lead you. Go Bearcats! You are dismissed!” And off they went, toward either the hundreds of water bottles along the curb to their left, or the "misting station" tent set up by the DC Fire Department.

I opted for the former, and found refuge beneath a shady tree. Lying there minding my own business, I was approached by three or four Scouters, who asked me if I was okay. I assured them that I was, and that I only needed another bottled water, which they brought. Finally, an EMT from the DCFD came along and asked the same thing, as well as for any medical conditions I had. That was when I relented and told him I would appreciate having my blood pressure checked. I got more than I bargained for, as they had me in an air-conditioned EMS van, on a gurney, with an O2 tube in my nose, and a BP of 160/72. After more than an hour of ripping open my shirt and pouring water on it, and making me eat something, I finally went down to 110/80, which for me is good.

+    +    +

The rest of the day was anticlimactic. The storm clouds were moving in from the west very quickly, and I made it up the street to the lobby of my office building, just as it was starting to come down hard. The guards knew me, so staying there wasn't a problem, so after the rain stopped, I went home.

In closing, I want to thank George Crittenden, Director of the Centennial Parade, my comrade-in-arms Andreas Wisemann, and of course, the District of Columbia Fire Department. Finally, when I visit the National Jamboree this Wednesday, I hope I run into the guys from Element 68, including the contingent of Dan Beard Council, and Jamboree Troop 803 from the City of Angels.

Go Lakers!

All still images are by Jahi Chikwendiu for The Washington Post, and are used here without permission or shame.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Scouts March on Washington: Prelude

In 1935, the Boy Scouts of America were preparing to celebrate their silver anniversary by holding their first National Jamboree in Washington, DC. When a great polio epidemic broke out, the BSA had to delay their plans until 1937, when 25,000 Scouts camped around the Washington Monument and Tidal Basin. The event was covered extensively by national media and attended by President Franklin Roosevelt.

It was also accompanied by a grand parade down the main street.

There has not been such a parade since them, until today, as the BSA celebrates its centennial year. If I wasn't so tired right now, I'd tell you all about it. But it's going to have to wait. Meanwhile, feast your eyes on this pre-emptive centennial celebration out of Northbrook, Illinois.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blame It On Reno

We've been shedding a light this week, on matters related to divorce. For much of history (and to the extent that any civilization can maintain its cohesion), society has been the "glue" that has held together even those marriages that were challenged. Until the 1960s, this was true to some degree for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. A recent article at reminds us of the way it was, and the lengths to which Americans would go to seek a remedy.

From the 1930s to the early 1960s, Nevada—and Reno in particular — served as the divorce capital of the United States. Few other places made ending a marriage so easy. New York, for example, would grant a divorce only if one spouse could prove that the other had been adulterous — with pictures, perhaps, or an eyewitness. Even with the evidence in hand, an aggrieved spouse still had to wait a year between filing for divorce and being granted one. By contrast, Nevada offered nine grounds for divorce—impotency, adultery, desertion, conviction of a felony, habitual drunkenness, neglect to provide the common necessities of life, insanity, living apart for three years, and extreme cruelty entirely mental in nature ...

And speaking of Mad Men, the fourth season premieres on AMC this coming Sunday night. Check your local cable TV provider for the time. While suitable for adults, its mature themes of the fruits of Protestant liberalism render it unsuitable for children and most adolescents.


FAMW: View Of The City

... is a weekly, half hour comedy show about Birmingham, Alabama, and it's surrounding areas. The show gives a comedic slant to everything from politics, entertainment, business, lifestyle and whatever interests them and what its producers hope will interest other -- uh, Birminghamians, yeah, I think that's the word (or is it "Birminghammers"?). You can check them out at, after you get a taste of it, for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

(H/T to Kathy Shaidle.)

When Johnny Can’t Reason

[A reprint from this day in 2007. -- DLA]

They say you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. In my experience, the best results can be had with a fresh road kill.

This is probably a different approach than the carefully reasoned one postulated by "John da Fiesole" at Disputations recently, entitled "The Church Pubescent." The highlight of his piece is a commencement speech given by retired television journalist Tom Brokaw to the 2005 gradutation class at Emory University:

You have been hearing all of your life that this occasion is a big step into what is called the real world. "What," you may ask, "is that real world all about?" "What is this new life?" Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2005 at Emory, real life is not college; real life is not high school. Here is a secret that no one has told you: Real life is junior high.

The world that you're about to enter is filled with junior high adolescent pettiness, pubescent rivalries, the insecurities of 13-year-olds, and the false bravado of 14-year-olds.

The Disputations piece was brought to my attention by my good colleague Philip Blosser at Musings of a Pertinacious Papist, in an entry entitled "Disputations on Tom Brokaw and the Church Pubescent." He made note of how our Dominican friend mused further on these words:

It's particularly frustrating that it's true of that part of real life lived by the Church Militant. Grace -- and not just an over-the-counter kind of buck-you-uppo grace, but the very Presence of God Himself within our persons -- is supposed to transform us into images of Christ. Yet in practice, contact with others -- which is to say, being confronted with the fact that we can't have everything our way right this instant -- transforms us into 13-year-olds.

Surely Christ's grace is stronger than our own petulance. But do we give witness to this by how we live and how we talk to each other?

It's a commonplace to say that on-line Catholic discussion sites are a scandal to the Church. Bitter hatred expressed in the most vile terms is only a few links away from most every non-self-contained Catholic website.

Most days, though, it's not the hatred that gets to me, but the sheer childishness of it. Someone disagrees with you? Someone's so ignorant you can hardly stand to have him around. Someone is a little too pleased with himself? Someone must be taken down a notch. Someone tries to take you down a notch? Someone's just asking for it ...

For three or four decades now, depending on who's counting, people have been asking Rome for that which should never have been taken away from them in the first place. If such is the injustice that it is made out to be, than surely extraordinary measures would seem appropriate. Not surprising, then, that an extraordinary measure (inasmuch as it is far-reaching, and unprecedented in living memory) has been undertaken. But there are those who have become accustomed to the status quo, who have invested their entire lives in it, and who are unlikely to go quietly into the night. Like that choir directress in the UK who had a hissy-fit over the thought of using Gregorian chant, and whose tale of woe has been making the rounds in the Catholic blogosphere of late.

So, in the long run, our Dominican friend is right, and it is a reminder to yours truly, of the inherent dangers of going too far in the course of proving a point.

Then again ...

The above being as it may, "John" assumes that he is dealing with people who are as open to a mutual search for the truth as would be himself. Alas, these aging adolescents of whom he speaks, by nature of the disposition that characterizes them in his writing, are less concerned with the truth or the common good, than they are with their own desires. They see something they want, and for that reason alone they must have it. Our resident Disputationist has the luxury of putting that impediment aside in his forum. Many of us who see the world and our place in it in a similar vein, are not so fortunate.

They have certainly been less than fortunate in the Diocese of Richmond, for example. Our friends at Richmond Catholic have brought to our attention, a memorandum that was issued several weeks ago by an office within the chancery:

From: "Pat Slater"
Subject: Mary of Magdala Celebration
Date: Tue, 10 Jul 2007 18:12:15 +0000

St Nicholas in Virginia Beach is hosting a Mary of Magdala celebration on July 17th. The flyer is attached. Also, if you would like more information about the real Mary and her feast, you can visit

Keep cool and pray for all those who suffer from this heat.

Pat Slater
Office of Justice and Peace

In the wake of this release, the heat was most assuredly on, but not from the weather. After gaining the attention of their Bishop, our functionary was compelled to issue the following ... er, uh, clarification:

I sent out an e-mail last week about the Mary of Magdala celebration which is being held at St Nicholas Parish in Virginia Beach. I also attached a link to find out more information about Mary Magdalen at the Future Church website. Apparently this has caused some confusion and I apologize for this ...

By citing the link to Future Church I was in no way promoting the agenda of Future Church or implying that our Bishop was promoting the agenda of Future Church. The intention was just to make people aware of the contributions of Mary Magdalen, "apostle to the apostles," first witness to the Lord's resurrection, and leader in the early church. She is frequently misrepresented as a prostitute for which there is no biblical or historical basis.

Again, there was no desire to promote any agenda which deviates from present church practice.

(I had no idea that a matter of Church teaching could be reduced to "present church practice." Ah, 'tis another story for another day...)

But how to reason with such people, then? You can't. They don't listen because they don't have to. Listening to you is inconvenient. Listening to you means giving up what they want, the fruits of a life spent throwing tantrums at convocations with the like-minded. In the case of Ms Slater, that she is either a liar or a fool does not matter. If she is a liar -- in this case, about never intending to promote an organization which dissents from Catholic teaching -- it will never be clear whether she regrets their actions, or getting caught. Either way, it is unlikely that she can ever be trusted, which makes her expendable (or, having already been empowered to speak for a higher authority -- dangerous). If she is a fool -- again, in this case, overlooking an aspect of FutureChurch which would have been obvious to most people in her position -- then she would not gain from any wisdom that is imparted. She may yet be capable of redemption. But first, there must be consequences for her actions. You must take away something she wants. You must remove her from any position of influence over anyone else. Like any addict in denial, it is only when they lose that which enables them, that they can make the decision to change.

What's more, in the course of bringing their influence to bear unencumbered, the functionary becomes little more than a schoolyard bully, operating by sheer force of will, with little to keep their power in check. My childhood saga has made me a consummate expert on bullies, and I can tell you this; there is one thing a bully understands, and one thing only, and that is a force which outmatches their own, in very short and resolute order. You cannot reason with them; you can only beat them into submission.

The decision to resolve this matter is in the hands of the one who ultimately must live with the results; namely, the Most Reverend Bishop of Richmond. Why hasn't he done anything about it? There are two assumptions which may be operating here; one is that he can do something, the other is that he chooses not to.

If a Catholic diocese, on a practical level, is anything like the Federal government (and I can speak with some authority here), it can take a long time. You have to build up evidence over a sustained period, and you have to ensure that no undue discrimination was involved, or it comes back to bite you on the hindquarters. (Trust me on this one.) And when the dust settles, it takes forever to replace them. And if the infestation in the diocesan machinery is as dysfunctional as some Catholics in Virginia suggest, it is likely that a director of a "justice and peace office" will be among the last with which to be dealt.

It has been suggested that Bishop Finn of Kansas City and St Joseph (Missouri) wasted little time in cleaning house once he ascended the cathedra. But he also had over a year as co-adjutor to sniff around and engage others without the burden of the big title. This is a critical advantage, which Bishop DiLorenzo of Richmond did not have, and for which one can take a long time to compensate, once one is in the position itself.

For such as these, whether in Virginia, or "across the pond" in the mother country, tradition is something within their lifetime. It is not something "handed down," but is of their own creation, with a mythical origin to suit their needs. Tradition defined in such a shallow way, has little to distinguish it from mere force of habit. But saints be praised, their day is nearing an end, and acts of desperation are a sure sign of the desperate. Until then, nothing says it all like a fresh road kill.

Because sometimes, you have to make a big enough stink with someone to get their undivided attention.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

20 Years Revisited

VIDEO: Tammy Wynette performing a song which needs no introduction. Date unknown.

Sunday's piece entitled “20 Years After: Divorce and the Culture of Death” is getting quite a response, with nearly two hundred and fifty visits on the day following that of its issue, and about half that number yesterday. For this blog, that's pretty good any time of year, but it's phenomenal for the summer. One comment was particularly moving. "Angel" writes:

I was abandoned by my adulterous husband. I had 4 children under the age of 8 when he left. I had been out for the workforce for about 8 years and would stay out another 7 to raise our children alone ...

Now, I know what you're all thinking. “Hey, Mister Black Hat Guy, this guy is a jerk. He’ll never be played by Julia Roberts in a major motion picture.” (See previous reference.) I rest my case.

Last December, I wrote “Christmas 1990” about my first holiday season alone in Georgetown. It included advice for people in the same situation. (If you are currently in that situation, stop what you're doing and read it. Now.) Unfortunately, people left to raise children don't have the luxury of falling into depression, and can't live the "crazy time" experience associated with the aftermath. They have to be the rock of stability for the little ones, who often don't have a grasp of what's going on. In my case, I was able to tap into a network of activity, mostly among the folk music and dance crowd. (See “My Gypsy Moment” from April 2008.) I was lucky in that way. Even today, my involvement in Scouting is somewhat impeded because I'm not a "family man" in the usual sense. (It also doesn't help that Scouting in areas like this one is dominated by Mormons, but that's another story, no offense to any Mormons.)

I should also clarify something. My wife left in 1990. The divorce itself didn't happen until two years after that. Virginia requires one year of legal separation before filing if there are children involved, six months if there are not, making it one of the more conservative states where family law is concerned. (That, and the tendency to believe anything the woman says, to the extent of perjury.) I did not participate in the proceedings, as my presence was not ordered by the court. To tell the truth, the legal action was rather anticlimactic. In fact, I didn't find out about it until about two months after the papers were ready for me to sign, and that was only because the cake-eater she hired as her attorney finally wanted to know why I wasn't making the checks out in her maiden name. For the price of keeping two lawyers busy, she finally spit it out. What a goober!

Okay, okay, enough out of Peyton Place; we need to focus here. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks with severity on the issue:

Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. ...(#2384)

Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society ...(#2385)

Fortunately, it does not stop there.

It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law.

There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage. (#2386)

What is also important to remember here, are the three conditions necessary for mortal sin. As summarized in the Baltimore Catechism, they are “grave matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent.” This is to say, especially in light of the second and third conditions, that the person is fully aware of the gravity of the action, and fully intends to commit a moral offense. As we learned in the earlier piece with respect to sufficient reasons for divorce, one does not necessarily desire to end a marriage when initiating a divorce. Thus it is a civil exercise that may be tolerated by the Church, in order to properly dispose of legal and property matters, and to ensure the care of children involved. These are good things in and of themselves, the state of the marriage notwithstanding. Further, it is not a commentary on the validity of the bond, which is another matter entirely.

Any questions?

Five Second Theatre: Party Girl

For this week's regular midday Wednesday feature, we have this clip from the birthday party last Monday night for Paul's significant other. With friends like these, who needs crushing your soul in an organ grinder repeatedly and without mercy?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Plug This: FiveFeetOfFury

“You’re not smart enough to tell me how to live.”

This occasional Tuesday feature is devoted to the lesser-knowns and up-and-comings of the Catholic blogosphere. But today we'll make an exception, for two reasons.

One is that Canadian writer/blogger/pundit Kathy Shaidle was in the Catholic blogosphere before there was a Catholic blogosphere. The other is that today is her tenth anniversary thereof and/or therein. The former author of Relapsed Catholic has since migrated her work to the more recent FiveFeetOfFury. To those obsessed with political correctness, Shaidle only looks harmless, but her irreverent insights and indefatigable combativeness keep observers of the culture wars coming back for more. Her battles with the Canadian political establishment serve as an inspiration for those of us Americans who, at the rate things are going, could end up with the same problems in about ten years.

Shaidle's 2007 blog-switch may have been motivated by any number of things, but her love for her Faith was not one of them. Then again, her contempt for the Catholic hierarchy's bumbling of the sex abuse scandals has been to the point of scorn, and perhaps, rightly so.

I don't believe Jon Stewart will have her on his show, because he knows she will bite him in the @$$ and spit it out.

Then ask what's for dessert. I think I'm in love.

VIDEO: Solidarity Rally for Geert Wilders, Toronto, Wednesday, 01/20/2010.

Why do they call it “Planned” Parenthood ...

... when most of the effort appears to involve planning for NO parenthood?

I thought of this yesterday when I was walking up 19th Street, and some hippie-dippie looking kid with a clipboard and a Planned Parenthood tee-shirt asked me if I had a few minutes. I didn't. But I was reminded of how even Margaret Sanger was herself against abortion, in favor of contraception. Planned Parenthood says it wants to make abortion "safe, legal, and rare," but I don't see where there's any money in that, being as how they are the Nation's largest abortion provider, and about one-fourth of their budget comes from Federal funding.

They've also been caught scamming a few people, not only about concealing a girl's abortion from parents in parental-notification states, but in falsifying instances of sexual abuse. I don't know where the state medical boards are when stuff like this happens. But as more people defect from their payroll out of sheer repugnance, more people elsewhere will get the message about Planned Parenthood.

It's not about your health, it's about the money.

Monday, July 19, 2010


[There's been some buzz about this subject in the Catholic blogosphere of late. We here at mwbh use this occasion for a reprint from June 2005. -- DLA]

The other night, on his MSNBC program Hardball, Chris Matthews featured a religious movement within the Church known as Opus Dei. Actually, what it's called is a "personal prelature," the first of its kind in the Church, a model of lay apostolate with its own jurisdiction, its members being clerical and lay, married or single.

Much has been written about them, and whatever I say here will assume that the reader has heard something about them. A link to the MSNBC page be found by clicking here.

My own feelings about them are mixed. The name "opus dei" used to refer to the Divine Office, and it still does. The founder, St Josemaria Escriva, would have known this. Personally, I think it's damned arrogant for them to appropriate it for themselves. (Just couldn't come up with your own name, could ya, now?) The MSNBC article also blames some of the reputation for "secrecy" on the fact that an FBI agent who was caught spying for the Russians was a member of Opus Dei. Well, sorry, but they got that label a long time before that. I've heard at least one personal account from a former perspective member to that effect. But only one.

The question has arisen, then, as to whether or not they are a "cult." It's entirely possible they have some of the characteristics of a cult, and were it not for their ultimate accountability to the Holy See, they probably would be outright. Then again, the same might be said of most religious orders, particularly those who live in cloister. In the end, part of the issue may be that they are a new model in the life of the Church, with a few kinks yet to be worked out. And so, there's a pamphlet out there called "A Parent's Guide to Opus Dei," to warn parents of certain excesses supposedly prevalent within the movement.

I don't think it was really necessary for the founder, St Josemaria Escriva, to be canonized so quickly. A pope who expressed his eagerness to canonize married couples, and then who got the fast track? Makes you wonder.

To their credit, they do a great job running the Catholic Information Center here in downtown Washington. I get books there all the time, and sometimes I go to daily Mass there. All the priests I've ever met from them are dedicated and devout. Most of the lay members used to strike me as a bit too docile, but that appears to be changing.

Whatever the future holds for such movements, they're obviously not for everybody.

DC Rocks!

There was an earthquake in the DC area last Friday morning, shortly before dawn, with its epicenter in Gaithersburg, in the northern suburbs of Maryland. It measured a whopping 3.6 on the Richter scale. The area had only barely recovered from a quake of 2.0 magnitude last May. Thankfully, this writer slept through the entire thing, but was mysteriously compelled to call in sick that morning. FamousDC has pictures of the devastation.

Oh, the humanity.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

20 Years After: Divorce and the Culture of Death

He was a friend from my childhood. We attended the same school, and we were in Boy Scouts together. His mother was a striking woman, with a face that one might imagine portraying a life of glamor, as if on a magazine cover. But the life she was handed took its toll on that face. The other guys in the neighborhood said that her husband was a drunk. I didn't know what to make of that, but I used to see her every morning, faithfully taking her place in the pews when I was serving daily Mass.

It might surprise some people that a divorced man such as myself would actually disapprove of divorce. These would be the same people who didn't know, or for whom it doesn't seem to matter, that it was the mother of my son who left me. (No kidding, I have actually met "devout Catholics" who didn't know the difference.) It was twenty years ago today, that I came home from work, and found a note in the place of my wife and son. If you want to know the extent of the damage that divorce can cause, you can read this piece by one of my favorite Catholic writers, Anthony Esolen ...

He could have abandoned her years before -- not for another woman, but for what the world calls peace. Dad is not a Catholic, so he had no Church precept to warn him against divorce. He didn't need any. "You never know what you'll get in life," he put it to me once. "You have to do the right thing, because if you don't, you'll probably make things worse." So he never left, and at the last moment of Esther's life he was there, fulfilling a patient vigil, his eyes red with weariness and loss.

... or I can tell you what it cost me.

Had we stayed together, and in the same house, the mortgage would already have been paid off, and I could have retired from the Government at the end of this year, having just turned 56, with enough years left to take a job in the private sector for half my government salary. Instead, the house was sold as part of the settlement, and my obligations to child support prevented me from buying a house again until 2005, just before the housing boom went bust. I will never live to see the mortgage paid off. It is more likely that I will be working full time until I'm 70 -- nearly twice the age I was when she left.

The good news is, I love my work.

I am forever proud of my son, all that he has accomplished, all that he has overcome. But it was his mother who taught him how his father should be treated. This poses a challenge for both of us. But the real price to pay will be his, when he has children of his own, and they learn from him how he should be treated. It could turn out very well, and I hope that it does, but only if he challenges what he was taught, culminating in a dreaded admission.

There are only three good reasons to get a divorce.

The first reason is adultery, since marriage is not only a covenant with another human being, but with God. A spouse who defiles the marriage bed in this way, not only commits sacrilege, but can never be trusted again, and even canon law makes some allowance for those who leave for this reason.

The second reason is domestic abuse, to the point of imminent danger to oneself, and/or one's children. We are, in the words of the Psalmist, "beautifully and wonderfully made." God's creation must be kept from harm. We owe this to ourselves, and those who love us -- even when they don't know how. This step requires complete honesty with oneself, as in a surprising percentage of such cases, the wife is the actual abuser.

The third reason is alcohol or substance abuse, as it is only when an addict loses everything that he or she can come to terms with the need for recovery. This is often a very costly solution, one that entails a great deal of risk. The only thing worse may be not going through with it, especially if children are involved.

VIDEO: Julia Roberts, from the movie Eat Pray Love, based on the 2006 NYTimes best selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert.

All these cases are to be motivated out of love and commitment to the marriage covenant, including the interests of the children, and none of them, by themselves, affect the validity of the bond.

What are not good reasons to get a divorce?

Discontent with one's life. This generally takes on one of two forms. One is dissatisfaction with one's spouse. If you love someone, sooner or later they will disappoint you. I've met countless women who left their husbands, sometimes after twenty years or more together, for no reason other than some selfish bull$#!t nonsense about their own personal fulfillment. A man who does this is portrayed as a rogue, a cad. A woman who does this is portrayed by Julia Roberts in a major motion picture. The other form is that of "growing apart." Marriage is a conscious decision to grow together. To do otherwise, is to deliberately choose otherwise.

"Falling out of love." Love is a decision. It is not a hole that you "fall" into, nor is it a feeling that can change with the weather. If you cannot transcend these ups and downs, and accept that marriage involves both the bitter and the sweet, it is better that you never marry at all. Most people who find someone else hard to live with, fail to recognize that a similar accusation may apply to them as well.

The old standby known as "irreconcilable differences." Like suicide, this is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Usually it's over things as silly as failing to take out the trash, being unable to fix the dishwasher, or something even more trivial. Everyone has a dream of how things should be; in a marriage you merge that dream with another's. It's not all about you anymore. "Growing apart" often begins when couples refuse to make that adjustment.

I can say with satisfaction, that after twenty years, I have gotten past what I call "my former life," and that I have been able to reconcile the matter, and the life that follows, with my Faith. How I did that is nobody's business but mine, and canon law protects that privilege. There are people reading this now, some of whom are happily married, who have it all figured out what I should have done back then, how I should feel about it now, or even how I should have worded the previous sentence. Fortunately, people like them are not the reason I'm still Catholic. UPDATE: Hey, kids, haven't had enough? Click here for the sequel! .

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Other Mary Magdalen

Today is an important feast day, one that doesn't get nearly enough attention. (No, not that one.)

Julie Francoise Catherine Postel was born in Barfleur, Normandy, France, on November 28, 1756. In 1774, she opened a school for girls there. Then came the French Revolution. Most American schoolchildren learn of this as a positive thing. That's because before American history textbooks were written by revisionary socialist weenies, it was written by revisionary Protestant weenies. In truth, the French Revolution was followed by the massive persecution of the Church known as the "Reign of Terror." Postel's school was forced to close. Barfleur became a center for the underground Church, and the former school became a safe house for fugitive priests. At one point, Postel was given the care of the reserved Eucharist to bring Communion to the sick (probably because no one would suspect a woman).

After the Pope reached a concordat with Napoleon in 1801, Postel was able to continue teaching. At 52, she became a Franciscan tertiary, took the name Sister Mary Magdalen, and founded an order to teach children and serve the poor, the Sisters of the Christian Schools of Mercy. The order moved its location several times before taking over an abandoned abbey and restoring it.

Mother Mary Magdalen Postel died on this day in 1846, at the age of 90. She was canonized in 1925.

FAMW: 21 Accents

Meet Amy Walker. She is twenty-five years old, and you have twenty-one guesses as to where she's from. (We can eliminate Charleston, South Carolina, since that one needs a little work.) She can teach you any one of a number of accents, to amaze and mystify your friends, or maybe make them think you fell on your head pretty hard. Simply go to to learn more.

And that's the way it is for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Chicken vs Egg: The Answer!

One proof of the existence of God, is the identity of the “Uncreated Creator.” At some point in the ordering of the universe, something had to come first, in order for something else to come second, something else third, and so on. Scientists in the UK believe they have determined whether the chicken or the egg came first. But as Brian Williams of NBC News indicates in the end of this clip, their exercise in futility begs the question which Thomas Aquinas already answered nearly eight centuries ago.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Rorate Caeli is a blog devoted primarily to reports on the restoration of Catholic tradition. Two areas of specialty are the sacred worship of the Church, and the activities of separatist groups such as the Society of Saint Pius X (the SSPX, also known as the "Lefebvrites"). It is the latter that was a recent area of concern, as discussions over an accord between the SSPX and the Holy See, which would return them to the regular life of the Church, where the catalyst of a long (and in particular venue, recurring) combox discussion. Is “going rogue” the right means by which to preserve the Truths of the Faith, against modernist forces operating from within?

The Diocese of Arlington was canonically erected on May 28, 1974, by Pope Paul VI, its territory created from the twenty-one northernmost counties of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which before was a part of the Diocese of Richmond. Someone once said that “Arlington wasn’t split from Richmond, it seceded.” While the statement is not the least bit accurate, a recent homily by the Reverend Father Franklyn McAfee may lend it a hint of credence (albeit unintended). This was recorded at the Church of Saint John the Beloved, during a Traditional Solemn High Mass on July 11, the Sixth Sunday After Pentecost, with the above title.

Readers who cannot view the track with their browsers can access it here.

Five Second Theatre: Nothing’s On

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released his album "Human Touch," which included a song entitled "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)." It was released as a single, which peaked at number 68 on the Billboard Top 100. This came to mind with the selection of this week's usual midday Wednesday feature. 500 Channels of Chaucer and Proust? Where do I sign up (to have an assassin take my life)?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Other End of the Rainbow

Conventional wisdom notwithstanding, we may not have to celebrate our diversity as much as is believed. Our diversity is unavoidable. Inasmuch as the good Lord makes each and every one of us different in some way, we are left to our own devices as a tribute to the diversity that is already part of the human condition. To give an example, in the Filipino (Tagalog) language, "oh oh" means "yes." Depending on how Sal enunciates it in passing on any given day, it could sound like "uh uh," which means "no" on this side of the planet. You think that hasn't started trouble on more than one occasion? Oh, "yes yes" it has!

What's more, it is possible for such emphases to be our own worst enemy, as one group is easily set against another. We haven't heard from Jesse Jackson in awhile. Someone apparently reminded him of that, so he got back on the stump and tried to portray a multi-millionaire basketball star as being treated like a slave because he "ran away" from his "slave master" -- that is, the employer for whom he (the alleged slave) voluntarily agreed to work for a handsome price. Judging from the internet chatter, most young people aren't buying it. Once your kids graduate from the finest private schools on the East Coast, and are doing very well on their own, it does manage to cut into your street cred, just a little.

[NOTA BENE: Chris Muir is once again having his annual appeal, for the support of his work as the creator of the "Day By Day" cartoon, which appears daily at the bottom of the blue sidebar. Go to, and show the man some love.]

Brooklyn Rider Does Debussy

This video clip was broadcast yesterday on NPR affiliate WNYC in New York City (just the audio, obviously).

The young string quartet Brooklyn Rider takes on everything from Debussy and John Cage to works featuring the Japanese shakuhachi and electronics. With their high-energy performing style and occasional gigs in rock clubs, the group is helping to shake up the once staid image of the string quartet. For more music and an interview, click here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

“Sir, will that be paper or plastic?”

Don't be surprised if the question isn't loaded.

On Interstate 70, east of Columbus, is an exit for the town of Cambridge, Ohio. There, at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, you can sit down to a decent meal, and watch the fastest busboy in the Buckeye State. I can't remember his name, but he's been the subject of local newspapers and television stations.

We've heard it before; if you work as a ditch-digger, quit complaining and be the best ditch-digger you can be. To take pride in one's work, to make an adventure out of what seems unadventurous at its core, is [WARNING: CLICHÉ ALERT!] a triumph of the human spirit. [END WARNING] I suppose that, had my high-school experience as a cashier/stock clerk for Kroger Supermarket been anything like what is shown in this clip, I still would have left it behind for the career I have today. But at least it would have been more fun.

Now THERE'S a story even my son hasn't heard yet.

The rest of you can look for Ready, Set, Bag! at a theater near you beginning the sixth of August, the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Meghan McCain: The Next Level

With the oil spill in the Gulf continuing to plague the shores of Louisiana and her neighbors, murderous drug cartels and illegal crossings threatening the Arizona border, and governors of both states frustrated with a lack of expediency (among other things) at the Federal level, one up-and-coming great American thinker knows what is truly on America's mind.

I watched—and loved—every second of the first season of The Jersey Shore. And the tiny, feisty, tan Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi was my favorite. When I found out she was angry about Obama's tax on tanning, I had some questions for her ...

Dude, she like, totally voted for McCain, y'know?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Robe of Christ

by Joyce Kilmer
(For Cecil Chesterton)

At the foot
    of the Cross
    on Calvary
Three soldiers sat
    and diced,
And one of them
    was the Devil
And he won
    the Robe of Christ.

When the Devil comes in his proper form
To the chamber where I dwell,
I know him and make the Sign of the Cross
Which drives him back to Hell.

And when he comes like a friendly man
And puts his hand in mine,
The fervour in his voice is not
From love or joy or wine.

And when he comes like a woman,
With lovely, smiling eyes,
Black dreams float over his golden head
Like a swarm of carrion flies.

Now many a million tortured souls
In his red halls there be:
Why does he spend his subtle craft
In hunting after me?

Kings, queens and crested warriors
Whose memory rings through time,
These are his prey, and what to him
Is this poor man of rhyme,

That he, with such laborious skill,
Should change from role to role,
Should daily act so many a part
To get my little soul?

Oh, he can be the forest,
And he can be the sun,
Or a buttercup, or an hour of rest
When the weary day is done.

I saw him through a thousand veils,
And has not this sufficed?
Now, must I look on the Devil robed
In the radiant Robe of Christ?

He comes, and his face is sad and mild,
With thorns his head is crowned;
There are great bleeding wounds in his feet,
And in each hand a wound.

How can I tell, who am a fool,
If this be Christ or no?
Those bleeding hands outstretched to me!
Those eyes that love me so!

I see the Robe -- I look -- I hope --
I fear -- but there is one
Who will direct my troubled mind;
Christ's Mother knows her Son.

O Mother of Good Counsel, lend
Intelligence to me!
Encompass me with wisdom,
Thou Tower of Ivory!

“This is the Man of Lies,” she says,
“Disguised with fearful art:
He has the wounded hands and feet,
But not the wounded heart.”

Beside the Cross on Calvary
She watched them as they diced.
She saw the Devil join the game
And win the Robe of Christ.

“Abide with me ...”

I was the MC for a Solemn High Mass earlier today, where the pastor emeritus gave one of his most remarkable homilies to date*. After some grocery shopping, I came home to an empty house, as the eventide approacheth. It is quiet here at Chez Alexandre. The radio is playing classical music in the background. "Sal" and I went dancing last night for the first time in a dog's age. (Latin dancing, if you're wondering.) She was at her usual form, and I wish I could say the same for me. But between that and another bad night's sleep, and little to eat today, I'm pretty worn out. When I was young, my parents treated Sunday for the day of rest that it was, the two of them usually falling asleep on the couch, or nodding off while reading the newspaper. I couldn't imagine at the time leading such a boring existence. Fortunately, I can now.

* This will be made available here as soon as a recording or transcript is produced. Stay tuned ...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Scout Is Courteous

[The following is taken from the seventh edition of the Boy Scout Handbook, 1965, which I used for most of my years in Scouting. -- DLA]

A story is told of an old man who went to see one of the Olympic games in ancient Greece many years ago. He was late. There was not a single seat available. A Spartan youth noticed the old man's plight. He beckoned him near and gave him his seat. A group of young Athenians who had witnessed the incident began to applaud. The old man turned toward them and said, “Yes, you young Athenians know what it is right to do -- but it takes a Spartan to do it.”

Friday, July 09, 2010

FAMW: thecomputernerd01

The internet is making everyone a star, or at least bringing the potential to those who wish they were. The result in some corners of the web, is a sort of "revenge of the nerds." They actually achieve a cult following of sorts, and many go to some lengths to maintain a level of production quality to their work.

This guy isn't one of them.

We hope to present a few of the wannabes that we have found by chance -- within the limits of taste, of course, as some of them fall well outside of it. But for now, witness this case in point, for this week's Friday Afternoon Moment of Whimsy


From its beginnings in the writings of Lord Baden-Powell, Scouting has emphasized the youth's "duty to God." Recent legal disputes over whether atheists or agnostics can be Eagle Scouts or Scout leaders, cloud the fact that Scouting does not attempt to define the notion of a Higher Power for anybody. The generic nature of religious devotion under Scout auspices include the "Scout's Own" service on a Sunday morning, as well as the prayer before meals known as the “Philmont Grace” or "Wilderness Grace."

For food,
for raiment,
for life,
for opportunity,
For friendship and fellowship,
We thank thee, O Lord.

Let's eat.

Mark Shea Explains It All For You (Again)

Western attitudes toward the "third world" is the Achilles heel of political correctness. For all the nonsense about telling each other to “think globally, act locally,” what we really want, is for THEM to act locally by not reproducing, so there will be more for US with which to act locally.

Mark Shea explains:

White First World Population Planners are perpetually bent on reducing the carbon footprint of impoverished third world countries they deem to have “too many children”. They have to fly all over the world on hundreds of jets every year to make sure that some guy burning a few sticks to cook his dinner in Kenya doesn’t suck up all the resources that are rightfully ours.

What else is there to be said? That Mark Shea is a genius. A GENIUS, I TELL YOU!!!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Life In A Day

“You oughta be in pictures ...”

Life In A Day is a historic global experiment to create the world's largest user-generated feature film: a documentary, shot in a single day, by you. On July 24, you have 24 hours to capture a glimpse of your life on camera. The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into an experimental documentary film, executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin Macdonald.

For more information, visit

UPDATE: The movies blog at has some ideas of its own for Ridley Scott: “[W]hat if instead of showing us a day in the life of our world, "Life in a Day" showed us a day in the life of some of Ridley Scott's most famous characters?”

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Summorum Pontificum @Three

Three years ago today, the decree Summorum Pontificum was issued, removing restrictions from the celebration of the Traditional form of the Roman Mass (also known as "The Old Mass," or "The Tridentine Mass," or erroneously as "The Mass of All Time," inasmuch as EVERY valid Mass transcends time at the moment of consecration, you big dummy!). Anyway, the Holy See was expected to engage in an evaluation of the effects of the decree just three years after. It's getting about time ...

On that cheery note, click here. For an analysis from a bunch of hotheads in the combox at Rorate Caeli, click here. For an analysis from a bunch of hotheads with cooler heads amongst them in the combox at WDTPRS, click here. For a reflection from Damien Thompson of the Telegraph, click here.

Yeah, I know. “Wow, Mister Black Hat Guy. You’re the one stop for all our Summorum Pontificum needs.” Ah, my little minions, 'tis the least I could do.

Ringo Starr @70

Richard Starkey -- better known to the world as Ringo Starr -- turned 70 years old today. As drummer for The Beatles, he got somewhat of a bad rap over the years from general pop audiences. In fact, among drummers, he set a new standard not only in terms of his playing style, but in bringing a new prominence to the role of a drummer in a pop combo. He is shown here in an excerpt from an interview on an A&E special.

His birthday wish? “Peace and love.” Sounds reasonable.

Five Second Theatre: Whisper Quiet

Time once again for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

All their mom wanted was for Allen to find a home. But they wound up finding something even better -- each other. Starring Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney from BriTANicK!

Cautionary Tales: The Geography of Recession

Sure, I could have waited until next Monday, which is the scheduled time for this series. But it would have gone viral by then, so what the hey. We got this one this morning from "Big Ron."

According to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly 31 million people currently unemployed* -- that's including those involuntarily working parttime and those who want a job, but have given up on trying to find one. In the face of the worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression, millions of Americans are hurting. “The Decline: The Geography of a Recession” as created by labor writer LaToya Egwuekwe, serves as a vivid representation of just how much. Watch the deteriorating transformation of the US economy from January 2007 -- approximately one year before the start of the recession -- to the most recent unemployment data available today.

Also featured here is a CNN interview with Ms Egwuekwe from last December.

For a larger view of the chart, go to the original page by clicking here. For more information, you may contact Ms Egwuekwe via email: latoya dot egwuekwe at yahoo dot com.

* Current as of May 1 2010.