Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Building the Cathedral - Some More Bergman

Today I was continuing to ponder my encounter with Bergman, and his films, especially on the question of doubt. As I had mentioned earlier, his movies so profoundly capture the precarious position of modern man that even if they are uncomfortable it is very easy to identify with them.

I came across this quote from the Four Screenplays of Ingmar Bergman (1960), and I must say that if you have ever enjoyed one of his movies, or if you have ever thought about the relationship of art to faith in a post-modern context, take a moment and look it over. Bergman gives a fascinating view in to the modern cult of the artist that seems to have been so prevalent through much of the 20th century.

It is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself.
People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be. There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants, and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They worked until the building was completed — master builders, artists, labourers, clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres.

Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.
Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than other artisans; 'eternal values,' 'immortality' and 'masterpiece' were terms not applicable in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable assurance and natural humility. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation.

The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other's eyes and yet deny the existence of each other.

We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon's head, an angel, a devil — or perhaps a saint — out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts.

Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman 1918 - 2007

Today Swedish director Ingmar Bergman passed away. The Quincy House offers their prayers for the repose of his soul.

He will be long remembered.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wait Until Dark

This coming Monday (July 30th) the summer Screen on the Green event in DC will be showing Wait Until Dark (1967), starring Audrey Hepburn, who was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for her performance.

The film is based on the play of the same name, by Frederick Knott. The story revolves around a blind housewife, Susy Hendrix, and the goons who desperately want a doll that has serendipitously ended up in her house. A battle of wits ensues between the two parties.

While the film ranked tenth on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movies, the piece is not a stock horror film. It is perhaps best described as a psycho-thriller in the literal sense that it engages the mind. When I first saw Wait Until Dark four years ago, I was very impressed by the way in which director Terence Young had managed to draw his audience into the mindset of the film's protagonist, even while seeing what she cannot see.

The film begins at sunset (around 8:25 PM) on the National Mall between 4th and 7th Streets and is 107 minutes long. I'll be there, probably having a picnic dinner, after stopping by the Sackler Gallery.

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There's good news... and bad news

The FT recently ran the following headline: "Good news: you are unlikely to be nuked any time soon." This is indeed good news, the sort I like to read over my morning bowl of oatmeal.

As Gideon Rachman points out, nuclear technology, though sixty years old, is still very difficult to master. And the 1999 example of the Kargil War shows that nuclear powers tend to actually be rather restrained with their wares. Good news indeed.

There are, however, several related issues you should be worrying about (not to mention the Chinese threat).

First, Rachman - or at least those he's commenting upon - forget that there are other weapons of mass destruction besides nuclear ones. Chemical and biological weapons are much simpler to build and still terribly dangerous. And Russia has lots of them just sitting around, waiting to be stolen or sold on the black market. Even if the Russian government wants to be a good steward of these weapons and keep them out of the hands of terrorists, the Russian government itself doesn't know where all its weapons are. That's why a new blog on Russian biological and chemical weapons is highlighting the danger of non-state transfers of these things.

Of course there's no reason to assume the Russians have any desire to act responsibly. Just yesterday Vladimir Putin, known to the White House as Pooty-Poot, said Russia must continue to strengthen its military and step up spying on the West. And seeing as how Pooty-Poot tends to get what he wants in Russia, we can look forward to these developments in the coming months and years.

And if you don't yet have sufficient cause for concern, consider that Russia has just launched a submarine expedition to the North Pole on the logic that "The Arctic is ours and we should demonstrate our presence." Nevermind that the area is nowhere close to Russia's internationally recognized territorial waters; they're claiming this now too.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Beware the Dragon...

The Chinese made the front page of the FT three times today. The largest story looks encouraging: "Chinese-FBI joint crackdown nets $500m in pirated software." It is, however, to two other stories that I would like to draw attention. An article titled "US arrests Mexican over drugs import claim" describes the arrest in Washington, DC, of the Chinese-Mexican businessman Zhenli Ye Gon. Earlier this year Mr. Ye Gon made headlines when $205 million in cash was seized from his Mexico City home, the largest single seizure of drug cash in history.
Authorities have connected Mr. Ye Gon with a huge criminal organisation that manufactured pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in methamphetamines.

The final story from the front page of today's FT is about the vast numbers of Chinese migrants who are arriving in the Philippines.
According to Teresita Ang-See, an expert on Chinese in the Philippines, there are 80,000-100,000 illegal or over-staying Chinese nationals in the country.... Many are drawn to illicit activities such as smuggling and drugs.

Danilo Almeda, an immigration spokesman, explained that

The Chinese come here as legitimate tourists or investors but try to leave for the US or Canada using forged passports or visas.

What is the point of mentioning these stories? Simply to point out that Chinese migrants are all over the world and some - probably a minority - are involved in some shady business? No, there's more to it than that, if we connect the dots.

Ralph D. Sawyer of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary has raised a number of important issues in his recent article 'Chinese Strategic Power: Myths, Intent and Projections.'

The capture of a Chinese druglord in the US capital caught my eye, having read earlier this year in Sawyer's article that

The inclusion of drugs, smuggling, psychological warfare - a major thematic topic in recent issues of China Military Science - and various weapons of mass destruction ranging from biological through chemical and even nuclear, all to be combined in new ways, indicates that no method of inflicting casualties, disabling the infrastructure, and sowing disorder is to be excluded or neglected.

Likewise, large numbers of Chinese 'businessmen' or 'tourists' trying to come to the US through the Philippines should be a cause for concern.

In modern practice the PRC relies heavily upon open source information gathered by masses of virtual amateurs the many students and businessmen presently in North America supplemented by professionals who approach predetermined targets. Armies of the inquisitive siphon off the latest ideas and discoveries for exploitation and development in the PRC; front companies and major PRC entities gain access to proprietary information through a variety of means, including paid informants, defectors, and businessmen and others entrapped by female agents, especially in Asia; military specialists are targeted, particularly overseas; military manuals and publications are combed for knowledge and weaknesses; and cyber warfare specialists routinely filch vital data and plans through the pervasive internet.

The presence of Chinese organized crime and large numbers of illegal Chinese nationals, be they in our own backyard or in Asia, is worrisome. The publication of of Unrestricted Warfare, by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, in conjunction with a number of other Chinese documents, has lead Sawyer and others to conclude that,

To the extent that they adopt historical doctrine and model on precedents, what might be termed “Triple S” - lowtech, systematic sabotage and subversion - may be expected to comprise a key element in PRC war plans. Triple S will be equally applicable whether targeting Taiwan or the United States, although with decidedly different intent. Moreover, insofar as the PRC presently lacks the weapons to launch a massive strike directly against North America, it virtually must resort to the traditional, much espoused concept of unorthodox warfare and employ an army of saboteurs to asymmetrically carry the battle to America’s heartland.

Why isn't anyone talking about this?

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

President Bush suggests uninsured children go to hospital emergency rooms for their care

Yet again, Bush astounds us with his idiocy.

The trouble is not that he vetoed a bill that included outrageous tax hikes--we can credit his incidental Republicanism for at least landing him in the right position on this one--but that he actually said:

People have access to health care in America... After all, you just go to an emergency room.

We're not just talking about poor adults, which most of America is okay hating, but children! To Bush, having millions of children without health insurance isn't a problem. If the man could spend 10 minutes in an urban hospital's emergency room, perhaps he'd change his mind. Or, perhaps he doesn't realize how widespread the problem is, and Kanye West was right.

And let's not even get started on what's wrong economically with encouraging the uninsured to simply go to the emergency room....

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A World of Art, in Washington

At the dawn of the 16th century, one of the most important national security documents in the world was a Portuguese map of the world, perhaps the most accurate map in all of Europe. It incorporated information from four series of voyages: Columbus to the Caribbean, Pedro Alvarez Cabral to Brazil, Vasco da Gama to eastern Africa and India, and the brothers Corte-Real to Greenland and Newfoundland. With the exception, all were Portuguese.

While the original 'Cantino Planisphere,' as the much-valued map was known, was lost on the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, a copy stolen by the Italians - I told you it was a national security document, did I not? - is now on display in Washington's own Sackler Gallery as part of an exhibit on the Portuguese empire. It explores ways in which Portuguese art and culture met with those of local craftsmen in Brazil, Africa, India, China and Japan; not only were foreign treasures such as ivory fans from Sri Lanka, tortoiseshell flasks from India and saltcellars from Sierra Leone taken back to Portugal, but the Portuguese were themselves depicted by the peoples they visited, and we find Portuguese motifs and themes incorporated into their work.

This two-way mirror on the Portuguese empire gives the exhibition its main thematic thread, showing that Europe's first naval empire connected civilisations for the first time through oceans that had hitherto divided humanity. Julian Raby, the Sackler's director, says the exhibition attempts to "catch that moment of wonder" as the world unfolded before the eyes of Europeans, and as the rest of the world encountered Europe, from the Benin kingdom of Nigeria to the shogunate of Japan.

And should you needed further reason to be fascinated by the Portuguese adventures, consider as the FT's review does that, "If Portugal was the first actor in a new age of globalisation, it was no mean feat for a country that, in the 15th century, had a population of only 1m."

'Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the world in the 16th and 17th centuries' continues at the Sackler Gallery until September 16.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

That Newfangled Populist Tridentine Mass

In one of her recent Rome Notes columnes, Elizabeth Lev comments about the fifty or so new churches built in Rome in the wake of the Council of Trent. These churches, among them the Gesù (pictured above), were designed to reflect the new codification of the liturgy, in accordance with the council. The funny thing is just how accessable the liturgy was designed to be, the very thing many today complain the Tridentine Mass is not. Consider some of the innovative features that Lev points out in the Gesù:

* Prior to Trent, rood screens, similar to the iconostases found in the East, seperated the presbytery from the nave and prevented the congretation from seeing the liturgy clearly. Trent removed these and new churches, such as the Gesù, made a point of raising the altar and lowering the communion rail to give the faithful an even better view of the mysteries being celebrated.

* A leading concern in the design of this building was for good acoustics, in order that the the chanting of the mass completely fill the church, for all to hear.

* The Gesù features a huge nave, allowing the faithful to gather around the pulpit and hear the sermon. (The Jesuits in particular were instrumental in introducing this greater emphasis on the homily.)

It would seem the Fathers of Trent had a far better idea of what they were doing than certain contemporary critics would give them credit for. The liturgy, Tridentine or otherwise, is not about power, secrecy, gender descrimination or any of the other trivial ideas tossed around by its detractors. The innnovations of the Church of the Gesù demonstrate as much.

For the Rome of 1585, the Gesù was a revolutionary structure while still respecting the tradition of the early Christian Church.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bringing Sexy Back

Driving on the Santan Freeway in Phoenix, you could get an eyeful of this. What to guess what they're promoting? Go ahead, click the link above. Or just right here. We promise, your boss won't fire you. (And make sure you watch the intro.)

How do I decide what "sexy" is? Is it how much attention we get, or how we feel about ourselves? And if I feel sexy, does that mean I will experience great sex?

Actually, its an add by Cornerstone Christian Church in Chandler. They have a six-week series of talks coming up August.

The billboard and website have an interesting approach (and perhaps the talks will follow the same pattern). They don't mention God, or Christianity, or morality at all. They start with the sort of questions the secular world is asking, and then suggest that Christianity may have something that not only answers, but superceeds those questions. Maybe they've succeeded in this approach, maybe they haven't, but at least they're trying to be relevent to a world that thinks it doesn't need religion.

Oh, and they've learned about YouTube as well...

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Between Pride and Prejudice: The Problem of History

In its latest Weekend Edition the Financial Times ran an article on a catchy song that has become popular amongst Afrikaners, "De la Rey," by Bok van Blerk.

The song has been the source of much controversy. The title character is Koos de la Rey, an Afrikaner guerrilla general from the Anglo-Boer Wars. Some claim the song promotes racist nationalism and plays to a crowd that desires a return to apartheid, and there is no doubt that these elements have indeed embraced the song. (The translation of the lyrics below was first found by Google on the Stormfront White Nationalist Community website.) Others, among them Bok van Blerk himself, claim that's going too far.

We wanted to sing a song about history and the general, to be proud. De la Rey did not want to go to war. He stood up for the right things, for freedom.... The song wasn't written for [a political] reason.... I wanted to create something for people to be proud of. It's like 'Flower of Scotland.' There's a warm feeling inside and it's got that feel to it. My generation of Afrikaners wants to be proud of who we are and were we come from, and our language.

While the United States does not exactly face the same questions of race, culture and politics found in South Africa, the same themes are in the air here, as seen by recent debates about immigration, affirmative action and English as the official language. Is this dangerous nationalism or innocent cultural pride?

De la Rey
by Bok van Bleck

On a mountain in the night
we lie in the darkness and wait
In the mud and blood
I lie cold,
grain bag and rain cling to me.
And my house and my farm,
burned to ashes
so that they could catch us
But those flames and that fire
burn now deep, deep within me.

De la Rey, De la Rey,
will you come to lead the Boers?
De la Rey, De la Rey
General, General, as one man
we'll fall in around you
General De la Rey

And the Khakis [Brits] that laugh
-- [just] a handful of us
against their whole great might --
With the cliffs to our backs,
they think it's all over
But the heart of the Boer lies deeper and wider,
that they'll still find [out]

At a gallop he comes,
the Lion of the West Transvaal


Because my wife and my child,
lie in a Hell-camp and perish
And the Khakis' vengeance
is poured over
a nation that will rise up again


De la Rey, De la Rey,
will you come for the Boers?

Note: The flag seen in the video which might at first glance be mistaken for the American flag is in fact the flag of the Orange Free State.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Remembering the July 20 Plot

Sixty three years ago today the Catholic aristocrat Col. Claus von Stauffenberg placed a bomb under Hitler's table at his isolated headquarters in Prussia. Though
Stauffenberg’s bomb did not succeeded in killing the Führer, it left his right arm partly paralyzed, burned his right leg and damaged both eardrums. “He would never fully recover from the physical and mental shocks,” one author wrote. To the armchair historian of World War II, Stauffenberg's failed assassination attempt is common knowledge.

Far less well known is that a large conspiracy stood behind Stauffenberg; their planned coup began to unfold in spite of the assassination attempt's failure, until they were brutally put down by the SS. That the Third Reich was in turmoil was not widely known to the Allies or the German people.

Stauffenberg’s bomb was not an isolated incident. In the hours after its explosion, orders were being issued from the conspirators’ Berlin headquarters. Paris, Vienna, Prague, Belgrade, and other parts of Germany and of German-occupied countries were in ferment. When Hitler received word that order had not been restored to Berlin he gave the SS authority to shoot on sight, demanding the situation be brought under control; thousands would be rounded up, tortured and killed to that end.

Meanwhile, each Military District commander throughout Germany was told to open a sealed envelope in his safe labeled Walküre (Valkyrie), the special orders for operating against internal disturbances; these orders, carefully written by the conspirators over the preceding months, established martial law and reveled the location of the Gestapo’s secret headquarters and the likely hiding places of top Nazis. In addition, reports of Hitler’s death and an alleged SS attack upon the Wehrmacht were sent out. Strategic points were ordered occupied and SS leaders arrested.

However, the reserve troops that were suppose to secure Berlin were late in coming; by 7:00pm, when the conspirators decided they needed to seize the radio station so Gen. Beck could make a statement, they still did not have enough reliable troops to do so. When Major Remer, commander of a unit of the crack Grossdeutschland division, was ordered to occupy the Reich Chancellery and arrest a number of SS officers, he questioned the source of the orders and, after a series of telephone calls, ended up speaking with Hitler himself, who gave him authority to “shoot as many people as he liked” and ordered him to clean out the Replacement Army. Remer immediately began stopping military units coming into Berlin, ordering back from whence they came.

The popular Col. Gen. Heinz Guderian, who had been a tacit supporter of the conspiracy, also began ordering troops out of the city, when he saw that the putsch had failed. In one case a tank battalion returned to its barracks in the town of Crampnitz, only to find that the SS had gotten there first, burning the barracks and massacring the soldiers still there. The SS had fewer inhibitions than the army.

By 9:00pm the Nazis had regained control of Berlin. Gen. Beck was forced to take his own life. Col. Stauffenberg and several other leading conspirators were summarily executed. By 11:00pm the staff at Stauffenberg’s office were arrested, their lives spared by the Gestapo in order to interrogate them and find out the names of other conspirators.

Allen W. Dulles, the first English-language historian of the July 20 plot wrote this:

There was an anti-Nazi underground working in Germany, despite the general impression to the contrary. It developed out of heterogeneous groups that finally achieved a working unity and reached into the vitals of the army and the government services. Professional men, church and labor leaders, and high commanding officers on various fronts participated. Even Field Marshals [Erwin] Rommel and [Günther] von Kluge finally had a share, but this was late in the day, when they saw that military victory had eluded them. But there were others of a very different moral fiber, both civilian and military, who were not opportunists and who had fought Hitlerism for many years.... It is easy to criticize the German underground for its delays, disunities, vacillations, and ultimate failure. But in a police state such as Hitler and Himmler organized it is not likely that men will do much better than a Beck, a Goerdeler, a Moltke, a Leuschner or a Stauffenberg.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Are the Democrats Really Interested in Ending the War?

Amidst Wednesday’s coverage of the Senate’s late-night debate on a piece of Democratic legislation to withdraw US forces from Iraq, the BBC reported this tidbit:

The BBC's James Coomarasamy in Washington says most Republicans who are unhappy with the current course in Iraq favour less direct measures to influence policy and were hoping to vote on these in the next few days. However, our correspondent says, it appears that, for the moment, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid does not want to allow them to do so. He has directed the Senate to move on to discussion of legislation unrelated to the Iraq war.

And why is this? If Reid and his fellow Senate Democrats (including all of the party’s leading presidential hopefuls) were really interested in bringing home the troops – and not just making political hay out of the war’s growing unpopularity at home – they’d be exploring other options with moderate Republicans. But they’re not. Why? Because it wouldn’t be dramatic enough and it would rob the Democrats of the ‘us versus them’ victory they’re looking for.

I say it’s high time the Democrats stop playing around with the lives of American servicemen for political gain, the very thing – ironically – they accuse the GOP of having done.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

‘Let Iraqis kill each other,’ Catholic bishop says, calling for U.S. withdrawal

Money quote:

"Why are they there if they cannot defend human life and human rights?" -- Bishop Ibrahim N. Ibrahim on the US occupation of Iraq.

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Contracepting the environment – Birth-control poisoning of streams leave U.S. environmentalists mum

Apparently, oral contraceptives are now killing fish. Money quote:

The radical environmentalist won’t eat a corn chip if the corn contacted a pesticide. But they view it a sacred right and obligation to consume synthetic chemicals that alter a woman’s natural biological functions, even if this practice threatens innocent aquatic life downstream.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mugabe critic sued for adultery

A prominent critic of President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, is being sued for alleged adultery. The lawsuit has been filed by the husband of a woman who worked as a secretary in the archbishop's office. Lawyers for Archbishop Ncube called the allegations an orchestrated attempt to discredit him.

The archbishop, who denies the allegations, has openly denounced Mr Mugabe as a "megalomaniac". Earlier this month in an interview with the BBC, he argued that a case could be made for the overthrow of the president. He has said the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe has reached "life-threatening proportions", and that regional political intervention was now needed. [More]

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Detainees chief sees Koran as key ally

Major General Douglas Stone has an unusual daily ritual for a US Marine: the commander of detainee operations in Iraq likes to read the Koran every day.

While he himself is of Christian faith, he sees the Muslim holy book as essential to his mission: he wants those in his custody - some of whom are hardcore Islamist militants - to do as he does and read it as much as possible.

The logic is simple, he says. If detainees read the Koran themselves, they will be better equipped to challenge extremists who deliberately misinterpret the religious text to justify jihadist campaigns.

[Read more]

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Thank you, Uncle Sam...

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Thursday, July 12, 2007


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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happy Fair Use Day

In support of creativity and artistic freedom, as well as consumer rights today the Quincy House will be celebrating Fair Use Day. Because

From Ars Technica:
"Very often people believe that a use of copyrighted material that would normally fall into fair use is an infringement of copyright. It is a belief that copyright holders seek to enforce, either through frivolous litigation, intimidation, or legal and political maneuvering to legally restrict what can be considered fair use. This is especially true when it comes to critical reviews, or parodies."

Ways you can celebrate:

Cover a song, or for that matter make a tableture of a song and upload it to your favorite tab site.

Back up a DVD that you bought.

Quote an article.

Lend an mp3 to a friend.

Fair Use Day

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Summorum Pontificum

In case anyone hasn't heard, the Pope has issued an Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, ordering, among other things, that the Tridentine Mass (i.e., the Latin Mass that was the norm before 1970) be made much more widely available. This is a very exciting development for one who has grown to love the Tridentine rite and for whom it has been seen to play a key role in a loved one's conversion to the Catholic faith.

The Roman Missal promulgated by Paul VI is the ordinary expression of the 'Lex orandi' (Law of prayer) of the Catholic Church of the Latin rite. Nonetheless, the Roman Missal promulgated by St. Pius V and reissued by Bl. John XXIII is to be considered as an extraordinary expression of that same 'Lex orandi,' and must be given due honour for its venerable and ancient usage. These two expressions of the Church's Lex orandi will in no any way lead to a division in the Church's 'Lex credendi' (Law of belief). They are, in fact two usages of the one Roman rite.
- Summorum Pontificum, Article 1 (Unofficial Translation)

It is my hope that the new rules which Pope Benedict has established will serve to foster a greater devotion to the Mass, as that which is beautiful and good in the old form, which has been in many ways lost since the new form, is recovered in view of what is beautiful and good in the new form. I love that Pope Benedict clearly affirms that each form is a different usage of the same Mass. And, I think it may be readily observed that, as such, each form discloses aspects of the same Truth and offers the faithful varied ways to be united with Christ through the same Mass. Instead of this being a cause for division in the Church (though some few might regretfully try to make it so), the diversity celebration 2 forms will promote greater unity

To any Catholics who haven't experienced the Tridentine Mass, I would strongly recommend taking advantage of the coming opportunities to do so. If nothing else, experiencing the extraordinary form of the Mass will increase your knowledge and appreciation of the ordinary form of the Mass.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

On account of how no one actually reads it any more...

In Congress, JULY 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

WE, THEREFORE, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

For the signers of the Declaration, these were no mere words. Many of these men died destitute, others lost home or family, and no small number gave their lives.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Recordings and Pictures

Thanks again to everyone who came out to Quincy on Ice, the first ever
Summer Coffee House. It was such a success that we don't want to try
and rival it with a coffee house this month. So sadly there will be a
gap in your schedule and your hearts this month, but stay tuned there
may be other options...

You can get the music recordings here:
and the pictures here:

Also, don't forget about the summer movie series we are hosting. This
Tuesday (the 3rd) we will be watching Rushmore. It's a fun movie, and
should be a good discussion. Movie starts at 8:00, so swing by.