Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Record-Breaking Post?

So far as I know, I am the only St Blog's parishioner who has yet to comment on the Dan Brown opus. I may still be because all this post is going to do is point you here to "an anonymous crank with a web log. Or, as I prefer, to a Big-Time Internet Theologian." The DVC faq to end all DVC faqs.

(A tip of the glengarry to Serge for the citation.)

Editing, among other things

Yes, contrary to popular belief, I do edit this stuff. Not very well, and often very late, but quite a lot actually. It's usually only grammar and syntax that gets attended to. Occasionally, the passage of time will reveal some bit of acerbicity to be too uncharitable even for me and it gets amended or removed. This time the "What I did Yesterday" post below got a new picture as the old one was falling off the right side of the monitor. Which occasioned something of a re-write.

And that reminded me that "what I did yesterday" is not a particularly good title for a post as the "yesterday" of yesterday is now the day before yesterday and today was tomorrow yesterday and the day after tomorrow on the original yesterday. And that would make the chronology very hard to follow. But I couldn't think of a better title so I left it as it was.

Which brings us to today's yesterday. So there will be no temporal confusion, we are discussing Monday 29 May 2006, Memorial Day. Mary and I went to a Memorial Day ceremony put on by the local Veterans Affairs Committee, the City of Long Beach, and Forest Lawn Cemeteries. Yes, Forest Lawn, my occasional employer. (I am what is called a "staff musician" which sounds somewhat grander than it is. That means when someone wants a piper, they find me on their rollodex and refer me to the family. No office. No practice room. And most assuredly no regular salary.) I got the impetus to go as a few friends of mine play in a local pipe band which was performing for the ceremony. I hadn't heard them in a while and thought I would go down and hear how they sound these days. (If you're interested, coming together nicely. Noticeable improvement in the drum corps.) The band played, speeches were given: the mayor spoke, the sheriff spoke, local congresswoman spoke; tributes were made. A nice bbq was held afterward.

And why am I telling you all this? Because of where it was held. It was a very patriotic, but very civic and secular sort of ceremony. But it was held on the lawn in front of the main outside wall of the Sunnyside/Forest Lawn building. The wall contains a large -- huge! three stories high! -- frescoe of Raffaelo's "Dispute about the Blessed Sacrament". Vide:

This surmounted the whole ceremony. It was wonderful. Without a word, Catholicism was impressed upon the whole thing:

The focal point of the composition is the Eucharist Bread which is placed on an axis that joins the Host to the Trinity. At the top of the lunette, between two choirs of angels, is the Eternal Father. Immediately below is His Incarnate Son flanked by the Madonna and St. John the Baptist. Below them is the Holy Spirit pictured between the four Gospels it inspired. Seated on clouds on both sides of the central group are the Blessed of the Old and New Testament— the Church Triumphant. On the lower semi-circle are pictured the Fathers of the Church and several theologicians—the Church militant. [Description from this site.]

There's a nicer (and larger) image here. If you happen to be at Sunnyside in Long Beach you'll find a plaque identifying the various saints and prophets. The Catholic cemetery is across the street and has nothing like this.

St Mary's in The Times

I cited this yesterday and promised commentary when I had a moment. After giving it a second read there really isn't much to say that hasn't been said already. Because The Times hasn't really said anything that hasn't been reported already. Oh, yes, they do include commentary from the lliturgical nomenklatura. No one seems to have bothered to gather that before. So now the usual suspects in the liturgical apparat have circled the wagons round the embarrassing Fr Tran and said what they had to to support the no-kneeling side. Pas d'ennemi à gauche and all that. Surely, though, it must have cost some of them dearly in self-respect? Witness this from someone called "Lesa Truxaw":

Lesa Truxaw, the Orange Diocese director of worship, said Bishop Tod D. Brown banned kneeling because standing "reflects our human dignity. It's not that we think we're equal to God, but we recognize that we are made in the image and likeness of God."

"Human dignity". It takes the breath away. Humiliating a few dozen parishioners (publishing their names in the parish bulletin was apparently only stopped at the last minute by an attorney letter) and tossing them out of both parish and diocese "reflects our human dignity" exactly how?

That's more commentary than I had planned on.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Even More on St Mary's

This time in The Times, and on the front page, no less. Comments when I have a bit more time.

Where I was yesterday. . .

. . .and where I shall be today:

The U.S.S. Highland Games in Pomona.

That drum major (or should it be drum minor?) was, of course, the star of the massed bands closing ceremony. As far as the crowd was concerned the 450 or so pipers and drummers accompanying him were just his supporting cast. There's a larger version of the picture here. Lots more here. They're mostly of pipe bands, especially of RMM. And no, I am not the photographer at that site. As a photographer, I make a good blogger. (That bad? 'fraid so.)

Friday, May 26, 2006

"The High Cost of Low Prices"

The devastating effect of the Walmartization of the American economy:

People say, how can it be bad for things to come into the United States cheaply? How can it be bad to have a bargain at Wal-Mart? Sure, it’s held inflation down . ... But you can’t buy anything if you’re not employed. We are shopping ourselves out of jobs.

We want clean air, clean water, good living conditions, the best health care in the world. Yet we aren’t willing to pay for anything manufactured under those restrictions.

More here. (The link is to a compelling book review. The book is The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works - and How It's Transforming the American Economy. Charles Fishman, Penguin, 294 pp. )

Thursday, May 25, 2006

No Way to Treat a Laity

L.A. Catholic Mission has more on the situation at St Mary's by the Sea in its May issue. You can find it here. There are interviews with some of the key lay people involved, something the other articles were a little short on. All-in-all a very nice summary of what went on. And to some extent, is still going on.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Nice Turn of Phrase Department

I was reading an interview the other day with one of the great pipers of the 20th century in an old Piper and Drummer Magazine. He'd had trouble with alcohol and at the time of the interview had been sober for 16 years. Either he was asked about his troubles or he brought them up himself, I don't remember. In any event, in the process of giving full marks to AA, he had the following sharp comment about 'help' received before hitting bottom and AA: "If it's free, it's advice. If they charge for it, it's counselling. If it works, it's a bloody miracle."

A Holiday, Indeed

If you "googled" anything yesterday, you may have noticed this on Google's homepage:

Yesterday, May 22, was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday. Nice to see Google celebrating appropriate holidays.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

On Making a Liar Out of Me

I had no sooner published this post and its final paragraph, when I played for a wedding in Bel Air (posher than which you don't hardly get) and received a very generous gratuity. Judge not and all that.

Rogation Days

Rogation Sunday, blessing the fields; (minor rogation, 6th Sunday of
Also known as Vocem Juncunditatis, Plough Sunday, Chestnut Sunday;
Rogationtide (the three days immediately following Rogation Sunday,
prior to Ascention Thursday), Gang Week, Cross Week, Grass Week;
Rogation Sunday was the start of a three-week period (ending on
Trinity Sunday), when Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy did not
solemnize marriages
Liturgical Color: Purple

If this looks familiar to you, you probably subscribe to one or more of the same email lists that I do. The paragraph is lifted from one of Ted Hewitt's very informative posts about the liturgical calendar. If I knew how to post a link to an email I would do so for you. Instead, try this link to the Rogationtide Calendar Customs page of the "England-in-Particular" website where I learned about Beating the Parish Bounds. It sounds much like the "Ridings" in the Scottish borders country.

Ted also pointed me to the old Catholic Encyclopædia article on the Rogation days. So I will do the same for you.

Friday, May 19, 2006

"She was poor, but she was honest. . ."

Experience with a Belgian pick-pocket the other week caused Paul Johnson to meditate on honesty in the May 13 Spectator. (I'm afraid the link requires a subscription for the whole article. But good libraries carry the Spec even in darkest southern California.) No, not another complaint from either him or me about the EU or even the Belgian government itself. Rather a few thoughts on the apparent fact that the poor are, in general, more honest than the powerful illuminated by this wonderful bit of historical ephemera:

Before the second world war, when I was a boy in the Staffordshire Potteries, I never heard of anything being stolen. There was great poverty but there were also the Ten Commandments, and God was around a lot in those days. Indeed, if you lost something in the streets, the person who picked it up would go to a lot of trouble to find out where you lived and return it to you. The really poor were more set against stealing than the rich. I have just been reading a delightful new book by Juliet Nicolson called The Perfect Summer, about the year 1911, and it describes, among other things, the coronation of George V and Queen Mary. The cleaners who swept Westminster Abbey after the ceremony found and handed in three ropes of pearls, 20 brooches, half a dozen bracelets, 20 golden balls which had fallen off the coronets of the nobility, and three quarters of a diamond necklace. The total value of these baubles, safely returned to their owners, was £20,000 (at pre-1914 prices!). Hard to decide which was more extraordinary, the profligate carelessness of the aristocratic ladies, or the touching honesty of the poor old charwomen.

In my experience the less well-to-do are also more generous than the rich. The rich never tip the piper. The agreed upon fee is paid. Those less able to afford it often put something extra into the envelope. Not a complaint; just an observation.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

What in the world will the National Guard do on the border?

We will have to wait and see what actually is proposed. But my guess is that the Guard will keep the Minutemen away
So says Jerry Pournelle here. I expect he's right. The appearances will support one side while actually hobbling it and in the process not incommoding the other side too terribly much. Rather ingenious. I wonder who thought of it?

Some other comments by Dr Pournelle:

We want democracy in Iraq, and in Iran, and in Mexico; but we do not want democracy in the United States of America. Our masters want a continued and plentiful supply of cheap labor, whose basic needs will be met through general taxation and public services.

It is always the case that if a capitalist can get the benefits of a policy, and put the costs off on someone else, the capitalist will attempt to use government to bring that policy about. As Adam Smith noted, when capitalists get together they conspire to use government against the public interest.

Quite right. But like almost all of the commentary on the immigration question it ignores the elephant(s) in the parlor: contraception, abortion, and homosexuality. The cultural heart of this country, and not co-incidentally the political base of the Republican Party, is the middle class of European extraction, i.e., white America. And that group of people has decided not to reproduce itself. The Hispanic immigration is changing forever the culture of the country. It's also correcting the population imbalance created by dominant cultural group.

But read the rest of Dr Pournelle's comments.

Read It While You Can

The Brussels Journal, that is. The Belgian authorities have felt the sting and the Journal is to be defined out of whatever free speech provisions happen to be left in Brussels. Hilary summarizes it neatly here.

A Perfect Simile

Some people are never happy unless they're causing trouble. The sort my wife calls "a disturber". I read the most wonderful description of "disturbers" the other day: "she rolls like a pinless grenade through the rooms of other people's lives". Isn't that wonderful? I grinned for five minutes over that.

(The memory never was all that razor-keen and age hasn't done it any favours so no complaining if you too read it somewhere and it's not letter-perfect. I did note the author: Andrew Taylor in "A Stain on the Silence".)

I Just Got Out of Federal Prison This Morning

Of course, I only went in this morning. It was a "term" of a little under two hours: I played for a memorial service for correctional officers who died in the line of duty. A very nice ceremony it was, too - dignified and properly appreciative of people who do a thankless job.

(And it enabled me to use that headline. I will probably be using some variation of it to everyone I meet for the next few days.)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Frivolous Lawsuit Night at the Ballgame

After The Times reported this week that a Los Angeles man is suing the Angels for discrimination because Mother's Day tote bags were given to women only, the double-A Altoona (Pa.) Curve announced a promotion of its own: "Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night," set for July 2.

The Curve said men would get pink tote bags, women would get lukewarm coffee "so they will not burn themselves" and kids would get a beach ball "with a warning not to ingest it."

"We realize that these giveaways as part of our Salute to Frivolous Lawsuit Night are fairly stupid and serve no real purpose," Curve General Manager Todd Parnell said Friday. "But, if our fans don't like them, then they can sue us."

from this morning's Times.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Bachelor's in Piping

You can get one of those at Carnegie-Mellon Univesity. Someone [thanks, Paul] kindly sent me a link to an article in the Wall Street Journal which gives the details. It's here. At least for the time being; I'm told it will expire in a week so no dawdling.

[If you click the link in the article and listen to Alasdair Gillies' piping - and you should - you should know that the designation of him as "Cpl" from an old recording and is long out of date. He retired as Pipe Major of The Highlanders.]

Barry or the Babe

Bill Plaschke says it all in Thursday's Times.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Archbishop of Sydney. . .

. . .said reading the Koran, the sacred text of Islam, was vital “because the challenge of Islam will be with us for the remainder of our lives - at least”.

That can be found here in The Daily Eudemon. It reminded me of this depressing little motto which I read a few weeks ago:

"An American optimist here in the first part of the 21st century is someone who is studying Spanish. A pessimist is one who is studying the Koran."

I forgot where I found that. If it's yours, let me know and I will give a proper attribution.

President Roosevelt's Libelous Mint Julep

Courtesy of the Irish Elk. Rye, eh? Interesting. I had always just assumed Kentucky bourbon. How wrong one can be.

Everything Was Up-To-Date in Kansas City

And now the new bishop is ruining it all. The National Catholic Reporter is not pleased. The NCR provides the litany of horrors here. Imagine: no more Richard McBrien in the diocesan paper; no more diocesan supported master's degree programme for laymen in "pastoral ministry"; 50% budget reduction in the Office of Peace (sic) and Justice (sic); a separate Pro-Life Office is established; "a 'zero-based study' of adult catechesis in the diocese" is mandated with a new director; and the bishop is a member of Opus Dei. Dan Brown himself couldn't be more upset.

Of course, I sort of chuckled through the whole thing. But then I would, wouldn't I.

Heretics all, whomever you be
From Tarbes to Nimes or over the sea
You never shall have kind words from me.
Caritas non conturbat me.

I saved the best for last:

In 1988, Bishop John Sullivan gave permission for a regular celebration of the Latin Mass using the 1962 pre-Vatican II rite. In 1994, Bishop Raymond gave the Latin Mass community a home in a city parish. By August 2005 the community numbered about 200 members, and Finn announced it would be its own parish with its own church.

He gave the community Old St. Patrick Church, in downtown Kansas City. The parish was suppressed in 1959, but the building, which dates from 1875, was used as an oratory under the care of the nearby cathedral.

Finn appointed a priest of the Institute of Christ the King, a religious community of priests specially trained to preserve the Latin Mass rituals, as rector to see to the community’s day-to-day needs, but he named himself pastor.

According to a story in the Aug. 19, 2005, Catholic Key, Finn told the Latin community, “You will be receiving my support in various ways. It is my intention to see this community prosper.” He promised he would celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation for the parish at Old St. Patrick according to the pre-Vatican II rites.

That last bit is in a separate sidebar here.

More Morning Reading

And as long as you're searching for periodicals that aren't on line, you might also see if you can find the May 4th number of The Wanderer. There are all sorts of good things in that one. In addition to stories about the decine of Rochester NY's cathedral parish after its "wreckovation", Thomas Roeser's take on George Ryan's corruption conviction in Illinois (100 some years ago my family had much to do with Chicago politics; a subject that still never fails to fascinate in this house), another of Brian Mershon's articles in the future of the traditional Roman Rite, there is also a long piece on the further troubles of Mr Monaghan's educational ventures. Now there are kerfuffles in the Law School: rumblings of mutiny amongst the faculty, the student body, and the alumni. Although the hand-picked Board of Directors is clearly, uh, on board.

Now then. Even though The Wanderer article isn't on line and even if you can't scrounge up that particular issue of TW, there are not one but three blogs cited in the article which are following the Ave Maria School of Law issue so opportunities for spending more time on this issue than your state in life can justify are still present. Have a look at these:

Fumare: Law, Culture, and Catholicism Up In Smoke
Whose AMSOL?
Is The Law School Part Of The College: Which Ave?

The Morning's Reading

I ran across the same article twice this morning. Once in the May number of Chronicles and again in extensive quotation in The Wanderer's "From the Mail" column. An omen, to be sure. So herewith the quoted section of Thomas Fleming's Chronicles article:

The sexual revolution is coming to an end, and it is clear that the revolutionaries have won. Naturally, there are a few pockets of resistance here and there, but the clerical sex abuse scandal – some of it manufactured by the media – is finishing off whatever residual power the Church had to discipline the morals of hedonist Americans, while, judging by their books, movies, and TV shows, conservative Protestants, even as they are repudiating secular humanism, are rushing to embrace the modern world. Many evangelicals express their capitulation every week, dancing in the aisles before the god of the big screen, and no serious Christian who has watched the Trinity Broadcasting Network, with its fake news shows, its phony history, and just-so theology. . . can expect to find allies among the sentimentalized and pop-addled members of its viewing audience. . . .

The revolution who made us who we are began during the great revolt against Christianity known as the Renaissance, and it entered an acute phase with the French Revolution. Although it has taken many forms and aimed at so varied a set of targets --- monarchy, aristocracy, the Catholic Church (then all Christianity), classical education, political liberty, and free enterprise, the revolution has hardly ever deviated from its most basic goal: the liberation of what one of the most virulent revolutionaries termed the libido. From the erotic escapades of Lorenzo de' Medici to the orgies in the Palais Royal in 18th-century Paris to the efforts of D.H. Lawrence and Aldous Huxley to tear down the last barriers, sexual revolutionaries have devoted themselves to destroying Christian marriage. . . .

[W]hen ordinary people, ignorant of their own traditions, turn to government as the final arbiter of problems within the family, they are acting out a scenario scripted by revolutionaries such as [Bolshevik] Alexandra Kollontai, for whom fornication was only a means to an end, and the end was a socialist state in which the family was only a holding pen for the working cattle.

Chronicles only puts a bit of each issue up on the website. And the May issue isn't up at all yet. Odds are, you will need to get your own copy, which you can do here given how extremely unlikely it is that your local library, Borders, B&N, or whatever passes for a local newstand these days will carry it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

No to Compulsory Irish, says Fine Gael

Interesting name for a politcal party that wants to de-emphasize the Irish language. I found no details yet, but RTE has the bulletin here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

Don Maximiliano, Emperor of Mexico.

Doña Carlota, Empress of Mexico

Requiescant in Pace.

[More on Imperial Mexico.]

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Found While Searching for Something Else

The picture is of Jimmy McHardy (1863-1938) and his wife Isabella. For several years he was "Junior Piper" to Queen Victoria. His daughter wrote a memoir for the family of his time with the Queen. Second-hand reminsicences of pipers of a hundred and fifty years ago are not everyone's cup of tea. Unaccountably, it's mine. If it's yours too, the link is here.


Liberty is traditional and conservative; it remembers its legends and its heroes. But tyranny is always young and seemingly innocent, and asks us to forget the past. -- GK Chesteron, ILN, 30DEC1911 Noticed in the March issue of Gilbert

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Venerable Pope Pius XII

. . .has an entire blog dedicated to him. You can find it here. And when you've finished there, Bishop Bruskewitz has his devotees also. His Excellency of Lincoln is still very much alive so it is not (yet) a canonisation advocacy blog but you'll find his "fan club" here.

The Anglican Use Conference

I'm a couple of thousand miles away - more or less. But if you're closer to Scranton PA than that you might want to attend. Details here and here.

From today's "Dilbert":

"Crime doesn't pay -- directly. It has to go through escrow."

The Immigration Thing

I didn't personally see any demonstrations or marches or any of the other carryings on. The Times this morning has made up for that. Dozens of articles fill the first section. Most of the links are on this page. The Times also has more pictures than any other source that I've seen. They're here.

"There are 7 years in the making of a piper. . . .

. . .and at the end of 7 years he stands at the beginning of wisdom." So goes the proverb. It's been considerably more than 7 years for me and sometimes I still feel like I'm standing at the beginning. Yesterday I couldn't get the #$%& things to tune to save my life. This morning it was plug-and-play. Why? No idea. They're haunted. They have a mind of their own. When they want to tune, they do. When they don't, they don't.

On the bright side, yesterday was only practice and this morning was the annual Long Beach Police and Fire Departments' Memorial. I really enjoy playing for those events. It's a beautiful ceremony: drums, bugles, pipes, a 21 gun salute and appropriate speeches. The police and fire still know how to put on a grave and dignified ceremonial. Something our own church seems to have forgotten how to do. And there's another memorial tomorrow for the Sheriff's Department.

In fact, there has been a lot of good piping lately. I played for a bit of the 40th anniversary ball of the Los Angeles branch of the RSCDS last Saturday. Piping, dancing, a good meal, and I got paid. You can't beat that with a stick.