Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

"Very fun." -- J. Bottum, Editor, FIRST THINGS

"Too modest" -- Elinor Dashwood

"Perhaps the wisest man on the Web" -- Henry Dieterich

"Hat tip: me (but really Cacciaguida)" -- Diana Feygin, Editor, THE YALE FREE PRESS

"You are my sire. You give me confidence to speak. You raise my heart so high that I am no more I." -- Dante

"Fabulous!"-- Warlock D.J. Prod of Didsbury

Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

E-mail me

Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Got Passion? Becomes available today.

Jay Nordlinger, the only man whose combined knowledge of politics and classical music exceeds mine, reports on the GOP Convention speeches so far. It's all the Convention coverage you really need.

There's a town in Connecticut called Uncasville.

Meanwhile, Kerry's lead in Connecticut narrows, and vanishes altogether in -- Fairfield County??

Political round-up

Catholic outreach at the Convention. Some delegates attend Fr. Rutler's Mass; Ed Gillespie holds briefing for Catholic delegates.

'Big Tent' Approach Upsets Some Republicans. The pro-life demonstrators in this story have what I would call a mixed-bag leadership. Randall Terry I have a problem with because of his divorce and remarriage to a younger woman. Chris Slattery, otoh, is golden. Regrettably, Fox's refer-head to this article labeled this group "far right." Now, by common convention, "far right" usually refers to neo-Nazis and the like, who are generally enthusiastic about abortion (as long as it isn't the master race that's getting aborted) and whose ideological forebears positively pioneered the use of human beings as medical raw materials. If "far right" means neo-Nazis, then it shouldn't mean pro-lifers.

Finally, Rep. Ed Schrock, R-VA, abruptly withdraws from reelection bid because some DC website claims he's gay. Links here and here.

Monday, August 30, 2004
Rich Lowry checks out the protestors. My favorite is the guy in the freaky get-up who passes a small enclave of conservative counter-demonstrators and then says "Who were those people?" Yep, all normal people are out in the streets in weird costumes calling Bush Hitler. If Bush wins, these people will invoke some variant of the Pauline Kael line -- "How can Bush have won? Everyone I know was against him" -- only without irony. They'll really think he stole the election in which "everyone" voted against him, and that will just prove even more that he's Hitler....

Conversation chez Cacciaguida: statutory construction

ELINOR: What's so funny?

CACCIAGUIDA [reading from a criminal case, Proctor v. State, Criminal Court of Appeals of Oklahoma, 176 P. 771 (1918)]: "The plaintiff in error was convicted of 'keeping a place, to wit, a two-story building, with the intent and for the purpose of unlawfully selling, bartering, and giving away spirituous, vinous, fermented and malt liquors,' etc."

ELINOR: Ah. [Irish accent:] It's a poob.

Where is she who gave herself unto the Captains of Assyria, who have baldricks on their loins, and crowns of many colours on their heads? Where is she who hath given herself to the young men of the Egyptians, who are clothed in fine linen and hyacinth, whose shields are of gold, whose helmets are of silver, whose bodies are mighty? Go, bid her rise up from the bed of her abominations, from the bed of her incestuousness, that she may hear the words of him who prepareth the way of the Lord, that she may repent her of her iniquities. Though she will not repent, but will stick fast in her abominations, go bid her come, for the fan of the Lord is in His hand.

-- John the Baptist ("Iokanaan"), denouncing Herodias, in Wilde's Salome (p. 18 in the linked edition), and Strauss's opera based on it

Sunday, August 29, 2004
New reader Bernard Brandt writes:

Dear Cacciaguida:

I had the opportunity of reading your web journal as a result of the Old Oligarch. I especially liked your recent take on the reaction to Deal Hudson. I have my own, which you may find here.
Do go there. Mr. Brandt lays out the reasons why the "outting" of Ekeh by Hudson and the "outing" of Hudson by the Reporter are not parallel cases. He then quotes the Reporter's own highly ressentiment-al apologia for running the story, and concludes:
I am happy for Dr. Hudson that the editor of the NCR has chosen to make an admission of the malice which motivated that publication to initiate the investigation. It should make prevailing against them much easier.
Thank you, and a warm welcome to Mr. Brandt's blog, A (Little) Light from the East.

Cardinal Maida of Detroit starts Tridentine Mass to save a dying city parish. The pastor and the parish council chaiman
have been impressed by successes at nearby Episcopal and Lutheran churches, where historic buildings have been revived by suburbanites driving downtown for traditional forms of worship.

Besides a Sunday, today is the Feast of the Martyrdom of John the Baptist. I'm there, or here.

Saturday, August 28, 2004
Feast of St. Augustine. Fr. Jim has posted here the text of the most beautiful chapter in The Confessions -- Book X, chapter XXVII -- in Latin and English.

Hudson Valley School

Well at least I didn’t do yet another lame pun on “Deal,” OK? Beside, “school” is appropriate because I think there are lessons.

This is my first and, I hope, my only post on Deal Hudson. If it's yours too, then I guess I should tell you (so that you need not cause yet another hit at the National Catholic Reporter's website) that the Reporter has found a young lady who tells a tale of having been caught up in a brief, tawdry, drink-fueled sexual liaison with Deal ten years ago, when he was a philosophy prof and she was a freshman. In talking to the Reporter, she may have violated the settlement agreement that ended the ensuing litigation. Deal claims that agreement as his reason for not denying her allegations specifically; he has more or less admitted them at a high level of generality.

Since all this broke less than two weeks ago, Deal has resigned his unpaid position as Catholic outreach adviser to the Bush campaign, and has been the subject of much mockery from his enemies, both right and left but mainly left, as events that I wouldn't narrate to a dog are narrated about him all over the 'net.

I essentially agree with Patrick Madrid here. Beyond that, what follows is not my entire analysis of the incident (translation: yes, I know it was a bad thing that he did). Merely a Gaul-like reflection, with the parts in ascending order of importance.

Part one: the political

This was a political hit, as no one denies. (“Ya think?” meows Wonkette.) The Reporter was furious about the firing of Ono Ekeh -- the chap who ran a Catholics-for-Kerry website while working at the USCCB, until Deal's exposure of him embarrassed the USCCB into firing him -- so it decided to go after Deal.

I don’t have the smoking gun memo on this, but a combination of facts give the game away: the timing of the story; its gestation as described by Deal in his NR piece linked above; the cue-the-violins mention of Ekeh’s alleged sufferings; "Catholics for a Free Choice" being ready at the starting gate with an unctuous, knife-twisting press release of its own. “Peace news,” “the peace pulpit,” etc. – load of crap. The Reporter is a bunch of political combatants of the left. They want to win, and they want to punish and intimidate their enemies. It’s not as though the young lady sought the Reporter out, forcing on its editors a dilemma as to whether to “go with” her story. They obviously sought her out; Ono Ekeh probably helped. (And btw, if you think the Ekeh family was stranded without means of support when he left the USCCB, you probably think the Left is as bad as the Right is at retrieving its wounded. It’s not.)

Part two: the moral/theological

I assume, because it would be wrong to do otherwise without overwhelming evidence, that Deal has long ago taken care of all this in sacramental onfession. If there were a satanic flashlight that could reveal the past sacramentally confessed sins of lots of sound, solid, pro-life, pro-family Catholics, you would be amazed at what it would show. Really you would.

Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: because the accuser of our brethren is cast forth, who accused them before our God day and night.
-- Apocalypse 12:10

Part three: the moral/practical

Deal’s published work reveals a belief, which I share, that earthly beauty manifests God’s power (and, btw, definitively dishes the Manichees). This beauty includes things like paintings, symphonies, and PGSDs.

Och, goyische kopf -- I should explain: PGSDs = “pretty girls in their summer dresses.”

This is the point at which I move the conversation away from Deal and towards you and me. What I have just mentioned (and I don’t mean the paintings and the symphonies) obviously presents certain risks. The Catholic gentleman knows that the virtue of chastity is crucially aided by that of prudence. I once heard about a priest who said his chastity was maintained by prayer, the sacraments, and the numerous buttons on his cassock. I’ve always liked the earthy practicality, the incarnationality, of this advice, and I think laymen can apply it, mutatis mutandis. (I said, I’m not talking about Deal any more: I’m talking about you and me. You’re a saint? OK then, I’m talking about me.)

We don’t have cassocks: we have (as priests should too) limits, habitual barriers, lines that we don’t cross, because we get into, and stay in, the habit of not crossing them. If we stay within those secure walls -- if -- then we can be like the children at the playground on the cliff, in Chesterton’s famous metaphor. We can (as in the song that Percy’s Lancelot hears) love “Shenandoah’s fair daughters,” confident that we will not raise to them an impure eye, still less a hand.

Like boot camp, keeping those walls up and staying within them is not grueling discipline just for the heck of it: it has a point; it leads to something. We don’t have orders of chivalry any more, but we have its ideals, because they are simply the Church’s teaching on purity grafted onto notions of manhood known to the ancients but completed by Christianity.

Burke, for example, famously said:

It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she had just begun to move in, glittering like the morning star full of life and splendor and joy. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards, to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult.
And Dante, finishing up his great poetry-album for Beatrice, implored the aid of the “Lord of courtesy.”

Sancta Maria, mater pulchrae dilectionis, ora pro nobis. Holy Mary, mother of fair love, pray for us.

Friday, August 27, 2004
For the well-equipped Judeo-Christian of today

From Christian Book Distributors, a leading Evangelical catalogue, you can now get a variety of shofars. Shofar, sho good. Don't blow it.

The Shakespeare profession in England votes on its favorites in a number of categories. Top performance: Paul Scofield's Lear. Top scene: OTHELLO, Act III, scene III. Top play: HAMLET. Funniest scene: the mechanicals' play at the end of MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.

Some surprises: TITUS ANDRONICUS makes it into the top ten plays. Most inspiring character: Paulina in THE WINTER'S TALE. Top Shakespeare movie is Kurosawa's Throne of Blood. Whattt? There are no Shakespeare lines in it, and it doesn't even follow the story-line of MACBETH all that closely.

Second-ranking Shakespeare movie: Baz Luhrman's ROMEO AND JULIET. I'm glad there's still a thriving Shakespeare industry in British theater, but it must be pretty corrupt to prefer "Verona Beach, California" to Zeffirelli's glowing Renaissance vision.

Thursday, August 26, 2004
Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. -- Mt. 24:44, from the readings at today's Mass.

So this morning the priest gives the homily and says: "Today is the day the priests in this area meet with the new Bishop. So I do know the day and the hour: today at four. Please pray for me."

Wednesday, August 25, 2004
A Marine Major now serving as a pilot in Najaf writes:
The Iraqi soldiers who are fighting alongside us are motivated to take their country back. I've not been deluded into thinking that we came here to free the Iraqis. That is indeed the icing on the cake, but I came here to prevent the still active "grave and gathering threat" from congealing into something we wouldn't be able to stop....

Michael Moore recently asked Bill O'Reilly if he would sacrifice his son for Falluja. A clever rhetorical device, but it's the wrong question: this war is about Des Moines, not Falluja. This country is breeding and attracting militants who are all eager to grab box cutters, dirty bombs, suicide vests or biological weapons, and then come fight us in Chicago, Santa Monica or Long Island. Falluja, in fact, was very close to becoming a city our forces could have controlled, and then given new schools and sewers and hospitals, before we pulled back in the spring. Now, essentially ignored, it has become a Taliban-like state of Islamic extremism, a terrorist safe haven. We must not let the same fate befall Najaf or Ramadi or the rest of Iraq.
-- and The New York Times published it! (Hat-tip to Roy, because, as you know, I don't read The New York Times.)

Hours of unproductive fun: Leatherneck Lingo.

Timing is everything. NewsMax sends around a poll on whether to ditch Cheney, the very day the papers announce Cheney Sees Gay Marriage as State Issue: Vice President Details Differences With Bush.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Conversation chez Cacciaguida's classroom

Cacciaguida: Many of you are day-division students. What are you doing taking Criminal Procedure with me at 8:25 at night? Are you that afraid of Prof. X?

Chorus of Female Students: We want you!

(I think they're teasing. Prof. X is a very tough grader.)

Monday, August 23, 2004
GOP Plan Calls for Revamping Intelligence. Oh dear, another one-joke day in Washington.

Sunday, August 22, 2004
Lancelot's Manifesto -- concluded (previous installment here)
Now I remember where I heard the music. Do you believe in dreams? That is, do you believe that a dream can be prophetic? You smile. Christ, don't you believe anything anymore? You smile. Your God used to send messages in dreams, didn't he? No, this was not a message sent to me by God but my own certain vision of what is going to happen. I know what is going to happen. I dreamed it, but it is also going to happen.

A young man is standing in a mountain pass above the Shenandoah Valley. A rifle is slung across his back. He is very tan. Clearly he has been living in the forest. Though the day is very hot, he stands perfectly still under a sourwood tree as the sun sets in the west. He is waiting and watching for something. What? A sign? Who, what is he? WASP Virginian? New England Irish? Louisiana Creole? Jew? Black? Where does he live? It is impossible to say. He is dark, burned black as an Indian. He could be a Sabra from a kibbutz. All one can say for certain is that he is careful, that he has something in mind, and that he is watching and waiting. For what? For this: presently he sees something, a mirror flash from the last sun rays from the mountain across the North Fork. Still he waits. The sun goes down. Quickly it grows dark. He faces northeast watching the faint green luminescence from the great dying cities of the North, Washington to Boston.

As quickly as he appeared, he vanishes.

Presently there comes a sound from faraway of young men singing. There is a cadence and a dying away to the sound. Are they marching?

Oh Shenandoah, we long to see you
How we love your sparkling waters
And we love your lovely daughters
From these green hills to far away
Across the wide Missouri

Oh Columbia, our blessed mother
You know we wait until you guide us
Give us a sign and march beside us
From these green hills to far away
Across the wide Missouri
-- Walker Percy, Lancelot

Saturday, August 21, 2004
Feast of St. Pius X

Friday, August 20, 2004
More about the next threat to religious liberty: the "New Enlightenment"

The Yale Law Journal cite referred to in the post immediately below is: Madhavi Sunder, Piercing the Veil, 112 Yale L.J. 1399 (2003). Here is an abstract. The full article is here.

The title is sly: at one level, it refers to the veil forced on women in Muslim nations. But "piercing the veil" is also a legal term of art for disregarding the "veil" of a corporation's limited liability and going after the managers and directors individually. Courts can be persuaded to do this when it is shown that the managers and directors have disregarded corporate formalities or abused the limited liability privilege. This, of course, is what Sunder wants to do to churches.

More on the author here. Or go here for another abstract in which we read:
From gay bishops to Muslim women seeking equality within Islam, increasingly, individuals are demanding choice and reason not outside of their cultural and religious identities but within them. Prof. Sunder calls this the New Enlightenment. She states “the Old Enlightenment took us from a world of Empire to an Age of Reason and equality in the public sphere. But it left the private spheres of culture and religion in the Dark Ages of imposition and unreason. The New Enlightenment goes the next mile, calling for enlightened approaches to cultural and religious identity, as well. Here we see the core values of Enlightenment--reason, democracy, freedom of expression, and the call to ‘think for oneself’--extended to the private sphere.” [Emphasis added]

Thursday, August 19, 2004
Next major assault on religious liberty

Know what it will be? A campaign to deny to churches and other religious entities the right to enforce their own doctrines against an individual dissenting member.

The ideological basis for this campaign will be the asserted right of the individual to "practice" the religion of his choice. Of course, traditional Free Exercise principles forbid the government from interfering with this right; the new twist is that a church's own teachings will be seen as violating religious liberty norms if they burden an individual's desire to belong to that church.

I've already seen an article in the Yale Law Journal sketching this theory, using "fundamentalist" Islam as its target -- a smooth move, since no one will want to be seen defending the right of the Taliban to be the Taliban. (I'll post the cite later; I don't have it here right now.)

In this light, consider this news item:
BRIELLE, N.J. — An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat has had her first Holy Communion (search) declared invalid because the wafer contained no wheat, violating Roman Catholic doctrine.
Some Catholic churches allow no-gluten hosts, while others do not, said Elaine Monarch, executive director of the Celiac Disease Foundation, a California-based support group for sufferers.
See? Some parishes already accommodate, so it's obviously sheer discrimination for the Church as a whole not to. But Ms. Monarch isn't finished:
"It is an undue hardship on a person who wants to practice their religion and needs to compromise their health to do so," Monarch said.
"Undue hardship." "Undue burden." Lack of "reasonable accommodation." It's the language that precedes a lawsuit, probably under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The Free Exercise suit against the Church will come later, after the Supreme Court has been persuaded by Mark Tushnet, Cass Sunstein, et al. that the "state action" requirement for direct liability under the Constitution should be abandoned.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004
FoxNews: Pope Not Dying Again.



Terry Teachout has a good piece here, in Commentary, arguing for the re-discovery of the music of Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934). This composer, easily mistaken in photos for P.G. Wodehouse's Duke of Dunstable, and often taken as the musical epitome of "creamy English charm," was actually a Roman Catholic, a son of the lower middle class, and as internally volatile as Mahler, though more at home in country houses than his Viennese counterpart would have been.

Elgar: tempest among the teapots

Teachout is basically right when he says:
Brahms and Wagner were the predominant influences on English classical music in the late 19th century, and Elgar’s most ambitious works, Gerontius and the two symphonies (Op. 55, 1908, and Op. 63, 1911) and two concertos (for violin, Op. 61, 1910, and for cello, Op. 85, 1919), might be considered an attempt to synthesize the styles of those composers. Like Wagner, Elgar used the modern symphony orchestra as his primary mode of expression, writing works whose elaborate scoring and chromatically enriched harmonic vocabulary broke with the Mendelssohnian idiom of his predecessors. Like Brahms, he had little interest in or gift for opera, and his symphonic works contain no trace of the unabashed eroticism that was central to Wagner’s musical identity, just as his lyricism is more nostalgic than ardent.
I do not agree that Elgar lacks that Wagnerian ingredient, but that may be because of the age at which I got to know Elgar's works. Listen to the First Symphony and decide for yourself.

Contra Teachout, Elgar gets "re-discovered" on a fairly regular basis. In the '70s both Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim recorded his symphonies beautifully, and programmed them in their concerts. Since then, Bernard Haitink, Andrew Davis, Leonard Slatkin and Jeffrey Tate have also been exponents. Elgar isn't particularly in need of rediscovery; he just shouldn't be forgotten.

A few comments on the Elgar discography. Teachout likes Elgar's own recordings of his works more than I do. Quite aside from the primitive recording techniques, their fast pace takes some of the romance out for me. (I know of no reason why a composer's interpretations of his own works should be considered per se authoritative.)

I agree that Benjamin Britten's recording of The Dream of Gerontius (available in this package) is great. There are other good ones too, such as this one under Richard Hickox. This profoundly devotional work of Catholic piety -- a musicalization of a semi-dramatic poem by Cardinal Newman about a soul dying in grace, meeting his guardian angel, journeying to face God at his particular judgment, and then joyfully begging a term in Purgatory -- has made more than one convert.

However, I am miffed that Teachout barely mentions the First Symphony. More accessible than the Second, it is the peak of English high romanticism -- very emotional, yet very English. It starts on one soaring theme, then goes from anxiety in the rest of the first movement, to anger and longing in the second, to meditation in the third, and to renewed hope in the fourth -- culminating in the return of the opening theme, with much musical fireworks. Not that the Second isn't great too, especially the funereal second movement.

Deserving special praise, imo, are the Elgar Symphony recordings by the late Giuseppe Sinopoli. Very romantic, very insightful. Not for the jaded, the Boulez-influenced, or the glucose-intolerant -- yet not caricatures of emotionalism, as Bernstein's Mahler performances sometimes are.

And those Pomp and Circumstance Marches? Well, did you know that there are five of them, not just #1 (the "graduation march")? Number 4 has a slow section at least as gorgeous as #1. And #5, completed decades after the other four, has a strange elegiac quality -- a sad but still proud march for a passing Empire, a passing life.

What holds people back from appreciating the P&Cs is that almost all conductors play them as marches. Since that's what they are, the offense cannot be considered too grave. But: what would happen if a conductor figured that, as long as he wasn't actually accompanying marching soldiers, he could conduct the P&Cs instead as miniature concert overtures, speeding up the outer parts and slowing down the inner part (or "trio") for maximum emo wallop? Answer: you'd get Daniel Barenboim's interpretation, a classic of the Sony/Columbia catalogue, re-issued in dozens of configurations since it was recorded ca. 1974. For example, here you can get the Marches along with the Enigma Variations and the Crown of India Suite; a steal.

While I cannot agree with Teachout that Elgar is "unloved" or still waiting to be discovered, I applaud this very insightful line:
It is true that he long outlived his day, but so did [Richard] Strauss and Rachmaninoff, both of whom are still popular in spite of (if not because of) their problematic relationship to modernity.

AP: Mass. Judge Upholds Law Limiting Marriage [sic!]
MarriageWednesday, August 18, 2004 BOSTON — A Superior Court judge on Wednesday declined to halt enforcement of a 1913 state law barring out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004
Island talk. Here's what Jonathan Lee says not to believe out of Ricks:
Once notoriously foul-mouthed, Parris Island's drill instructors today are forbidden to use obscenities. (p. 86)
Well, as Ricks (Pentagon correspondent for the Wall St. Journal) surely knows, some inaccuracies can creep into even the best reporter's copy. But his observation one sentence earlier, concerning the hard-chargin'est DI on the Island at the time -- Sgt. Darren Carey, a Force Recon guy -- is presumably based on personal observation:
Euphemisms such as "freaking" and "frigging" are about as profane as Sergeant Carey ever becomes.
And that's a hard discipline to stick to, because most of the recruits probably have minds at least as dirtied as the worst DI on the Island -- making Sgt. Carey's self-discipline all the more awesome. Ricks explains:
[T]heir recruits arrive steeped in casual vulgarity from pop music, cable TV, and everyday conversation. So it is all the more unnerving to face a DI who appears, as Sergeant Carey does now, to be insanely angry -- but who rarely swears.(Occasionally, a drill instructor, growing impatient with a recruit who waits a second or two to reply, will yell, "Yes, sir -- no, sir -- fuck you, sir -- something like that?" Charles Lees, the observant Holy Cross graduate who as become 3086's "scribe," or clerk, keeping track of the platoon's laundry numbers, sick call chits, and other mundane data, observes privately that "that third offer sometimes is really tempting.")
I'll bet it is, especially to recruits who have taken the PSAT and SAT and thus are used to multiple choice questions. All that's missing is #4, "all of the above."

Coming to a mall near you -- you hope: Rome Depot. By the Curt Jester.

Btw, did you know that if you get some Popeyes Chicken, then take the box (hint: first, eat the chicken), cut away the word "chicken", then cut between the first "e" and the "y", you then have a POPE YES sign, suitable for wall mounting? (It helps that Popeyes Chicken doesn't know how to punctuate.)

Monday, August 16, 2004
To borrow a Cacciaguida family expression, Zorak and the Old Oligarch GTHAB!

Sunday, August 15, 2004
Feast of the Assumption. Fr. Jim's homily here: "To the culture that says, 'The body is just so much meaningless flesh,' Mary's assumption proves the body's lasting value." My summary of the Hahn-Staples biblical defense of the Assumption (with emphasis on Mary as Ark of the Covenant) is here.

This morning our pastor (at our plain ordinary N.O. parish) said in his homily: "Before anyone accuses me of wanting to go back to Trent, let me say: we never left it. Vatican II built on Trent." !!!

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Eastern Orthodoxy II

Continuing the dialogue with Alexander of Macedon, as per his blogpost here, which was a response to my post here. In what follows, indented = Alexander, non-indented = me.
First off, the nationalism latent in the Orthodox Church is an interesting topic; I'm under the impression that it was a result of the Ottoman Empire (religious nationalism being a sort of proto-liberation theology). This excessive nationalism, which in many congregations seems more important than Christ and His Church, troubles me. It's a relatively recent phenomenon, though, and of course I hope it dies off, though I won't go into too much detail on the subject right now.
I don’t doubt that the experience of Ottoman oppression intensified the identification of Eastern Orthodoxy with nationhood for many Christian nations under Mahometan rule. But it didn’t start there. Long before the Turks, and even before the Schism, Constantinopolitan were proud (with much justification) of their richly furnished, ultra-liturgical worship, and this pride went hand in hand with a sense of superiority to the less-developed West (we’re talking 9th, 10th centuries here).
As to the question of what makes a council an Ecumenical Council, C. quotes the catechism in his post. In a nutshell, it seems that if a council receives papal ratification it gets EC status. This answer is very unsatisfying.

First of all, why does the council need to be convened "under the presidency of the pope or his legates?" The First EC was convened under Emperor Constantine the Great; in fact a great many of the first councils were under the presidency of the emperors. But they're not illegitimate.
I think that only Nicaea, in 325, was in any sense under the presidency of an emperor, though others were called at various emperors' requests. I’m doing this from memory; if Alexander wants to dispute it, I’ll hit the books, as I’m sure he will too. Alexander’s account would implicate the Eastern Church in “caesaropapism” – that is, the ascription of ecclesiastical jurisdiction to the Emperor. This is a traditional charge against Byzantine ecclesiology that Prof. Geanakoplos, for one, was at great pains to disprove.

As for Nicaea itself, there’s no doubt Constantine wanted it to take place; quite right, too: he had endorsed Christianity and given it a home in the Empire, and now it was at risk of sundering itself over a theological issue. Naturally he wanted everyone to rally ‘round and quit bitchin’. And he did occupy the “chair” of the council, more or less the way the Speaker of the House of Commons does – you know, calling “Aww-da! Aww-da!” when necessary, but not taking a substantive role in the debate.

More importantly, however: Constantine did not himself summon the Council of Nicaea. He prevailed on Pope Sylvester to do so. Sylvester is a surprisingly lackluster figure, given the critical time in which he reigned, and for all we know he needed a memo from the Emperor, perhaps delivered by some nice gentlemen with large swords, to provoke him to action. But he did call the council.*
Also, why have councils anyway if a council's only good because of papal approval? It seems that there is nothing special about the collection of clergy in itself since, if their findings don't receive the Pope's thumbs up, it isn't an EC.
Well, there have been regional councils and synods going way back. Not all councils are ecumenical. But the tradition of assembling the bishops of the world under the actual or constructive presence of Peter or his successor dates to the actual first ecumenical council (though we don’t give it an ordinal numeral): the one in Acts 15. Peter presided (not qua Bishop of Rome, which he wasn’t yet, though later that will be important – see infra – but qua long-established leader of the Apostles) and gave the decision; James, as “host” bishop, so to speak – since he was Patriarch of Jerusalem – accepted that decision on behalf of the assembled group.
I don't think a practical explanation will do; Infallibility, wherever it lies, is informed and guided by the Holy Spirit. If a council doesn't become Ecumenical and Infallible (because, quite frankly, it can't be the former without being the latter) until the Pope says so, then in reality the Holy Spirit doesn't act through the episcopate as a college. We might as well cut out the middle man.
Infallibility is a property of the teaching authority of the Church. Most often this authority is exercised by the bishops teaching in unity with the Holy Father (the “ordinary magisterium”). Sometimes there is a need for exercise of the “extraordinary magisterium.” An example of this is when the Pope issues an infallible declaration, which is always merely the ratification of a long-held belief (such as the Assumption/Dormition). Also falling under the defintion of “extraordinary magisterium,” I believe, are ecumenical councils called to resolve a theological controversy or crisis. (An ecumenical council is equally authoritative even if it deals only with pastoral issues, as Vatican II did; there is no such thing, contra the rad-trads, as a “pastoral council,” distinct from, and less authoritative than, other ecumenical councils.)

What I meant to clarify with the above paragraph was that “infallibility” is not a toggle that’s either on or off and therefore must be located in only one place.
Emperor Constantine should have never called a Council; he should have just sent a letter to the Pope asking him to denounce the heresies of the day.
Or to summon a council. Which he did. That is, Constantine asked, and Sylvester summoned.
Peter should have never bothered to hold a council with his fellow Apostles (because, as far as I can tell, the really First Ecumenical Council occurred when the Apostles met to decide if Gentile converts to the Faith needed to be circumcised first).
Exactly. See supra.
If Christ unambiguously gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom then all the Apostles should have been well aware of that fact, and a simple pronouncement should have been fine and dandy. However (and I need to take a look at my Bible to refresh my memory) I recall more of a council than a monologue and pronouncement.
There was dialogue first, then a Petrine pronouncement: “And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them….” Acts 15:7. Being infallible doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen: it means you’ll make right decision after you’ve listened. God usually wants us to use human means in addition to His direct intervention; in fact, doesn’t He usually withhold His direct intervention unless and until we use all reasonable human means?
Anyway, to take things a step further, why Rome? After all, Peter founded the See of Antioch way before he founded the See of Rome.
Because Rome was the political and cultural capital of the world as the Apostles knew it; because it was probably the Fourth Empire of Daniel 7; because to convert the Emperor and his court is greatly to advance the spread of the Gospel; because Peter moved on from Antioch to Rome, and was martyred at Rome, as was Paul.

There is a theory that if the Jews as a nation had accepted Christ, then Jerusalem, not Rome, would have been the capital of the Church. In this view, the Roman primacy represents, so to speak, Plan B. I’m not sure I buy that. But at least it’s consistent with the view that a unified Church needs a unified government, with the qualifications discussed immediately infra.
In answer to that question, I'd say that the Church has long had a practical way of distributing authority. From the earliest days bishops were based in big cities, not tiny towns. This is an obviously practical consideration, since a bishop will do a better job of leading his flock when he's with more of them, and therefore at least has some contact with them.
Amen; absolutely. That’s why it’s incorrect, under Roman as well as Eastern ecclesiology, to view bishops as no more than regional governors representing the Roman brass. Bishops are, in a real sense, shepherds of their own flocks, though in union with Rome. This explains, in part, the reluctance of Rome to “fire” bishops, even when they desperately deserve it. The relationship of a diocesan priest to his bishop is quite otherwise: a priest really is a representative, a vicar, of his bishop. We gather around our parish priest for Mass only because we can’t all get to the cathedral to gather around the bishop. But if we gather around the bishop, it’s not because we can’t all get to St. Peter’s in Rome: it’s because we are Chrisifidelis of the Diocese of ________. The Eastern and Western theologies of episcopacy may not be as far apart as you think.
As to the question of the legitimacy of the Council of Florence, I raise this hypothetical (it's a metaphor, so naturally it won't map on precisely): suppose the Pope dies and the Cardinals get together to elect his successor. Suppose they don't gather in good faith, and violenc awaits if they choose one candidate over another. Is their election valid?
Things like that have happened, so there is an answer to that question; I’m just not sure what it is. When the papacy returned to Rome after the “Babylonian captivity” at Avignon, the King of France didn’t like that one bit, no, not at all, so he connived at various rival conclaves, leading to “anti-popes.” The canon-legal gruntwork necessary to sort out the legitimate Popes from the anti-popes has been done; I just don’t have that case-file on my desk.
In the case of the Council [of Florence], the Emperor purposefully sent a hand-picked delegation that, he knew, would assent to any Western demands for the sake of gathering military support. Quite a few bishops, priests, etc. who were more interested in debating the issues didn't go, so plenty of folk back home were upset when the delegation returned.
Well if Emperors can summon and preside over councils, as you seemed to think a little while ago, then this should have been no problem, right?!

Anyway, it’s a bedrock rule of Eastern (but not Roman) ecclesiology that the outcome of a council is null and void if it is not accepted by the Orthodox people, the pravoslavnye lyud that the Russians talk about, which meant, in the 1440s and 50s, the people of Constantinople. They rejected Florence; therefore, in future discussions, Catholics cannot reasonably expect Orthodox to be bound by it. It may, however, furnish a useful platform for future discussions.
As for the Third Council, here's a bit to think about:
When these documents had been read out, the holy synod decreed the following.
1. It is not permitted to produce or write or compose any other creed except the one which was defined by the holy fathers who were gathered together in the holy Spirit at Nicaea.
2.Any who dare to compose or bring forth or produce another creed for the benefit of those who wish to turn from Hellenism or Judaism or some other heresy to the knowledge of the truth, if they are bishops or clerics they should be deprived of their respective charges and if they are laymen they are to be anathematised.

This seems pretty straightforward: read my lips, no new creeds. Athanasius's creed came before the Council so, and perhaps the Father had his Fil-fanatic creed in mind when they made the above pronouncements. As far as I can tell, adding the Filioque is in direct violation of EC3.
That council, the Council of Ephesus, was called to resolve specific issues, of which filioque was not one. The issues, rather, were whether Christ had two natures, human and divine, or whether, as the Nestorians taught, He had a human nature only; and a corollary: whether Our Lady is entitled to the title Theotokos (God-Bearer), because if she is the mother of His human nature only, then this title is erroneous. The Council, of course, condemned Nestorianism and confirmed the Marian title Theotokos.

The ban on “new creeds” therefore is to be understood as a ban on backtracking on the two-natures doctrine. As the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia puts it (article by J. Forget):

“[T]he prohibition of the Council of Ephesus was never understood, and ought not to be understood, in an absolute sense. It may be considered either as a doctrinal, or as a merely disciplinary pronouncement. In the first case it would exclude any addition or modification opposed to, or at variance with, the deposit of Revelation; and such seems to be its historic import, for it was proposed and accepted by the Fathers to oppose a formula tainted with Nestorianism. In the second case considered as a disciplinary measure, it can bind only those who are not the depositaries of the supreme power in the Church. The latter, as it is their duty to teach the revealed truth and to preserve it from error, possess, by Divine authority, the power and right to draw up and propose to the faithful such confessions of faith as circumstances may demand.”
Also, I think it's very odd to think that the results of the Third Council (which are infallible) somehow failed to take this or that truth into account, that somehow the Holy Spirit didn't look far enough ahead and left bits of Truth out. It's one thing, for instance, to chart the development of the Creed from Constantinople to Nicea (since the last half of the Creed wasn't written at Constantinople). It's quite another to say, "oops, when we last spoke about the Holy Spirit we left this crucial bit out."
I think the order is Nicaea to Constantinople, not the other way around, but anyway, your point here would have force if these councils dealt with the question of the procession of the Holy Spirit. None of them did. No council is infallible on an issue it does not address.
My apologies if this post was a bit rushed; it's late in the day and I have to run. I'd like to write a little more about the Filioque itself when I get a chance.

I pray that I am being honest, fair, and straightforward as I consider these questions.


You are, of course!

*Perhaps the messengers returned to the Emperor and said, "We tawt we taw a puddy-tat!" And Constantine may have replied, "You did! You did taw a puddy-tat!" EDITED TO ADD: "Felisulum videre credidimus!" "Sic, valde felisulum videbistis!"

Friday, August 13, 2004
Yeah, I'm kind of surprised too. (What's that? You're not?)

Fight Club!

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla

An eccentric set of possible outcomes, I should add.

Next post on Eastern Orthodoxy coming up soon. Really.

Rabbit sets fire to cricket club. Ah, a bunfire!

Tee hee -- The Onion: CIA asks Bush to discontinue blog. Via Gen X Revert.

Waterspout (tornado over water) spinning out from Hurricane Charley over Gulf of Mexico. AP photo.

Thursday, August 12, 2004
Follow-up on Gov. McGreevey

A very smart and politically aware friend tells me McGreevey's extra-marital homosexual affairs have been well known inside New Jersey media and political circles for years, and have never been a political issue. (Can any NJ-based readers comment?) Rather, my friend says, the real cause of the resignation is corruption of the sort more common in politics (or more commonly reported, anyway).

Did McGreevey announce his resignation the way he did in order to cover ordinary venality with some sort of cloak of gay martyrdom? Do gays have a legitimate beef with him for discrediting them as a group just so he could save some face?

U.S. forces raid al-Sadr home in Najaf
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. Marines in Najaf raided the house of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, seized weapons and obliterated a nearby building with a 500-pound bomb to clear out pockets of resistance held by his militia.
Day's work.

NJ Gov. McGreevey has just announced that he is a "gay American," has been having an affair with a guy, and is resigning. Not a joke. Otto comments here.

Meanwhile, the California Supreme Court has unanimously invalidated the same-sex "marriage" licenses granted by the city of San Francisco.

Britain: Gov't will teach you how to "parent"

Also from the Daily Telegraph: Ministers to tell parents how to do better
Fathers could be urged to switch off their mobile phones when they play with their children at new state-sponsored "parenting classes".

Under the training initiative, to be outlined in a consultation paper on youth next month by Margaret Hodge, the minister for children, parents will be offered courses in how to improve family life.

They will be given tips on dealing with sex, drugs and bullying as well as how to discipline children by being authoritative rather than authoritarian.

So far, education for parents has been restricted to mothers and fathers of children who break the law. They can be legally required to attend.

But the Government now wants to extend classes - which would be voluntary and held mostly in schools - to middle-class parents.

The parents could be invited to classes at key moments in their children's lives such as when they start school or move from primary to secondary school.

Mrs Hodge is aware that critics see parenting classes as the nanny state in operation, but is unapologetic.

She said recently: 'It would be irresponsible to ignore what the research tells us about how important parenting is.

"If these things were compulsory that would be intrusive but if they
are simply available, that's not the nanny state."

Next will come government jawboning to attend; door prizes, cash, or tax breaks for those who attend. Then attendance (proved by certificate) will become a "plus factor" for parents in child abuse/neglect investigations. Then non-attendance will become per se child neglect. Then it will be flatly mandatory. And then they can start the process all over again on the next frontier: home visits by social workers.

The telegraph's editorial on this is here.

Daily Telegraph: Scientists get go-ahead to clone first human embryo
British scientists were given a licence yesterday to create Europe's first
cloned human embryo for research.
Related story here, casting doubt on whether "cloned people" as seen in sci-fi are even possible (though, alas, there seems to be no doubt about the feasibility of cloning embryos).

Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Associated Press inadvertently takes culture's moral temperature

In this Peterson-murder-case story (linked here as it appeared in The Washington Times), the AP talks about "a relationship that quickly developed from sex to a serious relationship."

Back up and read again: "quickly developed from sex to a serious relationship."

Words fail. The mind boggles. Our culture's collapse, captured in a phrase of eleven words (only seven of them essential), tossed off with no sense of irony or controversy by a beat reporter on deadline.

Well, words shouldn't fail. One should try to put the argument on the record, even if recourse to irony is inevitable.

The cultural cash-value of quoted phrase might be stated as: "First they did the thing that involves intimacy beyond what one sees even on modern beaches, yea, even on European ones; the thing that physiologically instantiates and proclaims complete mutual gift of self; the thing that is quite capable of producing a baby (thereby inserting the partners into co-creation with God), even when "precautions" are taken. Then, from this beginning -- this, as it were, get-acquainted session -- they moved on to something serious."

Herein lies the syllabus of every domestic social problem we have, including (but not limited to) those recognized as problems by secular commentators. No?

Headline fun in today's Washington Post:

* Post Newsprint Warehouse Again Struck by Vandals. Come on, Ostrogoths -- can't let those Vandals build up a lead!

* (Page B1 "reefer hed," not online) Nudist Camp Suit Thrown Out. You know, I'll bet that was the whole idea.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004
More from Jonathan Lee's letter here.

Monday, August 09, 2004
Re-introducing: The Yale Free Press -- Vast. Right. Winged. (Look for it under "Axis of Eve," as she is a former YFP editor.)

In re Alan Keyes -- A former Illinois state senator writes to The Illinois Leader:
Lincoln, who had been a Whig, was attracted to the new Republican Party in 1854 because the party embraced the ideals of the abolitionists and their principle that "no person has the right to spend another person's life." Alan Keyes also understands that principle, and State Senator Barack Obama does not. Alan Keyes knows that principle remains valid whether it is applied to slavery in the 1860s or to government control of people's lives in 2004. He also understands that the rights of unborn children must be protected by law since they cannot protect themselves. The principle that "no person has the right to spend another person's life" also means the unborn have a right to live.

Mark Q. Rhoads
former Illinois State Senator
Falls Church, VA

Leno says:

* The Labor Department reported only 32,000 jobs were created last month. 32,000! The Kerrys have more servants than that.

* This weekend, John Kerry is going to meet with the leaders of the Navajo Indian Tribe. They like Kerry because his head reminds them of a totem pole.

And New-York-based Letterman says:

* The Republican Convention is coming to town. It's coming up at the end of the month. Everyone is getting ready for the convention. The crack dealers are switching to Viagra.

Via Newsmax.

Lauren B. writes in to say:
Good to know other faithful Catholics are reading the Weekly Standard. I am often a bit disturbed by many of the faithful ignorance or rather choice to ignore policy and politics until it is right on their doorstep.
Thanks, Lauren. I think that, week in, week out, the Standard is now the best thing going in secular conservative journalism.

What secular conservative mag has paid more attention to issues like stem cells, gay marriage, and the right to life? Not The American Conservative, or even (though it pains me to say it, having subscribed for over 30 years), NR. They're both too hung up on immigration, as though the biggest problem we faced was too many Catholics coming into the country. (Not that immigration doesn't present certain problems, but many "conservatives" are hung up on it in a way that does them no credit.)

I'm not on board with the "big government conservative" idea that has occasionally roosted at the Standard. But the biggest offender there was David Brooks, who is now with the New York Times, which is a much better fit.

Sunday, August 08, 2004
Never send a grad student an electronic copy of your dissertation, and always keep originals of all your primary sources. A rather shocking plagiarism story, via Arts & Letters Daily.

Lancelot's Manifesto (next to last installment)
Do you hear the sound of music faraway? No? Perhaps I only imagined it, no doubt it is the echo of a dream or rather a vision which has come to me of late. But I swear I could hear the sound of young men marching and singing, a joyful cadenced marching song....

...It is Virginia where we are supposed to be. I see that clearly now.


Yes, don't you see? Virginia is where it will begin. And it is where there are men who will do it. Just as it was Virginia where it all began in the beginning, or at least where there were men to conceive it, the great Revolution, fought it, won it, and saw it on its way. They began the Second Revolution and we lost it. Perhaps the Third Revolution will end differently.


Don't you see? Virginia is neither North nor South but both and neither. Betwixt and between. An island between two disasters. Facing both: both the defunct befouled and collapsing North and the corrupt thriving and Jesus-hollering South. The Northerner is at heart a pornographer. He is an abstract mind with a genital attached. His soul is at Harvard, a large abstract locked-in sterile university who motto is truth but which has not discovered an important truth in a hundred years. His body lives on Forty-second Street. Do you think there is no relation between Harvard and Forty-second Street? One is the backside of the other. The Southerner? The Southerner started out as a skeptical Jeffersonian and became a crooked Christian. That is to say, he is approaching and has almost reached his essence, which is to be more crooked and Christian than ever before....

California? The West? That's where the two intersect: Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, Las Vegas, drugs, pornography, and every abstract discarnate idea ever hit upon by man roaming the wilderness in search of habitation.

Washington, the country, is down the drain. Everyone knows it. The people have lost it to the politicians, bureaucrats, drunk Congressmen, lying Presidents, White House preachers, C.I.A., F.B.I., Mafia, Pentagon, pornographers, muggers, buggers, bribers, bribe takers, rich crooked cowboys, sclerotic Southerners, rich crooked Yankees, dirty books, dirty movies, dirty plays, dirty talk shows, dirty soap operas, fags, lesbian, abortionists, Jesus shouters, anti-Jesus shouters, dying cities, courses in how to f___ for schoolchildren.

The Virginian? He may not realize it yet, but he is the last hope of the Third Revolution. The First Revolution was won at Yorktown. The Second Revolution was lost at Appomatox. The Third Revolution will begin there, in the Shenandoah Valley.
-- Walker Percy, Lancelot

To be continued.

Saturday, August 07, 2004
you are augustus caesar
You're Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. He had
a lot of drive and skill, possessing a
respectable spirit and the ability to persuade.
His wife was alwasys in his ear, she has a
BIGGER persuasive spirit. He's a God.

What Julio-Claudian Roman Emperor are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, August 06, 2004
Caccia di Gregorio and I have been out to the ballgame, to watch a key New York Mets farm team. In our half of the sixth inning, our pitcher came up to bat, with two on and two out. With the entire stands shouting "Bunt!", he hits a double to deep right, scoring two.

Says Caccia di Gregorio: "You don't, er, see that very often."

The same pitcher also carried a one-hit shut-out into the top of the eighth before running out of steam. We held on to win, despite some dicey relief work that made our insurance runs count.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

We've gotten a letter from Jonathan Lee at Parris Island! He's OK. I'll give Elinor (to whom the letter was, quite properly, addressed) first dibs on posting excerpts from it. But here's one of my favorite parts:
Tell Dad to ignore what the book says about DIs not swearing at recruits. Ours have not abandoned their maritime roots.
He also says he's met one person mentioned in that book, and another who was trained by one of the DIs in it. Says Jonathan: "It's a small island."

Wednesday, August 04, 2004
Newsday: Conservative Catholic groups share reverence for doctrinal orthodoxy. The headline is duh, but the article is surprisingly good.

America's "Declaration Conservative" for the Land o' Lincoln?

Will Alan Keyes take up the Illinois GOP Senate nomination (dropped by would-be clubber Jack Ryan) and run against heavily-favored and much-touted Barack Obama? Here's the story. (N.B. I voted for Keyes in my state's 2000 Republican primary.)

Bands gather to stump against Bush. Is your favorite among them? Mine is not -- yet, anyway.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004
As I continue adding blogs to my blogroll that should have been there a long time ago, I'm delighted to welcome Dyspectic Mutterings, by Dale Price. Look under "Catholic blogs."

Oppression, American-style

Monday, August 02, 2004
Lancelot's Manifesto, cont.
If I were a Jew, I'd know what to do. It's easy. I'd be in Israel with the sabras. They're my kind. The only difference between them and the Crusaders is that the Crusaders lost. Ha, isn't that a switch, come to think of it -- that the only Crusaders left in the entire Western world are the Israelis, the very Jews who huddled and shrank and grinned and nodded for two thousand years? They know who they are and they have Israel. We have to make our own Israel, but we know who we are.

We know who we are and where we stand. There will be leaders and there will be followers. There are now, only neither knows which is which. There will be men who are strong and pure of heart, not for Christ's sake but for their own sake. There will be virtuous women and there will be women of the street who are there to be f___ed and everyone will know which is which. You can't tell a whore from a lady now, but you will then. You will do right, not because of Jew-Christian commandments but because we say it is right. There will be honorable men and there will be thieves, just as now, but the difference is one will know which is which and there will be no confusion, no nice thieves, no honorable Mafia. There are not many of us but since we are ready to die and no one else is, we shall prevail.


No, it is not you who are offering me something, salvation, a choice, whatever. I am offering you a choice. Do you want to become one of us? You can without giving up a single thing you believe in except milksoppery. I repeat, it was your Lord who said he came to bring not peace but a sword. We may even save your church for you.

You are pale as a ghost. What did you whisper? Love? That I am full of hatred, anger? Don't talk to me of love until we shovel out the shit.
-- Walker Percy, Lancelot

To be continued.

Massive security resources are being allocated to sites named on those Al Qaeda computer disks. Apparently the latest target named is the U.N. Hey, FBI, DHS, NYPD, don't get carried away! It's a big city -- gotta spread out, you know...! (Or insert your own joke below.)

Sunday, August 01, 2004
Kerry and real military folk: Elinor has clipped this story and sent it to Jonathan Lee. Also, check out Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (via Davetown).