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

Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Blog-break until next Monday. Happy New Year!

Almost forgot that Becket carol I promised you. Here it is. Tune: Good King Wenceslas.

Good King Henry 2 got whipped
On the Feast of Becket.
Great his heart and eke his tongue
Whan that he could check it.

But one day, "This priest," said he,
"Who shall rid me of him?"
Now he's got five Saxon monks
Swinging whips abo-O-ove him.

Asian tsumani: Here is a report from an island near the epicenter. At the risk of seeming to trivialize the disaster, which is the opposite of my intent, I note that the description is eerily similar to that of the destruction of Atlantis in this modern Arturian novel, one that has been passing among my sons and myself in the last few weeks.

Fwiw, Amazon is helping the Red Cross collect disaster relief funds.

The new Pacificism? Bush announces that "the United States has formed a coalition with India, Australia and Japan to coordinate worldwide relief and reconstruction efforts...."

Tuesday, December 28, 2004
Christmastide is a nearly unbroken sequence of great feasts.

Today is Childermas. More latterly it has been called the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which is a fine name for it, but we're going to revive the old name, aren't we?

First there's Christmas Day, then the Feast of Stephen, then the Feast of John, and then Childermas. After Childermas comes the Feast of St. Thomas Becket, which has not yet been accorded the same status by the Church, but should be. Tomorrow, on that feast, I'll re-post my Becket carol.

Torygraph column on Christianity and the Blair government, including Ruth Kelly and Opus Dei, here. Meanwhile, interesting comments continue under this Blair-themed post.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

"...where the Angel of Music first held Christine Daaé
fainting in his trembling arms..."

Review of new movie of The Phantom of the Opera. The AP reviewer isn't impressed, but there's ground to question how much she knows. She writes:
The Phantom gets a back story here, in Schumacher and Lloyd Webber's script, to explain his torment. Apparently, he was put on display like a circus freak as a child for his facial disfigurement, and the little girl who would go on to become the Opera Populaire's ballet mistress (played as an adult by Miranda Richardson) helped him escape and squirreled him away inside the opera house.

These additions will undoubtedly appall purists....
But that "back story" is in the show. It's a modification (and a reasonable one) that the show makes from the original novel by Gaston Leroux, not one that the movie makes from the show. (In the novel, the Phantom's guardian is a retired police officer he met in Persia, the "Daroga." The show fuses the Daroga with Mme. Giry, the Opera's choreographer.)

The film producers have made the defensible decision to cast the movie with newcomers rather than established stars. Again, the reviewer is not impressed, this time by Scottish actor Gerard Butler in the title role:
Sure, he's Christine's "angel of music," having secretly mentored her from chorus girl to stage star....But anyone can see that rather than being sucked in by the Phantom's creepy charms, Christine should be focusing her attention on the theater's wealthy patron, Raoul (Patrick Wilson). He's cute and he's into her and, um, he isn't a psycho stalker.
Well, Christine Daaé does focus her attention on Raoul de Chagny, as she should: he's a Nice Man such as I'd want my daughter to marry. But on the way, she profoundly transforms her adoring Phantom.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's show is the only adaptation that is faithful to the ending, and therefore the essence, of the novel. (The Lon Chaney "classic" version is faithful except for the ending, which it massacres.) The Phantom is a violent man who learns generosity by means of a hopeless love, and through the sympathy of the girl who cannot return that love but understands his plight as a man with a great heart but a horrific face.

It is a great story; the musical does it justice; and if the film is at all representative of the musical, it will do justice to both.

OK, here are two of my favorite passages from the original novel. From Chapter Two, "The New Margarita" (and btw that's the female lead in Gounod's FAUST, not a drink!):
Hardly breathing, he [Raoul] went up to the dressing-room and, with his ear to the door to catch her reply, prepared to knock. But his hand dropped. He had heard a man's voice in the dressing-room, saying, in a curiously masterful tone:

`Christine, you must love me!'

And Christine's voice, infinitely sad and trembling, as though accompanied by tears, replied:

`How can you talk like that? When I sing only for you!'

Raoul leaned against the panel to ease his pain. His heart, which had seemed gone for ever, returned to his breast and was throbbing loudly. The whole passage echoed with its beating and Raoul's ears were deafened. Surely, if his heart continued to make such a noise, they would hear it inside, they would open the door and the young man would be turned away in disgrace. What a position for a Chagny! To be caught listening behind a door! He took his heart in his two hands to make it stop.

The man's voice spoke again: `Are you very tired?'

`Oh, to-night I gave you my soul and I am dead!' Christine replied.

`Your soul is a beautiful thing, child,' replied the grave man's voice, `and I thank you. No emperor ever received so fair a gift. The angels wept tonight.'
And at the end, the narrator says:
I have prayed over his mortal remains, that God might show him mercy notwithstanding his crimes. Yes, I am sure, quite sure that I prayed beside his body, the other day, when they took it from the spot where they were burying the phonographic records. It was his skeleton. I did not recognize it by the ugliness of the head, for all men are ugly when they have been dead as long as that, but by the plain gold ring which he wore and which Christine Daaé had certainly slipped on his finger, when she came to bury him in accordance with her promise.

The skeleton was lying near the little well, in the place where the Angel of Music first held Christine Daaé fainting in his trembling arms, on the night when he carried her down to the cellars of the opera-house.

Second Day of Christmas

It's snowing here. It doesn't often do that. It's supposed to stop well before I have to, sigh, take Jonathan Lee to the not-so-nearby airport for his return to Twentynine Palms.

Christmas Day: We went to Midnight Mass, and when we got back, most of us didn't feel like going to sleep right away, so we had egg-nog and talked Marine for a while. In the morning I was the early bird -- 11 a.m. It was therefore in the afternoon that we opened presents and Elinor and Caccia di Gregorio prepared Christmas Dinner. Dinner was roast beef and ham, with an inexpensive Chilean Shiraz that I loved, though my abilities as a wine critic are a work in progress. After dinner we watched one of the all-family presents: the expanded edition of Return of the King. During the day, my prayer was aided by this and this.

Re the extended ROTK. Restored: Voice of Saruman, courtship of Eowyn and Faramir (though too brief), and Mouth of Sauron. Bravo!

Friday, December 24, 2004
Now burn, new born to the world,
Double-natured name,
The heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled
Mid-numbered He in three of the thunder throne!

- Gerard Manley Hopkins

The Old Oligarch says:
When heaven is wedded to earth, how can a soul appreciate that nuptial mystery in a throng? Pious festivity redounds reflection; reflection draws one out into solitude, for solitude is the condition of intimacy. Thus -- at a dinner, sing carols, wherever -- one finds oneself suddenly lonely, for the Beloved cannot fully be There in the way He wants to be.
....and he provides a musical solution. Mine is this:

The ethereal harmonies the cathedraline echoes on this recording whisk me away to some great Gothic church, alone. Listen especially to tracks 8 and 15. The former is "Gabriel Fram Heven King."

The latter, "Als I Lay on Yoolis Night," is a strange variation on the Annunciation narrative -- Mary telling it to the infant Jesus who is asking to have His life foretold as a bedtime story, saying this is what all mothers do -- framed as a dream dreamed by one who lies in his room on Christmas night, "alone in my longing." Why is he alone? What is he longing for? We don't know, and the questions add to the divine mystery of the song.

Saint Francis and Saint Benedight
Blesse this house from wicked wight;
From the night-mare and the goblin,
That is hight good fellow Robin;
Keep it from all evil spirits,
Fairies, weazles, rats, and ferrets;
From curfew-time
To the next prime

-- Cartwright

(Taken from the "Christmas at Bracebridge Hall" stories in Washington Irving's Sketch Book.)

Gabriel Fram Heven King (Middle-English carol)

Thursday, December 23, 2004
Dickens goes hard

"And it was a very uncommon kind of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame to quarrel when there's a Marine standing right behind you. And so it was! God help them, so it was!"

-- Charles Dickens (but Jonathan Lee helped)

A ministering angel vs. a leering satyr

An Army chaplain recounts his experiences tending the wounded and dying after Tuesday's attack in Mosul, here.

After you've read that, go read Hugh Hewitt's analysis of what the New York Times did with this event.

And speaking of Verdi, I've just discovered an awesome essay by critic Alex Ross, in which he explains "what's up with" Verdi (with special emphasis on OTELLO, RIGOLETTO, BALLO, and TRAVIATA), compares Verdi to Hitchcock, and also mounts a thoughtful attack on modern Euro-trashy stage directors. Clickami, Alfredo!

I'm "Carlo il sommo imperatore"!

"Carlo il sommo imperatore
Non e piu che muta polve...."

("Charles, the great emperor, is nothing but silent dust...")

-- Verdi, DON CARLO, Act II (Act I if you ditch the Fontainebleau scene)

Take the quiz: "What Monarch Are You?"

Charles V
You are a mastermind. Sinister? No. Disconnected from humanity at times? Occasionally. But, you look out for you and yours by making alliances and by keeping quiet and striking when it's time. Try and be more humane. Don't dumb yourself down, but be sure and employ the empathy emotion more often so that you don't lose touch.

As a matter of fact, I have taped to my office wall the following words of wisdom from the ghost of Charles V, as he appears, disguised as a monk, in DON CARLO:

"Il duolo della terra
Nel chiostro ancor c'insegue.
Del core sol la guerra
In ciel si calmera."

("The pain of earth follows us into the cloister. The war of the heart will be calmed only in heaven." At the end of the opera, the long-dead Emperor saves his grandson, the Don Carlo of the title, from both Philip II and the Grand Inquisitor, taking young Carlo with him into the monastery into which he himself had retired.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Alexander of Macedon struggles with Filioque.

EDITED TO ADD: The Old Oligarch weighs in here.

Recent grab-bag from The Daily Torygraph

*Charles fights death penalty for converts. By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent (Filed: 18/12/2004) -- The Prince of Wales is brokering efforts to end the Muslim death penalty on converts to other faiths, The Telegraph has learned. The Prince may not be a total loss after all.

* Archbishop of Cardiff: Life is Sacred: That's What Christmas Really Means. (RC, natch.)

* Conservative leader Michael Howard joins Blair in support of national ID cards but faces rebellion by his party's right wing, including shadow-cabinet member John Redwood, and also Lady Thatcher, who calls the very idea of ID cards "Germanic" (which from her is not praise).

* Mark Steyn on our de-Christed Christmas

* New RHEINGOLD at Covent Garden, featuring Bryn Terfel's first Wotan: review here; rumpus over Rhinemaidens' rum-pum-pum-pums here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Tech Central Station debates: Which party does Santa Claus belong to?

It's been cold lately where I am. How cold is it? Ask Dave Letterman. According to him:

* It's so cold, the Bush twins switched their margaritas for Irish coffee.

* It's so cold, up on Park Avenue a poodle had to be chiseled off a fire hydrant.

* It's so cold, Paris Hilton made a video with her clothes on.

* It's so cold, Bernard Kerik was happy to be in hot water.

Monday, December 20, 2004
Defense Against Dumb Arts

Can a dead human body be "personal property" for larceny purposes? If so (which I doubt), is it so when the defendant is also the killer? If this is a separate crime at all, wouldn't it be more like obstruction of justice/misprision of felony?

I ask because I read this in an exam paper, in a fact pattern where Defendant is trying to dispose of a corpse: "D may face a charge of larceny for the stealing of the body.... D may be charged with the stealing of the body from the victim's next of kin or the government," one of which, the student maintains, had "constructive possession" of the body as soon as -- well, I guess, as soon as the victim was dead.

My lame-o-meter went crazy, and my "fight, flight, or snark" instinct was triggered. So I wrote in the margin: "A human body is not personal property; see U.S. Const. Am. 13."

If any of you can cite me to a case where they did some guy for larceny as well as murder, when he had removed the body so as to hide it (which, I admit, would probably qualify as "intent to deprive permanently"), please do so, so I can raise this kid's grade appropriately.

Sorry for the light blogging. It's either a cold or the flu; it's where you've got some cold symptoms, plus, most of your musculature goes to Martinique for the winter and all you get is this lousy T-shirt, over which you put an oxford, a shetland, and an electric blanket. Knamean? Better tomorrow.

Sunday, December 19, 2004
Renata Tebaldi, R.I.P.

Can we now substitute "Tony Blair" for "Franco" in the standard diatribe?

Apparently the range of people "in touch with The Work" in Britain includes at least one lady of the Labour Party, who has now ascended to the post of Education Minister, which just happens to be the highest post Margaret Thatcher attained in government before becoming Prime Minister. And Ruth Kelly (unlike, one notes with sadness, Mrs. Thatcher) is altogether pro-life. I'll never figure out the Blair Government. (Hat-tip: The Curt Jester.)

Saturday, December 18, 2004
Supreme Command : Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime, by Eliot Cohen, pp. 205-6:
There is a danger that absent recent or current experiences of really dangerous war -- war in which the other side can inflict damage and has options -- civilian and military decision-makers alike will forget the lessons of serious conflict. Those lessons are, above all, that political leaders must immerse themselves in the conduct of their wars no less than in the great projects of domestic legislation; that they must master their military briefs as thoroughly as they do their civilian ones; that they must demand and expect from their military subordinates a candor as bruising as it is necessary; that both groups must expect a running conversation in which, although civilian opinion will not usually dictate, it must dominate; and that that conversation will cover not only ends and policies, but ways and means. [Emphasis added.]
The previous 200 pages demonstrate this thesis, focusing on the war leadership of Lincoln, Clemenceau ("war is too important to be left to the generals"), Churchill, and Ben-Gurion. There is also a chapter on how, no, as a matter of fact, Vietnam does not disprove the thesis, despite what you've heard about Johnson approving bombing targets, b/c he never did more than ratify the military's choices, and b/c there was throughout the Vietnam war an amazing lack of curiosity on the part of civilian leaders and an equally amazing lack of intellectual firepower on the part of military ones.

Excellent book.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

10. I was doing Medieval Studies at Yale. Hey, when the First Crusaders bridged the Bosporus, was that a cool amphib op or what?

9. In my family, things skip a generation. My father was Navy, I've got one Marine son so far. My grandfather was a lawyer who was never in the military....

8. Before I’da gotten outta the yellow footprints, youd’a told me I was a d__khead for thinking I could ever be a Marine, and youd’a been right.

7. I was part of the lazy generation. (No wait, that's the one I actually used!)

6. Two words – John Keegan!

5. I was going to give you a list of famous people who never served, but after looking at it I changed my mind.

4. Er, would you believe, member of the Society for Military History?

3. I wanted to get an early start on making new Marines.

2. No bases near the Met, dude.


1. “I shovelled sh_t in Louisiana.”

Meanwhile, there's a judge in Alabama who seems determined to be a living, walking exam question.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Intelligent design theory? You aren't allowed to teach that, says the ACLU, switching to the speech-suppression mode it adopts whenever it perceives a threat to a God-free origins theory.

If the ACLU wins this suit, what will it recommend that the school board do with all those intelligent-design texts it ordered -- burn them?

More here.

Louisiana Judge Suspended for Wearing Blackface. Well, Louisiana, you know. Just be glad it was a private party and not a sentencing hearing.

Ragemonkey sound on Santa Claus!

Monday, December 13, 2004
Al Maghtas (The Baptismal): new magazine for Christian Arabs. (In Arabic, unforch, but the linked article talks normal.)

Spc. Thomas Doerflinger, RIP

If you've ever worked in Washington pro-life circles, you've probably met Richard Doerflinger, the intellectual mainstay of the USCCB's Pro-Life office. Dick has given his career to helping the unborn; last month he gave up his son, Army Spc. Thomas Doerflinger, age 20, to the cause of stopping terrorism and spreading freedom.

Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt:
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.

Then he is dead?

Ay, and brought off the field: your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end.

Had he his hurts before?

Ay, on the front.

Why then, God's soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs,
I would not wish them to a fairer death:
And so, his knell is knoll'd.

-- Macbeth, Act V, Scene VIII

Chrenkoff lauds Steve Vincent's In the Red Zone, a Iraq travelogue from Spence Publishing.

(Order by clicking the Spence link at your left -- or 270 degrees to the right, as the case may be -- and I just may get something that I don't get from publishing law review articles.)

NRO's DaVinci Code parody.

Sunday, December 12, 2004
A medieval English poet links Christmas, Our Lady, and human dignity
And thorwe a maide faire and wys
Now man is made of ful grete pris;
Now angelys knelen to mannys seruys,
And at this time al this byfel.
See this book, p. 44.

Jonathan Lee reports in.

Saturday, December 11, 2004
AP: Gay divorce
The first gay divorce case in Suffolk County, which includes Boston, was filed Wednesday by a male couple who exchanged vows on May 22, five days after same-sex marriage was legalized.

One partner was a 33-year-old religious educator from Boston, the other a 39-year-old professor based in Washington. Since then, the couple said in their divorce filing, "our interests have grown in different directions." Each man signed a settlement attesting that the marriage had "irretrievably broken down."
In less than seven months? Just what did they think they were "vowing"?
The most difficult part of the settlement appeared to be custody of their three cats, who will live exclusively with the professor.

But "in recognition of the emotional hardship of such relinquishment," the settlement reads, the professor agreed to provide his ex "with periodic updates, photographs, and any health-related information pertaining" to the cats.
Cats. Right. In a sense, it all fits: they had a make-believe marriage, so they also have make-believe kids, played by cats. Gay men seem to be good at make-believe. I wonder if that's why so many of them like opera.

Friday, December 10, 2004
Society for Military History.

We're family

Bishop Wilton Gregory to be new Archbishop of Atlanta. Retiring Archbp. John Donohue will be a tough act to follow. Bp. Gregory, of course, was USCCB president during the years in which the clerical-abuse fit hit the shan.

Meanwhile, the Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Msgr. Michael Bransfield, is the new Bishop of Charleston-Wheeling, WVa. DC to WVa? Now there's self-giving in the service of the Church. At least they've got 70 mph speed limits out there, which are very useful when you want to leave.

Outside of WVa, we'll all benefit from Msgr. Bransfield becoming a bishop, having a vote in the USCCB, rising further, etc. In the meantime, one hopes the National Shrine -- a happy fallback for Washington-area Catholics both by the soundness of its liturgies and the generosity of its sacramental schedule -- will remain in equally good hands.

Thursday, December 09, 2004
A "heads up" on exams

A colleague passes me in the hall and says: "At this time of year [i.e. exam period], I like to check word derivations and make sure that 'proctor' is in fact different from 'proctologist.'"

Harry Potter and the Impresario's Tone

Casting suggestions (both as to fach and as to specific singers) for a hypothetical Harry Potter opera: here, and here. (Hat-tip: Eve.)

* Casting Harry and Ron on the analogy of Tamino and Papageno makes some sense.

* Snape should be an Alberich-type bass-baritone. Classic model: Gustav Neidlinger. Current: Richard Paul Fink. Btw, Scarpia is a baritone, not a bass, profundo or otherwise. True, Sam Ramey recorded the part, but that was obvious fach-busting.

* Arthur Weasley could well be a character tenor, even if mated to a mezzo Molly. That said, I think the first post has too many character tenors in its cast. Dumbledore, maybe; Lucius Malfoy, I don't think so -- more a menacing second-string baritone, like Schlemihl in TALES OF HOFFMANN. Classic: Clifford Harvuot.

* Instead of a second-banana soprano, Ginny could be the sort of romantic lyric-mezzo that Rosalind Elias was in her prime, the sort of mezzo you'd expect as Fenena in NABUCCO or Erika in Sam Barber's VANESSA. Hermione/Ginny could be Mimi/Musetta (two sopranos), but could also be Norma/Adalgisa (soprano and mezzo, though Adalgisa is sometimes sung by a soprano: Freni and Caballe both sang it).

Whoever wrote the second post says:
Narcissa Malfoy: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. The uncharitable would mention those strictly-not-to-be-commented-upon Nazi connections, but hey, I won't go there.
YESS! And on her birthday, too! "Lizzie Blackhead," we call her. A bitch as well as a Nazi. Nice voice, though.
Mad-Eye Moody: Hans Hotter. Alas, not the young Hotter, who was in both voice and carriage easily one of the sexiest things to walk onto the opera stage, but the old Hotter, who kept singing well into his 70's (and teaching until he died), portraying LULU's Schigolch, one of the creepiest characters in the entire repertory. Grizzled and tough, capable of delicacy but still also able to blast out the lights and scare the sh_t out of an audience.
Ah, the late Hans Hotter -- baritone with full bass range, and the greatest at everything from Wagner's Wotan to Verdi's Grand Inquisitor. (No pix of Hotter as the Inquisitor, but wanna see Jerry Hines and Jim Morris get "granded" up?) (Hotter could also be Snape -- check out the pictures at the bottom of the bio.)
Voldemort: Russell Oberlin. Oberlin is a voice utterly in a class of his own (although I will be very surprised if any of you have heard him); countertenor range, but not the 'falsettists' that I (and others) generally consider most countertenors to be. He could sing a cadence going down two octaves from a top F with no break audible in the voice--and yes, the sound is rather otherworldly. Perfect for the high and thin voice of Voldemort. It's so nice not to have a basso villain.
True, Rowling has hemmed us in here by insisting on V's high speaking voice, at least pre-cauldron. But "honestly" -- a counter-tenor?
Albus Dumbledore: Kurt Moll. Moll is one of the truly great Wagner and Mozart basses (not to mention the two grand Strauss roles), but with a warm bass instead of a black bass. Immensely dignified, capable of displaying both raw power and complete gentleness. Good in both comedy and drama, but let's put him in the serious role here.
Interesting: half of these posters want Dumbledore to be a high character tenor, half of them want him to be a way-down-there bass, like Moll. Is D. more like Mozart's Sarastro (a deep bass role, for which Kurt Moll is noted), or more like Rimsky-Korsakov's Astrologer (in LE COQ D'OR), an unnaturally high character-tenor role? (Romantic lead tenore leggero Enrico di Giuseppe graciously undertook the role of the Astrologer at the New York City Opera in the '60s, and some thought it was his best role.)
Rubeus Hagrid: Martti Talvela. Great Finnish bass, also a warm voice as opposed to black, but a real comedic talent to boot, especially as Osmin. Perfect casting for Hagrid because he was a giant of a man, standing about 6'7". Famous at the Met for his Boris Godunov, and taking the tumble down the stairs for the death scene. Also capable of great sensitivity; I love his Winterreise deeply.
Yes, a real-life gentle giant. Hate to disillusion, though, but all Met Borises in the (superb) current production take the final fall ramrod-style, just as Talvela did: the costume is padded!! (N.B. Awkward if Dumbledore and Hagrid are both deep basses.)
Severus Snape: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. A baritone who decided he wanted to be a Heldenbariton, which are all actually bass roles (RHEINGOLD Wotan, Hans Sachs), with disastrous results.
The RHEINGOLD Wotan is not a bass role, and Fishy-Dishy's venture into it was not disastrous. (Much good sense thereon in this review, though I don't agree with its criticisms of the Solti RING.) Other than that, the guy is right: Snape is a low baritone, and "ubiquitous"!
Sirius Black: Jon Vickers.
Minerva McGonagall: Anja Silja.
OK, or Helga Dernesch. Or Leonie Rysanek, as long as we're casting dead singers (like Hotter). These Wagnerian-sopranos-turned-mezzos would fit McG well. Martha Moedl. Margaret Harshaw (mezzo turned soprano, but never lost that matriarchal edge). Stop me before I cast again....

Wednesday, December 08, 2004
...Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel...

Went to the local indult Tridentine parish this evening for Imm.Conc. The gradual of the Mass for this feast seems to be the text of Tota Pulchra es Maria, consisting of snippets from the Book of Judith and from the Song of Songs.

Bruckner wrote a motet based on this text, and my high school chorus sang it at one of our joint orchestra-chorus concerts. It's one of the reasons I'm a Catholic today. Here you can see the score of the first twenty bars of it, and hear a partial rendition via MIDI. It's included in this recording of Bruckner liturgical music (led by ace Bruckner exponent Eugen Jochum), and you can listen to a bit of it there too via Windows Media.

Immaculate Conception.

Henry Dieterich wisely says: "If this poor child could possibly cease to believe in Christmas because she understands that Santa Claus is a fiction, then her parents have failed her as Catholic parents. If they think that belief in Santa Claus is more important than knowing about the birth of Jesus Christ, then their own faith is sorely deficient."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Is there anyone besides me who feels like retching violently at the whining of a few Boston "Catholics" whose parishes are being closed because they are no longer justified by the quantity of Catholics in the area?

If these people had either reproduced in adequate numbers, produced priestly vocations, or made converts, their parishes wouldn't be museum pieces today. They didn't do any of these things in sufficient numbers, leading the Archdiocese to maintain them for years as a sort of local charity. That will no longer work financially, so the parishes are being closed and the buildings sold. But not nearly fast enough.

The idea has gotten around that a parish is a sort of community clubhouse. "My grandmother was baptized here" -- whinges like that become arguments for maintaining the parishes even if the number of baptisms has plunged. "Financial mismanagement by the Archdiocese" -- indeed, such as carrying deadweight, deadwood parishes on the books for decades.

The latest is that one of the parishes slated for closing is being occupied by a "vigil," as parishioners fill it with the sort of activities that are meaningful to today's modern Catholic, such as "classes in wreath-making, cake-decorating and slate-painting, along with Bible study for adults and a new Catholic book group," and "the 'daily chuckle' that Pelly Tulimieri appends to the homily [sic] he delivers at evening services. The 84-year-old retired sheet-metal engineer said he finds Catholic-themed jokes on the Internet and in magazines."

The above quote comes from the L.A. Times's Elizabeth Mehren, plainly the Rita Skeeter of the Church. She brings us news, too, that the modernist ideologues that Boston never fails to produce have glommed onto the "vigil" at St. Albert (former) Church as a sort of new Reformation.
Archdiocese officials are frustrated and surprised by the disobedience. Theologians, noting that parishioners are conducting services that lack only a priest to qualify as Masses, say a revolution might be taking place....The vigils at St. Albert and elsewhere are 'a significant development' for the Catholic church, said James Post, a Boston University management professor."
Mr. Post, Ms. Mehren mentions in passing, is also the local head of "Voice of the Faithful," a group founded to leverage the sex abuse crisis into progress for the long-stymied AmChurch agenda.

Unauthorized para-liturgies are also taking place, using consecrated hosts.

Let's make some reparation -- and get these ex-parishes to the auction block expeditiously. As for those sweet, sensitive "vigil" dudes -- since selling humans is immoral, I'd recommend throwing them into the deal for free.

Thursday, December 02, 2004
Entering the Matrix. Blog-break until Tuesday, Dec. 7. More Catholic conservative operatic legal Marine stuff comin' after that.

And re opera, I just saw THE MERRY WIDOW -- a performance of it, I mean.

BARON ZETA: I'm going to listen at the keyhole.
COUNT DANILO: That's not done in the best diplomatic circles.
BARON ZETA: Ours aren't the best.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004! Many thanks to JarheadDad.

Certain aspects of the Marine difference

Begging permission from Tom of Domine, Non Sum Dignus, I'd like to reproduce below passages from a little essay that he received and posted from a Marine sergeant. I have selected certain passages for emphasis; certain of my readers will know why.

...The choice is made clear. You may join the Army to go to adventure training, or join the Navy to go to Bangkok, or join the Air Force to go to computer school. You join the Marine Corps to go to War! But the mere act of signing the enlistment contract confers no status in the Corps. The Army recruit is told from his first minute in uniform that “your in the Army now, soldier.” The Navy and Air Force enlistees are sailors or airmen as soon as they get off the bus at the training center. The new arrival at Marine Corps boot camp is called a recruit, or worse (a lot worse), but never, never, ever a MARINE. Not yet, maybe never. He or she must earn the right to claim the title of UNITED STATES MARINE and failure returns you to civilian life without hesitation or ceremony.

History classes in boot camp? Stop a soldier on the street and ask him to name a battle of World War One. Pick a sailor at random to describe the epic fight of the Bon Homme Richard. Everyone has heard of McGuire Air Force Base. So ask any airman who Major Thomas McGuire was, and why he is so commemorated. All of the services have glorious traditions but no one teaches the young soldier, sailor or airman what his uniform means and why he should be proud of it. But - ask a Marine about World War One and you will hear of the wheat field at Belleau Wood and the courage of the Fourth Marine Brigade and the Fifth and Sixth Infantry Regiments....

Every Marine knows this story and dozens more. We are taught them in boot camp as a regular part of the curriculum. Every Marine will always be taught them! You can learn to don a gas mask anytime, even on the plane in route to the war zone, but before you can wear the Eagle Globe and Anchor and claim the title you must know about the Marines who made that emblem and title meaningful....

Dan Daly’s shouted challenge [“Come on you sons a bitches, do you want to live forever?”] takes on its true meaning - if you lie in the trenches you may survive for now, but someday you will die and no one will care. If you charge the guns you may die in the next two minutes, but you will be one of the immortals. All Marines die in the red flash of battle or the white cold of the nursing home. In the vigor of youth or the infirmity of age all will eventually die, but the Marine Corps lives on. Every Marine who ever lived is living still, in the Marines who claim the title today. It is that sense of belonging to something that will outlive your own mortality which gives people a light to live by and a flame to mark their passing.

Semper Fi....
The choice is clear. You may join one of the other services, or you may petition....

The full text is very much worth your time.