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.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007
Martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket

Illustration courtesy of Aquinas and More Catholic Goods

Friday, December 28, 2007

Feast of the Holy Innocents, anciently called Childermass.

Christmas is a season in which joy and grief are mixed. It's not like Lent/Easter, where mourning gives way to rejoicing: they're on both sides of the seasonal dividing line. Advent contains Gaudete Sunday, and Christmastide contains numerous martyrs' feasts, including this one, so integrally linked to the Nativity itself. Even secularly speaking, so much of our merrymaking masks -- just barely, and sometimes not at all -- an undercurrent of anxiety. But cheer up -- Christ is born.

Thursday, December 27, 2007
Benazir Bhutto assassinated. This is terrible, in particular for a non-obvious reason.

Back in 1994, at a UN Conference about -- well, I forget what it was nominally about, but the UN was having a lot of high-profile international conferences in those days and they were all really about one thing: promoting population control and its capstone, a (never agreed-upon) international right to abortion.

At the one in 1994 -- it was in Cairo -- I remember Ms. Bhutto giving a speech that was distinctly critical of this whole project. Her apparent ascendancy in Pakistan may have been about the best news on the international scene. And now....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007
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!

-- G. M. Hopkins, "The Wreck of the Deutschland"

Monday, December 24, 2007
Saint Francis and Saint Benedight
Bless 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
(see Washington Irving, Sketchbook, "Christmas Eve")

And here's another demerit point for Romney.

Sunday, December 23, 2007
A Huckabee Catholic problem? Floating Cross Man speaks at a church Bill Donohue doesn't like. Actually, I'm more concerned about his casual remarks, such as cap-and-trade being “a bit like buying indulgences from the ancient church.” Actually that would be the Renaissance Church, but ignorance doesn't do much to decorate bigotry.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007
My Dad died early this morning, just after midnight. Massive heart failure: always foreseen as a possibility from the stress of the unavoidable treatment for the hematoma.

Prayers for his soul and for my family are invited and appreciated. Beyond that, this will henceforth be a family matter, not a blog matter. Right below this there's a political post, and below that a religious post. Comment away. The blog goes on.

Monday, December 17, 2007
"Heroic Conservatism" -- stuff and nonsense. Just a throwback to Peter Viereck's idea more than a half-century ago that "true conservatism" was embodied in New Deal paternalism, and if you didn't agree, you were just a social-atomist liberal. Conservatives laughed that message out of court back then; this time they're asking it to take the messsenger with it.

Think you have to be a paleocon to think conservatism's shrink-the-state message is still at it the core of the movement and its philosophy? Not unless The Weekly Standard is "paleocon": that magazine may have been born flirting with "national greatness conservatism," but Fred Barnes now says "It's not impossible to shrink the federal government."

The Wall Street Journal's Kimberly Strassel, in an article entitled "The Gospel of Paul" (meaning the obstetrician from Texas, not tentmaker from Tarsus), notes:
Former Bush speechwriter Michael's Gerson's new book, "Heroic Conservatism," calls on Republicans to give in to big government and co-opt the tools of state for their own purposes. "If Republicans run in future elections with a simplistic, anti-government message, ignoring the poor, the addicted, and children at risk, they will lose, and they will deserve to lose," he writes. Then again, Republicans have already been losing, and losing big, in no small part because they've taken Mr. Gerson's advice.

Saturday, December 15, 2007
Cacciagranddaddy update

I never thought I'd achieve Escape From New York (delays due to Dad's condition, then more due to weather), but I'm home now. Elinor updated you in her last comment to the post immediately below. Dad's surgery went brilliantly, but his recovery went awry starting about 36 hours after I put up that post, and from that point on, between my dad's condition, my mom and and two sisters (who have quite literally camped out in the waiting room of the Neuro-Surgery Intensive Care Unit since last Sunday), and other things I had to do in NY, I have not had time to get to a computer.

Elinor summed it up, so I'll just add: Dad is still in the ICU, with both a feeding tube and a respirator. However, the agenda is therapeutic, not terminal. The "game-plan" (as his internist puts it) is to get him nourished and rested back up to the point where he can again take food and air the normal way. When that happens, he can return -- not home (yet), but to in-patient physicial therapy, where he was before it became obvious that surgical removal of the hematoma was absolutely necessary.

All his CT-scans since the surgery have been excellent, including one done yesterday. His neurosurgeon says that overall he's making progress in slow steps. He's being kept stable at a level of sedation deep enough for him tolerate the tubes, but light enough for his heart to tolerate (past history of heart attack and atrial fibrillation).

His cardiologist is the most driven Jewish doctor I've ever met, and seems to have taken an extra year of residency just to learn a particularly dramatic way of taking off his glasses while giving an explanation. He continues to focus on each emergent problem of Dad's like Holmes on Moriarty or Patton on Rommel. He uses the word "realistic," which drives my sisters into hysterics, and doesn't do me a lot of good either. But the thing is, he really is Pattonesque. He is invested in this case, obviously not because he loves Dad the way we do, but because every syndrome that doesn't yield to his ministrations is a personal and professional affront to him. And (as Patton said in the midst of Hitler's Ardennes offensive) "because I realize, gentlemen, that we could still lose this war." You really want him on your team, even if you don't look forward to his briefings. (He's the one who cured Dad of atrial fibrillation a year and a half ago.)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Apologies for light posting.

Regular readers will be glad to know that my dad, who has been struggling for months with unidentified psychomotor problems, has just (withing the last two hours) come with flying colors through neurosurgery to remove a subdural hematoma (brain bruise with bleeding). All cleaned up now, and the brain tissue recovering much faster than expected, the surgeons tell us.

Prayers of thanksgiving are requested for this favor received; prayers of petitition are requested for his continued progress in physical therapy (likely to be more productive now that the obstacle is gone.)