Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

“To hell with beauty, it’s a kitsch notion; I don’t feel this business of being overwhelmed by it.”

Did opera director/doctor/wit Jonathan Miller really say that?

Been laid up, not leaving the house, so indulging myself with opera via Youtube and heretofore unwatched DVDs.

And yeah, having a few granny-reactions - WHAAAAA? did that Rhinemaiden really just....? I can't believe Don Giovanni would have ever....! I hope they paid those dancers enough for letting someone... and sometimes just ewwwwwwwwww!

So some of the carping I'd heard about regie, I just attributed to the carpers fundamentalism, lack of sophistication, want of artistic imagination...
But it seems that opera has more in common with pop culture than I'd known, coarse, sluttish and degrading behavior really is the order of the day.

But when I came across that quote from Miller, (some of whose work I very much admired,) it disturbed me. (I haven't read it anywhere than in that article, and others that reference it, so perhaps it's not quite what he said? I can hope.)

Beauty is beside the point?

No wonder the world is in such a state when intelligent, talented and influential individuals can say such a thing.

Yeah, #!@$%  the transcendentals....

The sad thing is, by disdaining beauty, by neglecting goodness, the purveyors of evil ugliness deny themselves the chance of ever actually achieving truth, the one value they putatively pursue, the one value they claim to rank above all else.

Aha, here's the whys and wherefores of Fierrabras's giant furniture

Apparently --
Wisely, and entirely according to his usual stage practise, director Claus Guth has chosen not to stage Fierrabras as a naturalistic Moorish drama. However, despite the good intentions, eventually he does, for once, somewhat miss the mark here. The entire opera takes place in Schuberts studio. Or perhaps even in Schuberts brain. 
An actor plays Schubert, who also occasionally speaks, conducts, escorts the singers on and off stage etc..All in a miniature world, with oversized furniture and singers presenting small symbols (a crown, a wooden bird etc) to clarify their position in the play. Clearly, Claus Guth thus wants us to be part of the creative process, but for more than two hours it becomes more than tedious. 
In other words,  eurotrash   Regietheatre... RegietheatER? Not sure.

(About the spelling, quite sure of what I think about the practice.)

Had you heard of Fierrabras?


 I certainly hadn't, but scavenging around, indulging guilty pleasures, I came across an excerpt from the opera by Schubert. (Yeah, it features Jonas Kaufmann, wanna make somethin' of it?)

The plot concerns a Saracen knight whose love for the daughter of a Christian king leads him to take the fall for her attempt to elope with her lover, thereby risking his own execution.
There's also a Moorish princess in love with a Christian knight, (they all seem to have met in Rome? like that was neutral territory?)
Everybody's happy in the end, and the noble Fierrabras, (also spelled Fierabras when referring to his appearance inchivalric epics,) of course converts.
To the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.... well, you know.
And I don't think under duress.

I wonder if presenting the piece nowadays in Europe, (the video is from '06,) would lead to threats and evil doings.

And I REALLY wonder what the giant schoolroom chairs and forte-piano in this production mean....

"They didn't really do anything, anyway...."

Katherine Harmon, at PrayTell, seems surprised that an educated, involved Catholic could think this of religious sisters.

Is she unaware of how many educated, involved parishioners can't wrap their heads around the fact that, no, Father doesn't just work for a few hours over the weekend.

And that's someone they can see! they can see now!

I think most people believes something along the lines of, everyone else has it easy, if they had to do what I have to do...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Could I get trigger warnings on bad Catholish music?

It has occurred to me,  to whom do I apply to insure that before this, this, this or this are played or sung, or even, for that matter announced --  maybe especially before they are announced.... a "trigger warning" would have to be given?
I don't know, by the cantor or the lay reader or someone?

It would be nice to have some warning... I could discreetly absent myself from the nave, sneak a quick smoke in the cloister with the other bad girls, and then slide back into the pew when the storm had passed?

To know I need never hear "We Are The Church" again...

"...that would be glorious."

Sometimes I think Pope Paul Was Misquoted...

Seriously, the news -- and by "news" I mean news/gossip/blogging/whispers/homilies/rants -- I say the news around all things Catholish of late makes me think the reports got a word or two inverted.

I am starting to believe that what the Servant of God born Giovanni Montini actually said was,
"through some smoke the crack of Satan has entered the temple of God.”

Stranger in a Strange Church

A thread over at the CMAA forum contains this exchange:
Musician # 1- if you consecrate yourself to the BVM, put on a scapular and pray the rosary then you will be just fine, but not without a struggle. 
Musician #2 - Well I do think the rosary and scapular are great ideas but I work at a Presbyterian church, not sure how they will feel lol! I'll do it before everyone else arrives, I'm always early...
It reminded me of occasionally subbing for the soprano section leader at a Methodist church many years ago, and surreptitiously praying the rosary during the eeeeeeeeeeeendless sermons.

I don't think I would do that today.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Well, if that's the only way you can get a standing ovation....

... I guess ya gotta do what ya gotta do, Mr West.

Would it be insensitive of me to say that Kanye West is, um.....  lame?
“I decided I can’t do this song, I can’t do the rest of the show until everybody stands up,” West said this weekend during one of his concerts in Sydney, Australia, on the tail end of his Yeezus tour....
Actually, some of his fans did qualify for a handicap pass, special parking and all. It just took Kanye a long time to realize it. West held up his show and singled out two fans who remained seated ...“This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song, it’s unbelievable,” a frustrated West told the crowd.
Mr. Kim Kardashian eventually figured out the error of his ways after one fan ...waved a prosthetic limb around the air; concert-goers near the second fan, who was in a wheelchair, tried to signal the fan’s disability to West, who waited for some additional verification before continuing the show.
Is it schadenfreude to be glad when someone proves himself to be just as much of a jackass as you always thought he was?

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Religious (w)Rangling of RugRats.

RugRat Religious Wrangling, which, yes, that's what I've decided to call Sunday School, currently occupies very little of my time, but excessive amounts of my thought.

Tying to get a handle on being engaging while getting in content.

Thought I was so brilliant, the idea of the Faith as a roadmap for getting home,  for eventually joining our Father in heaven, figured out paper folding, what aspect of the "rules" could be on each page, how we could decorate them, (because sad to say, coloring and gluing are always a winner.)

I was talking to one child,  ahead of time, he polite but quizzical and then it hit me -- in the age of GPS, none of them have ever seen a roadmap.

A useless metaphor!

Happily, the idea that rules might be expressed negatively or positively and that what may at first appear to be a hurdle whhenne looked at from one angle, an obstacle, might really be a guardrail, a help and protection, was well received.

Love Your Enemies...

... and pray for those who persecute you.

Ian Paisley is dead.

God have mercy on his soul, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

And another thing...

Yes, yes, yes, I am in full rant mode.

Looking over some long ago recorded but never watched television, PBS has a program called Frontline, (which has often seemed to have a grudge against the Church, but this isn't about that.)

From Jesus to Christ, of course, in its very title denies one of the central tenets of Christianity, that Jesus was the Messiah, He, Who was "in the beginning," didn't somehow "become" the Anointed One.

So right off the bat, it is refusing to address the subject of who Jesus is in a way that has any objectivity, even any pretense of even-handedness.

No problem, their showing of some of Fr Barron's documentary on Catholicism is hardly a paragon of neutrality.

But in trying to answer the question of how a small Jewish sect become the Christian church in a stunning triumph, one of their talking heads, a Professor of Judaic Studies makes this claim:
In its first stage, Christianity begins not as a religion, it begins rather as the movement of people around a single charismatic teacher

It's not, or rather, wasn't "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons" or "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs" or a "body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices," or "the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith" or "something one believes in and follows devotedly"?

Okay, I'll grant you, that last one is using the word "religion" as a metaphor,  (like "football is the established religion of the US -- come to think of it, that's not a metaphor either... never mind.)

But how do those other descriptions, each of which is an accepted definition of "religion," NOT apply?

Has the guy not read Acts? did he form his academic opinion on no... here I go again... primary sources?

Here ended the rant.

RCIA and a Previous Marriage?

Okay, I'm apparently in high  at least mid-level dudgeon, and everything is going to provoke me today.

(I blame my mood on the fact that everyone with whom I've hung lately told me, oh, I had that dry cough too, it'll be over in two days, tops! , and it is not only not finished, but has become productive. Arghhhh!)

It has certainly not been my experience that middle-level managers in parishes who are permanent deacons are usually ignorant, but there are exceptions that prove the rule.

This guy this poor woman had to deal with in her attempt to enter full communion with the Church is wrong enough, and seemingly sure enough of his misinformation that he qualifies as a Church Lady, the sort one usually sees in sensible shoes "facilitating" an "encounter" to "share our stories" with a certificate and everything to show her cred.

I started trying to join RCIA at the church I've been attending about a month ago. Everything was fine until they found out I was married and divorced about 12 years ago. They won't let me attend RCIA until the marriage is annulled. I understand that I can't remarry in the Catholic Church until the annulment is complete, however they won't let me complete RCIA until the annulment is valid, even if that means that I can't go through the classes until next year. I have read up on this and feel as though this is incorrect. Everything I've found online points to me being able to complete RCIA and join the Catholic Church.
The deacon I've most recently spoken with told me that everyone online is wrong and I can't go through their program. I am looking for facts to help me with this. Is there anything in canon law prohibiting me from completing the RCIA program? I am not remarried and have no immediate plans to remarry at this time.  

The Forces of Dimness strike again.

Even if she were planning to re-marry, or even were already re-married, surely the pastoral thing would be to let her go through the process while she waits for a decree of nullity? let her learn, let her grow to love the goodness, truth and beauty of Mother Church, let her hunger for the Eucharist increase!

(Especially since many parishes are draconian about when even Christians of other denominations must start RCIA in order to enter into full communion at the Vigil. Oh, I'm sorry, it's September, we started in August, you'll have to wait to be confirmed two Paschal Vigils from now...)

IIRC, we had several people in Himself's RCIA contingent concurrently working on "annulments", or whose spouses were.
One knew pretty well hers was not going to happen by spring, but she was a joy, so zealous and loving in class (I know, I know, don't call it that....,) very involved with the parish, very faithful with the practice of their children...
There she was at the Vigil that Easter, crying and smiling for the rest of them.
If memory serves, our pastor got permission to confirm her in mid-summer when the decree came through.

Christians, make thing easier on your fellows, not harder!

This may seem contradictory coming from someone who feels as strongly as I do about denying communion to the divorced and remarried without benefit of a finding of nullity for the first marriage - not so.
The processes and protocols that the Church has developed, while man-made, are just and founded in natural law, and preserve the dignity of sacramental marriage.

You should be frightened, horrified at the prospect of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily.

You should be required to put some effort into a matter of such weight, whether it be the money, the time or the soul-searching that seems most onerous.

You should be willing to make sacrifices, whether it be waiting for communion,  or accepting an unlooked for celibacy.

Okay, and while I'm in complaint mode....

Can you tell me why an American writer for an American media outlet writing about an event happening in America would talk about shoe sizes and use European sizing?

Does he think most of his readers would understand how Paris points work?

Or was he too ignorant to know that European and American, and for that matter UK sizing are all different?

Or too lazy to "translate" his information into US sizing?

Would they phrase it that way for an adherent of another faith?

Michael Powell, a sportswriter for the New Yuck Times tells us in a piece about the NFL player that beat his fiancee unconscious that one of his "mentors" who probably helped stab some people to death is "taken with his own Christianity."

The man deserves to be called on his hypocrisy, sure.

It might even be appropriate to question the sincerity of his beliefs or his conversion.

But I somehow doubt that if the New York Times were calling out a Jew or Muslim or Momonism whose religion had nothing to do with the story at hand the phrase "taken with his own [specify sect or faith]"

They would, perhaps, show some contempt for someones brand of Islam, but other than Christianity, I'm pretty sure no faith would be subject to that kind of mediaspeak.

Hey, and while I'm whingeing about other peoples wording?

Did an NFL owner really say that seeing a man punch a woman unconscious, oh, okay, and then maybe spit on her was "a turn-off"?

A turn-off.


"The mind wobbles."

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Feeling Not Unlike Margaret Dumont

Every time there is a fracas about some "raunchy" performance on TV, or complaint about a hit song with "obscene" lyrics, or hand-wringing about the "indecent" clothes won by someone, my initial reaction is, or rather, WAS,  that the person wailing and gnashing his teeth is being granny.

When will I learn?

You see, I've checked out a number of performances recently from concerts or awards shows on broadcast TV that were brought to my attention, and.... yup.


I've glanced at at the slogans on T-shirts worn by little children......beyond crude; or the dresses worn by young women to weddings and even funerals......  shockingly suggestive.

I've been in a store or mall and suddenly been able to understand the lyrics of the background noise.... vile and coarse beyond belief.

Pardon me while I go clutch my pearls.
Oh, the times! Oh, the manners!

Words Without Which We'll Weather Whatever Wends Its Way Into Our Lives... Well Enough

(I ran out of "w"s, or rather, the imagination to think of words with that initial.)

Someone has just called my attention to the fact that Anna Wintour, (She Who Must Be Obeyed, even if she tell you to hoist her up a flight of stairs, it seems) is sick of the world "journey" too.
Of course I can walk, thank heavens I don't HAVE to!

Himself has been repeating, with less and less enthusiasm, directors' use of the word for years, either in pep talks to casts at first readthroughs, ("this journey we'll all be taking together..."   or in  notes of gratitude to audiences in programs, ("thank you for joining us on this journey.")

(I was heartily sick of it way sooner, but I believe I was able to keep my eye rolls, which are the only thing youthful about me, to a minimum.)

But even more so, I am beyond sick of, "enough said," or even worse, " 'nuff said."

I don't object to its use after a conspiratorial verbum sapienti, an assurance that both speaker and listener, (or writer and reader,) are on the same page, but in a conversation where there are differing points of view, it seems the height of dimwitted arrogance to give ones opinion and then punctuate it with the phrase, implying that what one has just pronounced is such genius that no more can be said.

Really, I whine about a lot, don't I?

(And yes, everyone is sick of "amazing," I should think even the people who overuse it. Enough said.)

Like the news, only important...