Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Friday, 30 May 2014

Mannequins and the Impulse to Buy, and What Colors People Come In

According to the Guardian, there's a bit of skinny-shaming directed at dress shop, or rather, lingerie shop dummies, (no, not us dummies who shop there...)

The EXTREMELY high end underwear purveyor La Perla has come under fire for using mannequins with "visible ribs." I'm assuming, (can't see it in photo,) it is the costae verae , that on the very thin one can see at the top of the chest that are the offending bones, since even on a plump thing like me ones lower ribs show.

I was stuck by the writer saying that although the most common color for mannequins is now white,
"it used to be 'flesh tone' – that is, flesh-toned if you are white."
Um, no.

Unless by "white" you mean beige, or pink or tan? Because if any people were actually white, then the currently popular snow drift/alabaster/chalk/white (my word, I could work for Sherwin Williams or J Crew!) mannequins would be, for them, well..... flesh-toned.

Dear me, between store dummies and opera singers, I seem to be reading an awful lot about weight lately...
On this whole privacy/internet thing, some article referenced Dumas pere's efforts to scrub the pre-web collective consciousness of photos of himself and his much younger paramour, an actress named Adah Menken, hitherto unknown to me.
That jibed with what I think I remember from school, Dumas pere was a bon vivant and a bit of a dog, Dumas fils a somewhat prudish but dutiful moralist? his own model for the elder Duval, renamed M. Germont in Verdi's La Traviata?
And there we are, back at opera!

Anyway, who could resist running to Google Images to see what these racy photos were like?
Certainly not I.

Adah apparently drove men mad and couldn't act a lick; she seems to have made a specialty of trouserless trouser roles, like Mazeppa or little Arab boys.

And this is what 19th century men expected a woman playing a young man or boy on stage to look like, (you decide if it is "believable" or "convincing") --

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Can this be true? cells harvested from aborted human beings used to whip up flavor enhancers?

I can find very little information on this subject on any site whose essential brief is anything other than ending abortion, no news sources at all (not to say that invalidates it, but i would like to see something from a disinterested news source.)

The claim is that fetal tissue from intentionally aborted infants, one in particular, from a Dutch girl aborted in the early 1970s, is used in industrial processes by a company called Senomyx for the specific purpose of creating "chemicals that will make food taste better," and Senomyx sells what? a technology? a substance? to food and cosmetic companies, as well as to pharmaceutical companies.

This list was complied by an anti-abortion organization:
PEPSICO [subsequently removed from list]

- All coffee creamers
- Maggi Brand instant soups, bouillon cubes, ketchups, sauces, seasoning, instant noodles

KRAFT PRODUCTS [subsequently removed from list]

CADBURY ADAMS CANDIES [subsequently removed from list]

This company produces anti wrinkle creams that
contain cells from a 14 week gestation aborted male
baby. Following is the list of the creams, but we
recommend a full boycott of all Neocutis Products.

- Bio-Gel Prevedem Journee
- Bio-Serum Lumiere
- Bio Restorative Skin Cream
According to Snopes the story is essentially true, not that any of these companies use the actual cells of aborted infants.

Is that a distinction without a difference? Is it like equipping our police of military with weapons, or perhaps  rather with protection from the weapons of others, which were tested on human beings without their consent, with fatal results.

Would you want to be wearing body armor developed in that manner?
It's people!


Soylent, Shmoylent, why let it go to waste?

"Heaven is a Person"

And even completely unchurched, even irreligious people are likely to know that, to say that.

I think because I married late, and was unusually inexperienced beforehand, the truth of Christian Marriage as a theological and spiritual metaphor has always, or rather, has since my marriage, been very clear to me, very obvious.

I love what the Pope Emeritus had to say five Ascensions ago....
In Christ ascended into Heaven, the human being has entered into intimacy with God in a new and unheard-of way; man henceforth finds room in God for ever. "Heaven": this word Heaven does not indicate a place above the stars but something far more daring and sublime: it indicates Christ himself, the divine Person who welcomes humanity fully and for ever, the One in whom God and man are inseparably united for ever. Man's being in God, this is Heaven. And we draw close to Heaven, indeed, we enter Heaven to the extent that we draw close to Jesus and enter into communion with him.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Do I use the word "jackass" too often?

But it is somehow comforting to learn that someone whose work  or opinions one despises is not a darling for whom one must feel sympathy for his invincible wrong-headedness or lack of talent, but rather, is... well, a jackass.

I remember relief reading a perfectly stupid and unkind combox entry at Praytell once, and seeing that it was the work of the composer of some of the most cringe-worthy religious music ever put on paper.

Well, skeptic  and atheist theophobic Richard Dawkins is really a jackass of astounding proportions.
Here's the argument I was making. [A strange man who hit on  a woman with whom he was all alone in an elevator late at night ] didn't physically touch her, didn't attempt to bar her way out of the elevator, didn't even use foul language at her. He spoke some words to her. Just words. She no doubt replied with words. That was that. Words. Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that.

If she felt his behaviour was creepy, that was her privilege, just as it was the Catholics' privilege to feel offended and hurt when PZ nailed the cracker. PZ didn't physically strike any Catholics. All he did was nail a wafer, and he was absolutely right to do so because the heightened value of the wafer was a fantasy in the minds of the offended Catholics. Similarly, Rebecca's feeling that the man's proposition was 'creepy' was her own interpretation of his behaviour, presumably not his. She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum.
So, this PZ who deliberately offended Christians by desecrating the Blessed Sacrament was "absolutely right to do so" ?
That's stronger approbation that "was entitled to do so,"  isn't it? and we should  assume Dawkins thinks other theophobes should emulate PZ?
Then likewise, he is saying a man who intimidated a woman, (albeit probably not deliberately,) should also serve as a model, he was not just WITHIN his rights, but "was absolutely right to do so," and go ye and do likewise.

Nah, I don't think I use the word "jackass" too much.

Of course, anyone looks smarter in glasses....

The Snark Knight

Ah, the time suck that is the interwebs!
And those Youtubes!
One good outcome of the Evil Misogynistic Critic fracas, is the dredging up of memories of my opera FanGirling....

Really? Zo you common little men sink you're expert on vaht vee vomen vould find attractiff?

My word Rosenkavalier is heavenly music.... seriously, why did no one take this jackass to task for daring to call the opera an irritating farce, a far more egregious opinion than saying that Tara Erraught, a singer and actress playing a man who disguises himself as a scullery maid has the demeanor of a scullery maid...

But anyway, there are many complete  videos of  Strauss's gem available, and I am gradually watching and finding something to love in all of them.

I'm also remembering  odd and/or ugly reviews I have received. One reviewer referred to my character in a musical as "the homely daughter."
Since there was nothing in the script about my looks, and indeed, other characters found my character attractive, I took this to be a description of my own self.
(Other actors found me attractive as well, but I was corsetted and in a peasant blouse, and rare for musicals in that market, it had been cast with straight men, so this is not to be wondered at...)
It didn't really bother me at the time, I can't say why... 
Terrific review otherwise, maybe that's it...
Met that writer shortly thereafter at a party and called him out, jokingly, and he was utterly dumbfounded that anyone would take objection to such a descriptor. As he apologized with a slight British accent, I realized that I had indeed mistaken his intention, my shayna maidel character was a simple, loving homebody.

On the other hand...
The critic who referred to a group of us 20-something actresses in another piece as a "herd of heifers" most emphatically did mean to be insulting, but as it was a gay paper, well...
Grammar Guy - #notalloperacritics I called the ladies chorus a herd of heifers as a compliment

And it's not only men who can be that way about women, the world is full of meangirls...
A Female TV presenter in New Zealand has drawn the ire of women all over the world after she was heard calling them a ' bunch of lardos' and 'heifers' who weighed in at 72kg.
Newstalk ZB presenter Rachel Smalley apologised to women saying that her offensive comments were not meant to be heard because her microphone was supposed to be switched off

Oh, well, then, that's all right.... NOT.

But, really? 154 pounds puts you into "lardo" territory?

It really HAS been dangerous for me having a pastry chef house-guest the past month....

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Operatic Trivia

While listening to a bit more of Rosenkavalier, inspired by articles friends have been forwarding about the critical balderdash spewed about Glyndbourne's Octavian, I came across this:
Pons, Lily as Octavian

Lily Pons as Octavian??!?@???? Lily Pons? Really?
I can't even imagine...
Wonder if there's any recording.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Those can, do; those who can no more, teach; those who cannot but love the sound of their own voices or sight of their own words......

Apparently people who are presumed to know so much about opera that other people actually pay them to express their opinions, (although for how much longer? are newspapers in the rest of the First world in the kind of trouble ours are? I digress.)

Apparently some who purportedly possess sufficient expertise on the subject of opera to be professional critics are under the impression that those playing trouser roles are intended to be convincingly manly en travesti.


Trouser roles were intended to grant wealthy or aristocratic dogs in the audience in covered-up societies to ogle the female form in tight knickers and fitted, leg-revealing hose.

(Mind you, this is no defense of the costumer, and wig mistress/master?not to mention the person who came up with the idea of peach fuzz, at Glyndebourne.... frightful.)
The original Sophie and her Knight of the Rose:

http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~san/steveoct.jpg (

(That last one is of the magnificent Alice Coote, also known for trouser roles who is also done wrong by costumers and wiggers ['zat a word?]  much of the time.)

An interesting blog post on the subject of trouser roles.

(By the way, this:
... is a  beautiful woman by any measure.

"In Service of the Sacred"

Isn't that a kind of perfect title for a conference for liturgical musicians?

In Service of the Sacred

Christian Worship Office

Monday, June 9, 2014 at 3:00 PM - Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 9:00 PM (EDT)

Detroit, MI

It is not to be for me, this year, I'm afraid, but i shall look forward to seeing what comes out of the Detroit Archdiocese's "Sacred Music Task Force."
Dr. Prowse, the keynote speaker, was merely another attendee at a music conference I once attended but his contributions to discussions, his embodiment of true Charity  have stuck with me always.

(The fee is phenomenally reasonable -- I wonder what housing options there are?)

When you get really old, you can't always tell the difference between sunrise and sunset

The National catholic Reporter has no problem trumpeting the achievements of, or publishing the writings of, those seeking actively excommunication, who claim to perceive a "new dawn".
With almost 200 Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a renewed priestly ministry is flowering in 10 countries. Catholics worldwide are ready for a new model of church led by women and men. In the United States, approximately 150 women priests are serving in 60 inclusive liturgical communities and providing sacraments.

These activists seem obsessed with demanding the approval of a group of people and of an institution for which, for whom, and for whose doctrines they have  contempt.
Why Roman Catholic Womenpriests?
What authority do they recognize that would make the word "Roman" a part of the name of their catholic groups?

I noted last weekend that contrary to expectations when one attends most parochial or diocesan functions, where even including priests attendance is usually at least 3/4 female, CMAA functions, or any gathering that is serious about the Faith and the Liturgy seem to tilt a tiny bit toward the male sex, and  slant drastically younger.
Roman catholic Womenpriests, as an organization, seems.... a bit delicate.
  I myself am old and decrepit, and have  fondness for no-iron garments, (the purveyors of fashion don't fool me, by the way, I know polyester double-knit when I see it, even if you want to call it "ponte,") so don't think I am mocking the elderly, merely pointing out that... well, time may not be on their side.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Well, yes, I am middle class.... and batty, I suppose

I know Pope Francis' experiences are not my experiences, but I wonder who he's complaining about, sometimes.
We’re afraid of joy. It’s better to think: Yes, yes, God exists, but He is there. Jesus has risen and He is there. Somewhat distant. We’re afraid of being close to Jesus because this gives us joy. And this is why there are so many ‘funeral’ (mournful) Christians, isn’t it? Those whose lives seem to be a perpetual funeral. They prefer sadness to joy. They move about better in the shadows, not in the light of joy, like those animals who only come out at night, not in the light of day, who can’t see anything. Like bats. And with a little sense of humour we can say that there are Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord.
I know people who ARE sad.
With cause.
The bishop heading up the council of 8 cardinals who advise the Pope, says the Holy Father"
“feels called to construct” a Church that is, among other things: “At the service of this world by being faithful to Christ and his Gospel; free from all mundane spirituality; free from the risk of being concerned about itself, of becoming middle-class,
"Construct a Church?"

Yet elsewhere, the Holy Father says -
If anyone feels offended by my words, I would respond that I speak them with affection and with the best of intentions, quite apart from any personal interest or political ideology. My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centred mentality.
Offended? Who? Who could be offended by anything siad?(oh, except people who say rosaries, people with tragedies int heir lives, people who are middle class, people with faces like pickled peppers... wait, that one could be me, too.

I think I will just go with, English is not the first language, no doubt we read translations of translations, these men must mean something other than the conclusions to which we are jumping, right?

Okay, this is what has really disturbed me - the cardinal also quotes, without naming, anyone "We have to be prepared, since this ..popularity is beginning ... to awaken opposition not only in the old Curia, but in some who are sorry to lose privileges in treatment and in comforts...Expressions like ‘What can it be that this little Argentine pretends?’ or the expression of a well-known cardinal who let slip the phrase, ‘We made a mistake,’ can be heard.”

This is very troubling.
And I am not sure he should have repeated it.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Rejoice Heartily, Shout for Joy!

Finally made my hotel reservations, and  can hardly wait for the Colloquium.
(Oh, I just realized that title makes it sound as if I am exhorting others to rejoice because I will be there, that's not it at all -- I'm the one with that for which to thank God and make merry.)

Sacred Music Colloquium

I thought the nourishment of the conference this past weekend would.... kinda tide me over, ('zat the expression?) for the banquet, you know?
But no, it has only whetted my appetite.

I seriously urge anyone who can to take advantage of what they can... if you're anywhere in Indiana or nearby Illinois or Kentucky and don't sing, or can't afford registration?


You will be consumed by the beauty.

If you don't sing or think you are not "musical" but can afford to sign up, I promise you, you will learn so much, and have such a profound spiritual experience, and find the addresses so engrossing, and the company so delightful, that you will kick yourself for not having opened yourself to these possibilities sooner.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

No, Jesus most certainly did NOT....

A writer for the National "Catholic" Reporter tells us that
It's OK to despair and swear at God, [because]... Jesus did, too.
I understand what he's talking about, and have lived through some of what he's going through, and agree with his essential message, or rather, what I believe to be his essential message, but like, say, some genial Argentinian man whose every word is misunderstood by the media given to rambling, no-don't-bother-to-record-or-take-notes-just-try-to-kinda-reconstruct-it-afterwards-from-vague-memories interview --

When you know, or can at least expect, and actually, really WANT people to be listening to your words, PARSE them a little bit, okay?

Yeah, Ms. Nussbaum....

What you think is a reductio ad absurdum parody?

Not so much...

Because although you like to pretend it doesn't, stuff happens.
Like this:
Mass SOA

And eighth graders who are getting "A"s in religious ed at parochial schools giving, as an excuse for missing choir on Sunday, "oh, sorry, my family went to the Methodist Mass this week."

And this.

And EMHCs getting in a snit because there are visiting priests so the extraordinary ministers "have nothing to do" during Communion.

No, there's no confusion of roles in the Church....

A Musicians' Retreat...

.... that is how the Florida CMAA conference at Ave Maria University this past weekend seemed to me.

Now that I am not dealing with music for any particular "faith community", (and not certain I ever shall again, or shall ever want to again,) that is how I look on most gatherings of this sort -- I think looking at the Colloquium in Indianapolis as such will be the most profitable way for me to approach it, although I will certainly learn a great deal, (please God,) and have a tremendous, fun time with people I dearly love.

I had forgotten, until reminded by Adam Bartlett's repeated admonitions to remain positive, how easy it is to slip into negativity, and how liable I in particular am to the rancor that hopelessness awakes in me.

The liturgies were very rewarding, very prayerful.
Even little mistakes and flubs were welcome, as they were reminders that we were there to worship, not perform, and of what our true measure of success is.

I am very sorry Jenny Donelson won't be directing a schola at the Indy, because I found her an energizing and inspiring chant mistress, although perhaps it's just as well, as I am torn between, no, among the choices offered me their already.

Oh, and is it just me?  Is there a small resemblance between the enchanting singer and the song-filled chantrix?

Sin, or at least "Sin"

I just finished taking a survey on USCatholic about "sin."
I think, IIRC, that I was following a link and thought I would be reading about the Sacrament of Confession, but it was really more about, well... about whether sin is sin, you know? I mean, as long as you're a nice person...., and let's vote on what YOU think should be a sin !
And I took a while, (Sloth,) but after I gave them my valuable opinion (Pride,) while secretly stewing that other bloggers are more listened to than I, (Envy,) I brushed from my keyboard the crumbs from the remarkable Skillet Almond Shortbread my sister had baked and on which I had gorged myself, (Gluttony,) and checked in on Eye of the Tiber.
Okay, funny, funny, love E of the T's satire,
A group of 26 Italian mistresses who claim to be having affairs with Catholic men have written a joint letter to Pope Francis begging him to end the Catholic Church’s ban on infidelity.
The women, who met through a Facebook campaign, wrote to the Pope requesting a meeting to put forward their case, claiming they were just “a small sample” of the many home wreckers “living in silence.”
“We love these men, they love us, and in most cases, despite all efforts to renounce it, one cannot manage to give up such a solid and beautiful bond,” they wrote....

but it seems it is barely a stretch from the actual news story:
A group of 26 Italian women - all claiming to be in affairs with priests - have written to Pope Francis pleading with him to end the Catholic Church's celibacy vow.
The women said that there were many more like them who were "living in silence."
"We love these men, they love us, and in most cases, despite all efforts to renounce it, one cannot manage to give up such a solid and beautiful bond," they wrote in a joint letter.
They added that "very little is known about the devastating suffering of a woman who is deeply in love with a priest".
Actually, a great deal is known about the suffering of those who persist in sin.
And we have all experienced it, in one way or another.
We have all sinned, and most of us, at least for a time, have tried to pretend that sin was not sin, and supported others in sin, and sometimes even tried to actively encourage others in sin in the imposture that this was a kind of "love."

I don't know if it is more painful to live in the shame of secret sin, pretending that our pain is only due to the cruelty of others' judgment forcing us into secrecy and not to the natural consequences of sin, or if it is more painful keeping up the masquerade of the "out" sinner's supposed satisfaction with his sinful ways.

One of my brothers when he was small used to through these baroque tantrums about what he wanted to do and couldn't do "because you won't let me!" before he had even tried, even asked and been denied whatever it was.

In other words, he already knew he was wrong.

It often seems to me that people who clearly are unrestrained by anyone or anything outside themselves want to depict their sinful ways as some kind of brave struggle against puritanical oppression, when in fact those who disapprove are more obscure, less powerful, and certainly with much less access to and sway over the machines of celebrity and public opinion.

Those machines will tell you -- the only "sin" is having the temerity to call an actual sin by its name.

Monday, 12 May 2014

"Fathers Matter"? Do we really believe that?

Very interesting op-ed column by Leonard Pitts:
In a voice choked with tears [NBA MVP Kevin] Durant, a ferociously talented forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, thanks God. He thanks each teammate by name, thanks his coach, support staff, brothers, friends, grandmother, fans, the sportswriters who voted for him. And in the part that will have you clearing your throat and discovering a foreign particle in your eye, he speaks directly to his mother....By contrast, Durant’s acknowledgment of his father is short and almost perfunctory....
The intention here is not to indict father or son. No, the intention is simply to say this:
The absence of fathers matters.
We have evolved a society wherein we pretend the opposite is true. The disappearance of fathers is now nearly the norm. Almost one in four American children lives in a household without their biological dads. For brown kids, that number stands at about 28 percent. For black kids, it’s a little better than half.
Mass incarceration and the War on Drugs have certainly played a role in this. But just as surely, a role is also played by the new social more which says it’s OK for a man or a woman to be feckless, for him to wander away because he is immature, selfish and young, for her to have a baby on her own because the clock is ticking and really, she doesn’t need a man for anything more than sperm. This is the new morality, the new American mindset.
And we tell ourselves it’s OK, that this haphazardness has no impact upon the child, that father is not irreplaceable, that his disappearance leaves no scar. But the statistics on poverty, drug use, education and incarceration suggest otherwise....
the speech was a testimony to the power of a mother’s love. But it was also a reminder:
A father’s absence has power, too.
But I was struck by something missing from the conversation.Well, perhaps not from this particular column, but from the public conversation about "fathers" and "mothers" generally, considering what perhaps the most talked about aspect of parenting is currently.

Would it not be tantamount to apostasy from the socially liberal viewpoint to suggest that fathering and mothering are NOT interchangeable, that if Kev has two mommies, say, something is missing?

I wonder if he's going to be called on saying that, 
the absence of fathers matters. We have evolved a society wherein we pretend the opposite is true
because of the implications actually taking such a position has for the future of same-sex "marriage" and adoptions.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/10/4108101/the-absence-of-fathers-matters.html#storylink=cpy

Post Script:
It seems Pitts has visited this topic before.
So I guess what he's trying to say is that yeah, the absence of fathers matters, but I'm not saying it's a bad thing, just that it's a... thing.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/10/4108101/the-absence-of-fathers-matters.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/10/4108101/the-absence-of-fathers-matters.html#storylink=cpy

Cardinal Kasper to American Catholics --

"Relax, you don't need to listen to what anyone from the Vatican says.... oh, except me."

At least that's pretty much what we're being told he said.
I understand the reasons for using quotation marks around a phrase, like.... oh, let's just say, "pope's theologian."
It means, presumably, that we know the pope's theolgian isn't really the loose cannon we're gushing about, that that post it taken up by Wojciech Giertych or someone Dominican, not Cardinal Walter Kasper.
And I know writers aren't responsible for the headlines.
But in the body of the puff piece we have
The German cardinal who has been called the “pope’s theologian” said fresh Vatican criticism of American nuns was typical of the “narrower” view that officials of the Roman Curia tend to take, and he said U.S. Catholics shouldn’t be overly concerned.
So I guess my question is, called by whom?
So far as I have discovered, other than the author David Gibson, a single person in a blog combox has gone on the record, and he seemed to think Kasper actually was.

Now, you might think that there is a distressing tendency for "journalists", (I'm thinking of the currently sidelined Tablet writer,) to go about their business thusly -- I want to give the impression that there's buzz about something I really, really, really wish were so, so voila! I myself will say this, and I'm "people" aren't I, so now I can truthfully claim, "some people say...."
You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment"

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Misty Eyed, Until...

When my Father died, no, SINCE my Father died I have always felt closest to him at Church, (even sometimes, albeit rarely, in what is nothing short of a mystical experience, when I am profoundly aware of the great "cloud of witnesses.")
It is both joyous and agonizing, and my Mother's death being much more recent, sensations of, or at least longings for the sensation of her presence are usually more acute.
This is compounded by living in the place whence my strongest memories have sprung, attending her parish, and my having "inherited" her pew, and in a sense, her friends, the people who knew her at daily Mass, (those of you who are daily communicants know that the grip people hold on their seats, in their pews, makes Disney's protective grip on its intellectual property positively magnanimous by contrast,) who now presume to know me.

I was quite prepared, with extra tissues and dark glasses, sitting in her seat at her Mass, next to her friends this morning, for mentions of Mothers' Day, and extra prayers and extra blessings, and extra acknowledgements.... but did I cry?

Did I weep? Was I overcome, or even undercome or mostlycome with emotion?

I was not.

Because the celebrant kindly, I might say, preemptively, began the opening collect by launching into, "'M' is for the million things she gave me, 'O' is only that....."

The sermon was mostly sentimental poems about mothers.

No one else seemed taken aback at the conflation of the Good Shepherd and Good Ol' Mom.

It is a strange liturgical landscape in which many of us find ourselves, no?

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Spokesperson for LCWR?

Ancient Aliens - Seriously, Cardinal Muller... you're saying you DOn'T believe in "Conscious Evolution"?
That reminds me, if you are not watching Call the Midwife you are missing one of the finest, most life-affirming television series in recent memory.

VIDEO | Season 3, Episode 5

Designing Children, and Tossing Out the Bloopers

A very thoughtful take (the post is several years old,) on the subject of selective abortion to weed out the less desirable among us, the seconds, the damaged goods, the flawed, the less than perfect...

(There was a lovely line on a heart-breaking episode of Call the Midwife where a young man with cerebral palsy welcomed the parents of a severely disabled infant to the institution where he lives, and points out the bonus of being situated right next to a cookie factory - "We get the broken ones.")

The blogger describes himself as "neither inflexibly nor dogmatically  pro-choice nor entirely pro-life," but on one point he is unbending - eugenics aimed at the disabled unborn tells the living disabled nothing less than that they aren't really worthy of life.

I admit, in theory, (as opposed to practice where thank you, Lord, I have never had to make any decision of that kind,) I find anything other than fully pro-life or fully pro-choice intellectually inconsistent -- anything else is drawing a line at WHERE it is acceptable for a mother to allow her unborn child's murder.

Not to lose shot a college, yes, not to lose a shot at a promotion at work no?
Cerebral palsy, yes, brown hair no?
An IQ of 80 yes, 101 no?
May deepen mother's depression, no, may give mother heart attack yes?
Because you don't want a child of rape yes, don't want a girl, no?

The writer comes at this from an interesting perspective, because his son's disability is the result of an accident, but his empathy for the handicapped at all stages of their lives is noble.
And if this is as pro-life as he is now, it's a start, and a very good one.
I believe that it is appropriate that the disability community take a clear stand on preimplantation and prenatal screening and selective abortion based upon a genetic anomaly.  I believe that the indifference of the medical profession, genetic counselors and society allows parents to choose selective abortion as if it were the right thing for the child, the family, society and the human race.  Attempts to eradicate genetic based disability is unjust, not only for the child but for society and does nothing positive but denigrate the value of humans who happen to be disabled.  I have found little value in genetic testing, at this time, unless certain conditions, like congenital heart defects, etc. can be corrected in the developing fetus in utero. Indifference reduces the disabled child to an abstraction...nothingness.  The time to effect this exponentially exploding trend is NOW!  Silence is no longer an option.  My opinion only.....

Is there a cognitive dissonance...

...  when I find it appalling that a Catholic institutions of  learning, of ALL places, since they should be the very model of social justice, would try to deny their workers the right to organize to ensure themselves fair working conditions and compensation?

And equally appalling for the federal government to claim authority to determine whether such institutions are "religious enough" to escape its jurisdiction on such matters?

Mother's Day

As time goes on I seem to miss her more and more, rather than less.

I must seek elsewhere for sage advice.

(Yes, I'm being cheeky, but she would have laughed and laughed.) (And she was a natural platinum blonde too)

Friday, 9 May 2014

Cardinal Kasper to St John Fisher

"Sorry about that!"
I had trouble making 4th and 5th graders understand the gravity of what they do when they receive Communion, understand how truly awesome is the gift we are givne.
Unsurprising, with the casual way reception of the sacrament is modeled for them, at least for the most part.
I shall keep trying...
“Tell me, if anyone gave you gold-dust, would you not take hold of it with every possible care, ensuring that you did not mislay any of it or sustain any loss?”


(A thanks to Fr Z for this quote from St Cyril of Jerusalem)

Heritage Apples (oh, and Cary Grant)

Not a concept I'd ever encountered before, (though I have really enjoyed some marvelous, and marvelously ugly "heritage" tomatoes,) but I would certainly like to try and Aldenham Purple, or a Norfolk Rattlebox.
Here's how it works -- Time-suck that the internet is, someone wonders what the "coster" in "costermonger" might mean, etymologically it seems to have been derived from an archaic word for apple, (and is slang for "head", which makes sense when you think of other fruit-analogy insults like "melon-head,") we get sidetracked by Google Images of snappily dressed men, we learn that in French it refers informally to suits, or other outfits that cover the torso and ribs, oh yeah, (speaking of snappily dressed men,) paleontologist Cary Grant berating someone for wreaking havoc on his attempts to assemble a dinosaur skeleton, My intercostal clavicle! oh, some older strains of apples had ribs? ooh look, a whole website about apple varieties, and finally.....

clockwise from top-almata, mott's pink, firecracker, devonshire quarrenden; Sep 2010

Did YOU know there were red-fleshed apples?

Me neither!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

"Sister's Mass"

Quite a dust-up over at Father Z's over a sister "starting Mass" without the priest.

In the actual quoted letter, the complainant doesn't say that the sister purported to have "started Mass" merely to have "started."
If the priest told her to "start Mass without him" he was certainly in the wrong; but perhaps he also did not phrase it that way, and knew that at most weekday Masses people are under serious time constraints, and figured that a Liturgy of the Word with distribution of Communion from the Tabernacle was better than nothing for those who had to get to work/drive children to school/break fast in order to take meds.... a million possibilities.
If indeed he would be there within a few minutes they should have waited, but since the complainant did not stay, we don't know if that is what happened.

It is important to be precise in our use of terms.
I've heard people say they went to "Mass at the Methodist church last week," or express preference for "Sister's Mass" in a parish that had to make do with Communion services, and I am almost always at pains to correct them.

But there are cases and there are cases.
I serve at a weekly service at a nursing home.
It is usually presided over by a deacon, maybe once every two months we will have a priest and there will be Mass Maybe once a month there is no ordained person available, and one of us lay people needs to conduct the.... is "para-liturgy" a correct term?

Anyway, people often thank the deacon for "Mass," I have been told several times that I "say the best Mass."
I do correct the other volunteers, gently I hope, especially the EMs who are, in some cases, extraordinarily ignorant. And sometimes I will explain even to an Alzheimer's wing resident that this isn't Mass.
But if a woman who sobs quietly for most of the day, and thinks I am her son half the time -- if for a half hour once a week she lights up like a Christmas tree with joy and remembrance, has all the words to the confiteor and wants to kneel to receive Communion from the first man she's seen in a cassock for probably 4 decades -- well, who am I to stop her from referring to him as "Father"?

More on Pope Paul's Beatification Rumor

The Italian news agency ANSA says the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has recognized a supposed miracle attributed to the late Italian pontiff’s intercession. The miracle identified was the sudden healing of an unborn baby from an otherwise incurable illness.

Um.... why would a Catholic news organization use the phrase "supposed miracle"?

"Supposed", to me, anyway, has the implication of "dubious". Suspect. Questionable.

Wouldn't you have said "apparent"?

Do the Catholic Church and the UN REALLY Have the Same Goals?

Is Ban Ki-Moon correct? He say that "the United Nations and the Holy See have the same goals and the same ideas," when speaking of the Millennium Development Goals.

And certainly they share some, social justice is not just a goal, but a demand on the Christian.
And the 8 goals certainly start off right, I mean, who objects to education and clean drinking water? Who is in favor of infant mortality? Who likes malaria?
1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. To achieve universal primary education
3. To promote gender equality and empowering women
4. To reduce child mortality rates
5. To improve maternal health
6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7. To ensure environmental sustainability
8. To develop a global partnership for development
(What exactly does "developing a global partnership for development" really mean? That we'll all work together? Kind of a meaningless goal. But I digress.)

The idea of gender equality, (especially now that we know that some people may think there are at least 31 flavors of gender beyond what us plain ol' cissexuls enjoy.:oP) and empowering women is troubling, however.*
Plenty of people, including many of those formulating position papers for various UN sub-organizations would say such empowerment necessarily includes access to programs for "sexual health" or "reproductive rights" which are barely coded phrases for birth control or abortion.
("Reproductive rights" refers to something other than the right to abort the unborn in 2014 with about the same frequency as "States' rights" referred to something other than the right to traffic in human beings in 1860.)

And a "right" to homosexual "marriage" is too broadly held a principle of many "first world" members of the UN, to conclude that the Church and the UN, (despite the latter's refusal so far to adopt the Yogyakarta Principles,) are truly in agreement there, especially in light of the UN panel that head the temerity to issue a report demanding doctrinal changes of the Church.
You there, stop teaching that a sin is sinful!

*Mary Ann Glendon's statement on the Beijing Platform for Action, and the notion "that sexual identity can be adapted indefinitely to suit new and different purposes," is instructive.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Appropriate Miracle Aids Paul VI's Cause for Sainthood

We all know the Lord has a sense of humor, and maybe a sense of drama? - this bit of news is so apt it is almost funny. But wonderful!
The author of the prophetic Humanae Vitae will be beatified following the miraculous cure of an unborn child.

"Conscious Uncoupling"

I read an interview with the woman who gives seminars, or wrote a book, or something with that title, moaning that a celebrity hadn't given her credit for the phrase when said celebrity announced her coming divorce. And yet a little ways down in the whining she let slip that she hadn't come up with it anyway, a friend had. Did she share proceeds or royalties with him, one wonders?

Anyway, anyone with a lick of sense would have to agree that consciously is the right way to divorce, it's not the kind of thing you ought to do while asleep.
Or in a drunken stupor.
Or after sustaining a cranial injury while trying to achieve Youtube immortality by riding something and jumping off something into something whilst simultaneously somethinging a something and wearing a something.
You know....

Anyway, wide awake and fully sentient, Gene Robinson is getting another "divorce".

As someone who has benefited greatly from the annulment process in the Catholic Church, I understand that what seems like an actual marriage might not be.

And forget not believing matrimony is sacramental,  if you don't take the process seriously your odds of having a successful marriage, or even a successful "marriage" must go down exponentially.

But I can't help but think the no longer happy couple of husband and husband would have benefited from pre-Cana.

Does the Episcopal Church have anything like that?

And I REALLY think they could have benefited from....well, from what the Catholic Church teaches. Quoted in the post article from a piece Mr.  Robinson wrote about an evangelical pastor and his approach to sin:
While Jesus never says a word about homosexuality, Jesus is quite clear and specific that remarriage after divorce is adultery. Following [the pastor's] advice to homosexuals, these remarried and ‘practicing’ adulterers should repent of their sin and seek to amend their sinful lifestyles – by divorcing their second spouses (ending their sinful ways) and thereafter living a celibate and chaste sexual life, according to the precepts of Scripture.
Ummm.... yeah. And in fact, Mr Robinson, the Church teaches that.
Yes, THE Church.
Which, Facebook posts purporting to have the goods on papal phonecalls to the contrary, She does still teach.
Logical consistency.... it's a good thing.

Let me get this straight, banking industry...

YOU played fast and loose with all these processes and the regulations concerning them for years leading to a near collapse of the economy, but  I ask for a fully collateralized loan in which YOU are the institution that holds the collateral funds, and three months into the process you suddenly not only want me to account for a check identical in source and size to a check automatically deposited into the same account (ALSO with your institution,) every month on the same day of the month for the last 32 months --  
you want a signed letter explaining a Christmas 
Gift Check for One Hundred Dollars?

Do you wear a mantilla?

Or, "man-TILL-ah" as it was pronounced by some reporter at St Peter's Square a week ago.

Funny story story from Fr Ray Blake's blog.
Some, not many of the women in our congregation wear mantillas and very elegant they look too.
Well to cut a long story short, Annie who is 5 often stays with a friend of her mum's who had some rather elegant Victorian lace curtains. Annie found some scissors, now Annie has a mantilla and so do her three of her dolls and her favourite pink dinosaur, and whilst mum's friend still has lace curtains but one is now quite considerably shorter than its pair, they are less elegant nowadays.
And Annie was bareheaded at Mass on Sunday and so was the pink dinosaur.