Monday, August 10, 2020

Hmm …

… Archdiocese drops music, prohibits concerts, after new allegations against David Haas – Catholic World Report.

More here: Statement on David Haas, Composer.

And here: Additional Statement Regarding David Haas.

And the NYT: Catholic Churches Drop Hymns After Accusations Against Composer.

The blues and Gregorian chant …

… Singing For Eternity: Billie Holiday At The House Of The Good Shepherd : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) 

Billie Holiday made a single, wry nod to gospel in "God Bless the Child," an ersatz spiritual that quotes a nonexistent Bible verse. The stylized gospel-choir chorus on the 1950 Decca recording highlights the extraordinary difference of Holiday's own voice: soft, talky, its deft modulations of musical syntax filling a surprisingly narrow melodic range. Holiday's is not a gospel voice, if by gospel we mean Aretha Franklin or Whitney Houston in full-throated, multi-octave flights of supplication and praise. Her style was not formed in church, if by church we mean the great variety of Afro-Protestant spaces that nurtured congregants' unquenchable aliveness in the face of racial terror and injustice. But for a scant year in early adolescence, just before or around the time she began singing in cabarets, Billie Holiday did sing in church: the Catholic chapel of a convent reformatory, the Baltimore House of the Good Shepherd for Colored Girls. Her stint in a convent reform school gave Holiday bad-girl cred and an ambitious spiritual discipline, and both went lastingly to her style and her sound. Whatever assaults and privations were dealt to her there, the House of the Good Shepherd was where Billie Holiday learned to arrange the jagged pieces of her life into a coherent persona, where her battered spirit was made the subject of confessional performance and where, in the course of this project of self-fashioning, she received dedicated practice and instruction in singing.

Timely indeed …

… Reflections on Science and Society - Econlib. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… in Polanyi’s time, the arrogance, dogma, and ignorance espoused by the fascists was also evident among communists, and so scientific inquiry was truncated not only in Germany but in Soviet Russia. Furthermore, the “men of science” in the UK and the US were parroting the arguments about the purpose of planning in the planned state as the model for scientific advancement.  The very foundation of the scientific enterprise and of the free give-and-take of the scientific community was threatened. The consequence wasn’t just slower progress on fundamental questions, or slightly more quackery on the margins of science, but the destruction of careers, and despair among scientists as knowledge was either destroyed or corrupted by the authorities in power.

Clearing up the hogwash …

… Travels in the Library: Aristotle and an aardvark go to Washington.

Writing and living …

… Fiction Book Review: Inside Story: How to Write by Martin Amis. Knopf, $28.95 (544p) ISBN 978-0-593-31829-4. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

God is not the object of my reason, nor of my sensibility, but of my being. God exists for me in the same act in which I exist.
— Don Colacho

In case you wondered …

… Will Sweden be proved right on avoiding lockdown? | Magazine | The Times.

So which view is correct? Sweden as cautionary tale or Sweden as responsible exemplar of a government in partnership with its people? The problem with these two arguments is not that they contradict each other, that one is true and the other false. It’s that they don’t. To an extent, both are true. The data you choose reveals as much about your own views as it does about Sweden.
One ought always  to be skeptical regarding models, however. Also good to look at all the data, not just the data that supports your views. That’s presuming you want your views to be correct.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

E. L. Doctorow

Let me say at the start that, in addition to Ragtime, my only other exposure to the work of E. L. Doctorow was City of God, a frustrating novel in search of mystical consequence. 

I carried that frustration with me as I approached Ragtime, but these are two very different books. First, Ragtime is accessible, it is transparent: the prose are clean and confident. And second, Ragtime is not a book which veers toward the metaphysical. In fact, it is the opposite: assembled here are stories comprised of characters and action. There's a democratic quality to their openness. 

Of the novel's central stories, one, I think, is particularly effective: this involves the injury done to an African-American musician, and his subsequent attempts to seek justice. In many ways, I wish that Doctorow had focused more on this story: because the others -- involving fictionalized version of Houdini and J. P. Morgan, for instance -- appear almost silly in comparison. Don't get me wrong: Doctorow is cunning, and funny, but these secondary stories lack the weight of that primary narrative around Coalhouse Walker, and his rightful quest for retribution. 

Ultimately, Ragtime struck me as a disjointed attempt to present -- to enmesh -- an era. There are stories here of immigrants, of entrepreneurs, and of housewives. All of the elements of that Ragtime era are there. But to enfold them -- to truly encapsulate the time -- would have required a novel double the length, or one specific story with far greater depth. 

As I say, I think there's one story, at least, that could have done that. But Doctorow, in the end, seemed more committed to weaving disparate narratives together than to building a singular novel with that lasting quality -- that permanence -- which defines great literature. 

Sad …

… Potcake Poet’s Choice: Maryann Corbett, “Dutch Elm” | Form in Formless Times. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

When I was in high school, if memory serves, all the trees along Roosevelt Boulevard had to be cut down to curb the spread of Dutch elm disease.

Hmm …

… How bad is covid really? (A Swedish doctor’s perspective) – Sebastian Rushworth M.D.  (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… after a few months, all the covid patients disappeared. It is now four months since the start of the pandemic, and I haven’t seen a single covid patient in over a month. When I do test someone because they have a cough or a fever, the test invariably comes back negative. At the peak three months back, a hundred people were dying a day of covid in Sweden, a country with a population of ten million. We are now down to around five people dying per day in the whole country, and that number continues to drop. Since people generally die around three weeks after infection, that means virtually no-one is getting infected any more. If we assume around 0.5 percent of those infected die (which I think is very generous, more on that later), then that means that three weeks back 1,000 people were getting infected per day in the whole country, which works out to a daily risk per person of getting infected of 1 in 10,000, which is miniscule. And remember, the risk of dying is at the very most 1 in 200 if you actually do get infected. And that was three weeks ago. Basically, covid is in all practical senses over and done with in Sweden. After four months.

Hmm …

… The death of Theatre Criticism | David Herman | The Critic Magazine. (Hat tip,

Dave Lull.)

The critic can be on the side of the reader and be at home in a two- hundred-year tradition of theatre criticism that goes back to Hazlitt, Tynan and Shaw. The editors seem to miss this basic point and so that tradition is in danger of coming to an end.
Happily, on these shores, we still have Terry Teachout.

A contrast in coverage …

… John Robson: Forbes falls to cancel culture as it erases environmentalist's mea culpa | National Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Their initial wary response asked “the angle of your column” and suggested “a brief call for us to connect.” I retorted that “the ‘angle’ of my column has no bearing on the reasons for your decision” and asked bluntly “Was it because you discovered a factual error? Because of protests from subscribers? Because of protests from within the organization? Because something in it struck you as legally problematic? It’s a pretty major decision. I assume someone fairly senior in the organization took it, and that this person knows why. Please ask them, and tell me what they said.”

The environmentalist's apology: how Michael Shellenberger unsettled some of his prominent supporters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Though it's pretty clear how the Guardian leans on this (see announcement toward the bottom that we have only "88 days to save the Earth," this article is still a pretty good piece of reporting.

He’s laughing for a reason …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Laughing Fool (painter unknown), Sonnet #524.

The trouble with power …

… Travels in the Library: Power may be glorious but can quickly become fierce.

Something to think on …

Only the fairy tale equates changelessness with happiness... Permanence means paralysis and death. Only, in movement, with all its pain, is life.
— Jaccob Burckhardt, who died on this date in 1897
I mistakenly posted this yesterday. I have put another in for yesterday, which you can check out.

Friday, August 07, 2020

Diagnosing cancellation …

… Articles by Jonathan Rauch: Cancel culture: six signs you’re being canceled. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… what, exactly, does a cancellation consist of? And how does it differ from the exercise of free speech and robust critical debate?


… RIP Pete Hamill: Chronicler of New York’s Marketplace of Ideas – (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Covid and the arts...

 ...How the virus is impacting cultural programming around the world 

Canceling math …

… Some critical theory scholars argue 2+2 can sometimes equal 5 | The College Fix.

The account isolates and examines the thoughts of one professor in particular, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Rochelle Gutiérrez.
Gutiérrez has stated she believes that “math has been controlled by global white supremacy. So every area of mathematics might come to the conclusions it does because of white supremacy.”

Her faith in math will revive, I suspect, if they mess with her paycheck.

Ah, yes …

The Things. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Q&A …

… Orion Magazine | Seven Questions for Camille Dungy, Orion’s New Poetry Editor. (Hat Rus Bowden.)

One thing a good writer can do is to map the world of her imagination in such a way that a reader feels as if they could walk around that world and not get lost. This is too often an overlooked element of quality craft. When it is pulled off well, it can be amazing. How many of our readers had a map of Middle Earth on their walls when they were growing up? That is an example of excellent Literary Mapping.

Touching …

 “Limbo,” by Maxine Scates | The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

A masterful mix of fact and fiction …

… Travels in the Library: Strange alliances embroiled against each other.

A strange tale …

… What I Learned From the Worst Novelist in the English Language | The New Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Great American Parade hardly sounds like the worst novel in the English language, though it doesn’t sound like anything I’d want to read. It was also self-published, and in the category of self-published novels it must have plenty of competition for worst ever. Of course, most of us don’t turn to fiction for op-ed views. We read it for insight into the comedy and tragedy of humanity. I guess Burrows thought that a hatchet job was better than no review at all.

Something to think on …

Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.
— Jerry Pournelle, born on this date in 1933

Sounds good …

 An Evening with Charles Bukowski |

The most trenchant part of the film comes near the end, when Bukowski ruminates about the “utter grimness” of his childhood. He says he was beaten with a razor strop three times a week “from the age of six to the age of eleven.” Bukowski call the violence “good literary training” because it taught him about pain (and also how to type). He explains that when you encountered “pain without reason” it revealed where “certain sections of life were” and that as a result you can go two ways—traumatized and ineffectual or tough and brave: “When you get the shit kicked out of you long enough and long enough and long enough, you tend to say what you mean.”

Bukowski lived in Philadelphia for a while — on Spring Garden Street, I believe — and spent a couple of weeks in Moyamensing Prison, which was just a few blocks from where I live. The prison was demolished years ago. The site is now an Acme supermarket.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

A most telling tale …

… Asheville’s ‘Back the Blue’ organizer astonished by turnout – Asheville Local News, Community News & Sports The Asheville Tribune.

It certainly tells a lot about the media. 

Anniversary …

… Travels in the Library: The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

I had the privilege once of chatting with Father Hubert Cieslik, one of the Jesuits who survived the bombing.

Hmm …

… COMMENTARY: Masks-for-all for COVID-19 not based on sound data | CIDRAP.

CIDRAP: Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

A reminder …

… First Known When Lost: What Matters.

Natural calamity and human miscreance and malfeasance are par for the course.  And I'm sure that even in the Emperor's time reports of disaster and human folly were spread far and wide in bad faith, ignorance, and self-interest by the supercilious newsmongers of the day (even in the absence of such hallmarks of Human Progress and Enlightenment as Twitter).


… Ruth Weiss, trailblazing poet in the 'boys' club' Beat scene, dies at 92 | Datebook. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

And a prize-winner …

… Poet Ilya Kaminsky Seeks Hope And Tenderness In Dark Times | Arts & Culture | 90.3 WCPN ideastream. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Challenging perceptions and going against mainstream ideas has become a habit for the 43-year-old writer. His latest book uses a series of poems to tell the story of a fictional town under siege by an authoritarian regime.
“'Deaf Republic' is a story of a pregnant woman and her husband in a time of crisis,” Kaminsky said.

Detective and sidekick …

… Travels in the Library: Travel back to Victorian London.

An interesting story...

...Of Orwell, 1984, and the Cuban press

Q&A …

… America’s Biggest Small Town: City Talk | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We’re America’s biggest small town. Perhaps because most people live in rowhouses—a party wall away from their neighbors—we have this culture of intimacy. Everything is personal and local—even provincial. Philadelphia is an archipelago of neighborhoods. We’re fiercely committed to our block, our school, our church, our bar, our team. And yet, the gleaming skyscrapers of Center City and big cultural institutions are never far away. When Philadelphians venture into Center City, they like to say, “I’m going into town.”
I started life in a rowhouse, and it looks as if  I may end my days in one.

A pair of poets …

… The Middlebrow Men: Clive James on Philip Larkin | Sydney Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

n 1965 [Larkin] wrote to his publisher lamenting the fact that ‘ordinary sane novels about ordinary sane people doing ordinary sane things can’t find a publisher these days’. Such novels represent ‘the tradition of Jane Austen and Trollope’, and Larkin continues: ‘I like to read about people who have done nothing spectacular, who aren’t beautiful or lucky, who try to behave well in the limited field of activity they command, but who can see, in little autumnal moments of vision, that the so called “big” experiences of life are going to miss them; and I like to read about such things presented not with self pity or despair or romanticism, but with realistic firmness and even humour’. This middlebrow aesthetic is hardly the earth, sea and blood sensed by Clive James, but it claims a more substantial moral tone than the middlebrow is usually accorded, and it crucially locates the roots of the middlebrow in such ‘classic’ writers as Austen and Trollope. Many admirers of Austen and Trollope are more familiar with the visual adaptations of their work for television, the middlebrow medium, than with the printed versions. BBC’s The Pallisers (1974), a 26-part adaptation of Trollope’s political novels, and BBC’s 6-part adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1995), are established television classics that have contributed to a reworking of cultural categories.

Something to think on …

In a word, poetry can not exist without emotion, or, if you will, without a movement of the soul which regulates the words.
— Paul Claudel, born on this date in 1868

Get ready …

… Blake Bailey's 880-page Philip Roth bio to arrive in April. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

At the suggestion of fellow literary biographer James Atlas, Bailey got in touch with Roth.
“Why should a gentile from Oklahoma write the biography of Philip Roth?” Bailey remembered Roth asking him.
“I’m not a bisexual alcoholic with an ancient Puritan lineage, but I still managed to write a biography of John Cheever,” Bailey responded.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

More ignorant "scholars" …

 Scholars target ‘problematic’ common animal names: slavemaker ant, gypsy moth, rape bug and dozens more | The College Fix. (Hat tip, Tim Davis.)

Apparently these morons have never read enough English literature to know that faggot means a bundle — as in sticks. They've never heard of rapeseed, either. These people need to get a life.

Science unsettled …

… Cholesterol lowering has no impact | Dr. Malcolm Kendrick. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One of the most significant, and of great interest to me personally, was a critical examination of the benefits of lowering cholesterol. This was published on the fourth of August. The paper was called ‘Hit or miss: the new cholesterol targets,’ and it came out in Evidence Based Medicine, one of the key titles that sits under the umbrella of British Medical Journal publishing
It was carefully worded, as all clinical papers are, but a key section of the press release was as follows: “Setting targets for ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol levels to ward off heart disease and death in those at risk might seem intuitive, but decades of research have failed to show any consistent benefit for this approach, reveals an analysis of the available data, published online in BMJ Evidence Based Medicine.”

It was bound to happen …

… In Brutal Attack On One Of The Most Privileged People In History, Rioter Punches Self In Face | The Babylon Bee.

Hmm …

‘Strange Rites’ Review: The Freedom to Mix and Match - WSJ.

Many of the nones, Ms. Burton points out, say they pray regularly and think “spiritual energy” resides in physical objects. They also believe that God, however they may define the word, protects, rewards and punishes them. Nor are the formally religious too principled to embrace the smorgasbord approach to faith: Nearly a third of self-identifying Christians say they believe in reincarnation.
All of which suggests that they haven’t really thought these matters and may not know how to go about doing that.

 “Strange Rites” is a bracing tour through the myriad forms of bespoke spiritualism and makeshift quasireligions springing up across America: the ersatz piety and self-veneration of “wellness culture”; the startlingly earnest and deeply strange world of Harry Potter fan fiction; the newer, woker forms of sexual utopia, witchcraft and satanism that are now prevalent among the affluent young.
In other words, they’ll believe in just about anything.

Diagnosis and treatment …

… Woke Colleges Are Assembly Lines for Conformity | Mercatus Center.

 Challenging settled views like this is not just how science works. It is how all systematic research and development works. Thomas Edison, who founded the modern research lab, made that point when he was asked about his failed experiments. “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” That is usually taken to mean he was persistent. He certainly was. But Edison’s comment has a second, equally important meaning: that he had a right to try those experiments, to get it wrong as well as right, and to keep trying. Efforts like his, along with the right to capture the profits they might generate, are the technological foundation of our modern world’s unprecedented richness. 
This fruitful contestation of different views, different approaches, and different conjectures goes well beyond science. It is the foundation of Anglo-American jurisprudence, where each side presents its own best case, its own best evidence, and its own interpretations, and then challenges the other side’s. It’s all a nonviolent contest of thrust and counterthrust. Democracy itself depends on such contestation, on politicians’ and publicists’ ability to make their cases and on citizens’ ability to hear and assess them. It’s why democracies tend to be more prosperous and, in virtually every way, more successful than autocracies and other systems that prohibit or stifle open debate.

As Carl Jung noted,  “Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.“

How the past shapes the present …

… Travels in the Library: Ye shall be broken in pieces.

Something to think on …

I can think of nothing more gallant, even though again and again we fail, than attempting to get at the facts; attempting to tell things as they really are. For at least reality, though never fully attained, can be defined. Reality is that which, when you don’t believe in it, doesn’t go away.
— Peter Viereck, born on this date in 1916

Literary mobocracy …

… Brought to Book: James Marriott | Alexander Larman | The Critic Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Few writers or editors, fearing similar treatment, were brave enough to defend Marriott publicly. The novelist Amanda Craig was a rare exception. She told me that ‘I thought it was a good, thoughtful piece, and made a perfectly valid point because at least one genuinely fine novel, James Scudamore’s English Monsters, is another one left off by Booker. I also think it disgraceful that a writer as good as Jude Cook has had to have Jacob’s Advice published by Unbound. It’s in nobody’s interest, least of all feminists like myself, if the literary novel becomes a female enclave, just as between 1980-2000 it was full of men preening. That’s not equality but a new inequality. I do worry that the new generation of men might be being punished for the egregious behaviour of those like Amis and Self by a critical climate that is so preoccupied by being woke that it may be oblivious to actual talent.’ 

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Understanding past and present …

… Travels in the Library: Deciding the fate of North America.

Tracking the decline …

 To Avoid Debate, Darwinists at the AAAS Would Even Censor…Darwin | Evolution News.

Well, they may believe in evolution, but they are not disciples of Charles Darwin, who was an honorable man and a true scientist.

In case you wondered …

 Is the Novel in Decline? –Pairagraph. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… in a nutshell, The Decline of the Novel argues that we have lost the metaphysical and religious confidence that made the novel the central art-form of the modern age.

Take note …

I Sit Half-Naked. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A great man …

… Listen to Thomas Sowell | City Journal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The constrained vision underlies Knowledge and Decisions. It maintains that humans are inherently more flawed than perfectible, more ignorant than knowledgeable, and more prone to selfishness than altruism. Good institutions take the tragic facts of human nature as given and create incentive structures that, without requiring men and women to be saints or geniuses, still lead to socially desirable outcomes. A good example is the price mechanism as described by Hayek. Centralized power is treated with suspicion, as the humans who wield it will be self-interested, or worse. What’s more, in the constrained vision, traditions and social mores are trusted because they represent the accrued wisdom of untold generations.
As for the unconstrained vision, if humans are flawed, selfish, and ignorant, it is not due to the unchangeable facts of our nature but to the way that our society happens to be arranged. By reforming our economic system, our education system, our laws, and other institutions, it is possible to change the social world in fundamental ways—including those aspects of it purportedly fixed by human nature. Through enlightened public policy, often implemented by a central authority, evils once assumed as inevitable are revealed to be social constructs or products of outdated ideas. Traditions should receive no special reverence, in this vision, but live or die according to their rationality (or lack thereof), as judged by modern observers.

Something to think on …

The difference between western and eastern intellectuals is that the former have not been kicked in the ass enough.
— Witold Gombrowicz, born on this date in 1905

Good …

… Fordham U. sued by Chinese immigrant student it punished for posting pro-freedom message | The College Fix.

I hope he wins hugely. 

Monday, August 03, 2020

Faith and reason …

… Morning’s Canvas : My figures fail to tell me / How far the Village lies —-.

My training is in philosophy. I do not think reason is an adequate judge of faith, which has more in common with poetry and imagination, both of which, I think, apprehend reality better than reason can.

Anniversary …

… Travels in the Library: Cold War bombshells, hysteria, and a shooting star.

In case you wondered …

… How Faith and Religion Are Helping During Pandemic |

"Studies prove prayer can prevent people from getting sick — and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster," he says, adding that an exhaustive analysis of 1,500 medical studies indicated that people who are more religious and pray more have better health.
Meanwhile, in Portland, “Peaceful Protestors” burn Bibles.

Something to think on …

Eager souls, mystics and revolutionaries, may propose to refashion the world in accordance with their dreams; but evil remains, and so long as it lurks in the secret places of the heart, Utopia is only the shadow of a dream.
— Vernon Louis Parrington, born on this date in 1871

Q&A …

… Warsaw poet Julia Hartwig: “You never know when you need to pull out your pen and stop being silent.” | The Book Haven.

I regret that my volume American Poems (2002) is relatively unknown. I don’t know why this is, because my other books have been much discussed, and this one has been left a bit aside. Perhaps I’m wrong, because during one of my last meetings at the PEN Club I read a few poems from it and the listeners bought out the stock immediately. American Poems amused them, because there is a lot of humor, light, greenery, the city, and at the same time a some healthy nostalgia. It describes people, Americans, who interested me immensely. This collection expresses all my affection for America.

Blogging note …

I have been up since 5. Debbie undergoing a procedure at Jefferson University Hospital. We have here since 7. I am now in the waiting room. I doubt if I will do much blogging. I just want to close my eyes for awhile.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Golden Age …

… Travels in the Library: Visiting five giants in their singular neighborhood.

A poem for these days …

 "Ride this one out" ~ The Imaginative Conservative. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cultural appropriation …

… Poetry and pretence: the phoney Native American who fooled Bloomsbury set | Culture | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… Prewett was struggling to trust the “basis and fabric of reality”, after being first blown from his horse during one first world war battle, and then, separately, being buried alive and having to claw his way out of the earth. “He completely lost it after that. He was profoundly traumatised and that’s why he took on this completely fictitious identity.”

Remembering …

… Janis Joplin gives a lesson on the blues in rare 1963 clip. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“This a song a lot of blues singers sing,” she says following a rousing rendition of ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy’. Introducing the San Franciscan crowd to another obscure number and upping their musical education. “The version I do was recorded by Lonnie Johnson back in the ’20s. He’s an old-time blues singer who never achieved much prominence but he’s still very good,” before launching into the charming performance of ‘Careless Love’.

The landscape of the dead ….


The impact of Gray’s Elegy … extends beyond the realm of literature. Thanks to this one poem, the churchyard – especially the country churchyard – has a unique imaginative potency and emotional appeal: we feel at home in a churchyard, wandering among the gravestones in the long, soft shadow of Gray’s masterpiece.
There was a nuns’ graveyard on the grounds of the convent next to where I went to grade school. I often strolled past there, and sometimes sat nearby. The convent  — Eden Hall — is now gone, its grand buildings razed. It is a park now. I have never been in the park. I don’t know what was done with the graves.

Something to think on …

The universe, which is not merely the stars and the moon and the planets, flowers, grass and trees, but other people, has evolved no terms for your existence, has made no room for you, and if love will not swing wide the gates, no other power will or can. And if one despairs — as who has not? —of human love, God's love alone is left.
— James Baldwin, born on this date in 1924 

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Blogging note …

I have just taken Debbie to an urgent care center. She has symptoms that need to be looked into. Blogging in the meantime will be spotty..

The fight continues …

… Travels in the Library: Catholic university cancels Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor. But scholars say she’s been wrongly maligned.

I am a cradle Catholic and a graduate of a Jesuit university. I regard Loyola University Maryland as Catholic in name only.

Ignoramus at work …

… St. Damien ministered to Native Hawaiians in a leper colony. Now, AOC calls him a 'colonizer'.

Queen Liliuokalani, the very woman whom Ocasio-Cortez says they should honor instead of St. Damien the “colonizer," wrote a letter in 1881 to thank him and to bestow an honor upon him.
So, according to Ocasio-Cortez, you are a colonizer if you lay down your life for people you never met before, halfway across the globe. If you earn the plaudits of the local queen for your selfless heroism, you are a colonizer. 
What business is it of hers anyway?

True adventure …

… Owls of the Eastern Ice by Jonathan C Slaght review – an extraordinary quest | Science and nature books | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Owls of the Eastern Ice is a record of Slaght’s four seasons of fieldwork in the remote forests of Primorye, a region of Russia bordering North Korea and the Sea of Japan. The goal of his project was to search for fish owls, trap them, tag them, then trace their movements to find out the precise nature of the habitat they used, so their breeding and hunting sites could be protected from destruction by logging companies. “How hard could it be?” he writes, as he begins his research. Quite hard, it turns out. There are floods, roadblocks, storms, wildfires, vehicles sinking through ice, malfunctioning technologies, night-long subzero vigils on riverbanks, hangovers from drinking industrial ethanol, and a whole cavalcade of fascinating and sometimes criminal associates.

Appalling …

… How the Catholic church betrayed the dying | The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

On 5 April, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales issued a statement entitled ‘Revised Hospital Chaplaincy Advice’, which after a paragraph of prevarication produced one clear sentence: ‘Priests and chaplains must follow the visiting instructions from hospital and trust authorities.’ Given that the visiting instructions in hospitals were not to visit at all, this, for the most part, put paid to anointing of the sick (or extreme unction), the sacrament that we’re told has the effect of uniting the sick person with Christ, giving them the strength, peace and courage to endure suffering, forgiving their sins and preparing them for eternal life. Priests can offer telephone support instead, said the bishops. Always good to chat when you’re on a ventilator.
 That's not all: The Church’s Limp-Wristed Coronadoom Response. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Here is some gibberish from the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Life’s  “HUMANA COMMUNITAS IN THE AGE OF PANDEMIC: UNTIMELY MEDITATIONS ON LIFE’S REBIRTH“:

The lessons of fragility, finitude, and vulnerability bring us to the threshold of a new vision: they foster an ethos of life that calls for the engagement of intelligence and the courage of moral conversion. To learn a lesson is to become humble; it means to change, searching for resources of meaning hitherto untapped, perhaps disavowed. To learn a lesson is to become mindful, once more, of the goodness of life that offers itself to us, releasing an energy that runs even deeper than the unavoidable experience of loss, that need to be elaborated and integrated in the meaning of our existence. Can this occasion be the promise of a new beginning for the humana communitas, the promise of life’s rebirth?
The faithful need the institutional church for the sacraments. The institutional church needs the faithful for their money. But the institutional isn't keeping its side of the bargain.

The warm season …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Garden in Hot Weather (Paul Klee), Sonnet #523.

August Reviews at North of Oxford …

… The City of NO by Louie Crowder.

… Winter Honeymoon by Jacob M. Appel.

… Atlas of Wolves by John Macker.

… All the Useless Things are Mine by Thomas Walton, with Etchings and Drawings by Douglas Miller.

… Party Everywhere by Jeffrey Cyphers Wright.

Anniversary …

… Travels in the Library: The presidency, assassination, and lasting legacy of JFK.

Trust the science …

… unless, of course, it doesn't agree with you: Social Media Whack-A-Mole With America’s Frontline Doctors | The American Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So what is the lesson here? It’s quite simply that nothing must be allowed to interrupt the drumbeat of COVID-19 fear-mongering that has so quickly cowed America into submission and that is proving to be of such value to those who seek political power and untold wealth from the vaccines and new, experimental drugs, which, we are constantly told, will be our only salvation. That is the mission, and those are the special interests to which the social media monopolists have pledged their full support.

Something to think on …

A reason that the past is so hated by the young is that there is no way to be entirely free of it.
— Paul Horgan, born on this date in 1903