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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Roundtable Salon Discussion went well.

Victor and I hit Dragonmead, the finest brewpub in southeastern Michigan, and we traded off pints of the various fermented beverages, settling early on "Crusader," a fine mild dark ale.

Mike's Hard Lemonade was dissed, as was my enjoyment of The Guru (Mr. Morton: "Heather Graham can't act without roller skates"; Me: "And?"). The Coen Brothers movies were ranked, with Fargo lauded as the most sincere of their films, especially as a paean to small-town life (Brainerd vs. Minneapolis) and its virtues. I asserted that Frances McDormand's sheriff remains the finest and most compelling depiction of Good in modern film (after all, Evil is comparatively easy to make interesting--just ask Milton and Dante).

Somewhat surprisingly, Mr. Morton pronounced himself a conscientious objector in the Liturgy Wars, only requiring that things not get too wacky. Or zany. Or goofy. I forget which.

The decay of "rational basis" review was also raised and deplored, the Tigers praised (they eked out a win against the Tribe on Monday night), distributism and Costco glanced upon and so forth.

Yes, I'd be happy to take it on the road, only requiring a modest stipend and a glancingly-reviewed expense account. Contact me for details and availability.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mr. Morton drove to Detroit/Mr. Morton drove...

Anyone within striking distance of Motown is hereby invited a roundtable discussion of topics of general interest at a TBD brewpub on Monday evening. The guest of honor will be Victor Morton, Washington Times editor, film critic, raconteur and transplanted Texan living the life of Reilly inside the Beltway.

Discussions will include such diverse topics as:
  • Luc Besson, Hollywood Sellout--yea or nay?
  • France--Would 2 or 3 more EuroDisneys make a difference?
  • War in the Middle East
  • The best prank on The Man Show (Kimmel edition) (my vote: the petition drive to "End The Suffrage"--no, that's not a typo).
  • The NBA's new offense-friendly rules: Abomination or Atrocity?
  • What's with our waitress, anyway--have we suddenly turned invisible?
  • Piskie bashing
  • "Mike's Hard Lemonade"?! Next you'll be getting your right ear pierced...
  • Catholic liturgical reform
  • The NFL
  • Favorite pre-Protestant Reformation Popes and, most crucial of them all:
  • Do Scotsmen ever pick up the tab?

And yes, because drink is the curse of his people, malt beverages will be quaffed and bar food consumed, so prepare accordingly.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The National Weather Service has just issued a Posturing, Hypocritical Fraud Warning for all of southeastern Michigan.

A brief memo to Bp. Thomas Gumbleton (Ret.).

Your Excellency:

I noticed this paragraph in your most recent homily, published in the National Catholic Reporter:

I think of World War II as an example where our church failed in the face of a tyranny and an evil that was unbelievably evil -- the Nazi tyranny. The church in Germany failed to speak a prophetic word to that tyranny. Why? Because they had entered into an agreement with the Nazi dictatorship in 1933. Hitler would allow the church to have its schools if the bishops of the church would agree they would not allow their priests to preach any so-called political message. And so the Church became virtually silent during those years. There were a few exceptions -- a peasant in Austria, Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter, and a few others like him said, “No! I won’t serve in Hitler’s army,” and he was executed. A whole group of young people connected with the universities called the White Rose group -- the same thing -- they spoke the truth; most of them were executed. The church refused to listen. It was more concerned about its institutional structures than about God’s Word. So we failed.

While the behavior of Church leadership regarding the Shoah is a worthy topic of discussion (count me as one who thinks more could have been done), I find your criticism to be ironic, given your own track record.

Just what explains your consistent refusal "to speak a prophetic word" to the tyrannies you have visited in "solidarity" during your lifetime (e.g., Castro's Cuba, Hussein's Iraq, Aristide's Haiti, Arafat's Palestine)? I'm also coming up empty looking for examples of "prophetic words" spoken by yourself to the Soviet Union, so any insight you could provide on that would be welcome.

Beams, specks and all that.

Sincerely,

Dale Price

[H/T to Gerald.]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Why Iconoclasm is Heretical.

Fr. Joseph Komonchak at Commonweal reminds us with pictures of sculptures by Niccolo dell'Arca.

Oh, and because I haven't posted anything about Byzantium for a few weeks:

A brief historical note--Iconoclasm is probably the least organic of the Christian heresies, being imposed solely by the will of the Byzantine Emperor Leo III (reigned 717-741). Leo, whom we have ample reason to thank for his brilliant defense of Constantinople during the final Arab Muslim siege of 717-18 (a victory far more earth-shaking than Martel's still-essential victory at Tours fifteen years later), blamed Christian use of icons for military reverses in the 720s. Consequently, he promulgated a decree banning their use ca. 725.

To be fair, iconoclasts had some legitimate complaints--use of images by Christians in that time could be borderline idolatrous, with there being some recorded instances of icons standing as godparents for baptisms. Nevertheless, the iconoclasts went too far, especially Leo's son and successor, Constantine V (reigned 741-75), who unleashed a series of bloody persecutions of iconophiles and went further, outlawing any intercessory prayers involving the saints. Constantine was so hated by iconophiles that he was given a nickname after his death--"Copronymous", which is Greek for "Name of Dung."

Iconoclasm would sputter on in fits and starts after the death of Constantine V, with rulers taking it up or abandoning it periodically--even after the Second Council of Nicaea condemned it in 787. Nevertheless, no succeeding iconoclast emperor would approach the savagery of Copronymous. The last iconoclast ruler was Theophilus, who died in 842. Immediately after his death, iconoclasm was again outlawed, without a peep of protest from either clergy or laity. As heresies go, iconoclasm was entirely artificial and foreign to the Christian worldview, and the absence of a popular movement to continue it shows that.

Which offers a note of hope for those suffering from the stripping of the altars in our time.
Ben Stein is a class act.

Exhibit MMLXVIII.

This is just the way he is with members of the armed services and their families. I speak from semi-personal experience: he sent a very kind note to my sister-in-law after she wrote thanking him for his essay praising the courage of military wives who man the fort while their husbands are overseas.
Belated happy birthday wishes to Thomas Fitzpatrick!

42 is not--NOT--old, not so by the way.

Plenty of other good stuff over at Recta Ratio, too--starting with an Aramaic transliteration of the Lord's Prayer, links about the Carmelite Martyrs of Compiegne, and a reflection about his devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Even more belated--do not miss his joint blog concerning devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, called The Two Hearts Ablaze. He sent word of this weeks ago, but, well....life is full of detours.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Things To Do In SanFran When You're (Morally) Dead.

You can chant doggerel in support of Islamofascism.

Less than ten blocks away from Castro Street, natch.

Uncle Di's right--Satirists are going the way of phrenologists, alchemists and Whig Party ward bosses.
A non-consummation devoutly to be wished.


Many, many thanks go to reader and U.S. Navy Commander Glenn Cooper for this one.

And more thanks for your service, Commander.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Adventures In Home Ownership, Chapter MMMCXIX.

On Wednesday, I went to Home Depot and ordered up a new hot water heater.

On Thursday, the installer arrived, inspected our current set up, and visibly blanched. "Your current set up is dangerous, and I'd have to do another $1000 to get it up to code."

No problemo! Would you like that in nickels?

Another gift that keeps on giving from the miraculously-sentient pile of rectal scrapings that sold us our house, of course.

In fact, there's no good way to install another gas burning heater in our current location--we have to have an electric heater installed.

Which, of course, will require an electrician to drop by to string the 220 cable to our current breaker box.

After an extensive, but ultimately futile search in the yellow pages for a category called "Mob Hits", I made arrangements with an electrician.

Can do, for $350.

Fine--the kids are finicky eaters, anyway--cutting out that third daily meal will be a snap.

Gotta do what you gotta do.

I go to the Despot and order an electric heater--the installer who had been out earlier made a recommendation for a short one, as the service counter staffer informed me (Electrics tend to be shorter--gas ones are the tall boys). Hey, good news--it's on clearance, too!

Great!

Fast forward to 11am Friday. No call yet from the heater installation folks. After finally getting a valid number to contact them [are those fumes?], I am informed that there's a problem.

Installer: "Why'd you get the short one--it's too small for the space."

Me: [Feeling the slow, but distinctive stirrings of beserkergang]: "'I' didn't get the short one--that was the recommendation by your guy yesterday, after viewing the space in question."

Installer: "Well, that's not going to work. I'll look for another one. Anyway, since you still got hot water, it's not going to get done before Monday."

Erik Bloodaxe: "I got a leak that's getting worse by the hour--we're talking wringing out towels here. This is been going on for I don't know how long. I need it done today."

[Unmistakeable sound of double-bladed axe embedding in desk.]

Installer: "Um, okay--I'll get back to you soon as I can."

Idle time passes.

Heather calls: "The lady from Home Depot called [note the installer's deft buck passing]. They can't get a suitable tank for two weeks.

Me: "... . Okay. I'll call to cancel. I'll figure out something."

After calling the Despot, I call Dad and Mom, telling them that we aren't going to be able to make it up this weekend. I explain the hot water heater problem.

Dad: "I have a brand new 30 gallon down at the old cabin."

Me: "!"

I give him the dimensions, and he calls back.

It'll fit.

Mom and Dad: "We'll bring it down tonight."

Me: "[Awed and humbled.]"

Now we just need an installer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Phase I of Tarting Up Stately Price Manor is Now Complete.

We've been planning it for months, and now it begins. As always, our home improvements are occasioned by daring (read: cheap) ideas in renovation. Sometimes, I've been quite literally hosed by the daringness of the former owner's decisionmaking. I'll set aside the issue of mummified animal carcasses for another day.

Jackhole.

So, yesterday the painters were in and put a couple of coats of washable Sherwin Williams up around our combination kitchen/dining room/laundry room. Have I mentioned that Casa Del Price is shrinking faster than the trash compactor on the Death Star from Episode IV?

A little background here. A couple years back, Heather and I took a day and painted the hallway and kitchen. The hallway still needs some touchup, but we are otherwise satisfied with it.

But the kitchen...well, to be honest, we never quite completed it. The primer and the first coat, sure...But then the short demanding people began filing into the house, and good intentions turned into a dead end. No more. This year, it gets done--and done right.

Anyhoo--As always, SW offers a baffling selection of paint tones, some of which require visual spectra which reach into the far infrared in order to discern the alleged differences. No sir--SW will not be shackled by the conventions of primary colors. Not when it can offer you Tendentious Teal, Meditational Taupe, Soporific Beige or a bazillion other shades. Fortunately, Heather picked up some paint chips and we agreed on a suitably neutral tone. We had been gently advised that our previous color, False Dawn Over Los Alamos Yellow (which we liked) was a bit of a turnoff.

We told them what we were looking for, gave them the tone and they showed up, raring to go. Boom--done. If you need painters in the Metro Detroit area, I have your guys. All About Painting--seriously, I have the numbers.

But. And there's always a catch. The painters discovered that our hot water heater is leaking (yes, it's in the "great room," too). Got to get that addressed, pronto.

The floor installers are in in two weeks. Heaven only knows what they will find.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Ah, yes--Sports.

Or "Sport," for the Anglophilic among us.

(1) The Captain sails into retirement. The best hockey player I ever had the privilege to see play. Hands down.

After 22 seasons, his body simply could not take any more. Better to be able to walk and have an active life with his wife and three daughters than risk another season. We will miss him--a class guy and a Detroit legend.

(2) Ben, we hardly knew ye...
But to the Bulls? That's what really stings. Somehow, Ben developed the notion that he was not respected here, and in retrospect it really showed during the last season. Too bad--another class guy and good citizen. But he's not going to make the Bulls contenders for anything other than the division title--and then, not for long. Welcome aboard, Nazr Mohammed!

(3) The Tigers. Hey, they're the Pope's team. What more needs to be said?

(4) Oh, and yes, the World Cup. It's down to France vs. Italy. I guess I'm rooting for the Fifth Republic in this one. (1) Heather's a Francophile, and (2) I have it on unimpeachable authority that the Italians are to soccer what the clutch and grab is to hockey. Any thoughts, soccerphiles (or Francophobes)?

I'm just thankful it's a sporting competition between the two countries and not a military confrontation. The latter would be like watching two quadruple amputees trying to have a slap fight.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Fourth of July!

I love this country. America has been very good and generous to me and mine--"mine" being a term that stretches across the generations. Which is why I worry like hell about her, of course.

Just to remind you of how it got started--the Declaration of Independence.

Oh, and a brief amusing anecdote: I studied at the University of Aberdeen in 1989. One of my classes was about the history of the European Enlightenment, and the American Revolution came up, natch. Aberdeen had seminar classes (cattle call learning familiar to any American undergrad in a 100 level course), but also had "tutorials," which were breakout sessions of ten students or so in groups. I was "the American" in my group in this particular course. The Professor (an Englishman) asked me to set forth the gist of the American Declaration of Independence. Don't worry, dear reader--to use a term from earlier this evening, I held up the side. I explained that the document, in addition to the immortal preamble, "set forth the crimes of King George III." Apparently, the English professor found this to be a bit too Yankocentric an interpretation, and replied thusly:

"Ah, yes, the alleged crimes of George III."

A few of the native Scots rolled their eyes in sympathy for me. Bloody sassenach was the undertone.

Anyway, here is the magnificent founding document of my nation:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For protecting them by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.

We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.
We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.
We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare.

That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown,

and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved;

and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce,

and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
GIRM Warfare in Saginaw.

We went up to the summer palace at 26 Pines for the weekend. We were able to see my parents, sister-in-law and her kids (Hi Brennen and Molly!). Dad launched off his usual modest fireworks display (think "kilotons" and you are getting into the ballpark), grilled the better part of a rendered heifer and the childroon had a ball with my Mom (dubbed "Neema" by her adoring grandchildren). I had fun, too, but 180 miles one way on Michigan expressways during a holiday weekend has left me on the decerebrated side.

As is the case with all trips to the northern highlands, the Papist Prices are faced with a Sunday conundrum: where to worship? The nearest parish, St. Athanasius in Harrison, is a mere seven miles from 26 Pines. At $3 a gallon in the guzzling Family Assault Vehicle, there's something to be said for going the short route. Given the presence of the all-singing, all-dancing, incredible concelebrating nun, however, I usually bite the bullet and go to St. Stephen in Lake City (a 70 mile roundtripper).

But this time I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the impact of Bishop Carlson's thunder from on high, so we trooped into St. Ath's instead.

What struck me upon entering the parish was that there was a considerable buzz about Bishop Carlson's directives. I overheard a discussion where a worshipper was helpfully (and accurately) pointed to where a copy of the changes could be obtained. We found five contiguous seats (it was a packed house--the holiday birds were in full flight) and sat down. Sister acknowledged that she could no longer give the homily.

Wait for it....

Catholicism: We're The Casuistry People!

But she could, in "full compliance" with the GIRM and Bishop Carlson's instructions, give "a reflection" on the day's scripture readings before Mass started. She noted for the benefit of the overflow captive audience that Mass had not yet started because the sacramental technician had yet to process in. As if that somehow sanctioned the performance. Almost needless to say, there was no effort whatsoever to explain the reasoning behind the changes. Better to leave an impression of being put upon, I suppose.

I leaned over to Heather, whose expression would have been no different had she just spritzed herself with an atomizer of skunk oil, and said "Nobody does legalism quite like a Catholic, eh?"

Yes, it has come to this: The bold, innovative Spirit of Vatican II hiding behind the letter of the law. A crabbed, hypertechnical interpretation at that. After all, Sister hadn't changed the Mass time sign to "4:20pm Saturday" and "10:20am Sunday" to account for the "optional" nature of her "compliant" non-homily homily.

Not being particularly up for yet another game of "Let's Pretend" meets "Hide the Ball," I flipped through the hymnal.

Care to guess what I found, inserted into the front cover? Aw, come on. In your heart of hearts, you already know.

Why, yes, the full version of the SagBl. I took out my pen and annotated in detail, noting that the second verse had been discontinued by Bishop Carlson, and further wrote out the full url explaining the decision. D3 then said he had to pee. Which was a happy coincidence, seeing as I had to hurl.

Afterwards, and fully catching the spirit of the parish administrator's employment of loopholes, I decided that spending the family's cash on the ladies' guild bake sale in the lobby was the equivalent of dropping some green into the Sunday collection. Interestingly enough, I saw a couple exiting very quickly in the midst of the "reflection," looking not at all pleased. Alas, I returned and participated up through the ST's homily, which only pointed up what a phony-ass dodge the "reflection" was--Father's homily lasted twenty seconds and referenced the fact that Sister had already covered the scriptural ground. In his defense, we learned that he has been seriously ill, but it might have been twice as long had he been healthy.

Frankly, I don't know if the rest of the liturgy was kosher or not. The Boy had a discipline problem which I resolved by football-carrying him to the minivan. This proved to be providential because I noticed that the driver's side rear tire was almost flat and sprinted off to the nearest service station for air (I ended up getting a new tire on Monday). When I got back, Heather couldn't say whether Sister's concelebration activities continued or not (my child bride knelt during consecration, unlike everybody else).

The most grating thing about the whole performance is what a crappy witness it is to Catholicism. The best conclusion some observant visiting stranger could draw is that this particular parish is dodgy and doesn't bear faithful witness to what the Church's worship is all about. More likely, the impression will be that the Church is a needless complicator, the promulgator of meaningless abstract rules satisfied by minor shifts.

Thanks, St. Ath's! Way to hold up the side!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Addams Family Goes Out To Eat.

Scenes from our Friday night out:

Madeleine: "Where are we going to eat, Daddy?"
Me: "It rhymes with 'dead mobster.'"
D3: "All right! We can see the lobsters in the tank--before they get eaten!"
Maddie and Rachel: "Yay!"
Me: [To Heather] "Then I guess they'd just plotz about a visit to death row."

Later on at Rhymes-with-dead-mobster, I'm sitting next to Rachel. Heather hands her a cup of shredded cheese that came with the salad. Rachel pinches some of it out of the small cup, then decides that will be an inefficient delivery method.

She grabs the cup and pours it on to the table. Still too inefficient.

She transforms into a toddler Tony Montana, ramming her face into the pile of cheese. A minute later, she completes the effect, jabbing me in the left arm with her fork wearing an evil grin as if to tell me "Say hello to my leetle frien'!"

And they already outnumber us....