Thursday, January 10

James Lileks is just too funny. I almost woke up the house laughing at this paragraph:

Grr. It is recycling tomorrow, as the phrase goes - “recycling” becomes an event, a high holy day: it is Christmas tomorrow! It is Easter tomorrow! It is recycling tomorrow! - so I have to drag out the bags. Since we missed the last recycling day, and we had parties between here and there AND a holiday, this means I look as if I’ve spent the last two weeks doing nothing but reading papers and pounding the liquor. Which reminds me: of all the bottles I’ve encountered, Maker’s Mark makes the best weapon: the neck feels right in your in grasp, and the bottle is solid enough to knock out whatever teak-noggined miscreant has got it comin’ to him. There’s a video game I’d like to see: Bar Brawl 2020. The weapons are all liquor bottles. Your powerups would be little Copenhagen tins and Jagermeister airplane-portion single-servs; you’d fight your way to the back room, where you’d fight a guy who had a pool cue in one hand, a jagged bottle of Shiner in the other,; he could spit shot glasses from his mouth, too, and he’d be hard to beat because he’d be too stupid to kill. The soundtrack would be all ZZTop and similarly stripped-down Texabilly bands. I’d much rather play that game than fight dragons.

Please go read the whole thing.

Fr. Shawn M. O'Neal of Boone, North Carolina writes to add the following inside information on St. Lawrence's Basilica in Asheville: (Rafael is Rafael Guastavino, the architect)

Here's the nutshell version of how we got the present Basilica of St.
Lawrence on the old St. Lawrence site:

Rafael: "This church is too small."
Pastor: "Yeah. So what are you gonna do about it?"
Rafael: "I'll build a new one. It's on me."
Pastor: "Great! Anything to get out of a pledge drive!"

Guastavino Sr. died in 1908, a year before the church was
dedicated. He is buried inside the church on the Marian Chapel
side. His wife was supposed to be buried there, too, but the
Asheville city gov't was so appalled by the idea of someone being
buried inside a church that they passed a law in 1914 that still
prohibits burial inside church structures. When his wife died (in
1918, I believe), she was buried in Riverside Cemetary 1 mile to the
NW -- which happens to be where O. Henry is buried.

Thank you, Fr. Shawn!

I know you're thinking that because I've been particularly Blogolicious today, I've done nothing else. Not true at all! I wrote a chapter of my book, fixed Spaghetti Carbornara, took children to and from school, did laundry, played with the baby, and (here's the amazing part)... cleaned my study! You'd be amazed at the things I found.
Wiccan-Unitarian Holy Wars! Houston witch accuses Unitarian church of harassment :

Mary LeBlanc in her civil lawsuit filed this week at the Harris County civil courthouse, claimed the Unitarian group harassed her to teach them Wiccan rituals, although they said they did not want to become Wiccans, the formal name witches use.

She repeatedly declined to teach them and "they became increasingly insistent and increasingly hostile" until she was ousted from the group last year. She said the harassment continues.

LeBlanc said the harassment degenerated to the point where they were calling her "a humpbacked, toothless, redneck hillbilly witch." The lawsuit states the church members even sent people to her home to infiltrate her Wiccan meetings. ....

When asked for comment about the lawsuit, a church representative referred questions to a Fellowship member who confirmed that LeBlanc had previously attended the group and has since left.

"Some items sent by Ms. LeBlanc have been forwarded to the police department. Let me just leave it at that," she said.

Geez. Some people just don't know the meaning of "tolerance."

A question. Where's Camille Paglia? I know she's no longer writing for Salon, so I don't expect to see her there, but I have missed her perspective on the events of the last four months. If anyone has seen any commentary by her recently, please let me know where it's hiding!
Please, please let Steve Spurrier go to the Colts. Then maybe, for once, everyone can root for the same team, at least once in a while.
Maybe there's hope: Apparently, the case of the Bible-smuggler threatened with the death penalty isn't just resting quietly. Some (US) government folk are expressing displeasure. Let's see if action follows the words.
Here's something you must read: Papers reveal Nazi aim: End Christianity

The fragile, typewritten documents from the 1940s lay out the Nazi plan in grim detail:

Take over the churches from within, using party sympathizers. Discredit, jail or kill Christian leaders. And re-indoctrinate the congregants. Give them a new faith - in Germany's Third Reich.

More than a half-century ago, confidential U.S. government reports on the Nazi plans were prepared for the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg and will be available online for free starting tomorrow - some of them for the first time.

This sounds like an interesting book:

Bright Promise, Failed Community:

In Bright Promise, Failed Community, respected Catholic sociologist Joseph Varacalli describes how and why Catholic America has essentially failed to shape the American Republic in any significant way. American society has never experienced a "Catholic moment" --the closest it came was during the immediate post-World War II era--nor is it now close to approximating one. Varacalli identifies as the cause of the current situation the "failed community" of Catholic America: an ineffective and dissent-ridden set of organizational arrangements that has not succeeded in adequately communicating the social doctrine of the Church to Catholic Americans or to the key idea-generating sectors of American life.

The "bright promise" of Catholic America lies in the long and still developing tradition of social Catholicism. With a revitalized, orthodox, sophisticated community to serve as the carrier of Catholic social doctrine, Varacalli sees trends of thought that would propose viable alternatives to philosophies and ideologies that currently dominate the American public sphere-ones that would thus have a formidable impact on American society

Right up my alley.

As we approach the always-sad anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, it's worth reminding ourselves and telling others, as well, that neither plaintiff in the cases in question (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton) had abortions, both are pro-life, and both were manipulated by pro-abortion lawyers to be "test cases" to challenge the constitutionality of state abortion laws. Here's a brief account of both women.
Popular historian Stephen Ambrose is coming under fire for apparent plagiarism. The problem is passages in several books that are virtually identical to ...passages in other people's books, without notes or attributions.

My quick, uninformed reaction is this: I seriously doubt Stephen Ambrose writes much of the books published under his name any more. I wouldn't say that he employs out-and-out ghost writers, but I'm sure most of the actual work is done by research assistants. With his supervision, and probably his writing here and there along the way, but it wouldn't be surprising if a researcher got lazy in spots, and the laziness went undetected.

Many years ago, when I was a graduate student at Vanderbilt Divinity School, someone told me of their meeting with (then) famed theologican Edward Schillebeeckx. They commented first on his handshake, which they said was creepily clammy and weak. Then they went on a riff about Schillebeeckx's works - particularly his (at the time) very popular (if dense and ultimately impenetrable) works Jesus and Christ. He didn't write any of it - it was all graduate assistants under his supervision.

Who knows if that was true. What I do know, after a few years of involvement in the book business, even just as an author, is how many books out there published under famous names are ghost-written. I'm not talking about celebrity autobiographies - I'm talking about works of popular scholarship "written by" well-known figures in their field. You'd be surprised, believe me.

Using 9/11 to rewrite history and manipulate the future: Beth Henary writes in the Weekly Standard:

Firefighters Dan McWilliams, Billy Eisengrein, and George Johnson were captured in a now-famous photo, raising a flag, Iwo Jima-style, over the ground-zero wreckage. Copies of the photo--both legal and illegal--have spread throughout the world... So it would have seemed reasonable for the statue commemorating the moment, a model of which was unveiled on December 21, to have replicated the photo exactly.

Not so. At the request of the New York Fire Department, the sculptors who worked on the statue replaced McWilliams, Eisengrein, and Johnson--all white--with firefighters of three different races, because people of all races contributed to the rescue effort.

Wendy McElroy writes of liberal feminist groups using WTC relief funds to promote their own political agendas.

Here's an interesting article about Rafael Guastavino, one of the architects of the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, North Carolina. Guastavino apparently came to the US to work on the Biltmore Estate, fell in love with the area, and stayed. I've never been to Asheville, and I had no idea they had this gorgeous church to their credit. It's an interesting story, with the unexplained throwaway line near the end about a Mass composed by the architect. I wonder what that's like?
Unbelievable. Just when I thought Joseph might be getting the hang of the sleep thing, we had a terrible night. It's hard to explain. He's not fully awake and ready to play. He's just restless, half-awake, nursing and refusing to stay in his crib for two hours. From midnight to 2 am. Actually, I think it was more like 2:30. Pretty bad. I'm pretty tired.


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