Thursday, April 17

This will be it from me until next Monday or Tuesday, and even then I hope to return the blog to its nap, but for Mondays. But until then, I leave you with my prayer that you will all have a blessed and holy celebration of the Triduum, and with this poem by Edwin Muir:

The Killing

That was the day they killed the Son of God
On a squat hill-top by Jerusalem.
Zion was bare, her children from their maze
Sucked by the dream of curiosity
Clean through the gates. The very halt and blind
Had somehow got themselves up to the hill.
After the ceremonial preparation,
The scourging, nailing, nailing against the wood,
Erection of the main-trees with their burden,
While from the hill rose an orchestral wailing,
They were there at last, high up in the soft spring day.
We watched the writhings, heard the moanings, saw
The three heads turning on their separate axles
Like broken wheels left spinning. Round his head
Was loosely bound a crown of plaited thorn
That hurt at random, stinging temple and brow
As the pain swung into its envious circle.
In front the wreath was gathered in a knot
That as he gazed looked like the last stump left
Of a death-wounded deer's great antlers. Some
Who came to stare grew silent as they looked,
Indignant or sorry. But the hardened old
And the hard-hearted young, although at odds
From the first morning, cursed him with one curse,
Having prayed for a Rabbi or an armed Messiah
And found the Son of God. What use to them
Was a God or a Son of God? Of what avail
For purposes such as theirs? Beside the cross-foot,
Alone, four women stood and did not move
All day. The sun revolved, the shadows wheeled,
The evening fell. His head lay on his breast,
But in his breast they watched his heart move on
By itself alone, accomplishing its journey.
Their taunts grew louder, sharpened by the knowledge
That he was walking in the park of death,
Far from their rage. Yet all grew stale at last,
Spite, curiosity, envy, hate itself.
They waited only for death and death was slow
And came so quietly they scarce could mark it.
They were angry then with death and death's deceit.

I was a stranger, could not read these people
Or this outlandish deity. Did a God
Indeed in dying cross my life that day
By chance, he on his road and I on mine?

Well, now, you must read this from J. Bottum at the Weekly Standard

Tom Daschle may no longer call himself a Catholic. The Senate minority leader and the highest ranking Democrat in Washington has been sent a letter by his home diocese of Sioux Falls, sources in South Dakota have told The Weekly Standard, directing him to remove from his congressional biography and campaign documents all references to his standing as a member of the Catholic Church.

Seders in Iraq

This year, for the observant among the estimated 1,500 to 2,000 Jewish military personnel serving in the Gulf, the holiday takes on extra significance.Many Army troops are expected to congregate in tents in Iraq and Kuwait for the ritual meal, provided primarily by the Jewish Welfare Board in New York City. The Air Force will have one seder at a base in Kuwait.There are so many Jewish Marines, there will be two dinners in the heart of Baghdad.

.... the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council, has provided kosher food for Passover to troops since World War II. Each Passover kit contains enough food for one meal -- a can of tuna fish, gefilte fish, grape juice, the unleavened bread called matzoh and chicken soup with matzoh balls -- plus a Haggadah, the story of Passover.

North Korea's human catastrophe

This raises the third dimension of the human catastrophe, which is the North Korean gulag. It is estimated that the system of political prisons and labor camps in North Korea holds more than 200,000 people, and that, given the harsh conditions in these camps, some 400,000 prisoners have perished in the past three decades. In keeping with North Korean founder Kim Il Sung's dictate that class enemies "must be eliminated through three generations," parents, children, grandchildren and other relatives of prisoners are also sent to the gulag; and forced abortion and infanticide are standard practice, as prisoners are considered subhuman and are not permitted to have children. North Korea, of course, denies the existence of such camps, but in December the Far Eastern Economic Review published satellite photos of a camp in Hoeryong County that holds 50,000 prisoners, along with interviews of escaped prison guards who described what happened in the different buildings, including those where prisoners were tortured and executed.The famine, refugees and gulag are not isolated problems but rather illustrative aspects of the most oppressive system in the world today. North Korea is a remnant of Stalinist totalitarianism at its worst, and its extortionate behavior has no purpose other than to perpetuate its existence.

And Josh Marshall remarks, in relation to recent developments:

Bush administration Korea policy got an apparent boost a couple days ago when the North Koreans suddenly (a couple days after the fall of Baghdad) announced they were willing to engage in multilateral talks over their nuclear weapons program so long as the US was "ready to make a bold switch-over in its Korea policy for a settlement of the nuclear issue." On Sunday, the president crowed -- not without some justification -- that his tough policy against Iraq had made the North Koreans cave.

But now there seems to be a catch. The North Koreans say they're okay with multilateral talks. But, according to an article in today's Korea Herald, North Korea -- and China -- say they don't want the Russians or the Japanese at table. We probably don't mind not having the Russians there. But according to Chris Nelson, at The Nelson Report, the US would find excluding Japan from multilateral talks "unacceptable under any circumstances."

Well, the Dog Bites Man headline award today goes to the AP for its headline on the report about the Eucharist Encyclical, released today:

Pope says only priests can celebrate Mass

Here's a link to the encyclical itself

And if that's too much, here are excerpts.


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