Sunday, July 31

Why didn't the US do this, a whole lot sooner?
Scientists discover tenth planet. I hope they give it a good classical name, not something boring and scientific. Maybe a girl's name; there's only just Venus. Persephone, since we already have Pluto? Or for all those Zechariah Sitchin enthusiasts receiving Radio Mars on their bridgework, we could name it Nibiru. Nobody got that joke, did they? Never mind, it wasn't important.

Saturday, July 30

Pursuant to a previous post, here's some info on William Shatner's infamous all-Esperanto horror film, Incubus. (Now won't that just bring in some weird Sitemeter referrals..)

On the Urban Edge

In response to Andy's post: This started as a comment in the box but got too long.

Urbanism, and The New Urbanism popular in the architecture school here, is complex and messy, and the theories which explain it are often too simplistic. Urbanism is the study of city growth and city development, and New Urbanism is a philosophical and practical attempt to work out a way to bring back suburbanized America to a more classical European model. I was a fervent New Urbanist when I began school here, but of late I've developed a more nuanced, and to some degree, skeptical view of the theories in vogue in the Traditional Architecture community. At the same time, I am very sympathetic and supportive of most New Urbanist efforts. You've touched on a very good question here, Andy, as it's something which often comes up round the School.

I think the major difference is that Americans attach a lot of value to owning land, however small a plot. Hence suburbia, the estranged stepdaughter of Little House on the Prairie and Sir Ebeneezer Howard's peculiar nineteenth-century book Garden Cities of To-Morrow. Europeans are content to live in row-houses or apartments over shops in the urban hive. One way of explaining this is the Transect, which suggests a continuum of building types from the extremely rural to the extremely urban, a sort of progression from country houses to city apartment blocks. This is useful in some regards, though it shouldn't be taken as holding true in all cases. In the case of small Italian cities, and most traditional cities, you see a desire to hold the 'urban edge' against the farming hinterland that lasted up till around 150 years ago with the sprawl of the Industrial Revolution.

It is, on the whole, a rather attractive impulse, and results in these delightful little toy cities set amid green meadows and hills like jewels on velvet. This seems the result, less of aesthetics than a more practical problem, as city walls had persisted to demarcate the edge until that time. Even then urban defense works did not always mark the city-country edge: many cities, such as Salonica under the Ottomans, had large cultivated fields inside their walls, to feed the urban population in case of a siege. Plague, famine and a fairly low population rate did the rest. There was sometimes a self-conscious desire to keep cities small--in some Greek city-states, once the population reached a set number, people were encouraged to go out and found a new colonial city--hence the Greek towns of southern Italy, Paestum, Naples and so many others that stood in Magna Graecia, as it was once known.

Urban sprawl is, however, a pretty old phenomenon. It's just it has been handled in the past in a way which looks tasteful to our untrained early-twenty-first century eyes. The new neighborhoods of belle-epoque Rome, such as the enormous barracks-like flats that blot out the sun in the Lateran, were hideous to the aesthetes of the time, while great cities such as London are the result of a collection of villages that urban-sprawled into one gigantic super-city. Many of London's neighborhoods are just old outlying villages that got eaten up by the growing metropolis. Time has covered the gaucheness or ugly sadness of some parts of the past with a patina of romantic decay. See A.W.N. Pugin's Contrasts, for a good example of an earlier, and explicitly Catholic, critique.

Of course, sometimes in the past urban sprawl was handled well. The main tenent of the New Urbanism, the movement spearheaded by the existentialist Leon Krier and currently much in vogue in certain circles, is that rather than sprawl we ought to have duplication--rather than letting urban quarters get too big, build a new urban quarter, walkable and human, on the edge, with new restaurants and new shops and grocery stores. Ideally, such a neighborhood ought to be able to be crossed in about five or ten minutes on foot, a figure which works out to the size of Rome's own neighborhoods. This isn't the first time such a solution has been proposed. The nineteenth century developed the railroad suburb, a walkable, village-like urban quarter with a small town center and railroad station to connect it to the urban center, with picturesque and very humane results. (This is a nicer variation on its modern cousin, the 'edge city,' in which suburban developments spur the construction of strip-malls and Borders clones.) Either model is doable, and certainly there's been a lot of interest in the New Urbanism since the founding of communities like Seaside, Rosemary Beach and Windsor, all in Florida, and around ten others, scattered round the country. Their urbanism is based on European and traditional American models, encouraging walking rather than driving, harmonious architecture, mixed-use zoning permitting apartments over shops--thus avoiding the dead zone which commercial quarters become at night--and greater density than most suburban neighborhoods.

I like the idea of the New Urbanism, I really do, but part of me wonders if it's too good to be true, a William Morris dream with a touch of self-destructive loveliness to it. Jolly Leon Krier's faintly morbid existentialist streak also puts me on guard as a Catholic; for him a church seems like just another piece of meaning-making urban furniture, less a place of prayer and liturgy than a vague symbol of transcendence on par or even less important than, say, the town hall, gymnasium or one of those (quite wonderful, yes) landmark towers he is so fascinated by. Most of the developments built according to its tenets have been too successful for their own good; only rich people live in Seaside, Florida, now; rather than bicycling to work they commute in for the weekend in their beach-house. And I don't begrudge them that, it's their money and their right to do with it as they wish. Without them, there would be no New Urbanism here, even in fragmentary form. But Seaside and such other communities can't be considered proper working models of the philosophy.

There's also the small fact people seem to like suburbia. I don't want to fall into the fallacy of simply dismissing it as the tastes of the booboisie but legislating life through urbanism and architecture--the massive worker hives of the Soviet Union, for instance--has a slightly collectivist edge which sits poorly on my stomach. I'm indifferent to suburbia myself, neither loving nor hating it, as I realize my own suburban experience is vastly different from the way other people grew up. I grew up in a quiet, forested neighborhood where they didn't cut down the trees and name streets after them, but kept them and let them grow, and in the early days sometimes we even saw deer bound through our yard. I wouldn't say it was an ideal, workable system as humane as Seaside is or ought to be, but it wasn't the soulless dystopia people like to make it out to be. We made it work.

I still want the New Urbanism to work, but there's several things that will have to happen if it's going to make it in the U.S., for real.

1. People have to live and work in the same place. It can't be a vacation getaway. Otherwise, the stakes aren't high enough, and the New Urbanism is simply not doing what it proposes to do--creating a walkable, humane environment where people stay close to home rather than commuting for hours at a time.

2. A variety of income brackets should be present. In the urban neighborhoods which still work, or which have revived of late, the working poor, the middling and the rich all live in close proximity, within a few streets of one another sometimes. The rich have a interest in keeping their neighborhood safe, thus protecting their own interests, and those of the poor and middle class at the same time. This also introduces a measure of democratic reality into the situation. This will prevent such communities from being too successful for their own good, as well, and lapsing into sprawl, like what is currently happening with Disney's peculiar experiment in New Urbanist design, Celebration.

3. We can't expect to drop European towns fully-fledged in the middle of America. Seaside and other New Urbanist centers have with some success revived both European and traditional American paradigms of planning. This needs to be encouraged as expecting all Americans to go for apartments over shops is simply unrealistic, and given our long romance with the land, a little unhealthy for our national character. While greater population density has some advantages and may in fact (within reason) be a very good thing, one should not expect Americans to pack into Italian-sized bathrooms overnight, or ever.

4. We need to find ways to make peace with suburbia and the automobile. Neither are going to go away; rather, we need to find ways to apply the principles of traditional urbanism to the automobile suburb (by, say, encouraging the development of traditional-styke urban centers within walking distance of suburbs) rather than hope, disdainfully, it will quietly slink away in the night, or that petroleum reserves will dry up and everyone start bicycling to work. Both propositions are unrealistic and also unnecessary, and earn us no credit with the average Joe. We mustn't be snide, snobbish or alarmist. It's best to accentuate the positive side of New Urbanism rather than the dark side of suburbia. The key lies in expecting more out of mass culture rather than defaming it. I admit that Starbucks has nothing on Italian coffee, and Borders is no Loome's Theological, but they're a lot better than the usual horrible coffee places and understocked bookstores that were the norm before the nineties. The multiplication of chain places is a cause for worry about the extents of the national imagination but to solve the problem, we ought to seize it as an opportunity to take the good fruits that have come from it (higher standards of quality, however homogenious, and a greater accessibility for a wider range of products, for instance) and combine it with the lessons of European urbanism. There's no reason to hate the automobile; Americans just need to get out and walk a little more sometimes. This is not to say that this idea can't backfire: shopping malls were an effort to export European cafe culture to America.

5. Last but not least, we must remember that the New Urbanism is not the be-all and end-all; it's one means towards a civil society, rather than the reason for its existence. I say this, in part, because some New Urbanists are existentialist or indifferent to religion: we need to evaluate the whole of the movement from a Catholic and historical perspective before signing up to all of its tenets. We can't be too dogmatic about it, in the face of practical realities. Architecture cannot give meaning to life without directing it towards God and the heavenly city. And some have begun to do this--my friend David Mayernik's book Timeless Cities, for instance, is fine evaluation of Italian city life, and the humanizing Catholic impulses that lie at its heart.

This distinction between city and country has lasted 2,000 years in Tuscany, despite population growth. Would it last 50 years here?
Property Rights

I have to confess, the only time I've been burned in a comment box in the last... 2 years... was yesterday, mostly over property rights.

Thankfully, because that is not a defined element of faith, no one's "orthodoxy" is at stake, so this is really a pretty laid-back disagreement in that sense. Nonetheless, I'm interested by the question.

Can we really do whatever we want with our property?

Well, obviously in real life the question is no: I can't build a Blockbuster in the Little Woods neighborhood, etc. The goverment has amazing power to tell us what we can or cannot do with it, right down to the basic purpose which I land will have: residential, commercial, industrial, or mixed-use. That's pretty much the most fundamental intrusion into land-use possible.

The government telling us what to do with our land through zoning laws seems pretty much OK to me, since it's the government (and hey, we're the government anyway) deciding what use will (in theory) best suite the general common wealth. And in Thomistic thought, the common wealth is the guiding light.

When we look at Europe, it's managed to retain rolling countryside to an amazing degree--and their population density is MUCH greater than ours. The importance of retaining countryside and farmland -- for the recreational and agricultural needs of the people -- is something, I think, the government ought have some hand in, since the loss of such land is a public detriment. Either way, Europe has been able to pull it off while supporting a much larger population. Maybe Matt, who actually has studied this stuff, would lke to offer us a summary of urban theory :)

Of course, even if this issue of land-use is not ideal--that is, if we are not using the land as we ought to--the culpability doesn't necesarily rest with anyone: it's just how things "developed" as the nation tried to first deal with automobiles and then, subsequently, build its cities centered around automobilies. But certainly no one in particular is a "Bad" person for any of it, and that should be obvious.
On a mission from God.

Friday, July 29

Prayer Composed Whilst Eating a Piece of Cheese

I'm being dead serious here.

Almighty God, let my tasting of this, Thy creature cheese, be a participation, however distant and frail, in the goodness of Thy ineffable nature in which all good things come from and in which all good things partake. Let my enjoyment of the goodness of Thy creation be always the enjoyment of the fruits of Thy divine labor, and a participation, however shadowy and distant, in Thyself mirrored in the beauties of Thy handiwork, the world's frame. Deliver me from gluttony, from false love and false beauty, and let always my senses be portals for Thy holy works and inspiration. Through Christ, from whom all good things come. Amen.


I actually like this song a lot. Being from a rural area (N.B.: Suburban is not rural, it's soulless; farmfields and forests are rural), it accurately describes the pang that hits me every time some new God-awful big-box retailer or strip mall replaces a ruined barn or creek-laden meadow along the interstate. (This is, by the way, simply one more reason to boycott that commercial anti-Christ that is Walmart.)

Indeed, the only thing I hate more suburban sprawl is... suburban sparwl churches.

They Paved St. James

They paved St. James and put up a parkin' lot
For new worship space, with AC and a fellowship spot.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved St. James and put up a parking lot

They took all the saints, they're in the sacristy museum
And they charged the people a dollar and a half to see them.
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved St. James, and put up a parking lot

Hey Father, Father, fire that consultant of Liturgy
I don't care about face-to-face, yeah,
LEAVE me that old reredos please
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved St. James and put up a parking lot
Hey now, they paved St. James, to put up a parking lot
Why not?

Listen, Monday noon, heard a great loud slam
And a big ol' bulldozer took our steeple away
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved St. James, and put up a parking lot
Well, don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you got till it's gone
They paved St. James to put up a parking lot
Well now, they paved St. James
And put up a parking lot

I don't wanna give it
Why you wanna give it
Why you wanna givin it all away
Hey, hey, hey
Now you wanna give it
I should wanna give it
Now you wanna givin it all away

Hey, paved St. James, put up a parking lot
Paved St. James, and put up a parking lot

Thursday, July 28

As Bettinelli Noted...

Bettnet has some interesting anti-Catholic propaganda from 1895. Some highlights:

Which home really looks happy, and which home looks like it might spawn dour secularists disillusioned with self-righteous religion?

Look through them all, it's interesting. But they are clearly fakes, done by someone who had never, obviously attended a Mass:

And check out this logic!

Humor Test

From Fr. Tucker (link on the sidebar). I think it was pretty accurate, especially considering how short it was.

the Prankster
(43% dark, 21% spontaneous, 22% vulgar)
your humor style:

Your humor has an intellectual, even conceptual slant to it. You're not
pretentious, but neither are you into what some would call 'low humor'.
You'd laugh at a good dirty joke, but you definitely prefer something
clever to something moist.

probably like well-thought-out pranks and/or spoofs and it's highly
likely you've tried one of these things yourself. In a lot of ways,
yours is the most entertaining type of humor.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Conan O'Brian - Ashton Kutcher

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 20% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 1% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 20% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

New Mel Gibson film to be in Mayan. Really. Of course the Mayans are relevant today--they were very advanced for their time. In addition to breaking all their crockery whenever the new year rolled round, they also invented space suits, space ships, the lost continent of Mu and Atlantis. If the tinfoil hat lobby is to be believed, anyway.

Tuesday, July 26


To Boldly Worship as No-one Has Worshipped Before

Inspired by Speculative Catholic, this once-Trek fan presents his own 10 Signs Your Church Was Built By Starfleet:

1. The Roman Missal is replaced with a Photon Torpedo

2. Skeptical priest: I suppose they don't have money in the future, either.
Captain Kirk, passing the basket empty: They don't...

3. You discover ICEL was actually behind the change from boldly going "where no man has gone before" to "where no one has gone before."

4. While off-duty, Father starts walking around with the top 6 inches of his cassock unbuttoned.

5. "Captian, Fides et Ratio dictates..."

6. The "Return of Msgr. Spock" sparks... "The Wrath of Sr. Jean Kahn."

7. The Curia moves to San Francisco and begins ending all correspondance with a very abrupt, "the Vatican out."

8. The Host, successfully encased in transparent aluminium for Exposition, is greeted "Captain... There be Jesus here!"

9. Whenever the priest, deacon, subdeacon, and a red-cassocked server go ad altare Dei, you just know the red-cassocked server isn't going to make it back to the sacristy.

And, finally, #10, which I kept from the original list because it's so good:
The Ten Commandments now include the Prime Directive

Any others?

Monday, July 25


Dawn Eden relates this story about a Planned Parenthood chaplain.

Planned Parenthood chaplain, Lisa Sargent hands out stones like these for those whom she feels needs them.

“I believe in God. I don’t know who he is,” the man answers. With few words, he tells Sargent about his life — a life filled with drugs, a recent overdose.

Sargent nods her heard. “I hear ya,” she says... pulling a shiny blue rock out of her pocket and giving it to the man.

Her position is rare — one of five within the national Planned Parenthood organization — and seemingly oxymoronic, violating the stereotypical separation of church and choice. In the great political abortion debate, religion falls on the right and abortion on the left. Yet reality is not so simple.

Who needs a Chaplain that can bring the Bread of Life when you can have nice, shiny rocks?

Matt 7:10
"Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?"
Catholic Phrases

I assume that there are a lot of phrases out there in popular parlence that come from Catholicism. Most obviously, there's the butchered Latin phrases that journalists like to throw around in italics, like "mee-ah col-pah," or "cree-dough." In French, there's "sacre bleu," or "sacred blue," a reference to Mary's blue cloak. The phrase "a red letter day" comes from printing important feasts in red ink in Anglican missals...

I know there are more out there from Catholicism, but I can't think of them. So, what are they?

Sunday, July 24

Not So Fast

Everything but the Internet, perhaps. Someone else has already claimed that.

Friday, July 22

Santorum Strikes Back
"'I don't think Ted Kennedy lecturing me on the teachings of the church and how the church should handle these problems is something I'm going to take particularly seriously,' Santorum said."
Where I come from, that's what they call a slam.
A couple of pictures that are worth a thousand words, from But I Digress:

Thesis Journal: Entry 1

Traditionally, the final semester of the Notre Dame School of Architecture curriculum is devoted to a project which serves as a grand summa of the whole five years of study. This is called a thesis, and consists of a hypothetical design on a real site with a real client, in most cases. Budget concerns, however (and I will add mercifully) are a little less real, though they don't have to be as scrupulously constricting as in real life. Projects large enough to take up a semester but small enough to consider in detail are preferred, and the years have seen presentation drawings of virtually everything tacked up on the walls: Spanish Mission wineries, cetaceanoid glass-and-iron aquariums, Sicilian baroque churches, neo-Grec sacred art academies, a self-sustaining environmentally friendly parish, Art Nouveau apartment blocks, Prairie School theaters.

I'd always thought I would do a church, or something sacred anyway. I considered a new church for my home parish, or an Anglican Use church for the new congregation in Scranton, or even, for a few brief moments, a new Cathedral for Chicago, to replace the undersized and unfortunate Holy Name. A few of my classmates also plan to do parishes or even a Cathedral, so I decided I wanted to try something slightly different--a seminary, and after initially considering approaching the tiny but growing Society of St. John Cantius, my gaze fell upon everyone's favorite indult order, the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest. They've picked up three or four parishes in the last couple of years and gained the favor of Archbishop Burke of St. Louis, probably the most artistically intelligent hierarch in the nation. They themselves have a sense of good taste sadly rare in the priesthood today, and the vision and drive to raise the necessary budget to pay for it. One encouraging sign is their recent headquarters move from tiny Wausau, Wisconsin, to Chicago and St. Gelasius. I wouldn't be surprised that with a little careful cultivation they end up as large as the FSSP; and like the FSSP they will need an American seminary of their own.

Initially, I considered a romantic site on a hilltop in Wisconsin, some fantastic Gothic spike like Holy Hill, or maybe overlooking the St.-Croix in Minnesota, but the Institute is becoming less strictly Midwestern at present with its parishes in St. Louis and, much to my pleasant surprise, California. While a bucolic setting would be the most ideal, like their present seminary at Gricigliano in Tuscany, it needs to be closer to their new headquarters. Whether that means in the rustic hinterland of Chicago or in the suburban thick of things, I can't say as yet. I'm hoping for the latter, considering it gives me a bit freer rein with regards to siting. Chicago, furthermore, offers a remarkable wellspring of Catholic art and culture from the Old Country (whether it be Poland, Ruthenia, the Ukraine or Bohemia) which meshes perfectly with the Teutonic courtliness and elegance which so characterizes the order's way of doing business.

In some sense, rural Illinois or Chicago proper make perfect sense for such a foundation. The Midwest is an odd and surprisingly European place at times. It occurred to me earlier in the summer as I checked out groceries at the local plastic palace, Meijer and watched a couple of young snub-nosed Mennonite girls in garish pink flip-flops and white starched hats, that I was living in America's Transylvania, a vast and ignored hinterland of polyglot ethnicities and strange last names.

The Midwest is often strangely similar to the Balkan or Mitteleuropaische reality from which the blood of its inhabitants ultimately flows: Ingqvists, Krebsbachs, Klejeskis, Salzmanns, Salzers, Gorskis, Jaskiernys, Horvaths. There's a decaying parish in Kentucky still called Mutters-Gotts-Kirche as if 1918 had never happened. There are confessionals for Polish-only speakers at St. Josaphat's in Milwaukee, and as far south as Cincinnati, I was once rung up at a cash register by a girl with the purest of Polish features, who could have been a personification of Krakow herself beneath her logoed baseball-cap, and whose nameplate read Justyna with that curious Slavonic 'y' that graced the name of St. Faustyna of the Divine Mercy. And all these nations jostle together indiscriminately with the same confusing segregation and lack thereof as in the old world. Superimpose a map of Serbia on Minnesota, global replace Croats, Serbs and Albanians with Germans, Poles and Swedes, and it'd be hard to tell the two apart, at least on a mile-by-mile scale. Even the Amish and Mennonites fit into the puzzle, as exotic as the Hasidim of Prague or as strangely out-of-place as the bristle of Calvinist fortress-churches that lie in modern-day Romania.

Chicago is the Vienna of this world, a capital lost in the center of a hot, sprawling continent; Cincinnati undoubtedly its Munich. The analogy doesn't always work out since that would make Minneapolis Sofia or Bucharest, Thunder Bay Costanza, and place Constantinopole somewhere on the north shore of Lake Superior with Quebec as the earthly Jerusalem. But the analogy still stands.

I'm not sure this has anything to do with my project and I definitely won't go off on tangents like this in front of my professors or the priests, but it means that the seminary with its grand steeples or dome will stand in the same parallel universe as the Midwest's vast and inscrutable emigrant churches, and perhaps partake of the same creative impulses and pious customs.

Anyway, I wrote to Monsignor Schmitz, the Provincial for North America resident in Chicago, and he expressed great interest in my hypothetical seminary project. Fortuitously, the art director for the Institute, who surely must be a man of great talent given the work at St. Mary's, Wausau, will be visiting from Europe in the next few days, and the Monsignor was eager that I should meet both he and himself. I'm taking the train in to Vienna--Chicago, I mean--tomorrow, and presenting myself to the two of them to discuss what the Institute would hypothetically want in a seminary, if they'd ever thought about it, and if they'd ever picked out a location. I'm not sure what to expect, but it should be exciting. Ora pro me.

How good it is, Lord,
To stumble upon the world after a great grief:
To be new-birthed on the shore of
Unknown continents,
And feel the mingled homeliness and honey
Of the tears of reunion and
Those of humbler things.
Every blade is more green,
Every sky bluer
As if seen by the eye of a tiny babe
Not knowing the way of such wonders,
But letting the mystery be.
Ave Maria - Matt's Reaction

First thoughts:

Oh, dear.

Second Thoughts:

What the heck were they thinking?

Third Thoughts:

Mm, interesting. Not good, not bad, just...interesting.

Fourth Thoughts:

1. It's not really a 'historicist' design. In itself this to me is not a problem--I may be a classicist in philosophy, but I look forward to the distant day when someone actually comes up with a proper 'new' style which can be considered on the same level with the old greats. Think of what Art Nouveau was to, say, 19th century academism. (I believe we should have the freedom to design in old styles, and in new styles alike--presuming the new styles are as good as the old. I'm not sure we've achieved that, or nobody since Gaudi, anyway. This isn't to say the key is mindless imitation but a sense of living tradition which understands the whole of a design requires: it is not just copying a standard Corinthian column out of a handbook--that's one possible start, but not the finish). So, therefore I don't think it right to judge it by my own classical standards. The question is, while standing outside those canons, does it still succeed at possessing an internal consistency, at being beautiful? I'm not sure this succeeds at being anything--either ugly or beautiful. It's almost too much work to get up the energy to hate the thing, it's so preposterously bland.

2. It has no theme, to quote Winston Churchill on a bad pudding. The problem is this lack of history has to do with a lack of studied attention to detail, than a desire to do something innovative. In short, as Em has put it, it's a cartoon. Rather than Our Lady of the Windex, it is now St. Gumby's. What it really reminds me of is the earliest, ultra-naive tip of the Gothic Revival, back when it was spelled 'Gothick' and people assumed if you slapped a pointed arch on it, you had the whole mystery of Udolpho solved. There's a 'Gothick' warehouse that was done in glass and iron from the late 1700s which bore an uncanny resemblance to the old Windex chapel, in fact. However, unlike the charming and almost excusable historical clunkiness of those far-off days, this is slicked-down and space-agey. Even if you're going to produce a Gothic for the twenty-first century--which doesn't entail knocking off all the crockets and gargoyles, as the great Gaudi well knew--this isn't the way to do it. This is not moving forward, this is not stretching the boundaries of traditional architecture like Borromini and Suger did, this is bastardization. And the folks who did it don't know any better.

3. Tom Monaghan's own personal fixation with Thorncrown Chapel is getting the better of him. While he's probably a good-hearted and great-hearted man, he made the typical millionaire (or ex-millionaire, anyway) mistake of not bothering to cultivate his taste. Sometimes you have to let go of a stylistic quirk or a favorite detail because it simply won't fit. ("Michelangelo, you know, scrap the whole dome thing, there's this lovely little glass-and-steel oratory I saw in the woods, tiny little thing, just blow that up twenty times as big and call it a day." Alberti would call this a question of decorum, unless he wouldn't have.) In the past, popes and princes usually had the good sense to learn about these things and, if not blindly following the dictates of taste (itself an insidious breeder of ghastly timidity), decided to develop informed opinions on the subject. I can forgive Mr. Monaghan's shortcoming here, as he has also avoided the similar mistake of kowtowing to whatever the cultured men in the black turtlenecks tell him to believe, but Fr. Fessio, a fine Jesuit scholar and a man of great repute really ought to know better.

4. It looks ridiculous in the context, given that Ave Maria town is supposed to be more strictly classical (note the pavilion on the left of the drawing below). It also looks ridiculous in the moral context of the University. We have endured sub-par Catholic art for nearly a century and a half in almost all fields, with the few shining exceptions like the brief flowering of church architecture at the turn of the last century. Allow me a digression: I'm not one to get my pants in a twist over the supposed naivete of much 19th-century American church art. In fact I find the rather dismissive attitude some take towards them a bit excessive considering the time and place they came from; it's like expecting folk tunes to sound like Mozart, and if all music was Mozart, the world would be a supremely dull place. I find much of the plaster-saint quirkiness of those baroquely emigrant churches that dot the Midwest quite inspiring and wonderfully exotic, but you can't compare them with Guarini or Borromini or the popular genius of the Gothic cathedral. The problem is, today many people do just that. They think something 'traditional' means vaguely church-oid, church-shaped, with a few statues stuffed here and there and a rose window. It is not enough to reduce a church to a tradition-minded check list--eastward orientation, stained glass, whatever--it has to breathe. A University church, to inspire minds towards the sublime sophistication of Catholic doctrine, must be in itself sophisticated and well-designed. We need something that's the equivalent of the Summa, Dante or Gerard Manley Hopkins. This, however, is not a Newman sermon in stone, but reads more like a bad piece of sanctimonious (albeit well-intentioned) contemporary Catholic fiction. I won't name any names. You know who I mean.

5. They've had forever to work on it. This thing has a history. I might have actually sort of not disliked it if I hadn't known that they had produced virtually the same thing in glass not six months earlier. It just seems careless that they haven't developed the design since then except for dropping some bricks in.

6. It's too blank. I have a reputation for loving ornament but some men can do blank well, truly well. Lutyens, for example, and whoever did the back of that church at Rancho de Taos that O'Keefe painted. But this is not the way. This cries out for more development. How many millions are they pouring into this thing? At those prices, the dingbats--and intelligent design--that good classical or Gothic requires aren't really that expensive.

6.Regarding the Interior. I actually find this potentially quite intriguing, and a great improvement over the past. The organ-pipe reredos I haven't made my mind up over, though. It's ambitious and more decorative than I would have expected, even if the decoration is a little odd. However, the model is so utterly useless, I'm not really sure what's going on down in the sanctuary. I'll wait and see.

Thursday, July 21


It starts out pretty favorably, but goes predictably downhill at the end, featuring our favorite dissenter, Frances Kissling. Also, the "cycle beads" bit would amuse me greatly, if I didn't know that there are people out there somewhere taking it seriously.

Still, the mere fact that it made CNN says something hopeful about it's growing popularity.
Well, it's not glass...

Other than that, I'm not sure much has changed. It's still kind of cartoonish-looking, in my opinion. It has the verticality that a church should, but it lacks any kind of real façade, which makes the rose window look rather cyclops-like. I'm sure they wouldn't put an organ in the sanctuary, but that's the shape it really calls to mind, rather than a reredos. The decoration, which isn't shown, could make or break it, though.

It doesn't really violate any particular tenets of church architecture, but I still can't say I really care for it. Any thoughts?

Pope Benedict sports a restyled version of the zuchetto.

VALLE D'AOSTA 21 July (HW) --Pope Unveils new Zuchetto

Pope Benedict XVI made a daring sartorial move today when he made a public appearance in a newly restyled version of the zuchetto, a traditional papal hat. Only 3 months into his papacy, Pope Benedict is quickly becoming known for his unique take on vintage fashion. Benedict turned heads at his installation Mass when he debuted a stylishly retro pallium.

"It's a bold reconfiguration of Catholic wardrobe," said Catholic writer George Weigel of this lastest development, "a fashion timebomb set to go off sometime in the 21st century."

This updated look is seen by papal fashionistas as an attempt by Pope Benedict to be seen as "hip" in the wake of his youth-friendly predecessor. Gamarelli, the pope's preferred couturier, has released this latest collection just in time for the World Youth Day season. "We thought it was time to shake up the clerical fashion scene," said Fillip Gamarrelli, the proprieter. "This season, we'll be seeing alot more retro looks."

So good or no good?

Ave Maria University Unveils New Design Plans of Oratory

The news story is in, but Ave's site appears to be down at the moment, so no pictures.

The good news:
"The Oratory will be a traditional, eastward-facing church with stone facades, a large rose window and a relief of the Annunciation over the main portals. The nave, flanked by side aisles to the north and south, culminates in a large semi-circular sanctuary, with a centrally located tabernacle and a grand, hanging crucifix. The nave roof is supported by a forest of 100-foot tall gothic-style arches. The roof ridge is a continuous skylight that admits light from above, creating a sacred and mysterious ambience to the church."
The not-so-good news:
"The architectural design of the Oratory was initially inspired by Fay Jones' famous Thorncrown Chapel, which I've always admired," said Monaghan.
So good or no good? Until the site is back up, your guess is as good mine, folks.

Tuesday, July 19

The Only "100 Days" Report You Need

I like this run-down of the first 3 months of Benedict's papacy. It contains some common knowledge, but also some new insights and daily details of Benedict's papal life.

Most interesting, I thought, was the comment that while the crowds loved being in JP the Great's presence, no one every really knew what he said at the time (his Theo of the Body discourses took 15 years to catch on).

Appearently, now the attendees of papal audiences are surpising observers with their careful attention to every word Benedict says.

In other news, apparently Msgr. Camaldo shall replace Marini as director of papal liturgies. I'm under the impression that this will lead to more incense and more Latin and plenty more classic music, but any more information on Camaldo is welcome.

Save This Man

40-some% (a minority) of the country is now dedicated to destroying this man's life.

President Bush has answered the concerns of the pro-life majority in our country by nominating John Roberts to the Supreme Court, whose wife has worked with executive management in Pro-Life organizations and who himself wrote that Roe should be overturned.

Bush took a risk.

In accepting, John Roberts has taken the bigger risk, and I do not envy the hell that will be his life until, say, October.



In supporting the culture of life, we have caused this man to be put on the line. Let's not leave him out to dry.
The Empire Strikes Back

Captain-No-Funs have been complaining about (how did NCR put it?) "biretta-topped" seminarians ever since our generation came of age. Eucharistic adoration?? The Rosary?? Weekly confession?? Isn't that what we invested so much time trying to stop? Fr. Jim gives us another attempt to end peoples' piety.

Obviously, these individuals are not malicious: they really don't understand the draw. OK, fine, whatever. But many of our very lives have been absolutely changed by these precious forms of prayer--which is, afterall, why they exist anyway.

And here's the reason they'll never go away--not even after an eclipse of 20-30 years, during which peoples' piety was persecuated far more agressively than sexual abusers:

Only having the Mass is boring.

I DIDN'T SAY THE MASS WAS BORING! I love the Mass. I go daily. But my love for it and my attendance at it is solely the fruit of a decision 7 years ago to pray the Rosary every day.

Now, I don't know this experientially, but my health teacher sure did harp on about how sex is only fulfilling in a committed relationship ("when you feel ready...", blah blah blah). That says a lot: the defining moment of marriage, the source and summit of marriage you might say, is (according to public school health teachers!) only really meaningful as the summit of a pre-existing relationship.

The Mass -- a not un-similar commmunion of two persons which also marks the summit of a covenant -- is the same way: unless you have a relationship with Our Lord outside of the Mass, (in my experience) Holy Communion is pretty empty, and the ceremony is pretty boring. I did not discover that there was such a thing as Benediction until I saw it on ETWN in highschool: until then, I thought the only thing that Catholics did together was the Mass, and I thought they (and their Mass) was pretty boring.

Once you know the Person Whom you consume in the Mass, however, the Mass actually does become what it should be: the source and the summit of your Christian life. But you don't build up that sort of intimacy attending Mass once a week, even once a day: you really, or at least I really, had to encounter Him outside the Mass before I discovered Him in the Mass and in the Blessed Sacrament. The Blessed Sacrament is the thing I love most in the world!! But that is only because of the pedagogy, and the inter-personal contact with Our Lord, that grew out of my private prayer and participation in popular devotions.

And so many Catholics my age have had the same experience, that I know I'm not a freak. And for just that reason, ritualized forms of private prayer (such as popular piety) will never be eradicated. Instead, it seems clear that the Holy Spirit will continue to use them to convert Christians to worthy participation in the source and summit of Christian life, the Liturgies of the Hours and of the Mass.

Monday, July 18


This Nightstand Is Boring

Mine looks nothing like it, and is more interesting (I think). In answer to Matt's tap, here it is. I even avoided the temptation to put more stuff on my nighstand before filling this out!

I have one nightstand. Upon it rests:
- An alarm clock that only goes off 33% of the time
- A lamp
- The schedule for my local Theology on Tap
- A bottle of Holy Water
- A Rosary made of Rose petals
- A whetstone to sharpen knives
- A jumpdrive
- "The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary"
- The Theological Dictionary of Rahner and Volgrimmer
- A Card from Lucy

The otherside of my bed, though, there is my dresser. Not a nightstand, but there's stuff on it!
- A resin Chinese statue of Buddha
- Roman chariot
- Icon of St. John the Baptist
- Five Olympiad medals from gradeschool
As Zenit reported last week, Pope Benedict will be writing his first encyclical while vacationing in the Alps.

In honor of this momentous occasion, I would like to take the opportunity to reproduce here the best Envoy Magazine "At Ease" feature ever, since this one, for whatever reason, is nowhere to be found on their website. If they have a problem with me typing it up and sharing it, they're welcome to email me. But really, it's too good not to be on the internet.

So, without further ado, here it is, in its entirety:

CONTACT: Jackie Navarro-Valls IV, (212) 555-1173

Vatican City, Aug. 15, 2141 (ENS) White smoke rose above the ancient rooftops of the Vatican today, signaling the election of the first American pope. Stanislaw Cardinal Koslowski has begun a new life, as Pope John Paul V. If his tenure as Archbishop of Chicago is any indication, he will be a tough-minded, street-smart pontiff who won't mince words when tackling tough issues.

Like his predecessors on the Throne of Peter, Koslowski is know as a staunch defender of Pope John Paul the Great's 1994 declaration that the sacrament of holy orders is reserved to men (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis). Koslowski's Chicago-style bluntness in dealing with radical feminists and liturgical innovators was showcased dramatically when, in his first month as Archbishop, he issued his one-page pastoral letter, You Got a Problem With That?, condemning liturgical abuses, reinstating the mandatory use of communion rails, and formally abolishing several contemporary liturgical songs, calling them "dumb, stupid, I'd rather listen to a traffic jam."

A source close to the new pontiff has told us that, in the year prior to his unexpected election to the papacy, Koslowski had drafted fifteen new pastoral letters for the Archdiocese of Chicago. The source said that one of the pontiff's first actions will be to revise those pastoral letters into papal documents for the entire Catholic Church. We were provided with a list of the new documents we may expect to see from the Holy Father in the near future:

Tu Et Quis Exercitus? (You And What Army?) Encyclical laying out the pope's reaction to media reports suggesting he might be pressured to abandon his support for the Church's traditional opposition to abortion.

Amen Amen Dico Vobis; Nihil Muliebrium Sacerdotum (Read My Lips: No Women Priests) Encyclical asking radical Catholic feminists what part of Pope John Paul the Great's Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (on the reservation of holy orders to men alone) they don't understand.

Rursus Dicam: Nullo Modo (I'll Say It Again: No Way) Encyclical explaining the pope's position on women priests even more plainly.

Fac Ut Tui Meis Loquantur (Have Your People Talk To My People) A apostolic exhortation to the editors of Envoy magazine, expressing the pontiff's exasperation over their incessant requests to "do lunch" with him sometime.

Haec Res Est, Conveniamus Optime Vel Exite (That's The Deal, Take It Or Leave It) Encyclical explaining that priestly celibacy in the Latin Rite is a non-negotiable job requirement, and tat the only dame he'd better ever find in any rectory after 6:00pm had better be over sixty-five with a dishrag in her hand.

Aio, Tibi Dico (Yeah, I'm Talking To You) An apostolic letter reminding dissident liturgists to obey the liturgical reforms decreed by Vatican III, which forbade the liturgical use of felt banners, tacky guitar hymns, or using the phrase "we are church."

Soli Rationi Fides (Blind Faith In Reason) An encyclical explaining the fundamental intellectual silliness of atheism.

Non Solum Balaenas Sed Primum Prenatos Liberos Serva (Save The Whales, But Save The Unborn Babies First) Encyclical asking humanity to respect God's gift of nature, and inviting the world's "animal rights" activists to extend their corporal works of mercy to include mammals of the human variety.

Da Mihi Quinque! (Give Me Five!) Apostolic letter announcing with great joy the doubling in twenty-five years the number of ordinations and seminarians worldwide.

Splendor Coquinae Poloniae (The Splendor Of Polish Cooking) encyclical explaining that the pope doesn't necessarily have anything against the traditional cuisine of Rome. He, like one of his more famous predecessors, just likes a little pierogi now and then.

Matrimonium Primum Est DEINDE Liberi (It's Marriage First, THEN Children) An apostolic exhortation to young people about the sanctity and duties of the married state.

Lege, Mehercle, Librum (Read The Book For Crying Out Loud) Encyclical directing the faithful to open the family Bible beyond the page where you write down everybody's birthday.

Nonnumquam Vos Facis Ut Tumescear (Sometimes, You People Really Tick Me Off) Encyclical reaffirming Catholic teaching on birth control and the sanctity of human life in response to yet another effort by the United Nations to push contraceptives, abortion, and euthanasia in the Third World.

Quid Nunc Quaerunt? (Now What Do They Want?) An apostolic exhortation to the editors of Envoy magazine, admonishing them to stop asking the pope for a promotional blurb and to stop dropping by tea Apostolic Palace just because they "happen to be in the neighborhood."

Me Esse, Credo Papam (No, Excuse Me, I believe I'm The Pope) Encyclical reiterating the absolute primacy of the papal and episcopal magisterium in matters of doctrine; and condemning various theological errors propounded by dissenting theologians.

-Envoy magazine, Nov/Dec 1999
Web Discoveries of the Past Week

Learn Byzantine Chant

Create a Post-it mosaic of Elvis

Strong Bad's Bottom 10

Sunday, July 17


So, Well, Thanks for Everything

Now, I'm not into telling Baptists how to run their ecclesial communities...

But surely, this is not how to do it.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has amended its stated purpose from this:

To bring Baptists together "in order that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be spread throughout the world in glad obedience to the Great Commission."

To this:

Our purpose is "to serve Christians and churches [sic] as they discover and fulfill their God-given mission."

I'm also not one to often agree with the Southern Baptists, but I do: "This represents the eclipse of Christ," as the article states.

As much as I have historically resisted the idea, it seems that increasingly the major divide in Christianity is no longer "Catholic vs. Protestant," but rather those who are entrhalled with and dependant upon the person of Jesus Christ and those who think the man's a fine inspiration for, well, whatever it is that they discover their God-given mission to be.
Responding to Don Jim's Bedside Meme, even though I wasn't tagged.

Like the good Fr. Tucker, I sleep alone and I too have two nightstands. On the Gospel side, where I do most of my sleeping, is a clock, a black Sharpie marker, a disconnected phone and a copy of Umberto Eco's How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays. Most of the other "night-table" books are on the floor: Civic Ritual in Renaissance Venice, P.J. O'Rourke's Peace Kills, a book entitled Revision: A Creative Approach to Writing and Rewriting Fiction, an encyclopedia of Jewish folklore, and a translation of Rabbi Scholem's 1960 work Zur Kabbala und ihrer Symbolik, which I'd forgotten I even had checked out of the library and really have no interest in reading at present. There's also a wadded-up polo shirt.

On the righ hand (Epistle side) is another alarm clock, and on the floor are a bunch of crumpled architectural drawings and a defrosted cube refrigerator not plugged into anything. There's also a rolled-up poster of Dalí's Christ of St. John of the Cross In front of my bed is a pile of books including a pocket guide to baroque sculpture, an outdated guide to literary contests, a book entitled Be Your Own Literary Agent which I have not read, books on Filippo Juvarra and Rome's churches, cases from DVDs of a Tridentine church dedication service and an Anglican Use Mass from Our Lady of Walsingham, and a bound copy of Liturgical Arts Quarterly from 1936. Incidentally, I have a copy of the Book of Divine Worship on my coffee table and an Irvingite Breviary, and on my computer desk are copies of a historical travelogue about the Turkish hatmaking industry, Blessed Juliana of Norwich's Showings, an icon of the Trinity, a DVD of Northern Exposure, a CD of St. Hildegard of Bingen, and a German book on reliquaries.

To be honest, I don't really actually read many of the things near my bedside table; most of my actual reading goes on at lunch on workdays, or on weekends at my desk or on the couch. The stuff in my bedroom sort of migrates there after I lose interest or get done with it.

Now, Emily, Andy, Ithkul, Dan and Brian, let's hear about your bedsides!
"Madness--pazi ta design za potencialno slovensko ambasado v Washingtonu by 'Catholic Nerds' at the University of Notre Dame"!

The Slovenes have found out about my embassy. It's getting rather mixed results, more as a result of the extravagant style (someone asks if Mad King Ludwig has come back to life!) rather than the elaborate historical iconographic program. That being said I'm astonished it's held up as well as it has considering how little info on the nation I was able to get my hands on when I designed it. In real life, I would have done something smaller and cheaper, but when you're doing a theoretical thing with no budget, you really want to pull out all the stops.

For the record, the Ambassador thought it was pretty cool, and very Slovenian, though he didn't have time to look at it chamber-by-chamber, of course.

Update: Disturbing news about the mysterious lack of grape-juice in Slovenia.
I have in my possession, Farewell, Hecate, a long-lost poem of T.S. Eliot dated probably to 1926. It was discovered stuffed and folded under a wobbly table-leg in a Victorian mansion formerly owned by Goodnight Moon authoress Margaret Wise Brown. This radical new discovery will certainly overturn all previous Goodnight Moon scholarship, which prefers to omit the clearly mythic overtones in favor of a Marxist interpretation which sees the room full of the implements of bourgeois life as an indictment of the materialization of childhood. It also means Mrs. Wise Brown evidently stole the idea for her famous work from Eliot, a shocking and perhaps even unsettling idea in this already uncertain age.

It may well be, however, that Margaret intended her work as a sort of gloss for young readers, and the title page of the original draft copy was eaten by her nephew Tommy at some point in the publication process. A small but vocal faction of Moonists, led by Graham Hancock and Michel Baigent, tend to see Margaret Wise Brown as the pen name of a group of time-travelling Albanians attempting to ascribe the poem to Flannery O'Connor through a series of Baconian cryptograms which ultimately fail since they mistook the book title
Wise Blood for Wise Brown.

There is some small doubt as to the authorship. The original manuscript is written partially in crayon on a children's menu from the Drones Club, with a crude caricature of W.H. Auden and Baron Corvo on the verso as well as something labelled "Mr. Sun" over a boxy-looking house with a triangular roof which may in fact be Westminster Abbey. A small feminist faction in the academy has preferred to see this as the work of T.S. Eliot's niece Tess Eliot, suggesting the T.S. at the top may be a misspelling; or the two letters may have been lost through the smudge from the blotchy Hawaiian punch stain in the upper corner. Surely, a close examination of the new poem will prove to even the most feeble-minded reader that this could not be the work of a six-year-old.

Farewell, Hecate
by T.S. Eliot

Fac me cocleario vomere.
—Gummo Pound, Ezra’s brother.

Let us go then, you and I,
When the night is spread across the sky,
Like a kindergartener who’s been finally put to bed
Amid the screams and counter-screams,
Let us go then, to the cupboard and pick up certain half-deserted rubber sheets,
The muttering retreats,
Of restless nights since Ronald’s still not been toilet-trained
Despite what that worthless shrink has claimed,
(And yet he is almost four)
Making a Freudian argument of tedious intent
To lead to the overwhelming childlike question:
O Madame Porter, don’t say hush:
Let us sit and eat our mush.

In the chamber, green, and great,
Blazing like the burnished throne in which she sat
By the burning light of sea-wood fed with copper
Orange and melusinate ultramarine,
Therein sat une téléphone,
Strange device of disembodied
Song and dance of long-distance solicitations
(London to Paris, through the crackling static, for Monsieur Eugenides,
His pockets stuffed with rotting dates).
So rudely forced upon an unsuspecting world
And then the balloon,
The lurid latex globe as fire-engine scarlet as the blood of soldiers
As the blood of Philomel the nightingale,
Singing outside the convent of the Sacred Heart—O ces voix!
Singing jug jug twit twit say no more say no more to dirty ears.

And hanging upon the plastered wall, peeling and laconic
Amid the lurid likely prints
One expects to find in half-forgotten oyster bars
Smelling of sea and urination,
The image of the cow that jumped over the moon—
Io enthroned great and horn’d in the heavens.
And there they sat,
Three little bears in three little chairs
(I can’t help it, one said, she of the long face,
As they came and went talking of time and kittens, mice and space)
And out from one corner peeped, like a wingèd cupidon
The young mouse,
And the tiny doll-house, so very old
Within like a cabinet of curiosity,
Filled with Ionian white and gold.

And the moon shone bright on old Mrs. Porter
And her daughter,
With comb, with brush, with soda water.
Eating barley tonic mush sent c.i.f.
Tasting of brown river water, the stink of tar,
And the lounging memory of fishermen at noon.

Farewell, O room
Farewell, O moon—
Great Diana, Hecate’s twin set in blinding white beauty among the
Heavens, both terrible and merciful with the amoral pagan beauty
Of natural thunders and multifoliate wonder—
Farewell, hornèd Io over the heavens—
Farewell bears, Ursa major, ursa minor,
Banished to the skies by an angry myth,
Farewell light and lurid balloon, O unnatural sun.

(In the hallway, women stay,
Talking of their curds and whey).

Farewell, forever, O mittens and kittens,
Drowned in the Thames near Tower Bridged
Where the nymphs have fled.
Farewell, farewell, socks and clocks,
That mark off with insistent moments the time we spend,
Precious as the blood of a red balloon,
Farewell, O slimy rat with dragging belly,
Sickly mouse
And farewell, Ibsen’s great doll house.
Farewell, nobody, Odysseus’s lie.


Farewell mush,
Farewell stars,
Argus-eyed and ominous,
Farewell ær,
Farewell o you fearful noises everywhere:
Weialala leia
Wallala leialala,
As we sneak with Junior sleeping at last
Down to Oxford on a purple barge.
I thought I heard a dying fall.
Why then Ile fit you. Maurice Sendak’s mad againe
Dayadhvam. Damyata.
Shantih shantih shantih.

Saturday, July 16


You Are Incredibly Logical

(You got 100% of the questions right)

Move over Spock - you're the new master of logic
You think rationally, clearly, and quickly.
A seasoned problem solver, your mind is like a computer!

How Logical Are You?

Friday, July 15


That is One of the Most P.O.D. Things I've Ever Seen..

Whatever's on those candles, I've never seen anything like them before. Are they relics? What are they?

Does anyone know?

Have a penitential Friday!

Thursday, July 14


In case anyone is interested,

Crisis is offering $10 subscriptions for the next week.

Wednesday, July 13


Je Ne Suis Pas Celebrer

Who is least likely to be celebrating Bastile Day?

My nominations:
5. Joan of Arc
4. Fr. Nicholas Gruner
3. This Guy
Henri, Comte de Paris, Duc de France
And finally, perhaps least likely to be celebrating Bastile Day,
1. Institut du Jesus-Christ Roi Souverain Pretre

Image Credit goes to The Book of Days, which has a very interesting write up on the actual Man in the Iron Mask for July 14's entry.

An Appeal to Her Majesty the Queen

This I did not know, but apparently Queen Elizabeth still has some actual authority to govern up her sleeve.

The Queen can, I guess, block legislation in Canada by refusing to allow the Governor to grant royal assent once a bill is passed.

A Methodist minister in Canada is pleading the Queen to do just that with regard to same-sex marriages:

"Our beloved Queen Elizabeth II, I know that the refusal of the Governor General to give royal consent would precipitate a crisis. Millions have nowhere else to turn but you,'' Mainse wrote in a letter he sent last week to Buckingham Palace.

"Should you act in this, millions of us would surely become more fervent supporters of the monarchy than ever,'' he wrote.

(read the rest here)

A crisis is true: I imagine that if the Queen actually did interfere with such a hot-button issue, the days of a Republican Canada would not be far off. And I can't say that I really think her interference is likely, as it seems to be the Queen has not sought to garner political clout much at all during her reign. I imagine nothing will come of this, but it was interesting to hear that some European royals could (theoretically) do more than, well, sit around looking royal.


Things Have Been Busy

Things have been busy at the Shrine: We've held a public exorcism for Emily, began to canonize Dan...

Matt, don't feel left out:

I do believe I've had a vision of you regaling your presidential guests at the White House.

Afterall, the ecclesial pull of a saint is good, but can you imagine basking it the political power of the Presidency?

As Matt often reminds us, he is pro-opera and he votes!
Responses to London

My response to the bombings in London, as all of ours, I imagine, is that of the Holy Father -- the fervent offering of prayer for that consolation which only God can give.

Along with prayer, P.B. Griswold (presiding bishop of the ECUSA) also offered this admonition:

"The three Abrahamic faiths are called to be the servants of God's peace which embraces all people and alone can overcome the fears and hatreds that divide us and prevent us from regarding one another as God's beloved children. May all who call God Father and the Compassionate One be drawn together in a renewed commitment to peacemaking for the sake of God's world."

Now, I totally agree that I hope all who call God Father might be drawn together in peacemaking. I think most people do.

What I don't understand is his freedom of conscience to tell Muslims what their faith dictates.

Speaking simply on basis of my probable natural human reaction, if an imam in Cairo tried to tell me what Christianity was called to do, even if I agreed, my immediate psychological reaction would be: Who do you think you are?

Now, if an imam in Cairo gave interpretation of Christianity which I totally disagreed with, my natural psychological reaction would be: Who do you think you and your crackpot theories are? I've been studying this stuff for a decade trying to get it right, and you think that because you saw a Copt once or because the Koran says such-and-such, you understand Christianity and can speak in its name?

Now, grace and virtue might temper my reaction, but naturally, that is what it would be. Now, the one thing we all have in common with the moderate Muslims, or with Muslim suicide bombers, is, of course, our human nature. And so, I assume their natural reaction would be the same: totally unconvinced, and either annoyed or ticked off that you're trying to teach the expert a religion you don't even embrace.

So why do so many Westerners insist on telling Muslims what Islam is really about? Do they really think what they say will come across as credible to Muslims of any stripe?

Do you have Prince Albert in a Can?

The devotion to the Five Wounds of Jesus often contains a petition for "all Catholic kings and rulers."

Well, there's a new one here.

Prince Albert is, however, more of a playboy than a ruler: a few days ago, for example, news broke of his illegitimate child with a flight attendant. Nonetheless, Matt will enjoy the Prince's new coat of arms.

Failing French

I'm currently learning French, so this article caught my eye.

A Japanese governor has called French a "failed language," and he is being sued as a result.

While any Latinist would certainly consider French to be a disintegrated language, "failed" sounds harsh. But I have to agree with his reasoning: the number system.

Counting above 69 in French becomes very complicated: there is no word for 70, so one says "soixante dix," or "60-10," "60-11," or even more cumbersome, "soixant dix neuf," "60-10-9" for 79.

Eighty is even more confusing: it is read "quatre vingt," or "4 20." Thus, 88 become "4 20 8."

Ninety, however, takes the cake: "97" is "quatre vingt dix sept," or "4 20 10 7."

Apparently, this is vestigal of the Celtic numbering system, which was based not on 10 but 20. Therefore, the higher numbers are delineated by 20's, not 10's.

For the record, however, the problem is more with FRANCE than with the FRENCH LANGUAGE, because French-speakers in Belgium do, in fact, have words for 70, 80, and 90.

Tuesday, July 12

Rumblings in Anglicana

Apparently, all of Anglicanism doesn't ordain women bishops--yet. That was news to me.

But the real news is this: the discussion is up in the air, and 1/4 of the Anglican episcopate isn't happy about it.

I think that it is dishonest to ordain women to the priesthood and not to the episcopacy: if an ecclesial community believes that women can be granted the sacerdotal character, then to with-hold the fullness of that sacerdotal character from them (the episcopacy) is really to say that they are second-class Christians.

The Catholic Church, conversely, by clearly stating that women are not called to the sacerdotal fatherhood for the same reason that men are not called to biological maternity -- the simple reason that it is not according to our respective natures, or our respective natures as perfected by grace -- the Church by-passes the Modern notion that service=power and priesthood=POWER, the sort of power that crackles like blue lightening from one's fingertips. But once the sacerdotal character ceases to be a unique form of masculine paternity enabled by grace, and becomes simply the means by which authority is endowed, well, I think the Anglicans are up a creek without a paddle.

This hasn't stopped 800 traditional Anglicans from threatening to quit, should the ecclesial community opt to ordain women as bishops.

Amazingly, even if the Anglicans approve women bishops, many traditionalists will stay within the Communion if they are given a separate "male-only" province within the Communion... which makes me wonder: if a separate "male only" province would NOT recognize the legitimacy of women bishops... isn't the mutual recognition of orders a key component of any real "communion"?

I also wonder: should they ordain women, and 800 some clergy find themselves without an eccleisal structure, would Pope Benedict (now realizing that real ecumenism with the Anglican communion is extremely unlikely) act to create an Anglican Catholic Rite in communion with Rome, as we've discussed prior on this site?

Read more.
You Are 83% American
You're as American as red meat and shooting ranges.
Tough and independent, you think big.
You love everything about the US, wrong or right.
And anyone who criticizes your home better not do it in front of you!

How American Are You?


Greek Church Musicians to Hear New Chants

"While western churches argue over guitar and drums, Greek Orthodox parishes are still deciding whether an organ violates a sacred a capella tradition."


Eucharistic Procession in Notre Dame Magazine

Our Eucharistic Procession from this last April 16 was written up in the summer edition of Notre Dame alumni magazine.

Read the entry here.

I don't have a cell phone,

but if I did...

Sunday, July 10


Like a Lingering Fart...

... the EU Constitution lives on.

Somehow, a 56% majority in the tiny duchy of Luxemborg has "given new life" to a constitution whose authors promised it would dissapear if only one nation voted it down.

"Don't those plebes understand that if they misuse their democracy by blatantly rejecting what we prepare for them, we'll have to take it away?"

Not that the EU is patronizing, or anything...

Shrine Opens Cause for Founder's Canonization

PALOOKAVILLE, WI (AP)--The well-known Shrine of the Most Dolorous Holy Whapping of the Sacred Left Ankle of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Catholic Internet refuge, opened the cause of sainthood for its founder, Dan of the Holy Whapping.

"We've been contemplating this move for some time," reported Andrew of the Holy Whapping, grounds keeper and public contributer at the Shrine. "It's common knowledge that a religious organization in the Catholic Church really isn't anything until it's founder is canonized a Saint, or at very least Blessed."

"It's only natural that we would want to promote the Founder's cause."

The move, however, faces obsticles, admits Shrine Inquisitor, Nino de Guevara. "Typically, the Vatican prefers sainthood candidates to be, well, deceased. Admittledly, the Founder is very much alive: but I don't think we should box-in the Divine Will. With God, all things are possible."

"Besides, 'Servant of God'-status should be a cinch. No miracles necesary, little invetigative reporting... With appropriate episcopal backing, it's a shoe-in."

Critics, however, question the Whapters' motives. "Frankly, it all sounds like some guy trying to canonize his roommate," says Cptn. Nofun, retired Army chaplin. "I think they're just in it for the book deals and good seats at the ceremony."

Saturday, July 9


An Embassy for the Republic of Slovenia in Washington DC, Street and Garden Facades, project by Matthew Alderman, Spring 2005, University of Notre Dame.

This hypothetical design for a Central European nation's embassy is an essay in depicting, describing, and in some sense constructing, nationhood. Slovenia is a young nation with, nonetheless, a long history. While the Eastern European National Romantic movement of the late belle-epoque largely bypassed Slovenia, it served as a model of how to marshall Slovenia's forgotten and sometimes conflicting pasts into something both modern and timeless. The design of this embassy draws on various regional architectures of the country--the Germanic palaces of the dark, forested northern borderlands, the Venetian architecture of the Istrian coast and the Baroque and florid art nouveau of Ljubjana, its centrally-placed capital to create a truly national style. Each represents a crucial time-period in the development of the independence of Slovenia's life of the mind, of her language and her art.

First Floor Plan, with door-frame detail from the Hall of Venus, or Library. The Hall of Venus derives its name from an elaborate chivalric pageant held in the thirteenth century by the Slovenian-speaking dukes of Spannheim, where a symbolic tableau held showed authority bowing to poetry in the form of a figure representing Venus.

An iconographic fresco cycle draws the viewer retrogressively backward through the country's past as he moves through the embassy floorplan, taking him from modern Slovenia with its representative democracy and ties to America, through periods of national revival and national oppression under German rulers and Turkish janissaries back to its distant elemental agrarian roots as a tribal republic under the sixth-century dukes of Karantania, whose election rites so fascinated Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini (later Pius II) and the founders of the American republic.

Side facade showing change in grade elevation, rear ballroom and garden wall. The wooden architecture reflects Slovenia's rustic, pastoral antiquity, while the peasant's hat above the coat of arms in the upper left corner is a decorative device repeated throughout the building, a local symbol which in the fresco cycle devised for the embassy, serves to parallel the liberty cap of other nations.

The Slovenian embassy re-enacts and codifies Slovenia's past and at the same time expresses her commitment through time to the values that both she and America hold dear, serving as a beacon of both her proud and unique history and at the same time the universality of her democratic beliefs.

For larger versions of these images, go to Slovenia 1, Slovenia 2, and Slovenia 3. They will also be published in the 2005 Notre Dame School of Architecture student retrospective, Acroterion.

Friday, July 8

Vatican Publishes Index!

No, not that Index. This is the "Index of Universities and Institutes of Superior Instruction of the Catholic Church." John Allen talks about it in today's Word from Rome.

It includes an interesting synopsis of the discussion of Catholic Identity at Catholic schools.

The Vatican suggests these benchmarks:
- Concern for social justice
- Sacramental and devotional life
- Curriculum -- are theology and the Christian tradition core elements?
- Percentage of Catholics among faculty, trustees, and staff
- Religious and doctrinal attitudes of students over time
- Practice of the faith -- do students pray, go to Mass, express an interest in religious vocations, etc.?

Umm... Emily?

Is there something you've been meaning to tell us?

Thursday, July 7

Fellow language nerds will appreciate the Carnival of Etymologies featured regularly at Done With Mirrors. This week, 'olympic,' 'supreme,' and 'zombie,' among others.

(via Fr. Tucker)


Cafepress could be one of the most fascinating sites of the Web: anyone who thinks they're witty can just go ahead, and sell a shirt. And even if only one shirt sells, it's still economical! It's the ideal example of what my marketing classes called "Mass customization," which is, by the way, the latest buzz-word in business.

While surfing along, I found this shirt, which made me realize: One thing that's always amused me is when extremist Muslims call Christians "infidels."

Infidel means "unfaithful."

What religion was abandoned by whom? None of MY anscestors were Muslim... can (at least coastal) Arab Muslims say the converse?

Wednesday, July 6

Well, Amy Welborn has blogged so much that this five-day-old post has already dropped off the front page (a problem we'll never have around here), but I think I'll comment on it anyway, since the conversation is so interesting.

It seems the Bishop of Phoenix is going back to the original order for receiving the Sacraments: Baptism, First Reconciliation, Confirmation, then First Communion. Now, I'm no sacramental theologian, so I'll leave it to others to get into the why of this one, aside from noting that we have an ancient historical basis for doing it in this order.

What does interest me, on the other hand, is people's objections to going back to the original order. They seem to be as follows: A) Change will cause more problems than it will solve, B) children at this age aren't mature enough to make a decision for the Faith, C) We'll never get them back in religious ed once they're Confirmed.
All of these strike me as being rather lame once you get down to it, and here's why:

A)Change will cause more problems than it will solve. If it takes a change to truly bring about the right order of things, then it will sort itself out in the long term, even if there is confusion in the short term. Good catechesis will asist greatly in this, and you may actually have people (*gasp*) understanding something about the Sacraments when all's said and done.

B) Children at this age aren't mature enough to make a decision for the Faith. On the contrary, I think that children often see things more clearly than high-schoolers do, especially where moral matters are concerned. Also, it's important to remember that the graces conveyed in this Sacrament are very real, and give a child the strength he needs to live out a Christian life in today's culture, which is attacking them at a younger and younger age. They're at the age of reason, and if they're old enough to sin, they're old enough to make right decisions, too.

C) We'll never get them back in religious ed once they're Confirmed. Now this is the one I really find interesting, because it belies so many of our assumptions about religious education. If the Sacraments are the proverbial "carrot on the stick" to get people into church, we've got much, much bigger problems. In my experience, the people who are only there because they need to get this stamp in their Catholic passport only do the minimum and don't really learn anything, anyway. We have to remember that a child's religious education at their parish is only maybe 2 hours a week; and they're going to fill the other 166 with something. If the Faith isn't a part of their everyday life, those two hours (with rare exceptions) are going in one ear and out the other.

If the parents are fullfilling their marriage vows and taking the responsibility for raising their children in the Faith, on the other hand, they will be bringing their kids in for religious ed anyway (unless, of course, the program is as woefully inadequate as many are, and thus a waste of their child's time).

The fact of the matter is, it isn't really the parishes responsibility to raise these children in the Faith; it's the parents'. Now the parish can offer support through CCD classes, VBS, and whatever else, but if the parish is trying to do all the work, it shows. Even with great resources, dynamic catechists, and full-color workbooks, a parish's efforts can never replace parents simply living out their faith on a daily basis.

Monday, July 4

Nobody Calling on the Phone...

Mrs. Vaughan recently quizzed her class: "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?"

"Is God your real name?" - Jake

"Will I meet George Washington and Elvis in Heaven?" - Cullen

"Why did you make Poison Ivy?" - Alex

"Can we still visit Earth after we're in Heaven?" - Joey

So: What would you ask? Myself, I have to give it more thought.

St. Thomas Aquinas, given the same opportunity, asked "Am I in a state of mortal sin?"

Some Good News on the Fourth of July

I firmly believe that human trafficking/sex slavery, and the pornography or prostitution which pays for it, is by far the greatest evil of our day, much worse than any other evil which afflicts our world today.

"JESUS CHRIST said to His disciples, 'Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard!" (Luke xvii. 1-3)

US police have broken up two human trafficking rings which smuggled hundreds of South Korean women into California to work as prostitutes.

"The police arrested about 50 people and are questioning around 150 women after taking them into protective custody.

The women were working in dozens of brothels disguised as acupuncture clinics and massage parlours in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

This type of criminal organisation exploits the hopes and dreams of immigrants," said US attorney Debra Wong Yang at a press conference in Los Angeles.

This could be one of the largest human trafficking cases prosecuted in the US.

The women were reportedly charged $16,000 to be smuggled into the US.

They were repaying their debts by working as prostitutes and giving their earnings to the ring.


Those arrested have been charged with conspiracy to harbour illegal aliens for prostitution and transporting them across state lines, as well as money laundering and sex trafficking.

The two rings operated separately, one in San Francisco and one in southern California.

But investigators believe the ringleaders knew each other and were lending each other some of the workers.

"If they needed a couple of extra women in San Francisco, the (Los Angeles) ring would send them up," said Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the US attorney's office in Los Angeles.

Some of the women are believed to have entered the country through the Mexican and Canadian borders, while others used illegally obtained tourist visas.

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