24 February 2009

Another overfunded academic research project to tell the rest of us what we already knew:
Sexy women in bikinis really do inspire some men to see them as objects, according to a new study of male behavior.

Brain scans revealed that when men are shown pictures of scantily clad women, the region of the brain associated with tool use lights up.
Fiske and colleagues asked 21 heterosexual male volunteers to first take a test that scores people based on different types of sexist attitudes.
Most of the men best remembered headless photographs of women in bikinis, even if they'd only seen the image for two-tenths of a second [and] the men who scored higher as "hostile sexists"—-those who view women as controlling and invaders of male space—-didn't show brain activity that indicates they saw the women in bikinis as humans with thoughts and intentions.

Scientists have seen this absence of activation only once before, in a study where people were shown off-putting photographs of homeless people and drug addicts.
(via Fr. Mercer)

22 February 2009

A Nation of Cowards

Richard Spencer on Eric Holder's most charitable and profound remark:
It’s so true. Throughout my years of formal education, I haven’t heard much about “race” or “racism” and its effects on American society. It’s always seemed that the whole educational and governmental elite just wanted to ignore the subject entirely. One would think that in a country this size, with our great wealth and resources, we’d have full academic departments dedicated to the study of race, as well as student-orientation sessions and wings of the university bureaucracy. A nation that was willing to talk about matters racial would probably be willing to spend billions on government programs dedicated to equalizing outcomes in employment, admissions, and test taking. It’s not hard to imagine that a really, really racially aware nation might be periodically blessed with presidential candidates who propose a national conversation about race and offer their candidacy as a means of confronting, and perhaps even overcoming, this hypothetical nation’s racial past.

Bereft as we are of all racial discourse, one would suspect that the academic and media elite would welcome with open arms all viewpoints on race in the biological and social sciences. But instead, it’s the same old story—cowardly avoidance.
Well said. In all my years as a college student, I never once heard students or professors discuss race. My history professor did not spend half the semester talking about the history of racism in America, nor did I ever receive multiple e-mails from the race-oriented Pacific-Asian Society asking that I join its group, despite my repeated requests to be removed from its e-list, just like I have never heard race discussed as a topic in today's music, literature, or film. Cowards, the lot of us.

21 February 2009

More on St. Michael's Abbey

St. Michael's Abbey was founded by a group of Hungarian priests who escaped communist persecution to found a monastic community in California. You can hear all about it here.

You can also listen to the story behind the St. Michael's Abbey recording of its latest CD, Anthology: Chants and Polyphony from St. Michael's Abbey.

Royalties from the CD's purchase will go toward the St. Michael expansion project; the Abbey is sliding down a hill, and needs to relocate as soon as possible.

I have a copy of the CD myself, which I have found to be lovely. It's rare to find good recorded chant from an American monastic community (though those from Europe abound); a purchase would mean helping this religious community while enjoying the heavenly sounds it has helped create.

17 February 2009

Notre Dame Queer Film Festival: Kaput

One disgruntled alumnus complains of the university's victory in its war-by-stealth against the annual homosexual event on campus. Another alumnus sets him right.
Gerald Warner on Hugo Chavez's latest political coup:
All hail, President-for-Life Chavez. Hugo Chavez, the calorifically challenged Venezuelan Marxist bully boy, has won a referendum amending the constitution to allow him to stand repeatedly for re-election as president, rather than being restricted to two terms in office as was previously required. President Chav lost a similar referendum 14 months ago but, on the model of the European Union, he compelled the electorate to vote again until it came up with the right answer.

Warm congratulations were immediately sent to President Chav by Fidel Castro's life-support machine - the twinkling-eyed Cuban mass-murderer has long been Hugo's idol and mentor. Elected dictatorship does not come cheap. Chavez spent a mind-boggling $12 billion on his referendum campaign which, with his control of most of the media, gave him a considerable advantage. The President has announced his modest ambition to rule until 2049, by which time he hopes to have developed a fully Marxist economy.
No doubt frequenters of the Daily Kos are rejoicing.

You can read the rest here.

13 February 2009


Days before the election, an e-mail campaign was launched to raise donations by asking that they be sent in Sarah Palin's name:
"I have boxes of thank-you notes from people associated with Planned Parenthood thanking me for the donations," she said during a press conference. "It's political theater -- it's great theater, I guess, for some."
The e-mail [read], "Make a donation to Planned Parenthood. In Sarah Palin's name. And here's the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name, they'll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor."
(nod to Fr. Mercer)

That's clever. I now propose that those in favor of protecting mothers and the unborn send a donation to the Anchorage, Alaska Crisis Pregnancy Center in honor of Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.

Donations can be made here. Just be sure to paste the following in the box labeled "Note":
Donation made in honor of Cecile Richards.
Please send card to:
Cecile Richards
434 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10001
If Palin received boxes of thank you notes, let Richards receive crateloads!

Spread the word!

12 February 2009

Anthology: Chants and Polyphony from St. Michael's Abbey

St. Michael's Abbey, located in Orange County, California, is comprised of a group of Norbertine Canons Regular. From its humble beginnings, when seven priests fled their homeland of Hungary to begin a new permanent monastic community in America, it has now grown to nearly seventy members. European monastic communities have almost exclusively been the ones to record and release albums of Gregorian chant; St. Michael's bears the unique distinction of offering Gregorian chant as sung by an American abbey.

After the successful release of their Christmas album, a small taste of which you can sample here, this group of white-clad monks has now given us Anthology: Chants and Polyphony from St. Michael's Abbey. Opening with G.P. de Palestrina's delicate polyphonal Tu Nobis Dona and closing with the haunting and lovely responsory Verbum Caro, this CD is comprised of an eclectic cross section of chants sung at the abbey, whether liturgical or Renaissance-era pieces.

From its CD jacket:
This recording came about as a result of very concrete circumstances. After the Easter Vigil of 2002 in our abbey church, our retired founding abbot was so taken with the simple beauty of the Tracts (chants sung between the 7 readings from the Old Testament) that he proposed the community record them, to have a testimony of their beauty.... As things developed, and once we got everyone in front of the microphones in the abbey church, recording went so smoothly that suggestions poured in from the singers for other material they wanted to record, including some polyphonic pieces. Finally, we asked Fr. Chrysostom Baer, who was then still a deacon, to record the Exultet as he had sung it at the Easter Vigil.
Palestrina's Ave Maria, to take an example, is artfully and exquisitely sung, the monks' voices rivalling those of any professional choir, while the liturgical chants can only make one wish more parishes would implement Vatican II's directives by giving first place to Gregorian chant in its liturgy--and with voices like these to populate their scholas! The founding abbot's wishes have been fulfilled, as this collection of music is indeed a testimony to the beauty not only of chant but also of the monastic simplicity from which it has sprung.

The CD can be purchased here, and all royalties will be given to St. Michael’s Abbey Expansion Project.


I have no words. Except the one above.

(For those too thick to catch on, it's satire; for those who remain sour and confused, here's a hint: the site was not created by Sally & Jesse, but rather by the friends surrounding them.)

Robins: Cure for Writer's Block

Gerald Warner recounts with nostalgia a wintry day three decades ago:
More than thirty years ago, I was living in a house beside a wood which consequently was rich in birdlife. One winter we had a blizzard-status snowfall similar to the present conditions. I was sitting on a grey afternoon working on a book (writer's euphemism for staring despairingly at a blank page - in those days a book was a foolscap and fountain-pen job) and glanced out of the window for inspiration.

Perched on a cherry tree heavily coated with snow was a robin, staring at me through the window. In that moment I realised I could make the historic breakthrough in English letters of which I had always dreamed: to the canon of pencil-sharpening, watch-adjusting, paper shuffling and coffee making with which writers have traditionally postponed the evil moment of putting words on paper, I could add a genuine innovation: feeding a hungry robin.
The rest.

Let the Age of Muddling Through Commence

Andrew Bacevich ponders American triumphalism:
Ideas have consequences. Post-cold war triumphalism produced consequences that are nothing less than disastrous. Historians will remember the past two decades not as a unipolar moment, but as an interval in which America succumbed to excessive self-regard. That moment is now ending with our economy in shambles and our country facing the prospect of permanent war.

Don’t expect triumphalists to recant or apologize. Yet their time has passed. The Age of Triumphalism has ended. The Age of Muddling Through has commenced. In this new era, over which Barack Obama will preside, grandiose ideas will take a back seat to figuring out what actually works and calculating how much we can afford. Instead of looking to transform the world, the imperative of this new age is to preserve what’s left and restore what’s been lost. The nattering about the United States as an almighty superpower has ceased. For this at least we should be grateful.
(via John Zmirak)


I have found that the best source for Indian tea is none other than one's local Indian grocer. Nevermind Twinings or Taylors of Harrogate, whose teas are lovely, of course, but pricey. One is never sure from the "brand name" teas, anyway, of obtaining an authentic tea; 80% of all so-called Darjeelings sold in the world are not actually from the Darjeeling region, whereas one can find in Indian grocers packages sporting the official Tea Board logos indicating the authenticity of the Assam, Darjeeling, or Nilgiri tea one purchases--and bought for a pittance!

This is why I was crestfallen when I discovered, after having moved into our small midwestern town, that there wasn't a single Indian grocer within a 50-mile radius. Forced to resort to online ordering, I was delighted to chance upon a tea shop selling superb high-grade bulk teas at wonderful prices. And so out with the credit card to punch in a few letters and numbers that will bring to my doorstep massive quantities of Assam, Ceylon, and East Friesian teas to be warmly and heartily consumed on cold, midwestern mornings. All is right with the world again.
As with all things on the internet, one must be assiduous in checking one's sources. The offer of a personal prelature for the Traditional Anglican Communion has turned out to be unfounded:
Msgr. Marc Langham, an official at the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said “indiscretions” and “media rumors that do not correspond to the truth” have surrounded the reporting of the Catholic Church’s relations with the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), a group which has broken away from the Anglican Communion based in Canterbury.

“We have not been informed that this is going to happen; maybe the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is more informed but we have not received any update,” he said.

07 February 2009

Behind the "Miracle on the Hudson"

Fred Carroll recounts his experiences crash landing onto the Hudson River:
By Christmas, the self-described "half-hearted Catholic" knew in his heart the only security in the world is the security found in God, which led to his New Year's resolution; which led to him praying the chaplet in a hotel room; which led him to buy Vinny's book; which led him to close his eyes in seat 16A, his trajectory heavenward, and reflect upon how God is real and He loves us and that He wants us to turn to Him in trust.

Which is exactly what Fred did when he suddenly realized it was the Hour of Great Mercy and he would probably be dead in a matter of seconds. He trusted, truly, for the first time.

04 February 2009

Holy Father in Need of Prayers

Double Disaster at the Vatican: Of Governance, and of Communication, by Sandro Magister:
A few days after the events, the lifting of excommunication from the four Lefebvrist bishops is increasingly manifesting itself at the Vatican as a double disaster, of governance and of communication.

In the disaster, Pope Benedict XVI found himself to be the one most exposed, and practically alone.
The question comes naturally: was all of this really inevitable, once the pope had decided to lift the excommunication of the Lefebvrist bishops? Or was the disaster produced by the errors and omissions of the men who are supposed to implement the pope's decisions? The facts point to the second hypothesis.
Since Paul VI on, the secretariat of state has been the apex and the engine of the curia machine. It has direct access to the pope, and governs the implementation of every one of his decisions. It entrusts this to the competent offices, and coordinates their work.

So then, throughout the entire affair of the lifting of the excommunications for the Lefebvrist bishops, the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, despite his highly active and outspoken nature, distinguished himself by his absence.

His first public comment on the question came on January 28, during a conference in Rome at which he was speaking.

But more than words, what were lacking from him were actions equal to the gravity of the situation. Before, during, and after the issuing of the decree.

Benedict XVI was left practically alone, and the curia was abandoned to disorder.

The fact that Benedict XVI has given up on reforming the curia is now before the eyes of all. But it is conjectured that he compensated for this non-decision by entrusting the leadership of the offices to a tough, dynamic secretary of state, Bertone.

Now this conjecture has also been shown to be lacking. With Bertone, the curia seems even more disorganized than before, perhaps in part because he has never completely dedicated himself to fixing its problems.
Bertone's personal devotion to Benedict XVI is beyond all doubt. Not so that of the other curia officials, who continue to have free rein. It is possible that some of them deliberately oppose this pontificate. It is certain that most of them simply do not understand it, do not measure up to it.
You can read all of it here.

(via Fr. Mercer)

03 February 2009

Rev. Michael Dubruiel, R.I.P.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: et lux perpetua luceat eis.

(If you wonder about the title, please read this. Sacerdos in aeternum.)

02 February 2009

Say It with Me

Pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification pansification...

My favorite quotation from the interview: "Why can't young boys be effeminate?"


(via Five Feet of Fury)

Another Step Leap Toward Unity

The Pope is going to offer a personal prelature to the Traditional Anglican Communion. A personal prelature is semi-autonomous, akin to a worldwide diocese without borders, with its own clergy and laity.
"History may be in the making", reports The Record. "It appears Rome is on the brink of welcoming close to half a million members of the Traditional Anglican Communion into membership of the Roman Catholic Church. Such a move would be the most historic development in Anglican-Catholic relations in the last 500 years. But it may also be a prelude to a much greater influx of Anglicans waiting on the sidelines, pushed too far by the controversy surrounding the consecration of practising homosexual bishops, women clergy and a host of other issues."
The Traditional Anglican Communion broke off from the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1991 for a number of reasons: female ordination, same-sex marriage, liturgical revisionism, etc. It upholds a Catholic interpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles, and has desired unity with Rome for several years now. The Homepage for the TAC is worth perusing, particularly the Appeal to Unity made to Rome.

My question: would the Anglican bishops and priests have to be re-ordained?