O Magnum Mysterium, Morten Lauridsen King's College Cambridge 2009
Westminster Cathedral Choir
The Nick Lezard controversy... new developments
10 minutes ago
The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).
Byzantine Catholics, like the Orthodox, do not celebrate the Divine Liturgy (Mass) during Lenten weekdays because Lent is considered so sacred that even the Eucharist is fasted from, save for the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.
Actually, I am uneasy about the Pope telling us what to do. This is part of being British, or was when I was growing up. I can still recite great chunks of Tennyson’s wonderful Ballad Of The Fleet, all about Sir Richard Grenville and the little ship Revenge, with her valiant Protestant crew, fighting her unequal battle against the great sea-castles of King Philip, ‘the Inquisition dogs and the devildoms of Spain’.
I had relatives who viewed the Vatican as Babylon. I was taught at school about Bloody Mary, 400 years later still a loathed figure.
Even now, I like to roll over my tongue the defiant 37th of the English Church’s 39 articles: ‘The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.’
The Pope’s warning about growing intolerance of Christianity in the British State should have been issued by the Church of England, and once could have been. But its present leaders are for the most part pretty dim, and almost all liberals – whereas Benedict is a serious thinker, a major intellect and a conservative.
The President who promised change could not even change the Chairman, not even one who had failed so badly, and who continues to fail. The Senate for its part admitted that they were united in one thing only: their cluelessness on economic policy. Because the Fed provides the reserves to the banks, and because the banks provide credit to the economy, and because the economy cannot function without credit, the Fed is the most important institution in the economic life of the country, arguably more important than the Congress or the President. Yet both have been reluctant to control the Fed. This is not new. Banking and credit is supposed to be a “technical” matter, best left to the technicians and isolated from the politicians. This means that in our democracy, the democratic institutions have little control over the institution that makes the most difference in the economic life of the country.
Fischer looks at our political heritage from the vantage point of distinguishing liberty and freedom as almost two different traditions. He starts with etymology and cultural linguistics, and the differences he finds in that regard are rather striking. Our English “liberty” derives from Latin and Greek—from the Latin libertas and the Greek eleutheros. The basic meaning here is “release from restraint,” or more generally, being separate and distinct from others. “Freedom,” on the other hand, is an Anglo-Saxon word that derives from the Indo-European root friya or priya, which, strikingly, means “dear” or “beloved.” The Norse, German, Dutch, Flemish, Celtic, Welsh, and English words for freedom all share this root in the concept of endearment or belovedness. We see this in the English word “friend,” sharing the same root as “free,” as with Freund and frei in German. Notably, the oldest known word associated with the idea of freedom is a Sumerian word, Ama-ar-gi, the root meaning of which is literally “going home to mother.” The word was used to describe the slave’s return to his family, his transformation from a condition of bondage to one of belonging, Fischer stresses.
Freedom was intrinsically a collective idea in the Northern languages. Broadly speaking, it did not refer to individual independence, but signified the condition of being joined to a free people, joined by rights of belonging and by reciprocal duties of membership in that people. It is implicitly a concept attached groups if not groups of families, that is, communities. A belonging that frees the person, as the group is free, must be sustained by an equality of rights and duties within the group, independent of other authorities.
While not devoid of corporate applications in the law, Greco-Roman “liberty,” in contrast, meant emancipation from other people—individual separation and independence from others’ control. It is a concept of status attached to individuals. The medieval libertas ecclesiae is translated “freedom of the church” in English, Latin and English “liberty” being insufficiently corporative to apply to the Church as a body (although Latin does have the physical concept of “corpus” itself, of course). In its common use in the Roman Empire, liberty was the opposite of slavery: the context of its meaning was the imperial state stratified into nobility, commons, freedmen, and slaves. Liberty meant release from slavery into the status of freedmen, nothing more. It could not be conceive as arising from one’s membership in a free community.
The document conceded by John and set with his seal in 1215, however, was not what we know today as Magna Carta but rather a set of baronial stipulations, now lost, known as the "Articles of the barons." After John and his barons agreed on the final provisions and additional wording changes, they issued a formal version on June 19, and it is this document that came to be known as Magna Carta. Of great significance to future generations was a minor wording change, the replacement of the term "any baron" with "any freeman" in stipulating to whom the provisions applied. Over time, it would help justify the application of the Charter's provisions to a greater part of the population. While freemen were a minority in 13th-century England, the term would eventually include all English, just as "We the People" would come to apply to all Americans in this century.
While Magna Carta would one day become a basic document of the British Constitution, democracy and universal protection of ancient liberties were not among the barons' goals. The Charter was a feudal document and meant to protect the rights and property of the few powerful families that topped the rigidly structured feudal system. In fact, the majority of the population, the thousands of unfree laborers, are only mentioned once, in a clause concerning the use of court-set fines to punish minor offenses. Magna Carta's primary purpose was restorative: to force King John to recognize the supremacy of ancient liberties, to limit his ability to raise funds, and to reassert the principle of "due process." Only a final clause, which created an enforcement council of tenants-in-chief and clergymen, would have severely limited the king's power and introduced something new to English law: the principle of "majority rule." But majority rule was an idea whose time had not yet come; in September, at John's urging, Pope Innocent II annulled the "shameful and demeaning agreement, forced upon the king by violence and fear." The civil war that followed ended only with John's death in October 1216.
In the continuing theater of BLS absurdities, the unemployment rate fell to 9.7% in spite of a 25th consecutive month of job losses. Some stopped counting at 22 months in November. However, I find November questionable.
The efficient markets theory is that unregulated markets are efficient and rational. According to this theory in which Greenspan placed his trust, unregulated markets produce the best possible result. Any regulatory interference worsens the outcome.
Greenspan blamed his own bad judgment on a theory. The theory, or Greenspan’s understanding of it, nevertheless still holds sway as Congress has proved impotent to re-regulate the gambling casino that is Wall Street. Clearly, the theory serves powerful interests.
But what is the truth?
The truth is that markets are a social institution. Their efficiency depends on the rules that govern the behavior of people in markets. When free market economists talk about markets deciding this or that, they are reifying a social institution and ascribing to it decision-making power. But, of course, markets do not act or make decisions. People act and make decisions, and markets reflect the decisions and actions of people.
The entire debate over regulation is misconstrued. It is not the market, an efficient social institution, which is regulated. What is regulated is the behavior of people in markets. If you want good results from markets, good regulation of human behavior is a requirement.
The market is like a computer. Garbage in, garbage out.
If people who use markets are not regulated, they issue fraudulent financial instruments. They leverage assets with absurd amounts of debt. They market their instruments with fraudulent investment grade ratings. They deal themselves aces.
I believe the political order is passing; the country is already ungovernable and continues only by inertia. For those who still believe in the political possibilities, well, they have to work at it; I beg to be excused. Only local action is important now.
And obviously, from this blog and many others, we have much to say about politics; just now much good to say about it. We could be wrong, and in a few years, I could be heading the local branch of the "Hargrave for President" committee. If that day comes, I will rejoice and recant. But I somewhat doubt it. Our future is not with the Demicans and the Republicrats, nor is there any likely third party. But these things are about to pass. The political order is becoming disordered, and will shortly fall. Our concerns are not with this kingdom, but with what comes next. IMO.
The Origins of Homemaking: A vocation for both sexes
Upon further investigation, I learned that the household did not become the “woman’s sphere” until the Industrial Revolution. A search for the origin of the word housewife traces it back to the thirteenth century, as the feudal period was coming to an end in Europe and the first signs of a middle class were popping up. Historian Ruth Schwartz Cowan explains that housewives were wedded to husbands, whose name came from hus, an old spelling of house, and bonded. Husbands were bonded to houses, rather than to lords. Housewives and husbands were free people, who owned their own homes and lived off their land. While there was a division of labor among the sexes in these early households, there was also an equal distribution of domestic work. Once the Industrial Revolution happened, however, things changed. Men left the household to work for wages, which were then used to purchase goods and services that they were no longer home to provide. Indeed, the men were the first to lose their domestic skills as successive generations forgot how to butcher the family hog, how to sew leather, how to chop firewood.
As the Industrial Revolution forged on and crossed the ocean to America, men and women eventually stopped working together to provide for their household sustenance. They developed their separate spheres—man in the factory, woman in the home. The more a man worked outside the home, the more the household would have to buy in order to have needs met. Soon the factories were able to fabricate products to supplant the housewives’ duties as well. The housewife’s primary function ultimately became chauffeur and consumer. The household was no longer a unit of production. It was a unit of consumption.
For the person with no transcendent religious belief, this life is all he has. He must therefore preserve and prolong it at all costs and live it to the full. There are not many Hamlets who could be enclosed in a nutshell and count themselves kings of infinite space. For most people, living to the full means consuming as much as possible, having as many experiences as possible, and not only many experiences, the most extreme experiences possible.
But the problem with consumption is that it soon ceases to satisfy. How else can one explain the crowds that assemble in every city center every weekend to buy what they cannot possibly need and perhaps do not want? Will another pair of shoes supply a transcendent purpose?
The same might be said of the experiences that people feel they must seek if they are to live life to the full. Sports become more extreme in their competitive urgency, holidays more exotic, films more violent, broadcasting more vulgar, the expression of emotion more crude and obvious. Compare advertisements showing people enjoying themselves 60 years ago and now. Mouths are open and screams, either of joy or pain, emerge. Quiet satisfaction is not satisfaction at all; what is not expressed grossly is not deemed to have been expressed.
I don’t know about anyone else, but ever since I got married, I think a lot about women, and the role women play in society. Because of my wife, of course, but most importantly, because of the daughters I will one day (inch’Allah) have.
Every time I think about women, or “women’s issues”, I think about my daughters.
We lived for centuries in a world where technology and culture limited women’s possibilities. But sadly today, in the West, the most limiting factor in women’s economic fortunes is women themselves. For example, women without children have the same salaries as their male counterparts.
The idea that my daughters might, for just one second in their life, think that their potential is less than that of a man, that their horizons might be limited, fills me with a mixture of pain, sadness and fury.
Shirky’s post addresses this by calling on women to level the playing field with men. What I liked most about it is that it’s pragmatic. It doesn’t put forward a grand theory of gender backed by partial studies in neurology or genetics or psychology or cognition or astrology. It simply draws simple lessons from everyday observations: women don’t do nearly as much as men to advance themselves, and they should. EDIT: Nor does Shirky claim that this would solve all the problems women face in the workplace. But it’s a good starting place.
So yes, actually, women need to man up. You don’t show up with a knife for a gunfight.
And I intend to equip my daughters with rocket launchers.
Mass Times During the school year (all Masses are Novus Ordo in Latin, unless noted otherwise):
Sunday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m.
Monday – Friday: 7:00 a.m. (Extraordinary From), 11:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 11:30 a.m.
During school vacations:
Sunday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 9:00 a.m.
Monday – Friday: 7:00 a.m. (Extraordinary From), 5:20 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 a.m. (Extraordinary Form), 9:30 a.m.
The War on Pius XII
Guest Ron Rychlak
BIOGRAPHY: Ronald J. Rychlak is Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law. He has written two books and over twenty articles in law journals and popular periodicals. He makes his home in Oxford, Mississippi.
His latest book, Righteous Gentiles, tells the story of Pius XII and many other Catholics who responded heroically to the plight of Jews under Nazi rule. The army of facts he marshals in this work joins forces with his previous book, Hitler, the War and the Pope, to definitively give the lie to the coterie of anti-Catholic propagandists exemplified by Daniel Goldhagen and John Cornwell.
"No matter how I look at the issue," Mullen said, "I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens." Noting that he was speaking for himself and not for the other service chiefs, Mullen added: "For me, it comes down to integrity — theirs as individuals and ours as an institution."
But does this imply a government policy? Yes and no. People make a serious error in transferring arguments that are morally valid for individuals and small communities to the state. If the state is collectively forcing us to give money to strangers who deserve it as a right, it is robbing us of our duty to practice charity and or our duty to make intelligent decisions about the objects of our compassion. The larger the state grows, the more money it squanders and the more people it plunges into poverty. Catholics interested in these questions have got to spend less time repeating the statements of well-intentioned Popes and more on economic reality. But, even then, it is quite wrong to speak of ethically neutral economic policies. In the end, it is far better to be poor and honest under a theocratic economic system, than to be fat and greedy under a Misesian system. Misesian writers are to be condemned, if only for confusing so many people about priorities. Christ’s warning against the likelihood of a rich man entering the Kingdom of Heaven applies doubly to those who reinvent the Kingdom of Heaven as a free market tax haven. The question is not Athens or Jerusalem but Athens or Las Vegas. Woods and his friends, in the last days, will be shooting craps instead of saying the Rosary.
It was also suggested above that we set aside the papal encyclicals. I’m not sure why this would be desirable. If the Church continues to speak with the voice of Christ, then her teaching on the modern economic situation would be highly relevant to Catholics, I should think.
Pius XI on Casti Conubii is pretty clear on the duty of the state to provide welfare in some cases. I’ll paste the text here, although it is a bit long, followed by some more comments of mine.
“20. If, however, for this purpose, private resources do not suffice, it is the duty of the public authority to supply for the insufficient forces of individual effort, particularly in a matter which is of such importance to the common weal, touching as it does the maintenance of the family and married people. If families, particularly those in which there are many children, have not suitable dwellings; if the husband cannot find employment and means of livelihood; if the necessities of life cannot be purchased except at exorbitant prices; if even the mother of the family to the great harm of the home, is compelled to go forth and seek a living by her own labor; if she, too, in the ordinary or even extraordinary labors of childbirth, is deprived of proper food, medicine, and the assistance of a skilled physician, it is patent to all to what an extent married people may lose heart, and how home life and the observance of God’s commands are rendered difficult for them; indeed it is obvious how great a peril can arise to the public security and to the welfare and very life of civil society itself when such men are reduced to that condition of desperation that, having nothing which they fear to lose, they are emboldened to hope for chance advantage from the upheaval of the state and of established order.
121. Wherefore, those who have the care of the State and of the public good cannot neglect the needs of married people and their families, without bringing great harm upon the State and on the common welfare. Hence, in making the laws and in disposing of public funds they must do their utmost to relieve the needs of the poor, considering such a task as one of the most important of their administrative duties.”
It seems to me that those who object to the state helping those whose means are insufficient have an essentially libertarian or classical liberal understanding of the state and of human society. Everything must be voluntary and given or agreed upon by consenting adults. You’ll notice perhaps the carryover into the other kind of liberalism that we have today, the kind that celebrates all sexual activity provided that that mythic being, the “consenting adult” is involved. Both kinds of liberalism, the classical sort which loves the “consenting adult” when it comes to economics, and the 20th century kind, which loves the “consenting adult” when it comes to sex, are really two sides of the same coin.
I put consenting adult in quotes because the concept really is spurious. People consent for all sorts of reasons, fear, boredom, hope of obtaining something beyond, etc. Just as Leo XIII realized that workers sometimes agreed to substandard wages because had no hope of something else – those wages are not really free and in the nature of things cannot be – how many young women yield to a man not as a “consenting” adult but for fear of losing him, force, etc. Human psychology is a lot more complicated than either classical liberalism or 20th century liberalism imagines.
A male high school senior I know recently visited an elite liberal arts college. The college matched him up with a student who was responsible for showing him around. The school arranged for him to spend the night in the student’s dorm room. The student was a girl.
She made known her intentions during the night. Was this part of the college tour? He declined to sleep with her. They spent the rest of the night talking about her problems with other men.
America’s colleges are in the business of prostituting women in a thousand subtle and overt ways.