Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday recap

Sarge is boriqua. Just a term for me to remember.

Anyways, we got up rather early this morning and headed over to Chinatown for dim sum--we decided to go to Chau Chow City, since we weren't feeling particularly adventuresome today and Chiu Chow City is reliable, even if the ha gow is not that great (Sarge loved them nonetheless, and had 6 or so--almost 2 steamers). But they did have ja leung this morning.

Next time I'd like to try Hei la Moon.

Sarge and I took a walk to Downtown Crossing; we were going to stop by the Barnes and Noble there, but it had gone out of business! So, off to Boston Commons and Newbury St. There was a rather attractive greet at FCUK--blonde, Sarge's type. But we didn't go in. No woman accompanying us who could go in and give us an excuse to go in as well... Sarge checked out The North Face. I went to Virgin Megastore, as the store at Newbury and Mass. Ave. was having a going out of business sale (30% off music and movies, 50% off clothing). I of course was in the Early Music Section. Sigh.

In the evening, we met up with Fujian Gal for dinner and a movie. Sarge likes Italian food and the "ambiance" of the North End. Note: parking at Landmark is free for the first 10 minutes. Sigh. We found a parking space on the same street Sarge parked on last time we went to the North End--we were quite lucky! I'd like to think our guardian angels had something to do with it. It was Saturday evening, and the streets were packed with people looking for restaurants and waiting in line. The line at Artu went outside the door (and there were plenty of people inside waiting at the bar and in the waiting area.) I went over to 5 North Square, where the wait was an hour for a table of three. Down the street I went, towards La Summa. It too was packed, and the wait an hour and a half. We didn't even take a look at Il Villagio this time around.

So what were our options? We could have gotten take-out at Artu, but where would we eat it? Or we could go to one of the "fast-food" Italian places on Hanover St. We decided to settle on 5 North Square and wait in line there. So I went back inside and talked to another of the hostesses (there were two--the hostess I talked to the first time around was younger; I'm not sure if they were related to each other) and I wanted to make sure the wait was only an hour. She told me that there had been a cancellation and a table for three was now available! Suprise surprise! Of course I accepted it, and went back outide to get Sarge and Fujian Gal. I'd like to think our guardian angels had something to do with that as well.

Sarge went with the chicken marsala; Fujian Gal ordered the Shrimp Margaretta, and I finally settled on Braciolettini (with chicken). We also ordered the pomodoro--fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato, fresh basil with pure virgin oil, etc. I thought my dish was good, though the chicken was a bit dry--then again, it's hard to keep chicken breast moist, isn't it? Fujian Gal liked hers, but Sarge felt like he had food poisoning. But he survived. Fujian Gal said the quality of the food was about the same as Carlo's Cucina Italiana on Brighton Ave., but the portions at 5 North Square were bigger. She prefers the antipasti at Carlo's. I wonder if Alfredo's Restaurant, also on Brighton Ave., is any good.

After dinner, we did not stick around too long, as it was already 9. After a few attempts to get onto Storrow Drive (my fault for misdirecting us, the sign for the onramp was confusing to me), we made it to the theater, 30 minutes ahead of time. But the theater was packed with movie-goers! Fortunately, we had purchased movie tickets earlier that evening ($3 wasted for 15 minutes of parking!)... the movie? The Departed, Martin Scorcese's re-imagining of the HK film Infernal Affairs. Sarge didn't feel like getting Coldstone since his stomach was still a bit upset. Sarge went in first to get some seats, while I stayed outside in the concessions area to help Fujian Gal buy her drink and some popcorn. Alas, Sarge was able to find seats for us only in front of the rail and the first row of the stadium seats. (There were some Chinese people siting behind us--I'm not sure if the person who had their feet on the rail was Chinese, but that was a bit obnoxious. But his (or her?) feet weren't dangling over my head...)

As for the movie, was it good? I thought it was ok for the most part, but the ending was enough to give me a bad overall impression, especially since it did not take advantage of the obvious ways that had been hinted at to end the story. Fujian Gal disliked the amount of violence in the film; it didn't bother me so much. Undoubtedly there were some scenes cut from the film; one scene didn't really make sense--*when one of William Cartigan's fellow gangsters doesn't reveal that he is the mole, it's not clear why he feels so betrayed by him--the film does not do anything to develop a relationship between the two; in fact, the first time we see this gangster is before the big scene with Captain Queenan*

What do I think of Scorcese after watching this film? I'm not sure. I think William Monaham is credited with the script, but there are plenty of digs at the Church which make me wonder if Scorcese had a hand in it. Can I recommend this movie? I don't think I can, because the letdown of an ending makes it a huge disappointment... the actors do a good job, and I was rather impressed with Leonardo Di Caprio, who was convincing as a tough guy. I didn't get any pretty boy vibes from him at all.

pics to be uploaded later...


A Ministry to Enhance Appreciation of Holy Icons and the Traditions of the Eastern Churches

info about the icon of St. Albert the Great

Via DSPT news.

Friday, October 06, 2006

General Anthony Zinni coming to BC

General Anthony Zinni (Ret.) Tuesday, October 17, 2006

4:00 p.m.
Gasson 100

Free and open to public (Tickets are not required)

A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose in the Middle East
Anthony Zinni

General Zinni served as the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) from 1997 to 2000, responsible for all U.S. forces in a 25 country region, including the Middle East. He also served as Secretary of State Colin Powell's special envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2002. General Zinni is the author The Battle for Peace. He is also the subject of Tom Clancy's Battle Ready which documents General Zinni's thirty years of military experience. For the Clough Colloquium he will draw upon his vast experience as both a soldier and diplomat to present his vision for American foreign policy.

Public reception to follow.

Father Cantalamessa on Marriage

Father Cantalamessa on Marriage

"Rediscover the Art of Repairing!" Says Pontifical Household Preacher

ROME, OCT. 6, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

The Two Shall Become One Flesh
Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16

The topic of this 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time is marriage. The first reading (Genesis 2:18-24) begins with the well-known words: "The Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'"

In our days the evil of marriage is separation and divorce, whereas in the time of Jesus it was repudiation. In a certain sense, the latter was a worse evil, because it also implied an injustice in regard to the woman, which, sadly, persists in certain cultures. Man, in fact, had the right to repudiate his wife, but the wife did not have the right to repudiate her husband.

There were two opposite opinions in Judaism, in regard to repudiation. According to one of them, it was lawful to repudiate one's wife for any reason, hence, at the discretion of the husband. According to another, however, a grave reason was necessary, established by the law.

One day they subjected Jesus to this question, hoping that he would adopt a position in favor of one or the other thesis. However, they received an answer they did not expect: "Because of the hardness of your hearts he [Moses] wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother (and be joined to his wife), and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

The law of Moses about repudiation is seen by Christ as an unwanted disposition, but tolerated by God (as polygamy and other disorders), because of hardness of heart and human immaturity. Jesus did not criticize Moses for the concession made; he recognized that in this matter the human lawmaker cannot fail to keep in mind the reality in fact.

However, he re-proposed to all the original ideal of the indissoluble union between man and woman -- "one flesh" -- that, at least for his disciples, must be the only form possible of marriage.

However, Jesus did not limit himself to reaffirming the law; he added grace to it. This means that Christian spouses not only have the duty to remain faithful until death; they also have the necessary aids to do so. From Christ's redeeming death comes a strength -- the Holy Spirit -- which permeates every aspect of the believer's life, including marriage. The latter is even raised to the dignity of a sacrament and of living image of the spousal union with the Church on the cross (Ephesians 5:31-32).

To say that marriage is a sacrament does not only mean -- as often believed -- that in it the union of the sexes is permitted, licit and good, which outside of it would be disorder and sin; it means even more yet, to say that marriage becomes a way of being united to Christ through love of the other, a real path of sanctification.

This positive view is the one that Benedict XVI happily showed in his encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" on love and charity. In it the Pope does not compare the indissoluble union in marriage to another form of erotic love; but presents it as the most mature and perfect form, not only from the Christian, but also from the human point of view.

"It is part of love's growth toward higher levels and inward purification that it now seeks to become definitive, and it does so in a twofold sense: both in the sense of exclusivity (this particular person alone) and in the sense of being 'forever.' Love embraces the whole of existence in each of its dimensions, including the dimension of time. It could hardly be otherwise, since its promise looks toward its definitive goal: love looks to the eternal" (No. 60).

This ideal of conjugal fidelity has never been easy (adultery is a word that resounds ominously even in the Bible!). But today the permissive and hedonist culture in which we live has made it immensely more difficult. The alarming crisis that the institution of marriage is going through in our society is easy for all to see.

Civil laws, such as that in Spain, permit (and indirectly, in this way, encourage!) beginning divorce proceedings just a few months after life in common. Words like: "I am sick of this life," "I'm going," "If it's like this, each one on his own!" are uttered between spouses at the first difficulty.

Let it be said in passing: I believe that Christian spouses should accuse themselves in confession of the simple fact of having uttered one of these words, because the sole fact of saying them is an offense to the unity, and constitutes a dangerous psychological precedent.

In this marriage suffers the common mentality of "use and discard." If a device or tool is in some way damaged or dented, no thought is given to repairing it -- those who did such repairs have disappeared -- there is only thought of replacing it. Applied to marriage, this mentality is deadly.

What can be done to contain this tendency, cause of so much evil for society and so much sadness for children? I have a suggestion: Rediscover the art of repairing!

Replace the "use and discard" mentality with that of "use and repair." Almost no one does repairs now. But if this art of repairing is no longer done for clothes, it must be practiced in marriage. Repair the big tears, and repair them immediately.

St. Paul gave very good counsels in this respect: "Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil," "forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other," "Bear one another's burdens" (Ephesians 4:26-27; Colossians 3:13; Galatians 6:2).

What is important is that one must understand that in this process of tears and repairs, of crises and surmounted obstacles, marriage is not exhausted, but is refined and improves. I perceive an analogy between the process that leads to a successful marriage and one that leads to holiness.

In their path toward perfection, the saints often go through the so-called dark night of the senses, in which they no longer experience any feeling, or impulse.

They have aridity, are empty, do everything through will power alone and with effort. After this, comes the "dark night of the spirit," in which not only feelings enter into crisis, but also the intelligence and will. There is even doubt that one is on the right road; if it has not all been an error; complete darkness, endless temptations. They go forward only through faith.

Does everything end then? On the contrary! All this was but purification. After they have passed through these crises, the saints realize how much more profound and selfless their love of God now is, in relation to that of the beginning.

For many couples, it will not be difficult to recognize their own experience. They have also frequently gone through the night of the senses in their marriage, in which the latter have no rapture of ecstasy, and if there ever was, it is only a memory of the past. Some also experience the dark night of the spirit, the state in which the profoundest option is in crisis, and it seems that there is no longer anything in common.

If with good will and the help of someone these crises are surmounted, one realizes to what point the impulse and enthusiasm of the first days was but little compared to the stable love and communion matured over the years.

If at first husband and wife loved one another for the satisfaction it gave them, today perhaps they love one another a bit more with a love of tenderness, free of egoism and capable of compassion; they love one another for the things they have gone through and suffered together.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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St. Francis, Minus the Myths

St. Francis, Minus the Myths; Rosary Power

Assisi's Famous Son Was No Dr. Doolittle

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, OCT. 5, 2006 ( Last week I spent several days in Assisi with a pilgrimage group. It was a wonderful adventure tooling around the Umbrian countryside and praying at the sites of the great saints, but it was also an eye-opening experience for me to realize that the St. Francis venerated today is a pretty far cry from the St. Francis who lived next to a leper colony outside Assisi in the 1220s.

Unlike the green, rolling hills of Tuscany, the Umbrian terrain is harsh and rugged, with jagged mountain ranges and thick forests teeming with wolves and boar. As the wilderness of the Middle East produced exemplary models of austerity among the desert Fathers of the early centuries, so did the wilds of Umbria in the Middle Ages. This single Italian region produced extraordinary followers of Christ, the likes of Benedict, Scholastica, Francis, Clare and Rita of Cascia (just to name a few).

The pilgrims were Benedictine, so we visited the sites of St. Benedict and Scholastica, Norcia, Subiaco and Montecassino. The Benedictine monasteries perch atop high mountains in secluded areas, seemingly just a few steps from heaven. By contrast, the Basilica of St. Francis and the Porziuncola (the place where Francis lived) sits on the lowest part of Assisi, a city on the much-traveled route to Perugia.

While St. Benedict's monasticism encouraged intense dedication to God in a more individualistic way, St. Francis and his friars applied themselves to public service, which in this day and age makes them seem like a cuddly, user-friendly order.

Assisi itself furthers the image of an ecology-loving, animal-hugging Francis, with illustrated stories of dancing friars in meadows and conversations with birds. He comes across as a kind of fun-loving, 13th-century Dr. Doolittle.

But Francis was prickly and difficult for people in the 13th century, quite different from the modern picture-book version.

Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. Not landed aristocracy, Francis' father belonged to a new, rising Italian class who had worked their way out of peasantry through trade. Francis' father had great hopes for him, and was determined that Francis would never know want, the way his parents had.

Standing in Assisi, one wonders what we would have thought had we been bystanders as the umpteenth fight broke out between Francis and his father. We might well have sided with Francis' father. He had worked all his life to give Francis fine clothes, good food and a warm home -- and all the thanks he got was a kid who stole from the family shop and spent all day hanging around the town outcasts.

What would we have made of Francis as he stripped off all his clothes and threw them at his father, renouncing his family name? Would we have immediately understood, as Francis rejoiced that he would now only have his "Father in Heaven"?

Francis lived in an age of newfound wealth and accessible education. The 13th century saw vast amounts of trade as well as universities cropping up all over Europe. His extreme example of poverty challenged people to disdain the luxury goods that were just becoming more available. His humility and his willingness to be mocked and ridiculed confounded the arrogance of the increasingly educated classes.

He was an uncomfortable figure and even the great Pope Innocent III hesitated to confirm his rule as Francis' example seemed unattainable.

We smile warmly when we think of Francis arranging the first Nativity scene, but we easily forget these were living people on a gelid night in Umbria. Francis sought to emphasize the humility of Christ's birth, not the Christmas-card charm of the scene.

Greater than Francis' devotion to the Nativity, in fact, was his dedication to the Passion. He composed an Office of the Passion and promoted art, prayer and meditation on Christ's suffering. His focus on all the aspects of Christ's passion was rewarded with the stigmata -- Francis was the second man in the history of the church (the first being St. Paul) to bear the same wounds as the crucified Christ.

Even during his own lifetime, Francis saw immense difficulties in his own order. Many of his followers worked against him, trying to render the Franciscan example less radical. Even the quaint painting in the Basilica of St. Francis, "Francis Preaching to Birds," renders the saint praising God to this unlikely congregation precisely because he has been betrayed by some of his own followers, unheeded by his fellow citizens and doubted by the pastors of the Church.

Francis felt called to bring his challenging style of preaching and his radical example of Christ to the Holy Land to try to convert the Muslims. In the era of the Crusades, Francis went to the Holy Land fully expecting to be a martyr in his quest to bring the word of God to the sultan.

He set off with 12 brothers and the small band was captured and beaten. Eventually they ended up in Cairo where Francis was able to engage Islamic scholars in theological debate. The shrine of St. Francis proudly bears the gift given to the saint by the sultan, who was deeply impressed with Francis' example and words.

Francis is perhaps best known as the author of the "Canticle of the Creatures" -- today touted as a kind of ecological manifesto -- but while everyone can remember the part about "Brother Sun" or "Sister Mother Earth," few recall "Sister Bodily Death," who seems to be an uncomfortable medieval leftover. But "Sister Death" is precisely the point of the poem, the warm tone of the canticle stops abruptly when Francis admonishes, "Woe to those who die in mortal sin!"

Addressing all of his followers, Francis wrote frightening words on the fate of him who dies in mortal sin. "The devil tears his soul from his body with so much anguish and tribulation," Francis wrote. "Worms eat the body; and so perishes body and soul in that brief life span and he shall go to hell."

So this year, to honor the feast day of St. Francis, patron of Italy, perhaps instead of just recycling our trash or adopting a pet, we should pray for luxury-loving, increasingly secular Europe to rediscover its Christian identity and soul.

* * *

Remembering Lepanto

The same week we remember St. Francis' example, we also celebrate the important contributions of St. Dominic, contemporary of Francis and founder of the Dominicans. Notable among his contributions was the praying of the rosary.

St. Dominic received the rosary from the Blessed Virgin in a vision while trying to convert the Albigensians in 1208. Mary told the great saint that the rosary was a "weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world." At the Battle of Muret on Sept. 12, 1213, the Marian prayer brought about the defeat of the Albigensians and saw the first shrine built to Our Lady of Victory.

Throughout the centuries, the rosary has been recited especially in times of danger to implore the aid of the Blessed Virgin. This Oct. 7 will be the 435th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, the event which gave the liturgical feast of the rosary to the world.

Throughout the 16th century, naval clashes with the Turkish fleet had been increasing. Having taken Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Turks were building a fleet with the intention of conquering all of Europe, first by sea, then by land.

The Turkish fleet was seemingly invincible -- well appointed, superbly led and unflinchingly aggressive. They had captured Cyprus, Rhodes and had only been narrowly repelled at Malta.

Pope St. Pius V, zealous Dominican reformer and friend of St. Charles Borromeo, hoped to stave off the next inevitable attack before it happened and managed to bring together the king of Spain and the republics of Venice and Genoa as well as the papal fleet to stop the Turkish fleet from leaving its own waters.

This remarkable alliance was comprised of many traditional enemies who succeeded in putting aside their differences to aid their common cause. They set sail 200 ships strong to engage the 220 ships of the Turkish fleet.

Pius V, besides his personal penances, enjoined the entire Catholic world to pray the rosary and organized processions throughout the city for the Marian prayer. On Oct. 7, 1571, while working with his cardinals, Pius V looked up and said, "A truce to business; our great task at present is to thank God for the victory which he has just given the Christian army."

Indeed, in a few short hours Don John of Austria, commander of the Holy Alliance, had won the day, not only defeating the Turkish fleet but also freeing almost 20,000 Christian galley slaves from the Turkish boats.

Thus began the feast of Our Lady of Victory, later changed by Pope Gregory XIII to the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and extended to the whole church by Clement XI in 1716.

Pope John Paul II of blessed memory reminded Catholics that in our modern age we are in more need than ever of the rosary. In the wake of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, he declared, "Within the current international context, I invite all -- individuals, families, communities -- to pray this Marian prayer, possibly every day, for peace, so that the world can be preserved from the wicked scourge of terrorism."

A year later, he added the luminous mysteries to the rosary to focus on Christ's public ministry.

In these troubled times of unexpected dangers and flare-ups of hostility, Christians can remember that while might fails, and reason breaks down, the most effective weapon in the Christian's arsenal is prayer.

* * *
Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at Duquesne University's Italian campus. She can be reached at

AICN coverage of BSG s03e01


Saint Bruno, October 6

Sarge's favorite saint. (Sarge is in town this weekend, by the way.)

CE entry
Patron Saints Index

Official site for the Carthusians (CE)
Parkminster Charterhouse
Pleterje Charterhouse
International Fellowship of St. Bruno

Carthusian spirituality (Memories of the Carthusians)
Talk by Dr. Peter Birrell
Medieval spirituality bibliography
Something short by Jordan Aumann (scroll down)

I don't know if this book is any good. It is edited by Dennis Martin, though, I believe the same Dennis Martin who comments over at Pontifications. Maybe Sarge can write something up on Carthusian spirituality.

Chan Akya, The Death of City States

Death of city-states

Mr. Chan is talking about what Asian "city-states," like Singapore and Hong Kong. I am not sure if Singapore is self-sufficient, with respect to food and water, but Hong Kong certainly isn't.

The DNI review of Steven Pressfield's The Afghan Campaign

The DNI review of Steven Pressfield's The Afghan Campaign

Benedict XVI's homily on the Feast of St. Bruno

From Papa Ratzinger Forum via Amy Welborn:

Dear brothers and sisters,

I did not really prepare a homily today, just some notes on which to meditate. The mission of St. Bruno, the saint of the day, appears clearly interpreted, we might say, in the prayer for the day which reminds us that his mission was silence and contemplation.

Silence and contemplation have a purpose: they serve to keep - amid the daily distraction of daily life - (a space for) continuing union with GOd. That is the purpose: that union with God should always be in our spirit and transform all our being.

Silence and contemplation - St. Bruno's characteristics - help us to find amid the distractions of every day a profound and continuing union with God.

Silence and contemplation! But the calling of a theologian, a beautiful calling, is to talk. That is his mission: amid the loquacity of our time, and other times, amid the inflation of words, to keep the essential words alive and present. To present with words the Word that comes from God, the Word that is God.

But how can we, being part of this world with all its words, present the Word in words, if not through a process of purifying our own thoughts, which above, all should also be a purification of our words?

How can we open the world - ourselves, first of all - to the Word, without first entering into the silence of God, from which the Word proceeds?

For the purification of our words, and therefore, for the purification of words in the world, we need that silence which becomes meditation, which makes us enter into the silence of God and thus arrive at the point from which the Word was born, the redemptive Word.

St. Thomas Aquinas, following a long tradition, says that in theology, God is not the object that we speak of. This is our normal idea. In fact, God is not the object but the subject of theology.

He who speaks in theology should be God himself. Our thoughts and words should serve only so that God's word can be heard, can find room in the world.

So we find ourselves invited anew to this path of renouncing our own words, on a path of purification so that our words may only be an instrument through which God can speak, so that God is not the object but the subject of theology.

In this context, I am reminded of a beautiful sentence in the first Letter of St. Peter, chapter 1, verse 22. In Latin, it says - «Castificantes animas nostras in oboedentia veritatis» . Obedience to truth should chastify our souls - and thus, guide us to right words and right actions.

In other words, to speak in search of applause, to speak according to what we think others want to hear, to speak in obedience to the dictatorship of common opinion, may be considered a prostitution of words and of the spirit.

The "chastity" that the apostle Peter refers to means not submitting ourselves to common standards, not to seek applause, but rather, obedience to the truth.

I think that is the fundamental virtue of theology, this difficult discipline of obedience to the truth - which makes us co-workers in the truth, the voice of truth, because we do not speak in the rivers of words that characterizes the world today, but in words that are purified and made chaste by obedience to the truth. And therefore, we can be truly bearers of the truth.

This also reminds me of St. Ignatius of Antioch who had this beautiful thought: "Wheover has understood the words of the Lord understands His silence, because the Lord can be known in His silence."

The analysis of Jesus's words can only go up to a certain point, which remains our thought. Only when we reach the silence of the Lord, in His being with the Father from whom the words come, only then can we really begin to understand the profundity of these words.

The words of Jesus were born from His silence on the mountain, as the Scriptures tell us, when He was with His Father. From the silence of His communion with the Father, from being immersed in the Father, His words were born.

(Likewise), only by arriving at this point of communion, and taking off from this point, we reach the true depth of the Word and we can be its authentic interpreters.

In talking to us, the Lord invites us to join him on the Mountain, and in silence, learn anew the true sense of His words.

Having said this, we come to the two readings today. Job had cried out to God, he had even struggled with God in the face of the evident injustices he had to deal with. And then he is confronted with the greatness of God. And he understands that in the face of the true greatness of God, our words are mere poverty and cannot even remotely approach the greatness of God, and so he says: "I have spoken twice, I will say no more."

Silence before the greatness of God, because our words become too puny. It remainds me of the last weeks of St. Thomas's life - when he stopped writing, he stopped speaking. His friends asked him: "Master, why don't you speak, why don't you write?" And he says, "Before what I have seen, all my words seem to me like straw."

The great expert on St.Thomas, Fr. Jean-Pierre Torrel, tells us not to misunderstand these words. Straw is not nothing. Straw carries the grain, and that is its great value. It carries the grain. So even the straw of words remains valid as a bearer of the grain.

This, I would say, even for us, is a relativization of our work as well as a valuation of it. It is also an indication to us so that the straw of our work should truly carry the grain of God's Word.

The Gospel today ends with, "Whoever listens to you, listens to me." What an admonition, what an examination of conscience these words require! Is it true that whoever hears me really hears the Lord? Let us pray and work that it may always be true that whoever listens to us, listens to Christ. Amen!

No limbo for unbaptised children

No limbo for unbaptised children

6 October, 2006
No limbo for unbaptised children
For the International Theological Commission, the concept of Limbo can be dropped. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger said the same more than 20 years ago.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The concept of Limbo is "neither essential nor necessary” and can be dropped “without compromising the faith” as a place for the souls of unbaptised children, this according to the International Theological Commission which met in Rome on October 2-6 to discuss the issue.

The members of the commission, who celebrated mass this morning with Benedict XVI in the Redemptoris Mater Chapel, do not intend any “break from the great tradition of the faith”, but only avoid “the use of images and metaphors that do not adequate account for the richness of the message of hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ”.

The conclusions reached by the commission, which is only a consultative body, will be more thoroughly explained in a future paper. In the meantime, the highlights were presented by the newly-appointed bishop of Chieti-Vasto, theologian Bruno Forte, to the I Media news agency.

The issue does not involve changing the doctrine of original sin, the archbishop said. “Original Sin is a reality that really marks the fragility of the human condition,” he noted. And baptism is necessary to remove its stain.

But in the case of children who are not baptised, through no fault of their own, “then it would seem that the saving power of Christ ought to prevail over the power of sin,” he explained. What is more, the concept of Limbo has never been formally defined in Catholic teaching, but is more of a “theological creation”. In fact, in 1984, then-Cardinal Ratzinger expressed his own “purely personal” belief that the concept of Limbo had outlived its pastoral value.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not define that “place” either but place trust in God's mercy and entrust unbaptised children to his loving care.

The archbishop stressed that the International Theological Commission is not introducing any change in Catholic doctrine, and said he hoped that his statements will “reassure those who are worried about a discontinuity” in teaching.

Indeed the essential doctrinal points that led theologians to posit the existence of Limbo will still be clearly upheld in the forthcoming paper, Mgr Forte said. The Commission hopes to present those points with greater clarity “without compromising the faith of the Church in any way”.

Filmforce stuff

George Lucas: No More Big Movies

The Departed interviews

Serenity sequel squashed

Tideland trailer

Interview with Helen Mirren and James Cromwell about The Queen

From the interview:
Q: Where were you when you heard Princess Diana died?

Mirren: I think I was in America. ... It was horrible. I was quite relieved to not be in Britain at that time because what happened in those two weeks, to me, was disturbing.

Q: What was disturbing? The public reaction?

Mirren: The public reaction was weird to me.

Q: Do you think they overreacted to her death?

Mirren: I can't say that. It all became about them. It became about them. It appeared to be about her but it was about them. It was weird. I was really very glad not to be there. It was kind of a circus. Like the carnival coming to town. And it was a carnival of death and a sort of carnival of grief but a carnival nonetheless.
Bravo! One wonders if someone, say Elton John, protests a little bit too much even now about the reaction of the Royal Family.

news about a WarGames sequel

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners

Review at Austen Blog. No idea how historically accurate it is...

Identity and evangelization

Another post at The Way of the Fathers--"Hold on, Loosely" discusses the work of an archeologist to make Syrian Christians more aware of their past and their ties to their land, and thus strengthen a native Christian identity.

Her paper, "Archaeology and cultural belonging in contemporary Syria: the value of archaeology to religious minorities," can be found here. (Registration required, but free.)

Thanks to Amy Welborn.

Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It

by Robert Taft, S.J.

Review at The Way of the Fathers

Archimandrite Serge Keleher on the Orthodox tradition and Catholicity
The Society of St. John Chrysostom
Centro Pro Unione

300 trailer at Apple

link, via AICN

Should be the same as the IFilm one that was posted here.

Mexican archeologists make major Aztec find

A part of an altar uncovered last weekend at the Aztec empire's main Templo Mayor temple shows a frieze of the rain god Tlaloc near the central Zocalo square in Mexico City October 4, 2006. Mexican archeologists have made the most significant Aztec find in decades, unearthing a 15th century altar and a huge stone slab at a ruined temple in the throbbing heart of Mexico City. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo (MEXICO)

A part of an uncovered altar shows a frieze of an agricultural deity at the Aztec empire's main Templo Mayor temple, near the central Zocalo square in Mexico City October 4, 2006. Mexican archeologists have made the most significant Aztec find in decades, unearthing a 15th century altar and a huge stone slab at a ruined temple in the throbbing heart of Mexico City. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo (MEXICO)

Mexican archeologists make major Aztec find

By Gunther Hamm Wed Oct 4, 4:56 PM ET

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican archeologists have made the most significant Aztec find in decades, unearthing a 15th century altar and a huge stone slab at a ruined temple in the throbbing heart of Mexico City.

The works were uncovered last weekend at the Aztec empire's main Templo Mayor temple, near the central Zocalo square, which was used for worship and human sacrifice.

It was the most meaningful find since electricity workers stumbled upon an eight-tonne carving of an Aztec goddess at the same site in 1978.

"It is a very important discovery, the biggest we have made in 28 years. It will allow us to find out a lot more," Mexico City's mayor, Alejandro Encinas, said on Wednesday.

The altar has a frieze of the rain god Tlaloc and an agricultural deity.

Archeologists are still unearthing the 11-foot (3.5-m) monolith, which they think might be part of an entrance to an underground chamber.

At the site, excavators with pick axes and shovels hacked at the earth above the monolith while groups of archeologists, government officials and reporters waited around the deep pit.

"The importance of the monolith is what we are going to discover...It's likely that it is part of a chamber, of some offering. We won't know until we get close. First we have to get the stone out," said Alberto Diaz, a member of the archeological team.

The Aztecs, a warlike and deeply religious people who built monumental works, ruled an empire stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and encompassing much of modern-day central Mexico.

Their often bloody reign began in the 14th century and ended when they were subjugated in 1521 by the Spanish led by Hernan Cortes.


The Aztecs began building the Templo Mayor pyramid-shaped temple in 1375. Its ruins are now only yards from downtown's choking traffic.

The temple was a center of human sacrifice. At one ceremony in 1487, historians say tens of thousands of victims were sacrificed, their hearts ripped out.

Spanish conquistadors destroyed the temple when they razed the city and used its stones to help build their own capital.

Now the site is surrounded by Spanish colonial buildings like Mexico City's cathedral and the historical National Palace as well as convenience stores and fast-food restaurants.

"Really, when we begin to excavate, we realize that we are in three different times, three different cities: You see the current city, the colonial city and the pre-Hispanic city," said Diaz.

Poverty affects 79 per cent of all Gaza households

Poverty affects 79 per cent of all Gaza households

Cardinal Zen Says Chinese Catholics Are Winning

Cardinal Zen Says Chinese Catholics Are Winning

Sees State-Approved Church Moving Toward Communion With Rome

LONDON, OCT. 4, 2006 ( China's Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun hailed the patience and determination of his long-suffering people as a victory over the strict controls on the Church by Beijing.

Addressing a sell-out audience of more than 400 at an event Monday organized by the United Kingdom office of Aid to the Church in Need, the cardinal revealed how the state-controlled official Church in China is almost completely reconciled with Rome, despite the catalogue of abuses meted out by Beijing to Catholics.

With about 85% of the official Church's bishops now approved by Rome, Catholics' endurance and peaceful resolve to achieve full communion with Rome has prevailed, said Cardinal Zen.

"The bishops [of the official Church] will not accept ordination without the approval of the Holy See," said the bishop of Hong Kong. "The government can do nothing about that."

And when Rome appointed a bishop, the official Church went through the administrative ritual of officially electing the bishop, so that the government could not disapprove, he explained.

Even the recent ordination of two bishops without the approval of Rome would not stop a desire for dialogue, said the 74-year-old cardinal, since the prelates in question had subsequently sought the forgiveness of Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Zen went on to stress how the Church is united by the oppression it suffers, and that in some ways the situation has worsened recently.

"In China, there is persecution -- not only of the so-called underground Church but also of the official Church," he said. "If we consider the whole world today, such persecution is unbelievable.

"Yes, we see that there are many Churches open for worship, that the seminaries are full. But what we cannot see is the control exerted by the government."

Bishop Jia

Highlighting the day-to-day persecution of the Church, Cardinal Zen told how Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding had recently been released after 10 months in custody.

"Bishop Jia is used to always being in and out of jail -- it is like a matter of administration," the cardinal said. "It shows he is standing up for his people."

Bishop Jia has spent a total of 20 years in prison.

The cardinal called for the authorities to relax their tight grip on the Church.

"If the government understood the role of the Church they would realize they have nothing to fear," he affirmed. "They need to know religion can contribute to education, economic development and progress in China."

Westborough Baptist Church

Members were going to protest the Amish funerals today in accordance with their own agenda and understanding of the times... Radio host Mike Gallagher negotiated to have them on the show instead of doing their protest. Unbelievable how people can take certain strands of Protestantism so far and think they are fully justified in doing so. Their simplistic interpretation of the Gospel is such an obstacle to unbelievers...

What a contrast between them and the Amish... both are in some way anabaptist with regards to baptism, but undoubtedly they differ on other points.

Four Amish girls walk to the home of one of the girls killed the previous day at the one room Amish schoolhouse shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. The truck driver who slaughtered five Amish schoolgirls meant to molest them first and confessed to sexually preying on young relatives 20 years ago, police said.(AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

A group of Amish children ride in a buggy near the one room Amish school house where five girls were murdered in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania on 03 October 2006. Shocked by the murder of school children in their close-knit community, the Amish of Pennsylvania are trying to find the strength to forgive, a fundamental principle of their peaceful Christian faith.(AFP/Getty Images/File/William Thomas Cain)

Amish schoolchildren walk home after school in Leacock, Pa. on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006. Charles Carl Roberts IV shot and killed several children in an Amish schoolhouse in the nearby community of Nickel Mines, Pa, on Monday, Oct. 2, 2006. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Members of an Amish family walk through their field to a funeral ceremony for victims of the Amish school shootings in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, October 5, 2006. The Amish community prepared for the funerals of the victims of Monday's schoolhouse shooting in Nickel Mines. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)

Amish children ride in the back of a buggy as they travel to a wake at the home of two of the Amish school shooting victims in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. The father of several survivors of the Amish school killings has told how several girls questioned the gunman as to why he was carrying out the attack before he opened fire.(AFP/Getty Images/Mark Wilson)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Clip from Flags of Our Fathers

Links at AICN

QT clip (large)

Also, from AICN: "First Act of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’s Third Season Premiere Is Online Now!!"

Go to SciFi to see the webisodes plus check "the link to see other Battlestar Videos and it's the last link posted."

One reason to move to Italy

The infrastructure of the future

by Kurt Cobb

Ah, Assisi!

And today is the feast day of St. Francis.

CE entry
Franciscan Archive
the Basilica

Info on the San Damiano Crucifix

Other links:
Friars Minor Conventual
Conventual Franciscans
Capuchin Franciscan Friars
EWTN info on the orders
Franciscan Friars TOR
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal

Fr. James Schall, S.J. on Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address

God as Logos, Allah as Will

Father James Schall on Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address

WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 3, 2006 ( The "unreasoned" reaction to Benedict XVI's recent speech at the University of Regensburg has proved that his point needed much attention, says a U.S. scholar.

Jesuit Father James Schall, professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, is author of "The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking" (ISI Books).

He shared with ZENIT why he thinks the Regensburg lecture was liberating and imperative, and how the reaction to it highlighted the modern disconnect between faith and reason.

Q: At Regensburg, Benedict XVI highlighted the Christian understanding of God as Logos. How does the idea of God as Logos differ from an Islamic conception of God?

Father Schall: The Holy Father posed the fundamental question that lies behind all the discussion about war and terror. If God is Logos, it means that a norm of reason follows from what God is. Things are, because they have natures and are intended to be the way they are because God is what he is: He has his own inner order.

If God is not Logos but "Will," as most Muslim thinkers hold Allah to be, it means that, for them, Logos places a "limit" on Allah. He cannot do everything because he cannot do both evil and good. He cannot do contradictories.

Thus, if we want to "worship" Allah, it means we must be able to make what is evil good or what is good evil. That is, we can do whatever is said to be the "will" of Allah, even if it means doing violence as if it were "reasonable."

Otherwise, we would "limit" the "power" of Allah. This is what the Pope meant about making violence "reasonable." This different conception of the Godhead constitutes the essential difference between Christianity and Islam, both in their concept of worship and of science.

Q: Your newest book is entitled, "The Life of the Mind: On the Joys and Travails of Thinking." In what way is the life of the mind a participation in the Logos of God?

Father Schall: Aquinas says that truth is the "conformity of the mind with reality." This means that a reality exists that we do not ourselves make. It is a reality that cannot be "otherwise" by our own will. It also means that God established what is, not we ourselves.

Thus, if we are to know the "truth," which is what makes us "free," it means that we know what God created, is what it is. We rejoice to know the truth that we did not make. The wonder of what is, elates us.

If Allah is pure will, then anything that is, can be the opposite of what it is, so that nothing really is what it is. It can always be otherwise.

Q: Is Benedict XVI's discussion of "faith and reason" different from John Paul II's encyclical "Fides et Ratio"?

Father Schall: I am not aware of much difference. "Fides et Ratio," as I tried to show in my book, "Roman Catholic Political Philosophy," is itself a defense of philosophy. But it recognizes that faith is also a guide to philosophy. Not all philosophies reach the reality that is.

Both Pontiffs are concerned that faith directs itself to reason and that reason is a reality that is not invented by the human mind. We did not fabricate the mind we have that thinks. We are to use it. We invent neither it nor reality.

Both Popes hold philosophy to be possible and available to every person. But they also recognize that some philosophies cannot defend either faith or reality. This is the problem with the "voluntarism" of classical Islamist philosophy. This same philosophy exists in the West, as Benedict indicated.

Indeed, the Regensburg lecture was directed as much at the West as at Islam on this score. Those who justify abortion follow the exact same philosophical position that the Pope saw in the medieval Muslim thinker from Cordova.

Q: Benedict XVI argued that the synthesis of Hellenistic and Hebrew thought is present as early as the Old Testament wisdom books, but reaches its fullest expression in the Gospel of John. Why is this position important for the Church in what Benedict XVI calls the "dialogue of cultures"?

Father Schall: The fact that Benedict referred to a "dialogue of cultures" shows that he had more than the West and Islam in mind; China and India are also in his scope. The Pope is clear that the command to Paul to go to Macedonia was itself providential.

Indeed, like John Paul II's trip to Poland, Benedict's visit to Regensburg is providential. Both aimed at the crucial problem of our time. We forget that the papacy is not just another human power, though it is also human. It is uncanny how the contemporary world, to its own surprise, continually finds itself watching the papacy.

The Pope says that reason is now also an element of faith. He does not mean that it ceases to be reason. That is why he, as a Pope, gave a "lecture," whose only public claim was its own intrinsic reasonableness. Of its very nature, a lecture demands not passion but reason to grasp what it says.

When within days after the lecture, storms swelled all through the Islamic world, with lots of objections in the West -- including in Catholic circles -- it was clear that Benedict's address was not read for what it said.

It was not translated immediately into Arabic in leading Muslim papers. Most read only snippets in the West. The spirit of an academic lecture, to present the truth of what is, was violated.

The Muslim world, I suspect, is beginning to have second thoughts about its unrestricted reaction to this address. Its actual reaction did not prove the Pope was "insensitive" or "insulting." Rather it proved that his point needed much attention, just as he intended.

Q: Benedict XVI's speech was also a criticism of the Western world; it should have found many receptive ears among Muslims. Yet, the speech has been widely criticized and denounced, proving the point the Pope was trying to make about reason for the dialogue of cultures. Does this spell doom for Benedict XVI's project?

Father Schall: My own opinion is that Benedict was not surprised by these reactions. Indeed, I suspect it is precisely this unreasoned reaction that has made his point so clearly that no sane mind can deny it. It was a point that had to be made.

It could not have been made by the politicians, who in fact did not make it even when they needed it. Politicians talked about "terrorists," as if a more fundamental theological problem was not at issue. Until this deeper issue was spelled out, which is what the Regensburg lecture was about, we were doomed.

This address is probably one of the most liberating addresses ever given by a Pope or anyone else. As its import sinks in, those who were unwilling to consider what it was about will find themselves either embarrassed -- if they are honest -- or more violent, if they refuse the challenge of reason.

Make no mistake about it: This address illuminated, more than anything that we know, the problems with a modernity based on an explicit or implicit voluntarism that postulated that we could change the world, our nature, our God according to our own wills.

Q: The Western media have often taken Benedict XVI's words out of context and stoked the flames of Islamic aggression. How does the cultural dominance and hostility to the Church by the mass media affect its ability to participate in the dialogue of cultures?

Father Schall: There can be no "dialogue" about anything until the basic principles of reason are granted both in theory and practice. Chesterton remarked on the fact that those who begin to attack the Church for this or that reason, mostly end up attacking it for any reason.

What is behind the attack on reason or the refusal to admit that God is Logos is already a suspicion that the Church is right about intellect and its conditions. We have no guarantee that reason will freely be accepted.

Von Balthasar said that we are warned that we are sent among wolves. We are naive to think that Christ was wrong when he warned us that the world would hate us for upholding Logos and the order of things it implies.

But Benedict is right. He has put the citizens of world on notice that they are also accountable for how they use or do not use their reason. No one else could have done this. The fact is, the world has wildly underestimated Benedict XVI precisely because it would not see the ability he displays in getting to the heart of intellectual things.

In the end, all of this is about "the life of the mind." Both reason and faith tell us so.

Biblical ideals

From Steve Watters:

He may never get his picture on products in grocery stores or get his own clever Web production, but my favorite role model is still Job. While none of us would want to experience the kind of suffering Job endured, the profile that emerges in Job 29 is a perfect male counterpart to the Proverbs 31 woman we often hear about.

Job 29 holds up a man who is blessed by intimacy with God and his family and is respected and honored by young and old alike. Why is he honored? Because he is a strong protector who rescues the poor and the fatherless, cares for the widow and the dying man among other compassionate acts. But he's also a man of justice and righteousness who breaks the fangs of the wicked and snatches victims from the wicked's teeth.

More on Metal Storm

In the last post, I threw in the comment about rail guns for sci-fi and technogeeks... I suspect those will never become practical, just like mecha and powersuits will never become practical.

Some YouTube videos:

I don't really care about its applications for missile defense--perhaps the US Navy might worry about it if they were ever engaged in operations in the Persian Gulf or in the Taiwan Strait, but I just see another sinkhole for taxpayer dollars. Applying it to an anti-tank weapon, on the other hand... but how many tank battles do we really foresee for the near future?

Wrt to handguns and rifles--how does one reload the weapon? Magazines certainly make reloading convenient. If a speed reloader is developed, how much would that weigh? And carrying a bunch of speed reloaders in order to have sufficient ammunition doesn't really cut down on weight. And if one doesn't want the weapon to jam, one should implement higher standards during the rifle selection process. I don't see HK worrying about gun jams. As for accuracy--that's what time on the shooting range is for, and the U.S. military should not be reducing training time either for regular Army or the NG.

official company website
Popular Mechanics
Defense Review article; another
Student research paper.

The Good Shepherd trailer

at Filmforce

Robert De Niro stars and directs

Varia, 4 October 2006

Front - Oct. 3, 2006

Foreign students learn how to bow properly at Ajou University in Suwon on Monday ahead of Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving day this week./Yonhap

Front - Oct. 2, 2006

Lanterns light the waters of the Nam River on Sunday evening, when the Flowing Lantern Festival on Jinju Namgang started. A total of 15,000 lanterns are displayed at the festival, which is held to commemorate General Kim Si-min’s victory over Japanese troops during Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s invasion of Korea in the 1590s. During the invasion, Kim used the flowing lanterns as a military tool to signal tactics for preventing Japanese troops from crossing the Nam River.

Culture - Oct. 3, 2006

A farmer harvests in terraced rice fields in Namhae, South Gyeongsang Province on Monday.

Business - Oct. 3, 2006

Yukgeori Market in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, is crowded with people shopping for sacrificial supplies on Monday for the upcoming Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving holiday.

National - Oct. 3, 2006

A family arrive at Seoul Station to take the KTX to Busan on Monday, with three days left to go before Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving holiday./Yonhap

Front - Oct. 5, 2006

A hanbok-clad couple heads off to their hometown of Gimcheon, North Gyeongsang Province for Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving on Wednesday. During the holiday, which continues through Sunday, a daily average of 6.5 million Koreans are moving to or from their family homes. The English News Service of the Chosun Ilbo will also be on holiday Oct. 5-8 and resume regular reports on the morning of Oct. 9.
Culture - Oct. 5, 2006

Fields in the Gongju, South Chungcheong Province have turned pure gold ahead of Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving on Wednesday and wait for the bountiful harvest.

Jo Su-mi: Always the Best

Jo Su-mi Tells of Her Uninspired Early Days
Something Old, Something New for Soprano Jo Su-mi
Two Decades On, Jo Su-mi Tackles Fresh Challenges

Jo Su-mi has never disappointed her fans at home. At her recital at the Seoul Arts Center on Sept. 27, held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her debut on the global stage, she stirred the hearts of some 2,000 listeners with her performance, accompanied by the Italian pianist Vincenzo Scalera. She started with one of her favorites, Offenbach’s “Doll Song,” and ended with another, Violetta’s aria from Verdi’s “La Traviata” -- a role she is to debut in next September. After incessant calls for an encore from her fans, she decided to give another recital at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 22. The Chosun Ilbo met her after her performance at the Seoul Arts Center.

Who do you hate the most?

I hate people who betray someone. It’s the most dreadful thing to betray someone who loves you or takes care of you with good intentions. Maybe that’s why I’ve always longed for a world of honor, friendship and justice. Looking back, it seems that I had my hardest time in my junior high and high school days due to jealousy and envy among friends.

Who are your rivals?

I would say that I’ve always thought of myself as the best so there is no one that I considered a rival so far. Without that confidence in myself, I couldn’t have moved my audiences with my performance. I think that my presence makes a stage special, whether it’s the Metropolitan Opera or a small local theater.

When will we see your last performance?

I still get plenty of requests to sing the Queen of the Night aria in Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’, and I’d be able to make lots of money from it. But the role could harm my vocal cords. I cherish my voice, and I don’t want to ruin the musical instrument I have too soon. I want to enjoy singing for as long as I can. I can’t do something that shortens my life as a singer by working my vocal cords too hard just to show off my technical skill. Maybe I can sing for another 20 years.

How many times have you cried for love?

I would answer ‘several times’. I’ve done it three or four times, whether it was love between a man and a woman or just platonic love. Actually, I did it quite recently.

Have you been discriminated against?

People treat me fairly well because of my job, but frankly, every Asian living abroad will feel discriminated against every day. Nationalism is sweeping through France and Germany, though this may not be the case in Italy.

Are you camera-shy?

I really hate to have my picture taken. I don’t want to make myself conspicuous. The fact that people are always watching me makes my life hard sometimes. I often quarrel with my manager because I don’t want to go to meetings with sponsors, or the receptions or parties that usually take place after a performance. I have to face my audience all the time because this is what I do, but I always want to have some time alone.

Have you compromised?

Performing in an opera is full of compromises. From the first day of rehearsals, the conductor says, ‘This is my tempo and you follow me.’ In that case, a tenor with an explosive temper throws away his score and walks out. But capable vocalists practice as if they are following conductor’s lead at first, but on the very day of the performance, they make the conductor follow them.”

Who is your favorite partner?

Placido Domingo, absolutely. He even goes to say hello to the cleaners in an opera house. Nobody who knows him could ever hate him. Singers often act like divas or prima donnas and believe they’re the greatest in this world, but he doesn’t. I learned a lot from working with him, from his humanity and endless efforts.

( )
Movies for Long Chusok Holiday

Review of Riverbank Legends

Chuseok articles

Old Customs in Chusok Ritual
How to Prepare Traditional Ritual

How to Set Out the Chuseok Ritual Table

Englishman Looks Forward to First Proper Chuseok

Visit Seoul's Historic Sites for Chuseok

Chuseok falls on the same day as the mid-autumn festival. (dzong chau jit) Maybe I'll post some articles about that...

Metal Storm

The Daily Telegraph article. Thanks to Eunomia.

A high speed photograph of a 40mm projectile emerging during tests of the revolutionary firing mechanism

Hailed as a revolution in weaponry, Metal Storm's firing mechanism is initiated electronically rather than by the traditional percussion method. It has almost no recoil and no moving parts, meaning that stoppages are less common than in normal firearms.

So is this a form of railgun? I guess not--I'm assuming that the innovation is in the firing mechanism only, and the bullets still use gas propulsion.
The company claims the technology can be applied to almost any calibre of weapon. Much of the project is secret, but it is believed that hand-held or remote-controlled weapons would be powered by long-lasting battery packs.

Hrm, a technological advancement, but... we don't have limtless energy, so is this innovation really necessary?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Amy Welborn's review of Cities of God

click here

It'll be interesting if Fr. Thompson discusses the political thought of the Italian republicans--if he does it might be a good counter-balance to the first volume of Quentin Skinner's Foundations of Modern Political Thought. It might be the case that the average citizen of these republics was very religious, but what of the theoreticians and the elites? How Catholic was their theory? And how did their theories change over time? Petrarch, for example, might have been Catholic, but what of his moral and political ideals? Were they more in accord with Catholic moral theology or with pagan classical thought?

Anyways, Amy Welborn also brings us Fr. Thompson's history of sung liturgy. His assessment of the novus ordo and the new liturgy of the hours according to the criterion of "singability" is quite telling.

Steve Sailer, Diversity is Strength... It's also

something else...

Dr. Fleming takes on the Liberal misappropriation of the Greeks

in his introduction to Sophocles

Alas, Victor Davis Hanson too often approaches the Greeks with a liberal mentality (and uses Greek history to justify current neocon debacles and "Americanism," though in that respect he's not different from the Founding Fathers and their neoclassicism?).

His Hoover Institution page. His blog.

Protecting the Host from Profanation

a story about Fr. Carl Gismondi, FSSP, from the Cornell Society for a Good Time

I wonder if he still makes his own beer... a priest after the New Scot's heart.

Reminds me of what happened last Easter when I was at St. Paul's with Fujian Gal and Sarge for the Vigil Mass--someone who was receiving communion dropped the Host, and the priest picked it up--I don't think he consumed it, but gave it to the receipient... Anyway, the priest did not come back to the area afterwards to take the necessary precautions (i.e. dissolving any Particles which might be present and so on), which I found a bit shocking.

SK: Gaecheonjeol, National Foundation Day

Front - Oct. 4, 2006

A ceremony marking the 4,338th National Foundation Day is held at Seoul`s Sajik Park on Tuesday. The day marks the mythical founding of the Korean nation in 2,333 B.C. by the legendary god-king Dangun.

"October 3 (National Foundation Day) : This day marks the traditional founding of Korea by Tan-gun in 2333 B.C. According to legend, the god-king, "Tan-gun" founded the Choson Kingdom in 2333 B.C. This day fills citizens with nationalistic pride over the 4,000+ year history of Korea." source

Chloe Agnew

another photo (from the same concert?)

Featured artist this month for the BMG Music Club, classical section... She is supposedly a Celtic singer--the New Scot should check out her CD.

Official site?
Angel Records
a fansite

Foreign Wives Add International Flavor to Traditional Festival

Foreign Wives Add International Flavor to Traditional Festival

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

A Filipino mother teaches her daughter how to make Korean pottery during the “Chusok” class at the National Folk Musuem of Korea, downtown Seoul, Monday. /Korea Times

Han Mi-na is just like any other Korean wife, busy with the many preparations for Chusok or Korean Thanksgiving holiday. This coming Chusok, Han will dress her two children in traditional hanbok, and help her mother-in-law and other family members prepare the dishes to be served.

Except the 32-year old Han is a Filipino wife married to a Korean, and has adopted a Korean name after gaining citizenship.

In an interview with The Korea Times, Han said she found it difficult at first to adopt the Korean traditions during her first Chusok in 2000. She had just arrived in Korea and she did not know anything about Chusok at all.

``It was hard to learn the ceremonies, and there is a lot of food to be cooked and prepared. But my mother-in-law was willing to teach me. So, after a while, I got used to the preparations such as making the ‘songpyong’,'' she said.

Chusok or the Korean Thanksgiving holiday is something many Koreans take for granted. But as more and more Koreans marry foreigners, there is an increasing international flavor to the celebrations. According to the Ministry of Justice, there are more than 80,000 foreigners married to Koreans as of this year.

On Monday, around 100 foreign wives attended a Chusok class at the Korea National Folk Museum. The wives, who were from China, Philippines, Vietnam and Uzbekistan, enthusiastically joined the class to learn about Korean customs and how to make traditional pottery and songpyong, the rice cake eaten during Chusok.

The class, which was conducted in Korean, is part of efforts to make foreign wives become more integrated in Korean society.

Unfamiliar Traditions

How does it feel for foreign wives to participate in traditions so unfamiliar to them?

The experiences vary, but most foreign wives are willing to accept these traditions and adopt them as their own.

While most of the traditions are unusual, Han said the ``seongmyo'' or visit to ancestral graves is quite similar to the Filipino tradition of visiting the graves during All Saint’s Day or Nov. 1 in the Philippines.

Also in keeping with tradition, Han said she dresses her two young children in the traditional hanbok during Chusok. ``It is very different from the Philippines, but I’ve learned to adjust to it,'' she said.

On the other hand, Razel Kim, a Filipino wife who lives in Ilsan, said she would like to dress her own children in hanbok, but her husband does not want to. “My family is very simple, they don’t wear the traditional clothes. I wanted to dress my kids in hanbok, but my husband doesn’t like it,” Kim told The Korea Times.

Foreign wives are also amazed at the amount of work involved in preparing the food for the ancestor-memorial service or charye, which is done during the early morning of Chusok day.

Laila Geromo, a 23-year old Filipino wife, said she had to learn how to prepare the ancestor memorial rites. ``We have to prepare so many dishes like chapchae, songpyong and other dishes the night before. Then, we have to wake up early for the ceremony and after, we would welcome the guests,'' she told The Korea Times.

Another unusual thing for foreign wives is the gift giving during Chusok, which they say is similar to the gift giving they are used to during Christmas.

Kim, who works as an English teacher, said she would have to buy gifts for her husband’s relatives and to share in the expenses for the Chusok celebration.

``It’s every family’s responsibility to share in the expenses. When we visit my mother in-law, we have to give her money as a gift,'' she said.

Despite all the preparations involved for Chusok, Kim said she is quite happy with the way Korean families come together and celebrate during the holidays.

On the other hand, there are some foreign wives who do not celebrate Chusok at all. An Australian wife, who did not want to be identified, said her husband does observe Chusok the traditional way, since her parents-in-law have passed away. This holiday, she and her husband are going on a trip abroad.
10-03-2006 18:45

All the Performing Arts From the Globe

The Peach Blossom Fan (Tohwason)

This opening piece of the BESETO festival is also part of the program for SPAF. The Chinese Jiangsu Province Kunqu Opera presents Kunqu, the oldest extant form of Chinese opera, for the first time in Korea. UNESCO lists Kunqu as one of the masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity in May 2001.

Set in the late Ming Dynasty, it’s not only a love story between a literary aristocrat and a courtesan, but it also outlines the downfall of the dynasty. About 40 actors, some of them winners of prestigious Cherry Blossom Prizes in China, and an orchestra present a solemn performance. To be staged on Oct. 7 at the National Theater of Korea and on Oct. 10-11 at Uijeongbu Arts Center in Kyonggi Province. Tickets are from 15,000 won to 40,000 won. Korean subtitles provided.

Three Beautiful Soulmates

The piece marks the 20th anniversary of the street theater troupe Yonhee, led by renowned stage director and playwright Lee Yoon-taek, this year.

Mongolian forces attack Koryo Kingdom under King Kojong (1213-1259), and the following political chaos lead three young intellectuals at that time to pursue three different paths. Manjun becomes a stepson of the powerful Choi Woo, while Gilsang takes part in a rebellion and gets killed in an attempt to kill Choi. Tongsugi begins writing the Palman Taejanggyong, or 8 million Buddhist texts.
website for the 13th BESETO Theater Festival

SK: Plastic Surgery Booms This Week

Plastic Surgery Booms This Week

Evidently people are taking advantage of the Chuseok holiday period to schedule in their plastic surgery procedures... what would Pieper say about the loss of festivity...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why bother with John Gray? of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

I must admit that when I saw him on TV I didn't have a good impression, though he is right to bring to our attention differences between the way men and women communicate and how they think and behave. Then I learned that there were women who objected to his first book as being sexist (though Dr. Gray himself seems a bit harmless and mousy). (See this abstract attempting to critique his work from all of the "with-it" ideologies--postconstructuralism and feminist critique. You're free to fight nature, but please don't complain if you end up alone.) But what would a typical American woman think if she were to see recommendations for the following books?

Married but Not Engaged by Paul and Sandy Coughlin (Mr. Coughlin is also the author of No More Christian Guy)

A review of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by a Catholic? Transcript of Dr. Laura on Larry King.

Apparently in a future episode of The Bachelor, the topic of virginity will come up, and one of the women, who says she will wait until marriage, brings up that fact, and the response of the other women... is unbelievable. Sooner or later, sexual histories come out when the women talk to each other, and it's amazing what people will say on camera. Perhaps some of it is faked, but faking a sexual history? People don't care about the impression they make on others.

From the transcript:
Dr Laura: "I have never in 31 years been on the radio had a woman called me that she was proud she had a sexual history that was unmarried. She never felt better about herself, never felt more feminine, never felt a woman."

Another bit:

CALLER: I -- I have a question.

I just wanted to know, Dr. Laura, what example are you giving young girls by saying they should not work, they should stay at home with their kids, so they're supposed to just depend on the man to do everything? And, then if he leaves her, she will be stuck with nothing.

SCHLESSINGER: OK. That's the feminist mantra: You have to be prepared, because men are pigs, and they will use you and dump you.

KING: She said what if he leaves you? Didn't say pigs.

SCHLESSINGER: No, no, no. I'm saying...

KING: He leaved her -- he left her.


SCHLESSINGER: Those words came out of my mouth.

KING: Didn't have to be a pig.


SCHLESSINGER: Those words came out of my mouth. That's the feminist mantra. Be paranoid. Make sure...

KING: Be independent.

SCHLESSINGER: Nobody's independent. We need to depend on each other. KING: OK. Go ahead.

SCHLESSINGER: We love each other. We rely on each other. We are -- we are perfected by our intimate relationships.

KING: The question was what does she do when the man leaves? She's got two kids.

SCHLESSINGER: No. No way. That was not the question.

The question is, what role model? A fabulous one. I'm telling women to get their education, pick wisely, plan, that they can't have everything all at once. They will go crazy, because it can't happen, to do things sequentially, to -- I always tell women that kids are 5 or 6 years old, they will be in school. You have from 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon.

You want to do work during then, artist's work, exercise, whatever it is you want to work. But the most fulfilling thing about life, the thing that makes us the happiest -- and everybody is asking how to be happy -- what makes us the happiness is fulfilling our obligations to others.

And when we do that in a sequential way, we are able to focus and give what we need to give in the places we need to give it. And, as I said, choose wisely, treat kindly. When we choose a man right, and when we treat him well, the statistical probability that he will feel a need to walk away from us gets very small.
Larry King needs to listen more... good thing he's not a moderator for a serious debate.

Blessed Sacrament Parish, Seattle, WA

a Dominican parish

This is where Fr. Bernhard Blankenhorn is now assigned, and evidently Mark Shea goes there regularly. Apparently there is a Catholic scripture study availble from the parish on CD. Mr. Shea writes:
The two studies I know best are Catholic Scripture Study and a study (now in progress) by Fr. Bernhard Blankenhorn at my parish. You can get it on CD by calling the parish at 206-547-3020. Sorry I don't know more!
I'm going to check it out, as I had me Fr. Bernhard through Br. B last December...

Ugh. The Bachelor.

This season's The Bachelor is Lorenzo Borghese, and will be taking place in Rome. He is a member of the famous Borghese family. Italian nobility. Other members of the family include Pope Paul V. Perhaps TFP should be supporting him in his quest for a wife (and maybe giving him a catechism lesson or two).

Some photos. The official website. I'm not going to post any pics of the bachelor. Eh, maybe one, for the Lady Downstairs:

You know a "show for chicks" is bad if the women on The View are dissing it. Everything that is wrong with American reality tv, the television industry, corporations, contemporary romantic ideals, what passes acceptable behavior and comportment for Amercan men and women, their expectations and desires--the series exemplifies it all.

I think if I were being interrogated, showing The Bachelor, Grey's Anatomy, and Sex and the City continuously would be enough to make me crack. (Or commit suicide.)

I hope the series isn't being shown in other parts of the world--it would be enough to incited hatred and envy (who wouldn't get the idea that Americans are pampered and spoiled from watching American TV?), and could even be a good tool to recruit jihadists.

'Nuff said.

*edit* I find it humorous watching the women walking across the driveway (the surface of which is composed of small, loose rocks) in high heels...

I don't think there are any non-caucasian women this time around--perhaps the creators of the show finally learned their lesson, since they rarely make it beyond the second show, and most are eliminated during the first, as far as I know...