Friday, August 24, 2007

Photo: Pope with members of a Japanese kimono culture association

Pope Benedict XVI (L) meets members of a Japanese kimono culture association after his weekly general audience at the Vatican August 22, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)

Animal diseases, droughts and floods threaten Chinese agriculture

Animal diseases, droughts and floods threaten Chinese agriculture
Chinese authorities announce success in the fight against blue-ear pig disease. Pork prices drop but are up 100 per cent since the start of the year. Climate change is causing droughts in the north and flooding in the south, wiping out the economy of entire villages; yet the government does nothing.

On the Earthly Pilgrimage

On the Earthly Pilgrimage

"An Invitation to Spend Our Life Wisely and With Foresight"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 23, 2007 ( Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Aug. 12 address before praying the Angelus at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Liturgy on this 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time prepares us in a certain way for the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption into Heaven, which we will be celebrating on 15 August. Indeed, it is fully oriented to the future, to Heaven, where the Blessed Virgin Mary has preceded us in the joy of Paradise.

In particular, the Gospel passage, continuing last Sunday's message, asks Christians to detach themselves from material goods, which are for the most part illusory, and to do their duty faithfully, constantly aspiring to Heaven. May the believer remain alert and watchful to be ready to welcome Jesus when he comes in his glory.

By means of examples taken from everyday life, the Lord exhorts his disciples, that is, us, to live with this inner disposition, like those servants in the parable who were waiting for their master's return. "Blessed are those servants", he said, "whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lk 12:37). We must therefore watch, praying and doing good.

It is true, we are all travellers on earth, as the Second Reading of today's liturgy from the Letter to the Hebrews appropriately reminds us. It presents Abraham to us in the clothes of a pilgrim, as a nomad who lives in a tent and sojourns in a foreign land. He has faith to guide him.

"By faith", the sacred author wrote, "Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go" (Heb 11:8).

Indeed, Abraham's true destination was "the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (11:10). The city to which he was alluding is not in this world but is the heavenly Jerusalem, Paradise.

This was well known to the primitive Christian community, which considered itself "alien" here below and called its populated nucleuses in the cities "parishes", which means, precisely, colonies of foreigners [in Greek, pároikoi] (cf. I Pt 2:11). In this way, the first Christians expressed the most important characteristic of the Church, which is precisely the tension of living in this life in light of Heaven.

Today's Liturgy of the Word, therefore, desires to invite us to think of "the life of the world to come", as we repeat every time we make our profession of faith with the Creed. It is an invitation to spend our life wisely and with foresight, to consider attentively our destiny, in other words, those realities which we call final: death, the last judgement, eternity, hell and Heaven. And it is exactly in this way that we assume responsibility for the world and build a better world.

May the Virgin Mary, who watches over us from Heaven, help us not to forget that here on earth we are only passing through, and may she teach us to prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus, who is "seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead".

After the Angelus:

In the past few days serious floods have devastated various countries in Southeast Asia, claiming a heavy toll of victims and leaving millions homeless.

As I express my profound participation in the suffering of the afflicted populations, I urge Ecclesial Communities to pray for the victims and to support the initiatives of solidarity organized to alleviate the suffering of so many harshly tried people.

May these brothers and sisters of ours not lack the prompt and generous help of the International Community!

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, Jesus exhorts his disciples to be watchful, ever ready to greet him when he comes.

During these quiet days of summer, may we welcome the Lord ever more fully into our hearts and allow his grace to transform our lives. Upon you and your families, I cordially invoke God's Blessing of joy and peace!

A good Sunday to you all!

New Hitman trailer

IGN movies

My cousin had the console game... will fans of the game watch the movie? And what about the "religious" aspect of the plot?

Right at Your Door (Apple trailer)-- this might be interesting.

In the Valley of Elah (Apple trailer) -- Ross Douthat comments.

Depression not recession to come?

3 Reasons Why This Credit Bubble is worse than 1929. Precursors to a Recession: Complicit Fed, Population Involved, and Greater Dependence on Credit

via LRB

New LYA LG Z:in cf

Lust, Caution

will be released with a NC-17 rating. I wonder if this will have any impact on reviews by Catholics. That Ang Lee--he just has to keep pushing the envelope, doesn't he, in the name of art...

CNN article
Apple trailer
Yahoo Movies

Varia, 24 August 2007

BoA Blogs to Japan With Tempting Photos

An Army of Beauty Queens?
Maybe you should join this trend Sarge. haha

Thursday, August 23, 2007

FrontPage interview with Kevin Gutzman

(author of the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution)

interview here

Is the Fall TV season almost here already?

Shoot! Fox's Kitchen Nightmares starts on September 19!

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - On TV - 4Money from
BBC America - Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

More stuff from AICN


official website

That new Star Trek episode.

New live action HALO short by Blomkamp leaks online!! Warthogs in action! Banshees! Brutes! Needler spikes!


If it wasn't cool enough seeing De Niro and Pacino teaming up for RIGHTEOUS KILL, now they've got a great female lead!!!

Hayley Westenra videos

Sung at Crystal Palace.

Hayley Westenra sings in the Herald Sun studio.

Amazing Grace③-Hayley Westenra

Hayley Westenra - Mozart's Wiegenlied in German and Jpn
This song was exclusively released in Japan as the theme music of a Japanese movie in 2005.

The German song is relatively fast, and Japanese one is at a regular speed. The former one, however, reflects a typical Mozart melody. Her Japanese pronunciation is quite beautiful. I do not know her German though.

This video shows her home country, New Zealand.

Hayley Westenra On This Morning

Hayley Westenra - Mary Did You Know

Ron Paul on Morning Joe, August 22

Joe Scarborough - Host of Morning Joe on MSNBC -

Ora et labora

From Heinrich Pesch's Liberalism, Socialism and Christian Social Order, book 2 (translated by Rupert Ederer)

With its teaching that any honest work is an honor for people, Christianity accomplished as important a social revolution as it had by the elimination of slavery. Pagan antiquity felt altogether differently about work. For it, work was a disgrace and a curse which inflicted its burden only on the poor. The Greek word, "to work," came from the same root as the word "poor," and it actually meant "to suffer poverty." The noble citizen was to occupy himself only with the "liberal arts," and with visiting the national assembly and the theater. Handicrafts, however, were reserved to the slaves and the poor. Even the otherwise so worldly-wise Aristotle looked down on work with his words: "Those who work with their hands do not rate the title, 'citizen;' they have no nobility in their minds;" "there is no difference between them and the slaves;" "but the slaves are a special breed of people and intended for the purpose of doing physical labor." Generally, any "work for wages," even that of the artist and teacher, was considered undignified; and for that reason even the art of the physician was looked on with disdain. The Romans felt as did the Greeks about work. Cicero regarded the workshops and the crafts as dirty, not worthy of honor, and irreconcilable with noble ideas. Small wonder if Rome and Italy became the habitation of an idle rabble so that finally, as Livy said, they could no longer cope with their vices or come up with the cures for them. As the light of the Christian faith dawned over the nations, this notion of work changed completely. "Pray and work," was heard throughout the Christian world: work became an honor, and idleness as disgrace, a sin, and the root of all evil. Our pagan ancestors in Germany also looked down on manual labor. They regarded it as "a weakness and as cowardice, as something which one could triumph over in a bloody war, working by the sweat of one's brow." It required many warnings and even more so, good example -- above all on the part of the Benedictines to whom Germany owes its culture -- before the northern barbarians understood about work. (200)

As for the consecration of work to God, one can read Pesch's discussion of guild handicraft:

The religious consecration of guild handicraft. Religion is the basis of society; and any social teaching which is not built on Christianity operates destructively, no matter how elegantly it is presented. Thus, the egotistical and unchristian doctrine of liberalism has given birth to pauperism, class conflict, and socialism. However, whereas socialism may break the social and political power of liberal capitalism, it will not be in a position to establish a durable new social order, for any plant which was not planted by the heavenly Father will be uprooted. It was by a proper understanding of this truth that the old craft guilds made the Christian faith the focal point of their thinking and action.

Labor itself was dedicated in a religious manner. It rated as a pious work that was ordered by God and pleasing to Him, as the basis of a Christian life, and as the source of natural and supernatural blessing. Hence, the custom of attending Holy Mass at the start of the workday. As the model of work, the holy foster father Joseph served, with whom the divine child Jesus worked as an apprentice, and later on as his fellow worker; and for womanly work, the Blessed Virgin provided the model. We depict her spinning or weaving alongside the cradle of the Christ child. Every guild had tis special patron saint, and in the great cathedrals they even had their own chapel with its altar; and embellishing these was a work of honor for the organization. It is clear that this ideal approach to Christian craft work exercised a powerful, moralizing influence on the heart and spirit, and that it also contributed essentially even to the technical performance of the craft. It was in the heart of the Church that the craft of artistry arose; it has collapsed and it has made place for the "cheap and shoddy" production ever since work became impious and unchristian, with the result that it has also lost its blessing. Now what is to be expected of artistic craft and of art in the midst of a materialistic nation which no longer cherishes any ideals, and which puts no value on spiritual and supernatural goods? -- Christian craft, furthermore, established its honor in an open and public acknowledgement of faith. At church processions the guilds took part, as such, in tightly closed ranks; before them was the guild banner with the image of the guild's patron saint. On the feast day of the patron saint there was a solemn church celebration which the whole membership attended. Godless talk, unbelief, and blasphemy led to expulsion from the guild, whose end purpose it was, "to increase attendance at Mass and thereby to merit the salvation of one's soul." -- Therefore the old guild rules insisted with special strictness on keeping holy Sundays and holidays. They levied a penalty on everyone who worked or allowed his people to work on these days or on Saturdays after Vespers, or on the vigil of holy feast days. -- If people worked in common during the week, then religious services were likewise attended in common. The craftsman appeared everywhere not as an isolated individual, but as a living member of a highly esteemed fraternity, in the state, in the community, and in the house of God. Thus the guild became a religious fraternity. [198-9]
I've talked about this before, in connection with claims by proponents of Opus Dei about Opus Dei spirituality, that the Christian teaching that "honest work" can be sanctified through grace and become a means of our salvation is not a new one. Is being a wage-slave "honest work?" How about complicity in the exploitation of evils? [Which is, at best, material cooperation in evil.] Someone once explained to me that Josemaría Escrivá and OD were trying to cultivate habits of industriousness among Latin peoples, who were perhaps not hard-working enough or had a lackadaisical attitude towards work. But who was really lazy in Spain and Italy? Did they not have a more healthy lifestyle, one that gave sufficient time to leisure and communal activities? Is this contrast between the character and habits of Latin Catholic countries and Protestant 'industrialized' countries a real one?


Dale Allen Pfeiffer, A Closer Look at Escape from Suburbia

via EB

Escape from Suburbia

The Social Effects of Peak Oil

The Social Effects of Peak Oil (Video and audio)
Rowan Wolf and Janaia Donaldson, Peak Moment via Global Public Media

How will rising oil prices affect low- and middle-class lives? Sociologist and professor Rowan Wolf sees at-risk populations growing while government services and class divides are increasingly strained. A member of the Portland Peak Oil Task Force, she discusses relocalizing our economies, to counter globalization based on an unsupportable grow-or-die economic model. Episode 69.

Janaia Donaldson hosts Peak Moment, a television series emphasizing positive responses to energy decline and climate change through local community action. How can we thrive, build stronger communities, and help one another in the transition from a fossil fuel-based lifestyle?
(21 August 2007)

mp3; video -- RAM stream

via EB

Matthew Simmons interview

Matthew Simmons interview: All the Canaries Have Stopped Singing (Audio)
Jim Puplava, Financial Sense News Hour
Matthew R. Simmons graduated cum laude from the University of Utah and received a Masters degree with distinction in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He then served on the faculty as a research associate for two years. In 1974, he founded Simmons & Company International. He is past Chairman of the National Ocean Industries Association and a trustee of the Farnsworth Art Museum in Maine. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Associates - Harvard Business School and past President of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association. He serves as a Board Member of Brown-Forman Corporation, the Center for Houston's Future, Houston Technology Center, ICIC and The Atlantic Council of The United States of America. He is also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.
(18 August 2007)

Forty-five minute interview. No transcript available as of August 22.Forty-five minute interview. Comments on the recent National Petroleum Council (NPC) report, and peak oil trends.
via EB

transcript; mp3

Slow is Beautiful

publisher's page for the book and author; website for the author, Cecile Andrews

Slow is Beautiful blog
The Simple Living Network: Slow Is Beautiful

The Circle of Simplicity; Real Change interview;
Simple Living America | Balance in a Complex World

Deconstructing Dinner: Slow is Beautiful (Audio)
Cecile Andrews and Jon Steinman, Global Public Media

via EB

(from the same EB post -- When the sun is shining, break out the solar oven
Sarah Elton, The Globe and Mail

The Solar Cooking Archive
Solar Oven Society
Make a Pizza Box Solar Oven
Sun Oven Solar Cooking
Sun Oven for Solar Cooking -- 249.00
Solar oven
Solar Oven, Cooker and Dryer Tips and Solar Recipes
Making and using a solar cooker by Joe Radabaugh Issue #30
Solar Cookers International - spreading solar cooking to benefit ...

Tom Whipple, The peak oil crisis: hurricanes and meltdowns

The peak oil crisis: hurricanes and meltdowns (original)

by Tom Whipple

Bruce Sundquist on topsoil loss


via EB

Caleb Stegall reviews Deep Economy

in American Conservative

For all of these virtues, Deep Economy falls short of its more ambitious goal of laying a theoretical framework for thinking about human happiness, community, and, well being. To the simple question, “Why aren’t we happy?” McKibben offers no compelling reply to the obvious rejoinder from most Americans: “Speak for yourself, I am quite happy.” Or perhaps more honestly: “I rather enjoy being unhappy in my sprawl, my weekend getaway, my three car garage, and all of the accoutrements of lumpenleisure” (another Kunstlerism). Here Deep Economy would have benefited from the more compelling argument, articulated by communitarians of the Right (from Tocqueville to Robert Nisbet) that hyperutilitarianism makes citizens less free.

As Tocqueville argued, a benevolent yet centralized power will “cover the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform” until man’s will “is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided.” By this process, society “is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd” of an “innumerable multitude of men, all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives.” This form of total control is “combined more easily than is commonly believed” with “outward forms of freedom” and can even be established under the “sovereignty of the people.”

Absent this insight, McKibben is left with the far weaker argument that hyper-individualism simply makes us unhappy. “We need, in short, a new utilitarianism,” announces McKibben—a utilitarianism to measure human happiness. To that end, he turns to economist Richard Layard who writes, “We now know that what people say about how they feel corresponds closely to the actual levels of activity in different parts of the brain, which can be measured in standard scientific ways.” McKibben concludes that the “idea that there is a state called happiness, and that we can dependably figure out what it feels like and how to measure it, is extremely subversive. It would allow economists to … stop asking ‘What did you buy?’ and to start asking ‘Is your life good?’” To the contrary, claims granting vast new powers to elite experts do not strike me as subversive in any good way. It is at this point that I wish McKibben would have recalled the far more subversive and anarchical wisdom of Wendell Berry (to whom Deep Economy is dedicated) who wrote, “As soon as the generals and the politicos / can predict the motions of your mind, / lose it. Leave it as a sign / to mark the false trail, the way you didn’t go.” Instead, McKibben’s only recourse is to the stale status-quo of social-science data purporting to assign “happiness scores” to various socio-economic groupings.

Again, the question of community is not a question of happy feelings but one of social power, as Robert Nisbet so forcefully argued. This truth is illustrated clearly by a group of villagers McKibben visited in Bangladesh. An international expert was selling genetically enhanced grain, allegedly to resolve vitamin deficiencies in local diets. McKibben notes that rather than object on the more decadent, happiness-oriented, Western grounds that genetically modified food is “icky” and “not organic,” the Bengali wisely understood that the true stakes were much higher. They “instantly realized that the new rice would require fertilizer and pesticide, meaning both illness and debt.” In fact, they recognized rather easily what we Americans seem so slow to grasp—that giving up access and control over their own food supply meant giving up real power over their own lives.

The primary characteristic of the disease McKibben describes so well is only hinted at in Deep Economy, but never adequately named. That characteristic is not too much freedom but rather the loss of the freedom of communities to exercise real social power and authority due to oppressive and totalitarian systems of centralized political and economic control by bureaucrats, experts, and functionaries.

Not just freedom as such, but economic freedom, and freedom for excellence.

Deidre Lynch on Becoming Jane

See Jane Elope
Why are we so obsessed with Jane Austen's love life?

Bill Bonner, Living in an Investor's Paradise

Living in an Investor's Paradise

Meanwhile, no one seems the least bit interested in the really big news:

This boom is a fraud.

The Theology of Capitalism is a false god.

And the prosperity that Americans enjoy today is a swindle.

We've been saying so for the last eight years. (Yes, this month marks the eighth anniversary of The Daily Reckoning…which is why we're taking a two-week vacation; we're tired!) But now it's official - the New York Times said so - the average American earned less in 2005 than he did in 2000. Incomes went down only one single year in the last half of the 20th century. But never five years in a row! And this was when the housing boom was in full bubble mode.

Let's see, the average guy went further into debt during the period…while his income went down. If he isn't poorer, who is?

And yet, the average guy thinks he is getting richer. He's got more stuff…including a bigger house…and more cars. And practically the whole world thinks the United States has a dynamic, prosperous economy. But if the average guy gets poorer during the biggest boom in history…what kind of prosperity is that?

Allow us to answer our own question: It is flim-flam prosperity. It is the kind of prosperity you feel when you've just bought a doublewide trailer with a subprime ARM. It is the kind of prosperity you get when you take a trip to Europe on your credit cards, expecting to refinance your house when you get back in order to pay off the debt. It is the kind of prosperity that turns you into a pauper.

Not only is the average guy unaware that he is being swindled, so is the average investor. He sees nothing wrong. In fact, what he sees is that nothing CAN go wrong. (But he is ever in for a rude awakening…check out the full report on the lies Washington tells to keep us spending into oblivion here.

We were shocked yesterday when a fund manager, on vacation in France, stopped by the house to chat.

"Do you really think we can have a major correction?" he asked. "I think it is almost impossible. A major correction requires a fall in the supply of money and credit. But every central bank is putting out more and more money and credit. And they've shown that they will put out as much as is needed to keep things moving along. I don't think we'll have a major correction any time soon."

He has become a true believer in the Theology of Capitalism. He thinks the old-timed religion, with its fire and brimstone…the capitalism of delirious booms and cranky busts… has been replaced by a kinder, gentler variety…in which central bankers make sure no one suffers, ever.

An investor's Valhalla…a speculator's Elysium…a debtor's Eden…right here on planet earth. Gone is the nasty business cycle. Banished are bear markets. Forbidden are credit crunches, bank failures and rising unemployment.

Oh, dear reader…we can stop writing The Daily Reckoning right now… Our moment of rest has come. There is nothing more to be reckoned with.

*** Twice as many houses were foreclosed in July '07 as July '06. Default notices were sent to 180,000 people. Repossessions are up 93% from a year ago. House sales are at their lowest point in four years…and there are expected to be 2 million foreclosures this year.

Could it be that the poor, average American will be finally awakened from his dumb sleep by the sound of the housing crunch?

And some advice for Republicans:

Since few Republicans know what conservatism is, we will spell out a program for them:

1) Balance the Budget

2) Cut taxes

3) Don't meddle in anyone's affairs, domestic or foreign, unless you really, really have to

There, that's simple enough even for a Republican. And at least it would give voters a real choice.

Could this sort of program catch on? No chance.

Because too many people have come to expect something for nothing. No one wants to balance the budget, because then the government would have to curtail its program of bread and circuses. No one in government wants to cut taxes, because it would mean less money for the government to spend. And no one wants to stop meddling in other peoples' business - it would mean giving up too much power and money; what would all the lobbyists, consultants, lawyers and war-profiteers do?

But what about when the middle-class realizes it is getting poorer? Won't voters demand a change of direction?

Yes, they probably will. They will want "Relief!" They will want moratoria on debt collections and foreclosures. They will want lower rates from the Fed and higher spending from their government. They will probably want more war too; bellicosity is the traditional refuge of scoundrels and bankrupts.

On the Peace Christ Brought

On the Peace Christ Brought

"Not the Simple Absence of Conflict"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 19, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

There is an expression of Jesus’ in this Sunday’s Gospel that always draws our attention and which needs to be properly understood. As he is on his way to Jerusalem, where death on the cross awaits him, Christ confides in his disciples: "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division."

And he adds: "From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Luke 12:51-53).

Whoever knows the least amount about the Gospel of Christ knows that it is the message of peace par excellence; Jesus himself, as St. Paul writes, "is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14); he died and rose from the dead to break down the wall of enmity and inaugurated the Kingdom of God, which is love, joy, and peace.

How, then, are we to explain these words of his? To what is the Lord referring when he says that he has come to bring -- according to St. Luke’s redaction -- "division," or -- according to St. Matthew’s -- the "sword" (Matthew 10:34)?

Christ’s expression means the peace that he came to bring is not synonymous with the simple absence of conflict. On the contrary, the peace of Jesus is the fruit of a constant struggle against evil. The battle that Jesus has decided to fight is not against men or human powers but against the enemy of God and man, Satan.

Those who desire to resist this enemy, remaining faithful to God and the good, must necessarily deal with misunderstandings and sometimes very real persecution. Thus, those who intend to follow Jesus and commit themselves without compromises to the truth must know that they will face opposition and will become, despite themselves, a sign of division among persons, even within their own families.

Love of one’s parents is indeed a sacred commandment, but for it to be lived authentically it cannot be set in opposition to the love of God and Christ. In such a way, in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, Christians must become "instruments of his peace," according to the celebrated expression of St. Francis of Assisi. This is not an inconsistent and superficial peace but a real one, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily commitment to defeat evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21), paying in person the price that this carries with it.

The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared the struggle of her son Jesus against the evil one, to the point of spiritual martyrdom, and she continues to share this struggle until the end of time. Let us invoke her maternal intercession, that she may help us always to be faithful witnesses to Christ’s peace, never giving in to compromises with evil.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

In these days our thoughts and our prayers are turned constantly to the people of Peru, who have been stricken by a devastating earthquake. For the many who have died, I invoke the peace of the Lord, for those who have been injured, I ask for quick recovery, and for those thrown into miserable circumstances I assure you that the Church is with you, in spiritual and material solidarity. My secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who for some time had planned a visit to Peru, in the next few days, will, in person, bring the testimony of my sentiments and the concrete help of the Holy See.

This morning in Rimini the "Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples" opened. The theme of this year’s meeting is "The Truth Is the Destiny for Which We Have Been Made." In offering a cordial greeting to the organizers, I give the assurance of my prayers that, through the multiple initiatives of the program, the meeting might be for many a profitable occasion for reflection and awareness, to realize the profoundest vocation of man: being a seeker of truth and thus a seeker of God (cf. "Fides et Ratio," prologue).

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Pope then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. The readings from today’s Mass invite us to lift our eyes to Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith. May you and your families experience the Lord’s closeness during these summer holidays and respond to his love through deeper prayer and more generous acts of charity. Upon all of you I invoke Christ’s blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope Benedict XVI on wealth

On Wealth

"Although a Good in Itself, Not an Absolute Good"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 22, 2007 ( Here is a translation provided by the Vatican's semi-official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, of Benedict XVI's Aug. 5 address before praying the Angelus at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Word of God spurs us to reflect on what our relationship with material things should be.

Although wealth is a good in itself, it should not be considered an absolute good. Above all, it does not guarantee salvation; on the contrary, it may even seriously jeopardize it.

In today's Gospel, Jesus puts his disciples on guard precisely against this risk. It is wisdom and virtue not to set one's heart on the goods of this world for all things are transient, all things can suddenly end.

For us Christians, the real treasure that we must ceaselessly seek consists in the "things above ... where Christ is seated at God's right hand"; St Paul reminds us of this today in his Letter to the Colossians, adding that our life "is hid with Christ in God" (cf. 3:1-3).

The Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which we shall be celebrating tomorrow, invites us to turn our gaze "above", to Heaven. In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration on the mountain, we are given a premonitory sign that allows us a fleeting glimpse of the Kingdom of the Saints, where we too at the end of our earthly life will be able to share in Christ's glory, which will be complete, total and definitive. The whole universe will then be transfigured and the divine plan of salvation will at last be fulfilled.

Servant of God Paul VI

The day of the Solemnity of the Transfiguration remains linked to the memory of my venerable Predecessor, Servant of God Paul VI, who in 1978 completed his mission in this very place, here at Castel Gandolfo, and was called to enter the house of the Heavenly Father. May his commemoration be an invitation to us to look on high and to serve the Lord and the Church faithfully, as he did in the far-from-easy years of the last century.

May the Virgin Mary, whom we remember today in particular while we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of the Basilica of St Mary Major, obtain this grace for us. As is well known, this is the first Western Basilica to have been built in honour of Mary; it was rebuilt in 432 by Pope Sixtus III to celebrate the divine motherhood of the Virgin, a Dogma that had been solemnly proclaimed the previous year at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus.

May the Virgin, who was more closely involved in Christ's mystery than any other creature, sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith so that, as the liturgy invites us to pray today, "we do not let ourselves be dominated by greed or selfishness as we toil with our efforts to subdue the earth but seek always what is worthwhile in God's eyes" (cf. Entrance Antiphon).

H.B. Patriarch Teoctist

At this time, a few days after the death of H.B. Teoctist, the Patriarch, I would like to address a special thought to the leaders and faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church. I sent Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to take part as my representative in his solemn funeral, celebrated last Friday at Bucharest's Patriarchal Cathedral.

I remember with esteem and affection this noble figure of a Pastor who loved his Church and made a positive contribution to relations between Catholics and Orthodox, constantly encouraging the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church (as a whole).

The two visits he paid my venerable Predecessor John Paul II and the hospitality which he in turn offered the Bishop of Rome during his historic Pilgrimage to Romania in 1999, are clear proof of his ecumenical commitment.

"May his memory live for ever", as the Orthodox liturgical tradition concludes the funeral service of all who fall asleep in the Lord. Let us make this invocation our own, asking the Lord to welcome this Brother of ours into his Kingdom of infinite light and to grant him the repose and peace promised to faithful servants of the Gospel.

I thank everyone and wish you all a good Sunday!

© Copyright 2007 -- L'Osservatore Romano

Natalie MacMaster & Tracey Dares

part 1

Other videos:
In Boston:


More great music by Natalie accompanied by Tracey Dares and Dave MacIsaac.





Backed by Thomas Dolby, who uses the synthesizer here to create vocal layers in real time, Natalie MacMaster performs traditional reels, jigs and even some simultaneous step dancing in a performance that combines the traditional with the high-tech.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Cardinal Daneels on the liturgy

Father Z. comments on a recent article in America by Cardinal Daneels.

The cardinal was at BC last semester to give a lecture:
The Sacred Liturgy: Revisiting Sacrosanctum Concilium Forty Years After Vatican II on Tuesday, April 17 with Cardinal Godfried Daneels of Belgium

Too bad no one I know attended the lecture.

Holy Family Church

liturgy schedule

What else to see/do in Toronto? KK, if you are reading this, add your suggestions to the comments part--otherwise I'll give you a call about the Chinese restaurants.

Dr. Alcuin Reid on Vatican Radio

Old Rites, New Needs -- audio link (real player)

via The Hermeneutic of Continuity

Father Kocik lectures

From Carl Olson:

Father Kocik lectures available online

Audio files (.wma format) of several lectures by Rev. Thomas M. Kocik are now available online on the Sonitus Sactus blog. Fr. Kocik is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, and the author of The Reform of the Reform? A Liturgical Debate: Reform or Return (Ignatius Press, 2003). My recent Ignatius Insight interview with him about the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum and its impact on the liturgical life of the Church can be read here.

Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations

Mater Ecclesiae Fund for Vocations

Re-thinking the Boer War

I know that when I was a child I supported the British Empire in the Boer War, because how could the Empire be wrong? Wasn't it protecting civilization?

a video tribute to the Boers
Boer War
The Boer War
Anglo Boer War Museum

And so, part of education is unlearning the [groundless] prejudices and biases that one may have picked up during one's early years.

I still have to watch Breaker Morant all the way through.

EB articles on the economy, August 20

Published on 20 Aug 2007 by Energy Bulletin. Archived on 20 Aug 2007.

Economics - Aug 20

by Staff

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

A debt culture gone awry

Hamid Varzi, International Herald Tribune
The U.S. economy, once the envy of the world, is now viewed across the globe with suspicion. America has become shackled by an immovable mountain of debt that endangers its prosperity and threatens to bring the rest of the world economy crashing down with it.

The ongoing sub-prime mortgage crisis, a result of irresponsible lending policies designed to generate commissions for unscrupulous brokers, presages far deeper problems in a U.S. economy that is beginning to resemble a giant smoke-and-mirrors Ponzi scheme. And this has not been lost on the rest of the world.

This new reality has had unfortunate side effects that go beyond economics. As a banker working in the heart of the Muslim world, I have been amazed by the depth and breadth of anti-Americanism, even among U.S. allies, manifested in reactions ranging from fierce anger to stoic fatalism. Muslims outside the United States interpret America's policies in the Middle East not as an effort to spread democracy but as a blatant neocolonialist attempt to solve its economic problems by force. Arabs and Persians alike argue that America's fiscal irresponsibility has forced the nation to seek solutions through military aggression.

Many believe that America's misguided adventure in Iraq was a desperate attempt to capture both a reliable source of cheap oil and a major export market for the United States.

...What have Americans gained from their nation's mountain of debt? A crumbling infrastructure, a manufacturing base that has declined 60 percent since World War II, a rise in the wealth gap, the lowest consumer-savings rate since the depths of the Great Depression, 50 million Americans without health insurance, an educational system in decline and a shrinking dollar that makes foreign travel a luxury.

The best cars, the best bridges and highways, the fastest trains and the tallest buildings are all to be found outside America's borders.

Hamid Varzi is an economist and banker based in Tehran.
(17 August 2007)

How Far Will the Crash Go and What Do we Do Now?
The “Crash of 2007-8” is underway

Richard C. Cook, Global Research
The immediate triggers are being described quite well: the collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market; the vulnerability of the rest of the economy to the subprime undertow, due to the “efficiency” of the markets in spreading risk; the worldwide overextension of cheap credit; the failure of large institutional investors and Wall Street brokerages to behave responsibly; and the long-term effects of the U.S. trade and fiscal deficits which are now coming home to roost.

Amazingly, some commentators have been asking “if the monetary crisis will affect the producing economy,” and whether a recession lies ahead. In reality, the U.S. producing economy has been in a recession for the last year. This is shown most clearly by the decline in M1, the portion of the money supply immediately available to people for making purchases.

The causes of the M1 decline are two-fold. One is the weak purchasing power of American consumers, at least half of whose decently-paying manufacturing jobs have been eliminated by the outsourcing, mergers, and productivity improvements during the past two decades. The other is that while many of the U.S. corporations not connected to housing have been doing all right, their success has been tied to overseas investments and sales, such as GE and GM who are heavily invested in China. ..
(18 Aug 2007)

Shares to fall further, banks will go bust

Julia Finch, The Guardian
A top-performing fund manager warned yesterday that the markets turmoil would result in "one of the greatest banking crises in decades".

Ken Murray of Edinburgh-based Blue Planet - whose Worldwide Financials Investment Trust has been one of the best-performing financial funds in recent years - said: "The credit cycle has turned, bad debts are soaring, banks will go bust and stock markets will fall much further."

His views are among the most pessimistic, but institutional UK shareholders are almost universally gloomy about the outlook for the markets and deals. ..

Robert Talbut, chief investment officer at Royal London Asset Management, said the events of the past three weeks were like the secondary banking crisis of 1974, when the Bank of England was forced to launch a lifeboat scheme.

"Some people are likening this situation to the Long-Term Capital Management hedge fund crisis [in 1998], but I think it's more like the secondary banking crisis of 1974. A number of secondary and tertiary financial organisations are not going to be able to continue - both in the US and elsewhere." He said the turmoil "could spiral out of control into the real economy". ..
(17 Aug 2007)

Ron Paul, High-risk credit

High-risk credit

Darymple on heroin addiction

Heroin addiction isn't an illness...and we should stop spending millions 'treating' it
A leading prison doctor argues that his profession has totally misunderstood addiction

Is addiction an illness or a weakness?
Two writers go head-to-head

Whence the Antichrist?

Mission Impossible: Eject the Holy See from the United Nations
Many are trying, most recently "The Economist." But the papal delegation is there, and it wants to stay. And almost all the countries that have diplomatic ties with the Vatican are on its side. The view of the Vatican foreign minister, Dominique Mamberti

Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See To the United Nations
Participation of the Holy See in the work of the United Nations
See Change

U.S. State Department: Holy See (05/07)

Fr. McNamara on sacristans and the corporal

A Sacristan's Duties

And More on the Corporal

ROME, AUG. 21, 2007 ( Answered by Legionary Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: I am interested in the ministry of sacristan but can find no information in any detail as to what a sacristan does. It seems that each parish is different. The only thing I find is in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) at No. 105. Can you say more about this? -- R.S., Fargo, North Dakota

A: The aforementioned text of GIRM, No. 105, says: "The following also exercise a liturgical function: The sacristan, who carefully arranges the liturgical books, the vestments, and other things necessary in the celebration of Mass."

This is further developed in the Ceremonial of Bishops, No. 37.

This book spells out that the sacristan, always under the general direction of the clergy, undertakes the overall preparation of liturgical celebrations, including all that is needed for special days such as Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.

The sacristan thus arranges the books needed for the celebration, marking all of the divisions. He or she lays out the vestments and anything else needed for the celebration, such as cruets, chalices, ciboria, linens, oils, processional crosses, candles and torches.

He or she also takes care of the ringing of bells that announce the celebrations. The sacristan should ensure the observance of silence in the sacristy.

The sacristan in harmony with the pastor also makes sure that the vestments, church furnishings, liturgical vessels and decorative objects are kept in good condition and, if necessary, sent for gilding or repair.

Other practical indications apart from these official recommendations are that the sacristan ensures that the things necessary for worship are always available. There should be a ready supply of fresh hosts and of duly authorized wine, sufficient clean purificators, corporals, hand towels, incense and coals.

In this context the sacristan is responsible for making sure that those who wash the altar linens do so according to the indications of the missal and that the water for the first wash is poured down the sacrarium or to the earth. The sacristan also takes care of burning old linens and other objects that are no longer suitable for liturgical use.

He or she also makes sure that the sanctuary lamp has sufficient oil, that the altar cloths are changed regularly, and that the holy water stoups are clean and replenished frequently.

The pastor may also decide to entrust other responsibilities to the sacristan. This might include coordinating others who help with the general decor of the church, such as cleaners and flower arrangers. The sacristan might also maintain the practical dealings with external agents such as funeral directors and photographers so that proper decorum is maintained at all times.

In order to carry out these duties, the sacristan needs to have a fairly good idea of the content and norms of the principal liturgical books and an understanding of the intricacies of the liturgical calendar.

A good sacristan is a boon to any parish and, as the GIRM says, the post fulfills a true liturgical function. As the Ceremonial of Bishops states: "The adornment and decor of a church should be such as to make the church a visible sign of love and reverence toward God" (No. 38).

* * *

Follow-up: On Changing the Corporal

Several readers wrote for further clarifications regarding the proper use of the corporal (July 17).

A deacon commented: "I often find particles remaining on the corporal after Mass. This is a concern to me, because the corporal is left on the altar, and then the book of the Gospels is placed on top of the corporal ... so I always clear any particles, some which can be substantial in size, from the corporal before or after Mass. Your response to the initial question on corporals indicates that the corporal may be folded up, and set aside to be reused at a later Mass. Presumably, the corporal would thus sit in a cabinet in the sacristy until the next Mass. But, if, in fact, particles are remaining in the folded-up corporal, as is often the case, it does not seem that a cabinet or other storage drawer is the proper place to leave the Eucharist. Of course, it is better than leaving the corporal on the altar ... but if the purpose of a corporal is to 'catch' particles of the host, then why would we not treat those particles with the same care as we do the particles which remain in the vessels we purify?"

Any visible fragments remaining on the corporal should be removed and placed in the chalice for purification. Yet, liturgical practice has generally considered that the careful folding and opening of the corporal is sufficient and that no disrespect is shown by carefully keeping the corporal in the sacristy.

Until recently, however, between Masses the corporal used at the Eucharistic celebration was enclosed in a special holder called a burse out of respect and this custom may be maintained.

With respect to its care, Trimeloni's preconciliar 1,000-page compendium of practical liturgical norms recommended a monthly wash for corporals -- and that at a time when hosts were placed directly upon the corporal itself.

Another reader asked about the correct way of folding a corporal. Here I defer to the indications provided by Monsignor (now Bishop) Peter J. Elliott in his practical ceremonies manual:

"a. Take the corporal (from the burse, if used) with your right hand, and place it flat at the center of the altar, still folded, approximately 15 cm. (5 inches) from the edge of the altar, or further if a large corporal is being unfolded.

"b. Unfold it, first to your left, then to your right, thus revealing three squares.

"c. Unfold the section farthest from you, away from yourself, thus making six squares visible.

"d. Finally, unfold the crease that is nearest to you, towards yourself, thus making all nine squares visible. Adjust the corporal so that it is about 3 cm. (an inch) from the edge of the altar.

"If there is a cross embroidered on one of the outer center squares, move the corporal around so that the cross is nearest to you.

"Although Hosts no longer rest directly on the corporal, it is still useful in the event that fragments may fall on it at the fraction or during the purifications, etc. Therefore, never flick a corporal open or shake it open in midair. Such an action would also show a lack of respect for the most sacred altar linen, which must always be used wherever a Mass is celebrated.

"To fold a corporal, reverse the above steps. Therefore fold the front three squares away from you, then fold the back three squares towards you and finally bring the right square and the left square onto the remaining central square to complete the process.

"If the corporal is brought to the altar in a burse, this may be placed flat, traditionally on the left of the corporal, away from the place where the missal rests. But it may be more conveniently placed on the right of the corporal, or a server may take it back to the credence table. When Mass is celebrated facing the altar, the empty burse traditionally rests upright against a candlestick or gradine (altar shelf), to the left of the corporal."

Lind, Operation Kabuki?

from Counterpunch:

Petraeus' Credibility

Operation Kabuki?


September approaches, and with it the supposed watershed in the Iraq war that General David Petraeus' report to Congress will represent. In reality, the report will make little difference in what the Democratically-controlled Congress does, because it has already decided what it will do, namely pretend to try to end the war while actually ensuring its continuation through the 2008 elections. That strategy seems to offer the best promise of electing more Democrats.

Nonetheless, much of the country eagerly wants to hear what General Petraeus has to say. What he says about the progress of the war in Iraq, however, is a secondary question. The primary question is, how credible is his report? Will it be a real military analysis, honest and forthright, or will it just be more kabuki, political "spin" dictated by the Bush White House? If it is the latter, then its content is immaterial, because it is not credible.

I do not know General Petraeus, and I therefore cannot judge his character. What I have seen of his work is certainly better than that of his predecessors. His attempt to move our forces in Iraq out of their bases and into the neighborhoods where counter-insurgency must be fought is laudable, if hopelessly too late.

A story in the August 16 Cleveland Plain Dealer by AP's Steven Hurst unfortunately brings General Petraeus's credibility into some question. Hurst wrote:

One of the most significant shifts for U.S. forces recently has been recruiting allies among former Sunni insurgent areas such as the western Anbar province. "A pretty big deal," said Petraeus.

"You have to pinch yourself a little to make sure that is real because that is a very significant development in this kind of operation in counterinsurgency," he said.

"It's all about the local people. When all the sudden the local people are on the side of the new Iraq instead of on the side of the insurgents or even al-Qaida, that's a very significant change."

The willingness of some Sunni tribes and insurgent groups to work with U.S. forces in al Anbar against al-Qaida is significant locally, However, all my sources state emphatically that the Sunnis who are now willing to work with us do not accept "the new Iraq," which is Newspeak for the al-Maliki government in Baghdad and Iraq's future status as an American satellite with large U.S. forces permanently based on its soil. As is usually the case in Fourth Generation war, the U.S. ­ Sunni local alliances are temporary tactical expedients, nothing more. The Sunnis we are working with make quite clear their continuing rejection of al-Maliki, Baghdad and the "New Iraq" at the same time they also reject al-Qaeda's terror tactics (including against Sunnis) and its goal of a puritanical Islamic theocracy.

This is just one slip on General Petraeus's part, and given the way the U.S. military invents good news to pass up the chain, it may reflect what he is being told. At the same time, the term "New Iraq" is a Bushism. So does its use reflect what is corning up the chain or what is coming down?

It is the latter possibility that is troubling, because it is the norm, not the exception. As American military officers gain rank, they soon learn that the absolute worst political sin is "committing truth." Any time they say something that contradicts what is coming out of the White House or the Office of the Secretary of Defense, they find themselves in very hot water. If they persist in the annoying practice, they discover they do not quality for senior commands.

If General Petraeus is to present a genuine military report in September and not a "cooked" political document, he will have to buck the system. It should be fairly easy to judge whether he has done that or not, because if he has, the White House will howl. The gap between the reality in Iraq and the administration's rhetoric is so wide that it should show dramatically in any genuine military analysis. If it does not, and if the White House regards his report complacently, with just a few quibbles as part of the kabuki, then it amounts to nothing more than one of Napoleon's bulletins -- from which we got the phrase, "to lie like a bulletin."

Come September, we will find out what General Petraeus is made of. Depending on that, we may also find out something about the war in Iraq.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

AICN news

A review of 3:10 to Yuma. If it continues to get good reviews, I may see it along with The Kingdom.

A Transformers 2 in the future?

Janeane Garfalo to join the cast of 24 ?!?!?! (To show that Democrats can be patriotic too?)

Phil Hart, Share slump and credit crunch: passing peak oil

Share slump and credit crunch: passing peak oil

Lew Rockwell on Ron Paul

From the Lew Rockwell blog:

The Ron Paul I Know
Posted by Lew Rockwell at 03:41 PM

Scott Horton interviews me on Ron Paul the man, the economist, the libertarian, and the movement leader (29 minutes).

Here’s my full discussion with Scott, in which we also cover conservatism, libertarianism, the Fed, the present financial crisis, and the empire (70 minutes).

Bill Bonner, Bailing out the American debt business

Bailing Out the American Debt Business

By Bill Bonner "There was a time when the business of America was business… Now the business of America is debt. Americans buy things they don't need with money they don't have. Financing debt… is our most important industry."


I'm back in Boston; no internet access at home, so blogging will continue to be sporadic.

Varia, 22 August 2007

Lee Honey in Hilfiger Spread

Soo Ae Sheds Refined Image for Boorish New Role

Jeon to Appear on CNN Program
Actress Jeon Do-yeon, who won the award for Best Actress at the 2007...

Leading Actress Admits Faking Educational Background
Movie Star Chang Mi-hee Confesses to Bogus Resume
It is sad that the semblance of education is valued over actually having one, whether it be in Asia or in the United States.

Puirt a Baroque

Puirt a Baroque

via Michael commenting at Chronicles

History of the Dominican Liturgy, part 2

at NLM

The photos from the Le Barroux ordinations were interesting. And Sarge needs to get him over to France, so he can join the RJC. (But first he should learn how to speak French.)