Saturday, September 13, 2008

Flow: For the Love of Water

Trailer for Flow

About the film:

Irena Salina's award-winning documentary investigation into what experts label the most important political and environmental issue of the 21st Century - The World Water Crisis.

Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world's dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel.

Interviews with scientists and activists intelligently reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question "CAN ANYONE REALLY OWN WATER?"

Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround.

FFT MTM: Sundance 2008 Interview - Director Irena Salina - FLOW
Huffington Post interview
Link TV | Video Player | Earth Focus Interview: Irena Salina
Filmmaker Magazine: The Director Interviews

Filmcatcher interview.

PARK CITY , UT - JANUARY 22: Cinematographer Irena Salina (L) and co-producer Gill Holland from the film "Flow: For Love of Water" pose for a portrait at the Miners Club during the 2008 Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2008 in Park City, Utah. (Getty)

Stills from The Duchess

@ Yahoo

Scans from Telegraph Magazine
Photos at Keira Knightley Wavefront; Keira Knightley Fan

official website
The Duchess (2008) - Photos - MSN Movies
'The Duchess’ Movie Stills | James McAvoy, Keira Knightley

Zenit: Papal Homily at Mass in Paris

Papal Homily at Mass in Paris


In the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, we discover, in this Pauline year inaugurated on 28 June last, how much the counsels given by the Apostle remain important today. "Shun the worship of idols" (1 Cor 10:14), he writes to a community deeply marked by paganism and divided between adherence to the newness of the Gospel and the observance of former practices inherited from its ancestors. Shunning idols: for Paul's contemporaries, this therefore meant ceasing to honour the divinities of Olympus, ceasing to offer them blood sacrifices. Shunning idols meant entering the school of the Old Testament Prophets, who denounced the human tendency to make false representations of God. As we read in Psalm 113, with regard to the statues of idols, they are merely "gold and silver, the work of human hands. They have mouths but they do not speak, they have eyes but they do not see, they have ears but they do not hear, they have nostrils but they do not smell" (Ps 113:4-5). Apart from the people of Israel, who had received the revelation of the one God, the ancient world was in thrall to the worship of idols. Strongly present in Corinth, the errors of paganism had to be denounced, for they constituted a powerful source of alienation and they diverted man from his true destiny. They prevented him from recognizing that Christ is the sole and the true Saviour, the only one who points out to man the path to God.

This appeal to shun idols, dear brothers and sisters, is also pertinent today. Has not our modern world created its own idols? Has it not imitated, perhaps inadvertently, the pagans of antiquity, by diverting man from his true end, from the joy of living eternally with God? This is a question that all people, if they are honest with themselves, cannot help but ask. What is important in my life? What is my first priority? The word "idol" comes from the Greek and means "image", "figure", "representation", but also "ghost", "phantom", "vain appearance". An idol is a delusion, for it turns its worshipper away from reality and places him in the kingdom of mere appearances. Now, is this not a temptation in our own day - the only one we can act upon effectively? The temptation to idolize a past that no longer exists, forgetting its shortcomings; the temptation to idolize a future which does not yet exist, in the belief that, by his efforts alone, man can bring about the kingdom of eternal joy on earth! Saint Paul explains to the Colossians that insatiable greed is a form of idolatry (cf. 3:5), and he reminds his disciple Timothy that love of money is the root of all evil. By yielding to it, he explains, "some have wandered away from the faith and pierced their hearts with many pangs" (1 Tim 6:10). Have not money, the thirst for possessions, for power and even for knowledge, diverted man from his true destiny, from the truth of himself?

Dear brothers and sisters, the question that today's liturgy places before us finds an answer in the liturgy itself, which we have inherited from our fathers in faith, and notably from Saint Paul himself (cf. 1 Cor 11:23). In his commentary on this text, Saint John Chrysostom observes that Saint Paul severely condemns idolatry, which is a "grave fault", a "scandal", a real "plague" (Homily 24 on the First Letter to the Corinthians, 1). He immediately adds that this radical condemnation of idolatry is never a personal condemnation of the idolater. In our judgements, must we never confuse the sin, which is unacceptable, with the sinner, the state of whose conscience we cannot judge and who, in any case, is always capable of conversion and forgiveness. Saint Paul makes an appeal to the reason of his readers, to the reason of every human being - that powerful testimony to the presence of the Creator in the creature: "I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say" (1 Cor 10:15). Never does God, of whom the Apostle is an authorized witness here, ask man to sacrifice his reason! Reason never enters into real contradiction with faith! The one God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- created our reason and gives us faith, proposing to our freedom that it be received as a precious gift. It is the worship of idols which diverts man from this perspective. Let us therefore ask God, who sees us and hears us, to help us purify ourselves from all idols, in order to arrive at the truth of our being, in order to arrive at the truth of his infinite being!

How do we reach God? How do we manage to discover or rediscover him whom man seeks at the deepest core of himself, even though he so often forgets him? Saint Paul asks us to make use not only of our reason, but above all our faith in order to discover him. Now, what does faith say to us? The bread that we break is a communion with the Body of Christ. The cup of blessing which we bless is a communion with the Blood of Christ. This extraordinary revelation comes to us from Christ and has been transmitted to us by the Apostles and by the whole Church for almost two thousand years: Christ instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist on the evening of Holy Thursday. He wanted his sacrifice to be presented anew, in an unbloody manner, every time a priest repeats the words of consecration over the bread and wine. Millions of times over the last twenty centuries, in the humblest chapels and in the most magnificent basilicas and cathedrals, the risen Lord has given himself to his people, thus becoming, in the famous expression of Saint Augustine, "more intimate to us than we are to ourselves" (cf. Confessions, III, 6, 11).

Another reference to the modern world. What does "modern" really mean or represent? The post-Christian age?

The rest of the homily.
Watching the rebroadcast of the Holy Father's Mass at the Esplanade des Invalides. What is up with all of the priests on the steps surrounding the stage? I'm leaving in less than an hour, so I won't know if they are concelebrating or not. If they are...

Who designed the stage?

Someone said he is tired of outdoor Masses. I can't disagree with his negative opinion. (Not the Eucharistic Sacrifice itself, but the way it is celebrated and so on.)

Will the Holy Father take the opportunity to say something about his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum to the bishops of France when he meets with them?

The archbishop (of Paris?) is talking about the diversity of France in his opening remarks to the Holy Father--working for improving the conditions in the countries from which they come. False confidence in the strength and vitality of the Church, if not its influence? Has he looked at the number of people going to Sunday liturgy recently?

I am starting to find all such diplomatic speech to be nothing more than ____. He may be sincere--perhaps these are the goals that the French bishops think are important. But if that is the case, then may the Holy Spirit enlighten them as to what their duties as pastors of the local Chuches are.

In 75 years, will most Catholics in France be traditionalists? Could it not be otherwise?

At least they are using Gregorian chant. I don't remember what typical French NO music is like, even though I must have heard some of it at Lourdes. It appears that most of the laity have 'dressed up' for the liturgy, and there are some young people. Good signs? Would a typical Frenchman or woman go to Sunday liturgy in a T-shirt and jeans? Or shorts?

Pope Benedict XVI, on podium at rear, celebrates an outdoors mass on the Esplanade des Invalides in Paris, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008. Tens of thousands of faithful have turned out for Pope Benedict XVI's outdoor Mass in Paris. The mass is is Benedict's only public appearance Saturday before he flies to Lourdes to make a pilgrimage to the shrine which draws millions of pilgrims each year. The Invalides dome is seen in background. (AP Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI)

People bend over fences as Pope Benedict XVI celebrates an open air mass at the Invalides in Paris September 13, 2008. A large crowd attends a morning mass given by the 81-year-old Benedict who continues his four-day visit to Paris and Lourdes. (Reuters)

The Sacred Heart with the cross? I can't remember which group it represents these days. Certain royalists or traditionalists? It was a symbol for Vendée Catholics during their fight against the revoluationaries:

Vendée Catholics during the French Revolution

The symbol remains on the flag of the department, though it has been a source of controversy for the secularists: Vendée (Department, France)
Fabius Maximus: Two essential texts in the theory and practice of financial warfare
Crunchy Con: Red hot Chile peppers
Twitch: First Trailer for Wu Jing’s LEGENDARY ASSASSIN **UPDATE**

CI: Hanbok Tips for Chuseok

Hanbok Tips for Chuseok

One of the country’s biggest traditional holidays is upon us, and with it the question what to wear. Since the Chuseok holiday is fairly short this year from Saturday through Monday, not many may bother to dress in hanbok, traditional Korean costume, because it takes too much effort to wear it right. But Kim Ye-jin, a hanbok expert, says, “It will be a good thing to wear hanbok and reflect on the wisdom of our ancestors in today’s harsh times.” And it is better still if we have some knowledge about hanbok, like the meaning of its colors.

◆ For men, the topcoat is a must

Men’s formal attire is completed by a topcoat or durumagi over the hanbok. It has wide sleeves and openings in the back. When performing the ancestral ceremonies, it is best to wear the complete package.

◆ For women, navy skirt and pendant

Traditionally, women wore blue skirts for happy occasions and big events. The color has joyous and congratulatory connotations and is therefore just right for Chuseok. For the upper body, wear a blouse called samhoejang-jeogori whose neckband, end band of sleeve, armhole and cloth string called goreum used to tie the upper bodice of hanbok are in different colors from the main body, or banhoejang-jeogori where the neckband, end band of sleeve and goreum only are in different colors from the main body.

In the past, no woman who had not given birth to a boy was allowed to wear a purple goreum. The norigae is a pendant trinket worn by women to show off their wealth and class. How to wear it differed according to seasons, materials and size; middle-class women usually wore fabric, handkerchief and ornamental knives.

◆ For children, striped jacket and hood

Children wore a five-colored striped jacket until they were six or seven. Each color represents a point of the compass -- blue for east, white for west, red for south, black for north and yellow for the center -- and symbolizes longevity and a healthy life.

Girls wore earflaps or fur hats, and adolescent girls braided their hair and wore red pigtail ribbons until they got married. Boys wore a hood made from a single piece of fabric, and those from wealthy families had them adorned with gold. Even today, on their first birthday and on holidays, babies wear a striped jacket and hood or earflaps.

( )
Plus: A Guide to the Chuseok Ancestral Memorial Service
I didn't ask this last year, but are there special Chuseok liturgies?

CI: Martial Arts Gold Medalists Look Forward to Chuseok

Martial Arts Gold Medalists Look Forward to Chuseok

Choi Min-ho, judo gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics (right), and Lim Su-jeong, taekkwondo gold medalist

Judoka Choi Min-ho and taekwondo player Lim Su-jeong delighted Koreans when they won gold medals in the Beijing Olympics. The Chosun Ilbo met with the wonder boy and girl of martial arts at the Olympic Park in Songpa district, Seoul with Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving a few days away.

Although both of them are most familiar in sportswear, they looked just as attractive in traditional Korean clothes. Top Korean costume designer Lee Young-hee, who made hanbok for the heads of state attending the G7 Conference in Busan in 2006, presented the outfits to the two. Lim changed into a dark gray skirt and dark red jacket. It wasn't easy to imagine a fighter when the hem of her long skirt delicately flowed over her flower shoes. Told that this was the same style as the hanbok actress Lee Young-ae wore at the Venice Film Festival, Lim smiled. "I'm honored,” she said. “Am I good enough to be compared with her?"

Choi says he has been meaning to buy a traditional Korean costume. “Is this really a gift?" he asked.

Chuseok was lonely in the past for both of them. Athletes are fated to fight with themselves every moment to win in contests. They have to shed tears alone to stand on the Olympics stage. There is no end to the challenges they must conquer.

Asked what he recalls about past festivals, Choi hesitated and then said, "I remember nothing other than running in the hills in my hometown of Kimcheon alone at dawn. I exercised every waking minute."

Choi once suffered from insomnia due to the stress from training. In distress, he phoned his mother and asked her to send him some sleeping pills. Within a few days, a parcel arrived. It contained no medicine but a few books and a letter. The letter said, "A pharmacist says drugs hamper physical exercise. But you fall asleep whenever you read a book, so please read these books in bed." Since then, he has never suffered from sleeplessness.

Nothing much was different with Lim Su-jeong. "Once I got so depressed that I didn't exercise during a festival and took a rest at home. Selected as a national athlete in the first year of high school, I attracted a lot of attention. But my performance was poor. I fell into a slump when the training formula didn't suit me. Because of my depression, I even had clinical treatment. During the festival then, I just wanted to be alone."

But this Chuseok is likely to be full of happy memories for both athletes. Choi, on the eve of Chuseok, will go to the Daegu Stadium, the home ground of the Samsung Lions baseball team, accompanied by people from his hometown, to throw the first ball. "The baseball team is providing us with two buses and asked me to come along with all the people from my village,” he said. “And I'm going to the baseball stadium with my friends and relatives."

Lim is taking a two-day trip with her friends. "Friends of mine who don't do sports were sorry for not being able to see me. But I was rather angry, complaining that they don't understand me. I'm sorry for them. Taking the trip together, I hope to have time for a heart-to-heart.”

Will there be any discreet dates? Lim denies having a boyfriend. But Choi confides he befriended a flight attendant after the Athens Olympics who is the sister of his friend. After several meetings, they fell in love.

Lim cites ssireum (Korean wrestling) champion and popular comedian Kang Ho-dong as her ideal future spouse. "I like an ordinary man with charisma, like Kang Ho-dong."

Upon return home with their gold medals, the two have been busy with events and TV appearances and say they are too busy to think about anything. But their joy is palpable.

Once they are through with the best Chuseok of their lives, they return to their rigorous training routines and start the long and lonely struggles for the London Olympics. They promise they will be back.

( )

More on Lee Young Hee.
Lee Yong-hee: Hanbok designer


The new series by JJ Abrams. I watched the pilot episode tonight--comparisons have already been made with The X-Files. But I don't think it will have the same paranormal element as The X-Files--it seems to be more of a science-fiction thriller, with a possible conspiracy to dominate the world involving a large corporation (and members of the government?). Maybe they'll find an island with some strange powers, too. I don't know how the ratings for the first episode were, so I won't make any predictions as to whether it will finish the season and be renewed. Despite the initial gore factor, I don't find it as creepy as The X-Files, or as suspenseful. "Pacey" is fine and John Noble does a good job playing a scientist who is slightly unhinged.

A large corporation with the 'power' of science at its disposal and pursuing an unknown agenda. Given the implausibility of the science involved, the show's entertainment value for me is very limited. (Unless it were dealing with the AC--in which case, it might be more interesting.)

Edit. Each episode of The X-Files usually ended up with the agents typing up some sort of report, even if there were unanswered questions. *spoiler warning* After the mastermind behind the chemical attack was killed, the question of his motives and his collaborators (or leaders) was left unaddressed. Was it assumed to be a part of "The Pattern"? What evidence is there for this connection? Why couldn't he just be one person developing a MWD? Why must there be a single mind or organization conducting destructive scientific "experiments" all over the word? What evidence is there for a conspiracy? It seems that if one pulls this string, the rest of the show unravels, as it loses a plausible foundation for the story.

Traditional Sardinian clothing

Women wearing traditional costumes of the Mediterranean island of Sardinia wait for the open-air mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in front of the shrine of the Madonna di Bonaria at Cagliari, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI is currently spending a one-day visit to Sardinia. (AP/PIER PAOLO CITO)

A pilgrim dressed with traditional clothes attends an open Mass in front of the "Basilica of Bonaria" during a visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Sardinian town of Cagliari, on September 7, 2008. (AFP/Getty)

Giulia Piras, 16, left, next to Fabrizia Zedda, 16, adjusts her traditional costume of the Mediterranean Island of Sardinia, as she waits for the open-air mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI in front of the shrine of the Madonna di Bonaria at Cagliari, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI is currently spending a one-day visit to Sardinia. (AP/PIER PAOLO CITO)

A woman wearing a traditional Sardinian costume prays as Pope Benedict XVI celebrates a Mass during a Pastoral visit in the Sardinian town of Cagliari September 7, 2008. Pope Benedict said he was praying for the people of Haiti, which has been struck by three successive storms, and hoped enough aid would arrive there. (Reuters)

Photos: Benedict XVI in Paris

France's first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (2nd L) attends the arrival ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI at Orly Airport, near Paris September 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI starts a four-day visit to Paris and Lourdes.

France's first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (C) attends the arrival ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI at Orly Airport, near Paris September 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI starts a four-day visit to Paris and Lourdes. (Reuters)

PARIS - SEPTEMBER 12: Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives at Orly airport, on September 12, 2008 in Paris, France. The four day trip by the Pope to Paris and Lourdes is seen as an attempt to reinvigorate Catholicism in France.

PARIS - SEPTEMBER 12: Pope Benedict XVI (L) Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) walk in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace September 12, 2008 on his arrival in Paris, France. The four day trip by the Pope to Paris and Lourdes is seen as an attempt to reinvigorate Catholicism in France. (Getty)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, and Pope Benedict XVI, right, are seen upon their arrival at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI embarked Friday on his first visit to France as pontiff, urging French society to take Christian values into account despite the country's staunch, historic separation of church and state. (AP/LAURENT REBOURS)

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) escorts Pope Benedict XVI in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris September 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI starts a four-day visit to Paris and Lourdes.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) stands with Pope Benedict XVI in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris September 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI starts a four-day visit to Paris and Lourdes.

PARIS - SEPTEMBER 12: Pope Benedict XVI waves as Carla Bruni-Sarkozy and French President Nicolas Sarkozy stand in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace on September 12, 2008 in Paris, France. The four day trip by the Pope to Paris and Lourdes is seen as an attempt to reinvigorate Catholicism in France. (Getty)

Pope Benedict XVI waves as France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy accompany him as he departs the Elysee Palace in Paris September 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI starts a four-day visit to Paris and Lourdes.

Pope Benedict XVI (L) departs as France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy accompany him at the Elysee Palace in Paris September 12, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI starts a four-day visit to Paris and Lourdes. (Reuters)

Facebook and social networking sites

Facebook switched over to the new version last night. I don't find it as user-friendly as the old one. But since it's a free service, can those who are protesting the change and asking for options really exert much influence? I think not. After all, what are you going to do? Switch over to a different service that your friends and relatives might not be using?

A friend was having difficulty viewing the albums--a problem with the switch-over? Or something else? Maybe it's just the browser, but I find the new Facebook clumsy and unresponsive. Perhaps it is a good excuse to stop frequenting Facebook. What can Facebook do that e-mail can't? (Sharing photos had been a bonus up to now, but if people are having problems accessing photos... there's always the blog or e-mail.)

As I suspected, I haven't heard from the last HS person I added as a friend on Facebook, on whose wall I had left a greeting. What is a reasonable turn-around time for such messages?

With official or business-related e-mails there is usually an expectation of a prompt response--one needs to acknowledge reception of the e-mail at the very least, if a response is not yet ready:

Responding promptly is the courteous thing to do. Don't let folks wonder if you received the email or are ever going to respond to their communications. Think about how quickly you would return a phone call or voice mail. Email is no different especially considering most onliners have expectations of a faster response since email is received so quickly. Outside of any emergencies such as surgery or lack of connectivity, always respond as soon as you can. If you need more time, longer than 48 hours, to gather your thoughts, simply pop off an email stating you are planning on responding in more detail and when.
What about e-mails between friends? There is more leeway, but even a lengthy period of time without a response can try a friendship, and the lack of a [prompt] response requires an explanation, no?

With the convenience of e-mail and the internet, it is easy to expect a somewhat quick response.
But just as phone calls may not be returned right away because of other pressing concerns, so it is with e-mails. So the problem isn't necessarily with the format, but with the recipient--one needs to keep track of what calls or e-mails need to be returned, lest one forget.

Affection is not a reliable motivator for acts of friendship; often duty must be added to affection, or act in its stead. Do people need to be taught how to be a good friend? One would think that this is something we would learn 'naturally' but maybe even living in accordance with friendship must be learned both through word and example from our elders.

What then of 'informal' messaging through social networking sites? Are they of the same importance as e-mails? I would think that the normal assumption is that people check these sites less often than their email, even if the websites can inform account holders that a message has been written to them through the website. But if they are checking their accounts everyday... I'm not expecting more than a one-sentence greeting, just an acknowledgment that they read mine and an expression of good-will, even if it's not that sincere.

The lack of a response gives one the impression that one is not taking the contact seriously. For (former) high school or college friends -- is networking more than putting up a historical record of the contacts people have made in their lives, their associations and friendships? A pretense that these past associations still have some meaning or relevance now? Or is there something else lurking behind the desire to network, a mentality that maintains past associations as friendships of utility? Or is it just to get an ego-boost from the numbers, and also to indulge in narcissistic displays?

There is the danger of blurring significant developments of one's life with what is mundane--too many updates can lead to one's notices being perceived as noise and thus ignored. If one needs to talk about one's life, isn't it better to do so with friends and family, and not through electronic media if possible? Why announce it to an online network, even if it is limited? Such casual sharing seems to pertain more to narcissism than to generosity or true friendship. (Now perhaps in some rare emergency one is stuck without a phone but has access to the internet--but I think even then the tool for urgent communication would be e-mail, if not something even more expedient, and not FB.)

The utility [and morality] of sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Friendster depends upon those using it. Still, one can ask whether such tools are good, that is serve the purpose for which they serve. Rather than enhancing friendships and communication, such websites may reinforce bad habits. It seems to me that one doesn't need such websites to stay in touch with good friends--the phone or a letter (or even better, face-to-face conversation) is preferable and more worthy of the friendship. Therefore, at best, such social networking websites supplement the other forms of communication, and cannot replace them. (After all, who uses them to write long messages, when there is e-mail? Which raises the question of privacy and how secure free e-mail services are.)

Given that reciprocity is a key feature of friendship, what is one to do, then, with the rest of the friends? What is the purpose of maintaining those links, if nothing is being done to 'grow' the friendship? (Being separated by a great distance makes communication even more paramount to the maintenance of friendship.) Fruitless and therefore pointless? I think I could lose 60-80% of my contacts and my life would not be affected very much. I did give in this Summer and added some contacts from Xendom, but for the most part I ask myself, "What was the point?" We don't exchange short messages frequently, or engage in longer conversations, online or otherwise. Is the need to not be alone a good enough reason for maintaining some semblance of contact?

Virtual community simply does not satisfy the needs of the heart or the soul. It is enough to fulfill the demands of charity and past friendship through prayer and other acts of charity. (In that respect, then, FB could be useful--one can communicate prayer intentions quickly.) Loyalty, affection, and attachment can be difficult to suppress, and loneliness make this even more difficult, but it's necessary. But the longterm solution of 'getting a life' does not yet seem to be something I can pursue at the moment, so I can get along with life as best as I can. At this point it is very unlikely that I will be going to the HS's 50th Anniversary, at least not to see classmates. It's funny--one reason why I left Boston was to get away from certain dead-ends. Soon none of my peer friends will be left in Boston. Physically getting away from a location can aid in getting emotional distance. But since I can't leave California to achieve that with respect to the dead-ends here...

I have an impulse to just shut down all such accounts and live free of such sites like my sisters, but some people do keep in touch, and I sometimes hold out the hope that maybe one day things will get better. But my guess is that is not going to happen. The other alternative would be to cut down on the contact list so that it reflects reality better. But for now I'll just leave things as they are...

wiki: List of social networking websites

It struck me that often in departments academics are very much alone, for all the talk about fostering an academic community. In some respects they represent the secular counterparts to hermits and monks, or medieval teachers, of whom they are the heirs. But, they may have families at home to keep them company. And rather than pursuing wisdom and meditating upon truth they are engaged in a narrow focus of study, contributing to the encyclopedic project or pursuing individual glory (or both, since they are not mutually exclusive). Do academics need friends? Undoubtedly. But what sort of friends do they get by with?

Looking at classmates from high school, I recalled the competition to get into a "very good" or the "best" colleges, unaware of the scam in which we had been taken in. There was (and still is) a huge premium on demonstrating 'leadership' skills. Hence certain people wanted to get elected to office in clubs or student government, and the top tier looked for extracurricular activities to list on their college applications.

But leadership is not just issuing commands and directions; it requires charity, or at least justice and benevolence. There is a discontinuity between enterprises ordered towards producing something or achieving some good external to the practice and communal life. Political leadership is not the same as being a CEO or the president of a student body. We certainly were not given in our high school education a proper understanding of citizenship; nothing remotely approaching what the Greeks or the medieval republicans might have taught, or [some of] the American founding fathers.

I remember during a celebration of my sister's graduating class from university, one of her classmates wrote down that she was a extraordinary minister of Holy Communion as a part of her background information. It still irks me, the amount of pride people take in being some sort of lay minister. I remember being told that one needs to assert one's activities and accomplishments in order to get ahead in the world, because academic achievement or potential wasn't enough.

Why would I trust public schools (or many private ones) to be able to render an accurate judgment about character? I find much of the application process, especially to Leviathan U., to be a farce.

I was also thinking of medical schools that reject you for not adopting their public policy goals or concerns -- leave them with a big '--'. I certainly don't need that kind of grief from the faculty. A doctor is a technician -- there is no guarantee that a doctor has great virtue or moral wisdom. Techne does not necessarily entail the possession of practical wisdom or the moral virtues, even if both can be found in some. How one lives one's life (especially with or without temperance) can have an impact on one's health, so a doctor can address that much. But to broader questions relating to general justice or politics? Or giving more general spiritual or moral advice? I think not. So if I were back in that interview today... would I be able to say this to his face? I wonder if I could be so confrontational.

The foolishness of the world. There are so many false substitutes for personal contact and knowledge of another person, and yet so much of modern life (including government) has made itself dependent upon them.

As for how things are going: I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So in addition to political blogs and discussions, I'll be trying to avoid FB for a while. I should probably just go on an Internet fast as much as I can. A re-evaluation of blogging is in order--I need to get out of my head, rather than indulging in the self through blogging. That's enough narcissism for one post...

Walking away from it all and moving to a small town once I have enough money looks really good right now. In the meantime dropping out of the world and tuning out... @ Costco?

Rod Dreher: Twitter and the transformation of friendship

From the delightful Erin Manning:

Ordinarily friendship begins when people connect both mentally and physically--not in a "physical relationship" sense, of course, but in those thousands of little ways we communicate beyond the verbal. A seemingly uninteresting person suddenly smiles a roguish smile or gives you a glance that can only be described as a look of kinship, that "fellow feeling" that the poet says "makes one wondrous kind," if I'm not horribly misquoting, and the dynamics of the conversation change, ever so slightly. The person who was a stranger at the beginning of the encounter has been bound to you, by the end of it, with those gossamer threads that may one day be woven into a tapestry of friendship--and behind both the words and the images, the thoughts expressed and the serious or silly or tragic or dramatic or dryly humorous way they were expressed, we have caught just a glimpse of the soul.

Words alone, however well or honestly expressed, seldom pull aside that curtain behind the eyes to reveal the spirit beyond. How often do we make the mistake of thinking we really "know" someone we've only "met" online, on a blog or a forum or an e-mail list or some other virtual "coffee shop" of desultory conversation, only to meet them at last and find the experience unaccountably disappointing, or even depressing? Worse, how often do we meet someone from online in a group setting, and feel frustrated that the person we're used to communicating directly with, and who seems to be giving us undivided attention, is now pulled into a dozen different conversational directions with the complete thought left so unfinished, compared to words on a box on a screen that give us all the time in the world to express every part of what we wanted to say?

The Physician in the 19th Century « Jane Austen’s World
There is something in the book about understanding the world of Jane Austen on doctors... how social respect was not accorded to all who practiced medicine, but only to a certain type. Another book I haven't had a chance to read through yet.

I was thinking... another drawback of Facebook is that it is tough to let friendships fade when you're still connected to people electronically through a social networking site, even if that tie is tenuous. Just 'unfriending' someone would seem to require an explanation (unless that person doesn't happen to notice). On the other hand, it seems better to let things dissipate rather than cut ties abruptly, unless there is good reason to. (A friend becomes an unrepentant serial murderer, for example.)

One doesn't intend to start a friendship only to abandon it later. One more reason to avoid getting involved with such websites--they can complicate life too much by with their emphasis on convenience.

Friday, September 12, 2008

2 from Sandro Magister

Not So Diligent, Not So Virtuous. But They're the "Church of the People"

They're the ordinary Catholics, the majority in Italy, but so far they have not received proper attention. They now govern the country. For the Church, they are an opportunity and a challenge. An exclusive analysis by Professor Pietro De Marco

And an article on the pope's address today on culture:
"To seek God and to let oneself be found by Him"

Exactly two years after Regensburg, another grand discourse from Pope Joseph Ratzinger to the intellectual world. In Paris, at the Collège des Bernardins, September 12, 2008. Here's the complete text

Zenit: Fr. Cantalamessa's Gospel Commentary for Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

When Faith Prevails

Gospel Commentary for Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap

ROME, SEPT. 12, 2008 ( The suffering of the cross, its hard necessity in life, its reality as a way of following Christ is not presented to the faithful on Sunday, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. Instead the glory of the cross, the cross as a reason for boasting and not for weeping is given pride of place.

Let us first say something about the origin of this feast. It recalls two events, distant from each other in time. The first is Constantine’s founding in 325 of two basilicas, one at the site of Golgotha and one over Christ’s sepulcher. The other event, in 628, is the Christians victory over the Persians, which led to the recovery of relics of the cross and their triumphal return to Jerusalem. With the passing of time, however, the feast came to take on a new meaning. It became a joyous celebration of the mystery of the cross, which Christ transformed from an instrument of shame and judgment to an instrument of salvation.

The readings reflect the latter significance of the feast. The second reading contains the celebrated hymn from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians in which the cross is seen as the cause of Christ’s “exaltation”: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The Gospel too speaks of the cross as a moment in which the Son of Man is lifted up “so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

In history there have been two basic ways of representing the cross and the crucified. For the sake of convenience we will call them the “ancient” and the “modern.” The ancient way, which we can admire in the mosaics of the old basilicas and in the crucifixes of Romanesque art, is the festive way, full of majesty. The cross, often without a corpus, is spangled with gems and set against a starry sky with the following inscription below: “Salus Mundi” -- “Salvation of the World,” as one sees in the celebrated mosaic of Ravenna.

In the wooden crucifixes of Romanesque art, this same type of representation is expressed in the Christ who is enthroned on the cross in royal and sacerdotal vestments, with eyes open, without a shadow of suffering but radiating rather majesty and victory, no longer crowned with thorns but with gems. It is the translation into visible form of the Psalm verse “God has ruled from a tree” -- “regnavit a ligno Deus.” Jesus speaks of his cross in these same terms: it is the moment of his “exaltation”: “When I am exalted I will draw all to myself” (John 12:32).

The modern way of representing the cross and the crucified begins with Gothic art. An extreme example is Matthias Grünewald’s depiction of the crucifixion in the Isenheim altar piece. The hands and feet are contorted around the nails like thorn bushes, the head is in agony beneath the crown of thorns, the body full of wounds. Even the crucifixes of Velasquez and Salvador Dalì and many others belong to this type.

Both of these ways of depicting the cross and the crucified shed light on true aspects of this mystery. The modern way -- dramatic, realistic, excruciating -- represents the cross in its crude reality, in the moment in which Christ dies upon it. It is the cross as symbol of evil, of suffering in the world and of the tremendous reality of death. The cross is represented here “in its causes,” so to speak, that which produces it: hatred, wickedness, injustice, sin.

The ancient way sheds life not on the cross’ causes but on its effects; not that which creates the cross, but that which the cross itself creates: reconciliation, peace, glory, security, eternal life. This is the cross that Paul defines as the “glory” or “boast” of believers. The Sept. 14 feast is called the “exaltation” of the cross, because it celebrates precisely this “exalted” aspect of the cross.

To the modern approach, the ancient should be united: rediscover the glorious cross. If when we were suffering it was helpful to think of Jesus on the cross in pain so that we could feel closer to him, it is now necessary to think of the cross in a different way. I will explain what I mean by an example. Suppose we have recently lost a loved one, perhaps after months of terrible suffering. It is good not to continue to think of her as she was then, torturing ourselves perhaps in our heart and mind, feeding a useless sense of guilt. All of that is over, it does not exist, it is unreal. If we continued in this way, we would only prolong the suffering and keep it alive artificially.

There are mothers (I don’t say this to judge but to help them) who, having accompanied a child for years in his or her Calvary, after the Lord has called the child to himself, refuse to live differently. In their house everything must be kept as it was when the child died; everything must speak of the child; there are constant visits to the cemetery. If there are other children in the family, they must adapt themselves to this muffled climate of death, and suffer grave psychological damage. Every display of joy in the house seems to be disrespectful. These are the people who are most in need of discovering the meaning of Sunday’s feast: the exaltation of the cross. It is no longer you who carry the cross the cross that carries you; the cross does not crush but exalts you.

We must now think of the loved one as he or she is now that “everything is finished.” This is what those ancient artists did with Jesus. They contemplated as he is now: risen, glorious, happy, serene, seated on the throne itself of God, with the Father who has “wiped away every tear from his eyes” and has given him “all power in heaven and on earth.” He is no longer in agony and spasms of death. I do not say that we can always command our heart and stop it from hurting over what has happened, but it is necessary to let faith finally prevail. If you do not do this, what use is faith?

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

* * *

Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for this Sunday is Numbers 21:4-9; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17.
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Zenit: Benedict XVI on the Roots of European Culture

Benedict XVI on the Roots of European Culture

"Christian Worship Is an Invitation to Sing With the Angels"

PARIS, SEPT. 12, 2008 ( Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address to the world of culture, delivered today at the recently restored College of the Bernardines.

* * *

Your Eminence,

Madam Minister of Culture,

Mr Mayor,

Mr Chancellor of the French Institute,

Dear Friends!

I thank you, Your Eminence, for your kind words. We are gathered in a historic place, built by the spiritual sons of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and which Your predecessor, the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, desired to be a centre of dialogue between Christian Wisdom and the cultural, intellectual, and artistic currents of contemporary society. In particular, I greet the Minister of Culture, who is here representing the Government, together with Mr Giscard d'Estaing and Mr Jacques Chirac. I likewise greet all the Ministers present, the Representatives of UNESCO, the Mayor of Paris, and all other Authorities in attendance. I do not want to forget my colleagues from the French Institute, who are well aware of my regard for them. I thank the Prince of Broglie for his cordial words. We shall see each other again tomorrow morning. I thank the delegates of the French Islamic community for having accepted the invitation to participate in this meeting: I convey to them by best wishes for the holy season of Ramadan already underway. Of course, I extend warm greetings to the entire, multifaceted world of culture, which you, dear guests, so worthily represent.

I would like to speak with you this evening of the origins of western theology and the roots of European culture. I began by recalling that the place in which we are gathered is in a certain way emblematic. It is in fact a placed tied to monastic culture, insofar as young monks came to live here in order to learn to understand their vocation more deeply and to be more faithful to their mission. We are in a place that is associated with the culture of monasticism. Does this still have something to say to us today, or are we merely encountering the world of the past? In order to answer this question, we must consider for a moment the nature of Western monasticism itself. What was it about? From the perspective of monasticism's historical influence, we could say that, amid the great cultural upheaval resulting from migrations of peoples and the emerging new political configurations, the monasteries were the places where the treasures of ancient culture survived, and where at the same time a new culture slowly took shape out of the old. But how did it happen? What motivated men to come together to these places? What did they want? How did they live?

First and foremost, it must be frankly admitted straight away that it was not their intention to create a culture nor even to preserve a culture from the past. Their motivation was much more basic. Their goal was: quaerere Deum. Amid the confusion of the times, in which nothing seemed permanent, they wanted to do the essential - to make an effort to find what was perennially valid and lasting, life itself. They were searching for God. They wanted to go from the inessential to the essential, to the only truly important and reliable thing there is. It is sometimes said that they were "eschatologically" oriented. But this is not to be understood in a temporal sense, as if they were looking ahead to the end of the world or to their own death, but in an existential sense: they were seeking the definitive behind the provisional. Quaerere Deum: because they were Christians, this was not an expedition into a trackless wilderness, a search leading them into total darkness. God himself had provided signposts, indeed he had marked out a path which was theirs to find and to follow. This path was his word, which had been disclosed to men in the books of the sacred Scriptures. Thus, by inner necessity, the search for God demands a culture of the word or - as Jean Leclercq put it: eschatology and grammar are intimately connected with one another in Western monasticism (cf. L‘amour des lettres et le désir de Dieu). The longing for God, the désir de Dieu, includes amour des lettres, love of the word, exploration of all its dimensions. Because in the biblical word God comes towards us and we towards him, we must learn to penetrate the secret of language, to understand it in its construction and in the manner of its expression. Thus it is through the search for God that the secular sciences take on their importance, sciences which show us the path towards language. Because the search for God required the culture of the word, it was appropriate that the monastery should have a library, pointing out pathways to the word. It was also appropriate to have a school, in which these pathways could be opened up. Benedict calls the monastery a dominici servitii schola. The monastery serves eruditio, the formation and education of man - a formation whose ultimate aim is that man should learn how to serve God. But it also includes the formation of reason - education - through which man learns to perceive, in the midst of words, the Word itself.

Yet in order to have a full vision of the culture of the word, which essentially pertains to the search for God, we must take a further step. The Word which opens the path of that search, and is to be identified with this path, is a shared word. True, it pierces every individual to the heart (cf. Acts 2:37). Gregory the Great describes this a sharp stabbing pain, which tears open our sleeping soul and awakens us, making us attentive to God (cf. Leclercq, p. 35). But in the process, it also makes us attentive to one another. The word does not lead to a purely individual path of mystical immersion, but to the pilgrim fellowship of faith. And so this word must not only be pondered, but also correctly read. As in the rabbinic schools, so too with the monks, reading by the individual is at the same time a corporate activity. "But if legere and lectio are used without an explanatory note, then they designate for the most part an activity which, like singing and writing, engages the whole body and the whole spirit", says Jean Leclercq on the subject (ibid., 21).

And once again, a further step is needed. We ourselves are brought into conversation with God by the word of God. The God who speaks in the Bible teaches us how to speak with him ourselves. Particularly in the book of Psalms, he gives us the words with which we can address him, with which we can bring our life, with all its highpoints and lowpoints, into conversation with him, so that life itself thereby becomes a movement towards him. The psalms also contain frequent instructions about how they should be sung and accompanied by instruments. For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required. Two chants from the Christian liturgy come from biblical texts in which they are placed on the lips of angels: the Gloria, which is sung by the angels at the birth of Jesus, and the Sanctus, which according to Isaiah 6 is the cry of the seraphim who stand directly before God. Christian worship is therefore an invitation to sing with the angels, and thus to lead the word to its highest destination. Once again, Jean Leclercq says on this subject: "The monks had to find melodies which translate into music the acceptance by redeemed man of the mysteries that he celebrates. The few surviving capitula from Cluny thus show the Christological symbols of the individual modes" (cf. ibid. p. 229).

For Benedict, the words of the Psalm: coram angelis psallam Tibi, Domine - in the presence of the angels, I will sing your praise (cf. 138:1) - are the decisive rule governing the prayer and chant of the monks. What this expresses is the awareness that in communal prayer one is singing in the presence of the entire heavenly court, and is thereby measured according to the very highest standards: that one is praying and singing in such a way as to harmonize with the music of the noble spirits who were considered the originators of the harmony of the cosmos, the music of the spheres. The monks have to pray and sing in a manner commensurate with the grandeur of the word handed down to them, with its claim on true beauty. This intrinsic requirement of speaking with God and singing of him with words he himself has given, is what gave rise to the great tradition of Western music. It was not a form of private "creativity", in which the individual leaves a memorial to himself and makes self-representation his essential criterion. Rather it is about vigilantly recognizing with the "ears of the heart" the inner laws of the music of creation, the archetypes of music that the Creator built into his world and into men, and thus discovering music that is worthy of God, and at the same time truly worthy of man, music whose worthiness resounds in purity.

In order to understand to some degree the culture of the word, which developed deep within Western monasticism from the search for God, we need to touch at least briefly on the particular character of the book, or rather books, in which the monks encountered this word. The Bible, considered from a purely historical and literary perspective, is not simply one book but a collection of literature, which came into being in the course of more than a thousand years and in which the inner unity of the individual books is not immediately recognizable. On the contrary, there are visible tensions between them. This is already the case within the Bible of Israel, which we Christians call the Old Testament. It is only rectified when we as Christians link the New Testament writings as, so to speak, a hermeneutical key with the Bible of Israel, and so understand the latter as the journey towards Christ. With good reason, the New Testament generally designates the Bible not as "the Scripture" but as "the Scriptures", which, when taken together, are naturally then regarded as the one word of God to us. But the use of this plural makes it quite clear that God's word only comes to us here through the human word and through human words, that God only speaks to us through the mediation of human agents, their words and their history. This means again that the divine element in the word and in the words is not self-evident. To say this in a modern way: the unity of the biblical books and the divine character of their words cannot be grasped by purely historical methods. The historical element is seen in the multiplicity and the humanity. From this perspective one can understand the formulation of a medieval couplet that at first sight appears rather disconcerting: littera gesta docet - quid credas allegoria (cf. Augustine of Dacia, Rotulus pugillaris, I). The letter indicates the facts; what you have to believe is indicated by allegory, that is to say, by Christological and pneumatological exegesis.

We may put it even more simply: Scripture requires exegesis, and it requires the context of the community in which it came to birth and in which it is lived. This is where its unity is to be found, and here too its unifying meaning is opened up. To put it yet another way: there are dimensions of meaning in the word and in words which only come to light within the living community of this history-generating word. Through the growing realization of the different layers of meaning, the word is not devalued, but in fact appears in its full grandeur and dignity. Therefore the Catechism of the Catholic Church can rightly say that Christianity does not simply represent a religion of the book in the classical sense (cf. par. 108). It perceives in the words the word, the Logos itself, which spreads its mystery through this multiplicity. This particular structure of the Bible issues a constantly new challenge to every generation. It excludes by its nature everything that today is known as fundamentalism. In effect, the word of God can never simply be equated with the letter of the text. To attain to it involves a transcending and a process of understanding, led by the inner movement of the whole and hence it also has to become a process of living. Only within the dynamic unity of the whole are the many books one book. God's word and action in the world are only revealed in the word and history of human beings.

The whole drama of this topic is illuminated in the writings of Saint Paul. What is meant by the transcending of the letter and understanding it solely from the perspective of the whole, he forcefully expressed as follows: "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor 3:6). And he continues: "Where the Spirit is there is freedom (cf. 2 Cor 3:17). But one can only understand the greatness and breadth of this vision of the biblical word if one listens closely to Paul and then discovers that this liberating Spirit has a name, and hence that freedom has an inner criterion: "The Lord is the Spirit. Where the Spirit is there is freedom" (2 Cor 3:17). The liberating Spirit is not simply the exegete's own idea, the exegete's own vision. The Spirit is Christ, and Christ is the Lord who shows us the way. With the word of Spirit and of freedom, a further horizon opens up, but at the same time a clear limit is placed upon arbitrariness and subjectivity, which unequivocally binds both the individual and the community and brings about a new, higher obligation than that of the letter: namely, the obligation of insight and love. This tension between obligation and freedom, which extends far beyond the literary problem of scriptural exegesis, has also determined the thinking and acting of monasticism and has deeply marked Western culture. It presents itself anew as a task for our generation too, vis-á-vis the poles of subjective arbitrariness and fundamentalist fanaticism. It would be a disaster if today's European culture could only conceive freedom as absence of obligation, which would inevitably play into the hands of fanaticism and arbitrariness. Absence of obligation and arbitrariness do not signify freedom, but its destruction.

Thus far in our consideration of the "school of God's service", as Benedict describes monasticism, we have examined only its orientation towards the word -towards the "ora". Indeed, this is the starting point that sets the direction for the entire monastic life. But our consideration would remain incomplete if we did not also at least briefly glance at the second component of monasticism, indicated by the "labora". In the Greek world, manual labour was considered something for slaves. Only the wise man, the one who is truly free, devotes himself to the things of the spirit; he views manual labour as somehow beneath him, and leaves it to people who are not suited to this higher existence in the world of the spirit. The Jewish tradition was quite different: all the great rabbis practised at the same time some form of handcraft. Paul, who as a Rabbi and then as a preacher of the Gospel to the Gentile world was also a tent-maker and earned his living with the work of his own hands, is no exception here, but stands within the common tradition of the rabbinate. Monasticism took up this tradition; manual work is a constitutive element of Christian monasticism. Benedict in his Rule does not speak specifically about schools, although in practice, he presupposes teaching and learning, as we have seen. He does, however, speak explicitly about work (cf. Chap. 48). And so does Augustine, who dedicated a book of his own to monastic work. Christians, who thus continued in the tradition previously established by Judaism, must have felt further vindicated by Jesus's saying in Saint John's Gospel, in defence of his activity on the Sabbath: "My Father is working still, and I am working" (5:17). The Graeco-Roman world did not have a creator God; according to its vision, the highest divinity could not, as it were, dirty his hands in the business of creating matter. The "making" of the world was the work of the Demiurge, a lower deity. The Christian God is different: he, the one, real and only God, is also the Creator. God is working; he continues working in and on human history. In Christ, he enters personally into the laborious work of history. "My Father is working still, and I am working." God himself is the Creator of the world, and creation is not yet finished. God is working. Thus human work was now seen as a special form of human resemblance to God, as a way in which man can and may share in God's activity as creator of the world. Monasticism involves not only a culture of the word, but also a culture of work, without which the emergence of Europe, its ethos and its influence on the world would be unthinkable. Naturally, this ethos had to include the idea that human work and shaping of history is understood as sharing in the work of the Creator, and must be evaluated in those terms. Where such evaluation is lacking, where man arrogates to himself the status of god-like creator, his shaping of the world can quickly turn into destruction of the world.

We set out from the premise that the basic attitude of monks in the face of the collapse of the old order and its certainties was quaerere Deum - setting out in search of God. We could describe this as the truly philosophical attitude: looking beyond the penultimate, and setting out in search of the ultimate and the true. By becoming a monk, a man set out on a broad and noble path, but he had already found the direction he needed: the word of the Bible, in which he heard God himself speaking. Now he had to try to understand him, so as to be able to approach him. So the monastic journey is indeed a journey into the inner world of the received word, even if an infinite distance is involved. Within the monks' seeking there is already contained, in some respects, a finding. Therefore, if such seeking is to be possible at all, there has to be an initial spur, which not only arouses the will to seek, but also makes it possible to believe that the way is concealed within this word, or rather: that in this word, God himself has set out towards men, and hence men can come to God through it. To put it another way: there must be proclamation, which speaks to man and so creates conviction, which in turn can become life. If a way is to be opened up into the heart of the biblical word as God's word, this word must first of all be proclaimed outwardly. The classic formulation of the Christian faith's intrinsic need to make itself communicable to others, is a phrase from the First Letter of Peter, which in medieval theology was regarded as the biblical basis for the work of theologians: "Always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason (the logos) for the hope that you all have" (Logos, the reason for hope, must become Apo-logia, word must become answer - 3:15). In fact, Christians of the nascent Church did not regard their missionary proclamation as propaganda, designed to enlarge their particular group, but as an inner necessity, consequent upon the nature of their faith: the God in whom they believed was the God of all people, the one, true God, who had revealed himself in the history of Israel and ultimately in his Son, thereby supplying the answer which was of concern to everyone and for which all people, in their innermost hearts, are waiting. The universality of God, and of reason open towards him, is what gave them the motivation-indeed, the obligation-to proclaim the message. They saw their faith as belonging, not to cultural custom that differs from one people to another, but to the domain of truth, which concerns all people equally.

The fundamental structure of Christian proclamation "outwards" - towards searching and questioning mankind - is seen in Saint Paul's address at the Areopagus. We should remember that the Areopagus was not a form of academy at which the most illustrious minds would meet for discussion of lofty matters, but a court of justice, which was competent in matters of religion and ought to have opposed the import of foreign religions. This is exactly what Paul is reproached for: "he seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities" Acts 17:18). To this, Paul responds: I have found an altar of yours with this inscription: ‘to an unknown god'. What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you (17:23). Paul is not proclaiming unknown gods. He is proclaiming him whom men do not know and yet do know - the unknown-known; the one they are seeking, whom ultimately they know already, and who yet remains the unknown and unrecognizable. The deepest layer of human thinking and feeling somehow knows that he must exist, that at the beginning of all things, there must be not irrationality, but creative Reason - not blind chance, but freedom. Yet even though all men somehow know this, as Paul expressly says in the Letter to the Romans (1:21), this knowledge remains unreal: a God who is merely imagined and invented is not God at all. If he does not reveal himself, we cannot gain access to him. The novelty of Christian proclamation is that it can now say to all peoples: he has revealed himself. He personally. And now the way to him is open. The novelty of Christian proclamation consists in one fact: he has revealed himself. Yet this is no blind fact, but one that is itself Logos - the presence in our flesh of eternal reason. Verbum caro factum est (Jn 1:14): just so, amid what is made (factum) there is now Logos, Logos is among us. Creation (factum) is rational. Naturally, the humility of reason is always needed, in order to accept it: man's humility, which responds to God's humility.

Our present situation differs in many respects from the one that Paul encountered in Athens, yet despite the difference, the two situations also have much in common. Our cities are no longer filled with altars and with images of multiple deities. God has truly become for many the great unknown. But just as in the past, when behind the many images of God the question concerning the unknown God was hidden and present, so too the present absence of God is silently besieged by the question concerning him. Quaerere Deum - to seek God and to let oneself be found by him, that is today no less necessary than in former times. A purely positivistic culture which tried to drive the question concerning God into the subjective realm, as being unscientific, would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity, with very grave consequences. What gave Europe's culture its foundation - the search for God and the readiness to listen to him - remains today the basis of any genuine culture. Thank you.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Another post on Lost in Austen

I got Sarge to watch the first episode of Lost in Austen. He thinks Lydia, Jane, and Charlotte Lucas are attractive. It's sad to have to turn to a poor fanfic for a depiction of a more refined society in order to escape the culture of death. Another page on the cast.

Morven Christie as Jane Bennet--

As a blonde, she reminds me a bit of Sarah Michelle Gellar. A fansite.

Perdita Weeks plays Lydia Bennet. She was in The Tudors. It turns out that her sister is Honeysuckle Weeks, who plays Sam in Foyle's War.

Michelle Duncan is Charlotte Lucas. She was in "Tooth and Claw" (s2 of Dr. Who).

Some photos of Hattie Morahan:

From Sense and Sensibility:

I like her hat!

mig57 has some photos of the costumes from S&S 2008.
NLM: Archi-Liturgical Culture Wars by Aidan Nichols OP
Skimming through the final chapters of Sense and Sensibility, I am reminded that adaptations limited by time, no matter how faithful they are to the spirit of the work, cannot but fall short--
compare, for example, Marianne's telling Elinor of the results of her meditations with the corresponding scene in the adaptations.
"I am not wishing him too much good," said Marianne at last with a sigh, "when I wish his secret reflections may be no more unpleasant than my own. He will suffer enough in them."

"Do you compare your conduct with his?"

"No. I compare it with what it ought to have been; I compare it with yours."

"Our situations have borne little resemblance."

"They have borne more than our conduct. Do not, my dearest Elinor, let your kindness defend what I know your judgment must censure. My illness has made me think -- It has given me leisure and calmness for serious recollection. Long before I was enough recovered to talk, I was perfectly able to reflect. I considered the past; I saw in my own behaviour since the beginning of our acquaintance with him last autumn, nothing but a series of imprudence towards myself, and want of kindness to others. I saw that my own feelings had prepared my sufferings, and that my want of fortitude under them had almost led me to the grave. My illness, I well knew, had been entirely brought on by myself, by such negligence of my own health, as I had felt even at the time to be wrong. Had I died, it would have been self-destruction. I did not know my danger till the danger was removed; but with such feelings as these reflections gave me, I wonder at my recovery, -- wonder that the very eagerness of my desire to live, to have time for atonement to my God, and to you all, did not kill me at once. Had I died, in what peculiar misery should I have left you, my nurse, my friend, my sister! -- You, who had seen all the fretful selfishness of my latter days; who had known all the murmurings of my heart! -- How should I have lived in your remembrance! -- My mother too! How could you have consoled her! -- I cannot express my own abhorrence of myself. Whenever I looked towards the past, I saw some duty neglected, or some failing indulged. Everybody seemed injured by me. The kindness, the unceasing kindness of Mrs. Jennings, I had repaid with ungrateful contempt. To the Middletons, the Palmers, the Steeles, to every common acquaintance even, I had been insolent and unjust; with an heart hardened against their merits, and a temper irritated by their very attention. -- To John, to Fanny, -- yes, even to them, little as they deserve, I had given less than their due. But you, -- you above all, above my mother, had been wronged by me. I, and only I, knew your heart and its sorrows; yet, to what did it influence me? -- not to any compassion that could benefit you or myself. -- Your example was before me: but to what avail? -- Was I more considerate of you and your comfort? Did I imitate your forbearance, or lessen your restraints, by taking any part in those offices of general complaisance or particular gratitude which you had hitherto been left to discharge alone? No; -- not less when I knew you to be unhappy, than when I had believed you at ease, did I turn away from every exertion of duty or friendship; scarcely allowing sorrow to exist but with me, regretting only that heart which had deserted and wronged me, and leaving you, for whom I professed an unbounded affection, to be miserable for my sake."

Here ceased the rapid flow of her self-reproving spirit; and Elinor, impatient to sooth, though too honest to flatter, gave her instantly that praise and support which her frankness and her contrition so well deserved. Marianne pressed her hand and replied --

"You are very good. The future must be my proof. I have laid down my plan, and if I am capable of adhering to it, my feelings shall be governed and my temper improved. They shall no longer worry others, nor torture myself. I shall now live solely for my family. You, my mother, and Margaret, must henceforth be all the world to me; you will share my affections entirely between you. From you, from my home, I shall never again have the smallest incitement to move; and if I do mix in other society it will be only to shew that my spirit is humbled, my heart amended, and that I can practise the civilities, the lesser duties of life, with gentleness, and forbearance. As for Willoughby, to say that I shall soon or that I shall ever forget him, would be idle. His remembrance can be overcome by no change of circumstances or opinions. But it shall be regulated, it shall be checked by religion, by reason, by constant employment."


In the most recent adaptation-

Marianne: "Elinor, I look at my conduct last Autumn. I was a fool to myself and inconsiderate to everybody else."

Elinor: "You cannot compare your conduct with his."

M: "No, but I compare it with what it should have been. I compare it with yours. I hope I am wiser. I'm determined to enter upon a course of serious study. Colonel Brandon has promised me I can go to Delaford as often as I wish to borrow his books and play his pianoforte. He is so generous."
The moral conversion upon which Marianne embarks is, as described in the novel, more thorough and complete.

Jonah 4

Liber Prophetia Ionae
Et afflictus est Ionas afflictione magna et iratus est; et oravit ad Dominum et dixit: “ Obsecro, Domine, numquid non hoc est verbum meum, cum adhuc essem in terra mea? Propter hoc praeoccupavi ut fugerem in Tharsis. Sciebam enim quia tu Deus clemens et misericors es, longanimis et multae miserationis et ignoscens super malitia. Et nunc, Domine, tolle, quaeso, animam meam a me, quia melior est mihi mors quam vita”. Et dixit Dominus: “ Putasne bene irasceris tu? ”. Et egressus est Ionas de civitate et sedit contra orientem civitatis et fecit sibimet umbraculum ibi et sedebat subter illud in umbra, donec videret quid accideret in civitate. Et praeparavit Dominus Deus hederam, et ascendit super Ionam, ut esset umbra super caput eius et protegeret eum ab afflictione sua. Et laetatus est Ionas super hedera laetitia magna. Et paravit Deus vermem, cum surgeret aurora in crastinum, et percussit hederam, quae exaruit. Et, cum ortus fuisset sol, praecepit Deus vento orientali calido; et percussit sol super caput Ionae, et elanguit; et petivit animae suae, ut moreretur, et dixit: “ Melius est mihi mori quam vivere ” Et dixit Deus ad Ionam: “ Putasne bene irasceris tu super hedera? ”. Et dixit: “ Bene irascor ego usque ad mortem ”. Et dixit Dominus: “ Tu doles super hederam, in qua non laborasti neque fecisti, ut cresceret, quae sub una nocte nata est et sub una nocte periit. Et ego non parcam Nineve civitati magnae, in qua sunt plus quam centum viginti milia hominum, qui nesciunt quid sit inter dexteram et sinistram suam, et iumenta multa? ”.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New url for Lou Dobbs

Candidates Agree: More Cheap Foreign Labor

Transcript of tonight's show, which featured Ralph Nader and Bob Barr. If a video becomes available later, I will post it.
The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts -- trailer @ Apple. Opens in February of next year.

A Hollywood movie about a large international bank that is secretly pulling the strings. In the meantime, few Americans care that they don't have much economic or political liberty.
In my avoidance of work I am watching the second episode of LIA--there's this line from Bingley: "I am bewitched. I no longer have possession over my own soul." Intended to recall the recent P&P? Terrible.

Amanda Price confuses being a smart-ass with wit or intelligence. She does not tire of trumpeting her 'inside information' to the characters, in order to show her superiority, or to try to threaten them. She really isn't a sympathetic character, and her pride exceeds that of Darcy.

Darcy rebukes Amanda at the end of episode 2--did the writers intend his criticism to be accurate? Or merely judgmental? Given the way Amanda has been acting, I think they are warranted and fair--but Amanda does not think he is right. If Darcy ends up falling in love with Amanda... my opinion of the series will sink even lower.
AmCon: General Principles
By Ron Unz
Lt. Gen. William Odom refused to fall in line when other top brass parroted the Bush administration’s Iraq talking points.
From Twitch: Trailer for Kim Ki-Duk’s 비몽 (Sad Dream) is a Beauty

(I liked Maundy Thursday and wasn't bored by it, and I didn't think it was preachy--it didn't change my opinion about the death penalty. The appeal process in South Korea though, as depicted in the movie.... still, I look forward to watching anything with Lee Na Young.)

First Trailer for Wu Jing’s LEGENDARY ASSASSIN
Yuen Wo Ping kickin’ it old school with ‘Begger Su’

First Look at 바람의 나라 (Kingdom of the Wind) and 베토벤 바이러스 (Beethoven Virus)
Even if K-dramas are of low quality these days, what could possibly replace them on Korean TV?

IGN: Massive Iron Man Update

IGN: Massive Iron Man Update
Favreau joins IGN for lunch and reveals the latest details.
Kim Ha Neul & Daniel Henney Sweet September Elle 01

Kim Ha Neul & Daniel Henney Sweet September Elle 02