Saturday, September 04, 2010

Took a look at Culture Wars...

and found this: Pope Benedict XVI and the Failure of “Oinkonomics” by Rupert J. Ederer

And a related piece by E. Michael Jones: The Weber Thesis: Capitalism and its Myths of Origin

Rodney Stark interview

An interview from 2004 with the author of a recent book on the Crusades: A Double Take on Early Christianity: An Interview with Rodney Stark (alt). (via Steve Burton)

His latest book may be even more controversial: For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery. A review. Another.

A review by Fr. McCloskey of The Rise of Christianity. (Google Books)
Rodney Stark on 'The Rise of Christianity' 
Rodney Stark on the Crusades (mp3)
Patheos interview

Interview with Rodney Stark «
Verum Serum interview
WORLD Magazine interview
The Market Approach to Understanding Religion
Separate and unequal
National Review
Baylor page

One True God: Historical Consequences of Monotheism

Not all Marxists are egalitarians with respect to the sexes.

A comment at The Spearhead lead me to the E. Belfort Bax archive. I quickly found two pieces on female suffrage:
Female Suffrage and Its Implications
The Suffrage Outrages

Bax was by no means friendly to Christianity or the Catholic Church: Socialism and the Catholic Church

Why a Son Needs a Dad

Book Review: Why a Son Needs a Dad

Google Books

Gregory E. Lang's blog

Relatio de Statu Ordinis

Dominican General Chapter 2010

See also the online Chronicle (the chronicler is Br. Lawrence Lew, O.P. of the Blackfriars)

Moniales: The General Chapter Has Begun! : A bit of what goes on at the Chapter!
290th General Chapter of the Order of Preachers--August 31-September 21, 2010

PJB on the War in Iraq

Was Iraq Worth It?

The Gael

Prominent in The Last of the Mohicans OST.

"The Kiss"

Princess Kaiulani

I took a look at the trailer for this movie after watching the one for Winter's Bone. DN mentioned the mixed reviews that the movie got, but it might cause us to stop and think about American imperialism in the 19th century? Why shouldn't we let Hawaii go it's own way? (Even if it is a favorite vacation spot for many Uhmericans.)

Still, if the quality of the filmmaking is that bad, one might just want to read a book about the history of Hawaii instead.


Not much controversy about the casting choice? Q'Orianka Kilcher isn't a native Hawaiian...

Rotten Tomatoes

World Debut For Film On Princess Kaiulani

Two views on the Mid-East Summit

Srdja Trifkovic and Alexander Cockburn

Other stuff of interest from Counterpunch:
Kim Nicolini, Meth and Myth in the Ozarks -- which discusses the movie Winter's Bone (Sundance) .


Friday, September 03, 2010

Remake or a new adaptation?

It looks like this trend is talking hold in the UK. Tom Hardy replaces Michael Fassbender in what is being called a remake of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy. Should it be called a remake or a new movie adaptation based on the novel by John le Carré, I think the second is more appropriate -- remake would be proper if the original source material is a movie, series, etc.

Hardy is not playing Smiley; that role is for Gary Oldman. I recently obtained a copy of the BBC series with Sir Alec Guinness. Who wants to have a viewing marathon?

I can't imagine the movie having much of an audience in the UK -- at least not among the youth. But is the trend of doing "remakes" becoming stronger in the UK?


Linda Ronstadt, "Yo soy el corrido"

Linda Ronstadt's ¡Adelita! will be premiering on September 25 as a part of the San Jose Mariachi Festival.

World Premiere of "¡Adelita! The Women of the Mexican Revolution" at the 19th Annual San Jose Mexican Heritage Festival

As for the Mexican Revolution... well that should be a object of further examination...

a fan site for Linda Ronstadt; another
Mariachi Cobre

Thomas Fleming, Tyranny Over Religion

Building upon the comments he left at Mr. Murchinson's column on the Ground Zero Mosque, Dr. Fleming revisits the question of religious freedom and the place of religion in a community: Tyranny Over Religion.

Jordi Savall/Hesperion XXI vids

A blog by a Cistercian monk of Heiligenkreuz

Sancrucensis (via NLM)

What does the virtue of piety require?

And can this virtue be enforced by human law? Filial Responsibility Laws and the Fourth Commandment

CBC: Concerts On Demand: The Fiddle Tree at the Celtic Colours International Festival

Listen online.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Part 5 of Thomas Storck's series on CST

From Pius XII Through Paul VI
There's a new Under Amour "I Will" commercial with female athletes. I haven't found it on YT, but here is the one with famous male athletes:

wrt the female athletes commercial -- there's the standard commentary: title ix, feminism, and differences in physical ability. Plus the question of whether a woman with too many muscles is attractive or not. A woman may be more fit and toned through primal training, but is she as attractive as one who has some softness to her?

Items of Interest, 2 September 2010

Karen De Coster, The Medical Establishment is Pathetic
American Empire for Liberty by Stefan McDaniel
John W. Danford, Roots of Freedom: The Constitution (a liberal, as opposed to republican, interpretation of the Founding) 
Girls' Generation Take Japan by Storm  
Daniel Larison, Christianity and the West

Robb Davis, Technique and Food: Why our Local Food System does not Feed Us

(I suspect one of the articles to which Mr. Davis refers uses the same study as the op-ed which prompted this post from Mark Sisson?)

NY Times: Review Finds Flaws in U.N. Climate Panel Structure
IPCC-Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
InterAcademy Council

Zenit: Papal Message to Asian Laity Congress
"Be a Sign and Promise of ... Unity and Communion"

Asia News:
Lay Catholics in Asia: a "sleeping giant" that is waking up
by Bernardo Cervellera 
Pope's message to Congress of lay Catholics in Asia 

Asia Times:
Hiroshima's poisonous past
While each year Japan solemnly marks the thousands killed by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, there is no shrine on Okunoshima Island, which lies a short distance from Hiroshima. Here the Imperial Army produced chemical weapons that reaped a deadly harvest. - Peter J Brown

Cricket: Over but not out
Stunning footage of alleged match-fixing by Pakistan's cricket team threatens the sport's credibility, but the drama is nothing new for a sub-continent that has become accustomed to such scandals. Bookies and players implicated in illegal betting in South Asia have long been given an easy ride, strengthening the underworld's grip on the game. - Raja Murthy

Boxer-Fiorina debate

Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, left, shakes hands with Republican Carly Fiorina before a debate at St. Mary's College in Moraga, Calif., Wednesday night. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo/Pool
(source: Boxer, Fiorina debate: California economy is center stage)

Pathetic. Rural California may not deserve the pols in the state and Federal governments, but those in the coastal/urban areas do.

Barbara Boxer, Carly Fiorina debate taxes, jobs
Barbara Boxer and Carly Fiorina battle hard in first Senate debate
SJ Mercury

Boxer, Fiorina Debate (VIDEO): Senate Candidates Face Off In California
California Senate Debate - C-SPAN Video Library

Barbara Boxer (.gov)
Carly Fiorina (company)
German military study warns of a potentially drastic oil crisis (Der Spiegel)
Stefan Schultz, Der Spiegel (Germany)
A study by a German military think tank has analyzed how "peak oil" might change the global economy. The internal draft document -- leaked on the Internet -- shows for the first time how carefully the German government has considered a potential energy crisis. (excerpts)
Update: English translation of table of contents and lead paragraphs.

There is an English translation of the article at The Oil Drum.

The report itself (pdf).

The Archdruid Report: Green Wizardry: A Response to Rob Hopkins

The Archdruid Report: Green Wizardry: A Response to Rob Hopkins: "Since the Green Wizards project got under way two months ago, I’ve wondered off and on whether it would field any sort of response from the ..."

One Winter's Night by Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Lee In-hye (이인혜)

Ever since I saw her in Ha Ji Won's Hwang Jin Yi (KBS), I've been waiting for her to turn up in another series. One might think that the attention of the male viewer would be focused on HJW, but Lee In-hye was cute and seemed sweet, and so she caught my attention. Most recently she was in 전우 (Comrades), still cute and sweet and talking with an accent to reflect the geographical origins of her character. I wish she had been in more episodes of the series. She's been in two other series as well, but I didn't pay attention to them.

She seems more down-to-earth than some of the other Korean actresses.

Lee In-hye Tops Bestseller List with Study Tips

Zenit interview with John Médaille

Distributism and the Economic Crisis

ZENIT: Most people believe that the battle for the soul of capitalism is between the followers of Keynes and the followers of Hayek. But you believe both theories lead to what Hilaire Belloc called the "servile state." Why is that? What are they and their followers missing?

Medaille: Capitalism and socialism are really not opposed realities; one is just the continuation of the other, and distributism is the opposite of both: it is the free market.

Capitalism tends to concentrate property in the hands of a few, thereby choking off the market, and socialism continues this by concentrating ownership in the hands of the state. In practice both systems end up with control of the most important resources of the nation in the hands of a few bureaucrats -- über-managers who claim to represent the interests of the nominal owners, be they the shareholders or the general public, but who actually control these resources for their own benefit.

Further, in concentrating economic power, they also concentrate political power, and the large corporations are able to obtain vast privileges and subsidies for themselves, as we saw in the recent meltdown. Thus, between the gargantuan state and the gargantuan corporation, the individual is reduced to a situation of servility.

What both capitalism and socialism are missing is the willingness to admit that power follows property. Both systems claim to create freedom by concentrating capital, but because this also concentrates power, what is left for the mass of men is powerlessness.

Distributism, on the other hand, seeks to build an ownership society of free men and women, conscious of their rights and with the means to defend them against the centralizing tendencies of both the state and the corporate collectives.

ZENIT: What is distributism? Isn't it just redistributionism, or splitting the difference between capitalism and socialism? How could such a philosophy, which relies on a certain amount of government intervention, create a truly "free" market?

Medaille: Actually, it is not so much a question of what the government should do as what it should stop doing.

In truth, the accumulation of property usually depends on government power; the higher the piles of capital, the thicker the walls of government necessary to protect them.

There are, of course, positive things that government can do, with tax policy, for example, or simply by enforcing its own laws against monopoly and oligopoly. And there are cases where the title to land or other resources is questionable to begin with.

But in general, a distributive society requires a smaller government with powers properly distributed throughout all levels of society.

In contrast to a system of concentrated economic and political power, distributist systems rely on a variety of forms of small ownership to distribute economic power: proprietors for property that can be easily used and managed by a single person or a family, cooperatives for larger enterprises, local public ownership for resources like water or sewer systems, employee stock ownership systems, when that is appropriate, and so forth.

In this way, both economic and political power is distributed throughout all levels of society. There are really only two choices when it comes to property and power: concentration or distribution.

The former leads to servility, and the latter to liberty.

Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More

La catedral de Justo Gallego

La catedral de Justo Gallego
The Madman and the Cathedral
Time: Will Bureaucracy Fell Spain's One-Man Cathedral? By Andrés Cala

Sarge, you should be like this guy and build your own monastery or church. (Yeah, I think you showed this to me before.)

Justo Gallego y la Catedral de la Virgen del Pilar en Mejorada del Campo, la otra historia
Don Justo's Self Built Cathedral
Opus Dei
Living in Madrid
Iconos de la carretera (II)

Videos after the jump.

Solemn vows at Norcia

via NLM: the announcement

(Parts 2 and 3 and 4 and 5)


Fresh Air interview: Waylon Jennings

Waylon Jennings: An Outlaw Opens Up Musically

Other Fresh Air interviews

Keith Preston on Carl Schmitt, Part 2

Carl Schmitt (Part II)

The president's speech last night

US President Barack Obama reads his speech to photographers after delivering an address to the nation on the end of combat operations in Iraq from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on August 31, 2010. (Getty/Daylife)

the text: White House, NYT, NPR, LAT
video: White House, Eurweb, hulu

Andrew Bacevich (via Daniel McCarthy)
Richard Spencer
Juan Cole
Leon Hadar
Norman Solomon, A Speech for Endless War

Bill Quigley / Laura Raymond, Another False Ending:
While the mainstream media is debating whether Iraq can be declared a victory or  not there is virtually no discussion regarding this surge in contractors.  Meanwhile, serious questions about the accountability of private military  contractors remain. 

In the past decade the United States has dramatically shifted the way in which  it wages war – fewer soldiers and more contractors. 

Last month, the Congressional Research Service reported that the Department of  Defense (DoD) workforce has 19% more contractors (207,600) than uniformed  personnel (175,000) in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the wars in these two  countries the most outsourced and privatized in U.S. history. 

According to a recent State Department briefing to Congress’s Commission on  Wartime Contracting, from now on, instead of soldiers, private military  contractors will be disposing of improvised explosive devices, recovering killed  and wounded personnel, downed aircraft and damaged vehicles, policing Baghdad’s  International Zone, providing convoy security, and clearing travel routes, among  other security-related duties.

Worse, the oversight of contractors will rest with other contractors.  As has  been the case in Afghanistan, contractors will be sought to provide  “operations-center monitoring of private security contractors (PSCs)” as well as  “PSC inspection and accountability services.”

Gareth Porter, Taliban Morale
Patrick Cockburn, What is the US Legacy in Iraq?

PCR, Death by Globalism


Have economists made themselves irrelevant? If you have any doubts, have a look at the current issue of themagazine, International Economy, a slick publication endorsed by former Federal Reserve chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan, by Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, by former Secretary of State George Shultz, and by the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which declare the magazine to be “ahead of the curve.”

The main feature of the current issue is “The Great Stimulus Debate.” Is the Obama fiscal stimulus helping the economy or hindering it?

Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi represent the Keynesian view that government deficit spending is needed to lift the economy out of recession. Zandi declares that thanks to the fiscal stimulus, “The economy has made enormous progress since early 2009,” an opinion shared by the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and the Congressional Budget Office.

The opposite view, associated with Harvard economics professor Robert Barro and with European economists, such as Francesco Giavazzi and Marco Pagano and the European Central Bank, is that government budget surpluses achieved by cutting government spending spur the economy by reducing the ratio of debt to Gross Domestic Product. This is the “let them eat cake school of economics.”

Barro says that fiscal stimulus has no effect, because people anticipate the future tax increases implied by government deficits and increase their personal savings to offset the added government debt. Giavazzi and Pagano reason that since fiscal stimulus does not expand the economy, fiscal austerity consisting of higher taxes and reduced government spending could be the cure for unemployment.

If one overlooks the real world and the need of life for sustenance, one can become engrossed in this debate. However, the minute one looks out the window upon the world, one realizes that cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, and housing subsidies when 15 million Americans have lost jobs, medical coverage, and homes is a certain path to death by starvation, curable diseases, and exposure, and the loss of the productive labor inputs from 15 million people. Although some proponents of this anti-Keynesian policy deny that it results in social upheaval, Gerald Celente’s observation is closer to the mark: “When people have nothing left to lose, they lose it.”

The Krugman Keynesian school is just as deluded. Neither side in “The Great Stimulus Debate” has a clue that the problem for the U.S. is that a large chunk of U.S. GDP and the jobs, incomes, and careers associated with it, have been moved offshore and given to Chinese, Indians, and others with low wage rates. Profits have soared on Wall Street, while job prospects for the middle class have been eliminated.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Peter Seewald book with the man who now occupies the chair of St. Peter

Whispers in the Loggia: Coming Soon: The Benedict Report (via JV)

FSSP vocations video

Parts 2 and 3 (via Rorate Caeli)

In anticipation of President Obama's speech tonight

From Thomas Fleming, V-I Day.

If we were serious about carving out an actual empire in the Middle East–for our own benefit and not for the benefit of our gallant democratic ally etc etc– I might, grudgingly, be able to see the point of all this loss of life and waste of money, a waste that is bringing our economy down for a long time.  But we are not.  The American people does not have the stomach for empire.  We can bomb some poor devils to hell and blow their country up and set off civil wars.  But what we cannot and will not do is to impose a Pax Americana on the Middle East.  We won’t even do it in Mexico and Central America.

Part 4 of Thomas Storck's series on Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Social Teaching: Pius XI

That French documentary on traditionalists

(via Rorate Caeli)

Kevin Carson, Another By-the-Numbers Defense of Sweatshops

Mutualist Blog

By definition, anything anyone does in a situation where there is a choice between more than one alternative is the "best available alternative." The question you should be asking is: why is the range of available alternatives so crappy in the first place? And a big part of the answer is the role of Third World states in carrying out land expropriations on the model of the English Enclosures, to drive peasants off their land and coerce them into the wage labor market. Third World states also play a major role in enforcing draconian restrictions on labor organization, tax their own people to provide subsidized road and utility infrastructure to offshored foreign industry, turn the peasants' confiscated common lands into industrial parks, and enforce the anti-market "intellectual property" [sic] laws without which the Nike model of outsourcing everything but marketing and finance would be impossible.

And Western capital is engaged in no small collusion with Third World states in guaranteeing a set of conditions under which workers accept employment on whatever terms are offered as the "best available alternative."

Western employers are engaged in parasitic activity, profitably selling crutches to people whose legs were broken by their partners in crime -- Third World states. (Never mind the role of the American state in backing death squads and military dictators to stop land reforms and make the world safe for corporate power, to subsidize the export of capital with World Bank loans for infrastructure, and to impose stuff like the Uruguay Round TRIPS Accords on the rest of the world).

You should be asking yourself how labor and capital would be directed in Third World countries if it weren't for all those broken windows.

What? Really?

Rob Vischer, Should Sarah Palin thank Ruth Bader Ginsburg? (And can CLT help her do so?)

I don't always agree with Dahlia Lithwick, but I do appreciate this short essay on the feminism of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and how her contributions to the law helped make the public and professional careers of women like Sarah Palin more feasible.  Can Palin express appreciation for Ginsburg's achievements without endorsing the entire legacy of those achievements?  Maybe Palin has, in fact; I don't know, but I do know that there is a tendency to demonize categorically entire worldviews and the folks who hold them, whether they be labeled "radical feminists" or "the religious right."  It seems to me that one valuable contribution of Catholic legal theory is its embrace of nuance and complexity; in its refusal to be captured by any particular ideological or partisan political position, CLT should have the capacity to stand back and applaud figures coming from a wide array of perspectives, even while speaking out about where those figures have lost sight of foundational values and/or the fundamental reality of the human person.  In other words, what can make CLT seem frustratingly elusive equips it to reach across today's sharply drawn lines and affirm the good, wherever it is found.   
 1. Sarah Palin is a feminist who owes a lot to feminism, there is no doubt about that, I don't think. The question is whether the achievements of feminism are actually positive contributions to Western society. Does Sarah Palin repudiate feminism? One sort, but she is touted as a symbol of a "new feminism." Still, even if it is not hostile towards men and claims to be "socially conservative" it is still rooted in liberalism and radical egalitarianism. It is like how "conservatives" and "liberals" may differ on specifics but share assumptions about the nature of society, freedom, and so on. The old school and new school feminists may disavow her as one of their own, but it is merely a question of who is less "wrong" and I do not see any indication that Sarah Palin is anything but a political opportunist who has failed to take care of her family properly, rather than a principled "conservative."

2. Is it to demonize a worldview to issue a syllbus of errors? And are some errors more serious than others because they are closer to the beginning, and thus there are many more consequences? How about worldviews that undermine a [traditional] Christian society? And what does Catholic legal theory have to do with anything, unless it has imported erroneous premises from liberalism? Is it the case that those who believe in "meritocracy" are unable to offer principled support of patriarchy? The toleration or admission of women to a certain office in accordance with custom (e.g., the question of sucesssion) is not the as "gender-blind" policies that look at ability only (which many who support the entry of women into the military, even combat roles, and other traditionally male-dominated professions like law enforcement, hold).

3. So what good is there to feminism that it did not already have from traditional Western morality? (Its opposition to certain unjust acts.) And how does it compare to the evils that it has promoted?

Mark Sisson on being a locavore

Is Eating Local Best? Perhaps Not 

Are the numbers in the NYT guest editorial by Stephen Budiansky correct?

Budiansky spends the rest of his editorial illustrating a larger perspective on American agriculture. Although today’s farms are responsible for supplying three times the populace and exporting ten times the product, he explains, total farm acreage is essentially the same as it was in 1910. Growing and raising food where it most flourishes, he says, makes the most environmental sense. Not only does it save us additional soil erosion, added chemical usage, and vegetable greenhouse heating costs, it spares countless acres of land for wilderness. In other words, geographically suitable trumps the proverbial “sustainable” message that circulates through the locavore movement.

Industrial agriculture where we have it now versus spreading industrial agriculture in other places may seem like a bad idea, but isn't sustainable and organic supposed to do something about soil erosion and the use of chemicals?

Rob Hopkins offers a critique of John Michael Greer's recent proposals

Why "green wizards" get us nowhere new... (original)

Susan McWilliams on Adultlescence

Where Are All the Grownups?

Part of it is cultural, leading to a moral problem characterized by the failure to adopt adult responsibilities (and having a job and supporting one self is a necessary part of that, but it is not all of it). Those who might not be qualified to participate in rule can at least do some its tasks with their families, but adultlescents aren't even doing that. In addition to the cultural and moral problem there are the "structural problems" of our political economy which are a burden to some who seek to have families but are unable to do so.

More Julianne Hough vids

Decided to cut that previous JH post into two, since the jump break wasn't working well for some reason.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CNet: MySpace finally plugs into Facebook

How much longer can MySpace last? Those who use it for commercial purposes may have a reason to continue, but what about those who use it for personal networking? How popular is its blogging feature?

Part 3 of Thomas Storck's series on Catholic Social Teaching

Catholic Social Teaching: St. Pius X Through Pius XI

Gabriel Bunge becomes Orthodox

Митрополит Диоклийский Каллист и иеромонах Габриэль (Бунге) сослужили митрополиту Волоколамскому Илариону за всенощным бдением в храме в честь иконы «Всех скорбящих Радость» на Большой Ордынке (via CAP)

Stuff in English
Moscow Patriarrchate
(Orthodox News)
Ad Orientem

Created and Renewed

Questioning the need for a university education

Universities: Who Needs 'Em? by David Warren

Pertinacious Papist links to the article and adds his own reflections, citing Fr. Koterski, S.J.:

One of the more interesting things he did was to question whether most Catholics need any theology at all, let alone philosophy. Rather, what they need is catechesis and spiritual formation. He contrasted the "learnables" with the "developmentals," suggesting that the latter have been overly neglected in our culture -- especially (but not only) secular culture. Of course, he added, seminarians need the "learnables" too, and even theology and philosophy -- but perhaps not in the way they're often taught, where they are taught apart from the practical concerns of the "developmentals."
Mrs. B. came back to work today; she had been out for several weeks recovering from surgery? Mandated leave time? She told me today that "Bloom" from her class last year is the nephew of one of this year's K students, diara. A bit mind-boggling, even if you are used to people having large families? Anyway, this is Mrs. B's 30th year of teaching. Her sub was one of her former students, from a while back. Many in San Jose maintain roots, but if they had the means and opportunity would they go somewhere else?

One of the boys asked to go to the bathroom but couldn't unzip his pants in time so he had an accident. Of course he was crying, but I just had him wipe himself. If someone were in the room, I would have had him taken to the office to be picked up early, but since I was the only adult in the room at the time, I decided he'd be ok for the last 10 minutes of class...

Big companies with a lot of applicants may think they can get away without sending some acknowledgment that an application has been received, even reviewed, but I think a form letter (or e-mail) is better than nothing. Otherwise they are just showing a lack of respect for wage slaves, and this is contemptible. Has business culture declined since the 1950s?

CMA Music Festival- Julianne Hough - Country Music Awards

Haven't heard much from her lately, either... apparently she will be releasing a new album soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kevin Ryan, "The College Bubble"


James Chastek, On a fruitful opposition between Christianity and science

Just Thomism

But wait, this last part isn’t what I meant to say. That was a critique of how the Leviathan- machine could be abused. In fact, there is a downside to the Leviathan-machine itself. Human beings can’t have human political or social relations with more than a few thousand people over a few dozen miles – I’m reminded of Aristotle’s striking claim (to us) in the Ethics that it is obviously impossible for a city to have 100,000 people. But the Leviathan gives powerful incentives for a human being to live within the machine- city: we get our news from national sources, we see politics as primarily national if not international, we entertain ourselves with shows that are watched by million and billions, we admire celebrities that are celebrities to billions, etc. All of this places us in a context where we are no longer having human relations with others. We live within a world consciousness where we cannot do anything but see. There is no smells, physical contact, need to express oneself, etc. There is no interaction. If not for television, we would all be speaking to our neighbors and acting within our communities: not because of any great civic virtue or love of neighbor, but simply because it would be the only way to keep from going insane.

Centering Prayer

This morning, on 1260 AM Immaculate Heart Radio there was a show--I think it was hosted by the director of vocations for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, but I cuold not confirm this with the station's schedule. Any way, the guests were defending centering prayer as being traditional, being a part of the Catholic contemplative tradition, and citing the Trappists. (Were they thinking of Thomas Merton?) I didn't listen to the show since I had to get ready for Mass, but I asked my mother to jot some notes. The guests, Mery English and George Beaning, are associated with Contemplative Outreach Northern California. The acknowledged Fr. Thomas Keating as the founder of the movement and teacher. Unfortunately the show is not archived, and I have to rely on the notes my mother wrote. Unlike the prayers of other religions, Catholic centering prayer focuses on Christ or God. "Abba" is a sacred word. (I don't know if it is actually used in prayer.) My mother writes that one can be sitting in one's chair or lie in bed, and closing one's eyes or staring at the wall, one choses a sacred word, which is a symbol to draw  God's presence into you - Jesus, Lord, Christe, Kyrie. One clears one's mind, focuses on the mind and the presence of God and gently says the sacred word to himself, remaining calm and detached, for 20 minutes, twice a day. Sounds a bit similar to Eastern Christian hesychasm, and I believe Catholics promoting centering prayer have made this connection before.

Apparently Mary English meditates/does Centering Prayer for 3 to 4 hours a day, 1 hour at a time. Workshops are offered at St. Benedict's Monastery (where Fr. Keating is a monk).

Once again, the bad historical claim was made that before, God was understood as Creator and was distant, but now, Centering prayer enables us to change our relationship with Him so that he is our Father, Abba.

What does it have in common Eastern prayer traditions, like Buddhist or Hindu meditation, or the sitting prayer of the Confucians, and so on? It would be one thing to use the name "centering prayer" as a means of evangelizing Asians. But to help Catholics with their prayer life? The big question is how is God present to us in our minds? Is He present through Faith and grace? Or are we in some way a representation of God? And is Centering Prayer the be-all and end-all of Christian spirituality? Or is meditation just the beginning?

More on posture

Dr. Helen has a post on 8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot. The comments to the post are rather interesting -- one person mentions Kentro Body Balance and Jean Couch at the Balance Center (also in Palo Alto)  noting:
Sounds strikingly close to a form of yoga called Kentro Body Balance. My wife studied it, and there are two main sources in the US: Jean Couch at the Balance Center in Palo Alto, and Angelika Thusius who has a book The Secret Pleasures of Posture. As an engineer, I was impressed by the structural integrity of the positions, and especially the research which based it on the postures of peoples who have very few postural problems.
A cursory look at these websites does reveal similarities in the postures and the stories behind the research. Are there significant differences, or is it just (self-)marketing? There seems to be a greater connection between the study of posture and yoga with these other teachers. (Esther Gokhale also does yoga, but it is not an important component of her book or classes.) The same commentor writes:
The root of the Body Balance art comes from a woman in Paris, Noel Perez. One of her main students... for years... was Angelika Thusius. From things I find on the web [] apparently Esther Gokhale studied under Perez for years too, and Jean Couch studied under Perez for a year. Couch studied under Thusius for some time. Couch had independent cache with the yoga world from a running book she had written prior to her learning Body Balance. Now they have all written books (Couch has a video). (BTW, my wife studied to be a Kentro trainer under Thusius, took lessons from Couch, and took a seminar from Perez. She recalls she met Gokhale around the time of the Perez seminar.)

The narration reminds me of what a message you'd here in a '70s sci-fi or dystopic movie of the future.

Balancing & Alignment: Reduce Wear and Increase Your Body's Longevity
L'Institut Supérieur d'Aplomb, Noëlle Perez Christiaens
Angelika Thusius' system focuses on posture, balance; review at DailyOm. (website?)

Ageless Spine Lasting Health by Kathleen Porter

The Pillars of the Earth

(Trailer via NPW)

Since it's on Starz, it would probably be rated R (as the trailer would seem to confirm).

Reviews on Time, NY Daily News, and LA Times.
Ken Follett
Oprah's Book Club has a reading guide.

Part 2 of Thomas Storck's series on Catholic Social Teaching

From the Beginnings Through Leo XIII

Plus, Ryan Grant responds to Jeffrey Tucker: The Chips Begin to Fall Where They May,

Another interview with Ximena Navarrete

Entrevista a Jimena Navarrete Miss Universo 2010 - CNN en Español

Published too soon, here's one more:

Another question about theology of the body.

Does it seem like some theology of the body enthusiasts take their direction from romance novels written for women? Is the source to be found in Love and Responsibility? We can say men should be considerate, caring, and so on to their wives, at all times in their marriage, and prior to and during mraital relations, but does this always manifest itself in the same external actions? How specific do TOB enthusiasts get in their recommendations? And how much should be left to the discretion of spouses, as they learn to appreciate each other and the differences between men and women? Some might claim that the man "taking the lead" or showing some dominance is too animalistic (perhaps because this is instinctual, but for other reasons as well), but is it possible that going to the other extreme is problematic, leading to a "disembodied sexuality" (even if it sounds oxymoronic) as it does not take into account the differences between male and female psychology. One can criticize men for being "selfish" but is it possible that a man we might characterize as being "selfish" nonetheless satisfies his wife? And if that is the case, is it really being selfish? (Or is that behavior really wrong?) Can we always judge this to be selfish behavior? Should Catholic moralists really go beyond giving concrete guidelines and proceed into the "privacy of the bedroom" and examine everything that happens there? Barring those actions that have been judged to be immoral by "traditional" moral theology, should we judge what happens between a husband and his consenting wife as not attaining to some higher, "spiritual" standard, and thus guilt them for not being good "Catholics"?

Full of Grace, Seasoned with Salt: Woman Adrift: The Scope of the Question (Part 1)

Woman Adrift: The Scope of the Question (Part 1)

David Holmgren's take on the current economic crisis.

Money vs fossil energy: the battle for control of the world (original)
David Holmgren, Holmgren Design Services
This essay [by the co-originator of the permaculture concept] provides a framework for understanding the ideological roots of the current global crisis that I believe is more useful than the now tired Left Right political spectrum. I use this framework to provide a commentary on current political machinations around Climate Change and Peak Oil. Building from the same energetic literacy that informs Permaculture and Future Scenarios, it challenges much of the strategic logic behind current mainstream climate change activism.

His website.

Miss Universe 2010

Yes, Sarge you did call this result before the finals. This year's winner is Ximena Navarrete, from Mexico. (Wiki.) So when are we going to brave the cartels and go down to Mexico?

Why does The American Catholic have a layout that is similar to Vox Nova's? Some of the comments by certain Vox Novatians to Joe Hargrave's "Enough is Enough: The Crusades & The Jihad Are Not Equivalents" have been amusing. Yes, the Church teaches that murder is wrong and not to be done, but the killing that is done by those pursuing a just war is not murder. Also, moral theologians have distinguished between the just killing that is done in war from that which is done in self-defense -- the former is "intentional" or "direct" while the latter is permissible through the principle of double-effect, it cannot be directly intended. (Aquinas's treatment of war in the ST.) Is this a problem with the CCC or with the one reading it?

Dominican General Chapter

Zenit: Dominican General Chapter Shows Modern Touch

I hope the new Master General is more encouraging of the use of the Dominican rite. The General Chapter opens this Tuesday.

Related: Dominicans; General Chapter 2010
Dominican Province of St. Joseph, Provincial Chapter

(source of photo)

Misc. Blog for Archbishop Terrence Prendergast - Journey of a Bishop

Before I forget...

a reminder that I should consider obtaining a copy of Srdja Trifkovic's The Krajina Chronicle: A History of Serbs in Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia. As MJB has a fondness for the Serbs, perhaps he would enjoy Mr. Trifkovic's writings. A review of the book by James Bisset.

Nicolas Gombert, Regina coeli

Huelgas Ensemble