Friday, November 30, 2007

Saint Andrew Day

The Oxford English Dictionary's word of the day is saltire:
An ordinary in the form of a St. Andrew's cross, formed by a bend and a bend sinister, crossing each other; also, a cross having this shape. Hence, in saltire: crossed like the limbs of a St. Andrew's cross.
While that definition is in terms of heraldry, in religious terms it is the crux decussata. Sanctus Andreas ad crucem decussatam crucifixus est. May Andrew's standard fly over all Scotland. The flag of the russian navy is also a saltire of Saint Andrew. When communism fell in Russia, and Yeltsin defended democracy, of the flags in the crowds, you could see the old tricolor and this one. Saint Andrew is a russian patron, since his ministry was carried out on the shores of the Black Sea.

He was the first of the apostles of Jesus. Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist, he recognised Jesus as the Messias. He brought his brother, Simon (Peter), to Jesus. They fished and lived together. They went with Jesus; and as Jesus, they too, were crucified. Jesus on some sort of T, Peter on an upside down T, and Andrew on an X, hence the shape of his flag. The date of his martyrdom was 30 November 60, in Patrae, Achaia, Greece.

In the last few years, there has been some controversy, concerning the advocacy of a greater public celebration of the day in Scotland, some nationalistic, some religious. It is of some political posturing of which flag is flown: Andy’s saltire, the scot’s ancient national flag vis-à-vis the british Union Jack.

Of all the european countries, it seems, Scotland has the fewest holidays. Some want Saint Andrew
’s day as a full legal holiday. Some want a national celebration, in honor of the saint. But, how did the scots develop an affection for Andrew? Well, in the eighth century, some* of the relics (bones) of Andrew made it to the pictish lands. A town developed around the monastery and church there. Not long after, the picts and the scots coalesced into a combined kingdom and nation. The primacy, of the scottish church, was transferred to Abernethy from Dunkeld, and finally to Saint Andrews.

In the late middle ages, the cathedral of Saint Andrew became the largest building in Scotland. The university also came and slowly grew from 1411. Then John Knox inspired a mob to wreck and sack the cathedral and other buildings, in 1559. Here the relics were lost, probably destroyed in the glee of vandalism and sacrilege. The stones of the building were scavenged for other projects, and a great deal of the town was in ruins.
* Often relics have been divided and dispersed. Most of Andy
’s bones are in the Duomo (Cathedral) of Saint Andrew in Amalfi, Italy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon

A DC-3, contracted with the United States Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS), on the morning of 28 January 1948, ignited over the hills east of Coalinga, California. It was overloaded by weight, and by passengers and past time for a required, safety inspection.

A long trail of vapor escaped from the left engine followed by flames and separation of wing and then a fiery crash and explosion into Los Gatos Canyon , immediately east of a Fresno County prison camp.

Woody Guthrie read the accounts in the papers and was disturbed that the Mexicans were listed only as deportees. To him, it was as if, it was a parting final insult. Guthrie composed a poem:

Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (Deportee)

The crops are all in and the peaches are rott'ning,
The oranges piled in their creosote dumps;
They're flying 'em back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again
{{Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria;
You won't have your names when you ride the big airplane,
All they will call you will be "deportees"}} [these lines sung as chorus]
My father's own father, he waded that river,
They took all the money he made in his life;
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.
Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border,
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.
We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains.
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.
The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon,
A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills,
Who are all these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They are just deportees"
Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves to rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except "deportees"?

Ten years later Martin Hoffman, a school teacher, supplied a tune and Pete Seeger began singing it in concert. After that it went into the folk song repertoire and was recorded by several national folk and folk friendly artists, including Judy Collins and recently Joan Baez; another sweet, sad, ballade lament plaintively addressing the heart. The song told something, that was internally and eternally true, that is still true today.

The sympathy that Guthrie felt in the '40s towards the Mexicans is more apropos today. At that time, government bureaucracy allowed foreign seasonal workers into the US much, more simply than today. And the Mexicans were not so demonized as a bogeyman by the xenophobic and racist, lunatic vanguard. They were targets of injustice and bigotry, yes, but they were not an existential terror. Today, the government is building a wall/fence/barrier on the border. The US and the american polemicists used to excoriate the russian communists over the Berlin Wall. Who complains of the California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas Walls?

Coalinga is, probably, neither spanish nor indian, but Coaling A station for steam locomotives. It is in remote and thinly populated central California where, in the period of annexation/separation, gold mining took place and law was questionable. Desperadoes, including the 5 Joaquins were active in the area. A Joaquin Murietta may have blended into the stories of Zorro. Californo and yanqui of 1850 became mexican and american today.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time To Remember the Poor

Ivan Ivanović Šiškin. Winter.1890. St. Petersburg.
Time To Remember the Poor (a variant)

Old winter is come, with its cold chilling breath
And the leaves are all gone from the trees
All nature seems touched, by the finger of death
And the lakes are beginning to freeze

When the hills and the dales, are all candied with white
And Flora attends us no more
When the bright twinkling stars they proclaim the cold night
That’s the time to remember the poor

When the keen cutting winds from the north will attend
Hard chilling and freezing the ground
And the cold feathered snow, does in plenty descend
And whitens the countryside round

The poor timid hare through the woods may be traced
His footprints indented in snow
When our lips and our fingers are all tinted with cold
And the marksman a-shooting doth go

When the poor robin red-breast approaches your cot
And icicles hang at your door
You sit by your fireside reviving and hot
You will tremble to think of the poor

For the times fast a-coming when our Savior on earth
All the world shall agree with one voice
All nations unite to salute the blest morn
And the whole of then earth shall rejoice

When grim death is deprived of its all killing sting
And greed rules triumphant no more
Saints angels and men, Alleluia shall sing
Then the rich shall lie down with the poor

I heard a version of this once on radio. During this Thanksgiving extended weekend, the first snow fell and stayed. Not furious, not extremely significant, but enough to get the point across. This bit of weather knocked the leaves from the trees a month beyond that of a normal year here. Winter has made its visitation, the time for indian summer (or St. Martin's summer, if you wish) is past. This sad melodic plea sings with empathy. It is poetry and it makes christian demands well before the final verse.
Only that we should be mindful of the poor: which same thing also I was careful to do. -- drc
tantum ut pauperum memores essemus quod etiam sollicitus fui hoc ipsum facere -- Galatians ii. 10
Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. -- kjv
In William Kennedy's, Ironweed, the first cold night brings death to some bums. This nineteenth century broadside ballad of northern England, perhaps Yorkshire, plays on conscience to remind, that the underfed, badly clad and poorly housed are not sharing the warmth of a comfortable life, then, "the rich must remember the poor", because we truly are one.

Song can be so very good. How few are familiar with this song? Why do people who have talent, choose poor material to perform? Why do people enjoy wretched crap? And how good is the sound of this and other so-called traditional or folk material? Part of the problem is, of course, the financial motive. Another is ego gratification, another is fashion for the current time. Quality needs defenders and actors and individuals of discernment.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Coin of the tribute

Some people have a strange emotional fixation, of great psychic import to themselves, where they bind some perceived affront to their belief system, to the core of their souls. Often they conflate the religious and the political. Since their religion and nation is so very important to them, they combine the two.

There are some statements in Scripture, that are very heavily laden in an imperative to act and live in spiritual conformity. Some are glanced right over, others are contorted and blended in a non-Gospel way.
Shew me the coin of the tribute. And they offered him a penny.*
And Jesus saith to them: Whose image and inscription is this?
They say to him: Caesar's. Then he saith to them: Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's. — Matthew xxii.19-21.

I have not meditated and dwelt enough on this passage. I would think, that, I would further develop and extend my thoughts about it.

Recently, I have been taken aback on how this statement may have reformulated in certain people's minds onto two false dilemmas. One is the religious beliefs of "the framers" of american government, and the other is on the motto "In God we trust" on money.

There are aggressive atheists and secularists who want any and all discussion, attachment and recognition of religion, primarily christian religion, done, if at all, in complete shadow, so that no one else notices its presence. Some of this is done in a provocative and aggressive manner that garners insulted negative approbation on the aggrieved. In some arenas this may play to the grandstands, but not many. This might come into implementation, but only by severe repression, i.e. bolshevism, nazism, military dictatorship cf. Burma, extreme anti-clericism cf. Mexico. And even by implementation it won't hold.

An x number of individuals, who are all christian, may form an organization concerned with growing roses. In this activity they are only accidentally christians, no matter how fervent they may be. An x number of individuals formed, or framed, the government of the United States. Those documents of founding are not religious programmes, they are political documents. Where are there religious appeals?, in fact there is this:
... shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. — Article VI, section 3, Constitution
From: U.S. Treasury - Fact Sheet on the History of "In God We Trust"
The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins
largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing
during the Civil War. ... first such appeal came in a letter dated
November 13, 1861. ... IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on
the 1864 two-cent coin. ... The use of IN GOD WE TRUST has not
been uninterrupted. ...Since 1938, all United States coins bear the
inscription....was first used on paper money in 1957...
From this one can see, that the inclusion of this particular motto, was done by the prompting of a segment of the population urging such an addition. The government was spurred by the sentiment of a people during internecine wartime, people who wanted reassurance of their political survival. And, perhaps, this acknowledgment would be pleasing to God. In this light, it comes close to superstition. After that it became standard and tradition. Now, folding money — 1957. Caesar had his coin, but no banknote. In the political climate of the 1950s, who cannot see that this enaction was part of the cold war?

*a silver denarius
†this is from the Gospel for the 22nd week after Pentecost

Friday, November 23, 2007

While you were out ...

We are under an usurpation of the executive branch by falsely and extra legally installed criminals who wish to rule without constitutional guidance or encumbrances. The Constitution defines our government and is our protection against tyrants.

The Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, is using pro forma sessions to keep the Senate from adjourning. This is being done to prevent egregious recess appointments. The sort of appointments that brought John Bolton to darken the UN and a gluttonous, Texas millionaire to an ambassadorship, one of the financiers of the libelous and slanderous swift boat smear.

Every measure the Constitution allows ought to be employed to thwart these executive fascists. One great protection is not being employed, and that is impeachment.

Bruce Fein, constitutional proponent from the political right (read Republican) and John Dean, Nixon's white house counsel, both spell out, in detail, the case and the necessity of impeachment. The Democrats are cowards in not proceeding. In part, they worry about their electoral future and they are scared to embarrass the country with the spectacle and the naked truth, that this government has been illegally taken. Myth is loved more than truth or justice.

The corporate press media has been complicit. There is a great percentage of people in this country that approve of impeachment proceedings. The press does not report. Pollsters do not poll. Financial considerations do not approve of this avenue of expression and activity. Dennis Kucinich proposes the right thing and he is mocked, dismissed or ignored.

We live with an unjust war. Our civil liberties are eroding. Impeachment is our defense and protection. IMPEACHMENT NOW! for the cause of justice and to protect us from future transgressions.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Twenty Second of November

Today, in american notation, is 11/22, in european 22. 11.. Everyday is a commemoration of much, most unknown to us. Today, for example, on the christian calendar, is St. Cecilia's Day, on the US civil calendar, it is Thanksgiving, Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille, and John Kennedy died horribly in Dallas.

The three bullets that targeted John Kennedy shocked this nation, more so, than any event since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Looking back at his short era, it became readily and easily mythologized as Camelot. I can hear the welsh baritone of Richard Burton resound in my mind. America looked good and brave to the world. There was a commitment to find the "best and the brightest", even if they turned out not to be the wisest. People believed in the image, those who created the image believed in the image, and the image was making headway into becoming real. How different is America today. In the future, who will wax nostalgic for an ignorant, miserable, disastrous fascist? if they are not required to? What an ugly face America shows to the world now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Word of God

There is a movement beginning amongst certain evangelicals, that calls itself Red-Letter Christians; the red letters being the words of Christ, printed with red ink to stand out from the rest of the text in black, and most of these are in the four gospels. Now there are other evangelicals irked over this*. Those who make this distinction believe in the primacy of the Gospel and of Christ within the Gospel.

The Second Vatican Council, in 1965, voted 2,344 to 6 on the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation – Dei Verbum . The first two words of the document give it its name. Dei Verbum is the Word of God. Within the document it is reaffirmed that sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture are equal and the ultimate author is God, and within Scripture:
It is common knowledge that among all the Scriptures, even those of the New Testament, the Gospels have a special preeminence, and rightly so, for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word, our Savior.
This sola scriptura ruse some use is either naïve or fraudulent, and, also, that all what is considered holy writ is equal to any other part. Neither Jew nor Catholic can accept this. The Pentateuch, that is the Torah, is of greater import than the Haftorah. There are Jews, Karaites among them, who only accept the Torah; further, there are the Palestinian and the Alexandrian canons.of scripture and Jews do not recognize the New Testament. How or who determines what is Scripture? and if some body of material is excluded by some, then when someone reveres what someone else rejects, how can the authority and interpretation of that part be made mandatory on the disbeliever?

Christ's ministry from Incarnation to Ascension is central to the salvation of Christians. The Sermon on the Mount is at the center of Jesus' teachings. This should be self evident. This is Gospel truth. Now, this is not binding on the Jew, but this is on the Christian. The 613 mitzvot (commandments) of the Old Testament are not all binding on the Christian, but for those who maintain, that all scripture is the same equal unity of God's Word throughout, well logically they must be.

The New Testament was not necessary to convert the faithful, there were practicing Christians already, it was written to share more information with them, as there were faithful Jews before the Old Testament was complete, and that took centuries. We would be Christians today, even, without one page being written.

Jesus was and is the Logos. His words as Logos have to be more important. Among the mohammedans the Logos is the Koran, some protestants have this sort of belief about the Bible, yet they throw out seven books and Luther wanted fewer still. They lack a certain consistency of argument and are nonplussed about it.
*In part, by understanding of writ, but more so by the actions demanded on the Christian. Jesus's number one usage of a verb is some form of "to do", and it is in the imperative. The Voice from the burning bush spoke, "I am that I am ". Christ made a number of "I am" statements. To be is "esse" in latin and german "essen". "I am" is first person singular of to be. God is essence and He wants us to do. We are required to act as God tells us to act. Good works are mandatory. Faith is a good work. Theologically and politically these anti-red letter christians are upset.

Friday, November 16, 2007

In the Spirit of Hemispheric Co-operation

What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, could rise in the heart of the simplest man. That they should get away from the abstraction and confront the blood-stained face history has taken on today. -- Albert Camus
  • Eighteen years ago, today, 16 November 1989, six priests and two women were martyred by the governments of El Salvador and the United States. The Jesuits were subversively and stubbornly interested in the poor. They knew the rules.
  • The Salvadoran military on 11 December 1981 tortured, raped, massacred and burned 900 campesinos in the remote village of El Mozote.
  • The National Guard on 2 December 1980 raped and murdered four US churchwomen.
  • The Archbishop of San Salvador, Óscar Romero*, was assassinated 24 March 1980 while celebrating mass. He had spoke against the U.S. government support of the military dictatorship and he spoke for the poor. He knew his fate.
All these actions were orchestrated and performed by graduates of the School of the Americas, now of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. Originally begun in 1946 in Panama, its focus changed with the US government's anger and paranoia after Fidel Castro's take over of Cuba. It would now specialize in counterinsurgency. All military and governmental critics were to be considered communists and treated with extreme prejudice.

One member of the class of 1972 was Roberto D'Aubuisson. During the El Salvadoran civil was he founded the ARENA political party.He was considered a colorful, spirited and effective speaker. He was lauded by Reaganites. Shortly after the end of the war D'Aubuisson's life ended with throat cancer.

D'Aubuisson picked up a few epithets, one being "Blowtorch Bob". Perhaps his most significant accomplishment was the execution of Óscar Romero and the additional assassinations of forty-two in the funeral procession. D'Aubuisson had panache. The current president of El Salvador publicly mourned him this year.

The School of the Assassins is in operation still, with a different name ... windsock, whinesoc ...SOA/WHISC... something. Well, just like the KGB kept changing its name, history and people will recall it by its most memorable name.

D'Aubuisson was not the only stellar alumnus. There was Efraín Ríos Montt of Guatemala, Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina, Manuel Noriega of Panama and a lineup of many others that would make a hellacious murderers' row.

Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois started School of the Americas Watch after the murders of '89. In 1996 because of this pressure the Pentagon released their spanish language torture manuals. This weekend perhaps 20,000 will rally and vigil outside Fort Benning for the 18th annual, some will be arrested and very little corporate press notice will be given.
* There is a wonderful film, Romero (1989). Saint Óscar Romero has not yet been canonized, unfortunately besides the lead feet of bureaucracy, there is political pressure adding delay. It took 500 years for Jeanne d'Arc and 400 for Thomas More, but the faithful of their land knew without the formal certifications.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Torture, by any other name ...

What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, could rise in the heart of the simplest man. That they should get away from the abstraction and confront the blood-stained face history has taken on today. -- Albert Camus

Jesus wants us, commands us, to speak truly and clearly:

But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil.-- Matthew v. 37.
and from the old dispensation:

Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. --Isaias v.20.
The United States of America is the most powerful country and state on earth, therefore, its influence is great. The US came to the fore with Thomas Jefferson's Declaration. Jefferson was this new country's political theorist, America's Plato, America's Machiavelli, America's Hobbes. His political philosophy -- democracy, yes democracy, not monarchy, oligarchy, dictatorship, absolutism or tyranny was to guarantee, not grant, guarantee, the rights of men. As a further guarantee, The Bill of Rights was made part of the constitutional ordinance of governance.

Clearly, some things are germane to american political life and some are not:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted. -- Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The Senate has confirmed Mukasey as the country's chief law enforcement officer, a man who publicly refused to recognize "water boarding" as torture. Only an idiot or a calculating liar could do this, and Michael Mukasey is a great deal sharper than Alberto Gonzalez.

Water boarding was called the water cure when the Japanese performed the practice during war time. They were convicted for such at the Tokyo War Crimes Trial. Such practices are forbidden by the Geneva Conventions, which is also US law. American soldiers were court martialed for the same practice done to Filipino guerrillas at the turn of the last century

Water boarding is orwellian language and disinformation for controlled drowning. Its use during “enhanced interrogation” is one method amongst others within torture sessions.

What sort of people do this, allow this or command this be done? Convicted war criminals, Mukasey, 53 american senators*, georgebushjr and unnamed individual practitioners at secret prisons. Now, some things have come to light from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, there is more to come. Mukasey is an apologist and proponent of greater "executive privilege" which is newspeak for presidential absolutism which extends to dictatorial, tyrannical and unchecked abusive rule.
*40 senators voted no, not one republican in that group. A filibuster promised by Dodd, did not occur, he was absent as were four others in the presidential race.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Consistent Love of Life

What the world expects of Christians is that Christians should speak out, loud and clear, and that they should voice their condemnation in such a way that never a doubt, never the slightest doubt, could rise in the heart of the simplest man. That they should get away from the abstraction and confront the blood-stained face history has taken on today. -- Albert Camus

Jesus may have been a sailor when he walked on the water, but never was he a soldier. Sunday was Martinmas, which was a day of feast and celebration in the old church. Saint Martin was born into the Roman army and declared, "I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight." How many heard this sort of sentiment or saw a note in the parish bulletin Sunday? or was there a celebration of military service?

Death by premeditated and facilitated miscarriage in a clinic is no more tragic than a miscarriage induced by shock after an aerial bombing. To disapprove of one and not the other is inconsistent and is an hypocrisy. The method of operation presents no less of a corpse. To be really pro-life one must be anti-war. To condone one is a scandal and reduces the efficacy of the campaign to abolish the other.

The choice to end a pregnancy and the choice to initiate war can be compared to one individual committing murder and to another committing continual murder of untold thousands, even, unto millions. We as Christians in this country wish to speak in the public square against the former, and our church approves; we as Christians in this country are not so many to speak against war, which our government propels, and our church sits silent.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

eleven eleven

Saint Martin and Beggar. Cathédrale Saint Gatien. Tours.
Saint Martin of Tours was one of the empire's hereditary soldiers who saw his christian mission as incompatible with military service. His father being a military tribune, he was impressed by law to be a soldier. He was named after Mars, the god of war. As a catechumen in Gaul he encountered a half naked, shivering beggar at the gates of Amiens. He divided his cloak in twain, for both himself and the other.

Before Worms he declared, "I am a soldier of Christ. I cannot fight." He was charged with cowardice and jailed. He offered to go to the front line unarmed. The battle was not fought and he was freed from military service.

He became a disciple of the bishop of Poitiers, Hilary. Later he became a monk and later the bishop of Tours. His legend grew as a miracle worker, he became a most beloved saint of the french. The basilica that held his body and relics became a pilgrimage site.

He became a patron of France and his rent mantle covered Gaul. Between Tours and Poitiers the mohammedans were stopped in 732/3. In 1562 the protestants attacked and destroyed his relics and sepulcher. In 1793 the excess of the revolution attacked the rebuilt building and made the spot road.

When the germanic armies invaded during the Great War and corpses by the million piled upon each other, the firing and killing in arms ceased on his day at the eleventh hour, the eleventh day, the eleventh month. Saint Martin was celebrated as exemplar and friend, his charity still invites, for all the saints within heaven care for us.

The armistice, the stopping of arms, began a truce that ended the hostilities in the west. The war to end all wars, did not. The name was changed so that the public would not celebrate the cessation of arms. Among the anglais, the emphasis was on remembrance of the fallen, which could include all the fallen, that is, the civilian and the enemy also, but emphasis is falling on the most recent military dead. In the US, it was changed to a celebration of veterans to inculcate a perpetual flow of veterans.

The red poppy, whose seeds were spread among the grain fields blooming amongst the buried dead became a floral remembrance. We have McCrae's verse to call us out in rhyme and meter the cadence that reforms the men to rank and file. Some people would wear white poppies to remember the innocent, but this is greeted with bellicosity by some; non-combatants do not matter and should not be spoken of.

Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front) by Erich Maria Remarque tells the story of stalemate that split and spilt the turf with blood and mud. The hero is killed in October 1918 and the daily report is given with a routine, deadpan non-descript delivery...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Witch of November

On the shores of the Great Lakes, to the horizon on a cloudy and windy day there is strewn a palette of crisp greys. A stark and steely vista is to be beheld by the eye. Wind cast waves break and fly apart as they crash into rocks sending spray upwards and about. It is a stark, brisk and worrisome beauty displayed for the gloomy aesthete. It is no joy to a mariner.

On such a wind tossed stormy day, the witch of November came on the tenth and sent the men on board of the Edmund Fitzgerald to a quick, wet end. Gordon Lightfoot set the incident to tune and song, within the form of a tragic ballad worthy of folklore with wording fitting Longfellow or Poe. It is sad and true and poignant to the core.

There is a melancholy oeuvre of wrecks ship and train, murder and pining love and fallen hero that is sung with sweet sorrow that form the skeleton to at least one strain of folk music. These vocal dramas pierce the heart, while warming the ear. This sonorific catharsis of art displays the gravity of life to us. We sing when we are happy. We sing when we are sad. Song spurs are memory to recall with honey sweetness and brandy strength; as brandy is distilled wine and song is, also, a distilled spirit.

This song, accurate in its facts, acts as a chronicle. It tells, to us, a full story in miniature.

I knew a very wise man that believed that if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation. -- Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun 1704

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

the political spectrum

Today being election day, an uninspiring one, with the normative inclement weather that is native to these environs, it is a good point to ponder upon positions on the political spectrum, for next year's election shall be of greater import. On one traditional range, that comes down from the french revolution, we have from left to right:

radical > liberal > moderate > conservative > reactionary

This suggests, in part, the proclivity towards change or degree and direction of change. In our country, it is sometimes divided between a false dichotomy between conservative and liberal. It is quite difficult to fathom what who means what by this distinction, especially, if compared to the traditional meanings. In particular societies and times other scenarios can develop and be represented: monarchists, constituitionalist, clericalist, labor, agrarian, fascist, socialist, communist and so forth.

In the US, a version of a religious faction has developed in the current generation. It loosely consists of the lunatic fringe of american protestantism, that is evangelical, fundamentalist, calvinist, mohammedean, dispensational and premillennialist; a blend of darbyite dispensationalism and calvinistic evangelicalism, which is a perversion of christianity with major elements of nationalism, imperialism and zionism. It has merged with the fascist wing of the Republican party to control the former confederate states. It is also significant in other states as well. Often it is termed the "religious right". In western civilisation catholicism is conservative, since by definition and history, it has conserved its faith patrimony. But, for a committed catholic, some, really most, perhaps virtually all outside some life and morality issues, of that current faction's agenda is anathema. For that group has a bedrock bigotry against catholics and catholicism. It would be strange bedfellows as an understatement. For that group sees only ex-catholics as good catholics as do many who are anti-religious.

Many who are, contemptuously, called liberals would identify themselves as progressives, which connotes positive change forward. A nineteenth century liberal would have been a capitalist in most places, here and now a liberal has some antipathy for unrestrained capitalism. There is fluidity in terminology. Then what issues form the basis of discussion and determination? Some issues bundle together, while others can be independent from the bundling of camps.

During the 1930s the spectrum was:
communist > socialist democrat > conservative democrat > fascist

Today in the US the choice is democrat or fascist.*
There is a dialogue in the film Sophie Scholl - Die letzten Tage (2005), where Sophie of the White Rose is interrogated by police commissioner Mohr and he makes the same point.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

jack and fawkes


Guy Fawkes was 30th in the 2002 BBC 's list of greatest britons.

"The only man to ever enter parliament with honourable intentions".

  • Remember remember the fifth of November
    Gunpowder, treason and plot...
  • Rumour, rumour, pump and derry,
    ick his heart and burn his body,
    And send his soul to Purgatory.
General Orders for November 5, 1775 :
As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form'd for the observance of the ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Efficgy of the pope - He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at the Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain'd, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Cirumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offereng the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada