Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saints Peter and Paul

Domenikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco). Apostles Peter and Paul. 1587-92. Saint Petersburg.

A few years ago, on public television, was broadcast dear, sweet, and cheerfully brilliant, Sister Wendy Becket. There are few, recent, art critics, who are sensible, other than Sister Wendy, only Robert Hughes and Michael Wood come across as reliable, and, I think, Wood might have been more of a presenter. Well, anyhow, her simple, cogent, description of this double portrait, by Greco, was spot on.

We have contrasted the mellow, golden Peter, with the fiery and intense Paul. The colors of their garments and the condition of their hair detail their personæ; but most of all — their hands. Peter’s laxly at rest. In his left hand are the keys. Paul’s left hand is firmly plunged onto a book, which sits on another book, the right is about to gesticulate a point. Paul’s left arm looks muscular, he was an artisan, a leatherworker, specialising in tents. Peter as a fisherman had to mend nets, and draw them out and back, yet they do not appear gnarled.

El Greco’s gold and red are lush. The two figures are not greatly and ethereally elongated, as is his wont. The two men are, almost, in two different pictures. The right line of the long rectangle, behind them, divides the painting in halves. Peter can be cropped out, while Paul’s right hand is between and in front of Peter’s hands. Are they in contemplation? or are they looking at someone? at us?

This year would be the 2,000th for Paul. His itinerant ministry still holds. Peter still holds the keys. To-day, in years past was an holy day of obligation. To-day marks their martyrdoms in Nero’s persecutions. Peter hauled upside down to be crucified, and Paul, being a citizen, having the honor of sword decapitation.

Yesterday, at vespers, began the Pauline year. To-day palliums will be given to the 43 new metropolitan archbishops. In these services Pope Benedict will be joined by Patriarch Bartholomew.

Many churches have, these Peter and Paul, on either side of the main altar, twin sentinels and guardians of our faith. The faith of our fathers has been given to each generation.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saint Vitus' Day - Vidovdan (Julian reckoning)

Saint Vitus was a young Christian martyred in Sicily under Diocletian. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He is asked to intercede for those with epilepsy. He has been popular in central europe and the balkans. The cathedral in Prague is dedicated to him. In art he is sometimes pictured as being boiled in a pot of oil. In regard to the Serbs his day is, especially, poignant.

The Turks, Ottoman, were expanding into Europe, into the Balkans. The Serbs had a small empire and had aspirations. The Serbs had recently twice defeated the Turks. They met each other, again, on June 15, 1389 at Kosovo Polje, the Field of Blackbirds. The Turks had about double the manpower, and both armies were of the tens of thousands strong.

The only turkish sultan, Murad, who would die in battle, died there. In Turkish fashion, when his son, Bajezid, received the news, he had his brother, Jakub summoned. The brother was strangled and the Turks had a new sultan. The Serbian military nobility was cut down, including their tsar Lazar. Proportionately the Serbs lost in the heavy carnage. The Serbs would be hostage to the Turks for centuries.

Rebecca West in the late 1930s went to the Balkans. In 1941 there appeared her book, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia. It was over a thousand pages, in two volumes; it was a blend of history and travelogue. As T.E. Lawrence championed, and explained, the Arabs in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom, she explains the Jugoslavs. She came to the grey (siva) falcon (soko) from the poem about Lazar, where he and the Serbs receive the Eucharist before the Turks attack:
Poletio soko titsa siva,
Od svetinje, od Jerusalima,
I on nosi titsu lastavitsu ...
The black lamb is an illusion to the sacrificial nature of the Christian. The Serbs (and West) see themselves as the sacrificial protectors of christian civilisation before the onslaught of the moslem Turks.

In the twentieth century June 15 O.S. was 28 June N.S., and the day again, and again was politically significant:
  • In 1914, the first world war began in Sarajevo
  • In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed to end the war
  • In 1921, king Aleksandar introduced the Vidovdan Constitution (Vidovdanski ustav), proclaiming the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Old Jugoslavija)
  • In 1989 Milošević went to the site and, thereafter, succeeding disasters visited the nations
  • In 2001 Milošević was deported to the Hague to be tried for war crimes
The Turks destroyed the mediæval Srbija and Milošević severely blackened their modern identity. Kosovo fell again and again. The historical presence of the Serbs, the Gypsies and Christianity are being obliterated in the province to-day.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Cohoosion. An unwitting neologism slipped from, the tongue of, a brother at an union meeting. He has been mocked for it, though, he realised at the moment of the awkwardness. But, he was right. The word merged ‘collusion’ and ‘in cahoots’. He was making the accurate charge, that, the union administration and the contractors were in league against the union membership.

A milder term would be ‘accommodation’, a stronger term would be ‘collaborator’ in the quisling fashion. They, often, use the term ‘coöperate’ as would a team. This sounds reasonable to some: the gullible and the comfortable. In their faulty argument, which they aggressively accept for you, as a priori, they posit the unionised sector versus the non. Yet, for some years now, they promote the taking in of scabs as members with accrued benefits. This last bit, I do not have firm details, but it is galling. The main electrical construction workers (wiremen) union is a part of the IBEW, and its leadership (guffaw) wants capita and not conditions.

The point is, that, union officer
s chief duty is to advocate and defend union members. To-day only the police, and the AMA, do this. To act, only, as a labor agency for employers is dereliction and betrayal. We become day laborers, some treated well, others poorly. The union officers pay comes out of working assessments and dues of the laboring brothers. The union officer is paid by his brothers, who, he is to serve.

Scab labor, even when unionised, because of its internal acceptance of anti-labor practices and psychology, often continues to act as it did before, but better paid with benefits. It then will, often, do “whatever it takes” to keep a job. By this, I mean, backstabbing, cheating and dilution of working conditions, in order to please his employer. The employer will act in his economic, mercenary interest, and favor him. In construction, the work site location changes, the size and scope of the work changes, and jobs begin and end. The work crew waxes and wanes. Many jobs end with layoffs, and the next job, may be, a short or long, or very, long time coming. The scab wishes to remain employed, and has no interest in the good of the union, or in union brotherhood. The scab is a social darwinist.

The capitalist rabble, and their dupes, bewail unions. They use the worst possible anecdote, often riddled with inaccuracies, and use it axiomatically. Union membership, as a percentage of total workers in the US, is pitifully low. Ronnie Reagan, a former union president, gave unionism its greatest blow since Taft-Hartley Act (1947). The PATCO (air traffic controllers) president, Robert Poli,* was taken into court in chains and shackles. This was on the evening news, and it shriveled the testicles, of the near entirety, of union leadership. This was a black flag in a decade of unrelenting greed. Corporate America had license without restriction. An open attack on labor in the US, while Poland was working on freedom with the formation, of the free labor movement, of (Solidarność) Solidarity.

This gave employers the go ahead in hiring scabs, as permanent replacements, for union labor. The greatest weapon, and freedom of labor, to strike, was crippled. To strike, in the US, was to be arrested or to have quit: while in Poland, strajk, was a path to political freedom, and the end of totalitarianism. Labor without a right to strike, to refuse to labor, is slavery.

Well, to-day, during our lunch half hour, we were presented with pr bs, boilerplate inanities. On our unpaid time, in the presence of management: the contractor, his son, representatives of a large corporate customer, and general contractor, we were told by our elected business manager (son of a former business manager) about “the code of excellence ”. This propaganda, we were not able to freely discuss, on account of the interlopers. And it was to the benefit of the interlopers, and not to us. We were to be docile, and dutiful, and self policing in the interest of the customer. We earn our pay, not directly, from the customer. The customer pays for the job to the contractor, the contractor pays us for our labor. The union is our representation to the employer/contractor, not, the customer. Our proper definition of terms have been replaced by the jiggered, definition of terms of our adversaries. We were sold.
*August 3, 1981 the union declared a strike.
August 5, 1981 Reagan fired over 11,000 strikers.
US marshals brought in several men in this manner.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

La Sainte Jean

Pietro Bernini. St John the Baptist.1612-15. Sant’Andrea della Valle, Rome.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways: To give knowledge of salvation to his people, unto the remission of their sins: — Luke i. 76-77.
Now, John, in its many versions (Ivan, Ian, Jean, Evan, Jan, Janes, Johan, Giovanni, Sean, Juan, Ionnes, Jahja ...), in many languages, is the most popular name in the christian world. So, a distinction to designate amongst different individuals is needed. In the Gospels, we have the beloved apostle and evangelist John, and the baptist or the precursor, whom the eastern church, often, refers as the forerunner. In the west, John the Precursor has two days on the calendar, his birth and his beheading. Usually, the date of death, when he nears the heavenly reward is commemorated. The christian church notes only a few births, Jesus, his mother, Mary, and his second cousin, John the Baptist. The eastern church celebrates four additional days for John the Forerunner. As was estimated, that John was six months older than Jesus, we note the 24th of June as his birth.

In art, he is often depicted. In some icons, John has wings suggesting his celestial nature.. In the west, he often is pointing up, in the direction of heaven suggesting the coming of Our Lord. He is sometimes gaunt, haggard and tanned wearing rough sewn animal skin. He had lived an ascetic existence in the unwelcoming desert. He often has a very slender cross as a staff, sometimes with the a scroll that reads “Ecce Homo” or “Agnus Dei”, which naturally, announces Jesus. He is often with a handsome lamb, again predicting the coming of Christ.

Sometimes he is a child with the Child Jesus and Mary. Often, other non-contemporaneous saints and individuals appear. This sort of painting is a sacra conversazione, which reflects our actual, though sometimes, invisible community and conversation. Remember, we are all in it together.

Saint John is important in the Americas. San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico is named in his honor. He is patron of Canada, especially of St. John’s, Newfoundland, and Saint John, New Brunswick. The poem and song, now anthem, Ô Canada, was created for the 1880 La fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste.

In Québec it is a civil holiday. La fête de la Saint-Jean-Baptiste, in some quarters, is like Saint Patrick’s amongst the irish in america: an ethnic display of parade and alcohol. Beginning in the late ’60s the day became politicised, in 1969 there was a riot and an icon was destroyed.

In english Canada, the day passes with little, or no, cogniscense. But, Saint Jean was very important to the canadiens of generations past. This year, Québec City is celebrating 400 years with the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, which ran from the 15th to the 22nd of June. Catholicism still breathes on the Plains of Abraham.

A month ago, the Bouchard and Taylor commission, as a sop to anti-Catholics, wanted to remove the crucifix above the speaker’s chair in National Assembly. Premier Jean Charest did not accept this, Charest said, “We won’t rewrite history. The church has played a major role in who we are today as a society, the crucifix is more than a religious symbol.”* Charest did remark, that no reminders of Victoria (the english queen) were to be excised, nor other symbols were to fall into the memory hole. L'Assemblée Nationale voted unanimously to bear, and not to bare the cross. The Quebec Act of 1774, to the anger of english colonists, guaranteed the civil and religious rights of the conquered french in north america. To-day Quebec is still more than three quarters french, and french and catholic were a common dual identity, and much of the old immigration was also catholic. The centre holds still. French Canada is Catholic Canada, any revision would be false and an act of arbitrary will force ably imposed.
*«Il n
est pas question décrire l'histoire à lenvers. L'Église a joué un très grand rôle depuis 350 ans, le crucifix est un symbole de cette histoire, ce nest pas seulement religieux»
noto bene: In the Hitchcock film, I Confess (1953), you can see the legislative assembly chamber, and crucifix in two scenes; in addition, a very large and impressive crucifix is in the courtroom.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Smedley Butler — A Savior of the Republic

Smedley Darlington Butler, *1881,†21 June 1940
Major General - United States Marines
Recipient of 2 Congressional Medals of Honor
Republican candidate for US Senate 1932

Recently, a few marines were honored, by commemorative postage stamps. A truly, fine marine was not in that corps. He was a much, decorated warrior, but, all the fruit salad of medals and badges, did not include a recognition of his greatest service to his and our country. This great hero saved american democracy, not on the battlefield, from Wall Street. He stopped a moneyed, fascist cabal from removing the greatest, and most significant president, of the twentieth century, from office — Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The man so reviled as a “traitor to his class” and whose name was never allowed to be spoken, in the houses of fascists and other rabid Republicans and plutocrats. He was referred, bitterly and angrily, as “that man”.

He had spent a full generation (33 years) as a marine. But, he had insulted Mussolini and a courts-martial was possible, and the Quaker Hoover was not a friend. Butler was well known to military men, and highly respected amongst them. He was given the nicknames, “The Fighting Quaker” and “Old Gimlet Eye”.

After the (first) Hundred Days of Roosevelt
’s term, the mighty, moneyed interests were alarmed. Smedley was approached by the representatives of concentrated wealth, the 60 families*, to remove Roosevelt and act as their figurehead. But, Butler was a patriot. He did what they didn’t expect. He told the press through and with Paul Comly French of the Philadelphia Record, the Congress and the american people. Since the owners of the press were, also, of corporate interest, and many political officers were their beneficiaries or employees, much was covered up; but, the story did get out, to a degree. The coup was stopped, even though, the cover up was largely successful, there is still an existing historical record. Members of the Morgan Bank, du Pont, McCormack (Chicago Tribune, International Harvester), Standard Oil, Remington Arms, Goodyear, Mellon families and businesses, and … one … Prescott Bush. The muscle was to come from the American Legion, which, often acted as strike breaking goons.

In the 1920s government was run by, and for commercial, interests. American business leaders liked the new regimes in Italy† and Germany, and were taking notes. The Republicans won landslide victories in ’20, ’24 and ’28. Harding, Coolidge and Hoover served well their particular constituencies. The discrepancy between the rich and poor was very great. Now, to-day with Reagan, Bush and junior, especially, it has returned near that level. In 1929 Wall Street crashed and drove the country into the Great Depression. And to the moneyed horror, the people voted in a real democrat, Franklin Roosevelt. And ever since, the Republican party has tried to remove every aspect and detail of the New Deal. They want the regime of the 1920s. They have forgotten nothing, and have not changed.

After that event he spoke and wrote repeatedly the same lines, that war is a racket, one version written in 1935 includes:
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups.

I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras “right” for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
Butler was a very honorable man. He had been a Quaker, a scion of quaker families, though, he was no pacifist. He did see, that, the United States did not limit itself to defensive wars, in fact, he could not find an instance of one in the history of the country. No matter, it would still be quite difficult to name a child, Smedley.
*Ferdinand Lundberg, America’s 60 Families.
†“Fascism should be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini.
SEE: Investigation of Nazi Propaganda Activities and Investigation of Certain Other Propaganda Activities: Public Hearings Before the Special Committee on Un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Seventy-third Congress, Second Session, at Washington, DC, December 29, 1934. Hearings No. 73-D.C.-6, Part 1.
Last year, a program on The Business Plot was broadcast on BBC radio. The british press is far, more informative on american politics, than the american press!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

De Gaulle, the Man of the 18th of June

I write from english speaking America, there is here, ab initio, an enduring, active and stupid anti-gallicanism. In the States, it is primarily, on account of the stubborn, french idée fixe, that the french truly, matter importantly. It is part of the mania that produced, amongst other things, manifest destiny. In Canada, it is a rivalry of the maple leafs and the canadiens.*

In the person, of Charles de Gaulle, there is a person to target these animuses. He loved France, in the deepest and most sentimental manners. He also had an understanding of England and the United States as a single transatlantic anglo-saxon entity, which, he did not love.
Toute ma vie, je me suis fait une certaine idée de la France.
All my life I have had a certain idea of France. — So begins, Mémoires de guerre

La France ne peut être la France sans la grandeur.
France cannot be France without greatness. — Mémoires de guerre

A la base de notre civilisation, il y a la liberté de chacun dans sa pensée, ses croyances, ses opinions, son travail, ses loisirs.
At the base of our civilisation, there is the liberty of each person of thought, of belief, of opinion, of work, of leisure.— 25 Nov. 1941

Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first. — 9 May 1969

You may be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination.

Oui, c'est l'Europe, depuis l'Atlantique jusqu'à l'Oural, c'est toute l'Europe, qui décidera du destin du monde.
Yes, it is Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals, it is Europe, it is the whole of Europe, that will decide the fate of the world. — 23 Nov. 1959
Charles de Gaulle was the man of the eighteenth of June, 1940. The Germans had overrun France, over 100,000 french soldiers were dead†, the long occupation had begun. In the early evening, over BBC radio, the French resistance began. The Général, and the leader of the free french spoke.‡ On the 22nd, a second, wider, broadcast was made.

Quoi qu'il arrive, la flamme de la résistance française ne doit pas s'éteindre et ne s'éteindra pas.
Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. — 18 Jun 1940

Or, beaucoup de Français n'acceptent pas la capitulation ni la servitude, pour des raisons qui s'appellent l'honneur, le bons sens, l'intérêt supérieur de la Patrie.
Now, a great many Frenchmen refuse to accept either capitulation or slavery, for reasons which are called : honour, common sense, and the higher interests of the country. — 22 Jun 1940
*In 1967, in Montreal, he said, Vive le Québec libre!

†French military dead, world war I : ~ 1,368,000
‡Despite of repeated attempts of, both, the english and the americans of finding a more, accommodating frenchman. This is where the dislike of de Gaulle began. De Gaulle resisted all saxons: german nazis and anglo-saxons.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Massachusetts and the exercise of religion

On the 17th of June 1700, the law of Massachusetts’ was proclaimed to the world, that, the presence of a Catholick priest in Massachusetts merited death by the state. Such was the spirit of love, freedom and godliness in John Winthrop’s city on the hill, the pure protestant Jerusalem. Soon New York had the same statute.

As in mother England, catholicism was a capital offense. The tragically, repetitively, unfortunate Anne (nicknamed Goody, an appellation given to women in Massachusetts then) Glover was hanged on 16 November 1688. In a 1689 book, Memorable Providences, Cotton Mather, who interrogated, tells of her witchcraft. Anne, had survived Cromwell’s massacres, at Drogheda and elsewhere, he chose to dispense with further genocide, only because of the logistics, and deported or sold other irish. She was sent, as a slave, to Barbados, then, as a ‘servant’ to Massachusetts. She was accused by children. By test, though she could recite the Our Father, in latin and gaelic, but not in english, she was a proven witch. During the trial’, Mather referred to the hag as a scandalous old Irishwoman, very poor, a Roman Catholick and obstinate in idolatry. Our Lady of Victories Eucharistic Shrine, Boston, has a plaque to Ann Glover as the first catholic martyr of Massachusetts. She was the first witch hanged in America, and the last woman hanged in Boston.

Sebastian Râle was a Jesuit missionary in the disputed territory of lAcadie/Massachusetts in, what is now, Maine. There were several attempts on his life. On August 23rd, 1724 the Massachusetts militia caught their prey. His scalp was displayed triumphantly in Boston.

A hundred years ago at the college of the Holy Cross, the new archbishop, soon to be cardinal, William Henry O’Connell spoke at length to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the Boston diocese. O’Connell. He was the eleventh child of potato failure parents. He was a vain glorious, powerfully arrogant, prince of the church, who enjoyed splendor and ambition, and overlooked corruption. He was a militantly, triumphal, proponent of the one, true church:
The Puritan has passed. The Catholic remains.The city where a century ago he came unwanted he has made his own .... The child of the immigrant is called in to fill the place which the Puritan has left.
James Michael Curley, was at different times: congressman, governor and mayor. He was a scion of the starving time emigrés too. Many irish at the turn of the twentieth century, had great positions in the church and the state, in the new world. Perhaps, Boston was the easiest example. In 1914 he said:
“The day of the Puritan has passed; the Anglo-Saxon is a joke; a new and better America is here.”
In a novel, in 1956, and a movie, in 1958, The Last Hurrah, Edwin O’Connor writes of a similar character. Spencer Tracy plays Frank Skeffington. That and All the King’s Men are the two american political novels. La Dernière Fanfare is the french, hurrah, has a different caché. I do not have in front of me the script, but if memory serves, and my copy of the book is 457, or so, pages and I can’t find the passage now. But, O’Connell was the eleventh child, James Michael Curley had seven children. And the line, which is in some other movie, is something like, “We have eight, or ten children, they (the Puritan/Anglo-Saxon/Yankee/Brahmin/Wasp) have small dogs.” That is how democracy, and demographics, can displace bigotry and entrenched, monied interests.

That is how that establishment staggered, of course they still had the money, and they still do. But the despised, wretched, immigrants (this includes canadiens, poles, italians, litvaks, greeks, latinos) had the bodies. This is why the Republican party has always wanted to suppress the vote, and spread fear and hatred of immigrants. But the worst thing of these immigrants was their religion. Attempts to americanise, the newcomers, always was to de-romanise them*. In the case of the irish, this had failed until the last generation, and in Boston, there were self-inflicted wounds. There is still a lingering catholicism in Massachusetts, but it is not triumphant or strong, it is bickering, beleaguered, weak and weary.
*and now they are attempting to de-democratise the remaining catholics

postscriptum: On the night of McCain’s acceptance speech, I watched Spencer Tracy; the line wasn’t in the movie, although a similar vein of material was present. I would like to re-encounter that film.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Saint Anthony of Padua and Lisbon

We believe in the communion of saints. We are in it together. Heaven and earth commune. One of our most familiar heavenly friends is Anthony. He was born Fernando *1195, in Lisbon. He became an Augustinian and was then at the old Portuguese capital, Coimbra.

He became aware of the Franciscan martyrs of Morocco, and desired to be one. He changed orders and went to Morocco to evangelise. Later he was shipwrecked at Sicily, and was at first ignored. After awhile the italian franciscans realised his abilities.

He became a professor of theology and then itinerant preacher in France, Spain and Italy. He was well known and crowds seeked him out. He spent his last ten years around Padua, a town where he had great success. He was known as a wonderworker, and as “Hammer of Heretics ”. He was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1946.

He is a favorite saint. He is claimed by two cities. The italians hold him to be a Padovese, the Portuguese know him to be of Lisboa.

There is the argument he had with Francis of Assisi, concerning, whether the friars should seek academic learning in their religious lives. I can imagine the two in dialogue gesticulating:

“Some of the brothers should go to university.”
“No, a life of poverty and prayer with the people. ”
“They need the learning.”
“Ehhh, ... no. ”
“They should be smart.”
“Ehhh ... ok, then.”

Most churches, that I have been to, have a statue of Anthony. I moved into my house, nine years ago to-day, I felt it appropriate to have a statue of him in front of my house.

He helps us find stuff and get stuff to arrive where it was meant to. We find him helpful in many regards. He has many friends. We have many stories about him. Some of those are illustrated. It is not unusual, for us, to keep pictures of our friends and family. Some pictures remind us of specific events and stories, that, we put into context. There is Tony with a lily, there he has the flame in his hand, there he is with the pious mule, there is Tony distributing bread, there is Tony with the Child Jesus, there is Tony with Frankie ... and there is Tony with the fish at Rimini.

Anthony having become frustrated at the inattentive and obtuse heretics, went upon the strand between stream and sea to speak to the fish, as did previously did Francis spake to the birds. They lifted their piscine heads, and listened, and nodded at the words.

“Listen to the word of God, O ye fishes of the sea and of the river, seeing that the faithless heretics refuse to do so ... My fish brothers, you are bound, as much as is in your power, to return thanks to your Creator, who has given you so noble an element for your dwelling; for you have at your choice both sweet water and salt; you have many places of refuge from the tempest; you have likewise a pure and transparent element for your nourishment. God, your bountiful and kind Creator, when he made you, ordered you to increase and multiply, and gave you his blessing. In the universal deluge, all other creatures perished; you alone did God preserve from all harm. He has given you fins to enable you to go where you will ... Blessed be the Eternal God, for the fishes of the waters give Him more honor than heretical men, and the animals lacking reason listen to His word with greater attention than faithless men!”*

Some of them saw and heard this, and told others. Anthony stayed, awhile in Rimini, and the heretics were reconciled.
* from translations of chapter 40 of the Fioretti di San Francesco d'Assisi
noto bene: glass is by Margaret Edith Rope and is in storage (?) in Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Do not expect Republicans to end abortion

Republicans are not the road to the abolition of abortion. bush junior*, when he wants something, gets people to do his bidding — the Constitution be damned. His campaign to war, and grab power, flouted the Constitution. This is what impeachment is supposed to remedy.

He and his party had no similar press to end abortion. bushjr, in most of his reign, had a subservient Congress and press. The going to war was diagrammed, planned and relentless. No such drive to end abortion. The administration was staffed with incompetent and arrogant criminals, whom completely served the moneyed interests. bush junior followed and pushed his dreams and desires. There were many shills and enablers, in the media, that served his ends.

There is Republican rubbish about judge selection. Does anyone notice, that, these stellar pro-life judges, always, side with the moneyed interests. Now, if they were deficient in the latter, and fervent in the former, would they be selected? Is it Moloch they oppose, or Mammon they support? There is no, specified, fixed, constitutional, number of Supreme Court judges. The number has varied, from six to ten, in the past. When Republican justices stymied Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, he proposed fifteen. They relented. Bush had his way with everything for several years. Abortion was not ended by the court.

I being against abortion, why should I support Republicans? Because they say they are against abortion? They swear an oath, to obey, and defend the Constitution. They lied about that prime legal directive for their office. They say what they say, to garner votes. The status quo, vis-à-vis on abortion, politically benefits them. They do what they will. It is true, and so very sad, that, the majority of Democrats on the federal level, support abortion. Does not logic suggest, that, some do this to garner votes, also? An effort to find Democrats, and recruit Democrats, whom believe in life, may be a better strategy to end abortion.

In Puerto Rico there is one, public hospital that performs abortions. The law permits, medical personnel, conscientious objector status to follow their personal conscience. The number of abortions are less than half, of what they had been, since the nurses have invoked their right. A similar legal right for doctors, to be conscientious objectors, in Italy has, about, 70 % of gynecologists and a slim majority of anesthesiologists refusing to co-öperate with this infliction of death. Do not co-öperate with evil, in any of its forms. There are many things that we should, conscientiously, object to.

If doctors and nurses obey the Hippocratic oath, and their consciences, abortions would be reduced without the force of law. When society finds the practice abhorrent, the lawmakers will follow.
*Postscriptum: There is an oft repeated, but not in the corporate or mainstream media, and certainly not in the fascist and wingnut media, tale, but, which, was portrayed in the movie, W, of bush junior’s paramour having an abortion arranged by bush senior. The story is there, as was Larry Craig’s perverted proclivities, but has not made a full public exposure. But, gross hypocrisy is, often, hushed up.

Postscriptum: 13 March 2009
The current chairman of the Republican party, Michael Steele, had a lengthy interview with a reporter from GQ, in which he let slip the truth. He may be punished for that. Now, there you have a former catholic seminarian, who is "pro-choice" and welcomes that view in party members.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

4th week after Pentecost — Draught of Fishes

Rafaël. Miraculous Draught of Fishes. 1515. London.
AND it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said to him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him. — Luke v. 1-11.
Jesus and the boys are found on the Sea of Tiberias, Sea of Galilee, Lake
Genesareth, often. Peter, his brother Andrew, and the brothers John and James are in the fishing business. Jesus changes their catch. People are to be gathered in as were fish, in the past. Now, the picture tells us where in the Gospels we are. Supra, Jesus is in Peter's barque, with the miraculous draught of fish; we are in Luke's Gospel. The draught is the drawing in, the pulling along. If Jesus is on the shore, it is after the Resurrection; we are in John's Gospel. Jesus is the highlight, and not the fish. If everyone is on the shore, or Peter and Andrew are leaving the boat to go, to Jesus, on the shore; then the apostles are being called. If Jesus is asleep on the boat, a storm is coming. And there are other pictures, where Jesus or Peter are walking on the water. This one is not that. Then there is the fish that has a coin in it, which, pays the tax of both Peter and Jesus.

In a fine little book, In Peter's Footsteps, Father Pennington, makes the observation, that, the boys, only, seem to catch fish, when Jesus is about. Peter is called by Jesus to be a disciple, and he is the chief of them, that, call upon us to be disciples.

There, at least, among the Slavs, there are several comical stories of Jesus and his blustery and comical sidekick, Peter. Jesus loved Peter, and Peter, Jesus, but Peter has characteristics of a Sancho Panza. Peter can make us laugh. Peter gave up a few damaged nets and a beat up boat, for the keys of heaven. We are also called.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Peace and Reciprocity in Religious Practice

An acquaintance posed the question, to me, “Is Islam a religion of peace?” He said, that a moslem friend of his, maintains that it certainly is. I am not convinced. I would have to argue to the contrary. History, more than suggests, that its initial spread, beyond Mahomet’s original converts, was done by the sword alone, and has been enforced by the sword. Charles Martel, Don Juan of Austria and Jan Sobieski were preventative agents.

It is not accidental that the Sa’udi flag has a sword and many christian lands and provinces (Greece, Georgia, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, England, Scotland, Quebec, Switzerland, Dominican Republic, Iceland) have crosses. To non-christians the cross is a scandal, to christians it is the vehicle of salvation. One can dismiss this as a symbol on cloth. The mohammedan is iconoclastic, against images, yet this one state, that contains Medina and Mecca, chose the sword as an icon. The cross was suffering, passion. The sword is an instrument for killing. It can be said that is making too much of a metaphor. We speak with the symbolism that our words convey. Our words are not physically tangible.

The following is a too, common notice:
Muslims Attack Christians in Indonesia

Madrid, Jun 3, 2008 (CNA).- Muslim extremists who are members of the Islamic Defenders Front recently attacked 200 moderate Christians and Muslims who protested for religious freedom in the Indonesian capital, threatening the protestors with death and attacking them with machetes and sticks. Twelve people were left wounded as the extremists shouted, “Repent or die.”

According to the Spanish daily, “La Razon,” the extremists also attacked children and the elderly who were present at the protest. Between the years 2004 and 2007, Muslim extremist groups and local governments closed 110 churches in Indonesia.

La Razon also pointed to the case of Habiba Kouider, a Muslim convert to Christianity in Algeria who was arrested and sentenced for having copies of the Bible in her possession. In addition to her case, seven other Christians are on trial.

The Spanish daily also denounced that in Egypt, two Catholic Coptic priests were wounded by drive-by gunfire against the Monastery of Abu Fana in the southern region of the country.
It can be said, this is just an aberration. Well, it is a pattern of cascading aberrations, then. It can be said these are the acts of extremists. Well, the vast majority of all people are inactive. Where is the mohammedan Saint Francis, or Gandhi?

Virtually all moslems make the argument, that, they will be peaceful, unless Mahomet or the Koran are insulted. Those two caveats are of sufficient rationale for violence. An insult is subjective and even false claims can be made. However, that may be, it is an avenue of permitted violence.

Mohammedan death penalties are meted out for “un-Islamic behavior”. That is a vague, open and unending list. People are convicted of blasphemy, often on the accusation alone, and mob violence breaks out if the penalty is not severe, the violence is expanded to relatives of the accused. Two hadiths are quoted to justify death for apostasy. Where is the state or the clerical establishment to prevent, discourage and abolish this behavior?

The Vatican calls for reciprocity. Mohammedans share civil rights in the christian west and have religious equality in practice and even in proselytism. How many mohammedan lands tolerate christianity? The Koran allows for this. When is reciprocity spoken by mohammedans? To the contrary, there are only demands that non-mohammedans, in non-mohammedan lands grant or accept increasing demands. If one activist, moslem is in a country, then, he would have, all other people to act as dhimmis.

Mahomet and his followers will never be in full peace with christianity. For its existence, as mormonism and other forms of protestantism, can only make claims of theological legitimacy by falsifying the historical record of christianity. In this country, in a less successful effort, Joseph Smith, likewise, created a new religion.

Friday, June 6, 2008

McCain fears a new Bryan

“If it was simply style, William Jennings Bryan would have been president.”
— John McCain, in USA Today.
Extremely interesting, Bryan was, last, the candidate of the Democracy a hundred years ago. It was the third time he was so. A comic would immediately think, “McCain remembers?” No, but Bryan must have been negatively evoked by those whom raised John McCain.

Bryan was an anti-imperialist and anti-war man. Such ideas are directly contrary to Republican military circles. John McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone.* Panama had been part of Colombia, and the United States government was active in its “independence” from Colombia, and then carved out the Zone for a 99 year lease. Bryan opposed Theodore Roosevelt’s imperialism. That Roosevelt was considered a maverick within the Republican party, and that is why he was put as McKinley’s vice-president, where he could do nothing. History and fate intervened, when McKinley was assassinated in 1901. Roosevelt was president for nearly eight years. In 1912 he left that party and ran as a Progressive for president. Wilson won and Bryan, for a time, was Secretary of State.

I would suppose McCain, and his family and their friends, adored Teddy and disliked Bryan. Bryan was the best orator of his day. His “Cross of Gold ” speech won the convention for him in 1896, he was 36 at the time. The parallel is being acknowledged by McCain, he knows something of history, unlike bushjr, although it may not be a good tactical move. Bryan was the candidate in ’96 of a dozen or so parties, and William Hanna used a huge war chest, and every dirty trick available, to take the election for McKinley. It is interesting to note, that, Hanna is a hero to Karl Rove.

A little while ago, Obama spoke at the convention of the Democracy, and people saw he was a candidate to come; as earlier, when Cuomo gave a convention speech, and in between; William Jefferson Clinton attempted a good speech, to get notice, and gave a long, windy and boring one. It was so bad that Johnny Carson needled Clinton so strongly, that, in a spirit of graciousness, he had Clinton and, I think, his saxophone on the show. That was Clinton’s first national reconciliation and his campaign was on again.

William Jennings Bryan had plenty of substance. Herbert Hoover remarked, of the good Roosevelt, that the New Deal was simply Bryanism. The play and the movie of “Inherit the Wind” has blackened and ridiculed Bryan. If one were to actually read Bryan’s undelivered speech, that Darrow manœuvred not to be spoken, they would see how evil the use of darwinism is, when, it is used to govern human society. Bryan saw that such a system, were it to be used, in Germany specifically, would bring something much like Hitlerism!
noto bene: At the Cleveland Rock and Roll Museum, there is an audio loop taken from an early phonographic record, that is, of the voice of Bryan speaking on a piece of railroad legislation.
*McCain’s father and grandfather were admirals. McCain had been the navy’s liaison to the Senate.
“Bryanism under new words and methods”. See: A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan, by Michael Kazin, perhaps also, Party Ideologies in America, 1828-1996 by John Gerring.
see my post of 4 September 2007.

Christian Duty and This War

"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
I used the above, in three consecutive essays, in November. It is still at point devis. In towns and burgs throughout America, there are events of sadness and protest of this illegitimate war, now turned into an occupation, that bush junior is the author to. The corporate media, national and local, has censored this by malignant ignoring. This ignorance is then passed on to the public. When McCain or bush address the war of occupation, the media presents their words. We who want an end to it, and peace, are invisible outside of our own cognizance.

The bishops of this country may get an audience. They have not sought it. There were german clerics, some martyred, who spoke against the german war program and pogroms of the last world war. Here in bush’s America, they do not face the camps or the guillotine, and yet, they are more silent. I know of a few american priests who have spoken and written against the war. I do not know of an episcopal critic.

Robert Finn, the archbishop of Kansas City, spoke at a Republican event, advertised as Catholic, in the capital, in April. Did he speak out on this Godless war of occupation? McCain, John Roberts, bush junior, General Pace, Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, Bishop John Smith of Trenton, New Jersey, Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Virginia were there. Political, military, and governmental Republicans met together. Did anyone speak of the Prince of Peace and how this country is not imitating Him, in this important regard?

It seems, that our national episcopate, are struck with bureaucratic timidity and not with prophetic courage on all the issues incumbent upon them. They are making a habit of it. Of the little latin, that, people remember from the old mass, they must remember: Pax vobiscum, and Et cum spiritu tuo.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bobby wins California and South Dakota

What was to be a victory party became a wake. Robert Kennedy, on the day that ended, Tuesday 4 June 1968, had won two state primaries. The big state of California, in which chicanos, negroes and the young voted for JFK’s brother, and the birth state of HHH voted Kennedy. There were thirteen primaries that year. The convention was to be held in Chicago, Illinois, and the mayor, Richard Daley was an ally. Daley ran, perhaps, the last party machine, and he might deliver Illinois. Then, disaster hit. The country changed for the far worse. We are still living in that wake.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sinae Annus Memorabilis

Many commentators on history look at certain years as years of significant tumult and turmoil. 1968 was one, a more recent one was 1989, the fall of european communism and the intransigence of Sino-commuism. In Europe they fell like dominoes and in an accelerating pace. Almost by a märchen formulæ 10 years it took in Poland, 10 months in East Germany, 10 weeks in Hungary, 10 days in Czechoslovakia and 10 seconds in Romania. Bulgaria just quit.

Reagan was out of office and in advancing senility. Lee Atwater, and the Republican party slime and sludge machine, extended his third term to the first George Bush, whom was quite slow in realisation of the world’s unfolding drama, but soon Republicans gave all credit, for the fall of communism, to Ronnie Reagan. It was an european event produced by the people themselves.

In China communism had been changing. The apparatus of state was firmly in the grasp of the party and the coterie of men whom ran the party. Capitalism and the desire for wealth was melded into communism, an unification of godless materialism with the brutality that entails. The military might was controlled by the state and the party, which differ only in paper drawing.

In the first few minutes, of the 4th of June, a military slaughter began in Tiananmen Square, Beijing *(Peking, Peiping). There was an incipient movement beginning in Beijing and also in Chengdu (capital of the Szechuan province). Peaceful dissent and free speech was thoroughly and brutally crushed. The next day, in a most brilliant moment, a young man carrying a shopping bag stopped a column of tanks. Truly, a rememberable , remarkable and uttering inspiring moment, that lasted only a moment. There he stood undaunted and the military paused and the moment was gone. His fate is unknown to us.

Was there a chance that a democratic air would flow in China? The chinese communists have embraced capitalism. Propaganda, in this country, has linked democracy with capitalism as virtual synonyms. The chinese, the largest population and a growing power have shown how, absolutely, false that is.

When I was first introduced to the internet ether, I found this iconic photo on a Vatican site, available as a poster:
This year, the chinese have cracked down on the tibetans and have spoken in a unity about the nefarious Dalai Lama. No sensible person believes in that campaign. The chinese want to project a grand face. They have a great desire to display the Olympics as a triumph of China, and one triumph of many. In 1936 the Olympics was used this way in Berlin, Germany. The torch run was to bring the pagan aryan glory through the, soon to be conquered, lands to the modern teutonic glory. The trek for China has been scuttled by protest.

Now a great and continuing, natural catastrophe is shaking the ground, literally, in Sichuan (Szechwan). The chinese government is being uncharacteristically open with reporting and some people are voicing their minds. Is this year going to be a year of annus horribilis or annus memorabilis for China.

*The spelling of chinese words, into english, has been done in several (at least three) systems. Who knows what form is accepted to-morrow.