The Goal Has Been Reached

Taken together, the PayPal donations, snail-mail gifts, and donations to the GoFundMe page have now reached and exceeded the costs of Dymphna’s funeral expenses. You needn’t donate to the GoFundMe any longer; everything has been taken care of. As I mentioned earlier, any additional amounts that are specifically earmarked for the funeral will be donated to a reputable local charity that helps victims of sexual assault, including children.

Any words I might choose to express my gratitude are inadequate. The response over the past ten days has been staggering. I now have an idea of how many people truly appreciated Dymphna’s work.

My current situation: I’m trying to forestall the depression and isolation that so frequently afflict a man after the sudden death of his wife. My tendency at the moment is to wander aimlessly around this empty house, bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball in a shoebox. I’m fighting that by the time-honored method of going back to work.

Sitting down in this chair and starting to post again is the rough equivalent of the widower showing up at the office on the Monday morning following the funeral. Work is what he needs to keep himself on an even keel. He has a glazed look in his eyes, and his productivity is not up to his usual standards, but his boss (if he has a good one) is patient and understanding.

I don’t have any boss except for you, our readers, and I know you’re being patient. I suppose Vlad comes close to being my boss, although we’re actually more like unpaid business partners. In any case, he’s being patient with me, too.

I see that another subtitle file (translated from the French) has just come in. It needs editing and formatting, so I’d best stop my meandering and buckle down to work.

Thank you all once again. I’m sending out responses to everyone, both by email and snail-mail, but it will take a while, because there are so many of them.

President Trump Visits That Sceptered Isle…

Long may it reign.

With Winston Churchill’s bust back in the White House, one prays it is not too late to celebrate our friendship.

For our British friends, a favorite quote from Richard II, describing your kingdom:

This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,–This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

Near the end of the play, Shakespeare has Richard sigh, “I wasted time, now time doth waste me…”

God save the Queen and keep her country safe from Charles.

An Old Tale for the Feast of Saint Dymphna

This essay first appeared in 2005 on my old blog. A reader from the past suddenly turned up with a reminder that today is May 15th, Dymphna’s Day – I had forgotten; May has continued to clutter up with remembrances as the years fly on.

So here’s the post resurrected from its original spot and planted as is, or was, though some of the nonessential facts are no longer au courant.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The saints’ stories were among my favorites growing up. I don’t mean the anemic virgins-and-martyrs-eaten-by-lions books, illustrated with men and women lifting their eyes heavenwards as the lions stalked them in the background, waiting for the blessing of the food before they ate it. Nor did St. Sebastian, his body full of arrows, hold my attention, other than a brief look —“yikes”— and turn the page, please.

There were lots of men and women who were canonized for more mundane reasons than dying for their faith and it was their stories which attracted me. In my house, being full as it was of expatriate Dubliners, St. Patrick had pride of place. My mother never quite got over the fact that while New York City and Savannah had large parades on his feast day, the rest of the country used it as an excuse to drink green beer. In Ireland, on St. Patrick’s Day, in serious honor to his name, the bars were all closed and the churches were open.

Alongside St. Patrick there was St. Bridgid. Early on, the Catholic Church had a rough gender equality; frequently a male saint had a companion female saint. They usually knew one another. To my mind, some of them probably got up to a little hanky-panky: the intensity of the holy can do that. One thinks of Heloise and Abelard, those star-crossed lovers who veered from the paths of holiness, dropping off into the ravines of fleshly distractions. In Spain, St. Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross were friends. He was the more mystic of the two; she was the reformer.

The thing is, the desire for union with God and the desire for union with another human being arise from the same root — the urge for transcendence, for flight from our solitary experience, for immortality. Given our differing temperaments, predilections, and experiences we can diverge in many ways from the usual paths of what the Church used to term “vocation.” The idea was not that we chose what we would do with our lives; instead we were to listen to that small inner voice in order to be given our marching orders. Within evangelical circles, I believe the term “calling” refers particularly to some kind of ministry. Back in the old pre-Vatican II days, it meant that you were supposed to have divine assistance in trying to figure out what you were going to do with this, your one and only life. Some of those choices were limited; now there are almost no limits at all and young people freeze in the quandary of too much choice and too little direction. Saint Dymphna’s situation was familiar: her “vocation” was not what she chose but rather what was forced upon her by circumstance.

But before we consider her story, let’s discuss its veracity. The oral tradition surrounding Saint Dymphna probably points to a real person, given some of the artifacts. In Roman Catholic terms, the relics of Dymphna are considered “first class” relics. But that’s hardly important here since we are talking about a mythos which likely formed around an all-too-familiar story, a situation which repeated itself through the generations in many areas of Europe (the story is too old to call these “countries” in the modern sense). There are similarly named women with comparable stories in Ireland and in Germany.

Since we can’t know for sure, and since there seem to be physical remnants of someone in a final resting place, I choose to envision Dymphna as real. For lack of a better term, call her my transitional object. But that’s my meaning: you can read her story and decide its significance for yourself. I am merely the teller of the tale. Since there are variations in the stories, I have chosen to present the dominant narrative while appropriating elements from various accounts.

Dymphna was born in the 7th century (a contemporary of Mohammed, though as far from Allah’s servant as one can be and still exist on the same planet). She was the daughter of an Irish chieftain father, Damon, and an unnamed Christian mother. At least this is how most stories present her parentage. Since Patrick knew intimately the clan system in Ireland his strategy was to convert all the chieftains first, knowing the rest would follow (a good strategy. It worked with Constantinople). Thus, it’s likely Damon was in fact a Christian, though this takes some of the luster off the shamrock. To get around the problem of his obviously murderous tendencies, he is often portrayed as a pagan rather than a Christian. Hagiography is not history.

The tragedy opens when Dymphna is an adolescent. Her mother dies, leaving behind a deeply grieving widower and his daughter. The solution for his bereavement, suggested by his councilors, is to find a replacement for dead wife. The king agrees to this advice and begins the search for a successor to his wife.

He had only two stipulations: the candidate must be nobly born and she must resemble his dead wife. Having lived among Celts all my life, I don’t find the latter requirement to be very difficult — there can be a sameness running through some of us — but it was a problem for the chieftain . After searching the kingdom — and several other clans, who knows? — no woman was presented who qualified on both counts. The king (King, Chieftain, it’s all the same. Ask an Irishman and he’ll tell you he’s “Irish all the way back to the Kings”) grew ever more melancholy until (as you guessed) his eye fell upon his daughter. She fit both requirements: she was both nobly born and she was, most unfortunately for her, the spitting image of her mother. Problem solved. Damon would marry his child.

Dymphna, let us say, demurred. Her immediate response? Probably “Yecch!” or its Gaelic equivalent. The notion of marrying one’s own father may be a genetically hard-wired disinclination; it may be that and an admixture of social conditioning about what one does or does not do with one’s elders. Whatever the reason, Dymphna declined. She declined repeatedly. When push came to shove, Dymphna did the intelligent and courageous thing: she left for parts unknown. Even though her flight failed to save her, I’ll explain later why it was a smart move, however flawed it may have been in its execution.

It was also a good strategy to take others with her. There is a safety in numbers when you are fleeing someone dangerous. This is not universally true, of course, but to this day it remains a good idea to move en tourage, especially if those around you are devoted to your safety. Dymphna took her elderly confessor, Gerebemus — and some versions claim she also fled with the court jester and his wife. This strikes me as an anachronism. Did Irish chieftains maintain court jesters in the 6th century? Given what we know about the temperament of Irish chieftains, a jester in his court would seem to be an occupation with a short shelf life. And if this couple did go along we hear nothing further of them once Ireland has been left behind.

When they come aground, Dymphna and Gerebemus are in Antwerp. They move on from there to the town of Gheel, or Geel, some twenty-five miles away. Once there, Dymphna set up some kind of hermitage for herself and for Gerebemus. A Catholic church was already in existence so Dymphna’s arrival would not have been untoward. A devout, wealthy woman could well have been a welcome addition in a small town.

In short order, Dymphna was reputed to have healing powers. Being a foreigner, this power would more likely be conferred upon her than it would have been to someone known to the inhabitants from childhood. And her resources, which enabled her to purchase the poultices and powders for healing, would have added to her reputation for curing the sick. However, it was the use of her wealth which allowed her father to track her down. Sending out his minions to trace the path of the gold coins used along her route of escape — his gold coins — it wasn’t difficult to find an errant daughter. In short order, the Irish chieftain faced his prey.

Once more Dymphna was given her choice: marriage to her father or death. Gerebemus, her old confessor, attempted to ward off the King. He was summarily executed. Dymphna was adamant: she wouldn’t marry her father and she was going to remain where she was. Her father beheaded Dymphna then and there and returned to Ireland, leaving his daughter’s body and that of Gerebemus where they lay.

One account I read a few years ago (and cannot find) said that the townspeople were so remorseful at having failed to protect Dymphna, and felt so keenly their loss, that they entombed the bodies together and built a shrine in their memory. As it goes in these stories, accounts of miraculous cures began to accumulate, enough of them over a long enough period of time that eventually a church was built in Dymphna’s honor and her remains were placed there (those of Gerebemus were by most accounts removed to Kanten, though Sonsbeck, Germany claims his relics, except for his head, which supposedly remains with Dymphna in Gheel). The church burned in 1489 and was rebuilt in 1532. It still stands.

At some point, probably in the 17th century, an asylum was established in Gheel, no doubt partly based on the fact that the shrine to Saint Dymphna was alleged to have cured people with epilepsy and emotional ailments. Like Dymphna herself, though, this hospital was no ordinary venture. When patients arrive in Gheel, they are institutionalized for observation and then gradually released into the community to live and work among the townspeople. This unique (and I use the word advisedly since I know of no other such arrangement between consensual reality and lunacy) seems to have great efficacy.

Other countries came to study the Gheel model. Whether it translates to anywhere else is questionable, however. Remember that Gheel’s original response, all those centuries ago, was one of remorse for having failed to protect a young girl from a horrible death at the hands of her father. In our “so-sorry” culture, where the rush to forgive the tyrant while the victims lie bleeding, such a transplant is probably not possible.

Dymphna was not a victim. She failed to achieve her freedom, but she never knuckled under and she refused to be cowed by a homicidally melancholic father. No, Dymphna is a victor. Her life is proof that there are worse things than dying. Her decision to leave an intolerable situation was wise. Her lack of cunning in using the gold coins which permitted her determined “lover” to find her is often repeated today when abused women run, only to be tracked down by their trail of credit card receipts.

The original appended notes are below the fold.

Continue reading

Pope Benedict’s New Epistle

This item was in our newsfeed the other day, but it’s worth a closer examination:

Benedict’s letter came out on April 11th. No doubt the timing is deliberate: a bit of kairos (i.e, the proper time). At any rate, timely enough for it to spread throughout the Church during Holy Week. Heaven only knows what Gethsemane Benedict will face for this uppity act of disobedience. He was, after all, given orders to keep his trap shut. Maybe at the age of ninety, he’s decided discretion is the better part of valor after all.

One does hope he’s been permitted to retain a food taster on staff.

Here is the full text.

And some commentary:

Tracing the sexual revolution in Germany and Austria via an account of state-sponsored sex-ed films for children and youth showing sexual intercourse, Pope Benedict’s letter then notes the betrayal of theologians regarding the rejection of the concept of intrinsic evil – the concept that there are “actions which were always and under all circumstances to be classified as evil.”

Benedict recalls how Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor was denounced by the leading German theologian because of its inclusion of intrinsic evil.

Explaining the concept in defense of Pope John Paul, Benedict writes: “[John Paul] knew that he must leave no doubt about the fact that the moral calculus involved in balancing goods must respect a final limit. There are goods that are never subject to trade-offs. There are values which must never be abandoned for a greater value and even surpass the preservation of physical life. There is martyrdom. God is (about) more than mere physical survival. A life that would be bought by the denial of God, a life that is based on a final lie, is a non-life.”

Turning to the moral corruption of the clergy, Benedict writes that during the 1960s, “In various seminaries homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries.” He notes that when the Vatican tried to investigate such things they were blocked.

From a seemingly detached position, Benedict notes that the “criteria for the selection and appointment of bishops had also been changed after the Second Vatican Council… Above all, a criterion for the appointment of new bishops was now their ‘conciliarity.’” He adds: “Indeed, in many parts of the Church, conciliar attitudes were understood to mean having a critical or negative attitude towards the hitherto existing tradition, which was now to be replaced by a new, radically open relationship with the world.”

Giving an example, the Pope Emeritus relates, “One bishop (whom he does not name), who had previously been seminary rector, had arranged for the seminarians to be shown pornographic films, allegedly with the intention of thus making them resistant to behavior contrary to the faith.”

Summarizing in one paragraph the severity of the problem Benedict writes:

There were — not only in the United States of America — individual bishops who rejected the Catholic tradition as a whole and sought to bring about a kind of new, modern “Catholicity” in their dioceses. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that in not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books were considered unsuitable for the priesthood. My books were hidden away, like bad literature, and only read under the desk.

The Pope Emeritus recalls the words of Jesus: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42) relating them to an abuse of the faith. “The phrase ‘the little ones’ in the language of Jesus means the common believers who can be confounded in their faith by the intellectual arrogance of those who think they are clever. So here Jesus protects the deposit of the faith with an emphatic threat of punishment to those who do it harm,” explains Benedict.

Some of the faithful are saying that Benedict is not accepting his own responsibility in this mess. They have a point; it is generations old and there was public talk about an old friend of his – a prelate in Mexico, if I remember correctly. But it’s been a right good while since I tried to remember that name.

Happy Birthday, Emmylou Harris

Ms. Harris wrote this song for her father, Walter Harris, a Marine who served in both World War II and Korea as a fighter pilot, flying Corsairs. He was shot down in Korea and spent almost a year in a North Korean POW camp. Major Harris is buried in Arlington National Cemetery*, where lie many of our heroes.

*[Arlington belonged to the family of Robert E. Lee’s wife, a Custis by birth. The Union took over the house and began burying their dead on the property well before the Civil War ended. Lee never lived there again, moving to Richmond after the War.]

The lyrics are below the fold.

Continue reading

Gaudete Sunday 2018

Advent is/was a time of somber reflection.

To break the grey, cold monotony of this part of the Liturgical cycle, we come to the third Sunday of Advent, when the altar hangings briefly turn from penitential purple to a lovely rose color.

I had planned to post an excerpt of Bach’s “Magnificat” but came across this in the mix. A cappella voices are always a treat, and none more so than the King’s Singers, here, singing the ancient “Gaudete”:

Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.

Tempus ad est gratiae hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina laetitiae devote redamus.

Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.
Gaudete, gaudete Christos est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

From the wiki entry:

Gaudete (English: /ˈɡaʊdeɪteɪ/; Ecclesiastical Latin: [gawˈdetɛ] “rejoice” in Latin) is a sacred Christmas carol, which is thought to have been composed in the 16th century, but could easily have existed as a monophonic hymn in the late medieval period, with polyphonic alto, tenor, and bass parts added during the 15th century, particularly due to its Medieval Latin lyrics. The song was published in Piae Cantiones, a collection of Finnish/Swedish sacred songs published in 1581. No music is given for the verses, but the standard tune comes from older liturgical books.

The Latin text is a typical medieval song of praise, which follows the standard pattern for the time – a uniform series of four-line stanzas, each preceded by a two-line refrain (in the early English carol this was known as the burden). Carols could be on any subject, but typically they were about the Virgin Mary, the Saints or Yuletide themes.

‘Tis The First Sunday of Advent, 2018

For those who follow the Liturgical Calendar, Advent marks the beginning of the New Year. And Bach most famously observes it:

Psalm 25: 3-9

Show me your ways, O Lord,
and teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
in you have I trusted all the day long.

Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,
for they are from everlasting.

Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
remember me according to your love
and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.

Gracious and upright is the Lord;
therefore he teaches sinners in his way.

He guides the humble in doing right
and teaches his way to the lowly.

All the paths of the Lord are love and faithfulness
to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Advent is my favorite season. Perhaps it is a child’s anticipation of Christmas that still speaks to my heart.

How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Leave?

The Insufferable Inchoate Obama Is STILL Here…Obama bloviates. Say that real fast three times and you might end up with “Obama Oblivates”.

He is by turns condescending, predictable, and always, always arrogant. Without his script, he can barely string two coherent words together – unless he’s putting down those he hates:

This Thanksgiving I celebrate the absence of Obama. Or at least I would do if he’d just stutter off the stage and leave us be.

Here’s my theme song for Obama:

I’m grateful for y’all, every single one. And for Trump’s amazing aim. Doesn’t always hit the bulls-eye, but he’s still armed for the deal. And still cleaning up the mess Barry Soetero left. Royalty never has to clean up after itself…even if the man is only a royal pain in the gluteus maximus.

The Resurrection of Poland Began in 1918

Dr. Turley’s editorial today is about Poland’s celebration of its (initial) freedom after World War I. Through the very black time that would follow in World War II Polish patriots held on for a dawn they knew would come eventually. Now the attempts by the EU to paint patriots as “Nazis” (just as is done here by Hillary followers and Antifa) is being eclipsed by Poland’s reality.

Congratulations to Poland!

Tommy’s Possible Visit to America

From the Middle East Forum some intriguing and welcome news:

The Middle East Forum has, in conjunction with the David Horowitz Freedom Center, invited activist and journalist Tommy Robinson to the United States.

In addition, Rep. Paul Gosar (Republican of Arizona) and six other members of Congress have invited Mr. Robinson to speak to the Conservative Opportunity Society in a closed-door event.

Assuming all the legal issues are sorted out, he will address the public in Washington, D.C. on November 14. Americans will then have a chance to hear Mr. Robinson, a long-time target of UK authorities attempting to silence criticism of Islamism, about his first-hand experience confronting radical Islam and his cautionary tale about political correctness run amok.

The Forum first sprung to the defense of Mr. Robinson’s rights last May when he was arrested, tried, convicted, sentenced to 13 months prison, and jailed — all in the course of five hours — after covering a rape grooming trial involving Muslim defendants in England.

On August 1, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales threw out his conviction and released him from prison, citing a lack of due process. A re-trial was ordered and Mr. Robinson is currently free on bail after a London judge referred the case to the UK Attorney General, saying it was too complex an issue for him to decide on his own.

“Mr. Robinson titled his autobiography Enemy of the State and that title is dismayingly apt,” notes MEF counselor and Legal Project director Marc Fink. “The UK government and press have come down hard on him by way of conveying a general message: discuss Islamic issues with caution. This could be a warning to Americans too, as some voices here argue that ‘hate speech’ should not enjoy First Amendment protection. Is Mr. Robinson’s plight America’s future?”

The Middle East Forum will continue to support Mr. Robinson personally, as well as the general right to publicly discuss controversial subjects — including those related to Islam — without facing legal jeopardy.

Can you imagine the security costs for this visit??

Can you imagine the twisted MSM accounts of his travels… on both sides of the Atlantic??

John Bolton’s Policy Speech on the Eve of 9/11

John Bolton is a forceful conservative. Some discount him as a neocon, but that dismissive sobriquet fails to do justice to his principles.

He grew up in Baltimore, the son of a fireman, so Bolton learned early what an aggressive defense is and how to employ it effectively. He is the quintessential tough guy you want on your side. In other words, he is one answer to Barack Obama’s dithering lack of a genuine and robust foreign policy.

Bolton’s principled sense of justice included taking Clarence Thomas under his wing during their friendship at Yale Law School and then, later, offering advice and comfort during the ugly mess that constituted Thomas’ eventual confirmation to the Supreme Court. As Thomas said, what he endured in the bullying during his hearings was a “high tech lynching”.

Bolton’s speech came on the eve of 9/11, and that is not coincidental. America is standing up to globalists and trans-nationalist criminals like the ICC, founded in the year after 9/11. Such thugs are long overdue to be disbanded. Many of us agree with Bolton: the ICC and the UN need to go away, joining the other extra-national groups in a vast political graveyard, interred there along with The League of Nations.

Here is a list of John Bolton’s Ten Rules of Statecraft. They belong to a world neither Obama nor Clinton understands, and these rules are peculiarly American in their sentiments and form:

1.   “My philosophy is not a bean-counting, accounting ‘look at this.’ It is a philosophy that smaller government is better government, and government that is closer to the people is best of all.”
2.   “Our biggest national security crisis is Barack Obama.”
3.   “People say you favor assassination, what do you think war is? Except that it’s assassination on a much larger scale—a much more horrific scale.”
4.   “Diplomacy is not an end in itself if it does not advance U.S. interests.”
5.   “Negotiation is not a policy. It’s a technique. It’s something you use when it’s to your advantage, and something that you don’t use when it’s not to your advantage.”
6.   “My priority is to give the United States the kind of influence it should have.”
7.   “Everybody pursues their national interests. The only one who gets blamed for it is the United States.”
8.   “You could take several stories off the buildings of most U.S. government agencies and we’d all probably be better for it too.”
9.   “As somebody who writes op-eds and appears on the television, I appreciate as well as anybody that… there is a limit to what that accomplishes.”
    And the pièce de résistance:
10.   “There is no United Nations.”
 

If you would understand John Bolton’s worldview, read this brief book. You’ll grasp the sense of solidarity that is the fundament of conservatives and others on the Right. You may even understand President Trump and those who voted for him.

Meanwhile, this major policy speech is an elucidation of Trump’s ruling philosophy. To understand what Trump’s about, listen to Ambassador Bolton.

Sunday Contemplation While Sweden Votes

I came across this music for the first time at Belmont Club:

[The lyrics begin half-way through but the combination of music and visuals prior to that should be heard/contemplated.]*

The video served as a coda for an essay from July, one in which Wretchard described “localism”:

What links the cosmological and localist human models is the way they handle information. Linbeck notes in his paper Localism in America that its advantages, much like our quantum entanglement example, are due largely to the greater information efficiency of managing complexity through components. First, it allows society to limit the amount of information that must be moved between levels instead of repeating it, as a centralized system trying to manage everything would.

[Links are at the URL]

Among other things, the oboe is a grand instrument. The “other things” lie in the long thread of comments following Wretchard’s essay. Contemplations abound.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

*[I’ve since listened to this music a number of times. I happened to find it not long after my friend, Chris, died of lung cancer all of a sudden. So suddenly there was no chance to say goodbye.

Chris’ was a death he predicted many times as he’d light up another cigarette.

The hole left by his abrupt exit still haunts me and is forever entangled in the last time I saw him. He’d come over to help me bury our cat as I couldn’t dig in the thick clay soil and the Baron was away when Lulu shuffled off this mortal coil.

I miss them both deeply, but Chris’ death is the essential loss. Sometimes I have to stop myself from calling him to ask a question. His death closed a door of knowledge he always opened for me.]

Oz and Russia to Welcome Besieged South Africans

Good news! The white population in South Africa has been under the gun (and the machete) for far too long; a murderous heritage from Nelson Mandela to his people. But that legacy is about to turn.

That Russia is smart enough to offer experienced white farmers land to put into production shows how shrewd is the Bear. Heaven knows it needs people who are willing to be fruitful and multiply.

Meanwhile, Australia will have some balance for its leftist leanings, and some ballast for its ship of state that will eventually have to turn toward China.