Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reading Rat Vol. 3 No. 14

New and updated posts on my recommended reading...

Cynthia L. Haven on Adam Zagajewski

Leah Price on Samuel Johnson

Richard John Neuhaus on Thomas Kuhn

Patrick J. Walsh on Byron

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on Ovid

Matthew Arnold on Eugenie de Guerin
Reading Rat
Carmela Ciuraro on C. P. Cavafy

George Weigel on Reinhold Niebuhr

David Brooks on Simon Schama

Kenneth Rexroth on Martin Buber

Robert Louis Wilken on The Koran)

Clifford W. Taylor on Edmund Burke

The Economist on Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln on Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Forrest McDonald on slavery and George Washington

Wilfred M. McClay on D. H. Lawrence

On the recommended reading list itself, I've added comments on "Classics of the Chinese Tradition" from A Guide to Oriental Classics

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Adam Zagajewski

Zagajewski was not shaped by Stalinist horrors and the Holocaust, as a previous generation was. His story is formed against the backdrop of the grinding monotony of Soviet-bloc schooling, "socialist realism," enforced Russian and relentless mediocrity.

And yet ... the consequence of this Soviet monochrome curiously resembles the fallout of American capitalism and consumerism. Zagajewski's spiritual longings are wistful and vague -- he refers to "higher reality" and "yearning for eternity."

--Cynthia L. Haven, A poet's cry for strength of heart and soul, San Francisco Chronicle, November 28, 2004, review of A Defense of Ardor, by Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanagh

Recommended reading:
by Adam Zagajewski at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

he emerged in the New Wave of Polish poets in the 1960s, writing raw, stripped-down verse that implicitly and sometimes overtly challenged the totalitarian political establishment of his seedtime. Zagajewski later reinvented himself, employing the first-person perspective of traditional lyric poetry, a shift that has been criticized by some as abandoning the earlier commitments. --David Skeel, On the Road: With the Polish poet Adam Zagajewski, Books & Culture, November/December 2008

Friday, May 29, 2009

Memoirial day

From our pastor's column in the May 24, 2009 St. Al's bulletin,
I hope to soon read Archbishop Weakland‘s book A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church. I suspect it will be an interesting read. Perhaps we might do a discussion group in the fall for those who might be interested. ... If the response is good, I will schedule a time.

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


Samuel Johnson

Modern scholarship has shown that he seldom acted as a prescriptive lexicographer, but it has not been able to airbrush out other facts—that he included derisive comments on vulgar, slangy, and novel locutions, or that he resolved to include illustrative quotes only from writers whose standing gave them special linguistic authority. --Pat Rogers, Cheerfulness breaks in, The New Criterion, June 2009, review of Samuel Johnson: The Struggle, by Jeffrey Meyers, and Samuel Johnson: A Biography, by Peter Martin

His Dictionary of the English Language (1755) marked a revolution in English letters by being descriptive rather than prescriptive: In other words, he gave up on the project of creating a dictionary that would purify the unruly language by fixing meanings and pronunciations (as the Académie Francaise had recently attempted across the Channel) in favor of simply describing the state of English as it was spoken at that time and had been in the past. His philosophy and achievement cleared the path for the Oxford English Dictionary begun a century later. --Brooke Allen, First Man of Letters, Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2009, review of Samuel Johnson: A Biography, by Peter Martin, and Samuel Johnson: The Struggle, by Jeffrey Meyers (via Arts & Letters Daily)

... Johnson’s Rasselas (1759), an “Oriental tale” whose poly­syllabic pomposity disappointed the young Jane Eyre, is the worst place for readers unacquainted with Johnson to start. His best work was topical, collaborative, and either journalistic (especially the twice-weekly essay-periodicals like The Rambler, which he turned out as regularly as any blogger) or editorial (whether in the form of compilations, abridgments, translations or even a library catalog). --Leah Price, Lives of Johnson, The New York Times, January 30, 2009, review of Samuel Johnson: A Biography, by Peter Martin, and Samuel Johnson: The Struggle, by Jeffrey Meyers

His definition of essay certainly does not apply to his own efforts in that direction: “A loose sally of the mind; an irregular indigested piece; not a regular and orderly composition.” It is as though he had foreseen the blogosphere two centuries ahead of its time. --Richard John Neuhaus, While We’re At It, First Things, January 2009

What Makes Doctor Johnson Great? Oh, to be in England column by Theodore Dalrymple, City Journal, Autumn 2006

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Please stop reading me."

And when the radical priest
Come to get me released
We was all on the cover of Newsweek
--Paul Simon

Iowahawk Special Guest Opinion, by the three-week old Newsweek magazine. From the pile at your dentist's office.
I've done some soul-searching recently, and have been thinking about what I really want in a committed reader. That's why I'd like you to fill out the following short compatibility survey...

(via Midwest Conservative Journal)

Snark launch, photo from 45th Range Squadron, 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base


Thomas Kuhn

As with most academic traditions, and especially those that are viewed as soft, there are orthodoxies and fashions, and sometimes sudden turns, that are conventionally described—following Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions of almost half a century ago—as paradigm shifts. --by Richard John Neuhaus, Secularizations, First Things, February 2009

Thomas Kuhn’s irrationalism, by James Franklin, The New Criterion, June 2000, review of Considering Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times, by Steve Fuller

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Weakland cancels move to East Coast

Like the spent fuel rods stored next to a nuclear plant, our retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland is staying put. Annysa Johnson reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Weakland said he rescinded his plans to move to St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, N.J., on May 18 after Abbot Giles Hayes expressed concerns about his presence in the wake of a New York Times story recounting revelations in his forthcoming memoir.

See Ex-Archbishop Speaks About Catholic Church and Homosexuality
"It seemed evident to me that they thought my presence there might be a negative element for the school and monastery," said Weakland, who discusses his homosexuality and his handling of clergy sex abuse in the book, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, which is due out this month.

He might have anticipated some problem, given events a few years back at St. John Vianney Church in Brookfield (see A tangle of sin, forgiveness: Weakland's role in teens' confirmation canceled when parents object, by Lisa Sink and Dan Benson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, posted March 5, 2004).

The Abbot's version of events differed from Archbishop Weakland's.
Giles, who is the former headmaster of the school, said Weakland changed his plans without explanation a week earlier, and that he had no reason to believe controversy surrounding the book played a role.

Archbishop Weakland's version sounds more plausible, and consistent with his earlier withdrawing from the controversy at St. John Vianney.

P.S. Dad29 says this is a second unsuccessful try at relocating to a Benedictine Abbey.
Several years ago, his home abbey, St. Vincent's in Latrobe Pennsylvania told him 'they had no room' for him after his "retirement" from the Archdiocese.

Archbishop Weakland has not in retirement considered doing what he earlier said.
If I could found a religious order today, I'd found a religious order to live in the central city, just to be there.

(See Weakland wants to see church minister more to central city: Archbishop plans to keep pushing for goals as long as he remains in office, by Tom Heinen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 19, 1999) That might be more controversial now, coming across as using a poor neighborhood as the place for what can't go elsewhere.

A post by Pete Vere from just after Archbishop Weakland resigned suggests another possibility. Mr. Vere noted then-Abbot Primate Weakland's
initiating the reconciliation of a number of Fr. Feeney's followers back in the mid-seventies, and organizing them into a beautiful monastery (St. Benedict's Abbey) in Still River, MA. I've been to this Abbey, spoken to its members, and while they were never fond of the Archbishop's liberalism (the trouble into which it got him, we are all familiar), they were always grateful that as Abbott Primate of the Benedictines he looked past ideology and took a special interest in seeing them reconciled and organized as a Benedictine Monastery.

If he doesn't want to stay here, maybe he could inquire there. Hey Abbot!

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released



Byron in Love, by Guy Cunningham, Bookslut, August 2009, review of 'Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life', by Edna O'Brien

Today, we’d dismiss Byron as a bipolar sex addict whose unresolved Oedipal conflict held him in thrall to the father he never knew. --Kathryn Harrison, Oh, Lord, The New York Times, June 12, 2009, review of Byron in Love: A Short Daring Life, by Edna O’Brien

Byron desired a place of refuge from the dominant secular order of godless science, rising commerce, and material innovation—"Inventions that help man as true/ As shooting them at Waterloo." --Patrick J. Walsh, Byron's Scottish Essence, by Patrick J. Walsh, review of Byron, Sully, and the Power of Portraiture, by John Clubbe (2005), Modern Age, Spring 2007

Byron: I Love Not Woman the Less, but Man More, review by Judith Shulevitz, New York Times, January 12, 2003

The Byron Complex, by Elizabeth Wasserman, Atlantic Unbound, September 12, 2002

Byron: The Poetry of It All, by Anne Barton, New York Review of Books, December 19, 2002

The Misfortune of Poetry, by Christopher Hitchens. Atlantic Monthly, October 2002

Byron: Lady Byron Vindicated: A History of the Byron Controversy From Its Beginning in 1816 to the Present Time (1870), by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Project Gutenberg

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mid-Atlantic mind

if [Simon] Schama doesn’t come from a strictly European perspective, let’s just say he comes from the realm of enlightened High Thinking that exists where The New York Review of Books reaches out and air-kisses The London Review of Books. --David Brooks

Snark launch, photo from 45th Range Squadron, 45th Space Wing, Patrick Air Force Base



In any event, the ancient poet Ovid has something to say about abortion. Here are two of his elegies from the Amores (not my translation) which say something about the attitudes of common people. --Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, Let me provoke you today with some Ovid, What Does The Prayer Really Say? 22 January 2008 @ 10:48 am

Recommended reading:
by Ovid at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Ovid, Our Contemporary, by Mark Jarman, Hudson Review, Summer 2004

Monday, May 25, 2009

Eugenie de Guerin

It was for Maurice that, in addition to her constant correspondence with him by letter, she began in 1834 her journal, which was sent to him by portions as it was finished. After his death she tried to continue it, addressing it to "Maurice in heaven." --Matthew Arnold, Eugenie de Guerin, Essays: Literary and Critical (1906), pp. 80-81, Internet Archive

Recommended reading:
by Eugenie de Guerin at Reading Rat

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hutchinsland: The fantasy world of high chat

Ed Engberg on Robert M. Hutchins and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. (via Apocaloopsis)

Stephen Hawking

In the 1970s, however, Dr Hawking, a physicist at Cambridge University, used quantum mechanics to predict that black holes are not, in fact, completely black. ...

But near a black hole’s event horizon things can go wrong. A virtual particle or antiparticle may be captured by the black hole’s gravity. Once within the event horizon, it cannot escape and its abandoned partner has no option but to become real. The energy needed for this “realisation” comes from the black hole itself, which thus shrinks and eventually evaporates. Meanwhile, the newly real particles decay, giving off (among other things) light, X-rays and gamma rays. --The Economist, Dumb insolence: Black holes on a desktop, June 18, 2009

The problem is that one of the basic laws of quantum mechanics is that information cannot be lost. (I should point out that in quantum mechanics the term "information" has a technical meaning, and that losing it is more of a problem than, say, losing the shopping list you need at the supermarket.) In the case of the evaporating puddle, for example, it is theoretically possible to reconstruct the puddle by looking at the air molecules above the spot where it used to be. Hawking argued, however, that with the material that evaporated from the black hole, no such thing is possible, that the information simply disappeared.--James Trefil, What Goes In The Black Hole Stays In The Black Hole. OK? A Relatively Big Mystery, The Washington Post, Sunday, September 7, 2008, review of The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics, by Leonard Susskind

To make sense of Hawking’s paradox one must consider how much information, measured in bits, the 1s and 0s of binary code, can fit inside a black hole. The amount, it turns out, does not depend on the black hole’s volume, as one might expect, but on the area of its “horizon” — the flat, funnel-like mouth of the cosmic rabbit hole. --George Johnson, The Theory That Ate the World, The New York Times, August 22, 2008, review of The Black Hole War: My Battle With Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics, by Leonard Susskind

Professor Hawking is not convinced that the so-called “God particle”, which theory suggests gives matter its mass, actually exists, and in 2000 he backed his judgement by making a $100 (£50) wager with Professor Kane, who thinks it will soon be found.

Should the Higgs bosun [sic] exist, it is almost certain that the LHC [Large Hadron Collider] will identify it.
--Mark Henderson,, Stephen Hawking's £50 bet on the world, the universe and the God particle, Times Online, September 9, 2008

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cost/benefit analysis

Joel Connelly reports at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Gov. Chris Gregoire, a Catholic and down-the-line supporter of abortion rights, spoke to a gala retirement luncheon for longtime NARAL Pro-Choice Washington director Karen Cooper.

"We are blessed to have had you as our great leader," Gregoire said of Cooper. The governor spoke of "those, candidly, not yet born who will benefit from your leadership."

(via Diogenes at Off the Record)

Somerset Maugham

Somerset Maugham's plays are seldom revived, but when one is, you can bet on it being "The Constant Wife," a marital comedy of manners. --Damien Jaques, Boulevard Ensemble opening season with ’Misanthrope’, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 10, 2008

Recommended reading:
by Somerset Maugham at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Author's full life satisfies as book, review by Frank Wilson of Somerset Maugham: A Life, by Jeffrey Meyers, and The Painted Veil, by Somerset Maugham, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 21, 2004

The troubled popularity of Somerset Maugham, review by Merle Rubin of Somerset Maugham, by Jeffrey Meyers, Christian Science Monitor, February 17, 2004

How good was Maugham? by Anthony Daniels, The New Criterion, February 2004

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Keeping up with St. Jones's

J.P. Zmirak wrote in Front Page Magazine at the time of Archbishop Weakland's downfall that
We may hope that these events drain much of the credibility and force from Abp. Weakland’s labors to create a bloodless, suburban, American Catholic Church indistinguishable from dozens of other dying, liberal Protestant bodies.

An Archdiocese of Milwaukee spokesperson recently gave a progress report.
While Catholic parishes in the central city might be struggling to hang onto members, some suburban counterparts are booming, said [Communications Director Julie] Wolf of the archdiocese.

(See Poll finds changing religious trends in Wisconsin.) Ms. Wolf gave no specifics; any such booming parishes would make an interesting series in our Archdiocesan weekly, especially any sidebars showing long-term statistical trends.


Heinrich Heine

Heine, with a far profounder sense of the mystic and romantic charm of the Midd1e Age than Gorres, or Brentano, or Arnim, Heine the chief romantic poet of Germany, is yet also much more than a romantic poet; he is a great modern poet, he is not conquered by the Middle Age, he has a talisman by which he can feel,--along with but above the power of the fascinating 1liddle Age itself,--the power of modern ideas. --Matthew Arnold, Heinrich Heine, Essays: Literary and Critical (1906), p. 113, Internet Archive

Recommended reading:
by Heinrich Heine at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

...his position in the English-speaking world remains somewhat obscure. Here Heine is known more for his poetry than his prose, which tends to be relegated to semi-academic editions of his selected writings. This is a shame, but all the more reason why we should be grateful for a new layman's edition of Heine's witty Travel Pictures, translated by Peter Wortsman. It's a work that remains strikingly fresh in style and tone. --James Guida, Heinrich Heine's 'Travel Pictures': The Portrait behind Them, More Intelligent Life, August 15, 2008 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Laetare than you think

Disputations finds the "Laetare Remarks" at the Notre Dame commencement Just what the doctorate ordered.
I note that Judge Noonan found himself able to say:
Genocide is wrong.
Torture is wrong.
Slavery is wrong.
And abortion?

Judge Noonan could not bring himself to say the word "abortion," much less state, "Abortion is wrong."

We're ahead of that curve in Milwaukee. Archbishop Weakland once presided at "the annual liturgical celebration held by the archdiocese's anti-abortion group" and in his homily "The word 'abortion' never passed his lips." (The Education of an Archbishop (1992), by Paul Wilkes, pp. 45-49)


Francis Bacon

The most singular and the best of all his pieces is that which, at this time, is the most useless and the least read, I mean his Novum Scientiarum Organum. This is the scaffold with which the new philosophy was raised; and when the edifice was built, part of it at least, the scaffold was no longer of service. --Voltaire, On the Lord Bacon, Letters on the English (Lettres Philosophiques), Harvard Classics (1909–14), Vol. 34, Part 2, Bartleby

Recommended reading:
by Francis Bacon at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

On Bacon, by Ben Jonson, Harvard Classics, Bartleby

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sex-abuse victims group rebuffs Weakland’s naiveté claim

Archbishop Dolan could be funny, but he could never top Archbishop Weakland, whose upcoming memoirs look like they'll be a Laff Riot.
In his book, the retired archbishop says that in the 1970s, he "naively" accepted the notion that victims would either forget or "grow out of" the abuse. He blames the leniency shown by judges toward priests (and other professionals) in sex abuse cases for shaping his views on the perpetrators.

At this point you might be wondering what about Archbishop Weakland appealed to some people. Weakland fan "A Faithful Catholic" explained at his Catholic Wintertime in Milwaukee blog that
There is an air of sophistication around Weakland

His memoirs are another step in changing the perception of the air-to-sophistication ratio.

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


James Agee

At their best, Agee’s poems combine the density and ambiguity of the New Criticism with a supercharged self-scrutiny, inflected by Agee’s boyhood Anglo-Catholicism and the Bible. --David Yezzi, The drama of promise, The New Criterion, April 2009, review of James Agee: Selected Poems, edited by Andrew Hudgins

Recommended reading:
by James Agee at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

James Agee, by Georgia Steinhardt

Monday, May 18, 2009

Damage to church is far-reaching

Here's an excerpt of an interview by Marie Rohde of Archbishop Rembert Weakland in the Milwaukee Journal, November 13, 1994 (subhead "Archdiocese tries to help victims, priests"; brackets as sent to me). At the end of the interview Ms. Rohde is asking about “ephebophilia”, which I have seen characterized as "a pseudo-clinical term for a sexual fixation on youngsters between the ages 12 to 16". You will see it used to classify, or attempt to classify, much of the sexual abuse of children by priests as something other than pedophilia.
Weakland: Another story is the large number of gays who apply for the seminaries. Should we take them?

What does that do in terms of the culture [of the seminary and the priesthood]? How does that alter things? That's a serious issue; we bishops talk about it in small groups but we've never publicly had a real good discussion on what that means right now.

Rohde: Are you talking about men who are openly gay?

Weakland: Most are not openly gay. In the past they would not have been admitted.

Rohde: So how do you deal with that issue?

Weakland: I think that there are probably differences of opinions among bishops as to how to treat it. I think every bishop would say whether the seminarian candidate's orientation is heterosexual or homosexual, celibacy is celibacy, so you try to at least make that part clear. And then how you're going to live it out becomes very problematic. You talk about it so that it's understood.

There are a larger number of gays living at the seminaries. I don't know if there is a connection to the larger number of ephebophiles.

Rohde. Do you see a connection?

Weakland. If you wanted a blunt answer, I would say I think there can be a connection between [homosexual orientation] for a priest and an occasional relationship with a younger person. I think that can happen. Then you would have to make a distinction. In other words, I'm saying somebody who might be gay but whose normal orientation is toward adults might pick up the younger person. I think that could happen.

See Clergy Abuse Q & A.

(via SNAP)


Dorothy Wordsworth

Dorothy’s fascination with nature is also presented through a Romantic lens, which makes it far wilder and more bohemian than it might appear to a modern eye. Against this background she comes over as a dangerous, unstable, even transgressive figure—a woman on the edge in many senses. --The Economist, Woman on the edge, April 8, 2009, review of The Ballad of Dorothy Wordsworth: A Life, by Frances Wilson

Recommended reading:
by Dorothy Wordsworth at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Dorothy Wordsworth: The Perfect Sister, by George Mallaby, The Atlantic Monthly, December 1950

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pictures at a deposition

The May 12, 2009 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on royalties from Archbishop Weakland's memoirs touches on another topic.
Weakland is a key witness in a series of civil fraud cases brought against the Milwaukee Archdiocese by victims of alleged clergy sex abuse. In a deposition released in November, he admitted that he transferred priests with a history of sexual misconduct back into churches without alerting parishioners and did not report alleged abuses to police.

See Deposition of Archbishop Emeritus Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B. (complete transcript).
He dismissed that testimony while speaking with the AP, saying that "any deposition is just a part of a whole picture and that picture has not been painted yet."

By contrast, "the Archdiocese of Milwaukee maintains that the complete picture of what occurred ... will never be known." See Despite deposition, whole abuse story won't be known. Elaborating on civil procedure, he continued,
"And anybody can take out of that any sentence they want."

He's right about how his deposition testimony can be used. He implies, though, that our Archdiocese will present a defense case, including his testimony, that will persuade a jury in its favor in these fraud trials.

I say that won't happen, though our Archdiocese might prevail in these cases on legal grounds, or settle, or file for bankruptcy. I'd be willing to bet Archbishop Weakland bagels and lox after Sunday Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral on it. That's giving odds, since Manhattan's less than an hour drive from his new home in Morristown, New Jersey.

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


The salt of the earth, like the Romans at Carthage

It's a common practice in our Archdiocese of Milwaukee to modify the Mass prayer for our bishops so it includes "Rembert" by name. Someone's gotten an answer to those prayers with his upcoming memoirs.
The book also has the attention of trial lawyers who believe the text could be used against the Archdiocese in lawsuits filed by abuse victims.

Attorney Ted Warshafsky says, "They're admissions that somebody who was in charge aided and abetted and continued a practice that was illegal."

Attorney Robert Habush said, "That's an admission of fraud."

As to Weakland's belief that abuse victims would "grow out of it," attorney Will Techmeier said he would make sure that was brought up in a trial. "I would want the jury to know about that," he said.

(People React to Weakland Book, by Mick Trevey, WTMJ-TV Milwaukee) (via SNAP)

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


Weakland says he didn't know priests' abuse was crime

More unintentional dark comedy from his upcoming memoirs. Annysa Johnson reports in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature," Weakland says in the book, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church, due out in June.Weakland said he initially "accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would 'grow out of it.'"

Somehow this lack of understanding of its criminal nature didn't keep them from trying to convince District Attorneys not to prosecute priests for it. (via SNAP)

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


Marcus Aurelius

Was He Quite Ordinary? by Mary Beard, London Review of Books, July 23, 2009, review of 'Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor', by Frank McLynn

Notice how Marcus Aurelius insists, as such introspective moralists always do, upon small things done or undone; it is because he has not hate or love enough to make a moral revolution. He gets up early in the morning, just as our own aristocrats living the Simple Life get up early in the morning; because such altruism is much easier than stopping the games in the amphitheatre or giving the English people back their land. --G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (1908), Ch. V

Besides him, history presents one or two sovereigns eminent for their goodness, such as Saint Louis or Alfred. But Marcus Aurelius has, for us moderns, this great superiority in interest over Saint Louis or Alfred, that he lived and acted in a state of society modern by its essential characteristics, in an epoch akin to our own, in a brilliant centre of civilisation. --Matthew Arnold, Marcus Aurelius, Essays: Literary and Critical (1906), p. 193, Internet Archive

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ex-Archbishop Speaks About Catholic Church and Homosexuality

Laurie Goodstein interviews Rembert Weakland for The New York Times. In general, he's right, the Church is wrong, and what look like bad decisions on his part are the fault of others.

The interview does not cover why he will not talk with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and won't respond to the Milwaukee Catholic Herald.

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released

P.S. Maybe he's concerned that the Journal Sentinel or Catholic Herald would ask what, in light of this Times interview, he meant in 2002 when he said he was apologizing to us for his sinfulness.


Don't ask, don't tell

Milwaukee's WISN-TV interviewed Auxiliary Bishop William Callahan who heads our Archdiocese pending the next Archbishop (Auxillary Bishop Callahan Weighs In On Weakland's Book [sic]).
Callahan said he talked to Former Archbishop Weakland last week, but despite his knowledge of the book, it was not discussed.

Callahan, who's known Weakland for years, said he's surprised by Weakland's admission that he is gay.

“I think it caught me off guard. It was not necessarily something I was ready to hear coming from the Archbishop,” Callahan said.

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released

He suggested some perspective.
Callahan said Weakland’s legacy in the church is not just his mistakes but also some of the good he did, including shaping the modern mass.

In an address to the Peter Favre Forum, Archbishop Weakland characterized three demonstration masses in the papal apartments as "test marketing" the revised liturgy. Since this is pretty much the opposite of actual test marketing, it said more about the shaping of the modern Mass than he realized.

Some people might appreciate his denunciation of hand-holding during the Lord's Prayer, see Our Father Who art holding hands.

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C. P. Cavafy his lifetime he was a modest civil servant; his poems went unrecognized until late in his career. --Carmela Ciuraro, Paging Through: Poems, McClatchy News Service, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 26, 2009, review of Collected Poems, and The Unfinished Poems, by C. P. Cavafy, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn

Recommended reading:
by C. P. Cavafy at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

"A Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe." With this sentence the novelist E. M. Forster introduced the Alexandrian Greek poet Constantine Cavafy to the English-speaking world in 1919. --James Longenbach, A Poet’s Progress, The New York Times, April 17, 2009, review of Collected Poems, by C. P. Cavafy, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn, and The Unfinished Poems, by C. P. Cavafy, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn

Surely it is to misunderstand the melancholy of Cavafy to believe that a Golden Age once existed or could ever have existed, human life being what it is. But certainly Cavafy, who is usually described as having lived in poverty, lived in an age in which, to judge from the well-proportioned, high-ceilinged rooms of his flat, luxurious (or perhaps I should say luxuriant) poverty was possible, as it is not now: such luxuriance no doubt having been dependent upon the existence of a deep social stratum of even greater impoverishment. A rise in general wealth renders impossible impoverishment in its genteel form. --Theodore Dalrymple, Cliquez ici for Alexandria, The New Criterion, March 2003

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Racked with gilt

Watching for signs in The Times of more on Archbishop Weakland's memoirs, I might have found one from 1996 that touches on his "spiritual growth".
why is he returning to Columbia University to resume work on an unfinished doctoral dissertation in music?

"I'm mostly Irish, and I'm full of guilt," he said recently at his residence in Milwaukee, the Brothers House on the campus of St. Francis Seminary near Lake Michigan. "Columbia University gave me $3,000 in 1956 to do the research on Ambrosian chant. ..."

He couldn't just "move on" even after 40 years, not with $3,000 of other people's money at stake. Poignant, in a way.

[Milwaukee Prelate Reaches the Top And Keeps Reaching
by James R. Oestreich, The New York Times, January 4, 1996]

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


Gerard Manley Hopkins

He did not concede that the English language was decisively what it had become in the form of Standard English; if it might have been different, it could still be different. --Denis Donoghue, The unspeakable stress of pitch, The New Criterion, April 2009, review of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, by Paul Mariani

With his rector’s blessing, Hopkins wrote a sprawling tour de force titled “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” in which he first “realized on paper” the oratorical possibilities of so-called sprung rhythm. As Hopkins would tirelessly explain (in so many words) for the rest of his life, this involved “scanning by accents or stresses alone, without any account of the number of syllables, so that a foot may be one strong syllable or it may be many light and one strong.” --Blake Bailey, A Modern Victorian, The New York Times, December 12, 2008, review of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, by Paul Mariani

Robert Bridges, GMH's longtime friend and the fellow poet responsible for (finally) getting his poetry to public attention, never quite understood Hopkins's unusual poetic form (which he called "sprung rhythm") and always blamed the Jesuits for, in essence, killing the sensitive poet with overwork. --James Martin, S.J., Gerard Manley Hopkins (SJ) Lives, In All Things, review of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, by Paul Mariani

Hopkins tries to show us that all things are both related and discrete, that all things have material and spiritual value (or inscape) at once. Holding that simultaneity in mind is a momentary grace. --Gale Swiontkowski, Mystery Man: Two new books set out to find Gerard Manley Hopkins, America, November 17, 2008, review of The Playfulness of Gerard Manley Hopkins, by Joseph Feeney, S.J., and Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, by Paul Mariani

Hopkins worked out his salvation with fear and trembling -- and poetry. --Michael Dirda on 'Gerard Manley Hopkins', Washington Post, November 2, 2008, review of Gerard Manley Hopkins: A Life, by Paul Mariani, (via Joseph A. Komonchak at dotCommonweal)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Scrupulous George goes to the monastery

The youth in Patton, Pennsylvania,
Georgie Weakland was a "scroop"--one of those fervent Catholic kids who not only scrupulously obey the letter of the Church's law but seek ways to confront the irresolute and lead them to virtue. (p. 26)

grows up to be the abbot primate,
"Something had happened to the old boy," Father [Sebastian] Moore recalled. "I remember a cocktail party in London in 1968, around the time the Vatican was set to issue the document reaffirming the Church's stand against artificial means of birth control. Rembert and I were talking about one of our [Sant'Anselmo] classmates, who had been quite a radical in our day, opposed to just about everything the Pope did or said, and who had done a flip-flop and was now supporting Rome on this issue. Rembert leaned over to me and said, 'What's up with that guy? Gone completely square, hasn't he?' He was not the good little boy I'd known in the forties. ..." (p. 32)

The Education of an Archbishop: Travels with Rembert Weakland (1992), by Paul Wilkes, available at Amazon starting at $0.01.


Reinhold Niebuhr

Reinhold Niebuhr, the great American theologian of the ironies of history, got his quadrennial dusting-off in 2008, with Barack Obama, among others, averring a deep intellectual debt to him. Yet the secular millenarianism—the tacit acceptance of the redemption of a fallen world through politics—that pervaded the Obama campaign was a perfect example of the kind of utopianism that Niebuhr, with his profound sense of the contingencies of history and the self-delusory capacities of human beings, spent the better part of three decades warning against. --George Weigel, A Campaign of Narratives, First Things, March 2009

It is upon this rock that many of Niebuhr's followers today stumble so conspicuously. They invoke his prophetic stance but pretend his political jeremiads never reckoned with personal sin. They laud his campaign against utopianism, yet seem blithely unaware of the delusions about human goodness that sustain modern liberalism. They echo his call for political humility, yet neglect the religious truths that make genuine humility possible. --Joseph Loconte, The Irony of American Politics, Books & Culture, November/December 2008, review of The Irony of American History (1952), by Reinhold Niebuhr

Niebuhr summed up his political argument in a single powerful sentence: "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." (Niebuhr, in the fashion of the day, used "man" not to exculpate women but as shorthand for "human being.") --Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Forgetting Reinhold Niebuhr The New York Times, September 18, 2005

What You Can Learn from Reinhold Niebuhr, by Brian Urquhart, The New York Review of Books, March 26, 2009, review of The Irony of American History, by Reinhold Niebuhr, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, by Andrew J. Bacevich, and The Freedom Agenda: Why America Must Spread Democracy (Just Not the Way George Bush Did), by James Traub

Memoir of 'growing up Niebuhr' starts from timeless prayer, review by Carlin Romano of The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War, by Elisabeth Sifton, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 22, 2004

Was Reinhold Niebuhr a Christian? by Gabriel Fackre, First Things, October 2002

Niebuhr the Teacher, by Matthew Berke, First Things, February 1993

The Self and the Dramas of History, by Reinhold Niebuhr, review by Ludwig Freund, Modern Age, Summer 1957

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Proceeds from Weakland memoir to benefit charity

What charity will benefit from the proceeds of Archbishop Weakland's memoirs? Some contenders came to mind.

Back in November 1997 the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Supporting Fund Inc. announced it would use $2 million to endow chairs in Archbishop Weakland's name at the Gregorian University and at the Benedictine College, Sant’Anselmo. Maybe those chairs need reupholstering by now.

In 1995 our Archdiocese of Milwaukee commissioned a life-size bronze bust of Archbishop Weakland. Surely it costs money to keep it dust-free.

He chose the Catholic Community Foundation of Milwaukee. Here's some information about it.

Annysa Johnson's report in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel went over some familiar territory.
Weakland resigned abruptly in 2002 after it was revealed that he had paid $450,000 in archdiocesan funds to a former Marquette University theology student who accused him of date rape in 1979. In 1998, the man, Paul Marcoux, attempted to extort $1 million from Weakland in exchange for a love note the archbishop had written years earlier, according to court records.

The paper's recent characterization of the payment as extortion has not drawn a denial from our Archdiocese, even though paying extortion from Archdiocesan funds would be improper.
A spokesman for the archdiocese said Monday that it is unlikely to seek restitution of the funds paid out by Weakland from the book's profits because they were repaid previously by the retired archbishop and a group of supporters.

Then wouldn't restitution have been owed not only by Archbishop Weakland but also from Bishop Sklba and then-Finance Director Wayne Schneider, who also had to approve the payment? Looks like the tough talk about restitution is spin, and our Archdiocese would pay again if a similar situation arose.

As for the restitution paid by Archbishop Weakland, that was money he had previously donated to our Archdiocese. If you can say with a straight face it both was and wasn't extortion, and the restitution used money that both was and wasn't his, you might want to consider a career in diocesan public relations.

P.S. The headline of the print version of this story had a different emphasis, "Weakland details homosexuality". Archbishop Weakland won't talk with the Journal Sentinel.
But he told The Associated Press that [in his memoirs] he wrote about his sexual orientation because he wanted to be candid about "how this came to life in my own self, how I suppressed it, how it resurrected again."

From the word choice alone, it appears the man is terribly confused, as Father Neuhaus observed in 2002.

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


Clergy Abuse Q & A

But how could Archbishop Weakland knowingly move these perpetrators and allow them to be reassigned to a new parish?

That's on page 7
In this document, [in which then-]Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan answers frequently asked questions about the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

I might have supplemented the question this way. Why shouldn't we conclude that the reason was he actually believed what he tried to later explain away as a slip of the tongue? I refer to Lapsus linguae and lapsus mentis corrected, Herald of Hope column, by Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland, O.S.B., Milwaukee Catholic Herald, May 23, 2002, where he wrote,
During the first discussions on pedophilia some 12 to 15 years ago I made some more serious and infelicitous remarks. I wrote in one of these articles about some teens who were very street-wise and sexually very active. I may have given the impression that some teen-age victims of sexual abuse by a priest were somehow responsible. ...

Again I talked in some interviews about teens being rejected and then "squealing."

Reassigning those priests was more consistent with Archbishop Weakland then viewing them as the real victims than the various hypotheses about his actions now offered by Archbishop Dolan in this Q&A.


La Rochefoucauld

...he said things that were both deeply revelatory and already well-known, but it was his unflinching courage in acknowledging the facts of human nature that allowed him (and us, if we read him aright) to overcome the double consciousness that causes a man to know and know not, to behave badly and think well of himself. --Theodore Dalrymple, Discovering LaRochefoucauld: lessons from the great French master of the discomfiting aphorism, The New Criterion, April 2001

Recommended reading:
by La Rochefoucauld at Reading Rat

Monday, May 11, 2009

I'm gay, retired Milwaukee archbishop says in memoir

Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press in the Green Bay Press Gazette on the review in Publisher's Weekly today.

He's gay? Could have fooled...Paul Wilkes (Why People of God Don't Talk to the Press, Columbia Journalism Review, September/October 1992).
As for "falling in love all the time," yes, the archbishop had said it, but in a discussion about the loneliness he and others who lead celibate lives experience and how he was as normal as the next guy when it came to having an attraction to the opposite sex.

I suppose it depends on who the next guy is.

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


Memoirs Of A Train Wreck.

Fr. Erik Richtsteig at Orthometer explains why he's not looking forward to Archbishop Weakland's forthcoming book.
I lived in Milwaukee for two years during his tenure and saw things I never want to see again. (A former bishop once asked me why I was so conservative. I told him I wasn't, until I experienced Milwaukee. He said, "Oh, Weakland." and nodded his head.)

He adds in the comments to his post,
1987-1989, I was a grad student at Marquette working on a doctorate in philosophy.

That was in the time between Economic Justice for All (1986) and the supplement thereto (2002).

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released


A right to a rosary

An inmate in an Illinois prison asked for a rosary because, as a Catholic, he needed it to pray. The warden replied that he was also a Catholic, and the inmate did not need a rosary to pray.

The inmate sued on this and other issues in U.S. District Court. That court dismissed his lawsuit, but the U.S. Court of Appeals reversed.

On the warden's denying the need for a rosary, the court said,
Such an assertion is not sufficient. A person’s religious beliefs are personal to that individual; they are not subject to restriction by the personal theological views of another. [citation omitted]

The case was returned to the District Court for further proceedings, including on the issue of the need for, and sufficiency of reasons for denying, a rosary. Ortiz v. Downey (06-2453, April 1, 2009)

(via Wisconsin Law Journal)

Wolfram von Eschenbach

Wolfram left some brilliant lyric poems but is chiefly respected for his narrative poems, including Parzival, the work that is often said to have inspired Wagner's Parsifal. --Derrick Everett, Monsalvat: the Parsifal home page

Recommended reading:
by Wolfram von Eschenbach at Reading Rat

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Condemned to reread it

In a local television station's report on Archbishop Weakland's upcoming memoir,
The archdiocese says Weakland's time is history. "The archdiocese, of course, and the church in general has moved on."

Auxiliary Bishop William Callahan is running the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in the wake of Archbishop Timothy Dolan's departure.

Callahan hopes the book doesn't re-open old wounds. "With all due respect, that was then. This is now. And the church moves on."

If our Archdiocese has moved on, why is its former headquarters for sale to pay settlements of claims from priests molesting children?

If our Archdiocese has moved on, why is it still being sued for fraud from its shuffling abusive priests around?

If our Archdiocese has moved on, why does it have to try to convince potential donors that the Faith In Our Future Trust won't be subject to any future judgments arising out of these abuse claims?

And if our Archdiocese is serious about convincing us it has moved on, why is Bishop Sklba one of the Faith In Our Future trustees? He approved the settlement payment to Paul Marcoux, Church money that Archbishop Weakland had earlier told Marcoux couldn't be paid because it was a sacred trust. Or does moving on just mean moving on to Trust with a capital T?

[Former Archbishop to Move, Write Book
by Mick Trevey, WTMJ-TV 4
(via SNAP)]

See Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released



If this seems a somewhat flippant account of Agamemnon’s tragedy, as immortalized by Aeschylus in his “Oresteia” trilogy (458 B.C.), it is in keeping with the tone of Anne Carson’s new translation. ... When I was an undergraduate in the 1970s, the standard translation was Richmond Lattimore’s, published in 1953. Lattimore had labored mightily — perhaps too mightily — in pursuit of grandeur, achieved chiefly through high diction and a studious English reconstitution of Greek meters.
Confronting these two polar versions of Agamemnon, a reader may search out a middle terrain, like that presented by Robert Lowell, whose respectful streamlining of Lattimore appeared in 1978. --Brad Leithauser, Family Feuds, The New York Times, March 27, 2009, review of An Oresteia, (Agamemnon, by Aeschylus, Electra, by Sophocles, and Orestes, by Euripides) translated by Anne Carson

Recommended reading:
by Aeschylus at Reading Rat

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tintin goes to the neurologist

Acquired growth hormone deficiency and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism in a subject with repeated head trauma ...
by Antoine Cyr, Louis-Olivier Cyr and Claude Cyr, Canadian Medical Association Journal, December 7, 2004
We describe the unique case of a public figure who is well known for having delayed pubertal development and statural growth (Fig. 1). We believe we have discovered why Tintin, the young reporter whose stories were published between 1929 and 1975, never grew taller and never needed to shave.

(via Eugene Volokh at The Volokh Conspiracy)

Reiki causes Catholic unease

Proponents believe practitioners can facilitate healing by channeling reiki, or the universal life force, to bring one's natural energy into balance.

Guidelines for Evaluating Reiki as an Alternative Therapy, from the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (March 25, 2009) point out a problem.
Some people have attempted to identify Reiki with the divine healing known to Christians. They are mistaken. The radical difference can be immediately seen in the fact that for the Reiki practitioner the healing power is at human disposal. Some teachers want to avoid this implication and argue that it is not the Reiki practitioner personally who effects the healing, but the Reiki energy directed by the divine consciousness. Nevertheless, the fact remains that for Christians the access to divine healing is by prayer to Christ as Lord and Savior, while the essence of Reiki is not a prayer but a technique that is passed down from the "Reiki Master" to the pupil, a technique that once mastered will reliably produce the anticipated results. (p. 4) [footnotes omitted]

Catholic reiki practitioners acted quickly to eliminate the appearance of a conflict.
David Lichter of the Milwaukee-based National Association of Catholic Chaplains said some members have decided to remove reiki from their resumes.

At the Siena Center operated by the Racine Dominicans, reiki references were deleted from online biographies of two outside program presenters after a Journal Sentinel reporter called to ask about its use there.

[Reiki causes Catholic unease:
Practitioners see no conflict with faith or Western medicine,
by Annysa Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Posted: May 1, 2009]

Meanwhile in Milwaukee

I do not give up on the hope that, after some years of penance, a chastened Rembert Weakland might write a reflective memoir, having by then discovered, please God, a measure of the wisdom that was so conspicuously absent from a brilliant career built upon prideful foundations that now, through a combination of tragedy and farce, lie in ruins. --Richard John Neuhaus, "Scandal Time III", The Public Square column, First Things, August/September 2002

An example of how, when Archbishop Weakland's friends turn out to be courtiers, some of his harshest critics turn out to be his only friends. Further examples might lie ahead, see Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released.



Cicero believed that the republic could only be saved by better men, imbued with the virtues of prudence, restraint, and loyalty to Republican ways. The utter disaster of such wishful thinking prompted leaders, nearly 2,000 years later, to look to a different answer: to mechanisms that would recognize that "men are not angels" and restrain power despite human nature's worst instincts. --by Jeff Greenfield, Low Roads Lead To Rome, Washington Monthly, June, 2002, review of Cicero, by Anthony Everitt

Recommended reading:
by Cicero at Reading Rat

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Archbishop Weakland Memoirs to be Released

Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee announces
Archbishop Emeritus Rembert Weakland has chosen to write his memoirs, which will be published and available within the next few weeks.

Sometimes it takes longer.
The book is called: A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop. In it, he reflects upon his experience as a bishop in the Catholic Church. In addition he recounts his relationship with Paul Marcoux and the events surrounding his retirement in 2002.

I recall the shorter version:
They once had a dream of Nantucket.
Then Rembert found he had to shuck it.
To make Paul go away
Took more than he could pay,
So from the Church Treas'ry he snuck it.

The press release goes on.
The book will undoubtedly spark a variety of emotions in Catholics throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Some people will be angry about the book, others will support it.

Just so he doesn't tell us again that he's not bothered about not getting that honorary degree from the University of Fribourg. He seemed to be saying it didn't bother him on about every tenth page of Paul Wilkes' The Education of an Archbishop (1992).
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee continues to pray for the needs and intentions of all those who experienced this difficult time.

At the shrine?

(via Diogenes, A cold front in Milwaukee, at Off the Record)

P.S. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Weakland to return to east coast, publish memoirs, reports
publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans says [the memoir] "describes with poignant honesty" the archbishop's "psychological, spiritual, and sexual growth."


If it's good enough for 'Commonweal', it's good enough for 'America'

Michael Sean Winters at In All Things defends his criticism of Patrick Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society, for making what Winters considers an extreme comparison.
I wish to expose his positions as those of a Catholic Ayatollah (as the National Catholic Reporter recently characterized Mr. Reilly)...

See Hello...Newman...Society

P.S. And, like Joe Feuerhand, Winters has a Joe McCarthy reference in his title, Mr. Reilly, Have You Left No Sense Of Decency?

Mormons and the cross

LDS leaders long have said the cross, so ubiquitous among traditional Christians, symbolizes Jesus' death, while Mormons worship the risen Christ. ...

Now a historian at California State University in Sacramento claims in a just-completed master's thesis that Mormon aversion to the cross is a relatively recent development in LDS history, prompted in part by anti-Catholic sentiments.

It took quite a few years to get the crosses you see at St. Al's added. Now if only we can get someone to explain the liturgy team's aversion to the Crucifix.

[Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
Updated: 05/04/2009 08:17:40 AM MDT
(via E.E. Evans at Get Religion)]

131 years of perpetual adoration

For this National Day of Prayer, Annysa Johnson reports from La Crosse, where
the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, has prayed before the Holy Eucharist in shifts around the clock since 1878.

Ms. Johnson reports the practice "is seeing a resurgence in some Catholic parishes and schools."

[For Franciscan sisters, every day is prayer day
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Posted: May 6, 2009]

Thomas More

While a prisoner in the Tower of London awaiting his certain execution, Thomas More reflected on, among many other things, the perfidy of the English bishops who signed the oath accepting King Henry as the supreme head of the Church in England. Only one, John Fisher, refused, and he paid with his life. --Richard John Neuhaus, While We’re At It, The Public Square column, First Things, April 2004

...although he believed that boys and girls were entitled to equal education, More thought it wrong for women to publish books or to make any show of their learning. So when Margaret, brought up to excel and encouraged by a good tutor, expressed a hope that she might one day publish something, her father warned her off. --Claire Tomalin, A Woman for All Seasons , The New York Times, April 2, 2009, review of A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg, by John Guy

Pro-capitalist churchmen have dismissed the moneyless communism of the Utopia as just another of More’s witticisms, and attempted to prove that his slashing criticisms of sixteenth-century society were motivated by a scholastic defense of monasticism. Socialists, on the other hand, have dismissed his attempt to construct a society in which covetousness, pride, sloth and anger were inhibited to the greatest degree compatible with an organic social flexibility. To them such ideas have been just the reflection of the poverty of the pre-capitalist mode of production. --Kenneth Rexroth, Thomas More's 'Utopia', The New York Times (1964), reprinted in With Eye and Ear (1970)

A Catholic father, review of A Daughter’s Love: Thomas and Margaret More, by John Guy, Economist, July 17, 2008

Thomas More for Our Season, by Robert H. Bork, First Things June/July 1999

The Story of Thomas More, by John Farrow

The Life of Sir Thomas More, by William Roper

Center for Thomas More Studies

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Swine flu outbreak forces churches to reconsider communal wine cup

Watch out if an E.M.E. says "Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-Th-The blood of Christ".

Annysa Johnson reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Posted: May. 1, 2009).

Louisa May Alcott

I may be wrong about Louisa May Alcott. I’ve always thought the authorial wish-fulfillment at the end of Little Women is a little creepy, as Alcott invents an idealized husband for the idealized self that is her heroine Jo. --Joseph Bottum, Children’s Books, Lost and Found, First Things, December 2008

Recommended reading:
by Louisa May Alcott at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

H. W. Boynton, Atlantic Monthly, April 1903, review of Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott and An Old-Fashioned Girl, by Louisa May Alcott

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Richard Wagner

Obsessional self-destructiveness played a much bigger role in his life than careerism ever did: witness his endless youthful fights with successive theater managements; the Dresden revolutionary activism of 1849, which sent him into exile for twelve years; and, even after King Ludwig had become his champion, his fury over Ludwig’s insistence on staging Das Rheingold and Die Walkure without the composer’s approval. --R. J. Stove, Wagner’s Ambiguities, First Principles, July 30, 2008, review of Richard Wagner And the Jews (2005), by Milton E. Brener

What was eating Wagner? How Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy's early death left "underdog" Richard Wagner to wreak a bitter revenge, by Martin Geck, Sign and Sight, April 9, 2009 (via Arts & Letters Daily)

The dark heart of German culture, by Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, August 25, 2007, review of The Wagner Clan, by Jonathan Carr

The Rockford Raid

by Maria McFadden Maffucci, First Things, April 2009

Richard John Neuhaus gave brief background in his The Public Square column on The First Five Years, First Things, March 1995.
Readers who were present at the creation will remember that this project was originally the Center on Religion and Society and was affiliated with the Rockford Institute in Rockford, Illinois. Under those auspices we published a monthly newsletter, The Religion and Society Report, and a quarterly journal, This World. In May of 1989 we went independent and reconstituted ourselves as the Institute on Religion and Public Life, combining what was done in the earlier publications in a new monthly journal that made its first appearance in March 1990.

Father Neuhaus elaborated on the "raid" in the While We're At It section of The Public Square, First Things, June/July 2003
“I respect and admire the French, who have been a far greater nation than we shall ever be, that is, if greatness means anything loftier than money and bombs.” That is Thomas Fleming, editor of a paleoconservative magazine called Chronicles, cheering France’s anti-American turn this past March. It serves as the epigraph to David Frum’s long article in National Review of March 19, “Unpatriotic Conservatives.” In response to inquiries: Yes, Frum gets right the story of the emergence of paleo sectarianism when, in May of 1989, the Rockford Institute of Illinois, publisher of Chronicles, forcibly ejected us from the offices of the Center for Religion and Society here in New York. We had established the Center in 1984 and I became increasingly uneasy with what was understandably viewed as the racist and anti-Semitic tones of Chronicles under the direction of Fleming, its then new editor. I was preparing to break the connection with Rockford and go independent when one rainy Friday morning Rockford executives showed up, fired the entire staff, put us out on the street, and changed the office locks. We could have done without the melodrama, but every May 5 we have a gala staff luncheon to celebrate the occasion. As for the Rockford Institute and Chronicles, it is perfectly understandable if you never heard of them until now. It is just as well. (Some day I may get around to writing up my notes on the possibility of morally licit Schadenfreude.)

Mr. Frum's article notes that that Leopold Tyrmand had started Chronicles as Chronicles of Culture, intending it to "serve as a conservative alternative to The New York Review of Books". Mr. Fleming has directed Chronicles elsewhere.

No one magazine serves as an alternative NYRB. First Things is one of several that serve part of that role, if secondarily to its being "A journal on religion, culture and public life".

Spring 2009 Pastoral Assignments

Posted yesterday by our Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

Only one Pastor assignment, as such. In the other reassignments of a current pastor, he becomes an Administrator. (Perhaps Good Shepherd Sunday will become Proactive Administrator Sunday.)

Among the Associate Pastor assignments,
Reverend Mark Brandl, newly ordained, to associate pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish, Greendale, effective June 16, 2009.

Seven priests retire effective June 30, 2009. Father Leonard Van Vlaenderen retires effective July 1, 2009.

P.S. Priests to be ordained are profiled in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald. For example, in the April 30, 2009 issue, Mark Brandl can say, 'I understand what you're going through': Looking forward to priesthood instead of retirement, by Maryangela Layman Roman.

Update: In a comment to a post at Dad29, Dave Pawlak explains that "until we have an Archbishop, all priests appointed are administrators and not pastors...". What appears to be naming a Pastor then presumably indicates he remains pastor of a merged parish that included his current assignment.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Welcome Timothy J. Benson

Our Archdiocese's Milwaukee Catholic Herald had a classified ad from St. Dominic Church, Brookfield, for a Director of Music and Liturgy, starting with the March 26, 2009 issue, adding "immediate opening" starting with the April 16, 2009 ad.

Meanwhile the April 2009 Apostle newsletter of St. Paul's Episcopal Church near downtown Milwaukee says,
Timothy J. Benson has accepted the position of Music Ministry Director at St. Paul’s Church. It is anticipated that he will formally join the staff following the Easter season. Presently Timothy serves as the Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Dominic Catholic Church in Brookfield. He is also the Assistant Director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Chorus.

The May issue of the Apostle will feature an in-depth interview with Timothy.

We'll see if that depth is deep enough to reach the reasons for the change.

Thomas M. Disch

On Wings of Song is his first extended treatment of the Midwest, and it is infused with the visceral, unmasked fury of a refugee. Disch is an angry writer, and large portions of his work are directed without mercy at his chosen enemies: the Catholic church, conservatives, middle America. --Waggish, Thomas M. Disch: On Wings of Song

Recommended reading:
by Thomas M. Disch at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

Tom’s death closed the book on a particular kind of New York bohemianism that once flourished (in an era of cheaper rents) and is now largely extinct or shunted out of sight. Literary New York is a poorer place, its poets mostly professors desperate for preferment. --David Yezzi, I.M. Thomas M. Disch, 1940-2008, The New Criterion, September 2008

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chrysler Suicide Watch

A series of editorials at The Truth About Cars, from No. 1: Jump? by Frank Williams on December 1, 2006,
...everything Chrysler's doing seems strangely, willfully, specifically designed to push the automaker to the brink of self-annihilation.

through No. 50: RIP by Paul Niedermeyer on April 30, 2009.
Chrysler’s logo should have been a bottle of lithium, rather than the Pentastar. It suffered from severe bipolar disorder all its life, and, sadly, died from it at its own hands.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is now on Facebook and Twitter!

Announced yesterday.

James Madison

Great Britain’s mixed regime, for all of its vaunted moderation, hardly seemed an appropriate model for Americans so recently liberated from its tyrannical rule. To the contrary, as Madison saw it, the Revolution had been fought to defend the then-controversial view that popular government could rise to the standard of good government. --Gary Rosen, Madison’s Madison, First Things, April 1996, review of The Sacred Fire of Liberty: James Madison and the Founding of the Federal Republic, by Lance Banning

Recommended reading:
by James Madison at Reading Rat

Criticism (articles, essays, reviews):

The First Amendment was not, of course, "first" among the amendments put before the states in 1789 for ratification. It was the third of twelve, the first two of which went unratified. Tellingly, in James Madison's initial proposal, the amendments would have been inserted amid the various clauses of the body of the Constitution, reflecting and reinforcing its central logic but not altering its substance. For Madison, the First Amendment did not protect anything that was not already protected by the Constitution: the injunction for Congress to "make no law" was a reminder of the limits of governmental power. --George Thomas, First Things, Claremont Review of Books, Summer 2008, review of Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment, by Anthony Lewis, and Liberty of Conscience: In Defense of America’s Tradition of Religious Equality, by Martha Nussbaum