{    Cnytr   }

{Tuesday, September 19, 2006  }

.:{When piety turns to superstition}:.

Home Sellers Bury Statues of St. Joseph.

I'm not even convinced that done in the proper frame of mind this practice is POD. It smacks of far too much superstition and makes me a bit uncomfortable. But it's worse with people who just don't know jack:

"We look at St. Joseph as really a nondenominational saint," Cates said. "I think that what St. Joseph is about is about wakening the hopefulness in people. That hopefulness can lead to expectations, can instill confidence. We all know that confidence has led to miracles throughout the centuries."

St. Joseph is not "about" anything. What does it mean to be "about" something in this way? If in the sense that the person involved is merely a signpost or a holding place for an abstract quality or idea that can then be thrown away once the abstract quality or idea is extracted, then this is both de-humanizing and far too pagan.

And no, St. J is not "about" waking the hopefulness in people to stroke people's egos for the universl "I'm okay, you're okay." Confidence (implied: in oneself) doesn't lead to miracles, and this is definitely not St. Joseph. Had things been left up to our dear J, he and Mary would not have wed. But it was not up to J, it was up to God. "Have no fear of taking Mary as your wife, for it is by the Holy Spirit that she has concieved" said the angel. The lesson here is not of self-confidence but of self-abandonment and reliance upon God. If, by the whole statue-burying thing, one uses that as an instrument of abandonment of oneself to Divine Providence -- as a sort of sacramental -- then sure, whatever. I still think it's weird and pagan. But St. Joseph is not going to make you happy and full and fat for the rest of your days if you sacrifice a kid goat to him and bury him upsidown in your front yard.

If St. Joseph is about "waking the hopefulness within people", it's the hope of waiting for the Savior.

And let us all remember what the Baltimore Catechism says about hope (I'm more and more finding the value of this little book, which I haven't looked at since I finished memorizing it in 4th grade):

108. Q. What is Hope?
A. Hope is a Divine virtue by which we firmly trust that God will give us eternal life and the means to obtain it.

"Waking the hopefulness within people" -- that phrase is so ambiguous as to be almost worthless.

Yarrr, it's things like this that put me in a bad mood on International Talk Like A Pirate Day, where everyone should be growly and pirate-y anyway.
posted by Lauren, 3:02 PM | link | 6 comments

.:{The Unborn Child in the News -- a Creepy Story}:.

Couple Kidnap Daughter for Abortion, Police Say


SALEM, N.H. (Sept. 19) - A Maine couple upset that their 19-year-old daughter was pregnant tied her up, loaded her in their car and began driving to New York to force her to get an abortion, police said.

The daughter, Katelyn Kampf, escaped Friday at a shopping center and called police, who arrested her parents, Nicholas Kampf, 54, and Lola, 53, of North Yarmouth, Maine.

The parents were arraigned Monday on kidnapping charges. The judge set bail at $100,000 each and ordered the Kampfs to have no contact with their daughter.

Prosecutors had argued for a higher bail amount, saying the parents repeatedly "threatened to kill the victim, the unborn child, the father and his family." Defense attorney Mark Sisti objected, saying there was no evidence of any threats.

"What we're dealing with here is a terrible family tragedy with some unfortunate misunderstandings and some overreaction, perhaps on all sides - but not an attempt to terrorize anybody," he said.


...Investigators said rope, duct tape, scissors and a .22-caliber rifle were found in the Kampfs' Lexus and Nicholas Kampf had a loaded .22-caliber magazine clip in his pants pocket.

Authorities in Maine said the parents apparently thought that, in light of their daughter's stage of pregnancy and the different abortion laws in each state, the abortion should be performed in New York. Fili said she did not know how many weeks pregnant she was.

Maine law prohibits abortions once a fetus is able to live outside the uterus unless the mother's life or health is at stake. The law does not specify when that is, but it generally is 20 to 27 weeks, said Dr. Dora Ann Mills, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. New York law prohibits abortions after the 24th week of pregnancy unless the woman's life is at stake.

Yeah, sure, not an attempt to terrorize anybody. He just had a gun and a clip on him, that's all.

In terms of American law, mother and child are treated so ambiguously. In this story, they are referred to as "unborn child" and "mother" instead of "woman" and "fetus". We need to get our act together.
posted by Lauren, 2:57 PM | link | 0 comments

{Monday, September 18, 2006  }

.:{Ciao, Beppe!}:.

From left to right: the Cnytr, Beppe Severgnini (holding the FORZA ITALIA world cup), and Cnytr's housemate

Lately, I seem to be unable to leave bookstore's empty-handed. This is especially bad with both myself and my beau are excessive bibliophiles. And so, at the Politics and Prose bookstore near American University, I saw a book that caught my eye and happened to be on sale for $4 -- Ciao, America!: An Italian Discovers the U.S..

After I picked up this book, I could not put it down. It was absolutely the funniest thing I had ever read. I will include my favorite excerpt from the book at the end of this post.

I enjoyed this book so much, I recommended it to the pictured housemate. I even read her the favorite excerpt. She enjoyed the excerpt well enough that she bought a copy of the book from the bookstore of her occupation. "You know," said her boss, "the author will be at the Italian Embassy tomorrow night in an invitation-only event introducing his new book. Myself and my friend are unable to go. Do you want our tickets?"

And so, by a strange series of coincidences, myself and my housemate found ourselves at the Italian embassy late Friday night. In true Italian fashion, we elbowed our way to the front of the ridiculous queue to get a photo op and an inscription in our books. The result is the above photo, and an Alle signiorina Lorenza de Beppe S== in the front of my book.

For your enjoyment:

A few days ago outside a supermarket called Rodman’s (a sort of creatively chaotic drugstore where you can find anything, provided you aren’t looking for it), an elderly woman asked me, “Could you please push back my car?” I promptly marched over to her Chrysler and took up the universally recognized position of push-starters everywhere. The woman looked at me pityingly. “I said ‘cart,’ not ‘car,’” she murmured. It was at that point I realized that she had actually said cart because Italians, as well the British, of course, indicate the object in question with the word trolley.

The example is banal. There have been hundreds of others, some with tragic consequences. One Japanese student was killed when he wandered into the wrong house and did not understand the order, “Freeze!” What is undeniable is that anyone who has learned English from the British will have to go through a delicate process of psychological adjustment on arriving in the United States.

To start with, it’s not true that we don’t understand Americans. If anything, they don’t understand us. (Old English in the United States is the name of a furniture wax.) It is well-known that if you pronounce the words hot and water the British way – that is, with short vowel sounds – you’ll get uncomprehending looks in American restaurants. As long ago as 1942, the Giode to Great Britain prepared by the Ministry of War opened with the words, “At first you may not understand what they are talking about.” But it’s really no worse than that. When George Bernard Shaw, paraphrasing Oscar Wilde, said that Great Britain and the United States were two great nations divided by a common language, he demonstrated that he was an excellent coiner of aphorisms and an even better liar.

For those who, like the present writer, have learned their English in Great Britain, there are other difficulties. First, there is the dilemma of turning your ear to some of the accents of the southern states (Virginia and all points south). There are actually two problems here. As well as the accent, there is the usage of black Americans, who often pronounce ask as if it was ax and substitute some finite forms of the verb to be (am, is) with be or adopt expressions that are grammatically questionable, not to mention physically alarming, such as “to hit someone upside the head.” These challenges make my visits to the Exxon gas station on Wisconsin Avenue moments of intense emotion, with vaguely comic overtones. The African American attendant speaks and I continue to say, “Excuse me?” even when I do understand for the sheer pleasure of listening again to his stunningly unorthodox syntax.

Then again, one is almost ashamed to abandon the linguistic habits acquired in Great Britain. Using the word trash instead of rubbish to talk about the things you throw out feels like giving in. The temptation to say lorry and not truck is strong (although it helps to remember that truck comes from the Latin trocuhus). When America is a “second love,” as the writer Mario Soldati put it, the lifts take a while to turn into elevators and a journey in someone else’s car remains a lift and not a ride.

Until, that is, the day you feel silly asking for your customary bill in the restaurant. In Washington, Bill could be the cook’s name but what you want is the check. So, it was wrong of me at the gas station to ask how much I had to pay for the petrol. The youth on duty at the pump stared at me as if I had just arrived on a bicycle and said, “Egad, sirrah, ‘tis a sore task to propel this velocipede!” That was then I was converted. As usual, America had won.
posted by Lauren, 11:23 PM | link | 1 comments

.:{Human Life: It's not Quantity, It's Quality}:.

BBC Feminist's Sordid Suicide Pact Made Public

By Hilary White

LONDON, August 15, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This week, a popular BBC radio announcer told the public that she had entered into a “suicide pact” with friends should she be incapacitated by illness.

Jenni Murray, the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, a feminist and euthanasia advocate, said that she does not want to be “trapped” into caring for her mother who is ill with Parkinson’s disease.

Murray, a member of the Order of the British Empire and a patron of the Family Planning Association, is airing her views tonight on a BBC television program called “Don’t Get Me Started.” Publicity material for the show says that Murray “plans to end her own life when she becomes a burden to those around her.” She discusses methods, including smothering with a pillow or injecting with drugs, with two friends,

The network said: "Jenni is angry that, having fought so hard to become liberated and independent, women are now being trapped into caring for dependent parents."

Murray complains that the law against assisted suicide is supported by a “religious minority” who hold to an outdated moral view that human life is inherently valuable and that children have a legitimate obligation to care for elderly parents.

The program highlights the growth, especially in Britain, of the idea of an “obligation to die.” Most leading thinkers in the bioethics field endorse euthanasia and assisted suicide and often argue that elderly and ill patients have the obligation to end their lives to relieve pressure on families and the health care system.

In 2004, Baroness Mary Warnock, Britain’s leader in bioethics, said unequivocally that the ill and elderly had an obligation to die as soon as possible so as not to burden relatives and the medical system. Baroness Warnock, called Britain's “Philosopher Queen”, said in an interview, “In other contexts sacrificing oneself for one's family would be considered good. I don't see what is so horrible about the motive of not wanting to be an increasing nuisance.”

She said, “I am not ashamed to say some lives are more worth living than others.”


There are so many twisted items in that paragraph that I could probably leave it alone. But never anywhere have I ever seen it so blatantly stated that the ill and elderly "have an obligation to die". Who else have that obligation, the mentally ill? The Jews? What are they trying to do, start a second Holocaust? That's the most ridiculous statement possible. These are the ethics of the anti-person. The ethics of the person -- ethics simply -- have the human person in mind: ethics were made for man, not man for ethics. Human life is inherently valueable because it is human life. One's life is not more valueable because of what one does or does not do -- by virtue of the fact that the life is human, it has worth and dignity and is valueable.

Otherwise, who is to decide this quality of life? Watching Forrest Gump recently reminded me of this. Although the man had all these horrible things happen to him, he saw only the good and led a meaningful existence. According to these people, as an idiot, his life wasn't worth living and he should have been put down.

Ugh. I don't know what else to say to this.
posted by Lauren, 9:01 AM | link | 1 comments

{Sunday, September 17, 2006  }

.:{Bld. Carolus Magnus?}:.

Charlemagne's influence throughout the Holy Roman Empire (which, so many people are SO FOND of saying, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire) is well-known, as is his coronation on Christmas Day of the year 800. But what is less often paid attention to are his liturgical reforms, and the happy way in which they were recieved. In fact, Charlemagne has been so revered over the course of history that he was actually beatified by Pope Paschal III in 1165. Unfortunately, "Pope" Paschal III was, in fact, the anti-pope and rival of the true Pope Adrian IV (who convened the Third Lateran Council), and therefore the beatification/canonization of Charlemagne was never ratified.
posted by Lauren, 7:46 PM | link | 2 comments

{Thursday, September 07, 2006  }

.:{An Interesting Fact about Cnytr}:.

I went in for a medical procedure the other day requiring IV sedation (I'm fine now). When I started to come-to, the nurse was talking to me, and telling me about things I said while sedated.

Evidently, I tend to talk at length about Thomas Aquinas while under sedation.

Hm. I don't think I'm surprised.
posted by Lauren, 8:24 AM | link | 4 comments

{Monday, September 04, 2006  }

.:{Dubious History Channel Scholarship}:.

Returning to one's parents' home for a three-day weekend has its advantages -- namely, the ability to veg in front of the t.v. for hours on end like I never do. And when I say "hours" I mean "1.5 hours".

Either way, before my usual regimen of modern satiric comedic shows, I was absolutely fascinated by an episode of "Lost Worlds" on the History channel -- in the town of Tortosa, a military historian/archaeologist/not Medievalist was revealing the dimensions of some fascinating Templar and Hospitaller strongholds, along with the accompanying history. The computer re-creations of the interiors of the strongholds (esp the great hall) were excellent, I thought. So excellent, the guy should have quit while he was ahead.

Inevitably, the non-Catholic Medievalists (who are lamentably many) fell into the same stupid errors that all who a lack a fundamental sympathy with the period they study fall. With ominous, thudding music in the background, the narrator suggested that after their "failure" in the Holy Land, the Templars were tortured and executed by the King of France, but they really deserved it because they did weird things like venerate relics -- "the body parts of saints". In the end it was suggested their "arcane rituals" and [some other anti-relics comment] really did the Templars in and they brought it upon themselves.

This, of course, is stupid. Not only for Catholics who understand the concept and still employ the practice of veneration of relics, but anybody with half a brain who studies the middle ages. The Templars, obviously, were not the only group in the Middle Ages to venerate relics, but it was a large part of the culture of the Middle Ages. Obviously. Whole trans-continental pilgrimages were made upon their account (Canterbury, Compostela, Jerusalem).

The other stupid thing mentioned on the show was the Holy Grail -- an "expert" claimed the Holy Grail legend was made up by a 12th century author Chretien de Troyes. This is simply false -- Chretien was drawing upon a number of sources (a number of which I have studied, but left the volumes in DC and therefore cannot give titles at the moment) when he wrote his unfinished Perceval.

The military historians and archaeologists ought to stick with battles and buildings and strategy and not to meddle with things that they don't understand, like literature and tradition and, like, thinking.
posted by Lauren, 12:19 AM | link | 2 comments

{Saturday, September 02, 2006  }

.:{To Meem in SS}:.

Dear Meem,

I'd absolutely love to help you, but you left me no email address. Mine is listed on the side. If you write me an email and leave me a comment when you do, then I will get back to you ASAP.

posted by Lauren, 2:29 PM | link | 1 comments