Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chartreuse, and Other Sacramentals...

So, yesterday was the Feast of St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusians. If you're more cinematically inclined than me, you'll probably know them best from that movie Into Great Silence. However, more importantly, they're known for making the liqueur Chartreuse. Despite 2 attempts to evict them from their motherhouse by ever-tolerant secular governmnets, and countless attempts to copy their secret recipe of 7 herbs and spices...I mean, 130 herbs, the Monks (and their product) remain a potent force in the Church. Please read more about it here...

Additionally, today is the Commemoration of the Victory at Lepanto, one of the largest naval battles in European (or world) history. Pitting the Holy League (not a Bowling club - that's the Holy Roman Empire, Venice, Genoa, and the Papacy...with some extras) against the Ottoman Turks, the battle was one that checked the progress of the Ottomans through Europe for decades. It was certainly a decisive moment in Church history, especially since the Pope (who, being a Saint, ought to know) credited the victory to Mary's intercession through the Holy Rosary. Now, prayer is mostly important not because it gets God to change His mind and get us what we want, but because it helps us to change our minds to conform to what He wants (through His grace). And yet, there have been times when God has chosen to vindicate the power of prayer through external signs, much like this one. God is capable of working signs and wonders, but (thankfully) He is not content at that. He will not rest until we rest in Him (Possibly over a bottle of Chartreuse, but no promises--I haven't seen any Cocktail menu from the Pearly Gates).

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking Update!

The Worldwide Cataclysm commonly referred to as "The Great War"...

is officially over. We really showed Kaiser Bill the what-for!

Brought to you by Uneeda Biscuit.

Friday, September 24, 2010

What Planet Did this Come From?

I offer a triple to one of my favorite blogs, Awful Library books, for this[liturgical] find.

I'm not trying to wig this response, but I don't look clown-I mean down-on this book. Trying to making Christianity more palatable by referencing pop culture is a standard practice. Christmas? Happy Saturnarius! Easter? Spring Festival. All Souls Day? Creepy Celtic Stuff.

So, before my attempts at sarcasm devolve into a circus, let's remind ourselves of the person whose victims really need "clownseling":

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Here's some baaaaaaad news!

Apparently a good number of Insurance firms will discontinue offering child only insurance because Obamacare mandates they take on children with pre-existing conditions.

I sympathize with families in those straits, but it's the equivalent of selling a full warranty on a confirmed the same price as those responsible enough to have procure the coverage when they bought the vehicle. How many greedy tycoons are lining up to tap this expansive market?

I'm not here to chide families facing these difficult questions, but since when has having the Federal Government tell other people to do the impossible been a "Comprehensive Solution?"

When most people review this part of Obamacare, you'll probably hear little more than "geeee, isn't it great that they're finally getting health insurance?"

Baaaa...ut just because there's a buyer doesn't mean there's a seller. If these companies abandon the market, what have you accomplished? Beyond an equitable and universal absence of child coverage for both the well and the sick, that is.

And by the way, dictating the clearly impossible isn't generosity. Nor does it count as imagination (except in a B-Grade Sci-Fi Dystopia). It's either delusion at its best, or well crafted cynicism at its worst.

At least they might have helped a few people, isn't that worth it? You know, you might be right. Baaaut:

Most poor children with preexisting conditions already qualify for insurance through programs such as Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. And those who are not poor will be able to apply to new high-risk pools established by the law.

So, there's already a basic solution? What did we spend 18 months crafting...oh. Right.

But what do I know, I'm just a plebeian. I didn't organize communities or go to law school. So I'll go write back to grazing and paying my taxes, like a good citizen.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Fraptuous Day!

Today marks the beginning of the 10 Day Feast of San Gennaro! Southern Italians, rejoice (we'll let the rest of yous guys show up to).

One of the main reasons why I love Manhattan is (as I've said in a previous post) the street fairs. Mike Bloomberg (and many of my friends) criticize these events as redundant-after all, it's the same basic 20 stalls. However, Chesterton has a great response to this criticism in his book Orthodoxy:

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

So I try to rejoice in the monotony of the NY street fair (especially as a source of Italian Sausages and the Deep Fried Oreos). But there are other benefits:

1) It's a break in your typical lazy saturday.
2) It's a chance to remember that your Neighborhood is a community. Watching people share the streets as they amble up 4th Avenue is a fresh reminder that your day to day experience is not that of any other New Yorker, or even of the city itself.
3) Deep Fried Oreos (they deserve a second mention)!

Now, if a typical New York City street fair is like a rowboat, San Gennaro is certainly a behemoth, a dreadnought, or maybe (perhaps) an Aircraft Carrier. It's the mother of all street fairs.

For what might be on the menu, check this out.

For a totally irrelevent article on a boy scout who tried to build a nuclear reactor in his backyard, here's this this item.

Buona festa!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Welcome Back!

I'm sorry I went AWOL this summer. Based on the suggestion of a wonderful friend of mine, I have decided to start this up again. Here's hoping it will come under better auspices...

This being the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, it is essential to note that for any sane person to believe that there's more than what meets the eye. Sticking to what the public saw, the story ended at Three O'clock on Good Friday. However, as Hamlet put it:

There are more things in heaven and hell, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophies...

And yet in this decadent age, we are often encouraged to think we're actually fully aware and in total control of anything we happen to dream. Knowledge is power, right?

Well, there are two books that seek to shake us from this false sense of comfort: Nature, and Scripture.

Scripture presents us the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, not the god of philosophers (to steal Pascal's memorable line). God is, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, "a consuming fire!" Modern day Hebrews (who know what they're talking about) agree. Rabbi Abraham Heschel reminds anyone who will heed him:

A pious man is usually pictured as a sort of bookworm, a person who thrives among the pages of ancient tomes, and to whom life with its longing, sadness, and tensions, is but a footnot in a scholarly commentary on the Bible. The truth is that a religious man is like a salamander, that legendary animal that originates from a fire of myrtlewood kept burning for seven years. Religion is born of fire, of a flame, in which the dross of the mind and soul is melted away. Religion can only thrive on fire.

Nature does the very same thing, if we have eyes to see it. What kind of Botanist would have foreseen this? And which of them can marvel at it? (I think most, to keep your sanity in Botany...)

It is this sense of wonder that is essential to refute the dogmatic rationalist as well as the post modern skeptic. It is not a question of truth (though Truth can shake us out of this state of indolence and acedia) but of attitude. The spiritual anorexia of the skeptic and the gruel of the rationalist are only shown for what they truly are after a hearty feast of wonder.

This might sound unfair, as it asks the skeptic and rationalist to venture off their "turf" in order to sample something they've never seen before. But this is a false choice, as we've all been (and generally still are) children. We've all marveled at something, or (one hopes) many things.

This journey doesn't start with plunging into the calls for doing a bit of backtracking and leg work. It is progressive, and regressive, that we can really explore, with gratitude, all that has been provided for us-from the smallest iota to the highest heavens. From the briefest pause to the presage of Eternity. Per Omnia Saecula Saeculorum.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Any Condiment Company Worth its Salt...

would not consider this foolish venture. Don't think it'll get Mike Bloomberg off your back, because (being a control freak myself) it won't work.