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GroovyVic sent along a wodge of amusing inspirational posters.  This one struck my fancy especially (plus, it’s about the only non-tasteless one in the bunch).

Last evening as I was minding my own business, my dear wife suddenly started yelling at me from her seat in front of the computer.

“What on EARTH are you doing?” she exclaimed.

“Are you completely insane?” she asked in quick follow-up. “What do you mean that you’re a mere ‘hanger-on’? Are you kidding?”

“Wait…is this all about that religion stuff again?” she accused.

“Um, I thought you never read the blog,” I replied weakly.

“I don’t,” she answered with perfect feminine logic, “but I’m reading this. Why are you leaving the Llamas?”

“This” of course being my post over at the Llamas about why I felt compelled to set up TPSAYE. I explained that I’m not leaving the Llamas…that I shall continue to jolly it up and snark away over there but that I wanted a platform for somewhat more serious thinking – yes, much of it about religion – away from the where my fellow camelids would have to put up with it.

(BTW, this morning, I found an email in my in-box from fellow-Llama Steve-O reading, simply, “dude??? dude!!! dude…. :(” I won’t go into the e-conversation that ensued. Suffice to say that everything is fine. After all, Steve-O and I have been friends for better than 20 years now. My constructing a separate sandbox basically for the entertainment of my mackerel-smacker friends is not going to interfere with that.)

As I was thinking about all this, I had a funny sense that I had been through it before. Then it suddenly hit me: I am, in effect, duplicating in the blogsphere my real-life churchgoing habits. You see, when I swam the Tiber, I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to disrupt my family by suddenly vanishing from my old Episcopal church, but would keep on attending services there with them as well (sans taking Communion, of course). This policy has worked out so well that I do believe that most of my old Palie circle don’t even realize that I’ve converted. (Indeed, I’m not even sure my old Rector is aware of it. Not that it would matter to him – a warm body in the pew is a warm body, period.) And in the meantime, I have been quietly deepening my Catholic faith off on my own.

So I hope to do the same sort of thing here. As I say, I shall continue to whoop it up with the boys over at Llama Central. In addition, I’ll probably wind up cross-posting a good many of my cultural entries both here and there. But in the meantime, I am attempting to carve out this little niche as a place where I can come and be more serious when I feel the urge.

Let us just hope that in doing this, I do not go the way of Leonard Nimoy!

Today is the anniversary of the birth, in 1816, of Gen. George Henry Thomas, knick-named the “Rock of Chickamauga” for his heroic defensive stand in the face of Braxton Bragg’s onslaught that kept the Union loss at the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863 from turning into an outright rout. Gen. Thomas later commanded the troops who stormed Missionary Ridge at the Battle of Chattanooga, although he himself famously admitted to Grant that he didn’t know who had given the troops the command to charge. He also distinguished himself in the Battle of Nashville in 1864 by destroying the Confederate Army under John Bell Hood.

Just to show you how Your Host’s mind works, thinking just now on the relationship of Thomas and Grant (which was fairly cool), as well as having seen a large number of articles about our own Gen. Petreus in recent days (who reminds me of Grant), I suddenly have the urge to dip into my Bruce Catton again. Perhaps it’s time to go on another Civil War wallow.

Just to see if I can do YouTubing, here’s Vivaldi’s Trio sonata for two violins and basso continuo (Variations on “La Follia”) Op. 1 No. 12 RV63, performed by Hesperion XXI conducted by Jordi Savall (one of my very favorite musicians):

BTW, not only is Savall a fantastic boon to Renaissance and Baroque performance these days, he is also one seriously lucky dog.  Why? Because he’s married to the soprano Montserrat Figueras:

Mmmm, mmmm.

BTW, if you have never seen Savall’s production of Claudio Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (in which both Figueras and their daughter both play roles), for Heaven’s sake, get thee to Amazon or Netflix this instant and check it out.  If you have a single musickal bone in your body, you’ll absolutely fall in love with it.

Wow, this WordPress thingie is easy to use!

I think I’ve got the basics more or less in place, a good deal faster and with a good deal less fuss than I had expected. Please pardon my dust as I continue to tinker with the blogroll categories and other whistles and bells.

And could somebody do me a favor and drop a comment and/or trackback so that I can see how they look here? Thankee!

– Your Host

Over at Slate, Troy Patterson takes on Brideshead Revisited:

Evelyn Waugh is the greatest comic novelist of the last 100 years, and if you somehow dispute this fact, there is simply nothing to be done for you but a period of house arrest. One or another reputable online bookseller will deliver Waugh’s fiction to the doorway of your awful little warren, and you can begin your re-education at the beginning, with the debut novel Decline and Fall, wherein hero Paul Pennyfeather, cast out of Oxford for the indecent behavior of running around without any pants on, assumes a teaching job (for which he lacks all qualifications) at a school in Wales (a country disparaged in the rude, cruel, achingly hilarious terms that anticipate the author’s shabby treatment of Africa). You will go onward through the dark satire, brilliant viciousness, and unmatchable dialogue of Vile Bodies, Black Mischief, and, especially, A Handful of Dust, with its stunning climactic swerve from light social comedy to perfect desolation. If you haven’t been converted by the opening chapters of Scoop—about a writer, incompetent even as a nature columnist, covering a war for a paper called the Daily Beast—then there is no hope for you, and you should just stay home forever.

But do not, when attempting any course of reading aimed at appreciating Waugh’s wit, give undue attention to Brideshead Revisited, a misfit of a book, much loved, and often loved in the wrong way, as the vomitous stupidity of Miramax’s new film adaptation attests. There’s a comic novel in there, but it is not, as the common expression goes, struggling to get out. It’s lodged there quite contentedly; the book’s acid portraits of dull dons and rich oafs are enmeshed with its affectingly tender peeks at lost youth and also with its eagerly overwrought splendor and its sincerely bogus religiosity. This was the seventh novel Waugh published—the eighth he attempted—a grasp at grandeur written in a mere four months, during a leave from the British army in early 1944. “Waugh wrote Brideshead with great speed, unfamiliar excitement, and a deep conviction of its excellence,” Martin Amis once remarked. “Lasting schlock, the really good bad book, cannot be written otherwise.”

Heh, indeed. Read the whole thing. Patterson winds up his article by rightly (IMHO) praising John Mortimer’s old tee-vee adaptation of Brideshead. (And in case you’re interested, I have no plans whatsoever to see the new movie.)

I must say that I am in some sympathy with Patterson’s way of thinking about the Waugh canon. Indeed, were I forced to choose, I’d much rayther select A Handful of Dust or, especially, the Sword of Honour trilogy as my personal favorites.

But, oh dear, what would Mr. Wu say about being tagged as the producer of “lasting shlock”? Something very rude, I should expect.

Bumpers, Gentlemen, to Arts & Letters Daily.

Born this day in 1871, Parkinson was a prolific writer who touched on some of my favorite themes, most conspicuously the history of the Royal Navy. Although I’ve never tried his fictional naval novels (I have his “biography” of Horatio Hornblower but have never read it), I have read his Britannia Rules and his Short History of the Royal Navy 1776-1815, both excellent texts.

Parkinson also wrote a novel entitled Jeeves: A Gentleman’s Personal Gentleman, which purports to be a biographical sketch of Jeeves not only in his youth, but also in his later years after Bertie has got married and assumed the title of Lord Yaxley. I must say that I was less than impressed with this work. For one thing, Jeeves was never really a character, more a Deus Ex Machina. The humor of the relationship between him and Bertie is in Bertie’s recounting of his own discoveries of and reactions to Jeeves’ offstage machinations. (Indeed, one of Plum Wodehouse’s few outright failures was a short Bertie & Jeeves story he wrote from Jeeves’ point of view.) More importantly, though, Wodehouse had such a light, perfect touch in portraying Jeeves that anybody else having a go at it would resemble a man attacking a souffle with a spade.

The Blovina Bloviator, the Abbot and Taylor Marshall have all beaten me to the punch, but I must say that I am quite pleased with the announcement that the Vatican is moving to clean up the English translation of the Mass:

At the Consecration, the priest will refer to Christ’s blood which is “poured out for you and for many”– an accurate translation of pro multis— rather than “for all” in the current translation.

In the Nicene Creed the opening word, Credo, will be correctly translated as “I believe” rather than “we believe.”

When the priest says, “The Lord be with you,” the faithful respond, “And with your spirit,” rather than simply, “And also with you.”

In the Eucharistic prayer, references to the Church will use the pronouns “she” and “her” rather than “it.”

In the Agnus Dei, the text cites the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world,” rather than using the singular word “sin.”

In the preferred form of the penitential rite, the faithful will acknowledge that they have sinned “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

I am particularly taken by the proper re-translation of pro multis from “for all” to “for many”. In addition to being more literally correct, I think it serves as a warning bell to those who may feel that they don’t need to put any effort into their faith.

Alas, I mentioned this to a friend the other day, a convert like myself. He smacked his hands together and, grinning, started speaking of the Church becoming “leaner and meaner”, tossing out the Cafeteria Catholics, the Lites and the post-Vatican II hippy-dippies. To me, this isn’t the right spirit. Yes, I am all for the move toward Orthodoxy, but it strikes me that this should be accompanied by an effort not to exclude the lukewarm or the wandering, but to try and bring them into the fold as well.

Of course, one can only extend the invitation. And there are always going to be those who won’t accept it. But I don’t believe that there ought to be any glee attached to dealing with such people.

Welcome to “The Port Stands At Your Elbow”!

I do apologize if the place is a bit barren at the moment. The fact of the matter is that I haven’t the remotest notion of how to do virtual decoration and all the other whatnot that goes with running a blog.  Hopefully we should have some people in to do it up right in the very near future.  Then you and I will be able to sit back and hobnob in comfort.

In the mean time, please be patient.


– Your Host

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July 2008