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Kendall Harman flags a story about the “Catholicism” of Supreme-Designate Sotomayor.

I’ve had about half a dozen people say to me something along the lines of “Well, Robbo, you ought to be happy about her because at least she’s Catholic.”

Well, now.

If I’ve learned anything in the past year and a half or so, Catholicism is not just a label, not just something you are, it’s something you do.  And the first step toward this is acknowledging that yes, you have to do (or try to do*) all that HMC tells you to, not just what you feel like doing.  And from what I’ve read here and elsewhere, Judge Sotomayor, like many other American  “Catholics”,  simply does not accept this.

In the little mission church of Our Lady of the Shenandoah this past weekend, to which I sloped off during Saturday evening cocktail hour at our ‘Palie retreat, we got a very nice Pentacostal homily on the difference between the Catholic Church of Rome and the Catholic Church of America.  When I decided to swim the Tiber, I meant to land on the shore of the former, not the latter.  If I’d wanted to be a Catholic In Name Only, picking and choosing my beliefs and obligations, there would have been no reason not to remain Episcopalian.

So no, as far as the Judge goes, this really isn’t much of a selling point with me.  Indeed, I find it rayther offensive.

(* Key word here is “try”.  I try, but of course I also know perfectly well and regularly admit that I fail.  But I’m coming to the understanding that this is okay, too.  See? I’m learning.)

Don’t hate me for this.

I can get her about half the time.  The trick, so far as I can explain it, is to throw out a screen of spaced pickets in the direction she’s going.  When she starts for one of the gaps, you can close it up and you’ll then be two spots ahead of her as you attempt to circle round.  Aim for the dark greens as you do so in order to stretch your lead on her.

Unfortunately, once you do catch her, nothing happens to her.  Pity.

A glass of wine with Jonah in the Corner.

Wow, who knew he was even still alive?

JD Salinger, author of the acclaimed American novel Catcher In The Rye, has gone to court to try to block the publication of an unauthorised sequel written by a fan calling himself John David California.

The reclusive 90-year-old writer claims that 60 Years Later: Coming Through The Rye infringes his copyright, and is suing for damages from its author and publishers.

The new book is dedicated to Salinger and features Mr C, a character apparently based on Holden Caulfield, the rebellious teenage hero of Salinger’s classic 1951 novel. He is portrayed as a 76-year-old escapee from an old people’s home.

In a touch that could be construed as either admiring or cheeky, the book also includes Salinger himself as a character, and depicts him agonising over whether to continue Caulfield’s story.

I can smell the aroma of “stunt” all the way from here – a blend of rotten eggs and whipped cream.  No, thankee.

But then again, after an initial belief – round about the age of 15 or so – that Catcher was the greatest novel ever written, I eventually dismissed it as so much adolescent angst blather.  Not that there’s anything phoney about adolescent angst, just that it’s all about nothing more than dumb kids being dumb.  And while this may be one of the eternal verities, it’s a mile wide but an inch deep and gets pretty tarsome pretty quickly as a subject of artistic exploration.  (See Graduate, The.)

250px-Fort_MichilimackinacToday is the anniversary of the sneak attack, in 1763, by a party of Ojibwa Indians on Fort Michilimackinac, near what is now Mackinaw, Michigan, one of the initial assaults on the system of British frontier fortifications during what used to be known as the Conspiracy of Pontiac or Pontiac’s Rebellion (now more often called Pontiac’s Revolt).

This particular attack is famous for the manner in which it was carried out: The Indians began a game of lacrosse in the field in front of the fort’s gates.  The unsuspecting garrison, having done so before, came out to watch.  In the midst of the game, the ball was “accidentally” hit into the fort through the open gate.  The Indians rushed in as if to retrieve it, but then suddenly grabbed weapons secretly smuggled in by a number of women and set about the garrison.  Of about 35 soldiers, better than half were killed, some in the fight, some by torture.   Francis Parkman, in recounting the scene, relies heavily on the memoir of an English trader who happened to be in the fort at the time and who was able to hide until after the blood-letting was over, thanks to the sympathies of a local Canadian and a friendly Indian. His account is, to say the least, hair-raising.

Over the weekend, I happened to get into a conversation with some folks from RFEC about vacations.  They asked if I had ever been to Michigan.  “No,” I said, “but I’ve been reading about its colonial history a lot lately and would really like to.”  I then proceeded to give a quick sketch of the original French Jesuit missions, the struggle between French and British influence, and the above-mentioned Rebellion, naming the points I would like to visit.

I could see looks of puzzled horror gradually descending on my audience, but I had had a drink or two and by that time didn’t really give a damn.

Oddly enough, I got exactly the same look from Mrs. R the other day when I mentioned that I had started Defenders of the Frontier: Colonel Henry Bouquet and the Officers and Men of the Royal American Regiment, 1763-1764 by Kenneth Stuart.  I said I was really rayther disappointed with the style so far and suggested that, as we have been mulling the idea of my becoming an author and searching about for an appropriate subject, perhaps it was my calling to write the definitive biography of Bouquet myself.

Yes, my eccentricity, always a part of my character, is definitely getting worse with advancing age.  On the other hand, so is my indifference to public opinion.   I reckon that in another six or seven years – say by the time the gels start dating – I’m going to be downright toxic.

As Basil Fawlty would say, “Just trying to enjoy myself.”


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June 2009