You are currently browsing the daily archive for September 21, 2011.

This looks extremely interesting:

In the fall of 1972, a group of us, philosophy majors all, approached our dean of studies, Father Bob Evers, with a request: Under the supervision of a faculty member, could we build a two-credit senior seminar in our last college semester around Kenneth Clark’s BBC series, “Civilization,” which had been shown on American public television. Father Evers agreed, and we had a ball. “Civilization” was the perfect way to finish a serious undergraduate liberal arts education; it brought together ideas, art, architecture and history in a visually compelling synthesis of the history of western culture that respected Catholicism’s role in shaping the West.

Over the next four decades, I wondered whether someone, somewhere, at some point, would do a “Civilization”-like series on Catholicism itself: a Grand Tour of the Catholic world that explored the Church as a culture through its teaching, its art, its music, its architecture—and above all, through the lives it shaped. That has now happened. The result is the most important media initiative in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States.

The man responsible for this feat is Father Robert Barron, a priest of the archdiocese of Chicago and a faculty member at Mundelein Seminary. Father Barron is an old friend (and a colleague on NBC’s Vatican coverage), but I’ll risk the charge of special pleading by stating unequivocally that Father Barron’s “Catholicism”, a 10-part series premiering on public television stations around the country this fall, is a master work by a master teacher. In 10 episodes that take the viewer around the Catholic world, from Chartres to the slums of Calcutta and dozens of points in-between, Father Barron lays out the Catholic proposal in a visually stunning and engaging series of presentations that invites everyone into the heart of the faith, which is friendship with Jesus Christ.

I shall have to keep my eyes open for it.  Perhaps I can dragoon the family into watching with me?  (As an aside, “Civilization” was one of my first publick broadcasting joys.  I’ve got a rayther poor-quality videoptape set, which I really ought to trade in for the DVDs.  And I really ought to make the gels watch those, too.)

A reduced-calorie helping of odds and ends for this Wednesday:

♦  I love, just love, the leper-like treatment I get at the hands of colleagues when I go to work while in the grip of a cold.  I have noticed over the years that such treatment has become much less tactful and discrete than it used to be.  People seem no longer even to bother pretending any solicitude for one’s health and well-being, but state their own self-interest in the most naked of terms (e.g., “Dude! What the hell are you doing here spreading germs around?”).   So much for civility.  I am considering getting myself a paper bag and bell and stalking up and down the halls chanting, “Unclean! Unclean!”

♦  Saw a bumper sticker this morning that read, “Catholic and Pro-Life.”  Surely that ought to be a redundancy?

♦  Not that I have ever watched “Dancing With The Stars” or any other celeb/reality teevee concoction, but I am here to make a prediction:  “Chaz” Bono, for whom I find myself feeling a surprising amount of pity (what a horribly confused young person), probably will not win.  However, in pushing the story line, the network Powers That Be will make sure that, uh, he? finishes a solid, close second.   This is politics, not entertainment.

♦ Phils fans are furiously spinning the we-already-won-the-division-so-who-cares? line this morning, but any time the Nats can take a double-header off of them at Citizen’s Bank Park, God is in his Heaven and all’s right with the world.  How is it that we can manage to split the season with such a good team but continually get pounded by the lowly Marlins?  Go figure.

♦  Has anyone started a pool on where that satellite is going to hit?

♦  Amazon just sent me a Christmas musick email offer.  I predict that within my lifetime, “Christmas creep” is going to move so far forward on the calendar as to lap itself.

Ye Gods:

For more than 400 years [Guy Fawkes Day] has been celebrated with bonfires and firework displays but last night Southwark Council in south-east London was accused of “ludicrous political correctness” after renaming the celebration The Colour Thief: A Winter Extravaganza Celebrating the Change of the Seasons.

The council announced the event in the autumn edition of its community magazine Southwark Life. It is listed to take place at Dulwich Park, on Nov 4 at 6pm. It is understood that the name was intended to represent the changing of the season’s colours. The council’s description of the night, which will cost £55,000, states: “The Colour Thief is a vibrant, inspiring and sparkling story, an outdoor spectacle to lift the spirits and warm us into winter. Using stunning carnival creations, processions and sparkling pyrotechnics, the show will surround the Dulwich Park audience with light, colour and theatre fit for the season.”

You can think what you like about Tudor and Stuart political history – and I confess that my own views have changed profoundly in recent years – but I should think that even my staunchest Ultramontanist friends would find this to be appalling.

What’s next?

Trafalgar Day becomes Salt Water Plunge: A celebration in blues and greens of the glistening bodily fluids of Mother Earth.

St. George’s Day becomes The Fire and the Tears: A solemn memorial encouraging dragon reparations.

The Queen’s Birthday becomes The People’s Birthday.

Cor lumme, stone the crows.


Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

It’s very foggy this morning, for the first time in quite a while so far as I can recall.

Mornings like this always remind me of the days of deer and duck hunting in my misspent yoot.   Not that it was always foggy on such occasions, of course,  but it was often enough that even now, thirty-odd years later, the jumbled sensations all comes back to me.  I can still feel the grogginess associated with being dragged out of bed at four ack emma, like Frodo at Crickhollow.   I can almost taste the greasy brekkers eaten either at Jim’s (a local rival to Denny’s) when we were deer hunting, or else at a diner built out over the docks when it was duck.  I can smell the blend of coffee, cocoa and cigarettes as the Old Gentleman and I sat out in the blinds.  I can hear the drip off the oaks and junipers and the swish of the marsh reeds.  And my fingers and toes start to ache because I was usually so damned cold.

Actually, it’s a very pleasant sensation because I always enjoyed those excursions, even when we didn’t bag anything.



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September 2011