Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One of those weeks

This is shaping up to be One Of Those Weeks. It was already crowded with medical business: Thomas has been on the waiting list a few months for the Children's Hospital to have his wisdom teeth taken out. They're already REALLY crowded, and I think 2 are pointing sideways, so there's no chance they'd be able to emerge. Even though they're not painful or impacted yet (as far as we know - Thomas never complains about pain, so we just have to guess) it's inevitable that they have to come out, and we thought it would be better to do it early, before he turns 18 and has to transfer out of CHEO and over to the dental office at the Civic Hospital.

They called last week with a sudden cancellation, so he's going TOMORROW! We went yesterday to see the anaesthetist, and he's booked for 8:00 AM (we have to show up at 6:30 AM). Then, just as that sank in, CHEO called again with an appointment for JAMES to have oral surgery, too! His appointment isn't until next month, but he has to see the anaesthetist on Thursday for the advance checkup. Boy, try to keep the schedule straight! Thomas will be recuperating, so we'll leave him with Emma during James's appointment.

The other thing that happened was that on Sunday, with no warning at all, our hard drive crashed and fried so badly we couldn't resurrect it. The computer is 6 years old, and the monitor was already giving out - I found that reading print was painfully blurry, and the screen was almost always a dull yellow colour, though it occasionally would switch into a lurid bluish-white, and once or twice even into PINK! I think that's a cathode ray tube on its last legs. I've been pricing new monitors for a few weeks now. We've also lost the Windows XP cd-rom the computer came with, and would have to buy a new program - we faced the fact that with all this against us, it would be cheaper just to buy a new computer. So off I went to Best Buy, and today I'm typing this on a phenomenally clear new screen! Thomas will probably be monopolizing the computer over the next few days, watching his favourite YouTube shows to get him through his recovery; thank goodness the old one didn't collapse while he was feeling sick, because it's a nice distraction for someone who's not feeling great.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Rediscovering an old quote

My Chesterton project has paid off in one particular way that I had been hoping to see: when I first read this volume XXVII of Chesterton's Collected Works (his first ILN articles) I'd come across a quote that I thought was absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately, I didn't write it down at the time or turn down the corner of the page, so I could never find it again. Now I've found it again, and I'm copying it down so I'll never lose it. Anyone who knows Chesterton knows that he was rather a bulky person, which adds to the humour. He starts off quoting a writer of the time, who was complaining that there were too many foreigners in England:
This is what Mr. Sims says about the decay of English trade--
In many parts of London, Manchester, Leeds, Bradford, and other great business centres, the prevalent language in the business quarters is not English. In London itself you may, at the hour the city lunches, enter restaurant after restaurant in the region lying round the Bank of England, and not hear a word of English spoken by the clamouring clientèle.
I cannot say, of course, that I have ever tested this in all its details. I never go into restaurant after restaurant, as I generally find that I can get all that I want in one, even if the resources of the establishment stagger for a moment under the strain.

September 8, 1906

Chesterton on fighting barbarism (torture)

My reading of Chesterton's articles continues, though not as quickly as I'd hoped. I came across one essay a few days ago that did something extraordinary: it changed my mind on a current issue, namely, that of the use of torture in the current war against Muslim terrorism.

Until now, I've been hard-bitten about the tactics that I'd use against the current crop of barbarians, which is why people like me are never put in charge of anything. First of all, I didn't see what was going on in Guantanamo as torture, and I still don't. Upsetting a prisoner is not torturing him; refusing to flatter his delusions that he is part of some master-faith is not torture, either. I've never agreed with transporting the scum of the Afghan war to Cuba, because I (correctly) foresaw that having "adopted" these losers, the U.S. would come to regard them as troublesome pets, and would have them on their hands forever. I think they all should have been shot upon capture.

However, that doesn't affect the general point about torture; we may not be using it NOW, but using lesser methods still basically concedes the point that it's permissable, and opens the door to escalating in the future, and what should we decide about that?

This is what Chesterton wrote in 1906, when the British Empire was dealing with various native uprisings and atrocities, and feelings were high for a similar "eye for an eye" approach to putting them down.
Whatever else is right, it is utterly wrong to employ the argument that we Europeans must do to savages and Asiatics whatever savages and Asiatics do to us. I have even seen some controversialists use the metaphor "We must fight them with their own weapons." Very well; let those controversialists take their metaphor, and take it literally. Let us fight the Soudanese with their own weapons. Their own weapons are large, very clumsy knives, with an occasional old-fashioned gun. Their own weapons are also torture and slavery. If we fight them with torture and slavery, we shall be fighting badly, precisely as if we fought them with clumsy knives and old guns. That is the whole strength of our Christian civilisation, that it does fight with its own weapons and not with other people's....

The elements that make Europe upon the whole the most humanitarian civilisation are precisely the elements that make it upon the whole the strongest. For the power which makes a man able to entertain a good impulse is the same as that which enables him to make a good gun; it is imagination. It is imagination that makes a man outwit his enemy, and it is imagination that makes him spare his enemy. It is precisely because this picturing of the other man's point of view is in the main a thing in which Christians and Europeans specialise that Christians and Europeans, with all their faults, have carried to such perfection both the arts of peace and war.

They alone have invented machine-guns, and they alone have invented ambulances; they have invented ambulances (strange as it may sound) for the same reason for which they have invented machine-guns. Both involve a vivid calculation of remote events. It is precisely because the East, with all its wisdom, is cruel that the East, with all its wisdom, is weak. And it is precisely because savages are pitiless that they are still--merely savages. If they could imagine their enemy's sufferings they could also imagine his tactics. If Zulus did not cut off the Englishman's head they might really borrow it. For if you do not understand a man you cannot crush him. And if you do understand him, very probably you will not.

(August 18, 1906)

This argument persuaded me, in a way that most current arguments against torture do not: because it approaches the question from a practical, as opposed to an emotional direction. I have no use for the strain of candied Catholicism that seems more intent upon demoting its opponents than understanding them. I never read Mark Shea's denunciation of his foes on this subject, because long ago I twigged that he was saying first and foremost, "You're an inferior Christian" to people who were trying to find their way out of a difficult predicament, and one, moreover, that their Muslim enemies have gleefully forced them into. And the similar attempts to shame opponents: "If you use torture, you're just as bad as the terrorists" don't work on me at all, either. I'm NOT as bad as the terrorists, and no amount of scolding will make me agree. Nothing any American G.I. in Afghanistan or Iraq has done can ever be as bad as what the Muslim terrorists did on 9/11, and for me that's the end of the argument. You can go on talking, but I stop listening at that point.

So when a person is impervious to being shamed on this subject, how can they be changed? Chesterton found a way: he says that the problem with using barbaric methods is not that we are Pearl Purehearts, and are making our tribe look bad, but that they don't work. And the minute I thought of that, I saw that he was right. Where does a savage, barbaric tactic like beheading work? In remote little backwaters in Asia, against little girls and unarmed farmers, ambushed alone in fields, far from help. It doesn't succeed against anyone armed with that wonderful Western invention, the gun. It doesn't succeed against people who carry the cheapest, most insignificant cellphone, and can call for help. The mighty warriors of Allah are feared by the lowest of the low, and the poorest of the poor, and nobody else. We would be fools to take the scum of the earth as our tutors.

And then I realized that where the jihadis HAVE been successful against us, is where they've adopted OUR methods - lawsuits and pressure groups. "Outwit the enemy", as Chesterton says, rather than stupidly lunge at him and get shot. Naturally, their only successes have come from using Christian weapons in Christian forums, but that's to be expected from a culture as comprehensively failed as Islam. They succeed when they ape the enemy, but they don't invent anything.

Having gotten this far, then, there's the other half of the equation to deal with.
We won't fight the enemy using his stupid, clumsy methods. Fine. But we must still fight him. It's not enough to say, "We refuse to fight like savages," and then give a holy smile and refuse to answer when asked, "Well, then, what will you do instead?" You can't take away one weapon and not replace it with another, better one. Nobody will listen if you tell them, "A good Christian is happy to die rather than dirty himself with immoral tactics" because people will not quietly resign themselves to death. If no better weapon is available, they'll use the bad one.

If we're to engage in a battle of wits, which we are sure to win against the imitators of Islam, then we'd better get started. Allowing them to tangle up their opponents in the courts, and not energetically engaging them in the same battle is futile. It's more of the averting of eyes and pretending that nothing is really happening that's discredited leaders all over the West. Now that torture is off the list, what is the next step?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Braxton's Lear - Beyond the Valley of the Far Side of the Fringe

Gene Robinson is at Lambeth, wearing both his famous bullet-proof vest AND his Golden Hairshirt. His blog provides a semi-daily recounting of his ongoing martyrdom at the hands of pretty much everyone.

The Mrs. Fidget of the Episcopal Church (remember C.S. Lewis's Mrs. Fidget? She was the viciously passive-aggressive mother who was always holding her family at gunpoint with her "wounded" feelings ("Anything will 'wound' a Mrs. Fidget")) managed to survive a single heckler with nothing worse than a slight buckling of Atlas's knees as the sorrows of the world bore down upon him:
But almost immediately, I found myself profoundly sorry for this young man. After he had been removed, and the hymn ended (the congregation had sung a hymn to drown out his shouting), when I asked the congregation to "pray for that man," I was nearly overwhelmed with sadness. All I could think about was that place in his heart which must be filled with such darkness, a place that was meant to be filled with loved, but because of whatever had happened in his life, whoever he has been associating with, it was filled with hate. Someone had to TEACH him to hate like that. He didn't learn it on his own. For a moment or two, I was nearly overwhelmed by my sense of sadness for him. The tears in my eyes and the crack in my voice were for this child of God who, I suspect, has experienced so much pain and unhappiness in his life.

And then, on with the sermon.

He also had to endure an old lady reading the Bible to him a few days later, but things only REALLY got bad this past weekend.
Yesterday was a painful day. I am feeling frustrated and angry. I dare not write too much, because I don't want to sound like I'm whining, nor do I want to say anthing intemperate. But making my first trip into Canterbury and the campus on which the Conference is occurring was difficult.

The level of fear and anxiety, especially among the Conference powers-that-be, is out the roof. No matter what I say, no matter what assurances I give, I seem to be regarded as a threat, something to be walled off and kept at a distance. Greeting a few American bishops in passing, and then at a dinner for General Seminary alumni last night, has been pleasant and supportive. But even though I thought I was properly prepared for the feeling of being shut out, I am stunned by the depth of that feeling.

I love this image of bishops as pack animals, sniffing each others butts and wagging their tails in recognition when one of their "own" passes by. And yes, Robinson SHOULD be prepared for not only the feeling, but the reality of being "shut out", because it was basically his idea. As this article from 2 years ago reports, Robinson begged and pleaded to be allowed to come to Lambeth with "diminished status", and as an "observer":
In a written statement to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Gene Robinson, Bishop of New Hampshire, has offered to attend the 2008 Lambeth Conference as an ‘observer’ to avoid controversy.

According to the Church of England Newspaper, the bishop revealed that he had entered correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Therefore, any speculation that the practicing homosexual bishop was intending to go to the conference whether invited or not, has been made void.

After the release of the Windsor Report, Bishop Robinson wrote to Dr Williams offering to attend the Lambeth Conference not as a bishop, but as an observer or a non-voting member in a ‘diminished’ capacity.

The Windsor Report had recommended that Dr Williams be prudent with his 2008 guest list "in view of the widespread unacceptability of [Bishop Robinson’s] ministry in other provinces of the Communion," and that he "exercise very considerable caution in inviting or admitting him to the councils of the Communion."

In an interview with the New York Times in October, "Bishop Robinson said he had expected such a recommendation" and had asked if he could attend Lambeth 2008 in a "diminished capacity".

"Bishop Robinson's position has not changed and his offer to the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the conference by invitation in a ‘diminished capacity’ remains on the table".
Of course, that was then, and a moment when TEC was genuinely fearful that NONE of them would be invited. Once Rowan Williams castrated that possibility of discipline, Robinson's humility turned out to be as genuine as Uriah Heep's.

But to continue.
The most infuriating blow came this morning with news that when the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops meets on Tuesday afternoon (each of the 38 "national" provinces of the Communion will have its own gathering), I will not be allowed to participate, because this would look like I had become a "participant," and the organizers seem intent on enforcing my status as a non-invitee. If nothing can be done to change this decision, it will be a particularly painful blow. At our House of Bishops meeting in March, I pleaded with the House not to let Lambeth separate us. For me to be excluded from my own House of Bishops seems especially cruel and unnecessary.

I mean, don't we have diplomatic immunity, or something? Doesn't a meeting of American bishops in England automatically turn the spot we occupy into a piece of American soil, so OUR rules operate, not theirs? I'll bet the African bishops are being all polygamous at THEIR provincial meetings, so we should get to run things our way at ours!
I don't know how all this is going to play out over the next two weeks. At the moment, I am feeling like the ancient Hebrews, wandering in the desert looking for God's daily manna, just to get through.
And they got pretty sick of it after awhile, too, as I recall.
With all the exclusion and meanness that has come my way over the years, you'd think this would come as less of a surprise. But surprise me it did! And it hurts, especially at the hands of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Things only got sadder and hurtier later that day, at the Grass Mass.
Some 20-30 American bishops joined us for the inclusive service. Many of them gathered with me in the parish hall next door, to walk with me over to the eucharist site. They are sharing the pain of all this with me, and their pain is real too. We're all caught in this institutional web of which we are a part. Their being there, their words of comfort and pain, and their walking with me meant so much.
As they walked beside me, my head drooped lower and lower, until my great nose nearly touched the ground. Eventually, I stumbled, and gave a low groan. 'Gene! Dear Gene! Whatever is the matter, dear Gene?' they asked. They buried their hands and faces in my magnificent mane, so I could feel that they were there, and together we walked a little further.
I have decided, on my own, to let it go, sad as it is. This is not a ditch I feel called to die in.
Or a Stone Table. Or a Cross, for that matter. But maybe ditch is best, after all.
What I want all of you to know is that there are some amazing people in our House of Bishops who are working constantly behind the scenes to support me. Their support means the world to me. They are as dismayed, discouraged and frustrated as the rest of us. They need to play THEIR roles INSIDE the Big Top (the large tent where they are meeting -- the circus reference has been duly noted by everyone!), and I need to play MINE, OUTSIDE, as our beloved ++Katharine told me back in March. So that's what we'll do.
After all, a permanent disfunctional squatter encampment perched like a festering ass-boil on the edge of a legitimate state has worked brilliantly well for the Palestinians, so why shouldn't it work for us?

Back at the keyboard

Sorry for the long silence, but to be honest, we've been having a very nice summer so far, with a visit from our very old friend Al (Toral, as he's known on the blogs), and I just haven't had the time or inclination to post. Yes, even though the long-awaited Lambeth Carnival of Fools has begun. I've thought of posts, and even half-written them in my mind, then just abandoned them with a weary, "Oh, why bother?" It's like Dr. Johnson said of Cymbeline, it's too difficult to criticize unresisting imbecility.

However, my laziness couldn't last forever, so I hope to make up some ground this week.

This month has been nice, but still rather wet. I picked over 2 quarts of cherries from the sour cherry tree - enough to make TWO pies! Here's a picture of the first crop:


The currant crop has been good, too, at least for the red and pink ones. The black produced some, but not enough to do anything with. I planted a second black currant bush, in the hope that some cross-pollination next year will boost the yield. The problem with the currants is, I still have a lot of jelly left over from last year, so what to do with this year's production? Frankly, there aren't a lot of recipes for fresh currants, at least not in the usual cookbooks; I don't think they're that popular a fruit in North America. I found a solution: the Germans love fresh currants, and use them a lot in desserts. So I found some small German dessert cookbooks (pamphlets, really), and one of them had a nice recipe for red-currant muffins. I translated the recipe into English, then changed the measurements from metric to Imperial. It just made it easier; Europeans are used to weighing their ingredients, while we tend to measure things by volume. I didn't want to drag my Sica scale up from the basement every time I wanted to make a batch of muffins, so I just worked out that 250g of flour = 1 3/4 cup, or something like that, and so on throughout the recipe. I'll post it when I get a chance to copy it out - it's really quite nice and original.

The other thing that happened was that I just discovered that we have a wasp's nest under the bench seat on the deck at the back. I've been stung twice, and swelled up like a balloon! James got stung the other night, too, and blamed it on the "beehide". Every stinging insect is a "bee" to him, and I never corrected him on this, because frankly, I like the word "beehide" - that IS where the bees hide, after all.

Here is a picture of the sinister Beehide:

It's gotten bigger since I was stung; I finally was able to see it, poking out the bottom of the bench, this morning. James and I went to Canadian Tire early today, to buy some wasp-killer, and their rendez-vous with eternity is this evening, when they're getting sleepy and slow-moving.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Separated at birth?

Mrs. Schori and Carol Burnett:












More proof:










Oh, and look! They even have the same dressmaker!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Injured missionaries

Please pray for John Bergen and his wife Eloise, a missionary couple in Kenya who are in critical condition after being attacked by thieves armed with clubs and machetes. Why thieves would attack elderly missionaries, of all people - you'd think they'd know they don't have anything to steal! It just sounds like wanton brutality. I hope they recover and can come home to safety.

UPDATE: There was a more detailed story about the two missionaries attacked in Kenya. As I had feared (when a followup story reported that Eloise was "severely traumatized" in hospital), they were not only attacked, the husband left for dead, but the wife was gang-raped as well.

Their injuries are truly horrific, and the organization that sponsored them is appealing for funds to help pay their hospital bills. No link was provided in the story, but I'll try to find one. They seem like very nice, decent people, and that they could forgive these beasts is admirable.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Collected Scoldings of Bishop I'm-All-Wright-Jack of Durham

The Bishop of Durham has issued several scolding addresses on the recent GAFCON resolutions. In his first sally, he took the role of Job's Comforter, enthusiastically recounting all the things wrong with GAFCOM, and why it's stupid even to try to make it work.
"The coalition of Gafcon is a very odd combination of hard-line evangelicals, who would never use incense in a communion service, who would never wear Eucharistic vestments, along with Anglo-Catholics from America for whom those things are absolutely de rigeur.

"You've also got people who are totally and passionately opposed to the ordination of women, and others who are not only happy with it, but promoting it. That's not a coalition that's going to last very long, to be honest.

He's not entirely wrong, of course. But part of the problem with GAFCON is that it may have some people like him in it - unimaginative and superficial, thinking that they've got all the deep thinkers on their side. Anyone who supposes that anglo-catholicism is just a matter of props - incense and vestments - is not very well-equipped to deal with the conflicts to come. Of course, Wright doesn't then draw the obvious conclusion, which is 'How are such disparate groups to stay within the Anglican Church?' There, the difficulty of conflicting groups is only aggravated by throwing a few more factions into the mix, and yet the status quo is considered unalterable.
"For me this is particularly frustrating. I spend 90 to 100 hours a week doing the work of the gospel and the kingdom of God in my diocese and around the place.

"And to be told that I now need to be authorised or validated by a group of primates somewhere else who come in and tell me which doctrines I should sign up to is not only ridiculous it's deeply offensive.

"The idea that they have a monopoly on Biblical truth simply won't do and we must stand up to this, it's a kind of bullying. 'We're the true gospel people, therefore you must listen to us'."

This is the "Do You Know Who I Am??" argument, in its first, but far from last, appearance in the Bishop's discourse. He has all the offended dignity of a sophomore being carded at a nightclub, as he contemplates this supposed challenge to his credentials.

After he'd had a chance to think about it a little, he wrote out a more detailed response. This one provided a few more pats on the woolly polls of those who were in Jerusalem, nodding benignly at their enthusiasm and loud hymn-singing. This message wasn't quite as shirty as the BBC interview, but it did go to a lot of trouble setting up strawmen to be knocked down.
What authority will it have, and how will that work? Who is to 'police' the boundaries of this new body - not least to declare which Anglicans are 'upholding orthodox faith and practice' (Article 11 of the 'Jerusalem Declaration'), and who have denied it (Article 13)? Who will be able to decide (as in Article 12) which matters are 'secondary' and which are primary, and by what means? (What, for instance, about Eucharistic vestments and practices? What about women priests and bishops?) Who will elucidate the relationship between the 39 Articles and the Book of Common Prayer, on the one hand, and the 14 Articles of GAFCON on the other, and by what means? It is precisely questions like these, within the larger Anglican world, which have proved so problematic in the last five years, and the 'Declaration' is actually a strange document which doesn't help us address them.
Actually very few of these things have been problematic in the past 5 years. Have any priests been inhibited for wearing poorly-designed vestments recently? How many parishes have been seized in a bitter struggle between the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles? These issues may be all in a whirl in the Bishop's brain, but people who are dealing with bishops who are whoring after the gods of Islam and Hinduism, and are wallowing in the filthiest fashions of the ancient pagan world, have had their minds remarkably concentrated. They really aren't too worried about all the "strange" and "odd" details that so vex the Bishop. Having laid down a few basic rules of membership right at the beginning - only Bible-believing, committed Protestant Christians, if you please, and no weakling Windsorite sellouts allowed - the rest comes together with remarkably little trouble.

By the last message, Wright's patience is clearly at an end. There's a lot of repetition in all these messages, but this one is noted by its frequent use of capital letters, and not just for acronyms. The main point of this one is that there is no place for GAFCON in the enchanted isle of England, because however badly the colonials may have botched things out there, HERE things are just fine.
It is to say, rather, that the GAFCON proposals are not only not needed in England but are positively harmful and indeed offensive. This was more or less what I said on the radio last Thursday, where I distinguished carefully between the American and English situations. AS FAR AS ENGLAND IS CONCERNED, it is damaging, arrogant and irrelevant for GAFCON leaders to say, as they are now doing, ‘choose you this day whom you will serve’, with the implication that there are now only two parties in the church, the orthodox and the liberals, and that to refuse to sign up to GAFCON is to decide for the liberals. Things are just not like that. Certainly not here in England.
This is, once again, the 'Do you know who I am?' argument - Wright seems most offended at the challenge to his own authority, and indignant that someone, somewhere, might have the temerity to evaluate HIS work and find it wanting.

As if in unconscious response to the unspoken question, he pulls out his credentials again. While other Anglicans, many of them his dear friends have been falling under the wheels of the revolution, what has HE been doing? Well, he tells us, he has
been involved
grieved
shared frustration
given a lot of time and energy

And as if that weren't enough, he
has asked himself questions
assured his friends
desired a solution
done a lot of hard work behind the scenes
stood shoulder to shoulder
agreed that the situation in the U.S. is appalling
And yet they aren't satisfied. Some people are just greedy, I guess.

Wright's main point is that GAFCON may be good enough for the nobodies in the colonies, but certainly not for the English. I'm sure I wasn't the first one to see his resemblance to Iraq's Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, AKA 'Comical Ali', Saddam Hussein's hapless propaganda minister. Wright didn't have tanks parading behind his back, but his fulminations were almost as preposterous as they coincided with the conclusion of his own Synod in a frenzy of conservative-crushing as they stampeded to award mitres to women and club down the objectors. Maybe TODAY England isn't as debauched and debased as America, but aren't "leaders" supposed to be looking ahead? Wright seems to think that planning for emergencies is somehow un-English, and they should wait until matters are as desperate as they are in North America, and then, in the classically breezy manner of the English gentleman, improvise a solution. Since all the attempts to save the conservative position at Synod relied on this haphazard method of improvisation, I would say that the system is a little deficient in producing reliable returns.
The response to my radio interview shows exactly what I mean: ‘here is someone questioning GAFCON: well, he has “chosen this day whom he will serve”, and it’s clearly the liberal agenda!’ The proper, technical term for this kind of behaviour is ‘bullying’: ‘we know what’s best, sign here or we’ll declare you to be beyond the pale’.
No, "bullying" is NOT the proper technical term for such a statement. It is a prima facie, a usage commonly used in debate as well as law - since England is the Mother of Parliaments as well as the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion, I'd expect him to be a little more steeled to the buffets of argument.
Or perhaps it’s a protection racket: ‘we will look after you; just keep paying the subscription.’
Racket; let's stick with that word, shall we, Bishop? Since you were the one who introduced it. If there's anything that reminds me of a racket in all this, it's the behaviour of yourself. You have all the shifty touchiness of a fatcat in a long-running racket who's suddenly confronted with some upstart competition who threatens your comfy perks and privileges. To start huffing about mafioso tricks and tactics to people who have had their churches ripped away from them and been marched through the courts by insulated grandees is obscene. I hope you get the meaningless, bankrupted title of Archbishop of Canterbury after the present incompetent has finished ruining it.

Freaking out!

Yesterday was Emma's Big Trip. I can't travel anymore, because it's too difficult for Dean to manage at home by himself with the kids, but it seemed unfair that Emma should never get to go anywhere. We had collected enough points to afford a ticket to Victoria for her, so we arranged for her to go and visit the Aunts for 2 weeks. Should be nice for her to go stay in a house a bit less chaotic than ours for a change!

I got her to the airport by 6:00 AM (7:00 AM departure), got the electronic ticket sorted out and got her a boarding pass, then took her along to the security gate. I watched from outside to see that she got through alright. Naturally, they opened her bag and searched through everything! I put it down to the fact that she looked nervous and tentative, this being her first time flying by herself, and in fact, she hasn't flown since the last time we went to Victoria, which must have been before we even moved to Ottawa, 6 years ago. She was very surprised when I told her later that that was probably why they stopped her; "They said it was just routine!" Yeah, that's what they said. She must have looked really panicky when they wanted to search her bag, and probably asked what was wrong!) However, they passed her eventually, as they'd have to, as I know for a fact she had nothing but books, pictures and a box of All-Bran cereal bars in there, and I waved as she headed off to her gate.

Everything seemed to go smoothly - she phoned me from Vancouver, as she had a 3+ hour overlay there until the Victoria flight. I'd given her a cellphone to take along. She told me the flight was fun, with individual TV to watch! She watched Aladdin in Japanese, then saw some anime program she really enjoyed - I guess they offer Asian programming because lots of people fly to Vancouver and then on to Japan or China. She already started shopping, and bought herself a necklace, and she was phoning me because she was already worried about how much money she'd need for the taxi in Victoria! I told her it would be about $30, so she was fine, but she'd better stop shopping, because it's not good to spend all your money on the first day at the airport, before you've even reached your final destination; she'd probably see much nicer things in Victoria.

A bit after we'd hung up, I thought I'd call the Aunts, just to let them know she'd arrived in Vancouver, and everything was on schedule. No answer. Hmmm. Well, I thought maybe they'd dashed out to the grocery store to get some snacks, so I tried again half an hour later. No answer. Now I'm starting to get worried. I started calling every 10 minutes. I kept checking the online information from Victoria airport, and saw that Emma's flight had arrived. Kept calling - NO ANSWER!!!

Now I'm starting to freak out. Where were they? Had they forgotten today was the day she was arriving? Did they have a medical emergency and have to rush to the hospital? Finally I opted for the most logical explanation: they'd both been murdered, and Emma was about to walk in on a crime scene, maybe with the murderer still there, lying in wait for her.

Dean arrived home, and started phoning himself, every 5 minutes. I finally had to take a tranquillizer to keep me from going berserk. I even called my sister in Vancouver (not that she could DO anything about this) but she'd already left her office.

Finally, at about 4:30 west coast time, I got an answer. It was Auntie May - they'd all just walked in the door. The night before, they'd suddenly decided to take the bus out to the airport to meet Emma as a surprise, and bring her back on the bus! The taxi fare has gone up to over $50 now, and they thought it was a shame to waste so much money. Once you hear the explanation, it's so simple, but I honestly NEVER thought of such a thing. They didn't call to let me know, because they wanted to keep it a surprise! Thank goodness I didn't advise Emma to try to get on one of the earlier flights to Victoria - when I looked at the Vancouver airport departure board, it turns out that 5 flights to Victoria left during the 3 hours she was waiting there. Why they booked her on THAT particular one, I don't know; maybe it was because it was a special cheap fare. If I'd been there, I'd have tried to get on an earlier flight, but if she'd done that, she'd have missed them, they'd have arrived at the airport and she wouldn't have been on the flight, and SHE'D have gone to their house to find them gone! So it all worked out well in the end.

Phewwwww...

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Fantastic news!!!

Unbelievable, but true: a complete cut of Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis' has been discovered in the archives of a museum in Argentina!!!
A long-lost original cut of the 1927 silent film sat for 80 years in a private collection and then in the Museum of Cinema in Buenos Aires, where it was discovered in April with scratched images that hadn't been seen before.

Museum director Paula Felix-Didier said theirs is the only copy of German director Fritz Lang's complete film.

"This is the version Fritz Lang intended," said Martin Koerber, a curator at the Deutsche Kinemathek film museum in Berlin, Germany.
I have the Kino version, which is fully restored, and up until now the most complete version available. It has the original accompanying score by Gottfried Huppertz. The film restorers had the complete written score, so they could tell by following the score how many missing scenes there were, and how much film had been lost.
In June, Felix-Didier flew with a DVD to the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Wiesbaden, Germany, which owns the rights to "Metropolis." Researchers there confirmed that the scenes were original.

You can read the rest of the story here.

The Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung also does the restoration work for these German silent films. I suppose they are going to do a matching restoration of the newly-discovered scenes, and then release the whole thing, presumably with the complete Huppertz score. Who knows? Maybe there will be grand live "premieres" to mark the occasion, with the film being shown on the big screen with a live orchestra!

After all the rotten news of this week, this makes me very happy. And to celebrate, here is my favourite moment from 'Metropolis'. This is Huppertz's score, and I think the best musical passage in the movie: the Moloch Machine.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Canada never fails to deteriorate

Meanwhile, our national degradation continues: Henry Morgentaler, Canada's most famous abortionist, has been awarded the Order of Canada. Mark my words, and remember that I predicted that eventually they'll try to give it to euthanizer Robert Latimer.

But we are not yet entirely without honour. A Catholic priest in B.C., Father Lucien Larre, is returning the Order of Canada he received for his good work among emotionally disturbed and addicted teens. He'd rather not have it than stand in such debased company, a sentiment that is too rarely seen today, especially among Nobel Prize winners.
There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and it is known to many in our land by the name of pitch. This pitch, as ancient writers do report, doth defile; so doth the company thou keepest.

Henry IV, Part 1, Act 2, Scene 4

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

GAFCON

I've been slow to write anything on this for a few reasons - mostly, I've been largely ousted from the computer, so I've been using the time I DO get to read the news and comments of other people on the events in Jerusalem. But it's also partly because I feel that now that the revolution is underway, and it's taking such a decidedly Protestant direction, I really have nothing very pertinent to say.

I read the Jerusalem Declaration, but not 'The Way, The Truth and the Life', and see at once that that the Anglo-Catholics of the Episcopal and Anglican churches have no place in this new order. Dean said, "Well, the evangelicals need a place to flee to, too," and that pretty much sums up what has happened. It's good for them, but protestantism was never of any interest to me, so I find myself taking less and less interest in the future shape of their movement. I'm sure it will be very nice, and it's going to be a lot better than what they've had to put up with in the last few years, but it's not my thing. To me, all Protestants are pretty much the same.

What will become of the Anglo-Catholics is not clear. At the moment, the exhilaration of the Jerusalem meeting is carrying people along, and there are many assurances that there will be no problem at all remaining an Anglo-Catholic in a "39 Articles" church, but I can't see that lasting. The best discussion of the way the ACs have fallen between the stools is by the poster LP on MCJ. As he says, they should gracefully leave for one of the Continuing churches or go to Rome, but of course it won't be that easy - it never is. There are going to be reproaches that THEY suffered along with the evangelicals during the dark days, and now that the latter have found their way to safety, the poor A-Cs are shut out in the wilderness yet again. It's too bad, but it's a fact - they're a minority in this new GAFCON organization, the way they were a minority in TEC. If they can resign themselves to forever being an alien element in a protestant organization (if the majority will tolerate them), then they'll have to get used to perpetual doublethinking - "Yes, we SAY we believe and follow all the 39 Articles, but what we really MEAN is..." Much the same way the revisionists tapdance around the difficult parts of the Creed.

Whether the GAFCON group was wise to remain unsevered from Canterbury and the rest of the Anglican Communion is something they'll have to answer, and no doubt time will tell. Myself, I think it would have been better to leave outright, but then I have a rather peppery nature, and I like things to be cleanly categorized and separated. In the course of my Chesterton readings this month, I came across this:
Most Englishmen say that these anomalies do not matter; they are not ashamed of being illogical; they are proud of being illogical. Lord Macaulay (a very typical Englishman, romantic, prejudiced, poetical), Lord Macaulay said that he would not lift his hand to get rid of an anomaly that was not also a grievance. Many other sturdy romantic Englishmen say the same. They boast of our anomalies; they boast of our illogicality; they say it shows what a practical people we are. They are utterly wrong. Lord Macaulay was in this matter, as in a few others, utterly wrong. Anomalies do matter very much, and do a great deal of harm; abstract illogicalities do matter a great deal, and do a great deal of harm. And this for a reason that anyone at all acquainted with human nature can see for himself. All injustice begins in the mind. And anomalies accustom the mind to the idea of unreason and untruth...When people have got used to unreason they can no longer be startled at injustice. When people have grown familiar with an anomaly, they are prepared to that extent for a grievance; they may think the grievance grievous, but they can no longer think it strange.

Or, as Dr. Johnson put it, so much more succinctly, 'My dear Sir, never accustom your mind to mingle virtue and vice. The woman's a whore, and there's an end on't.' Like the mingling of vice and virtue, this mingling of Christian and non-Christian does no one any great credit. But I can't help regarding everything from a Catholic standpoint, and I suppose that does make all the difference. When one doesn't regard "communion" as a real, organic thing, a Godly thing done with God by our bodies and to our bodies, and connecting us as tightly as a finger is connected to a hand, then it can dissipate into a sort of positive-thinking sentiment that is bestowed upon those who are "with" us. But then, it makes no more sense to me to talk about the Anglican Communion of those "communers" than it does to talk about a Protestant Communion of everyone who believes Jesus is Lord. If that's what you see as a Communion, then sure, you can bestow it here and remove it there, because it seems to me mostly a matter of sentiment. A Catholic could never consider that a real communion, though.

Anyway, there will doubtless still be things to watch - the responses from the "excommunicated" are already rolling in, including the typically crude remarks of the Madwoman of Second Avenue. If I can find time to read them all, there may even be a few Braxton's Lears appearing in the coming weeks.