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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Буців II

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Arthur's Seat's Clerihew Competition

Very good, very good.

Speaker "Gorbals Mick" Martin
Declines to wear tartan
Saying "I'm really not built
To preside in a kilt".

First Minister Jack McConnell
Long after he's gone'll
Be chiefly remembered
For being rather bad-tempered

Brezhnev, when he'd all his powers
Told his chums "the future's ours!"
Not having reckoned
On John Paul the Second.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Some more weekend break snaps. The church is owned by the state; Eastern-rite state-owned churches are supposed to be shared by the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics. The Orthodox have the keys to this one, and I gather that until a few years ago the GC's prayed at the shrine in the church yard. Then a still-unidentified agent let the Catholics in, who prayed, and celebrated the Divine Liturgy, and prayed, and so on. Eventually there was a punch-up, and now they share the church more or less peacefully.

More to come later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Of dubious accuracy, but nice

He [Pope St Telesphorus] ordanit men for to fast ay
Sewyn woukkis haill befor Pasche day,
And Gloria in excelsis he
Ordanit at the messe to be
Said, and on Yoil day
He bad thre messis be said ay:
At the kokcrawe the fyrst mess,
for Crist in that time borne was;
The tother syne ordanyt he
In to the dawynge to songyn be,
For that tyme Criste in clathis cleyn
Wes sueylit and withe hirdis seyn,
And anowrnyt dewotly,
As Luk beris witnes werraly;
Syne the thrids messs of that day
Efter tersse he ordanyt ay
To be said, qwhen that the licht
Off our redempcion shynyt brycht.

Ibid. p.309, though this time from the Cottonian MS recension.

wolkis - weeks
sweyllit - swaddled
hirdis - shepherds

Lectores dilecti lectricesque dilectae, I expect I'll be away from laodicea until after Christmas now, so I hope you all have a happy last few days of Advent and all the days of Christmas - which seems worth saying, since amazingly the stat counter suggests that there are some of you out there whom we don't know personally and who nevertheless read this. Gosh. (And if any of you feels inclined to pray for the laodiceans, might I ask particularly for help with treating my family half-decently. Gratias ago!)

The Two Swords

Not original in sentiment - but it sounds better in Scots, don't you think?

Sa now my purposs and my will,
Gif God wald grant me grace tharetill,
It is my entent for till schaw,
And clerely als to gere yow knaw
All the causs materiall
Off the doubill gouernall,
That is to say of spiritualite,
And the tother of temporalite;
The temporall is the less, but let.
Thir ar the twa gret lichtis set
In myddis of the firmament,
That vsit ar to represent
And to minister thare seruice
Tyme be tyme and thare office.
Off thir twa lichtis that I of say
The gretare lycht is for the day,
And for the nycht the less alsua
God mais, to man seruice to ma;
And thir twa staittis gret alsua
Signifyis the suerdis twa
Quhareof a speciall mencioun
Is said in Cristis passioun:
'Lord, lo! now twa suerdis heire.'
'Ynew are thai,' wes his ansuere.
In to the Pape is the honour,
The stait, the worschip and the cure,
And the gretest gouernall;
And of the less stait alhaill
The souerane is the Emperour,
Be worschip, titill and honour.
Off papis and emperouris how it fell
It is my purpose now to tell.

from The Original Chronicle of Andrew of Wyntoun, ed. FJ Amours (Scottish Text Society, 1904), vol iii pp.208-10. This bit's probably translated from the chronicle of, um, I think Martin of Troppau, but I'm not checking the notes volume right now.

gere - cause
but let - without hindrance/ hesitation (the phrase is a bit of a filler when Wyntoun needs a rhyme)
ma - make
ynew - enough

This is what you get when you impose celibacy on normal healthy adults

From Mark Shea. If only teachers were allowed to marry none of this would happen!



A feminist complaint - and suggestion

Africa is not in the best of ways with AIDS rampant, 600 000 African mums a year needlessly dying from lack of basic care in childbirth: many far too young and malnurished for it to be acceptible that men should have at all touched them... Many birth complications and a lot of horrendous suffering is caused by horrible practices (circumcision, IUDs, child marriages etc.) just aimed at maximalising the deviant sexual gratification of men, men, men... or caricatures thereof. And if the problems weren't great enough, the smug West is proposing... just more fuel for the fire of fornication: stupid plane-fulls of condoms making it even more acceptable to let all loose on the poor women and falsely lulling that self-preservation instinct that may still be there holding men back from killing themselves through nights with Venus.

Perhaps it would do to address some real needs and not just 'support' those passionate-all-embracing-irresistible-uncontrollable(!)-blood-hot appetites of societies who need to be mustering all the energies they can to get out of their poverty rather than squandering it from orgy to orgy.

If we have any respect for the humanity of Africans, we need to let mothers be mothers, men be men, fathers be fathers - that's where our support is needed. Training Birth Attendants, teaching NFP, setting up birth trauma centers...not dishing out dubious contraceptives. (No pity for the dying orgy fire - it's doomed, anyway.)

Some are trying to do some good, though: see: www.matercare.org.
Any supporters / donors / development aid funders / volunteers out there?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Very Rude Seasonal Flash Game

Some of yous might remember this from a couple of years back. If you don't, well, dinnae say ah didnae warn yis.
(Glaswegian Hit the Window Snowball Game)

Irony is aimed at an "in" group

I in fact reposted the rant below from one I put in a translators' discussion group thing. This morning I found two posts there expressing their "suprise -to put it mildly" at my views. A hasty reply has just been posted to clarify that that the piss was being taken. Several lessons to be taken from this. One is in the title of the post. Funny that they didn't suspect that I was taking the mickey. I mean, I would usually ask before I decided that someone really did hold the lunatic views they appeared to be expressing. Looks as though my rant, if taken as being "straight", does not in fact express opinions unacceptably far from the mainstream.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pope AIDS Africa etc. A Rant.

When the late great JPII died, the usual suspects (ah Mzzzzz Toynbee, how sadly predictable you can be) seized the occasion to remind their readers that this man could probably be held personally responsible for millions of deaths from HIV, because of his crazed fundamentalist refusal to let African Catholics use condoms.

I am still puzzled by this curious attitude of African Catholics. They, so I am told by the Pope-bashers, happily fornicate and commit adultery, but would sooner be burnt at the stake than put a rubber sock on their willy.

(Though as a male European Catholic friend pointed out, "how gross is that". Perhaps, if Mz Toynbee's view of the uncontrollable urges of the poor blacks is correct, their simultaneous reluctance to use the condom can be attributed to aesthetics, or squeamishness, rather than respect for the Holy Father and my idea of writing a doctorate on this very odd form of religious psychology can be binned.)

Let us suppose we are deeply concerned about preventing the spread of HIV among these poor benighted souls. We hand out condoms and conduct educational campaigns so that people are not only willing but able to use them Now, according to the (pro-artificial contraception, pro-abortion) Alan Guttmacher Institute, of every hundred women using condoms to prevent pregnancy, 15 will nonetheless conceive within a year. Bear in mind that a woman is fertile for usually much less than a quarter of her menstrual cycle. How many more could catch HIV? And their partners, if the women are infected?

Do by all means jump off that cliff! You only have 1 chance in 10 of getting killed if you let me put this mattress at the bottom first!

Note that this same AGI's FAQ then go on to the affordability of condoms. Now I don't even look at the things in shops, so I have no idea how much they cost. But with all the cynical comments about oil-motives for going to war in Iraq, why aren't there more about people making money from condom contracts with the IPPF or pills for disrupting women's hormonal cycles (women who probably then spend more money on yoga and tai chi to restore their physical and psycho-somal balance) and the gender identity of British fish?

Limited supplies and high costs. In some cases, contraceptives may simply be unavailable or too expensive for individuals. The cost can be substantial: The retail price of an annual supply of contraceptive pills exceeds $100 in some developing countries, as does the retail price of an annual supply of condoms. Contraceptive costs that reach 5 percent of average household income are common, and costs reach 20 percent of income in some Sub-Saharan countries. Family planning programs can make contraceptives more widely available and also reduce their cost for consumers by subsidizing prices.[source]

If you don't want to catch HIV, marry someone you can trust and don't make love to anyone else. 100% guaranteed, bar dodgy blood transplants.

If you don't want to get pregnant for reasons of grinding poverty or family crisis or such-like, then you can save money, keep an informed eye on your reproductive health, have lots of jolly sex and not get pregnant all at the same time. For you contracepting types who don't know - the calendar method (as disingenuously cited for NFP by the above-linked-to AGI) is history, along with the re-usable condom and crocodile-dung pessaries. I know nothing about the sympto-thermal method except that you have to mess around with thermometers in the morning - whatever floats your boat, I seem to remember the stats for it were pretty good.

The Bilings method, on the other hand, has been adopted by the bloody Chinese government, for goodness sake! You will also note that the good people of Burkina Faso, recently, if not still, the world's poorest country, seemed to cope pretty well with the complexity of working out how sticky some mucus was and counting some days around it. Rather better than the Australians, in fact.

Now someone will write a comment about the culture problem where men have the say and women can't say no, about adulterous husbands, blah di blah di blah. If we haven't scared off everyone except the Ostentatiously Pious and/or Cheerfully Triumphalist Catholics. I assume no-one here will be so patronising as to write what one wifie wrote in the Observer wrote some years ago, that you can't expect poor migrant workers, away from home for months on end, not to go to prostitutes. Does she have the same high opinion of her husband, I wondered.

Oh, and here's another simplified method. Scroll down to where there is a II between the paragraphs.

Someone tell me what crucial point I have missed.

Friday, December 16, 2005

More on the Narnia film

A well-balanced review wherein a Mr Overstreet (what a Tolkienian name!) says the same things as me(to phrase it in the most self-centred way possible...) and is rather more generous about the good bits. Via Amy Welborn.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


How utterly stupid. I have neither time not energy to comment further; fill in the gaps yourself.

Let us hope that the colleges are able to prevent this foolish development.

Hat-tip (um, mantilla-tug?) to Cacciaguida.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Even more on Limbo!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Ukrainian Village Holiday

Just back last night from a lovely weekend with a former room-mate, now living just on the other side of the Ukrainian-Polish border. A couple of snaps for starters: you can see by the vegetation that some of them were taken from my hosts' collection. A field, a field with children on church summer camp, and one of the three churches which my friend's husband serves as parish priest.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Condemnation of Fr Leonard Feeney

Pius XII – Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston, August 8, 1949

Given on August 8, 1949 explaining the true sense of the Catholic doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Church.

This important Letter of the Holy Office is introduced by a letter of the Most Reverend Archbishop of Boston.

The Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has examined again the problem of Father Leonard Feeney and St. Benedict Center. Having studied carefully the publications issued by the Center, and having considered all the circumstances of this case, the Sacred Congregation has ordered me to publish, in its entirety, the letter which the same Congregation sent me on the 8th of August, 1949. The Supreme Pontiff, His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, has given full approval to this decision. In due obedience, therefore, we publish, in its entirety, the Latin text of the letter as received from the Holy Office with an English translation of the same approved by the Holy See.

Given at Boston, Mass., the 4th day of September, 1952.

Walter J. Furlong, Chancellor

Richard J. Cushing, Archbishop of Boston.


From the Headquarters of the Holy Office, Aug. 8, 1949.

Your Excellency:

This Supreme Sacred Congregation has followed very attentively the rise and the course of the grave controversy stirred up by certain associates of “St. Benedict Center” and “Boston College” in regard to the interpretation of that axiom: “Outside the Church there is no salvation.”

After having examined all the documents that are necessary or useful in this matter, among them information from your Chancery, as well as appeals and reports in which the associates of “St. Benedict Center” explain their opinions and complaints, and also many other documents pertinent to the controversy, officially collected, the same Sacred Congregation is convinced that the unfortunate controversy arose from the fact that the axiom, “outside the Church there is no salvation,” was not correctly understood and weighed, and that the same controversy was rendered more bitter by serious disturbance of discipline arising from the fact that some of the associates of the institutions mentioned above refused reverence and obedience to legitimate authorities.

Accordingly, the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Cardinals of this Supreme Congregation, in a plenary session held on Wednesday, July 27, 1949, decreed, and the august Pontiff in an audience on the following Thursday, July 28, 1949, deigned to give his approval, that the following explanations pertinent to the doctrine, and also that invitations and exhortations relevant to discipline be given:

We are bound by divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things which are contained in the word of God, whether it be Scripture or Tradition, and are proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordinary and universal teaching office (, n. 1792).

Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.

However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.

Now, in the first place, the Church teaches that in this matter there is question of a most strict command of Jesus Christ. For He explicitly enjoined on His apostles to teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever He Himself had commanded (Matt. 28: 19-20).

Now, among the commandments of Christ, that one holds not the least place by which we are commanded to be incorporated by baptism into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, and to remain united to Christ and to His Vicar, through whom He Himself in a visible manner governs the Church on earth.

Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but He also decreed the Church to be a means of salvation without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory.

In His infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for one to be saved, of those helps to salvation which are directed toward man’s final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when those helps are used only in desire and longing. This we see clearly stated in the Sacred Council of Trent, both in reference to the sacrament of regeneration and in reference to the sacrament of penance (, nn. 797, 807).

The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church, in as far as she is the general help to salvation. Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.

These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, (AAS, Vol. 35, an. 1943, p. 193 ff.). For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and those who are united to the Church only by desire.

Discussing the members of which the Mystical Body is-composed here on earth, the same august Pontiff says: “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.”

Toward the end of this same encyclical letter, when most affectionately inviting to unity those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church, he mentions those who “are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire,” and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but on the other hand states that they are in a condition “in which they cannot be sure of their salvation” since “they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church” (AAS, 1. c., p. 243). With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion (cf. Pope Pius IX, Allocution, , in , n. 1641 ff.; also Pope Pius IX in the encyclical letter, , in , n. 1677).

But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: “For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): “Faith is the beginning of man’s salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children” (, n. 801).

From what has been said it is evident that those things which are proposed in the periodical From the Housetops, fascicle 3, as the genuine teaching of the Catholic Church are far from being such and are very harmful both to those within the Church and those without.

From these declarations which pertain to doctrine, certain conclusions follow which regard discipline and conduct, and which cannot be unknown to those who vigorously defend the necessity by which all are bound’ of belonging to the true Church and of submitting to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and of the Bishops “whom the Holy Ghost has placed . . . to rule the Church” (Acts 20:28).

Hence, one cannot understand how the St. Benedict Center can consistently claim to be a Catholic school and wish to be accounted such, and yet not conform to the prescriptions of canons 1381 and 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, and continue to exist as a source of discord and rebellion against ecclesiastical authority and as a source of the disturbance of many consciences.

Furthermore, it is beyond understanding how a member of a religious Institute, namely Father Feeney, presents himself as a “Defender of the Faith,” and at the same time does not hesitate to attack the catechetical instruction proposed by lawful authorities, and has not even feared to incur grave sanctions threatened by the sacred canons because of his serious violations of his duties as a religious, a priest, and an ordinary member of the Church.

Finally, it is in no wise to be tolerated that certain Catholics shall claim for themselves the right to publish a periodical, for the purpose of spreading theological doctrines, without the permission of competent Church authority, called the ““ which is prescribed by the sacred canons.

Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranged against the Church seriously bear in mind that after “Rome has spoken” they cannot be excused even by reasons of good faith. Certainly, their bond and duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of those who as yet are related to the Church “only by an unconscious desire.” Let them realize that they are children of the Church, lovingly nourished by her with the milk of doctrine and the sacraments, and hence, having heard the clear voice of their Mother, they cannot be excused from culpable ignorance, and therefore to them apply without any restriction that principle: submission to the Catholic Church and to the Sovereign Pontiff is required as necessary for salvation.

In sending this letter, I declare my profound esteem, and remain,

Your Excellency’s most devoted,

F. Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani.

A. Ottaviani, Assessor.

(Private); Holy Office, 8 Aug., 1949.

Decree of the Ecumenical Council of Forence

The holy Roman church, founded on the words of our Lord and Saviour... firmly believes, professes and teaches that the legal prescriptions of the old Testament or the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, holy sacrifices and sacraments, because they were instituted to signify something in the future, although they were adequate for the divine cult of that age, once our lord Jesus Christ who was signified by them had come, came to an end and the sacraments of the new Testament had their beginning. Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. It does not deny that from Christ's passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation. Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors. Therefore it strictly orders all who glory in the name of Christian, not to practise circumcision either before or after baptism, since whether or not they place their hope in it, it cannot possibly be observed without loss of eternal salvation.

Over-long ramble about the Narnia fillum

Initial disclaimer: I do not know if this is a good film or not. Having read the book many times, and listened many more times to a very good BBC dramatisation (the script, as far as I recall, simply is the dialogue from the book - I think it's this, though I have it on some rather old cassettes), all I can assess is whether or not the film is a good representation of the book. Unfortunately, it is not. While the story is perfectly intact, the conversations are often considerably altered, the characters are drawn a little differently, and there is a good deal more action and comedy added in. These may seem like foolish complaints about a film, as one might expect precisely these sorts of changes to accompany a change in medium, but nonetheless: if you love the book, you will probably feel short-changed by the film. There are many good things. The Pevensie children are very well cast and well acted, Tilda Swinton is a splendid White Witch, and for the most part the design is very appropriate. However, the changes made are ones which, it seems to me, strike at the heart of the book.

Some of the most significant conversations are all but dropped. The Professor is made to be a funny old chap, not the disconcertingly clear-sighted man of the book. His 'mad, bad or good' conversation with Susan and Peter about Lucy and her claims is trimmed beyond recognition, and serves to make the Professor seem eccentric rather than penetrating. The greatest loss, I think, is in the Beavers' house, which scene is considerably shortened. No hint is given of the mysterious chord struck in the hearts of the children at the mention of Aslan's name. The splendid discussion of whether Aslan is 'safe' has quite gone.

"Is -- is he a man?" asked Lucy.
"Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion -- the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh," said Susan, "I thought he was a man. Is he -- quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and make no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver, "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

The explanation of the Witch's ancestry is also absent. This is in some respects a fair enough cut. Audiences now may just be confused by reference to the tradition about Lilith, and it highlights Lewis's use of a mixter-maxter of myths which, as is often remarked, is perhaps the weakest element of Narnia. (I think it worth noting, however, that it is an element at its most evident in this book - it affects the others very little, if I remember rightly.) However, what is lost along with this is one of Mr Beaver's best lines:
'But in general, take my advice, when you meet anything that is going to be
Human and isn't yet, or used to be Human once and isn't now, or ought to be
Human and isn't, you keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet.'

(Google found rather a good take on that line here. Haven't had time to scout around and see if the site's generally good.)

And finally (since a litany of omissions will no doubt bore you all), Father Christmas's words as he hands out the presents have been reworked. In the book (should you need reminding) the gifts are given to Peter then Susan then Lucy. Susan is told that the bow and arrows are not intended for use in the imminent battle. Lucy is given her dagger, with the hope that she will not need it; when she says that she 'thinks she could be brave enough', Father Christmas replies that 'battles are ugly things when women fight.' I suppose that this was cut out of regard for women who serve in the armed forces, but the change was not handled very well. In the film, Lucy is given her gifts first, and Father Christmas's remark changed to something like, 'the thick of battle is ugly indeed'. When Susan is given her bow and arrows, she asks, 'What happened to the ugliness of battle?' (or something like that; I don't remember exactly), to which Father Christmas offers no reply beyond a bit of a laugh. Then Peter is given his gifts, with the book's exhortation that they are 'tools, not toys.' All of which is rather unsatisfactory: why is Lucy meant to consider battle ugly, when Susan and Peter are allowed to wield weapons?

Any one of these cuts, had it been handled well, might have been reasonable; but taken together, you can no doubt see that the film is becoming rather intellectually rather anaemic. All but lost is the notion of someone's being Good without being cuddly (it is introduced at the end, briefly, from Mr Tumnus's mouth, but without the same impact). The suggestive hint about the significance of true human nature is gone, and with it any hope of explaining why humans should rule in Narnia. (The book doesn't really explain, but one at any rate gets the sense that there is an explanation, and that it has something to do with the nature of humanity.) That line from Father Christmas really implied a good deal about both the possibility and the limitations of just war. But no, the film just offers a confused glance towards pacifism before going full steam ahead with the fighting (which it treats, it must be said, very well).

The greatest and saddest loss is that of any mention of the Emperor across the Sea. He simply doesn't come into it. Neither, then, do we get that bit where - after the Witch has announced her claim upon Edmund's blood, and Aslan has confirmed her right to traitors - Lucy wonders if one could work something against the Deep Magic:
'"Work against the Emperor's Magic?" said Aslan, turning to her with something like a frown on his face. And nobody ever made that suggestion to him again.'
What is added is a different sort of suggestion that Aslan is somehow subject to this magic. In the film he says to Peter something like, '... the Magic which orders all of us who rule in Narnia...' - sorry, I don't remember the exact words, but it was something which sounded as if Aslan and Peter related to the Deep Magic in the same way; without the knowledge that Aslan is the Emperor's Son, this belittles Aslan, it seems to me. With the loss of the Emperor's presence, the Magic also becomes impersonal and seems perhaps even arbitrary.

(I might also add that the Stone Table didn't seem to me to be stark enough, nor its cracking sudden and terrible enough... but this is in part an unfair criticism of the film for not conforming precisely to my imagination.)

All in all, then, a great deal has been lost which makes the Narnia books so profoundly charming. The great simplicity of the characters and story is rather blurred by the addition of extra scenes. Difficult and disconcerting ideas encountered by the children are obscured or lost. It may well be a smashing film for kids - I'm not capable of watching it as such - but it is not a good translation of Lewis's book.

Friday, December 09, 2005

More on Limbo

In the Divine Comedy Sladin is in Limbo. This appears to suggest that Dante held you could receive the forgiveness of sins without sanctifying grace if you were some sort of 'righteous' pagan. Does anyone know of anyone else who held to this view? C.S.Lewis also seems to think adults can go to Limbo (in 'Screwtape Proposes a Toast') but in this case it is because they are too feckless for full moral responsibility. Both these positions seem difficult to reconcile with Catholic Doctrine though the latter more so. If the Dante positon could be reconciled with Catholic doctrine it would provide an easy solution for various 'extra ecclesia' arguments. Too easy perhaps. Dante himself is hardly a saintly figure nor is he entirely orthodox. Lewis seems to push a version of the anonymous Christians theory in 'The Last Battle'. Incidently, what do people think of the Narnia film? I thought it clunked rather; but more because it exposed the flaws in the book than because of any flaw in the film.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Erm, more importantly

Benedicta es tu, Virgo Maria, a Domino Deo excelso, prae omnibus mulieribus super terram. Tu gloria Jerusalem, tu laetitia Israel, tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Alleluia, alleluia. Tota pulchra es, Maria: et macula originalis non est in te. Alleluia.
Deus, qui per Immaculatam Virginis Conceptionem dignum Filio tuo habitaculum praeparasti: quaesumus; ut, qui ex morte eiusdem Filii tui praevisa, eam ab omni labe preservasti, nos quoque mundos eius intercessione ad te pervenire concedas. Per eundem Dominum...

You can get DARK CHOCOLATE Caramel Wafers?

Why has no one ever told me this? And why aren't they on the shelves of the local Co-op?

Sadly even two (milk chocolate) caramel wafers in a row hasn't helped with the beastly renaissance Latin of James Foulis of Edinburgh, who diverted himself when plague forced him away from his canon law studies in Paris by ... writing a poem about the plague in Scotland twelve years earlier. Yes, that really strikes me as a 'jocundo... exercitio.' All that stuff about no one getting proper funerals and 'someone's lucky if he even gets buried' (OK, is felix quem modo terra capit sounds better) is really cheering. Anyway, the beastly thing is far beyond me, being in hexameters (I think) and with all fancy word order and references to pagan myths and siclike... What's wrong with your nice rhyming hymns, then? Or good workaday chroniclers' stuff?!

All right, I know, I'm just a tenth-century-schoolboy Latinist. Pathetic.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Laughing at Polly Toynbee

It's probably not nice to do so, but she does go through the irritating/frustrating/sad barrier and out onto some new level of dipstickity. Where is that Guardian cartoon? Oh yes, here. Now, that is what Mzzzz Toynbee cannot do to me. Bless her cotton socks.
The quote the Curt Jester chose:
Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to?
Ooooh, frustration and rage. Do you think she drums her heels on the floor?

Blogging Cleopatra

Exercising my right to do whatever I like with this blog because I started it, I have without consultation obtained the services of a new team member. Cleopatra is another British Pole/Polish Brit living in Warsaw: she was previously based for some time in Aberdeenshire. Moreover, in the spirit of tolerance and ecuminicisicism and multi-culturalism that makes Blair's Britain the paradise regained that it is, Cleopatra has been invited to join us even though she is a Tab.
Cleopatra and I spent a wet afternoon yesterday getting wet, and then spreading numerous unchic (and wet) bags, a (wet) baby buggy, a (damp) almost-toddler, (wet) coats and (wet) selves across the mirrors-and-marble lobby of the Sejm hotel, much to the disgust of the teenage doorkeeper in his uniform with loops of gold string. We seem to do this sort of thing a lot. Now I was a tad tired after half a day of rushing around the rain with a buggy between two of us, so my new woolly Parisian hat off to Cleopatra who does all sorts of lobbying and whatnot without a car and with three small children. And a job. While living in the Warsaw equivalent of, say, Haddington.
Without further ado, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, I give you (drum roll)




[ . . . now you have to write something, dear.]

General Apostasy

Click on the title for an article about the abandonment of belief in Hell among the Scottish clergy. This shift is hardly surprising. It stems first of all from the abandonment of the consensus of the Fathers and the Doctors that most people go to Hell. This truth, rather bluntly asserted by Our Lord, requires us to ask some hard questions about the nature of subjective redemption. Freed of this obligation it becomes very easy to forget the infinite weight of sin and the gratuity of beatitude and start handing out glory on God's behalf. It will be a terrible shame for everyone when these theological cheques bounce on the last day. This stuff about the 'abolition of limbo' is beginning to become irritating. We need a modern Augustine to knock a few heads together. Without limbo the Church becomes an engine of damnation stripping people of the invincible ignorance without which most people would have enjoyed a moral certainty of salvation. Or, at the very least, it means that the best way of saving the human race is to kill them all as infants until the number of the elect is made up. It is true that the doctrine of limbo is a theological opinion, but the only alternative is to suppose that unbaptised infants would suffer positive torment because the fact that you can be damned for original sin alone is defined by Florence "the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains." Equally, the 'hell may be empty' stuff is flagrantly contrary to scripture and the magisterium.
Sodom and Gomor'rah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1:7
The additional words 'for you and for many', are taken, some from Matthew, some from Luke, but were joined together by the Catholic Church under the guidance of the Spirit of God. They serve to declare the fruit and advantage of His Passion. For if we look to its value, we must confess that the Redeemer shed His blood for the salvation of all; but if we look to the fruit which mankind have received from it, we shall easily find that it pertains not unto all, but to many of the human race. Roman Catechism
And some one said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.' He will answer you, `I do not know where you come from.' Then you will begin to say, `We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' But he will say, `I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!' There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last". Luke 13.22-30.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Is this good?

One of my office-mates has just pointed out that the young Josef Ratzinger bears a distinct resemblance to the young Johnny Cash. Do a google images search on the latter's name and note one of the pictures in the top row. I'm not sure what to make of this...

UPDATE: Zadok demonstrates.


Well, we've been tagged twice for this meme, so I suppose one of us should do something about it. 'Cos obviously I'd never make a fool of myself on the blog without a particular opportunity to do so...

Confiteor - that I become ridiculously self-pitying when remotely ill. Like now. Pass the Lemsip.
- that I resolved to say Lauds every day in Advent, then slept in most days last week. (But my cold was at its peak. See above...)
- that I've been reading one of those Bible-in-a year volumes (Scripture handily divided up so you get through it all in 365 chunks), which Aelianus kindly lent me; but I'm 5 weeks behind on the New Testament section and nearly a month behind in the OT section. Though I'm ten days ahead in the Deuterocanonicals section. The Books of the Maccabees are page-turners.
- that I still think of the 'Deuterocanonical' books under the name 'Apocrypha', even though the whole canon formation thing was one of the points which made me twig about the Church.
- that I'm moved largely by selfishness and cowardice in dealings with my anti-Catholic (well, to be fair, uncomfortable-with-my-Catholicism) family.
- that, come to think of it, I'm moved largely by selfishness and cowardice, full stop. Oh dear. That's not very amusing, sorry.
- that I play up Scottish patriotism when in England, and British patriotism when in Scotland.

(...that's quite enough for the moment...)

Et precor Beatam Mariam semper Virginem, Beatum Michaelem Archangelum, Beatum Johannem Baptistam, Sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, et omnes Sanctos, - et vos, lectores dilectos - orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
Oh yes - tagging people - well, the other laodiceans, should they feel inclined. Anyone else? Blogimus? ukok (though you're very busy)? Has Zadok done this yet? Humiliating oneself in public is a very fast-season activity, don't you think?

Monday, December 05, 2005

We're know-nothing religious fundamentalists

Dr Peter Singer, the Princeton bioethicist who advocates abortion up to birth, infanticide and euthanasia of elderly and disabled persons, has claimed that belief in the value of human life from conception to natural death will be confined to 'a rump of hard-core, know-nothing religious fundamentalists' by 2040. Dr Singer made his comments in the September/October edition of the Foreign Policy journal.
[From SPUC]
Well, I don't claim to know much about nothing, so I am not going to be offended by the know-nothing part, and I suspect that for Singer religious is broadly equivalent to fundamentalist. But does Singer thinks that, for example, Jerome Lejeune would have seen more clearly if he had been allowed to live to 2040?* That our late (or indeed current, and make the appropriate changes in tense) Holy Father would have changed his mind, or that he was a know-nothing religious fundamentalist?

*A question about tenses. Lejeune is dead. But if he were still alive, and were to live to 2040, he would see more clearly. How to put that in one sentence? It's the fact that he's dead that is causing me difficulty.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

1985 Competition to Find the Worst Argument in the World

An Australian philosopher, believing he knew the worst argument in the world, offered $300 to anyone who could produce one that was worse. The award was to be made on the basis of total marks, awarded for awfulness and influence. It was not awarded, though the .pdf file includes the runner-up as well as the original bad argument.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

You can buy my scribal work online

Yes, for only €1,200, you too can own a printed sample of Berenikine prose. An ideal Christmas present for yourself or a loved one.
I didn't write the blurb on the website (nor am I responsible for the perhaps unpromising subject matter) so do not be put off by it: the report sparkles! It positively TWINKLES!