Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Papal Tiara Is Still in Use

A bit late for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul but this is how they did it in Rome. A few seconds into this video you can see the Papal Tiara being worn…

(From Chant Café)

The economics of recycling

When my workplace replaced its computers I volunteered to take them to be recycled. (I was the boss, it was a political campaign organisation, that was the sort of stupid thing you do). They sat in my flat in Homebush Bay. Then when I moved to much smaller accommodation they took up a corner of my parents' place before coming with me when I moved to my present home. Eventually I got round to finding a good place to recycle them...which turned out to be in Homebush Bay a short drive from my old flat.

While I was living there, in a block that was pretty much the last building on the road before the Parramatta River (and no bridge at the end of it) I was puzzled by the amount of traffic that went past at all hours. I surmised there was a brothel or something tucked away in the industrial estate at the end of the road. It turned out there was in fact a collection of recycling depots* down there and the traffic was trucks taking stuff to be saved from wastage.

*(A grove of recycling depots?)

A brief primer on the merits of recycling from The Corner at National Review by Veronique de Rugy. She refers to an article in the Washington Examiner, this is a more up to date link.

Some more links:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The English Day for Life

When I lived in England, there was a Day for life when the Bishops urged us to consider the effect of dog fæces on the streets. Not much has changed. JPII's request is one of those rules nobody keeps.

Bresson and Dreyer

The Tarkovsky site, linked to in the previous post, is part of a family of sites called Masters of Cinema which themselves have some kind of connection with the cinephile DVD and Blu-Ray series of that name produced by Eureka Video.

The other members are and I have, and have seen, almost every film produced by Robert Bresson including The Trial of Joan of Arc. Given that the script is based on the transcript of the trial could we say Joan is a co-screenwriter? Perhaps not.

The only Dreyer film I have seen is The Passion of of Joan of Arc from 1928. Given its depiction of English soldiers as British Tommies, only 10 years after many of those Tommies died defending France, it is not surprising that it was banned in the UK at the time of release. It disappeared until a print emerged in a Norwegian lunatic asylum, of all places.

Tarkovsky Tarkofski Tarkovski Tarkovskij Tarkowski

When my family cannot decide what film to watch, I put on Tarkovsky's Mirror until they come up with an answer.

Behold: a mine of information on the work of Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky, is committed to bringing you the most extensive information on Andrei Tarkovsky found anywhere on the World Wide Web. We are dedicated to researching, preserving, and disseminating information related to the film-making career of Andrei Tarkovsky. We aim at providing uniquely interesting material, not easily accessible elsewhere (e.g., use our our Links section if you are looking for a Filmography). This is accomplished by, through our extensive network of contacts, obtaining permission from filmmakers, film crew members, authors, editors, researchers, and photographers to use and publish their material here. The Webmasters themselves are fluent in several languages (Russian, German, French, Swedish, Polish, Norwegian, Danish, English), making possible translation into English material otherwise only available in foreign languages.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Queen and Tolkien

This story, about the Queen's visit to the Midlands, caught my attention.
Her Majesty unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit to the cathedral after a special Worcestershire-themed service led by the Bishop of Worcester the Right Reverend Dr John Inge, which included the audience singing an excerpt from JRR Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings to Elgar’s Land Of Hope And Glory before finishing with the National Anthem.
What, I wondered, could that have been?

Inside an illuminated manuscript

I have not been to Chartres Cathedral since its restoration. Medieval churches were a riot of colour. Not the "gothic" gloom of today.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

When the Triplex isn't enough

A few weeks ago I had occasion to mention the Roman Gradual. The Monks of Solesmes are responsible for the modern edition. For various technical reasons [insert flannel] to do with new discoveries in the correct interpretation of the notation of plainchant, they also produce the same book with the neumes (the signs) from the earliest manuscripts added. This is called the Graduale Triplex - because it records the notation of the manuscripts of Laon, St Gall and Einsiedeln. The introit for the Mass of Christmas during the Day looks like this:

Monday, July 16, 2012

On C(utting) C(olouring) D(rawing)

We are starting over...

It is hard to tell to what extent, if any, this is exaggerated for effect. Since the author is an American priest it is perfectly posible he is closing down the standard programme (oh, all right, program) of sacramental instruction to replace it with something that might actually work.

I  no longer intend to prepare children for First Communion and Confirmation. There will no longer be First Communion and Confirmation classes. How and when will the children receive Communion and Confirmation? They will receive when they are ready.  When are they ready? They are ready when they want the Sacrament. How do we know they want the Sacrament? When they understand it, can tell the pastor what it is and why they want it. If they are not in ongoing religious education and they are not coming to Mass on regular basis, they don’t want the Sacrament.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Higgs boson

The first thing to say about the Higgs boson is that the stress is on the first word. Boson is a thing named after a person, not a person who was Higgs' colleague. More importantly it should never have been called the God particle as Br Consomalgno sj explains.
"The name 'the God particle' was given to it as a joke by Leon Lederman," the Vatican astronomer recalled. "It was basically a provocative title for book he was writing on particle physics. He said that if there was a particle that could exist that could explain all the little things we wanted to explain, it would be a gift from God. It is a metaphor and has nothing to do with theology."
(If you click through to that story you will see a picture of something even harder to find than a Higgs boson - a Jesuit brother in a dog collar).

I watched two videos meant to explain the significance of the possible find. They start from different ends. One goes through everything and then arrives at a discussion of the Higgs field. The other starts with the Higgs field and conveys the same information form there. I learnt a few things and learnt more things I would never understand. I also learnt that young physicists like stop motion animation. Some prefer it digital, some prefer it real.

Pot calls the dishwasher black

China questions Australia's asylum policy

Where. Do. You. Start?

Perhaps here?

Two words: Lao gai.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps

I am beginning to work out how he did it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Plainchant joke

On 22nd November 1903, St Pius X issued Tra le Sollecitudini, an instruction on sacred music.

The ancient traditional Gregorian Chant must, therefore, in a large measure be restored to the functions of public worship, and the fact must be accepted by all that an ecclesiastical function loses none of its solemnity when accompanied by this music alone.
Today, 9th July 2012, I reckon it is a safe bet that in most parishes you will never hear Gregorian Chant. And this is not because they are getting by on a diet of Palestrina and Mozart. (Nor because it isn't Sunday). Tra le Sollecitudini seems to be wasted ink. The Vatican website does not even have an English version.

For those unfamiliar with the terminology of Catholic liturgical books, the parts of the Mass to be sung by the people (or by the choir on behalf of the people) are printed in a book called the Roman Gradual.

Q: Why is it called the Roman Gradual?
A: Because it is being implemented slowly.

(A post on The Chant Café warned me I might have to assert copyright to this joke, which I have been making for a few years now).

A man who once met a woman who had known Beethoven has just died

George Isserlis (father of the cellist) died on 25th June 2012. From the Telegraph obituary:

Thus, in 1923 George Isserlis landed in Vienna — where he met a 102-year-old hausfrau who had known Beethoven when she was a little girl (and hated him).
Mme Calment (the oldest human who ever lived, patriarchs excepted) said she once saw Van Gogh buying paints in her uncle's shop in Arles in 1888. Nor did she think much of the famous artist.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Our friends the Cane Toads

As a rule of thumb I don't watch online videos over ten minutes and from four minutes onwards I am less and less likely to click play. I also am not a big fan of ad hoc debates where at least one of the parties has barely a clue, nor do I particularly like watching ambushes.

But this is a really good job. Some ladies in support of the feral US Nuns* were holding a protest outside the Cathedral Church of St Augustine in Kalamazoo, Michigan. One of them has two theology degrees and 16 years teaching experience (only some of it?) at collegiate level. With a video camera running (held by a friend of hers) she begins a discussion with the Parochial Vicar. It lasts 18 minutes.

He doesn't make mincemeat of her. He's too gentle. But it is quite a show. I found it at What Does the Prayer Really Say? so in case the video after the break dies you may find a replacement from links there.

*So far as I know this is an Australianism. You know what feral animals are like, good things gone wild in a new environment?  - a great metaphor for whacky sisters.

Charles Cole

I was at school with Charles Cole, who was in my older brother's year.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

NLM on Cathedral Liturgy

When I lived in London I used to visit Westminster Cathedral regularly.  One afternoon I heard Gregorian chant coming over the speakers. It was not piped music but actual live singing of the Divine Office. A friend of mine who knows these things remarked that (a) all Cathedrals are supposed to have public recitation of the Divine Office and (b) Westminster is pretty much the only Cathedral in the world that does. When in Rome I have attended Vespers at the Basilica of the the Holy Cross in Jerusalem* and again at the Basilica of the Floating Ceiling. In the former case it might only have been happening because I turned up on the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross. The point is that my friend is pretty much right.
*(Despite the name this church is in Rome.)

Anyway the New Liturgical Movement blog has an essay on the subject.
I have said this several times in the past, but most American cathedrals are essentially overgrown parish churches, and this paradigm has so ensconced itself in our liturgical consciousness that many bishops see their cathedrals as model parish churches for their diocese.
It's one of those rules nobody keeps.

(I am pretty sure New Liturgical Movement can be translated by something better than Novus Liturgicus Motus).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mankowski: Silk Purses & Sow's Ears

(I am sure the apostrophe in the title is misplaced)

Arguing with inclusive language loonies, the best I could come up with is that they never seem to worry about the gender of Satan, all his works and all his empty promises. For a better essay see "Silk Purses & Sows' Ears: 'Inclusive Language' Comes to Mass" from Women for Faith and Family viii.4 & ix.1, by Fr Paul Mankowski sj.

This is one of those essays when you want to keep cutting and pasting (funny that, considering the first paragraph). But here is a line of argument that had not already occurred to me:

ABC bias on euthanasia

A while ago somebody sent me a post on the MercatorNet blog, Careful! - a blog on euthanasia. It contained a video interview with Bishop Anthony Fisher op. The blog describes him as being "interviewed by a right-to-die activist." I suppose the post writer simply went by the content of the questions and drew the obvious conclusion. The interviewer, Quentin Dempster, is a journalist with the ABC and presumably has pretensions to neutrality. This was not extra-curricular activity. The interview was part of regular ABC programming. 

Bishop Fisher does a very good job dealing with the questions. Dempster is someone who describes obedience to the Fifth Commandment as hardline but as the folk at Careful! say, Bishop Fisher hits the questions right out of the park (in Australia, since you ask, we would say "hits them for six").

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tui sunt caeli, et tua est terra

Doubtless you have often wondered how we know the size of the universe. Never fear, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich can tell you.

Coin operated TV

I'd always keep a jar of coins next to the Foxtel IQ. This article describes the very beginning of cable TV

"Pay TV is Here", Michael M. Mooney, National Review, 5th June 1962.

Two very different Pay-TV systems are now on the horizon: the Zenith-RKO ("Phonevision") system which starts its three-year Hartford test this month — also called the "over-the-air" system; and Paramount Pictures' "Telemeter" system, which has been running in Etobicoke, Canada since February 1960 and is scheduled to open next in Little Rock, New York, and San Francisco — the so-called "wire system."
In the "over-the-air" Zenith-RICO system, a subscription decoder (a box about 8 by 10 by 4 inches) is wired in and sits atop the set. The subscriber pays an initial installation charge of about ten dollars. Prices for an evening's programs will vary between 25¢ and $1.50; the price may include "double features," or a feature and a short, etc.
Subscribers receive advance notice of subscription programs, by direct mail, or through newspaper ads that give program details, hour and date, and a special three-digit code number for each subscription program, and the price for tuning in. When he has decided on his program, the subscriber turns on his decoder and rotates a dial until the proper code combination appears in a small window in the front of the decoder. Picture and sound then come through loud and clear.
When subscription programs are not on, Channel 18 in Hartford will send out conventional commercial programs, sponsored or sustaining. At any time, even when subscription programs are on, the viewer may switch his set to conventional commercial programs, then back to the subscription program at will, without additional charges. In effect, therefore, the Pay programs are "added attractions" on the TV set for which the consumer must pay if he wants them. There are conventional commercial stations in Hartford to compete with the new Pay TV station.
Initial installations of the decoders at Hartford are to be of the “credit” type. The decoder makes an electronic record each time it is tuned to a subscription program. At monthly intervals the subscriber removes the billing tape from the decoder and forwards his payment for the programs he saw.