Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Apparently Star Wars got something wrong

The London Daily Telegraph today has a story illustrated by a picture with the following caption: "The "hyperdrive" featured in Star Wars enables Han Solo's Millennium Falcon spaceship to take short cuts between stars through a higher dimension of space."  I am sorry to say that I know that of all the space ships in the picture, none of them are the Millennium Falcon.

That said I was shocked, shocked, I tells you, to discover that the stretched stars from many scenes in those films are total fantasy.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Paying for Church music

I used to attend Mass at parish in a suburb close to the centre of a particular city. I nearly called it "inner city" but that would suggest poverty when, in fact, the suburb was inhabited by a number of well-heeled young professionals. The land was valuable and the parish leased off part of it in return for a lucrative income.

Some bright spark thought it would be a good idea for the parish to spend some of that income on a drop-in-centre for young Catholics working in the city centre. The idea was that they would come in and socialise after work. It was an unhappy decision. The parish was not far from "downtown", but it was scarcely convenient for anyone to come after a hard day's work and before making their weary way way home. The plasma TV and attached games console were barely used and I think the centre is now closed.

It occurred to me that, in the old days (at least as far back as the later middle ages), the money would have been spent on paying for a choir. There would be stipends, and clerks, and funny titles, and the rest of it. By now it would be the name of a style to which learned musicians would allude. It might be a famous choir school.

At the Chant Café Jeffrey Tucker has a post on How to Have a Good and Stable Choir in your parish.
You need four strong singers who are committed. If you do not have that, you will not have a consistent provision of liturgical music. That’s just the way it is … People with this skill set are not willing to sing consistently without any pay whatsoever. They might do so for a while but they burn out, feel used, and eventually give up. It is all the more annoying that the priest and others look down on them when they throw in the towel, completely forgetting about the countless hours they have spent in the past without pay.
The whole post is interesting, but what really struck me were some of the comments. First some more of Tucker's post:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Uneasy lies the head that…erm…sits on the sede gestatoria

He then referred to his condition as "prisoner of opulence" in the Vatican and to the excessive pomp and ceremony that surrounded his person. "I have nothing against these good noble guards," the pope confided, "but so much bowing, such formality, so much pomp, so much parading make me suffer, believe me. When I go down [to the basilica] and see myself preceded by so many guards, I feel like a prisoner, a criminal; and instead I would like to be the 'bonus pastor' for all, close to the people…The pope is not a sovereign of this world. He recounts how much he disliked at the beginning being carried on the sede gestatoria through the rooms, preceded by cardinals often more elderly and decrepit than himself (adding that this was moreover not very reassuring for him, because ultimately one is always teetering a bit)."

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What if Pius xii had spoken out?

At the time, in the 40s, people had a firmer grasp of what was possible.

Father Rutler cites The Tablet.
In Belgium at the start of 1943, the Germans would not let Cardinal van Roey publish the Pope’s Silver Jubilee address, and the Italian government banned the film Pastor Angelicus about the life of the Pope. In that same January, the London Tablet commented on the tendency to think that more would have been accomplished by a louder protest from more bishops: "If there exists a vague atavistic memory that once Popes and Bishops spoke, and wicked Kings trembled, that salutary thing happened because the public opinion of the day had a much fuller and deeper sense of the rights and importance of spiritual authority.  Modern men, who have for so long applauded the narrowing down and emptying of that authority as the emancipation of mankind from the thralldom of superstitions, can hardly be surprised if, as a rule, prelates in the modern era tend in prudence to limit themselves to the field indubitably conceded to them by public opinion."
Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. Rutler also gives evidence of Pius' actual policy.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The framing of Pius xii

In 1938 Pope Pius xii called a meeting of Bishops from all over the world to discuss what to do about Jewish refugees from Germany. The attendees were all sympathetic to the Jews but instead of doing something practical to help, they offered excuses as to why they could do nothing, with the result that we all know.

Actually that is not quite what happened. There was a conference, but it was called by someone in a position to make a real difference (separation of Church and state you see), the secular saint Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America.
In the summer of 1938, delegates from thirty-two countries met at the French resort of Évian. Roosevelt chose not to send a high-level official, such as the secretary of state, to Évian; instead, Myron C. Taylor, a businessman and close friend of Roosevelt's, represented the US at the conference. During the nine-day meeting, delegate after delegate rose to express sympathy for the refugees. But most countries, including the United States and Britain, offered excuses for not letting in more refugees. Responding to Évian, the German government was able to state with great pleasure how "astounding" it was that foreign countries criticized Germany for their treatment of the Jews, but none of them wanted to open the doors to them when "the opportunity offer[ed]."

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Three metaphors for the price of one

On 4th December 2012 the SMH published A new monarch for Australia? from the AAP. The article discusses the expectations of the child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Although the only way to abolish the Australian constitutional monarchy short of armed revolution is by referendum, and although the Australian people have never voted Yes to a proposal to which they have already voted No, and although the Australian people voted No to a republic in the referendum of 1999, still for some reason our local monarchy-abolishers are supposed to be relevant.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

On hating the Sermon on the Mount

Beware the blogroll of the wise – it can lead you far away from where you thought you were going. Through one of the sites in my RSS feeds I stumbled across the blog of Andy Naselli, an Evangelical theologian in (where else?) the United States.

One of his top posts of 2012 was about the reaction of unreligious people to the Sermon on the Mount. He was prompted by a conference talk on Exodus 19 by Timothy Keller, a presbyterian pastor in Manhattan.