Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Opera Wednesday - the little black dress

It had to happen again.

In preparation for a book tour promoting her autobiography Call Me Debbie, Deborah Voigt decides to confront the Little Black Dress that cost her the title role in a British production of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos, and admits her problem with food, which too many people have.

After thinking about it as an 11-time marathon finisher (and athlete myself), I thought about the weight issue considering my friendships with dancers and fitness people.  Watch it with grains, and avoid refined sugars and chemical sierra storms.  Maybe a certain singer I know needs to watch it herself too!

Deborah Voigt has fun with that incident, eleven years later!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Standards? We don't need standards! We make them

The ruling elites have shown their hatred of the nation, and their attitude is clearly aimed at an "I want what I want," and "we don't care what the Constitution says, we go by what we want" has an ugly taste of the evil judges (worse than those in the Book of Judges), considering what Albert Mohler calls the rise of "erotic liberty" triumphing over "religious liberty.  See how judges have overrun Constitutions in the majority of 30 states that voted to write marriage is only between one male and one female, and no other unions can be recognised, because of egos.  When supermajorities of 60%, 70%, and 78% are overrun by judges reminiscent of that book in question, the sexual freedom fighters are showing their egos.

The elites in Atlanta have shown their colours.  The mayor of the city, who has blood on his hands from the loss of hockey to Winnipeg and baseball to Vinings (2017), and potentially losing the NBA to an unknown city likely in the Cascadia area, has sided with the tiny minority of perverted behaviour by firing the head of the city's fire department, Kelvin Cochran, because he posted a Biblical worldview.  He clearly meant that "sexual freedom" triumphs as a protected right, and those who oppose the worldview must be fired.  With the numerous "nondiscrimination" clauses including "sexual orientation," and the push by numerous crybabies to advance the sexual deviancy agenda.  Mr. Mohler's words regarding the rise of "erotic liberty" must be seriously considered considering the absurd push of "civil rights".

Erotic liberty is new on the scene, but it is central to the moral project of modernity — a project that asserts erotic liberty, which the (Founding Fathers) never imagined, as an even more fundamental liberty than freedom of religion. The logic of erotic liberty has worked its way from law schools and academia into popular culture, entertainment, public policy, and Supreme Court decisions.
In one classic example, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy famously wrote  of human dignity in terms of one’s “concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life” — and he has explicitly tied that to erotic liberty in a series of decisions and opinions.

What the erotic liberty folk demand is their behaviour to be called a "civil right".  They want to call marriage a civil right that cannot be restricted to one man and one woman only -- they want any two, even three, or more.  Now take their "civil right" logic to the workplace, where employees must pass a drug test at a World Anti-Doping Agency approved laboratory, and cannot test positive for drugs listed in the WADA Anti-Doping Code.  One person fails the test, and is fired, but goes to the pro-Bolshevik ACLU and sues the employer, saying he has a "civil right" to work there and they cannot discriminate against him because of a failed drug test.

So, if an employee of a company is fired for failing a drug test at a WADA-approved laboratory, required at work, can he cry out he has civil rights, and they cannot fire him for failing a WADA drug test, when passing the test is required to work there?  That is the same logic of homosexual activists demanding marriage is a "civil right" and that "they cannot be defined by the Bible," in addition to demanding the protection of their behaviour.  In essence, the relativism lobby claim it is their "civil right" to use illegal drugs, and illicit drug use is a behaviour that must be protected, similar to sexual deviancy.

I'm being serious.  That is their logic.  You cannot punish for behaviour.

And that's only Part One of the "We don't need standards" crowd's behaviour.

The second part of this "we don't need standards" folk come from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.  As Dr. Mohler noted, popular culture is pushing the deviancy agenda, and in television, control is clearly in the cultural Left, where most shows winning major awards come from ultra-premium pay television or non-commercial streaming services, where decency standards are not required, and the alleged "quality" is based on advancing the "no decency, it's what I want, and nothing else matters" attitude.  At the Foreign Press Association's Golden Globe Awards, it was clear the winning television shows were HBO and Amazon Prime.  Showtime and Netflix are also part of the game at the Emmys, while broadcast networks, which are under stricter standards of decency to avoid offending advertisers and authorities, while appealing to a mass audience, have become second-class carriers where the "critics," who are just as much Hollywood elites, ignore them because of standards that must be met.

Seriously, when "critics" vote for shows that few people watch because they do not want to pay for premium television, they are advancing the idea that television for elites, which most people do not watch, is the only television that is worth watching, with better "quality" that is not quality but additional material not suitable for most viewers of the Heartland.  But, as we have learned, the heartland and their values do not matter to these ruling elites that demand what they want is all that is suitable.  The Golden Globe ceremony celebrated the elitism of modern television, and it was the equivalent of calling out a Dies Irae (yes, I love the Verdi though I've sung the Mozart twice).  Another push for sexual deviancy normalisation, considering what we have learned in studying God's Word years ago, inappropriate, but it was widely celebrated at the show.  At the ceremony, the best comedy award went to a streaming service programme that advanced the sexual deviancy agenda, and the people thanked the activists, along with a kid who was taught the wrong things and killed himself, trying to become a "martyr" for the cause.  Another award went to a Reagan-bashing drama that advanced the same agenda.  These events seem to be propaganda for the leftist causes that cannot win save for elites who want to bash anyone who opposes them into a new prison.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI warned, "We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires. "  He also noted, "In recent years I find myself noting how the more relativism becomes the generally accepted way of thinking, the more it tends toward intolerance, thereby becoming a new dogmatism. Political correctness, whose constant pressures you have illuminated, seeks to establish the domain of a single way of thinking and speaking. Its relativism creates the illusion that it has reached greater heights than the loftiest philosophical achievements of the past. It prescribes itself as the only way to think and speak – if, that is, one wishes to stay in fashion. Being faithful to traditional values and to the knowledge that upholds them is labelled intolerance, and relativism becomes the required norm. I think it is vital that we oppose this imposition of a new pseudo-enlightenment, which threatens freedom of thought as well as freedom of religion."

The Golden Globe ceremony, and the logic of sexual deviancy activists, especially in overturning constitutions and the Atlanta situation, show that regardless of Catholic or Protestant, Mr. Ratzinger or Mr. Mohler, both are warning against relativism that is taught in schools, popular culture media, and the elite media critics rewarding the propaganda with awards.

WORKS CITED

Albert Mohler, "Religious Liberty vs Erotic Liberty:  Religious Liberty Is Losing," 12 January 2015.

L. Brent Bozell III.  "The Golden Globes of Propaganda," 16 January 2015.

Joseph Ratzinger and Marcello Pera, Without Roots:  The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam.  New York:  Perseus Books, 2007.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, "Mass," 18 April 2005.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Just because

Heard on the way home last night - David Bowie's Modern Love.

(A new series on the music I hear during the drive home - mostly to fill space!)



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Life 2015

The number is staggering:

Fifty-seven million have died in induced baby murders, aka the abortion mills, making the United States third only to The People's Republic and the Commonwealth of Independent States in babies slaughtered.  With the abortion advocates knowing the time to strike back from their losses is through packed judiciaries that are willing to advance every left-wing cause, it is a scary time.  How many times will the Christian worldview be silenced by the packed judiciaries?

This was my 18th Pro-Life Weekend, with both of our Senators, Congressman Wilson, and others representing the state legislature, along with Melissa Ohden being our keynote speaker for both our March and Rally (for which our local county chapter had a seat), she discussed in gruesome details her mother being forced by other family members to attempt aborting her with a saline abortion.  She was forced in the lethal solution five days, and still survived.  Attempts to find her biological family that abandoned her were futile, and her father has since died.  Some of what she learned about her family can haunt many of us, and to find out she is normal, and now a mother herself, is an example of how all human life matters.

We mourn today for those who have died in the gruesomeness of the false "choice".  We defend the sanctity of human life, something this Administration in the White House refuses to do.


Video courtesy of The Catholic Miscellany, the official publication of the Diocese of Charleston.  As usual, the South Carolina Baptist Convention also participated in the Stand Up for Life march and rally.

All pictures below were taken by the author.


















Throwback Thursday: The role of hate

In this piece from 2006, written in the wake of the Amish school shooting, I reflected on questions which, in the wake of Islamist violence, seem just as pertinent today.

One of the more interesting issues raised by the Amish killings this week is the proper role of anger (or, more precisely, hatred) when reacting to this horror, as illustrated in a fascinating exchange in NRO's The Corner. Unfortunately, I think this is something that raises more questions than answers, so don't expect much in the way of definitive conclusions from me.

It actually begins outside The Corner, with Rod Dreher's post about the now-famous grandfather of one of the victims, urging others "not to hate" the killer. Dreher describes himself as one who is not at the level of forgiveness exhibited by the grandfather but, "Please God, make me into the sort of man who could."

NRO's John Podhoretz picks up on this and starts the discussion. Podhoretz is a self-described "moderately observant Jew," which I note not as some kind of neocon jag (this isn't The Wanderer or New Oxford Review, after all) but as a background to the moral footing from which he comes. Podhoretz notes that while
I can certainly see the beauty and the moral seriousness that would follow from attempting to hew as closely as possible to Christ's example of unconditional love and forgiveness. All the same, this story disturbs me deeply — because there can be no question that anger can be as righteous as forgiveness. I'm not sure I would want to be someone who succeeded in rising above hatred of those who murder children.
I suspect this is a comment that most of us can identify with. Like Dreher, we fall short of such an elevated level of forgiveness, and like Podhoretz we share a concern as to whether we really should aspire to that level. So, agree with Podhoretz or not, we know where he's coming from.
John Derbyshire next chimes in on the discussion:
Back in the Bronze Age, when folk knew what was what, Hate—personified as the goddess Eris (after whom we have just named a new Solar System object)—played a key role in civilizational survival. . . Christian meekness certainly has its place in human affairs. So does Homeric ferocity.
As Derb elicidates in a further post, he does not mean to suggest that we should emulate everything from the Bronze Age (female slavery, for example). But, he adds, "I do believe it is foolish to attempt to deny essential human nature, of which the propensity to hate those who wrong us is an invariant component, today just as much as in the Bronze Age." And he concludes, in what I think is the most relevant sentence in the discussion,
A civilization that can't summon up some pretty widespread hatred for a man who lines up little girs and shoots them in their heads, after having been foiled in an attempt to molest them, is a civilization with a spring broken somewhere.
No question that hatred has been around for a long time, and is an essential part of human nature. But did Christ come to us to transcend those motivations which drove us in the past, and in the process to transform us from our baser human nature to a higher level of understanding and love? You could get a headache just thinking it over.

Some of Derb's loyal readers did think it over, and came up with more compelling thoughts. One, citing Piper's The Four Cardinal Virtues, offers this analysis:
You will find, under 'Temperance,' a discussion of The Power Of Wrath. It focuses on, among other things, a question that Aquinas asks in De Malo (On Evil) 'whether all wrath is evil?' Later on, Pieper continues: 'Lack of sensuality is not chastity; and incapacity for wrath has nothing to do with gentleness. Such incapacity not only is not a virtue, but, as St Thomas says, a fault: peccatum and vitium. ... Only the combination of the intemperateness of lustfulness with the lazy inertia incapable of generating anger is the sign of complete and virtually hopeless degeneration. It appears whenever a caste, a people, or a whole civilization is ripe for its decline and fall."
Podhoretz returns to the discussion with a link to a thoughtful story from First Things by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, on the different ways in which Christians and Jews view the role of hatred. Soloveichik, in recounting the story of Saul's hesitation in killing Agag, looks at the mischief performed by Agag, and sees in it a lesson similar to that noted by Derb's correspondent:
The message is that hate allows us to keep our guard up, to protect us. When we are facing those who seek nothing but our destruction, our hate reminds us who we are dealing with. When hate is appropriate, then it is not only virtuous, but essential for Jewish well–being.
Rabbi Soloveichik may be referring specifically to the survival of Israel in the Middle East tinderbox, but certainly in its broader sense he poses a question we all have to deal with, the same one that Podhoretz raises: what is the role of hate?

We dismiss the idea of vengeance as a suitable motivation for our actions (unless, of course, you're Mickey Spillane.) Indeed, those who defend capital punishment (as I do) often take pains to emphasize that the vengeance sought is not a desire to "settle the score" with the condemned on a personal level, but rather to express the collective outrage of the society toward the reprehensible actions which the condemned has taken. In doing so, we return once again to the concept of righteous anger, as a good and proper motivation for the actions of the state. It emphasizes the idea that intent is a key part of the discussion - that we must avoid the idea of the right action being taken for the wrong reason. Life often insists that we do things which we may find distasteful or unpleasant, but that when we do so our motives, as always, must be pure.

It has been argued, from the pulpit and elsewhere, that the Christian duty to forgive is tempered somewhat by the need for the accused to seek forgiveness. Such forgiveness, when accompanied by true contrition and remorse, demands our forgiveness as a just and proper response. But what happens when, as is the case in the Amish killings (and in so many other cases in our modern world) those conditions are not met? Soloveichik cites C.S. Lewis, who "detested" the idea that one could be eternally damned, "yet anyone who refuses to submit to salvation cannot ultimately be saved." Therefore, is our granting of forgiveness to one who does not seek it a sign of true charity, or a mocking of God's laws? And if it be the later, than what are we to do?

Maybe the closest thing we can come to in the form of an answer to these questions lies in another of the comments from the Amish community. In one of Get Religion's many fine pieces on the story, Mollie quotes a carpenter who offered, for my money, the most touching quote of the week: “I wish someone could have helped him out, poor soul. It’s obvious that something was troubling him.”
In his article, Rabbi Soloveichik returns to a quote from C.S. Lewis: “Christian charity,” he stresses, “counsels us to make every effort for the conversion of such a man: to prefer his conversion, at the peril of our own lives, perhaps of our own souls, to his punishment; to prefer it infinitely.” While we acknowledge the existence of Hell, we pray that all might be spared, even those for whom Hell appears a certainty.

In His last moments on the Cross, Christ forgave the Good Thief; He did not, however, spare his mortal life. The punishment, the thief noted, was a just one. And so perhaps hatred and vengeance are the wrong words to use after all, for they imply something eternal, unchangeable, irredeemible. Maybe anger was the right word, for in our righteous anger can be a just emotion, a display of God's justice and laws, much as the anger Christ displayed toward the moneychangers in the Temple. As the maxim goes, hate the sin, love the sinner. Our anger over the sinner's actions unites with our love for the sinner in a prayer for the sinner's repentance and redemption. And so we pray for the strength to forgive those who seek it; we pray for the conversation and salvation of the wicked; we pray for the fortitude to confront evil in a moral and just way. For us, prayer is the only answer to an issue that appears to offer only questions. If we're willing to accept it, most likely, it is enough.

Originally published October 6, 2006

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wagner and the Jews

THE ACCLAIMED WAGNERIAN CONDUCTOR WILHELM FURTWANGLER APPLAUDED BY HITLER AND THE NAZI LEADERS
I've written a lot on this blog about Wagner and the relationship between his music and his anti-Semitism, i.e. can a bad man still produce transcendental art?  Fr. Owen Lee thought so, and now there's a very good article by Terry Teachout that revisits the question, with perhaps a different answer.

Hence the uncanny timeliness of “Wagner and the Jews,” in which Nathan Shields takes a searching and persuasive look at the ways in which Wagner’s operas embody his anti-Semitic obsessions. The human capacity for self-deception is and will always be infinite, but I cannot imagine that any lover of Wagner’s music who reads Shields’ essay with an open mind will thereafter find it possible to erect a cordon sanitaire separating the composer’s operas from his ideas. They are consubstantial, as he meant them to be, and those who think otherwise are ignoring the self-evident assertions of their creator, who believed his work to be the New Testament of a religion of art.

Very interesting.   Read the whole article - questions such as these are seldom more relevant than they are today.  I don't know if I agree with him or not, but I've always felt that Teachout's opinions were worthy of deep consideration.  I know Mitchell does as well, having linked to him several times both here and at his TV blog, so I'm in good company.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Flashback Friday: Let the Bright Seraphim

THE AUTHOR WITH ASHLEY BRIGGS FOLLOWING THE 2011 PRAYER SERVICE
On Wednesday, Nikki Haley was sworn in for her second term as Governess of South Carolina.  I had the opportunity to attend Family Fun Night Tuesday, but because of a longer workload, I was unable to attend the inauguration as I was in the past.

Since this commentary was originally written, I had the opportunity in 2013 to sing another Händel work, Israel in Egypt.  Furthermore, the liberal Diocese of Upper South Carolina is the older of the two diocese of the heretical Episcopal Church, of the 22 western counties.  The 24 eastern counties, of which my residence is part, is with the newly founded Episcopal Church in South Carolina, of which ten counties (including my own) do not have a congregation, as they have stayed with Bishop Mark Lawrence, aligning themselves with the Global South primates over the heretical teachings imposed by Katherine Schori, who leads The Episcopal Church.

Meanwhile, speaking of the 2015 Inauguration, the winner of a Pop Idol season so bad that RTL Group fired a judge after the season because of her actions, including a quote that could meant an intent to fix the contest in an unprecedented way that did happen (Minaj's comments against men proved to be prophetic -- could have sent RTL officials to fire her thinking she wanted the fix, since fixing game shows is a federal criminal offense), did the National Anthem at the Inauguration this time around.  Reading that the Pop Idol winner Candace Glover was performing forced me to play a political zinger.

"I know Ashley Briggs. Ashley Briggs is a friend of mine. And Candace Glover, you're no Ashley Briggs!"

Flashback here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Wish I'd written that

Ah, the irony of politics...

Mitt Romney is running to save the party from nominating Jeb Bush, and Jeb Bush is running to save the party from nominating Mitt Romney. It’s as if O. Henry moved over into political coverage.

You can read the rest here, but I do love a good turn of phrase.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmastide thoughts: the Gift of the Magi


This day, January 6, is known as the Epiphany, the twelfth and final day of Christmastide, with Ordinary Time in the Christian calendar coming until the Lenten season.

Let's meditate on the importance with this version of "What Child Is This," which is the correct version, as we mentioned a few years ago with the correct lyrics that are omitted in too many hymnals and by pop stars.

And this important day in the Christmas season, the last day, shall be observed with a reading of Matthew 2:1-12, as the Wise Men arrive to see the Newborn King.

(NOTE:  The term "three wise men" is often used, but we do not know how many were there;  three is often used because of the three gifts of gold, myrrh, and frankincense.)

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Has New Year's lost its luster thanks to Pay TV having the Bowls?

Does it seem that New Year's Day is no longer the “major” television event it was years ago? The big college football games are no longer staples for local television affiliates, as pay-television has acquired the entire kit and kaboodle, and the major New Year's Day sporting event on network television is the NHL Winter Classic, which thanks to its NBC deal (a new ten-year deal starting today) while the college bowls have moved to pay-television means the only “New Year's Day” bowl left on network television is the AT&T Cotton Bowl [Now the Goodyear Cotton Bowl - Ed.], which is not even played at the said stadium, but in Arlington at Jerry Jones' billion-dollar edifice on a Friday night. CBS is left with just their regular daytime programming on New Year's (the game shows and dramas have original programming today).

With the bowls likely moving to pay-per-view in the future, it seems the lustre of the big games has been lost. We learned the first year of the pay-television revolution the ratings dropped considerably, and when the BCS Championship rematch draws less than the same two teams on broadcast network television in November, we've seen that pay television is worse. What we're seeing now is the same thing Britons will see when F1 moves to pay television this year with a price of over $500 for the season (for F1 races only; this subscription for F1 must be ordered to have F1) so the Beeb could save coverage of The Open Championship and Wimbledon – two events that in the US have moved to pay-television exclusively.

With no New Year's programming left on broadcast television, what does this say about the quality of television when raunchy programming is the “standard” of quality?

Originally published January 2, 2012

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's start the new year right!

And I can't think of anyone better (looking) to put it into words than the lovely McGuire Sisters.  See you next year!