Bare Ruined Choirs

In Sonnet LXXIII Shakespeare wrote

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long

Not one of his happiest, but it accords well with my feelings, this fall. It hasn’t been a year I would wish on anybody, but this is the season when I understand why All Hollow’s is sometimes called Totenfest by those of German heritage. Tomorrow is the Feast day of Our Lady of Walsingham, and for me, that has significance as well. Six years ago, I had never heard of Walsingham, let alone this representation of Mary, but One summer day in 2012, Jessica became my dearest friend at almost the moment she lit a candle for me at the shrine. The main part of the story begins here. I have ever since found Mary a worthwhile conduit for my prayers. But for me, it’s specifically the Walsingham representation. Earlier this year,  Fr Matthew Pittam wrote in the Catholic Herald about his feeling for the Shrine.

 

Whilst visiting this year I met some other pilgrims who were unfavourably comparing Walsingham to other well-known European Shrines that they had visited. It is true Walsingham is no Lourdes or Fatima but for me that is part of the appeal of the place. It seems right that the English National Shrine is understated, reflecting the character of the English themselves.

The story of Our Lady’s Shrine and the meaning of its message demand a much tenderer charism than Walsingham’s more flamboyant European cousins. Above all Walsingham is a memorial to the Annunciation. The whole place speaks softly of Our Lady’s ‘Yes’ to God. Mary’s encounter with the Angel Gabriel was abundantly full of humility, generosity and peace. The quieter pace and rhythm of our National Shrine really can take us to the heart of this life changing and life-giving moment.

The location of Walsingham is also understated. It is not set amidst mountain grandeur but nestles within the pleasant rolling meadows of the Stiffkey Valley, echoing the gentleness of the shrine’s own spirituality and Our Lady. The whole place seems to be set apart for peaceful encounter.

He nails it for me. Without the slightest intention to be offensive, much of Roman Catholicism is too ornate, too baroque, and the decoration, like some of the verbiage, is over extravagant for me. That’s not a knock on it, it simply doesn’t fit with this working guy of Lutheran Scandinavian heritage. I’m no iconoclast, but enough is enough. Both the Roman Catholic and the Anglo-Catholic shrines at Walsingham have a northern European feel about them, which I find comforting. I’m still of my roots, I have found it comforting to talk with Our Lady, as Jessica once said, it feels rather like talking to Mom, which in a sense it is.

And then there is the relief, that I have felt on several occasions, after talking with Her, usually not the formal Rosary, although I do that sometimes as well, mostly sitting here, meditating silently directed towards Her. The old man’s knees aren’t really up to kneeling much anymore, anyway. 🙂

Strangely, it is only 3 years, nearly to the day, since the Abbess from Walsingham came to Jessica’s hospital bed to pray over her and sprinkle her with Walsingham water, giving her some ease, and then again a mere two weeks later, just after she received the last rites, she again prayed over her and sprinkled her. Two days later she was out of her coma, without pain and cancer free. A remarkable testimony to the power of prayer.

A year after that Mary Katherine Ham lost her husband,  Jake in a bicycle accident while pregnant with their second child. It was one of those things that shocked many of us, this young vibrant couple, and him suddenly gone. She wrote about it this week at The Federalist.

I love the idea of the divine spark. It crosses a lot of cultures and religions, the idea that you carry a bit of the Creator inside you, that it animates your life.

Jake’s life always brings to mind a spark and then some. Jake’s soul, to me, was a bonfire. He was here and he was in your face and he was warm and bright. He roared with enthusiasm at the beginning, even the hope of something new, sometimes a little too much. His glow was infectious, throwing sparks into the night air, silhouetted against a dark sky before they landed on everyone in his vicinity. He mellowed to embers as the night wore on, usually over a glass of bourbon or a beer.

I lived seven years of my life looking into a bonfire. I warmed my hands and found comfort in its flame. There were times when I damn near burnt myself or got a giant waft of smoke at exactly the wrong time.  Because that’s life. And that’s fire. It’s not all s’mores and sweetness.

Everyone who’s loved someone knows that light and warmth. Everyone who’s lost someone knows the feeling when it goes dark and cold one day.

When that happens at any time, it’s jarring. When it happens without warning, even more.

The light went out. This fire I’d stood next to for seven years just went out, like a flood light on a switch. Boom. Imagine staring into a fire, and then suddenly turning 180 degrees to survey the woods behind you. I couldn’t see. I was standing in what otherwise was my life, and I knew all the other parts of it were there, but I couldn’t understand its contours anymore. I was standing in my own life, blinded, blinking away those disorienting shimmery green spots.

Brilliant, simply brilliant. But you know when we lose someone we love, not even always to death, it’s like that as well. It was for me when my marriage broke up, and even though my sisters, parents and brothers-in-law lived full lives, in truth as much as could be expected, they have left a hole, that cannot be filled.

And so it was for me, a year ago today, when I received the last email from  Jessica, who as far as I know is healthy, happy, and busy. Too busy or some other unexplained reason, to maintain the friendship that turned to love on my part, more than I ever felt for another human being. And get your mind out of the gutter, yes she is beautiful, but I loved her before I knew that, far more a case of Agape than Eros. She was my friend, the best one I’ll ever have. And even Our Lady of Walsingham has found no way to comfort me. I’m reconciled that I must go on more alone than I have ever been, but have little appetite for it. Which is why that sonnet speaks loudly to me.

Walsingham, and Our Lady are her legacy to me, and I thank God for them everyday. But it does make me think of another poem.

Weepe, weepe O Walsingham,
Whose dayes are nightes,
Blessings turned to blasphemies,
Holy deeds to dispites.

Sinne is where our Ladie sate,
Heaven turned is to hell,
Sathan sittes where our Lord did swaye,
Walsingham oh farewell.

But it is true that while Eliot was writing of Little Gidding, I’ve always thought that this applied as well to Walsingham

           If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying.
And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
Here, the intersection of the timeless moment
Is England and nowhere. Never and always.

We merely have to trust God that Dame Julian of Norwich was correct.

‘It was necessary that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’

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Video Monday

I was doing things other than writing last night, once in a while, I like to step away from the blog, and recharge, and doing this seven days a week can get to be a pain. Okay, whinge over, and yeah, I volunteered. How about some videos today? Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve watched these, most of them more than once, and I like them. I think you will too. Obviously, you don’t have to watch all of them, watch the ones that interest you, but they all cover some facet of what we do here.

Steve Bannon making sense? Yep, surprising as it is.

Ben Shapiro on why your feeling don’t matter

I wish we could convince the Brits of this because it is obviously true.

The modern world is a Tudor Enterprise. Think about that for a bit. That is what one can accomplish with “the stomach of a king, and yes, a King of England”.

As we change course a bit, just who is smarter? Eh, who cares, really? But Siobahn! 🙂

We’ve said this many times: If you do not have the freedom to fail, you can not succeed.

How we got rich…

How to keep it happening:

Sense a theme here? Yep, there is one. It’s called personal responsibility. If you want to accomplish something, you need to take responsibility for it. Whether you’re Stephan Langton leading the barons to Runnymede, Queen Elizabeth humbling the greatest Empire of the age, our founders doing that humbling thing again, or the guy that wants to start the next Microsoft; you need to own it, to work hard at it, and maybe fail a few times before you get it figured out, not run to Washington, claiming to be a victim. We, the Anglophone nations built the world we live in following these simple rules, seems silly to me to quit doing something that has worked so well.

Although I suppose if I simply desired power over others without reason, simply the power of the clenched fist, I would probably dislike this world, with its emphasis on freedom and justice. Think about that.

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Absolute Morality

There has been a bit of commotion over in Britain the last couple of weeks, caused by a Member of Parliament that I’ll bet most Americans have never heard of, and that’s a shame. His name is Jacob Rees-Mogg. His father was William Rees-Mogg who was a former editor of the £ Times newspaper and created a life peer in 1988. Jacob was educated at Eton and in History at Trinity College, Oxford. (Can you say “posh”? I knew that you could.) He created his own financial services company and is the Member for North East Somerset (since 2010). Quentin Letts dubbed him the “Honourable Member for the early twentieth century”. It’s rather humorous, and yet, his accent and manner of dress, and yes his manner of acting play into it. As does that he is proud of being both Catholic and English, something we see far too seldom these days. And that’s why the commotion. The other day he was on Good Morning Britain and some of what he said shocked the hosts rather profoundly.

It’s rather fun to watch Piers Morgan taken apart, apart from the fact that Rees-Mogg is entirely correct for the Catholic Church as well as any orthodox Christian. It is simply what we have always believed everywhere, at all times. Here is exactly how far our churches have descended since the beginning of the twentieth century. And that leads us to something else. Steven Bullivant writing in the Catholic Herald, tells us something about how secular Britain, even its Catholics, are becoming.

How many Catholics actually share Jacob Rees-Mogg’s beliefs?

He is already in a minority simply by attending Mass regularly

Today’s Times carries an interesting – though for many Herald readers deeply dispiriting – article: “Most UK Catholics back right to abortion”. (It’s behind a paywall, but a quick and free registration can get you access.)

I won’t repeat the full thing here – and besides, you can read the full report from the 2016 Brithish Social Attitudes survey, on which the article is based here. But the essential statistics are these: In 2012, 39 per cent of British Catholics thought that abortions should be legal on the simple grounds that “the woman does not wish to have a child”. Now, fully 61 per cent of British Catholics think so.

This is, it must be said, a huge leap in just four years. By comparison, in the 27 years prior to 2012, the proportion of similarly pro-choice Catholics increased by only six percentage points (from 33 per cent in 1985). Personally, I’d suggest regarding the specific figures in play here – i.e., 61 per cent of British Catholics; a rise of 22 percentage points – as being illustrative, rather than pin-pointedly precise. (This is due to all the usual caveats regarding sample size, margins of error, etc.) Nevertheless, the general tenor of the statistics, and indeed of the direction of travel, are likely to be trusted.

These figures come at a time when Catholic attitudes to critical moral and social issues are already very much in the news. This is thanks to Jacob Rees-Mogg’s straight-talking statement of the Church’s, and therefore his own, opposition to both abortion and same-sex marriage. It is not surprising, then, that these new BSA data are being used to cast Rees-Mogg’s views as being out of touch even among Catholics themselves.

I addressed the general question of “How odd is Rees-Mogg?” in terms of British social attitudes as a whole on the Spectator’s website over the weekend. How representative, though, is he among his fellow Catholics?

First of all, he is already in a minority of Catholics simply by virtue of being a regular Mass attender: fewer than one in three of cradle Catholics (a good chunk of whom now identify as ‘no religion’, of course), and only about two in five of all those who currently identify as Catholics, say that they attend Mass even as often as once a month (see here).

Accordingly, it would be interesting to see what difference there is between practising Catholics and non- or irregularly-practising Catholics on attitudes towards abortion and other subjects. I suspect that among them Mr Rees-Mogg’s views would find much greater (though not at all unanimous) agreement.

Even so, these new statistics are a sobering indicator (as we didn’t have enough of them already) of just how far British Catholics have secularized. So too, for that matter, is the furore surrounding Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Part of what I find disheartening in this is that even as we, in the US, appear to be winning the battle on abortion, and we have public opinion on our side on same sex marriage as well. It was simply established by a federal court acting extra-constitutionally, if not quite unconstitutionally. But the United Kingdom appears to be still sliding down that slippery slope. But we know that we have seen some very dark places in this battle here as well. And one of the things that is winning for us, is the steadfastness of many Catholics in this battle, who have shown some of us Protestants what we must do to achieve the proper result.

And so, real conservatives in Britain have found someone who speaks eloquently for them, and for us as well. There is a boomlet for him to become the leader of the Conservative Party. It is, at best, very premature and unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Because a lot of what is happening in Britain these days are very much like those things that have caused us to say here, “That is why you got Trump”. And nothing in my lifetime was more unlikely than that.

He also reminds me of this, from Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream- -and not make dreams your master;
If you can think- -and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on! ‘

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings- -nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And- -which is more- -you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rees-Mogg certainly is, and a most admirable one, as well

Remembering Heroes

The monument to Rick Rescorla in Cornwall

Well, it’s Sept 11th once again. And so once again we will remember (as truly we do each day) what happened 16 years ago today, in New York, in Washington D.C, and in Pennsylvania. Back in 2011, almost all of us wrote about the day of the attack, what I said is here, and mostly I still believe it. But I think we’ll write about something else today. Perhaps something that most of our so-called betters think is obsolete, we will speak today of heroes, for indeed 9/11 had them as 7 DEC 41 did.

It’s important to remember our heroes. In recounting their deeds, we carry on our myths, even as the old Vikings did in the Icelandic Sagas. These are the sagamen of America, some are fictional, such as those played by the duke, although they are still valuable, the best ones are real.

One of the most interesting was Colonel Rick Rescorla, USA Ret. Born in Cornwall, he enlisted at 17 in the British army (in the Paras) immigrated to the US and was the  Platoon Leader, B Co 2/7 Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in the battle of Ia Drang, where he gave the British commands of ‘Fix Bayonets, On Line, Ready forward’. His picture is on the cover of ‘We Were Soldiers’. That’s quite the entry on any man’s resume, but his continues. On 9/11 he was vice president of security for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. We all know what happened that day, but do we remember that only six Morgan Stanley employees died when their building was obliterated. One them was this man, now a retired Colonel, who stayed to make sure he got his people out.

But there was something else about the Colonel, he loved to sing. When he or his people were stressed he would sing to keep them steady. On the day of that bayonet charge, and again on 9/11 he sang the same song. It;s one of my favorites, ever since I saw the movie Zulu, perhaps you’ve heard it too.

One of our (and the United Kingdom’s, as well) best. He should never be forgotten, and I doubt he will be. Of such men are sagas made.

But he wasn’t the only one either, over Pennsylvania a bunch of American civilians counterattacked, just minutes into this war. They died in the attempt, but they thwarted the plan. Jodi Giddings found some videos and wrote a most moving commentary.

But the passengers weren’t about to allow a fourth plane to strike another target. And the decision they made that fateful September morning will be remembered forever.

Huddled in the rear of the plane, behind a row of seats and out of sight of the hijackers, a group of passengers voted on whether or not to fight back. Their choice? Fight. Or die.

Just minutes later, Todd Beamer and the other brave men rushed the plane’s cockpit, in hopes of retaking control of the aircraft. A struggle ensued:

And this, heart-wrenching remembrance

Jodi continues:

That she did.

You see, the Flight 93 passengers were not victims of 9/11. They were our first warriors, courageous heroes who fought back against a senseless evil hell-bent on bringing America to her knees. With every ounce of their might, on a cloudless, late-summer morning in September, they saved the lives of untold numbers of their fellow Americans, selflessly giving their own over a quiet field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Their memories live on:

And so they shall, as long as men remember, and celebrates the heroes amongst us, and those who have kept us free.

These too were American heroes, who willingly gave their lives, to save the lives of others.

Tongues of fire on Idris flaring

News of foe-men near declaring,

To heroic deed of daring,

Call you, Harlech men.

Indeed, the history of freemen is rife with stories of such men, and they have been our answer to all who would enslave us, and the story continues, and it shall, as long as we remember…

Let’s Roll

General Patton once said very truly,

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”

 

Week in Pictures, Single Payer Edition

A sad start to the week for pictures this week, Charlie Gard died yesterday, a week short of his first birthday.

Farewell Charlie, and Rest in Peace.

He will be long remembered, and both he and his valiant parents remembered in many prayers.

On the other hand, the feckless GOP in the Senate seems to want an American equivalent. Or perhaps they are simply greedy enough to forget who they work for

Apparently, Hillary wrote a book, not that anyone really cares.

In other news…

Look closely, I swear she has a gun! 🙂

As usual, mostly from PowerLine

Have a better week!

Good bye and Farewell, Charlie

Well, I said this a while ago, too much time was wasted for Charlie Gard to survive his illness. The NHS has run out the clock, to the point where his parents have made the decision that they must let go. His dad, Chris Gard made a heartbreaking statement:

“Firstly, I would like to thank our legal team who have worked tirelessly on our behalf for free. And to the nurses and staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital who have cared for Charlie and kept him comfortable and stable for so long.

We would also like to thank everybody who supported us, including all the people here for us today.

This is one of the hardest things that we will ever have to say and we are about to do the hardest thing that we’ll ever have to do, which is to let our beautiful little Charlie go.

Put simply, this is about a sweet, gorgeous innocent little boy who was born with a rare disease who had a real genuine chance at life and a family who loved him so very dearly. And that’s why we fought so hard for him.

We are truly devastated to say that following the most recent MRI scan of Charlie’s muscles as requested in a recent MDT meeting by Dr Hirano.

As Charlie’s devoted and loving parents, we’ve decided that it is no longer in Charlie’s best interest to pursue treatment and we will let our son go and be with the angels.

The American and Italian team were still willing to treat Charlie after seeing his recent MRI and EEG perform last week, but there is one simple reason why treatment cannot now go ahead and that is time. A whole lot of time has been wasted.

We are now in July and our poor boy has been left to just lie in hospital for months without any treatment whilst lengthy court battles have been fought.

Tragically having had Charlie’s medical notes reviewed by independent experts, we now know had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal healthy little boy.

Despite his condition in January, Charlie’s muscles were in pretty good shape and far from showing irreversible catastrophic structural brain damage.

Dr Hirano and other experts say his brain scans and EEGs were those of a relatively normal child of his age.

We knew that ourselves because as his parents, we knew our son, which is why we continued fighting.

Charlie’s been left for his illness to deteriorate devastatingly to the point of no return.

This has also never been about ‘parents know best’.

All we wanted to do was take Charlie from one world-renowned hospital to another world-renowned hospital in the attempt to save his life and to be treated by the world leader in mitochondrial disease.

We’ll have to live with the what-ifs which will haunt us for the rest of our lives.

Despite the way that our beautiful son has been spoken about sometimes, as if he is not worthy of a chance at life, our son is an absolute warrior and we could not be prouder of him and we will miss him terribly.

His body, heart and soul may soon be gone, but his spirit will live on for eternity and he will make a difference to people’s lives for years to come. We will make sure of that.

We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son Charlie who unfortunately won’t make his first birthday in just under two weeks’ time.

And we will ask that our privacy is respected during this very difficult time.

To Charlie we say mummy and daddy, we love you so much. We always have and we always will and we are so sorry we couldn’t save you.

Sweet dreams baby, sleep tight our beautiful little boy. We love you.”

Courtesy of The Independent

Given what we know, while this has to be a heartbreaking decision for Charlie’s parents, I’m quite sure that it is also the correct one. God give them strength.

Well, we all did our best, and we have lost a battle, there will be more, and we need to move faster. We too were late to his aid, and the dilatory nature of the NHS, along with its near-religious status in the UK, and it’s stubborn clinging to power made this an uphill battle. And that is the real lesson here, and it’s important to remember even as we mourn that little warrior in London. If we don’t fight it all the time, every time, the culture of death that the NHS represents will win. But we, British and Americans, with an assist from the Pope, came close. If we had been even three months earlier, we might have prevailed.

And that is what I simply cannot understand, the religious fervor of the Brits for this Stalinist health (non)care system. No matter what you say about it, your answer will be, “But it’s free.” Which it decidedly is not. Nor is this anything new. Back in 2013 Jessica and I both wrote about the Stafford scandal in which something up to 1200 patients were allowed to live in filth and die unattended. Those articles are here, and here. They were based on an article in The Telegraph, which is here. So what happened? Nothing, of course, the latest story in Google is from February of 2013, three days after our articles were published.

Nothing will change because of Charlie Gard either. Why? Because while Americans were outraged over the whole thing of stealing this baby from his parents and allowing him to die, the British for the most part shrugged and said, “It’s free.” Maybe they haven’t heard it ain’t free they pay at least $1500 each per year for this shoddy simulacrum of health care.

As I said then, “That’s the thing about government bureaucracies though, no one is responsible.” That’s often the point of a bureaucracy, as we have surely seen in the last few years. Jeff Weimer commenting on this story yesterday at Ace‘s said this:

Once again, socialized medicine gets the preferred health outcome it was looking for.

You are not – I repeat – you are *not* the customer in a socialized single payer system. You are a *cost*. the government is the customer and it gets what it pays for.

Always.

And that is the simple truth. So is this from the same comment stream:

For me, nothing has been so infuriating in all this as reading feedback from the British public. Usually, the comments section at sites like Daily Mail is fairly right-leaning, but even there, when it came to poor Charlie, the parents were being absolutely excoriated for fighting the hospital, which apparently, in the eyes of their fellow Brits, is run by the most intelligent, compassionate people on Earth. Charlie’s parents, it was said over and over again, ought to “do the right thing” and let their son die already.

I shouldn’t blame them too much. It is only too clear that this attitude is the result of decades under a welfare state and the mind-warping that induces. But it is hard to come away with any conclusion except that the UK is now home to millions of soulless automatons who would rather the innocent perish than lose their own entitlements. Damn them all.

Goodbye, Charlie, we tried our best, and we failed. May God help your parents find some peace.

All three of you will be in many prayers.

 

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