Thursday, February 28, 2008

Rugby Dad

I love the fact that my boys love rugby. They couldn't not given my constant propaganda in that department and the fact that Mrs P's family are all daft on the subject (though they have the distinct disadvantage of supporting Scotland).

Why do I like rugby - and more specifically why do I like it that my boys like rugby?

1. It is a multi-dimensional game -kicking, tackling, scrummaging, running, handwork, footwork.....

2. Kids of all builds can play - tall, lanky backs and wingers; big lads in the front row; tottie wee scrum-halves.

3. The boys don't talk back at the ref (if they do - which I have never seen - the ball gets moved 10 yards towards their line)

4. The boys call the referee "Sir".

5. The parents are well-behaved and chat amiably to the parents of their opponents (I've seen fights only narrowly averted at junior football matches between parents)

6. The captain, and the captain alone, gets to speak to the ref.

7. Having knocked seven bells out of each other the boys shake hands and give each other three cheers.

I suspect it fulfils a role similar to that seen in juvenile rats: What do rats find rewarding in play fighting?--an analysis using drug-induced non-playful partners. Which is why little lads need rough-and-tumble play - or they become lobotomized sitting in front of their PlayStations.

The Eldest Boy plays for this outfit. A prize of a copy of Fr Aidan Nichols' book Looking at the Liturgy to the reader who correctly identifies Paulinus Minor Major from the team photo

NB Father Paul Francis is banned as he has met Paulinus Minor Major

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Due South

Back at my alma mater for a meeting about opioids, discussions about submitting the doctoral thesis and most importantly a chance to see one of my goddaughters. Back later in the week (unless I get to an internet cafe)


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Resistance Is Futile, Drones.

Little by little, Christians who practice their faith are edged a further from the public square. It really does not do to question the edicts of Big Brother, however good your motives. The story is in the paper today: Foster couple challenges homosexuality laws. This is the tale of a loving couple who, thank God, are challenging this nonsense in a bid to open their home to foster children:

The couple, who have been married for 39 years, had applied to offer weekend respite care for foster children under the age of 10.

But the adoption panel was also unhappy that the couple was adamant that any child in their home would have to go to church with them on Sundays. Mrs Johns, a retired nurse, is a Sunday school teacher.

The adoption panel has admitted in internal documents that Mr and Mrs Johns could feel that they had been "discriminated against on religious grounds".

Mrs Johns said: "I would love any child, black or white, gay or straight. But I cannot understand why sexuality is an issue when we are talking about boys and girls under the age of 10."
[Emphasis mine]


Needless to say, Professor Scruton always puts these things so much more elegantly than I could.

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The Rocky Horror Secular Funeral

Assembled mourners arrive at the crematorium. They’re easily noted by the fact that they are wearing flowery frocks or a jeans-tee shirt-jacket combo or whatever. They put out their cigarettes/joints in a furtive but reverent way when the hearse arrives. The coffin is borne into the secular space on one of those trolley things. The celebrant greets the mourners

The UnRevd Dr Evan Harris (or it might be Richard Holloway, Polly Toynbee or Crispian Hollis): Hullo! And welcome to this secular funeral and celebrrrrrrrrrration of the life of [INSERT NAME HERE] Please turn off any mobile phones and please don’t pray during this secular service. Or else.

We are here today to commemorate the life of [Dad/Mum/Uncle Bert/Whoever] in a highly individual way – not like those awful religious funerals which are all so alike. Because this life is the only one we’ve got, we’ll be celebrating all the good bits of [Dad’s/Mum’s/Uncle Bert’s/Whoever’s] life by forgetting what a cantankerous old git she/he was and presenting him/her as a mixture of Princess Di, Nelson Mandela and Oscar Wilde.

First – a reading

Reading from the First Letter of St Richard of Dawkins to the Humanists:

“Basically, if you haven’t passed on your genes, you’re a loser. Especially if you are a Christian –and they’re all ugly and stupid and not at all clever like me. My wife used to be Doctor Who’s assistant. Did you know that? Hm? Hm?”

The mourners: Amen

The celebrant: Sorry, WHAT did you say?

The mourners: Whatever.

There will now follow a piece of relevant and highly individual music that captures the essence of the deceased. It will almost certainly be Frank Sinatra singing ‘My Way’ like all the other relevant and highly individual funerals. Or it might be Celine Dion with that song from Titanic

The Celebrant: Now [INSERT NAME HERE]’s son/daughter/best chum will give us a hilarious account of the dearly departed

[Oaf in open-necked shirt ambles to the ambo, sniffs loudly and wipes nose on sleeve]

[Dad/Mum/Uncle Bert/Whoever] would have loved to have been here. But then again he/she didn’t like funerals – said they were morbid. He/she was always full of life. He/she wasn’t really religious, but was spiritual in a very real sense. Like I say he/she loved life and was a really funny person. Course he/she enjoyed his/her hobby of [going down the pub/watching Coronation Sreet/surfing the internet for pornography.-delete as appropriate] He/she always wanted to live life to the full. But now he/she’s dead. Here’s to you Dad/Mum/Uncle Bert/Whoever [raises can of super-strength lager to the coffin and takes a draught.]

The celebrant: We now commit [Dad/Mum/Uncle Bert/Whoever] to the flames in a highly personal, definitely not religious but meaningfully spiritual way. Ashes to ashes, funk to funky,…

Congregation: We know Major Tom’s a junkie!

The celebrant: In sure and certain lack of any hope that there’s anything after our 3 score and ten. [The coffin descends into the fiery pit. Here some music may be played, such as “Burn baby burn!” “Come on baby light my fire” or “Firestarter”]

The Dismissal:

Celebrant: Have a nice day, losers

Congregation: Cheers, see you mate.

The celebrant: Please move out quickly, there’s another highly individual, meaningful funeral for someone else straight after yours.

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Mocking Our Enemies (4)

Friday, February 22, 2008

What I Did On My Holiday - Jazz Club

Barga has a Jazz Club, apparently. No reason why it shouldn't. We didn't go there so I don't know if it was like this or not...


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Mocking Our Enemies (3)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Book burning - you know where it ends

Militants bomb Gaza YMCA library

Those darned 'militants', huh?

Eissa Saba said 14 men overpowered the centre's two security guards before placing bombs in the library and main office. The latter did not explode.

The guards said the gunmen had asked them why they worked for "infidels".

So, those 'militants' must have been what? Jains? Bahai's? Falun Gong? Scientologists?

Gaza, which is controlled by the Islamist group Hamas, is home to 3,500 Christians, mostly Greek Orthodox.

A number of Christian and other institutions regarded by Muslim extremists as un-Islamic have been targeted by armed gangs over the past two years in the coastal territory, the BBC's Katya Adler in Jerusalem says.

Hamas, which ousted the rival Fatah movement from the territory in June, has said it is looking into Friday's incident.

Like OJ Simpson, they'll want to find the REAL perpetrators. Personally I think it was Mossad, egged on by Prince Philip and the Duke of Norfolk. Or something.

We all know where book burning finishes up.


Death At One's Elbow

Ttony posted on death recently. I thought this was appropriate:

Remember, Christian soul, that thou hast this day a duty:
God to Glorify,
Eternity to Prepare for,
Jesus to Imitate,
The Angels and Saints to invoke;
Your Soul to Save,
Your Body to Mortify,
Sins to Expiate,
Virtues to Acquire,
Hell to avoid, Heaven to Gain,
Time to Profit by,
Your neighbors to Edify,
The World to Despise,
Devils to Combat,
Passions to Subdue,
Death Perhaps to Encounter,
and Judgment to Undergo.

I found it my father's old prayer book: The Treasury of The Sacred Heart (1928 - he was born in 1921 so I presume it was given to him for his First Holy Communion)

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Mocking Our Enemies (2)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Opinion Polls

Jesus was the subject of an opinion poll only once; the response of those polled was "Crucify him".

From Brendan Allen in the comment boxes.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Three Ring Circus

We had a great talk last week given by a colleague, a psychiatrist, on personality disorders. There was only one person who I could think of when he gave this definition:

301.00 Paranoid Personality Disorder
(Descriptive Diagnosis per American DSM-IV-TR)
According to the DSM-IV-TR, this disorder is characterized by a pervasive distrust and suspicion of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:

Suspects, without sufficient basis, that others are exploiting, harming, or deceiving him or her

Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about the loyalty or trustworthiness of friends or associates

Is reluctant to confide in others because of unwarranted fear that the information will be used maliciously against him or her

Reads benign remarks or events as threatening or demeaning.

Persistently bears grudges, i.e., is unforgiving of insults, injuries, or slights
Perceives attacks on his or her character or reputation that are not apparent to others and is quick to react angrily or to counterattack

Has recurrent suspicions, without justification, regarding fidelity of spouse or sexual partner.

If you'll excuse the phrase, it's like watching a car crash.
Prince Philip:'racist', 'Nazi', 'Frankenstein'
Royal family: 'Dracula'
In the plot: Tony Blair; MI6; two former Scotland Yard commissioners; French police and medics; the Princess's sister, Lady Sarah McCorquodale, and several of her close friends.

Even the poor BBC royal correspondent was called a 'bloody idiot' and 'employed by MI6'

Still, some see the funny side: DIANA WAS SPIDERMAN, CLAIMS AL FAYED

"She say I must tell no-one. She say she use spidery sense to uncover plot by dirty Greek Philip bastard to blow up Alton Towers."

He added: "I tell her for many year I am suspecting she the Spideryman. She very agile girl with good legs who know right from wrong. It all add up.

"I tell her my people make her new Spidery-suit with matching accessory. Very nice. Good quality.

Craig Brown has the Fayed Book of Nursery Rhymes

Humpty Dumpy sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
They no wanting him live happy ever after
So they conspirisising to coldbloody
Pushing him off and hush it up, you no believing me?
I having proof, Humpty he tell me before he fall off,
He say, Mohamed, you my friend they pushing me.

It's all very funny until one realises that it's all coming out of our pockets.

One blogger has a refreshingly compassionate view of poor old Fayed.

This man had a son, and upon this son he built a shimmering palace of hope, ambition and expectation, only to see it dashed and smashed. The ricocheting splinters have pierced his soul and he is now beyond saving. He will spend the rest of his life nursing his bitterness, hugging his hate, muttering his curses even unto his death bed.

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Mocking Our Enemies (1)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Wimmin's Studies RIP

This from The Telegraph last week

Over the last five years, numbers have dropped by 75 per cent and only 35 students are doing it this year. This summer, the last place offering the course, London Metropolitan University, is stopping women's studies altogether.



Saturday, February 16, 2008

For Mrs P (Part 2)

Happy Birthday, Mrs P

I did.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Sharia Doth Come Sayeth The Druide

Perhaps the truth comes out best in humour sometimes and I had a good giggle at how Chaucer might tell the tale of the Archbishop of Canterbury's recent travails. It's courtesy of Iowahawk: Heere Bigynneth the Tale of the Asse-Hatte

81 "But Father Rowan, we bathyr nae one

82 We onlye want to hav our funne!"

83 "But the Musselman is sure to see

84 Thy funne as Western hegemony.

85 'Tis not Cristian for Cristians to cause

86 The Moor to live by Cristendom's laws

87 Whan he has hise sovereyn culture

88 Crist bade us put ours in sepulture.

89 To be divyne we must first be diverse

90 So cheer thee well, thynges could be wors

91 Sharia is Englishe as tea and scones,

92 So everybody muste get stoned."

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What I Did On My Holiday

We set off very early. This is dawn over England.

We stayed with friends who have a family house in Barga (it was the grandparental house before my friend's mother left for Scotland). This was the view from the bedroom window.

Paulinus Minor Major, Paulinus Minor Minor and their friend Antonius Minor enjoyed the wee closes that had a flavour of Old Town Edinburgh about them. No wonder the town is twinned with West Lothian.

Unfortunately this lot keep turning up like a bad penny. You'll just see they make common cause with the Greens [I've picked up some Italian - let me translate. 'Verde' = an economy and population similar to that of ca 1348; 'Pace' = "Whatever you say, Mr Bin Laden"]

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Moments of Grace

A priest who worked me with when he was a hospital chaplain is dying under the care of one of my colleagues. Last Wednesday he was seen by one of my colleagues whose practice of the faith is fitful. He had just received ashes from the current chaplain. "Oh" said my colleague, "I wish I had been to chapel this morning to get my ashes." Without a word of explanation he took some ashes from his own forehead and applied them to hers using the traditional form of words. She has been deeply affected by such a simple act and is determined to be more regular in her practice.

Please pray for them both.

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For Mrs P (Part 1)

Happy Valentine's Day


Friday, February 08, 2008

In Vacanza


Fino a mercoledì prossimo.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What Happened on the Cross

Bronze figure of Christ found on Islay; cXIII

By nothing else except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ has death been brought low:
The sin of our first parent destroyed,
hell plundered,
resurrection bestowed,
the power given us to despise the things of this world,
even death itself,
the road back to the former blessedness made smooth,
the gates of paradise opened,
our nature nature seated at the right hand of God,
and we made children and heirs of God.
By the cross all these things have been set aright...

It is a seal that the destroyer may not strike us,
a raising up of those who lie fallen,
a support for those who stand,
a staff for the infirm,
a crook for the shepherded,
a guide for the wandering,
a perfecting of the advanced,
salvation for soul and body,
a deflector of all evils,
a cause of all goods,
a destruction of sin,
a plant of resurrection,
and a tree of eternal life.

from Orthodox Faith ;St John Damascene

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

123 meme

Mac tagged me for this ages ago. It's from Gentle Regrets by Roger Scruton. Well worth a read if you want to understand why Scruton and the young Ratzinger reacted as they did to the collective lunacy of 1968. Feel free to tag yourself. Mac has the rules.

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Monday, February 04, 2008

It's That Man Again.

This time in The Spectator and it's a corker. Here are some highlights:

The Left, which had been shaped as much by the muscular Christianity of the 19th century as by anything else, was now being colonised by something very foreign indeed. The cherished values of generations, the foundation of correct, well-ordered structures and relationships were under attack from a formidable foe. The traditional family and education, sexual mores, artistic aspirations, religious belief — all were now seen as coercive strategies of the powerful, designed to enforce conformity and slavish obedience.

The ‘progressive’ liberalism of the new Left, its destructive atheistic iconoclasm, was miles away from the vision of the early Scottish socialists such as John Wheatley, Manny Shinwell and James Maxton.

Witness, for example, Harold Pinter’s descent into infantilism every time he mentions the United States, or for that matter decides to write poetry. Rather than being ridiculed for the embarrassing doggerel-merchant he has become, he is lauded to the highest by his fellow-travellers, easily impressed by easy rhetoric and equally determined to maintain their favoured positions in the back-slapping arts establishment.

As a Catholic artist I am sick of the smug ignorance, the gross oversimplification and caricature that serves as an understanding of religion, particularly Catholic Christianity, in so much that passes for criticism and analysis. The destruction visited on schools and universities, the degradation of the media, the vulgarisation of culture, the deliberate and planned dismantling of the family — all this is a result of liberalism, not socialism.

Read it for yourself here:

Unthinking dogmatism

Doff of the academic bonnet to that Pot Pourri of Popery Laodicea

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Posture and prayer

Specifically, the Divine Office.

I get to say the Office sporadically through the week largely because of my fatherly and doctorly duties (feeding the rabbit, walking the dog, getting the kids to school and bed, doting on Mrs P, clinic, ward rounds etc etc -not necessarily in that order...). I have a nostalgia for it from a time when I thought I had a monastic vocation as a student and did the rounds of the Benedictine monasteries of England (the big choice was Downside vs. Ampleforth). While visiting as a kind of monastic groupie I grew to love the sung, monastic Office. Of course the substance of it but even down to the fine detail - the silent walk through cloisters and corridors, the rustle of habits and cowls and the squeak of Doc Martens on marble in the semi-darkness, the light filtering through the east window, the silence before the Office started.

I also saw the value of posture in prayer. It was a shock to discover the range of movement that took place in the Office and it became instinctive in choir to imitate the movements of the monks: crossing oneself (or one's lips if the Invitatory psalm was used); making a profound bow at the doxology - standing or sitting; turning east at the Benedictus and the Magnificat; kneeling, standing, sitting.

It was fine to make these gestures as an integral part of prayer when I was a single man and especially when I was a student praying the Office alone, but now I have to adjust this depending on where I say the Office. If in my study I can still make these changes of posture and bows, but feel self-conscious if I make them in the hospital chapel or St Mungo's where others may be around. There is a Muslim pharmacist who makes his salaat in the chapel - more of that another time - who has no such self-consciousness: the gesture and posture is integral to the prayer.

So I'm seeking help readers who say the Office - what do you do? One occasionally sees priests or religious walking about saying the Office (in church, for example). The General Instruction Of The Liturgy Of The Hours is pretty minimalist - cross yourself at the beginning and end of the Office and at the Magnificat, Benedictus and Nunc Dimittis ; stand or sit for the psalms etc. Little else.

There are some interesting pieces by Fr Ray Blake and Fr John Hardon SJ.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Right on, Vicar

An excellent piece by the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, Rector of St Michael Cornhill and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange (what a job!) in The Daily Telegraph. Dr Mullen writes occasional pieces for The Spectator and is involved with The Social Affairs Unit.

Here are some highlights:

Because it's the Church, when you go on these jamborees, you have to endure religion à la mode. Handshakes and hugs. A general infantilisation in which we are all ordered to place nightlights in the sanctuary, then trot gingerly around them, listening to "the music group" and the twang of the liturgical guitar as they blather their poor man's Joan Baez. Then there are the naff Yoohoo! (You who…) prayers and the jogging for Jesus choruses.

The language of the adman prevails here; there is always some "exciting challenge" - which means, "We want your money" - or "corporate vision", which means semi-psychotic fantasy.

There is of course a political agenda: "Pray that all people, whatever their race, creed, colour or gender may live in harmony with one another and be in the forefront of promoting social justice… consider world development issues… a fair distribution of wealth… Pray for those who work in race relations."

It's clear there are some there is a form of ecumenical activity that could quite happily be done in parallel between good Anglicans and Catholics: identifying this nonsense wherever it is found and chasing it into the sewers.

Read the rest here: Line-dancing for the Church of England

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Lumen Ad Revelationem Gentium

Happy Candlemas

Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine,
Secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium, et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.

English (Douay-Rheims):
Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord,
According to thy word in peace;
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel

English (King James Bible)
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
According to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

He's off for an early bath

Great article in The Herald by Hugh MacDonald about about the the wonderful Eddie Waring (Why Eddie Waring will always be top of the league)

I couldn't find any clips of his rubgy commentary on YouTube but I did get this with clips of 'It's A Knockout'. They don't make them like that any more. Still, it's nice to hear Stuart Hall reporting on the football on FiveLive

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