The Civil War Did Not End These Four Kinds of Slavery.

The bad news is that the Civil War did not put an end to slavery.

Sure, the Civil War did end the apparent and visible slavery that made legal the ownership of human beings by other human beings, whereby the owners could wring

their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces.

Image result for slavery america plantation

And whatever one thinks about the causes of the North and the South, and the means employed, and the tremendous and appalling loss of life that ensued, every thinking American is just glad that the institution of slavery was abolished.

The physical form of slavery (that has marred human history from seemingly the beginning) does not lay claim to the inner life of the human being. The human spirit is not able to be coerced by chains or whips no matter how brutal – at least if we are to believe the testimony of those that have lived through such treatment.

Thankfully, the Civil War was able to accomplish the eradication of such a sensible injustice, but, unfortunately, it was not able to put an end to some other forms of slavery, arguably even more deleterious, for, as Aristotle pointed out, “Human nature is enslaved in many ways.”

The more invisible forms of slavery, however, of which I speak are far more destructive to the dignity of the human person, because they do touch the human person precisely in his inmost soul.

As Our Lord says in the Gospel of St. Matthew,

And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.

The slaveries about which I speak are so subtle that those who are enslaved might not even recognize the fact.

Like the spectators chained to their chairs in Socrates’ famous allegorical cave, who wished for nothing more than to be left alone staring at the flickering shadows on the cave wall, might there be countless millions today among us who are similarly enslaved to a shadow world?

I speak of those who ‘live’ life but are seemingly ignorant of many, if not all, of the most significant realities; those who live in the shadow world of materialism and are devoid of any knowledge of the soul, or of the angels, or of God.

Image result for cave socrates

And what are these other kinds of slavery?

They are four. Three of them are caused by things outside of the mind while the fourth is caused by the error in the mind. Let’s enumerate them and then offer some brief exemplifications.

The Four Kinds of Slavery

  1. Slavery to Passion
  2. Slavery to Fashion
  3. Slavery to Custom
  4. Slavery to Error

Each of these is a sort of slavery as we shall see. In each case, knowingly or unknowingly, we act and think because of a compulsion, which though not from visible whips and chains, nonetheless directs us with an iron hand. Whether force of habit, unruly and violent passions, fear of scorn and derision, or the inability to think without error, each of these kinds of slavery prevent human freedom.

Who doesn’t recognize the reality of slavery to passion? It is perhaps the most prevalent kind of slavery especially in an adolescent society. But to a great extent the entire moral life of most men is largely a matter of taming unruly passions. Those who fail to control their passions are condemned to a life which is no better than that of the beast.  Hamlet soliloquized,

What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.

Guernsey Cow Munching on Cud in Spring Pasture Grass, Granby ...

Or what about those who live their lives enslaved by fashion? A great many appear to be directed by others in the clothing they wear, the thoughts they think, the music they listen to, and the cultural norms they follow. They are the ones who think and behave according to the fashions of the day. And when the fashions change so does their thought and behavior.

Far from acting freely or thinking for themselves, it would appear that for many people, the principle of their activity is nothing more than to appear to be “with it,” to appear to be au courant with whatever is the latest trend– moral, intellectual, or otherwise.

History of advertising: No 105: Madison Avenue | Campaign US

Whereas those who are slaves to passion and fashion might be aware of their bondage, slavery to custom, on the other hand, is quite insensible.

Why? Precisely because slavery to custom is something which is….well… customary.

Things which we do by custom seem second nature to us. Customary things go unnoticed. We do not notice the things that we do by nature. How many of us are even aware of our heart beating? When we do notice it, it is probably because there is a problem. So also, the things that we do by custom.

The Fainting Couch…Did You Know? | Fainting couch, Fainting sofa ...

But slavery to custom is indeed a form of slavery because custom is that which dictates our actions, not we ourselves. For example, those who live in one part of the world will ordinarily behave according to the customs of that place. From trivial matters such as what we ‘decide’ to eat and wear to far more significant matters, such as to what do we direct our lives?

worldcostumes3-opt in 2020 | Character design, Fashion design drawings,  Traditional outfits

Those who live in one time or epoch tend to think according to the customs of that epoch. Similarly those who live under one type of government will tend to vary in their views from those who live under another type of government. For example, Americans, by and large, do not have a great deal of respect for monarchs.

Charles Laughton as King Henry VIII - Chicken Eating Scene - YouTube

Finally, there is the kind of slavery which is the effect, in great part, of the first three kinds of slavery. If we act and think according to our passions, ignoble fashions and bad customs, we will then assuredly develop erroneous habits of thinking. Our minds will become filled with error. We will think things to be which are not, and we will think those things are, which are not.

Each of these kinds of slavery are serious. Each deserves a lengthy discussion. But the central point is that these other forms of slavery reach into our innermost souls and destroy our human dignity.

The free man is the one who thinks and behaves rightly according to norms which are beautiful, good and true. His thoughts and activity arise from an inner principle. Or perhaps better, we might say that the free man is the one whose thoughts and behavior are chosen according to standards which he himself has chosen freely. He has chosen them freely precisely because he recognizes them as the standards of truth, goodness, and beauty.

He is not one who stumbles about unconscious of the norms upon which his behavior is based. Those are slaves who behave unwittingly, almost as if sleeping, according to the erroneous philosophies and ugly fashions of others about whom they are unaware.

Aristotle was right of course. Human nature is enslaved in many ways. So much so that one might almost mistake slavery for a natural state. But it isn’t. Freedom is unique to those beings possessing intelligence, and it just so happens that there is an ordinary process, a specific sort of education that devotes itself to freedom. It is an education that is named after freedom. It is an education that proposes truth as its final aim. Why? Because it is the truth alone that makes men free.

Fra Angelico: The Sermon on the Mount

Posted in education, liberal education, slavery, Socrates | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Are You a Slave to Fashion?

Image result for clothing 12th century men painting pantaloons

I don’t have any strong objection to men dressing according to the fashions of the 12th or 13th century if they happen to live in the 12th or 13th century. I assume the gentleman in the picture thought that he was looking pretty dapper. He lived in a time when the clothing fashions were perhaps a little extravagant and this fellow looks like he can afford it. My guess is that he thought he was approximating something on the side of the beautiful.

I am just not willing to adopt his fashion for fear of losing the little credibility that I have left, nor have I seen anything like his clothing on the discount rack at Macy’s. Besides, I much prefer clothing that covers my legs. Give me a pair of grey slacks, a Brooks Brothers tie, a navy blue jacket and I am all set- well maybe throw in a pair of Florsheim loafers, socks, white dress shirt and …well let’s get back to the point.

Gary Cooper was the ultimate 1930s style icon | British GQ

Maybe we all have a bit of a duty to try to dress and appear in a manner that is comfortably within the range of what is commonly accepted as normal in any given time and place. But does that duty extend to making oneself look like this?

Image result for men bell bottoms 70s

Glancing at old family photos does make me wonder. Granted that I was too young to make decisions for myself, nonetheless, I don’t remember exercising any sort of wholesome rebellion when my mother gave me a pair of bell-bottoms.

The seventies really were bad years for all sorts of reasons- but for me, the biggest reason was that they represent a time when not only were most of us slaves to the prevailing clothing and hair fashions (which might be true most of the time) but we were all slaves to really ugly clothing and hair fashions.

44 Sideburn Designs from the Old West and Not Only ...

By way of contrast, I suppose the hair fashion of the Georgian period makes that of the seventies seem rather moderate.

Georgian Fashion - 1714 - 1830 Fashion and clothing - Blue17

So powerful is fashion’s sway over our thinking, that many things which appear ridiculous to us now appeared natural and normal when we were under fashion’s influence. A sobering reflection.

Fashion History of the High and Late Middle Ages—Medieval Clothing ...

What is slavery to Fashion?  Well, as one philosopher put it:

Those are slaves of fashion who pursue (or read) what is fashionable because it is fashionable and cease doing what is no longer fashionable [when it is no longer fashionable].

That is a very good definition. Succinct, comprehensive, every word tells.

Those who do something simply because it is fashionable are slaves to fashion. Likewise, those who cease to do something simply because it is no longer fashionable are slaves to fashion.

Those who think or speak a certain way simply because it is fashionable to think or speak that way are slaves to fashion. Likewise, those who cease to think and speak a certain way because it is no longer fashionable to think or speak that way are slaves to fashion.

The more I think about freedom, the opposite of slavery,  the more it appears to me that it is not such an easy thing to achieve. For example, think of what St. Paul says,(Philippians 4:8)

For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.

Ok. That sounds good to me. But what if my thoughts about “whatsoever things are true,” modest, just, holy, lovely and of good fame are really dictated to me right now the way that my taste in clothing was in the seventies?

For example, it strikes me that most of us pretty much follow the fashions of the day particularly with regard to what we think is lovely and what we think is true. Who among us is free from the prevailing aesthetic and intellectual views of the fashion setters?

You might think, “Well, I don’t wear bell-bottoms. Nor do I wear shoes like this!”

Crakows, the Ridiculous Pointy-Toed Shoes that Were the Nikes of ...

We might think that we have good taste and exercise freedom with regard to how we appear.

But what about how we think? What about what we listen to? What about what we read and watch?

If everyone appears to be doing the same thing within a certain margin of comfortable acceptability, is that apparent harmony the effect of free choice?

Intellectual freedom has something to do with the ability to ‘think for oneself.’ We tell our students to think for themselves and my guess is that most of us live happily under the illusion that if there are some who do not think for themselves, at least we ourselves do.

Ask someone you know, “Do you think of yourself as an independently minded person? Are you a person who thinks for yourself?”

My guess is that he, if not too affronted, will answer in the affirmative.

But if we were then to perform a short survey of his ideas, if we were to ask this independent thinker a list of questions concerning politics, science, mathematics, religion, music, and yes even current fashions with regard to clothing…

…….would we be likely to find a maverick? Perhaps.

I like to ask my students questions like, “How many of you would prefer to have an arranged marriage?” and “How many of you think teenagers should have cell phones?”

Or sometimes if we are discussing politics and government, I might ask, “How many of you think that monarchy is the most excellent form of government?”

When it comes to the study of history, I generally do not find many advocates of the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades.

Eventually, after having established the fact of a fairly unanimous consensus of ideas, I ask my students,

 Isn’t it odd that we all tend to think of ourselves as independent thinkers yet the vast majority of our ideas and tastes and aspirations tend to match rather exactly with the ideas, tastes, and aspirations that just happen to be in vogue?

It is odd. It could be that each of us happens to have arrived at the truth independently and our consensus is coincidental.

Or just perhaps we are not such free and independent thinkers as we had supposed ourselves to be?

Why Were Medieval Europeans So Obsessed With Long, Pointy Shoes ...

Posted in classical education, fashion, liberal education, slavery | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Till We Have Faces

I miss the human face…don’t you?

Should You Wear a Surgical Mask? Read the Latest Guidelines | Allure

Isn’t it interesting how that is? Did you think you would ever miss the human face? Who would ever have guessed it?

What is about the face that is so important?

I suppose it’s the mouth and the cheeks and the chin.

Pin on Baby Photo Ideas

It really is difficult to communicate with other people who do not have a mouth or cheeks or a chin. What is it exactly?

Obviously, it is difficult to communicate with someone who has no mouth or an obstructed mouth.

In Michigan, mandatory masks a flash point for violence amid ...

I have never been quite so conscious of the extent to which I myself communicate with more than my voice.

Tin can telephone - Wikipedia

Jokes or any kind of irony become impossible without a face!

Imagine what Owen Wister’s “The Virginian” would have done if this jerk did not have a face?!

Normal, ordinary human communication requires a face. So does extraordinary and even life and death communication!

The beauty of the world, the beauty of life itself is distinctly tied up with the human face.

Mother Teresa - Quotes, Death & Saint - Biography

Who doesn’t love the eyes? But suddenly I have realized that the eyes are housed in a face.

I have heard it said that the human body is the most beautiful thing in God’s earthly creation. And further that the human face is the pinnacle of beauty that crowns the body. Somehow it is the face of a person that is most beautiful.

Michelangelo's David Wallpapers - Wallpaper Cave

In some way the beauty of the entire universe of created matter is expressed most completely in the human face. That is to say that consummate beauty, the beauty that makes daily living joyful and fulfilling is all tied up in the face of other human beings.

Not So Secret: Letters Between John Paul II and a Woman

I can’t wait till we have faces!

Posted in beauty, fashion | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Stop Saying Health is a Common Good!

Has there ever been an epoch in human history in which greater service, more profound obeisance, deeper devotion has been paid to the very end and purpose of all creation- the common good?

University of St. Thomas : Life | LinkedIn

Or maybe not?

Let’s remind ourselves quickly about what the common good is.

God is the common good. God is that good which we can share with one another, whom we can possess, to whom we can unite ourselves, in whom we can participate all without diminishing Him.

By way of contrast, when we share a box of ice cream it only goes so far. The more people that share it, the less there is for each. But the common good is a good that can be shared without diminution.

Teach Your Kids About Taxes, Eat 30% Of Their Ice Cream - NestEggRx

Another interesting thing about the common good is that it is common.

The ice cream you eat is not common. Your ice cream is not my ice cream even if it came from the same box. Not so when we “share” God. Even when shared, God remains common to all. The God that I possess in Holy Communion is none other than the God that every Christian possesses.

In recent months we have been asked to make sacrifices for the common good. Out of an abundance of caution and for the common good are ubiquitous phrases which immediately signal the unpleasant reality that something will be imminently discontinued, like free samples at Costco, or that something will be denied like public attendance at Holy Mass.

If you go to Costco for the free food samples you will be ...

The archdiocese of Chicago, like most dioceses throughout the country cancelled public attendance at Masses invoking the common good, saying,

…we make this sacrifice for the common good, convinced that we, like all citizens, have a responsibility in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Bishop Zubick of the Pittsburg Diocese even invoked the common good in reference to the curtailing of Lenten fish fries! He said,

[I] trust that the leadership of every parish is going to make a decision based on what’s important for the common good.

I don’t know about you, but I have been programmed to follow any order, any prescription, any injunction no matter how drastic or demanding just as long as the words “for the common good” are contained somewhere in the injunction.

If you said to me.

“Langley, we need you jump out of the airplane with no parachute…for the common good!”

What If You Jump Out Of A Plane Without A Parachute?

Well then, I would count myself a coward of no worth whatsoever to refuse! It’s like those Australian soldiers at Gallipoli. When the whistle blew they all leapt up out of the trenches into the very teeth of enemy Gatling guns.

Machine Gun - Terrifying Weapons of War

They all knew, every last one of them, that stepping out of trench would gain them each an almost instantaneous death. When that whistle blew, did they hesitate? Did they refuse?

No! Each one of them leapt up and died knowing (at least he thought he knew) he was fighting and dying for the common good. Regardless of what one may think about whether World War I was waged for just reasons, at least those lowly Australian soliders were convinced that in dying they were going to merit a hero’s reward. And I think they did!

File:Soldiers in trench.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

But the point we are currently making, is that when one is ordered to do something for the common good, every valiant soul who has the courage of one of those soliders at Gallipoli, or who is as brave as one of those 300 Spartan Hoplites at Thermopylae (commanded by the fearless King Leonidas in 480 BC), KING LEONIDAS OF SPARTA HERO MILITARY WARRIOR ...

every such a one, I say, would leap to the task at hand no matter how unpleasant, and strive to accomplish it with might and main…but mostly because it is all to be done for the common good!

Now when it comes to health we need to make a distinction. On the one hand, let us acknowledge that we all ought to be willing to take steps to protect our own health and the health of others.


Because health is a good thing. It’s good for people to be healthy.

But is health a common good? No. Health is a private good.

Human Goods and Moral Precepts - ppt download

Health is a good of the body and is distinctly particular to each person. One person’s health is no more another person’s health than is one person’s beauty the same as another person’s beauty. True, health is not diminished when more than one person has it. But neither does each person share the same health. Health is not shared; it is not common.

It could be that restrictions on liberty and requirements like ‘lockdowns,’ are sacrifices with which reasonable people might comply, at least for a time.

With quirks and restrictions, many states lift lockdowns

But when such requests are made under the guise that these things are required for the sake of the common good, then we overplay the force of the request and ultimately trivialize the common good. To invoke the common good is nothing more than to invoke the highest motivation for which any human being ought to act. But if that good is not the highest good, then it is right to ask questions about what we should sacrifice for it.

Posted in America, Common Good, Herodotus | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Clarence, Get Me Back! I Want to Live Again!

Well, this certainly has been an exciting experiment! But to be perfectly honest, as they say, I have seen enough.

Sunset Gun: Merry Christmas: It's a Wonderful Life

Whereas Frank Capra’s George Bailey was granted the experience (thanks to his guardian angel!) of seeing what life would be like without him, we have been ‘granted’ the opposite experience (by some darker power), the horrible vision of seeing what we are like without life!

We all now have some taste of the lifeless life, and it is anything but sweet!

The peculiar mark of the artistic genius is the ability to capture the universal in the particular; the artistic genius makes something very large, something important, even something infinite, incarnate in a relatively small thing like a painting, a block of marble or, in this case, a two-hour black and white movie.

And so Capra managed to encapsulate the beauty of life, with its concomitant sufferings and joys, in the life of an ordinary man named George. If he accomplished nothing else, Capra shows us why life is worth living. He shows us what life is and why it is wonderful.

And what is life?

Life is sledding down dangerous hills perilously close to an icy death (where were the parents!?).

Its A Wonderful Life Christmas Movies GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Life is walking and whistling down the public street locked arm in arm with close friends,

Life is packing into an old jalopy with no seatbelts and way too many kids and a goat to drive to one’s new home!

The Bedford Falls Sentinel - An It's a Wonderful Life Blog: Enter ...

Life is standing shoulder to shoulder with others to confront irrational panic!

Finding Ways to Say Thanks, Other Than Apple Pie - The New York Times

Life is about coming together to weep and pray…

Yarn | On V-J day, he wept and prayed again. ~ It's a Wonderful ...

celebrating and maybe even taking up a collection…

It's a Wonderful Life' Movie Facts | Mental Floss

and singing Auld Lang Syne (even in flu season!).

At the top of the list of “most inspirational movies of all time,” Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life reminds us that life is wonderful and worthwhile not because of how we live safely apart from one another, albeit in a sterilized environment.

Even though he was headed for jail, through no fault of his own, George Bailey could not restrain his exuberance…because Zu Zu’s petals were real.

It's a Wonderful Life and the Courage to Live (and Create Art ...

I want to live again, don’t you? 

It's a Wonderful Life (1946) | The Film Spectrum

Posted in beauty, Common Good, Fine Arts | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Why Scientists Are Still Trustworthy

Let’s not think poorly of the scientists and epidemiological statisticians for scaring the hell out of the American public by their prediction of a possible 2,200,000 deaths in the United States. Plus, doesn’t it feel so much better that we are predicting only 60,000 deaths?

White House Takes New Line After Dire Report on Death Toll - The ...

Actually, after coming down from 2.2 million, I was feeling rather exuberant about the 100,000 – 240,000 death range. I said to myself, “Well, I guess I can live with that!” Only 240,000 people are going to die…that’s not really so bad now is it?

But then when they told us a week later that “Hey, it’s only going to be 60K” I thought
“Wow! Sold! It’s a deal!”

As Trump Imagines '2.2 Million Deaths' From COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

If this is not part of the scientific method yet, then let’s go ahead and add it in as a crucial step.

Scientific Method

  1. Gather data and perform observations
  2. Make an inflated hypothesis about ‘rates’ (e.g. profitability, temperature increase, costs, population increase, mortality, etc.)
  3. Test hypothesis
  4. Collect new data and downgrade hypothesis by factors of 10


Using the Scientific Method to Create Continuous Improvement ...

Remember, the scientists responsible for the “Imperial College Study,” suggesting 2.2 million deaths, made this prediction only under the assumption that so many deaths might occur should no precautions whatsoever be taken to avoid catching and spreading the disease. So, admitting that these catastrophic numbers were responsible for the destruction of the American economy, let us not be angry with the scientists who were really only “throwing them out there” as a sort of intentional outside-worst-case-scenario projection.

After all, as the governor of New York said, 

If everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.

What a noble sentiment! And the governor does show us how to prioritize our values, doesn’t he? Who is there that would be so callous as to value a twenty-two trillion-dollar economy over one human life? What kind of cold-hearted, mercenary, bourgeois, corporate individual would object to the idea of putting twenty-two million people out of work if we could just save one human life? And does anyone really think it is fair to counter this noble idea by speculating about the inevitable cost of committing economic suicide in terms of human lives and misery? I don’t think so.

Andrew Cuomo - Wikipedia

Now about those masks.

Let’s not draw attention to the fact that at first, the experts told us not to wear the masks, and that now we are being told the opposite.  So what!? Who cares if scientists change their minds and say one thing this week that contradicts what was said last week? Why would anyone use this kind of silly reasoning to make an attack on the absolute trust that everyone should place in science?

RZJZGZ Anti-fog Adjustable Dental Full Face Shield with 10 ...

After all, first, they told us that the sun went around the earth, and rose and set every evening, and then they tell us that actually none of that is true and that really the earth goes around the sun!

Tom Haney --- Atlanta --- Automata, Kinetic Art

Which is all just to say that if I am told not to wear a mask by an expert, I will not wear a mask. If that same expert tells me a week later to wear a mask, then I will wear a mask. It’s that simple. Thankfully, we don’t all have to think these things out for ourselves!

Actually, that is one of the gratifying things about living in such a scientific age. Really, we are all very lucky to be living in this period of enlightenment especially since there is no chance of anyone – anyone except the experts – of really knowing what is going on!

Now, one of the things that should give everyone confidence about the rigorous data that is being collected with our current pandemic is the fact that we will simply not tolerate the underreporting of the COVID 19 mortality rate here in these good ole U.S. of A!

Contrary to the sloppy job they did over there in China where apparently only 17 or so people died from the disease since December 2019, we (thankfully here in the West!) will not put up with inaccuracy and outrageous under-reporting! Everyone knows that the accurate collection of data is essential for good science. Therefore it felt especially good to hear that every death in which a suspicion or a tangential connection of any sort to the mere possibility of a COVID 19 infection might be brought to bear will, in fact, be counted as a COVID 19 related mortality. If the unfortunate demised broke his neck falling down the stairs after sneezing, then that most assuredly would be a COVID 19 fatality.

By generously erring on the side of reporting most (if not all) deaths as COVID 19 mortality cases, we will certainly not miss a COVID 19 mortality. I think it is safe to say that when the final mortality rate is reported for this scourge, we will all be able to say confidently that our data has certainly not left any COVID 19 mortality out in the cold. It is possible that someone might object that our final number is double or triple or at least somewhat inflated, but no one will accuse us of having underreported, which is the far greater sin in my view. I am, of course, speaking not as an epidemiologist but rather as a sort of theologian (i.e. someone who engages in the highest science). When speaking about God, for example, one simply cannot over-report His Greatness! The sin is in minimizing Him!

FACT CHECK: Peer-Reviewed Study Proves All Recent Global Warming ...

I think it is also re-assuring that hospitals will be paid more to put COVID 19 patients on a ventilator. Nothing ensures scientific precision and accuracy more than financial incentives! I think it is unhelpful to object that ventilators might be overused just because Medicare will pay the hospital $39,000 every time they put a patient on a ventilator. Similarly, it is unhelpful to object that ventilators might be over-used or even damaging to a COVID 19 victim. This is not the time to bicker about ventilators!

Actually, this strategy is win-win for everybody! On the one hand, we can celebrate our success by making great strides in reducing mortality rates from cardiac arrest, while at the same time we can reward hospitals with $39,000 every time they put someone on a ventilator!

Pindar, the great poet, would be proud of our age if for no other reason than that we so excellently embody the truth of his famous statement when he said,

Νόμος ὁ πάντων βασιλεύς

θνατῶν τε καὶ ἀθανάτων

ἄγει δικαιῶν τὸ βιαιότατον

ὑπερτάτᾳ χειρί. τεκμαίρομαι

By which he meant something like,

Custom is the king of all, of mortals and immortals and Custom guides us with its sovereign hand justifying the utmost violence.

Thankfully, we who live in the twenty-first century,  unlike those who lived in the hazy fifth century before Christ, enjoy the enlightening and illuminating air of granular metrics. Thankfully we, unlike Pindar and his superstitious contemporaries who lived under the sway of an entire pantheon of sometimes cruel deities major and minor,

Bas-relief And Sculpture Of Ancient Roman Gods Stock Photo ...

we (happy denizens of the twenty-first century!) live safely under the protection and guidance of expert modelers and scientists!

Scientists at the Research Institute for Advanced Studies (RIAS ...


Posted in enlightenment, fashion, Modernists, Science | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Easter 2020!

Ahh, the joy of waking up on Easter Sunday morning and discovering the table magically adorned with flowers and gifts! We will let the pictures do the talking, from early morning to brunch to dinner. 


Ordinarily, someone paints the Easter candle but a little paper, tape, and some colored markers suffice.


Lucy made this year’s fruit salad. Berries have a funny way of gradually disappearing in the days leading up the fruit salad.



I think the Blanc de Blanc from Trader Joe’s is an acceptable bubbly for the Mimosas- and of course a couple of those strawberries


Hollandaise in the making.





This year’s Easter pastry was a star-shaped chocolate sweet bread of sorts. Here it is directly before getting baked.



We opted to cut some thick ham slices to put over the tomatoes for our Eggs Blackstone.


Meanwhile, the table was set and ready for action.




Now comes the fun- and of course timing is everything.











Here is my plate- the avocado was a pure extra!


Thankfully we were able to finish brunch before noon- and so there was plenty of time to build up a late dinner appetite. This year we returned to Beef Wellington. Underneath that lush covering of Phyllo dough lies a beautiful fat-covered rib roast! IMG_4626


Here is the Wellington resting a little



A little too dark to see, but this is a nice mug of gravy.





Happy Easter!


Posted in beauty, breakfast, Easter, Feasts, Fine Arts | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Easter Morning with Claudio Casciolini

Part One and Two of Easter Sunday morning Mass. (unfortunately, the live feed was interrupted after the second reading and so the sequence -Victimae Paschali as well as the Gospel were cut)

With fond remembrance for my old organ and piano teacher Jerry Philips who arranged the three-part setting of the Kyrie, Sanctus and Agnus Dei by Claudio Casciolini. This arrangement is perfect for a small choir.

Part two picks up next! Some of the musical high lights include the rest of the “Casciolini Mass,” my current favorite and easy Regina Coeli by Juan Garcia de Salazar, the Regina Coeli Jubila that can be found in the revered Pius X Hymnal, and the ancient chant “O Filii et Filiae

Posted in Music, Sacred Music, Sacrosanctum Consilium, The Mass | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Feasting on Holy Thursday!

We always have a big feast on Holy Thursday. I suppose this is one of the clever tactics that my family has developed over the years in order to cope with–  and build up resources for the imminent fasting on Good Friday. After all Good Friday is the second of the only two official fast days of the year!

I suppose I should include a disclaimer here, to the effect that, as we are Catholics, we do in fact believe that the traditional Seder supper has been fulfilled and supplanted by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. And that the Seder meal, in fact, is a foreshadowing of the Mass. And so I freely admit that when the veil of the temple was ripped from top to bottom, the Mosaic ceremonial law was then pretty much abrogated and therefore ceremonies such as the Seder meal are also part of that abrogation.

I am not certain if I have made a sufficient apology, but the fact is, we just love Matzo and horseradish!

So here is what we did. We started off with the Mustard Greens from our local Heinen’s Supermarket which is famous for its fresh produce and meats!


My daughter Christine made the Haroset. A foundational food indeed!


Seldom do we eat hard-boiled eggs at dinner, but we all agreed we should do this more often, especially with the creamy horseradish.


I always enjoy seeing the matzo alone on the plate at the beginning. Another foundational food.


Of course, Lamb makes the meal especially something to look forward to after a lengthy Lent.


Sparkly grape juice for the kids.


Unfortunately, I will have to wait for Saturday to finish this left-over chunk of lamb.


Finally, (thanks to my daughter Mary!) the coconut covered lamb cake representing The Lamb that was slain on the cross!


Posted in Easter, Feasts, The Passion | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mass of The Lord’s Supper 9 April 2020

Although there was no Mandatum tonight (i.e. washing of feet ceremony) nor Eucharistic procession in which the blessed sacrament is reposed in a separate tabernacle, we still managed to get the Ubi Caritas sung at around 33:57.

Holy Thursday is just not complete unless Ubi Caritas is sung!

(The video starts at around 6 minutes)

Other treats included the O Esca Viatorum (a fairly popular setting) at 50:48.

For the ordinary of the Mass we sang the Missa Sancti Phillipi Nerensis by Massachusetts composer Paul Jernberg (“The Mass of Saint Philip Neri”)

Happy Holy Thursday!

Posted in Feasts, Sacred Music, Sacrosanctum Consilium, The Mass | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment