Thursday, May 28, 2015
ShareToday [May 22] is the 560th anniversary of the First Battle of St Albans in 1455, which is usually considered the first battle in the Wars of the Roses. That, of course, depends on whether you see the conflicts of the mid to later fifteenth century as one or a set of wars, or rather see the various short-lived outbreaks of violence as not necessarily directly related, or indeed much out of the ordinary for later medieval politics in England or Europe as a whole.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The hero and heroine, Dylan and Annie, are both complex characters who struggle with loneliness and angst as part of their chosen professions: Dylan as a journalist and Annie as a CIA operative. Dylan, of course, has no idea that Annie secretly works for the CIA and Annie has no clue about some of Dylan's hidden activities. Yet the two are overwhelmingly drawn together by their mutual brilliance and emotional need. Their relationship is a scorching roller coaster ride which appears to be more and more doomed as each other's secrets are revealed.
What sets the novel apart from so many others is that there is nothing gratuitous in the scenes of violence; the author keeps his finger on the pulse of the human tragedy in a soul-searing manner. The incalculable cost of the loss of innocent lives is painfully assessed as are the psychological scars borne by the survivors. The story is a scathing indictment of contemporary society which expends more effort towards protecting the rights of violent criminals than it does to those who are their victims.
(*NOTE: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.) Share
Peggy Noonan, in The Wall Street Journal, has some questions and comments for students who are upset by certain aspects of the Western literary canon (Ovid's Metamorphoses in this case) and want works like the Metamorphoses silenced:Share
Well, here are some questions and a few thoughts for all those who have been declaring at all the universities, and on social media, that their feelings have been hurt in the world and that the world had just better straighten up.(Read more.)
Why are you so fixated on the idea of personal safety, by which you apparently mean not having uncomfortable or unhappy thoughts and feelings? Is there any chance this preoccupation is unworthy of you? Please say yes.
There is no such thing as safety. That is asking too much of life. You can’t expect those around you to constantly accommodate your need for safety. That is asking too much of people.
Life gives you potentials for freedom, creativity, achievement, love, all sorts of beautiful things, but none of us are “safe.” And you are especially not safe in an atmosphere of true freedom. People will say and do things that are wrong, stupid, unkind, meant to injure. They’ll bring up subjects you find upsetting. It’s uncomfortable. But isn’t that the price we pay for freedom of speech?
You can ask for courtesy, sensitivity and dignity. You can show others those things, too, as a way of encouraging them. But if you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?
Masterpieces, by their nature, pierce. They jar and unsettle. If something in a literary masterpiece upsets you, should the masterpiece really be banished? What will you be left with when all of them are gone?
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The vastly diminished role of the Church has left an elephantine emptiness in Irish life. One very important factor is how ashamed many Irish people feel about the sexual abuse crisis. Perhaps the people who ought to feel that shame are the guilty priests and nuns. But Benedict XVI was right, in his book-long interview with Peter Seewald, when he pointed out that most Irish families had a member who had a vocation either as a priest or a nun. Therefore most Irish people felt very deeply the disgrace caused by the revelations of clerical sexual abuse. This was the case even if the priest or nun in a family was totally innocent.Share
Growing up in Ireland, I saw this first-hand, when a friend or acquaintance who had a brother who was a blameless priest, they would feel embarrassed to say that their sibling was a good priest, for fear that people would think they were “covering up”. Humiliation and regret have gone hand in hand, and increasingly in the past few decades, the Irish, who have, by an average margin of two to one, legalised gay marriage, convinced themselves that if the Church was wrong, then the opposite of the Church’s teaching must be right. (Read more.)
Well, we all know what happened in the twentieth century. Divorce got its toe in the door ... and within decades the door was wide open. Unnatural and disordered sexual practices corrupted Marriage. Fornication gradually ceased to be furtive and, after being 'Free love' in the 1930s, had by the end of the century become the natural assumption of Western societies. Homosexuals ... no; some homosexuals ... ceased to enjoy inhabiting an amusing subculture and became aggressive public ideologues. The mortal sin of missing Mass without good cause ceased to be a matter of guilt. You know all this, and much more.Share
My analysis, and suggestion, is this. Society has in effect regressed to the superficially christianised state it was in during the 'Dark Ages'. We are, in other words, in a new Dark Age of widespread unrepented mortal sin. In fact, ours is an even darker age, because people do not even accept that they are in a state of sin, and do not repent, not even once a year. Nor, probably, even when they die. (Read more.)