Sunday, July 23, 2017

How to Grow and Use Lavender

From Veranda: "Wondering what to do with all that lavender you're growing in your yard? From soaps to scones to sprays, we rounded up several lovely ways to put your lavender to good use." (Read more.)
White Chocolate Lavender Ice Cream

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Archbishop Chaput Defends Pro-Trump Catholics

From Life Site:
On July 13, La Civiltà Cattolica, which the Vatican reviews and approves prior to publication, criticized American "value voters" who have banded with evangelicals to fight abortion and same-sex "marriage". This "strange ecumenism" fosters an "xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations," thus making it an "ecumenism of hate," Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa wrote in the article. The "ecumenism" of Pope Francis, for which they advocate, "moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges," they wrote. Spadaro is a close papal collaborator and often called the pope's "mouthpiece." Figueroa, a Presbyterian pastor, runs Argentina's edition of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano

Spadaro and Figueroa's dismissal of the attacks on religious liberty in the U.S. "sounds willfully ignorant," Chaput wrote. "It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief." The article was "an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues," Chaput wrote. Chaput reminded "progressives" who are "wary" of religious liberty that religious freedom is what allows faith communities to serve the poor and "those in need."

"The divide between Catholic and other faith communities has often run deep," Chaput continued. "Only real and present danger could draw them together. The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power."

"It’s an especially odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true," Chaput wrote. Chaput noted that earlier this month, one of the main funders of the LGBT movement said he wants to "punish" those who oppose the homosexualist agenda.

"It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whom that might include," he wrote. "Today’s conflicts over sexual freedom and identity involve an almost perfect inversion of what we once meant by right and wrong."

"There’s no way to soften or detour around the substance of Romans 1:18-32, or any of the other biblical calls to sexual integrity and virtuous conduct," the archbishop continued. Romans 1:18-32 addresses "the wrath of God." This wrath is "revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness," it says. The passage laments those who "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever." (Read more.)
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"The Beguiled" Controversy

I do wish Sofia Coppola would stop making historical films, since she omits aspects of history which are too unpleasant for her. It is a shame because she always works with the finest actors on spectacular sets. I want to love her films but instead they make me cringe. According to The Daily Iowan:
When I finally saw The Beguiled, my excitement waned after the first 15 minutes of dewy mansions and frayed petticoats. A dark fairy tale about white Southern women, with no people of color in sight? Something felt distinctly, disturbingly anachronistic about this — and it wasn’t the corsets.

It’s a trite feminist tale, beginning with the arrival of a wounded Yankee soldier (Colin Farrell) at Farnsworth Seminary (run by an imposing Nicole Kidman, populated by a host of diaphanous young actresses), and ending with the assertion of the power of the matriarchy. OK, fine. I stayed, of course, through the passion, and betrayal, and (spoiler alert) emasculating amputation, and (bigger spoiler alert) manslaughter because I wanted to know why Sofia Coppola made the darn movie in the first place. Turns out Coppola’s film is a remake of a 1971 movie by Don Siegel, which in turn was an adaptation of a 1966 novel by Thomas P. Cullinan. What?

Having never read the novel nor watched the original film, I went into the theater quite blind — like many other viewers, no doubt. I had no idea that there were two black women missing from the plot. Coppola trimmed them out like weeds to allow the white ladies to blossom. I hope my innocence and subsequent research will assist you in making the call on Coppola’s artistic choices. Some sources cry “whitewashing.” Others defend Coppola’s delicacy in tiptoeing around potentially stereotypical portrayals of black folks. Coppola, to her credit, articulated her motivations and ideas for the film in a concise essay published on IndieWire, but I’m not persuaded.

Though Coppola makes a convincing case for her gloss of slavery and erasure of black characters, she’s got a history of subtracting people of color (Bling Ring) and avoiding the messy bits of history (Marie Antoinette). Look those movies up, and you’ll see what I mean. There’s something coy, blithe, and unnervingly true to form about the way she pruned the problematic racial material from the typical plight of Southern belles pent up with their passions.

OK, back to the mysterious invisible women of The Beguiled. According to an article in Slate, Coppola combined Edwina, a biracial teenager, with Harriet Farnsworth, sister to Martha, resulting in the Edwina played by Kirsten Dunst; the slave girl Mattie (Hallie, in the Siegel film) was straight-up subtracted.

Coppola, an expert in portraying wealthy, disillusioned white women, stuck with what she knew — for better or worse. She defended herself with careful sentences about her concern with correct portrayals of slaves, her need to develop the drama between the main (white) characters, and her contempt for the stereotypes perpetuated by the original characters she excised. Coppola made one important point in this essay: Evidence does support her hazy vision of upper-class Southern white ladies isolated and altered by the ravages of war. Yes, such a phenomenon had its own intriguing struggles and maybe deserves a cinematic re-enactment. But Coppola breezes past any hint of the complicated facts of the Civil War with three damningly simple words: “The slaves left.” That’s it? Highly suspect. Slavery did not just disappear when the Union soldiers descended upon the plantations. (Read more.)
Here is a feminist review from the LA Review of Books which laments that fact that Coppola's new film about the Civil War omits showing slavery:
TRAILERS FOR The Beguiled promised something new from writer-director Sofia Coppola: edited down to two minutes, her sixth feature appeared taut, sexy, suspenseful, swift. The last half hour or so achieves those adjectives, but The Beguiled does not really try to be a thriller, and it is in at least one fundamental way standard Coppola fare. Like Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and The Bling Ring before it, The Beguiled is a movie about bored white women in rigorous pursuit of fantasy, often because reality holds little interest for them, but also because they’ve been discouraged from serious engagement with it. Or perhaps they just haven’t been given sufficient incentive: Coppola’s protagonists suffer the boredom of feeling extraneous to their contexts. In The Bling Ring, that context was celebrity-obsessed Los Angeles; in Marie Antoinette, it was Revolutionary France; in The Beguiled, it just happens to be the American Civil War.

And for Coppola, it truly just happens to be: the film refuses the burden of politics, which is to say (in the case of the Civil War, if not in all cases) the burden of history. The Beguiled takes place entirely on the grounds of the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies in Virginia, where a small handful of unclaimed students, the teacher Miss Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), and headmistress Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman) wait out the war’s end in relative isolation from its primary dramas and protagonists. Cannon fire booms in the distance; the smoke of battle peppers the skyline; and while Confederate soldiers occasionally stop at the school’s gates, only one man has any dialogue of note: Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell), a recently immigrated Irish mercenary soldier for the Union, found injured in the woods by one of the students and carried back to the school to receive Christian hospitality and medical attention. Conflicting seductions ensue.

As a number of critics have noted, every single character in The Beguiled, speaking or not, is white. The child Amy tells the Corporal in one of the opening lines of dialogue that the slaves have left — she does not say whether they’ve escaped, been emancipated, or were allowed to simply walk off the grounds — an event that never returns to consciousness for the film’s remaining 90 minutes. Coppola has said in interviews that she did not want to treat the subject of slavery lightly, presumably by sprinkling some mute black figures on the landscape. That the South’s peculiar institution might, in fact, have been central to the moral and sexual identity formation of white women does not seem to have occurred to her, or it is at least not the story Coppola wants to tell. Instead, the most vivid and unruly presences haunting the film’s periphery are non-sentient: unswept leaves cover the school’s veranda, vines creep along the upper balcony, weeds threaten the garden (now tended by the students themselves), and giant tree branches are strewn about the yard. In lingering atmospheric shots, the viewer is repeatedly reminded of nature’s slow but untamable encroachment. Likewise, and likely shocking for Coppola fans, the film features almost no soundtrack; with the exception of an occasional ambient mood piece, its main nonverbal sounds are the patter of feet and the chirping of birds. (Read more.)
 From W:
On Friday, Coppola released a statement to IndieWire defending her decision to remove the film's only black character—and to erase any trace of slavery in a Civil War-era film—starting off with the facts. "According to historians and several women’s journals from the time, many slaves had departed, and a great number of white women of the South were left in isolation, holding on to a world whose time had rightly come to an end—a world built on slave labor," Coppola wrote, calling her decisions "historically accurate." Plus, she continued: "I felt that to treat slavery as a side-plot would be insulting."

Still, a slave named Hallie was undoubtedly present both in Siegel's 1971 film and its original 1966 novel version by Thomas Cullinan. But seeing as Hallie was also the only character who "doesn't speak proper English" and whose voice is "not even grammatically transcribed," the director decided not to include her in the end. "I did not want to perpetuate an objectionable stereotype where facts and history supported my choice of setting the story of these white women in complete isolation, after the slaves had escaped," she wrote.That decision, Coppola continued, "comes from respect," as well as a desire to avoid becoming one of the "many examples" of white artists appropriating slaves and "'giving them a voice.'" Indeed, Coppola wrote she's hoping the conversation around the issue will help to avoid such situations in the future: "I sincerely hope this discussion brings attention to the industry for the need for more films from the voices of filmmakers of color and to include more points of views and histories," she added. (Read more.)
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Knockers

From Icy Sedgwick:
Also known as the Knacker, Bucca (Cornwall), Bwca (Wales) or Tommyknocker (US), the knockers derive from similar origins as leprechauns and brownies. Legends claim they’re only 2ft tall and live underground. They dress like miners and steal unattended food or tools. Mining was dangerous work. Poisonous gases, pools of water, and collapses provided plenty of hazards on a daily basis. If you saw the second season of Poldark, you’ll know how perilous Cornish tin mines could be. Naturally, miners were constantly alert to the sounds of cave-ins. Creaking earth or timbers would strike fear into their hearts. Such ‘knocking’ was attributed to the knockers. (Read more.)
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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Garden Path



 I love garden paths. Here are pictures of an enchanting garden in Texas. From Southern Living:
Broussard and his team designed the hardscape and installed it in sections, carefully developing the structures and textures that make this garden one of a kind. It's a space for meandering, and all paths lead to the leafy arbor. Broussard explains, "We needed a place for the paths to meet in an organized way. They start and end at the dining area, so it's a perfect jumping-off point to explore the landscape." The canopy is composed of four "Bradford" pear trees trained into an arch and woven together; they cast shade over the teak table below. "Coming up with the arbor was pure genius on Jackson's part, and we enjoy it throughout the seasons," Margie says."During the hot Texas summers, deciduous pears provide the benefit of a cool, shady canopy," Broussard adds. The arbor also provides some of the few seasonal color changes in the garden, as the trees' snowy white spring blooms give way to bright green leaves in summer and fiery red ones in autumn. (Read more.)
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Cardinal Sarah’s Challenge

From The Catholic Herald:
The tenth anniversary of Summorum Pontificum – Pope Benedict XVI’s statute which granted priests the liberty to celebrate the “old Latin Mass”, now known as the Extraordinary Form (EF) – passed on July 7 as one would have expected. Traditional Catholics attracted to the EF were grateful for the more liberating posture of liturgical law and spoke, as they customarily do, about how the wider offering of the EF had a salutary effect on how the Novus Ordo, or Ordinary Form (OF), is celebrated.

The anniversary, though, did include an unexpected note from a most authoritative source. Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, marked the anniversary with an article in La Nef, a French publication. Not available online, it has been reported on in English by the Tablet. Cardinal Sarah wrote in favour of the “mutual enrichment” of the two forms of the Roman Rite, a phrase of Benedict XVI’s arguing that both forms have riches that would enhance the other if incorporated.

Over the past 10 years, this has been interpreted in EF circles in a mostly unilateral way: the OF ought to adapt the practices of the EF. Cardinal Sarah is certainly in favour of this – he has argued in the past for ad orientem celebration of the OF, greater use of Latin, and more periods of silence, including some of the priestly prayers. In La Nef, he goes further, recommending that Holy Communion be received kneeling and on the tongue; that the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar be restored at the beginning of Mass; and that the priests keep united after the consecration those fingers which have touched the sacred species.

All of which is music to the ears of those devoted to the EF. But the key concept Cardinal Sarah advanced may sound a challenge too. Sarah suggested that the expression “reform of the reform” be abandoned precisely because it has a unilateral connotation – the Novus Ordo ought to be enriched by the traditional liturgy only.

“ ‘Reform of the reform’ has become synonymous with dominance of one clan over the other,” the cardinal wrote in French. “This expression may then become inappropriate, so I prefer to speak of liturgical reconciliation. In the Church, the Christian has no opponent!” Reconciliation means movement from both “clans”, as it were. That is likely to encounter opposition from some, perhaps many, traditionalist quarters. (Read more.)
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America's Most Popular Heresy

From ChurchPop:
First off, nowhere in the Christian Scriptures are we told to be nice. We are told be to be humble, merciful, compassionate, bold, courageous, holy, strong, loving, and whole host of other things. But never merely nice. And let’s be honest, nice is a really low bar. MTD is a plea to be inoffensive. It is why all religions can be the same. The goal isn’t holiness, it’s being nice. It is believing in nothing so strongly that one triggers no one. It is theological milquetoast. Our Catholic faith calls for us to be virtuous, strong, courageous, and so willing to love as God loves that we will lay down our lives, embrace sacrifice and suffering, and be heroic. Our Catholic faith produces knights and ladies, not snowflakes and SJWs. (Read more.)
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Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer Lights

From Southern Lady: 
As the sun slips below the horizon, the shadows of dusk try to nudge us inside, but what we really want is to linger a little longer in this blissful summer weather. Here are a few of our favorite ways to extend the evening in brilliant and stylish ways...Simple-yet-chic designs by Southern artisan extraordinaire Natalie Chanin inspired an outdoor tableau to usher in the first days of fall. The happy gathering is bound to last into the evening, so hang pierced-tin lanterns among the branches to light the area when the sun begins to fade. (Read more.)
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