Monday, July 24, 2017

The French Girl Myth

From W:
Such is the root of the "French girl myth," which has captured the imaginations of fashion publications, brands, and popular culture writ large ever since the days of Coco Chanel, and maybe even as far back as Marie Antoinette. We find ourselves wanting to do everything "like a French girl," simply because there is a way in which French girls do things. That is to say: there is arguably no unified sense of taste for American girls, which is, of course, ultimately what makes America the place that it is.The grass is always greener, though, and thanks to celebrated French fashion icons like Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy; movies like An American In Paris and Amélie; and books like A Moveable Feast and French Women Don't Get Fat, American women entertain the idea that French woman have the innate ability to possess superior style, smaller waists, clearer skin, more complex neckties, cooler social lives, and richer romance than the rest of us—and all while putting in little to no effort. (Read more.)
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Signs

From Roman Catholic Man:
In February of last year, I wrote an article that was a compilation of historical pieces to a puzzle. The title of the article was, Our Lady of Fatima, 1917-2017 – Why 100 Years Matters. It is the most shared article I have ever written, at over 61,000 shares. I did my best to piece together what I had noticed about significant events preceding and leading up to this centennial year of 2017. But, what about this centennial year?

My good friend, Emmett O’Regan, has spent years seeking to unveil scripture, prophesies, apparitions of the Blessed Mother, etc.. In fact, he wrote a book on all of this entitled, Unveiling the Apocalypse. While Emmett’s amazing book goes into mind-boggling details, I want to highlight some of the events we are about to experience during this centennial year of Fatima, many of which Emmett O’Regan has brought to my attention.

I’ve recently become aware of St. Michael’s Lent, thanks to Emmett O’Regan. St. Francis of Assisi was especially devoted to Saint Michael and would fast from the Feast of the Assumption (August 15) to Saint Michael’s Feast Day on September 29. In fact, St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata while he was praying and fasting during St. Michael’s Lent. Some Franciscan communities continue to observe the period from August 15 to September 29 as “St. Michael’s Lent”, a time of fasting and prayer. Shortly after the beginning of this year’s St. Michael’s Lent, August 21, 2017, on the Feast of Our Lady of Knock, there will be a Total Solar Eclipse that cuts across the heart of America. (Read more.)
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St. Columba's Scriptorium

From Blog of the Courtier:
St. Columba (521-597 A.D.) is known as one of the “Apostles of Ireland”, and you can read a more thorough biography of him by following this link. He lived the second half of his life on the Scottish island of Iona, where he founded a hugely influential monastic community in which he served as Abbott. He spent a great deal of time during the day writing and praying in his scriptorium, which was really just a little wooden hut that he built on a rocky mound overlooking the Abbey.

Not everything on Iona was contemplative, however. St. Columba and his companions also worked actively to expand their community to become a training center for missionaries to the many pagan tribes that dominated much of the British Isles during this period. In addition, the monks at Iona not only chronicled much of early Irish history, and preserved ancient texts for their library that would otherwise have been lost to us, but they are believed by many historians to have created the famous Book of Kells, with its lavish and strange Celtic decorations. (Read more.)
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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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QTBGL Catholics

From Crisis:
For those who may not know, “QTBGL” stands for “Quietly Totally Believing God’s Law” and is sometimes referred to more simply as “TBGL” (just Totally Believing God’s Law). Personally, I think the “Q” is an essential aspect of our community, since it’s important to recognize just how quietly we go about totally believing the fullness of truth of the Catholic faith in our daily lives.

Coming out at this moment is vitally important. Not only do I need to be utterly honest about who I really am, but the Church needs to do a better job ministering to the QTBGL Catholic in the pew, not to mention QTBGL clergy in the Church, like me. We are marginalized, unjustly discriminated against, and regularly face demeaning “orthophobia” (irrational hate for, and fear of, right-thinking Christians) not only from fellow Catholics but even from secular society.

The level of orthophobia is getting worse, in fact. Within the Church, we are called “haters” and “bigots” simply for accepting and affirming what the Church actually teaches us about liturgy, justice, virtue, and, of course, the human person and sexuality (natural law). Outside the Church, orthophobes everywhere are trying to curtail our religious liberty, take away our conscience rights, and subject us to ridicule and hate simply because of who we really are.

Yet many QTBGL Catholics really feel as though we were born this way. Or at least baptized this way. Even in the face of such orthophobic animosity and outright discrimination (some of us have even lost jobs after publicly coming out as QTBGL), we know we are being true to ourselves. We are resigned to a rather lonely life of quietly accepting each and every truth taught to us by the Church, often at great personal cost. (Read more.)
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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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