Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas at the London Ritz

From The Telegraph:
‘It’s Christmas EVERYWHERE. EVERYTHING IS MAGICAL.”
This was my five-year-old son’s overriding impression of London at Christmas, seen from a taxi, a crowded pavement, a rooftop hotel suite – even King’s Cross station. An awe-inspired, open-mouthed impression of unadulterated wonder, and salient reminder to self that there is more to a city Christmas than a busy commute, longer-than-usual queues and an overload of piped Christmas music.

So hear ye, countryphiles and city phobes: from the mulled wine-scented markets of Leeds, Bath and Nottingham, to the shimmering ice rinks of Edinburgh and Bristol, it can be easy to forget that the UK has a good track record of city Christmases. Never mind the serene calm of your garden centre wonderlands and your home-made wreath workshops, what you really want, whether you’re pushing eight or 80, is the festive hustle and bustle, the “look-up-now!” lights, the window displays, the chestnuts roasting on a street vendor’s fire, and the in-store Father Christmas grottos of one of our fine festive cities. Which is why I decided to pluck my entire family from our countryside idyll into London ON A WEEKEND.

And I can report that city Christmases from the eyes of the children are indeed spellbinding. A recurring theme, when your base for this festive overload is one of its most iconic buildings: The Ritz. Yes, the place where 500 mince pies are baked fresh every day, that serves 60 turkeys at The Ritz Restaurant and makes 5,000 finger sandwiches a day throughout the festive season, is (not surprisingly) known for its charmingly traditional, but nevertheless super-sized Christmas. And this year, we were there to witness its transformation from iconic Louis XVI splendour to, well, festive Louis XVI splendour. (Read more.)


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Collateral Damage

From Life Site:
“Hefner himself was not single-handedly responsible for the massive social changes that rocked the Western world from the Sexual Revolution onwards, but he was easily the single most recognizable symbol of them all,” notes Jonathon Van Maren in his 2016 book, The Culture War.

[...]

“All revolutions have collateral damage, and in all revolutions some civilians get hurt,” wrote Van Maren. “But the catastrophe of Hefner’s Sexual Revolution will be felt for generations: Fifty million pre-born children aborted, marriages smashed or abandoned, millions of children growing up in broken homes, rates of porn addiction that have crippled a generation of men, and a hypersexualized society that uses the bodies of girls and women to sell nearly every product on the market. The destruction and the carnage are nearly unfathomable.” (Read more.)
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The Bulwark Against Apostasy

From LifeSiteNews:
Why have so many Christians proved to be so vulnerable to, even eager for, the pathological narratives of our time? Why, in short, do we tell lies to ourselves? We deceive ourselves because there are abundant rewards for doing so, while simultaneously the inner tensions inherent in the moral struggle of the human condition are eased, left behind, as if we were discarding an outmoded legend. Daily, we gulp plausible lies, a web of falsehoods coupled to flattery, to emotional and physical pleasures, and constantly reinforced by a new world culture largely contrived by the entertainment and communications media, by the corruption of education, by morally compromised politics, and most reprehensible of all, by ambiguous theology and spurious spiritualities.

In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul exhorts the shepherds of the flock of the Lord to preach the word of God with determination, in season and out of season, to “convince, rebuke, and exhort,” to be unfailing in persistence and in teaching. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths” (2 Tim 4: 3-4).

If the current studies of faith and practice in the Western world are accurate, it appears that more than 80% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the need for Confession, nor in other fundamental doctrines of the Faith. Consistently, this majority rejects Church teachings on sexual morality. Yet many among them continue to attend Mass or define themselves as Catholic as a kind of cultural religious identity, useful as an ethical system in which to raise one’s children as law-abiding citizens—as “basically good people”—but demanding no accountability before God and man. (Read more.)
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Persuasion

From The Conversation:
It is – among many other things – the most moving love story she ever told. Anne Elliot is the second daughter of the absurdly vain baronet Sir Walter Elliot of Kellynch Hall. Frederick Wentworth is an officer in the British navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Eight years before the novel begins, Wentworth proposes to Anne and she accepts him after a brief and intense courtship, only to be persuaded by her father and her older friend Lady Russell to break off the engagement. Wentworth, angry and badly hurt, goes back to sea, where he conducts a successful series of raiding expeditions on enemy ships, and amasses a fortune in prize money.

When Napoleon abdicates for the first time in April 1814, Wentworth returns to England and soon pays a visit to his sister, who now lives near Anne. Throughout his absence, meanwhile, Anne has found no one who compares to him, and has pined away to the point where now, at 27 years old, her bloom is gone and she has begun the descent into spinsterhood. Many critics have argued that, as a result of suffering and regret, Anne is already “mature” when the novel opens, while the rich and carefree Wentworth has a good deal of growing up to do before he recognizes – or, rather, re-recognizes – her worth.

On the contrary, for all that divides them when he returns, Anne has as much to learn about love as Wentworth does, and her journey toward their reconciliation contains as much confusion as his. Indeed, part of the enormous appeal of Persuasion is Austen’s ability to convey the ways in which Wentworth and Anne are moving steadily toward one another even as their various missteps, flirtations and assumptions seem to be driving them still further apart. Their reunion is the finest scene in all of Austen, and in it they do not even speak face to face, for Austen understood that mediated and misdirected messages frequently carry a far greater charge than explicit declarations.

Anne and Wentworth are both in a room at the White Hart Inn in Bath. He is sitting at a desk writing a letter. She is nearby speaking to a mutual friend, Captain Harville, about men, women and constancy. Harville believes that men feel more deeply than women. Anne takes the opposite view, and while she does not mention Wentworth or her own circumstances, everything she says is clearly with him in mind.

She has spoken to no one about her grief over Wentworth, and it is not long before eight years of pent-up anguish flood out of her. “We certainly do not forget you, so soon as you forget us,” she tells Harville. “It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us.” Wentworth, still writing his letter, overhears Anne’s comments and knows immediately that she is speaking about their relationship, and about all that has been lost. Seizing another sheet of paper, he begins a second letter in which he records his feelings toward her as she utters hers toward him, and which he leaves behind on the desk for her to read. (Read more.)
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Young Adults and Mental Health

From The Telegraph:
Almost half of adults between 16 and 24 said they had experienced stress or anxiety, compared to just over a third of all UK adults. Young adults were also more likely to be uncomfortable talking about a mental health problem, with one in three saying this compared to 27 per cent of all adults. 13 per cent also said they were experiencing a problem but had not sought help, compared to seven per cent of all adults. (Read more.)
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Our Lady and Stress

From The Catholic Herald:
People with a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe have fewer health issues related to stress, a study by the University of Alabama has said. “This drives home how important faith is. In the study results, I found that people who are exposed to stress – their well-being goes down over time. Those who were Guadalupan devotees broke that pattern,” explained Rebecca Read-Wahidi, the study’s author.

She grew up in Forest, where the state’s largest concentration of Latinos works in poultry plants. They worship at St. Michael or at its mission San Martin. A community of religious sisters, Guadalupan Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, ministers to the mix of Mexicans, Guatemalans and other Latin Americans. The sisters teach English, host consulates and even offer workshops in what to do if people are stopped by police or immigration agents. Our Lady of Guadalupe is more than just a mother figure to her people, she is their mother. Read-Wahidi said most of the devotees she interviewed have conversations with her throughout the day. (Read more.)
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Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Homes

From Southern Lady:
For more than 30 years, this homeowner has organized the annual Christmas Candlelight Tour, a fundraiser for the Edenton Historical Commission that welcomes visitors into a dozen splendid residences and beloved historical spaces. In her own home, the storied Skinner-Paxton House, natural elements add to the spirit of this glorious season. (Read more.)
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The Government is Not a Charity

From Matt Walsh:
As I see it, there are two very serious problems with the idea that we fulfill our Biblical duties by paying high taxes in order to fund a vast and wasteful Welfare State:

1) The people most likely to make this kind of argument in favor of high taxes are also the most likely to reject this kind of argument in favor of any other law. But if we are required to shape our tax policy according to Our Lord's divine edicts (sounds good to me), then it follows that we must shape other public policies by the same standard.

So, goodbye abortion. For the Ten Commandments clearly forbid the taking of innocent life. Jeremiah 1:5 explicitly affirms the humanity of the unborn, as God declares, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." And the Incarnation makes the issue as plain as can be. Our Lord became a "fetus" Himself. He was conceived in His mother's womb and He developed through every stage just as every other child in history. Liberal Christians claim that Jesus never said anything about the unborn. Nonsense. He didn't need to say anything about them. He became them. He elevated and sanctified human life at every stage by taking its form. End of discussion. (Read more.)
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