Requiescat In Pace: Jerry Lewis

Jerry Lewis has passed away at 91.  Growing up, the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon was a favorite of my late parents, and they always made sure to contribute.  Like most things about Lewis in his turbulent life, controversy dogged his efforts on behalf of those afflicted with the disease, but over the life of the telethon he raised 2.45 billion dollars for the fight against that insidious genetic malady.  At his best Lewis was a brilliant comic, at his worst only the French could stand him.  He kept his politics to himself, unlike so many in his industry, but judging from the few comments he did make he was on the conservative side of the political ledger, at least in later life.  Lewis will be remembered for making people laugh and his charitable activities and that is not a bad legacy.

7

Requiescat In Pace: Glen Campbell

 

Glen Cambell has passed away at age 81.  I will let Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts do the honors:

 

Glen Campbell died today. One of the earliest memories I have is watching him perform on some variety show. It was on our old console television set that was about as big as our sofa. We lived out in the country then, and moved in town shortly after I turned five. That must mean I was around four, and it would have been c. 1971 give or take.

Campbell was one of those individuals who formed the backdrop of my life. He was always there. His name rolled off as easy as The Beatles or Star Wars. His signature song, Rhinestone Cowboy, was released when I was around eight or nine. It was one of those songs everyone sang, whether correctly or not.

Over the years, he was always just there. A part of my collective memories. When he announced he had Alzheimer’s, I was sad. My Dad had the same, and it’s everything it’s cracked up to be.

Nonetheless, the memories for me remain. God grant his family peace and strength through the upcoming years. And eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let the perpetual light shine upon him.

Go here to read the comments.  Strangely, my memories of Campbell go back 48 years to his performance in True Grit (1969).  I thought he did a fine job and it is a pity he didn’t do more acting. Continue Reading

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Requiescat In Pace: Robert Hardy

As the war raged on I studied English at Oxford University, but my education was interrupted by my joining the RAF to train as a pilot. It was there that I got to meet Richard Burton – a navigator in the RAF – who would become so great a friend.

In 1949 I embarked on a career as an actor, and I was with Richard when I met Churchill for a second time in the early 1950s. We were appearing in Hamlet together at the Old Vic, with Richard as the Prince of Denmark. We knew Winston, who at this time was once again Prime Minister, was in the audience – he was unmissable sitting in the front row. 

After the performance we were in Richard’s dressing room when the mighty man burst in, cigar in hand, and, addressing Richard as if he was still in character, said, ‘Your Highness, I am in great need – do have you a lavatory?’

When he came out he complemented Richard on his ‘very forthright Hamlet’ before adding, ‘I’m astonished that such a man should wait so long to avenge his father!’ Needless to say, Richard and I dined out on that for weeks to come.

Robert Hardy

Sad news.  British actor Robert Hardy has died at 91.  Far too young for such a delightful man and talented actor.  At Oxford he studied English under CS Lewis and JRR Tokien, and he ever cherished that opportunity that fate handed him.  He became one of the foremost authorities on the English longbow.  (I have a book in my library that he wrote on the history of the longbow.)  He spoke and wrote in a most pellucid English, no doubt a tribute to his instruction from Lewis and Tolkien.  He of course is remembered for his acting.  To the younger generation he is Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic in the Harry Potter films.  Some may recall him as irascible, but good-hearted, veterinary Siegfried Farnon in the television series All Creatures Great and Small.  To me he will always be the definitive film Winston Churchill, a role that he played nine times. His longest portrayal was in the eight part miniseries The Wilderness Years, broadcast in the eighties, which may be found on You Tube.  Hail and farewell Mr. Hardy, may you have a joyous reunion with your two favorite professors in the world to come.

Continue Reading

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Requiescat In Pace: Martin Landau

Actor Martin Landau is dead at age 89.  I became familiar with his work as a child sitting through endless Mission: Impossible episodes.  A very good character actor, he had the talent of drawing attention to the role he was playing rather than to himself.  Unlike many in his profession, he kept whatever private political views he had private.  The above video has my favorite of his many, many roles.

3

Powers Boothe: Requiescat In Pace

Perhaps the greatest American character actor of his time, Powers Boothe passed away in his sleep at age 68 on Pentecost this year.  An anomaly in Hollywood, he was married to his one and only wife since 1969 and he was a Republican.  He could play anything:  from insane villains like Jim Jones to heroes like Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Tanner in Red Dawn (1984).  Like most great actors and actresses he made it look easy.  The son of a Texas sharecropper, Boothe had a down to earth quality he brought to most roles he was playing.  I will miss him. Continue Reading

Requiescat In Pace: Judge Joseph Wapner

 

 

Judge Joseph Wapner, the frequently testy judge of The People’s Court, has died at age 97.  A trial judge for 20 years in California, after his retirement he became the first television judge.  Unlike many of the “judges” who followed him, Wapner based his rulings on sound legal principles.  He also had a real judge’s usual testiness with ill prepared litigants.  Married for 70 years to his wife, he was an Army combat veteran of the Pacific in World War II where he served as a Lieutenant and earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.  May the Great Judge give him a merciful ruling.

 

 

9

Requiescat In Pace: William Peter Blatty

 

William Peter Blatty died this week at age 89.  He had a long career as a screenwriter and an author.  Despite his multiple marriages, his latest in 1983 and which would last to his death, Blatty remained a Catholic and in the latter part of his life a fervent one.  Best known as the author of The Exorcist Blatty often complained that the work was misunderstood.  He viewed its themes as being that there is a God and that the universe has a happy ending.  Most recently, he spearheaded a drive to have the Vatican find that Georgetown University, his alma mater, was in violation of its papal charter.  The Vatican in 2014 stated that the petition sent in by Blatty was well founded and then promptly did nothing.

 

 

“There it lies, I think, Damien … possession; not in wars, as some tend to believe; not so much; and very rarely in extraordinary interventions such as here … this girl … this poor child. No, I tend to see possession most often in the little things, Damien: in the senseless, petty spites and misunderstandings; the cruel and cutting word that leaps unbidden to the tongue between friends. Between lovers. Between husbands and wives. Enough of these and we have no need of Satan to manage our wars; these we manage for ourselves … for ourselves.”

William Peter Blatty, Father Lankester Merrin in The Exorcist

 

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Requiescat In Pace: William Christopher

“But I’m not Catholic Father.”

“None of us are perfect my son!”

Father John Patrick Mulcahy to a patient in an episode of the MASH television show.

 

During my misspent youth I wasted too many hours watching the old MASH sitcom set during the Korean War in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.  I really didn’t even like the show, especially after Alan Alda transformed the character of Hawkeye Pierce into an insufferable liberal know it all, but back in the seventies television loomed larger than it does now, being about the only home electronic entertainment available, and as long as people were awake the TV sets were on.  One part of the show that I did like was the character of Father John Patrick Mulcahy, the unit chaplain, played by actor William Christopher who passed away on New Years Eve.  I was annoyed that Mulcahy didn’t get more screen time and that he sometimes came across as something of a weak sister, not at all like the actual priests I knew who had served as chaplains in the military.  Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts has done some digging about Christopher and his battle to give a more realistic treatment to the priest he portrayed:

 

 

As if 2016 needed one more victim, only hours before the year ended, William Christopher died.  To fans of the TV series MASH, he was the quintessential television padre.

It’s worth noting that Christopher was also an early advocate for autism.  This came from his own child’s condition.  Dustin Hoffman stayed with him to research his role in Rain Man.

As an actor, Mr. Christopher didn’t often revisit the TV series that made him famous.  Part of it was the frustration he had as an actor.  He replaced the original actor for the part of Fr. Mulcahy because, according to the producers, Christopher had a ‘quirky’ way about him.  Initially he was a sideline character, a third tier without being listed on the opening credits.

As an actor, and as a person with bills to pay, he wanted his character to be more.  He researched by going to local Catholic churches and talking to army chaplains.  He did what he could to make his character, a Catholic chaplain, more believable.  But his main adversaries were Alan Alda and the writers.  Being generally non-religious and dismissive, if not outright hostile, toward religion, the writers had nothing to give to the character Christopher played.

In the interviews he did give over the years, he talked about the struggles he had making the role three dimensional.  A big obstacle was in openly non-religious Alda.  During development of the series, Alda came to play a bigger and bigger role in the show’s creative direction.  During that time, Alda came up with the character of Dr. Sidney Freedman, an army psychiatrist who would help unpack some of the psychological traumas of war.

Christopher protested.  That’s what a chaplain is for.  Alda and the writers didn’t listen.  They couldn’t conceive of a religious figure being anything other than fodder for jokes.  The low point for Christopher came early on.  In a particular episode, the camp was alerted to Major Margaret Houlihan’s tent, only to find her and Frank Burns together.  The running gag was that they were having an ongoing affair they believed was secret, when everyone knew.  Fr. Mulcahy , however, was supposed to show up and deliver the line: “What could they be doing in there?”

Christopher howled.  He said it was almost degrading to think an army chaplain, or anyone, would be so stupid.  The writers stood their ground.  They insisted he deliver the line.  Christopher acquiesced, but at shooting time, he added an eye roll.  If you see the episode, you see him do it.  In other words, the good chaplain knew darn well what they were doing.  It was a big turning point according to Christopher.  He realized he played a religious character surrounded by writers and producers who had nothing but contempt for religion.

Over the years, he fought to get more meaningful stories.  Finally, they agreed to center more on his character.  In one episode, he and corporal O’Reilly had to bring a seriously wounded soldier back from the front line aid station.  On the way, the soldier began choking because his tongue had swollen.  Using the radio, the surgeons guided Fr. Mulcahy through an improvised tracheotomy.  Good, but not good enough. As Christopher said, it could have been anyone, and it had nothing to do with the religious nature of his role.

Finally he began to get his way.  As the later episodes became less comedy and more drama, he used that fact to get roles delving into the spiritual, and his own character’s ability to minister accordingly.  The role of Sidney Freedman diminished in later years as Christopher demonstrated that psychological training is part and parcel for chaplains in the army.  They didn’t have to call Seoul for counseling and psychological help, they had someone there already.

But he didn’t try to make his character into a superman.  He looked at the flaws that come with religious service as well.  The later episodes aren’t usually considered the best, being heavy handed and preachy.  But there are some gems, especially where developing the characters of Fr. Mulcahy or Charles Winchester are concerned.

In one, Fr. Mulcahy is all aflutter.  His superior, Cardinal Reardon, is in the country on inspection.  Mulcahy fears that he is irrelevant in the camp, and that the camp is awash in decadence and immorality.  This is driven home by several scenes showing everyone acting as they will, without considering Mulcahy ‘s dilemma.

Meanwhile, a young Patrick Swayze plays a soldier who has just been told he has leukemia.  Alda’s character Hawkeye is devastated by having to deliver the news.  The day comes and Mulcahy’s superior arrives, only to find gambling, sleeping around, tomfoolery and licentiousness of all types, much to the chagrin of Mulcahy and camp commander Colonel Potter. Mulcahy storms into the mess tent and sits by Hawkeye, letting loose his frustration about how unfairly he’s being treated.  Nobody in the camp cares about what he is going through!  Hawkeye only politely listens.  Getting no response, Mulcahy lashes out at Hawkeye for being so dismissive.  That’s when Hawkeye explains the leukemia situation.

The morning then comes for the big service.  Everyone is going to hear Cardinal Reardon, but Fr. Mulcahy is supposed to introduce him.  The entire camp turns out in a show of support.  They do care after all.  But no Mulcahy.  Panicking, they look around and find him, sitting at the edge of Patrick Swayzes’ bed, the two comforting each other.  Mulcahy is unshaven and still in his bathrobe.  Quickly they rush to the mess tent where everyone, including the cardinal, is gathered.

What follows is one of the greatest sermons I’ve ever seen in any fictional account of religion, ever.

Continue Reading

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Requiescat In Pace: Phyllis Schlafly

 

 

It hardly seems possible.  Phyllis Schlafly has died at age 92.  Mother of six, she had a superb intellect and a will of steel.  A  devout Catholic, she saw through contemporary feminism to the fundamentally nihilist philosophy it is, and led the successful fight against the Equal Rights Amendment.  One of the key founders of modern conservatism, she was a true force of nature.  I met her when she was giving a speech at the U of I on the day Reagan was shot.  Along with other student conservatives I helped provide security against a leftist mob that cheered the shooting of Reagan.  They attempted, and failed, to shout Schlafly  down, who remained calm and indomitable in a very dicey situation, gave her speech, and took questions from the audience, batting away with ease the insulting sallies of her leftist interlocutors.  If all conservative men had half her courage, this country would be in much better shape. Continue Reading

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Justice Antonin Scalia: Requiescat in Pace

 

 

A very sad day.  Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died:

 

 

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said he was among those notified about Scalia’s death.

“I was told it was this morning,” Biery said of Scalia’s death. “It happened on a ranch out near Marfa. As far as the details, I think it’s pretty vague right now as to how,” he said. “My reaction is it’s very unfortunate. It’s unfortunate with any death, and politically in the presidential cycle we’re in, my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected.”

 

Go here to read the rest.  Republicans in the Senate should refuse to confirm anyone nominated to his seat and hope that the next President will be a Republican.

 

A devout Catholic, Justice Scalia was an ardent and eloquent  defender of the Constitution.  A small sample of his brilliance and his passion: Continue Reading

35

Requiescat in Pace: Chris Bissey

Chris and Family

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

John 11:25

My secretary and office manager Chris Bissey passed away in the early hours of this morning, age 51, ending her over two years fight against cancer.  I have seen many a valiant fight against cancer in my life, including that of my mother who died at 48 on Easter Sunday 1984, but never a braver one than that fought by Chris.  Throughout her ordeal her spirit was ever unbroken, she usually cheering up those around her.  She was bright and optimistic, just as she had been throughout her life.  She worked up until Wednesday of this week, telling the Grim Reaper that she had tasks to attend to and he could just wait until she was ready.

She worked for me for thirty years.  I called her my secret weapon.  If I needed a hearing scheduled and she was told that it was impossible, she would get it scheduled anyway.  Astonished Judges often asked me how I managed to get a hearing set before them on a date when they said no more settings.  I replied that it was by black magic, black magic that went by the name of Chris Bissey.  She routinely did the impossible for me, imposing order on hundreds of open files, typing up my endless documents at lightning speed, making friends among courthouse staffs and charming all who came into my office and called on the phone.  It was a rare week when I did not receive at least one compliment in regard to Chris.

She was much more to me however than a secretary.  She was also a good friend.  Over the years we looked out for each other and helped each other through our triumphs and our tragedies.  Outside of my immediate family, no person was closer to me than Chris. Continue Reading

4

Requiescat in Pace: Tom Magliozzi

 

For decades I enjoyed the antics of the two hosts of Car Talk on NPR.  Having zero interest in the technical aspects of motor vehicles, I would often listen to the hilarious advice they gave to their callers as I drove my family to destinations on Saturday morning.  “Click and Clack” added to family hilarity over the years and for that I am duly thankful.  Half the team died earlier this month:

 

Tom Magliozzi, half of the “Click and Clack” team of brothers who hosted NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show, died Monday. He was 77.

NPR reported the death Monday afternoon. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s disease, the radio network said.

In a statement, his brother Ray remembered a jovial partner.

 

“We can be happy he lived the life he wanted to live; goofing off a lot, talking to you guys every week, and primarily, laughing his ass off,” he said.

For more than 25 years, “Car Talk” has been one of NPR’s most popular shows, a laid-back free-for-all that’s only occasionally about cars. The brothers stopped doing original broadcasts two years ago, but archival material has kept their laughter on the air.

A typical show featured Tom Magliozzi and Ray, 12 years his junior, taking questions from listeners about whether it was appropriate to buy a BMW roadster for a teenager, how to get the smell of a dead mouse out of an air-conditioning vent and whether relationships were worth pursuing with a partner who owned an old rattletrap.

Tom Magliozzi had an old rattletrap himself, a 1963 Dodge Dart that was a constant source of fun for both brothers.

In fact, most things were sources of fun for the brothers, whose uproarious laughter frequently punctuated the show.

“His laugh is the working definition of infectious laughter,” Doug Berman, the longtime producer of “Car Talk,” told NPR. “Before I ever met him, I heard him, and it wasn’t on the air.”

“Car Talk” debuted in 1977 on Boston radio station WBUR. NPR picked it up in 1987. The show was drawing about 4 million listeners at the time the brothers stopped making original broadcasts in 2012. The network said in a statement that it continues to be a top-rated show. Continue Reading

2

Peter O’Toole: Requiescat In Pace

 

 

Perhaps the foremost actor of his time, Peter O’Toole died yesterday.  As indicated by the video clip above from For Greater Glory, O’Toole never lost his skill before the camera.  He catapulted to fame in Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 in the eponymous role of T.E. Lawrence.

His portrayal of Lawrence was the archetype for many other O’Toole roles:  intense, a bit of humor, nervous and more than a little mad.

 

Continue Reading

Kenneth Minogue: Requiescat In Pace

 

 

In a field dominated by the most complete rubbish imaginable, Political Science, Kenneth Minogue was a voice of reason:

Olympianism is the characteristic belief system of today’s secularist, and it has itself many of the features of a religion. For one thing, the fusion of political conviction and moral superiority into a single package resembles the way in which religions (outside liberal states) constitute comprehensive ways of life supplying all that is necessary (in the eyes of believers) for salvation. Again, the religions with which we are familiar are monotheistic and refer everything to a single center. In traditional religions, this is usually God; with Olympianism, it is society, understood ultimately as including the whole of humanity. And Olympianism, like many religions, is keen to proselytize. Its characteristic mode of missionary activity is journalism and the media.

If Olympianism has the character of a religion, as I am suggesting, there would be no mystery about its hostility to Christianity. Real religions (by contrast with test-tube religions such as ecumenism) don’t much like each other; they are, after all, competitors. Olympianism, however, is in the interesting position of being a kind of religion which does not recognize itself as such, and indeed claims a cognitive superiority to religion in general. But there is a deeper reason why the spread of Olympianism may be measured by the degree of Christophobia. It is that Olympianism is an imperial project which can only be hindered by the association between Christianity and the West. Continue Reading

133

Lawrence Charles McClarey: Requiescat In Pace

 

Larry McClarey

 

My beloved son, Lawrence Charles McClarey, passed away of a seizure last night.  I found him this morning at 6:15 AM when I attempted to rouse him for the “Daddy Readings” that he and I had done daily since he was a small boy.  Larry had autism, an infectious smile, and was a continual joy to all who knew him.  Once he attained puberty he began having seizures, not uncommon in autism, and I gave him seizure medication daily.  He lived for 21 years on this earth and he was the light of this world for myself and his mother, my bride.  On this dark day I am comforted by the knowledge that even now he is beholding the Beatific Vision.  He lived in love and now he will stand forever before Love Incarnate.  Please pray for the repose of his soul.  I will resume blogging sometime after Memorial Day.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

5

Patty Andrews: Requiescat in Pace

The last of the Andrews Sisters, Patty Andrews, died yesterday at 94.  The daughters of a Greek immigrant and a Norwegian-American mother in Minnesota, the Andrews Sisters were an amazingly successful singing act, selling over 75 million records.  They were also ardent patriots.

During World War II the Andrews Sisters tirelessly performed for the USO stateside and in Africa and Italy.  They were enormously effective at selling war bonds with their rendition of Irving Berlin’s Any Bonds Today.  They helped found The Hollywood Canteen and donated their time to perform there, a memorable pleasant stopping off point for sailors, marines, soldiers and airmen on their way to the hell of war in the Pacific.  When they were entertaining troops they often would pick three servicemen at random to dine with them after the show.  Performing so frequently on Armed Forces Radio, they were designated the Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service.  They recorded millions of V-Disks for distribution of their songs to the troops.  Continue Reading

4

Robert Bork: Requiescat in Pace

 

If the Constitution is law, then presumably its meaning, like that of all other law, is the meaning the lawmakers were understood to have intended.  If the Constitution is law, then presumably, like all other law, the meaning the lawmakers intended is as binding upon judges as it is upon legislatures and executives.  There is no other sense in which the Constitution can be what article VI proclaims it to be: “Law….” This means, of course, that a judge, no matter on what court he sits, may never create new
constitutional rights or destroy old ones.  Any time he does so, he violates not
only the limits to his own authority but, and for that reason, also violates the
rights of the legislature and the people….the philosophy of original
understanding is thus a necessary inference from the structure of government apparent on the face of the Constitution.

Robert Bork

 

Robert Bork, one of the titans of American Law, has died.  The foremost expert on anti-trust,  and a champion of originalism in regard to the Constitution, Bork was appointed by President Reagan to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  In 1987 he was nominated by Reagan for the Supreme Court.  In a campaign of lies and personal vilification spearheaded, fittingly enough, by Senator Edward M. Kennedy his nomination was defeated.  If he had been confirmed, Roe v. Wade would now be merely a bitter memory.  Continue Reading

8

Neil Armstrong: Requiescat in Pace

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

Statement of the Armstrong Family

 

 

The first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, died today at 82.  He served as a naval fighter pilot in Korea, flying 78 combat missions.  A test pilot after the war, his feats in that field were legendary, combining strong engineering ability, cold courage and preternatural flight skills.  He was accepted into the astronaut program in 1962.  On July 20, 1969, in the middle of the night in Central Illinois, he set foot on the moon.  My father and I, like most of the country, were riveted to the television screen as we watched a turning point in the history of humanity.  He intended to say, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”  It came out:  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  Godspeed Mr. Armstrong on the journey you have just embarked upon. Continue Reading

6

John Keegan: Requiescat in Pace

“Now tell us what ’twas all about,

“Young Peterkin, he cries;

And little Wilhelmine looks up

With wonder-waiting eyes;

“Now tell us all about the war,

And what they fought each other for.”

“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,

“Who put the French to rout;

But what they fought each other for

I could not well make out;

But everybody said,” quoth he,

“That ’twas a famous victory.”

Robert Southey, The Battle of Blenheim

One of my favorite military historians died today, John Keegan.  A Brit, Keegan wrote with skill about the history of war, and never forgot the human element, as he demonstrated in his magisterial The Face of  Battle, which looked at conflict through the ages from the point of view of the common soldiers at the sharp end of the spear.

He firmly believed that different nations viewed military history from different perspectives depending upon how they had fared in their recent wars:

 

It is really only in the English-speaking countries, whose land campaigns, with the exception of those of the American Civil War, have all been waged outside the national territory, that military history has been able to acquire the status of a humane study with a wide, general readership among informed minds. The reasons for that are obvious; our defeats have never threatened our national survival, our wars in consequence have never deeply divided our countries (Vietnam may — but probably will not — prove a lasting exception) and we have never therefore demanded scapegoats or Titans. In that vein, it is significant that the only cult general in the English-speaking world — Robert E Lee — was the paladin of its only component community ever to suffer military catastrophe, the Confederacy.

 

For the privileged majority of our world, land warfare during the last hundred and fifty years — the period which coincides with the emergence of modern historical scholarship — has been in the last resort a spectator activity. Hence our demand for, and pleasure in, well-written and intelligent commentary. Hence too our limited conception of military-historical controversy… It does not comprehend questions about whether or not, by better military judgment, we might still govern ourselves from our national capital — as it does for the Germans; whether or not we might have avoided four years of foreign occupation — as it does for the French; whether or not we might have saved the lives of 20 millions of our fellow countrymen — as it does for the Russians. Had we to face questions like that, were military history not for us a success story, our military historiography would doubtless bear all the marks of circumscription, over-technicality, bombast, personal vilification, narrow xenophobia and inelegant style which, separately or in combination, disfigure — to our eyes — the work of French, German and Russian writers. Continue Reading

6

Chuck Colson: Requiescat in Pace

Chuck Colson died today at age 80.  A former self described Nixon hatchet man, he went to prison for his involvement in Watergate.  He underwent a religious conversion and turned his life around.  After his release from prison he founded Prison Fellowship, an organization that has won accolades for its work in bringing the gospel to men and women incarcerated.  He was ever a tireless voice for the unborn and the handicapped, as the video above indicates.  In a time of easy cynicism and fashionable atheism, Colson’s conversion was a reminder of the power of the grace of God for those who humbly repent and accept it.  The world is poorer by his passing.  May God grant him mercy and the Beatific Vision. Continue Reading

3

Warren H. Carroll, Requiescat in Pace

Warren H. Carroll died yesterday at age 79.  Founder of Christendom College, he earned a BA from Bates College and an MA and Phd in history from Columbia.  He converted to the Faith in 1968 and thereafter fought a tireless battle in defense of the Faith.  The author of a number of popular histories regarding events in Church history, his most significant scholarly work was his five volume History of Christendom.  I highly recommend the first four volumes.  (The fifth volume was written after he had a debilitating stroke and basically is largely a rehash of earlier writings on the events surrounding the French Revolution and is not up to the high standard of the first four volumes.)  He never pretended to objectivity:  his histories were always written from a strongly Catholic  point of view.  However, his scholarship was usually of a high order and he demonstrated a complete command of the historical literature involved in the subjects he wrote about.  His notes and annotated bibliography in the History of Christendom are a joy to read for any lover of history.  I will miss him.  May he now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

 

8

Susannah York of ‘A Man For All Seasons’, Requiescat In Pace

Susannah York succumbed to cancer this past Friday at the age of 72.

She is best remembered for portraying Saint Thomas More‘s daughter, Margaret More, in what is arguably the greatest Catholic film of all time, A Man For All Seasons.

She was very beautiful and enchanting and her role as Margaret More captured the essences of an integrated Catholic life that is an excellent example for laypeople everywhere today.

The following clip is that of the King paying his Lord Chancellor, Saint Thomas More, a visit on his estate.  The King encounters More’s family and is introduced to More’s daughter, Margaret, at the :45 mark of the clip.  They engage in conversation at the 1:32 mark of the clip.  The entire 10 minutes should be viewed to really enjoy her performance and appreciate the film itself:

Here is the trailer to that magnificent Catholic film, A Man For All Seasons:

Post script:  I was unable to find out if Susannah York was a Catholic or not, but her portrayal of Margaret More is a fine example of living a Catholic life.

Cross-posted at Gulf Coast Catholic.

4

Robert Byrd, Requiescat In Pace

Kristina Peterson of the Dow Jones Newswires writes for the Wall Street Journal this synopsis of Robert Byrd’s life:

Robert Byrd, the 92-year-old West Virginia Democrat who served in the U.S. Senate for 51 years, died Monday.

A spokesman for the family, Jesse Jacobs, said Mr. Byrd died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va. His health had been failing for several years.

A master of Senate procedures and orator whose Stentorian tones aimed to evoke the roots of the republic (if not Rome), Mr. Byrd served longer, voted more frequently, and probably used the arcane Senate rules to more effect any previous denizen of the nation’s senior legislative house.

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Polish President, Top Brass, Die in Plane Crash Over Russia

The London Daily Telegraph is reporting that Polish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, the Polish army chief, and most of the Polish political elite and their wives perished in a plane crash over Russia.

“It clipped the tops of the trees, crashed down and broke into pieces,” Mr. Sergei Antufiev reported of the Polish plane carrying President Lech Kaczynski how it crashed.  “There were no survivors.” Polish state news agency PAP reported the same.

In the case of a president’s death, the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament, Bronislaw Komorowski, takes over as head of state, Mr Komorowski’s assistant Jerzy Smolinski told Reuters.

Poland declared a week of national mourning as shocked citizens flocked to lay flowers and light candles outside the seat of government.

Notable Catholic blogger Damian Thompson, understanding the Polish people’s propensity for conspiracy theories, is speculating that many will begin blaming a cabal of Russian agencies for this tragic accident.

Let us keep those that have died and the grieving Polish people in our prayers.

For more breaking news of the tragic death of Polish President Lech Kaczynski click here.

5

John Murtha, 1932 to 2010 Anno Domini, Requiescat In Pace

John Patrick “Jack” Murtha, Jr. died Wednesday morning at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA, after complications from gallbladder surgery. Murtha was 77.[1]

Congressman Murtha was a Democrat with a relatively populist economic outlook, and is generally much more socially conservative than most other House Democrats. He is opposed to abortion, consistently receiving a 0% rating from NARAL and 70% rating from National Right to Life Committee; however, he supports embryonic stem cell research. He generally opposes gun control, earning an A from the National Rifle Association.  Murtha was also one of the few Democrats in Congress to vote against the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 and also one of the few Democrats to vote in favor of medical malpractice tort reform.[2]

May he rest in peace.

_._

[1] Fox News entry by Chad Pergram.

[2] Wikipedia entry for John Murtha, Political Views

5

Ralph McInerny, Requiescat in pace

Hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro EcclesiaRalph McInerny, scholar, professor, teacher, philosopher, expert on Medieval philosophy in general and Saint Thomas Aquinas in particular,  novelist who wrote the brilliant  Father Dowling mysteries, and, above all, a loyal son of the Church, has died.  The world has lost a scholar of the first order, and a gentleman of the first kindness.  He will be missed.  May he even now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

5

Port-au-Prince Earthquake: Archbishop Killed, Cathedral Destroyed

Vatican Radio and the Catholic News Agency report that Archbishop Serge Miot was among the many victims of yesterday’s earthquake.

According to the brief report, his body was found in the rubble of the archbishop’s office. They also reported that the Vicar General, Msgr. Benoit, was still missing.

According to the Vatican’s Fides news agency, Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza was reported as saying:

“Port-au-Prince is totally devastated. The cathedral, the Archbishop’s Office, all of the big churches, all of the seminaries have been reduced to rubble. The same luck for the Ministry buildings, the Presidential Palace, the schools. The Parish Priest of the Cathedral, who was spared, told me that the archbishop of Port-au-Prince would have died under the rubble, together with hundreds of seminarians and priests that are under the ruins.”

The historic cathedral of Port-au-Prince, an 18th century building, has collapsed, as have many other church’s through the city.

3

Funeral and Repast for Father Hinds Today

Father Edward Hinds

The funeral for Father Edward “Ed” Hinds will be celebrated today, Saturday, October 31,  A.D. 2009 at  10:00am.  The Mass will be the Rite of Christian Burial and simulcast live int he Saint Patrick Parish Center Gym, East/West Rooms, and Cafeteria.  Additional audio will be provided outside.

This will be followed by a private burial.

The Repast will be at 11:30am at the Corpus Christi Parish Center, 234 Southern Boulevard, Chatham, New Jersey.

_._

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Diocese of Paterson where Saint Patrick’s at Chatham is located had these moving words to say concerning the death of Fr. Hinds titled, A Life Cut Short: The Mystery of Evil:

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My Reaction to the Shooting of Jim Pouillon

It has already been confirmed that Jim Pouillon was shot to death for his pro-life views.

Jim Pouillon was a pro-lifer advocate that would stand outside of abortion mills hoping in turning away women from killing their unborn children.  He wore leg braces, was dependent on an oxygen tank, and was a “wonderful, Christian, peaceful man.” as described by close friend Cal Zastrow.

Jim Pouillon was also a Catholic and was remembered by his parish priest, Father John Fain of Saint Paul Church in Owosso, Michigan as “a good Christian and a faithful Catholic.

For self-disclosure I am very active in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in the pro-life movement.  One of the many activities that I participate in is peaceful prayer in front of Planned Parenthood.  So when I heard of the shooting I was deeply shocked at the news.

Even more shocking was the reaction in the secular world, particularly from the political extreme left as this example displays from the notorious Huffington Post:

“…with the way the fake news pundits will run with this one, we might as well get a good laugh out of it now.”

Though what was most disturbing at all was what emanated from various dissident Catholics and blogs when they began smearing the pro-life movement immediately after the attack by claiming that many pro-lifers are violent.

What can we do?

Pray for them.

Follow Jim Pouillon’s example of peaceful protest and prayer.  As our Lord and Savior told us, close the door behind us and pray in private.

Ora pro nobis.

9

Secularists Reaction To The Passing Away Of Ted Kennedy

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What secularists are saying on the passing away of Edward Moore Kennedy around the web:

Douglas Brinkley on Ted Kennedy’s Life: ‘He Did a Kind of a Redemptive Work’ by Matthew Balan of NewsBusters

Democrats now seek to exploit Ted Kennedy’s death by Jonah Goldberg

Larry King-like softball questions in a Q&A with Ted Kennedy Biographer Adam Clymer on Kennedy’s Catholicism by Dan Gilgoff of U.S. News & World Report

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Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009 AD, Requiescat In Pace

Ted Kennedy

[Update at the bottom of this post as of 8-26-2009 4:38 pm CST]

Edward Moore Kennedy, known as Ted Kennedy, passed away late last night in Hyannis Port after a battle with brain cancer at the age of 77.

A brief statement was released from his family:

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,”

Requiescat in pace Teddy.

Elizabeth Scalia, a.k.a. The Anchoress, has an in-depth look at Ted Kennedy’s life titled, Ted Kennedy, Healthcare & Purgatory.

Update I:   For reactions around the Catholic world click here.

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Bob Novak, May the Perpetual Light Shine Upon You

Robert Novak

Catholic convert Robert Novak died today.  He was many things:  a fellow University of Illinois alum, a devoted family man married to his beloved wife for 47 years, and a hard bitten journalist with a nose for news unrivaled in the business.  Novak was a conservative, but he never let his politics get in the way of a story.  Always staunchly pro-life, and respectful of Catholicism, his embrace of the Faith a decade ago came as little surprise to me.  I never met him, but I will sorely miss his presence in the public square.  May he  now be enjoying the Beatific Vision.

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Karen Novak, 1938-2009

Joseph Bottum @ First Things, relays the sad news:

Karen Novak slipped away this morning—a great artist, a good friend, the beloved wife of Michael Novak, and convivial presence at so many of our events.

You can find some of her artwork described on her website. But even they don’t capture her fun, her spirit, or how much we will miss her.

Please keep Michael Novak and his family in your prayers.

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Reflections on Death

My wife’s grandfather, Dave, died Saturday night after a long fight with a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease. As opposed to the more common forms that start in the appendages and work their up, this started immediately at the head and worked its way down. In his last days, he could not feed himself, speak, bathe himself, or even write to communicate with others what he needed. It was a difficult time for everyone; for my wife’s grandmother, who has divorced once and buried a second husband already; and for the rest of the family, who have felt as though they were just marking time, especially as week by week the reports of his health bore increasingly bleak news.

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