Requiescat In Pace
“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”
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
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
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.
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
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.”
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
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, 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
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
“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
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
Christopher Hitchens passed away here in Houston last night at the age of 62.
Known for his punditry on all things political, he was a dedicated atheist and opponent of the Church. His calm and verbose delivery always made me listen to what he had to say.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Patrick “Jack” Murtha, Jr. died Wednesday morning at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA, after complications from gallbladder surgery. Murtha was 77.
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.
May he rest in peace.
 Fox News entry by Chad Pergram.
 Wikipedia entry for John Murtha, Political Views
Hattip to Jay Anderson at Pro Ecclesia. Ralph 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.