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Archives for April 2007

Okay, now THAT I didn’t need to see…

Is The Wife in cahoots with the spambots? You be the judge:

Today in Porn, What Could Possibly Be Left After This Edition

“I know! We’ll profile ‘what is arguably the country’s most successful fetish porn company!'”

And hey! There’s a Catholic hook!

“Peter Acworth is 36 and trim, with a pale, boyish face. He grew up in the English Midlands, the son of a sculptor and a former Jesuit priest, and came to the United States in 1996 to get a Ph.D. in finance at Columbia University. He had already worked for Baring Brothers in London and was on track to do analytical research on Wall Street. Then, after his first year, he read in a British tabloid about a fireman who sold pornographic pictures on the Internet. ‘He had made a quarter of a million pounds over a short period doing nothing very clever at all,’ Acworth told me not long ago, pointing to the clipping framed in his office in downtown San Francisco. ‘So I basically just ripped off that idea.’ Acworth has since built what is arguably the country’s most successful fetish porn company, — a fast-growing suite of 10 S-and-M and bondage-themed Web sites, each updated weekly with a new half-hour or hour video segment. Kink has 60,000 subscribers; access to each site costs about $30 a month.”

Nothing very clever at all, indeed. Almost banal, even. Sigh.

Derby Day

With the Kentucky Derby a week away, we are at the official start of Julep season. Novelist Walker Percy noted that Juleps “are drunk so seldom that when, say, on Derby Day somebody gives a julep party, people drink them like cocktails.” A proper cocktail is made with a couple of ounces of liquor at most. By contrast, “a good julep holds at least five ounces of Bourbon,” Percy noted. After folks unthinkingly toss back a few Juleps, “men fall face-down unconscious, women wander in the woods disconsolate and amnesic, full of thoughts of Kahlil Gibran and the limberlost.”

Eric Felten, The Wall Street Journal

It’s Saturday…

…so I’m thinking we can dispense with the intellectual pretense, and get right to the celebrity worship…

I’m thinking that we’re just going to have to forgive the Go Fug Yourself girls for not being comic geeks. If they WERE comic geeks, they would understand that Ms. Dunst’s alarming dress in this photo is a carefully-planned homage to the alien symbiote costume that makes its cinematic debut in Spider-Man 3:

St. Zita

She was born in the beginning of the thirteenth century at Montsegradi, a village near Lucca in Italy. She was brought up with the greatest care, in the fear of God, by her poor virtuous mother, whose early and constant attention to inspire the tender heart of her daughter with religious sentiments seemed to find no obstacles, either from private passions or the general corruption of nature, so easily were they prevented or overcome. Zita had no sooner attained the use of reason, and was capable of knowing and loving God, than her heart was no longer able to relish any other object, and she seemed never to lose sight of him in her actions. Her mother reduced all her instructions to two short heads, and never had occasion to use any further remonstrance to enforce her lessons than to say, “This is most pleasing to God; this is the divine will”; or, “That would displease God.”

The sweetness and modesty of the young child charmed everyone who saw her. She spoke little, and was most assiduous at her work; but her business never seemed to interrupt her prayers. At twelve years of age she was put to service in the family of a citizen of Lucca, called Fatinelli, whose house was contiguous to the church of St. Frigidian. She was thoroughly persuaded that labour is enjoined all men as a punishment of sin, and as a remedy for the spiritual disorders of their souls; and far from ever harbouring in her breast the least uneasiness, or expressing any sort of complaint under contradictions, poverty, and hardships, and still more from ever entertaining the least idle, inordinate, or worldly desire, she blessed God for placing her in a station in which she was supplied with the most effectual means to promote her sanctification, by the necessity of employing herself in penitential labour, and of living in a perpetual conformity and submission of her will to others. She was also very sensible of the advantages of her state, which afforded all necessaries of life, without engaging her in the anxious cares and violent passions by which worldly persons, who enjoy most plentifully the goods of fortune, are often disturbed; whereby their souls resemble a troubled sea, always agitated by impetuous storms, without knowing the sweetness of a true calm. She considered her work as an employment assigned her by God, and as part of her penance; and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear mass every morning with great devotion before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them.

Notwithstanding her extreme attention to her exterior employments, she acquired a wonderful facility of joining with them almost continual mental prayer and of keeping her soul constantly attentive to the divine presence. Who would not imagine that such a person should have been esteemed and beloved by all who knew her?

Nevertheless, by the appointment of divine providence, for her great spiritual advantage, it fell out quite otherwise and for several years she suffered the harshest trials. Her modesty was called by her fellow-servants simplicity, and want of spirit and sense; and her diligence was judged to have no other spring than affectation and secret pride. Her mistress was a long time extremely prepossessed against her, and her passionate master could not bear her in his sight without transports of rage.

It is not to be conceived how much the saint had continually to suffer in this situation. So unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten, she never repined nor lost her patience; but always preserved the same sweetness in her countenance, and the same meekness and charity in her heart and words, and abated nothing of her application to her duties. A virtue so constant and so admirable at length overcame jealousy, antipathy, prepossession, and malice.

Her master and mistress discovered the treasure which their family possessed in the fidelity and example of the humble saint, and the other servants gave due praise to her virtue. Zita feared this prosperity more than adversity, and trembled lest it should be a snare to her soul. But sincere humility preserved her from its dangers; and her behaviour, amidst the caresses and respect shown her, continued the same as when she was ill-treated and held in derision; she was no less affable, meek, and modest; no less devout, nor less diligent or ready to serve everyone. Being made housekeeper, and seeing her master and mistress commit to her with an entire confidence the government of their family and management of all their affairs, she was most scrupulously careful in point of economy, remembering that she was to give to God an account of the least farthing of what was intrusted as a depositum in her .hands; and, though head-servant, she never allowed herself the least privilege or exemption in her work on that account.

She used often to say to others that devotion is false if slothful. Hearing a man-servant speak one immodest word, she was filled with horror, and procured him to be immediately discharged from the family. With David, she desired to see it composed only of such whose approved piety might draw down a benediction of God upon the whole house and be a security to the master for their fidelity and good example. She kept fast the whole year, and often on bread and water; and took her rest on the bare floor or on a board. Whenever business allowed her a little leisure, she spent it in holy prayer and contemplation in a little retired room in the garret; and at her work repeated frequently ardent ejaculations of divine love, with which her soul appeared always inflamed. She respected her fellow-servants as her superiors. If she was sent on commissions a mile or two in the greatest storms, she set out without delay, executed them punctually, and returned often almost drowned, without showing any sign of reluctance or murmuring.

By her virtue she gained so great an ascendant over her master that a single word would often suffice to check the greatest transports of his rage; and she would sometimes cast herself at his feet to appease him in favour of others. She never kept anything for herself but the poor garments which she wore: everything else she gave to the poor. Her master, seeing his goods multiply, as it were, in her hands, gave her ample leave to bestow liberal alms on the poor, which she made use of with discretion, but was scrupulous to do nothing without his express authority. If she heard others spoken ill of, she zealously took upon her their defence and excused their faults.

Always when she communicated, and often when she heard mass, and on other occasions, she melted in sweet tears of divine love: she was often favoured with ecstasies during her prayers. In her last sickness she clearly foretold her death, and having prepared herself for her passage by receiving the last sacraments, and by ardent signs of love, she happily expired on the 27th of April, in 1272, being sixty years old: one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession have been juridically proved. Her body was found entire in 1580 and is kept with great respect in St. Frigidian’s church, richly enshrined; her face and hands are exposed naked to view through a crystal glass. Pope Leo X granted an office in her honour. The city of Lucca pays a singular veneration to her memory.

(Taken from Vol. IV of “The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints” by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company) ~ EWTN

Sedation Recommendation

Earlier this week, I went in for a procedure involving the sticking tubes and cameras and various increasingly large objects down my throat in order to stretch out my esophagus. (In one of the collections of letters, by the way, Walker Percy mentions going in for this same procedure, and attributes the condition to drinking too much Early Times during his college days.) Anyway I had this done for the first time about five years ago and asked not to be sedated. After reading the brochure in the waiting room, I hadn’t thought it would be that bad to be awake for the action. And the truth is I didn’t like the idea of “going under” — too much like death, maybe. So I gagged and squirmed as the doc crammed a succession of implements, literally, down my throat. It was unpleasant.

This time, five years later, with the esophagus constricting again, I went back to the same place (a repetition), went through the same process, but embraced the sedation. And, I must say, it was lovely. Not only did I rest in peaceful blankness while being orally probed, but I woke feeling better rested than I have in months, maybe years. I’d had a kink in my neck for at least the past six months, and when I woke from the sedation, there was no sign of it. So I’m a convert. I wish I’d been sedated ages ago, and I hope to be sedated again soon. If you have the opportunity to go under, I highly recommend it.

Mitchell Stephens has a blog…

…called Without Gods:

“The blog I am writing here, with the connivance of The Institute for the Future of the Book, is an experiment. Our thought is that my book on the history of atheism (eventually to be published by Carroll and Graf) will benefit from an online discussion as the book is being written. Our hope is that the conversation will be joined: ideas challenged, facts corrected, queries answered; that lively and intelligent discussion will ensue.”

Along the way, he has a few instances of “Jesuses” – which I’m guessing are striking accounts/descriptions/considerations of Our Lord. And bless his heart, he brings Flannery in on the project:

“‘His black eyes, glassy and still, reflected depth on depth his own stricken image of himself, trudging into the distance in the bleeding stinking mad shadow of Jesus.’

That’s one heck of a Jesus (or at least one that casts one heck of a shadow), from Flannery O’Connor.

And then O’Connor writes (I was led to these quotes by Garry Wills) that Jesus moves:

‘from tree to tree in the back of his mind, a wild ragged figure motioning him to turn around and come off into the dark…”

Got to understand, I guess, if you’re in the religion-eradication business, that a lot of the attraction — beyond the charity, the community and the meaning, beyond even the rapture and the rupture of physical laws, the rupture of history — is in the ‘wild ragged,’ ‘bleeding stinking’ madness of it all.

Where is the atheist who jumps ‘from tree to tree in back of’ the “mind”? Do nonbelievers — Shelleyans, most of them — spend too much energy switching on lights? Who whispers — Sade?, Ivan K.? — ‘come off into the dark’?

Is the point that you become — inevitably — the opposite of what you are falsely accused of being? Are nonbelievers so concerned with not being seen as dissolute that they seem dull?”

Not an uninteresting query, that. And give the man credit for looking at what Team Believer has to offer, including this from Benedict:

“The latest to join our dialogue on the nature of disbelief is Pope Benedict XVI. Unfortunately, his comments are a bit obscure:

‘Today, when we have learned to recognize the pathologies and life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason, and the ways that God’s image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism, it is important to state clearly the God in whom we believe….

Only this can free us from being afraid of God which is ultimately at the root of modern atheism… Only this God saves us from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life.’

His Holyness — at least as interpreted by the New York Times — seems to be aiming for something here beyond mere lucidity. I guess the point is that our fear of God keeps us from accepting His assistance in overcoming our anxious fear of the world and of the emptiness of life.

It’s hard to argue with the Pope on this ‘anxiety before the emptiness of life’ thing. God knows we’ve all had days when stuff seems more than a little random. No doubt a bit of supernaturally imposed good/bad, right/wrong believe that the Son and the Father are consubstantial/don’t belief the Son and the Father are consubstantial might help. Problem is — and maybe this is part of the reason Benedict seems to be having difficulty making himself clear — God Himself often seems more mysterious, shall we say, than clear on matters such as the proper relationship between religion and reason and what we should be doing about Darfur. ‘Who can straighten what He has twisted?’ Koheleth wonders in Ecclesiastes.

And Benedict must be hanging out with a weird bunch of atheists. I can imagine a some haunted sinner running from God and his alleged judgement. But, rather than being afraid of God, the atheists I know are just unimpressed with Him as a concept (or Concept).”

In the words of Not-Ted…


The phenomenon that is Korrektiv has taken as its summer reading club text Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book. Percy’s greatest? His greatest folly? We shall see. Everybody knows that Catholics Don’t Read – least of all, Catholically-tinged nonfiction parodies/exemplars from thirty years ago – but really: why not spread the news across the Catholic blogosphere? See if we can get something approaching a literary community? I’m thinking five people read this blog: if those five pass the word on to another five, and so on and so on, we could end up with three or four or even seven people reading this book at the same time. Hoo!

Catholics on the Bench

Much has been made – elsewhere and more intelligently (and, it should be added, less intelligently) – of the significance, in light of the Supreme Court’s upholding of the ban on partial-birth abortion, of the Catholic presence among the judges. I’m not about to try to contribute anything verging on intelligent comment. But I do think it worth noting this bit of afterparty conversation reported in The Observer:

“The Beltway media elite was at least able to hear itself talk at the Hitchens gathering a few blocks north. But that just made the evening’s bitter reference tones resound that much more distinctly. A pair of women (one of whom, I should disclose, was my wife, Washington editor Ana Marie Cox) pounced on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia to give an accounting of the court’s controversial ruling upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortions. The justice initially demurred with the expected ex officio disclaimer, ‘I don’t discuss those things.’ But the women—who I have good reason to know can be fearsomely persistent, especially when in their cups—wore down his resistance. They insisted that the procedure is performed in exceedingly rare instances, usually when a mother’s health is in jeopardy. When the justice yielded no ground beyond the recommendation that Congress would be the best venue to pursue a more constitutionally hale effort to keep the procedure legal, things got a bit personal.

‘Do you have any daughters?’ one of the interlocutors demanded.

‘I have four,’ Justice Scalia replied, noting that the eldest was 28.

‘Well, what do they think of abortion rights?’ the woman’s companion wanted to know.

The justice explained that not only had he refrained from voicing is general views on the subject, but he had never discussed it with his adult daughters. Then he added that since they were raised and educated as Catholics, they would honor the church’s moral teachings on the subject.

Don’t you think that one of the main reasons they don’t discuss it with you is that you’re a justice on the Supreme Court?’ his questioner continued, her voice rising in rhetorical emphasis at the end.

Justice Scalia smiled a bit coyly. ‘You don’t know my daughters.’”

I’m thinking that was a pretty excellent response.


Every now and then, someone asks after the recipe for Casa Godsbody’s House Sangria. We’re all about sharing the love. Here ’tis:

6 bottles red wine
1 bottle brandy
1 bottle triple sec
12c ginger ale
1 quart orange juice (I like Trader Joe’s fresh-squeezed)
1 can lemonade concentrate (optional)
Lots and lots of sliced apples, pears, oranges, etc.
Mix and let stand overnight.
I use a food-grade plastic bucket – you can get ’em at the donut shop. I cram mine into a cooler and pour ice around the sides.
Oh, and feel free to tinker. Last time, I substituted Hansen’s Mandarin Lime soda for the ginger ale, omitted the lemonade concentrate, and added a little Port and an extra bottle of wine. The bucket ran dry before the party ended.