Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hunter

I ran into author Robert Bidinotto while I was having lunch with some friends at a barbecue joint in St. Michaels, MD. We were talking about books and I asked if I could review one of his. He happened to have a copy of his debut novel Hunter with him and gave it to me on the condition that I would write my honest opinion of it. The problem I  have as a book reviewer is that when I really enjoy a book I am too busy lapping up the story to note the literary merits or demerits. Such is the case with Hunter. It is the kind of thriller which lives up to its name by grabbing your attention at the first moment and not letting you go until the end. The protagonist Dylan Hunter is an intrepid journalist dedicated to fighting for the rights of victims by exposing criminals and those who enable them. His adventures are set in the Washington, DC area where there is always plenty of crime as well as behind-the-scenes intrigue.

The hero and heroine, Dylan and Annie, are both complex characters who struggle with loneliness and angst as part of their chosen professions: Dylan as a journalist and Annie as a CIA operative. Dylan, of course, has no idea that Annie secretly works for the CIA and Annie has no clue about some of Dylan's hidden activities. Yet the two are overwhelmingly drawn together by their mutual brilliance and emotional need. Their relationship is a scorching roller coaster ride which appears to be more and more doomed as each other's secrets are revealed.

What sets the novel apart from so many others is that there is nothing gratuitous in the scenes of violence; the author keeps his finger on the pulse of the human tragedy in a soul-searing manner. The incalculable cost of the loss of innocent lives is painfully assessed as are the psychological scars borne by the survivors. The story is a scathing indictment of contemporary society which expends more effort towards protecting the rights of violent criminals than it does to those who are their victims.

(*NOTE: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for my honest opinion.) Share

Silencing Ovid

From Stephanie Mann:
Peggy Noonan, in The Wall Street Journal, has some questions and comments for students who are upset by certain aspects of the Western literary canon (Ovid's Metamorphoses in this case) and want works like the Metamorphoses silenced:
Well, here are some questions and a few thoughts for all those who have been declaring at all the universities, and on social media, that their feelings have been hurt in the world and that the world had just better straighten up.

Why are you so fixated on the idea of personal safety, by which you apparently mean not having uncomfortable or unhappy thoughts and feelings? Is there any chance this preoccupation is unworthy of you? Please say yes.

There is no such thing as safety. That is asking too much of life. You can’t expect those around you to constantly accommodate your need for safety. That is asking too much of people.

Life gives you potentials for freedom, creativity, achievement, love, all sorts of beautiful things, but none of us are “safe.” And you are especially not safe in an atmosphere of true freedom. People will say and do things that are wrong, stupid, unkind, meant to injure. They’ll bring up subjects you find upsetting. It’s uncomfortable. But isn’t that the price we pay for freedom of speech?

You can ask for courtesy, sensitivity and dignity. You can show others those things, too, as a way of encouraging them. But if you constantly feel anxious and frightened by what you encounter in life, are we sure that means the world must reorder itself? Might it mean you need a lot of therapy?

Masterpieces, by their nature, pierce. They jar and unsettle. If something in a literary masterpiece upsets you, should the masterpiece really be banished? What will you be left with when all of them are gone?
(Read more.)
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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Madame de Pompadour in the Garden

Via Tiny-Librarian. It is interesting that Marie-Antoinette kept a portrait of Madame de Pompadour in the small dining room at Petit Trianon. The house was originally built for Madame de Pompadour but if the mistress of Louis XV had left any portraits of herself there than Madame du Barry would surely have put them in the attic. I am guessing that the Queen herself wished to honor La Pompadour since the courtesan was responsible in part for the Austrian alliance and therefore the "happiness" of Marie-Antoinette in her marriage to Louis XVI. Share

Triumph of Secularism

Some reflections from a lady in Ireland:
The vastly diminished role of the Church has left an elephantine emptiness in Irish life. One very important factor is how ashamed many Irish people feel about the sexual abuse crisis. Perhaps the people who ought to feel that shame are the guilty priests and nuns. But Benedict XVI was right, in his book-long interview with Peter Seewald, when he pointed out that most Irish families had a member who had a vocation either as a priest or a nun. Therefore most Irish people felt very deeply the disgrace caused by the revelations of clerical sexual abuse. This was the case even if the priest or nun in a family was totally innocent.

Growing up in Ireland, I saw this first-hand, when a friend or acquaintance who had a brother who was a blameless priest, they would feel embarrassed to say that their sibling was a good priest, for fear that people would think they were “covering up”. Humiliation and regret have gone hand in hand, and increasingly in the past few decades, the Irish, who have, by an average margin of two to one, legalised gay marriage, convinced themselves that if the Church was wrong, then the opposite of the Church’s teaching must be right. (Read more.)
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A New Dark Age

From Fr. Hunwicke:
Well, we all know what happened in the twentieth century. Divorce got its toe in the door ... and within decades the door was wide open. Unnatural and disordered sexual practices corrupted Marriage. Fornication gradually ceased to be furtive and, after being 'Free love' in the 1930s, had by the end of the century become the natural assumption of Western societies. Homosexuals ... no; some homosexuals ... ceased to enjoy inhabiting an amusing subculture and became aggressive public ideologues. The mortal sin of missing Mass without good cause ceased to be a matter of guilt. You know all this, and much more.

My analysis, and suggestion, is this. Society has in effect regressed to the superficially christianised state it was in during the 'Dark Ages'. We are, in other words, in a new Dark Age of widespread unrepented mortal sin. In fact, ours is an even darker age, because people do not even accept that they are in a state of sin, and do not repent, not even once a year. Nor, probably, even when they die. (Read more.)
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Monday, May 25, 2015

Queen in Mauve

From Tiny-Librarian: "Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France, seated on a green wooden chair in a floral woodland landscape, wearing mauve dress over white shift, the sleeves adorned with green ribbons. Signed ‘Hall’ (lower right, on the back of the chair)." Share

The Ruin of the Faith in Ireland

What 400 years of persecution could not accomplish has been wrought by weak prelates and lax shepherds. According to Christine Niles:
Irish supporters wrote us after the referendum, telling us the bishops were in shock, that they had no idea their flock were so far gone, and they are now left looking on the crumbling ruins of the Faith they've been called to teach and defend. They speculate the vote was not so much a vote for gay "marriage" as it was a vote against the Church, a deliberate slap in the face of an institution the Irish have come to resent and even hate.
But can the blame for the referendum's results really be laid at the feet of the laity? Are they ultimately at fault here? Their hatred is only a result of the betrayal they've felt at the hands of leaders who were supposed to protect them from both spiritual and physical abuse, and who did neither.

Those tasked with protecting the flock instead sheltered homosexual priests in the sex abuse scandal, or failed to teach the Faith clearly and without compromise. Just last week Bp. Donal McKeown of Derry said Catholics could vote in good conscience either for or against gay marriage, as long as it was with an "informed conscience" and a "mature decision." Laying aside the fact that no one with a truly informed conscience could ever make the "mature decision" to vote in favor of legalized sodomy, when confronted with this irresponsible remark McKeown neither apologized nor recanted; instead, he deflected responsibility by claiming his words should be read in the context of his entire talk.

No, the laity are not the ones ultimately at fault here. They are, rather, the victims — the millions of souls being dragged to Hell because their shepherds have betrayed them by offering a cheap imitation of the Faith rather than the real thing. They've been left confused, floundering, unsure how to proceed because their leaders in the Faith themselves can't seem to make up their minds. (Read more.)
Michael Voris weighs in on what many consider to be the total collapse of the Faith in Ireland, HERE. Share

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Réception à Bordeaux

An 1816 painting by Benjamin de Rolland of the Duc and Duchesse d’Angoulême  arriving in Bordeaux, which was the first French city to join the Royalist cause at the time of the first Restoration in 1814. Read more about it in the novel Madame Royale. Share