Snowden: Stop Putting So Much Faith (and Fear) in Presidents | Intellectual Takeout

Whistleblower Edward Snowden recently popped up and offered his take on the presidential election.

Source: Snowden: Stop Putting So Much Faith (and Fear) in Presidents | Intellectual Takeout

I found this interesting! Whether one considers Snowden a hero or a traitor, he often has useful things to say, and these comments are among them:

“Snowden highlighted Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo Bay and end mass warrantless surveillance as specific broken campaign promises. Snowden said he was bringing up these points simply to drive home a larger message.

‘We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear into elected officials,’ said Snowden. ‘At the end of the day, this is just a president.’

“He said if people want to change the world, they should look to themselves instead of putting their hopes or fears in a single person. ‘This can only be the work of the people,’ Snowden said. ‘If we want to have a better world we can’t hope for an Obama, and we should not fear a Donald Trump, rather we should build it ourselves.'” Continue reading “Snowden: Stop Putting So Much Faith (and Fear) in Presidents | Intellectual Takeout”

Recent acquisition

I am very pleased to have found this lovely English teacup and saucer, at the “1844 Shop” – a consignment shop for gently used items of worth – at the 2016 Mistletoe Mart (Church of the Ascension, Episcopal, in Westminster, Maryland), earlier this month.

Markings read “Cauldon Ltd England” stamped in black, and N, either Y641 or 4641, x, in vertical series, appearing hand-painted in red. I’m sure the design is printed, but it’s attractive! My second such acquisition, the first one being a Limoges set.

My brother John, my “resident expert” in British porcelain, comments:

“It dates to c. 1905-15. (Note that any item that has “England” on it is post-1891, when the US passed a law requiring the country of origin to be indicated.) It’s in the ‘London’ shape, which dates to almost a century before that (c. 1810-20). So it’s an example of an ‘antique’ shape being used for ‘modern’ china, which is now of course an antique in its own right!”

So, Edwardian era, then. Nice! One of my favorite periods, although I’d be hard-pressed to come up with an era of English history I didn’t enjoy (as the name of this blog suggests…), at least up to and through WW II.

Where did Advent Go? – Maria Von Trapp | Finer Femininity

The events that come to mind when we say “Christmas,” “Easter,” “Pentecost,” are so tremendous that their commemoration cannot be celebrated in a single day each…

Source: Where did Advent Go? – Maria Von Trapp | Finer Femininity

Tomorrow being the First Sunday of Advent, this seemed appropriate!

“The events that come to mind when we say “Christmas,” “Easter,” “Pentecost,” are so tremendous that their commemoration cannot be celebrated in a single day each. Weeks are needed.

First, weeks of preparation, of becoming attuned in body and soul, and then weeks of celebration. This goes back to an age when people still had time–time to live, time to enjoy.

In our own day, we face the puzzling fact that the more time-saving gadgets we invent, the more new buttons to push in order to “save hours of work” – the less time we actually have… 

This atmosphere of “hurry up, let’s go” does not provide the necessary leisure in which to anticipate and celebrate a feast.

But as soon as people stop celebrating they really do not live any more – they are being lived, as it were.”

Worthwhile and challenging words from the matriarch of the real-life Von Trapp Family Singers!

That said, one must also strive to avoid excessive rigorism and rigidity. As one commenter pointed out,

“It’s really difficult to take care of Christmas shopping before Advent. Also, my H thinks it is unnecessarily gloomy to wait to decorate until Christmas Eve, and be associated with non-believers with their dark houses.”

The response was also worthwhile, I think:

“I do understand that. I think each family has to figure out what is best for them while trying to incorporate as many Advent customs as possible. We will listen to Christmas music through Advent but only the classical ones with no words, until closer to Christmas. That’s something we’ve figured out through the years. Only in the past 5 years have I been able to get my gifts before Advent. I think we have to be careful of rigidity….. though pulling back and making it a more spiritual time is always a good thing, if done with charity.”

Indeed so!

I, too, endeavor to listen primarily to instrumental classic Christmas music, and Gregorian chant, along with what Advent music I can find, during that period of preparation and watchful anticipation. But it can be challenging to try to keep Advent — and then to keep Christmas! — in today’s secular and “multi-cultural” world. But then, when has being Christian not been challenging…?

The Prince of Wales attends the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral Syriac Orthodox Church

Source: The Prince of Wales attends the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral Syriac Orthodox Church

During a speech, The Prince said: “It gives me great happiness to be present at the consecration of the Cathedral of St Thomas.

“It is surely deeply encouraging, at a time when the members of the Syriac Orthodox Church in their homelands of Syria and Iraq are undergoing such desperate trials and such appalling suffering, that in Britain the Syriac Church is able to expand and gain in strength. In this way the consecration of your Cathedral is indeed a notable sign of hope for the future.”

Well spoken, Your Highness! Thank you, Sir. Anglicans have long had both contacts and (given our emphasis on tradition and antiquity) theological affinity with the ancient Orthodox Churches of the East, dating back at least to Theodore of Tarsus, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 668 to 690, but in fact going back much further.

It is reported that British bishops may have been present at the Council of Nicaea (in Asia Minor) in 325! And given that Britannia was a Province of the Roman Empire until c. 400 AD, and that sea travel was often faster and safer than travel by land, it is not surprising that contacts between East and West were more common than many nowadays believe.

In any case, it was very gracious of HRH The Prince of Wales to give Royal support and blessing to the new Cathedral, especially given the challenges Syrian Orthodox Christians are experiencing in their homelands, as His Highness’ address mentioned. I wish them many blessings!

Déjà vu for Prince Harry as he sleeps on board a Fleet Auxiliary Ship

For six nights during his fourteen-day Caribbean tour, Prince Harry is staying aboard a Royal Fleet Auxiliary boat. 

Source: Déjà vu for Prince Harry as he sleeps on board a Fleet Auxiliary Ship – Royal Central

According to protocol when a member of the royal family is on board, or a senior Naval figure, he has been given the Captain’s cabin, “and he is incredibly grateful for that.”

The royal isn’t living it up with fancy meals or luxury accommodations as some might expect. “He is eating his meals with the team and the officers on the ship, in the mess with the other sailors. It is very traditional fare, a standard English breakfast and good, no frills food for other meals when he is on board.”

A fine young gentleman, and a credit to the Crown!

Why Our Brains Respond Differently to Classical Music

Chinese researchers report even a few moments of opera produce a thoughtful, empathetic response.

Source: Why Our Brains Respond Differently to Classical Music

“‘Music,’ Ludwig van Beethoven argued, ‘is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.’ The assertion seems reasonable enough if you consider his late string quartets, but it’s absurd if your reference point is the collected works of Justin Bieber.”

The study was small, and included only opera on the Classical side; it’d be interesting see it replicated on a larger scale, and incorporating other forms of Classical music, including Baroque instrumentals and Gregorian (liturgical) chant — two of my personal favorites! But nonetheless, this does appear to give at least some empirical validity to my intuitive assertion that rap (among other things that masquerade as such) is not music, at all…

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh celebrate 69 years of marriage – Royal Central

“The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are today celebrating 69 years of marriage, making it just one year to go until their historic Platinum wedding anniversary. For the first time in many years, the 90-year-old monarch and her 95-year-old husband are having a rare day off from work to celebrate the occasion privately.”

Source: The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh celebrate 69 years of marriage – Royal Central

Congratulations and many more happy and healthy years to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh!

The Crown: Elizabeth visits Queen Mary

In which, as my good friend, the notable historian and scholar of monarchy Ryan Hunter, puts it:

“Her Majesty Queen Mary (redoubtable queen consort of George V from 1910-1936, queen mother of Edward VIII and then George VI from 1936-1952, and grandmother to HM The Queen til her death in 1953) articulates a deeply conservative, traditional vision of monarchy as a divine blessing for the careful, dignified, and noble stewardship of peoples and a covenantal relationship between God, the monarch, and the people.”

Train journey remembers fallen of WWI – British Army Website

Source: Train journey remembers fallen of WWI – British Army Website

“100 years after British Troops left in their hundreds of thousands on trains to fight in the First World War, modern soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers gathered on the platform at King’s Cross to meet another important train representing those who never made the journey home. The railway helped Britain’s forces to mobilise and The Fusiliers were among the first soldiers to leave for the front as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

Coinciding with the centenary of the eve of the end of the Battle of the Somme, Virgin Trains ran a special Remembrance themed locomotive across this morning’s East Coast route.”

The Great War’s damage to the English soul and church – Covenant

The English church is still wrestling with the consequences of a terrible demographic, psychic, spiritual, cultural, and philosophical catastrophe.

Source: The Great War’s damage to the English soul and church – Covenant

“North Americans, especially Episcopalians, hold onto dated, romantic perceptions of England and the English. They tend to view Britain through a Downton Abbey lens, but that country has long since ceased to exist, its lifeblood drained out in Flanders Fields. Yes, we should admire the courage and tenacity of the 20th-century British, but let us never forget that the price of standing firm was beyond what the nation could afford.”

Perhaps the saddest thing of all is that the Great War, and for that matter its “second chapter,” never had to happen… foolish choices, some rooted in arrogance, some in idealism, brought this upon England, Europe, and the world. Will we ever learn?