Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dunkirk (2017)

A review from World at War:
Dunkirk is not a war movie: it’s a movie about war and the experience of war, cleverly crafted by weaving three timelines together covering a week, a day and a single hour. That is the essence of its brilliance as the timelines only collide in the final sequence of the film, resulting in an incredibly moving conclusion. I won’t spoil that for those who haven’t seen it.

Watching this as a military historian who has worked on several documentaries about Dunkirk, I could not help cast a critical eye over it. Yes, there were discrepancies in kit, equipment and weapons, but only minor ones. The beaches did not look crowded enough at times, perhaps there wasn’t enough smoke over Dunkirk and perhaps the seas did not look busy enough with ships. There was arguably an over-focus on Little Ships, and the littlest of them, and some of the dialogue was occasionally questionable. But none of this was major, nor distracting, and it was clear my friend Joshua Levine had done his job well, as historical consultant.

Which begs the question: does historical accuracy matter? Of course, but Dunkirk is a film not a documentary. Many veterans of both world wars felt they could portray more of the truth of their experience through fiction and Dunkirk is all part of that genre. It doesn’t tell us the full story of Operation Dynamo, with every detail and nuance, but what it does do is give us a glimpse of so many angles, often with such intensity that even someone with no knowledge of WW2 could fail to walk away without an appreciation of what the experience at Dunkirk was like, or an appreciation of that generation.

The acting throughout this film was understated, and brilliant because of it. Many of the main characters hardly say a word, and don’t need to much of the time. Mark Rylance brings depth to the Little Ships story and Tom Hardy, as the pilot, captured the spirit of the RAF in 1940 in my opinion. The two lads who tell the story of the British Tommy were my favourites, though. Fair play to Harry Styles; he played his character well, and I liked it when he apologised for not having done anything brave except survive: that was enough, came the reply from the blind man, maybe even a WW1 veteran? But for me the previously unknown Fionn Whitehead was the real star of this film. His sequence at the end in particular, where he reads out of the newspaper, was incredibly moving. Again, I won’t post spoilers!

The World War Two generation is fast slipping from us. I have known them all my life, and I’m already half a century now. What that war meant to Britain, to the British people who lived through it, must never be forgotten, and its incredible story needs to inspire a new generation. That inspiration begins here, with Dunkirk. Not only a worthy film, but a great film, a film we have long needed. (Read more.)

Share

The Disdain of the Left for the American People

From The American Thinker:
From the left's perspective, the Trump presidency is illegitimate not because it lacked a plurality of votes or because of the supposed Russian connection.  It is illegitimate because it gives voice to those who do not deserve representation.  Hillary Clinton let it slip when she mocked the "basket of deplorables," those whom she accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia.  Having at first insisted that "half" of Trump voters fall into these categories, she then retreated from that figure: it was somewhat less than half who are deplorable.

Rarely has a presidential candidate been so candid and so obtuse at the same time, for "deplorable" is exactly what the left thinks of average Americans.  And for that reason, Trump's presidency cannot be allowed to succeed, even if sinking Trump means sinking the country.  The left is willing to savage our economy, trash health care, weaken our national defense, and lose the fight against terrorism just to see that the deplorables are kept in their place.  That is the central motive of the anti-Trump forces.
That sort of disdain for the heartland has a long history stretching back to John Quincy Adams, with his determination not to see Jackson achieve the presidency.  After the Era of Jackson and the Civil War that followed, it continued with the political dominance of the Northeast, the victory of McKinley over William Jennings Bryan, Wilson's expansion of government powers during WWI (including the Sedition Act of 1918), FDR's reversal of Coolidge's small-government policies, Johnson's disastrous anti-poverty programs, and Obama's governance by executive order in defiance of the people's elected representatives.  Ordinary Americans have always had to struggle against the ambitions of a political elite that assumes it has the right to govern in their place. (Read more.)
Share

A Brief History of the Scottish Tartan

From Vintage News:
The early tartans had only two or three colors extracted from local trees, berries, roots and plants growing in certain local areas. So, certain colors became symbols of and associated with clans. The clan tartans became widespread during the 19th century.  However these “clan tartans” are more of an invented tradition that started probably around the end 18th century. It is known that there weren’t such distinctions during the time of the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

It is supposed that the idea of groups of men being associated with certain tartan originates from the military units in the 18th century. So, before everyone could wear any tartan they preferred and it rather depended on the one’s location, but with time, its design became a symbol of identity with certain clans.

Some of the most popular clan tartans are, for example, Mackenzie’s one which is the uniform of Seaforth Highlanders, an infantry regiment of the British Army from Northern Scotland, established by the Earl of Seaforth in 1778. Today, the Pipes and Drums Band of the Royal Military College of Canada wears the Mackenzie tartan. (Read more.)
Share

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Matilda of Canossa

From Nobility:
Before his death in 1056 Henry III gave back to Gottfried of Lorraine his wife and stepdaughter. When Matilda grew to womanhood she was married to her stepbrother Gottfried of Lower Lorraine, from whom, however, she separated in 1071. He was murdered in 1076; the marriage was childless, but it cannot be proved that it was never consummated, as many historians asserted. From 1071 Matilda entered upon the government and administration of her extensive possessions in Middle and Upper Italy. These domains were of the greatest importance in the political and ecclesiastical disputes of that time, as the road from Germany by way of Upper Italy to Rome passed through them. On 22 April, 1071, Gregory VII became pope, and before long the great battle for the independence of the Church and the reform of ecclesiastical life began. In this contest Matilda was the fearless, courageous, and unswerving ally of Gregory and his successors.

 Immediately on his elevation to the papacy Gregory entered into close relations with Matilda and her mother. The letters to Matilda (Beatrice d. 1076) give distinct expression to the pope’s high esteem and sympathy for the princess. He called her and her mother “his sisters and daughters of St. Peter” (Regest., II, ix), and wished to undertake a Crusade with them to free the Christians in the Holy Land (Reg., I, xi). Matilda and her mother were present at the Roman Lenten synods of 1074 and 1075, at which the pope published the important decrees on the reform of ecclesiastical life. Both mother and daughter reported to the pope favourably on the disposition of the German king, Henry IV, and on 7 December, 1074, Gregory wrote to him, thanking him for the friendly reception of the papal legate, and for his intention to co- operate in the uprooting of simony and concubinage from among the clergy. However, the quarrel between Gregory and Henry IV soon began. In a letter to Beatrice and Matilda (11 Sept., 1075) the pope complained of the inconstancy and changeableness of the king, who apparently had no desire to be at peace with him. In the next year (1076) Matilda’s first husband, Gottfried of Lorraine, was murdered at Antwerp. Gregory wrote to Bishop Hermann of Metz, 25 August, 1076, that he did not yet know in which state Matilda “the faithful handmaid of St. Peter” would, under God’s guidance, remain. (Read more.)
Share

Chaplains to the Zeitgeist

From Tom Piatak at Crisis:
Recently, La Civilta Cattolica ran an article by that journal’s editor-in-chief, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, and by Marcelo Figueroa, the Argentinian Presbyterian minister chosen by Pope Francis to be the editor of the Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Romano, which subsequently republished the article. Since articles in La Civilta Cattolica are vetted by the Vatican secretary of state, since L’Osservatore Romano is the Vatican’s own newspaper, and especially since both Spadaro and Figueroa are reputed to be close to Pope Francis, this article has garnered enormous attention in Catholic circles. Also noteworthy is the article’s thesis: a contrast between what it terms “Pope Francis’ geopolitics” and an “ecumenism of hate,” the authors’ term for the alliance between American Evangelical Protestants and Catholics, who have been drawn together “around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.”

The first point to note, of course, is that the “geopolitics” of a particular pope are not matters of faith and morals, and the faithful are free to disagree with them. The authors concede as much when they use their essay to attack, of all things, the Holy Roman Empire, the entity created when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne on Christmas Day in 800 and whose leader was prayed for by name in the Easter Exsultet for centuries. No Catholic need have any more deference to what Spadaro and Figueroa claim, accurately or not, to be Pope Francis’ political vision than Spadaro and Figueroa show to the political vision of the many popes who supported the ideal of Catholic monarchy for centuries, or indeed to the political vision of more recent pontiffs who had a warmer appreciation of political parties opposed to legalized abortion and homosexual marriage than Spadaro and Figueroa do.

Indeed, it is odd that Spadaro and Figueroa single out for criticism, of all the political movements in the world, one centered on agreement on Catholic teaching pertaining to matters of faith and morals. American Evangelicals were not behind the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation.” (CCC, Section 2273). American Evangelicals did not lobby to have St. John Paul II declare, in Evangelium Vitae, that “direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being…. No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”

Nor were American Evangelicals the impetus behind Pope Francis’ declaration, in Amoris Laetitia, that “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Not only does the “ecumenical convergence” between Evangelicals and Catholics center on matters of clear Catholic teaching, but, for many Evangelicals, this “convergence” represents a conversion. When Roe v Wade was decided, many Evangelicals were indifferent to the prospect of legalized abortion or even somewhat supportive. It was the Catholic Church that was the center of opposition to legalized abortion in America in 1973. One would think that this conversion would be a cause for joy in Catholic publications, but for Spadaro and Figueroa it represents instead an “ecumenism of hate.”

There are, of course, legitimate criticisms to be made of both American Evangelicals and American pro-lifers. Many American Evangelicals subscribe to a theological anti-Catholicism, and they actively seek to convert Catholics to Protestantism. These efforts are particularly pronounced in Latin America, where the region’s historic shortage of priests has left many Catholics poorly catechized and easily persuaded by Protestant arguments they have never been taught to counter. And many Republicans have been quite cynical in their professed opposition to Roe v Wade, which remained the law of the land even after professed pro-life Republicans had appointed a majority on the Supreme Court. But, despite this political failure, the American pro-life movement has at least succeeded in keeping abortion alive as a moral issue. No matter how cynically many Republican politicians treat abortion, it is hard to say that the pro-abortion position has become dominant in America when a major political party claims to take the opposite position, its presidents profess to support the opposite position, and at least some of the justices on the Supreme Court continue to dissent from the decision that is the focus of the opposition.  Indeed, no one who pays any attention to American life can fail to notice that a substantial portion of the population does not accept the morality of abortion. The same cannot be said for many other Western countries whose politics Spadaro and Figueroa do not criticize.

Needless to say, these are not the criticisms Spadaro and Figueroa offer of the “ecumenism of hate.” Instead, they offer a potpourri of contemporary leftist tropes. They assert that those whose politics they disagree with are motivated by “hate.” They suggest that opposition to the legalization of abortion and gay marriage represents “the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state” and a “direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state,” the same positions advanced by secularists for decades. They attack American Evangelicals for being “composed mainly of whites from the deep American South,” sounding remarkably like Hillary Clinton bemoaning the “basket of deplorables.” They fret about “Islamophobia,” something that also worries The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel, but something that probably did not bother St. Pius V, who prayed for the victory of the Christian fleet he was instrumental in assembling at Lepanto, the date of which is marked on the Church’s calendar by the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. (Read more.)
Share

The King and Queen of the Sandwich Islands in England

From Shannon Selin:
The Sandwich Islands was the name given to the Hawaiian Islands by Captain James Cook in 1778. King Kamehameha II, also known as Liholiho, inherited the throne of the Sandwich Islands in 1819, when he was 22 years old. Three years later, Britain’s King George IV sent a schooner called Prince Regent to Kamehameha II as a gift.

Kamehameha, who was looking for ways to modernize his kingdom, wrote a thank you letter in which he expressed his desire to place the Sandwich Islands under the protection of the British crown. He requested George IV’s counsel and advice. When a year passed with no reply, Kamehameha decided to sail to England to consult the British monarch in person. He commissioned a British whaling ship, L’Aigle, under Captain Valentine Starbuck, to make the voyage.

Accompanied by Queen Kamamalu (his half-sister and the favourite of his five wives) and a suite of eight persons, King Kamehameha left the Sandwich Islands on November 27, 1823. After a lengthy stop at Rio de Janeiro, the royal party landed at Portsmouth, England on May 17, 1824. (Read more.)
Share

Monday, July 24, 2017

The French Girl Myth

From W:
Such is the root of the "French girl myth," which has captured the imaginations of fashion publications, brands, and popular culture writ large ever since the days of Coco Chanel, and maybe even as far back as Marie Antoinette. We find ourselves wanting to do everything "like a French girl," simply because there is a way in which French girls do things. That is to say: there is arguably no unified sense of taste for American girls, which is, of course, ultimately what makes America the place that it is.The grass is always greener, though, and thanks to celebrated French fashion icons like Brigitte Bardot and Françoise Hardy; movies like An American In Paris and Amélie; and books like A Moveable Feast and French Women Don't Get Fat, American women entertain the idea that French woman have the innate ability to possess superior style, smaller waists, clearer skin, more complex neckties, cooler social lives, and richer romance than the rest of us—and all while putting in little to no effort. (Read more.)
Share

Signs

From Roman Catholic Man:
In February of last year, I wrote an article that was a compilation of historical pieces to a puzzle. The title of the article was, Our Lady of Fatima, 1917-2017 – Why 100 Years Matters. It is the most shared article I have ever written, at over 61,000 shares. I did my best to piece together what I had noticed about significant events preceding and leading up to this centennial year of 2017. But, what about this centennial year?

My good friend, Emmett O’Regan, has spent years seeking to unveil scripture, prophesies, apparitions of the Blessed Mother, etc.. In fact, he wrote a book on all of this entitled, Unveiling the Apocalypse. While Emmett’s amazing book goes into mind-boggling details, I want to highlight some of the events we are about to experience during this centennial year of Fatima, many of which Emmett O’Regan has brought to my attention.

I’ve recently become aware of St. Michael’s Lent, thanks to Emmett O’Regan. St. Francis of Assisi was especially devoted to Saint Michael and would fast from the Feast of the Assumption (August 15) to Saint Michael’s Feast Day on September 29. In fact, St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata while he was praying and fasting during St. Michael’s Lent. Some Franciscan communities continue to observe the period from August 15 to September 29 as “St. Michael’s Lent”, a time of fasting and prayer. Shortly after the beginning of this year’s St. Michael’s Lent, August 21, 2017, on the Feast of Our Lady of Knock, there will be a Total Solar Eclipse that cuts across the heart of America. (Read more.)
Share