Monday, February 19, 2018

Lent at Versailles


Versailles is not usually associated with Lenten penance, but fasting and abstinence, as well as some mortifications, were observed there by many during the old regime. For one thing, there would be no plays or operas performed; all the public theaters were closed in France during Lent. The daughters of Louis XV were known for their scrupulous observance of fasting and abstinence, although Madame Victoire found such penance especially trying. According to Madame Campan:
Without quitting Versailles, without sacrificing her easy chair, she [Madame Victoire] fulfilled the duties of religion with punctuality, gave to the poor all she possessed, and strictly observed Lent and the fasts. The table of Mesdames acquired a reputation for dishes of abstinence....Madame Victoire was not indifferent to good living, but she had the most religious scruples respecting dishes of which it was allowable to partake at penitential times....The abstinence which so much occupied the attention of Madame Victoire was so disagreeable to her, that she listened with impatience for the midnight hour of Holy Saturday; and then she was immediately supplied with a good dish of fowl and rice, and sundry other succulent viands.
Their nephew Louis XVI was also known for his fastidious observance of Lent, as recorded once again by the faithful Madame Campan:
Austere and rigid with regard to himself alone, the King observed the laws of the Church with scrupulous exactness. He fasted and abstained throughout the whole of Lent. He thought it right that the queen should not observe these customs with the same strictness. Though sincerely pious, the spirit of the age had disposed his mind to toleration.
Some of the King's tolerant behavior included the permitting of certain games at court during Lent. During the Lent of 1780, the Austrian ambassador Count Mercy-Argenteau was shocked to discover Louis XVI playing blind man's bluff with Marie-Antoinette and some members of the Court. Count Mercy described the scandalous scene to the Empress Maria Theresa:
Amusements have been introduced of such noisy and puerile character that they are little suited to Lenten meditations, and still less to the dignity of the august personages who take part in them. They are games resembling blind man's bluff, that first lead to the giving of forfeits, and then to their redemption by some bizarre penance ; the commotion is kept up sometimes until late into the night. The number of persons who take part in these games, both of the Court and the town, makes them still more unsuitable ; every one is surprised to see that the King plays them with great zest, and that he can give himself up wholly to such frivolities in such a serious condition of State affairs as obtains at present.
Given the long hours that Louis XVI devoted to affairs of state and the fact that people often complained that he was too serious and reserved, it seems that Mercy should have been pleased to see the King come out of his shell a little and take some recreation. But then, Mercy often tried to cast Louis in an unfavorable light. As far as the Empress was concerned, however, Lent was not the time for any games. Louis' devotion was sincere all the same; he was constant in prayer and good works, observing the fasts of the Church for Lent and the Ember days even throughout his imprisonment.

The King's sister, Madame Elisabeth, also steadfastly kept the discipline of Lent in both good times and bad. In the Temple prison, the jailers mocked the princess' attempts to keep Lent as best she could. Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette's daughter, Madame Royale, who shared her aunt's imprisonment, recorded it thus:
Having no fish, she asked for eggs or other dishes on fast-days. They refused them, saying that in equality there was no difference of days; there were no weeks, only decades. They brought us a new almanac, but we did not look at it. Another time, when my aunt again asked for fast-day food they answered: "Why, citoyenne, don't you know what has taken place? none but fools believe all that." She made no further requests.
As for Marie-Antoinette herself, she did not fast and abstain through every day of Lent as Louis did; her health did not permit it. However, after baby Madame Sophie died in 1787, it was noted that the Queen became more fervent in her devotions, especially during Lent. Jean Chalon in Chère Marie-Antoinette (p.235) notes that in 1788 she gave orders that her table strictly comply with all the regulations of the Church. Even the Swedish ambassador remarked: "The queen seems to have turned devout."

(Photo: http://www.cyrilalmeras.com/)

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Young Black Conservative Women

From The Western Journal:
These women want to bring home a message of empowerment, not only to black women across the country, but also to the black community at large. Women such as Antonia Okafor, the founder of gun rights advocacy organization EmPOWERed, Ayshia Connors, a senior policy adviser to a Pennsylvania congressman and president of the Black Republican Congressional Staff Association and Candace Owens, the director of Urban Engagement for Turning Point USA, all work tirelessly in advocating for their community and to make black conservative voices heard.

“Essentially, I believe in this day and age, for whatever reason, there is a largely ignored, growing group of voices which is essentially black conservatives. We’ve been largely dismissed and de-legitimized in the media as something that is not allowed to exist,” Owens, who labels herself an independent thinker, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Owens is currently working on creating the first black leadership summit for Turning Point USA with the intent to bring young black conservatives from across the country to hear from other black leaders on how to become trailblazers and entrepreneurs within their community. Owens especially wants these young black conservatives to hear from fellow black leaders who don’t carry with them the same message the mainstream media does. Okafor and Connors are also trying to make big strides within the conservative movement. (Read more.)
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When Societies Fall

From Tremr:
Published in a highly underrated 1934 book called "Sex and Culture," the anthropologist J.D. Unwin found a universal correlation between monogamy and a civilization's "expansive energy." His aim in the book was to test the Freudian thesis that advanced civilizations were founded upon repression of sexual desire, and a re-channeling of this energy through a defense mechanism Freud called "sublimation." 

A non-Christian, and as relativistic as any modern anthropologist, he insisted that he offered "no opinion about rightness or wrongness" concerning sexual norms. Nevertheless, among the 86 different societies he studied, he not only found monogamy to be correlated with a society's strength, but came to the sobering conclusion that "In human records there is no instance of a society retaining its energy after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on pre-nuptial and post-nuptial continence." (Read more.)
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Recipes for Late Afternoon Tea

From Victoria:
A plate of distinctively shaped sandwiches creates a hearty mix of options that will satisfy late-afternoon appetites. Clockwise from bottom right: Wrapped in thin strips of English cucumber, rectangular Roast Beef Tea Sandwiches are layered with provolone cheese and Horseradish Cream. Egg-and-Olive Salad mixed with whole-grain mustard is spread between triangles of pumpernickel bread garnished with egg slices and fresh dill. Round Smoked-Salmon Tea Sandwiches topped with fresh oregano feature stacked bread slices slathered with creamy dill spread and pancetta. (Read more.)
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Why Trump’s Right

From The Conservative Tribune:
Hilario Yanez, a native of Mexico, a man who was brought to the United States at the age of 1, and a DACA recipient, blew a hole on Saturday in the mainstream media’s narrative about President Donald Trump, telling “Fox & Friends” interviewers that Trump had shown “leadership and compassion” towards those affected by the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. What’s more, Yanez had a few choice words for those “compassionate” Democrats the media wants us to believe are out there. Yanez’s praise for Trump centered around Trump’s work to find a solution to the plethora of issues DACA recipients face in the United States, an issue Democrats claim to champion. (Read more.)
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How Leftist Intolerance is Killing Higher Education

From The Washington Examiner:
In 2015, Evergreen hired a new president. Trained as a sociologist, George Bridges did two things upon arrival. First, he hired an old friend to talk one-on-one to members of our community — faculty, staff, and students. We talked about our values and our visions for the college. But the benefit of hindsight suggests that he was looking for something else. He was mapping us, assessing our differences, our blind spots, and the social tensions that ran beneath the surface. Second, Bridges fired the provost, Michael Zimmerman. The provost, usually synonymous with the vice president for academics, is the chief academic officer at an institution of higher education. Zimmerman would have disapproved of what Bridges had in mind and would have had some power to stop it. But he was replaced by a timid (though well-liked) insider who became a pawn due to his compromised interim status and his desire not to make waves.

Having mapped the faculty and fired the provost, Bridges began reworking the college in earnest. Surprise announcements became the norm as opportunities for discussion dwindled.
The president took aim at what made Evergreen unique, such as full-time programs. He fattened the administration, creating expensive vice president positions at an unprecedented rate, while budgets tightened elsewhere due to drops in student enrollment and disappearing state dollars. He went after Evergreen’s unparalleled faculty autonomy, which was essential to the unique teaching done by the best professors.

All of this should have been alarming to a faculty in which professors have traditionally viewed administrative interference in academic matters with great suspicion. But Bridges was strategic and forged an alliance with factions known to be obsessed with race. He draped the “equity” banner around everything he did. Advocating that Evergreen embrace itself as a “College of Social Justice,” he argued that faculty autonomy unjustly puts the focus on teachers rather than students, and that the new VP for Equity and Inclusion would help us serve our underserved populations. But no discussion was allowed of students who did not meet the narrow criteria of being “underserved.” Because of the wrapping, concerns about policy changes were dismissed as “anti-equity.” What was in the nicely wrapped box turned out to be something else entirely. (Read more.)
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lost Glories of the Paris Ritz

From The Daily Mail:
Opened in 1898 by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, it was bought in 1979 by Egyptian billionaire Mohamid Al Fayad and underwent four years of renovation before re-opening in 2016. The objects going on sale no longer fit the new set-up of the hotel, favoured by A-list stars and royalty from around the world.

Among the items is the first bathtub installed at the hotel, estimated to fetch between 800 and 1,200 euros (£700-£1,057). A gold sofa set from a salon named after the writer Marcel Proust is expected to fetch more than £1,200, while a pair of black lacquered decorative Chinese junk sailboats from the Coco Chanel suite will be on offer at 2,000 euros (£2,202).  

In it's 118-year history, the legendary hotel was called 'the most romantic hotel in the world,' by Sophia Loren and during the Second World War, the Nazis took over several floors when they occupied Paris during World War II. Auction house Artcurial, who are organizing the sale said the 10,000 pieces in the catalogue have been separated into 3,500 lots ranging from €100 to €5,000. (Read more.)
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Guns at School, Thirty Years Ago

From PJ Media:
The millennial generation might be surprised to learn that theirs is the first without guns in school. Just 30 years ago, high school kids rode the bus with rifles and shot their guns at high school rifle ranges. After another school shooting, it's time to ask: what changed? Cross guns off the list of things that changed in thirty years. In 1985, semi-automatic rifles existed, and a semi-automatic rifle was used in Florida. Guns didn’t suddenly decide to visit mayhem on schools. Guns can’t decide.

We can also cross the Second Amendment off the list. It existed for over 200 years before this wickedness unfolded. Nothing changed in the Constitution. That leaves us with some uncomfortable possibilities remaining. What has changed from thirty years ago when kids could take firearms into school responsibly and today might involve some difficult truths. Let’s inventory the possibilities.

What changed? The mainstreaming of nihilism. Cultural decay. Chemicals. The deliberate destruction of moral backstops in the culture. A lost commonality of shared societal pressures to enforce right and wrong. And above all, simple, pure, evil. (Read more.)
And why turning to prayer should not be mocked. From The Federalist:
 The evidence for God’s existence is overwhelming. And contrary to what some say, evil and suffering don’t undermine belief in God. On the contrary, the presence of evil affirms the existence of good. Without good, we’d have no concept of evil. Our visceral revulsion to a gunman murdering 17 people in a high school points to a moral law that defies any Darwinian explanation. We know what happened was evil and tragic. We know it. We know it because our Creator wired that moral awareness into our very soul. You can’t have a moral law without a Moral Lawgiver. (Read more.)
 Meanwhile, atheism  and faith battle for the souls of our schools. From The American Thinker:
In the ongoing struggle for religious liberty, constitutional conservatives like to say the Constitution was written by those fleeing from religious persecution and that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion and not freedom from it.  The FFRF begs to differ, insisting in repeated legal actions against Christians that the Creator the Declaration of Independence says endowed us with our unalienable rights is not to be given thanks in the public square. The atheist group's latest target is the athletes at West Branch High School in Beloit, Ohio, who like to gather in prayer at their games to give thanks to that Creator, rather than take a knee in protest of something or other like their less thankful older professional counterparts:
A southern Mahoning County school district is no longer saying a prayer before sporting events.The school's superintendent says it all stemmed from a local complaint that got a national organization involved. West Branch [s]uperintendent Tim Saxton said he received a complaint letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an anti-Christian organization, based out of Madison, Wisconsin. The letter claimed [that] a prayer performed at a public school sporting event violates the constitution and does not provide for a separation between church and state.
 The FFRF is on a crusade to expunge religious expression from the public square, and the group gets the meaning of "separation of church and state," a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution, all wrong.  This isn't the first time the FFRF's target has been high school football. (Read more.)
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