Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Homes

From Southern Lady:
For more than 30 years, this homeowner has organized the annual Christmas Candlelight Tour, a fundraiser for the Edenton Historical Commission that welcomes visitors into a dozen splendid residences and beloved historical spaces. In her own home, the storied Skinner-Paxton House, natural elements add to the spirit of this glorious season. (Read more.)

The Government is Not a Charity

From Matt Walsh:
As I see it, there are two very serious problems with the idea that we fulfill our Biblical duties by paying high taxes in order to fund a vast and wasteful Welfare State:

1) The people most likely to make this kind of argument in favor of high taxes are also the most likely to reject this kind of argument in favor of any other law. But if we are required to shape our tax policy according to Our Lord's divine edicts (sounds good to me), then it follows that we must shape other public policies by the same standard.

So, goodbye abortion. For the Ten Commandments clearly forbid the taking of innocent life. Jeremiah 1:5 explicitly affirms the humanity of the unborn, as God declares, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." And the Incarnation makes the issue as plain as can be. Our Lord became a "fetus" Himself. He was conceived in His mother's womb and He developed through every stage just as every other child in history. Liberal Christians claim that Jesus never said anything about the unborn. Nonsense. He didn't need to say anything about them. He became them. He elevated and sanctified human life at every stage by taking its form. End of discussion. (Read more.)

What Writers Can Learn From Opera

From Jane Freidman:
There’s a taxonomy of opera voices called the Fach system, if you’re into the finer points. But it’s enough to know seven broadly defined voices evoke the personas ruling the opera program: soprano, mezzo-soprano, contralto among the women; and counter tenor, tenor, baritone, and bass among the men.

Sopranos, the highest voice among the women, take a lead role, the heroine. Or her opposite. A little more nuanced is the “lyric soprano,” whose role depicts a tender, plaintive character. Mimi, for instance, who anchors Puccini’s La Bohème. Staged as a tale of 19th-century struggling “creatives,” the libretto requires a lyric soprano to embody a woman falling in love and later tragically losing her life to the ills of Bohemian poverty. Who might play Mimi in a novel? A young idealist, a librarian and a bookish intellectual desperately in love and doomed, much like the character of Liz Gold, a pawn sacrifice and involuntary heroine in John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.

On a recent Sunday in The New York Times an item appeared that said, “Over the last 35 years at the Metropolitan Opera, Franco Zeffirelli’s staging of Puccini’s La Bohème,” Mimi’s destiny opera, “has played nearly 500 performances and sold 650,000 tickets.” Let’s try some quick writer-math. Translated into the universe of indie novels (and assuming I do the math correctly), the equivalent number of books per year is 18,142. That’s a good number. Sold at $3.99 as an ebook, La Bohème would gross $72,390 each year for 35 years. At Pronoun’s 70% royalty, it represents a $50,673 a year in income. A sustaining wage for a family, or a bucket-list of primo vacations for writers with trust funds. (Read more.)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Before and After

An amazing transformation by Virginia at Chartreuse and Company! To quote:
None-the-less, I whined at her, “Can’t you convince them to at least paint those walls?  And the light fixtures?  PLEASE let me replace them with my own.”

Margaret felt my pain, but the clients were firm:  they would remove their things, but they would not do any work or change any fixtures.  So there we were. We visited the house, with tape measure and graph paper in hand, walked through every room, got a sense of the house and what it could be.  And it’s a GREAT house!  The homeowner designed it himself in the late 70s, with an open floor plan, huge fire places, tons of closets, and had it set in a perfectly private and secluded, 12-acre lot.  While I would paint the exterior brick and trim, extend the front porch, and replace the metal posts with wooden ones, the house is well built, and enjoys wooded views from every window. (Read more.)


Christmas is about Jesus

Not that anyone should be shocked by that statement but it seems that some people are. From Conservative Tribune:
President Donald Trump reminded everyone in the nation during the White House tree lighting that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season. As recorded on The White House website, the lighting ceremony took place on Nov. 30. President Trump carried on White House tradition and spoke at the ceremony. Without hesitation or embarrassment, he took the stage and immediately began to recall the Christmas story. “The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all—the gift of God’s love for all of humanity,” he began. “Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life forever changed the course of human history,” he continued. (Read more.)

Educate Yourself

And this applies to many Catholic universities as well. From The American Thinker:
Our universities are no longer committed to educating the young. Rather, the professorate has betrayed America’s future, and there is little more than lip service paid to learning in the noble sense of the word. What now matters most is the profit motive and filling students with a strange delusion called “social justice.”
The problem is not only that there is no such thing as social justice -- all justice being context-specific, that is, determined by relations between individuals -- because the young are not taught that culture is a way of life, and a far better one than the common hedonism -- they usually are never exposed to the books and films, the music and paintings, the architecture and sculptures that raise existence up to a higher plane. On the contrary, in a Satanic fashion, students are made to believe that these magnificent human accomplishments are a kind of conspiracy by which white men have long oppressed everyone. How false and perverse!
Born into a time gone wrong -- when wealth and the pleasures of the body are the most valued pursuits -- students find that that which alone can provide a wise direction is covered in darkness. Still more, that darkness is supposed to be virtue.
So, on the whole, the professors cannot be trusted; many are, as it were, demons pretending to be angels. The ever-canting social justice warrior, very deceptive with his Harvard Ph.D., is hardly better than a street thug. Indeed, it may be said of the latter that at least he is straightforward. (Read more.)
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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ladies in Red

 From East of the Sun, West of the Moon.


A Baker’s First Amendment Rights

From The New York Times:
You need the First Amendment precisely when your ideas offend others or flout the majority’s orthodoxies. And then it protects more than your freedom to speak your mind; it guards your freedom not to speak the mind of another. Thus, in classic “compelled speech” rulings, the Supreme Court has protected the right not to be forced to say, do or create anything expressing a message one rejects. Most famously, in West Virginia v. Barnette (1943), it barred a state from denying Jehovah’s Witnesses the right to attend public schools if they refused to salute the flag. In Wooley v. Maynard (1977), the court prevented New Hampshire from denying people the right to drive if they refused to display on license plates the state’s libertarian-flavored motto “live free or die.”

On Tuesday, the court will consider whether Colorado may deny Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the right to sell custom wedding cakes because he cannot in conscience create them for same-sex weddings. Mr. Phillips, who has run his bakery since 1993, sells off-the-shelf items to anyone, no questions asked. But he cannot deploy his artistic skills to create cakes celebrating themes that violate his religious and moral convictions. Thus he does not design cakes for divorce parties, lewd bachelor parties, Halloween parties or same-sex weddings.

Colorado’s order that he create same-sex wedding cakes (or quit making any cakes at all) would force him to create expressive products carrying a message he rejects. That’s unconstitutional. Some fear a slippery slope, arguing that anything can be expressive. What if someone refused to rent out folding chairs for the reception? Or what about restaurant owners who exclude blacks because they think God wills segregation? If we exempt Mr. Phillips, won’t we have to exempt these people from anti-discrimination law? (Read more.)
 From Matt Walsh:
 The First Amendment is on trial, not Jack Phillips. If Phillips loses, free speech is effectively finished in this country. If a Christian business owner can be forced by the state to create something that goes against his deeply held religious beliefs — beliefs shared by a majority of the world, by the way — then what function does the First Amendment really serve?

Phillips doesn’t need the First Amendment when he makes a birthday cake. He doesn’t need it when he cooks a batch of brownies. He doesn’t need it when he’s doing innocuous things that no one — not even the gay lobby — could possibly find offensive or upsetting. He needs it precisely when he’s faced with the dilemma that Mullins and Craig presented. He needs it when he makes a decision, grounded in his religious convictions, which will be upsetting to a powerful group like the LGBT lobby. If he doesn’t have it then, he doesn’t have it at all.

If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the gay lobby, what next? If gays have a mystical right to force their fellow citizens to participate in their gay weddings, where does that right end? I’ll tell you: it doesn’t. If Phillips goes down, the churches will be next. And why not? If we’ve just established that gays are a special and superior class of human beings, and their desire for a cake decorated a particular way now must supersede everyone else’s First Amendment rights, why should the churches be exempt? Indeed, if Phillips doesn’t have the right to withhold his cake, why should the local priest have the right to withhold his church? He doesn’t, in that case. He won’t. Mark my words. (Read more.)
 More from Matt Walsh:
A person does, usually, basically, according to our modern laws, have the right to be served by an establishment that’s open to the public. Now here’s the good news: the gay couple were served. They were allowed to enter the store and they were allowed to purchase any item they desired. They could have walked right in and shouted, “We’re gay and we’re buying cookies!” And nobody would have stopped them from buying the cookies. Or cake. Or whatever they wanted. Phillips did not refuse to serve them. Rather, he refused to serve an event.

Ah. So that’s the right? They have a right to compel someone to provide a service, or create a product, for any event they’re planning? But wait. Nobody even pretends that this is a universal right. Again, it is understood that a Jew cannot be conscripted to serve a Nazi rally, a black person cannot be forced to serve a Klan meeting, a Muslim cannot be compelled to serve a conference of pork enthusiasts, a gay man cannot be told that he must create special cupcakes to be enjoyed at the next Westboro Baptist demonstration. (Read more.)