Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Belloc's Windmill

Did you know that Hilaire Belloc's old mill at King's Land is being used as a set for a British detective show?

I didn't, until I found this site, which will tell you all about the windmill and (this is important) when you can visit it. During my semester in Rome I'll have some free weekends, and I intend to make a little trip to England sometime in April.

Shipley Windmill is simply crammed with memories of Belloc. One Christmas, the Belloc children were led out into the wintry dark and up through the trapdoor onto the second floor of the mill, where they found an improbable Christmas tree, covered with candles, and their presents beneath. At other times of the year they used the windmill in their innocent games, which typically involved jumping on the sweeps and riding the mill as if it were a ferris wheel. They were straight out of the Cautionary Tales, those Belloc kids.

Monday, January 22, 2007

A Local March For Life

Washington was out of the question, so I went to a small march in my hometown. There was a Mass and then a "prayer walk." The Asian priest who said the Mass was named Fr. Noel and I have never heard anyone so passionate in the pulpit. At first he was calmly magisterial and somber. He spoke of the demons of the biblical world, how they were thought to kill children. Then he began to talk about the killing of children today, and his voice filled with anger. I listened in nervous awe as he came close to tears, flared into perfect righteous anger again, and turned his anger into the gentleness of a saint - the kind of gentleness that scares you; it's like a bottomless sea, perfectly still. And he did this multiple times. I kept waiting for him to scream "FIRE!" and summon a bucket brigade by accident, like Edmund Campion did. Fr. Noel, at least, was not inured to the evil we were protesting today.

Our march took us through downtown, where a counter-march was waiting for us. On seeing us they began to chant and walk down the other side of the street, while we kept silent. Our numbers were slightly larger than theirs, but they had more support from bystanders and drivers. Anyway, here are the pictures. Click on them to see the full size versions.

My best shot, I think

View of march


Across the street

The church

Saint Nicholas, savior of children


Peter and Paul

Two Short Stories for January 22

Hills Like White Elephants
by Ernest Hemingway

I first read this in high school, and I was intrigued by the way it snuck around the ideology of my largely pro-choice classmates and haunted them. They read Hemingway's curt little description, The shadow of a cloud moved across the field of grain, and saw fertility denied and love imperiled. The story is just a conversation, really - it uses the absolute minimum to achieve its effect. Amy Welborn has a thread about it here.

Why Can't He Be You?
by Eve Tushnet

This story has the same realism as Hemingway's. And by "realism" I mean its honesty about how quotidian and colorless evil can be when you actually see it, in real life, without a lot of adjectives decorating it. Graham Greene said something (I don't have the quote) to the effect that often it's easier to die than to make a scene, as anyone who has ever prayed at an abortion clinic can attest. (The poem below came from that feeling of helplessness.)

Eve's story, though, holds out the stark assurance that these suspended emotions will be purged in the end, "someday, but not today." Today, the narrator's very equanimity reveals a convalescent conscience and a soul still weak from a long illness, the longest illness; but someday she will know the raw happiness of grief. Beati qui lugent. Someday this sensual twilight will be lifted from us, and the music that rules us in the logical kingdom of our principles will sound in the substantial air, self-evident to the ear, so that we can march and dance to it at the same time. And death shall have no dominion.

But it will not be today. Not on this day out of all the year.


Hell has a paved front walk
And a manicured lawn,
A shade tree that must rustle its leaves
In the hours before dawn,
And a street address.

Hell blackens earth with blood,
But in the dark.
Passersby have no idea -
Not a cry, not a mark
Escapes the white rooms of that sanitary place.

Hell's wedged between a preschool and an embassy.
The babbling children playing tag next door
Attract no baleful notice, it would seem;
Unless harm rains silent, as from a reactor core.
You probably expected to see more.

Even the truth-fast criers-out who come
Day after day to pray and plead in very life's defense
Find their minds grown distant and diffuse
When the honeyed light of Sunday afternoons
Warms walls that ooze the blood of innocence.

by Meredith


Friday, January 19, 2007


My grandfather died on September 14, on the feast of the Triumph of the Cross. I know I have been gone for a long time, but I am asking you all for your prayers. My family did not expect this and we have all taken a hard blow.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


To the handful of souls still reading this blog: your heroic patience has been rewarded. Sometimes Bonny Prince Charlie really does come back to Scotland; sometimes Numenor rises from the waves; sometimes Firefly goes back on the air for another season. (At least they do so in my peculiar version of reality.) From time to time during my delinquency (hiatus is too dignified a word for it) I would peek at Basia Me and think, "Argh! When is this blogger going to update her site?" After a split second I would realize that I was responsible for all that inactivity, and I would leave, crestfallen.

In two weeks I am going to move to a new blog which will be about my Italian adventures, and hopefully about my English adventures as well. That will last for three months, and afterwards I will decide what I want to do about Basia Me. When I started this blog back in high school, it ranged over plenty of topics but had very little focus or definition. After Rome, I will either redesign it or start a new blog.

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