27 June 2012


I've moved house recently, and I've decided that it's time to move blogs, too.  This blog has served us well for the last nine (!) years, but my blog partner hasn't written any posts in a long time and my posts these days are more individual and much less about the two of us as friends and partners.  I won't take this blog down any time soon, so the archives will be here if anyone is interested.

Please join me at my new blog, Sancta Maria ad Nives.

23 May 2012

What the heck...?

I'm sure that Father Gabriele Amorth has done many good things in his life. However, I really wish that someone who has authority over him would duct tape his mouth shut. Please? I know that the news outlets which, like HuffPo, have titled their stories "Emanuela Orlandi Was Kidnapped for Vatican Sex Parties" are outright lying. That implies that cardinals were having orgies with underage girls, and that's not at all what Fr. Amorth said. What he said was that foreign diplomats and a Vatican gendarme (not exactly who you think of when you hear "The Vatican") were having sex parties. Also, how does he know this? In what capacity is he authorized to comment? Yes, his statements were distorted in the headlines. But he's not a young priest, he's 87. He's been around the block a few times. He should not be so naive as to think that the media won't twist his statements to make them look as bad as possible for the Church. Yet, he does this anyway. Please, someone, make sure he's not interviewed by the press anymore. PLEASE.

29 February 2012

I Know I Said I'd Be Gone a While...

...but this opportunity was too good to pass up. Take a look at this:

A name has been stricken from the photo to protect the (sort of) innocent. Does it remind you of anything? If you're a Star Trek fan, it might remind you of this:


The top photo is in fact a proposal for a baptismal font and not a crude, early prototype of the USS Defiant.

To my mind, this is further proof to back up my theory that Modern American church design is heavily influenced by Star Trek sets. I have previously given the example of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in Spokane, WA:

You can't tell me that cathedra doesn't look like it was torn straight from the Original Series sets.

Detroit has the same problem.

(Photo by Balthazar Korab, on Archdiocese of Detroit website)

The phenomenon of the square altar is an issue as well. I don't know any priests who like square altars: even the ones who have fairly modern taste recognize that there's a much smaller percentage of useable space on a square altar.

Of course, you all remember what the Curt Jester had to say about the furniture for the Pope's 2008 visit: Pope Kirk I. The pictures aren't in his post anymore, but you could find them online if you searched for them.

I don't know when the modifications were made in Detroit and Spokane. They might have been before Star Trek appeared on the scene. Still, it's clearly the same aesthetic that spawned the original Captain Kirk's chair (not to be confused with the chair in the alternate-reality Star Trek from the latest movie, the aesthetic of which is pure Apple Store). If they're really into that, why don't they just buy a replica of Kirk's chair? I'm sure the buttons could be re-wired to work the cathedral sound system and lights, or a call button to the sacristy, and one to the choir loft, for those awkward moments when there's so much incense smoke that the organist can't see what's going on at the altar. *blinking orange light* Time to wind down the improvisation! That would be useful. The replica probably isn't more expensive than what's in the photos above, and the upholstery has the advantage of not being orange.

One more before I go. This, as you probably know, is the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, CA:

(Photo copyright SOM LLP)

This is Starfleet Headquarters, which is supposed to be in San Francisco in 2372:

Clearly, when they build Starfleet Headquarters, the architecture will be in tribute to the style of an almost 400-year-old cathedral in the neighboring city. Or something.

27 February 2012

Just Checking In...

...to say that my blogging will be even scarcer than usual over the coming months. We are moving to Alaska! My husband will be music director at a parish in the Archdiocese of Anchorage. We're so excited!

This was the view from our hotel room when we went for his interview. The first day it snowed terribly the whole time, and I was fairly miserable. But on the second morning, when I saw the pink sky and the mountains, I suddenly felt that everything would be ok.

I'm preparing myself for some of the challenges of life there. Fortunately, the Anchorage area has a fairly mild climate, as Alaska goes, with less extreme seasonal changes in daylight and darkness than you'd get further north. I spent four winters in Spokane, which isn't actually that much better in terms of temperature and average snowfall, and a lot worse in terms of actually getting the snow off the streets and sidewalks. I think I can handle it. I'm glad we'll be moving in just as spring begins, though, and that I won't have to face my first Alaskan winter at the same time as trying to make new friends and find my way around a strange new city.

Moving is a big challenge. We've got our fingers crossed that we won't run out of money, and that the moving company estimates will be accurate. We're arriving in mid-April and we don't yet know where we're going to live. Private owners of rentals listed on Craigslist haven't always emailed or called us back. Two moving companies have promised to send people for in-home estimates and both stood us up (and only one called to give an excuse and reschedule). But we have started a novena to St. Joseph for a house, and I hope anyone who's still reading this blog will pray for us, for safe travels and an easy time settling in to a new place and new responsibilities.

14 January 2012

New Translation, and Teaching of English

I'm enjoying the new translation of the Roman Missal, what I hear of it. The sound system in our church isn't great, and from the choir loft I don't always hear everything clearly. We went to daily Mass at our cathedral last week, and could hear much better. I think we have the smallest cathedral in the country, so it's easy to hear the priest from pretty much anywhere in the building, plus they've actually maintained their sound system...*cough*

As far as I can tell, there is only one real downside: it's difficult for non-native speakers. As I've mentioned before, our current parochial vicar is a native Spanish-speaker. His conversational English is very good. The old translation was, well, pretty conversational in tone and so it wasn't a problem. But language-learners these days don't spend a lot of time learning the more literary type of English that pervades the new translation. In the days when school boys learned a lot of Latin, I think that some of the sentence structure and word order of literary English was influenced by Latin structure in the way that our new, more literal translation also is. The sentences can be very long and there are a lot of subordinate clauses. Many of Dickens' sentences are as long as one of my paragraphs here, and some are longer than the page of a paperback of ordinary size.

For a native English speaker like me, who had very good English teachers and parents who supported my youthful impulse to devour all reading material within arms' length (Dad, an avid reader himself, made sure that the library and local bookstore were often within arms' length), this is not a problem. On the other hand, classes in modern foreign languages don't usually teach literary language, at least, not unless you take really advanced classes. This is very practical; a child learning his first language starts with The Very Hungry Caterpillar and doesn't get to Oliver Twist until about twelve or thirteen years later, at least. The adult learning a new language follows a similar pattern, and of course many foreign language learners stop taking classes when they reach a certain level of fluency. I know I did--I can get the gist of newspaper articles in French, but I certainly will not be reading Les Miserables in the original anytime soon.

Father R., I suppose, will continue to practice the texts of the new translation, and it will become as easy, in time, as the old one was. In the meantime, I will try not to wince when he stumbles over a clause, or reads aloud in a way that makes me think that he doesn't know where the sentence is going. After all, Msgr. is a native English speaker and a well-educated man, and he has had a few of those moments too.

I don't suppose Fr. R. will be interested in reading Dickens to improve his English, although it would amuse me a lot if he were.

As for native English speakers who are having trouble understanding, or who fear others might, may I suggest reading more old-fashioned literature?