Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Terror and Joy of Worship

Here is a young photographer's photo-essay of his pilgrimage to Ireland:
The sanctuary of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Drogheda, where the head of Saint Oliver Plunkett is kept with great reverence in a magnificent reliquary. Majesty: how much have we lost since this way of building and the way of worship that went hand in hand with it has been lost? (Read more.)

Trump and Stay-at-Home-Mothers

From Chronicles:
Leaving aside the details, the key to the Donald-Ivanka plan is the recognition that we need to stop pretending that as a common good parents’, especially mothers’, caring for their own children is worth exactly zero, and child care is only of value if you pay a stranger (almost always another woman, preferably a foreigner) to do it. It’s time to stop denigrating stay-at-home parents, especially moms, as “not working” and in effect subsidizing, even coercing, their exit from the home by squeezing them economically with worker-hostile trade, tax, and immigration policies imposed by a donor class that won’t be happy until American wages are on a par with those of Bangladesh. It is precisely this calculated war on home moms that Obama has waged, and which Hillary would prosecute further.

Approximately ten-and-half million American women are stay-at-home moms, and in the phony Obama Recovery that number appears to be growing. Trump’s family-friendly plan could have an impact on the election, especially in light of the Republican candidate’s polling shortfall with women. Married women are a key GOP voting bloc with which the polls show Trump lagging, but that might change—if they take note of his plans to help them. (Read more.)
 From Life Site:
The policy was lauded by pro-life, pro-family politicians and organizations. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who chairs the House Select Panel on Infant Lives and introduced Mr. Trump on stage Tuesday night, said the tax plan would “ensure women do not have to choose between work and family as well as ensuring that if a parent does decide to stay home to care for their children, they are not unduly penalized by the federal tax code.” Congresswoman Vicki Hartzler of Missouri, a pro-family champion, said, “Not only does Mr. Trump’s plan help working parents, but it also gives benefits for parents who chose to stay-at-home with their children.” Rep. Diane Black called the plan “both pro-growth and pro-family.” And Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming said his “thoughtful proposal shows a Trump administration will be a pro-family administration.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Center, added that “Trump's plan recognizes the importance of the family in society and the importance of children to future economic growth. His plan encourages family formation which will, over time, help boost the economy.” Rep. Blackburn, R-TN, called the initiative “a game-changer” on Fox Business Channel Wednesday morning, saying it will support traditional families while appealing to female voters.(Read more.)

The Real Eleanor

From Elizabeth Chadwick:
One of the things that fascinated me about Eleanor and one in which she truly was ahead of our time, even if not her own, was the amount of energy she had and how indefatigable she was right up until her last days.  She died at the age of 80, which was a marvelous span in a period without life-saving operations and medication. Most octagenarians, even the robust ones, these days are swallowing a raft of tablets to keep them up to scratch.

Like many of the medieval aristocracy  Eleanor had a peripatetic lifestyle.  As a girl she would have been constantly on the move throughout Aquitaine with her parents. At 13 she married the soon to be Louis VII and shortly after their wedding in Bordeaux, travelled up to Paris. Then it was back to Poitiers and then a return to France where again, the court was constantly on the move. Around the age of 23, she set off for Jerusalem with her husband on the Second Crusade. This took them down through Germany, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) across the Bospherous, across Anatolia under constant attack, eventually to Antioch and then down the coastal strip to Jerusalem.  Eleanor and Louis returned home 4 years later via Sicily and Rome on what must have been one of the 12th century's most extreme military come sight-seeing expeditions. (Louis just loved his shrines).

Biographer Amy Kelly, coming from a literature rather than history background, among other dubious notions, had promulgated the whole courts of love theory which has now been discredited, although the idea remains dear to the hearts of popular history. Victorian biographer Elizabeth Strickland is responsible for Eleanor's reputation for gadding about on the Second Crusade dressed as an Amazon.  Her source for this scandalous happening goes no further back than 1739. There is no evidence for this story before that date, but it has come to be accepted by many as the truth. (See Inventing Eleanor: The Medieval and Post Medieval image of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Michael Evans).
There is the matter of the scandal of her supposed affair with her uncle Raymond of Poitiers en route to the second Crusade when Eleanor demanded an annulment of her marriage from Louis VII.  I discuss the unlikeliness of this one on my own blog Living The History. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Raymond of Poitiers and the Incident at Antioch  She is also supposed to have slept with her second husband's father Geoffrey le Bel, but since the chroniclers concerned were hell bent on bringing the Angevin monarchy into disrepute and were notorious gossips, it would seem prudent to err on the side of caution in that assessment. Geoffrey is supposed to have warned his son off marrying Eleanor, but since Geoffrey and his father had been desperate for years to get their hands on Aquitaine, I somehow doubt that warning would have taken place.  Indeed, I suspect that Geoffrey would have been keen to see his son marry Eleanor the moment the annulment with Louis VII was announced.

Many of the biographies and online articles (especially the latter) tell us that Eleanor incited her sons to rebel against Henry II because she was enraged that he had taken a young mistress, Rosamund de Clifford, and was treating her like a queen.  Serioulsy?  Eleanor would raise an empire-wide rebellion, dragging her sons into a war with their father because she was jealous of Henry's philandering with a baronial nobody?   It's a bit insulting to promote the idea that a savvy, intelligent woman such as Eleanor was some sort of emotional harpy who would throw over an entire kingdom because her husband, already known for sleeping around, was carrying on with another woman. Would the same be said if she was male?  What about the political machinations that were happening at the time as Henry undermined Eleanor's  authority as ruler of Aquitaine and held their sons firmly under the thumb?  Might that not just have been more pertinent to the situation than a supposed jealous snit over a mistress? (Read more.)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

My Mother, My Inspiration

A lovely post from Chartreuse and Company:
Mother/daughter relationships can be tricky.  We all have countless girl friends still reeling from the scars inflicted by this basic relationship.  Let’s just say Emily and Lorelai Gilmore are not extraordinary.

That said, through some wonderful gift and happenstance, I have been blessed with a fabulous mother.  She’s a little bit Zsa Zsa Gabor, a little bit Scarlet O’Hara, and very much her own.  It’s from her that I get my passion for decorating, creating a home, excellent food from the best ingredients, and complete focus on my extraordinary daughters.  My mother was all of that.  And raised four girls who, even as adults, are amazed by her energy, her enthusiasm, and her excellent taste. (Read more.)

Sleepwalking Into Tyranny

From The Spectator:
Should it be a crime to hate women? This unfortunate question is thrown up by the news that misogyny might soon become a hate crime across England and Wales. Two months ago, Nottingham Police launched a trial ‘crackdown on sexism’, investigating cases of, among other things, ‘verbal harassment’ and ‘unwanted advances’ towards women. Now top coppers from across the country are looking into criminalising misogyny elsewhere.

I find this terrifying. Misogyny is vile and ridiculous and I feel privileged to live in an era when, in the West at least, it is in steep decline; an era in which women work, run things, outdo lads at school, and no one bats an eyelid (except men’s rights activists who physically live in their mum’s basements and mentally live in the 1950s). But I am as opposed to the criminalisation of misogyny as I am delighted by its decline. For the simple reason that the state has no business policing people’s thoughts, even their dark thoughts. Have we forgotten this basic principle of the free society?

Imagine the potential for miscarriages of justice in this Orwellian experiment which would investigate people for what they feel (in this case, alleged contempt for women) alongside what they do. Short of inventing a machine that can measure wicked thinking, how does one prove that an individual’s mind is a murky swirl of anti-woman hatefulness? How do we know that the man who engages in an ‘unwanted advance’ towards a woman is driven by ‘ingrained prejudice against women’? He might simply be motivated by attraction to one woman, not hatred for all. (Read more.)

Getting Non-Readers to Read

From Jimmie's Collage:
Heidi said several times in the conversation that we have to remember the end goal — a love of learning. So everything we do to encourage reading needs to feed into that. You can’t force someone to enjoy something. But you can draw a picture of how attractive an activity is and then savor it yourself to model that joy.

One of Heidi’s suggestions that I most loved was simply to talk to your child about what you are reading. It’s that common advice of “let your kids see you reading” taken to the next logical step. Not only do they see you with a book in your hands, but they also hear you talking excitedly about the great story you read. You engage them in a conversation about the novel just like you would a television show or a story that happened to you.

She is a proponent of weekly library visits and letting kids choose things they are interested in and then check out as many books as they can physically carry. (Read more.)

The Struggle That Most Writers Never Talk About

From Emerging Writers Studio:
The journey from imagination to page is inherently fraught with what Twyla Tharp calls, “divine dissatisfaction.” In the theater of our mind, our story is a multi-dimensional, techno-color, high-def world teaming with life. But inevitably, in our early attempts to transfer that vision onto the page, that world disintegrates. It’s where a lot of writers get lost. Or stop writing altogether. But the truth is, every writer worth his or her salt grapples with this very same struggle. (Read more.)

Friday, September 23, 2016

David and the Last Journey of Marie-Antoinette

From Catherine Curzon:
In this simplest of sketches David shows not a queen, nor the hated figure so vilified by her persecutors, but a simple human in her final minutes. There was nothing remotely Royalist in David's work and yet his honest depiction carries with it a dignity of its own. He might have produced far finer works and laboured long hours over great canvasses but for me, this simple, human sketch is one of David's greatest works; it captures a singular moment in time and one that, as the tumbrel rolled on past the artist's window, was soon gone forever. (Read more.)