Monday, November 21, 2011

Local Vocals

Excerpted from ‘Name That Sound’ a biographical essay:
During the week we’d often see a funeral, and sometimes on Saturday or Sunday a wedding. One of the joys of being an altar boy was being called to serve at a funeral during school hours. I don’t mean the funeral was a joy---we were properly respectful. We were just happy to feel important enough to be called from class and spend a few hours away from education and the nuns. The weekend wedding was a real perk, and living across street led to my being called for the services quite often. A wedding [one server,] unless it was a mass [two servers,] didn’t take long, and the best man usually paid us altar boys a stipend. That extra cash meant a lot to us kids of the cloth.
With a Catholic bride and a Catholic groom, we opened the altar gates and the service was performed at the foot of the altar. With the Mass, the bride and groom had prie-dieus to kneel on also at the foot of the altar.

For a mixed marriage---Catholic and non-Catholic---the service was performed at the altar rail. It was just as solemn and joyous for the participants. Sometimes, the bride went over to the side altar to pray to Mary while ‘Panis Angelicus’ [Food of the Angels] or ‘Ave Maria’ [Hail Mary] was played by the organist.

In the 1960s we had a fifth Mass early Sunday afternoon [about 1 pm or 2 pm.] It was for the Spanish-speaking parishioners, with the homily in their language. Since I never attended one, I don’t know whether the Mass was conducted in Latin or Spanish---probably the latter.

On holydays, such as Easter and Christmas, the traffic near our house was unbelievable. I watched the action for each Mass: Chevy Bel Air and Coupe, Chevrolet Styleline Sedan; Ford Edsel, Ford Custom, high-flowered hats; compact hats; Ford Crown Victoria, Ford Fairlane 500; Fedora; Packard Clipper, Packard Hawk; Easter dress with a fancy hat; Nash Metropolitan, Nash Ambassador, Nash Statesman; billowing scarves; Plymouth Belvedere, Plymouth Suburban; Dodge Coronet, Dodge Regent, Dodge Sierra; lush overcoats and wind-blown faces; Oldsmobile Super 88, Oldsmobile Firestar; Pontiac Starchief; Studebaker Champion, Studebaker Commander, Studebaker Golden Hawk, Studebaker Lark; laughing families; Buick Roadmaster, Buick Special, Buick Riviera; Hudson Jet, Hudson Commodore, Hudson Hornet; Mercury Sun Valley, Mercury Monterey, Mercury Voyager; DeSoto Adventurer, DeSoto Power Master; Caddie, or Lincoln; Frazer Manhattan; Kaiser-Frazer Henry J---but rarely a foreign car.

We were a hard-working parish. The really rich people, except for the Nowns Sisters must have gone to Church somewhere else. Some people who kept away from Sunday Mass all year showed up on Easter and Christmas. Services during Holy Week were also well attended. We had lengthy services on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. I remember attending everything, even when I wasn’t serving as an altar boy.

Holy Week started on Palm Sunday. We had the passing out of blessed and dried palm fronds as a symbol of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. We were also read the Passion from the gospel. I didn’t like this as a kid because it was so long and only a repetition from the previous year. In the early fifties, everyone had to stand during the reading. Later on, the parishioners could sit---a deterrent to fainting spells.

We saw the reverence of Holy Thursday and the black sadness of Good Friday. And the anticipation and joy of Holy Saturday. These feelings led to the majesty of Easter Sunday. That morning with the lilies and other flowers represented the glorious feeling among us all, though I know as a little kid, I was more interested in the various treats of the day. The wafty flower aroma from the Easter Lilies was all about the church and added to the freshness of the Mass and ceremonies. We celebrated the rising from the dead of Jesus over two thousand years ago.

All through the fifties we had the same three elderly women as our church choir. [They may not have been elderly in the 1950s, but they sounded like it.] Mrs. Hallinan, Mrs. Hegewald, and another whose name I’m sorry to say I don’t remember. The third also played the organ. They sang in tune, but their assumed ages showed in their voices. They sounded dark and ominous and were well suited for funerals. I only wish we had had some younger singers to brighten the wedding and other joyous ceremonies, or some sinners of any age to appreciate the dark singing.

But there in the fifties, the ‘triumvirate’ had a stranglehold on the Church singing rights. I doubt anyone could have joined or replaced them. It would have been a heresy. No singers need apply. Perhaps their most annoying moments were their cranking out litanies during high Mass. As is often quoted: ‘A voice which could shatter glass!’

To be perfectly honest, I preferred and still prefer the old Latin, or Tridentine, Mass to the modern one in the vernacular of the parishioners. I go to a Latin Mass whenever and wherever I can find one, and I watch Midnight Mass from the Vatican every Christmas Eve instead of watching another version of ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Neither one however, is like the Masses I remember---although the St Peter’s mass comes close. By using the vernacular as mandated by the Vatican II council, a lot of mystery and ceremony seems lost.

The ‘numinous’ [inborn religious sense] has to fight an uphill battle to remain on an even keel. Protestant theologian, Rudolf Otto in his 1923 book ‘The Idea of the Holy’, discussed this concept. He has good, if somewhat dense, arguments and discussions of the presence of God and holiness. A mysterious aura is very important to a person’s belief. Take it away, as with the demise of the Latin Mass, and you create Catholics of convenience and the modern day, certainly not with the same devoutness as in the past.

In the Latin Mass, we didn’t shake hands and wish each other peace as we do in the vernacular Mass. After the service [or prayer; Mass is actually considered a prayer,] we made the effort to treat our neighbors with respect and courtesy every day. That’s what we were taught, and that was a most important attitude. ‘Love thy neighbor as t

Monday, November 14, 2011

Application Form for Candidates for the Offices of Representative, Senator and President of the USA

This test must be completed by the candidate [not a staff member] at one time, at a controlled location, without staff around, and with independent proctors. Answer the questions clearly, completely and without evasion or misleading statements. Time limit is two hours. The candidate must go through an airport-type full body scan before answering the essay questions. Appropriate official documents must be included with each test. The test will be signed at the end to indicate the candidate's true beliefs are presented within, and he/she will not be permitted crib notes, televisors, or other assistance in answering. All cell phones will be confiscated for the duration of the exam. The answers and documents will be reviewed by an independent group. All answers and copies of documents will be released to the public. Proctors for this monitoring must be thoroughly vetted by the FBI and CIA.

1. Where were you born? Under what circumstances? Who were your grandparents? Answer in detail. Did you go to college? Where and for how long? Did you graduate? [submit a transcript and copy of your diploma; submit an official Birth Certificate, and not a certificate of birth that doesn't mean anything.]

2. What is your view on abortion? Do you believe in infant life or death? Do you blame an innocent child for the circumstances surrounding its conception? Expand your answer and give details. How would you respond to the following?: Abortion is not the murder of a human being. Abortion is the murder of a human being. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are viable actions for a modern society.

3. What is your view on the size and scope of the Federal Government? Give details. Do you believe in unlimited taxes on Americans to finance Congressional mandates? How much is enough for a Federal Debt? Where do you draw the line? How can we best reduce the debt and annual deficit and should we? How do you view pork and earmarks? What is the relationship between the States and the Federal Government?

4. Are you a Socialist or Communist or Liberal or Progressive or Conservative or Libertarian or other term? Give examples of your political experience that shows what your ideology really is and why you believe in it. Provide examples of political positions you have held.

5. What are your qualifications for this office? Be specific in your giving of details. What is your prior political or management experience? How does this qualify you for this new elected office you want? Do you believe that judicious bribery is needed to complete political ends? Where would you be comfortable with such an action.

6. Do you take an oath to protect the Constitution as it is written or as you want it to be? Please be specific and expand on your answer. What are your views on Constitutional amendments?

7. Do you support all parts of the Constitution---including the amendments---as written? What part[s] of the Constitution are you against and not likely to protect? Please expand your answer and give examples. For example, the second Amendment to the Constitution reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." How do you understand and support this?

8. What is your position on welfare? Will you help rein in the costs? Will you hold fathers responsible for providing support and not disappearing into the sunset? Will you deny persons the collecting welfare when they don't need it? What is your position on ILLEGAL immigration? [Don't confuse it with legal immigration.] Will you support the necessary protection of our borders and reduce illegal immigration logically?

9. Do you support our troops in all ways at all times? [Disregard what their civilian orders are.] How have you shown your support in the past? What is your total view on the military? Please expand your answers with specific examples.

10. Our founding fathers were religious, and they included God in their writings and documents. They only guaranteed rights in the Constitution. They didn't create them. Do you support God or Atheism in government? The 1st [read: predominate concern] Amendment to the Constitution reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Provide explanations of your beliefs in regard to this Amendment. How does removing crosses from public places, prohibiting school prayer, or banning the use of the word 'God' in political discourse mesh with this 1st Amendment? How do such actions not run afoul of it?

I _________________________ declare that the above answers are true to my beliefs and ideology and make no excuses for them. I have not equivocated or evaded any answer, and I have not simply answered them to best serve my purposes in the upcoming election. And I promise to resign any office I might be in if I ever deviate from this philosphy.

_______________________________________ The signature must be notarized.


Please Note for the Journalists:
The Attitude of candidate when completing the essay questions.
The Length of time taken to complete the essay questions.
The Amount of sweat coming from each candidate.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Privilege of Explaining Privilege

I've become tired of hearing the term 'privilege' bandied about by the Liberals in their class warfare efforts. Like so many other terms from the building of America, Liberals and minority groups have taken perfectly good words and bastardized them into another meaning, thus taking the terms out of our general discourse.

According to the online dictionary: "Privilege: a. A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual, class, or caste. b. Such an advantage, immunity, or right held as a prerogative of status or rank, and exercised to the exclusion or detriment of others." The important word here is 'granted.' This indicates a 'grantor.'

According to Wikipedia: "A 'privilege' is a special entitlement to immunity granted by the state or another authority to a restricted group, either by birth or on a conditional basis. It can be revoked in certain circumstances. In modern democratic states, a privilege is conditional and granted only after birth. By contrast, a right is an inherent, irrevocable entitlement held by all citizens or all human beings from the moment of birth."

The sense of 'privilege' in general society is one that indicates favors for one among other equals. Having wealth or being successful takes a person out of the norm and no longer makes him 'privileged' but in a different strata based on work or luck or both. 'Privilege' comes from relatively equals in ability and success. It does not logically compare people of different success and wealth. The term 'privileged' has been misused for years, mostly by Liberals wanting to set one group of people against another---or else the Liberals are just stupid, a logical conclusion.

Merriam-Webster states: 'Good health care should be a right and not a privilege.' It should be neither. We have not been endowed with any right to force others to take care of us! Nor should others have an inherent right to not take care of us---we all being of the human persuasion! Health care should not be a privilege, but a need for a service easily given by others for just recompense. Who pays for that service can often be an event of contention, but it doesn't change definitions. [See a long definition of 'money' and 'wealth' somewhere.]

'We had the privilege of being invited to the party.' This is true. Among reasonably equal people, it is a privilege to be given something [an invitation] for nothing.

'I had the privilege of knowing your grandfather.' Another true statement. Again, among reasonably equal people, knowing a specific individual and profiting from him or her is indeed a privilege.

'He lived a life of wealth and privilege.' Not true. Wealth differentiates people, thus one group having more wealth, mostly from more personal success, would naturally have more valued items. And it's constituents would be able to purchase goods and services above and beyond what the members of another group can purchase. Thus, it is not 'privilege' any more than being smarter makes a person 'privileged.'

The next time you want to complain about the so-called 'privileges' of others, make sure you know the meanings of the terms.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

So Near an Oak [1]

So near
An oak stood I,
And heard soft rustle from
Zephyr-kissed leaves…O, sweet, relaxed
I was!

Sense persuaded
Me to lie at oaken
Trunk, and smiling midst scents of wild…
I slept.

Visions floated
Through my eager mind, and
I dreamt of she I knew…yet know
Not now?

I a union
Of true beauties, and it
Was mysterious to me, for
I have

Seen her,
And now I see
Her not. Unturned face with
Unseen eyes; unheard voice…yet I
Knew her.

For, I
Knew her, though time
Advance us both…still, one
Past was with me: ethereal

Good times and bad;
Smiles, tear; world's end of song;[2]
And sad reality leading

And they
Will not cease for
Me. These wispy phantoms
Coalesce to a sun-kissed One,
Known for

Wind-blown [3]
Name…now clad in
Rich crimson gown 'neath soft, [4]
Silver beams flickering ghostly

Webs of
Shadows dancing;
Amid whispering leaves
Fresh fallen, I hear her tones
Once more…

But ne'er
In dreams, for there
She remains silent and [5]
Elusive where e'er I go. Yet,
I have

Glimpsed deep-
Souled orbs reflect
Bright-hued, scented blooms of
Orchid, Reddened Rose, Violet…
Lilac… [6]

A sweet -
Perfumed luster
Amid dewy tints…a
Rainbow scene steeped in starlight

In dreams
I find her, she [7]
Turns, and as her long-lost
Visage begins to meet the light
My heart

At nearness sight…
But ne'er success to be,
For dreams do fade at unwished times. [8]

Did mine
Eyes awake to
Darkness still, but now were
Wild scents welcoming my senses;
Now were

Streaks amid blue
Gray sky etching ebon
Hills across painted scene. I sat [9]
Me up

And watched
Day's dying flame
Settle West, as Gale in [10]
Life would see anon: we'd share same

Time doth delay.
Chill wind reminds me; off
To home, where dreams will e'er fall short…

But yearnings
Return…as will I to
Oaken shade on morrow pre-eve [11]
To dream

Yes, dream again
With hopeful change of sweetened
Vista in thoughts ephemeral
To last

'Til life
responds: contact
real and view so true will [12]
end our wondering minds' unease.
I sleep

In wooded copse
And dream with hope to find
Rare soul. To reunite for hour?
Or Day?

Near oaken trunk,
I lay again to dream,
Not to wither my soul's growth
In one

Plane. Does Gale dream
As I? Do our dreams join
As One in mysterious ways?
Do our

Hearts guide
Us in same or
Different directions?
Will flowing time reveal melody [13]

Or tunes
Apart? I shall
Consider answers and
Hope for beauty return…now and

Hearts and cyber
Streams…all sincere…can ne'er
Supplant Erato-'spired discourse
For Gale.

[1] The poem is dedicated to Gale
[2] Our song was Skeeter Davis's 'End of the World'
[3] Her name is Gale, like the wind condition
[4] The strongest memory I have of her is being in a red dress
[5] She remains silent in all my dreams
[6] Her---and mine---favorite bloom is the Lilac
[7] I dream of her often
[8] I sometimes wake up in the middle of a dream
[9] I had slept thru to twilight
[10] Gale lives in California; I live in Connecticut
[11] I wanted to return to the oak tree the next afternoon
[12] I wanted to get together with her again
[13] A reference to Unchained Melody, from our teen years