25 August 2008

August snippets

  • Senator Joe Biden has a shot at becoming Vice President of the United States, an office that, in the immortal words of former occupant John Nance Garner, is "not worth a bucket of warm spit" (though rumour has it that his original reference was to another bodily fluid). Biden is a Roman Catholic with Pennsylvania roots, though he has run afoul of his own church's hierarchy over his voting record on abortion. Whether this will put off Catholic voters remains to be seen.

  • Given that those who have seen it judge it an outstanding film, Jules Dassin's Celui qui doit mourir ("He who must die", 1957) desperately needs to be put out on DVD. It is a cinematic version of Nikos Kazantzakis' The Greek Passion, a moving and disturbing book about a passion play being planned by a Greek-speaking village in Asia Minor just before the Catastrophe of 1922. It would fit very well into a university course in the Bible and film.

  • Bob Atchison, who lovingly maintains the Alexander Palace website, has also posted a site devoted to the hauntingly beautiful Deesis mosaic in Hagia Sophia, the Church of the Holy Wisdom in Constantinople. The alert reader will recognize this image from the sidebar of this blog.

  • Speaking of which, the Orthodox journal, Road to Emmaus, carries in its archives a fascinating account of Life On The Golden Horn: Memories of Greek Constantinople, 1948 to 1963.

  • This same periodical devotes at least three articles to Grand Duchess Olga, the daughter of Tsar Aleksandr III and younger sister of Nicholas II: To Be And Not To Seem: My Mother-In-Law, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna; The Bones of Contention: Olga Nikolaievna Kulikovsky-Romanoff on the Alleged Remains of the Russian Royal Family; and 1919: A Refugee Christmas. Grand Duchess Olga lived out her later years in Toronto, where she died in 1960 in relative poverty. Her namesake granddaughter lives here in Hamilton.

  • I doubt I am the only one to notice the tension, if not outright contradiction, between these two articles posted back-to-back on the First Things website: Law & Unlaw, by Ian H. Henderson; and Meeting God As An American, by Fr. Neuhaus. The former's emphasis on divinely given Torah as the basis for human laws would seem to be in conflict with the latter extolling the "very honorable philosophical pedigree" of the contractarian position.

  • In the wake of Jim Wallis and company's controversial claim to have influenced the Democratic Party platform on abortion, Ben Domenech has published a hard-hitting response to the latter: Slow Dancing with Death: Barack Obama’s Democrats Embrace Abortion Extremism. One more thing is worth noting: it seems Wallis' assertion that, even with a Republican in the White House, there has been no change in the US abortion rate may not be altogether accurate if this report is to be believed.

  • The American Political Science Association (APSA), of which I've been a member for 25 years, plans to hold its 2009 annual meeting in Toronto. However, some professors are opposed to this location: Academics fear speaking freely in Canada. Makes me proud to be Canadian.

  • At the weekend Nancy and I saw Mamma Mia!, an entirely frivolous movie that we enjoyed for its humorous use of all those old ABBA songs but that nevertheless does not merit a review here.
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