52 Albums, Week 18: Spirituals and Songs From the Stoop (The Bay Ridge Band)
52 Albums, Week 19: Hats (The Blue Nile)

Sunday Night Journal, May 7, 2017

Well, I finally saw Manchester By the Sea. It was as good as everyone has said, and it deserved the honors it got. But I don't want to see it again: so much pain, and for me the artistry, as good as it is, is not enough to make me want to experience it again. 

Addendum, on re-reading this after posting it: why do I not feel that way about Bergman's equally pain-filled films? Why do I actually own copies of most of his best ones? I don't have a very good answer for that, beyond the fact that Bergman's work just moves me more, and more deeply, and that this is in part at the fundamental level of imagery, character, and dialog. And I'd also say that in many instances Bergman often seems to show more spiritual depth. 


 I wish the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, commonly referred to as the Anglican Ordinariate, had a more concise and descriptive name. Or, failing that, a more vivid one, one with a bit of poetry in it. If you don't already know what it is, the name won't tell you. And that's a fairly big reservation to have about a name, although a pretty small reservation to have about the thing itself. We are not supposed to call it "the Anglican Ordinariate", because that apparently leads to the impression that we aren't Catholic.

If you don't know what it is, it's the structure so generously established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 to allow people in the various Anglican churches to come over to Rome and bring with them whatever Anglican traditions and practices were compatible with Catholic faith, which is quite a lot. Click here to learn more. Actually I should be using the plural, as the St. Peter ordinariate is one of three: one in this country, one in the U.K., one in Australia. Each is a sort of non-geographic diocese.  

I also wish it had come about earlier. In 1980 John Paul II implemented a somewhat similar but more limited arrangement, the Pastoral Provision. I can't recall the details now, but its applicability and availability were limited in ways that the Ordinariate is not, and some (including me) have speculated that if the Ordinariate had been instituted in 1980 it might have attracted more Anglicans than it is doing. By 2009 most Anglicans (including me) who were open to Catholicism had already converted on their own. And those who have stayed, either in the Episcopal Church (or the Church of England, etc., as applicable), or in various "continuing Anglican" bodies, have made their peace with the situation. 

It looked for a couple of years there as if the Ordinariates were going to languish and fade. And they may still. Certainly they aren't doing as well--i.e., attracting as many people--as was initially hoped. But recently things have been looking up a bit.

One significant development concerned Our Lady of the Atonement parish in San Antonio. It was the first parish established under the Pastoral Provision, and it has been very successful. It's a large and thriving parish with a well-regarded school. Some months ago a crisis arose there. The Pastoral Provision parishes are ordinary diocesan parishes, their main distinction being their liturgy. Atonement wanted to join the Ordinariate. The local bishop tried to stop them, removing their pastor and directing him 

to dedicate some time to reflect on some specific concerns that I have shared with him. These specific concerns relate to expressions in the life of the parish that indicate an identity separate from, rather than simply unique, among the parishes of the archdiocese.

Apparently this meant, being interpreted, "I have no intention of allowing this parish to leave my diocese." The parishioners were up in arms. A crisis ensued. Appeal was made to Rome, and the decision did not go the bishop's way: not only was Atonement allowed to join the Ordinariate, but "the Vatican"--I'm not sure whether it was the pope or some bureau--decreed that all the Pastoral Provision parishes would become part of the Ordinariate. As, obviously it seems to me, they should. There aren't many of them, but I think several have been quite successful, so their inclusion strengthens the Ordinariate.

My own tiny local group, The Society of St. Gregory the Great, seemed for a while at death's door. Our founding priest had literally been there, having suffered a heart attack that would have killed him if he hadn't been near a hospital. Due to problems related to that initial attack, he has not been able to return to active ministry and now, though only in his mid-30s, is considered legally disabled. We have been in existence since 2012, had a few people come in early on, and then lost some of them. We could not, obviously, continue without a priest. But a local priest who was a former Anglican volunteered to celebrate Mass every other week for us. Then a few months ago an Ordinariate priest, retired from the Episcopal Church, moved to the area. And now we have Mass every Sunday again. And at Easter (well, actually the week after Easter, due to some logistical problems) we received two converts. And several new people have begun attending regularly, either Latin Rite Catholics who just like our liturgy, or potential converts. 

So. As far as I'm concerned, the Ordinariate in this country at large, and locally, is Not Dead Yet. The mustard seed has sprouted, and may yet grow in to a tree, and the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.


Assuming that Pope Francis himself decreed that the Pastoral Provision parishes would become part of the Ordinariate, I'm grateful to him. But I thought he was somewhat unfair to some young people in remarks he made last week: "I think of the many young people in the Church today who have fallen into the temptation of rigidity."

I know such young people exist. But "many"? I would have said "a few." A miniscule number, surely, in comparison to those who are so far from being rigid that they have hardly any conception of what it means to be a Catholic. He is probably thinking of those inclined to be traditionalist in liturgy etc. But I know several young people (under 40 at least, some under 30) who want a rich liturgy, and who take the teachings of the Church seriously. I would not call any of them "rigid," self-righteous, or anything of that sort. My Ordinariate group would not exist without them.


Over the past year or so I undertook a couple of more or less organized classical music listening projects, getting acquainted with related works I either had never heard or had heard only piecemeal. One of these was Bruckner's symphonies. I had heard some of the earlier ones a couple of times and never been all that taken with them. This time I started with the 1st (I skipped the 0th) and listened to each one three times before going on to the next. Those three times typically weren't all that close together, just because life doesn't make such things convenient, and I took a long break after the 5th because I was getting a bit tired of Bruckner.

I wish I had made some notes as I went, because now I can't remember which symphonies, and which movements, I liked best. In general it tended to be whichever I had most recently heard. So if you'd asked me a couple of weeks ago I might have said the 9th, despite the fact that it's unfinished. Rob G's account of attending a performance of the 8th caused me to listen to it again last week, and I think maybe it takes the prize. Definitely I like it better than the 9th, and although if I work my way back down the list I know I'll find individual movements that I like as well, this may be my favorite as a whole. The Adagio seems almost literally heavenly.

It's hard not to compare Bruckner to Mahler, both of them composers of monumental late-Romantic symphonies, but as of now I have to say I like Mahler a little more. That's not necessarily healthy. Bruckner, a solidly faithful Catholic, is fundamentally serene, however effectively he may blow your socks off in his grandest moments. The jacket illustrations of Bruckner recordings tend toward mountains and other majestic scenes, and there's a good reason for that. But as I said after I'd heard Bruckner's first three or so, to a friend who also loves Mahler but doesn't (yet) know Bruckner, there's more pain in Mahler, more anguished yearning, and I guess I like that. 




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That is a gorgeous picture.

I only read the first paragraph, but yes, very good, but too painful to watch again.


I've watched it twice already!


I couldn't sit still during the scene where Patrick visits his mother. That wasn't the kind of major pain I was referring to--you know what I mean (is there any reason to avoid spoilers here I wonder?). But it was *so* miserable.

My favorite Bruckner symphonies are 8 & 9, with #2 coming close behind. I also like #4 a lot, but it is atypical, for one thing, and for another, I like it "sentimentally" as the first Bruckner symphony I ever heard (and I heard it live that first time, going in completely not knowing what to expect, which was quite an experience.) Before I heard it my only exposure to Bruckner was through his motets (which are glorious!)

Patrick's breakdown at the freezer!

Does it make sense to say that I liked the acting in Manchester... better than the movie itself? I was very happy to see C. Affleck get the Oscar for Best Actor, and the rest of the performances were excellent as well. But somehow for me the film was less than the sum of its parts. Again, don't know if that makes sense.

I get what you're saying, Rob. There wasn't really much to it, so it is more about the performances than the overall story. I just think it is quite fun to watch Affleck in his role, how he interacts with everyone. The fact that the big upsetting event happens "off camera" makes it much easier to deal with. If I had to see something like that, then I would be in the camp of only watching it once.

In that way it reminds me of another film, 'Snow Angels,' with Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale. The two lead performances are outstanding, but the movie's just so darned sad, it's hard to watch.

I'll probably watch Manchester... again at some point, but not soon. As for Affleck, he's been very good in everything I've seen him in since The Assassination of Jesse James, which is where I first noticed him.

"Does it make sense to say that I liked the acting in Manchester... better than the movie itself?"

Sure. I wouldn't say that myself, but it makes sense. I've thought that about some of the BBC stuff--that the stories as such weren't really anything special, but the acting brought the whole thing up.

"the big upsetting event happens "off camera" Sort of! It's certainly close enough.

I really think I liked all of the Bruckner symphonies. I know I thought some were better overall than others, but I also remember that even in the ones I didn't like as well there was at least one great movement. I was occasionally emailing the Mahler-loving friend throughout this, reporting on my findings, and I remember telling her that #7 was the best before I heard 8 and 9. I read something disparaging #6 and I don't think I liked it as well, but there was at least one movement that I thought was wonderful.

Glad you like the picture, Janet. It's funny, I wasn't trying to take a good picture, just a snapshot with my phone to send to my local grandsons, who had been over a day or two earlier, to show them how the creek had changed after a very heavy rain. Then I looked at it on the computer and said "hmm, that's rather nice."

I'm not a great fan of #7, mainly because I don't like the main tune used in the 3rd mvmt. But I like the rest of it, and the adagio is particularly good. Whenever I listen to #7 I just skip movement three. :-)

I saw Manchester a few weeks ago, and I thought it was excellent. A hard story, obviously, but, given the story, I thought it was handled superbly. A film about such a situation has to work hard to avoid being emotionally manipulative, and I thought Lonergan, the director, did it about as well as it could be done.

Many people seem to find the film depressing or dour. Personally I found it sad, of course, but basically healthy and even hopeful. Lee suffered a terrible calamity, and he will never fully recover, but he is healing slowly, and the film clearly wants that for him. I thought the music, especially, expressed sympathy and compassion. I'd very much like to see it again.


I've also been meaning to do a Bruckner listening project this year, but I haven't started yet. I'm just wrapping up my Elgar and Messiaen projects.


I've a few friends who are members of the Ordinariate in another part of Canada. They've had problems in their parish, but apparently now the Order of St Gilbert, an Ordinariate religious order (?), is moving in and they are hopeful that it will encourage stability and growth. I hope so too.

Our old parish in Toronto is now the local home of the Ordinariate in the region. To welcome them to the parish, a friend of mine gave them a large reproduction of Holbein's portrait of St. Thomas More; it now hangs in the back of the church. Rather nice, I thought. I still haven't had opportunity to go to an Ordinariate Mass though.

Can't say I'm surprised that there were "problems" in your friends' parish. I don't know if you meant friction among the group, but we had some of that. I'd sort of like to tell a story or two but the people would be too easily identifiable.

I've been told by people who know more than I do that the Ordinariate Mass is essentially the "Extraordinary Rite", as the old Latin Mass is now called, in English. Right now, and I guess for the foreseeable future, we "only" have the Mass. Bad way to put it, I know, but what I mean is that a lot of the beautiful Anglican prayers are not in the Mass, but in Morning and Evening Prayer.

I think you'll like Bruckner. Maybe I'll do a Messiaen project...but I guess I've heard the major major works, and I'm not sure how great my appetite for more is.

My aversion to the pain of Manchester isn't a comment on its artistic quality, except as noted that I don't think it's up to the Bergman level. It is very good. And it does have that healing note at the end. But I don't want to see it again.

I think the spiritual depth is the big difference. Also, I've never seen a Bergman film with this particular horror. That's what makes it too painful for me.


Yes on both counts.

Just reading about what happened in Manchester was enough for me, and I’d not want to see it portrayed -- that would knock me out.

Is the thing about Bergman that he holds his characters somewhat at a distance so that he can emphasize the ideas he wants to get across? So his films’ emotional hold on us isn’t as great as in something like Manchester.

That may be true, Marianne. I never empathize with his characters. I'm always watching them from a distance.


That's not true for me at all.

Well, as soon as I posted that I thought that perhaps that wasn't always true and that if I thought about it, I would think of some where I didn't feel so removed, but then dinner was ready and I haven't thought any more about it until now, when I'm going to bed.


That's ok, I don't have time to say more about it right now, either. :-)

That was an awfully blanket statement I made. Completely forgot about Cries and Whispers, which for sure didn't keep all the characters at a distance.

That actually is the one that's been most on my mind with respect to Manchester.

And speaking of the Ordinariate: it just hit me that the only two people who have ever unfriended me on Facebook (that I've noticed) had been part of our St. Gregory group. That's pretty sad. In both cases I think it was politics: one was very pro-Trump and one very anti-Trump. I don't know for sure because they didn't say anything, I just suddenly noticed that I wasn't seeing anything from them, where they had been the multiple-posts-per-day, constant updates sort. They had already left St. Gregory, though, so I guess it wasn't directly related to anything there.

The very pro and the very anti are the reason I am no longer on Facebook, Mac!

Mac, have you ever listened to Nielsen's symphonies? I remember reading one music critic who described them as "Bruckner in compact form" or something like that (I think his longest clocks in at about 40 min.) I haven't listened to them enough to tell how accurate that description is, but I do like his No. 4 a lot, and based on that particular one I can sort of see his point.

At one time long ago I had one of Nielsen's symphonies on an LP, which doesn't seem to be in my possession anymore. It didn't make much of an impression. I think I was wanting him to be another Sibelius. I should probably give him another chance.

Stu, I fixed that Facebook problem by un-following a few people who posted frequently and stridently about politics. That's a good solution because you can still go look at their pages if you want to.

I don't know, Mac, I just haven't missed it yet. Maybe I'll go back some time. I had gotten to the point where most of what was being posted annoyed me, even benign nonsense like following college sports teams. A certain Auburn fan who will go unnamed feels the need to comment on each and every one of that institution's sports teams every day. And I much prefer Auburn to Alabama, so who knows why this irritates me so much? I guess because I am a hoity toity pseudo-intellectual and think anyone worrying about sports that much is a fool? I'm down to Light on Dark Water and Nextdoor Midtown Mobile as the two social media pages I view, and the latter I very rarely make my presence known.

I'm honored (no sarcasm).

By no means did I intend to encourage you to return to Facebook! If you've gotten the hook out, good for you. My big problem with it now is the sort of compulsive effect it has. I find myself reading all sorts of stuff that I would never have known about, which is harmless in itself but makes me distracted and wastes time.

Well Stu, you are missing my vacation pictures. ;-)


LODW is the only social medium I participate in.

Thank you.

I just dropped a couple of facebook friends who said Paul Griffiths deserved what he got because racism is real, and therefore the presumption should always be against a white male professor.

So, a white male professor should be tried slightly unjustly? How unjustly precisely?

I used to enjoy the diversity on my thread, but after Trump's victory, the whining became unbearable. As you know, I was never pro-
trump, but the complaining after he won was intolerable. No one seemed to wonder whether the problem was the Democrats fielding such a charmless woman. My facebook thread is much blander now, and will be even blander with the loss of the two stalinists yesterday evening.

For news, now, I follow Twitter. People share interesting things from papers or magazines I would not generally look at online. As I used to say of facebook, its like having your daily newspaper edited by everyone you know.

For those who haven't heard of it, Grumpy is referring to this controversy:


Griffith seems to have been at worst undiplomatic.


"So, a white male professor should be tried slightly unjustly? How unjustly precisely?"

There is literally nothing a white male can do to defend himself against this kind of charge. Any denial is literally a confession and only digs the hole deeper:

"I'm not racist"

"Ha ha, that's just what George Wallace said. Some of your best friends are black, right? Ha ha ha."

So you might as well do what Griffith is doing and figuratively spit in their eyes.

I think possibly the scariest aspect of this sort of thing--and it is "a thing", something that's reported fairly often--is the fact that individuals charged with these crimes against diversity are so often not only not allowed to know the specifics of the charges, but are forbidden to talk about them. That truly is a totalitarian tactic.

"the complaining after [Trump] won was intolerable"

"complaining" greatly understates what I heard from a lot of people. "Apocalyptic hysteria" is closer. One of the people I mentioned who unfriended me started posting pictures of Jews killed by the Nazis, with the implication that Trump's proposed policies were comparable.

"There is literally nothing a white male can do to defend himself against this kind of charge. Any denial is literally a confession and only digs the hole deeper"

Yep, it becomes a huge "Have you stopped beating your wife?" thing.

Hillary Clinton is charmless, was a terrible candidate, and I think if the Democrats had run anyone else they would have won.

She would still be better than Donald Trump. So far this administration is an out of control dumpster fire.

With that said, part of the reason I am off Facebook is the anti-Trump hysteria Mac speaks of. The other part is anything at all pro-Trump. It is certainly all about Trump, which is just how he likes it.

It's also entirely possible that another Republican candidate would have beaten Hillary much more decisively than Trump did.

I can't really disagree with the "out of control dumpster fire" view. But it speaks to how divided things have gotten that I can still be glad that he won, because his judicial appointments may at least slow down the rush to effectively discard the constitution. And I'm far from alone in that--I mean in having both opinions.

'it becomes a huge "Have you stopped beating your wife?" thing.'

Yes, though I would rephrase that slightly: it doesn't just become that, it starts out that way. One is supposed to grovel in response, and that's what a lot of people do.

The election was surely the weirdest ever: two absolutely horrible candidates. My fear is that this is the way things are going to go permanently, and the presidency is just going to be more and more a form of theater, but with huge real-world consequences.

I have been reading Pieper on justice and he is talking about authority. When I have a moment, I am going to post some quotes somewhere, but it's such a striking contrast to anything we can even imagine having at this point.


[sigh] I can imagine. I mean, I can imagine that we can't imagine having it.

I agree that another Republican would have beaten Clinton worse.

I'm not sure the current administration is a big friend of the constitution either.

Therefore, judicial appointment would seem to matter less.

We need Art Deco to set me straight!

Except that he already appointed someone who is a strict constitutionalist.


I don't know, I get that from the other side too, worrying about the Supreme Court and the aged liberal justices dying or retiring. That seems to be the "long view". I'm more concerned with the here and now, what exactly does either side think the Supreme Court will be doing, outlawing abortion some time soon? Making gay marriage illegal now that it is legal? I would take Mike Pence - and I'm just about positive he and I would agree with nothing - just to have someone not crazy.

But they're wrong. :-) I mean liberals worrying about the SC. Of course they're right in worrying that it won't go their way, but I think it's an objective fact that progressives in general don't actually believe in constitutional government in any solid sense. Basically they see the constitution as mandating what is good, and therefore anything they think is good must be constitutional, and anything they think is bad is unconstitutional. That's overstated and oversimplified but too close to the truth.

It's probably true that Trump doesn't care about the constitution, either. But the long view is exactly what's at stake, and exactly why someone like me who didn't support Trump was nevertheless glad he won.

I once heard the internet described as a "weapon of mass distraction", and I don't think it's more true of anything than it is of Facebook.

From the documents linked to, the professor being run out of his post said nothing that couldn't adequately have been answered with "That isn't really helping" – rather than "If you refuse to be re-educated you must leave". The lack of a sense of proportion is almost as alarming as the lack of a sense of justice.

His DeAn called him a racist and a sexist because he refused to go on a racism course. He was not allowed to 'bring a friend' tohis disciplinary hearing. So he refused to go. Im hearing youngsters and peers saying they really dont have enough information to judge.

If you are on social media you ALWAYS have enough information to judge, so you must have heard those comments by word of mouth, Grumpy! :)

I think the text of Griffith's email and these two sentences from the dean's email are plenty of information for a judgment:

"It is inappropriate and unprofessional to use mass emails to make disparaging statements–including arguments ad hominem–in order to humiliate or undermine individual colleagues or groups of colleagues with whom we disagree. The use of mass emails to express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry is offensive and unacceptable, especially in a Christian institution."

It's a real stretch, but you could find some slight evidence for the first sentence in Griffith's email: he did name the prof who sent the first one, so you could call that "ad hominem". And you could say he did "undermine" her by telling people not to bother with the training.

But there's absolutely no justification for the second sentence, except by treating any criticism of the "diversity" project as ipso facto racist/sexist. Which seems to be what's going on.

One of those documents up on Dreher's blog is a March letter from the dean to Griffith in which she refers to "Your inappropriate behavior in faculty meetings over the last two years". That seems to point to this being somewhat personal between her and Griffith. She's been on the job only a year, and his going public with his complaint may have been too much of a test of her authority.

This is probably not the first time he's been combative about the diversity stuff. Seems like he's just somewhat combative in general.

Yes he is combatative as a general rule.

This made me think of something that happened at the college I've worked at for a long time. I guess it was at least 10 years ago. The president called a college-wide meeting at the opening of every academic year. There were usually little workshop-y thingies where people were supposed to speak their minds--up to a point. At one of these an old long-tenured philosophy prof got up and just blasted the top administration, pretty much called them idiots who had no idea how the place should be run. Most of us were kind of horrified, especially staff who would never dream of shooting off their mouths like that. The response was sort of "thank you for your input" but he retired the next year, probably with a good push.

I wonder he thought it was worth it.


No idea. Maybe he was planning to retire anyway. He was pretty old.

I remember that, Mac! There was another incident that prompted his early retirement. I'll tell you about it the next time I see you. Probably a cumulative effect, of course.

Yeah, I figured that was not his only point of friction with the admin. So it was early? I didn't know. Now that you mention it I think I vaguely recall talk of some kind of Incident.

Well, I might as well type it out here because the group will enjoy (or not, as the case may be). They were interviewing candidates for an open faculty position in Philosophy and he became incensed at the idea of hiring a Catholic to fill that position. He did this in front of the candidate. Of course he is Catholic himself, and attends St. Ignatius. My memory may be incorrect, it was a long time ago, but that is what I remember hearing. He had to be in his 70s then, so it was no great tragedy for him being put off to pasture. Students either loved or hated him, he was quite provocative in class. I do have to say that he was ALWAYS extremely polite to us in the Registrar's office and took great pains to be the first faculty member to turn in grades. So we liked him!

That all sounds terrible, of course. But I like the old style faculty who FORCE students to participate, and to think, and that is exactly how he was. I'm sure I am generalizing, but my take on lots of young faculty is Power Points and keeping the students comfortable.

Ha. Never heard that story. But it reminded me of something I did witness. It was at one of those What Does The Jesuit Tradition Really Mean presentations. I think it was aimed at new employees--can't remember why I was there because I'd been there for 10 or 15 years already. But anyway, he was there, too. There was a little film which basically depicted the Jesuits as having been politically progressive, feminist, etc. from the very beginning. And after it was over he said something like "Well, that's sweet, but it's mostly bullshit," and talked about what the early Jesuits were really all about. I just laughed because he was right.

I can't remember ever having had any direct dealings with him myself.

That is a line I could probably use once a week. But perhaps best not to. Remember the Mel Brooks movie where he kept saying, "It's good to be the king!" It is also good to be a tenured professor!

I reckon.

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