C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Sunday Drive: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

 The Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Friar Alessandro, an Italian Franciscan monk, sings a lovely version of the prayer commonly attributed to St. Francis:


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Commuting, 1964

These New York commuters going to and from work on July 17, 1964, remind me very much of the grown-ups in the world that I grew up in, down in a small Southern city (not a small town - there is a difference):  a world that was not quite ideal and certainly not perfect - but, as these mundane scenes suggest, an intelligible world that was still for the most part orderly and coherent, where grown-ups went off to work well dressed and well behaved, and just got on with the business of living.  Most of them, most of the time, anyway.  The contrast between then and now provides much room for reflection.  

Just mute the annoying soundtrack and enjoy a few minutes of time travel.  I wonder how many things you can spot that aren't around much anymore, like newspapers.



Thursday, January 27, 2022

Falwell's Rise and Fall

Donald Trump delivers remarks at the Liberty University
Falwell and friend at Liberty University commencement, 2017.

The putrid truth comes out:  Vanity Fair has just published an in-depth interview with Jerry Falwell, Jr., and his wife, whose scandalous fall from grace was headline news a couple of years ago.  In it, the former Liberty University president admits candidly that he was not "a religious person" but certainly enjoyed the power and prestige that came with pretending to be one.  Of course, this is an old story among wealthy American evangelists.  Excerpt:

On August 24, 2020, Falwell resigned from Liberty in the wake of a sensational tabloid scandal that could have been dreamed up in the writers’ room of The Righteous Gemstones. A former Miami pool boy named Giancarlo Granda claimed he had a nearly seven-year affair with Falwell’s wife, Becki—and that Falwell often liked to watch them have sex. Granda went on a national media tour—he gave interviews to ABC News, CNN, Reuters, Politico, and The Washington Post—and said the Falwells began “grooming” him when he was 20 and bought his silence with luxury vacations, rides on Liberty’s private jet, and an ownership stake managing a Miami Beach hostel. To bolster his claims, Granda released screenshots of Facetime calls and text conversations with Becki (“I’m not wearing any panties,” she allegedly wrote Granda in one message). Falwell released a statement that acknowledged Becki and Granda’s relationship, but he vehemently denied watching the trysts. Instead, Falwell said he was the real victim of a “Fatal Attraction–type” extortion plot after Granda demanded $2 million to keep the affair secret.

Viewed in hindsight, the scandal was the combustion of a self-immolating fire that Falwell had been stoking for months, if not years. Liberty had spent the better part of 2020 lurching from one PR crisis to the next brought on by Falwell’s boorish and reckless behavior, his race baiting, COVID-19 denials, and slavish devotion to Donald Trump. Two days after George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, Falwell tweeted a picture of a COVID mask that showed a man in blackface posing with a man in a KKK hood. In early August 2020, Falwell posted a photo on Instagram of himself aboard a yacht with his pants unzipped, a drink in one hand, and his other arm wrapped around a pregnant Liberty employee with her belly exposed. The controversies turned Falwell into an avatar of the rank hypocrisy, know-nothingism, and toxic masculinity that explained why 81 percent of white evangelical Christians voted in 2016 for Trump, a thrice-married reality TV star who literally boasted of grabbing women by the pussy.

Read the full interview here.  Falwell and his wife are very candid about their mistakes and misdeeds - but it seems to me that the one thing lacking is any sense of remorse.  The multi-millionaires, having plied a lucrative racket of misleading the gullible for years, are now living in very comfortable retirement on their scenic estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It is not stated whether there is a pool on the property or not.


Monday, January 24, 2022

Prayers for Peace

The Water Lily Pond, Claude Monet, 1899

The last thing anyone needs is a war just now.  Or at any time.  If you've read today's headlines, I have nothing further to say about world events; but I will say that now is the time to pray for peace on earth.

You can always make up your own prayer, anywhere, anytime.  Or you can think peaceful thoughts embracing all the lands and peoples of this troubled world.  Or just be still inside, in holy silence and at peace with all mankind.

Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.

If you would rather do than think or pray, consider forgiving someone who has trespassed against you.  Or do an act of kindness that you don't have to do - give something you don't have to give - love someone who can't love you back - without any thought of thanks or reward.  If you can do so anonymously, so much the better.  All these are works of peace.

If you want a set prayer, here are several collections of prayers from all around the world, and many faiths.  It's always possible to adopt one phrase or sentence that is particularly meaningful to you and use it as a frequent repetition, if you like. 

But whatever you do, I entreat you - do it now.


Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sunday Drive: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

 The Third Sunday after the Epiphany

The joy of the Lord is your strength.

A happy rendition of the beloved hymn, with lyrics, from St. John's Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

Open, O Lord, the eyes of all people to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works, that, rejoicing in thy whole creation, they may honor thee with their substance, and be faithful stewards of thy bounty.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

What's Your Type?

Two years of change and upheaval, and where are we now?

At this time in 2020, I was planning to write a post expressing my views on the state of the modern world in general and of American society in particular.  But I procrastinated - and then Covid struck and turned the world upside down; next it was the George Floyd riots and the backlash; then the conventions, the campaigns, and the election with its long-drawn-out conclusion; and then the horrific failed coup on January 6th last year; then what seemed a new dawn of hope with the Biden inauguration, but which now seems merely a candle in a hurricane; and so on, and so forth.  Meanwhile, the frothing fanatics at both ends of the political spectrum are busily rewriting or erasing history, and scrambling to herd the future into a predetermined course that brooks no dissent whatsoever:  quite a melancholy prospect, any way you look at it.

Well, I still think and stew about setting down my thoughts, which have been sharpened by the events of the last two years - but for some reason I just can't bring myself to do so.  I will tell you that the theme, in a broad way, of my contemplated essay was the ancient one of man's inhumanity to man, which in most cases results from the folly, pride, and cruelty that lurk in the animal depths of our human nature and often threaten to extinguish the spark of divinity that raises us from the mire of unreason.  

It was so when Pharaoh enslaved the sons and daughters of Jacob; it was so when the liberated Hebrew children made the honeyed valleys of the Promised Land run red with blood; for it is but one small step from being oppressed to being an oppressor, and this ghastly paradox is one of the enduring threads woven into all human history.  I could give many more examples, from all times and climes, but verbum sat sapienti.

I will tell you that the conclusion of my essay, having presented examples from my own experience, was that neither liberals nor conservatives have a monopoly on truth or wisdom or even human kindness:  at various times and in various places, I have been very roughly handled and badly mistreated by hateful people from both sides, for no good reason.  And so I was going to end by saying, "a plague on both your houses."

I thought it, but did not write it.  Yet lo and behold, a plague did descend on both houses - but alas! instead of quenching the flames of conflict, it only fanned them higher.  Well, we must make do with the world as it is, and if we cannot change the flow of the turbulent tide, we may at least able to ride it out by prudence and prayer.  The modern world is not at all to my liking in many ways; but nobody wants to hear my criticisms, which cut across all the ideological divisions that torment the nation today.  And I'm not sure that our vaunted freedom of speech is free of risk in these contentious times.  As the Preacher wisely sayeth:

Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself ?

Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish: why shouldest thou die before thy time?

As I have said before on this blog, I represent a party of one, whose platform may be neatly summed up by the Golden Rule, the Golden Mean, and the Oxford comma; but nevertheless, to get needed change, or protect the status quo, it is necessary to align one's self with the powers that are in being, imperfect though they be.  

Some of you may find it mildly amusing, as I did this morning, to take this little "political typology" quiz (thought-provoking, though not strictly scientific) from the Pew Research Center, to find out where you really fit in today's political spectrum.  It takes less than five minutes; my own results are below the jump.  I wonder if the results will surprise you.

Click here:  Political Typology Quiz


According to Pew, I am a Democratic Mainstay (why can't they just say say "Mainstream Democrat"?), though I should admit that some of my answers were widely different from those of my fellow DM's.

Click to enlarge:

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Pork Boys Do the Holidays

We are resting and recuperating this week after a time of feasting and celebration through the holiday season just past.  Here are some pics and menus to record what all Chef M.P. conjured up, which was heartily enjoyed by all, and not least by your Head Trucker - who washed the dishes.   

First of all was our Yule dinner, the biggest feast of the year, held on December 19th for M.P.'s four children and their spouses (or spouse-equivalents) and four pint-sized grandchildren.  That makes quite a crowd in our little bungalow, but somehow they all managed to squeeze in and have a good time.  Such a good time was had, in fact, that we took only one picture:  

These two entrees were a big hit.  Our guests devoured every last bite.
You should understand that M.P. cured the ham himself from a pork loin, which took weeks to do.  And he used a succulent beef tenderloin in the Wellington, carefully tenderized in a long marinade of wine and herbs.  Click to enlarge.

Here is the full menu, which M.P. exerted himself mightily for days to prepare, along with decorating the house inside and out:

Baked Ham with Orange-Apricot Glaze 
Beef Wellington 
Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce 
Waldorf Salad 
Homemade Yeast Rolls
Assorted Cheesecakes 
The young people brought the cheesecakes, along with a variety of beers and wines, foreign and domestic.

Then a week later, M.P. and I had our own little Christmas dinner - here is what the table looked like:

The green pointy thing in the bowl is a dinner napkin, very meticulously wrapped and rolled to resemble a little Christmas tree - very charming.  Below is a lightened crop of it.

Several years ago, the children gave M.P. this lovely electric fireplace, and that is definitely the way to go - no fuss, no muss, just click the remote and presto, instant warmth and cheer.

The canard rouge and jambalaya, hot out of the oven and oh so delicious!

The meal actually began with Cream of Green Soup, which is made from pureed green beans - I know it doesn't sound so great, but believe me, it's luscious.

At left, diced candied butternut squash; at right, Brussels sprouts a la Polonaise

From six o'clock:  duck with stuffing and gravy, pineapple casserole, homemade croissant and honey butter, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash.

The piece de resistance:  Our favorite chocolate mousse cake, made from scratch, of course, with homemade whipped cream and a dollop of sugared raspberries. 
Ooh la la!

A week later, having had some duck egg rolls in the meantime, we enjoyed our New Year's feast:

The table setting, with a piece of royal blue velvet in the center.

From six o'clock:  fried chicken livers, baked sweet potato and butter, grits and gravy, black-eyed peas.  Chicken livers, grits, and gravy are not a Southern tradition for New Year's Day - but it was all just so doggone good, we promptly decided it will be OUR tradition from here on!

A delicious big pot of gumbo aux herbes, sometimes called gumbo zerbes, which includes five types of greens and pieces of smoked sausage.  Talk about good!  These were served in a separate bowl.

One of my Christmas presents to M.P. was a cast-iron pan for making corn sticks, which he promptly put to good use just like his mama used to do.

A picture of our Christmas tree, full of peacocks and blue birds, and maybe some partridges and pears.  I should have taken a closeup or two.  It was really lovely at night, strung with blue and white lights.

But wait, there's more.  Last Sunday we had our Kings' Day feast with three crowns on the table, of course.

From six o'clock:  breaded pork schnitzel with cream gravy; crown roll (M.P. simply snipped the top three times with scissors before baking); buttered new potatoes; stuffed eggplant; and green lima beans with tomatoes.

And so we well and truly celebrated the holidays, with gratitude for good thing, and have spent the last week recuperating from all the exertion!  But it was fun, and the time passed happily.  I hope all my truckbuddies ate as well and enjoy a happy and prosperous New Year from here on out.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Sunday Drive: Mendelssohn, On Wings of Song

The other day, I came across this lovely tune that I had never heard before, and I wanted to share it with my truckbuddies as a peaceful prelude to whatever the new year brings.  Enjoy.

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