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‘London Has Fallen’ — How COVID-19 is changing the global city forever…

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the city. London’s streets are empty of life, its byways strangely deserted.  This city’s once great and endless panoply of amusement outlets and retail opportunities are closed, West End theatres and cinemas, clubs and pubs, bars and restaurants silent. Churches no less empty or strange, with their endless “do not cross” yellow tape everywhere. The whole metropolis has the air of a closed out-of-town retail park on a wet Sunday afternoon. And, increasingly, this once great city appears to have the same lack of charm.   In 2019, in the days before COVID-19, official figures tell of a different city.  Approximately 22 million international tourists came to London. In addition, from across the South East of England and beyond, more ...

A brief history of ketchup and mustard, and how they became associated with hot dogs and hamburgers…

Around 300 BCE, people in China were experimenting with making pungent pastes out of fermented fish guts. A few centuries later, the Greek historian Pliny shared a method to treat scorpion stings using the ground-up seeds of a common plant. These are the unlikely origin stories of ketchup and mustard, two condiments that people in the United States spend over $1 billion on annually. How did two condiments with thousands of years of history between them become associated with hot dogs and hamburgers? [embedded content] Mustard: From Medicine to Tasty Treat Mustard has been around for a while—in fact, the plant the condiment comes from may have been among the first crops ever cultivated. There are multiple species of mustard—most are members of the Brassica or Sinapis genera—and the plant (w...

Amazon erases ‘When Harry Became Sally,’ Ryan Anderson’s book about transgenderism…

The tech giant’s action against a controversial critique of transgender ideology comes as Democratic lawmakers step up efforts to censor conservative voices online and on cable television. Three years ago this month, when Ryan Anderson’s new book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment, first sparked a political “uproar,” critics accused the author of mounting an “inflammatory case against transgender people.” At issue: Anderson’s insistence that Americans “need to respect the dignity of people who identify as transgender, without encouraging children to undergo experimental transition treatments, and without trampling on the needs and interests of others.” “Biology,” the author declared, “isn’t bigotry.” Anderson’s book quickly rocketed to the top of Amazon’s best s...

“Ghost particle” that crashed into Antarctica traced back to star shredded by black hole…

A star being ripped to shreds after it approaches a black hole. Scientists have detected a neutrino — the “ghost particle” — from such an event for the first time. DESY, Science Communication Lab On Oct. 1, 2019, Earth was struck by an invisible, high-energy cosmic bullet moving at almost the speed of light. Trillions of these intergalactic bullets pass through our bodies every second without us even knowing, so there’s no great concern for the planet — but this particular projectile was special. At the bottom of the world, the ghostly particle met its end after colliding with an ice molecule. Fortunately, it did so right next to an extremely sensitive detector embedded underneath the South Pole.  The detection set off an intergalactic hunt for...

‘Wokeism’ in France: The chickens coming home to roost…

I will confess that one of the biggest laughs I’ve had in the last several months was occasioned by a recent article in The New York Times by Norimitsu Onishi. In this lengthy piece, the author tells us that the current political and cultural leadership in France, very much including President Emmanuel Macron, is alarmed at the rise of “American-style woke ideology,” which is effectively undermining French society and fomenting violence. Why, you are wondering, would this produce laughter? Well, what we call “woke” thinking in our American context was almost totally imported from French intellectuals who flourished in the second half of the twentieth century. One thinks of Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva, and perhaps especially of Michel Foucault. The think...

Barbara Shelley: Requiem for a Catholic film star…

Barbara Shelley, who died Jan. 4, 2021, at 88 years of age, was one of Hammer Film’s celebrated “Scream Queens.” During the 1960s, along with a number of actresses, she became part of the Hammer’s acting repertoire, adding glamour to the grisly proceedings. Never a household name, Shelley was, nevertheless, a recognizable face on screen.  When asked, Shelley would say that her favourite on-screen moment came as the expiring vampire staked in the 1966 film, Dracula: Prince of Darkness. She felt she captured there the yearning sadness of the “Undead.” That said, there was nothing sad about the actress in real life. To the end, she was a wealth of stories about her time at Hammer, in Hollywood and elsewhere, tales often laced with a pomposity-puncturing wit.  Her film career had com...

The Pope’s acceptance of Cardinal Sarah’s resignation probably wasn’t adversarial, but it likely was political…

For most Vatican observers, it was nearly a foregone conclusion that Cardinal Robert Sarah would not remain in the Vatican much beyond reaching retirement age. Therefore it was hardly a surprise that Pope Francis accepted the cardinal’s resignation from Vatican service on Saturday. Cardinal Robert Sarah. Credit: Lawrence, OP via flickr. CC BY SA 2.0 Nor was it especially surprising that the cardinal’s retirement has become an occasion for journalists to trot out well-used narratives about Sarah and Francis: That they are ideological foes, that Francis wanted to stall a bid for Sarah to be elected pope, that Sarah has used his post to undermine the ministry of the pontiff. Those narratives are the typical media framing for the relationship between Sarah and Pope Francis. But the reality is ...

Wood and water work wonders! A homily for the First Sunday of Lent…..

On the first Sunday of Lent the readings have a baptismal theme. This makes sense, for it is common that on this day the catechumens report to the Bishop for the Rite of Election, who officially recognizes them as the elect of God in these final weeks before their baptism. In today’s readings there are actually many themes; they seem to form the spokes of a wagon wheel, with baptism being the central hub from which they emanate. Arching over it all is the image of the rainbow in the sky, the great sign of God’s love and mercy upon us all. Even during Lent, as we take heed of our sins, we can never forget that though we have been unrighteous, unholy, unkind, undisciplined, and at times unreachable, we have never been unloved. Yes, God put a rainbow in the sky. Let’s look at the baptismal th...

Secular activities are getting pretty robust. Churches aren’t. It’s time to restore the Sunday Mass obligation…..

As American Catholics enter Year II of lockdown, a number of dioceses are beginning to roll back the universal dispensation from Sunday Mass.  The Archdiocese of Detroit is the most prominent, announcing that as of March 13, the universal dispensation of the faithful from the dominical precept will be replaced by eight specific grounds for dispensation,  including illness of various kinds, caring for sick or homebound people, pregnancy, being 65 or older, not being able to get there, or “significant fear.” Detroit’s grounds for dispensation generally accord with very traditional moral theology: if I’m sick or physically cannot get to Mass, there is no Sunday obligation.  Given the contagious nature of COVID, dispensations like age or exposure of vulnerable populations also f...

Icebergs #2 — See for yourself. Draw an iceberg here and see how it would float…..

Iceberger Draw an iceberg and see how it will float. (Inspired by a tweet by @GlacialMeg) In reality, an iceberg wouldn’t float exactly like this. Its three-dimensional distribution of mass and its relative density compared to the water are both significant factors that are only approximated here. Inspired by a tweet by @GlacialMeg: Today I channeled my energy into this very unofficial but passionate petition for scientists to start drawing icebergs in their stable orientations. I went to the trouble of painting a stable iceberg with my watercolors, so plz hear me out. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/rtkCYub38b — Megan Thompson-Munson (@GlacialMeg) February 19, 2021 Join Our Telegram Group : Salvation & Prosperity  

Behind its headline-grabbing $60 million deficit, the Vatican is making real progress in bringing finances under control…..

Annual Vatican revenues are expected to take another hit, due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic, the Holy See’s financial office announced Friday. But behind the headline-grabbing deficit figures, the Secretariat for the Economy also reported progress in bringing Vatican finances under control. An ATM in the Vatican City State. Credit Seth Schoen/wikimedia. CC BY SA 2.0 The Vatican’s financial secretariat is projecting a 49.7 million euro shortfall in its 2021 budget, it announced in a statement Feb. 19, adding that the budget has been approved by Pope Francis. The budget deficit rises to 80 million, the secretariat’s statement noted, if Peter’s Pence and other restricted funds are factored out.  This budget marks the first time that all Vatican funds, including Peter’s Pence,...

Hell is an unspeakably horrible place. In exorcisms, demons do everything they can to avoid going back…..

Demons want to hang onto their possessed people. Time and again during an exorcism they whine and say they don’t want to leave, as they did in a session a couple of weeks ago. It reminds me of the demons “Legion” in the bible who begged Jesus, as he was exorcizing them, to go into the swine. Apparently, they don’t want to go back to hell. But hell is the place of their own making. There is a well-known line among exorcists uttered by a demon during an exorcism. The priest was commanding the demons to go back to hell, the place which he said that God made for them. The demon replied, “You stupid priest. God didn’t make hell. He would never have thought of such a place. We made it.” This is why hell is so horrible; it was made by demons. In the course of an exorcism, it is often difficult to...