Our new website will be live soon. Matthew’s family situation has delayed the printing and mailing process for the first issue slightly, but a PDF will be available to subscribers to coincide with the web launch. We thank you for your patience.
Poll time: Our readers prefer Play-Doh to Silly Putty by a margin of three to one. Sixty-five percent would consider homeschooling their children if there were no good Catholic schools nearby; thirteen percent believe that all Catholics ought to homeschool; fourteen percent cannot homeschool, and the rest don’t feel that the issue is important either way. Many of you remarked that the choices were too narrow, and that homeschooling may benefit different families or different children in different ways.
Some of the famous people with whom our readers have had the chance to speak are Pope Francis, Soupy Sales, Jimmy Smits, Whit Stillman, Michael Jordan, all of the current Justices on the Supreme Court, Lois Lowry, Matthew McConaughey, Stanley Hauerwas, Michael Dukakis, Keith Urban, Bill Gates, Jerry Garcia, Lyle Lovett, Michael C. Hall, Nolan Ryan, Ray Bolger, Groucho Marx, Pope St. John Paul II, Mary Higgins Clark, Jonathan Banks, Salman Rushdie, Samuel L. Jackson, Barack Obama, Colin Powell, Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Barbara Bush, Alex Trebek, Jane Goodall, David Ortiz, Megan Mullally, Jim Caviezel, Denzel Washington, Kirk Cameron, Ben Stein, Will Hurd, Rowan Williams, Elizabeth Windsor, Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, Sarah Palin, Anthony Bourdain, Toni Braxton, Carole Radziwill, Christy Turlington, John Mearsheimer, Natalie Portman, David Beckham, Donald J. Trump, Rahm Emmanuel, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Robert Gates, Larry Bird, Amy Grant, Sissy Spacek, Anthony Hopkins, Tulsi Gabbard, Peter Thiel, Betsy DeVos, Mark Sanford, Danny Kaye, William F. Buckley, Jr., Jon Jones, Dikembe Mutombo, Frank Bruni, David Sedaris, Quentin Tarantino, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, LeBron James, Tim Russert, Dalia Grybauskaite, Ben Carson, Gary Sinise, Kid Rock, Damon Allen, Justin Trudeau, Gary Oldman, Pat Sajak, Martin Sheen, Arnold Shwarzenegger, Alec Baldwin, and Taylor Swift.
This week’s poll can be found here.
• A recent survey of American Catholics suggests that those of Hispanic origin are more likely to attend Mass and less likely to support the current president (whose name, it occurs us, has never once appeared in this newsletter). Forty percent of Hispanic Catholics attend Mass weekly; less than one third plan on voting for the incumbent president.
• A study suggests that spending a great deal of time immersed in fake digital worlds is not, in fact, good for children. The researchers recommend that children younger than eighteen months watch no television at all.
• Another study involving what our paper of record refers to as “opposite-sex couples” gives the impression that “young men embrace gender equality, but they still don’t vacuum.” We wonder why. Could it be that vague avowals of principle are more agreeable than vacuuming, a task that is doubtless performed by millions of persons of both sexes and all manner of opinions the world round? According to the same report, roughly one quarter of high-school seniors claim that the ideal arrangement for a family with small children is a father who performs wage labor and a mother who remains at home.
In lieu of the news:
In his general audience before the faithful on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis exhorted Catholics to turn away from digital communications technology during Lent: “We are inundated with empty words, with advertisements, with subtle messages. We have become used to hearing everything about everyone and we risk slipping into a worldliness that atrophies our hearts … We chase a thousand things that seem necessary and in reality are not. How good it would be for us to get rid of so many superfluous realities, to rediscover what matters, to find the faces of those around us! … From a spiritual perspective, the desert is a place of life, not death. It is a place of silence, where we are interiorly free to hear the Lord’s word and to experience his loving call. In our busy world, how much we need that kind of silence, in order to grow in prayerful openness to God, to cultivate an ecology of the heart and to centre our lives on the things that really matter. An important part of our Lenten desert experience is the practice of fasting, which trains us to recognize, in simplicity of heart, how often our lives are spent in empty and superficial pursuits. The solitude of the desert makes us all the more sensitive to those in our midst who quietly cry out for our help and encouragement. This Lent, may our prayer, fasting and works of mercy strengthen us in our resolve to follow the Lord on his journey through Good Friday to Easter Sunday, and enable us to know the power of his grace, which can make of every desert a garden of new life.”
Lines (verse and prose):
Lord of Elbe, on Elbe hill
The mist is thick and the wind is chill;
And the heart of thy friend from the dawning of day
Has sighed for sorrow that thou wert away.
Lord of Elbe, how pleasent to me
The sound of thy blithesome step would be,
Rustling the heath that only now
Moans as the night gusts over it blow.
Bright are the fires in thy noble home;
I see them far off, and it deepens the gloom;
Shining like stars through the high forest boughs,
Gladder they grow in the park’s repose.
O Alexander! when I return,
Warm as those hearths thy heart would burn;
Light as thine own my step would fall,
If I might hear thy voice in the hall.
But thou art now on the desolate sea,
Thinking of Gondal and grieving for me;
Longing to be in sweet Elbe again,
Thinking and grieving and longing in vain.
— E. Bʀᴏɴᴛᴇ̈
There we leave you in that blessed dependency, to hang upon him that hangs upon the cross, there bathe in his tears, there suck at his wounds, and lie down in peace in his grave, till he vouchsafe you a resurrection, and an ascension into that kingdom which He hath prepared for you with the inestimable price of his incorruptible blood
Imaginary invalids were, I imagine, in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, rarer than they are now. For it was scarcely safe to be ill. The sufferer was apt to be given such restoratives and remedies as ‘Live Hog Lice, Burnt Coke quenched in Agna Vitae, Red Coral, New Gathered Earth Worms, Live Toads, Black Tips of Crabs’ Claws, Man’s Skull, Elks’ Hoofs, Leaves of Gold, Man’s Bones Calcined, Inward Skin of a Capon’s Gizzard, Goose Dung gathered in the Spring Time, Dry’d in the Sun, the Stone of a Carp’s Head, Unicorn’s Horn, Boar’s Tooth, Jaw of a Pike, Sea Horse Tooth rasp’d, Frogs’ livers, white dung of a Peacock Dry’d, and Toads and Vipers’ flesh.’ In such a manner was illness warned away or, if it ignored the warning, expelled. To add to the other horrors attendant upon smallpox, the invalid was forced to take Pulver’s Aethiopicus, the Black Power—which was compounded of thirty or forty toads burnt in a new pot to black cinders or ashes, and made into a fine power. Jaundice, again, was no light matter, for the remedies in that case were either goose-dung dried in the sun, finely powdered, and then mixed with the best saffron and some sugar-candy, and taken twice a day in Rhenish for six days together, or else roots of tumerick, white tartars, earthworms and choice rhubarb, taken in a little glass of white wine. Indeed, one learned physician was in the habit of routing the illness by mixing both preparations together, so that the invalid got the benefit of both.
— E. Sɪᴛᴡᴇʟʟ
Bᴇɴ (quoting a recent newsletter) asks: “Something called WhatsApp is ‘worth’ two billion dollars—to whom, we are not sure, we are just reporting figures. As one has come to expect of these technology concerns, the company claims that it is not subject to the authority of the state.’ Do you really think demands to enable suspicion-less mass surveillance are just or is the second sentence also a joke?”
We think “suspicion-less mass surveillance” is a reasonably good definition of the internet. A recent historical sketch by Yasha Levine amplifies this impression. The important question, surely, is not whether private information should be shared with the creators of WhatsApp or with federal authorities but whether there are good reasons in the first place for anyone to use this software.
Jᴀsᴏɴ asks for prayers as he prepares to enter the Society of Jesus.
Another reader asks for prayers in a continuing battle with drug addiction.
We commend to the attention of readers the noble work being done by the Church for former slaves in Australia. We also ask them to pray for all mothers, for the secular clergy, for all religious, for a spirit of detachment from the world and its vanities during Lent, and for the intentions of the Holy Father.
— W.B., M.W.