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Odds and ends.


❖ Many of our readers, we hear, also want to be listeners. We’re perfectly fine becoming talkers. (We do enough of that on our own time already). In any case, we will soon be introducing a podcast, featuring our editor, managing editor, and a rotating cast of contributors. We record new episodes every two weeks. Lamplighters will soon be available on our website, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever else you get your podcasts. 

❖ THE LAMP also has an online store on the way. We’ll be selling an assortment of American and union-made goods, including—to begin with—a selection of mugs, tote bags, and notebooks. We hope to offer high quality prints of our best cover illustrations soon as well. Write in, and let us know what else you’d like us to emblazon with our brand.

❖ The Vatican’s English translation of Pope Francis’s recent speech on totalitarianism and secularism contained this puzzling statement: “When secularism becomes ideology, it turns into secularism, and this poisons relationships and even democracies.” Google Translate might not be able to distinguish between “laicità” and “laicismo,” yielding this gibberish, but one would hope someone at the Vatican might, at least in advance of publication.

❖ We imagine that our youngest readers will not object to Lang’s version of “The Hairy Man,” a Russian tale, from the Crimson Fairy Book:

Somewhere or other, but I don’t know where, there lived a king who owned two remarkably fine fields of rape, but every night two of the rape heaps were burnt down in one of the fields. The king was extremely angry at this, and sent out soldiers to catch whoever had set fire to the ricks; but it was all of no use—not a soul could they see. Then he offered nine hundred crowns to anyone who caught the evil-doer, and at the same time ordered that whoever did not keep proper watch over the fields should be killed; but though there were a great many people, none seemed able to protect the fields.

The king had already put ninety-nine people to death, when a little swineherd came to him who had two dogs; one was called ‘Psst,’ and the other ‘Hush’; and the boy told the king that he would watch over the ricks.

When it grew dark he climbed up on the top of the fourth rick, from where he could see the whole field. About eleven o’clock he thought he saw someone going to a rick and putting a light to it. ‘Just you wait,’ thought he, and called out to his dogs: ‘Hi! Psst, Hush, catch him! ‘But Psst and Hush had not waited for orders, and in five minutes the man was caught.

Next morning he was brought bound before the king, who was so pleased with the boy that he gave him a thousand crowns at once. The prisoner was all covered with hair, almost like an animal; and altogether he was so curious to look at that the king locked him up in a strong room and sent out letters of invitation to all the other kings and princes asking them to come and see this wonder.

That was all very well; but the king had a little boy of ten years old who went to look at the hairy man also, and the man begged so hard to be set free that the boy took pity on him. He stole the key of the strong room from his mother and opened the door. Then he took the key back, but the hairy man escaped and went off into the world.

Then the kings and princes began to arrive one after another, and all were most anxious to see the hairy man; but he was gone! The king nearly burst with rage and with the shame he felt. He questioned his wife sharply, and told her that if she could not find and bring back the hairy man he would put her in a hut made of rushes and burn her there. The queen declared she had had nothing to do with the matter; if her son had happened to take the key it had not been with her knowledge.

So they fetched the little prince and asked him all sorts of questions, and at last he owned that he had let the hairy man out. The king ordered his servants to take the boy into the forest and to kill him there, and to bring back part of his liver and lungs.

There was grief all over the palace when the king’s command was known, for he was a great favourite. But there was no help for it, and they took the boy out into the forest. But the man was sorry for him, and shot a dog and carried pieces of his lungs and liver to the king, who was satisfied, and did not trouble himself any more.

The prince wandered about in the forest and lived as best he could for five years. One day he came upon a poor little cottage in which was an old man. They began to talk, and the prince told his story and sad fate. Then they recognised each other, for the old fellow was no other than the hairy man whom the prince had set free, and who had lived ever since in the forest.

The prince stayed here for two years; then he wished to go further. The old man begged him hard to stay, but he would not, so his hairy friend gave him a golden apple out of which came a horse with a golden mane, and a golden staff with which to guide the horse. The old man also gave him a silver apple out of which came the most beautiful hussars and a silver staff; and a copper apple from which he could draw as many foot soldiers as ever he wished, and a copper staff. He made the prince swear solemnly to take the greatest care of these presents, and then he let him go.

The boy wandered on and on till he came to a large town. Here he took service in the king’s palace, and as no one troubled themselves about him he lived quietly on.

One day news was brought to the king that he must go out to war. He was horribly frightened for he had a very small army, but he had to go all the same.

When they had all left, the prince said to the housekeeper:

‘Give me leave to go to the next village—I owe a small bill there, and I want to go and pay it’; and as there was nothing to be done in the palace the housekeeper gave him leave.

When he got beyond the town he took out his golden apple, and when the horse sprang out he swung himself into the saddle. Then he took the silver and the copper apples, and with all these fine soldiers he joined the king’s army.

The king saw them approach with fear in his heart, for he did not know if it might not be an enemy; but the prince rode up, and bowed low before him. ‘I bring your Majesty reinforcements,’ said he.

The king was delighted, and all dread of his enemy at once disappeared. The princesses were there too, and they were very friendly with the prince and begged him to get into their carriage so as to talk to them. But he declined, and remained on horseback, as he did not know at what moment the battle might begin; and whilst they were all talking together the youngest princess, who was also the loveliest, took off her ring, and her sister tore her handkerchief in two pieces, and they gave these gifts to the prince.

Suddenly the enemy came in sight. The king asked whether his army or the prince’s should lead the way; but the prince set off first and with his hussars he fought so bravely that only two of the enemy were left alive, and these two were only spared to act as messengers.

The king was overjoyed and so were his daughters at this brilliant victory. As they drove home they begged the prince to join them, but he would not come, and galloped off with his hussars.

When he got near the town he packed his soldiers and his fine horse all carefully into the apple again, and then strolled into the town. On his return to the palace he was well scolded by the housekeeper for staying away so long.

Well, the whole matter might have ended there; but it so happened that the younger princess had fallen in love with the prince, as he had with her. And as he had no jewels with him, he gave her the copper apple and staff.

One day, as the princesses were talking with their father, the younger one asked him whether it might not have been their servant who had helped him so much. The king was quite angry at the idea; but, to satisfy her, he ordered the servant’s room to be searched. And there, to everyone’s surprise, they found the golden ring and the half of the handkerchief. When these were brought to the king he sent for the prince at once and asked if it had been he who had come to their rescue.

‘Yes, your Majesty, it was I,’ answered the prince.

‘But where did you get your army?’

‘If you wish to see it, I can show it you outside the city walls.’

And so he did; but first he asked for the copper apple from the younger princess, and when all the soldiers were drawn up there were such numbers that there was barely room for them.

The king gave him his daughter and kingdom as a reward for his aid, and when he heard that the prince was himself a king’s son his joy knew no bounds. The prince packed all his soldiers carefully up once more, and they went back into the town.

Not long after there was a grand wedding; perhaps they may all be alive still, but I don’t know.

❖ Earlier this year, a periodical in New York coined a term that has since become a fixture of vernacular speech: “vibe shift.” Many are saying that it is perhaps the most useful shorthand innovation since “blackpill” or “Obama.” What is the changing of the seasons, after all, but a vibe shift? Or a baby waking from her nap? Or any change, really, no matter how great or small? The term is so elastic that it is already bent out of shape.

❖ Every few months, it seems, another old parish in the depopulating cities of the Midwest faces the bulldozer. The most recent victim was All Saints in Detroit. It was built in 1896, and for more than a century, it served a largely Hispanic population until the construction of I-75 through its neighborhood cut it off from its community. After that, its fortunes declined steadily until the Archdiocese of Detroit gave it up to the city. Only three people attended its final Mass. The city demolished it in March. Something similar occurs all the time in Chicago, Cleveland, and Toledo, and other cities where older churches, many of them designed by the best architects of their day, fall into disrepair for decades before the diocese abandons them. In many cases, this chain of events is preventable—or even reversible—but it requires a commitment to the church building and the neighborhood that is often in short supply.

❖ Perhaps the problem with these churches is related to the fact that one third of all diocesean priests in the United States are retired. And every year since 1970, the country has seen a net negative change in diocesean priests. Of course, it could be much worse. Recent data shows that in Germany, only fifty-five diocesan priests were ordained in 2019, down from about three hundred in 1970. That same year, three hundred twenty one German priests died and fourteen were laicized. For every six diocesan priests lost, only one new one was ordained. The crisis, however, is not a global one. In Nigeria, for instance, a larger number of priests are ordained each year, even as the proportional numbers of the laity outpace them. 

❖ A reader recently summarized the way many fans feel about Washington’s football woes: “Dan Snyder seems determined to take away everything I love. First the name change, and now it looks like the team will leave Maryland. It’s just insulting that they’ve drafted Carson Wentz.”

❖ A word of sympathy for the biographer Edmund Morris, whose fictional character, “Edmund Morris,” would have turned one hundred ten this spring. That Morris was saved from drowning by Ronald Reagan in his creator’s authorized biography of the fortieth president. The real Morris sank his credibility with the novelistic trick. Morris insisted throughout his career that biographers should feel free to take such license with their subjects. After all, he once argued to the Supreme Court, literary invention is what made Boswell’s Johnson shine so brightly: 

[Boswell] used hardly any notes when reproducing Samuel Johnson’s conversations, preferring to rely on his memory while it was still hot and bright, a die freshly stuck. If he had indulged in frantic stenography at the time of utterance, he would have been unable to match wits with the great doctor, thus stimulating him to further heights of viva voce. Generations of readers have rejoiced in Boswell’s artistry in bringing Johnson back to life. Whether he was absolutely true to his oath in doing so, no modern pedant can say. But neither can pedants deny the convincing majesty of Johnson portrayed, and the wisdom of Johnson quoted, by a man who was neither majestic nor wise. The only convincing explanation is that Boswell was telling the truth.

Morris himself was neither majestic nor wise, and neither is the Reagan who appears in his biography. Pedants may argue otherwise, but Morris was diligent in his work, and the only convincing explanation is that he was telling the truth.

❖ THE LAMP is looking for one additional part-time summer editorial intern. The intern will serve in Washington, D.C., at the direction of the editor and managing editor on various tasks related to the production of the magazine (copy and line editing, fact checking, uploading published articles to the website, sending proofs and other correspondence to authors). An exceptionally talented intern may be invited to write for the website or the magazine.

Prospective interns should send a short letter (no more than three hundred words) to or to P.O. Box 219, Three Rivers, Michigan, 49093. We are less interested in résumés than we are in an applicant’s ability to write that word with two acute accents, and we are almost totally indifferent to academic qualifications, grade point averages, and that sort of thing. Instead, use your letter to give us a short autobiographical sketch and a paragraph or two about why you would like to help out with THE LAMP, what other publications you read, and any experience you consider relevant. (Feel free to include one additional sample of writing, published or otherwise.) If we wish to move forward with your application, we will pass along our editing test.

The intern will receive a stipend.

❖ We are delighted to publish Tessa Carman and J.C. Scharl’s new translation of “The Dream of the Rood,” which appears on page 62. There any number of translation-related opinions of which we could unburden ourselves (how about a proper edition of the Herodotus done up as a pastiche of Gibbon by John Lemprière, of Dictionary fame?) but the one closest to our hearts is the decline of English-to-Latin. Among those who excelled at this vanished art form was Francis Newman, brother of the saint, who published an anthology of Latin versions of well-known English poems. Here is his translation of Gloucester’s “Winter of Discontent” soliloquy.

Nobis hiems morosa tandem splendida

Evasit aestas sole sub Ebörāceo

Nubesque cunctae, quae domum obscuraverant,

Evanuere, penitus immersae mari.

Victore serto intexta nunc est nostra frons;

Suspensa remonent arma fracta proelii,

Ad arma nemo, sed ad hilaritatem vocat,

Ubi feris pro cantibus suavis canor.

Mars torvivultus ore rugas absterit;

Nec ille equis jam veste ferri squameis

Insultat, animis hostium metum inferens;

At feminarum in atriis saltat lēvis,

Se delicato carmini attorquens lyrae.

❖ Speaking of less famous younger brothers, we recently came across Laurence Housman’s delightful Little Plays of Saint Francis, a series of short prose sketches with verse (or musical) interludes apparently meant for public performance. In this scene, the saint is extolling the virtues of the humble shoemaker’s art.

FRANCIS. Why? Are you not a stone-mason ?

JUNIPER. No, Master! I’m doing this for play. A cobbler is my trade.

FRANCIS. Well,—a cobbler, then. Who gives more joy than a cobbler? 

[He begins filling a hod of mortar.]

He is the means by which we go, making the way easy; he saves us from stones and thorns, from the fangs of serpents, and from frost-bite. By his aid we make long journeys, seeing the world, and the wonder of it: Rome, and the Holy Land, and churches where priests say Mass : to ‘cities also, and men’s houses, making us become friends. Thus are we brought together in understanding and fellowship, which from the beginning was God’s will concerning us. See, then, how good and joyful a thing it is to be a cobbler ! And he that gives joy on earth gives joy in heaven.

JUNIPER [understanding according to the light that is in him]. Will it give you joy, Master, if I make you a pair of shoes? Oh, let me, for the love of God!

FRANCIS. As you will, Brother; for by the love of God I see you are to be one of us.

The younger Housman’s playlets are beautifully written and wholly orthodox in their presentation of Saint Francis’s life. They would be admirably suited to performance by children whose drama teachers are looking for something more edifying than Mamma Mia!

❖ The reading of Saint Matthew’s Passion aloud in English during celebrations of the Mass according to the older liturgical books was apparently requested by some bishops on Palm Sunday this year. We could call these machinations deplorable if they were not risible on their face. Imagine believing that any self-interested pastor would subject congregations full of unruly children to twenty minutes of the N.A.B. (or even the Douay) after they have sat still through half an hour of chanting. It is rumored that some priests don’t even bother preaching on Palm Sunday, for which they have our thanks.

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