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Odds and ends from the staff of The Lamp.


✥ Around Christmastime, it is our custom to take long walks through cemeteries, which, especially in the older parts of the United States, are filled with the graves of so many whose lives occasion prayers for the dead. So often these tombs are for people whose work was left unfinished and left this world unsatisfied. In Rockville, we find F. Scott Fitzgerald, who died in such a sorry state that his family could not find a priest willing to bury him. In Kalamazoo, we stop by Edward Israel, the astronomer on the disastrous first American polar expedition, who starved to death three weeks before a rescue party found the rest of his crew. We linger the longest not at one particular grave, but a whole cemetery lined with identical markers. These plain, white headstones near the waterfront in Washington, D.C. mark the final resting places of the sisters of the Order of the Visitation of Mary. The uniformity of the stones is a stark reminder that in death we stand before God without any adornments covering our actions or our intentions. That’s only fair, as He came into the world—and left it—in much the same way. As we leave the cemetery, we cross an empty meadow. The place is not yet full, and, God willing, many more religious sisters will be laid to rest in it through the years and decades to come.     

✥ We should add that just behind this cemetery, Georgetown University provides one of the most valuable services to city: the last Sunday Mass, celebrated at 10:00 p.m. in its campus chapel. As far as we know, it is the latest regularly scheduled public Mass celebrated in any American city. New York’s last Mass is at 8:30 p.m. at Holy Family. Chicago’s is at 8:00 p.m.  at Old Saint Patrick’s, which happens to be the oldest standing church building in the city. Los Angeles doesn’t seem to have any Masses later than 7:00 p.m.  Of course, both in the U.S. and all over the world, many more Masses are celebrated both in public and in private at every hour of the day.

✥ The sale of twelve of Joan Didion’s blank notebooks for eleven thousand dollars each reminded us of her own thoughts on keeping one: “The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify it.” Something similar could probably be said of the person who bought those blank Moleskines or the person who paid twenty-seven thousand dollars for Didion’s Céline sunglasses. Owning the artifact is nothing special, but the rush of feeling when buying it is exquisite. Yet nothing compares to the feeling that fans of Bob Dylan no doubt felt when they learned that the “very special,” hand-signed six-hundred-dollar books they purchased were not signed by Dylan at all, but by autopen.

✥ What better place to become addicted to sports gambling than at college? Since 2018, eight universities have partnered with online gambling companies to promote sports betting on campus. And about a dozen college athletic programs have signed deals with casinos, claiming that the partnerships will help recoup losses incurred during shutdowns and contribute “significant resources to support the growing needs of each of our varsity programs.” These partnerships have been performing beautifully, especially since half the target audience are still teenagers. In the sweetest deal, the University of Colorado Boulder accepted one and a half million dollars from a betting company to promote gambling on campus. It seems like a small amount, until you factor in that the school receives an additional thirty dollars whenever someone downloads the company’s app and uses a school-provided promotional code to place a bet.

✥ We announced the death of our “Correspondence” section in our Christ the King issue. And yet here it is again, back from the dead. Who knows how long it will survive? In any case, we re-invite our readers, especially those concerned about the state of our souls, always to feel free to reach out at  

✥ We would like to thank everyone who contributed to The Lamp in the past year and especially in the past few weeks. It’s through your generosity that we are able to publish this magazine.

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