Sunday, November 24, 2013

Brideshead revisited yet again

Brideshead Revisited is the story of agnostic/atheist Charles Ryder's encounter with The Faith, his confusion over it, his contempt for it, his reluctant dawning understanding of it, his frantic retreat from it, and, finally, his surrender to it.

In the final drama, Charles is living in sin with Julia Flyte Motram, married sister of his college friend/infatuation, Sebastian Flyte.  The Flytes are that rarest of commodities in England, aristocratic Catholics.  Their magnificent family home, Brideshead, is complete with an elaborate chapel, at least until the death of Lady Marchmain, the family matriarch.  The local bishop closes the chapel upon her death, and with Christ no longer physically present at Brideshead, the hearts of the Flyte children seem to drift farther away.  Lord Marchmain, having deserted his wife and retreated to Venice with his mistress Cara at last comes home to die.  [Cara has explained to Charles years before when he visited Venice with Sebastian that Lady Marchmain is a good woman who has done nothing to incur her husband’s hatred except to be loved by him---the wrong kind of love.  One infers that he is simply incapable of being in the presence of someone who really believes and acts upon the Faith that he has converted to, and which inconveniences him.]

 Weeks before his death he tells his youngest, and most devout child that he claimed his freedom when he left his wife praying in the chapel he had built for her.  Was this a crime, he asks?  "I think it was, Papa," says uncompromising Cordelia.

Lord Marchmain's homecoming accelerates Julia's reluctant return to religion---Charles' greatest fear--because, of course, if Julia returns to the Faith, she will no longer be willing to divorce her divorced "husband" in order to marry another divorced man---Charles himself.  Julia has left the Church in order to marry the first time, and has felt grief over it ever since.  She once tells Charles that although she no longer believed in God herself, she had intended to make certain that her daughter was raised a good Catholic.  The baby, however, is stillborn, and Julia accepts it as part of her punishment.  She tells Charles that she has earned sadness.

Charles has blamed the Church for every "misfortune" and grief that has befallen the Flytes, beginning with his friend Sebastian's alcoholism.  In Charles mind, it is never the fact that the Flytes disobey God which leads them to disaster, it is merely the fact that God has rules.  He believes that the very thought of God is rubbish, and it never occurs to him that if the Flytes, especially Julia and Sebastian, had submitted to Him, Sebastian would have not ended his days in drunken exile and Julia would never have contracted a miserable marriage.

As Lord Marchmain's death looms, His oldest son and Cordelia begin a campaign to reconcile him with the Church.  Charles' objections are frantic and disproportional, as the objections of so-called objective and logical agnostics always are to anything which cements the existence of the God they flout.

Most distressing to him is the fact that his Julia is slowly drifting into the enemy camp.  He steps up his protests and, in doing so, opens her eyes to the obvious. 

   “I really can’t see why you’ve taken it so much to heart that my father shall not receive the last sacraments.”
    “It’s such a lot of witchcraft and hypocrisy.”
    “Is it?   Anyway, it’s been going on for nearly two thousand years.  I don’t know why you should suddenly get in a rage now…For Christ’s sake, write to The Times; get up and make a speech in Hyde Park; start a ‘No Popery’ riot, but don’t bore me about it.  What’s it got to do with you or me whether my father sees his parish priest?...I shall begin to think you’re getting doubts yourself.”

In the end, in her siblings’ absence, it is Julia who makes the decision to call a priest to administer last rites to her father, and all Charles’ fears are realized---Lord Marchmain’s reconciliation with God, and Julia’s, and the her consequential “Goodbye” to Charles and to all their plans, but most of all his own realization of God and His Church.  At the end of their brief and agonizing goodbye, when Julia tells Charles that she had almost committed the unpardonable sin of raising a rival good to God’s, Charles tells her that he doesn’t wish to make things easier for her, but that he does understand.

In the epilogue, we glimpse Julia’s lonely but purposeful life, and Charles’ conversion to his lifelong nemesis. But he leaves us with the assurance that for all his loneliness, for all his lack of temporal “happiness”, he has acknowledged his own responsibility for his actions and their consequences and he has, quite unexpectedly, found Joy.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Big Fat Racist Family

A lot of the news articles which currently interest my friends who blog, and on FB, involve discord between religions and races.  A lot of the discussions eventually involve implications that individuals or groups are “haters” because of their explicit statements, or even inferred thoughts…and eventually I get invitations to join groups which denounce “haters”. 
Although I believe hatred to be a terrible and very serious sin, I won’t join those groups. In order to explain why, I really think it’s time for me to publish my “confession”---my terrible racist upbringing.

My people were racists. Pure and simple. I know they were racists, with whatever accompanying attitudes you as an individual may wish to assign to that condition, but one thing they were NOT, is "haters".

My mother was so thoroughly racist that even the first little "nursery rhymes" I learned were rife with it:

Jaybird, Jaybird, sittin’ on a limb
He winked at me and I winked at him.
I picked up a rock and I hit him on the chin
He said, "Look here, [n-word], don’t you do that again!"

And of course:

All the girls in France
Do the Hootchie-Cootchie dance
And the dance they do
Makes a [n-word] kiss a Jew!

Mother thought it was hilarious. I didn’t get it. She explained to me that [n-words] hated Jews. And Louis Farakhan was a mere infant at the time, so how did she know? [for those readers with an impaired sense of humour, I am making a joke. I don’t seriously know why my mother thought animosity between Negroes and Jews was a universal condition].

The one that really troubled me was:

Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe!
Catch a [n-word] by the toe!
If he hollers make him pay
Fifty dollars ever day!

I was outraged by this little poem, not because of the n-word, but because, well, it would hurt like hell to be caught by the toe, and of COURSE you would holler, and this poor guy was going to have to pay FIFTY DOLLARS EVERY DAY---which was an exorbitant sum in the 1950’s. I was furious. I wanted to find this man and help him. Mother assured me that it was just a little rhyme and that no one was catching anyone by the toe.

The n-word was tossed around quite freely in my youth, but we were stringently cautioned never to say it around Negroes because it would hurt their feelings. I remember a cousin being soundly thrashed for transgressing this rule.

I remember when I was about 5, traveling to East Texas and getting lost. In those bad old days there were more segregated communities. My mother stopped in a "nice little n-word" town to ask directions. I waited in the car, and she went to the door of a local diner, and---knocked.

A large black man came to the door, my mother explained her dilemma, and he walked out onto the sidewalk and began giving her directions—pointing down the road, gesturing to emphasize his instructions. At one point he looked over at the car and saw me. He smiled and waved, and I smiled and waved back. Mama thanked him, then came back to the car and we drove away. The man turned back from the café door and waved at me again, until we turned the corner. It may not have been ideal, but it was in no way hateful. In no way "phobic". On either side.

 Here are two memories from my childhood which profoundly illustrate the hypocrisy of white people who strive to gain moral highground or popular affirmation by crying “hater”:

My grandmother had a yankee neighbor named Mrs. Hawley. Mrs. Hawley loved to deplore the "hatred" that "you Southerners" felt for "the poor Negro". My grandmother generally just listened politely and without comment, because poor Mrs. Hawley, being a yankee, was innately benighted. But on this particular day, she was in pain from her crippled ankles, and short of patience. In order to cut short Mrs. Hawley’s pontifications and hopefully send her home in an outraged huff, my grandmother said: "Mrs. Hawley, I don’t hate [n-words]! I wish I had two of them in my kitchen right now fixing supper!"

And Mrs. Hawley WAS indeed horrified! She said, "I wouldn’t have one of those nasty things in MY clean kitchen!"

My young jaw bounced off the floor, and I would have launched into a tirade on hypocrisy had it not been for my grandmother’s languid glance. She had been born in the South in 1898, and she had seen yankee hypocrisy before.

Another memory which sticks out in my mind happened when I was about seven or eight. This was in the early sixties. My uncle, a young veterinarian, took me with him to test cows. We met up with a classmate of his, a yankee, and had dinner at a small café. The classmate began to wax poetic about the plight of the black man in the South (as opposed, somehow, to the North) and how downtrodden they were. He was highly offended when my uncle opined that many of the [n-words] needed to apply themselves. But we were going to be late to test the herd for TB, so the conversation ended and it was decided that my uncle would follow his classmate the last 35 or so miles to the ranch.

About 5 miles from the café, my uncle saw a black man, traveling the same direction we were, trudging along the shoulder of the road. It was August, and very hot. My uncle said, "Oh, look—that poor guy is going to have a heat stroke. Honey, get in the back seat so we can turn the air conditioner on him."

I did, and we did, and the fellow’s delighted comment, "You got AIR, Man!" became a staple of my family for years to come.

Only later did it dawn on me that my uncle’s classmate, the great champion of the Negro Race, had passed the man by without any compassionate thought or action.

Now that, my friends, is hypocrisy.   And it has since been revealed to me again and again that those who scream loudest about what other people think are usually the least likely to ACT in a compassionate and charitable way…

My point is simply that whatever reasons a person may have for being racist, and whatever one may think about racism, it ought not to be automatically connected with hatred, much less become, as it has recently, a synonym.

Through my adolescence, with the coming of the Civil Rights movement and the mass desertion of Booker T for DuBois and King and Abernathy and the rest, I can still remember bits of conversation from my elders, some of which must present an insurmountable dichotomy for the simplistic ideology so carefully nurtured by most modern liberals.

"Who is that pretty little (n-word) girl who does the news on channel five?"

"I don’t remember. I know she’s from Midland."

"Oh, well, that explains it. All them Midland girls are pretty."


"During your lunch break, can you run out and vaccinate that nice old (n-word) woman’s dog? She can’t afford anything so just tell her you were passing by and charge her two dollars." [I must point out the real compassion of allowing someone to pay what they can for something without either making your generosity obvious, OR telling them that they have a RIGHT to something which, frankly, no one has a right to. No doubt she knew, but her dignity was preserved and charity was not compromised.)

So, that’s the story of my horrible racist upbringing in my horrible racist family. Things change. The old folks are gone. Do I still say the n-word? Sure, occasionally, I do. I said it several times while watching "The Last King of Scotland". Don’t see it. Or maybe, do. It is quite horrible.

My kids, and my husband, and I feel no guilt associated with other races. Whatever else happens, we know that in our own interaction with people, we have taken them as individuals and expected the same and allowed the same for all of them, no matter what their background, genetic type, beliefs, or whatever. Do I "prefer whites"? It would seem from looking at my friends list that I must at least know more whites. And I must admit that there is a "family" thing going on there. This is not considered a bad thing when other races experience it---this "My People" thing. And it ought not to be a bad thing when whites experience it. Love of one’s own is a virtue. There is nothing wrong with enjoying one’s own people.

There is only something wrong with hurting others.

Is hurting someone compounded if that person is from a different race? I don’t think it is. I’m not racist enough to see that distinction. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Aurgh!  Arthritis.  really bad.

So I'm reading Master of Hestviken.  

Which reminded me of this post from the past:

Last night after finishing my lesson plans, I picked up my much-loved copy of Kristin Lavransdatter from the nightstand and opened it at random. My eye was drawn to the italicized Latin text, "---dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris"---forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
The passage follows the thoughts of Simon, Kristin's brother-in-law, whom, in her youth, she cast away to follow her passion for Erlend whom she subsequently married.  Simon married her younger sister, partly because the sister was devoted to him, and partly because of his own affection for Kristin's father Lavrans—but Simon always retained his youthful devotion to Kristin, his promised maid.  He strove, because of his good character, to be a good relative to her and to Erlend.  When Erlend forfeited his lands and faced death for his part in an ill-fated coup, Simon was responsible for saving his life, at a tremendous emotional and moral cost to himself.  However, Simon now finds that he has been guilty of believing an ignoble lie concerning Erlend.  Because the evidence seemed to fit, Simon believed it, and now must make apologies to his brother-in-law.
During their encounter, Erlend, who had married Simon's betrothed maid, Kristin, is dismayed that Simon could think so ill of him…and you may make of that what you will…The fact is that Simon also is dismayed, and cannot apologize strongly enough.  "'Tis not worth taking so hardly," says Erlend.
Simon replies, "I am not so good a man as you!  I cannot forgive so easily them that I have wronged!...I have heard you speak fair words of Sigurd…the old man whose wife you stole from him.  I have seen and known that you loved Lavrans with all a son's love.  And never have I marked that you bore me grudge for that you lured from me my promised maid—I am not so high-minded as you deem, Erlend---I am not so high-minded as you—I bear a grudge to the man whom I have wronged!"
It's an astounding concept.  It is indicative both of Erlend's character, that he could so easily and sincerely speak well of and love all those whom he had monstrously wronged and ruined through his own thoughtless actions, and of Simon's character, that, rather than attribute Erlend's attitude to a lack of contrition, he chooses to call it a virtue.  And who is to judge whether it is stupidity or humility?  Only God knows whether people like Erlend ever comprehend the pain they've caused.  But suppose they do…Would it not be a virtue to put aside the weight of guilt and forgive those whom we have horribly wronged? 
We could do far worse than to add "and those against whom we trespass" when we whisper the Our Father… 

Which in turn brought to mind THIS repost:

How does a people, a society, come to where we are?   How does one analyze the long defeat within a region or a nation?

For the American South, of course, the deep rent in the fabric of history appears stark and raw and without subtlety with Lincoln’s invasion and the four years of vain resistance which followed.  Some people even go so far as to pinpoint it with mile-long line of Southern soldiers charging the stone wall at Gettysburg.  But the real change in the people could only be accomplished with their utter defeat and complete disenfranchisement-—by the sustained effort to remove from them every particle of hope and self-determination—-in a word, to break them.

Although the success of the alleged victors in stripping the South of its humanity and character is debatable, it can certainly not be denied that character and structure of the United States itself was drastically changed by the War.  The Government crafted by the original founders gasped its last when Lincoln took office and for all intents and purposes, staged a coup which nullified the concept of government with the consent of the governed.  Much of the national character was forever corrupted by the war of attrition inflicted upon the women and children of the South.  A man cannot spend the day plundering, burning, and leaving his victims starving without giving up something of what makes him a man.  When the children he wrongs appeal to him in his own language and vernacular, when they, in fact, look and sound almost exactly like his own children, he will have made a hideous choice from which his own soul will probably never recover, and which will affect his sons because of his need to justify his actions.  So dies Chivalry.  So changes a people.

The terrible period of so-called Reconstruction further alienated Northern and Southern people from each other and from their own long-held codes of behavior.  But the Catholic heart which continued to propel Catholic blood through the veins of so many even after the tragedy of the so-called Reformation held its line of charity and forgiveness tenaciously for some time after the war in the breasts of all men of good will, regardless of their denomination.   Not until its recent sacrifice to political expediency did the bonds weaken and shatter, and now hatred for the South is carefully nurtured in the hearts of all Northerners, who cannot forgive themselves for the vicious manner in which they prosecuted Lincoln's War.  In abandoning decency and honor in favor of self-justification, the North has hastened its own demise, its own deterioration.  And sadly they are dragging us, the defeated, down with them, even as they propel the "liberated" ahead of them.   

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Well, the last couple of days have been busy...found out I need another job done on my fence...yay...getting a couple of the sheds fixed up...Miss Judi came over and had chili with me today---now, that was fun.  What a lovely friend I have.  My handsome baby cousin Alex came by to see me...Well, not so baby anymore---almost 20...Miss Pat brought me a lovely plant, and Suellen brought me a lovely kitten.  I did some research on her and believe she is in great part, at least, Norwegian Forest Cat.  Google it and look at the images.  Such a cutie.  I guess we'll call her "Roadie" since we have a Rock Star and a Groupie...So far, Rocky and Groupie are mad at each other and mad at her, but she takes it in stride and just runs around playing, bless her heart.  Rocky alternately punishes me by ignoring me and sucks up...Groupie just looks confused and slightly offended...Wish they would be sweet to each other.  They'd be so cute cuddled up together.  Interestingly enough, they all fit on my bed, angry or not.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Last night Stu's employer gave everyone who works for him about 50 pounds of beef...She put hers up in the freezer, then came into the house and said, "Mom, I put a t-bone in your freezer.  I thought you could have it on your anniversary since you and Dad liked steaks on your anniversary..."  [For the uninitiate, Dad died on the 7th of February.  December 21 would have been our 38th anniversary...]

"Well...Honey...actually, I wasn't planning on celebrating this year..."

:::wide unblinking stare:::  :::comprehension slowly dawning::: ...and then she starts LAUGHING!  "I'm sorry!  I just got a mental picture of you sitting at the table eating steak by yourself!" (read that last sentence again.)

So about this time the phone rang, and it was Chisum.  I was gasping from laughter, but managed to tell him what his sister had done.  "Damn, Stuart!  What a dick!"  But then he got caught up in it..."It would have to be a very small table, with an empty chair on the other side, and a plate with an untouched steak on it...but the good news is, the table is really a lazy susan, so when you finish your steak you can swing it around and eat Dad's!"

About this time, Seguin comes in from the kitchen and says, "Mom, Stuart and I are planning on going to a movie that night so you can be alone..."

I think I'd do better if my kids weren't so mushy and sentimental...Sort of expecting Jenny to call up and ask if I'm planning to picnic on Dennis' grave that night...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Well, weird month.  I left the house.  I left the county.  I saw my son's new home.  He and his family so love it, and are so made for it, that it was wonderful, but of course these things always cost me...So, I'm trying to get back to as normal as I get.  I had a major anxiety attack on the way to Mass on Sunday and ended up having to come back home.  Took some potassium, and am some better today, but still feel nausea at the thought of driving out the front gate...It will be okay...Kept Nolan and Ann again, and they are such wonderful. little dearhearts.  I miss em when they go home, as do Hadrian and Boudica.

Probably not the best planning on our part, but who plans these things?  Seguin and I will probably be "two" for thanksgiving this year, depending on what Stuart decides to do.  On one hand, it certainly ratchets down the pressure factor, and on the other, well, I miss Dennis.  But we have decided---Okay, *I* decided, to be daring this year...instead of our normal menu:  Turkey, dressing, gravy, rolls, candied sweet potatoes, summer squash casserole, cranberries, we will have Turkey, dressing, gravy, rolls, butternut squash puree, sprouts with cranberries and balsamic syrup, and whiskeyed carrots.  Oh, and blueberry jello salad, as always.  This may not sound very daring to you, but you have no idea how tradition bound we are.  Since we aren't having candied sweet potatoes, we are falling back on sweet potato pie (my own recipe, which is awful good).

Sweet Potato Pie 2001
Unbaked pie crust
3 cups mashed up baked sweet potato.  NOT CANNED
2 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup canned evaporated milk—straight—don’t add water. Puree in food processor until smooth. Bake in 9” pie shell at 400 til done—about 45 minutes

And, of course, Pecan Pie.  I am a purist, so it is easy:

Pecan Pie 
3 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup Karo, light or dark
1 cup pecans (halves---don't go mincin' the dam' pecans!)
NO vanilla.  NO cinnamon.  No nothin' but pecans.
This is one time you don't need butter, except a little in the crust.

Mix together and pour into unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  reduce to 350 and bake about 25 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.  (always takes me longer than twenty-five minutes).

I would highly recommend Alton Brown's pie crust...

I'm still working on cleaning out Dad's PD room...Poor Daddy.  Last night I had the stupidest dream...I dreamed that we were supposed to prepare him for burial....I know it's been like nine months, but I told you it was weird.  Anyway, we had to garnish him, more or less, with that frilly leaf lettuce in his casket.  I know he'd think this was hilarious, but it made me sad...If you will believe me, I was concerned about the quality of the lettuce...Goodness I'm morbid.   

If you need to warm up your culinary skills, you can celebrate St. Clement's day, November 23, with 
Wayz-Goose (Stuffed Leg of Pork)
 1 leg of pork
2 tablespoons parsley
1 cup bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 teaspoon sage
Prepare a stuffing of all of the above ingredients, adding enough milk to make a not too moist mixture. Have the butcher bone the leg (or use the lower half of the foreleg, called a picnic roast) and stuff the cavity, sewing it up with coarse thread. Roast in a 350 degrees F. oven allowing thirty-five minutes to the pound. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I got to keep the babies this week.  Sweet little things.  They are so sweet when they are young.  They have the tenderest little smiles and looks and kisses and hugs.  "I love you, Dammuvver," and they really do.  I don't know why.  I feel like all I ever do is correct them and say "No", so I don't know why they love me.  I would be tempted to say they are merely scared, but I don't think they could fake those first-thing-in-the-morning kisses and hugs...

I sometimes wonder if we lose that along the way through overbearingness and arbitrariness, but some of the most interfering, controlling and plain dam' mean people I know still have the love and respect of their adult children, so I think that isn't it.  I don't know what anyone can do except to do their best...ultimately, you will be at the mercy of someone else either because you have nothing or because you don't want to hurt them...But babies are wonderful and right.  I wonder why people are so niggardly regarding procreation...there ought always to be room for the little ones...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Exactly, Sir---Exactly.

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son,
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Ah, would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!

---Richard II by William Shakespeare.

Remember, Remember the 5th of November...

I probably couldn't have raised my children without the help of Dr. Marian T. Horvat. This is something like saying I probably couldn't have raised my children without Shakespeare--I don't mean that she came over and tutored.  Her article on Guy Fawkes Day can be found at
 .  If you care about liberty, and history, and not repeating it, please at least read the Horvat article.

I do, in fact encourage a modified celebration on November 5, because, as the old rhyme says, I know no reason the "gunpowder treason" should ever be forgot.  We ought to remember the oppression that forced men to act.  We should pray for their souls and honor their memory.  I dislike burning anyone in effigy, even a tyrant, but I do love a bonfire, and although the movie "V" is horribly flawed, it also contains a great deal of truth regarding tyranny, and the response thereto...


St. Hubert and Sam

Yesterday, our friend Sam got a lovely buck---with a BOW, no less, and I think it's tremendous that it corresponds with November 3, the Feast of St. Hubert!

November 3: Feast of Saint Hubert

Born in the 8th Century, St. Hubert is the patron of hunters, and is a saint greatly honored in France and Belgium. Saint Hubert lived a full life. He became bishop of Tongres and traveled through his huge diocese on horseback and by boat, preaching and building churches to the glory of God. He was the friend of the great of his day--Pepin of Heristal and Charles Martel among them--and also of the poor. In particular his heart went out to prisoners, and he would secretly place food for them before their dungeon windows. As he died he said to those about him, "Stretch the pallium over my mouth for I am now going to give back to God the soul I received from Him." In parts of France and Belgium there has long been a custom of holding stag hunts on Saint Hubert's Day, and the hunters gather before the chase for Mass and the blessing of men and horses and dogs. After the hunt is over, those taking part gather for a bountiful breakfast consisting of fish, meat, salad, cheese, and dessert.

So,  well done, Sam!  as a Catholic, I think there is no way you could better have served Our Lord and honored his Saint! 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

America, the High and the Mighty

In the wake of the LAX shooting and other examples of our declining civilization, I watched one of my favorite movies again---“The High and the Mighty”, starring the incomparable John Wayne.  It has never moved me more.

Perhaps it now falls into the realm of ancient myth, but, for me, it is a world I remember.  I was a babe in arms when the film was released, and yes, people really did behave that way, and in my lifetime, and I am 60, not 600, years old.  America didn't change suddenly from civilized and civil place where people put their best foot forward and expected as much of others.   It happened over time and whether the dividing line was World War II and the ensuing decadence, or Kennedy-Johnson and the ensuing madness of apologizing for being successful doesn't really matter.

The High and the Mighty, and perhaps the title is almost too appropriate, was the America of my childhood.  We hear a lot about “Self-esteem” today, but back then we had “Self Respect”.   As someone said, self-esteem is what you think; self-respect is what you do.  There are plenty of people today, pumped full of self-esteem and thinking themselves very good indeed who haven’t the self-respect to work for a living or cover their shame, or wash their car, or wipe their child’s nose.   People spoke to each other civilly.  I say this with the most profound shame, for I am one of the worst offenders:  We did not pour forth rivers of sewage from the same lips that kissed our parents, children and sweethearts.  I can think of all kinds of excuses—I've used them.  But they are foolish and ridiculous.  The fact is that we no longer have any self-respect.   We strove for cordiality in our encounters with others, not because we cared what they thought of us, but because of who we were.  We strove to control ourselves, emotionally and physically, in public, not only because of who we were but because we felt an obligation to others.  We were kind even to, probably especially to, those beneath us.  Yes, regardless of what strata of society we occupied, we were aware that some people were “beneath” us, and we felt an obligation toward them.  We tended to associate most strongly with people who were most like us in their upbringing, their principles and their Faith.  We were not interested in “expanding our minds”.   In those days hard work, a basic dedication to sobriety , honoring our elders, and fearing God, worked.   We didn't go around shooting random strangers, and everybody had firearms.

Men used to respect women.  Not all men, certainly, and a woman could certainly opt out of the arrangement, but overall, chivalry was still in force.  Women, as a whole, still respected themselves and their special place in creation.  Men responded favorably.  Feminism is a lie from hell.

This was the America that produced my husband of blessed memory, and it is the America which he never stopped believing in, despite all evidence to the contrary.  In spite of working in an atmosphere alive with tension over not “offending” his female coworkers, he continued to honor and respect women.  He was honest, humble, masculine and noble.  He cherished his appearance---not because he wanted to impress people but because he respected himself.  After his death, one of his little dialysis nurses told me “Your husband always smelled so good!”
He died February 7, 2013, when most of us had long since given up on America.  Most of us knew by then that the America he loved was gone forever, long since given over to the ignorant and the idle, those with no respect for themselves or others, who elected a president who knows nothing and takes no responsibility and thinks the job of president means living in the big house and spending other people’s money—getting while the getting is good.   But it was becoming too clear even for a starry eyed patriot like my husband—did I say he built things that saved thousands of American soldiers’ lives?  Well, he did.   He had suffered so much physically from his failed kidneys, and he never gave up.  He died 20 minutes after he got off the phone with his last conference call…I think Our Lord decided he had suffered enough and removed him from the heartache of seeing his country lost. 

I hope you’ll watch The High and the Mighty.  If you've seen it, I hope you’ll see it again.  I hope you will mourn for America, when it was a Christian civilization, before we gave it over to heathens and freeloaders and self appointed victims and to the illegals flooding across our borders.  I hope you’ll grieve for a time when a nanny state was not to be tolerated, and we cared more about our duty to ourselves than our entitlements from others, and we didn't have TSO’s getting murdered because we knew how to behave at the airport and in other public venues and we didn't NEED the TSA.    I hope you will weep for a time when we were the most decent of people and not human garbage, a time when being “tolerant” was not all that was required of life, a time when being an American made one proud and grateful and gracious and full of hope.