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Weekend 496.1 (Thomas Becket Exhibit)

“Chosen before the foundation of the world in Christ, Saint Thomas in his propitious birth lit up capital of the British Isles, London.” – Edward Grim, Life of St Thomas Becket 1171-2

I spent a day at Westminster Abbey earlier in the week and have started to post photos on Flickr. This afternoon I was at the British Museum for an exhibit on Thomas Becket (murder and the making of a saint). During my trip to Canterbury Cathedral one of the guides mentioned the stained-glass window showing the miracles after Becket’s martyrdom was on loan to the British Museum. In lieu of normal glass the staff at Canterbury Cathedral replaced the loaner with a facsimile. You can tell right away because the colors are muted and the figures are bit garish.

I also visited Room 40 (Medieval Europe 1050 – 1500) to see the Towton Ring.

(1) Quotes from The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy:

“Above all, the saint desired pilgrimage to his shrine, and a promise to visit the saint’s relics and there offer a coin or a candle was held to be the most likely way to attract his interest and help.”

“The primary purpose of pilgrimage had always been to seek the holy, concretely embodied in a sacred place, a relic, or a specially privileged image. Such localization of the holy in sacred places was often criticized in the later Middle Ages, not least by Thomas à Kempis in the Imitation of Christ. In fact the practice of pilgrimage, travel to seek the sacred outside of one’s immediate locality, had important symbolic and integrative functions, helping the believer to place the religious routine of the closed and concentric worlds of household, parish, or gild in a broader and more complex perception of the sacred, which transcended while affirming local allegiances. Pilgrimage also provided a temporary release from the constrictions and norms of ordinary living, an opportunity to review one’s life and, in a religious culture which valued asceticism and the monastic life above the married state, an opportunity for profane men and women to share in the graces of renunciation and discipline which religious life, in theory, at least promised.”

(2) My June 12, 2021 Record Store Day diamond from Sleeve Notes Records.

Weekend 496.0

Just a reminder…

Caedite eos, novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

Weekend 495.0 (Now is thus)

(1) The Battle of Towton

(1a) The Towton Ring (British Museum)

(2) “Now is the winter of our discontent” – Richard III by William Shakespeare

(2a) King Richard III had the ‘Princes in the Tower’ murdered, historian finds (Live Science)

(3) A quote from The Stripping of the Altars by Eamon Duffy:

“Under both the Angevin kings and their Plantagenet successors the cult of the saints often had a political dimension. The victims of political struggles might become martyrs, and popular devotion to such “saints” might be the vehicle for criticism or resistance to the political status quo. A number of fifteenth century English cults had a strong political dimension, like the anti-Lancastrian cult of Archbishop Scrope of York, executed for treason by Henry IV, or the anti-Yorkist cult of Henry VI. Scrope quickly became the focus of a popular cult openly hostile to the monarchy – it was part of the cult legend that Henry IV had been stricken with leprosy as an immediate consequence of Scrope’s martyrdom. Henry VI’s miracula include very overt political miracles, like the healing of a little girl afflicted with the “King’s evil”, whose parents had refused to bring her to be “touched” by the “usurper”, Richard III. Henry VII attempted to mobilize the cult of Henry VI in support of his own dynasty, building a magnificent chapel at Westminster Abbey to house Henry VI’s relics, and promoting his cause at Rome. The process foundered in the late 1520s, but “good King Harry” would almost certainly have been canonized had not bad King Harry’s matrimonial affairs strained and eventually broken ties with Rome.”

(4) A Lament for Our Lady’s Shrine at Walsingham: A lament for a Catholic place of pilgrimage devastated by Henry VIII, this simple ballad delivers a powerful sense of grief (The Guardian)

Weekend 494.1

(1) A quote from The Art and Craft of Stained Glass by E.W. Twining:

“To be able to design for glass, in colour, a beautiful figure, perfectly proportioned, gracefully posed and draped in a suitable setting is a fine thing. To be able to do the same with a number of figures grouped in a well balanced composition is a glorious achievement indeed, but to be able to do this latter and then carry the design through to its ultimate end places the artist in the very front rank of his profession. It has been said, and I think truly, that stained glass is either a trade or an art, according to whether the various portions of the craft are divided up amongst a number of operatives or whether it is carried through by one brain and pair of hands.”

(2) British Society of Master Glass Painters

(3) Tracery Tales – Exploring History, Architecture and Culture – One Adventure At A Time

The image is a scan from The Art and Craft of Stained Glass

Dover via Canterbury

The White Cliffs of DoverAt Dover Cliffs
Scarce hear the surge that has for ages beat,
Sure many a lonely wanderer has stood;
And whilst the lifted murmur met his ear,
And o’er the distant billows the still eve
Sailed slow, has thought of all his heart must leave

― William Lisle Bowles¹

Take a walk at the White Cliffs of Dover (Map from the National Trust)

Note: My Flickr album is organized sequentially.

Dover as a tourist destination is a little like the Poconos circa 1980 something. It’s heyday has long past and there are placards everywhere promising redevelopment. It doesn’t have the shopping of Brighton or the history and dining of Bristol. It’s a port city you pass through. Who knows though what places like Dover (and the Poconos) will like be post-pandemic as the cost/inconvenience of international travel changes domestic tourism.

As a gateway to the Cliffs of Dover the city is fine (even IF the relationship seemed badly neglected). My first afternoon was spent ambling around the town centre (getting my bearings) and probing the approach to the infamous cliffs. I’m not a typical traveler and don’t depend on guide books or countless hours of research on the internet. My trips are usually centered around an event (e.g. football match) or a place and the rest is just freeform exploration and discovery. The absence of an agenda makes it very easy to whittle the hours away at a coffee shop.

The eastern approach to the cliffs via the Athol Terrace/Coast Path was kind-of-maybe-sort-of-closed because of falling rocks (chalk in this case) so I found an alternative route via Castle Hill Road. The site of Dover Castle from any vista is impressive but dominates the horizon as you make the climb up Castle Hill Road. My adventure for the day unfortunately ended at Upper Road due to overambition². On my way back to the hotel I took a picture of St. Martin’s Guesthouse because of its promise of ‘tea and coffee making facilities’ (plus it’s the surname of the pastor at my church).

Miracle of the Feet
It was a fast start on Sunday morning after my feet (and legs) had a couple of hours to rest. My approach to the park (national trust) was via Upper Road. There’s a church on the route that was damaged in WWII and is now preserved as a Grade II listed building. I stopped for a photograph on the top of Connaught Road and a sign post for Burgoyne Fort (for Bear). There was NO sidewalk/trail/path on Upper Road but it was SO early that cars only passed sporadically.

I finally made it to the visitor centre and my first vista of the White Cliffs of Dover! I had NO idea HOW big the park was so my decision to “call it quits” the day before was just lucky. On Saturday night, whilst subjecting my feet to a recovery regimen that was some Mr. Miyagi style stuff, studied a map of the park. The walk to the lighthouse is about 50 minutes, BUT I stopped to explore every nook and cranny SO it was well north of that number. My return trip included a descent into Fan Bay (feets of strength™) before climbing down to sea level to explore the ribs of a wreck on Langdon Beach.

I left the park via the aforementioned eastern approach (the one with the signs about falling chalk). This route gives you a nice birds eye view of the port and takes you under the A2. I’m not a very good writer because this post omits the absolute majesty of this amazing space but if you’ve ever wanted to live in a Turner painting visit the White Cliffs of Dover. I think English skies are so beautiful because all that chalk acts like a filter when it’s picked up by the breeze.

IMPORTANT: There are few times when my feet and legs have been so tired/sore so IF you plan on traversing from sea level to lighthouse to bays and holes (the latter is inappropriate) wear something more durable than Vans (and bring sunscreen).

¹Sonnet: At Dover Cliffs, July 20th 1787 by William Lisle Bowles (poetry.com)
²Overamition in my case is a combination of NO food, a very early start, and poor footwear

Weekend 494.0

(1) France’s Great Debate Over the Sources and Meaning of Muslim Terror (Tablet)

“During the electoral campaign of 2011, the Muslims of France, appalled by the populist-nationalist campaign of President Sarkozy—for whom they had voted in large numbers in 2007—had massively rallied behind Sarkozy’s opponent, the socialist candidate Hollande, who based his own campaign on analysis provided by the main left-wing think tank of the era, Terra Nova. According to that analysis, the “traditional” left-wing electorate of the prosperity decades—a mix of the white working class and civil servants—was now leaving the stage, to be replaced by a melting pot of young, well-off urban gays and lesbians, and the young Muslim offspring of migrant families. Hollande mistook the rallying of anti-Sarkozy Muslims to his campaign as a confirmation of that view.”

The risk of think tanks sounds very, very familiar. Our elites / betters are the ones with real privilege and use their wealth and network to experiment with culture in a very dangerous way. You could replace Olivier Roy with John Kerry or John Brennan (or any of the other Yale/Harvard graduates like Eric Ciaramella cycling in and out of government agencies). These are the modern day Chamberlains without an ounce of common sense whose hubris cost blood and treasure.

Some other thoughts…

If you are going to decolonize you better have a plan to protect your borders.
Nuance is a code word used by the left to explain away common sense.
The alliance between the left and radicals like the squad (wink wink) isn’t going to last. It’s a marriage of convenience built on extreme naïveté.


JiaQi Bao, Christine Fang, and Zhe ‘Shelly’ Wang.

Love and loss (and friendship)

This is from one of my favorite movies….

Weekend 493.3

This weekend I travelled to Bury St Edmunds. The Abbey of St Edmund was once the fourth largest Benedictine Abbey in Europe¹ before the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1500s. The cathedral is beautiful but imbued with a certain sense of sadness (although the hot sausage sandwich from the Pilgrims’ Kitchen assuaged some of that sadness). I’m not going to elaborate now since my immersion in the subject matter continues -and- any conclusions would be premature.

The Stripping of the Altars has been a bit of a companion, and whilst this work is a hefty academic tome, I’m mightily impressed with some its beautiful prose.

“…they make sense only in a community which placed a special value on the religious dimension of community, and believed that the prayers of the parish assembled precisely as a parish, either in fact or in the person of its representatives, its priest and wardens, were more powerful than the sum of its component parts.”

This afternoon I’m taking a break from this weighty subject and visiting a special exhibit of watercolors and engravings by J. M. W. Turner.

“In his early youth he [Turner] trained as a draughtsman in several architects’ offices, and set out on his career as a recorder of old buildings, abbeys, castle and all the favourite topics of the Romantic Picturesque.²”

“In his teens and early twenties, Turner made a number of sketching tours around the British Isles, visiting dramatic and romantic scenery, often the sites of medieval ruins. Here his feeling for the poetry of landscape developed, experienced through the atmospheres of mist, sunlight, rain and rainbows, resulting in magnificent watercolours…” Ibid.

(1) The Great Cloister, Cassiobury
(1a) View of the Archbishop’s Palace, Lambeth

(2) Landmark Arts Centre Printmaking Festival

(3) My Easter #RAILADVENTURE in Bury St Edmunds (Abbey Louisa Rose)

(4) Joseph Haydn: The Seasons – Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Salzburg 2013, HD 1080p)

¹If Henry VIII had not had the abbey dissolved the abbey church would have become an enormous cathedral or minster and Bury St Edmunds by now would be a city probably larger than York, Durham or Lincoln.

²J.M.W. Turner, R.A. the artist and his house a Twickenham

Weekend 493.2

“Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.”
― Pink Floyd

“Well, you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light.”

― Johnny Cash

(1) JFK’s Death Split the American Psyche (Splice Today)

This is a very grating article by Mark Judge that was linked via Instapundit. It continues the baby boomer obsession with Camelot (aka Elysium). The comments in Disqus have been equally critical on Instapundit too. The left essentially built a wall around pop culture and then accelerated the anti-liberal purge of conservatives via cancel culture. They are now using pop culture as a “platform” for pushing their social justice agenda (critical race theory and all that other postmodern non-sense).

There are NO safe spaces in pop culture for conservatives but we’re just as David Bowie and David Gilmour as those hardened lefties (anti-intellectuals) occupying our cultural institutions. It’s a claim (to pop culture) they have made that is being challenged by brash and fearless counter-cultural icons the left can’t cancel fast enough. The pogrom is relentless though now that pop-culture has been weaponized to erase every vestige of the Tao (up is down; left is right; two plus two equals five).

The article is accurate in its premise that both the left / right elites are trying to create heaven on earth. The inevitably of progress is folly and history is littered with those disastrous results. What a large swath of the country has forgotten is that we are active participants in the creation of all things¹ and NOT the source of all things.

(2) Why the American People Have Turned Against Biden (TH)

“Americans now understand the intimidation tactics of the radical left. They’ve seen the vile hate speech toward white Americans. They’ve seen the mayor of Chicago announce she will only do interviews with journalists who aren’t white. They’ve seen the Black Lives Matter and antifa groups rioting, looting, burning and causing anarchy. They’ve seen the censorship, banning and hatred inflicted on conservatives by social media and woke corporations. They’ve seen Palestinian mobs beating Jews in Los Angeles and New York. Radical Democrats have set this nation on fire.”

(3) We’re all Rick Moranis now in Biden’s America

¹Inspiration from Robert M. Pirsig, C.S. Lewis, Peter Kreeft, Gordon Theisen, and George Orwell.


(1) Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith) versus Go Solo (Zwette / Tom Rosenthal)

Weekend 493.1

Here, Here, Here(1) St Edmundsbury Cathedral

(1a) St Edmund, Original Patron Saint of England

“According to the 10th century account of the saint’s life by Abbo of Fleury, who quotes St Dunstan as his source, Edmund was then bound to a tree, shot through by arrows and beheaded. The date was 20th November. His decapitated head is said to have been reunited with its body with the help of a talking wolf who protected the head and then called out “Hic, Hic, Hic” (“Here, Here, Here”) to alert Edmund’s followers.”

Take a look at the photo on Flickr. It’s NOT a photo trick.

120 Seconds

Ivy MantlesWhere the rude buttress totters to its fall,
And ivy mantles o’er the crumbling wall;
Where e’en the skilful eve can scarcely trace
The once high altar’s lowly resting place –
Let patriotic fancy muse awhile
Amid the ruins of this ancient pile.
Six weary centuries have past away;
Palace and abbey moulder in decay –
Cold death enshrouds the learned and the brave –
Langton – Fitz Walter – slumber in the grave.
But still we read in deathless records how
The high-soul’d priest confirm’d the barons vow;
And Freedom, unforgetful still recites
This second birth-place of our native rights.

Weekend 493.0

(1)  A quote from British Rail Architecture 1948-97 by David Lawrence:

“Telephone engineer, graphic designer, stained glass artist and model-maker Ernest Twining designed modern station buildings for Bassett-Lowke, and created the ‘Many-Ways’ system of station components in wood, metal and plastic for Trix Twin Railways, sold in the period 1936-39 and from around 1948 to about 1959.”

(2) Ernest E. Twining: Brighton Toy and Model Museum and Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History

(2a) The Angel of the Holy Grail by E.W. Twining (Art UK)