He's back! Cardinal Raymond Burke announced on his website that he will be celebrating Mass "according to the More Ancient Usage of the Roman Rite" next Saturday at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He goes into a detailed description about the liturgical calendar this year when the Second Sunday of Advent coincides with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, each time using this strange formulation of "More Ancient Usage" and "More Recent Usage." How strange. It is telling that only the preconciliar rite will be televised. Archbishop Arthur Roche: Call your office!
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attended the Kennedy Center Honors Dec. 5, the first time a president has been in attendance at the celebration of culture since 2016. This is a small step in the nation's return to normalcy after four years of Trumpism. COVID-19 remains a principal barrier to that return, but it is a step nonetheless. Besides, what a perk. Free tickets to a Bette Midler performance!
E.J. Dionne Jr., writing in The Washington Post, makes an argument these pages have made before: Democrats need to remind people that their economic policies are built upon values too, and not cede the label "values voters" to Republicans. The money quote:
It is not surprising that Republicans want to talk about "big spending" and leave it at that. But if Democratic politicians are incapable of shifting the conversation to the terrain of values — care for children, upward mobility, shared economic growth, enhanced educational opportunities, health care for everyone — they should find another line of work.
Dionne notes the distorting role rightwing media plays, but fails to mention Democrats' contribution of reducing values talk to discussion of gender and race, rather than economics. But he is right on the main point.
In The San Jose Mercury News, critics are blaming Oprah Winfrey for helping to boost the profile of Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is now running for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania. Winfrey also highlighted Dr. Phil McGraw, the pop-psychologist. This is somewhat unfair: Oz and McGraw might have found another path to prominence even though the path they did find wound through Oprah's television show. People need to recognize that Oprah was an entertainer and an entrepreneur, and brilliant at both jobs. If you looked to her and her cast for medical (or spiritual) advice, you really have no one to blame but yourself.
At The New Republic, a must-read article from Sam Adler-Bell who profiles the "New Right," what they believe and how they fit into contemporary Republican Party and American politics, if at all. They tend to despair that only a complete counterrevolution against the modern liberal state will suffice to restore the moral order they champion. To their credit, they despise libertarians. To their discredit, they are committed to a Golden Age that never really existed. The saddest fact is that so many of these young New Right thinkers are Catholic, but seem not to actually understand the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition very much. If they don't scare the living daylights out of you, they should.
At Business Insider, a look at AFL-CIO's new president Liz Shuler after her first 100 days in office. It could scarcely be a more important time for organized labor. One graph jumps out at me as a clear counter-argument to decades of pro-business propaganda:
She pointed to the 10,000 Deere workers who recently concluded a month-long strike through three contract offers, finally accepting one that contained an $8,500 signing bonus, a 20% wage increase over the contract's six-year stretch, and beefed-up retirement benefits. The company still reported record profits.
That's right: The company still made record profits.
Sometimes I think there is no remedy for the internet other than shutting the whole thing down. Those few times occur when I come across something like this, a video from someone with almost 100,000 followers on TikTok explaining, wrongly, that Ancient Rome did not exist. She claims there are no primary documents from that era, that it is a figment of Spanish Inquisitions imagination. Wow. Just wow.
Last week's Gospel pointed us to the trans-historical eschaton but this past Sunday's Gospel from the Gospel of Luke, as well as the stunningly beautiful reading from the prophet Baruch, situates us firmly in Israel, among God's people, and introduces us to St. John the Baptist, one of the great bridges between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. We need not search far for a musical setting of the Gospel text. Handel's "Messiah" starts with this beautiful recitative "Comfort ye," followed by the aria "Ev'ry Valley." Here tenor Thomas Colley performs them with the Boston Baroque orchestra under the baton of Martin Pearlman.