Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Successful Trip to the Strand

A very successful trip to the Strand Bookstore today. What makes it very successful? I left with fewer books and more money than when I arrived. Well, not very much more money... 16 cents.

I sold the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Handbook, The Leopard, Extreme Measures, and The Making of the Poets: Byron and Shelley in Their Time.

In return, I got The Letters of Adam of Perseigne. It's got a 40 page introduction by Thomas Merton.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cardinal Tettamanzi's Decalogue Against Temptation

1. Do not forget that the devil exists.
2. Do not forget that the devil is a tempter.
3. Do not forget that the devil is very intelligent and astute.
4. Be vigilant concerning your eyes and heart. Be strong in spirit and virtue.
5. Believe firmly in the victory of Christ over the tempter.
6. Remember that Christ makes you a participant in His victory.
7. Listen carefully to the word of God.
8. Be humble and love mortification.
9. Pray without flagging.
10. Love the Lord your God and offer worship to Him only.
(via Sancte Pater)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Solemn Mass in Brooklyn

I was recently a server for a Solemn Mass in Brooklyn. I'm the server on the right. There are more pictures on the blog Traditional Catholicism.

Stan Rogers

I've recently discovered the music of Canadian folk singer Stan Rogers (1949-1983). This is one of his most famous songs, with an intro describing how he came to write it. I'm particularly pleased by how much fun the folks singing in this video seem to be having.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Best Amazon Review Ever?

Joseph Davis of Calgary, Alberta has written what may be the greatest review ever, responding to the jazz album Vaghissimo Ritratto by Gianluigi Trovesi, Fulvio Marras, Umberto Petrin:
I'm very disappointed with this CD. I kept getting up while it was playing to go over to the stereo cabinet to check the CD case to make sure that it really was an ECM CD. It's so treacly, fluffy, silly. Yuck! I kept thinking there must be some mistake. After all, this thing was produced by Manfred Eicher himself. I worship at the alter of Manfred Eicher. I kept waiting for the music to get better. It didn't. How is it possible to take the sublime music of Desprez, Palestrina, Di Lasso and Monteverdi and turn it into something so aggravating? Finally I had to restrain myself from going down into the cellar to get an axe, which I was going to cleave my CD player with. I know, wouldn't it have been simpler and less expensive to just remove the CD and smash it instead? But that's the thing about music, its joy and its mystery. It is not rational. It is un-rational. It taps into and stimulates non-logical circuits in the brain. This CD tapped into violent and destructive ones for me. Fortunately they were all directed towards the CD itself. I love ECM and ECM New Series CDs. I can honestly say that this is the first one I have reacted violently to. Perhaps you would react differently to it. My suggestion, though, is that you listen to this CD, or at least portions of it, before you purchase it. I have given it a two star rating, instead of a one star rating, out of loyalty to the ECM label, and because of the beautiful cover art. Maybe I should get really drunk and try listening to this CD again? Or maybe I should take it to a book club? You know, the kind where attractive women lounge around drinking lattes and seriously discussing books with titles like 'Snow Falling On White Oleanders' or 'The Time Traveler Who Divorced His Wife and Married the Memory Keeper's Daughter'. Or maybe I'll just smash it with my axe.
I'm hoping to get a hold of the album. The review's writing reminds me of Mark Helprin's Memoir From Antproof Case.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When Chuck Met Nora

Congrats to Seraphic and Benedict Ambrose.

But, I'm not certain When Harry Met Sally is the best model for romance. I don't agree with all of it, but Chuck Klosterman's take is good:
When Harry Met Sally hit theaters in 1989. I didn't see it until 1997, but it turns out I could have skipped it entirely. The movie itself isn't bad (which is pretty amazing, since it stars Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal), and there are funny parts and sweet parts and smart dialogue, and--all things considered--it's a well-executed example of a certian kind of entertainment. Yet watching this film in 1997 was like watching the 1978 one-game playoff between the Yankees and the Red Sox on ESPN Classic: Though I've never sat through the pitch sequence that leads to Bucky Dent's three-run homer, I know exactly what happened. I feel like I remember it, even though I don't. And--more important--I Know what it all means. Knowing about sports means knowing that Bucky Dent is the living, breathing, metaphorical incarnation of the Bo Sox's undying futility; I didn't have to see that game to understand the fabric of its existence. I didn't need to see When Harry Met Sally, either. Within three years of its initial release, classifying any intense friendship as "totally a Harry-Met-Sally situation" had a recognizable meaning to everyone, regardless of whether or not they'd actually seen the movie. And that meaning remains clear and remarkably consistent: It implies that two platonic acquaintances are refusing to admit that they're deeply in love with each other. When Harry Met Sally cemented the plausibility of that notion, and it gave a lot of desperate people hope. It made it realistic to suspect your best friend may be your soul mate, and it made wanting such a scenario comfortably conventional. The problem is that the Harry-Met-Sally situation is almost always tragically unbalanced. Most of the time, the two involved parties are not really "best friends." Inevitably, one of the people has been in love with the other from the first day they met, while the other person is either (a) wracked with guilt and pressure, or (b) completely oblivious to the espoused attraction. Every relationship is fundamentally a power struggle, and the individual in power is whoever likes the other person less. But When Harry Met Sally gives the powerless, unrequited lover a reason to live. When this person gets drunk and tells his friends that he's in love with a woman who only sees him as a buddy, they will say, "You're wrong. You're perfect for each other. This is just like When Harry Met Sally! I'm sure she loves you--she just doesn't realize it yet." Nora Ephron accidentally ruined a lot of lives.--Chuck Klosterman, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto

Thursday, November 06, 2008

From the Village Voice

Peter Lushing writes in:
The only function of the New York City Council is to convince people that the New York State Legislature is not the worst law-making body in the country.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Know Your Subject

A letter from Ted Rall in today's New York Times Book Review criticizes the editors for assigning a review of cartoonist's Jules Feiffer's complete Village Voice strips to David Kamp "a contributing editor for Vanity Fair" and "the author of 'The United States of Arugula'".

Rall criticizes Kamp for not knowing much about cartooning, but he doesn't home in on what I thought was the biggest gaffe in the piece. Right on the front page of the Book Review we read:
So the new anthology "Explainers," which gathers all of Feiffer's Village Voice strips from 1956 to 1966, is a welcome reintroduction—or introduction for the unititiated—to a great cartoonist who boldly bent his medium to adult purposes long before it was commonplace to do so.
But cartooning didn't start out as a medium for children, unless you think kids in the 1840's were the intended audience for the drawings published in the satirical Punch, from which we get the term "cartoon".

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Maybe the Trinity Is the Reason

So has the culture entirely lost touch with Christian doctrine? Or has the New York Times completely lost touch with our culture. New York Times writer Andy Newman searches for the cultural power of the number three and the only mention of the Trinity is from a pop song:
Perhaps the wise man on “Schoolhouse Rock” said it best:

“Three is a magic number./Yes it is; it’s a magic number./Somewhere in the ancient, mystic trinity/You get three as a magic number.”

Whence, then, the lure of three? How did it become the perfect number of fairy tale characters, of stooges, of syllables in a loved one’s name — tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth?

Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Beginning, middle, end. Snap, Crackle, Pop.

Even the wise man of “Schoolhouse Rock” is mystified.

“I have no idea why three is a magic number,” Bob Dorough, the jazz composer who penned the song in 1972, said on Wednesday. “I just knew that it was, and my meager research bore me out, and the song after that just wrote itself.”
Even with the reason right there in front of them, Bob Dorough and Newman can't make the connection. Why not?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cornell Society...: "Silver linings"

UPDATE: The latest AP poll and others do put the race within the margin of error. But as the Democrats have learned the hard way, it's the electoral college that counts.

Here's a (slightly) condensed version of Clara's great post on the election. The bold is mine. My comments in red, Fr. Z style:

About two weeks ago, I realized that Barack Obama was going to be elected as our next president— and, indeed, that we’re soon going to see the advent of the most liberal government that the United States has ever had. It was a bitter thought for a few hours. I reserve the right to get bitter about it again sometime before election day, but mostly I think I’m over it. I mean, yes, this probably does mean that the laws protecting the legal slaughter of innocent children will be extended for a considerable period in the future. It’s also likely to mean a slate of policies of a sort that will further the dissolution of community and family life, particularly among the poor where the effects of this are most grim. These are great tragedies. And I haven’t so entirely given up that I’m not planning to cast my ... vote on election day, but frankly, at this point, I don’t want to dwell on this more than I have to. The world is full of pain and sin, and we’d drive ourselves crazy if we took it all personally.

Actually, we moderns are pretty good at blocking out pain and sin, which is necessary because our newspapers are filled with reports of them day in and day out. [And if that power ever deserts you for a time, it's not fun...] Most of the time we don’t even bother to read the details, knowing how powerless we are to do anything anyway. Elections feel more like our business if only because we’re supposed to vote in them, but honestly, we’re mostly impotent there too. I sometimes like to use them as an “apologetic moment” because of the heightened interest in politics at that time, and also because, in my mind at least, this is the closest a Catholic moral philosopher can come to fulfilling her civic duty. ... But the truth is, I just don’t feel at all connected to American politics. To be frank, it mostly feels like somebody else’s problem to me, so when liberals want to do fool things (like putting a young random with no executive experience, a raging Messiah complex, and a standard slate of naive liberal views into the White House) I’m somewhat inclined to shrug and say, “Well, it’s your funeral.”

Actually, it might really be my funeral too, but I think funerals are less scary for orthodox Catholics than they are for liberals.

And this is first of the “silver linings” that make me more stoical about the coming liberal heyday. When you’re a liberal, political defeat is agonizing because politics is really the primary sphere of goodness for you. If you think that our highest aspiration in life should be the building of a just political society, it’s hard to think what could compensate for failure in this realm. Those of us who realize that a fully just society will never be achieved on earth anyway, that every age will have a considerable share of suffering and sin, and that, for reasons somewhat mysterious to us, God sometimes deems it best to let the wicked prosper for a period, will find it easier to relax a bit about some little thing like an election. Bad times have often been a catalyst for some very good things — the raising up of martyrs, for instance, or the opportunity to win more converts to the faith. Anyway, the Book of Revelation assures us that the world will be steeped in sin and chaos just before the end of days. Perhaps it’s a sign of how much the human race has endured that quite a lot of people over the course of history have looked at the depravity of their societies and thought, “hey, we must be nearly there!” I won’t be so naive as to make any confident predictions, but it’s always a cheering thought when things start looking bad. “End of days coming, just perhaps?”

Even if we’re not at the end of days, though, the further dissolution of Western society can always open up other opportunities. Here’s the way to think about it: in the immediate future, our government is likely to sink further into liberal depravity, just as things are getting better within the Church. Our politicians have been looking pretty bad, but our much-maligned American bishops [Perhaps overly maligned, especially Cardinal Egan.] (not all of them, but definitely some) have been positively inspiring lately! Looks to me like the culture wars are just going to keep raging, but perhaps we’ve reached the point where our Catholic leaders will be willing to assume some prominent role in them. The worsening of American society could actually help to restore integrity to the American Church. That’s certainly a happy thought.


Let me be clear at the end here that this is not just a sour-grapes post. I don’t want Obama to be elected, and if something wonky happened and McCain pulled it out instead, I’d definitely be in a celebratory mood. (I was also very cheered to see that Proposition 8 in California has been making a comeback — to be honest, I’d given up on that one too, but I won’t deny that I would be quite delighted if the Protect Marriage people managed to win an improbable victory there.) On the other hand, it’s nice to realize that, for us Catholics (unlike for the liberals), unwelcome political developments can never be cause for despair. [See what she did there, contrasting Catholic and liberal.] Not to be all cliche, but when you’ve got God on your side, you really can’t be beaten in the long run. And when you compare our country to Canada our Western Europe (places, that is, where the conservatives have pretty much just lost), you realize how many reasons we have to be grateful. Even if we can’t save all the unborn children, or restore the institution of marriage to its natural dignity, our continued efforts might nonetheless help us to save the souls of some others. So get excited! Laborers are needed, and the fields are ripe for the harvest.
Deal Hudson also had a little to say about a potential silver lining of an Obama victory.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today's Crisis, Not the Triumph of Socialism

On "The Corner", Andrew Stuttaford draws our attention to "Simon Jenkins, no man of the right, writing in the Guardian on the current crisis":
"Socialism is now cock of the walk, capitalism mugged by reality.

It is rubbish, total rubbish. Market failure has been compounded by brain failure of the discredited profession of economics, overwhelmed by journalistic wish-fulfilment and glee. The banks have not been "nationalised", just deluged with money.

They remain pluralist and competitive institutions, with independent boards. Their workers are not civil servants. Investors retain their shares. The bonus culture will revive. The impresarios of greed have been punished, or at least a few of them. But this is not socialism in our time, just public money hurled at the face of capitalism."

"A Different Kind of Battlefield"

An interesting comment from the Wholly Roamin' Catholic over on Fr. Z's blog:
"There is no TLM-fitting church in most of my Archdiocese, since nearly all the proper rectangle churches were torn down to make room for the round spaceship churches. I’ve often sat in the pews wondering how a priest would properly offer the old Mass in our round spaceship church—thinking that it’d be easier to offer the Mass in a Baptist church than on the strange altar in the middle of the circle.

"But if brave military chaplains drug mobile chapels out to the battlefields of Korea for Catholic servicemen kneeling in the mud, certainly the Mass can be offered in the suburban spaceships—it’s just a different kind of battlefield."
Photo: Chaplain Gerald F. Clune says Mass for men of Heavy Mortar Co., 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, at Headquarters, 14 October 1951.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fun with Paulists...

In the context of an article on the desire of some devotees to canonize Audrey Santo, the Boston Globe argues that the Catholic Church is moving away from miracle-working saints.
In past centuries, the church regularly canonized saints such as Joseph of Cupertino, a 17th-century Franciscan known as "the flying friar" for his ability to levitate, and Catherine of Siena, the 14th-century mystic who received the wounds of Christ. But over the last century, the church has shifted, scholars say. Pope Benedict XVI "is more interested in models than in miracle workers," said Lawrence S. Cunningham, a theologian at Notre Dame, and author of "A Brief History of Saints."

Emblematic of contemporary candidates for sainthood, Cunningham said, is the Rev. Solanus Casey. A Capuchin Franciscan, Casey worked for 20 years at the door of St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, quietly counseling thousands, and earning the moniker "The Doorkeeper."

"When it comes to making saints, the Vatican is much more concerned that people are like us - that they live the virtues of faith over charity and wisdom," said the Rev. Paul G. Robichaud, who is leading a movement to canonize Isaac Hecker, who founded the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle in New York in 1858. "And when you hear about these apparitions or levitations or weeping statues, this catches the public imagination, but it does not impress the Vatican."
This is typical nonsense. Here's a famous Solanus Casey story:
By far the most cool story was the multiplication of the ice cream cones. A woman came into Fr. Casey's office (a priest simplex because of his difficulty with languages, Solanus served as porter) with two ice cream cones for them to share. He thanked her, but, putting the cones in a desk drawer, said they would save the ice cream for later. Because it was a warm summer day and the desk was not refrigerated, she was understandably baffled by this behavior. A few hours later, however, four other people entered the room bearing some good news. "Let's celebrate with an ice cream party!" rejoiced Fr. Casey. He went to his desk draw and pulled out, not two, but six ice cream cones--which had remained perfectly cool and unmelted.

"It pleases Jesus and Mary greatly when we celebrate in this way," he explained.
But, you know, no miracles. Miracles during one's life, as with the case of the 20th century Saint Padre Pio who was both a stigmatist like St. Catherine and levitated like St. Joseph of Cupertino are key, because the first step towards canonization is a local popular cultus, this hurdle must be crossed long before the Vatican ever gets involved.

Meanwhile, being suspected of heresy during your life like Hecker was, even if later cleared, is probably not the best way to impress the Vatican. Particularly, when your postulator goes about making statements that deprecate the importance of the supernatural in the life of faith. These supernatural acts are seen as an important signal of sanctity because they can provide evidence for the perfection of the supernatural virtues. This is literally the faith that moves mountains (Matthew 7:14-21). The deprecation of supernatural virtue over natural virtue was one of the positions condemned in Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

It's a phone people!

Domino's Pizza's web page is trumpeting mobile ordering, "Order Domino's anywhere now by using your mobile phone." Hello! It's a phone; it's mobile. You can already use it to order pizza anywhere.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Different Kind of Episcopal Spine

Bishop Manuel A. Cruz is a new auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Newark and a Cuban expatriate. He's also a former hospital chaplain and he's not buying the party line about Cuban health care:
Fleeing communist Cuba at a young age, Msgr. Cruz is proud of his title as "refugee" and believes that living through the experience has strengthened him and deepened his faith. He recently arranged for medicine to be shipped to the island for a sick young woman. "The medicine is expensive and hard to get in Cuba. This situation really put things in perspective for me. You ask yourself 'Why am I here? Why am I so different?' As a refugee, you realize that everything you have is a gift."

Friday, September 12, 2008

He's no Louis

King Mswati III of Swaziland is under fire again, this time in the New York Times:
...Swazis have enjoyed decades of peace and are proud of their culture. But poverty has entrapped two-thirds of the people, leaving hundreds of thousands malnourished. And these days death casually sweeps away even the strong. The country has one of the worst rates of H.I.V. infection in the world. Life expectancy has fallen from 60 years in 1997 to barely half that now. Nearly a third of all children have lost a parent.

“How can the king live in luxury while his people suffer?” asked Siphiwe Hlophe, a human rights activist. “How much money does he need, anyway?”

That question was as confounding as it was impertinent. In the government’s latest budget, about $30 million was set aside for “royal emoluments.”
Now it is the New York Times, but even so, the Queen of England manages to get by on £40 million or roughly $72 million dollars.

Now that's more than twice what Swaziland's King gets, but the Monarchy costs Britons only 0.003% of their nation's $2.137 trillion gross domestic product.

However, the King's emoluments are 0.5% of Swaziland's $5.63 billion GDP. Swazis are comparatively getting hosed, paying 167 times as much as a percentage of GDP. So it's not surprising that they're angry:
The rowdiest of the demonstrators flung rocks, looted goods from sidewalk vendors and even set off a few small explosions. Others made impromptu placards with torn up cardboard. “Down with 40-40!” read one, while another demanded, “Democracy now!” A few protesters chanted things meant to make rich people feel guilty: “My mother was a kitchen girl. My father was a garden boy. That’s why I’m a Socialist.”

The angriest of them went so far as to insist that the nation had little to celebrate.
It's a useful reminder that not every king is a Saint Louis.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

To The King

A Wall Street Journal column defends the Whig view of history, but not with particularly brilliant reasoning:
"William of Orange's 'Declaration,' then, was an honest document, as his benevolent rule -- and that of his wife, Mary -- would prove. ... They founded the Bank of England, greatly increased trade and stayed out of war with France until Louis XIV rashly recognized James Stuart, James II's son, as England's rightful king."
So how did they keep England out of war? Louis XIV recognizing James Stuart is just maintaining the status quo. It's William's invasion that shakes things up. If he hadn't invaded England and tossed out James II in the first place, there would have been nothing rash about recognizing James Stuart.

Rich Leonardi also has a good post on the piece. Don't miss the commentator who's wandered in to point out that the Glorious Revolution was indeed glorious because it "ended the pernicious influence of the Papists in English history and freed England from being just another lackey of Louis XIV's France."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain Palin Video

This is from before she was picked, I believe.

(via The Corner)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Interesting Liturgical News From Bangladesh

The Bishops in Bangladesh take action:"Church Tries To Protect Traditional Hymns, End Loud Singing" Apparently, the melodies and lyrics are set, no new songs are currently being composed, and it's not clear if accompaniment other than the harmonium (?!) is allowed:
The program assembled 71 liturgical singers in charge of leading choirs, and parish liturgy committee representatives from the country's five dioceses and one archdiocese to learn the correct musical notes to be played and sung in the hymns, as well as how loudly they should be sung. ... Over the decades, Father Sima further noted, there have been developments such as using the harmonium to accompany hymns, and the recent seminar included instruction on the correct musical notes to be sung for those hymns.

Different music suits different times, he said, and for religious occasions, two types of music, traditional and band, or pop-style, songs are available, "but band songs destroy the beauty, depth and spirituality of liturgy."

The priest did concede, however, that band music could be used on certain occasions, "but not in liturgical celebrations."

...New hymns are not being composed, he added, but ECLP is now thinking of doing something to change that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Heather King on the Saints

"Saints aren’t 'good,' they’re beyond good, they’re part crazy."

The Martyrdom of Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J., Mexico City, November 23, 1927

via Internet Monk

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Doctors wrestle with South Dakota abortion law"

Emily Bazelon's confusing take in Slate Magazine:
"On the one hand, the organization doesn't want to put abortion providers in legal jeopardy, since failure to follow the law can be punished as a criminal misdemeanor. On the other hand, doctors have an ethical responsibility to give patients accurate medical information. The mandatory statement linking abortion to an increased risk of suicide isn't supported by reliable medical evidence. And the statements about the fetus as a human being are moral or philosophical rather than scientific at heart, in Planned Parenthood's view. So what's an abortion provider in South Dakota to do?"
Well it seems clear to me. If making the statement about the "fetus as a human being" is objectionable because it is "moral or philosophical" rather than "scientific" than it seems we can derive the principle:
S: Doctors should base their advice on science and not moral or philosophical principles.
Taking S as true, than the ethical responsibility to provide patients with accurate medical information is moot, given that it is a moral or philosophical principle and not a scientific one. So Doctors should ignore ethics and follow the law, for the punishments of the state are scientific facts.

Or we might see that we have arrived at an absurd conclusion and admit that it is not the case that a statement's being moral or philosophical rather than scientific disqualifies it as proper medical advice.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Pennywhistlers

I've been thinking a lot more about Pete Seeger ever since I went to see The Power of Song when it was playing here in New York. I had known about his albums and concerts, but not about his TV shows. Which, not surprisingly are available on Youtube. Here's one with Johnny Cash and June Carter (not yet Cash herself...). Cash appears to be pretty strung out here, but the singing is still impressive.

And this is a group called the Pennywhistlers who I'd never heard of but apparently made a name for themselves with Eastern European folk songs.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

"Socrates Heads It in and Leibniz Doesn't Have a Chance"

I was of course familiar with the Philosopher's Song, but I'd never seen this other Monty Python philosophy bit before:

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

"Maybe that's in the episode I didn't see."

Anderson Cooper's response to Kelly Ripa's comment "They're obviously a talented family" about Living Lohan.
(via TVNewser)

Friday, August 01, 2008

MySpace... It's Almost As Good As Napster

before we knew that Napster was wrong... I've been listening to songs from Spirit of the West that I've wanted to get my hands on for years, but were out of print.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Should you settle?

Scott Croft and Candice Watters respond in Boundless to Lori Gottlieb's article "Marry Him: The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough" in the March 2008 Atlantic. Here's a sample, the same one Croft uses:
My advice is this: Settle! That's right. Don't worry about passion or intense connection.... Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year.

Whenever I make the case for settling, people look at me with creased brows of disapproval or frowns of disappointment.... It's not only politically incorrect to get behind settling, it's downright un-American. Our culture tells us to keep our eyes on the prize ... and the theme of holding out for true love ... permeates our collective mentality.
Croft and Watters both make many good points, but they both insist that what they advocate is not "settling". Croft writes:
What's more, nobody really "settles" in a biblical marriage because God has designed marriage as a wonderful gift that gets better with age. This is what people worried about settling don't seem to get. They think joy in marriage is all about the original choice one makes about whom to marry, rather than how the nurture and build their marriage. Again, this misses the picture of biblical marriage.

Read Song of Songs. Look at the implied deepening of a marriage that has to take place if Ephesians 5:22-33 is to be lived out. Sure, it takes hard work. But if two people are truly faithful as spouses, growing in God's word, studying one another deeply and attentively with an eye toward uniquely ministering to and serving each other, both will find that 10 years in they are known and loved and cared for better and more deeply than when they were newly married. That doesn't hinder passion, people. It builds it. More on this in later articles perhaps.
Candice Watters writes:
Choosing to marry a man — whomever he is — inevitably involves compromise (on his part, and yours). That's why it's not truly settling. It's just making a decision. Something we do every time we pick one thing over another. In most areas, it's called being decisive. For some reason we've made indecision noble when it comes to dating.
Watters article is better about this than Croft's, but I think they give Gottleib too little credit for the insights at which she has arrived. Of course, she has a secular view of marriage, she's secular (at least so far as she describes herself in the article.) But she's right that there's a kind of settling here. Choosing is settling, settling is deciding. "I've considered chocolate; I've considered vanilla and I'm settling on vanilla." I'm not neccesarily taking a position on which is better, I'm just not holding out for butterscotch to come along.

Real Men Marry Rabbis

Or so says this t-shirt. On Sunday, I saw a man wearing one and walking with his wife -- presumably a Rabbi.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Safire on Dirty Words

William Safire pays tribute to George Carlin in his latest "On Words Column". He writes, in part:
In his incessant use of “the seven words you can’t use on television,” he gave us more than a good taste of bad taste. His defense, however, could be in the lessening of offense-taking: Carlin may have reduced the power of odious obscenities and puerile profanity by devaluing their shock value, which was a perverse kind of linguistic service, as far as I’m concerned.
But really is that a linguistic service? Leave aside the question of the morality of the use of profanity and it seems clear that by the dimunation of the shock value of these words the language is impoverished.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Right... 'cause now is the time to join the Anglican Church

Matthew Alderman reminds me of the move by Venezualans allied with—if not directed by—Hugo Chavez to create a Bolivarian church. Apparently its actual name is "Santa Iglesia Católica Reformada de Venezuela Rito Anglicano."

Most disturbing is the combination of these two statements:
"Organized along Anglican principles"
"Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic clergy have consecrated three priests as bishops"
As far as I know, all the Anglican Churches still require Bishops to perform ordinations. Hopefully that doesn't mean there's a Roman Catholic bishop involved. As the Get Religion folks would point out, there's a lot of information lacking there... what exactly are "Anglican principles". The Anglican church proper recognizes the supremacy of the sovereign (and so in it's democratic polity does the Episcopal Church recognize the sovereignty of the people). Is this Church democratic? Subordinate to the state? "Revolutionary" and ruled by a cabal? What about other Anglican principles... do we have the Thirty-nine Articles? Hooker's three-legged stool?

Here's the AP write-up, including comments from a Venezualan Cardinal.

Here's another from El Nuevo Herald.

Some excerpts and comments:
"A former Roman Catholic priest, Jon Jen Siu Garcia, was elected coadjutor, and noted to the Venezuelan press that his mission is to 'liberate people from capitalist values.'

"...among the founders of the church are bishops who have arrived from Miami and several Latin American nations, such as Peru, Mexico and Costa Rica.

"Among other religious organizations, Miami's own Catholic Apostolic Church served as a model for the newly established church in Venezuela.

"Lückert [a Catholic Church spokesman] also denounced the ''scandalous'' pasts of the Venezuelan priests who will be ordained as the new bishops of the reformist Catholic church. One, he said, ''lived scandalously with a woman'' and they have a son. Another had left his ministry to get married a long time ago, Lückert said."
So sexual immorality is part of the history here. Why am I not surprised?
"Lückert warned Chávez that the creation of this movement 'is a terrible political error' that could have an electoral cost.

"'It never occurred to Fidel to make such a blunder,' Lückert said."
The journalist in me recognizes a great quote when I see one... that's a great quote.

Photo of Hugo Chavez from Agência Brasil under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Brazil License.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


I've been slacking off on blogging. That's partly because I've been working on another internet project: entering all my books into LibraryThing.

Check out my library here.

In my current stable library there are 805 books. That's actually fewer than I thought. If you'd given me over/under on 1,000 I'd probably have picked ovmer.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Seraphic Single had the same thought I did when hearing Germany and Turkey were playing in the Euro 2008 semi-finals:
Oh Dear

Germany is to play Turkey in the Semi-Finals. And this means that one way or the other there will be riots in Germany afterwards.
Photo courtesy StewieD under a Creative Commons License.

Fountain Pen Info

This is a nice site with FAQs on fountain pen ink and other pen topics.

It's got a nice breezy style about it too:
If you think that fountain pen geeks are anal about their pens, just wait until you hear them babble on about their inks!

To hear most enthusiasts talk, you'd think that ink was some magic substance rained from heaven to be captured in little crystal bottles; like some idol that must be appeased, it loves some pens and disdains others, and in extreme cases can eat through an unsatisfactory pen like that icky green blood stuff in the movie Alien.

Some folks feel they must treat their ink like prescription drugs, throwing them out after a year lest they perform some sort of Jekyll-to-Hyde transformation in the bottle (or in the pen). Still others interpret the brand name as a sort of "blood type," and fear to use Brand A ink in a Brand B pen.

And yet, as a friend of mine (and frequent ink seller) sometimes confesses in unguarded moments, fountain pen ink is basically colored water, perhaps with some detergent or thickener thrown in. If you understand a bit of what inks are made of and how they work, you'll find them less mystifying and more trouble-free and enjoyable to use.
Fountain pen image courtesy of Bismac under a Creative Commons license.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Last Crusade: Spain 1936

One of the things I want to do with this blog is record some brief thoughts about books I read, movies, I see etc. I do this as much for myself as for anyone else.

This book by Warren Carroll* of Christendom College is a great short history of the Spanish Civil War from a Catholic perspective. The stories of the martyrs of Spain contained within are incredible. Dr. Carroll's perspective is slightly less critical at times than I'd like to see. He does acknowledge the failings of the Nationalist side, but at times goes a bit far to excuse them.

*Interestingly, Dr. Carroll also went to Bates College.

Sign of Insanity?

"He was talking very excitedly to me," said the Vicar, "about some apparatus for warming a church in Worthing and about the Apostolic Claims of the Church in Abyssinia. I confess I could not follow him clearly. He seems deeply interested in Church matters. Are you quite sure he is right in the head? I have noticed again and again since I have been in the Church that lay interest in ecclesiastical matters is often a prelude to insanity."
Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh (1928).

Friday, June 13, 2008

Zombies and Monks

Netflix says since I liked Into Great Silence I might like Fido:
Fido is a typical movie about the boy next door and his pet -- except in this case the loyal "pet" is a lumbering zombie named Fido (Billy Connolly). Problems arise when he breaks loose and noshes on the next-door neighbor, forcing owner Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray) into damage-control mode while he tries to persuade his parents (Carrie-Anne Moss and Dylan Baker) to keep Fido in director Andrew Currie's imaginative horror-comedy.
I think Fallen Sparrow's tastes are skewing the rankings.

Monday, June 09, 2008


From Fr. Mark, O.Cist.:
Many years ago, as I was standing in the rain in front of the grotto at Lourdes on a cold February morning, a saintly old priest, the Chanoine Croset, told me that it was time for me to pass from having hopes to having hope.

Also, St. Thomas on the object of Hope:
...we should hope from Him for nothing less than Himself, since His goodness, whereby He imparts good things to His creature, is no less than His Essence. Therefore the proper and principal object of hope is eternal happiness.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Maybe It's Obvious to Liberals...

but not to me. Salamishah Tillet writes on the Washington Post Company's The Root:
Then NARAL endorsed Obama over Clinton, highlighting the divide between older feminists and a younger generation of "post-feminist" women.
But is that really true? Is NARAL's PAC really the voice of younger post-feminists? Here's one of the key paragraph's from Nancy Keenan in the statement endorsing Obama:
Sen. Obama has been a leader on this issue in the United States Senate. ...

We are confident that Barack Obama is the candidate of the future. Americans are tired of the divisive politics of the last eight years, and will unite behind Obama in the fall. We look forward to working with a pro-choice Obama White House in January.
Here's a picture of Nancy Keenan. With all due respect, she's no spring chicken. This strikes me not as the authentic "voice of the youth" but just as much the desire of older folks to feel young, "relevant", and to be perceived as avant-garde.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Not at Home in Hollywood... That's Bad?

I've been hanging on to this review of Jack Valenti's posthumous memoir for almost a year. This part is what caught my eye:
The Hollywood portion of his book is strangely without sizzle. The anecdotes are duds (“Not recognizing her was a first-class blunder, but I hadn’t expected Reese Witherspoon to be carrying a small child”), and the author’s insights into stardom don’t rise much above his overall assessment of the Academy Awards: it’s an honor just to be nominated. For all the decades he spent in the movie business, his memoir never really makes him look at home there.
Is that a bad thing? Especially, since he was a regulator of sorts (albeit an industry paid one), it seems appropriate that Jack Valenti wasn't at home in Hollywood.

Great Federalist Society Events

I've renewed my Federalist Society membership, largely because I've been impressed by the notices of events I've been getting lately.

Like this one:
Publisher and Creator Rights in the Digital Age

New York City Chapter

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 5:45 PM

The Cornell Club
6 East 44th Street
New York, New York


* Dean Kenneth W. Starr, Pepperdine University School of Law
* William Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel, Google
* The Hon. Dennis Jacobs, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit (moderator)

Reception 5:45 P.M. Debate 6:30 P.M.
Refreshments will be served.

The event is free of charge and open to the public. No reservations are required.

For more information, telephone Mark Schuman at (212) 578-9043 or e-mail

The Reason Why (They Were Asked To Memorize)

On the 40th anniversary of the gunshots that ended Robert F. Kennedy's life, the New York Times published remembrances by his children: Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy, II and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

This part from Kerry Kennedy was puzzling:
There was no quality my father admired more than courage, save perhaps love. I remember when one night after dinner he picked up the battered poetry book that was always somewhere at his side and read aloud Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade.” [link not in New York Times story --JRB] We listened aghast to the story of the soldiers whose commander orders them to ride into an ambush. They know they will be slaughtered, but they obey the command anyway. My father then explained that he and my mother were going on a trip and challenged us to memorize the poem while they were away. I did not win that contest, but one famous stanza has remained with me:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of death
Rode the six hundred.

You may wonder why a father would ask his expanding brood of what would become 11 children to memorize a poem about slaughter and war. I think there were three reasons. He wanted us to share his love of literature and he wanted us to embrace challenges that appear daunting. But most of all, he believed it imperative to question authority, and those who failed that lesson did so at their peril.
But couldn't the reason he had them learn this poem be the idea cited first:
There was no quality my father admired more than courage, save perhaps love.
And the family's history would suggest a fairly literal reading as at least one of the reasons this poem was important to Robert F. Kennedy. Kerry Kennedy was born in 1959. Presumably, she wasn't memorizing Tennyson before she was five years old so figure 1964 at the earliest. At that point both of Robert Kennedy's older brothers had been killed in the service of the U.S. government. Joseph as a Navy pilot during in World War II. John of course as president. His Brother-in-Law the Marquess of Harrington was killed by a sniper during World War II. To me, at least, it suggests at least one possible additional reason the poem resonated.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Catholic Blogosphere Boswell

It's under-appreciated that Matthew of the Holy Whapping is well on his way to becoming the James Boswell of the Catholic blogosphere (without the illegitimate children, whoring, venereal disease, excessive drinking &c., but with the secret conversion to the Church).

For examples, try this from today. Or this from 2004.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Everything Old Is New Again

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:
At a time when many high schools try to put laptops or notebook computers into every student's backpack, Purcell Marian is focusing on desktop computers.

The co-ed Catholic high school will be ripping out its old desktop PCs this summer and replacing them with a system of "thin client" computers - essentially monitors and keyboards that lack hard drives but are linked to a few central servers.
Well it is in Information Technology as it is in Ecclesiastes:
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11, KJV)
When I first toured my high school in 1993 or '94 they were operating on a server-based computer system. By the time I arrived there in 1996 they had gone to a PC based system (with the exception of applications such as e-mail, which of course still ran off of central servers.) Now it appears schools are going back in that old direction.

(Hat tip to Rich Leonardi at Ten Reasons).

Hopefully my more computer savvy readers will forgive (and correct in the comments) any errors in this post.

Boundless on the Liturgy of the Hours

Boundless is published by Focus on the Family and has lots of great stuff in it, though often from a Protestant perspective, in accord with the organization's Statement of Faith.

Recently they published an article extolling the Liturgy of the Hours!

Be careful with those historic and traditional forms of Christian prayer. They'll lead you away from your Protestantism.

Making the article personally interesting to me, the author, the Rev. Jim Tonkowich has a degree in philosophy from Bates College, which is what I studied, and where I almost studied it. He's also President of the Institute on Relgion and Democracy in Washington, D.C. When I lived in Washington, the guy who was briefly my roommate worked there.

Die Soldaten

After reading this article in the New York Sun about Die Soldaten, due to be perfomed here in New York City next month, I was thinking about getting a ticket.

Despite my nervousness over 12-tone music, there's a dare in music which "is nearly impossible to perform."

Some clips are available on Youtube (the second seems to have the audio and video badly out of sync.) But looking at that second clip, I wonder if it's also music nearly impossible to endure.

Now We're Cooking with Gas

There's no cooking and no gas involved, but posting should be much more regular now that I've got reliable internet at home.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some Good Comment Spam

So comment spam=Bad for the most part. But this one is so charming, I just had to post it anyways.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Maybe the Dry Cleaners Are Just Sans-culottes

The travails of being a member of the Legion of Honour.
For everyday use, chevaliers and officiers wear a special hue of deep red thread sewn in a thin stripe from the buttonhole to the outer edge of the lapel, while commandeurs wear a silver thread. The thread and other legionnaire pins are sold at a store near the Palais Royal in Paris.

These threads might get some attention in France, but are harder to decode in New York. “Every time I take a suit to the dry cleaners they try to snip them off,” said Paul LeClerc, the president of the New York Public Library and a chevalier. “It’s very expensive thread if you have to go all the way to Paris” to get it.

Felix Rohatyn, the financier and former ambassador to France, said his silver commandeur lapel thread also posed problems. “Sometimes if I leave it on and send it to the cleaners, it comes back with the thing off because they thought it was a laundry mark,” he said.
Only France's orders of chivalry could get such sympathetic coverage in the New York Times.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Not everyone's happy about Gregory Levey's memoir, Shut Up I'm Talking, about working for the Israeli Mission to the U.N. (I wrote about it before.)

The Jewish Week News reports:
Ben Harris, Levy’s predecessor and now a reporter for JTA, writes in a book review: “It’s not hard to read Levey’s memoir as a colossal act of betrayal.”

Harris writes that Levey portrays Israel’s diplomatic efforts as “ferociously inept and staffed by such insipid characters that no one should ever wonder why Israel seems incapable of convincing the world of the basic justice of its cause.”

But Levey defends his book, saying it was a “humorous take” about his experiences.

“I was just trying to bring light and humor to a situation that too often is taken too seriously,” he said. “It’s my own personal story and all I meant to do was to entertain. Everything in the book is true. Every incident is true, at least as I remember it. None of this should be taken negatively at all.”

The Sunday Serial

I've been a big fan of the New York Times' Sunday Serial since Scott Turow started writing for it in April 2006.

The latest is by Colin Harrison, a writer with whom I was not previously familiar. And from the second paragraph he's showing a virtue of the serial as a form: its ability to be absolutely topical, because of the shorter lead time compared to a book.

While they'd attempted this a bit in the past, I don't believe they've done it to this level of immediacy.
It all began the second Friday in April, a sloppy, cold day. People had finally stopped discussing Eliot Spitzer’s many complex urges. Oil had just hit $112 a barrel, but no one was shocked. People were getting worked up about the Olympics in China. The stock market, so recently up after being so recently down, was down again, and everyone I knew was hoping that the Fed’s quasi-legal voodoo might actually work, so that we wouldn’t all be sucked into a giant, cheap-dollared vortex of recession, inflation and coast-to-coast foreclosures. Then again, many of the folks in my firm had been slyly loading up on gold for months and no doubt counted themselves smart for betting against the American economy. Me, I’d done nothing to prepare for the fiscal apocalypse. All I wanted was to go home and have dinner with Susan.
I haven't liked (and therefore haven't read) the last two Sunday Serials. This one has grabbed me from the beginning.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Top Unread Books On Librarything

The rules:

Bold what you have read, italicize books you’ve started but couldn’t finish, and mark yellow books you hated. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Mark red those on your to be read list.

(the numbers (x/y) are x=(the number of people who've tagged the book "unread") and y=(the number of times the book has been added to Librarything)
  1. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (236/9048)
  2. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (211/8957)
  3. One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (183/11981)
  4. Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (176/10692)
  5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (162/12144)
  6. Catch-22 a novel by Joseph Heller (158/10893)
  7. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (155/8794)
  8. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra (152/6662)
  9. The Odyssey by Homer (136/10961)
  10. The brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (136/7179)
  11. Ulysses by James Joyce (135/6258)
  12. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (132/6269)
  13. War and peace by Leo Tolstoy (132/5955)
  14. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (124/13771)
  15. A tale of two cities by Charles Dickens (124/7463)
  16. The name of the rose by Umberto Eco (120/7709)
  17. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (119/7723)
  18. The Iliad by Homer (117/8729)
  19. Emma by Jane Austen (117/8954)
  20. Vanity fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (115/3827)
  21. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (114/7123)
  22. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (110/4810)
  23. The Canterbury tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (108/6167)
  24. Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen (108/18301)
  25. The historian : a novel by Elizabeth Kostova (108/6453)
  26. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (106/8595)
  27. The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini (106/13582)
  28. The time traveler's wife by Audrey Niffenegger (105/11416)
  29. Life of Pi : a novel by Yann Martel (105/12699)
  30. Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies by Jared Diamond (104/7497)
  31. Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand (102/5988)
  32. Foucault's pendulum by Umberto Eco (101/5621)
  33. Dracula by Bram Stoker (100/6875)
  34. The grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck (99/7817)
  35. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius by Dave Eggers (97/6454)
  36. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (97/9130)
  37. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (97/5565)
  38. Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi (96/4406)
  39. Middlemarch by George Eliot (96/4160)
  40. Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen (96/8596)
  41. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (95/5172)
  42. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (94/11623)
  43. The sound and the fury by William Faulkner (94/5047)
  44. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (93/12425)
  45. Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle I) by Neal Stephenson (92/3526)
  46. American gods : a novel by Neil Gaiman (92/10333)
  47. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (91/8875)
  48. The poisonwood Bible : a novel by Barbara Kingsolver (91/7463)
  49. Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West… by Gregory Maguire (90/8909)
  50. A portrait of the artist as a young man by James Joyce (89/6649)
  51. The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (89/7168)
  52. Dune by Frank Herbert (89/9225)
  53. The satanic verses by Salman Rushdie (88/3252)
  54. Gulliver's travels by Jonathan Swift (88/4861)
  55. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (88/5363)
  56. The three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (87/4128) (in abridged version)
  57. The corrections by Jonathan Franzen (84/5066)
  58. The inferno by Dante Alighieri (84/5874)
  59. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (83/4381)
  60. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (83/5798)
  61. To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (83/4608)
  62. A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess (83/6757)
  63. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (83/4736)
  64. The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay : a novel by Michael Chabon (83/5963)
  65. Persuasion by Jane Austen (82/6481)
  66. One flew over the cuckoo's nest by Ken Kesey (82/5916)
  67. The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (82/7748)
  68. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (82/4440)
  69. Anansi boys : a novel by Neil Gaiman (81/6540)
  70. The once and future king by T. H. White (81/4294)
  71. Atonement: A Novel by Ian McEwan (80/6970)
  72. The god of small things by Arundhati Roy (80/5512)
  73. A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson (79/6268)
  74. Oryx and Crake : a novel by Margaret Atwood (78/3978)
  75. Dubliners by James Joyce (78/5534)
  76. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (78/5386)
  77. Angela's ashes : a memoir by Frank McCourt (77/6353)
  78. Beloved : a novel by Toni Morrison (77/5524)
  79. Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond (76/3825)
  80. The hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (75/2522)
  81. In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its… by Truman Capote (75/5478)
  82. Lady Chatterley's lover by D.H. Lawrence (73/3169)
  83. A confederacy of dunces by John Kennedy Toole (73/6063)
  84. Les misérables by Victor Hugo (73/4695)
  85. Watership Down by Richard Adams (72/6258)
  86. The prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (72/6369)
  87. The amber spyglass by Philip Pullman (72/6647)
  88. Beowulf : a new verse translation by Anonymous (72/6351) (have read previously, but want to read newer Seamus Heaney translation)
  89. A farewell to arms by Ernest Hemingway (71/5125)
  90. Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into… by Robert M. Pirsig (71/5559)
  91. The Aeneid by Virgil (71/5060)
  92. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (69/4629)
  93. Sons and lovers by D.H. Lawrence (69/2563)
  94. The personal history of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (69/4314)
  95. The road by Cormac McCarthy (67/5108)
  96. Possession : a romance by A.S. Byatt (67/4128)
  97. The history of Tom Jones, a foundling by Henry Fielding (67/2133)
  98. The book thief by Markus Zusak (67/3556)
  99. Gravity's rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (66/3263)
  100. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (66/3048)
  101. Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (66/3132)
  102. Candide, or, Optimism by Voltaire (65/5085)
  103. Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro (65/4321)
  104. The plague by Albert Camus (65/4614)
  105. Jude the obscure by Thomas Hardy (65/2947)
  106. Cold mountain by Charles Frazier (64/4163)
  107. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (64/2092)
  108. As I lay dying by William Faulkner (64/3766)
  109. The shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (64/5195)
  110. Underworld by Don DeLillo (64/2613)
  111. Northanger abbey by Jane Austen (64/4521)
  112. The English patient by Michael Ondaatje (64/3334)
  113. The divine comedy by Dante Alighieri (63/2834)
  114. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (63/2526)
  115. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (63/3130)
  116. Everything is illuminated : a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (63/4567)
  117. The house of the seven gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (62/2052)
  118. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (62/2673)
  119. A people's history of the United States : 1492-present by Howard Zinn (62/3839)
  120. The portrait of a lady by Henry James (62/2894)
  121. White Teeth: A Novel by Zadie Smith (62/4320)
  122. The confusion by Neal Stephenson (61/2803)
  123. Snow falling on cedars by David Guterson (60/3780)
  124. The elegant universe : superstrings, hidden dimensions, and… by Brian Greene (60/2791)
  125. The age of innocence by Edith Wharton (60/3128)
  126. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (60/4187)
  127. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (60/3212)
  128. Midnight's children by Salman Rushdie (60/3486)
  129. Mark Z. Danielewski's House of leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (60/3405)
  130. The idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (59/3657)
  131. Midnight in the garden of good and evil : a Savannah story by John Berendt (59/3692)
  132. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (59/2386)
  133. Swann's way by Marcel Proust (59/2491)
  134. For whom the bell tolls by Ernest Hemingway (59/4107)
  135. Uncle Tom's cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (58/2886)
  136. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (58/2028)
  137. Pattern recognition by William Gibson (58/3226)
  138. Invisible man by Ralph Ellison (58/3977)
  139. Cloud atlas : a novel by David Mitchell (58/3184)
  140. The good earth by Pearl S. Buck (57/3139)
  141. Walden by Henry David Thoreau (57/2996)
  142. Silas Marner by George Eliot (57/2350)
  143. The bonesetter's daughter by Amy Tan (56/2420)
  144. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (56/1748)
  145. The thirteenth tale : a novel by Diane Setterfield (56/3620)
  146. Naked lunch by William S. Burroughs (55/3291)
  147. The system of the world by Neal Stephenson (55/2237)
  148. A passage to India by E.M. Forster (55/3192)
  149. Cat's eye by Margaret Atwood (55/2859)
  150. Twenty thousand leagues under the sea by Jules Verne (55/2852) (in an abridged version)
  151. The plot against America by Philip Roth (54/2828)
  152. Infinite jest : a novel by David Foster Wallace (54/2222)
  153. The mill on the Floss by George Eliot (54/2169)
  154. Tropic of cancer by Henry Miller (54/2359)
  155. The phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (54/2418)
  156. Baudolino by Umberto Eco (54/2406)
  157. The histories by Herodotus (53/2906)
  158. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (53/2159)
  159. The known world by Edward P. Jones (53/2066)
  160. Notes from the underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (53/2892)
  161. The Bhagavad Gita by Anonymous (52/3036)
  162. Utopia by Thomas More (52/2793)
  163. The island of the day before by Umberto Eco (52/2168)
  164. The last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (52/2317)
  165. Far from the madding crowd by Thomas Hardy (52/2429)
  166. The woman in white by Wilkie Collins (51/2484)
  167. Paradise lost a poem in twelve books by John Milton (51/2447)
  168. Of human bondage by W. Somerset Maugham (50/1994)
  169. The mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (50/2189)
  170. Son of a witch : a novel by Gregory Maguire (50/2159)
  171. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (50/2508)
  172. Light in August by William Faulkner (49/2358)
  173. Unfinished tales of Numenor and Middle-earth by J.R.R. Tolkien (49/2632)
  174. Women in love by D.H. Lawrence (48/1873)
  175. The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (48/2166)
  176. The moonstone by Wilkie Collins (47/2218)
  177. Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon (47/1551)
  178. The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake (47/1297)
  179. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (47/1977)
  180. The return of the native by Thomas Hardy (46/2040)
  181. The life and opinions of Tristram Shandy, gentleman by Laurence Sterne (45/2006)
  182. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner (45/1920)
  183. That hideous strength : a modern fairy-tale for grown-ups by C. S. Lewis (44/1938)
  184. The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956; an experiment in literary… by Aleksander Solzenitsyn (44/1833)
  185. The man in the iron mask by Alexandre Dumas (43/1167)
  186. The ultimate hitchhiker's guide by Douglas Adams (43/0)
  187. The glass bead game (Magister Ludi) by Hermann Hesse (42/1818)
  188. The mysterious flame of Queen Loana : an illustrated novel by Umberto Eco (41/1651)
  189. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser (40/1495)
  190. The tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (39/1410)
  191. Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens (38/1414)
  192. The ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories by Susanna Clarke (37/1103)
  193. The ground beneath her feet : a novel by Salman Rushdie (36/1214)
  194. Vellum by Hal Duncan (27/493)
  195. Freedom & necessity by Steven Brust (26/494)
  196. The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini (19/0)
  197. Life of Pi : a novel by Yann Martel (17/0)
  198. The Kor'an by Anonymous (11/0)
  199. The Mabinogion by Anonymous (8/0)
  200. The sketch book of Geoffrey Crayon, gent by Washington Irving (7/0)
(via the LibraryThing Blog and Writing Grandma's Book with an updated list of books from LibraryThing)