G. K. Chesterton’s Anti-Semitism

A few days ago, Dawn Eden Goldstein published a thread on Twitter regarding G. K. Chesterton’s anti-semitism. The thread begins here. As a fan of Chesterton’s writings, I read the thread with great interest and little shock.

That may seem odd: shouldn’t I be aghast at this dismantling of a beloved writer’s reputation? No. Firstly, neither Goldstein’s thread, nor any book that focuses on the issue of Chesterton’s anti-semitism are the last word about his character. Secondly, while I am by no means an expert in his life, I know enough about it to be able to say that there was a very great deal of good in him. None of it can excuse, much less wipe away, the stain on his character that his anti-semitism brings, but it does put it into perspective.

Dawn Eden Goldstein has done me and all who like Chesterton a favour.
She’s done him a favour as well.

She has done us a favour because she has shone a light on a part of GKC’s character that needs to be known so that we can know him more fully, deeply, and authentically. And she has done Chesterton a favour because a fuller knowledge of the person he was allows us to pray for him more effectively. Lord, forgive Chesterton his sins, particularly those committed against Jewish people through his anti-semitism; remember the good that he did in his life and bring him to the peace of your heavenly kingdom. Amen.

What does all this mean for G. K. Chesterton’s cause? The issue of his anti-semitism has been highlighted before and not prevented its promotion so I don’t think it will again. I still support his canonisation, and will continue to do so unless I see evidence to the effect that anti-semitism poisoned Chesterton’s whole heart.

The Saints, after all, are not people who were perfect on earth. They are people who were centred on God. They were people who committed sins, sometimes many, sometimes serious, but always picked themselves up and turned back to God. The Saints knew they were sinners – even if they did not know all the ways in which they were sinful, because we all have our blind spots – and this informed their actions: a turning back to God, through His Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Traditionis Custodes

A couple of weeks have passed since the Vatican published Traditionis Custodes, the Pope’s motu proprio in which he restricts access to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.

When the letter was released, I could not see how it would serve ‘to promote the concord and unity of the Church’ as intended. I still can’t. As a leader, you do not unify a divided people by taking sides in their dispute. You especially do not unify them by discriminating against the other side. This is what Pope Francis has done.

According to the Pope, Traditionis Custodes is the fruit of a ‘detailed consultation’ with bishops. This has to be taken seriously. If the Extraordinary Form really is causing problems worldwide then I would reluctantly agree that restricting access to it, or even banning it, would have to be considered. Unfortunately, and to the best of my knowledge, absolutely no information about the consultation has been released, so we don’t know how many bishops took part in it, where those who did take part came from, or whether they were men sympathetic to the EF Mass or not, etc etc.

I’m very disappointed by what the Pope has done. I say this as a Catholic middle roader – I appreciate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass but am perfectly happy with the Novus Ordo, even if it could be greatly improved (after all, nearly all things can). I feel very sorry for Catholics whose attachment to the Extraordinary Form is much stronger, especially if they are now in a position where they are no longer able to attend this Mass. If that was me, I would sooner go to a SSPX Mass than Novus Ordo one.

Of course, the Pope’s decision to restrict access to the Extraordinary Form did not come out of nowhere. Catholics who have loudly expressed their love for the EF Mass by denigrating, even to the point of saying it is invalid, the N.O. need to take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror and do a little repenting. Traditionis Custodes has probably burnt no few bridges. They need to be rebuilt by both sides as quickly as possible. If only the Pontifex Maximus had chosen this course instead of issuing this moto proprio.

The Cinderella Sacrament

Recently, I spoke on the phone to a very dear friend who lives in Scotland. She attends the Extraordinary Form of Mass at her church, and told me that not only is this Mass very well attended but that, when it is said, many of the congregants go to confession, as well.

In fact, the numbers are so high that the priest is obliged to hear two confessions at once.

I was amazed when I heard this. Two confessions at once: my only experience of that has been in paintings, such as the one below.

Now, maybe in other parts of the world, the two-at-once scenario happens often, but not here in the U.K. Here, confession has for long been the Cinderella sacrament, the one that is there doing all the work of taking sins away but which Catholics ignore with abandon.

What is happening in Scotland? I attribute the popularity of confession at this church with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It is a Mass of great solemnity and dignity and in this is surely drawing people to the confessional. I shall continue to believe this until and unless I hear of confession being equally popular in a Novus Ordo church.

Before I finish, I must add one thing: I love the Novus Ordo Mass. It is the one I go to every week, and am very grateful for it. I also hold the Extraordinary Form of the Mass in high regard. I do not lift it up in order to put the Novus Ordo down. If anyone was able to show me a church where the Novus Ordo was bringing people back to confession, I would be delighted and would thank God for giving us two distinct forms of the Mass, both of which are brining people to that wonderful encounter with Him in confession.

Twenty-Two and Back

Well, this won’t do. Nearly two months since my last blog post. Time flies. Kind of. In truth, I have spent the last few weeks meaning to write another update but just not got round to it.

For me, not a great deal has changed since my last post. Although we are no longer in lock down (in my last post I said that lock down measures were easing. At which point did they cease? I’m really not sure. I feel like it just happened), I only really go out to go shopping.

Having said that, I have managed to broaden my understanding of what constitutes ‘shopping’; which is to say that a couple of weeks ago I went to Marks and Spencer’s to buy some clothes and have made a couple of trips to Waterstones.

Books!
I decided a while ago that I wanted to have a copy of 1984 and Animal Farm on my shelf for future reading. The way the world is going at the moment these seem to be the most relevant books to have. Earlier this week, I picked up a copy of John Garth’s The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien.

1984 and Animal Farm surely need no introduction. J. R. R. Tolkien doesn’t, either, but John Garth is not quite as famous so I will quickly say this: he ought to be. Garth wrote the brilliant Tolkien and the Great War back in 2003. In this book, he gave an account of Tolkien’s life during the First World War. It is full of insight and information; a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in Tolkien’s life. I thought I owned a copy of the book until I looked at my shelf earlier today and couldn’t find it. Did I loan it out ages ago and not get it back? Or did I accidentally throw it away during my book clear out a few weeks ago? Either way, I rate the book so highly I’ll certainly purchase another copy of it.

That’s Tolkien and the Great War. The Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien is a coffee table book that looks at all the places that influenced Tolkien in his writings. Over the years, I have seen so many – so, so many – places lay claim to having influenced him; it will be good to finally have an authoritative guide to point me in the right directions.

Spiritual Matters
This was the title of my last blog post. Priests have been celebrating Masses ever since the start of July. I haven’t yet attended one; too nervous of doing so to begin with; happy to keep watching them on-line. However, I can now feel myself approaching the point at which I will head off to my parish church. Will it be next week? I don’t know.

I mentioned before about going to confession. I did that. At the start of July, I undertook the three hour round trip from home and walked to Westminster Cathedral. Confessions were no longer in the confessional. We had to queue up a little distance away from their new locations – the baptistry and the Chapel of St Gregory and St Augustine – and await our turn turn. I was a bit nervous about how close we would be to the priest and penitents but I need not have worried – a cathedral volunteer stood at the head of the queue to make sure people were queueing in the right place and guide them to the priest after each confession.

The priest in the baptistry and chapel were both standing. They didn’t wear face masks but instead a plastic face guard. The penitents stood up as well. It could have felt really awkward but wasn’t. In the last couple of weeks, the Government has said that everyone must wear face masks when shopping. I think this applies to churches but am not sure. I will have to find out no later than the start of October: by then it will be three months since my last confession and I will want to go back.

Two Unexpected Gifts
I have received two of late. The first was a tax rebate from the Government! These are always appreciated. As I think I have mentioned before, I work as a free lance now. I am very overdue being paid but am very rubbish at chasing money matters up. A few weeks ago, I would have had to have done so, though, because I was nearly at the end of my overdraft. The tax rebate came at exactly the right moment. Thanks to it, I have been able to eat, buy the above mentioned books and some clothes.

The unexpected gift was a bottle of red wine, which my brother decided he didn’t want. It is on my desk right now and I can’t wait to sip it!

Formula One
Just after my last post, Formula One went racing again for the first time this year. The season has been an unmitigated success so far – at least in terms of keeping everyone safe from the coronavirus. On the track, it’s been great for Lewis Hamilton but slightly less good for everyone else. Happily (eh?), there has been off-track controversy as well – something to keep our minds off Mercedes on-track dominance. This has chiefly been provided by the Racing Point team, whose 2020 car is a copy of the 2019 Mercedes. The stewards investigated the matter and decided it was worth a small fine and reduction of constructor points but – even if the team continues to use the same car – nothing more. As I write, Ferrari and Renault are appealing this lenient judgement. Ferrari, rather amusingly, want transparency about how far teams can copy each other. This, of course, is the same Ferrari that got busted using a (probably) illegal engine last year but managed to keep details of its settlement with the FIA secret. (I say ‘probably’ because the FIA weren’t able to work out what the team had done to make its engine so good. They reckoned it was illegal, though, and told the team to make some changes. As a result, they are running in the midfield).

Spiritual Matters

Lockdown restrictions will continue to be eased this week. Of particular interest to me is the resumption of public worship in our churches and the re-opening of pubs – both of which will happen on 4th July.

Reopening of Churches
The Diocese of Westminster has not yet, as far as I am aware, issued any guidelines regarding measures to keep priest and congregation as safe as possible. I imagine, though, it will look something like the Diocese of Portsmouth’s:

(I nabbed this from my friend Stuart on Twitter, so thank you to him!)

Portsmouth’s guidelines mention that there will be limited numbers at Mass ‘based on capacity with 1m between seats’. They also say that the church should be cleaned between Masses.

My parish church can seat several hundred people. It isn’t a huge church but cleaning it between each Mass might take a fair bit of time (depending, of course, on volunteer numbers). If we currently have four Masses on Sunday, I wonder if the Parish Priest will reduce it to, say, two to allow time for cleaning to take place. I could only see four Masses happening if there were two in the morning and two in the afternoon, and I am not sure there will be the volunteer numbers for that. Any reduction in the number of Masses, and the more limited numbers allowed to attend, as required by the one metre spacing rule, could make attending at all difficult. What to do?

Our cardinal offers an answer in this video.

He says that the obligation to hear Mass on Sunday remains suspended, and suggests going during the week. I think that is what I might do. Although I live very close to my parish church so could probably guarantee getting a seat every week, I like the idea of combining Mass attendance with exercise and walking to the cathedral. It would be a three hour plus round trip.

Happily, the cardinal also says that confessions will resume. This is very good news. I last went to confession in February so am in good need of a spiritual scrub.

The Reopening of Pubs
Like any other sane Englishman, I like visiting the pub (!). I doubt very much, though, that I will visit one after they reopen. Not for a while, anyway. For privacy’s sake, I am not enthusiastic about passing my contact details to the bar staff. The pubs will be very clean and tidy in order to ensure that they are safe places to be. I respect that but the thought of drinking beer in such a sterile environment does not appeal to me. In time, I might become reconciled to the thought of doing so. In the meantime, I think I will stay at home and stick to sipping a little wine in the manner of St. Paul (1 Tim 5:23) even if my stomach is in better shape than Timothy’s.

Bringing The Two Together
In the past, I have often celebrated being absolved of my sins after going to confession by going to the pub for lunch and a glass of wine. I don’t think I will be doing that next time but I wouldn’t bet against it! Being in a sate of grace is a rather marvellous state to be in and well worth celebrating.

The Path to Rome and Other Journeys

Last Week
It has been a week of up and downs. I won’t go into the downs; I’d rather leave writing about those to another day, but they have certainly made me grateful for the ups.

What ‘ups’ have there been? Chiefly, Duolingo and Efrén Gonzalez.

Duolingo
Last Sunday I reached the one year mark for my streak on Duolingo. For 365 days in a row I managed to earn a minimum of 50 XP every day in learning German. On Monday, I set my account to private so that I would be excluded from the league system and took the day off learning anything. From Tuesday to Friday I started learning at my own pace without having to worry about relegation (I was already in the top league). It was great! No more doing the same stories over and over again just to learn the XP to stay above the relegation zone. I know I should not have been concerned with that in the first place; I am too competitive for my own good.

Films
I think The Bookshop and Corpse Bride have worn me out in terms of watching films while exercising for the next few days, or foreseeable future. I just wasn’t inspired to watch any this week. Instead, when I did exercise (because my Belloc work – see below – is taking up the time that I would use for that), I started watching my favourite Camino series on You Tube.

In 2017, Efrén Gonzalez walked the Camino Francés. He recorded his journey and then uploaded it to You Tube. You can watch it here. It is really well edited and even includes some beautiful drone footage. Gonzalez brings out the joys and pains of the Camino really well. I watched the first five episodes in one exercise session last week and was so lifted by seeing the places that I walked through last year.

Hilaire Belloc The Path to Rome
On 4th June 1901, Belloc left Toul in eastern France at about 8:30 in the evening to begin the first stage of a pilgrimage to Rome that he hoped to complete on 29th June – the Feast of SS Peter and Paul. The Path to Rome is his account of that journey.

Four or five years ago I started reading the book on the anniversary of his departure from Toul through to 29th June when he did indeed arrive in Rome. The book doesn’t contain any chapters but Belloc always states (with only one exception) when his day started and ended so it is easy to follow him on a day-by-day basis.

Almost as soon as I started my tradition of reading The Path to Rome on the anniversary of Belloc’s pilgrimage, I started writing about it. In previous years, I did so on my Tumblr and Twitter accounts. Last year, I followed his journey on this blog.

This year, I created a new Twitter account (@PathtoRome1901) to tweet his journey from there. I was inspired to return to Twitter because the platform has just introduced a scheduling function, meaning that I can now fulfil something of a dream by tweeting his movements as close to the hour as possible in which they occurred.

In truth, this is a fool’s hope. Belloc does sometimes say ‘it was noon when this happened’ but he rarely names the hour so precisely. A lot of guesswork is therefore involved in working out where he is at any given time. Sometimes, you can’t even guess – you just have to plump for a likely sounding time.

Still, I love The Path to Rome to heaven and back so reading and tweeting it is a joy. The latter is also a labour of love. One thing it means I don’t do, though, is read each entry on the appropriate day (as I write this post, I have written and scheduled the tweets for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday). I wouldn’t have time to both read and tweet it on the same day. That’s a shame but a small sacrifice.

ChurchTalk
Churches open again – though only for private prayer – from this Monday (15th). As matters stand, I doubt I will return to my parish church just yet. I can pray at home, after all. My heart yearns for Mass and particularly confession.

When Carlo Maria Viganò burst onto the scene two years ago he seemed to have something important to say. Nowadays, though, he increasingly resembles a character from a Dan Brown novel. He has hit the headlines again with the claim that ‘that restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were part of a Masonic plot to establish a new world order.’ (The Tablet). Because of course.

In the last few days, Church Militant – to which I will not link; you can Google them – has accused the Archbishop of Washington D.C., Wilton Gregory, of lying over an attack on Donald Trump’s visit to the Pope St. John Paul II shrine last week. In so doing, it called him an ‘African Queen’. African because he is black, and queen because he is allegedly gay.

I saw Church Militant’s response on Twitter to criticism of this racist and homophobic appellation, which was that it was fine because that’s what homosexual seminarians used to call him.

Where does one start with this wicked and spiteful nonsense? Church Militant don’t deserve to have the name ‘Catholic’ in their title. They are as bad as the Militant organisation that ruined Liverpool in the 80s. Every member of it, every supporter of it, ought to get him and herself to confession. I want to hate them but all that would do is ensure that the cycle of hatred continues. So, I gotta pray for them, instead. This is all the more needful because I’m a sinner, as well. Maybe one day one of them will pray for me.

In the meantime, I hope Archbishop Gregory is gay and that this was known as he progressed up the clerical ranks and that because he was celibate it was not seen as a reason to hold him back let alone push him out because then the Church would be a lot more loving and open armed body than it currently gives the impression of being.

Books (I)
I can’t end this post on an angry note so let’s talk about books.

A few weeks ago I finished Anthony Beevor’s account of The Second World War. It is very long (just over 900 pages) and very readable. So much happened in the war that despite its length the book almost feels like a glorified overview. When I closed it for the last time, these were the things uppermost in my mind:

  1. All the leaders – political and military – made big, big mistakes. We were very fortunate that Hitler’s were the biggest of all
  2. Allied soldiers committed war crimes. Only a few and not for the same reason as the Nazis (for example, some Allied soldiers summarily executed Nazi guards after entering a concentration camp and seeing what they had done there) but it still happened
  3. The Allies were sometimes hardly that (unsurprising in respect of the USSR and Britain/USA but surprising in respect of Britain and USA) and some of the generals had monumental egos.

I learnt a lot from the book – chiefly about the Pacific campaign, about which I hardly knew anything, the eastern campaign (of which I only knew a little), and one or two other aspects of the war. For example, I never knew that only the Red Army entered Berlin at the end.

Books (II)
Over the past few months, I have been engaged in a programme of cleaning my book shelves and getting rid of books I no longer want. I have got rid of a lot. As a result the shelves are now looking a little more tidier and cleaner. I’m sad to have got rid of so many books but I decided to do so because I knew I would never read them. I only want to keep those that mean something to me. It doesn’t matter on what level, but they have to mean something.

A Living Metaphor

I have just finished saying Compline and a Rosary for Boris Johnson who has been moved to intensive care this evening after the symptoms of his illness got worse. Although his condition has deteriorated, the reports are that he is not on a ventilator so we can only hope and pray that he will get better.

When I prayed, I included in my intention all who are ill with the coronavirus at the moment, those who had died, and their loved ones. Boris Johnson is one name among many but because he is the Prime Minister he is more than just himself; he is a representative of this country – second only in importance to the Queen – a living metaphor for its health. To hear about him going into intensive care, therefore, even though his situation could be a lot worse, feels like a blow to the stability of the country, and by extension, to oneself. Whether one likes Johnson or not, we need that stability because it breeds hope.

Right now, I feel mostly okay. Thanks to the Novena I’ve been saying, the last week hasn’t been too bad. I can’t fool myself, though. Hearing about Boris Johnson makes me feel anxious. Every time I cough I wonder is this the start of a persistent cough. Every time my room gets a bit too hot (because the radiator has come on) I wonder if this is the start of a fever. The Novena is helping, but I am in the foothills.

I finished watching Divergent this morning. I rate the film 8/10. A pretty entertaining watch. It’s set in a dystopian future where, following a war, the citizens of Chicago have been divided into factions according to their dominant personality – Erudite, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Candor. The film follows the adventures of Tris who joins the Dauntless faction but who is actually divergent – she holds all the above mentioned personality traits within herself. This is a problem as the divergent are outcasts because they can’t be controlled. We watch as Tris goes through her Dauntless training before she discovers a plot to usurp supreme power by the leaders of Erudite and Dauntless. The film is by no means a classic but it has a good heart, decent story and acting; well worth a night in to watch. There are three films in the series and subject to their availability I will definitely try and watch the next two to see how the story resolves itself. The new film is Frozen.

A Marvel

Corona Chronicles VIII

Home
Last weekend was all about me trying to get on with things in the face of low level anxiety about the coronavirus. There was a moment on Saturday when I lay down on my bed because that was all I could do but I soon got up again and, while the day perhaps wasn’t the most productive one ever, I still got a few things done – Duolingo, physio exercise and one or two other bits and pieces.

Sunday was a much better day in terms of activity. I gave myself a day off physio and exercising (I had gone light on Saturday because my leg was aching a bit) but managed to keep myself busy all day. I watched the live-stream of Mass from my parish church at 8am, wrote two posts for my Alexander the Great blog (this and this one), met my Duolingo target, and did a big load of washing up in the late afternoon. The Alexander blog posts were my big achievement. They take time and patience to write. Because of this, I usually only write one on any given day. On Sunday, however, I was inspired to write both Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

Monday went well. I still felt anxious but I managed make good use of the hours. In the late afternoon, I left a message for my friend C. (she is the saintly person I mentioned in last Thursday’s post. Because she is busy, I try to leave a voice mail message for her every weekend to let her know how the family and I are getting on). She called back and we talked and prayed together. We talked about how I am feeling and she gave me a Novena to say. It’s this one.

Today has been the best day I have had for the last week or so. I haven’t felt anxious at all. For once I have felt physically okay. Who knows how tomorrow will go but right now, I am grateful.

Saturday: I finished watching Hook. I rate it 7.8/10. Robin Williams plays Peter Banning who cares more for his work than he does his family. When Captain Hook kidnaps his children, Peter meets Tinkerbell who tells him that he is Peter Pan. She takes him back to Neverland where she and the Lost Boys successfully make him remember who he used to be. Pan defeats Hook in the showdown and wins the day. I might have rated Hook 8. but I would have preferred it to be set in its original time (Edwardian) time period. I love period dramas. With that said, there is nothing objectionable about its modernisation so don’t take this ‘criticism’ too seriously. Any film with Robin Williams in it is always going to be worth watching.

Saturday/Monday: After finishing Hook, I moved onto Captain Marvel. I did a bit of extra exercise yesterday and so finished the film in two days. I rate it 8/10. I really enjoyed this film. The story was okay to good. Brie Larson plays Vers, a woman from the planet Kree, who comes to earth to stop the Kree’s mortal enemy, the Skrull, from stealing an advanced piece of technology here. Nothing is as it seems, however (SPOILERS AHOY); Vers turns out to be a human woman named Carol Danvers, and it is the Kree who are the enemy not the Skrull. The plot twists were well done but what really made the film for me were the characters. It was great seeing a younger Agent Coulson and Nick Fury as (the film is set in the mid 90s). Most of all, though, I really like how they wrote Carol Danvers. She is very cool, determined and measured. No screaming, no deferring to the male characters (there’s a neat scene where she is talking to an old friend and sends Fury out of the room with the child, a complete reversal of goodness knows how many films when the woman is sent out), no nonsense. I hope Captain Marvel made enough to ensure a direct sequel. I finished the film today just before finishing my exercise so I haven’t decided what film to watch next.

Abroad
Shopping went well on Friday afternoon. The Sainsbury’s that I go to now only admits people a few at a time so we had to queue up but not for so very long. Most people seemed to be respecting the two metre rule. Soon, I was inside and running around so that I could get my shopping done as quickly as possible so that those after me didn’t have to wait to long. On Saturday, I went to the chemist for my parents’ prescriptions. Another queue but this time only two or three people. After the chemist, I popped over to my favourite corner shop, but forgot to buy the one thing I actually went there for. So, as soon as the live stream of mass finished on Sunday, I dashed over again to pick it up.

A.O.B.
I watched Pope Francis’ extraordinary Urbi et Orbi address on Friday afternoon. I didn’t mention it in my last post so I must have finished writing it before he started. The address took place in an empty St. Peter’s Square. Watching this small figure in white advance slowly, with a pronounced limp due to Sciatica, up the long ramp to the lectern amidst the vast expanse of grey stone and under the rain was very striking. This image, of the Pope lifting the Blessed Sacrament up, was also very powerful.

I downloaded this photo yesterday, I think from the Opus Dei website, here. Apologies if it came from somewhere else.

I watched a video today in which our own Cardinal Nichols confirmed that due to the lockdown the obligation of Catholics to go to Mass/Confession at Easter is removed. As you saw in my last post, I have my arguments with (members of) the Catholic Church sometimes, but I really do miss going to Mass, and confession.

I read a little over the weekend but I need to read more. There is also something else I am not doing: being creative. The problem is I am busy all day so that by the time I get to evening, I just want to relax. I need to try harder.

BVM, CSL, and more

Corona Chronicles VI

Home
So, yesterday I wondered if I might be able to sleep through the night as I didn’t nap during the day. Nope. And in fact, I woke up twice. And had another disagreeable dream. On the plus side, though, I did get back to sleep again pretty quickly.

This morning, I changed my routine a little and did my exercise straight after my morning physio session. I just wanted to see what effect, if any, it had on me. The answer to that is not much. I had a couple of short naps this afternoon but I might have done that, anyway. I might try it again tomorrow as I felt pretty good afterwards.

While exercising, I watched Tomb Raider to its end. I rate this film 5/10. It was a very average action film. As with so many films, the script let it down. It wasted a more than half an hour with Lara Croft’s backstory before getting her to the action. As a result, there was not enough time to do anything more than bounce her from danger to danger to showdown to end. If I had written the script, I would have obeyed the rule of In Medias Res by starting the story ‘in the middle of things’ and explained Lara’s background during the course of the main narrative (her search for the ancient queen Himiko). After all, who really cares about Lara’s background? I mean, it’s important, of course, but the really important thing about Lara Croft – the reason we care about her – is her puzzle solving and combat, not first and foremost her family history. This film, though, but it front and centre.

One thing about the film made me laugh, if grimly: Himiko was said to have been imprisoned on the deserted island of Yamatai by her generals to stop her killing people. It turned out, though, that she wasn’t evil, just carrying a fatal disease in the manner of Typhoid Mary. It all reminded me of the coronavirus a bit too much. After finishing, Tomb Raider I started watching Big Boys – an action film starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. It’s directed by Michael Bay so my brain is already mush, and I have still two days of the film to go.

This afternoon, I did a bit of book re-arranging. The desire to read C. S. Lewis has been growing on me again, recently, so I have put the books that were on my chest of drawers on the book shelf and the C. S. Lewis books that were on the shelf, on the drawers. I’m hoping that by having the books physically closer to me, I will be more likely to read them.

From whence comes this desire to read C.S.L.? Goodness knows – God, I hope, but it started when I watched a clip of Shadowlands the other day.

Speaking of C. S. Lewis, as I am sure you are aware, he was for many years good friends with J. R. R. Tolkien. Speaking of whom, 25th March is the day on which the One Ring was destroyed when Gollum fell into the lava of Mount Doom. Today is also Lady Day for Christians. Tolkien was a committed Catholic so the destruction of the Ring on the day that Gabriel announced the good news to Mary is not a coincidence. Here is one of my favourite paintings of the great event.

I love baroque art and architecture but sometimes it is good to have simplicity, and here Dante Gabriel Rossetti gives a very simple interpretation of the Annunciation. I am not much of an art critic, but things to look out for in the painting are,

The flames at Gabriel’s feet indicating his angelic status
Gabriel and Mary’s halos indicating their saintly rank
The lily that Gabriel is handing Mary; this is one of her symbols (I think it is a symbol of purity). There appears to be a lily on the red stand but I’m not sure if its placement there gives it a different meaning
The colour blue, which you can see behind Mary, is also a Marian symbol. I think it is a ‘royal’ colour, hence its association with her (Mary as Queen of Heaven)
Mary appears to have red hair. I’m not sure how to interpret that as I’m sure red is a colour more to be associated with Mary Magdalen (being the colour of licentiousness)

This evening, I am writing this post and just muddling along. I read earlier that one of the early signs of having contracted the coronavirus is a loss of smell and taste, so naturally I am now sniffing things wondering if its lack of smell is my fault. Every time I get a twinge of a headache I wonder if this is the start of a persistent one. It’s pathetic, really.

Abroad
This morning, I visited the local chemist to pick up prescriptions for my parents. They were only letting two people in at a time. The rest of us had to queue up outside – six feet apart. I used to the time to do some more Duolingo lessons. Afterwards, I came straight back. My dodgy right leg was a bit stiff, and got stiffer later. This is a repeating thing now – it feels wonderful(ish) and loose after I have done my physio but then stiffens later. I still have a way to go in sorting those muscles out.

Heroes and Villains

Corona Chronicles V

I had an unpleasant dream last night. It wasn’t a nightmare, just disagreeable. I won’t record what happened in it because I don’t want to remember it. What I will say is that it was one of those dreams that is based on a normal part of one’s life – a normal part that, unfortunately, my subconscious corrupted. Thanks, mate. I stand in solidarity with Cobb.

(Full marks to you if you get the film reference there)

Today went better – work in the morning, Tomb Raider during exercise this afternoon, work in the afternoon, then finish. I rarely sleep straight through the night these days – for reasons I don’t know, I am very prone to waking up around three in the morning – but I wonder if I might manage it tonight as I didn’t nap this afternoon.

At the weekend and today, I joined the Discord servers of two live streamers whose streams I enjoy watching. Doing so wasn’t easy – you don’t just give them your email address and a password but have to verify your e-mail. Discord seemed very fussy about that. Maybe I was just being a bit simple. Anyway, the two live streamers were MB Hammer and Nova of the Sea who has just finished playing The Last of Us and its DLC Left Behind. Why am I watching so much entertainment where people die due to infections at the moment?? That aside, The Last of Us was the first game I ever saw livestreamed on Twitch so quite aside from its excellence as a game, TLoU is very dear to me.

A.O.B.
Last night, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced a much stricter ‘lock down’ in Britain. It was a lovely sunny day, today, but very few people outside (we have a good view from our kitchen windows!)
There were two corona villains on social media today. The first was a recalcitrant 75 year old woman who couldn’t understand why the young presenter on Radio Solent was so worried about the coronavirus as he would obviously survive it. Neither did she care about the risk to herself on account of her age. The lady was completely blind to the fact that the reason we have a lock down is not for ourselves who might be healthy enough to beat the virus but to protect those who aren’t (for example, her husband, who, she said, had suffered a stroke). Her blindness was so complete that I wondered if she was mentally ill or ill in some other way that made her not care about anything, anymore. The only alternative seemed to be malice but she didn’t sound a malevolent person. It was a very sad interview to listen to. The second villain was Mike Ashley, owner of the Sports Direct sports store who wanted to keep his shops open on the grounds that (as I read on Twitter) they were providing an essential service. As important as exercise is while we are cooped up, no one on Twitter was having that.
Earlier today, there was one corona hero: a hospitalised priest in Italy who gave up his ventilator for another person, and subsequently died. Unfortunately, this story appears to be false. Happily, though, the same reports said that the priest was a holy man. Requiescat in Pace.
Going back to the corona villains, I wonder how people who behave irresponsibly during the pandemic will write the narrative of their lives in a few years time. I don’t mean the lady on Radio Solent or Mike Ashley but those who flout the social distancing requirement. I strongly suspect that in five or ten years time, you will find very few people who will admit to having visited the park or pub when they were being asked to stay at home.
This is a note to myself to mention C. S. Lewis in tomorrow’s post.