I highly recommend that you read Peter Hitchens’ charming and thoughtful essay in First Things about his years spent in Moscow and about Russia’s geopolitical situation today: “The Cold War Is Over.” Hitchens’ sensible consideration should be so obvious for those who have eyes to see—but so few ever bother to look.
As a personal note, I enjoyed remembering the many places mentioned that my brother Aaron and I visited, including Bolshaya Ordynka, Novodevichy Convent, and the Danilovsky Monastery. I laughed at the following reminiscing:
You will have heard that Europe ends at the Ural Mountains. This is not true. The Urals are a much overrated geographical feature, but even if they weren’t, you can find Asia in Moscow, and feel its closeness. In the days before Christmas, when I lived there, Moscow took on the mythical characteristics of the East, as old women wrapped in black took up station on street corners, selling fresh-killed geese raised in snowy clearings. I would not have been surprised if these ageless crones had offered me a handful of magic beans or three wishes. . . .
The rebirth of Russia is a consolation in these mad times when the West appears unflinching in its efforts to destroy itself.
A few weeks ago, Queen Elizabeth II reached her ninetieth birthday. BBC News commemorated the milestone with a lovely series of photographs of the Queen—one for each year of her life: “In pictures: Queen Elizabeth II at 90 in 90 images.” Charming—and somewhat sad. For I am sorry to report that the kingdom was in much better moral and spiritual shape at the Queen’s birth than it is now, nearing the end of her reign. Moreover, the empire pretty much disappeared during her time on the throne. Not many questioned Britain’s survival in A.D. 1926; that worry came shortly after. The British peoples heroically withstood the Nazis, but they have succumbed to inner rot, as it so often befalls the once mighty. The White Man’s Burden has become the White Man’s Nightmare, as dusk begins to settle throughout the West.
The Telegraph features an interesting article about the opening of the Church of Santa Maria Antiqua in Rome: “‘Sistine Chapel of the Early Middle Ages’ buried for a millennium by an earthquake reopens.” The piece has several photographs of the reopened basilica. An excellent reason to return to Rome!
I remember when I first saw photographs of the old public library downtown as a child; I was amazed. The previous main library looked like an Escheresque steampunk fantasy.
A few years ago, my father send me the following Buzzfeed photographs: “15 Gorgeous Photos Of The Old Cincinnati Library.” According to the “Charming ‘Old Main’ library” story on Cincinnati.com, the building from the 1870s was sold and razed in A.D. 1955, having been replaced by the typically dull and dulling mid-twentieth century monstrosity that still stands today. There was evidently no protest of any kind by anyone, which seemed to be the public’s default reaction to those fits of modernist architectural iconoclasm until the 1980s. What were people thinking? Were they so enraptured by the progressivist Zeitgeist that they did not fathom the loss of beauty— did not shrink from the ever encroaching ugliness of the new styles? Alternatively, were they just so relieved by the superior hygiene and comfort of newer structures that they gave the dismal aesthetics a pass? Perhaps, they confused the two, thinking that modern cleanliness and comfort required modernist style and never considering that one could improve the plumbing without defacing beauty. Or, perhaps, the World War II generation was simply exhausted from the fight and eager to get along with life, come what may. The Cincinnati.com article’s commentators suggest that cost was the main reason that the library was not renovated, but 1950s America was one of prosperity and ambitious public works. They could have afforded it. They just did not care to do so.
A counterprotest movement did finally take shape, starting with culturally sensitive women’s groups around the country who found the loss of continuity and beauty in all the modernizing demolition objectionable. These sensible ladies started historical preservation societies and lobbied to save landmarks and neighborhoods. In Cincinnati, likeminded women formed the Miami Purchase Association for Historic Preservation, which eventually became the Cincinnati Preservation Association. An exemplar of such women on the national level was Nancy Hanks, Nixon’s appointment to head the National Endowment for the Arts. Her efforts saved the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C. from the same spirit of destruction that claimed Cincinnati’s lost library.
Some Roman Catholic bishops in France and the Ethiopian Orthodox in Tigray have together established the Boswellia Project, which is an economic development and trade venture whereby dioceses in industrialized nations may purchase their liturgical incense directly from the Christian harvesting villages in Ethiopia. The Ethiopians involved follow sustainable orchard practices and help to maintain the environmental health of their communities and surrounding areas. Perhaps, readers might alert their diocesan offices about this fine international effort.
You may watch a short documentary about the harvest of these magical gifts, Sur Les Traces de L’encens et de la Myrrhe, by Frédéric Milano:
A blessed feast to all!
I have neglected Arimathea for months, being rather tempted by nihilism and gripped by despair. I have not felt much like writing. It has been a challenging few years (more so than usual), but upward and onward, as they say. I am going to try to rekindle my commitment to the page; I have begun to update broken links and missing images, too.
For today, you may view a rather extensive photographic trove of Russia. It features just about every standard aspect of non-high brow Russian life, though I noted to my family that I could not find any trace of kvas in the pictures—a shame. A realistic depiction would require some concrete playgrounds, as well (concrete equipment—e.g. concrete slides—not just the ground surface). High culture gets one representative shot with a painting of Pushkin. Note, also, the crazy Russkies who jump in ice water to commemorate today’s feast.
Drudge linked to an article in The Guardian today about patriotic clubs in Russia that provide martial training for the youth: “The Russian patriotic groups teaching children how to defend their country.” (You may read the linked original Meduza article, “Russia’s Littlest Soldiers”) The article begins with the following:
In a small town outside St Petersburg, a group of children are being prepared for service in the Russian army. Arriving at 7pm, the class – all aged between five and 17 – will spend the evening learning how to fight and handle weapons.
This is St Spyridon the Triumphant Orthodox, a patriotic club aiming to “bring children to the church” through sport and military-style training, says their coach, Michael Lysovskiy.
Thousands of clubs like this exist across Russia, forming an integral part of a nation-wide initiative for the “military-patriotic education of the population”, regulated by the government through a significant programme of financial support.
O Russia, let me count the ways that I love you! The articles also feature a video of a co-ed Cossack camp:
You may also wish to read a post from earlier this year about a similar program in the Crimea: “Boys’ Camp—Cossack Style.”
As Nietzsche noted over a century ago (in Beyond Good and Evil), “[The power to will and to persist] is strongest and most surprising of all in that immense middle empire where Europe as it were flows back to Asia—namely, in Russia. There the power to will has been long stored up and accumulated, there the will—uncertain whether to be negative or affirmative—waits threateningly to be discharged (to borrow their pet phrase from our physicists).” Rather prophetic, given the twentieth century, but then Nietzsche is uncommonly perceptive about the modern world. At any rate, it appears that Russia remains determined to will and to persist, despite the constant refrain in the West that Russia is doomed (see “The Eternal Collapse of Russia”).
O Lord, save thy people and bless thine inheritance.
Grant victories to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries
And by the virtue of thy Cross preserve thy habitation.
Laura Wood—The Thinking Housewife—has an ongoing series wherein she shares her husband’s boyhood memories of growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania. Her latest post involves Wildwood: “Marx by the Sea.” The entire series is charming—and an interesting glimpse of a lost world. However, I have a connection to Wildwood, and I agree that it is—and remains—a wonderful place, even though it is unfortunately located in New Jersey. (Actually, I like New Jersey, taking after my pro-Jersey father who was stationed there as a youth while stateside in the Navy.)
I first visited Wildwood on a family vacation to Ocean City, New Jersey. I was not fond of Ocean City—it required paid passes to use the public beach! Plus, the town had all sorts of fun-killing regulations that I found appalling, including bans on Frisbee throwing, kite flying, and other beach pastimes. It is as if every disgusting character flaw manifest in the typical suburban Democratte had transubstantiated into the town provisions of Ocean City, New Jersey. Yuck! So, we ventured beyond Ocean City to visit other places in and around Jersey, including excursions to Cape May (lovely), Philadelphia (the patriot places), and Atlantic City. There, my brothers and I insisted on visiting every street on the Monopoly gameboard; this required a second trip because we could not find one of the streets (one of the purple properties, if I remember correctly). After visiting the local library and doing some research (without the internet!), we discovered that the street—Saint Charles, I think—was now under a casino. So, upon our return, we drove onto a closed parking lot next to the casino where the street had been according to some maps that we found. As we were doing this, a police officer drove up to us, and my poor father had to explain what we were doing in a vacant lot. Fun times.
Anyway, my favorite day during that vacation was the visit to Wildwood. The family dropped Adam, Aaron, and me off at Wildwood in the morning, and we had made a rendez-vous appointment for late at night. We would spend the whole day at the beach and amusement parks. I suspect that it was the first outing that we three brothers did together with no other family members. It was a grand time. We ate delicious pizza on the boardwalk (yes, Laura Wood, the pizza industrial complex has overwhelmed even idyllic Wildwood), we rode the Gravitron so many times that even I started to get dizzy, and Aaron braved his first upside-down roller coaster experience. I can still see our finding a huge horseshoe crab under one of the piers. It is odd what one remembers.
When I moved to D.C., I made the trek to Wildwood as many times as I could, and I successfully convinced my Jersey-hating friend Andrew to go against his principles to step foot in that profane land. And he admitted that it was “ok.” Nay, Morey’s Piers are the best way to enjoy the shore—immediate beach access at the end of the piers, surf and turf thrill rides with perfect views, a lazy river to recuperate, but with Jersey Shore edgy options off the main stream (imagine going through a car wash naked), children’s action play areas—all with veritable Mid-Atlantic beach luxuries like private hot showers, changing rooms, cozy cabanas with smores-making fire pits, and hammocks overlooking the waves. The piers are like a beachside resort for the masses. Marx in Wildwood, indeed!
For those who follow the new calendar, I would like to wish you a pleasant Midsummer’s Eve and a lovely feast of Saint John tomorrow. Of course, you’ll celebrate the saint on the wrong day, but at least your heart is in the right place.
As I was working in the garden this morning, I noticed my first Saint John’s Wort in bloom this year (on the frondosum). I have four species of Hypericum in my yard—frondosum, prolificum, punctatum, and pyramidatum. These plants without fail bloom around Western Saint John’s Day. I laughed to myself as I thought of an ecclesial council’s anathematizing the offending species for adhering to the schismatics’ calendar (which happens to agree with the seasons). Horticultural heresy!
I read Bruce Charlton’s site today (as I often do), and followed a link in a comment to his post, “If a leader emerged who might be a saviour of the West - what kind of person might he be?” (worthwhile to read, as are most of Charlton’s offerings). The linked article concerned the birth of twin sons to the légitimiste claimant of the French throne, Louis Alphonse of Bourbon, Duke of Anjou (Louis XX), but the story is not news—the births occurred in A.D. 2010. Still, it is a good sign. By the way, Wikipedia notes that Louis Alphonse of Bourbon is also Franco’s great-grandson through his mother—promising genes there. France and Spain may yet contribute to the salvation of the West . . . it is quite unlikely that anything good will emerge from the Anglosphere.
How do I get to pigeonniers—you may reasonably ask. When I sought information on the French pretender, I found Messynessy Chic’s “Meet the Would-be King of France (he’s Kind of a Babe).” Indeed, he is, which is what a people should want for their ideal sovereign—which reminds me of poor Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, in line as claimant to the Russian imperial throne. He looks like a mafioso’s son who eats too much pizza on Jersey boardwalks—which is quite a decline from the last reigning imperial Russian family. Those wicked Bolsheviks—their misdeeds are ever with us—may they burn, burn, burn!
Anyway, I looked around on Messynessy Chic and found several blithe blogposts, including (and especially) “The French Castles fit for a Pigeon (Literally).” “MessyNessy” writes about the stately pigeon coops found around the French countryside. They are merveilleux—and for pigeons! I always used to say that I would have handsome honeybee hives and charming chicken coops were I to come into great wealth, but now I must add another manorial luxury—a palatial pigeonnier.
Finally, as a lifelong amateur vexillologist—and because I am a contrarian who despises unprincipled opportunists, busybodying schoolmarms, mindless sheeple, and, above all, the vermicular Left, I offer a brief memorial to one of the finest Americans in history:
For those who do not know, the “Battle Flag” was originally Robert E. Lee’s battle flag for the Army of Northern Virginia (courtesy of his predecessor, P. G. T. Beauregard). I did know until today that Lee had another banner for his headquarters flag. Robert E. Lee, may his memory be eternal!
My brother sent me a link to beautiful aerial photographs of Russia, Spain, India, and elsewhere that a man took using a drone. They are lovely: “I’ve spent the past two years shooting drone aerials around the world. Here are 38 images which would be totally illegal today.”
A Luddite at heart, I find current technological “advances” troubling, but there are moments when I reflect, “This is what such a device is really meant to do.” Our global traveller with the drone camera has put those machines to worthy use.