Monday, May 12, 2008


Good evening Mr. & Mrs. Catholic, and all you other Christians at sea. Welcome to the Weekly Newsreel version 3.0. Third time's the charm we've heard it said, so perhaps this format will last longer than the previous two incarnations. This time around we plan to bring you what all good newsreels should, which is... newsreels. (Startling, I know.) So, in honor of this week's (or two weeks or however long it takes my slow butt to write the next review) main feature, the newsreel digs into the archives to explore the world of sex and madness. Now off to press.

DATELINE: DALLAS 1978 - It's sex! Pistols, that is. The cow patties hit the fan when the British punkers played a gig at the Longhorn Ballroom and many of the local folk decided their anarchy act was nothing but BS. Despite the overall goofy tone of this news report, this particular stop on the Pistol's ill-fated U.S. tour is mostly remembered for the incident in which Sid Vicious, suffering from heroin withdrawal, spit blood on a female audience member who then proceeded to leap on stage and punch Sid in the face. Ah well, that's rock and roll. But was it really anarchy? For Sid, who would spiral out of control and die of an overdose, G. K. Chesterton would answer yes. "Anarchy is that condition of mind or methods in which you cannot stop yourself." he wrote. "It is the loss of self-control which can return to the normal. It is not anarchy because men are permitted to begin uproar, extravagance, experiment, peril. It is anarchy when people cannot end these things." As for Johnny Rotten and the rest, who reunited, clean and sober, in 1996 for some gigs? Bollocks, says G. K., "The more sentimental sort of Tory uses the word anarchy as a mere term of abuse for rebellion."

DATELINE: NEW YORK 1933 - It's madness! Or at least that's the way it appeared when Vaudevillian Ben Dova (Joseph Spah) performed his famous lamp post routine on the top of the 56 storey tall Chanin Building. Without a net. Unbelievably, four years after this performance was filmed, the indestructible Dova found himself aboard a rapidly burning Hindenburg with no option but to leap 15 feet to safety on the ground below. Without a net. Tired of defying death, Bova finally died of old age in 1986. Pretty miraculous, huh? The 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that "a miracle, like any natural event, is known either from personal observation or from the testimony of others. In the miracle we have the fact itself as an external occurrence and its miraculous character. The miraculous character of the fact consists in this: that its nature and the surrounding circumstances are of such a kind that we are forced to admit natural forces alone could not have produced it, and the only rational explanation is to be had in the interference of Divine agency. The perception of its miraculous character is a rational act of the mind, and is simply the application of the principle of causality with the methods of induction." That's a nice definition, but perhaps overly technical. Maybe this would be a great time to invite you to read this recent post by a good friend of mine. Miracle? You decide for yourself.

DATELINE: NEW YORK 1948 - It's sex madness! In this clip Dr. Marynia Farnham briefly explains part of her strong opposition to women entering the work force. (Excepting herself, I suppose.) The good doctor was the co-author of the 1947 book Modern Woman: The Lost Sex, excerpts of which can be found here. Read at your own risk, ladies. For our part here at the newsreel, we'll leave the response to our own Pope Benedict XVI (writing in 2004 as Cardinal Ratzinger) from his LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON THE COLLABORATION OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE WORLD. (Again with the long titles.) "[Children] learn to love inasmuch as they are unconditionally loved, they learn respect for others inasmuch as they are respected, they learn to know the face of God inasmuch as they receive a first revelation of it from a father and a mother full of attention in their regard. Whenever these fundamental experiences are lacking, society as a whole suffers violence and becomes in turn the progenitor of more violence. It means also that women should be present in the world of work and in the organization of society, and that women should have access to positions of responsibility which allow them to inspire the policies of nations and to promote innovative solutions to economic and social problems." Any of you brave sexist pigs out there are of course welcome to point out that the Cardinal's words do not bear the stamp of infallibility, however we here at the newsreel would prefer not to sleep on the couch tonight and will not do so ourselves.

And on that note we end the first installment of the reborn newsreel. As is our custom here, we sign off with the immortal words of the great Les Nessman. Good evening, and may the good news be yours.

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