Review: Is government the problem? Not really.
Review: Is government the problem? Not really. One of the most powerful ideas in modern U.S. politics is libertarian governmental nihilism. The bureaucrats, as President Ronald Reagan famously intoned, aren’t a solution; “Government is the problem.” That slogan inspired a generation of conservatives who called for slashing government bureaucracy. In The Fifth Risk, the nation’s nonfiction bard, Michael Lewis, makes the case that our government is more important—and competent—than we realize. “How to stop a virus, how to take a census, how to determine if some foreign country is seeking to obtain a nuclear weapon or if North Korean missiles can reach Kansas City,” Lewis writes, describing the kind of unprofitable government scheme it would be dangerous to abandon or outsource.Advertisement The title of this short book comes from a government official’s lists of top risks faced by the Department of Energy. What is the “fifth risk” of the title? “Project management,” says the official, enigmatically. Lewis reports that President Trump has channeled the small-government movement into an organization concerned with a few resonant issues, like climate change, advancing the interests of its supporters and personal loyalty. When the Obama administration tried to help Trump transition officials cope with their giant new job, the new bosses of two million federal employees showed little interest. It is one thing if a private firm gets rich exploiting free services paid for by taxes. It’s another if the private firm itself gets to take over the service. NASA is the rare government institution that is widely popular. The reason, says Lewis, is that NASA is allowed to market itself and that NASA has heroes. One is Kathy Sullivan, for example, the first woman to walk in space, in 1984. When Lewis finds her three decades later, she’s running the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA, part of the Department of Commerce, oversees the National Weather Service, collecting and publishing (for free) comprehensive weather data that private companies like AccuWeather repackage and sell. Trump’s nominee to run NOAA is not a NASA scientist, but Barry Myers, chief executive officer of AccuWeather. Myers, whose appointment is still awaiting Senate confirmation, has lobbied to make the N.W.S. data more opaque, which would increase the attractiveness of his company’s offerings. As Lewis illustrates, it is one thing if a private firm gets rich exploiting free services paid for by taxes. It’s another if the private firm itself gets to take over the service. That is not what Reagan libertarians had in mind. keane Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:55 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. J Cosgrove10 min 48 sec ago The author gave it away in his first sentence when he used the word "nihilism." After that it was cherry picking at its best. Of course the government does somethings better but very little. Also I am not sure the word "libertarian" should be associated with Reagan. Conservative, yes, but not libertarian. They are very different things. Advertisement
Review: Robert Caro tells us how he does it
Review: Robert Caro tells us how he does it Robert Caro dreads a particular question: When is the next Lyndon Johnson book coming out? Now 83 years of age, he assures his readers in his newest book, Working: Researching, Interviewing, Writing, that he has done the math and realizes the clock is ticking. He realizes also that he most likely will never publish a substantive memoir upon the completion of his final volume on the years of the Johnson presidency. Clearly, Caro is still working as hard as he can, and this rather short book (by Caro’s standards) offers his readers some fascinating glimpses into the work that has defined his life. Advertisement Unknown, worryingly broke and uncertain whether or not he would ever publish his biography of Robert Moses, Robert Caro earned a spot to work in the Allen Room at the New York Public Library. When asked the dreaded question, “How long have you been working on your book?” by another writer in the Allen Room, Caro offered the truth: five years. The response that came back was an immediate relief to Caro: “Oh...that’s not so long. I have been working on my Washington [book] for nine years.” Finally, some other writer understood the depth of his toil. In some ways, Working represents Caro’s defense of the depth of his work and the many years it takes him to research and write his books. For example, when Caro was researching Path to Power (1982), the first Johnson volume, he was intrigued by a detail about Johnson’s life when he first arrived in Washington, D.C. Estelle Harbin, who worked as a congressional aide alongside Johnson, remarked that Johnson arrived each morning on Capitol Hill out of breath because he had been running. Though he walked Johnson’s route to work for weeks, Caro could not figure out why exactly Johnson finished his commute to work with a run up Capitol Hill. Throughout his works, Robert Caro has long argued that power does not so much corrupt as reveal. Then Caro realized that he had not walked the route at the time when Johnson would have. So, he began walking it just after sunrise (because those who grew up in the hill country of Texas would have awoken with the sun). Caro discovered that in the early morning, sunlight struck the white marble of the Capitol building and created the impression that the entire facade was ablaze. Each morning, Johnson had been exhilarated by the sight. Caro explains: “And then I had found a way not to lecture the reader on the contrast between what Lyndon Johnson was coming from and what he was striving toward, and how that contrast explained the desperation, the frenzied, frantic urgency of his efforts—a way not to tell the reader but to show the reader that point instead.” Having detailed the grinding poverty of Johnson’s home region, Caro was able to offer some insight into Johnson’s desperate desire to escape the place where he was born. Caro’s insight into Johnson and the way it developed also help account for the thoroughness of his work. Most gripping, however, are the circumstances surrounding several interviews that Caro managed to conduct in researching Johnson’s life. In a way, these interviews might be motivation for Caro to tell his own story in Working. Age and frailty seemed to inspire surprising honesty in the old men Caro has interviewed. While trying to piece together how, in 1940, Johnson had garnered a disproportionate amount of influence over his more senior House colleagues, Caro interviewed a wealthy Texan who he thought had bankrolled Johnson in such a way that Lyndon Johnson, only four years in Congress, was able to dole out money to other congressional Democrats. George Brown had refused all interviews in the past, but Caro finally persuaded Mr. Brown to commit to an interview by offering a rather frank surmise of his brother Herman Brown’s legacy: “In a few years no one is going to know who Herman Brown was if he’s not in the book.” The next day, George Brown met Caro and told him quite frankly that Johnson had arranged for George and Herman Brown to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in government building contracts during Johnson’s years in public life. Age and frailty seemed to inspire surprising honesty in the old men Robert Caro has interviewed for his books. Caro pursued another rather old man to collect evidence on the disputed Senate election of 1948. Feeling he needed definitive proof about whether or not Johnson stole the election, he sought out Luis Salas, the presiding election judge in Jim Wells County for the election of 1948. Caro found the 84-year-old Salas in 1986. Salas told Caro that, as he was tabulating the vote, “If they were not for Johnson, I made them for Johnson.” Salas called 200 of 202 votes in Box 13 for Johnson, and he had lied about it under oath before Congress when the election was investigated. Salas handed Caro a manuscript that explained the incident and said, “‘Everyone is dead except me, Robert. And I’m not going to live long. But Box 13 is history. No one can erase that.’” Caro was satisfied. Johnson had indeed stolen the election. But the most striking moment among the interviews that Caro describes involves Lyndon Johnson’s brother, Sam Houston Johnson. Caro writes that for years, Sam Houston walked around their home region in the Texas hill country telling great tales of his family. He was an overbearing drunk. Then, Sam Houston had surgery for cancer which left him debilitated. Sensing an opening, Caro arranged for them to meet at the Johnson homestead after the National Park Service had closed up shop for the day. He had Sam Houston sit in a chair at the table in the dining room. The evening light shone through the room. Caro sat behind Johnson’s brother and asked him tell him about the terrible arguments between Lyndon and his father. Sam Houston sat at the table and began to describe the fights—haltingly at first. Caro sat in silence as Johnson’s brother revealed what it was like to be at that dinner table. And, when Sam Houston had exhausted himself, Caro told him, “Now, Sam Houston, I want you to tell me again all those wonderful stories about Lyndon when you both were boys, the stories that you told me before—just tell them again with more details.” Johnson’s brother sat in silence. Caro then tells Sam Houston again, “Tell me those wonderful stories.” Johnson’s brother replies, “I can’t.” When Caro asks why not, Sam Houston Johnson replies, “Because they never happened.” Armed with such revelations, Caro went back and re-interviewed many others, and his account of Johnson became more “coherent—and closer to the truth.” Throughout his works, Robert Caro has long argued that power does not so much corrupt as reveal. When one attains power, the exercise of power reveals who that person is. Perhaps a corollary to this claim, evident in Working, is: Old age serves to inspire a frankness, an openness and an honesty that help reveal what was kept hidden or understated throughout one’s life. Caro’s readers, the current reviewer among them, are profoundly grateful that he has followed the example of many of the men and women he has interviewed over the years and, in his old age, offered an honest account of what his research and writing have been like over the past 55 years. keane Tue, 04/16/2019 - 11:23 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Advertisement
Review: Paul Griffiths offers an "account of Christian flesh"
Review: Paul Griffiths offers an "account of Christian flesh" Paul J. Griffiths’s latest book, Christian Flesh, seeks a speculative account “of human flesh in particular and Christian flesh in particular.” Its chapters depict speculative—and so possibly and probably, Griffiths confesses, inaccurate—thumbnails of what human flesh is like under sin’s damage, what it might be like (again) when it is not so damaged, how Christian flesh cleaves to that of Jesus, and what it might mean for that flesh to eat and dress and caress. A speculative sketch of these, Griffiths thinks, creates a thought-icon of what it is like to be Christian. Advertisement His conviction throughout is, I think, scriptural: that nothing is accursed if everything is made new. Most provocative are Griffiths’s claims about the same-sex caress, which advocate a “liberal” position from illiberal premises. Same-sex caresses, although damaged, are not obviously a corruption of (also damaged) heterosexual sex. Why presume that sex is the goal toward which all fleshy caresses tend? The caress shared between the faithful and Christ’s body in the Eucharist does not have copulation as its end, after all. Neither does the eye-to-eye gaze. Better, Griffiths thinks, to dissimulate caresses like these from “the category of the sexual.” Doing this means at once affirming the church’s restriction of sex to heterosexual sex and embracing the same-sex caress as, well, something else. Among the caresses Griffiths does not consider are those shared between the living and the dead. Sometimes, that is, we revere the bodies of the dead—typically that of the holy dead. Necrophilic caresses like these figure everywhere across the Catholic tradition, but they are rarely conceived theologically. What is it for me, I wonder, to press my lips against the traces St. Thérèse leaves behind, with her discarnate soul there above and her corpse and my flesh here below? Here Griffiths offers fellow pilgrims bearings—the grammar of time, he knows, is our speculative frontier—but no maps. Griffiths remains among our very best speculative Catholic thinkers, vanishingly few though they (now) are. He dons this laurel in studied imitation of St. Augustine: as a gorgeously overheated stylist of his native tongue; as a phenomenologically-attuned and prurient cosmos-lover; as an eye-to-the-main-chance polemicist. Christian Flesh is Augustine-like, too, in its equal likelihood to provoke or to edify, which proves Griffiths’s book a work of theology. As that, it dazzles. Read it, then read it again. osegura Tue, 04/02/2019 - 09:21 Show Comments ( ) Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more. Advertisement
The literary landscape of Barry Lopez
The literary landscape of Barry Lopez keane Fri, 04/05/2019 - 13:15 Advertisement
The Secrets of The Godfather
The Godfather is often listed as one of the greatest films of all time. Dom Bettinelli, Mike Creavey, Fr. Michael Gossett, and Andrew Hermiz sit down to discuss how family and faith and lack of faith plays a key role in the story and the masterful filmmaking that make this one of the best ever. The post The Secrets of The Godfather appeared first on SQPN.com.
The special powers of sacred spaces
Unlocking the Church: The lost secrets of Victorian space by William Whyte (Oxford University Press, £18.99) In the past Christianity poured a great deal of art, energy and money into buildings. So much so that the cathedrals of the middle ages have come in a special way to symbolise for many the very nature of the Church: their aspiring pinnacles promoting inspiration. Today, however, all traditions are finding themselves having to preserve and care for buildings that strike many of us as useless to society. With talk of the community being important, not the edifice, much that earlier generations understood, or seemed to sense, is lost on modern visitors in search merely of “heritage”. Author William Whyte, vice- president of St John’s Oxford, is Professor of Social and Architectural History in the university, as well as an associate priest in the Anglican parish of Wolvercote. The focus of this fascinating book is on what the author sees as “the story of a revolution”. The outcome was a range of buildings informed by the ideas of John Henry Newman, John Ruskin and Augustus Pugin, “and their ideas about the role of architecture in our spiritual life and well being”. Restoration This roll-call of names demonstrates that at the heart of what they sought was a restoration of medieval Catholic idea of how a church as a building should be arranged, decorated, and used. These aspects of the building affected what was done in the church, and what was done outside the church in the general social life around it. The book opens with an evocation of the little Anglican chapel created by Newman at Littlemore (which he loved deeply) and from which, at the great break in his life that made him whole, he left to enter the Catholic Church. There he achieved his full flowering, but never forgot that he had roots in the Anglican Tractarian movement. This return of the Catholic through Tractarianism spilled over, as Whyte makes clear, into not only the Non-Conformist churches, but also into the Catholic Church itself, and its building ideas in the 19th Century, in Ireland as well as Britain. In a series of five chapters he explores Victorian architecture in a genuinely inspiring way, discussing how the visitor should see, feel, visit, analyse and revisit the churches. Getting the most out of a church visiting demands not just some vague aesthetic pleasure, but a real appreciation of why things are the way they are in these buildings. Their purpose is not primarily to delight our senses, but to worship God. Many visitors today can delight in the buildings, but not understand them. We speak loosely of heritage, but this surely ought to mean something, an expression of a feeling, a sense of truth, in which the visitor can share. Throughout the book, as he explores with devoted expertise, the nature of the buildings that he loves, Whyte emphasises the need for all of us to use our eyes, that seeing is necessary to knowing, and so he implies knowing may evolve into believing. The focus on this book is on England. But he remarks in his preface that people living elsewhere in Scotland, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and part of North America too, will find themselves living near a Victorian Church. This book will prove of interest and value to people living here in Ireland. That spill over between the different traditions can be seen here too: when the Catholic Church in Ireland commenced its great building campaign in this period it left behind the neo-classical of, say St Andrew’s, Westland Row, for the pinnacled dominance of Armagh cathedral. Here in Ireland we can see for ourselves in University Church in Dublin, or in Pugin’s handful of buildings in the city and country, solid examples of what Prof. Whyte is discussing. He mentions in passing how processions made a come-back. At one great event Anglican, Catholic and Non-Conformists all took part, all ending up in a picnic in the castle of Lord Bute, who three years later became a Catholic. The 19th Century in many ways was not quite what we often think it was. This is a splendid book, thoughtful, insightful, informative and suffused with a sense of religion which is unusual in architectural historians. The post The special powers of sacred spaces appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Lively scenes from pre-Famine Cork
Daniel MacDonald Painting and Pencillings Cork 1843-1844 (Exhibition at the Gorry Gallery; catalogue from Gorry Gallery, 20 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2) In the Lion’s Den: Daniel MacDonald, Ireland and Empire by Niamh O’Sullivan (Cork University Press, €20.00) The exhibition of Daniel MacDonald works recently at the Gorry Gallery in Dublin was the first time that the work of the Cork painter Daniel MacDonald made an impression upon me. He is undoubtedly a great talent, as Niamh O’Sullivan has shown in her book about him and her extensive essay in the exhibition catalogue. There are inevitably echoes of contemporary English artists, Leech, Cruickshank, Phiz, are mentioned. But in the images of Daniel O’Connell I see H.B., the Dublin-born artist John Doyle, the grandfather of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Certainly for me this recent show presented provided a vivid “shock of the new”. These are lively drawings and caricatures of Cork life in the two decades before the famine. This has been evoked by Mary Coakley in Wine and Wit; Literary and Artistic Cork in the Early Nineteenth Century (Glendale Press, 1985). MacDonald belonged then to the golden age in Cork, when it outshone Dublin, laying down its claim perhaps to be “Ireland’s real capital”. The exhibit covered a wide range of yachting in Cork Harbour (very much a sport for the well-of middle classes to which MacDonald’s family belonged), scenes of society on formal occasions and on less buttoned-up ones too. But the real interest is the picture of rural life: these are humorous, but in a fond, even loving way. They reveal an active, energetic society, poor but under the leadership of Daniel O’Connell, hopeful of advance and change. These are images of a life before the Great Hunger shook the city, the country and the province to the core. Here is an artist to look out for when visiting galleries in the future. Prof. O’Sullivan’s book will open up a vision of a truly lost Ireland, to which we still owe so much. The post Lively scenes from pre-Famine Cork appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Sinfully good meals for the family
Saintly Feasts: Food for Saints and Scholars by Martina Maher & Colette Scully, with Dries van den Akker SJ (Messenger Publications, €19.95 / £17.50) Mary Litton This is a lovely book by two charming and talented ladies, one in her 90s, who undertook to cook Sunday lunch for a Jesuit community in England. Those familiar with present day Jesuit houses will know that though there is a hot lunch five days a week in them, the staff does not work after five or at weekends: cold collations are the order of the evenings and weekends. Martina and Colette came to the rescue, returning to work as a sort of curial work of mercy that grew into something larger. They found a vocation for themselves in cooking. This cookbook is a sample of the sort of things they made. It is all good traditional fare, nothing cheffy here. The well loved traditional fish are, however, given a personal twist as their experience grew. From the roast rib of beef down to the summer pudding, this is the stuff to give the clergy, not to speak of your domestic troop. One would only balk at icing on the Bakewell tarts – such a finish takes from the pure almond and jam flavours. This may be a matter of taste, but that is the way mother made them long ago. Interesting But the book is not all about cooking. A Dutch Jesuit friend has added to each recipe the life of a saint. These are very interesting as he has rightly chosen a great many little known-names. Often the link with the receipt seems tenuous, but that does not matter at all. Others are humorous: as St Eve is coupled with roast rib of beef. Indeed the idea that Adam and Eve are saints led to a discussion of the question at our dinner time; which goes to show what sort of book this is, food for the body, food for the mind. One last point: this is the first cook book I have seen in years that mentions the question of cost. The two ladies do the buying for the Sunday lunch, setting £5 a head as the guide line. This is more than one would allow for an ordinary family dinner in the week, but that rib roast with trimmings, a starter and a dessert might well rise to the fiver. Celebrity chefs on the telly or in print never mention money, except when it comes to their own incomes. The post Sinfully good meals for the family appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Recent books in brief
The Heart is a Noisy Room by Dr Ronald Boyd-MacMillan (Hodder, £9.99) The author is a Christian activist who has had an extremely varied life, but always one engaged with getting in touch with people and telling them about the “good news”. In his third book he focuses on those inner voices which we all have, sometimes positive, sometimes negative (especially in the long night watch around three in the morning). The author wants us to be alert to those negative voices – often claiming the authority of family tradition – and to listen out for the voice that Christians can hear in the Scriptures, but often ignore. This is his definition of the negative voice: “A voice is a persistent, powerful message, from you to yourself that persists and keeps you from embracing your true self.” He says he often can’t read “Christian books” anymore because they take a long time getting to the point. He moves quickly and clearly through to what he wants to say: basically we need to embrace the positive. Many will find what he says truly enheartening. Be an Irish Explorer: An Art Journal Around Ireland by Bex Shelford (Gill Books, €9.99 / £8.99) These days, thanks to cheap flights, many children are more familiar with Lanzarote than they are with their native island. Author Bex Shelford lives near the sea, and so is well aware of the Irish landscape that surrounds us. Adapting the idea now used to introduce young people to museums and galleries, she aims in this holiday activity book to make them just as aware of what lies around them at home. This book visits many different locations from Blarney to the Giant’s Causeway, but provides materials to makes postcards, colour images, and even create one’s own graphics book. All excellent and absorbing stuff, which will encourage creativity, as well as promote an inquiring spirit. Excellent for those summer outings that, alas, can end in tears if not prepared for by parents. Charles Bukowski and Ernest Hemingway: Barfly & Bullfighter by Aubrey Malone (A limited edition from The Beat Scene Press, £8.00, from 27 Court Leet, Binley Woods, Coventry CV3 2JQ) Bukowski, once called the “laureate of American low life”, may not be to everyone’s taste, though his attitudes lie somewhere in the hinterland inhabited by many of those who voted for Trump. This short work by the IC’s film critic concerns the relations between the poet and the macho man supreme. The barfly’s dislike of the novelist echoes what others, notably Morley Callaghan, have said, but is expressed in more pungent language. The Hemingway of the early works disappeared into a mythic dust cloud of his own making. A Catholic of some kind by conviction – the jury is still out on this – Hemingway never developed any kind of aesthetic drawn from his latent faith as did Mauriac, Waugh, or Greene. “Art”, as he saw it, got in the way of authenticity. Malone’s little book, like Bukowski’s gritty writing, packs a lot of punch. The post Recent books in brief appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Can music’s charms soothe a savage breast?
Bel Canto (15A) Julianne Moore may not be Maria Callas in the singing department but she’s no slouch as an actress. In this ambitious adaptation of Ann Patchett’s acclaimed novel of the same name she plays soprano Roxane Coss. She’s interrupted in the middle of a private concert she’s giving to international dignitaries in a palace in an unnamed Latin American country in the late 1990s. A gang of left wing guerrillas led by the fiery Benjamin (Tenoch Huerta) storm the building. They expect their president to be in attendance but he isn’t. They demand he release a number of political prisoners. The staff of the palace are held hostage, as well as Coss and some of the other people at the concert. The tension is ramped up when one of them is accidentally killed. A month-long stand-off develops. Soldiers surround the building. Tensions mount when the water supply is cut off. But relationships start to develop within the palace. Chief among these are that between a translator played by Royo Kase and one of the guerrillas, Carmen (María Mercedes Coroy). Coss becomes intimate with a Japanese industrialist, Katsumi Hosokawa (Ken Watanabe). He has attended the concert due to his obsession with her. He gains entry as a result of a false promise to build a factory in the country. Christopher Lambert plays a French ambassador. A UN negotiator tries to defuse the situation but he doesn’t get anywhere. The film becomes interesting – some would say ludicrous – when Coss is persuaded to go out on a balcony and sing to the soldiers outside. It’s hoped her mellifluous tones will soften their attitude and break the deadlock. And so it comes to pass. Everyone is transfixed by her voice. The tension evaporates. It isn’t Moore’s own voice. She lip-syncs effectively to that of real life American soprano Renée Fleming. The title of the film translates as ‘Beautiful singing’. It certainly is that. You’ll feel the hairs stand out on the back of your neck as her plaintive strains echo through the air. Basic message The transformative power of music is the basic message of this beguiling film. It was inspired by an actual incident in Lima, Peru. Director Paul Weitz uses artistic licence to lift it onto another level. Weitz is more familiar with lightweight vehicles like About a Boy and American Pie. At times he seems to be punching above his weight. He gives us a new spin on the Stockholm syndrome but many of the relationships inside the palace develop too fast (and too incredibly) for comfort. He uses a plethora of different languages to tell his story. For some people it will all seem too far-fetched, for others cathartic. There are also longueurs. But his intentions are honourable. The (tragic) ending is very effective. The ensemble playing of the multi-ethnic cast makes one suspend disbelief in a scenario that, in another director’s hands, might well have come across as risible. Very Good **** The post Can music’s charms soothe a savage breast? appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Words spoken from Benedict’s post-papal silence
While it may be many years before we learn what seeds were successfully sown during last year’s papal visit, such that the jury is out on whether or not it should be considered a success, there were few who attended 2012’s International Eucharistic Congress who do not think it a triumph, a real forward-looking sign of hope for the Church in Ireland. If there was a sour point in it for many, however, it will have been in Pope Benedict XVI’s message to the congress, in particular when, after outlining some of the glories of the Irish Church, he turned to the subject of clerical sexual abuse. “Thankfulness and joy at such a great history of Faith and love have recently been shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care,” he said in a speech that can be read in full at w2.vatican.va. “Instead of showing them the path towards Christ, towards God, instead of bearing witness to his goodness, they abused people and undermined the credibility of the Church’s message. How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?” Mystery “It remains a mystery,” he said, shocking those who thought he might have some explanation to offer. He went on, however, to make a vitally important observation. “Yet evidently, their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit. The work of the Council was really meant to overcome this form of Christianity and to rediscover the faith as a deep personal friendship with the goodness of Jesus Christ,” he said. Over six years have passed since the then Pope said this, but this week it became supremely clear that he has not simply shrugged this conundrum off as a mystery that cannot be explained. Wednesday saw three different outlets publishing an essay on this subject by the Pope Emeritus apparently written for a Bavarian publication, as “previously unpublished” (catholicnewsagency.com), a “global exclusive” (nypost.com), and “special to the Register” (ncregister.com). How the three outlets acquired this essay ahead of, say, official Vatican media is a puzzle in its own right, of course, and a somewhat troubling one given how it’s given further fodder to those who would foster divisions by making out as though there is a kind of cold war between Benedict and the Pope. That’s for another day, however; what’s important here is how Benedict delves into questions of how traditional sexual morality was destabilised in the 20th Century, how this effected the formation and lives of priests, and how the Church might respond. Crucially, he’s not trying to do everything here – that would be an impossible task, given that he was writing a 6,000-word essay, not a book. Instead he’s grappling with an under-examined question, strikingly at odds with lazy questions of what it is in Catholicism or clerical life that encourages abuse; anybody with any familiarity of broader statistics knows that priests don’t abuse more than others, and that Catholic societies are no more prone to abuse than others. Wicked things Instead he’s homing in on the question of why Catholicism didn’t prevent abuse. Why did priests who presumably had objectively rich sacramental lives do monstrously wicked things? Why did bishops and others tasked with overseeing such priests endanger the innocent by not preventing such priests from harming children? How could anybody who purports to be Catholic have committed and facilitated such crimes? The essay deserves reading and reflecting on in full, and in connection with it, it’s worth reading the revdbh.blogspot.ie post entitled ‘Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI weighs in on abuse crisis’, Carl Olson’s editorial ‘Benedict XVI’s essay is both insightful and incomplete’ at catholicworldreport.com, and Austen Ivereigh’s americamagazine.org piece on how ‘Pope Benedict’s letter on sex abuse is not an attack on Francis (or Vatican II)'. The post Words spoken from Benedict’s post-papal silence appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Fitting available evidence to the charge
Sometimes when you hear about an upcoming programme, it’s so predictable you could nearly write the script in advance. That was largely the case with Rome vs The Republic on RTÉ1 last Thursday. In this documentary on relations between the Vatican and the Irish State we got the usual litany – Mother and Child Scheme, John Charles McQuaid, Eamon Casey and Michael Cleary warming up for John Paul II in Galway, Enda Kenny’s speech in the Dáil, the contraceptive train, Brendan Smyth and so on. We also got the oft told stories of abuse, which are truly awful and we must never forget, but going over these stories in the same old predictable way, from the same old perspectives, is of diminishing value. Sometimes documentaries start out with a pre-ordained thesis, and then everything is made to confirm and conform, in this case to re-inforce a dominant narrative rather than to explore new approaches. Even before the opening titles we knew where this was going, with a new litany of the saints – Michael McDowell, Mary McAleese, Colm O’Gorman, Patsy McGarry – along with images of Savita Halappanaver and a triumphalist celebration of same-sex marriage in Dublin Castle courtyard. A contribution, say, from our own Mary Kenny who has written extensively on Irish Church-State-Culture issues would have been in order to provide some balance. Irony I don’t think the programme makers got the irony of abandoning one kind of triumphalism for another, of swapping one kind of deference for another. For the most part presenter Michael McDowell delivered unchallenging interviews – including with Mary McAleese, who never gets challenged on her views by a suppliant media whose prejudices she feeds, consciously or not. And there was no critique of how, arguably, we have swapped deference to Rome for deference to Brussels, or swapped Catholic orthodoxy for liberal orthodoxy. There seemed to be a disdain for ‘political Catholicism’, and yet when this emerged as liberation theology it was so popular with the liberal left. Even less was there room in this self-congratulatory outing for a critique of the current state of modern Ireland, where we have replaced institutional child abuse with the officially sanctioned killing of unborn children in some of our shiny modern hospitals, with many of the contributors to this programme being ardent supporters of the removal of the Eighth Amendment, which gave protection to these vulnerable children. As for what constitutes a Republic, there are many definitions and models, but it seems that Tone’s secularist republic was the dominant version for reverence even though we were told that Tone played the Catholic card in seeking military help from France and there wasn’t enough critical examination of the role of violence in his approach. One of the few positives was the interesting historical background from the 18th and 19th Centuries, e.g. the more simple expressions of faith in pre-famine Ireland, the British Government supporting a seminary in Ireland in the late 18th/early 19th Century to avoid seminarians being radicalised by revolutionary ideas if they were trained in France (though I wondered why the Church would even have considered sending them to a revolutionary France so full of anti-clerical sentiment) and the petition against conscription signed by seminarians in 1918. The documentary told only part of the story and apart from an acknowledgement that Archbishop McQuaid “was the architect of social services within the state”, there was little attention given to the huge contribution of the Church to education and health care, little attention to the spirit of service that drove selfless people of faith to make an invaluable contribution to Irish society and worldwide. Finally, I was glad to see Archbishop Diarmuid Martin being positive about the future for the Church in Ireland, reckoning it will be ‘authentically Church in a different culture’. Also positive, in one of the best interviews of the week, was Dr Dom Colbert on the Pat Kenny Show (Newstalk) last Thursday. Dr Colbert has written a book, No More Tears – From Biafra to Bosnia, about his experiences in poverty stricken and war torn areas around the world. Often working with religious sisters, including with the Medical Missionaries of Mary, he was inspired by the missionary enthusiasm of the 1940’s and 50’s and the desire to travel widely, as he tended to patients in the most difficult of circumstances and while some of his stories didn’t make for easy listening, a warm life enhancing humanity shone through. Pick of the week Easter Sunday Mass RTÉ1, Easter Sunday, 9 am (also EWTN) Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St Peters Square, Vatican City, followed by Urbi et Orbi. Film: Risen RTÉ1, Easter Sunday, 3.20 pm (also Channel 4, 11 pm) (2016) Joseph Fiennes, Peter Firth. A Roman Tribune in Judea is tasked to find the missing body of Jesus Christ, who rose from the dead. Turas Cosnochta RTÉ1, Monday, April 22, 7.30 pm Young pilgrims visit Lough Derg and persevere through the hardest part of the pilgrimage: the all-night vigil. Repeat of BBC’s Oilithreacht. The post Fitting available evidence to the charge appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
“Mary Magdalene” is a fierce, feminist parable
“Mary Magdalene” is a fierce, feminist parable osegura Fri, 04/12/2019 - 09:15 Advertisement
Shazam! – Coffee and Cinema
The new Shazam! movie promises to continue the trend of making DC movies lighter and more fun, less grim and dark. Dom Bettinelli and Fr. Chip are out just of the theater to give their spoiler-free impressions and then, after a warning, a fuller spoiled discussion. The post Shazam! – Coffee and Cinema appeared first on SQPN.com.
Chinese Catholics — images of a fervent faith
The Poor in Spirit by Yang Yakang (Unicorn Publishing, £30.00) This is an impressive album of reportage on the Catholics of the Patriotic Catholic Church in China, running to 168 pages with 70 images. The artist’s work bears comparison with the great masters of this genre, Walker Evans, Cartier-Bresson, Werner Bischof, George Rodger, and Marc Riboud. The images were made between 1992 and 2001 in a remote area of Shaanzi. The images are often haunting, expressing certainly a life of poverty, but a life that is very far from lacking in spirit. The Gospel passage alluded to says the humble are the heirs of heaven. The images here are also heirs to a great tradition. Admirable as the images are some comment has to be made on the accompanying essays. In this the artist is said to be a “baptised Catholic”, interested also in the religious life of Tibet. But being a cradle Catholic is far from being one now. Sensitive issues Both the Church and Tibet are, for the Chinese government, sensitive issues. One of the writers admits that the history of the Catholic faith has been “up and down “ since 1948. Despite reservations on the presentation of the artist, the images themselves are of exceptional quality. A critic observed of his Tibetan images that the artist does not concern himself with the transcendental aspect of religion. He simply observes real life, “showing simple truths through photography”. But is this possible for an artist? The images recall religious life in Catholic Europe, but in the 1940s. This is inevitable, as the revolution has served in a way to cut them off. But yet here we can see that some of their practises that emerged from Vatican II were adopted by these Catholics. The author of the captions (who I take is not the artist) does not always seem clear in his own mind what the images are showing. But these can be read by the readers in the light of his own insights into art and religion. So pay no attention to the essays or the captions, which are brief. But read the images themselves. They truly reflect the soul of Catholic China. Images say more than words, as is only to be expected for an artist of this standing. Most of the Bibles printed in the world today are printed in China. Yet the government has been dismayed by the growth of evangelical Protestant groups in recent years. The expansion of Christianity in the country has mainly been seen in Protestant evangelical churches. In a population rising to almost 1.5 billion, Catholicism is a minor religion, with an estimated 10-12 million adherents. This book reveals some of those people, albeit under state control – accepted by the recent accords between China and the Vatican. President Xi Jinping has introduced a programme to “Sinicise” all faiths, insisting that religion must be “Chinese in orientation”. It is the duty of the government authorities to “provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt themselves to socialist society”, he insists. There are no government officials in these images (that I can see), but the calm devout people shown are facing a future as complicated as their past was. The post Chinese Catholics — images of a fervent faith appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
A philosopher’s quest in the wilderness of life
John Moriarty: Not the Whole Story by Mary McGillicuddy (Lilliput Press. €20.00) John Moriarty has published some fascinating books. Written in a baroque style, they are dotted with quotations from the classics of world literature. They also include numerous allusions and references to a wide variety of civilisations, cultures, mythologies, philosophies, religions and the great minds of science. As a result, Moriarty is a difficult read. But this excellent biography is an admirable key to fully appreciating John Moriarty’s wisdom and profound thought. There is a curious analogy between John and John O’Donoghue of Anam Cara fame. Both tended to ‘think outside the box’, both weaved their life-experiences into their lecturing and writings, both were more at one with spirituality than with religion, both emphasised the inadequacy of religion and science to explain reality and both were charismatic speakers. Also, in their philosophising they never strayed far from ruminating on their respective Irish Catholic rural backgrounds. John was born in Moyvane, a village near Listowel, in Co Kerry, on February 2, 1938. He was educated at the local national school and St Michael’s College. Subsequently he qualified as a primary school teacher at St Patrick’s Teacher Training College in Dublin. Generous gift After a year teaching he was enabled by a remarkably generous gift from his father to attend and graduate from UCD. He secured a post in an English Catholic boarding-school. Finding the extremely formal atmosphere of the school stultifying, he left within a year. He decamped to Greece and spent a year visiting the monuments and other vestiges of the country’s ancient classical civilisation. Owing to a chance meeting, he secured an appointment as a lecturer in the philosophy department in Leed’s University. A few years later in curiously similar circumstances he was invited to join the English department in the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in Canada. He was fascinated by the pre-history and civilisation of the native tribes of North America and after a long summer holiday in Mexico he immersed himself in the culture and pre-history of the Aztecs. After six years in Canada, John realised that the only life in which he would be comfortable was a life of contemplation – the intellectual life. He settled in Inisboffin, an island off the coast of Connemara. A year later he transferred to a cottage situated in an idyllic setting on the mainland. He worked in a local hotel and was employed as a gardener. A popular figure, he was a valued member of the local community, although some of his neighbours considered that there was ‘a bit of a want in him’. Within a few years, however, he suffered the ‘Night of the Soul’, so eloquently described in the writings of Sts John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. He sought and received solace in the Carmelite monastery in Oxford. In 1984 back in Connemara the trajectory of his life changed utterly. He met Fr John O’Donoghue, director of adult education in the diocese of Galway, who invited him to give a talk. So successful was the talk and others that followed that he became a feature on the local lecture circuit. O’Donoghue also introduced him to Andy O’Mahony of RTÉ who interviewed him. The interview gave him entry to the national radio and TV studios and he gained widespread recognition. In turn this facilitated the publication of his writings which was always to be something of a challenge. In the event, while his books received critical acclaim, they tended to mystify the average reader. From the time, when aged 17, he read Darwin’s The Origin of Species, John was on a metaphysical quest. Mary McGillicuddy’s description of his last days and hours makes it clear that John was successful in his quest at the very end on June 1, 2007. The post A philosopher’s quest in the wilderness of life appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Late have we loved the beautiful great house…
White Elephants: The Country House and the State in Independent Ireland by Emer Crooke (UCD Press, €40.00) These days, when no couple ever seems to get married in their native parish anymore, a country house hotel often plays a more important role in any case than the church. With wedding celebrations now lasting three or four days party space is clearly needed. And from the advertisements one comes to believe that there is hardly a great house of any kind, still standing that is not a country house hotel. What a change this is from the days of the Land War when such great houses were seen as the stronghold of rapacious landlords, or from the 1920s and 30 where they were seen as bastions of lingering British influence in Ireland better burnt down or unroofed to save the payment of rates. In her new book Dr Emer Crooke explores the shifting Irish attitudes to the great house, focusing largely on the period from 1922 to 1973. Based on extensive research in records of all kinds, but especially State papers, she outlines the moods and attitudes as they changed. The focus is perhaps rightly on the question of cost of care and their value to the overall economy. Even now the developing heritage industry has to pay its way. She notes at the very beginning of the book that Castletown House, which was one of the first houses which raised a volume of demands for its preservation, that in 2017 some 666,541 persons visited Castletown’s parklands, only 32,866 visited the house. But these figures may be deceptive, given the nature of the wedding and recreational use alluded to above. Developments In any case the developments of the last half century are outside the scope of this book. She wishes to explore how the State itself responded to the problem of preservation and reuse. Her book will be found of great value to many kinds of readers. However because of its wide range the detail on individual cases is often limited: as on Elizabeth Bowen, whose book Bowen’s Court is essential reading, or on Derrynane House, or on Kenmare House, both of which caused scandals in their day. She writes in a careful and judicious style, dealing with what were difficult matters for the State. It is hard for the Free State to put money into Big Houses while cutting the state pensions – a scandal of another kind. It is likely that this book will have a permanent place in collections dealing with Irish heritage as whole, not just architectural matters. For the local historian it will provide instances from other places that may well illuminate the conditions in their own townlands. But this is an academic book; it is not light reading. (She says the situation in Northern Ireland was different for there the landlord class maintained, through the Orange Order, their political clout down to the 1960s, when Unionism began to take on a more aggressive working class and lower middle class aspect. The current leader of the DUP is far from being “a belted earl”. ) As recently as 2011 Crooke says it was argued that “traditionally the audience for the historic house has been narrow, and recent research demonstrates that this is still the case”. But such a claim contrasts with the situation, not just in Britain next door, but across Europe. Where heritage has been preserved and respected it generates value for the house itself and the local economy. If in Victorian times a great house employed as many people as a small factory, these days it can employ an entire town in some places. The post Late have we loved the beautiful great house… appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Fasting and fish eating in Lent
Mainly About Books By the books editor It is a truism to say that Lent these days is nothing like it was several centuries ago, indeed just several decades ago. In our era of immediate self-satisfaction the idea of going without is unpopular, unless one is on a fashionable diet. In the middle ages it was different, of course. Gerald de Barri, the Norman-Welsh scholar and cleric, in his account of Ireland at the time of the Norman invasion, writes very crossly about some Irish bishops. Their lordships were he said countenancing the eating of the barnacle goose during Lent. This was (it seems) because the barnacle goose, along the coasts of Ireland where it was found, mainly in the north, was thought not come from an egg, but to be from of a shell-fish, the long neck barnacle. For in eating these birds, de Barri adds “they are led into sin. For if anyone were to eat of the leg of our first parent although he were not born of flesh, that person would not be adjudged innocent of eating meat.” He wrote about this in his Topography of Ireland (adroitly translated by J. J. O’Meara and available in Penguin Classics). He also lectured about it at Oxford in 1186. Over the next few centuries this Irish legend spread across Europe and indeed across Asia, allowing those who were so inclined an excuse to have a Lenten bird. The custom was formerly condemned by the Pope at the Lateran Council in 1215. But this seems not to have had much effect – like so many papal injunctions. Down to very recently the Aran islanders would eat guillemots in Lent, just as people in the north of England ate puffins, because they were sea birds and tasted strongly of the fish that they generally ate. Medical men Customs regarding fast days, such as “fish on Fridays” are now a thing of the past. Indeed there is nothing really penitential about eating fish at all. Medical men urge us to do so to obtain the essential Omega3 oil which is so beneficial to our bodies. Yet back in earlier times it was perhaps more onerous. Fresh fish could hardly be bought anywhere more than ten miles or so from the sea. With fresh fish people would have to make do with eggs, or with salt fish, the rather unappealing bacalao eaten along the sea board of Western Europe, which originated in the salted cod which the Basques brought back from Newfoundland decades before Columbus – indeed that part of the North American coast was called ‘Stockfish Land’. In Ireland in any case Irish country people would not eat fish – there is a reports of a curragh of starving people hauling up beside a British naval vessel in Killary inlet during the famine pleading for food while floating over waters rich in fish. They would not eat them. True to their Celtic notions of proper fare they would only eat salmon and brown trout. So the obligation to eat fish was in fact a real penance in ages past. Now it is not, as our shops are filled with fresh fish every day. So if eating fish is not a penance, what people need to think about is simply in Lent eating more meager meals, simply to eat less. Given the huge helpings that everyone now seems to eat – very much in the American style with steaks – we could do with eating less as a nation, given the obesity problems that beset Irish society. Of course, in the middle ages the one class of people who had no trouble with the relegations about eating were the monks in monasteries with fishponds. These I always understood were jealously guarded by the monks for their own dinners. But discussing this the other day with someone, she suggested to me that of course they would have shared them with the poor. So they might, but would the poor in Ireland have eaten them. I doubt it. The post Fasting and fish eating in Lent appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
‘B’ list celebs take their turn on long road
One of the least endearing aspects of modern media culture is the cult of celebrities. Make ‘em dance, drop them on remote islands, pop them into quiz shows. It’s not the worst idea to send them on a pilgrimage. And so it was with Pilgrimage: Road to Rome (BBC 2) a new series that started last Friday night. Like its predecessor, Road to Santiago, it features a mixed bag of celebs, with varying attitudes to faith. Les Dennis is an actor and comedian whose mother was Catholic until she gave up the faith when the local church refused to baptise her baby born out of wedlock. Now Les doesn’t know what to believe in but seems to be open to inspiration. While some of the participants can be irritating, he’s pretty low key, which is welcome. Dana flies the flag for Catholicism, and was introduced as a Eurovision winner, with no mention of her roles as MEP. There was a touching moment as she explained how Catholics honour Our Lady, which had an emotional effect on Les as he remembered that his mother had sung ‘Ave Maria’ in Liverpool Cathedral. Mehreen Baig (of Walks of Life, reviewed last week), is a practicing Muslim, and while she realises she mightn’t match up to the strictest standards (e.g. not wearing head covering) she does pray, fast and abstain from things like alcohol and sex before marriage. Lesley Joseph is a non-practicing Jew, says she’s not sure what God is, doesn’t know what she’s supposed to believe, but finds it emotional to be walking in the path followed by so many others. Greg Rutherford is an Olympian, a lapsed Jehovah’s Witness and is probably the fittest of the group, with a cheery and helpful disposition. Katy Brand is a comedian, who was very much into evangelical Christianity until she went to university. Now she doesn’t know what to think about God, doesn’t not believe, is not an atheist, is not sneery towards religious belief and finds it easier to define what she’s not than what she is. Stephen K. Amos is yet another comedian (why so many?), is wondering and questioning and sees the potential for this journey to be a light for future chapters in his life. Finally, Brendan Cole is a dancer and self-avowed atheist who likes noise – he said “silence kills me”. The pilgrimage route itself is impressive – beautiful scenery in the Alps and some intriguing historical background. It dates back to the 10th Century, and features characters like St Bernard (of the mountain pass and the famous rescue dogs), Archbishop Sigeric (‘The Serious’) whose pilgrimage to Rome seems to have been the original inspiration for the route, and 14th-Century St Rocco who gave up all his wealth to go on pilgrimage and tend to those with the plague. Maybe these were the celebs of their day, though I suspect their impact and legacy will last longer than the eclectic crew now walking in their footsteps. Impact I’m unsure about the impact of last week’s controversy on school divestment - a knotty issue with a conflict of rights. Tuesday of last week Today With Seán O’Rourke (RTÉ Radio 1) featured a useful discussion between theology lecturer Dr Tom Finnegan and Paddy Monaghan of Educate Equality. Monaghan didn’t help his case by using loaded terms like “indoctrination” and “segregation” to describe what went on currently in Catholic schools. He favoured teaching about religion rather than faith formation within normal class time. Dr Finnegan supported a plurality in models of school patronage, defended the primary rights of parents and even spoke of some schools having a ‘duty’ to divest. Wednesday’s Drivetime (RTÉ Radio 1) returned to the issue, with David Quinn of the Iona Institute in discussion with Paul Rowe of Educate together – a less fractious discussion. Quinn was in favour of a certain amount of divestment but also wanted parent choice to be primary. He thought the controversy in the North Dublin area was due to poor communication on all sides. Rowe didn’t want to take choice away from any Catholic parents but thought communications from the Catholic schools to parents was irresponsible, inaccurate and misleading. Yet he showed what differences there would be in Educate Together schools, where Christmas would be marked as part of various ‘winter festivals’. I felt the discussion showed that there could be reasonable solutions that most involved could live with, while respecting diversity and choice. Pick of the week Mass For Palm Sunday RTÉ1, Sunday, April 14, 11 am With a gathered congregation from Lucan parish in Co. Dublin, in collaboration with Trócaire. Moving Statues – The Summer of 1985 RTÉ1, Monday, April 15, 9.35 pm In 1985, thousands of people gathered at grottos in the belief that they would witness statues physically move before their eyes. Solemn Liturgy For Good Friday RTÉ1, Good Friday, 3 pm From the Chapel of St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, the celebrant is Rev. Fr Thomás Surlis, with the Maynooth College Chapel Choir. The post ‘B’ list celebs take their turn on long road appeared first on The Irish Catholic.
Mouth-watering treats line up with the stars of music
Pat O'Kelly ‘Treat’, meaning something that gives great pleasure, seems to be out of fashion but I am reminded of it recently in three programmes at the National Concert Hall, which I consider merit the accolade. The first comes from the period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) conducted by Budapest-born pianist András Schiff; the second through the RTÉ NSO directed by Novosibirsk-born violinist Maxim Vengerov and finally the visit of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) under Tel Aviv-born violinist Pinchas Zukerman. London-domiciled Schiff’s romantic programme is devoted to Schumann and Brahms with the latter’s massive 1st Pano Concerto standing alone after the interval. Schumann’s 4th Symphony and the novelty of his Konzertstück for four horns are heard earlier. This brings most of OAE’s horn section out front and reveals the quartet’s sonorous balance to particular effect. The Concerto finds Schiff in wonderful form. Travelling with his own Blüthner piano, the ornate instrument is lovely to see but even more appealing to hear, once its autumnal tenor settles on the ear. It gives Brahms’s mellowness extra depth but also provides the necessary brightness for his glistening and commanding treble. Schiff’s directions to the orchestra are minimal but the cohesion between him and the OAE mean riveting music making. The first half of Vengerov’s event is devoted to Bach – the Double Violin Concerto, with the maestro joining our own Patrick Rafter; the solo A minor Concerto spotlighting Vengerov alone while the Oboe and Violin Concerto has NSO’s Matthew Manning tootling superbly as the Russian’s harmonious partner. Directing the NSO with a judicious nod now and then, there is homogeneous rapport between the two violinists with Vengerov never trying to outshine his younger companion. One feels from the outset here is genuine musical camaraderie. Brilliance Kilkenny-born Rafter, by the way, is on the threshold of a brilliant international career, if he has not crossed the bar already. Hailed as “belonging among the greatest violinists”, he followed his time at the RIAM by moving to London’s Royal Academy and then, at Vengerov’s invitation, coming under his tutelage. Rafter plays an 1840 Parisian Vuillaume while Vengerov’s Stradivarius dates back to 1727. Listening to the mellifluous Matthew Manning in the other double concerto I think again, “how lucky we are to have an artist of this calibre in our own orchestra”. His excellently controlled phrasing is a joy while seamless interaction between him and Vengerov is equally refined. The NSO, reduced to baroque forces, offers unfailingly buoyant support in each concerto. The RPO’s principal guest conductor Pinchas Zukerman opens his programme with Vaughan Williams’s moving Tallis Fantasia where the orchestra’s antiphonal string choirs are plaintive and elegiac. But there is, too, full-bodied richness in their burnished climaxes. Playing his 1742 Guarnerius del Gesù in Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto, New York-based Zukerman’s smoothly unforced tone is matched by the RPO’s effortless responses. The central ‘operatic aria’ movement is positively graceful while the concluding Rondeau has its own elegance even when ruffled by the throbbing rhythms of the Turkish section that gives the concerto its nickname. Memorable ‘treats’ all round. The post Mouth-watering treats line up with the stars of music appeared first on The Irish Catholic.