April 26, 2012

The Love Affair between Italy and Shakespeare

Speaking of Italy, “Anyone who claims Shakespeare’s poetry is lost in translation might have to think again.” At least, this is what the Guardian says in this article by Sonia Massai, Reader in Shakespeare & Early Modern Studies at King’s College, London—but frankly I think there’s no doubt about that. At the same time, there should be few doubts about the (reciprocal) love affair between Italy and Shakespeare:

Crucial to establishing Shakespeare's reputation in Italy has been the long relationship between Italy and England – and between Italy and London in particular. Eminent Italians reached London as political and religious émigrés during Shakespeare's lifetime, and although Italy was not yet in love with Shakespeare, Shakespeare may have fallen in love with Italy – quite literally, if, as the writer and critic Jonathan Bate has argued, the "dark lady" addressed in some of the sonnets was modelled on the wife of linguist John Florio, who taught Elizabeth's court how to speak Italian.

Definitely a must read for anyone who loves Shakespeare as well as those who love Italy, or both things at the same time, whether you are Italian or English, or from anywhere else.

And the love affair between Italy and Shakespeare continues. Worth mentioning are two current offerings of Shakespeare "made in Italy". The Taviani brothers' Caesar Must Die, about to open in the UK, was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival this year, while Rome's Villa Borghese hosts plays performed in Italian at an imposing replica of Shakespeare's Globe.
What better tribute to Sam Wanamaker's modern reconstruction, and the young Italian company performing Julius Caesar as part of the Globe to Globe season, than a few lines from Agostino Lombardo's splendid translation for Giorgio Strehler's famous 80s production of The Tempest?

April 22, 2012

The Global War on Christians

I know, time is precious, but please take an hour and a half to watch the video (see below) of a talk given by John L. Allen, Jr., at the recent Los Angeles Religious Education Congress 2012 on the global war on Christians. A senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and a vaticanologist of CNN and NPR, John L. Allen, Jr. carefully explains—on the basis of facts and evidence, not opinions—that what is at stake today for Christians worldwide is nothing less than their own survival. Yes, Christians are the most persecuted group in the contemporary world. (Via The Metaphysical Peregrine)

April 21, 2012

How Hard It Can Be to Make the Change from Democrat to Republican

I know from personal experience how hard it can be to make the change from Democrat to Republican. I also know that there comes a time when you look in your heart and realize that it may be hard to change, but it’s just something that you’ve got to do. Party loyalty can be mighty fierce, though.
We all know that story about way back when—probably one of the first Republicans was running here in the South for office, out soliciting votes, and he was rejected by one gentleman who said to him, ‘I’m a Democrat, always been a Democrat, my pappy was a Democrat, and my grandpappy was a Democrat.’ And the candidates made the mistake of saying, ‘Well, if your pappy was a jackass and your grandpappy was a jackass, what would that make you?’ And he says, ‘A Republican.’

~ Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Fund-raising Luncheon for Senator Jeremiah Denton in Birmingham, Alabama, June 6, 1985. Read the full text here.

President Reagan will be remembered as one of America’s most popular and beloved presidents. But history will also remember him for his outstanding sense of humor, which formed a critical part of his bond with the American people.

He used humor to address a wide array of issues, ranging from his relationship with Congress and the press to dealing with Democrats, bureaucrats and Communists. He also used a lot of self-effacing humor, a strategy that increased his popularity and helped him defuse specific issues such as his age and the accusation of not being a very hard worker—to which he used to respond with this characteristic jibe: “Hard work never killed anyone, but why take the chance?”

I must confess that his sense of humor is one of the reasons why I’ve always been a big fan of him. As Mark Twain once put it, “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place.”

April 20, 2012

RIP Levon Helm

Levon Helm died today at 71.

The Way They Do It in Washington?

“[S]ometimes there are two ways of doing things: the right way, and the way they do it in Washington.”

~ Ronald Reagan (Cenikor Foundation - Houston, Texas, April 29, 1983)

When “the Great Communicator” uttered that famous sentence, he probably made a mistake—he should have said, the way they do it in Rome. The first link of the list provides an illuminating example of this.

[Italian Politics Updates - 3]

  1. The Complicated Toils of the Most Despised Tax (The new “municipal” property tax gives revenue to the central government and is hard to calculate) | Il Sole-24 Ore
  2. Markets accept Italian fiscal slippage | Reuters
  3. Monti’s 2012 Italy Budget in Line With EU Forecast, Bailly Says | Bloomberg
  4. Three million Italians have given up job hunt | ANSA
  5. Italy shifts priority from austerity to growth | Reuters
  6. Labor union calls for major protest May 10 | ANSA

April 17, 2012

David Axelrod: A Revealing Moment of Truth

John Podhoretz in the New York Post:

On Sunday, the most important person in the Obama campaign aside from President Obama himself inadvertently gave the 2012 game away in one of the more revealing political moments of our lifetimes. David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, deserves enormous credit for having fashioned one of the most brilliant national campaigns in American history in 2008. But that was then, and this is now — and now Axelrod has gone on “Fox News Sunday” and offered the best and most succinct case for a Romney presidency yet. “The choice in this election,” said Axelrod, “is between an economy that produces a growing middle class and that gives people a chance to get ahead and their kids a chance to get ahead and an economy that continues down the road we are on.” Of course, the overseer of the “road we are on,” the man whose policy it has been to intervene directly and repeatedly in the economic affairs of the American people, is Obama. [Read the rest]

David Axelrod  (AP)

It is written, “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.” Now one might say, He who lives by David Axelrod…

April 16, 2012

April 15, 2012

Mantua: A Cultural City Guide

Do you remember Virgil, the ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period who wrote the Bucolics, the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid? Well, if so perhaps you remember where he was born and the verse inscription—supposedly composed by the poet himself—at his tomb in Posillipo, near Naples: “Mantua me genuit; Calabri rapuere; tenet nunc Parthenope. Cecini pascua, rura, duces” (“Mantua gave birth to me, the Calabrians took me, now Naples holds me; I sang of pastures, country and leaders”). Okay, why do I say that? Simply because in today’s Telegraph Helen Pickles offers an essential cultural guide to Mantua, the “overlooked Renaissance gem,” a mini-Florence, rich with art, intrigue and infidelities that is wrapped in water, where the Mincio broadens into three lakes… Unmissable—both the guide and the city, ça va sans dire.

April 14, 2012

Only Growth and Employment Can Stop the Markets’ Crisis

Gian Maria Gros-Pietro
Perhaps it is true that, as many analysts think, what’s behind the new major crash of European markets –the umpteenth black Friday—is the slowdown of the Chinese economy, but that’s neither the only nor the main trouble we have. The problem that needs a solution in Europe and especially in Italy is different and broader. It concerns the role emerging economies are increasingly playing in the international division of labor and wealth. To remain competitive, Europe and especially Italy need critical reforms. This is, in a nutshell, what Italian economist Gian Maria Gros-Pietro (here is some information about him) thinks about this week’s market crash. A thought provoking point of view, easy to understand even by people who are not experts (including yours truly).

Conservative Republicans for Romney

Credit: R.J. Matson  (via The Cagle Post)

According to CNN polling, Mitt Romney will be the only presidential candidate since 1996 to exit the primaries with a net negative approval rating. Not that I’m happy about that, mind you… And yet the former governor has a good reason to congratulate himself all the same!

April 11, 2012

Rick Santorum Drops Out

(Credit: Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Rick Santorum drops out, but claiming a victory of sorts. “Against all odds,” he said after leaving the race, “we won 11 states, millions of voters, millions of votes.” Paraphrasing what Charles Krauthammer wrote after Ron Paul’s impressive performance in New Hampshire three months ago, I’d say that there are two stories coming out of this Republican campaign: the big story is Mitt Romney, the bigger one is Rick Santorum. Perhaps the former senator was less a candidate than a “cause,” but his stronger-than-expected campaign has established him as a new leading voice for the conservative wing of the Republican party. “We are not done fighting, we are going to continue to fight for those Americans who stood up and gave us the air under our wings,” he said. We’ll hear about him for a long time.

Italian Politics: Latest News

Elsa Fornero, Mario Monti, Emma Marcegaglia

They say sarcasm is the lowest form of humor, and that’s definitely right. As for me, I don’t like it, but when the topic is politics, here in Italy, it’s often almost impossible to escape it. Take this news—related to the president of the leading organization representing the manufacturing and service industries in Italy—for example:

(AGI) Confindustria’s president Emma Marcegaglia, whose mandate expires in May, has said she is extremely happy to be returning to company business and that politics are not contemplated in her future. “Politics?” she said, “Absolutely not! I am delighted to be returning to run the company,” she explained while attending a meeting in Rovigo.

Well, she can’t imagine how delighted we are to hear that—though I wouldn’t bet on her workers’ happiness (but that’s another story). And yet that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is much, much more to be said, too much for a poor guy like me. That’s why I thought that the best thing to do is to provide a series of links to help you make an idea about what the state of the art is in this rather complicated field. Well, enjoy, and come back safely…

  1. EURO GOVT-Bund yields hit 6-mth lows; Spain, Italy pressure
  2. IKEA replaces some Asian suppliers with Italians
  3. European stock markets rocked by panic selling as debt crisis reignites
  4. Stock and bond markets rocked by fears of Italian and Spanish debt spirals
  5. Italy Fights Spain for Investors as ECB Boost Fades
  6. Son of founder of Italy’s Northern League resigns over party finance scandal
  7. Italy needs red tape bonfire before labour reform starts
  8. Ben Chu: It's not Spain nor Italy spooking the markets, but punishing austerity
  9. Italian politician accuses government of plot
  10. Politician's fall rocks Italy
  11. Marcegaglia was 'irresponsible' says Fornero 
  12. Italy's Northern League: Bossi booted 
  13. Bossi Quits as Head of Italy’s Northern League 
  14. Italy Northern League leader Bossi resigns amid scandal 
  15. Bossi Quits as Head of Italy’s Northern League
  16. Employers attack Italy’s labour reforms
  17. Italy labor market reform: more costs for companies, but flexibility and opportunity for young
  18. Italy Budget Shows Austerity's Risks
  19. Europe has overcome crisis, says Monti

April 8, 2012

Work in Progress

This blog is in transition (from windrosehotel.blogspot.com to windrosehotel.com). Since it takes time for this new address to be available all over the Internet, in the meanwhile Google/Blogspot will redirect readers from the old address to the new one. I’m also experiencing some other problems (e.g. the blog lists have become empty). I hope everything will be fixed soon. Thanks for your patience.

Let There Be Light!

Benedict XVI - Easter Vigil
on Holy Saturday on April 7, 2012
(Getty Images)
At Easter, on the morning of the first day of the week, God said once again: “Let there be light.” The night on the Mount of Olives, the solar eclipse of Jesus’ passion and death, the night of the grave had all passed. Now it is the first day once again – creation is beginning anew. “Let there be light,” says God, “and there was light:” Jesus rises from the grave. Life is stronger than death. Good is stronger than evil. Love is stronger than hate. Truth is stronger than lies. The darkness of the previous days is driven away the moment Jesus rises from the grave and himself becomes God’s pure light. But this applies not only to him, not only to the darkness of those days. With the resurrection of Jesus, light itself is created anew. He draws all of us after him into the new light of the resurrection and he conquers all darkness. He is God’s new day, new for all of us.

~ Benedict XVI, “With the resurrection of Jesus, God said once again: Let there be light!” The homily for the Easter Vigil on the night of April 7, 2012, in Saint Peter’s Basilica (read the full text here).

Happy Easter Everyone! May the risen Christ bring joy to your hearts and light to your eyes!

Fra Angelico, Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb (fresco)
Convento di San Marco, Florence

April 6, 2012

François Hollande and the Power of the Media

François Hollande
It was Oscar Wilde—not a short-sighted anti-freedom-of-speech reactionary—who said, back in 1890, “In the old days men had the rack. Now they have the Press.” “That is an improvement certainly,” he continued, “[b]ut still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralising. Somebody—was it Burke?—called Journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time, no doubt. But at the present moment it really is the only estate. […] We are dominated by Journalism. In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever.“

Well, he was definitely right, but what was true more than a century ago is even truer today with the additional support of cable and satellite television, internet access, etc. Whether you like it or not, the media have never been more influential than they are today, that’s for sure. To the point that they seem persuaded that most people have the same disposition as sheep… Take the case of France, where, as Mirino says in this post over at Viewfinder, they are confident of their divine power to influence public opinion in order to promote the election of a socialist candidate and government next month. “One notes that since Nicholas Sarkozy was elected in 2007,” he says, “certain media have constantly worked against him, discrediting him and denigrating his considerable efforts and accomplishments during one of the most difficult economic crisis in history.”

But François Hollande—the Socialist candidate for president of France who has virtually been “fabricated by the media and programmed to win the next elections”—besides being probably “a calculator and an opportunist” (if we look at the way he handled the DSK affair), is a politician who has never had any ministerial experience, and a man whose ideas are “totally unrealistic, isolationist and irresponsible.”

All this and much more in the above linked post, for which, I must confess, I bear some responsibility… A heartfelt thank you to my good friend Mirino for such an informative and insightful look into what is going on in French politics.

April 3, 2012

A List of Sites on Churches and Religions

A resource page by Sandro Magister. Definitely worth bookmarking and consulting for future (and current) reference.

April 2, 2012

The Clash

~ “LETTERS FROM AMERICA” - by The Metaphysical Peregrine ~

Today is Palm Sunday, the day when Christians celebrate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. There are sermons, books and essays on the event seemingly beyond counting, with as many different focuses. One of those observations is this is the event that first marked the clash between Empire and the Kingdom of God, or in more secular terms, between the State and Religion. That first clash got Jesus, a religious man, killed by the State.

It has been so ever since. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Marx, Engels, all the anti religious leaders and political philosophers since Jesus entered Jerusalem, make it quite clear Jews and Christians must be, if not murdered, at least marginalized for their dictatorships to survive. The killing still goes on in the Middle East on a massive scale, and a smaller scale in China and North Korea. Marginalizing is very strong in Europe and less so here in the US, but increased substantially with the Obama Administration.

It came about with his attack on the Catholic Church with him, the State, mandating they disobey church teaching and law, and obey him or they would be fined, imprisoned or both. This was a heck of a note for the Catholics in this country; they supported his election and the entire top down illegal, unconstitutional rulings that makes the State the arbiter of everything, even religion.

There’s no doubt there’s dishonesty in every politician (probably in each of us, it’s a matter of scale), but this man is a brazen liar, even more than Bill Clinton, to the point he incorporates them into his policies, regulations and presentations to the public. Follow this timeline for this dustup with the Church. When he told the Catholic Church they must deny the centuries old law and tradition of no contraception and must pay for and provide them, and they must also provide and pay for abortions, there was major pushback by citizens and the Church. Even some of his ardent supporters said he had gone too far. His dishonest response was he would make the insurance companies pick up the costs; the Church wouldn’t have to pay anything. Well, somebody will pay for it. Dishonest. Then he and his political operatives said that Christians and the Republican Party are denying women the right to use contraceptives, and are at war with women. Dishonest.

An amazing development is now insurance is supposed to cover the results of sexual activity. ObamaCare is a two birds with one stone scenario; it controls both insurance companies and all issues having to do with one’s body. Used to be insurance was pooling resources for when something went horribly wrong and was costly; the fund for a rainy day. Obama and the Left see having a baby as a horrible catastrophic event apparently. Obama’s statement in 2008:  “ I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby.”  Punished with a baby.

All this only marginally has to do with contraception, abortion, the Church, and freedom of religion. Obama and the Left know they must marginalize religious people to move their Statist agenda, deny individual choice and liberty to obtain absolute control. Well, they approve of one choice, to murder babies in the womb.

There was a time when it was mostly a moral compass that guided this country, and individuals. They weren’t perfect times to be sure. In my childhood, house keys were under doormats, thieves knew it, but very rarely used them (one was lesser of a thief?). Keys were left in the ignition when running into a store for a sec to pick up some milk. Kids were safe to play in the front yard. Gas was paid for after it was pumped. All that’s been turned inside out and upside down. We have students thinking cheating is okay. Stealing music through downloads is okay. If you get pregnant it’s okay to take someone else’s money to abort the baby. Now we have a President of the United States, going beyond arrogance, thinking it's okay to lie about anything, anytime to empower the State. At one time even politicians placed some limits on themselves and worked together, understanding there was a moral political compass, and the well being of the county was what mattered. 

Now the view is that since morality is out the window, more laws are needed to replace them. Laws written by egoistic, self promoting, self interested, selfish secularists. 

Recently Obama asked the president of Russia (in an overheard secretive conversation) to give him some space until after the election so he could be more accommodating, “flexible” is the word he used, in his second term. He is so much a liar, he plans how he’s going to lie to citizens in the future. There were uncountable lies about ObamaCare, it being passed in the middle of the night on a national holiday with not one Republican voting for it, and the Speaker of the House saying they have to pass it to know what’s in it. There were so many lies and bribes that it’s now in the Supreme Court; the result of so many lies in one place they could not be contained.

This man’s lies have caused a deeper racial divide, alienated foreign allies, given comfort to enemy States wishing to destroy the US, has caused an energy crises with uncontrollable rising costs to citizens, paying off “green” energy companies that fail and fail and fail (they are massive donors to the Democrat Party and his Campaign, kickbacks of taxpayer money given them), taken and given bribes to the wealthy while denouncing them, and back to the beginning of this post, has attacked religion consciously and with reason. He has divided everyone, and now our country is in a civil war; religion, morality, the Church, individual liberty, vs Obama and the Lefts’ campaign of violence (the Occupy Movement is still clashing with police, women are still being raped, babies are still being abandoned, people are still being beaten and murdered), deception, brazen lies and the denial of individual liberty.   

"In Essentials Unity, In Non-Essentials Liberty, In All Things Charity" ~~Rupertus Meldenius. Obama, Leftists, and the Democrat Party have turned this most profound observation into ‘in essentials division, in non-essentials what the State says it wants, and in charity there will be none unless approved by and filtered through the State’. The word charity in the quote is often translated as love. Have you ever known a government to love? Have you ever felt love from a politician or government bureaucrat? But I’ve felt the love of the Church, of co-religionists, of fellow worshippers, of God. I will always fall on the side of the Man on the donkey, and lay my cloak before Him, never on the side of the dictator that thinks he is a god.     

April 1, 2012

How Marvellous the Power of the Cross

St. Leo the Great  (VIII century fresco)
Santa Maria Antiqua Church - Rome
Our understanding, which is enlightened by the Spirit of truth, should receive with purity and freedom of heart the glory of the cross as it shines in heaven and on earth. It should see with inner vision the meaning of the Lord’s words when he spoke of the imminence of his passion: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Afterward he said: Now my soul is troubled, and what am I to say? Father, save me from this hour. But it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your Son. When the voice of the Father came from heaven, saying, I have glorified him, and will glorify him again, Jesus said in reply to those around him: It was not for me that this voice spoke, but for you. Now is the judgment of the world, now will the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself.
How marvellous the power of the cross; how great beyond all telling the glory of the passion: here is the judgement-seat of the Lord, the condemnation of the world, the supremacy of Christ crucified.
Lord, you drew all things to yourself so that the devotion of all peoples everywhere might celebrate, in a sacrament made perfect and visible, what was carried out in the one temple of Judea under obscure foreshadowings.
Now there is a more distinguished order of Levites, a greater dignity for the rank of elders, a more sacred anointing for the priesthood, because your cross is the source of all blessings, the cause of all graces. Through the cross the faithful receive strength from weakness, glory from dishonor, life from death.
The different sacrifices of animals are no more: the one offering of your body and blood is the fulfilment of all the different sacrificial offerings, for you are the true Lamb of God: you take away the sins of the world. In yourself you bring to perfection all mysteries, so that, as there is one sacrifice in place of all other sacrificial offerings, there is also one kingdom gathered from all peoples.
Dearly beloved, let us then acknowledge what Saint Paul, the teacher of the nations, acknowledged so exultantly: This is a saying worthy of trust, worthy of complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.
God’s compassion for us is all the more wonderful because Christ died, not for the righteous or the holy but for the wicked and the sinful, and, though the divine nature could not be touched by the sting of death, he took to himself, through his birth as one of us, something he could offer on our behalf.
The power of his death once confronted our death. In the words of Hosea the prophet: Death, I shall be your death; grave, I shall swallow you up. By dying he submitted to the laws of the underworld; by rising again he destroyed them. He did away with the everlasting character of death so as to make death a thing of time, not of eternity. As all die in Adam, so all will be brought to life in Christ.

~ St. Leo the Great, Sermo 8 de passione Domini, 6-8; PL 54, 340-342.

What an amazing page, and what a great way to prepare to enter the Holy Week! St. Leo the Great, Pope Leo I from 440 to 461, is by any standards one of the towering figures in the history of the Church. He is perhaps best known for having met Attila the Hun in 452 at the very gates of Rome and persuading him to turn back from his invasion of Italy, but he is also a “Doctor of the Church,” that is, a preeminent Teacher and a theologian regarded as particularly authoritative. In fact it was he who formed the doctrine of the Incarnation in a famous letter to the Patriarch of Constantinople—also known as the Tome of Leo—and at the Council of Chalcedon this same letter was confirmed as the expression of Christian Faith concerning the Person of Christ. The acts of the council report:

After the reading of the foregoing epistle, the most reverend bishops cried out: This is the faith of the fathers, this is the faith of the Apostles. So we all believe, thus the orthodox believe. Anathema to him who does not thus believe. Peter has spoken thus through Leo. So taught the Apostles. Piously and truly did Leo teach, so taught Cyril. Everlasting be the memory of Cyril. Leo and Cyril taught the same thing, anathema to him who does not so believe. This is the true faith. Those of us who are orthodox thus believe. This is the faith of the fathers. [Quoted in the Wikipedia entry for Pope Leo I]

Yet, without even considering St. Leo the Great from both a strictly theological point of view and a historical perspective, what impresses me the most in him is his amazingly clear and accessible style, which in turn—as the above excerpt from his Sermo 8 shows—conveys a great sense of spiritual and doctrinal authority. As the old Latin saying goes, “Simplex sigillum very” (simplicity is the sign of truth). Isn’t this just what we need? Well, perhaps not all of us… Sorry for those who don’t. Have a Blessed Holy Week!


First written for The Metaphysical Peregrine