Holy Saturday


When Thou didst descend to death 0 Life Immortal, Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead! And when from the depths Thou didst raise the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of Life! Christ our God! Glory to Thee!

The angel standing by the grave cried out to the women: Myrrh is proper for the dead, but Christ has shown Himself a stranger to corruption.

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Via:: American Conservative


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Words on the Street

Starting this week, New Urbs will be regularly collecting the best content we’ve read each week that we didn’t publish—but would have. Read something you think should make the cut? E-mail Jon Coppage or tag @NewUrbs with the link on Twitter.

“Reclaiming Redneck Urbanism” via MarketUrbanism

By combining these liberal land-use regulations with narrow streets shared by all users, we ironically find in many trailer parks a kind of traditional urban design more common in European and Japanese cities.

“Trains in Space” via London Review of Books

The peculiarity of the railways in the country that invented them is that everyone involved can claim to be playing a heritage role, whatever they do. Modernity at its most destructive and ruthless was as essential a characteristic of the railways in the 1830s as engineering flair and craftsmanship, and capitalism at its most exploitative and greedy was a greater driver of the initial rapid growth of the network than abstract concern for progress or the good of society.

“The Rowhome Is Us” via Philadelphia

And anyway, regardless of the specifics of the individual architecture­ — no matter how traditional or trendy, how stunning or schlocky — living in a rowhouse isn’t only about the individual. It’s about the whole. And where the two meet. It is, as my wise neighbor Cece commented, “about feeling like you’re a part of something.”

“In Praise of the Library of Congress” via The Week

Quality government requires, on some level, that bureaucrats overcome their self-interest and do a good job simply because it is virtuous. I suggest that beauty for its own sake is an important part of this process. Under the dome of the Main Reading Room — as with the Capitol Rotunda — the demand to live up to the national ancestors is almost palpable. … A dignified nation does not conduct its business from ugly concrete boxes.

“Beyonce’s Simple But Radical Front Porch Politics” via CityLab

Congregating on the front porch or stoop of folks’ homes is an inveterate cultural element of black communities across America, especially in the South. For New Orleans, one need look no further than the early music videos of No Limit and Cash Money Records artists to see how much of a cultural staple front porch convening is—or was—to the urban fabric.

“New Urbs” is supported by a grant from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

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Via:: American Conservative


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Of Babies And Barbarians

A reader writes:

Just thought this was worth bringing up.

Vox had a piece today about how both proponents and opponents of abortion are misinformed about the facts of abortion. Opponents think it is very dangerous whereas it is actually safer than real births. The statistics that are helpfully provided are – 9 deaths per 1000 live births vs. 0.6 deaths per 1000 abortions.

On the other hand, the article says that proponents of abortion mistakenly think the procedure is rarer than it is i.e. it happens more frequently than we believe. But funnily enough, no stats are provided to put this in perspective. I mean its possible proponents may think the rate of abortion is something like 15 per 1000 births when it is actually 25 per 1000 births or something like that. Impossible to know without the data though.

So I checked. According to the CDC in 2012 (last year with reported data), 699,202 legal induced abortions were reported to CDC from 49 reporting areas. The abortion rate for 2012 was 13.2 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years, and the abortion ratio was 210 abortions per 1,000 live births. To repeat…for every five births there is one abortion. 91% of these abortions are done within the first trimester and 99% within the first five months. In the period 2002 – 2011, there were a total of 8.1M abortions reported to the CDC. I don’t know about you but I am stunned.

Try and spin that through your mind a few times…in the years of the Great War on Terror, 8.1M abortions happened within the walls of the country waging the GWOT. When we talk about this issue…we really should have all the facts on the table. I have no grand ideas or insights here, but for everybody out there interested in empirical, evidence-based policy, some starting facts might be useful.

8.1M !!!!!! May God have mercy on us and guide us all….

But … but … they are supposed to be the barbarians! This reader is messing with the Official Story. Good. It needs to be messed with.

I’m guessing by the name of the reader who sent this letter in that he’s a Muslim — which, if true, adds some context to his valid complaint about this country’s regard for human life. We say we want immigrants to assimilate, but it’s important to keep in mind that we are asking them to assimilate to the norms of a nation whose people exterminate about a million of its unborn children each year.

[Note to readers: I’m away from the blog and not approving comments today. I wrote this and all posts appearing on Friday last night. Leave your remarks and I’ll approve them tomorrow. — RD]

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Via:: American Conservative


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Poor Citizenship

Behavior, the 2014 movie from Cuban writer and director Ernesto Daranas that is still playing festival circuits in the U.S., is not one-of-a-kind. It is not unprecedented; it does not break (much) new ground. What it is, is an exceptionally heartfelt, moving, and artistically accomplished example of its genre. As Brooklyn is what an Irish-American romance should aspire to be, so Behavior is the “coming of age in the underclass” story at its most luminous.

Behavior tells two intertwined stories: 12-year-old Chala (Armando Valdés Freire) woos brassy classmate Yeni (Amaly Junco) and keeps getting into trouble at school; his increasingly-embattled, aging teacher Carmela (Alina Rodriguez) struggles to keep him out of a “re-education school.” Chala starts his schooldays cleaning up after his addicted mother (Yuliet Cruz), catching pigeons to sell, and then feeding the fighting dogs owned by the man who might be his father (Armando Miguel Gómez), all before he grabs his bookbag and heads to class.

The camera lingers on the rubble and the rust. You can smell the blood in the air at the dog ring. You can smell the sweat, as the air shimmers with heat. The colors are golden, battered off-white, deep brown and black tones, with splashes of red: the flowers in girls’ hair, the pioneer scarves on the schoolchildren, the blood.

This is a perfectly-paced movie. Intense emotional scenes cut to meditative or casual ones in unexpected ways—the most striking example is when Chala spies on his mother having sex, and then immediately we see Yeni and her friends practicing flamenco steps in an abandoned train car.

Daranas has rounded up a stellar cast. Freire as Chala is cheeky, tough, an S.E. Hinton character in an even harder time and place. Junco is exactly as cheeky, exactly as tough, with her underbite and her long, wavy pigtails and her grit. Rodriguez shows us in her face and her tired body a woman carved by decades of hard, loving effort—half the adults in the film were once her students. Both Chala and Yeni have little packs of friends who follow them around, terrific comedy choruses. Cruz as Chala’s mom is hunchy and zombified, which, in this movie, didn’t read as cliched. It’s how she is. Even Gómez sells his character as a hard man who isn’t quite as ruthless as he wants to appear. You can hear in these descriptions how easy it would be for the characters to become sentimentalized. It’s to Daranas’s credit that instead they come across as the real things sentiment feeds on.

This is a hard, sad movie about children whose every halting step forward requires heroic effort. The romance between Chala and Yeni is threatened by Chala’s work at the dog ring (the way Yeni handles this shows the children’s ages so perfectly) and by the police who want to force Yeni and her father out of Havana, back to their home province.

Behavior is a heroic-teacher movie, and like most heroic-teacher movies it is a depiction of governmental institutions which promise to …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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Conservatism After Trump

David Brooks says that he’s not taking Donald Trump’s march to the nomination lying down. He confesses that he has spent too much time inside bourgeois circles, talking to people like himself, and hasn’t spent enough time out with the kind of people who respond to Trump’s message. A lot of people don’t like David Brooks (I am not one of them; I’m very fond of him), but you have to give the man credit: it’s very hard to find another prominent columnist at his level who will admit he was wrong, especially in that way, and who vows to get out of his office and into the country to see what’s going on.

Anyway, this part of the column is especially interesting:

We’ll also need to rebuild the sense that we’re all in this together. The author R. R. Reno has argued that what we’re really facing these days is a “crisis of solidarity.” Many people, as the writers David and Amber Lapp note, feel pervasively betrayed: by for-profit job-training outfits that left them awash in debt, by spouses and stepparents, by people who collect federal benefits but don’t work. They’ve stopped even expecting loyalty from their employers. The big flashing lights say: NO TRUST. That leads to an everyone-out-for-himself mentality and Trump’s politics of suspicion. We’ll need a communitarianism.

Maybe the task is to build a ladder of hope. People across America have been falling through the cracks. Their children are adrift. Trump, to his credit, made them visible. We can start at the personal level just by hearing them talk.

Then at the community level we can listen to those already helping. James Fallows had a story in The Atlantic recently noting that while we’re dysfunctional at the national level you see local renaissances dotted across the country. Fallows went around asking, “Who makes this town go?” and found local patriots creating radical schools, arts festivals, public-private partnerships that give, say, high school dropouts computer skills.

Then solidarity can be rekindled nationally. Over the course of American history, national projects like the railroad legislation, the W.P.A. and the NASA project have bound this diverse nation. Of course, such projects can happen again — maybe though a national service program, or something else.

He may be right. I hope he’s right. This has implications, obviously, for the Benedict Option.

As I see it, the Ben Op is, as someone here put it the other day, a form of “Christian localism,” one that would inspire exactly the kind of thing Brooks is talking about here. One gives up much hope of changing the country, and focus on what good one can do locally. As I will never tire of saying, the best example I have yet encountered is the Tipiloschi, the lay Catholics in San Benedetto del Tronto, Italy, who built a community school that also serves kids outside their own community, who reach out to local kids who are falling through the cracks and helps them, and who even launched a solidarity …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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NCAA Polices Political Morality

The oh-so-progressive NCAA just cannot keep from imposing its morals on everyone, even when their moralizing has nothing at all to do with athletics:

After months of hinting that it would use its financial clout to take a stand against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the NCAA on Wednesday made it official.

The organization’s Board of Governors, at its quarterly meeting in Indianapolis, adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events in all divisions — from Final Fours to educational conferences.

Those host sites must “demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event,” the NCAA said.


It’s not the first time the NCAA has taken a strong stance on a controversial issue. It already prohibits championship events in states where governments display Confederate flags. It also bars NCAA members from hosting championships if their school nicknames use Native American imagery that is considered abusive and offensive.

The NCAA in a statement said it “considers the promotion of inclusiveness in race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity as a vital element to protecting the well-being of student-athletes, promoting diversity in hiring practices and creating a culture of fairness.”

Did you ever think you would see the day when a law that prevents a man dressed like a woman from taking a whiz in the ladies’ room would be grounds to deny a city the right to host a football game? If it was about protecting the right of gay athletes to compete, that’s certainly morally justified. But policing the toilet laws of states and localities? Really? The NCAA’s moralistic political preening is nauseating. This kind of thing has absolutely nothing to do with athletics, and everything to do with imposing liberal morality. Just shut up and play ball already.

If you are a conservative Christian college, you had better read the handwriting on the wall: the NCAA is very soon going to make you choose between sports and your religion. Not sure how many collegiate Charioteers of Fire we have in this country. We’re about to find out.

[Note to readers: Comments made today will be approved tomorrow. Thanks for your patience. — RD]

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Via:: American Conservative


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Trump Bait — Again

Donald Trump could not have paid for a better advertisement for his campaign. From the Los Angeles Times:

Hundreds of demonstrators filled the street outside the Orange County amphitheater where Donald Trump held a rally Thursday night, stomping on cars, hurling rocks at motorists and forcefully declaring their opposition to the Republican presidential candidate.

Traffic came to a halt as a boisterous crowd walked in the roadway, some waving American and Mexican flags. At one point, a demonstrator stomped on a police cruiser, its windows smashed to pieces.

“Dump the Trump,” said one sign. Another protester scrawled an expletive and Trump’s name onto a Costa Mesa police cruiser.

“I’m protesting because I want equal rights for everybody, and I want peaceful protest,” said 19-year-old Daniel Lujan, one of hundreds in a crowd that appeared to be mostly in their late teens and 20s.

Video footage showed some anti-Trump demonstrators hurling debris at a passing pickup truck. One group of protesters carried benches and blocked the entrance to the 55 Freeway along Newport Boulevard, with some tossing rocks on motorists near the onramp.

When a guy running for president can’t speak to his supporters without opponents staging a near-riot outside, throwing rocks at passing motorists and vandalizing police cars, it makes you wonder if he doesn’t have a point about how the country is going downhill. Remember how protesters in Chicago back in March shut down a Trump rally before it got started? We cannot have a country where violent mobs no-platform political candidates. Period.

I mean, look, I don’t blame Mexicans and Mexican-Americans for being offended by Trump’s nasty remarks about them. I don’t blame them one bit for protesting against Trump’s big mouth. But attacking the police over the fact that Trump is in town giving a speech to his backers? Turning yourselves into a violent mob because you hate the guy? This is not an America I want any part of. I mean, look at this (via Steve Sailer, who has pictures of the protesters waving Mexican flags):

the peaceful & tolerant left protesting trump!

mainstream media isn’t showing! sad! pic.twitter.com/eo9nRia23g

— Baked Alaska (@bakedalaska) April 29, 2016

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Via:: American Conservative


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Growing Up With Sensual Religion

Last night we had one of the longest services of the year in the Orthodox Church: the ritualized Holy Thursday reading of these 12 Passion narratives from the Gospels. It takes about three hours, with all the accompanying prayers, chants, Psalms, candle-lighting, and ceremonials. Holy Week in the Orthodox Church is pretty close to overwhelming. It’s grueling — I’m putting in a five-hour shift from midnight till five a.m. on Saturday, reading the Psalms aloud in church — but it’s also transcendentally beautiful.

Reading this Image Journal interview with the novelist and short story writer George Saunders late last night made me wonder how … well, see this excerpt first then I’ll tell you what it made me wonder:

For a couple of years when I was quite young, the Mass was still done in Latin, and my mom tells me I could say it from memory, beginning to end. Artistic things were going on there. Every day the altar would be decorated differently, in different colors, for different holy days and so on, and I remember being really interested in that—in the care that was taken in the visual display. And there were things about the Mass itself that were powerful training for a would-be artist. The Mass is a beautiful, big metaphor, and one thing a kid could learn by going to Mass over and over was that meaning can be conveyed in various ways, including sublingually and subconceptually, through metaphor and repetition and what is not said. That’s great training for an artist—the idea that even if you can’t articulate a certain effect, it can still be happening. Once that notion gets into you, you’re hungry for it the rest of your life. I’m grateful for all those things: For the idea that you can be more than you think you are. …

That’s really great. It made me think about how the only thing my kids know is the Orthodox form of Christianity. The younger two kids only remember Orthodoxy. Matthew was seven when we became Orthodox, so he might have some memories of Catholicism, but surely most of his sense memories of churchgoing are in Orthodoxy. And that means a far more elaborate mystical and aesthetic experience of Christian worship than he would have gotten anywhere else.

Orthodoxy has it’s problems, Lord knows, but one thing the Orthodox Church knows how to do better than everybody else is celebrate liturgy (Many Eastern Rite Catholics use the same liturgy, so I mean them too.) The colors of the icons and the vestments, the liberal use of incense, candles everywhere and the aroma of beeswax; the frequent crossing, bowing, kissing, blessing, and ritual gestures that tell a story; and the fact that nearly all the liturgy is sung, sometimes in ancient melodies that simply stun — I’m wondering how this kind of thing stands to affect the artistic imagination of children raised in it. We know how having something similar in preconciliar Catholicism affected George Saunders. I wonder how …read more

Via:: American Conservative


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