Sunday, March 27, 2011

Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

Men - Their rights and nothing more
Women - Their rights and nothing less
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her

- Susan B. Anthony

I grew up with this woman's profile on my dollar coins.  I knew that she was a feminist, but I am just now learning what Susan B. Anthony brought to my world.  A Quaker, Mrs. Anthony was dedicated to all people living with dignity.  While not quite as enlightened as her good friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony fought for the downtrodden, especially women.  Both women were married.  Both women became mothers.  Both women were champions for women's suffrage.  And both women were staunchly pro-life. 

As we teach our sons and daughters about the founding mothers of feminism, let us teach how they fought for the dignity of women's bodies, and their natural ability to bear children. 
"When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit."  - Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Letter to Julia Ward Howe, October 16, 1873, recorded in Howe's diary at Harvard University Library

"Guilty? Yes. No matter what the motive (for abortion), love of ease, or a desire to save from suffering the unborn innocent, the woman is awfully guilty who commits the deed. It will burden her conscience in life, it will burden her soul in death; But oh, thrice guilty is he who drove her to the desperation which impelled her to the crime!" 
- Susan B. Anthony

11 Degrees 

Let's link the founding mothers of American feminism to Pope John Paul II via degrees of good works!  I realize that 11 is more than usual, but they are wonderful degrees and I learned a lot while writing them.  Enjoy!

(11th Degree,) Susan B. Anthony and (10th Degree,)  Elizabeth Cady Stanton
late in the 19th Century

Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked closely with
(9th Degree,) Frederick Douglass
to end slavery and promote the rights of all Americans

Frederick Douglass escaped slavery in Maryland via ship.  He came to New Bedford, Massachusetts
by way of New York.  He then connected to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, becoming a public speaker.  He had a close association with a Quaker and fellow abolishionist,...
William Lloyd Garrison.  (8th Degree,) Mr. Garrison
published a book by the former slave woman, 
Sojourner Truth.  (7th Degree,) Ms Truth is shown here in a portrait with (6th Degree,)
Abraham Lincoln.
We linked President Lincoln to Pope John Paul II
by 6 and 7 degrees in February.  Here is that post.

Where did your Christ come from?
"Ain't I a woman?"  - Sojourner Truth
The Theotokos!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Simone Veil

Simone Veil
Simone Annie Liline Jacob
Simone Veil, born Simone Annie Liline Jacob, was born to an educated Jewish family in southern France in 1927.  In 1944 her family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau then Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.  Only she and her sister survived to be liberated in 1945 by British soldiers.

Here is a British radio broadcast of the Bergen-Belsen liberation.  Here is a link to a tribute film to the liberation.

After her liberation from Bergen-Belsen, Simone met and married her husband, Antoine Veil.  She was educated as a scientist and lawyer and became Minister of Health for the Valery Giscard d'Estaing and Jacques Chirac, both of whom met Pope John Paul II.
Giscard d'Estaing and Pope John Paul II

President Jacques Chirac and Pope John Paul II in Lourdes, France in 2004
The accomplishments of Simone Veil

I just couldn't stomach posting pictures of
aborted fetuses.  They are out there and horrific
like the pictures of the concentration camps.  
Simone Veil did many wonderful things during her lifetime.  She had a family and fostered loving relationships with them, she was President of the European Parliament, she was president of Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoahand she worked tirelessly for women's rights.  What she is most known for is her fight to legalize birth control pills and abortion in France.  Was that an accomplishment?  

Birth rates across Western Europe are very low.  Abortion is rampant, not as much in Europe as in the United States, but even so, the numbers of those killed via abortion since 1974 dwarf those killed in the Shoah by a factor of 10.  Women have become more objectified and families have been weakened.  I doubt that Simone Veil would support such a culture of death if she realized that was her legacy.  I hope that, in her golden years, she has a change of heart.  


Friday, March 18, 2011

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr

"Any girl can be glamorous, all you have to do is stand still and look stupid," said Hedy Lamarr, the beautiful scientist whose inventions make your cell phone possible!  

In 1942, Ms Lamarr, whose birth name was Hedwig Eva Maria Keisler, and her endocrinologist/composer friend, George Anthiel, patented a torpedo guidance system.  This new radio control system with alternating signal could be controlled by a plane overhead and not heard or intercepted by others.  This technology is what makes cell phone calls private and able to roam.

In this article, learn how Ms Lamarr almost left acting to persue a career in inventing, how her first husband, an arms maker, (Jewish but made  Ehrenarier,) cavorted with the like of Hitler, and how her invention was shunned by the US military until the blockade of Cuba.  
5 Degrees
Fifth Degree: Hedy Lamarr

In this clip, we learn about German and Austrian people who fled to the United States in the 1930s.  Hedy Lamarr was among them.  This film is in French with English subtitles.  Very interesting.

Fourth Degree: Mel Brooks
Ms Lamarr was not thrilled with the character, Hedley Lamarr in the film, Blazing Saddles.  She sued the producers of the film and they settled out of court.  For an excellent podcast about Ms. Lamar that mentions the lawsuit, click here. 
Third  Degree: Johnny Carson
Mel Brooks appeared many times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  This is one of those appearances.  
Second Degree: Red Skelton
As mentioned in a previous post, Red Skelton had Johnny Carson fill in for him on his show when Red was off in Europe meeting Pope Pius XII.  Red honored Johnny by inducting him into the Television Hall of Fame.
First Degree: Pope Pius XII

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Julius Caesar

Caesar's adopted son, Augustus (or Octavian) was the Caesar Augustus of the bible.  We explored his relationship to Jesus last December 19th.  Beware the ides of March, Caesar.  You got a bit too big for your breeches and were cut down to size.  No kids either, his love child with Cleopatra, Caesarian, was murdered at age 17, and his baby girl died the week she was born.  Caesar is 5 degrees from Pope John Paul II.

Caesar to Augustus to Jesus to Saint Peter to John Paul.

We take a break from women and holocaust remembrance for various and entertaining explorations of Julius Caesar, who met his end a few thousand years ago, today.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cleopatra #2, Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor is the face most people think of when they think of Cleopatra
There's just nothing like a Cecil B. Demille epic scene with thousands of extras.

Fifth Degree: Elizabeth Taylor
Famous for her violet eyes and many husbands, Ms Taylor is an icon of the American cinema.  Her career was at its height in the 1960s when she appeared with.....
Fourth Degree: Burl Ives,
in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."  We already reckonned Burl Ives at 4 degrees from John Paul II in the post on Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  Here's the trailer to "Cat".

"From the 1940s through 1960, Burl Ives was considered America’s most authoritative interpreter of American folk songs. A mainstream figure (better known than Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie), his penetrating, tenor voice with its unique timbre was recognized by millions." -Ellen Harold and Peter Stone
Ives is remembered for his novelty songs from the 1960s, but his impact on American music is much deeper than that.  For a great article on Ives, go to the Association for Cultural Equality site.  This Alan Lomax site is dedicated to Lomax' lifetime passion, folkmusic.  While I'm sure that Ives and Lomax met, I cannot find a picture of it or any quotes from a meeting.  So I'm going to link Ives to Lomax via...

Third Degree: Woody Guthrie
Guthrie and Lomax collected folksong together as we see in this photograph from the American South.
Woody Guthrie on left, Alan Lomax at the right
children unknown
Second Degree: Alan Lomax 
received the National Medal of Arts from President Ronald Reagan.

First Degree: President Ronald Reagan
A former McCarthyist, President Reagan turned over a new leaf when he awarded Alan Lomax the Medal of Arts in 1986.  During the time of McCarthyism in the United States, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, and Alan Lomax were black listed. 

Saint Paul
Blast from the East: Metania (Metanoia)
Ronald Reagan once tried to end the professional lives of Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie, and Alan Lomax, but he changed completely by the time he became president.  He turned away from the sin of bearing false witness and praised those he had persecuted.  This is very much like what Saint Paul did, only Reagan never acknowledged as president, his former McCarthyist work.

We are in the season of Great Lent.  Many priests (Western) will be taking out their rusty Greek and using the word, "metanoia" in their sermons.  In the East, we live this word physically in prayer.  During Great Lent, we say the Prayer of Saint Efraim several times each service and during The Divine Liturgy.  Prostrations are called "metania" in the Eastern Church.  Crossing one's self is a form of prostration before God.  Add a bow and it's more of a prostration.  Touch the floor as part of making your cross, and you're making a metania.  Get on your knees and face on the floor and that is a "full metania."  

The word "metania" literally means to change direction 180 degrees.  To switch direction, to go the other way.  Spiritually we are turning away from sin and toward Jesus Christs.  See here as Orthodox priests and deacons do full metanias and recite the prayer of Saint Efraim during Great Lent.  

Cleopatra #1: Claudette Colbert

3 Degrees
Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra 1934
She had a distrust of Technicolor and preferred to be shot in black and white.
She insisted on being shot with her face's left side to the camera.

Third Degree: Claudette Colbert's career spanned from the time of silent pictures into the late 1980s.  When she died at the age of 93, she left no immediate family.  Here she is as Cleopatra.  Ooolala!

Second Degree: Gary Cooper
Claudette Colbert was friendly with Gary Cooper and attended parties with him and other Hollywood A-listers.
Charles Boyer, Claudette Colbert, and Gary Cooper
at a Hollywood party in the 1950s

Gary Cooper and his wife went to mass regularly for years before Gary converted to Catholicism.  His daughter remembers the event in her memoir, Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers, Harry N. Abrams, Inc.: New York, NY (1999).  
Gary Cooper and his family meeting Pius XII

First Degree: Pope Pius XII
Pius XII has appeared many times in the blog.  From the Chairman Mao post to the post on Archbishop Fulton Sheen to the second post on King Tut, Pius' reach is long and lasting.  He stood up to Communists and Nazis, he opened his heart to Red Skelton, he was saintly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Degree: Cleopatra VII, Pharaoh of Egypt

Maria Callas, Greek Diva
Much has been written of Cleopatra, but we know very little about her.  She was sexy and powerful, but not pretty.  Her hook nose as a bit large for her face, and her eyes probably had dark circles.  She probably resemble Maria Callas more than Elizabeth Taylor, but with a longer, more hooked nose.  The only portraits we have of her are from her coinage.
Cleopatra coin from her reign

Cleopatra was a Queen of the Ptolomeic Dynasty.  In accordance with Egyptian tradition, she married her brothers when they were Pharaoh, each in turn.  (for more on the incestuous tradition of the Pharaohs, see this post on King Tut) After the death of her last brother, she became Pharaoh outright.

She was famous for her lovers, especially the Romans, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony.  She bore a child by Caesar, Caesarion Ptolomy, the heir to her throne.

Finding blood relations of Cleopatra is very difficult indeed.  Her line died out soon after her death.  Two of her three children died before she did.  Her family was very inbred.  She had just 4 (from a possible 16) great-grandparents and 6 great-great-grandparents (but two of those were descended from the other four).  For a clear family tree, go to Cleopatra's wikipedia article.  Her children would be very very sickly if they survived birth at all.  Her only hope for a reasonably healthy child was from one of her Roman lovers.

There is no tomb or mummy of Cleopatra to date.  Dr. Zahi Hawass (a regular figure on the blog,) thinks he's close to finding her tomb.  Dr. Hawass is 2 degrees from John Paul II, search his name in the sidebar.  He's in several posts.  But he's not yet a degree from Cleopatra.  Once there is better archeological progress on finding the real Cleopatra, I'll do a post on her.

Let's have a little fun and explore two of the women who have played Cleopatra in film.  Let's take them in chronological order; Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Anonymous Girl

March is Holocaust Remembrance Month 
Women's History Month

Little Girls who suffered
and died in the Holocaust
So much of women's history is lost because it was not written down or was oppressed.  This first story of the month is a perfect example of that.  It also speaks to the indomitable spirit of womankind and the love within her that transcends history books.   We'll explore several fascinating women this month.  Let's start with one whose name we'll never know.

Second Degree: Anonymous Girl
These words were written on the wall of a Gestapo cell by an 18-year-old girl.  Take a moment to pray for this girl's soul and for the millions of women who died in the Holocaust, calling on the Most Blessed Mother to protect and guide them.  No doubt, She did and still does.
First Degree: Henryk Gorecki
Polish composer, Henryk Gorecki was inspired by the writings of the 18-year-old girl and used her words as the libretto to the second movement of his third symphony, Sorrowful Songs.  You can buy it by clicking here.

Henryk Gorecki
Below is an excerpt from the Suffering With Joy blog.  It is used here with permission.  

Pope John Paul II and composer Henryk Gorecki had much in common.  Both were Poles, both lost their mothers at young ages, both resisted and thwarted the Communists oppressing their country,  both experienced deeply the anguish of World War II and the Holocaust, both became great because of strength of character and moral authority.
Cardinal Wojtyla’s motto, Totus Tuus, spoke of his great love for the Blessed Mother both personally and as a Pole.  She is intimately tied to the Polish people whose devotion to her is unexcelled by any other nation. They weave Mary into the tapestry of their daily, ordinary life, their spiritual lifetheir family life. Shrines to Our Lady dot the countryside along the many pilgrim paths.
The Pope's parents on their wedding day.
12-year old Karol Wojtyla
he lost his mother 4 years
Certainly as boys who had lost their mothers early in life, Mary as tender mother held a special place in the hearts of Gorecki and Wojtyla.  When he became Pope John Paul II, Wojtyla kept this motto and love of the Blessed Mother for the rest of his days, a counterpoint to those in the Church who strove to scrub her from notice.
Pope John Paul II
visiting Auschitz
Gorecki’s life and the Pope’s life intersected at several points, their relationship speaking of a high regard for one another.  The first notable event was the commissioning of Beatus vir by Cardinal Wojtyla for the celebration of the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Stanislas, bishop of Krakow, who was assassinated by King Boleslaw I over sins the King didn’t want to give up.  I will write more about this in my next post on Gorecki.
Pope John Paul II traveled to Poland several times.  For the 1987 pilgrimage to his native land, the Pope’s friend Gorecki composed the hauntingly beautiful Totus Tuus in the his honor.  Written for mixed choir, Gorecki immortalized in music the Pope’s life theme:
Totus tuus sum Maria,
Mater nostri Redemptoris.
Virgo Dei, virgo pia
Mater mundi Salvatoris.
Totus tuus sum, Maria!
I am completely yours, Mary,
Mother of our Redeemer.
Virgin Mother of God, loving virgin,
Mother of the Saviour of the world.
I am completely yours, Mary!
To purchase Gorecki's music or the CD of the music, click here.
Henryk Gorecki died in November of 2010.  May his memory be eternal.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Moammar Kadafi

George W. Bush and Moammar Kadafi
A scorpion wanted to get across a lake, so he asked a frog to take him.  "I cannot take you," said the frog.  "You will sting and kill me." 

"I promise not to sting you, dear frog," said the frog.  "I just want to get across the lake.  If you do this thing for me, I will not sting you." 

So the frog allowed the scorpion to get on his back and took off.  Half-way across the lake, the scorpion stung the frog.  As they were drowning, the frog said, "why did you sting me?  Now we will both perish." 

The scorpion replied simply, "It is my nature." 

As Christians, we need to forgive others and love them.  We are not, however, supposed to be fools.  When George W. Bush normalized relations with Libya, thus forgiving Kadafi of the bombing of Pan Am 103 on my birthday in 1988, he asked a scorpion onto his back.  That scorpion killed Lynn Hartunian, my classmate.  The Libyan people have had a scorpion on their back for decades, and now, they are finally trying to get the bastard off.  It's about time! 

2 Degrees

First Degree, Condoleeza Rice "normalizing" relations with Libian dictator,
Moammar Kadafi

George W. Bush, Laura Bush, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and
Condoleezza Rice at Pope John Paul II's funeral