The Army Air Corps Song (Wild Blue Yonder)

Something for the weekend.  Bing Crosby singing the Army Air Corp Song. (more…)

Published in: on April 30, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Army Air Corps Song (Wild Blue Yonder)  
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Abe Lincoln in Illinois: Lincoln-Douglas Debate

The film Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) has perhaps the best recreation of the Lincoln-Douglas debates ever put on film.  The debate portrayed has remarks culled from all the debates,  is an excellent recreation of the main arguments made by each of the men, and is evocative of their speaking styles.

Ironically neither of the actors portraying Lincoln and Douglas were Americans.  The actor portraying Douglas was Gene Lockhart, a Canadian.  If his voice sounds vaguely familiar to you, it is probably because you recall him as the judge in Miracle on 34th Street.  His daughter June Lockhart, of Lassie and Lost in Space fame, carried on the thespian tradition of the family.

Lincoln was portrayed by Raymond Massey, also a Canadian.  Massey was one of the great actors of his day and bore a strong physical resemblance to Lincoln.  Massey served in the Canadian Army in both World War I and World War II, becoming a naturalized American citizen after World War II.  Like Lincoln he was a Republican and made a TV ad for Goldwater in the 1964 campaign.

  Here is a transcript from the film script of the debate: (more…)

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Abe Lincoln in Illinois: Lincoln-Douglas Debate  
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Christus Victor

Thou art holy, Lord God, who alone workest wonders. Thou art strong. Thou art great. Thou art most high. Thou art the Almighty King, Thou, holy Father, King of heaven and earth. Thou art the Lord God Triune and One; all good. Thou art good, all good, highest good, Lord God living and true. Thou art charity, love. Thou art wisdom. Thou art humility. Thou art patience. Thou art security. Thou art quietude. Thou art joy and gladness. Thou art justice and temperance. Thou art all riches to sufficiency. Thou art beauty. Thou art meekness. Thou art protector. Thou art guardian and defender. Thou art strength. Thou art refreshment. Thou art our hope. Thou art our faith. Thou art our great sweetness. Thou art our eternal life, great and admirable Lord, God Almighty, merciful Saviour.

                                                              Saint Francis of Assisi

Published in: on April 24, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Christus Victor  
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O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Something for the weekend.  O Sacred Head Now Wounded.  The hymn derives from a poem written by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux in the twelfth century.  Lutheran hymnist Paul Gerhardt wrote a hymn on it in the seventeenth century.  In the 19th century the hymn was translated by American presbyterian minister James Waddel Alexander and has remained a favorite hymn in America ever since.

Published in: on April 23, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on O Sacred Head Now Wounded  
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Report to the Emperor-First Draft


 (I post this each year on Good Friday at The American Catholic and I thought that our Almost Chosen People readers might find it of interest.)

I thank you Marcus for taking on the onerous task of acting as my secretary, in addition to your regular duties as my aide, in regard to this portion of the report.  The Greek, Aristides, is competent, and like most Greek secretaries his Latin is quite graceful, but also like most Greek secretaries he does not know when to keep his mouth shut.  I want him kept away from this work, and I want you to observe the strictest security.  Caiaphas was playing a nefarious game, and I do not think we are out of the woods yet.  I do not want his spies finding out what I am telling the Imperator and Caiaphas altering the tales his agents are now, no doubt, spreading in Rome.  Let us take the Jew by surprise for once! (more…)

Published in: on April 22, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
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Screen Pilates: Rod Steiger

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic blog, and I thought that during Holy Week our readers at Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)

The figure of Pontius Pilate has always intrigued me. The fifth Prefect of Judaea, Pilate looms large in the Gospels. His name Pilate indicates that his family was of Samnite orgin. Pilate is mentioned by the Roman historian Tacitus as having condemned Jesus. In 1961 a block of limestone was discoved at the site of Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capitol of Judaea, bearing an inscription of Pilate dedicating a Roman theater there. That is almost all we know about Pilate outside of the Gospels, Josephus and Philo. Pilate today would be forgotten, instead of being the best known Roman who ever lived, but for his role in sentencing Jesus.

This is the start of a series examining how Pilate has been presented in films. First up is Rod Steiger, the method actor to end all method actors, and a character actor who achieved stardom with intense, some would say frequently over the top, performances. Steiger gives an interesting portrayal of Pilate in the superb Jesus of Nazareth (1977). Overworked and tired, with a bad temper on edge, he is forced to judge Jesus, and clearly finds the dispute between Him and the Sanhedrin to be completely incomprehensible. His queries to Jesus, “Who are you? What are you?”, sum up how mysterious this business is to him, and echoes the query of Jesus to his Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?”

Ultimately Pilate condemns Jesus and this sequence may be viewed here. To forestall a riot, Pilate sentences Jesus to be crucified. Pilate still obviously finds Jesus to be utterly mysterious. His wondering who is the real threat to Rome, Barabbas or Jesus, before he passes sentence on Jesus as the mob howls for him to free Barabbas, indicates that he understands at some level that this is all very important, but he simply cannot fathom why. Steiger portrays Pilate as world weary and baffled by his encounter with this strange Galilean. (more…)

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Screen Pilates: Rod Steiger  
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James K. Polk:Unjustly Obscure

Our Eleventh President has fared poorly in public memory, almost entirely forgotten.  This is a great injustice.  Polk was perhaps the hardest working man ever to inhabit the White House, laboring ceaselessly.  He resolved the Oregon dispute with the British, setting our northern boundary with Canada in the far West, and successfully prosecuted the Mexican War, adding vast new territories to the country.  Dry and colorless, Polk promised that he would only serve one term and he kept his word.  Indeed, there was no need for a second term, as he accomplished all he had set out to accomplish in one term. (more…)

Published in: on April 19, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on James K. Polk:Unjustly Obscure  
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Federalist 45 – Madison

Yes, it’s been a while.  Hopefully I can continue my series without taking months-long breaks in between.  I note that I am skipping Federalist Papers 42-44, not because they are unimportant, but because I really don’t have much to add to them in the way of analysis.  And rather than wait another month, let me just dive right back in with Federalist 45.

James Madison hits some themes that have occurred in previous Federalist papers.  With this essay Madison defends the Constitution from its critics, principally those who believe that the federal government will usurp the states.  As Alexander Hamilton has done previously, Madison flips the argument on its head and maintains that the federal government has more to fear from the states than vice versa.  Okay, neither he nor Hamilton was a prophet, but this paper illuminates the motivation behind their support for the proposed Constitution.


Published in: on April 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm  Comments (3)  

Lincoln Calls For Volunteers


Fort Sumter surrendered on April 14, 1861.  The nation did not have long to wait on the reaction of President Lincoln.  His call for 75,000 volunteers only underlined what everyone already knew:  civil war had come to America.  Ultimately some two million men would serve in the Union Army, Navy and Marine Corp during the war. (more…)

Published in: on April 18, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Lincoln Calls For Volunteers  
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Triumph of the King


“9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion, shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem: BEHOLD THY KING will come to thee, the just and saviour: he is poor, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will destroy the chariot out of Ephraim, and the horse out of Jerusalem, and the bow for war shall be broken: and he shall speak peace to the Gentiles, and his power shall be from sea to sea, and from the rivers even to the end of the earth.” (more…)

Published in: on April 17, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Triumph of the King  
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