10 March 2010


Well, I'm not sure I know much more about the US of A as such. You see, I went for just a few days to stay with Craig and Terry Southard in Arlington and have a look at Texas; thinking that it would be a typical bit of America ... in my ignorance. Now I appreciate that The Lone Star State is really quite different and special; acute, intelligent, and with natural good taste. For example ...

One afternoon we spent a happy couple of hours looking at "the West" ... as seen through the eyes of painters including C M Russel and F Remington, both of whom seemed as miraculously adept in at getting a horse into bronze as into oils. I found myself wondering whether Russell (who just about lived late enough) ever saw the art of the Irish hippophile Jack Butler Yates, and whether he ever saw theirs. Then we strolled down across the lawns (where with my own eyes I SAW A MOCKING-BIRD!!!) to a gallery (the Kimbell) which would be the envy of any city this side of the water ... where Tiepolo and Rubens and the rest of the Big Boys were on show (to the sound of live music); but also a modello by Bernini for his fountain in the Piazza Navona; I could have walked slowly round it for hours. Then ... good heavens ... Michelangelo's first painting, done when he was an adolescent: horribly feely demons surrounding a delightfully indifferent and supercilious S Anthony. And, just round the corner, a late fifteenth century German silver statue of our Lady imperially crowned and standing upon the moon. I wonder if her wearing the Imperial crown was common on the continent at this time; there is a stone carving of Maria Assumpta thus crowned near here at Sandford upon Thames, which I suspect might have come at the Dissolution from the Oxford Whitefriars - but I have been having trouble paralleling the Imperial crown in other Marian iconography in England. I also wonder when the crescent moon (which we of course associate with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) became a common motif in England.

Then, however, I made a mistake. We went to a nearby Dairy Queen, where I had ... Oh dear, I can't quite recall the name ... a sort of massive Ice Cream and Chocolate and Brownie volcanic eruption. Temptations, temptations. But I disgraced myself. I couldn't finish it. Fortunately, a charming and well-read seven-year-old called (apologies to her if I'm spelling this wrongly: spelling never was my strong point) Mikayla very kindly assisted me by finishing it off.

And, by a happy coincidence, there was also nearby a church - St Mary the Virgin, Arlington - which belongs to the Anglican Usage group of parishes set up (with Cardinal Ratzinger's connivance) during the time of John Paul II. More about that, if you would be interested, soon.

Texas has got just about everything except that I didn't get to see Boss Hog.


Ernest said...

This is not a comment on the USA, so sorry.
But it is today's headline: "Holland proposes giving over-70s the right to die if they 'consider their lives complete'".
"Assisted suicide for anyone over 70 who has simply had enough of life is being considered in Holland." (Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk)
- I believe that America is developing its version of the death culture too?

GOR said...

Well Father, good that you got a taste of life in the former colonies. Of course Texas is a ‘special case’ in these parts. Most Texans barely consider themselves part of the United States – a throwback to the days of the Republic of Texas no doubt, or even further to a minor dispute about ownership which still has some Mexican noses out of joint!

And you sampled the goodies of DQ - as Dairy Queen is known locally? Not to worry that you couldn’t finish the ‘volcanic eruption’. The American penchant for ‘super-sizing’ everything is an acquired taste – actually a taste that it is better not acquired, for health reasons! Given that Texans maintain that “everything is bigger in Texas”, I’m sure the portion met that criterion.

Good to have you back and I look forward to hearing more of your experiences.

Michael McDonough said...

Fr. H,

It sounds like you already had an interest in mockingbirds (Mimidae). I wonder if that was because of their association with Charles Darwin's opus, or with the wonderful novel by Harper Lee?

I love mockingbirds (which are common here in the NY metropolitan area), except in the summer at dawn when they perch on a branch right outside the window, and regale me with their repertoire! You should never kill a mockingbird, of course, but sometimes one can wish they would take their show "on the road".

MamaT said...

Very glad you made it back and hope that you are very nearly "un-jet-lagged", if there is such a word.

We so enjoyed having you, and we are very glad you enjoyed your time with us.

Oh, and it was an "Oreo Brownie Earthquake Sunday." And you did a pretty credible job of it, for a first-timer......

Blessings to you, dear Father.


Thomas said...

A friend and I were remarking the other day how when we Texans travel and someone asks where we're from we promptly respond not "America" but "Texas." This is indicative of our identities being bound up with Texas primarily, and the USA entirely secondarily.

It seems to me that Texas is one of the last strongholds of authentic local culture in the West. (I don't think there's any other state in the Union where it's common for women to wear earrings in the shape of the state.) I think Texans' relationship to their "patria" today must be more like Southerners' relationship to the South prior to the War Between the States or Medieval Europeans' relationship to their country (as in their land) and much less like a Yankee's relationship to the USA (i.e., as government or nation).

Perhaps this has something to do with the strange fact that Texas has been the last bastion of Anglo-Catholicism in America.

Dale said...

I had learnt that the symbolism of the BVM standing on a crescent moon was to show the triumph of Christianity over Islam.

The same symbol is used in Orthodox iconography as well...and I certainly do not suspect that it has anything, at least amongst the Orthodox, to do with the 19th century dogma of the Immaculate Conception!

Figulus said...

To see the real Boss Hogg, you'd have to set the time machine back 41 years and cross the eastern border of Texas to my home state, Louisiana. Not that there was anyone there named Hogg, nor was there a county named Hazzard, but there was and is a parish named Plaquemines which was once ruled by a boss named Leander Perez, who was the real life inspiration of the television character. (In Louisiana, parishes are what other states call counties. They are governed by pastors no more than U.S. counties are governed by counts.)

Leander Perez was every bit as colorful as his television counterpart, but considerably smarter and more powerful. He owned nearly all the land in Plaquemines parish, and used his economic power to bribe and bully his way to political power. The parish came to be known as Perezania. His downfall came about when he tried to maintain racial segregation by using his might to push around the federal government and the archdiocese of New Orleans. He organized a boycott of a de-segregated Catholic school in his parish. After the school not-so-mysteriously burned down, he found himself excommunicated. Bragging that he would start his own church, the Perezbyterians, he had some political success running on an anti-clerical ticket, but that success faded fast. He died in sixty-nine; the FBI broke up the remains of his family's economic stranglehold on the parish in the eighties.

His lovely visage can be seen here:


There he stands, a martyr of conscience against the powerful archdiocesan political machine. Or something.

As I said, colorful.

johnf said...

When my children were young and captivated by the Dukes of Hazzard and Jefferson Davis Hogg, I was interested to hear that Boss Hogg's deputy was called Cletus.

Linus, Cletus, Clement, Xystus . . .

Little Black Sambo said...

Some folk'll never eat a skunk
But then again, some folk'll...
Like Cletus
The slack-jawed yokel.

Mark said...

Glad you enjoyed Texas. But your hosts should have steered you to better places than Dairy Queen. :)

The Dallas-Ft. Worth area is quite the haven for any number of excellent restaurants.

Dr.D said...

Texas is only temporarily a part of the USA. There is a strong secession movement at work within the state today, and with any luck it will be an independent republic again soon! I hope to be back home there by that time.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

I can assure Mark that I ate very well indeed while in Arlington! The hospitality was quite extraordinary.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

I can assure Mark that I ate very well indeed while in Arlington! The hospitality was quite extraordinary.

Fr John Hunwicke SSC, said...

I can assure Mark that I ate very well indeed while in Arlington! The hospitality was quite extraordinary.