Friday, December 29, 2006

St. Thomas Beckett - I almost forgot

Today is the feast of the name saint of one of my boys. Don't want to let it pass without mention or some graphics. So here's the Saint and here's the boy (among the others)-taken a couple years ago.

Going Christmas Carolling tonight with the Confirmation classes at St. Catherines. We went last year and it was quite a rewarding experience for all.

Trying to supervise some housecleaning today while Mrs. Curley is shopping and I try to print some books. Last night we watched a video movie my sister sent us for Christmas (the best of the "Road" pictures by far) Road to Rio. Most comedies start a slow death after the first hour, but this one saves its best laughs for last-almost literally. We were rolling on the floor (even though I have seen this one at least 3-4 times in my life) at the end of climax. By far the best of the Crosby-Hope films. Although this is also the Road picture with not a single (in my opinion) memorable song.

I note that posts of the last few days/weeks have ignored current events in the news and in the Church and have been more about family life around here. I haven't lost interest, but it takes more time and thought to write about more serious matters.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Loot

I feel very materialistic with this posting, but thought I would share my luck with all my readers....

My older sister who frequents library sales sent me this gem. I admit, Davy Crockett and the Lone Ranger still give me a thrill when I watch the old movies. And I felt a twinge of mourning when Clayton Moore passed away a couple years ago. The memoirs (yes I dropped "Birth of the Modern" for a few days to breeze through this) of the man behind the mask begin as a typical Hollywood memoir, but do turn as he becomes the Lone Ranger. He did relish being identified solely with this upright hero. Not quite finished, but will be before the week is out. Okay, not a classic, but fun just the same.

And then there is the harmonica. I didn't want to be the only one in the family who can't play or sing anything. So it is the perfect gift, requiring almost no talent, but some little work. I have almost mastered "Swanee River". But I can tell already I will have to memorize every tune-I will never be able to just 'pick up' a tune I hear.

Another book, The Great Divorce by CS Lewis was in my stocking. Funny, I have read many of his works, but never this one. (Looks like "Birth of the Modern" will take another back seat.)

And of course I also got the standard "father" presents: hankerchiefs, slippers, flashlight, and ho! ho! ho! a 15-pack of Guinness draught in the can. (My daughter thinks "Guinness is good for you" should be the name of my blog-somethig to think about).

However, what I most wanted for Christmas (and what I told my children I most wanted) has been ever present in the house these few days: peace and charity. God has blessed us greatly. I hope I have the courage to accept His blessings and His will for us in the coming year.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune... Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Where to start? Christmas Eve was very busy. We did go carolling, but were almost foiled. For the past two years we have gone to Bethune's "Wal-mart" a Dollar General store about an hour before closing on Christmas Eve. We did so this year too, but corporate had called the manager to close the store an hour early, so we got there just as it closed! What to do? The gas station across the street had a small but steady flow of customers, so we tried there. Given permission to carol, we sang for almost an hour. It was worth the effort, proclaiming Christ in the public square. (We also carolled briefly at our neighbor's house on the way home.)

UPDATE: Mrs. Curley requested that I add some detail to the carolling story, so here goes. We are singing outstide the Exxon Station and a family pulls up and just listens for about 15 minutes. Then the father gets out and introduces himself. He and his family live in the city but have a cabin out here. This is the first time they have spent Christmas at the cabin. They usually go to their church (probably Baptist) on Christmas Eve to see a Christmas paegent and were driving around to the local churches in Bethune to find something similar-but found nothing-then driving by they heard us. We talked a bit and then they drove off. Another lady (about 40ish) came up to us with tears saying that she had been sick and had other troubles recently and just hadn't been able to get into the Christmas spirit until she heard us singing. So you see that announcing Christ's coming, in imitation of the angels, does allow Christ to work in people. When we announce Christ in the public square, no matter how poorly (believe me, our actual singing was no great shakes) Christ can work with the effort.

Got to bed earlier than usual. As I was falling asleep, Mrs. Curley suddenly sat up and asked, "Did you remember to put baby Jesus in the stable?" Talk about leaving Christ out of Christmas!!!! I plumb forgot. Imagine the kids sneaking out to the living room early on Christmas morning without the Christ-child in the manger. Horrors! Kudos to Mrs. Curley for saving me from this blunder.

Christmas morning Mass was beautiful. Adeste Fideles, Panis Angelicus, and other favorites graced St. Catherine's. We came home to a quick breakfast of muffins and mimosa's (for some). We sang Happy Birthday to the Christ-child again and then opened presents.

The kids tell us every year that it is the best Christmas ever (I think gift-wise). Mrs. Curley and I were a bit confused by this, but number one daughter explained, they get nothing during the year (except for birthdays), so Christmas is just overwhelming.

Two friends came and shared Christmas dinner with us (turkey...) and then we sang carols until it was time to break up and get some sleep. A wonderful day. I think Chesterton said something like that it takes God to force us to celebrate Holy Days and we wake up and find these are wonderful holidays for us men. (I'm sure I really messed up that quote. It has been years. Maybe from Orthodoxy?)

Yesterday I slept later than I have in months (but of course missed Mass). Relaxing day. Learned to play a tune on my new harmonica. I think Mrs. Curley is regretting the purchase. More turkey tonight and general cleanup today from a few days of all fun but no work. Plus, Requiem Press is back to work part-time the rest of the week. (Will post the next section of Two Towers on my other blog in a couple days.)

So for now, happy feast of St. John the Evangelist and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What I did today...

It has become somewhat of a tradition, the last few days before Christmas, I hide in my office and listen to Bing Crosby 78's on my suitcase (wind-up) phonograph (similar to the one in the picture) while I wrap Christmas presents. That is how I spent most of the day and this evening.

We almost went carolling with another family(s) tonight in Columbia. We reluctantly begged-out knowing we still had so much to do. (We will go tomorrow night). Good thing too as it turns out. The big van woke up this morning with a dead battery. (I think a daughter, who shall remain anonymous, may have left the lights on overnight.) So one more unexpected thing to do was to trek into Camden to get it recharged. No rest for the weary. Whew.

Now I have to sand and coat a present I started making for my daughter last year, but never quite finished-and of course wrap some more presents.

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

He is coming....

Last night we were putting yarn in the crib for Baby Jesus. (Each child is doing something each day to earn yarn to make a soft bed for Baby Jesus.) We had skipped the yarn yesterday due to time constraints. This always causes a problem because our memories are fragile. My youngest son is working on a number of things-one of which is paying closer attention at Mass (he is always well-behaved and quiet, but sometimes gets distracted by fingernails, threads on his shirt, etc.). He reports to me that he has earned 2 pieces of yarn for other things. I ask him if he should get a piecd of yarn for his attention at Mass the previous day. He responds,"I don't want to put a yarn in for that Daddy. I wouldn't want to lie and I don't remember if I was good or not." (I couldn't remember either offhand.) I thanked him and told him that I was proud of his honesty. (I should have let him put in a piece of yarn for that-except that is not what he is working on.)

As Advent winds down, we still have much to do here. A few presents still have to be finished or bought. More baking, more decorating, much more wrapping. Magically, sometime today, my office will be transformed from the Requiem Press (buy books) main office to wrapping central. We must decide on the logistics of our Christmas Carolling foray (see info about previous years here). And finally we must do (for want of a better name) "the family forgiveness" (see background and details here). Some dread this last, but most look forward to it.

With all this to do, posting may be scarce for several days, unless some profound thoughts come to mind. With that, I sign off until my Christmas greeting. Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The rest of Part One of Two Towers (and where it really starts moving) is up here

And, over at CatholicExchange Russell Shaw writes an article on vocation (here). I note that Mr. Shaw's guidance on discerning one's vocation in Chapter 7 of Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church (makes a great gift...) is one of the best short treatise on the subject that I have read. But here is a snippet from the article-answering a question about running up against closed doors when discerning a vocation:

"And, finally, I'd point out — supposing the person is able to receive the message — that the disappointment, frustration, and even injustice sometimes involved in running up against closed doors may themselves be important elements of the personal vocations God gives us. Ultimately, after all, our calling as Christians is in some way to re-enact the life of Christ in our own lives. But persecution, suffering, and death were part of Jesus' personal vocation, and if we try to follow Him honestly, we can be sure that they will be part of ours."

Words to think about....

We have our tree. It is almost decorated... Still much to do. I will try to stop in, but as the days get closer there is still much to do. From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune... Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 18, 2006

If you choose to accept it....

Mission today? After Mass find a Christmas tree! Last night we passed several tree stands-but all were closed.

Great find of the week: last week's classified ads in the local paper ran this, "Free Horse Manure. Great for composting. Loaded in trailers. Springdale Stables xxx-xxxx". Will probably go down and get ourselves a load (after we get ourselves a tree.)

From the comment boxes below....

Also, I once heard from an English chemist that 24 pints of Guinness and egg had the daily nutrients neeeded to sustain a human being.

I don't need much encouragement.

Next installment of Two Towers is up here.

Well, gotto get the troops assembled for Mass. Will stop back later. Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Guinness is good for you

Last night we were watching a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers video (1934 The Gay Divorcee). What a scandalous title in these days. Actually it has some problematic material in it-treating divorce lightly. (Edward Everett Horton and Eric Blore are hilarious as always. And Fred and Ginger dancing remind me of when Mrs. Curley and I used to take the floor..... sort of) But what caught my eye (or actually first my number 1 daughter's eye) was a flashing neo light in the background as Fred Astaire searches for Mimi (Ginger Rogers) through the streets of London in vain. The flashing sign said........

Friday, December 15, 2006

First, let's get the business out of the way. As announced here yesterday, I am making available at least part of Two Towers-the deChristianization and a Plan for Renewal on my other blog. The Preface runs today.

We are also (albeit a little late) running a Christmas special. From now until December 23rd you can buy "Witnesses to the Holy Mass and other sermons" by Dom Bede Camm OSB for $5.00 (regularly $8.95)and/or The Maccabees-Forgotten Heroes of Israel, also for $5.00 (regularly $9.95).

Witnesses ... gives both some historical and spiritual insight into the sacrifices of the English martyrs under Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. It was our first full-length book and in fact one of the inspirations which became Requiem Press. This book was originally published in England in 1904 and never published in the US. Our edition is re-typeset. The "King's English" has been updated to American English. Footnotes have been added to explain Latin phrases, biblical quotations, and to clarify some historical facts perhaps not known at the time of the original writing. Thomas More, John Fisher, Edmond Campion, and some lesser known martyrs all make appearances in this wonderful work.


A year or more ago Mr. Culbreath of the late Hallowed Ground blog directed his readers to The Deliberate Agrarian which I carry on my sidebar. Mr. Kimball is an author and a Protestant agrarian. At the time of Mr. Culbreath's referral, I recall Mr. Culbreath commenting that Mr. Kimball 'would make a good Catholic'. In the past several weeks Mr. Kimball has posted some interesting material. Here he explores the role of John Calvin in inspiring the industrial revolution (of course Mr. Kimball sees and understands many of the bad results of the IR.) Here Mr. Kimball discusses the National Catholic Rural Life Conference. And here Mr. Kimball talks about the book "Flee to the Fields" about the Catholic Land Movement in England during the first part of the 20th century (distributism etc.) (It is a great book, I read it a few years ago.)

I have been meaning to direct my readers to these posts as well as many of the other interesting ideas and projects of Mr. Kimball for some weeks now. I believe in many ways Mr. Kimball and I are kindred spirits.


Finally, I am getting so much spam in my email, I am sure I have deleted one or more legitimate emails over the past couple weeks amidst the spam. If you emailed me and have not heard from me, try again. That address is: jcurley "AT" requiempress "DOT" com. (no spaces)

From the small holding in Bethune... Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

of Books

Some books are good sellers because they have a lot of money behind them (none of our fit that category); some books sell well because they are good books; some because they have well-known authors. Occasionally there is some unique attribute about a book that makes a reader buy multiple copies-to give to friends etc. Requiem Press actually has two such offerings.

The first, The Chapel Veil-symbol of the spouse of Christ by Emily Griswold and Elizabeth Black (students at Christendom College) has sold extremely well in the 18 months since published. One reason is that there is nothing like it available-that is a concise book(let) on why some women were a veil in Church. Women who do wear the veil tend to buy multiple copies to help explain to other women the purpose of wearing a veil.

A second book we publish which has NOT sold well overall-but has generated multiple copy sales to many of those who have bought it is Two Towers-the deChristianization of America and a Plan for Renewal by Magdalen College (NH) founder and retired President John Meehan. Now granted, Mr. Meehan is not a polished writer of the skill of say a Russell Shaw-but he has some important things to say about America, the Catholic Church in America, Vatican II and the road forward. Some have found his historical analysis so compelling that they've shared this book with others. We have other books which are popular, but no full-length book we offer has the multiple sales that Two Towers has. Yet it has not sold well overall. We originally published it because we thought it enlightening and compelling. I thought it an important and timely exposition of the root problems Catholics in America face, as well as plan for renewal.

In the coming weeks over at my other blog we will be putting large excerpts of Two Towers online for reading. I encourage you to stop over. This project will start tomorrow.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


My sidebar has changed.... I got rid of the Amazon links. They had earned me a whole $3.76 in the 9 months I had links up ($3.76 which I won't even see because they send a check until it reaches a certain amount.) Unfortunately, when I took away the links, something happened. Now the only way the sidebar will start at the top of the page is if I have the text size on "smallest". Otherwise the sidebar begins after the last post-somewhere down there. I must have deleted something-but I can't figure out what.... Anyway, I fixed it, by messing around with stuff I really don't understand; but I also used precious posting time.

I am reading an absolutely great manuscript submitted to us by a well-known author, for possible publication. It is a new work, dealing with a 20th century historical 'event'. It is current, relevant, and gives a good analysis of the impact of the 'event' today (God's hand in history and man's response). Reading this manuscript yesterday helped me remember again why we got into this business to begin with. But believe me, it is a tough haul. (My teaching a couple classes at our 'local' Cathoic high school has more to do with making ends meet than with helping out a school in need.)

In many respects this has been a most difficult year-but God has always been with us.

Finally-thanks for the prayers for our friend. He is out of the hospital and showing good signs of recovery. God is good! Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Santa Maria de Guadalupe!

I have carried an image of our Lady of Guadalupe in my wallet for many years. I don't recall now where I got it or why this is image I carry. Two friends just returned in November from visiting Mexico and of course the tilma. I admit I am a bit jealous. I have wanted to see the tilma for many years. That day of pilgrimage will come. I can't complain too much-I have seen the Shroud of Turin (read about it here)


My sister (Agnes Penny) has an article in the November issue of the New Oxford Review on some of the ethical issues surround vaccines. Check it out.

I had never really read an issue of the NOR before-although I have been curious for years. I can't say I would go out of my way to get another issue. I certainly appreciate bold criticism, humor, and sarcasm-but only when based in truth-not in speculation. I found NOR in this particular issue to cross some lines in this regard. Maybe reading another issue would change my opinion but....


My diocesan newspaper had a gift-giving guide (for purchasing Catholic gifts) in their latest issue. For books, they mentioned all the Catholic bookstores in the diocese-but failed to mention the one Catholic publisher in the diocese. I won't be so shy. Our selection is small, but the material is second to none. Our shipping costs are lower than most other publishers. And by buying Requiem Press books, you will be supporting a small Catholic business and a not-so-small family. I will put out my "gift guide" tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Quick weekend notes ...

Got some work done on the house-patching a hole left over from the broken water heater incident. Also packed and shipped books (more on that later). Sunday went to Mass and pancake breakfast (KofC). Then we had forgotten (but were reminded just in time) we had been invited to a gathering of friends and strangers-but all Catholic-for fellowship, study (we listened to a CD on keeping kids Catholic) and a presentation on Family Honor. The food was bountiful and excellent. The adults sang around the piano as the evening ended. Got home late so what I planned to write today must wait for later or tomorrow. Til then...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Back for a while

Okay-a brief reprieve. As regular readers know I am teaching a "couple" courses at our "local" Catholic high school this year. The first semester is almost over. Our last class is Monday and then we have a week of Exams before breaking for Christmas. For me, my grades for the quarter are done (all but a few straggling makeup tests) and my Semester exams are finished, just waiting for administration (and then of course grading.) Teaching has been more time-consuming than I ever imagined. It doesn't help that our "local" Catholic high school is a bit of a hike from here.

Certainly one reason why my posts at BethuneCatholic have been shorter and shallower is due to time constraints. I have written anything for other sources (usually CatholicExchange in this time either.

However, starting Friday I will have 3 weeks off and I hope to do a lot of writing-as well as celebrating with my family-who have missed me dearly these months.

One benefit to regular readers has been that I haven't been pushing RequiemPress books on the blog as much. This will change. We have a couple great new releases and some other books which deserve to be under someone's Christmas tree.

So stay tuned. From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune, Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The obligatory warning...

End of semester exams are just ahead, so blogging will be light until the weekend. Until then, Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The cult of celebrity

I am 139 pages into the 1000-page Birth of the Modern by Paul Johnson. Slow progress to be sure, but it could be worse. Recall that last spring I finished reading Warren Carroll's current volume in his history of Christendom series, which dealt almost exclusively with the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte's career-so I am well prepared for this volume.

The first point I really noted was that Bonaparte was really the first to have a secret police force-but it became, after his demise, a sign of prestige among European government leaders to have one. Certainly, one hallmark of modern governments is their secret police and spying agencies.

The second point I would like to spend more time on. Mr. Johnson writes,

Beethoven was a key figure in the birth of the modern because he first established and popularized the notion of the artist as universal genius, as a moral figure in his own right-indeed, as a kind of intermediary between God and Man.... Poets had been honored since the days of Homoer, but even at the end of the 18th century, muscians were low- or middle-ranking servants in the households of the great or minor cathedral functionaries.... Beethoven would have none of such subservience. ... It is important to grasp that Beethoven was not consciously trying to turn music into a secular religion. He was neither agnostic nor atheist, deist nor Unitarian, but a Roman Catholic..... Thus in countless anecdotes and eyewitness accounts (of Beethoven's deafness) was built up the composite picture of the archetype martyr to art, the new kind of secular saint who was taking over from the old Christian calendars as a focus of public veneration.

Along with this rise of the cult of celebrity for entertainers came the rise of the middle class and the demise of the aristocracy in Europe. Entertainers and artists replace Christian saints as the object of public veneration-especially in the growing (urban) middle class. Some could/would run with this saying that this proves that a return to an agrian lifestyle is the only legitimate way.

I would not go so far. I think that it is a warning that riches can shift your focus from God.

Yet there is something more important: how to return public veneration to Christian saints and put entertainers back in the place they ought to occupy? Is it even possible? More later....

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I have a couple things to say over the next few days-hopefully I will have time to write them. It is amazing how a little peace and quiet can generate thoughtful thoughts...

TS has done it again! I had "Strange but True Football Stories" as a kid(it may even be somewhere in the bookcase downstairs.) The other ones also look familiar. I used to collect football cards and baseball cards. One day in the early '70's, my mother came to me with two packs of unopened 1963 football cards. She had bought them for my older brothers and forgotten about them. Among the cards were football greats Sam Huff, Y.A. Tittle, Paul Horning, Gerry Kramer, and a young Mick Tinglehoff (I had a '70's card of him also. These were all passed to my younger brother. He probably sold them for Carl Yastrzemski baseball cards). And yes, Sam "the Bam" Cunningham played for the New England Patriots when I was a kid. He actually wasn't all that good-but was the best we had at the time.


It looks like it is really good-bye this time at Hallowed Ground. Hopefully Mr. Culbreath will check in from time to time (or grace us with his essays again in some new form.)


As Advent approaches and the Protestant/American Christmas season has already blown in, this article at Catholicexchange seems appropriate.

Here at Bethany, we have several times panicked during the last week of Advent to find a tree. (It seems they are either in over-abundance or gone by the 2nd week of Advent.) Thus the Greencastle solution may be best:

"We haven't decorated it (the Christmas tree)yet. So that counts for
something, right?"

Mrs. Curley has suggested getting the Christmas tree early in Advent, but decorating it with purple ribbons until Christmas. Then we will remove the purple ribbons and decorate it for Christmas. I will let you know what we decide.


Finally, I am sure Pope Benedict's visit to the mosque is causing much consternation in certain quarters. Yet I would remind everyone that our goal should be to pray always (at all times-even in mosques-and even when facing Mecca). His presence at a mosque doesn't endorse Islam or give it equal footing with Christianity-and any Catholic or anyone else who gets that impression is an idiot.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Not much time this morning-hope to update this later....

If you want a true painting of Bingo night, go here. I recall my days of working Bingo for our local Catholic school in Massachusetts (thankfully, the Charleston diocese ended all Bingo some years ago-all forms of gambling are volatile issues in the South). Mrs. Curley had volunteered for the job-but passed it off on me when she was pregnant (the smoke was bad for the baby and made her sick.) Somehow the job stuck with me even when she was not pregnant. My job was to pass out the bingo sheets. Oh how I hated Bingo night.

I think the primary reason we moved to SC and started homeschooling was to avoid Bingo and all mention of daubers.

Just spending this much time on it makes me think I will have start having those Bingo nightmares again....Thanks TS.