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Showing posts from October, 2011

This place is holy ... and a great mystery. Chavagnes Consecration.

We just celebrated the 145th anniversary of the consecration of our College Chapel (on 24th October 1866). In our altar there are enclosed the relics of Saints Gaudentius and Columbinus. Gaudentius was Bishop of Brescia, Italy from 387 to around 410 AD. He was a good friend of St John Chrysostom, was consecrated by St Ambrose, and was known as a vigorous opponent of heresy. Columbinus (not Columbanus, though perhaps they are related!) was a little known Irish monk and bishop of the seventh century who was active in this part of France.

Here are our boys singing Locus iste sanctus est by Bruckner. One or two mistakes (some swooping, and yours truly a bit too loud in the basses), but quite hauntingly beautiful, I hope you'll agree.

The Return of the Young Fogey?

I remember when I was a teenager my sister gave me a delightful Christmas present, The Young Fogey Handbook. It came out at the same time as the even more successful Sloane Handbook, about 25 years ago.  The essence of the Young Fogey was that he was satorially and culturally reactionary, seeking a kind of donnish gentility frozen in the period 1930-1950. He sought to relive Brideshead Revisted, Miss Marple, and Jeeves and Wooster all at once. The Handbook made a lot of Betjeman, AN Wilson, Charles Moore etc. It was an entertaining read, but I remember feeling at the time that I would never quite cut the mustard sartorially. I owned a pair of jeans.
But it seems to me that the Fogey that began all fogies was JRR Tolkien. His disapproval of anything modern, his love of tweed and pipes, and his fondness for medieval religion make him an obvious member of the group. When shown a tape-recorder by one of his undergraduates he consented to use it, but first exorcised it by reciting a Pater N…

Ferdi: what's in a name?

Well, in an idle moment (it's half term) I thought I'd check out some other namesakes around the globe.

First off, there's Ferdi Tayfur, a celebrated arabesque singer from Turkey (see above).  Very entertaining.

Then in 2009 Ferdi Berisa (left), a young chef from Montenegro, won 300,000 Euros in the Italian version of Big Brother.
Ferdi Serim is a prominent American educationalist.

And Chez Ferdi (32 rue Mont Thabor, 75001 Paris, near the Louvre) is also the best place to get in a burger in Paris, apparently. Looks tasty, doesn't it?

Hmm; enough silliness.

Dan Brown: Angel or Demon?

Saw the film of Angels and Demons yesterday, in a moment of weakness. Trashy, perhaps, but well-made. The scenes inside the virtual Sistine Chapel and St Peter's were very convincing, even if there were some annoying minor mistakes relating to Catholic practices at various points (there always are in this kind of film).
Whilst in the Da Vinci Code Dan Brown rehashed some awful untruths about St Mary Magadelene (which are still confusing the young, one discovers in catechism classes ...) and had fun misrepresenting Opus Dei, Angels and Demons is really quite kind to the Church, does not misrepresent any Catholic doctrines, and very definitely suggests that God protects it from harm, in the most surprising ways. It also suggests that the Church is, in fact, in step with the modern world and has a key role to play in helping man understand how to proceed ethically in the progress of scientific research.

Tom Hanks plays a university professor: an apologetic agnostic perhaps based on …

French universities at bottom of the heap ...

A French parent told me today about an article she had been reading about universities. The gist was this: American universities are rated at the top, UK ones at number 2 and French universities come in 51st in the international ranking.

Now, I wonder whether that has something to do with the stranglehold of state control on the management of Higher Education in France, even down to the political and ideological control of the content of degree programmes.

It is significant that the university that has come top in the Times annual survey of student satisfaction every year for at least the last six or seven years is the University of Buckingham, the institution with the lowest level of government interference in Britain.

Here come the French ...
We are pushing our older French boys here to apply to the better UK universities and the US Ivy League. Of particular interest for our continental European boys here are the Scottish universities which, because of a quirk of European legislatio…

Hello, my heart!

Here is a something to raise your spirits: a rendition of de Lassus' Bonjour, mon coeur, by staff, friends and alumni of Chavagnes, during a performance of Molière's Les Femmes Savantes, June 2011, at the College. Enjoy.

Bonjour, mon coeur,Bonjour, ma douce vie, Bonjour, mon oeil,Bonjour, ma chère amie! Hé! Bonjour, ma toute belle,Ma mignardise. Bonjour, mes délices, mon amour, Mon doux printemps, ma douce fleurnouvelle. Mon doux plaisir, ma douce colombelle, Mon passereau, ma gentille tourterelle! Bonjour, ma douce rebelle.

Cardinal Vaughan High School and the freedom of the Church

Apparently, according to the press, Archbishop Vincent Nichols has given into parental pressure over the appointment of a new Head for the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial High School. Some are hailing it as a victory for orthodox Catholicism and parent power.

This time the parents were probably right and the Bishop was probably wrong. And the parents won. But what happens when the Bishop is right? It looks like he will have to give in to the parents every time; which rather defeats the object of having bishops as guardians of the faith. It seems to be a case of hard cases not making good law.

Reliance on the state to protect religious faith and values is a big mistake in the long run. Perhaps this time they have got it right, but in general i would say, with the good book: "Put not your trust in princes".

Last year an orthodox Jewish school, funded by the state, was found to be acting illegally by barring a child from a Reform Jewish background from attending the school. The cour…

Former boy bishop makes the deadline

Frayed nerves on Saturday night, trying to make sure we met the deadline for Oxbridge UCAS applications. It creeps up every October before you know it. Only one candidate this year, a Mathematician called Paul. He has applied to Trinity College, Cambridge and some other strong Maths locations: Warwick, Imperial, Bristol and Edinburgh. He is only 15 (just had his bithday), but is applying for deferred entry for 2013, so he will be just a couple of weeks off 17 when he finally goes to university. He already has his Maths A-level with an A* and is cracking on with Further Maths this year. Clever lad ... I am very keen to see what the universities will make of him.

Here he is (above) as our boy bishop (one of our odd medieval traditions) in December 2009. We shall miss him, when he moves on: he's the best private tutor of Maths we have!