Veritas Ensis Noster.
September 21, 2012- Vol. 10, No. I
In This Issue... Rambler: Pronunciation: \ram-blər\ Function: noun Date: c. 2002 1. A student organization determined to present truth and withhold nothing, discussing a variety of subjects such as administration, morality, literature, politics, and faith.
News & Politics
An Independent Student Journal Christendom College Veritas Ensis Noster
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Matthew F. Naham BUSINESS MANAGEMENT Charles J. Rollino; Peter Spiering LAYOUT EDITOR Theresa R. Lamirande
5 LIBERTARIANISM & CONSERVATISM
FAITH & REASON EDITOR Katie E. Brizek ARTS & FASHION EDITOR Theresa R. Lamirande FACULTY ADVISOR Dr. Patrick Keats COPY EDITOR Matthew F. Naham CONTRIBUTORS Brandon Edge Gabriella Federico Margeaux Killackey Elise Nodar Sean Shanahan Cate Thomas Joe Walsh
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by Matthew Naham
6 CRIME, RACIAL PROFILING, REAL TRUTH by Joe Walsh
The Last Word
8 THE ROOT OF THE STEM CELL PROBLEM by Thomas Ferrara
18 THENARDIER by Elise Nodar
Science & Technology
19 ADMINISTRATION STATION by The Editorial Staff
ROBOTS ON THE GROUND by Sean Shanahan
Faith & Reason
FRONT COVER The Faces Behind the Rambler
11 ON BEAUTY by Katie Brizek
12 PILGRIMAGE: NOT JUST TO MECCA
Veritas Ensis Noster.
by Margeaux Killackey
Arts & Culture 13 ON GREETINGS AND GRACE by Cate Thomas
14 HEALING FOR THE HIGH-HEELED by Gabriella Federico
Our Mission Statement
The Rambler and its staff are dedicated to training the next generation of Catholic journalists and intellectuals. We prize the liberal arts education received from Christendom College and write about the news, arts, culture, faith, and reason from this gained perspective. We believe we will play an essential part in a renaissance of new leaders, journalists, and communicators for the 21st century.
16 MY NAME IS GRACE
by Brandon Edge
NEWS & POLITICS EDITOR Colleen A. Harmon SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY EDITOR Thomas A. Ferrara
Poetry & Prose
September 21, 2012- Vol. 10, No. V
Cover photo by Niall O’Donnell
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Dear Readers, The printing of this year’s first edition of The Rambler, which you have before you, is at once a great honor and a privilege for me personally. I would be horribly remiss if I failed to mention Savanna Buckner’s name any later than now, for her leadership with the paper last year left me with, as it were, pocket aces. It would be an understatement to say I have been dealt a great hand and for that I give Savanna a rousing hand, expressing my sincere gratitude to her for giving me the chance to fill her shoes—a feat I readily admit will require a yeoman’s effort. You can bet your boots, however, that our team will do its best to uphold The Rambler’s good name by providing engaging and thought provoking student journalism. To that end, I would like to thank those responsible for making all of this possible: the staff. To my section editors, layout editor, staff writers, and various contributors—whose identities you see to your left—I thank you all for investing your time and energy in a club that offers the worthy and necessary opportunity of restoring the modern media through the written word. At Christendom we aim to “restore all things in Christ” and what better way to start restoring all than to start restoring some, through the proliferation of our generation of Catholic literary intellectuals? The world is hungry for truth. Truth is the driving force behind the Catholic milieu, and as such, we should take a profound interest in ensuring the truth of the written word. Christ was not only the Word made flesh, the Logos, but also in His eternal wisdom saw the written word— Sacred Scripture—as an essential means of passing down and preserving the truths we hold dear, from generation to generation. If actions speak louder than words, how loudly must the Word in act speak to us?
In Jesu et Maria,
Matthew F. Naham Editor-in-Chief
The 2012 Upper vs. Under flag football game. Photos taken by Maria Klosterman, Maribel Lopez, and Kelly Lawyer.
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Christendom College celebrated its 35th anniversary September 14-16, 2012. The College was ecstatic to welcome Rev. Wojciech Giertych, the Theologian of the Papal Household, to speak to the Christendom community and share in the commemoration of the College’s founding. Rev. Wojciech Giertych was awarded an honorary doctorate.
During his three-day trip to Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged all Middle Eastern Christians to “remain ever hopeful because of Christ.” The Holy Father met with Muslim religious leaders in Beirut, advocating for peace and religious tolerance amid volatile anti-Christian and anti-West protests in the region.
Two recent independent polls show Democrat Tim Kaine taking the lead over Republican George Allen in the race to replace retiring Virginia Sen. Jim Webb. Less than 50 days from election day, this Senate seat remains one of the most consistently competitive races in the 2012 cycle.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney and Democratic nominee Barack Obama continue neck-to-neck as Election Day in November creeps ever closer. Voter Registration and Absentee Ballot Form deadlines are fast approaching. #DONOTSITTHISONEOUT #MAKEUPYOURMIND
Anti-American sentiment heightened in Pakistan this week, apparently incited by an amateur anti-Islam video released from the United States. Outrage sparked by this affront has led to attacks on the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, and violent protests throughout the Middle-Eastern region and beyond, including North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Disquiet has spread as far as Afghanistan, Australia, Indonesia, Kashmir and Nigeria.
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The Chester-Belloc Debate Society held its second debate of the semester on September 9th: “It is moral to comply with the HHS mandate.” The resolution won 16-15, with 15 abstentions. The next debate “Celibacy is not a higher State than Marriage (DAG),” will be held on September 23rd.
News & Politics
Libertarianism and Conservatism: THE CRUCIAL DIFFERENCE By Brandon Edge, ‘14
ibertarianism is often viewed as a sort of hyper-conservatism, or as an extreme element within the conservative movement. This is unfortunate. While it may be true that there is significant overlap between the two systems in this day and age, anyone who subscribes to libertarianism far enough cannot meaningfully refer to himself as a "conservative.” There are the obvious differences which manifest themselves in current policy debates, of course—things like the War on Drugs, pornography, prostitution, and gay marriage. But what is the fundamental difference? The most succinct answer is that, while libertarians view liberty as the "highest political good", conservatives place a high value on moral order, and looks to the state as an important guardian of that order. This isn't to say that libertarians do not value order, or necessarily advocate anarchy. On the contrary, they firmly adhere to classical liberalism, which contains the principle that every person possesses rights to life, liberty, and property by his nature, and most want the state to preserve peace and harmony by protecting these rights. However, libertarians maintain a person's personal moral decisions, provided they do not involve encroaching upon the rights of other people or their property, are best left to himself, for liberty is the highest political good. In this way, the classical liberal principle, which elevates the individual above the state, is upheld—with free will and individual rights respected. While not disavowing classical liberalism, conservatives have a broader view than libertarians concerning the role of the state and of its relationship to social order. Even while opposing the expansion of the state and many modern progressive programs, conservatives maintain great respect for authority and social institutions, seeing both as checks on the passions of the people. As the 18th century British politician and political theorist Edmund Burke—identified by many as the father of modern conservatism—said: “Society requires not only that the passions of individuals should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body, as well as in the individual, the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection. This can be done only by a power out of themselves.” Conservatives today want to see the power of the state directed against moral evil in the form of prohibitions and restrictions on free expression, pornography, recreational drug use, homosexual acts, etc. Many conservatives even see the state as a potential tool for the strengthening of Christianity, for moral order is the highest political good for the conservative. Christianity is directly connected with morality, thus religion and a state concerned with the moral lives of its citizens would
seem inseparable. In spite of incorporating many elements of classical liberalism, conservatism is not against placing government above individual rights for the sake of a moral order. Hand in hand with the conservative end of moral order, comes a respect for political authority and tradition and a preference for the status quo. Burke was making his dedication to the old order in Europe clear when, in Reflections on the Revolution in France, he wrote “we look with awe to kings, with affection to Parliaments, with duty to magistrates, with reverence to priests, and with respect to nobility.” Libertarians, on the other hand, place freedom from government force above all in the political realm, including social institutions and the established order, and hence are not necessarily against radicalism— indeed, they often delight in it. For this reason in the Cold War era, many libertarians rushed to disassociate themselves from the principles of the New Right, as well as from the conservative label. “As for me, I will punch anyone who calls me a conservative in the nose. I am a radical.” libertarian Frank Chodorov wrote to National Review. In 1960, F. A. Hayek wrote an essay titled “Why I am not a Conservative” in which he explained that, despite finding himself on the same side as “those who habitually resist change” in opposing progressivism, he was first and foremost dedicated to the defense of a radical libertarian conception of liberty. Additionally, Ayn Rand criticized conservatives for defending capitalism in the name of tradition and upholding the status quo.
Hand in hand with the conservative end of moral order, comes a respect for political authority and tradition and a preference for the status quo.
In light of this distinction, it's clear that conservatives and libertarians draw from opposing philosophical traditions. Looking back on Russell Kirk's galvanizing effect on post-WWII conservatism, Murray Rothbard lamented the supplanting of "Mencken, Nock, Thoreau, Jefferson, Paine, and Garrison" in the pantheon of the right with the "reactionaries and anti-libertarians" Burke, Metternich, De Maistre, and Alexander Hamilton. As stated earlier, libertarians do not necessarily oppose radicalism, and their leading thinkers and heroes usually viewed the destruction of the European old order in the 18th and 19th centuries as a positive thing. After all, European liberals championed the principles of liberty and individualism over government in their fight against monarchical regimes that suppressed individual rights and which were overburdened with tradition. (Continued on page seven) 5 | five
News & Politics
CRIME, RACIAL PROFILING AND THE REAL TRUTH By Joe Walsh, ‘15
he truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is,” once said the great British leader Winston Churchill. The America of today often has a problem facing the “inconvenient truths.” There are certain facts and statistics we choose to be selectively ignorant about. There are certain stories and events we don’t want to know about, and certain problems we would rather skirt. Crime and racial profiling fall into these categories. Today Racial Profiling is identified solely in terms of racism and social injustice; consequently, it thrives as ‘catch all’ term, which major media outlets utilize to incite anger and racial tension— as if there wasn’t enough of that already. Complete denial of the welldocumented reality that certain races have a tendency to commit particular crimes at a remarkably high rate does a disservice to our nation and to the people committing the crimes. The propagation of a blatant double-standard and selectivity regarding which crimes are deemed newsworthy subsequently misrepresents the facts regarding race, crime, and discrimination—a key word to understand. Turning a blind eye or a deaf ear only exacerbates the problems of a country riddled by crime and simultaneously impedes the ability of law enforcement to perform its duty. What many fail to consider is that discrimination at the most fundamental level simply means “the power of making fine distinctions“ or something “that serves to differentiate” and not meant to be conflated with racism. I propose that in the proper context, through the simple consultation and awareness of publicly available facts and data, that racial profiling can be an effective tool for making fine and potentially life-saving distinctions in the war against crime. A prime example of biased coverage clouding the truth about crime and race, wrongly equivocating “racial profiling” with racism as such, was made apparent in the recent controversy over the death of Trayvon Martin, and the ensuing firestorm of media reporting on the incident. On February 26, 2012, Black Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was immediately accused of targeting the “innocent” Martin in an act of “racial profiling” that led to coldblooded murder. Many in the media practically convicted Zimmerman of first degree murder before he was even arrested or charged. The fact that Zimmerman was apparently assaulted by Martin (proved by Zimmerman’s broken nose and lacerations on the back of his head), evidently forcing Zimmerman to use his concealed pistol, is irrelevant to a media focused only on presenting the one-sided version of the story. Since the death of Martin, there has been a wave of racially motivated crimes committed against whites throughout the country, some clearly related and others less so. For example, the Jacksonville Daily News
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reported on March 26 that Mark Slavin, a 50 year old white man, was beaten by two Black men with a hammer so brutally that his body could scarcely be identified. Fox News reported a separate incident that occurred on April 5 in Toledo, Ohio wherein a 78 year old white man was a victim of an assault by a group of young Black men. As they viciously beat him, they yelled: “this is for Trayvon” and “get that white [man]…kill him.” And on March 25th in Cobb Country, Georgia a former Marine, Veteran of the Iraq War, and father of a 7 year old boy, was attacked and beaten to death in his apartment’s parking lot by 4 Black men, as was reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The propagation of a blatant double standard and selectivity regarding which crimes are deemed newsworthy subsequently misrepresents the facts regarding race, crime, and discrimination.
Unsurprisingly, these crimes received only marginal media attention. Strangely, white men being viciously beaten and murdered by Blacks does fit with the general requirements in the portrayal of interracial crime. Congress has even gotten into the act and is now attempting to prohibit law enforcement from using race or religion to search, seize, or arrest through the End Racial Profiling Act. Senator Ben Cardin, co-sponsor of the bill, says of the issue that: “Racial profiling is wrong. It’s un-American. It’s something that should have no place in modern law enforcement…” Without question, there is a profound injustice in assuming the intentions or characters of others based on race alone, but to trivialize and throw out statistics that can heighten awareness about crime seems unreasonable in its own right. Hence, the media’s portrayal of crime and the government’s attempt to stop law enforcement from being able to use race as a means to determine who is likely to commit various crime contradicts all known statistics on the issue. Additionally, makes light of and therefore materially cooperates in ignoring some of the disturbing trends within the Black culture, a culture that is being ravaged by crime. For example, the National Youth Gang Survey Analysis reveals that 35% of gang members are Black. Furthermore, according to the FBI Crime Report, over 50% of all murder was committed by Blacks, and over 90% of interracial crime is committed by Blacks against whites. Blacks are more than 50 times more likely to commit acts of interracial violence, and are also close to 4 times more likely to commit violent crimes such as rape and assault. These facts are even more disturbing when one considers Blacks or African Americans make up 12.9% of the population according to the 2000 census!
News & Politics
Courtesy of www.news.com.au
First, acknowledgement that there is a problem is imperative; only then can we begin to diagnose and treat. In line with some furtive, ulterior motive, the media simply refuses to talk about these critical issues, which serves no one except those caught up in the criminal industry—though it hurts them in the long run as well. All facts must be brought to the table and discussed. In the meantime, law enforcement officers should be allowed, and encouraged, to use race as one of the many factors in their assessment of potential criminals. In Israel, for example, racial profiling is the basis for the nation’s entire airport security procedures. Anshel Pfeffer, while investigating Israeli airport defense, wrote: “To Israelis, the practice of picking people out based on racial stereotypes is so self-evident, there isn’t even a Hebrew term for it.” Few countries have as dire a need to efficiently maintain security as Israel does, and that they rely almost entirely on racial profiling to keep the peace is very telling. An analogous principle should be applied in the United States for crime prevention and enforcement. It should be duly noted that racial profiling can and should go both ways. One particularly disturbing trend concerns the frequency with which white men commit crimes against children. According
Photo by Nick Koudis, Photodisc, Getty Images
to a survey of Inmates of State Correctional Facilities by the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, 70% of all child molesters are white. Clearly, the data related to this particular criminal act overwhelmingly shows that when attempting to prevent and stop child molesters, law enforcement must be aware of demographic statistics of the criminals committing these heinous acts in order to identify and punish offenders and potentially deter future crimes. This applies for all crime and all races. Crime in America should be viewed as intolerable, yet the media and the government promote selective awareness and denial of critical statistics that could help curb many forms of harmful illegal activity—ironic for a culture so preoccupied with the eradication of ignorance. Allowing the law enforcement to know and use the truth about race and crime is one of the many needed measures to help fight the war on crime. America cannot ignore the truth. As uncomfortable as it might be, we must face the truth and use it to our advantage, because, after all, “the truth is incontrovertible” and will continue to stare us in the face until we face it.
Libertarianism: Continued from page five It may come as a bit of a shock that some like Rothbard even admired the French Revolution, identifying it as part of a tradition of defense of liberty and resistance to tyranny. But there is one important philosophical tradition conservatives and libertarians share—classical liberalism and the ideals of liberty, natural rights, and limited government which stem from it. Ironically, as uncomfortable as they may be to admit it, American conservatives actually join libertarians in upholding many of the political principles of the Enlightenment via a defense of the republican system of government put in place after the revolution. But conservatives and libertarians look at the American Revolution in different ways. Conservatives emphasize the influence of old British political traditions and customs on the institutions of the colonies, and say that the revolution was fought to conserve those institutions and the American form of self-government. They do their best to downplay the influence of Enlightenment principles on the American Revolution and the founding of the United States. Russell Kirk, for example, denied the importance of the Declaration of Independence. Some conservatives even go to the extent of employing a sort of conservative version of political correctness when referring to the
event, preferring the phrase "War for Independence" to the dirty "r" word. Libertarians emphasize the American colonists’ resistance to the British government and portray the Revolution as a radical blow for liberty, a view Rothbard expanded upon and defended in his four volume work "Conceived in Liberty." For libertarians, the Revolution was about defending natural rights and freedom from oppressive government, and less about defending traditional American institutions and system of government. Ayn Rand went so far as to argue that the American Revolutionaries "broke with all political tradition." While conservatives and libertarians share economic views, and while both are allied against heavy government action in economic matters, we shouldn't forget that there really is a sharp distinction between the two. Libertarianism is a radical ideology that places liberty above all in the political sphere—an outlook and attitude that couldn't possibly be more antithetical to conservatism's preference for tradition, moral order and the status quo. As this distinction escapes many people, and as the economy is currently in the center of everyone's mind, it's likely that many who call themselves libertarians today are actually confused conservatives—and vice versa. 7 | seven
Science & Technology
McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine
The Root of the Stem Cell Problem By Thomas Ferrara, ‘13
ometime between Galileo’s temporary confinement in the luxury apartments of the Inquisition and the modern era the angrier parts of the secular world gained a new epithet to hurl at the Church: anti-scientific. A stereotype from nowhere, it fit well with the fantastic image of the Magisterium as an outdated, backward institution determined to drag the world into a dark age. It is the aim of this section, and the future articles therein, to document and examine modern technological innovation for the benefit of the reader, and to censure scientific endeavours when they lead to ethical problems. An altercation in the field of bioethics has recently erupted over the potential benefits of embryonic stem cells. Because the Church quite firmly condemns the murder of unborn children to harvest embryonic stem cells, Catholics have come under fire for checking the progress of science. To forbid embryonic stem cell research, popular opinion often goes, is to prefer the deaths of millions from cancer and other terminal illnesses. Some scientists propose that embryonic stem cell research can possibly cure leukemia, neurological damage, cancers throughout the body, and any disease with degenerative cell function. However, the entire contrived argument for such research hinges on that troublesome word “possibly.” The bridge between “possibly” and “does” is quite a wide one, but embryonic stem cell research is not crossing it. Stem cells are divided by their potency, or capacity to form different types of cells. Embryonic stem cells are undeveloped, and adult cells are partially developed and unable to become all types of cells. As one might expect from the hype, embryonic stem cells are “totipotent”, being able to differentiate into all kinds of cells, unlike adult stem cells that are only “multipotent”. Because of embryonic cells’ plasticity, it seems as if these jack-of-all-trade cells can repair and rejuvenate any structure in the body, purifying it of illness. This very versatility proved to be the downfall of embryonic stem cell treatment. Because of their capacity to become any type of human cell, injecting them into a patient can cause devastating side effect. The cells can uncontrollably grow into teratomas: tumors containing hair, teeth, and bones. One trial had patients experiencing a horrifying loss of control as the stem cells produced anabolic chemicals that caused their bodies to thrash, bite, and grasp uncontrollably. Without the ability to limit the differentiation in embryonic stem cells, they divide into random types of cells, and treatment is impossible. This is of some relief, however to a Catholic observer. Misguided agnostics often justify their lack of faith ask how a loving, allpowerful God could allow natural disasters, pestilence, and poverty, but
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the question would really hit hard if God ordained that the only cure for cancer were cells from aborted children. Despite the talk of moral flexibility and grey areas, there have been no results to show for the death of unborn children whose bodies were used to conduct research. Embryonic stem cells have yet to cure or treat any illness or injury, and the only new moral development on the issue is how unethical it is to waste government grant money on fruitless research. Adult stem cells, however, enjoyed quite a happier medical development. By their very nature, doctors can use the stem cells of the patient and overcome the biggest problem in any cellular transplant: tissue rejection. Adult stem cells can be collected from bone marrow of young or old patients, their umbilical cord, and developing third molars, which are very fertile caches of multipotent stem cells easily obtained through a minimally invasive procedure. From the outset, the two problems of rejection and collection have been solved. Even so, the therapeutic aspect of adult stem cells indicates the greatest difference between adult and embryonic cells: simply that adult cells can be used to treat disease and injuries, and embryonic cells cannot. Adult stem cells have been the go-to treatment for leukemia and lymphoma for years, saving tens of thousands of lives. Recent clinical trials with adult stem cells have put cancers into remission, treated Crohn’s disease and brain tumors, cured lupus, and even restored sight to blind people. The field of stem cell research is developing rapidly and optimistically along these avenues and many others. Still, current benefits have been achieved without inquiry into the blatantly unethical area of embryonic research, a fruitless detour that required the death and mutilation of several unborn children. The latest advances in the field show promising returns from stem cells found in amniotic fluid, which are easier to collect than adult cells and may be as totipotent as embryonic cells. If not for the unfortunate forays into embryonic stem cells, this discovery may have emerged sooner. It is ultimately irrelevant how successful embryonic stem cell research may have been. An experiment in a lab can only indicate that the unborn could die to heal the born, not conclude that they ought to. The possible should not be confused with the permissible; otherwise man comes to serve science, instead of science serving man. Once we consider dissecting children hoping for health benefits we have returned to ancient Carthage, where parents hurl their babies into the fires of Moloch, praying for health. When medical science remains in its proper place instead of trying to pass judgments about philosophy and morality on biological grounds, it can begin to develop efficacious medicine.
Science & Technology
ROBOTS ON The Ground By Sean Shanahan, ‘16
nmanned vehicles are an important part of modern day warfare. From chariots to Strykers, vehicles have been used in war for thousands of years. However, vehicles have always required a human operator in or on the vehicle. In World War II, the Germans used an unmanned vehicle called the Goliath. It was essentially a miniature tank chassis with a bomb built into it. The Goliath was controlled with a joystick attached to it by a wire, and was prone to malfunctions. Todays Unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are controlled wirelessly, and are very durable. TALON UGVs used in rescue operations at the site of the twin towers after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 continued to function properly despite going through decontamination twenty-three times a day! For reasons of human safety and efficiency , robotic “soldiers” have emerged technologically as the latest and greatest ebb of futuristic waves.
German remote-controlled demolition vehicles, known as “Goliaths,” captured by British soldiers at the Battle of Normandy, 1944.
UGVs provide valuable support to soldiers on the ground by performing reconnaissance, disarming bombs, and searching disaster zones for victims. Some UGVs are purposely designed for combat. These vehicles are not truly robots because they are not self-controlled; however, some are very close to being true robots, since they are partly autonomous. UGVs have many forms and functions, but their basic purpose is to do jobs that are boring or very dangerous. Armed UGVs
like SWORDS can go into action with squads of soldiers, giving them an extra support weapon. Since most armed UGVs have a substantial carrying capacity, they can carry weapons that would require multiple soldiers to operate, or even weapons that would be impractical for a squad of soldiers to take into battle on their own. Although, not all military UGVs carry guns, their usage in a variety of non-combat support roles, some of which are very dangerous, are invaluable. Some, such as Packbot and TALON, which are essentially complex remote-control cars, can be carried by one man. Soldiers can switch out attachments to allow the robots to defuse explosives, recover small items, or simply explore a building. Some UGVs equipped for Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) are fitted with mechanical arms, to allow a human to disarm things like Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) from a safe distance. Others carry powerful water cannons to short out the circuits in a bomb. The same UGVs used for EOD work can be fitted with extra cameras, night-vision equipment, or other imaging solutions, turning them into powerful reconnaissance tools. Soldiers can use these vehicles to get valuable battlefield information that might not be readily available from higher up the chain of command. Other UGVs like the MULE can carry extra supplies for soldiers, allowing the soldiers to stay in a combat area for longer periods because they don’t have to carry as much equipment. Alternatively, the MULE and its cousins MAARS, SWORDS, and a version of TALON, can be armed with M249 machine guns, SMAW anti-tank missiles, and 40mm grenade launchers. These “robots” provide a durable and reliable platform for support weapons without putting the people normally required to operate those weapons in direct danger.
Although, not all military UGVs carry guns, their usage in a variety of non-combat support roles, some of which are very dangerous, are invaluable.
Human battlefield medics and Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) serve two high risk, but essential roles in the course of martial struggle; both specialists require substantial training, which makes soldiers trained in these fields particularly instrumental in the success of the whole operation. Using UGVs to aid these specialists has resulted in fewer casualties. Enemy combatants consider soldiers performing these duties priority targets. (Continued on page ten)
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Science & Technology Robots: Continued from page nine
The SWORDS system allows soldiers to fire small arms weapons by remote control from as far as 1,000 meters away. This example is fitted with an M249 SAW.
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Consequently, unmanned vehicles greatly reduce the risk to human medics, as they can drag wounded soldiers back from the violent fray to a safer haven for medical attention. Current medical UGVs require wounded soldiers to roll onto a sled so that the UGV can drag them to safety, which does not work if the wounded are unconscious or too injured to move. The next generation of remotely-operated medical vehicles will be able to move soldiers without requiring any action on the soldier’s part, and even perform first aid. Moreover, disarming a bomb through a UGV is usually preferable to having a human EOD do the job. Since the human EOD is mortally endangered by the bomb, and, therefore, incapable of focusing in the way that a UGV would “focus”, the robot achieves the end of the EOD just as well and staves off the prospective loss of human life. If the bomb does go off, a replaceable machine is destroyed. Through these examples we see the benefits of the unmanned vehicle as both an efficient and life saving technological exploit for humanity in the present, but even more so in the future. Presently, UGVs are quite dependent upon on their controllers for constant instructions. An autonomous UGV would be very useful, since it would not require constant contact with its controller. Will the unmanned vehicles of today gradually metamorphose into fully autonomous robots? It’s certainly possible, and technological advances are headed in this direction. Robots of a fully autonomous ilk would exhibit faster reactions than remote controlled drones; the delay between the time the human operator enters a command and the time that that command reaches the drone and is executed would be neutralized from the equation. A robot would not have to wait for each command from its handler, but rather would act properly and of its own accord. Admittedly, the process of making a robot that is completely autonomous will take time, since the robot would have to be able to receive, process, and act upon data from particular occurrences in its surroundings. In truth, robots can boast only of what they are programmed to do, and no human programmer with a finite intellectual capacity can foresee every possibility. Today’s dependent drones will quite probably turn into or be replaced by semi-autonomous robots, capable of making some decisions, but still requiring orders from a human. Nonetheless, the concept of robots on the ground is no longer up in the air, but is instead a real, efficient, and life altering technological advance that has served, does serve, and will continue to serve humanity into the future.
By Katie Brizek, ‘15
Faith & Reason
A man’s good work is effected by doing what he does, a woman’s by being what she is. — G.K. Chesterton
nyone who claims that men and women are fundamentally the same are not really considering the evidence. Common sense and experience indicate that the two sexes are mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually distinct from one another. This specific variance of the sexes can be summed up quite candidly in Chesterton’s observation. But, if a woman does her good work in her mere being, what is it that she is? There must be some thing which a woman possesses of her essence which renders her unique. This quality is the inimitable beauty which belongs to her nature as such. The per se beauty of a woman encompasses all of the sweetness of her person, extending to every aspect of her being. She is beautiful in mind and spirit, as well as in the way she speaks, acts and deports herself. In short, her inner beauty is manifested in her physical appearance. But often women feel that their beauty, as such, is demeaned, undervalued or despised. Which is why, despite its obvious perverse nature, a girl will be flattered by even disordered attention. If she does not receive this attention from any positive sources she will inevitably accept the affirmation she does receive. Beauty is so much a part of her being that, though it may seem superficial or shallow, sometimes all a girl wants is to be told she is pretty. The view on women’s appearances in some conservative Catholic circles is a puzzling one. There is a kind of denial that women should be permitted to look beautiful. Many people have strict standards for the way women can dress or adorn themselves. Form-fitting clothes, skirts shorter than ankle-length or pants are indecent. Wearing make-up, blow-drying your hair and having your ears pierced are vanities. These extremes are often mixed and matched from family to family, but it begs the question, why mustn’t a woman look pretty? Modesty is the virtue which precipitates this dilemma. After all, it is immodest for a woman to draw attention to herself. Inner beauty is more important, and you can cite Scripture endlessly on how it is in doing her duty and following the Lord that a woman is glorified. But who made her the way that she is? God created women to be beautiful. A woman isn’t just a soul, trapped in the body of a temptress, but a
body-soul composite who was designed to be exactly as God intended her to be. If men are attracted to women’s beauty, it is because He desired for it to be so. If God is the one who is drawing the attention, it is not personal immodesty. Rather, trying to hide this beauty is a shameful waste of God’s gift. Wearing make-up or curling your hair isn’t deceitful. Wearing clothes that flatter your body isn’t a lie or an aberration against nature. A woman taking care of her appearance isn’t any stranger than tending a garden. If you were to see a well-manicured flowerbed your first thought wouldn’t be “how flashy and artificial; this isn’t how God actually made these.” His wonderful creation should be at its best and making it so is our job as stewards. So women can care for their appearance in order to highlight or further reveal their God-given beauty. Just like virtue or talent, beauty must be preserved so that it doesn’t fall by the wayside. If we were given the blessing and power of beauty by God as a way to influence and change the world for the better, what will He say on Judgment day if we neglected His gift? As God’s creatures, we reflect His perfect beauty. Everything about us, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical is all a part of His plan for us. We were each created to be perfectly suited for the service to which He calls us. Beauty can be a tool in God’s plan because it draws others to us, so that we can share His message. In many cases, the catalyst which led to a fruitful marriage, a conversion or an intimate Godly friendship was outward appearances. It’s not just single men who are drawn to well-groomed, attractive women, but all people, including other women. If this beauty is accompanied by the quiet light of happiness found only in Christ, it is an amazing tool. Beauty is made to be appreciated. The Sistine Chapel is available for all to see and the Mona Lisa isn’t squirrelled away in a cave. A man can admire a woman’s beauty without lust, much as he can watch a baseball game without envying the players. In fact it is as natural to take pleasure in looking at a beautiful woman as it is to behold a brilliant sunset or a remarkable painting with joy. For each its honor and end is in admiration which will lift the thoughts of men to the Artist. 11 | eleven
Faith & Reason
Pilgrimage: NOT JUST TO MeCCA By Margeaux Killackey, ‘15
t was raining; my clothes were completely drenched even under the sticky plastic poncho I wore. I also must have been more overtired than I thought, because it felt perfectly natural when I turned to the priest beside me and conﬁded, “I think I ﬁgured out one of the purposes of a pilgrimage. Right now, I absolutely do not care at all what I look like!” Nearly 75 miles had succeeded in purging me—at least temporarily—of vanity. But at the same time, it took nearly 75 miles. There is something unique about the spirituality of a pilgrimage that I found at once depressing and exhilarating. Depressing because we realize that our limitations are not so boundless as we imagined them to be, and exhilarating because we also realize that Our Lord can bring us beyond those limitations. It is not a debatable point that Americans are capable of unbelievable success and hard work. Yet isn’t it ironic that American Catholics observe only ﬁve Holy Days of Obligation, and in some dioceses, even those sacred days are overlooked if they fall on a Saturday or Monday, because it would impose too much inconvenience if a person had to—Heaven forbid—attend Mass two days in a row? The vast majority of us here enjoy three meals a day, and yet all the Church asks of us is to observe a one hour fast prior to Communion, and stipulates only two days in the year that we must fast all day. The point is not that we ought to be ashamed; the point is that our duty to our soul does not end with those things absolutely required by Holy Mother Church. Therefore, it is up to us to impose upon ourselves bodily mortiﬁcations. A pilgrim does nothing extraordinary. There is no sleeping in hair shirts, no one is required to survive on stale bread and water, striking themselves or drawing blood with a whip. To micro-analyze a pilgrimage, it seems like we are taking the simplest of tasks, walking, and just doing it all day. The task of a pilgrim is to renounce, for a short period of time, conveniences such as hot showers and comfortable beds, and to endure a pain which merits only the title of “soreness.” Though not insurmountably difﬁcult, a pilgrimage is certainly not easy. But that is precisely why it is a good form of mortiﬁcation. Our culture has held up convenience for idol worship, confusing accessibility of a thing with the right to that thing. We all fall prey to this deception, this separation anxiety for the comfortable, if we do not frequently tear ourselves away, reminding ourselves of the only thing we cannot live without: God. My friends and I made up a list that we [un]affectionately named the “Only on a Pilgrimage” list. The list contains articles such as, “only on a pilgrimage would a germophobe take a bite of their baguette, set it down on the wet grass and eat from the huge bowl of soup they’re sharing with seven other people” or “only on a pilgrimage is waking up at 7am considered sleeping in.” It seems silly, but it can be a beginning
12 | twelve
to imitating the saints. Because perhaps one day we can learn not only to accept these sufferings, but even to love them. A pilgrimage can also parallel the journey of life. Pilgrimages are split up into “brigades” and there is certainly no “survival of the ﬁttest” mindset. Assuming the brigade is made up of people with the proper disposition, it naturally brings out qualities such as fraternal charity and fellowship. Suffering is suffering, but we can ﬁnd the sweet in the bitter when we allow it to bind us to our fellow men by enduring hardship together. On a pilgrimage you spend all day with your brigade, singing, praying, talking, listening to meditations, eating, laughing and, at times, having emotional break downs, together. This communal endurance should reﬂect how we walk the pilgrimage of life, towards Salvation. St. Thomas says that man was meant to ﬁnd salvation in a community and on a pilgrimage this is manifested in a beautiful way. A particularly inspiring—and hilarious—aspect of a brigade are the “Morale Leaders,” who make light of their own hardships in order to be a source of humor and cheer to everyone else. If you walk a pilgrimage alone, you will sink into self-pity, where the only thoughts you have will be of pain and fatigue, and you will fall behind. Perhaps all that you need is someone to walk beside you or take your hand. But even more, perhaps all you need is to see someone weaker than yourself and walk beside them and take their hand. Life is not merely a struggle, but a struggling together in love to achieve sainthood. No matter how mentally prepared you may think you are, everyone is dismayed to ﬁnd how difﬁcult a 3-4 day walk actually is. You feel stalwart until about lunch of the ﬁrst day when it suddenly occurs to you that when people say, “it is hard” they mean “it is hard.” It is like a smack in the face, to be young and energetic and then to be reduced to such helpless exhaustion. We may tell ourselves that we are courageous, but humble self-knowledge is terrifying. Terrifying, that is, until we place our helpless selves before Christ and acknowledge that it is only by His Grace that we can take another step. It does not matter how many times we may hear the word “Creator”--it is only by forcing ourselves into a place so pathetic that it can begin to register in our minds that we do not hold ourselves in existence. There is no way to describe the feeling that ﬁlls the soul when you walk out of Chartres Cathedral, after ﬁnishing the 75-mile walk. It is such a pleasurable tranquility and, like any other struggle worth overcoming, when you think about it, you remember the joy, not the turmoil that you battled to arrive at that joy. The experience itself does not perfect us, but it is knowing the experience that starts to translate all of those things we learned in Catechism as a child, so that we may in turn begin to understand them in our own lives, by having lived through our own small spiritual journey.
Arts & Culture
On Greetings andGrace Why my favorite word is “Hello”
By Cate Thomas, ‘13
irst of all, hello, dear reader! Shall we get to know each other a bit? I will start. Let me introduce you to one side of myself: I have a habit of overthinking things, especially words. And words are what I would like to puzzle over today, specifically words of greeting and how they relate to relationships. I happen to think that true relationships are borne out of true understanding. Just the other day, as I was leafing through some literary criticism for my thesis, I fell in love with a name on a page, a certain J. C. Whitehouse, who summed up my thoughts on this subject more tidily than I shall ever be able to do. “Love and understanding,” he said, “increase one another.” It is the polar opposite of that sickly cynical adage, that familiarity breeds contempt. For the purposes of this howdo-you-do, I am taking Whitehouse’s phrase as a kind of rough thesis statement. Humor me, even if you don’t see where I am going yet, or what on earth this has to do with the word hello. For now, accept as true my premise that when two people see each other as they are, a relationship begins. Anything less than this understanding makes these two acquaintances at best, and complete strangers at worst—and I believe the worst thing two people can be is strangers to one another. But more on that later. What I really want to talk about is my favorite word, the word that I began this piece with, “hello.” It is one of those ordinary, rusty-penny words we toss at each other all our lives: hello, goodbye, yes, no. They are almost not even words to us, we use them so often and so carelessly—and, I argue, falsely. But these are the most important words we ever say. They are the captions to all the great moments of our lives.
“I could love and make use of all the worn out little words which we all let fall so carelessly—words we use when we drop in on someone, words that go with some sign of love, words whispered in grief or in the surprise of some small joy.” —Sigrid Undset
Hello in particular is a delightful word, I think. It acts as humble herald in the world of words. By nature it announces all things, good and bad, that come to mark our days here. Our loved ones and our lovers, the people we hate and those who cause us the deepest pain—do we not at first meet each with this smallest and most commonplace of words? Does not everything good and wonderful and sad and shocking begin, at least at first, with a hello? Greeting is something I think of often. We normally do it without thinking, but what a mighty little common courtesy it is. To greet another is to acknowledge his existence, and therefore his importance. Men are creatures, and creatures of dignity. We all know
this, but it is easy to forget. The shortest path to the heart of your fellow man is to say hello to him. Look into his spirit (don’t stop at his face) and nod your head as you agree with what Someone has already said of him: “This one is worthy of notice.” For what can be more important in a human relationship than to first and above all else acknowledge another as a fellow human being? What more can be said between humans than to recognize each as creatures made unto the image of the same God, on the same path, walking hand in hand towards Him? All true relationships accept this as a first condition. Note that I say true relationships, not merely true friendships or true loves. Adversaries can look each other in the eye and say hello this way. Doing so is part of what makes enmity between beings so tragic. The fallen angels, for instance, knew exactly to Whom they said goodbye. Their use of this greeting was therefore a true one according to my definition; their relationship remains true as well. They rejected their own pure understanding; they rejected Love Himself. Yet I submit that it would have been even worse for them to have not even recognized their Maker as such. Strangerhood is the saddest state of affairs, most of all where God is concerned. Yes, that’s right; greetings are even used with the divine. Prayer is a kind of greeting, for it is most certainly bound up with recognition. When we receive the great grace to know a small something about an ineffable God, greeting is the first and sometimes the only response. But who is to say that a hello cannot be praise or a prayer? For what else but hello could St. Thomas have meant when he saw the wounds of Christ and was compelled to say, “My Lord and my God?” This is a more elaborate salutation than your garden-variety hello or hi, yet the same principle applies. Thomas greeted Jesus; he acknowledged Him for Who He Is. And who could forget the Archangel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary at the moment of Christ’s Incarnation? This is likely the most beautiful greeting that a human person has ever received, because it was addressed to the masterpiece of Creation. And just think: we have the unfathomable joy of repeating it to Our Lady as often as we like! Food for thought, but I return to my original focus, the greetings exchanged not between God, angels, and saints, but between we ordinary walkers of the earth. We have many kinds of greetings these days. Some are tied to holidays, and therefore take on another shade of meaning aside from interpersonal acknowledgement. “Merry Christmas,” for example, now functions primarily as a well-wishing confined to the month of December, but among Christians it is also the mutual confession of an incomparable mystery. It is more than a greeting between persons; it is a nod to another, rather important Person. This is why seemingly simple phrases can generate controversy. (Continued on page fifteen) 13 | thirteen
Arts & Culture
HEALING for: by
Gabriella Federico, ‘16
arilyn Monroe once said, “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.” Perhaps she would change her mind if she had to walk up and down the Dip in high heels. As the ladies of Christendom are well aware, walking around—especially on campus—in high heels is a precarious task only fit for the most skilled and precise of walkers. Notwithstanding, high heels, despite the many precautions required to wear them, are a prerequisite for dressing confidently, femininely, and professionally. Wearing high heels at Christendom is a daring choice. The Christendom College campus is riddled with uneven terrain, precarious hills, and broken bones lying in wait to ambush the girl dashing from the Library to Joe’s within ten minutes. Add seasonal weather to the mix, and one is left wondering if the girl in high heels has any sense at all. Aside from the aforementioned perilous Dip, another suspect area of Christendom is the Goat Path (for those of you unfamiliar with this term, think of the dicey shortcut behind guy’s side). The Goat Path is intimidating in flats, but when you are elevated in the air by a thin four inch stick, things always become more complicated.
grieve a pair of adorable ruffled black pumps whose heels were torn up by the destructive cobblestones. Walking across a cobblestone pathway in heels is like braving a minefield: your next step could be your last. Cobblestones do, however, have a pro quality to them. Let’s imagine you’re walking side by side with your crush, headed up the path to the Student Center, discussing something very practical like statistics. You can use the cobblestones as an excuse to trip dramatically into your crush’s arms. Next thing you know, you have an M.R.S. degree and ten homeschooled mouths to feed.
“Our children will know fluent Latin and Greek by their third birthdays!”
What an obnoxious show off.
High heels are also a first class distraction at Mass. Ladies, do you recall this intimidating scenario: after Communion, when you are trying to proceed reverently back to your pew, and your vain heels insist on calling attention to themselves? Am I the only one who can feel Father’s thoughts burning a hole through my being? Never have I experienced something that so thoroughly made me contemplate an imprudent fashion choice. Mea culpa, Padre. Other difficulties facing the high-heeled girl are the cobblestone pathways around campus. Please allow me a moment to 14 | fourteen
All kidding aside, let’s bring our attention to the positive aspects of wearing heels. Confidence is a key element to parading in heels. When a woman walks confidently, she walks with poise and stands upright. These aspects contribute to one’s sense of professionalism. The higher the heel, the closer to God. I speak for everyone in the Short Girl Sisterhood when I say the height upgrade is a big bonus. The manner in which heels force you to loftily stand has a beneficial slimming effect. There is nothing repugnant about being taller and slimmer. Heels also promote nicely toned calf muscles. Toned calf muscles mean more endurance, which, in turn, results in more swing dancing. The more you swing dance, the better the odds of falling madly in love during repetitive renditions of country music. Cobblestones are not your only way to land an M.R.S degree. Combined with all these effects of heels, one must also take into account the way they increase a girl’s feminine exterior. After all, doesn’t everyone associate heels with women? Outside of the previously stated qualities, heels can also make an excellent weapon. They are a perfect asset to making oneself appear more intimidating. Mid-day Mass got out late? Have a one o’ clock
Arts & Culture
The High-Heeled class and you haven’t done the reading? It is a frustrating scenario when you are trying to hurry with lunch and there is a steady stream of people elbowing past you towards the sustenance.
commenced wearing heels, my goal was a beautiful pair of five-inch lace peep-toe ankle booties, which I am rather in love with. Emerge from your cocoon-like state of flats with kitten heels. Build up your capacity, and pretty soon you’ll be a Footwear Fashionista. “If the shoe fits”. . . This may seem an obvious step, but it is essential! If your shoes fit appropriately, you’ll be able to walk loosely. An unconstrained gait is required to successfully wear heels. Finally, make sure your heels reflect your personality. Own your style, and display it proudly!
“Don’t you try taking that last piece of bacon.”
The more you practice walking in heels, the more you will improve. The more you rehearse, the more natural your walk will become. Honing your high heeled walking skills may prevent you from slipping in the cafeteria and practically wiping out Walter Janaro. Make sure you go big, but start small. Begin with a goal in mind. When I first
Unless you have this kind of style.
Greetings: Continued from page thirteen (And don’t even get me started on that most insipid of substitutes, “season’s greetings.” Since secularism—disregarding God—tends to go hand in hand with disregarding the human person, I think the fact that this bland, impersonal phrase even exists only proves my point about greetings having a significance beyond the mere exchange of words.) Now that I have given some of my thoughts on a few of the deeper meanings behind the many ways of saying hello, I will bring this piece to a close. It is common knowledge that all people like to be noticed and appreciated. It is more common for us to forget this about one another. And I understand the temptation to forgo greeting, as I am shy like many. Lest you take me for a kind of bizarre Miss Manners with delusions of authority in spiritual matters, I admit that I write this as much to myself as to anyone else when I say: The next time you cross paths someone—one you love, one with whom you are angry,
one your eyes have held for the very first time—greet them. If you are looking to grow in the virtue of love, I modestly suggest the practice of heartfelt greeting as an easy method of increasing or at least initiating itscompanion, understanding. A final note about technique: Do not feel compelled to use hello if it seems outmoded to you (though it is barely a century old!). It just happens to have an almost nonsensical, almost un-English chime to it that I love. Feel free to give whichever expression you prefer. You could even make that funny upward chin-tilt gesture, primarily found among the males of my age group, which is endearing if inarticulate. When you catch an opportunity to offer someone a greeting, seize it. But please, kindly avoid ‘sup? Goodbye! 15 | fifteen
Poetry & Prose
My Name Is Grace By Matthew Naham, ‘13
n the most tranquil of summer days, I lay comfortably on a hammock, on an unoccupied, spotless beach, under a cloudless, sunlit, indigo sky, taking a mental photograph. I feel that I could lay here for days and yet the days would feel like mere minutes, just grains of sand slipping through my fingers. Just then I was struck by an errantly hurled beach ball, and much to the dismay of the ruddy-faced youth, who scampered off in shame. Disappointed, I realized that nothing I had just documented in my head about my surroundings was true. In truth, I found myself trying to bend reality to the power of my will and imagination. It was, in actuality, an oppressive summer day. I lay uncomfortably on the scalding sand, on a crowded, dingy beach, with a threatening sky above, thus buffeted by a beach ball barrage. I suppose I was angry that things were not at all the way I pictured them to be, that I could not just pretend and my day would unfold in like manner. Even through this ordeal, I noticed a cloud wandering by its lonesome above. I think the cloud teaches us an important life lesson: the cloud comes and goes as the day comes and goes, appearing and disappearing, and with no regard for our preferences. It seems to me that reality has helped me stave off my wayward desires and learn, even from the simplicity of the cloud. It’s so easy to lose sight of things that are much grander than oneself when oneself is the foremost thought. When I was a youth, debauchery, mischief, and adventure were my cares. Never did I stop and think that the world was made for me, rather I always felt I was made for the world. I aimed to be the talk of all time in a world I considered my oyster. Then reality ravaged my world, whipping my mind into a whirlwind, clouding it with gray and upwelling of emotion. And every now and again I revert back to a sorry, dejected state; today is one of those now and again’s. But there is hope. When confounded by myself there is nothing that heals quite like a bath, and as luck would have it the dingy beach had just that and more. The public bathhouse was perhaps the only positive aspect of the place. Before me are three separate doors, which from left to right read “Hot,” “Lukewarm,” and “Cold.” At present, which one I desire remains unknown to me. Many other beachgoers are flocking towards the doors; I decide to fall along the wayside and observe the choices of the crowd— perhaps they have some wisdom on the matter. A large portion choose the door on the left, even more walk through the middle, while not one chooses the door on the right. I wonder for a moment why hot and lukewarm baths would reign supreme on such a sweltering day. It seemed to me that cold was the logical choice. Nonetheless, I felt an uncontrollable urge to see for myself what was so appealing to the 16 | s ixteen
masses. And so I will begin my inspection where the majority of the crowd entered: the Lukewarm Bath. Once inside, an unexplainable stench assaulted my nostrils, a stench that stuck, and reduced me to a knee. Cowing down in the corner of the bath I raised my eyes to see innumerable souls with eyes firmly fixed upon me, as if to say “you don’t belong here.” I began to wonder whether I belong here myself. Just then a beaming, rotund man approached me and inquired “What brings you to the Lukewarm Bath?” Not seeing any reasonable way to dodge the question I replied “I decided to follow the crowd.” “How good of you,” he said “the beauty of acceptance is unsurpassed.” I mustered the question “What makes this bath so popular?” “Well,” the man said “the lukewarm bath is the most tolerable; the Hot Baths are also tolerable—but to a lesser degree. The Cold Baths though are absolutely intolerable! And, in my opinion, the key to achieving happiness is using the most tolerable method—and since the lukewarm is the Golden Mean in between extremes then it must be the best.” I replied “but don’t you think that cold water would be the ideal for such a day as today? I feel that it would provide a much needed contrast to the temperature and be quite refreshing.” “Treasonous!” thundered the man “And if that’s what you think than you best be gone.” I shuddered. Suddenly, I felt the tide turn against me; the crowded pool, full of lazy, diseased-looking, indifferent bathers rose at once in unison and glared deeply through my eyes and into my soul. I felt unaccepted, belittled, trivialized. I wanted to shout, but I couldn’t speak. I turned my back to them and walked away to the tune of derisive cheers and whistles. They were not so indifferent; the mere suggestion of the cold bath was enough to cancel me from the equation. Utterly humiliated, I bounded outside gasping for air—thank goodness for fresh air. I mused that the kind of air one breaths must make a profound impact. It now made sense to me that anyone would fall victim to laziness and indifference in an atmosphere such as that, but I was still puzzled by their willful subjection to intoxicate themselves on that air and seemingly without a care. But no matter. I suppose I’m just moralizing. I guess all of those empty stares failed to teach me a lesson. Now what? Though I know that the cold water is what I desire, and I think rightfully so, I am still curious to discover the appeal of the hot bath on the hot day. The concept is simply so bizarre that I simply must know, and besides how could the cold bath be best if it so obviously unpopular? I tentatively decided to rest my case on the matter and meandered towards the entrance of the Hot Bath. I opened the door and was greeted by a smattering of relentless, hot air. Luckily for me, the odor of the place was bearable, but now the heat was the oppressor,
Poetry & Prose
Photo by Theresa Lamirande
making my skin tingle, my eyes water, my mouth dry, my ears filled with pressure. I was utterly jaded and I had only just crossed the threshold. The people in this locale were entirely focused on themselves, not one taking notice of my arrival. Still I longed to understand the appeal of the Hot Bath on the hot summer day. In a similar fashion as before, a man among the crowd approached me, though this one seemed serious in disposition. Instead of asking me why I was there the man decided to inform me, stating: “you seem tired, I can tell that you’re here to release yourself from all the frustration and enmity that you’ve built up inside; don’t pretend that you’re here for any other reason.” Amazed by his succinct deduction—if you could call it that—I responded “How right you are! As a matter of fact, I am here to cleanse my spirit, and I’ve surmised that the bath is an effective way to do so.” He snorted; “Cleanse the spirit? Well if that’s the case then I regret to inform you that you’ve come to the wrong place.” “How so?” said I. “You see this bath is meant to cleanse the body and the body alone; that is the sole purpose of anyone you will find here.” Unsure what he meant, I inquired: “so you don’t believe that there’s more to you than your body?” “No, I can’t say that I do. That is why I come here. You see, nothing stimulates the senses quite like a hot bath—we are all quite satisfied.” “You certainly don’t appear or sound satisfied, if you don’t mind my saying so.” “Well, pleasing you isn’t ultimately my concern. I’m more concerned about the here and now, namely me.” As the man uttered these words the building shook, as the rest of the bathers began whirling all around, fawning on one another, cavorting, reveling. I observed with astonishment the effects of such a myopic condition. I could not help but turn my back to it and my face to the door. Although my escape hatch was now within reach, I felt the need to ask one more question: “what is your opinion of the Cold Bath?” The response was a mix of uproarious laughter and a collective shout, “Ohohoh! Cold baths? Who could conceive of such a thing!” And I exclaimed: “If you’d simply open your eyes you’d notice that the possibility was right in front of you! As a mustard seed, little details make a large difference. After a while the details cease to be very little.” With that I made my exit. Never before had I felt as drained as I do now. Only a few minutes in that hellish place and I can barely stand on my own. But now, I directed my sights toward the remaining door, the one standing at my right hand. Having heard nothing but miserable things from all the others, I wondered whether the Cold Bath was really as detestable as they believed. Both awed and hopeful, I advanced toward
the door, exponentially greater than the others in size and sturdier in composition. Skeptical, I pushed open the door, an admittedly difficult task—but one well worth completing—only to be overcome by perfect tranquility, invigorating fresh air, and the most beautiful, spotless bath which seemed to extend forever. The air calmed me. For the first time I can say with sincerity that I feel comfortable in my own skin. There is no one else to please, no senses to satisfy, it is just me and the cold water. No longer skeptical, I proceeded with sangfroid to the edge of the water, went down to a knee, cupped a handful of water, and sprinkled myself—as if to warm myself up for the Great Step I was about to take. Fully aware of what I was getting myself into, I get into it and immerse myself body and soul. Now I am satisfied and have acquired what is simply enough. Now I have no fear. Just then, I heard a knock on the door. Strange, I thought, it wasn’t locked when I came in. I emerged from the water, and still dripping, I strode to the doorway and unbarred it. Blinded by a light brighter than the Sun of the beach day of my wildest dreams, I cannot bear to look directly. All I could perceive was that a human form stood before me, a Woman shrouded by light. I found the courage somehow to ask: “Why did you feel the need to knock, the door wasn’t locked?” In a heavenly tone, she answered “You’re right, the door wasn’t locked. But, it was barred. I needed you to open it.” “But, that doesn’t make any sense!” I whined. “Oh, but it does! A gift can never be truly received unless it is understood first.” “What must I understand?” “Yourself,” She replied authoritatively. Dumbfounded, I besought her: “What is your name?” The light now dimmed and the Woman was made clear to me. In a flash, I perceived that She looked positively unearthly, unlike anyone I had ever seen before. It was if I were discovering the likes of Her for the first and last time all at once, and no one else could compare. She paused and raised Her set of piercing blue eyes to mine, eyes that wounded me beyond all comprehension. My mouth was agape. She smiled sweetly and sung, “my name is Grace.”
17 | seventeen
Poetry & Prose
Thenardier By Elise Nodar, ‘13
he night of June 6, 1832. All day there had been desperate fighting. Now there was dead silence. Corpses lay strewn where they had fallen; the police would return in the morning to take them to the morgue to be claimed. Many would not be claimed at all— families far away as of yet ignorant of their child’s rash, passionate death; others without a soul in the world to mourn them. For now, the boys sprawled in pools of their own blood on the cobblestones. Dead silence. A small movement. Probably no more than a rat. A dark shadow emerged from a narrow gap between a splintered table on the barricade and the grapeshot-pocked stone wall. The intruder moved cautiously, hugging the wall. He bent, seemed to touch the body at his feet, then straightened and moved on. He did the same thing at the next body, only this time he crouched, took the arms of the dead boy and, with a muted grunt, slung him over his shoulder. He then crept to the middle of the street, removed a grate, and disappeared into the abyss under the street. It was Thenardier. He had lain low for the past couple days after Eponine ruined the job in the Rue Plumet. Impudent girl. No matter; he’d deal with her later and still get another chance at the old man’s house. Within a few hours barricades had sprung up all over the city and Thenardier had rubbed his hands in anticipation. Insurrections never ended well for the rebels but they never disappointed his pocket. After the most recent uprising, he had been able to pay off all his debts and buy himself a new coat besides. Tonight he had come to make his own contribution to society. He chuckled grimly. He had chosen a fairly well-dressed corpse—more likelihood of profitable pockets. Now, he trudged knee-deep through sludge until he came to a wide ledge on the side of the tunnel. He slung down his plunder and began to methodically inspect the boy’s pockets. In the first coat pocket, nothing but a few used cartridges. In another pocket, a crushed rose, probably two or three days old—these ridiculous students and their romances. Probably some lovelorn wench had pressed it into his hand as he rushed off to join his brainless friends at the barricades. Fools. Flowers and ideas got you nowhere but dead. Thenardier knew better. A knife and his common sense were all he had
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and he’d forced out a living for himself so far. He located the boy’s watch. Gold. Should fetch at least fifteen francs—it’d pay off that little matter with Babet. He pressed the small button on the side and it opened. Inscribed in neat, flowing writing: “To Jean, from Maman and Papa on your 18th birthday.” Thenardier snorted. Extravagant parents. He had never pampered his children like that. His wife had tried to, long ago, but his debts had soon put an end to all that. He paused for a moment—he hadn’t thought of his wife in days. He had no idea where she was actually; he hadn’t seen her since February. He shrugged and resumed his occupation. A pencil. A handkerchief. A few sous. Nothing worth his trouble except the watch. Then, in an inner, almost secret shirt pocket, he found a few sheets of paper, folded and soaked with blood. Thenardier leafed through them. A half-finished love poem. A list of books to buy for school. And a letter. “Ma chère Marie, if you are reading this I am dead. What an odd thing to say! Do not cry for me too much, Marie. You know that I had to do this. If I die I will die bravely—for my country, for my friends, for you, for what I believe in—freedom. I have loved you with my whole essence, but I have never deserved your beauty, your goodness, your love. With my last thought I will think of you and commend my soul to God. Vive la république! Yours forever, Jean Prouvaire.” Thenardier crumpled the papers and shoved them back into the pocket. All he’d gotten out of this boy was a watch, six sous, and a sappy love letter. He stood and turned to go. But he hesitated and looked back at the serene yet dirty, blood-smeared face of the boy. For a moment he let himself wonder what it must be like to have a purpose in life, one worth dying for, one that extended beyond day-to-day existence. This boy had a family and a girl and he had left them both for his cause. Thenardier caught himself half envying this dead boy. Then he shook himself and stomped off into the darkness. There were other, more fruitful pockets to be found.
The Last Word
Another opportunity for presenting our opinions on campus occurences. Agree? Disagree? Have an opinion of your own? Let us know!
Many improvements were made to beautify the campus over the summer; thank you to everyone who helped make the new updates, the school has never looked better!
Christendom is celebrating its 35th year as an institution and many festivities were conducted over the weekend in honor of the school. The cigars and fireworks were much enjoyed. We’ve finally made it through the suffocating heat! The temperature has started to cool down and it’s going to be a beautiful Fall.
The “Under” team was once again destroyed by the “Upper” team in this year’s Upper vs. Under flagfootball game. Good try though, Under; your effort was valiant.
The broken window in front of the Commons was a huge bummer. Whoever broke it did not see that coming.
ADMINISTRATION STATION by the editorial staff
It would be an understatement to say that The Rambler has a cast of characters taking care of administrative functions this academic year. There are a few things you should probably know about these administrators so that the appreciation of their handiwork can be a more fruitful endeavor. Matt Naham, our editor-in-chief, when he’s not hangliding upside down, happily tends to his vast collection of ant farms. Theresa Lamirande, our layout editor, is given—on occasion—to skiing uphill, an ancient and futile take on the modern sport we’ve come to marvel at during each Winter Olympics. Thomas Ferrara, our Science and Technology wizard, recently brokered the unforeseeable merger between Microsoft and Apple through his superb command of the Socratic Method. Colleen Harmon, News and Politics extrordinaire, moonlights as Wonderwoman and sunlights as someone analogous; it might be said that she is the best thing since sliced bread. Katie Brizek, recites Nordic poetry in her sleep and has enraptured the imaginations of thousands by way of her numerous Carnegie Hall appearances, exhibiting a sublime mastery of the didgeridoo. Lastly, the men among men, business managers Charlie Rollino and Peter Spiering, recently returned from Outer Space after completing a diplomatic excursion to Mars, ensuring that the Rambler message be spread where no man has gone before. As you might be able to tell we are an eclectic bunch, but we find that our unique set of skills have formed a literary juggernaut the likes of which may never be seen again. But alas, where would we be without our staff writers and various contributors who are invaluable and essential to the production of our glorious student journal? We extend our most sincere gratitude to you, and we encourage all readers interested in writing for The Rambler to come our way!
Basement Ben’s and Basement Campion have been renamed “First floor” Ben’s and “First floor” Campion... how silly.
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Published on Sep 21, 2012
The Rambler is the independent student journal of Christendom College, dedicated to training the next generation of Catholic journalists and...