- We are big admirers of Scottish composer James MacMillan, who is one of the most convincing composers of modern Catholic music. He was selected to compose a setting of the Mass for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI, a Mass for a congregation to sing and dedicated to John Henry Newman. Today the Pope will beatify Cardinal Newman, one of the high points of the papal visit to Great Britain. See MacMillan explain his approach to writing music for a Catholic congregation. [The Guardian]
- One has to love the British Parliament, for its free-wheeling grilling of the sitting Prime Minister and for its devotion to regular inebriation. Breaking with its long-standing practices, "the roughly 20 taxpayer-subsidized bars in the Palace of Westminster [were] shuttered on Friday" during the Pope's visit. It is also worth noting that the Pope spoke to the British people in Westminster Hall, the same place where Thomas More stood trial in 1535. The mind boggles. [Whispers in the Loggia]
- Alex Ross examines a charge that the James Bond theme resembles a melody by Sibelius. [The Rest Is Noise]
- For his monthly "Classic Poem" column, Robert Pinksy takes a look at what makes William Blake's poetry so interesting. One of the best part of this feature is the sound files of Pinsky reading the poems in question. [Slate]
- Woody Allen on religious faith, related to his latest film: "Q. How do you feel about the aging process? A. Well, I’m against it. [laughs] I think it has nothing to recommend it. You don’t gain any wisdom as the years go by. You fall apart, is what happens." [New York Times]
- I would love to read the new Dictionnaire des injures littéraires edited by Pierre Chalmin (L’Editeur, 2010), a catalog of vitriol published about great writers. For example, Paul Claudel's response to the death of André Gide: "Public morality benefits greatly and literature does not lose all that much." [Libération]
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