Friday, December 30, 2005

"the burning babe" -- by robert southwell, sj (d. 1595)

As I in hoary winter's night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat,
Which made my heart to glow.
And lifting up a fearful eye
To view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright
Did in the air appear;

Who, scorched with excessive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though his floods should quench his flames
Which with his tears were fed.

"Alas," quoth he, "but newly born
In fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
Or feel my fire, but I!

"My faultless breast the furnace is,
The fuel wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke,
The ashes shame and scorns;

"The fuel justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals;
The metal in this furnace wrought
Are men's defiled souls:

"For which, as now on fire I am
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath
To wash them in my blood."

With this he vanished out of sight
And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind
That it was Christmas day.

I nicked this from Armavirumque, the New Criterion Blog, which I recommend to you in general.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

holy innocents

Today's collect is germane to the tedious discussion here. It is also particularly appropriate to remember in prayer today the innocent victims of war, and the unborn victims of abortion. There are none more innocent than the latter.

We remember this day, o God, the slaughter of the holy innocents of Bethlehem by the order of King Herod. Receive we beseech thee, into the arms of thy mercy all innocent victims; and by thy great might frustrate the designs of evil tyrants and establish thy rule of justice, love, and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one god, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

michael novak, almost three years ago, on war in iraq

We need to review a few of those circumstances in a new light. But let us first note that war is not always to be evaded. Sometimes it is morally obligatory.

It would have been morally wrong, for instance, for the United States to have fallen back and defended only the continental United States during World War II. Agreed?

In any case, the Vatican itself encouraged the humanitarian intervention in Kosovo, and has expressly approved the war against the terrorists, although not the war against Iraq.

But in what way is the regime of Milosevic in Kosovo less horrific than the barbaric practices of Saddam Hussein in Iraq? (There are many personal testimonies to the unendurable tortures Saddam has inflicted on tens of thousands of families in Iraq.)

Read the whole thing here. I am really not sure what I think about the war in Iraq. What I know is that I am not a pacifist. I think true pacifism is untennable as a Christian position. In this respect, Michael Novak brings up an important point, with which I agree: that, sometimes, violence is morally obligatory. Usually morally obligatory violence involves defending the helpless. Its all fine and good to turn the other cheek when you are yourself attacked. But what about when the defenseless are attacked, and you have the power to stop it, albeit violently? What if your wife or your child were attacked? Would you really passively resist the assailant, or would you fight him tooth and nail? Would you be WRONG to resist him violently? I cannot see that you would. Maybe I am wrong. And maybe this is not the situation regarding the US invasion of Iraq, or for that matter of any particular war. But that is far from obvious to me. Saddam Hussein was, after all, a brutal tyrant. And just because there are lots of other brutal tyrants whom the US has NOT attacked does not mean that the US is necessarily unjustified in its attacking one of them. Now again: before you get all up in arms about my being "pro war" -- remember: I am not saying that the US WAS justified in attacking Iraq; but rather just that it is not clear to me that the US was NOT justified, as almost everyone around me seems to assume with a "Well, duh" degree of insouciance.

To be clear: if you are a pacifist, please explain your counterintuitive belief that, e.g., if your family were attacked by pirates intent on rape and murder, you would be morally wrong to use violence in defending your family. If you are not a pacifist but believe the US invasion of Iraq was unjustified, it might be helpful if you would say what circumstances did not obtain with regard to Iraq that otherwise would have justified an invasion. And remember: I am asking about MORAL justification. I don't care about international law and that sort of thing. And I'm also not asking isolationists to exaplain themselves. I think I understand isolationism, in a way that I do not understand pacifism. (I disagree with the isolationists on other grounds -- but that's for another day.)

And to be clear about the intuition I am trying to illuminate, it is this: that killing tens of thousands of unarmed civilians, systematically instituting and ordering that others be tortured and raped, that these are sufficient for morally justifying one's violent overthrow. Maybe not; but if not, why not?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

pope benedict's urbi et orbi

“I bring you good news of a great joy, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk 2:10-11).

Last night we heard once more the Angel’s message to the shepherds, and we experienced anew the atmosphere of that holy Night, Bethlehem Night, when the Son of God became man, was born in a lowly stable and dwelt among us. On this solemn day, the Angel’s proclamation rings out once again, inviting us, the men and women of the third millennium, to welcome the Saviour. May the people of today’s world not hesitate to let him enter their homes, their cities, their nations, everywhere on earth! In the millennium just past, and especially in the last centuries, immense progress was made in the areas of technology and science. Today we can dispose of vast material resources. But the men and women in our technological age risk becoming victims of their own intellectual and technical achievements, ending up in spiritual barrenness and emptiness of heart. That is why it is so important for us to open our minds and hearts to the Birth of Christ, this event of salvation which can give new hope to the life of each human being.

Wake up, O man! For your sake God became man” (Saint Augustine, Sermo, 185. Wake up, O men and women of the third millennium!

At Christmas, the Almighty becomes a child and asks for our help and protection. His way of showing that he is God challenges our way of being human. By knocking at our door, he challenges us and our freedom; he calls us to examine how we understand and live our lives. The modern age is often seen as an awakening of reason from its slumbers, humanity’s enlightenment after an age of darkness. Yet without the light of Christ, the light of reason is not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world. For this reason, the words of the Christmas Gospel: “the true Light that enlightens every man was coming into this world” (Jn 1:9) resound now more than ever as a proclamation of salvation. “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). The Church does not tire of repeating this message of hope reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which concluded forty years ago.

Men and women of today, humanity come of age yet often still so frail in mind and will, let the Child of Bethlehem take you by the hand! Do not fear; put your trust in him! The life-giving power of his light is an incentive for building a new world order based on just ethical and economic relationships. May his love guide every people on earth and strengthen their common consciousness of being a “family” called to foster relationships of trust and mutual support. A united humanity will be able to confront the many troubling problems of the present time: from the menace of terrorism to the humiliating poverty in which millions of human beings live, from the proliferation of weapons to the pandemics and the environmental destruction which threatens the future of our planet.

May the God who became man out of love for humanity strengthen all those in Africa who work for peace, integral development and the prevention of fratricidal conflicts, for the consolidation of the present, still fragile political transitions, and the protection of the most elementary rights of those experiencing tragic humanitarian crises, such as those in Darfur and in other regions of central Africa. May he lead the peoples of Latin America to live in peace and harmony. May he grant courage to people of good will in the Holy Land, in Iraq, in Lebanon, where signs of hope, which are not lacking, need to be confirmed by actions inspired by fairness and wisdom; may he favour the process of dialogue on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere in the countries of Asia, so that, by the settlement of dangerous disputes, consistent and peaceful conclusions can be reached in a spirit of friendship, conclusions which their peoples expectantly await.

At Christmas we contemplate God made man, divine glory hidden beneath the poverty of a Child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger; the Creator of the Universe reduced to the helplessness of an infant. Once we accept this paradox, we discover the Truth that sets us free and the Love that transforms our lives. On Bethlehem Night, the Redeemer becomes one of us, our companion along the precarious paths of history. Let us take the hand which he stretches out to us: it is a hand which seeks to take nothing from us, but only to give.

With the shepherds let us enter the stable of Bethlehem beneath the loving gaze of Mary, the silent witness of his miraculous birth. May she help us to experience the happiness of Christmas, may she teach us how to treasure in our hearts the mystery of God who for our sake became man; and may she help us to bear witness in our world to his truth, his love and his peace.

pope benedict

Saturday, December 24, 2005

merry christmas

V. Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the everlasting Father.

R. And blessed are the paps which gave suck to Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

the visitation

One thing about today is that it is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle (whom: pray for us!). Another thing is that in the hecticity, to invent a word, of the post-semester, I forgot that. And so when reading the office, I read the regular readings. I'm sorry to have missed St. Thomas, but I am happy to have read the Gospel reading from Luke 1. Here are some edifying and choice bits:

and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:

And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

And then our Lady spake the Magnificat.

"skhole" (in greek) = leisure

"The colleges of Britain's prestigious Oxford University will lose their
800-year-old right to choose their undergraduates amid government pressure to
admit more students from state schools and lower social classes....

The university admitted that as a result, colleges will lose autonomy and
individuality, according to the newspaper."

Read the whole thing here. Bye bye mortar board and gown. Hello sports jersey and backward baseball cap.

fireside chat with the rector

What fun. The Reverend Father is back by his fireside, chatting, pickling himself in gin, and correcting the impudence of his curate. Follow along!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

dna evidence exonerates two falsely convicted men in virginia

Friends, the fact that some innocent people are executed in the US from time to time should be reason enough to abolish the death penalty. Supposing its only one or two every twenty years, still.....

RICHMOND, Dec. 14 -- Newly tested DNA evidence from rapes committed perhaps more than 20 years ago have exonerated two Virginians who had served several years behind bars, according to a statement by Gov. Mark R. Warner that is scheduled to be released later today.

One of the defendants served 20 years in prison for a rape in Alexandria that the new testing shows he did not commit. The other assault was in Norfolk.

The revelations are the result of modern-day testing Warner ordered more than a year ago of biological samples that had been collected in thousands of violent criminal cases dating back to the 1970s and 1980s. Those samples were collected before leaps in the forensic science.


The results from Virginia are sure to add fuel to the national debate about the use of DNA technology, the reliability of evidence in criminal cases and the presence of innocent people waiting to die on death rows across the country.

Read the whole thing here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered

You may have seen these before, but I hadn't. From an email.

These sentences actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services:

Ø The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

Ø The sermon this morning: "Jesus Walks on the Water." The sermon tonight "Searching for Jesus."

Ø Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.

Ø Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don't forget your husbands.

Ø The peacemaking meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to a conflict.

Ø Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say "Hell" to someone who doesn't care much about you.

Ø Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.

Ø Miss Charlene Mason sang "I will not pass this way again," giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

Ø For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.

Ø Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

Ø Barbara remains in the hospital and needs blood donors for more transfusions. She is also having trouble sleeping and requests tapes of Pastor Jack's sermons.

Ø The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing "Break Forth Into Joy."

Ø Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

Ø A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.

Ø At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What Is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

Ø Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.

Ø Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.

Ø Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

Ø The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.

Ø Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.

Ø The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.

Ø This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.

Ø Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B.S. is done.

Ø The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.

Ø Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.

Ø The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.

Ø Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.

Ø The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday: "I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours

violence between whites and arabs in australia

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Young people riding in vehicles smashed cars and store windows in suburban Sydney late Monday, a day after thousands of drunken white youths attacked people they believed were of Arab descent at a beach in the same area in one of Australia's worst outbursts of racial violence.

Sunday's attack -- apparently prompted by reports that Lebanese youths had assaulted two lifeguards -- sparked retaliation by young men of Arab descent in several Sydney suburbs, fighting with police and smashing 40 cars with sticks and bats, police said. Thirty-one people were injured and 16 were arrested in hours of violence.


Horst Dreizner said a car had rammed into his denture store and he feared the violence would escalate. ''Personally, I think it is only the beginning,'' he said in a telephone interview.

Read the whole thing here. Not good. A thousand years of darkness may be upon us. I tend to agree with Horst Dreizner. I think there is a big incompatibility between Western and Islamic cultures, and whenever you have the two living close together, you are going to have violence. Of course that's not to condone it; and perhaps its cynical of me, but Western Civilization seems to be clashing more and more with Islamic Civilization more and more and more. If you think my assessment is overly pessimistic or cynical, here's a question: how do you stop it? And before you say something like "integrate!" or "educate!", you must realize the massive complexities of integrating communities, and you must realize that segregation is the natural order of things. Integration is unnatural. That is, of course, not to say that it is undesirable, but just that left to their own devices, people like to live near people who are like them. And overcoming natural inclinations such as those is not easy. A thousand years of darkness.....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

st. lucy (december 13)

A virgin and martyr of Syracuse in Sicily, whose feast is celebrated by Latins and Greeks alike on 13 December.

According to the traditional story, she was born of rich and noble parents about the year 283. Her father was of Roman origin, but his early death left her dependent upon her mother, whose name, Eutychia, seems to indicate that she came of Greek stock.

Like so many of the early martyrs, Lucy had consecrated her virginity to God, and she hoped to devote all her worldly goods to the service of the poor. Her mother was not so single-minded, but an occasion offered itself when Lucy could carry out her generous resolutions. The fame of the virgin-martyr Agatha, who had been executed fifty-two years before in the Decian persecution, was attracting numerous visitors to her relics at Catania, not fifty miles from Syracuse, and many miracles had been wrought through her intercession. Eutychia was therefore persuaded to make a pilgrimage to Catania, in the hope of being cured of a hæmorrhage, from which she had been suffering for several years. There she was in fact cured, and Lucy, availing herself of the opportunity, persuaded her mother to allow her to distribute a great part of her riches among the poor.

The largess stirred the greed of the unworthy youth to whom Lucy had been unwillingly betrothed, and he denounced her to Paschasius, the Governor of Sicily. It was in the year 303, during the fierce persecution of Diocletian. She was first of all condemned to suffer the shame of prostitution; but in the strength of God she stood immovable, so that they could not drag her away to the place of shame. Bundles of wood were then heaped about her and set on fire, and again God saved her. Finally, she met her death by the sword. But before she died she foretold the punishment of Paschasius and the speedy termination of the persecution, adding that Diocletian would reign no more, and Maximian would meet his end. So, strengthened with the Bread of Life, she won her crown of virginity and martyrdom.

Prayers to St. Lucy:

Relying on your goodness, O God, we humbly ask You, through the intercession of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr, to give perfect vision to our eyes, that they may serve for your greater honour and glory. Saint Lucy, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions. Amen.

Hear us, O God our Saviour, and grant that through the intercession of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, we may learn a loving devotion to You. Amen.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

nice to see christianity still scares (tucker carlson)

I got this from my room mate. I don't have any idea what the original source was. Google didn't help.

People often make jokes about Episcopalians being boring, and unfortunately they're usually right. I know this because on most Sundays I sit through an Episcopal Church service with my wife and children. It's a reassuringly predictable experience, always exactly an hour long. And you'll never meet nicer people. If you needed someone to hold your wallet, or if you were lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood and had to duck into a stranger's house to use the bathroom, you could do a whole lot worse than to meet up with an Episcopalian. No one has better manners.

And that may be the problem. There's a notable lack of urgency in most Episcopal churches. Jesus may have promised he'd come back someday, but in the Episcopal Church you don't get the feeling he really meant it. Nor do you hear a lot about sin. Lust, hatred, gluttony, pride, envy -- those are dramatic emotions. Drama makes Episcopalians uncomfortable. The typical sermon leaves the impression that all would be well in this world if only people could manage to be reasonable with each other. Gentlemanly. Thoughtful.

There's nothing necessarily bad about any of this. (I remain an Episcopalian, with no plans to change.) But every once in a while, as I shift in my pew listening to one of our unusually well-educated preachers expand on the Aramaic understanding of discipleship, I do wish Jesus would come back, preferably in a massive ball of fire through the ceiling of the church. Spiritually, I'm nowhere near ready to face something like that. But it'd be worth it for the shock value.

All of which is to say, I welcome the controversies this season over Christmas. Every time a school district bans Christmas carols, every time the ACLU dispatches a busload of lawyers to fight a nativity scene, every time the ADL declares the Christian Right "dangerous," it's a reaffirmation that the faith is not dead. Dead religions don't give people the creeps. They don't make atheists mad. They don't keep Alan Dershowitz up at night. But Christianity still does. What a relief. It's nice to see that our faith still scares people.

a reminder

Don't forget to visit the Inclusive Worshipper. What fun!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

demonic, but kind of beautiful

Today I was distracted in the library by a book about Sioux religion called Lakota Belief and Ritual. It seems to be a redaction of some of the material from the early part of the 20th century collected by anthroplogists who recognized that white people had pretty succefully destroyed Indian culture.

Don't get me wrong: the Indians in many ways lived a depraved existence, given over to massacring each other, to stealing each others food, women and children, and to devil worship. But there is something melancholic and beautiful about the words of one old heathen chief to some anthropologist who had come to learn what he could about a dying culture from one of the last people to understand and practice it. Augustine in De Doctrina Christiana comes to mind: "...the Gentiles were turned from the corruption of a multitude of false gods, which Scripture frequently and justly speaks of as fornication, to the worship of the One God: not that they might now fall into bondage to sings of a useful kind, but rather that they might exercise their minds in the spiritual understanding of such."

Anyway, here is what the old Indian said:

It was this ceremony that was performed when an Oglala chose a Hunka or an Ate. They used to perform this ceremony, but now the people have forgotten it. Only the old men remember it. I know the ceremony and I can perform it. I am a Hunka and an Ate many times. I can wear so many red stripes that they would hide my face. I do not wear them any more, because the young people have forgotten what they mean, and they do not show proper respect for them.


Since that time when a person is made a Hunka it is done with this ceremony. The secrets of the ceremony are mysterious (wakan). They are not good now. No one cares for them now. They will be lost when the Hunkayapi are all dead. I will tell them to you. You may write them, for the spirits of the ancient times no longer visit the people. They will do me no harm. If they do, I am an old man and ready to die.


These are the secrets of the Hunkayapi. You must not talk of them with anyone except a Hunka or Ate. My friend I have told you the secrets of the Hunkayapi. I fear that I have done wrong. But the spirits of old times do not come to me any more. Another spirit has come. The Great Spirit of the white man. I do not know him. I do not know how to call him to help me. I have done him no harm, and he should do me no harm. The old life is gone, and I cannot be a young man again.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

polly toynbee: 'narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion'

Read the whole thing here. And say a prayer for Polly Toynbee to be delivered from blindness and confusion. One is reminded of Kierkegaard's assurance (as though it were necessary) that the Gospel is indeed foolish and offensive. But, poor Polly Toynbee, like Gotthold Lessing in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, we will always find that we cannot leap the 'broad, ugly ditch' separating time and eternity. We cannot leap it because our legs are old and our head heavy. We desperately, desperately need Aslan, or less figuratively, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus’s holy head every day that you don’t eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion’s breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged.


Over the years, others have had uneasy doubts about the Narnian brand of Christianity. Christ should surely be no lion (let alone with the orotund voice of Liam Neeson). He was the lamb, representing the meek of the earth, weak, poor and refusing to fight. Philip Pullman - he of the marvellously secular trilogy His Dark Materials - has called Narnia “one of the most ugly, poisonous things I have ever read”.


Lewis said he hoped the book would soften-up religious reflexes and "make it easier for children to accept Christianity when they met it later in life". Holiness drenches the Chronicles. When, in the book, the children first hear someone say, mysteriously, "Aslan is on the move", he writes: "Now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had enormous meaning ..." So Lewis weaves his dreams to invade children's minds with Christian iconography that is part fairytale wonder and joy - but heavily laden with guilt, blame, sacrifice and a suffering that is dark with emotional sadism.

Children are supposed to fall in love with the hypnotic Aslan, though he is not a character: he is pure, raw, awesome power. He is an emblem for everything an atheist objects to in religion. His divine presence is a way to avoid humans taking responsibility for everything here and now on earth, where no one is watching, no one is guiding, no one is judging and there is no other place yet to come. Without an Aslan, there is no one here but ourselves to suffer for our sins, no one to redeem us but ourselves: we are obliged to settle our own disputes and do what we can. We need no holy guide books, only a very human moral compass. Everyone needs ghosts, spirits, marvels and poetic imaginings, but we can do well without an Aslan.

from the inclusive worshipper

From my new favorite blog:

I’m also upset that, even after my complaints, the Episcopalians continue to hold services on Wednesday evenings that don’t follow the chapel’s inclusive language guidelines. If they won’t be inclusive then they should be kicked out, it’s that simple. Some of them are very narrow-minded and their neo-puritan fundamentalism shouldn’t be tolerated here. It makes my blood boil even writing about it. I’m going to have to complain to the dean until something gets done.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Thursday, December 01, 2005

sewanee: the university of the anything-but-south!

A small liberal arts university with a striking campus of sandstone buildings on the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Tennessee, Sewanee (pronounced suh-WAH-nee) was founded by Episcopal bishops just before the Civil War and began classes in 1868.

Still owned by 28 Episcopal dioceses in the Southeast, it is a genteel place with a tradition of academic excellence, particularly in disciplines like English and religion. It is home to the Sewanee Review, a prestigious literary quarterly. For decades, all men wore ties and coats to class, and some still do. Members of the honor society, called the Order of Gownsmen, used to wear their academic gowns routinely to class. Some still do, occasionally.

Some alumni chafed as these traditions were relaxed, and many became alarmed as objects they held dear were removed to the archives or disappeared altogether. First, university officials removed the state flags from the nave of All Saints' Chapel in the mid-1990's, saying that it would improve the acoustics. Some of the flags contained Confederate imagery.

Read the whole thing in the New York Times (of all places).