A Wonderful Autumn I WONDER how many have .1. realised what a wonderful autumn from the scenic point of view we have had. I was talking to a friend about it the other day. and both of us having lived some time in America we hit on the same comment that the autumn colours this year reminded us of the superb displays common in that country. Last week-end (not rainy Sunday!) 1 set out to do a picture or two, and 1 found that one could stop practically anywhere and be dumbfounded by the brilliance and variety of colour, dazzlingly rich and bright in the crystal-clear air. In the foreground and middle-ground the trees seemed to be hung with a fantastic array of jewels, and the effect softened in the distance to the subtlest tones and shades contrasting with the pale blue sky in which great white clouds heavily chased one another.
St. Uncumber OOKING through a local village history (Cowden: The Records of a Wealden Parish) where, among other things about my house, I noted that in 1540 . the owner decided in her will that " me grett pott and the grett pan and ii spitts shall remayne to this howse," I discovered a saint by the delightful name of "Uncumber." Light is thrown on St. Uncumber when one learns that " Uncumbcr " was the English name for " Liberate." Apparently she was the patron of those who wished. to he uncumbered of their husbands ! My book also tells me that there used to he a famous image of her at St. Paul's where an offering of a peck of oats was supposed to prove efficacious.
An Unfortunate B.S.C. Debate THE B.B,C, unscripted discussions are bound to be very like busing a pig in a poke, but they should surely have some means of avoiding the depths of banality struck last Friday, I think, when three trade unionists (including a Catholic M.P.) discussed the Communist threat to the unions. The discussion degenerated into a litany of assertions and platitudes, no speaker, apparently, having the means of refuting or controverting what the others were saying. Some subjects can be amusingly discussed by unbriefed speakers who perhaps represent the ignorance of us all, but there must be thousands, more capable than the speakers chosen of getting down to the facts, figures, precedents, records, etc., which alone can throw light on so vital an issue as the one selected for last Friday.
Debating Religious Issues I SOMETIMES get letters asking why debates on the Church and science, the Church and politics, and so on, are not arranged? And it is suggested that the ecclesiastical authorities disapprove of such discussions. About this last suggestion I know nothing, and in fact there have been discussions of the kind. at least on the Third Programme. My own view is that they are highly desirable, but very difficult to arrange. and from our point of view rather risky. The effect produced depends very often, not on the merits of the issue, nor even on the learning of the speakers, but on their debating skill. It is certainly not to he wondered at if the ecclesiastical authorities hesitate to see truth itself subjected to the hazards of the debating competence of X, Y or Z.
Enlarging Churches pOR many years, I. in company with other suburban and country dwellers, have heard my Holy day of Obligation Mass at Maiden Lane, and I have noted a steadily increasing number of worshippers packed like sardines standing at the back. I wonder if this is a sign of Catholic development in that important working area. It is always consoling to see churches bulging out at the elbows, but it can become inconvenient, as has also happened in our little church at E,denbridge, where, recently. a somewhat impromptu Missa Cantata had the congregation heaped up on to the altarrails at one end and squeezed out like a tube of toothpaste through the door and on the garden path. Now our congregation, once so sparse, is insistent on an 'enlarged church, creating the pretty problem of widening a large drawing-room in such a way as to make it look slightly more like a little church. I hope other parts of the country are vexed with similar problems.
The Death of Benes READERS of the Catholic Press READERS have been puzzled by varying accounts of the religious circumstances of the death of the late President Benes. I understand now that the account this paper gave at the time was substantially correct. The Archbishop of Prague took the first step in causing a message to be sent to say that he would come to see the President if the latter so wished. Madame Benes asked the Archbishop to come. It is not indicated whether this was with the President's consent or not. Anyhow. by the time he arrived the President was unconscious. The sick man made a movement when the Archbishop attempted to talk to him, but no more. The Archbishop then gave the President absolution and blessed him. A First Christmas Present Suggestioh THE season of research for Christ... mas presents seems to have begun, and my first recommendation is a book present for anyone interested in art. I refer to The Painter in History. a really handsomely brought out reprint of the full historical survey of painting by Ernest H. Short. published by Hollis & Carter. At thirty shillings it is not cheap in itself, but it contains 114 well-selected full-page illustrations, and I am sure that the book would be greatly welcomed by anyone who wants a background book for reading or reference.
QO strongly inborn in us is the pat
tern of vice punished and virtue triumphant that I, for one, felt quite uncomfortable during the last at of James Bridie's The Anatomist, at the newly decorated " Westminster " theatre. The history of the " bodysnatchers." Burke and Hare, no doubt, decrees that the scoundrelly Dr. Knox. magnificently played by Alistair Sim, should triumph, despite his being accessory after the fact in many murders, and his appal ling egotism. But this is a case when history must be rewritten if it is to become the theme of any other playwright than Shaw (who can get away with anything).