Daily Update: Friday, March 31st, 2017

Day of Abstinence and 03-31 - César Chávez Day

Today is a Friday in Lent, so today is a Day of Abstinence from Meat. With no Saints to honor, we note that today is César Chávez Day. 

Each Friday in Lent is a Day of Abstinence from Meat; in England, the Faithful have returned to every Friday in the year being a Day of Abstinence, as it was world-wide for the Faithful before the Vatican II reforms of 1969. Turning to the secular world, this day is commemorated to promote service to the community in honor of the life and work of César Chávez (1927 – 1993), Mexican-American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist. It is an official state holiday in California and an optional holiday in Colorado and Texas. Although it is not a federal holiday, 0n March 28th, 2014, President Barack Obama used his authority to proclaim March 31st as the national César Chávez Day, with Americans being urged to “observe this day with appropriate service, community, and educational programs to honor César Chávez’s enduring legacy.” Grassroots organizations continue to advocate to create a national holiday. In addition, there are celebrations in his honor in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, and New Mexico and has been observed in California since 1995, in Texas since 2000 and in Colorado since 2003 as state holidays (optional in Texas and Colorado). A state law passed in 2009 (AB 301) requires Nevada’s governor to annually issue a proclamation declaring March 31st as César Chávez Day. Currently, a major obstacle to this day becoming a national holiday is caused by a rule in Congress that prevents bills with national holiday provisions from being introduced. The holiday proposal would need to overcome that obstacle before legislation can be introduced. (This is as good a place as any to note that when one looks at Holidays and Observances for any given day of the year, one finds a teeming multitude of days being celebrated for various reasons; this being my personal weblog, beholden to no one but myself, I include any given holiday or observance according to my own lights and whims.)

I woke up at 9:00 am at Matthew and Callie’s house in South Carolina, feeling somewhat hung over. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and when Callie and my granddaughter went to the Ymca I requested Shanghai Girls by Lisa See (our next Third Tuesday Book Club Book) from Overdrive. I then continued reading Sights Unseen by Gaye Gibbons. We then watched MST3K Episode 616 Rocket Girls with the short film Are You Ready for Marriage? I then started reading The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms by Amy Stewart via Kindle on my tablet. When the babysitter arrived, Richard, Matthew, Callie and I ate at a shushi restaurant, and got back home at 8:00 pm. We then watched Hell or High Water (2015). In sports, our #10 LSU Lady Tigers won their College Basketball game with the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs by the score of 7 to 2. Our #8 LSU Tigers (18-8, 4-2) are playing a home College Baseball game with the Texas A&M Aggies (16-10, 3-3), and our New Orleans Pelicans (32-43, 6-10) are playing a home NBA game with the Sacramento Kings (29-46, 6-7).

Tomorrow is the First Saturday of the month, dedicated to devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor, but tomorrow is April Fool’s Day. Matthew and Callie will be taking us to a local fair. Our #10 LSU Lady Tigers (29-7, 5-2) will play another College Softball game with the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs (25-10, 2-5), and our #8 LSU Tigers will be playing a home College Baseball game with the Texas A&M Aggies.

On this Friday evening our Parting Quote comes to us from Imre Kertész, Hungarian author. Born as Kertész Imre (in Hungarian, the last name is listed first) in 1929 in Budapest, Hungary his parents were a bourgeois Jewish couple. After his parents separated when he was around the age of five, Kertész attended a boarding school and, in 1940, he started secondary school where he was put into a special class for Jewish students. During World War II Kertész was deported in 1944 at the age of 14 with other Hungarian Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and was later sent to Buchenwald. Upon his arrival at the camps, Kertész claimed to be a 16-year old worker, thus saving him from the instant extermination that awaited a 14-year old. After his camp was liberated in 1945, Kertész returned to Budapest, graduated from high school in 1948, and then went on to find work as a journalist and translator. In 1951 he lost his job at the journal Világosság (Clarity) after the publication started leaning towards communism. For a short term he worked as a factory worker and then in the press department of the Ministry of Heavy Industry. From 1953 he started freelance journalism and translated various works into Hungarian, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein and Elias Canetti. From the beginning, Kertész found little appreciation for his writing in Hungary, and he moved to Germany where he received more active support from publishers and reviewers, along with more appreciative readers. After his move, he continued translating German works into Hungarian, notably The Birth of Tragedy, the plays of Dürrenmatt, Schnitzler and Tankred Dorst, and various thoughts and aphorisms of Wittgenstein. Kertész also continued working at his craft, writing his fiction in Hungarian, but did not publish another novel until the late 1980s. His best-known work, Sorstalanság (Fatelessness), described the experience of 15-year-old György (George) Köves in the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz. Written between 1960 and 1973, the novel was initially rejected for publication by the Communist regime in Hungary, but was published in 1975. Some interpreted the book as quasi-autobiographical, but the author disavowed a strong biographical connection. The book would go on to become part of many high school curriculums in Hungary. From that point on, he submitted his work to publishers in Hungary for the rest of his life. Following on from Sorstalanság (Fatelessness), Kertész’s A kudarc (Fiasco) (1988) and Kaddis a meg nem született gyermekért (Kaddish for an Unborn Child) (1990) are, respectively, the second and third parts of his holocaust trilogy. Kertész was critical of Steven Spielberg’s depiction of the Holocaust in the 1993 film Schindler’s List, saying: “I regard as kitsch any representation of the Holocaust that is incapable of understanding or unwilling to understand the organic connection between our own deformed mode of life and the very possibility of the Holocaust.” His writings translated into English include Kaddis a meg nem született gyermekért (Kaddish for an Unborn Child) and Felszámolás (Liquidation) (2003), the latter set during the period of Hungary’s evolution into a democracy from communist rule. He was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature, “for writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history”. He was the first Hungarian to win the Nobel in Literature, but Hungarians were critical of his decision to continue living in Germany. Kertész was the recipient of many other international and Hungarian literary prizes. In 2005 a film based on Sorstalanság (Fatelessness), for which he wrote the script, was made in Hungary. Although sharing the same title, some reviews noted that the film was more autobiographical than the novel on which it was based. It was released internationally at various dates in 2005 and 2006. In November 2014 Kertész was the subject of an interview with The New York Times. Kertész claimed the reporter was expecting him to question Hungary’s democratic values and was shocked to hear Kertész say that “the situation in Hungary is nice, I’m having a great time”. According to Kertész, “he didn’t like my answer. His purpose must have been to make me call Hungary a dictatorship which it isn’t. In the end the interview was never published” (died 2016): “I do what I have to do, although I don’t know why I have to.”

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