Kathleen Gilbert

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Virginia winery a delicate blend of faith, family, and love of the land

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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HUNTLY, VIRGINIA, July 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - The view at Rappahannock Cellars is breathtaking. An afternoon in late June brings a cooling mist that hovers just above quiet hills blanketed in bright green vines. The remote locale, with quiet, homey rooms and giant windows overlooking the countryside, seem to breathe: peace.

Inside, after popping open a bottle of Merlot, owner John Delmare tells of how he once described the somewhat grim reality behind it all to an audience of prospective vineyard owners whose ideas were still a little too romantic.

“I just got done processing 80 tons of fruit almost by myself this year,” he told them, “I work 12-14 hour days, dripping wet. I’ve still got this massive cold. I haven’t got a haircut in six months - and I got a bump on my head because I was trying to get some wine down and a bottle fell off, and I figured the best way to catch it was with my head.”

Rappahannock isn’t nearly the size of many of its neighbors in the highly competitive Virginia winery market, certainly not big enough to take the bulk of work off the shoulders of Delmare and his family. Yet it is one of the most successful, with careful, sustainable growing practices, producing 6,000 barrels a year from its 20 acres.

Although clearly passionate about the vintner’s art, even optimizing different grape varieties within the property’s many “micro-climates,” Delmare said the key to success has been his homeschooled family of 12 children - which brings its own unique bragging rights.

“Most wineries brag about being family owned and run, but not many can brag about their young children (ages 9 to 14 at the time,) working joyfully on their hands and knees, planting our original 15 acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Cabernet Sauvignon,” states the vineyard’s website.

Business is booming at Rappahannock despite a difficult location - the winery is a 1.5 hour trek from D.C. - and even less glitz: Delmare noted that the rustic Rappahannock lacks the “Taj Mahal kind of building that others do.” Meanwhile, the winery boasts 1,100 members, including some who have been with Rappahannock since its beginning 10 years ago - something “unheard of,” according to Delmare.

“Why are we more successful than most out there? We make really good wines, and I think we provide an atmosphere that people don’t get anywhere else,” he said.

While other wineries are often implicitly adults-only, the family orientation at Rappahanock is noticeable from the first: a corner full of toys immediately greets visitors with children. Although most of Delmare’s children are now grown, he started out, he says, as “the guy in the tasting room [with] my younger kids” keeping him company.

Maintaining a family life at Rappahannock is no easy task:. The winery is open 360 days a year, leaving only five days each year for everyone to relax together. But the work means more than just a business to Delmare, who says his journey of faith was what cemented Rappahannock’s foundation.

“God has blessed us here,” he said, “so we’re trying to give back, first and foremost.”

The couple originally hails from California, where John Delmare first fell in love with the winemaking industry, but as an unbeliever: “I didn’t come into the Church until my fifth child was in the oven. Here I was, an agnostic at best in California with a fifth child on the way.”

Although his wife Lisa was raised Catholic, Demare said she was “was voted in high school the least likely ever to get married or have children.” It was his wife’s reversion to her Catholic faith that sparked Delmare’s own conversion, and the family suddenly found themselves seeking richer spiritual soil. Although the California climate is far more favorable to grapes, they settled down to begin again near the Catholic homeschooling hub of Front Royal.

“Tending a vineyard, you can really understand why Our Lord chose it for so many parables,” said Delmare. While “not all crops are beautiful,” the vineyard is a very different story. “When you’re up [working] at six o’clock in the morning…you can’t help but raise your eyes to Heaven and praise God.”

“It was so clear that God just opened door after door…there’s no question in our mind that God put us here.”

The Delmares have made their vineyard home a site of gentle evangelizing. Above one large window framing a view of vine-covered hills is written, “Introibo ad vineam Dei, ubi copia faetitiae est”: “I shall go into the vineyard of God, where there is great rejoicing.” Crosses here and there, and a Sacred Heart statue on the far side of the barn, also give clues to Rappahannock’s religious roots.

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“We really don’t cram our family or our faith down people’s throats, but we don’t hide it either,” Delmare said. “Every once in a while you get that one person who will never come back as a result.” But for the most part, regarding their faith, “people I think have a certain warmness in their heart, whether they’re believers or not believers.”

Perhaps Rappahannock’s staying power comes from the fact that, unlike other destination spots in the D.C. area, what it offers is truly exotic to an isolated modern society.

“People don’t have families anymore,” said Delmare. “People come here and they feel like they’re a part of the family. And they connect with that.”

 

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Michael Lorsch, the real-life gay stripper hired by Canadian children's charity, Free the Children.
Anthony Esolen Anthony Esolen Follow Anthony

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So, a gay stripper walks into a top children’s charity and asks for a job…

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By Anthony Esolen

This week I'm taking a break from my essays on how to form in your children a wholesome moral imagination.  Instead I'd like to engage my readers in a fantasy of decadence.

Let's suppose that a prominent child-oriented charity in a once Christian nation hires somebody to meet with teenagers to encourage them to be “shameless idealists.”  Imagine that the pedagogue is a male stripper for a gay ho-down called Boylesque. 

At the Boylesque webpage, suppose you find a Mountie in a passionate kiss with a lumberjack, who is holding a bottle of beer foaming over. “Imagine your dearest Canadian icons,” say the Boylesque promoters, “stripped down and slathered in maple syrup for your viewing pleasure!”

Free the children? Teach them to blush. It's a good start.

The page features “Ray Gunn,” the Canadian “Mount-Me Police,” a rousing rendition of “O Canada” to make you “stand at attention,” an ad for a Valentine celebration of “debauch” at “our den of iniquity,” somebody named “Bruin Pounder,” somebody else named “Sigourney Beaver,” some stars of a “bisexual-athon,” and so forth. 

Imagine third-rate puns, puerile fascination with the parts down under, dopey titillation, debauchery, and “putting male nudity at center stage where it belongs.”

Now, let's see, what else can we add to this eye-rolling story? Suppose the boy-man who strips at Boylesque at night, after he works with girls and boys during the day, calls himself Mickey D Liscious. Let's give him an absurdly bogus education - a major in Sexuality Studies. Suppose the people who run the charity do more than look demurely aside from Mickey's mooning and lighting. They name him Rookie of the Year.

Now, to complicate the plot, suppose that people catch on to Mr. Liscious' nightly swinging, and complain to the charity. The directors say what cannot possibly be true.  They say they do not “discriminate” on the basis of what their employees do after hours. We presume that although whores and nudie wigglers may be welcome, people who write for conservative magazines would not be welcome, or embezzlers, pickpockets, bookies, loan sharks, dogfight promoters, or peddlers of contraband sealskin. The line has to be drawn somewhere. Prudence is a virtue. After all, we're dealing with boys and girls here. A priest who says, “Men and women are meant for one another, in marriage,” is to be shunned, but not somebody who simulates sex in front of hooting and howling strangers.

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Let's add the icing to the fantasy. We'll call the charity Free the Children, and we'll suppose that Free the Children encourages Mr. Mickey D Liscious to tell teenagers to be “shameless idealists.” 

Of course, everything in this tawdry and silly fantasy is fact. You can't make it up. No one would believe it.

You might suppose that I'd criticize Free the Children for its choice of Cool Child Companion, saying that he is the wrong boy to tell boys and girls to be “shameless idealists.” Mr. Liscious, for his part, believes that what he does at night and what he does during the day are of a piece, greasing the grooves and pistons of change. I take him at his word. He's right, and the directors of Free the Children agree. It's our turn to try to figure out what they mean.

By “idealist,” Mr. Liscious and his promoters do not mean “someone who believes that the immaterial is more real than the material.” Mickey is not giving lectures on Plato's Republic. They also do not mean, colloquially, “someone who believes in a high standard of personal virtue,” since such standards would deprive Boylesque of all those boys who like “a dirty flashmob” and “a Tim Horton's double-double served straight up.” They cannot mean that, because shame is what people with a strong sense of virtue often feel when they behave in a base or cowardly way.

The best they can mean is “unembarrassed promoters of some idea,” some fantasy of perfection upon earth, the Big Rock Candy Mountain, the dictatorship of the proletariat, a “better world,” and other gauzy dreams that earn you points at a beauty contest, while you tilt your head like a poodle and modulate your voice for caring and sharing. 

And all I can say is that the last hundred years have been stuffed to the eyeballs with shameless idealists: shameless ideologues. They had an idea, or an idea had them, and shame on them for it. The more wicked among them had names like Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Khomeini. The more foolish had names like Harold Laski, who carried water for Lenin; Beatrice Webb, who carried water for Stalin; and Neville Chamberlain, who made a nice little pact with Hitler and proclaimed “Peace in our Time.”

Wilson was an idealist whose ideas got the better of his prudence and shame. We paid for that idealism in a crushed and belligerent Germany. The flower people of the sixties were idealists who scoffed at “hangups.” They could gaze upon the stars and sing about the Age of Aquarius, while their children looked to the empty place at table where Daddy or Mommy used to sit. Margaret Sanger was a shameless idealist. Hospital dumpsters are full of the result. 

We have had enough of shamelessness and foolish wars against reality.  

You cannot make “the world” a better place. The world is the world, old and stupid. Man is a sinner, and worst when he forgets that he is. That's not to say that you should sit and do nothing. Do the dishes. Read a good book. Be kind to your bothersome neighbor. Darken the church door and bend your knee in prayer.

Accept reality, and do the hard and unheralded work of cultivating virtue. Children are imprudent because they lack experience. Let them learn prudence from their elders. It takes no courage to follow the dreamy fad of the day, and children are suggestible. Let them learn the courage to resist the foolish and ephemeral. Children are often intemperate, because they're full of energy and so are given to hasty action and violent passions. Let them master and marshal their passions by subordinating them to right reason. Children see the world in stark oppositions of just and unjust. Let them keep their strong sense of justice, but let them temper it with the mercy that comes from acknowledgment of sin. Let shame instruct them in clemency.

Deny reality, dive deep into vice, and you will be a slave. Free the children? Teach them to blush. It's a good start.

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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
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‘I am just getting started’: Florida AG vows to defend marriage despite rulings

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By Dustin Siggins

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is not backing down in her effort to defend the state's marriage amendment, even in the face of five judicial decisions against it.

On Thursday, the same day that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled the state's amendment was unconstitutional, Bondi told reporters that her continued defense of marriage was related to her "oath to defend the Constitution of the state of Florida."

"When I was sworn in as attorney general, the 37th attorney general of the state of Florida, I took an oath," continued Bondi. “Six years ago, by over 62 percent of the vote, the voters of this state put [the ban on same-sex marriage] into our Constitution. That is part of the Constitution, which I am sworn to uphold."

Bondi acknowledged Hinkle's ruling in her comments, including his "stay" of the ruling, and said that her continued defense of the law "is me doing my job as attorney general. And I will continue to do that and if anybody wants me to moderate my message or stand for less, I have a message for them: I am just getting started.”

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Bondi has taken fire for her defense of the state law. Critics point to her two divorces and a recent trip she took with her fiance as evidence of a double-standard, and in May she was heavily criticized for saying overturning the state's law would "impose significant public harm.” Same-sex "marriage" advocates took the comments as evidence that Bondi believes heterosexual relationships are superior to homosexual relationships.

Shortly after the uproar over Bondi's May statement, State Solicitor General Allen Winsor said in a statement that “Florida is harmed whenever a federal court enjoins enforcement of its laws, including the laws at issue here.”

“Florida’s voters approved a constitutional amendment, which is being challenged, and it is the attorney general’s duty to defend Florida law," he added.

Numerous studies, most prominently one done by Mark Regnerus in 2012, show that the best environment for children is that which consists of a married heterosexual couple.

Bondi joins a number of state attorneys general from both parties who are defending their state laws. Some Democratic attorneys general, perhaps most prominently Virginia's Mark Herring, have said they will not defend their state's marriage laws.

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Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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