Monday, January 30, 2017

Because, You Know, Christians Don't Believe in Science and All....

The Priest Who Taught Computers to Talk to Us

My First Editor Always Said, "More Than One Correction, Pull the Story"

But, that was in the days of reporters.  In the age of journalists, verifying facts is too low a responsibility.

Exhibit A from Crux, the Roman Catholic online magazine:

           Editor’s note about Sunday article on Chaput and Trump

Exhibit B, from The Atlantic [formerly Monthly]:
This article originally stated that there is "no heart to speak of" in a 6-week-old fetus. In fact, the heart has already begun to form by that point in a pregnancy. The article also originally stated that an expectant mother participating in a study decided to carry her pregnancy to term even after learning that the fetus was suffering from a genetic disorder, when in fact the fetus was only at high risk for a genetic disorder. The article originally stated, as well, that Bernard Nathanson headed the National Right-to-Life Committee and became a born-again Christian. Nathanson was active in, but did not head the committee, and was never a born-again Christian, but rather a Roman Catholic. The article originally stated that many doctors in 1985 claimed fetuses had no reflexive responses to medical instruments at 12 weeks. Finally, the article originally stated that John Kasich vetoed a bill from Indiana's legislature, instead of Ohio's legislature, after which the article was incorrectly amended to state that Mike Pence had vetoed the bill. We regret the errors.
If two corrections should cause an article to be bagged, FIVE corrections should require it to be killed with fire.

This Would Be Powerful If It Didn't Come from the Creator of Japanese-American Internment Camps

John Chrysostom, Bishop Of Antioch And Constantinople [c. 349 – 407]

John was called Chrysostom (which means "Golden Mouth") because of his reported eloquence. He was originally a priest of Antioch known as an outstanding preacher to the extent that listeners were warned not to carry very much money with them when they went to hear him speak, since pickpockets found it easy to rob those who were too intent on his wisdom to notice.

Although John was content and popular in Antioch, he became so famous that the Empress at Constantinople decided that she must have him for her court preacher, so she had him kidnapped and brought to Constantinople and there made bishop.* This turned out to be a gross error for all involved as John's sermons against corruption in high places earned him powerful enemies (including the Empress), and he was sent into exile, where he died in the year 407.

In our Anglican/Episcopal tradition, he is known through his familiar prayer that adorns our prayer book's Office of Evening Prayer:
Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one
accord to make our common supplication to you; and you
have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two
or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the
midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions
as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of
your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen. 
His collect reads as follows:

O God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

[*Yes, he had to be kidnapped to be made a bishop, so reluctant was he for the office.  This may mean that he is the one person in Christian history who actually should have been a bishop.]

Archaeological News

Advanced geometry used by prehistoric architects in US Southwest

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Entire "Mannix" Theme with Music

There were a number of good jazz compositions used in TV of the '50's and '60's.  Peter Gunn, anyone?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

As a Hobby of Poseurs, Nihilism is Mostly Harmless. As a Culture, It is Horrific.

Life and death in a Post-Christian age:
As you may have heard, Naika, a Miami teenager, hanged herself in the dark hours of a Sunday morning. She did this live on Facebook. We’ll likely never know why she chose to do it that way. Perhaps she felt invisible. Perhaps she wanted to be seen.

Her self-destruction drew attention, all right, but surely not the kind she wanted. To read the report by The Miami Herald’s Carol Marbin Miller and Alex Harris is to cringe with disgust:

“A thousand people watched for nearly an hour as Naika Venant prepared to kill herself. They kept watching for another hour as the 14-year-old dangled on her scarf from the shower door in the bathroom of her Miami Gardens foster home.

“People mocked the young girl, called her names and reacted to the video with Facebook’s laughing emoji, said Antonio Gethers, one of her 4,500 Facebook friends. Others posted cruel parody videos pretending to hang themselves, too.”

The Reality of Life for Iraqi Christians

“We Know that We Are Going To Be Killed”

Of Postmodernism and Our Nihilistic Times

[New readers: We read everything at The Coracle, be it liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc., and quote from it from time to time.  It's best to be aware of various perspectives as, to paraphrase John Donne, we are "involved in mankind".  We try not to be ideologically synoptic.]

In contrast to the many religions, systems of moral thought, and other ancient traditions that have distinguished every effort to better the human condition, postmodernism presumes that all of these endeavors are the cause of human failure. It therefore operates according to just one moral imperative: discredit anything that other people presume to stand for goodness, because the belief that anything is superior to anything else inevitably results in prejudice, interpersonal strife, and inequality.

Thus, the Venus de Milo has no more aesthetic value than a crucifix in a jar full of urine; Beethoven’s symphonies are no more profound than the latest round of top 40 hits; all religions are fundamentally the same, and their “moderate” postmodern adherents are all comfortably represented on the “Coexist” bumper sticker. In a sense, it isn’t culture at all, but rather an anti-culture that measures success insofar as it deconstructs anything that other people value.

The Feast of Thomas Aquinas [1225–1274]

It seems hard to believe now, but there was a time, specifically in the 13th century, when the works of Aristotle had fallen out of common usage and were not studied in the universities of Europe. Thanks to the Muslim scholars of Arabia and Spain, who were enamored of Aristotle's natural philosophy [Islam and its relationship with Western thought has changed since then], Aristotle was ready for re-discovery when Thomas of Acquin, a Dominican monk of no small intellect, published a series of works re-presenting Aristotelian thought to his contemporaries and matching it with the theological framework of medieval Christianity. [It is helpful to remember, despite what trendy secularists would have one believe, that Christianity created the university model that educates the Western world to this day; not to mention also enabling scientific method to develop.]

As one with degrees in both philosophy and theology, I can testify to the continued influence of Aquinas in both fields. In fact, his popularity in secular philosophy continues to grow, as subsequent Western philosophy is in reaction to Aquinas's works. There is no greater figure in history whose accomplishments so strongly stand in the face of the errant belief that there is, or should be, a separation between theology, philosophy, and science.

Perhaps his most interesting contribution to human thought is through the field of natural theology. In an overly succinct definition, natural theology is the study of God as known not through sudden revelation, but through the application of observation and reason.

I would encourage readers to follow the links for more information. I will leave with this piquant quotation from G.K. Chesterton, the Catholic writer [and creator of the literary detective "Fr. Brown"] as to Aquinas's ecclesial abilities and ambition:

"His experiences included well-attested cases of levitation in ecstasy; and the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, comforting him with the welcome news that he would never be a Bishop."

Almighty God, you have enriched your Church with the singular learning and holiness of your servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

As Well They Should

Admin to hold EPA accountable for massive toxic river spill

For those new to The Coracle, you will discover that I can get a little passionate about the antics of the EPA, especially as they have so nonchalantly poisoned one third of the water supply of the Navajo tribe and pretended not to know of the toxic water supply in Hoosick Falls, New York, where I once lived and served a parish and a school.

In fact, just entering the letters "EPA" in the search grid in the upper left of this page will reveal a surprising amount of untoward information about the agency.  That's usually not my style, but there you go.

Different Century, Same Problem

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

One of Whom I Buried. Thanks, VA.

7 People Buried in the Wrong Graves at Veterans' Cemetery

Imagine Trying to Evangelize in This Culture

Now, we live in a post-Christian age, but there remains a high degree of hostility to religion in general and Christianity in particular. As a result, religion is either left out of the history books or cast as some sort of malevolent influence. That’s a big problem as it is impossible to understand human history without understanding religion and its role in human affairs. This is especially true in the West where Christianity is arguably the most important feature of Western culture since the fall of Rome.

Ordination of Florence Li Tim-Oi [the First Woman Ordained to the Anglican Priesthood]

Li Tim-Oi was born in Hong Kong in 1907. When she was baptized as a student, she chose the name of Florence in honor of Florence Nightingale. Florence studied at Union Theological College in Guangzhou (Canton). In 1938, upon graduation, she served in a lay capacity, first in Kowloon and then in nearby Macao.

In May 1941 Florence was ordained deaconess. Some months later Hong Kong fell to Japanese invaders, and priests could not travel to Macao to celebrate the Eucharist. Despite this setback, Florence continued her ministry. Her work came to the attention of Bishop Ronald Hall of Hong Kong, who decided that “God’s work would reap better results if she had the proper title” of priest.
On January 25, 1944, the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Bishop Hall ordained her priest, the first woman so ordained in the Anglican Communion.

When World War II came to an end, Florence Li Tim-Oi’s ordination was the subject of much controversy. She made the personal decision not to exercise her priesthood until it was acknowledged by the wider Anglican Communion. Undeterred, she continued to minister with great faithfulness, and in 1947 was appointed rector of St. Barnabas Church in Hepu where,on Bishop Hall’s instructions, she was still to be called priest.

When the Communists came to power in China in 1949, Florence undertook theological studies in Beijing to further understand the implications of the Three-Self Movement (self-rule, self-support, and self- propagation) which now determined the life of the churches. She then moved to Guangzhou to teach and to serve at the Cathedral of Our Savior. However, for sixteen years, from 1958 onwards, during the Cultural Revolution, all churches were closed. Florence was forced to work first on a farm and then in a factory. Accused of counter revolutionary activity, she was required to undergo political re-education. Finally, in 1974, she was allowed to retire from her work in the factory.

In 1979 the churches reopened, and Florence resumed her public ministry. Then, two years later, she was allowed to visit family members living in Canada. While there, to her great joy, she was licensed as a priest in the Diocese of Montreal and later in the Diocese of Toronto,where she finally settled, until her death on February 26, 1992.

I was already working in the church upon the initial "discovery" of Li Tim-Oi's story and was fortunate to have actually met her.  Due mostly to China's secretive regime, Mother Li was so unknown that, upon the occasion of the ordination of the first women clergy in 1974, we were not generally aware that the Anglican Communion had already ordained a woman to the priesthood thirty years before.  Once Mother Li's remarkable story was discovered, it radically altered the primacy of the American women priests and revealed a previously unknown portion of our tradition's history.

Anyone who met her in person, as I was so honored to have done when she and I shared a lecture hall at the University of Toronto, found himself or herself in the presence of a true priest.  She lived to serve God, not self, and reached beyond culture to preach a quiet, simple message of faith.  As the first woman priest, she set a standard that is inspiring, catholic and service-oriented.

Gracious God, we thank you for calling Florence Li Tim-Oi, much beloved daughter, to be the first woman to exercise the office of a priest in our Communion: By the grace of your Spirit inspire us to follow her example, serving your people with patience and happiness all our days, and witnessing in every circumstance to our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Monday, January 23, 2017

No Kidding

Hawaiians call Mark Zuckerberg 'the face of neocolonialism' over land lawsuits

The Native Hawaiians aren't used to this; we American Indians are all too familiar with it.

Everything You Know is Wrong

Eating fatty foods such as steak, cheese and butter can make you healthier and slimmer, study reveals
Researchers from the University of Ireland found that overweight middle-aged men who switched to a diet high in natural saturated fats and low in carbohydrates grew slimmer and healthier.

Professor Sherif Sultan, a heart specialist, said: “We urgently need to overturn current dietary guidelines.

“People should not be eating high carbohydrate diets as they have been told over the past decade.

The Feast of Philips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts [1835-1893]

Sad will be the day for any man when he becomes contented with the thoughts he is thinking and the deeds he is doing - where there is not forever beating at the doors of his soul some great desire to do something larger; which he knows he was meant and made to do.

A member of a wealthy old Brahmin family of New England, Brooks attended Harvard University (1851–55) and taught briefly at the Boston Latin School before attending the Episcopal Seminary at Alexandria, Va., being ordained there on July 1, 1859. The following month he began his ministry at the Church of the Advent in Philadelphia, where his impressive personality and eloquence won crowds of admirers. Three years later he became rector of Holy Trinity in the same city. Except for a year of travel abroad in 1865–66, he remained there seven years, during which he finished the lyrics of his famous Christmas carol, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (music by Lewis H. Redner). In 1869 he accepted the rectorship of Boston’s Trinity Church, the nation’s stronghold of Episcopalianism, and retained that position until he became bishop of Massachusetts in 1891.

In Lectures on Preaching (delivered at Yale University in 1877), Brooks offered his most influential assay of his profession, defining preaching as “the bringing of truth through personality,” by which he meant a kind of radiant optimism. His own eloquence was matched by his commanding, handsome figure, standing six feet four inches tall and weighing (in his prime) 300 pounds. His charismatic preaching became so renowned that he was invited in 1880 to preach at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Royal Chapel at Windsor before Queen Victoria. In 1890 he conducted an acclaimed series of services at Trinity Church, New York City. Several volumes of his sermons were published during his lifetime and posthumously.

O everlasting God, you revealed truth to your servant Phillips Brooks, and so formed and molded his mind and heart that he was able to mediate that truth with grace and power: Grant, we pray, that all whom you call to preach the Gospel may steep themselves in your Word, and conform their lives to your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

An Unsurprising Follow-Up to a Previous Posting

Author Who Turns Classics Into Children’s Books Is Sued

The original posting may be found here.

I wondered how these people had gotten away with it without attracting the voracious members of the legal profession who maintain the standards of classic works.

The Feast Day of Agnes of Rome

January 21: Agnes of Rome [292-304]

A popular saint about whom little is known, Agnes is said to have been a beautiful, wealthy Roman maiden who had, in childhood, dedicated herself to God. Some say that a rejected suitor betrayed her to authorities; others say that she was asked at 13 to sacrifice to the gods and marry, both of which she refused. Legends tell of her being thrown into a brothel, where her purity was miraculously preserved. Having escaped that fate, she was martyred. In the IV Century, Constantia, the daughter of Constantine, built a basilica on the site of her tomb....Her emblem in art is the lamb because of the similarity between her name and the Latin word for lamb, agnus.

 Almighty and everlasting God, you choose those whom the world deems powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of your youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Friday, January 20, 2017

An Updated Posting

I left the United States for Australia before the absentee ballots were available and returned after the election.  For the first time in my eligibility, I was unable to vote.  I confess I really didn't mind, as I was wholly uninspired by either of the viable candidates and found the tertiary candidates obtuse.

Since I am a creature of both the academy and the church, I cannot help but be exposed to people who have had their expectations disrupted.  They have reacted in a variety of ways, but mostly through initial anger and blaming, then a brief moment of equanimity ["We're all in this together"], and now with a renewed, somewhat emotionally submerged, sense of resistance to the change in government.   I do feel uncomfortable with ordained colleagues who seem to think the world is run by politicians, either the "angelic" ones for whom they vote or the "demonic" ones for whom they don't.  After all, my memories of seminary life includes hearing more anti-Ronald Reagan sermons than those that were specifically pro-Jesus.  Of course, I sometimes think that some of my colleagues view the Christ as an intellectual construction, and not a living presence. 

If anything, a belief in God and redemption through Jesus has enabled an emancipation from concern about secular leaders, as does even a cursory knowledge of world history.  We are, as Christians, to be in the world, but not of the world, after all.  That is the source of our liberation.

Anyway, for the sake of clarity, I re-print that which appears below.
From November 10, 2016:
As many know, I resist permitting secular political ideology, a morass of self-serving posturing, to interpenetrate with the spiritual.  My job is to represent, explain, and make alive a very ancient perspective on the world and the self, on the nature of Being that comes from Nothing, of the attempted answers to the eternal questions of "Where am I from?", "Why am I here?", and "Where am I going?"  I cannot do so if I limit our vision to what 21st century politicians, and their servants in the media and entertainment, find as valuable for me to believe, to think, and about which to speak.

I care little for either candidate; I am indifferent to the current occupant of the office, as opposed to the vast majority of my colleagues in both academia and ecclesia.  I also have little use for the professional bureaucrats of my own national church organization, who have been vocal about the dangers to the republic if any candidate but the one preferred by the professional church should attain the White House, suddenly claiming that now is the time for reconciliation.  I might suggest that they look up that business about logs and eyes that's in that dusty book on the lectern.  The mutterings from that quarter will continue and will build over the next four years.  They say and write publicly what they think is appropriate, but they live a different reality than what they represent.

Perhaps it's because I grew up in a political household, but I see them all as deeply flawed individuals rather than saviors, as is how I see myself.  I already have a Jesus and, conveniently, his name happens to be Jesus.  I regret that so many Christians need to have a secular Jesus, too, and it is to be a politician.   However, because I believe strongly in the grander nature of the human race, especially when we acknowledge that we are creatures of a community brimming with hope and faith, I cannot despair.  I have seen too much good come from quiet moments of grace, in small pockets around the world, to ever despair of what a political class, media, or a pop singer think about the world in which I abide.

I live for Jesus, and it is to him that I answer, happily and without hesitation.  I find that a far more compelling, balanced, and peaceful view of the world and its hope than has ever been voiced by any candidate for any office.

And now, for something completely different.  Here I am entertaining a collection of Chinese tourists in Sydney who mistook me as their tour guide.  They seemed untroubled by the fact that I knew nothing of either Mandarin or the history of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Wishing That Every Day of Marriage was the Wedding Day

Actually, no one sane would expect or want that.

Dream Weddings and Our Search for Wholeness
What we are looking for on our wedding day, and what can seem elusive in marriage, is a sense of being complete and full.

The Feast Of Fabian

No, not the singer of "Like A Tiger" and star of "Ride The Wild Surf". This is the Fabian who was Bishop of Rome in the mid-Third Century.

"Upon the death of Roman Bishop Antherus in 236, a council was convened in Rome to elect his successor. In the crowd was Fabian, a layperson. According to the historian Eusebius, a dove flew into the building and landed on Fabian's head. The people immediately interpreted this to be an omen, and unanimously acclaimed Fabian as Rome's new bishop.

He turned out to be an excellent leader. He organized the parochial structure of the Church that is still in use, developed the rites of veneration for the martyrs buried in the catacombs, and appointed fourteen scholars to record the lives of the martyrs so that they would not be forgotten in future years.

In 239, the Emperor Decius instituted a persecution of Christians. This was the first persecution to be waged throughout the entire Empire, rather than just a local phenomenon. Fabian was captured and brutally executed. The courage with which he went to his death was an inspiration to thousands who followed him in martyrdom. His broken tombstone in Rome still exists, with three words on it are still legible; 'Fabian ... bishop ... martyr.'"

O God, in your providence you singled out the holy martyr Fabian as worthy to be chief pastor of your people, and guided him so to strengthen your Church that it stood fast in the day of persecution: Grant that those whom you call to any ministry in the Church may be obedient to your call in all humility, and be enabled to carry out their tasks with diligence and faithfulness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

This is Not Going Over Well in the Surf Community

Mainly because the surf community respects both native spirituality and this quaint notion of tribal rights.

Mark Zuckerberg is suing hundreds of people in Hawaii in his effort to create a secluded island.

As an acquaintance noted to me in an e-mail, "There's not much difference between the Eastern white guys who took our land for pineapple plantations in the 19th century and some Eastern white guy in the 21st century who takes our land so his wife can do yoga or somethingHaoles gonna howl."

I often note both here and in preaching and lecturing that it is the natural tendency of the human race to build walls between one another.  This century seems to be making that practice literal, however.

As We Have Noted Before, the Entire United States is a Free Speech Zone

Student group sues after members arrested for handing out copies of Constitution

Even if the students were being deliberately provocative, which is not entirely plausible in this case, letting them hand out a free, public document for an hour would have been a simple, far less puzzle-witted administrative reaction.

The Feast Of Wulfstan

When William the Conqueror took England for the Normans in 1066, he replaced most of the native Saxon bishops with clergy from Normandy. An exception was Wulfstan, Bishop of Worcester, who had been a supporter of Saxon King Harold, but who submitted to William after Harold's death, and became one of the new king's most trusted advisers. A devout Benedictine monk, he is best remembered for his opposition to the Irish slave trade in western England. Interestingly, he was also a vegetarian, because the smell of cooking lamb once distracted him during the celebration of the Holy Communion.

He died on this day in the year 1095.

Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son led captivity captive and gave gifts to your people: Multiply among us faithful pastors, who, like thy holy bishop Wulfstan, will give courage to those who are oppressed and held in bondage; and bring us all, we pray, into the true freedom of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

For West Coast Readers

If I could get to L.A. by 2pm on Sunday, I wouldn't miss this.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Looks Like the Editorial Board Didn't Get the Memo

A roiling sense of social commentary is one of the things that I love about our country.  I often think that the Bill of Rights is the second most liberating document ever produced.

Somewhat related:   Nat Hentoff: One of a Kind

Today's Feast Day: Antony of Egypt, or Anthony of the Desert [251–356]

Who ever met him grieving and failed to go away rejoicing?"

It seems difficult to believe from the viewpoint of the 21st century, in a nation such as ours, rich beyond the ancient world's measure and with freedoms that never would have been dreamt of in prior generations, that, once upon a time, to become a Christian meant to become a kind of monastic.  Nowadays, of course, one may transit from heathen to Christian, and vice versa, without any apparent alteration to one's life.  The job stays the same, family membership is un-threatened, one's income and possessions are not surrendered. 

Such was not the case in the 4th century.  Becoming a Christian wasn't so much a "lifestyle choice" but a total and complete commitment to something far greater than one's life.  Early Christians would sometimes lose their families, their roles in society, their possessions would happily be given over to their faith community.  [Remember that next time we hand out pledge cards.]  Their lives would become dedicated to God in a manner that would be found worthy of an intervention in contemporary times.

In the midst of this zealous Christianity, Antony of the Desert was its most ardent practitioner.

"Most of what is known about Saint Anthony comes from the Life of Anthony. Written in Greek around 360 by Athanasius of Alexandria, it depicts Anthony as an illiterate and holy man who through his existence in a primordial landscape has an absolute connection to the divine truth....

This "absolute connection" served, through Antony's private and public practices, as the foundation for monasticism and what is known as "ascetical theology".

It was a common practice at this time for fervent Christians to lead retired lives in penance and contemplation on the outskirts of towns, and in the desert, while others practiced their austerities without withdrawing from their fellow men. In even earlier times we hear of these ascetics.  Origen, about 249, wrote that they abstained from flesh, as the disciples of Pythagoras did.  Antony lived in his tomb near Coma until about 285. Then, at the age of thirty-five, he set out into the empty desert, crossed the eastern branch of the Nile, and took up his abode in the ruins of an old castle on the top of a mountain. There he lived for almost twenty years, rarely seeing any man except the one who brought him food every six months.
In his fifty-fifth year he came down from his mountain retreat and founded his first monastery, not far from Aphroditopolis. It consisted of scattered cells, each inhabited by a solitary monk; some of the later settlements may have been arranged on more of a community plan. Antony did not stay with any of his foundations long, but visited them all from time to time. These interruptions to his solitude, involving as they did some management of the affairs of others, tended to disturb him. We are told of a temptation to despair, which he overcame by prayer and hard manual labor. Notwithstanding his stringent self-discipline, he always maintained that perfection consisted not in mortification of the flesh but in love of God. He taught his monks to have eternity always present to their minds and to perform every act with all the fervor of their souls, as if it were to be their last.

Heathen philosophers who disputed with Antony were amazed both at his modesty and at his wisdom. When asked how he could spend his life in solitude without the companionship of books, he replied that nature was his great book. When they criticized his ignorance, he simply asked which was the better, good sense or book learning, and which produced the other. They answered, "Good sense." "Then," said Antony, "it is sufficient of itself." His pagan visitors usually wanted to know the reasons for his faith in Christ. He told them that they degraded their gods by ascribing to them the worst of human passions, whereas the ignominy of the cross, followed by Christ's triumphant Resurrection, was a supreme demonstration of His infinite goodness, to say nothing of His miracles of healing and raising the dead. The Christian's faith in his Almighty God and His works was a more satisfactory basis for religion than the empty sophistries of the Greeks. Antony carried on his discussions with the Greeks through an interpreter. His biographer Athanasius tells us that in spite of his solitary life, "he did not seem to others morose or unapproachable, but met them with a most engaging and friendly air." He writes that no one in trouble ever visited Antony without going away comforted.

O God, by your Holy Spirit you enabled your servant Antony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow you, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Teen Philosophy

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"Students don't want to learn anymore. They want to teach."

If students really want to encounter classical poetry produced by non-whites, they have options. They can study the relative handful of languages that produced significant literature before the modern period. Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Chinese, and Urdu come to mind. These are all worthy subjects crying out for more scholarship.

But there's a catch. And it is what catches our activists out. Studying an ancient language to discover non-white voices is challenging and requires real work. You cannot pass the final exams just by repeating a number of fashionable political slogans. And perhaps activist students do not study these languages because they correctly suspect they won't find much written in these languages that qualifies as politically correct by the standards of 2017. In fact, you will find in these literatures exactly the kind of messages that activists least like to hear. Lessons like: Humble yourself and mortify your ambitions.

Honestly, You Never Know What Will Show Up in a Sacristy

Queen Elizabeth I’s long-lost skirt to go on display after being found on a church altar in Herefordshire

No Wagner or Beethoven, but Still Somewhat Useful

Best classical music recordings of 2016

Some Fun for Amateur Physicists

The claim that hot water freezes faster than cold water just got even weirder

Monday, January 9, 2017

Good Lord

'Crucifixion maybe too distressing,' theology students warned
The University of Glasgow, part of the elite Russell Group, has introduced the warnings to its theology students studying Creation to Apocalypse: Introduction to the Bible (Level 1).

In one lecture about Jesus, it warned students it "contains graphic scenes of the crucifixion" adding that it would be flagged up to students beforehand. 
In some case students are allowed to absent themselves from the class and lecturers are advised to check on them later in the day.
I hope none of them is planning on a career in the church.  The things one encounters outside of a classroom, with all of the issues of mortality that are brought to a local parish, would maybe kill these precious "theologians".

Thursday, January 5, 2017

An Update on the Big Move

The problem with moving twenty miles, rather than from one coast to another, is that one makes too many trips between the sites.  Just when I thought we had everything in the new rectory, I realized I'd left my two-pound tub of Vegemite on the kitchen counter of the former rectory.  There are many things that I'd leave behind, but not Vegemite.

Regular posting will, we hope, return this weekend.

Willie Nelson - On The Road Again

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Good Idea

Why I’m Only Listening To And Reading Old Things In 2017

Archaeological News

An Ancient City Emerges in a Remote Rain Forest

Yes, I Noticed This During My Stay in Australia

Even I, who have been writing about terrible American showers for 10 years, was shocked with delight at the shower in Brazil. Now, here we have a socialist country and an entire population that grouses about how hard it is to get ahead. And yet, step into the shower and you have a glorious capitalist experience. Hot water, really hot, pours down on you like a mighty and unending waterfall, sort of like it used to sea to shining sea.

At least the socialists in Brazil knew better than to destroy such an essential of civilized life.

By efficiency, the government means “doesn’t work as well as it used to.”But here we’ve forgotten. We have long lived with regulated showers, plugged up with a stopper imposed by government controls imposed in 1992. There was no public announcement. It just happened gradually. After a few years, you couldn’t buy a decent shower head. They called it a flow restrictor and said it would increase efficiency. By efficiency, the government means “doesn’t work as well as it used to.” 

We’ve been acculturated to lame showers, but that’s just the start of it. Anything in your home that involves water has been made pathetic, thanks to government controls.

Everything You Know is Wrong

Washington Post: The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol 

The government deliberately and incorrectly fiddled with the diets of its citizens for decades and then turned into Emily Litella.

Jerry Jeff Walker - L.A. Freeway

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Difference Between a 20th Century Reporter and a 21st Century Journalist

From the Washington Post:

A reporter would have checked the facts before publication.  A journalist turns misunderstood information into a holiday week, 24-hour news cycle.

Here's some more from Forbes:
On Friday the Washington Post sparked a wave of fear when it ran the breathless headline “Russian hackers penetrated U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont, U.S. officials say.” The lead sentence offered “A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials” and continued “While the Russians did not actively use the code to disrupt operations of the utility, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a security matter, the penetration of the nation’s electrical grid is significant because it represents a potentially serious vulnerability.”

Yet, it turns out this narrative was false and as the chronology below will show, illustrates how effectively false and misleading news can ricochet through the global news echo chamber through the pages of top tier newspapers that fail to properly verify their facts.

Not Just Opera Stars

How Bugs Bunny and ‘Kill the Wabbit’ Inspired a Generation of Opera Stars

Me? Oh, I'm Going to Pack Boxes All Day

Eric Burdon - The Animals - We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Move it on Over - Hank Williams