Monday, February 27, 2017

Once Again, The Coracle is Prescient

We profiled Eric Hoffer last summer.

From the Wall Street Journal:
“Scratch an intellectual, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound and the smell of common folk.” Those words might have been written last year, as an explanation for Donald Trump’s rise or a rejoinder to Hillary Clinton’s denunciation of “deplorables.”
In fact they were published in November 1970 and written by Eric Hoffer, the “longshoreman philosopher,” who was best known for his slender 1951 classic, “The True Believer: Thoughts on the nature of Mass Movements.” The 1970 essay, under the headline “Whose Country Is America?,” eerily anticipated not only the political events of 2016 but the tone and language of last year’s campaign and the anti-Trump hysteria since Election Day.

In Some Cases, There Might Be Nothing Left

Free Our Churches From the Ugly and Stupid
I have seen and heard enough. We must get rid of everything ugly and stupid from our churches, most of it visited upon them since the great iconoclasm of the 1960s. What’s needed is genuine art that stirs the imagination and pleases the eye, that entices the soul with beauty before a single word of a sermon is uttered.

America Go Crazy

But something important unites them. Both embrace a politics of fear over reason, fueled by a sense of siege. Both cleave to an unfounded belief that their nation and their lives have been overrun by a destructive, probably foreign force. And both fail to make a good fist of actually challenging the president. Just as paranoia over Obama led to the spreading of wild tales rather than to robust critiques of Obama's illiberalism and war-mongering, so too many in the Trump meltdown lobby are currently in the business of panic rather than clear political criticism of Trump's disregard for liberty and openness. Fear makes for lame opposition.
If you're curious about the header, please read William Carlos William's poem, To Elsie.

Friday, February 24, 2017

For Once, Connecticut is as Strange as Florida

Police said a naked woman broke into a Connecticut church and went on a rampage with a fire extinguisher, destroying items inside Wednesday.

I'm Still Missing Australia, Even with Goanna

Waitress drags massive goanna from restaurant as shocked diners watch

Pretzel Logic

Proposal: California will secede from the union over the recent presidential election.

Riposte: California demands federal funds to fix its dam.

Albert Catmus


This is Hardly New

The BBC: Writing Christianity Out of History

It was particularly noticeable during the run of the popular crunchy gravel series, Downton Abbey. Although set mostly in the 1920's, it was extremely odd for there to be no mention of the liturgical year or the family's common relationship with the local vicar.  After all, Lord Whatever, as the largest landowner, would have been the local vestry warden and chairman of the parish council.  There would have always been a seat at the dinner table for the local clergy.  Always.

That's history, though, and such things are "inconvenient" in this nihilistic age of spiritual cowards. Besides, back when I was a student in the U.K. in the early 1970's, the BBC was a well-known "safe space" for British Communists, who are hardly defenders of any faith.

This Gave Me Pause When I Heard It the Other Morning...

...but I thought I might be the only one.  Fortunately, someone else did, too.

Brzezinski: ‘Our Job’ Is to Control ‘Exactly What People Think’

I appreciate that 1984 is currently the #1 best-seller on Amazon.com, but I don't think it's meant to be a "how-to" book.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hey, Save Me a Ribeye

NYPD In Pursuit of A COW In Queens, NY

Actually, escaped cattle are pretty common where I live.  In New York, PANIC IN THE STREETS!

Break Time


Sorry, all, but the Internet is filled with nothing but lamentations and sourness about the recent election: The end of all progressive dreams, the destruction of our civilization, the coming fascist age, and Nazis, Nazis, everywhere.  Most of this is from my ordained colleagues, by the way.  So much for hope and faith and whatnot.  It's like they want to worship politicians instead of the Trinity.

The other day I overheard a conversation between two men in a cafe that went like this:

Guy #1: "My wife thinks we need to take the kids to a church.  [Jokingly] Do you know any atheist churches?"
Guy #2: "Try the Episcopalians."

It's starting to make me a little funky so, with your permission, I'm going to shut down for a day or two. We'll be back.

Medieval Chasuble Depicting the Manna From Heaven


No Kidding

College Illiteracy is Growing

The way to reverse this is for colleges to tighten their enrollment requirements, which will never happen as they need to fill as many slots as possible in order to stay in business.  Of course, if they did address the rigidity of academic requirements, then high schools would be forced to do the same as would middle and lower schools.  All schools would, thus, improve.  Alas, we all know that won't happen.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Inexplicable, Caption-less Photos That are Sent to Me by Others

Yep

It Shouldn't Matter Who the President Is

Government should be impervious to the whims and character of its temporary managers

Guess the State

Woman driving motorized shopping cart in middle of road arrested

This is Incomparably Sad

For Generation Z, ‘Live Chilling’ Replaces Hanging Out in Person

Teens are finding their friends via video chat, in apps such as Houseparty, Fam and Kik

More for a Happy Presidents Day


On December 26, 1862, Abraham Lincoln executed 38 "Indians and half-breeds" in Minnesota for the crime of attempting to feed themselves without relying on government hand-outs.  [It's more complicated than that, of course, but I'm attempting to present the aboriginal view].  It was the largest mass hanging in U.S. history and explains why American tribal members have a rather low regard for the 16th president.

Save for one, the executed were all baptized Christians, most of them Episcopalians.

Then-bishop of Minnesota, The Rt. Rev. Henry Benjamin Whipple, had intervened in the proposed action and convinced Lincoln to execute the 38 instead of the over-300 who were originally to be hanged.  Although his actions are generally regarded as heroic, there are some in the aboriginal community who fault him for not successfully saving all of the prisoners.  This is a rather raw controversy in parts of the greater Church, as the reader may imagine.

The Rev. Robert Two Bulls, a contemporary Episcopal priest, is attempting to have the slain Episcopalians named as official martyrs with their own date on our calendar.  My opinion in this matter is, for now, my own, although I'm rankled when some of the more conservative laity and clergy of the church are dismissive of this initiative as they think it mere political correctness or an example of tedious Episcopal trendiness.

The history of American Indian Episcopalians is largely unknown and rarely taught in any of the Church's seminaries.  While a small body of scholars is attempting to address that curricular shortcoming, as we commonly open our regard to many, many of the marginalized groups within our communion, perhaps some consideration could be granted to a collection of people of color who have remained faithful, sometimes in the midst of great hardship and persecution.

As they walked to the gallows on their final day, the contemporary newspaper accounts reported that the condemned sang their tribal "death song".  In reality, the Martyrs of Mankato were singing "Onward, Christian Soldiers" in the Dakota language of their tribe.

[*In regards to the term "American Indian", as opposed to that of "Native American" that is preferred by bi-coastal whites, I refer the reader to this.]

Happy Presidents' Day

Today is the 75th anniversary of the executive order that led to Japanese American internment

An Historical Fact

It wasn't until 1924 that American Indians [known as "Native Americans" by people on the East Coast] were given the right to vote in the United States.  This is why the aboriginal community regards Calvin Coolidge as the president most effective in the promotion of civil rights.

12th Century French Chalice Made with Agate


7th Century Byzantine Chalice


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Dear Sportscasters:

It's "take a different tack", not "tact" or "tax".  Seriously, talk to the people who cover The America's Cup for your network. It's a sailing term.  And, really, a different tax?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ecological News

North Dakota, feds address garbage left at pipeline protest

Since the protesters claimed to be concerned with the environment and tribal sovereignty, it would seem odd that they turned this portion of tribal lands into a toxic waste dump and then left it to the tribe to pay for its clean-up.  It's almost as if they weren't concerned with these things, but wished to hold a layabouts' party dressed up as social action.

Since the Episcopal Church had a role in encouraging them, and with the active participation of clergy and lay leaders, it would seem reasonable that the Church would offer to pay for the environmental restoration.  Now, that would be justice.


Geophysical News

Astonishing geomagnetic spike hit the ancient kingdom of Judah

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Feast Of Janani Luwum


Archbishop Luwum is a recent addition, yet one who fits the traditional mold of Christian martyrdom.  Luwum was the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda when Idi Amin seized power in the early 1970's.  In events that would seem remarkably familiar to any student of early Christianity, Luwum challenged the dictator for his excessive, often brutal, treatment of the Ugandan people.  In return, the Archbishop was arrested, told to read from a prepared "confession" and then executed on this day in 1977.  While the government originally claimed him to be a victim of an automobile accident, his body, when released to his family, bore wounds consistent with multiple gunshots.  It has always been rumored that he was martyred by Amin himself.

Above, on the right, is the statue to Luwum that is found in the martyr's corner at Westminster Abbey.

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example, gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I Always Wanted to Be a Headline Editor


He Has a Point

Academics seem to think that the business world is a feudal environment characterized by huge status differentials and abusive treatment of underlings. They think that because, to be honest, that’s a pretty good characterization of . . . the modern university, where serfs in the form of adjunct professors toil in the vineyards.
I have worked as an adjunct at a college, a university, and a seminary.  I was never poorly treated, but I was never paid very well and always had that "odd man out" feeling as adjuncts were never considered "real" faculty by those in the administration and tenured hierarchy.  Eventually, I decided no longer to continue as the amount of time spent preparing and teaching was not compensated at a reasonable level.

These days, there are far, far more administrators than ever before, and far more than is necessary, but universities and other educational institutions continue to cut the schedules of faculty, creating more and more part-time and adjunct positions.  Many adjuncts now have to work at two or more schools in order to make ends meet.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

This Was Interesting, Especially as It Was Written by a Muslim

From the New York Times: What Jesus Can Teach Today’s Muslims

Forget the Stuff About the European Kick Ball Player, Tim Tebow is a Good Kid

Last weekend, the Tim Tebow Foundation put on its annual Night to Shine prom experience for a whopping 75,000 people at 350 churches in fifty states and eleven countries. The event is for people ages fourteen and older with special needs. “The Night to Shine movement is more than just a prom,” said Tebow. “It is a night where people with special needs shine and they are told that they matter, that they are important and that God has a plan for their life!”

The Feast Of Thomas Bray


Although he only spent a brief time in the colonies, Bray established the two organizations that built missions and parishes throughout the New World, including the original Christ Church.  Those organizations, now 300 years old, remain active to this day.  More may be read of him at their site.  He also, among other endeavors, was an abolitionist, founded a number of lending libraries that enabled the Church of England in the colonies to champion colonial literacy and education, and was responsible for the creation of what is the Episcopal Church in Maryland.  Not bad for a parish priest in England.

O God of compassion, who opened the heart of your servant Thomas Bray to the needs of the Church in the New World, and to found societies to relieve them: Make the Church diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I Know the Feeling

For 30 years, Donald Lau has been the “Chief Fortune Writer” at Wonton Foods, a manufacturer that touts itself to be one of the world's largest producers of fortune cookies. 

But now, Lau is leaving his position following a long bout of writer’s block.

Exciting News from an Alma Mater

Well, exciting to those of us who have been attached to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

Penn Museum solves the mystery of the locked suitcase

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Part of the Problem is Borrowing $250,000 to Receive a Degree in Druid Dance Studies Instead of Something That Makes One Employable. In the Long Run, Student Loans are Massively Damaging to One's Earnings.

This argument is all too familiar. In recent times, pensioners have been attacked for living too long and becoming a healthcare burden; they have been blamed for high house prices and rent inflation, with their critics even calling for the downsizing of pensioners’ homes; and they have been slammed in general for consuming more than is their rightful share. A 2015 report by the Intergenerational Foundation concluded: ‘While increasing longevity is to be welcomed, our changing national demographic and expectations of entitlement are placing increasingly heavy burdens on younger and future generations.’
Pensioner = Senior Citizen, for those who don't speak English English.  We hear this nonsense in our country, too, of course.  While my case may be anecdotal, I still financially support members of the next two generations of my family, mainly because I've saved over the course of a lifetime, not because being a clergyman is so lucrative.  A liberal arts degree only cost $16,000 in my day, mainly because we didn't need more administrators than faculty.  We also didn't need luxury dormitories.
This demonisation of old people has got to stop. For a start, the idea that pensioners are thwarting younger generations’ chances at a good life is simply untrue. The Resolution Foundation report makes clear that pensioners’ income is higher than those of a working-age only after household costs. Before household costs, those of working age actually have a higher average income than pensioners. This is hardly surprising – pensioners have had the time to save and pay off mortgages while people of working age continue to spend money on housing costs.

It's as If It's More About the Union and Less About the Students; But, That's Crazy Talk

For example, with a little arithmetic, we learn that, as of the most recent year available (2014-15), among Connecticut's "poor" urban districts, Hartford got about $14,900 per student from the state; New Haven about $12,500; and Waterbury about $9700. Among its "rich" suburban districts, Greenwich got just over $1000 per student; Darien got about $950; New Canaan got under $600; and Fairfield got a big $535. Gap? Now, you may think that it is perfectly appropriate for Connecticut to give most to all of its state funding to its poorer districts, while leaving the richer districts mostly on their own. But really, to call this a "gap" in favor of the richer districts couldn't be more ridiculous.
It is obvious to anyone sentient that simply providing more money doesn't improve the quality of education without there being a context for improvement. Having spent a fair portion of my life as an educational administrator, I can note that there are few institutions that can waste money with a greater pathological inefficiency than schools. My parents were staunch members of their respective teachers' unions when I was growing up, with my Dad also serving as union treasurer, and they would be appalled at how little of funding is actually used for the direct education of the student. Then, there's this:
Meanwhile, classic "blue" jurisdiction Connecticut is facing approximately its 30th annual budget "crisis." The additional money for these poor urban school districts will have to come from somewhere -- either from the (already meager) grants to the richer districts, or from other state spending, or from increased taxes. Any of these options will make Connecticut even less competitive in attracting new businesses and entrepreneurs, and in keeping its wealthy citizens from leaving for more attractive states. Given that it is absolutely certain that the additional money will not improve the schools, would Connecticut's poor be better off instead with a better business climate that might attract more businesses and jobs? Nobody in Connecticut thinks to ask such questions.

Couldn't They Just Teach Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic?

Teachers now showing students how to spot fake news

Inequality


Australia has Poisonous Animals, New Zealand Has...This

Suspected drunk hedgehog, with yoghurt pottle on head, allowed to go with warning.

The Shape of the Waves

Above is a photo of a Roman Catholic nun whose religious order hosts an annual charity surfing competition in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.





Surfers know something about Valentine’s Day or, as it is known around our house, The Feast of St. Valentine. Valentine was an irregular saint, to be sure, dropped from the Roman martyrology for reasons that still seem unclear, but then I’ve never really understood the politics of canonization.  For all of the candy hearts and increasingly expensive greeting cards, there is something that happens in his octave that is the portent for all good things to come. Namely, in mid-February, the shape of the waves begins to change.

There will be many who will dispute this, but those would be people who limit their understanding of nature to the sciences of meteorology or physics or astronomy. Some of us still use the ancient art, so liminal as to be pre-verbal, of rud a bheithsa dĂșchas agat to understand tides and gravity. We so often watch the waves, are so often immersed in them, observant of their nature and their potential for transport, that, in a crude translation from the Celtic above, “their nature is in our blood”. With the change in the waves, winter’s power is diminishing and, even if we should suffer still more snow and ice, it will be of shorter lease and far less strength. In short, we’re through the worst of it.

From The Dawn Patrol, by Don Winslow:

"The physicists call it a 'energy-transport phenomenon.'

The dictionary says it's 'a disturbance that travels through a medium from one location to another location.'

A disturbance. It's certainly that.

Something gets disturbed. That is, something strikes something else and sets off a vibrations. Clap your hands right now and you'll hear a sound. What you're actually hearing is a sound wave. Something struck something else and it set off a vibration that strikes your eardrum.

The vibration is energy. It's transported through the phenomenon of a wave from one location to the other.

The water itself doesn't actually move. What happens is one particle of water bumps into the next, which bumps into the next, and so on and so forth until it hits something. It's like that idiot wave at a sports event - the people don't move around the stadium, but the wave does. The energy flows from one person to another.

So when you're riding a wave, you're not riding water. The water is the medium, but what you're really riding is energy."

The Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius

While most people think of St. Valentine today, on the Episcopal Church's calendar we remember Sts. Cyril and Methodius, remarkable brothers who were priests, missionaries, and the champions of the Slavonic language.  It's a good story, and well rendered at this link.

Almighty and everlasting God, by the power of the Holy Spirit you moved your servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome all bitterness and strife among us by the love of Christ, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Everything You Know is Wrong

There’s a growing body of evidence that butter is actually good for you

This Made Me Laugh. Yeah, My Sense of Humor is a Little Bizarre.

Archaeological News

New Masada expedition gets underway

Excavations were concluded about ten years ago when the archaeological team could find no evidence supporting the familiar tale of mass suicide on the the part of the Zealot rebels.  Instead, they proffered that the Zealots escaped very slowly over a period of time.  As this directly contradicts the prevailing myth that encourages Masada's important role in tourism, the supporting funds evaporated.  We're glad to see the examination restored as, whatever is discovered, Masada is an important site with much left to reveal about the post-Temple world.

Just in Time for the Oscars

What ‘La La Land’ Reveals About Millennials and Marriage
At least in La La Land, Sebastian cooks Mia a nice dinner; nevertheless, they are very much like many young couples today at the start of their careers who feel like they must consequently keep marriage at bay. Study after study make plain that today’s millennials are delaying or forgoing marriage entirely at unprecedented rates, with economic and professional reasons as the primary cause. As one Washington Post article on the phenomenon put it, “Marriage is indeed a financial investment, which explains why people their 20s aren’t ready to take the plunge.”

And yet that statement is a nonsequitur. People who have very little money can still invest and are constantly encouraged to do so. Today’s financial gurus will tell you the earlier you invest, the richer off you will be later; that a dollar today can turn into a million dollars after a few patient decades. And so on.
I mark with interest, not pride, that all of the weddings at which I officiated from 1985 to until 1999 are still intact.  The record becomes a little shaky after that, despite my best efforts at discerning potential problems between the couple during the per-marital conversations.  With the coming of age of the millenials, couples would be remarkably devoted to one another and to the institution of matrimony and then, within a very short time, decide that neither was worth the work any longer.

One year, I officiated at three weddings [there have been fewer church weddings in recent years], each of which ended within three years.  Nowadays I refer the pre-marital conversations to a qualified family and marriage therapist, although her track record isn't much better than mine.

 Clearly, it isn't an issue with money, but with an institutional regard.

Regrettably, Every World is Now a Province of Politics

The art world is now a province of politics, alas.
‘Beauty," Camille Paglia once wrote, "is our weapon against nature; by it we make objects, giving them limit, symmetry, proportion. Beauty halts and freezes the melting flux of nature." But as today's high-culture world descends into the morass of identity politics, beauty itself has surrendered to the politically correct nostrums of that world's masters, who in turn have distorted nature out of all symmetry and proportion....

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tell the Folks in Berkeley

"Revolution doesn't have to do with smashing something; it has to do with bringing something forth. If you spend all your time thinking about that which you are attacking, then you are negatively bound to it. You have to find the zeal in yourself and bring that out." - Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

Well, Connecticut's Accurate, at Least According to My Back

Click to Enlarge

The secret of my success in biology classes.


Man, This is a Puzzle-Witted Century

MLB considering starting extra innings with runner on second base

No.  Just no.  Are they all going to get a trophy, too?

It was Empty, But Where There's a 12th, There Can Be a 13th, etc.

Archaeologists Discover a 12th Cave Connected to the Dead Sea Scrolls

Salmonella Destroys Cancer

A genetically modified bacterium destroys tumors by provoking an immune response, according to a study published Wednesday.

Using mice and cultures of human cancer cells, a South Korean-led scientific team demonstrated that Salmonella typhimurium engineered to make a foreign protein caused immune cells called macrophages and neutrophils to mobilize against the cancer.

We'll Be Back When the Power's Back On


I'd rather run the generator to power the refrigerator, which is where the vermouth is, than to run the WiFi, so we'll check in later once the best and the brightest restore the Edison device.

And I've Been to Cleveland

How do you get to utopia? You don’t, of course. It’s unreachably distant. Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) and Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1627) are set in what were then uncharted waters, far enough away to have escaped both the attention and interference of the rest of the world. That’s what makes these islands, for a moment, plausible: no one can deny their existence with positive knowledge. And that’s how they stay perfect: no one’s colonized them, traded with them, influenced them in any way. Distance and difference were understood as directly relational: the greater the distance, the greater the difference. And utopias are radically different. Granted, in some cases, the distance is temporal; we call these “euchronias”. The point is we’ll never get there, never live long enough, never see fiction turned to fact.

Monday, February 6, 2017

"And the Church must be forever building, and always decaying, and always being restored."

Choruses from "The Rock" by T.S. Eliot

A Piquant Observation from a Former Student

In regards to Lady Gaga and Tom Brady:
I’m thankful for both of them for being good at what they do. Sunday night, they showed art and sports and people can be so much more complex and surprising and enjoyable than politics allows them to be. It was pure fun, and in times like these, unifying.
Personally, my only disquieting moment came via the slight re-writing of "America the Beautiful", as presented by a few Broadway chorus women.  Works of art need to be respected, even when the meaning of words alters slightly over time.   It is, after all, a poem written by a woman who was an early feminist and who carried other personal qualifiers respected in the 21st century.  The biography linked below is courtesy of the Gay History Project:

Katharine Lee Bates: Author of ‘America the Beautiful’

Institutionally? Yes, Some Time Ago.

Has Christianity Become a Coward’s Religion?

Fortunately, Christianity isn't an institution.  It's a living expression of the relationship between God and the human race with all of its inherent courage.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

February 4: Cornelius the Centurion




There are moments in great literature that always cause me to pause, if only for a moment, regardless of how many times I've read that particular sacred or secular work.  In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it is the moment when Huck, who has been taught that to defy authority is a mortal sin, decides that he would rather go to Hell than to turn in Jim, the runaway slave who has become his friend.  In sacred literature, it is the moment when Peter, who has understood that Christianity is for Jews and Jews only, realizes in the tenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles that, "Truly, God shows no partiality."  This moment of revelation is what opens Christianity to all, in fulfillment of Jesus' teaching.

Peter's revelation is made known through his work with Cornelius the Centurion and Cornelius' family.  All we know of today's feast day honoree is captured in two chapters of Acts,
that Cornelius lived in Caesarea, the capital of Judea under Herod, and would have been in charge of 100 Roman soldiers [The title "Centurion" is the root word for the military rank of "captain".]  This reference gives us a window into that moment when Peter, and the other surviving apostles, were able to internalize and live the teachings of their rabbi, thus opening Christianity to the large influx of gentiles that would fill its ranks by the end of the 1st century.

 O God, by your Spirit you called Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles; Grant to your Church such a ready will to go where you send and to do what you command, that under your guidance it may welcome all who turn to you in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I Was Reminded of This the Other Day

The Coddling of the American Mind
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Delicious Taste Treat

Cajun Squirrel Flavour Potato Crisps

Editorial Note

The photo to the right has been in place for over sixteen years and, really, I'm no longer in my early forties [something I realized when, after lifting moving boxes for several days, I could no longer bend over or walk without making a sound similar to those made by my grandfather], so it has been updated.

Old photo:

New photo:

What did I do in the evenings when in Sydney?  Review lecture notes?  Meet with colleagues?  Compose a new theology?

Nah, I sat in the Quay with a Carlton Draught and an Aussie Works burger and reflected on the halcyon days of youth, the health and positivism of Australians, the beauty of that city, what kind of surfboard would be best for the east coast of the continent, and gave thanks that one of their 1012 super-deadly insects, animals, and mammals hadn't made me cease to be mortal on that particular day.

Mainly, I relished the life I've enjoyed and planned for even more adventure.  God is good; all the time.

[For those wondering, I still have the truck that's pictured in the old photo.  Three more years and it can bear classic license plates.]

Eminence, Welcome to America's Version of "Realpolitik"

Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil tells Crux that as long as special preferences under Trump's new refugee order are for all victims of ISIS and not just Christians alone, it will help, and that Christians "celebrated when Trump won" in hopes it would mark an end to U.S. neglect.

Dear Media, Take a Breath, Willya? [Click to Enlarge]





The Feast Of Anskar


Saint Anskar, (September 8, 801 – February 3, 865), was the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen known as the "Apostle of the North" and is the patron saint of Scandinavia.

A native of France, Anskar devoted himself to a spiritual life while still a boy after seeing a vision of his deceased mother with the Virgin Mary. In his twenties he became a missionary, first to Denmark and then Sweden, where he met with mixed success among the native pagan population. In 831 he was appointed archbishop. Political divisions of the Frankish lands and the sack of Hamburg by the Danes dealt him severe setbacks in the early 840s. Later, he was able to establish amicable relations with certain Scandinavian monarchs and succeeded in establishing a number of churches. He died in Bremen in 865.

Anskar is remembered on the Episcopal Church calendar as his ministry serves as a reverent connection between Anglicanism and Swedish Lutheranism [the latter sharing a belief in the "apostolic succession" of bishops, a theological point not shared in the rest of Lutheranism].

Almighty and everlasting God, you sent your servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and enabled him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep your Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when you have begun a good work you will bring it to a fruitful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

As Long as It Wasn't Gluten

A 74-year-old man was arrested after police say he gave churchgoers THC-laced cookies last May.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Clearly, Lawrence Would Feel a Bit Lost on a 21st Century University Campus

"The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted." — D.H. Lawrence

Archaeological News

Ancient Mayan Superhighways Found in the Guatemala Jungle 

Expect more such discoveries as we are entering a golden age of tech-archaeology.

Cats


An acquaintance sent this along.  His cat received a brand new catnip toy, apparently with some real whammy to it, and played to intoxicated exhaustion, eventually falling asleep in the kitchen sink.  [Seriously, who hasn't done that?]  This is her waking up and trying to figure out what happened.

[What?  Cat photos?  Yes, especially since the news is nothing but people getting angry at one another about...well...everything under the sun.  Yeesh.]

Emergency Situation


Nation's bacon reserves hit 50-year low as prices rise

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Weird Times


Black clad thugs smash windows at Berkeley because a Jew was to make a speech and they call themselves "anti-fascist".  I'm thinking they must have skipped Kristallnacht in high school history.

The Feast of Brigid




Bridget (aka Brigid, Bride, or Bridey) of Kildare was born around 450 into a Druid family, and was the daughter of Dubhthach, the official poet to the king, a position of considerable social importance and political influence.

At an early age, inspired by the sermons of St. Padraic [or Patrick], she decided to become a Christian and eventually took vows as a nun. With a group of like-minded women, she established a convent at Kildare. Bridget was later joined by a community of monks, as pre-Roman Celtic Christian evangelism [there's that word, again] was based on coeducational monastic houses. [Celtic monks and nuns did not include chastity as one of their holy vows and, as such, were permitted to live together in community, marry, and procreate. Roman Christianity, which would become the standard in the British Isles a century of so after the death of Bridget, would forbid such normal and sacramental relations between ascetic men and women.]

Kildare was a pagan shrine where a sacred fire was perpetually burning, and Bridget and her nuns, instead of extinguishing the fire, maintained it with a Christian interpretation. This was the evangelical practice of the era as Druidism gave way to Christianity with rare opposition, as the Druids understood their religion was of a transient nature, recognizing Christianity to be its natural replacement and the completion of their beliefs.

As an abbess, Bridget participated in several Irish councils, and her influence on the policies of the Church in Ireland was immeasurable. She is thought to have died in the year 525. On the Irish calendar, this is the first day of spring, thus this date was assigned as her feast since her name, in both the druidic and Christian traditions, represents new beginnings.

Above is a cross made of rushes, called a "Bridget's cross", as she once wove such a devotional for a dying man.

I find her official Episcopal Church collect to be prosaic, but here it is:

Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of your blessed servant Brigid, and give you thanks for her life of devoted service. Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve you all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Slow News Day

Corn turning French hamsters into deranged cannibals