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autumnal donut

30 October 2005
After a lovely morning at church and a pleasant, albeit unplanned, lunch with a friend, we took off for Terhune Orchards. The funny thing is, I lived all of about half a mile from the place for over a year and never went. That said, today was the perfect day to go. The leaves are just beginning to change and the weather is such that I have the thermostat turned off and all my windows thrown open.

Their cider is first rate, as are the other baked goods, jellies, preserves, and whatnots. But, I must say that Terhune is quite the dangerous place. In 3 words or less:




Homer would self destruct. I am, as you may well know, quite the fan of the donut. I would go so far as to consider myself a connoisseur of the donut. And I must say, damn, son, these are some fine donuts. The only drawback is that you can't buy them one at a time. They only come in packages of six.

So, now it's to the studying and an ongoing battle to not go eat the remaining five four donuts.

Wish me luck.

sure, why the hell not?

29 October 2005
Quoth John:
Miss!! I have a question. The phantom prof. has prizes for her contests, what are we playing for?

Uh, ok. To answer your question, something appropriate to hagiographic tackiness. Namely,
Angel Snot

And since I'm putting a prize up, I may as well set some parameters.

  1. The contest will be open until Thursday 3 November at 11:59 pm

  2. In order to win the prize, I have to know who you are. I.e. cryptic, anonymous posting, unlike flattery, will get you no where.

  3. I'll decide the winner over the weekend and post it here on Sunday or Monday or whenever the hell I feel like it.

Matthew 7:7 and all that. Still, I don't think Jesus was talking about Angel Snot...

a challenge

27 October 2005
Given all the random "miraculous" apparitions of late (see this, this, and this), I'm thinking it's about time we had us a little fun.

So, in the spirit of The Phantom Professor, we all gonna have us a contest.

Here's the game: come up with the most amusing/ironic "miraculous" apparition of a saint that you can. Bonus points for obscurity and hagiographic accuracy. Have a look here if you need a leg up on patron saints. I'll post a couple to get you started:

St Jude (patron of lost causes) appears in bald man's hair spray.

St Fiacre (patron of suffers of venereal disease) appears on profilactic.

Post yours in the comments section.

O.K. have at it!

the eyes of faith

For the life of me I can't see it, but allegedly folk are seeing the face of Jesus in this tree. Maybe I'm just more prone to seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary in my bowl of veggie chili.

et moo brute?

26 October 2005
My inner vegetarian shudders.

My inner environmentalism questions.

My inner cow... well... moo.

ælfred the great

Feast of Ælfred the Great, King of Wessex, ca. 849 to 26 October 899.

Ælfred the Great is known for his laws, his translation of a great deal of theological literature into Old English and how he handled the Danish incursion. With respect to the Danes (the Vikings) Ælfred was dreadfully outnumbered and outmatched, in spite of his masterful strategy. According to the official website of the British Monarchy:

According to his contemporary biographer Bishop Asser, 'Alfred attacked the whole pagan army fighting ferociously in dense order, and by divine will eventually won the victory, made great slaughter among them, and pursued them to their fortress (Chippenham) ... After fourteen days the pagans were brought to the extreme depths of despair by hunger, cold and fear, and they sought peace'. This unexpected victory proved to be the turning point in Wessex's battle for survival.

Realizing that he could not drive the Danes out of the rest of England, Alfred concluded peace with them in the treaty of Wedmore. King Guthrum was converted to Christianity with Alfred as godfather and many of the Danes returned to East Anglia where they settled as farmers. In 886, Alfred negotiated a partition treaty with the Danes, in which a frontier was demarcated along the Roman Watling Street and northern and eastern England came under the jurisdiction of the Danes - an area known as 'Danelaw'. Alfred therefore gained control of areas of West Mercia and Kent which had been beyond the boundaries of Wessex.

You can read the treaty here.

Well done there.

Personally, I find Ælfred's preface to the Cura Pastoralis of Gregory the Great (the manuscript pictured above) to be of more interst than military/evangelical fenegeling. You can see a nifty transliteration here and actually here the Old English being read here.

From James Kiefer relying heavily on Lesser Feasts & Fasts:
In his later years, having secured a large degree of military security for his people, Alfred devoted his energies to repairing the damage that war had done to the cultural life of his people. He translated Boethius' Consolations of Philosophy into Old English, and brought in scholars from Wales and the Continent with whose help various writings of Bede, Augustine of Canterbury, and Gregory the Great were likewise translated. He was much impressed by the provisions in the Law of Moses for the protection of the rights of ordinary citizens, and gave order that similar provisions should be made part of English law. He promoted the education of the parish clergy. In one of his treatises, he wrote:

"He seems to me a very foolish man, and very wretched, who will not increase his understanding while he is in the world, and ever wish and long to reach that endless life where all shall be made clear."

If you're interested in all things Ælfred, I've tracked down few links for you:

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

There is also, of course, the great G. K. Chesterton's poem, The Ballad of the White Horse

And finally, one last bit from Lesser Feasts & Fasts:
"O Sovereign Lord, you brought your servant Alfred to a troubled throne that he might establish peace in a ravaged land and revive learning and the arts among the people: Awake in us also a keen desire to increase our understanding while we are in this world, and an eager longing to reach that endless life where all will be made clear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

la respuesta

While I'm definitely not a 16th century Mexican nun writing a saucy response to a sexist Bishop, I am going to answer a question I seem to be getting fairly frequently these days: What's up with url and the name "A Sop in Wyn?"

A goodly question to which I shall attempt to provide a goodly (or at least good-ish) answer.

Both my domain name and the title of my page are references to one of Chaucer's characters from The Canterbury Tales, namely and perhaps predictably, the Frankeleyn.

Of the Frankeleyn (Franklin) in the General Prologue, Chaucer writes:
A Frankeleyn was in his compaignye.
Whit was his berd as is the dayesye;
Of his complexioun he was sangwyn.
Wel loved he by the morwe a sop in wyn;
To lyven in delit was evere his wone,
For he was Epicurus owene sone,
That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit
Was verray felicitee parfit.
An housholdere, and that a greet, was he;
Seint julian he was in his contree.
His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon;
A bettre envyned man was nowher noon.
Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous
Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous,
It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke,
Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke.
After the sondry sesons of the yeer,
So chaunged he his mete and his soper.
Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe,
And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe.
Wo was his cook but if his sauce were
Poynaunt and sharp, and redy al his geere.
His table dormant in his halle alway
Stood redy covered al the longe day.
At sessiouns ther was he lord and sire;
Ful ofte tyme he was knyght of the shire.
An anlaas and a gipser al of silk
Heeng at his girdel, whit as morne milk.
A shirreve hadde he been, and a contour.
Was nowher swich a worthy vavasour.

While I sincerely hope I'm not as much of a rampant wanker as this fellow is, I like the quasi-obtuse literary reference and I think the Frankeleyn's Tale is great fun. I am, of course, also playing off the idea of Pilgrimage to Canterbury.

I'd point your attention to one other thing in all of this that hardly anyone's noticed, the tiny image of the Frankeleyn in the bottom left hand corner of my banner. Being a good medievalist, everything has to come in threes, right?

required reading

25 October 2005
The Most Rev Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales gave a whizz-bang lecture on Monday entitled "Scripture and Sexuality - our commitment to listening and learning." I came upon it by way of Thinking Anglicans and took seriously thier commendation to give it a good read. I'm glad I did and I would encourage you to do the same.

So, go get your shortbread and a cup of tea, pull up a comfortable chair and start reading the lecture.

If my endorsement isn't enough, here's a teaser. Quoth Archbishop Barry:
In his closing sermon to the Anglican Communion at Nottingham Archbishop Rowan put it like this, “The relationships between Jews and Gentiles in Acts is not simply that of one racial group to another. It's a story about what faith really is and what salvation is. Be circumcised, keep the law and you will know you have the signs that make you acceptable to God. To which Paul and Barnabas and the Church replied, there is no sign by which you can tell in and of yourself that you are acceptable to God. There is nothing about you that guarantees love, salvation, healing. But there is everything about God in Jesus Christ that assures you and so if you want to know where your certainty lies, look to God, not to yourself”.

This has direct relevance to gay and lesbian people condemned by the cultic rules and purity codes of Leviticus. It can be argued that since the cultic rules and purity codes were put aside in accepting Gentiles so now Christians can put aside those codes which deal with sexuality. As Ian Duffield puts it “to exclude homosexuals on the basis of the same kind of purity laws constitutes a reversion to a form of religion which Jesus encourages us to leave behind”. (Expository Times Volume 115, No 4, January 2004). A simple appeal to scripture turns the Bible back into a law book and it is St Paul who argues against using the Old Testament in this way. It would be ironic therefore if his letters were to be used for a purpose he condemned.

Cornelius' story is not an isolated one. Philip baptises an Ethiopian Eunuch in Chapter 8 of the Book of Acts. He takes a foreigner, a man regarded as impure who does not belong to an ethnic or tribal group and baptises him. By so doing Philip values the eunuch as a person in his own right and gives a place of honour to those whom his society marginalised. By so doing he also overturns the direct teaching of Leviticus.

Yet this is not just another case of the New Testament superseding the Old Testament. The Old Testament itself is not static or uniform in its views. In Deuteronomy 23 1-4 it is stated that no Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord, even to the tenth generation. Later in the Old Testament comes the story of Ruth, a Moabite, and in her marriage to Boaz she becomes an ancestor of David. The story of Ruth, is at direct variance with what is advocated in Deuteronomy. In the latter Moabites are to be excluded from the congregation. They now become present through Ruth as an ancestor of David. In Isaiah 56 eunuchs are invited into the worshiping community in spite of the Deuteronomic prohibition on such a practice. Therefore even within the Old Testament itself there is a dynamic re-writing of earlier traditions in response to new experiences and scripture itself includes those who according to previous parts of scripture have been involved in abominable acts and excluded from the congregation. (Carolyn Sharp “Beyond Prooftexting” in “Gays and the Future of Anglicanism” edited by Andrew Linzey and Richard Kirker).

All of this shows that there has never been a monochrome way of using and interpreting scripture. It is too simplistic therefore to argue that there is a traditional interpretation and a modern revised interpretation of scripture. Scripture itself is diverse. There is greater diversity in scripture than one realises. The experiences of the people of Israel have had a part to play in reshaping theological judgements. And as far as the New Testament is concerned the early church's experience of the Spirit prompted it to overturn its avoidance of particular people or particular food. Peter and Paul explain their experiences of the Spirit to the rest of the church and are endorsed by the Council of Jerusalem. As Marilyn McCord Adams puts it “Christians had no intention of addressing Gentiles but when eavesdropping Gentiles heard and believed, the Holy Spirit unmistakeably fell upon them, worked signs and wonders through them. When the apostles investigating this confirmed how the Spirit of God dared to violate Jewish taboos, the Jerusalem Council who had experience against tradition, agreed with the Spirit to count Gentiles in”. (Wrestling for Blessing p.138).

And he's got some nifty stuff to say about the nature of the Communion.

In the words of some important person or another, tolle, lege.

oh hell yes

Andrea just sent me a link... The first few lines of the Shaft theme translated into Middle English:

Wha be the blake prevy lawe...

das Zimmer

24 October 2005
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

Well, not quite, but it does feel good to have a decorated and furnished apartment. All that's left for me to do is put up window treatments. The curtains will get done before 5 November, but for the moment, I'm done.

Last night, Laura and I were up far too late cursing and fighting Crapkea furniture. You'd think they wouldn't give you screws that were longer than the wood is deep, wouldn't you? Yeah, well, they don't. snarl, growl, hiss

Today, I slept in for the first time in a month and went to the market. After stashing groceries, it was a mad frenzy of decorating and cleaning. So, my dear readers, I give you the eTour of my new apartment:

for the cooking

for the eating

for the watching

for the sitting

for the working

for the sleeping

for the grooming

for the walking through

Ya'll come back now, hear?

de intellecta fidei

Sorry for not posting for a couple of days, I've been busy moving. The good news is, I've got all my furniture in and settled. The only thing left for me to do today is hang stuff on the walls and give the apartment a good cleaning. But enough about me. I stumbled across a couple of things on the net this morning that seemed to dovetail in amusing ways.

To start out with, Thinking Anglicans linked to an interesting op ed piece in the Guardian today on fundamental atheists. The article's principal argument is that atheism in this vein is essentially the same as it was in the 19th century (but lacking Nietzsche's awareness of risk of sanctimony) and is - and I love this line - "about as alternative as Rod Stewart."

The article really is a bit on the caustic side, but it's author, Giles Fraser of Wadham College, Oxford is really quite onto something philosophically speaking.

Ok - so let's do what I do best and swing from one extreme to the other. From textual, fundamental atheism to pictorial, fundamental Christianity.

The Boing Boing never ceases to amaze and satisfy with it's directory of wonderful things (though I still can't seem to get excited about their fixation with paper craft). This morning they pointed me at a webpage with a bunch of public domain illustrations by Clarence Larkin. While I'd dearly love to go through and systematically pick these little gems apart, they really are quite predictable in their visual polemic, dispensationalist foofaraw and all. I thought the cosmology depicted in the illustration I've thrown up here (above) is just precious unmitigated bollox.

If you're really out for quality illustrations of Hell, go have a look at the work of Paul Gustave Dore While his work isn't all charty and schtuff, it does convey a great deal of meaning. Dore is perhaps best known for his illustration of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri.

If you're really hankering for a good chart, forget the 20th century and go get your hot hands on Patrice Sicard's Diagrammes médiévaux et exégèse visuelle : le Libellus de formatione arche de Hugues de Saint-Victor, Bibliotheca Victorina 4 (Paris: Brepolis, 1993). It's anagogicalicious.

a litany of thanksgiving

22 October 2005
I'm unpacking and have been doing so since about 3 this afternoon. I've got quite a ways to go, but I wouldn't be this far if it weren't for some absolutely amazing people who made my move so much easier.

Thanks to Mike, the master of moving organization.

Thanks to Elisa, for getting me to and from the UHaul place.

Thanks to Shanon and Olivia for working like hell.

Thanks to Josh for his "inner blue collar."

Thanks to all of the above for loading and unloading the UHaul.

Thanks to Blake for seeing us as you were coming home from somewhere else and generously lending a hand.

And, a day in advance, I'll say:

Ave Laura, gratia plena. Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus et benedicta vehiculus tui, Jeepus.

on moving

21 October 2005
Con: Manual labor.
Pro: I'm getting tons of help from lots wonderful people.

Con: Realizing I have too much stuff.
Pro: Culling stuff I never use.

Con: Dealing with PSE&G
Pro: Housing was down right pleasant.

Con: Eating leftovers for a week and a half so that I don't have to move stuff from the fridge.
Pro: The night that leftovers means cheese fries.

Con: No more really awesome bike routes.
Pro: As of tomorrow I'll be half the distance to campus I am today.

Con: No more Food Network.
Pro: I get to keep Cartoon Network.

Con: "Emptying" the dregs of the bourbon, Irish whisky and Scotch because there's too little to justify moving the bottles.
Pro: "Emptying" the dregs of the bourbon, Irish whisky and Scotch because there's too little to justify moving the bottles.

Con: No more gas range.
Pro: No more water bills.

Con: No more cats.
Pro: No more cable or DSL bill.

Con: No more cats.
Pro: Shopping for window treatments.

Con: Exitus.
Pro: Reditus.

(If you got that last one, you read too much Pseudo-Dionysius.)

Con: It's back to paying for laundry by the load.
Pro: I'm in walking distance of Dunkin' Donuts. Or is this a Con? Hrm...

Con: Cell phone service at the 'Spoon sucks.
Pro: I'm moving to the 'Spoon! Hizell yizeah. I'm gettin' my own place after 27 years.

It's about friggin' time.

••• ••• •••

P.S. For those of you in possessionion of my mailing address, it shall be as it has been, as shall my phone number.

postal hijinks

19 October 2005
This post is a few days late, but given that I'm in Wednesday morning procrastination mode, it seemed as good a time to catch up on these things as any...

Many moons ago, my PlayStation 2 was rendered inert by the child of a friend of mine, leaving me with a stack of useless video games. My impending move has provided me the impetus I needed to get rid of the darn things, so I boxed them up and shipped them off to a good friend who I know will give them a good home.

I'm quite incapable of remembering his home address, so I've simply gotten in the habit of sending everything to him at work. This will soon become relevant.

So, I take the video games to the UPS counter at Staples and ask to have them boxed and shipped. After sifting through something like four different boxes, the clerk finally managed to find one that will fit all the games. You know, you'd think that fitting nine small, rectangular objects into a larger rectangular object wouldn't be too difficult. Alas.

She then places the games in one at a time, offering commentary on each title. Girl loved her some James Bond and Castlevania. But who doesn't?

I then hand her the slip of paper on which I had written the shipping address and the following conversation ensued:

Clerk: Is this the right address?
Me: Yep.
Clerk: You're shipping these to a priest?
Me: Yep.
Clerk: So I should put, like, "Rev" in front of his name or something?
Me: Yep. Just like I've written it on the paper.
Clerk: Are you sure you want to send this to a church?
Me: Yep.
Clerk: Uh, okay. I didn't know priests played video games.
Me: *knowing smile*

bone-eating snot-flowers abound

I'll get to the title of this post in a moment. First, I'd like to give official notice that today is a good day, as I am wearing matching socks! (Unlike yesterday...)

Now that we've dispensed with that bit of vapid blog drool, the BBC is running an interesting story today on so-called "Zombie worms" that have been found in the North Sea. The Osedax mucofloris, or as the BBC has translated it, "bone-eating snot-flower," is really quite an interesting little critter. I wanted to come up with really cool pictures to post for you, but it seems that Google's "Osedax mucofloris yields exactly squat didley. That said, you can read about close cousins of these wee beasties here and here. The BBC does have a pretty picture here.

In what can only be the result of a truly unique aligning of the spheres, just this morning, Amazon.com sent me an advertisement for a zombie related product, Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.

What an age we live in.

UPDATE: Wow, the BBC is quite the powerful force on the web. When I origionally posted this, you could click on the "squat didley" link and get a legitimate Google Whack. Now you actually get results. Nicely done, Brittish Boradcasting. Nicely done indeed.

you just might be a doctoral student if...

18 October 2005
...you find yourself reading an article and forget your own language.

I've spent my morning working through G. P. Théry's "Thomas Gallus. Aperçu biographique" from Archives d'Histoire doctrinale et litéraire du moyen age 14 (1939): 141-206. As I was reading through a foot note, I tracked the change from French to German and from German to Latin and from Latin to Italian just fine. Then, all of a sudden, I found myself staring at text that I couldn't recognize for the life of me. I stopped, reread it and felt more confused. After about 15 seconds it occured to me that I was reading English.

Fucking hell.

This after the sad realization I had this morning about just how much of a graduate student I've become... Namely, as I was putting on socks this morning, I caught myself putting on mismatched socks and not caring. I would point out that there were substantial mitigating factors: (1) they were both black socks and (2) I'm wearing Docs and jeans, so it's not like anyone can tell I'm wearing socks that don't match. (Aside from the fact that I've just told the entire internet, but that makes it cool, right?)

do miracles ever cease?

17 October 2005
This blog does many things, including tracking allegedly miraculous appearances of the visage of our Lord on food products (see this post inter alia).

I'm going to break out of the mold and point you towards the apparition of the face of our Lord in sand dunes.

Thanks to the Boing Boing for the link.


A good friend of mine had a birthday two weeks ago. In typical Sloane fashion, I have managed to completely overlook this fact for a good while. (The first year I actually got my mother's birthday right was the year after she died.) It's not that I don't care, it's that I'm singularly inept when it comes to numbers of any sort. So anyway, I finally managed to get around to doing something about my friend's birthday.

We were supposed to meet for dinner tonight just before bglass met. For those not in the know, bglass is the lgbt and straight supportive organization at Princeton Seminary. Anywho, given that I still needed to do something about her birthday and we only had a short time to eat, I decided to expedite matters and duck off to Whole Foods before hand to grab dinner. Nothing too fancy, just bread, cheese, olives, salad, fruit, desert and a couple of Kombuchas (to which I have become addicted).

The desert in question was a couple of personal sized flourless chocolate cakes.

So, I get to the checkout line. The woman ahead of me has the big, blond Jersey hair, Jersey nails, and stirrup pants. At Whole Foods. Somehow, she didn't get the memo.... anyway.... She's buying fifty-five gallons of soup in one quart containers that she insists must be bagged in a particular way. She turns to survey my order and inquires about the cakes. I answer and she expresses the unbridled joy that only one with Jersey hair and Jersey nails possibly could.

A few minutes pass as the poor, beleaguered Whole Foods employee wraps up the last double-rubber-band-and-individually-bagged quarts of soup. The poor man looked as though he was about ready to stab himself. I can't say that I blamed him.

So Madam Jersey-hair turns to me on her way out and says, "Good luck with your wife."


Let's take a moment and do a quick inventory. Do I wear a wedding ring? No. Did I do anything to suggest I was married? No. Did I elicit conversation with this woman? No. Apparently, dinner for two with mega-chocolate means "Straight boy in trouble."

Not applicable, thank you very much.

My only regret is that I'm not dating anyone right now. Otherwise, I could have answered, "Oh, I'm sure he'd love it, but it's not for him." At least my friend was much amused that according to some random lady at Whole Foods, we were married.


16 October 2005
Now maybe it's because I just woke up from a nap that was preceded by a flurry of writing. Maybe it's because I'm not awake yet. Maybe I've just lost touch with the masses (assuming, of course, I was ever in touch with the masses). But seriously people, w.t.f.?

Quoth the BBC:

Fatboy Slim makes Marcos musical

Yes. You did in fact read that right. Fatboy Slim, David Byrne of The Talking Heads has written a musical about Imelda fucking Marcos entitled "Here Lies Love."


Have I done something to anger the cosmos?

It's not like I've done anything unspeakably heinous lately. Sure, there was that thing with the kittens, but was that so bad as to deserve a musical about Imelda Marcos? Surely not.


What's next? Boy George's musical rendition of Hellboy?!?!!

laughing out loud

14 October 2005
Okay, this one was too much. I'm literally laughing out loud as I type this.

Candy Cigarettes

You're a total badass, but you don't taste very good.
What Kind of Candy Are You?

ora pro nobis peccatoribus

Confession time.

In eight days, I'm moving. Have I started packing yet? Nope. Reserved the Uhaul? Nope. Made shopping lists for the new apartment, you betcha.

As much as I loath the place, I'm getting furniture at Ikea because it's cheap. I am refusing to buy anything made of particle board - real wood only, thank you. But you know what's really sad?

The mixer I'm planning on buying costs more than my dining table and chairs put together. And herein lies the reason why we go to Ikea: good stand mixer trumps good furniture.

I am such a culinary slut.

In other news, new brownie recipe!

The original recipe is by Dave Lieberman. I'm printing it as it has been altered by yours truly. Essentially, I tossed the Snickers bars and put in real chocolate. I also substituted espresso for water and added the garnish.

Super Ninja Pirate Monkey Brownies

1 1/2 sticks sweet cream unsalted butter + extra for pan greasin'
1 1/2 sugar (super fine is best)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons espresso (instant is anathema), cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (use the real stuff, don't be a hoser)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flower
ca. 1/2 lb. 95% pure cocoa chocolate, chopped into smallish bits (or a little less is fine - the chocolate I buy comes in 2/5 pound bricks, so I use 1 brick)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (pecans are great)

2 tbsp confectioners sugar
chocolate orange drizzle (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 9 x 13 pan with the greasin' butter. (The original recipe says aluminumm is o.k. I reject this on both culinary and environmental grounds. Use a real baking dish. You'll thank me when you eat the brownies and the environment will thank you for not generating more waste.)

Melt the 1 1/2 c. butter in a saucepan and allow it to cool a bit (so as to not cook the eggs you're about to add), then mix into the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and then the cooled espresso. Next, add the vanilla. Sprinkle the salt and bakingpowder over the mixture and combine. Do likewise with the cocoa powder. Finally, add the flower.

Fold the chocolate bits and nuts into the batter and scrape into your prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until (1) the center is set, (2) the edges look a bit crusty, and (3) the top begins to crack a bit. (It usually takes mine more like 35-40 minutes - but check them at 30.)

Cool the brownies completely. If you don't let them cool all the way, the confectioners sugar you're about to put on will melt and you'll have ugly brownies. You don't want ugly brownies, do you? Of course not. Waiting won't kill you, I promise.

Dust them with the confectioners sugar then garnish with the chocolate drizzle. If you want to be super extra fancy, you can cut the brownies and then garnish them individually. It looks super keen, but it's a bit of a pain unless you really like the people you're feeding.

Chocolate Orange Drizzle

This is going to make way more than you need, but put the unused portion in the fridge and let it set up. You can then either melt this and use it as a hot fudge topping or just eat it in chunks. It's hella good.

1/2 bag bitter sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp butter
1-2 oz. heavy cream (Anything less simply will not do.)
1-2 oz. Grand Marnier

In a double boiler or similar arrangement, melt the chocolate chips. Add the butter and stir in. Then add the heavy cream and Grand Marnier until you get the desired consistency and taste. If you want it more orangey, add more Grand Marnier. If you want it more creamy, add more heavy cream. It's just right when you can drizzle a thin stream off the end of of a spoon.


12 October 2005
Because I didn't do what she asked me to do earlier today, I went and did this one. For once, I think the McSurvey was reasonably right and I kind of feel complimented by the results.

Your Hair Should Be Orange

Expressive, deep, and one of a kind.
You pull off "weird" well - hardly anyone notices.
What's Your Funky Inner Hair Color?

a thought

From Hugh of St Victor's Commentary on the Celestial Hierarchy of Pseudo-Dionysius, chapter 1 (at Migne 937C-D):

‘Motus Patris’ affectus est paterrnae benignitatis. Sola enim benignitate et pietate sola Pater movetur ut lumina sua effundat super nos. Movetur non conturbatione sui, sed movetur miseratione nostri. Movetur non se concutiens sed non colligens, non se evacuans sed nos replens. Movetur ergo ut ad nos veniat, et non movetur ut se recedat. Movetur ut nobis esse incipiat quod non erat, et non movetur ut sibi desinat esse quod erat. Sic ergo Pater luminum movetur super nos ‘et moto Patre lumina eius procedunt in nos’ et procedentia in nos manifestantur per nos, primum nobis, post haec aliis ex nobis.

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

here's to the montagues, john wayne and bette davis

11 October 2005
Have you ever awoken from a dream to find yourself picking right up where the dream left off?

I had a dream last night in which I was baking. I had, however, run out of chocolate chips and desperately needed to go to the market to buy them. So what happens? I wake up from the dream and find myself getting out of bed to go to Whole Foods to buy chocolate chips at 4am. I got as far as finding my slippers when I realized (a) what time it was and (b) my seeming need to get chocolate chips was fueled by some deviant and pernicious vein of my subconscious.

What the hell?

It could have at least been something interesting. But noooooo. Chocolate freakin' chips from Whole Foods.

Even my subconscious is yuppie scum.


Super-meta-über-extra-credit if you get the song reference in the title of this post without resorting to Google.

i'm speechless

I normally don't blog this early, but Boing Boing had a link that was too good to pass up.

"Faith Chips"

Evangelistic poker chips.

Isn't that a little, uh, hucksterish?

on doctoral students and dogs

10 October 2005
I have a long standing fascination with the pontifications of Emily Post and other doyens of archaic (and frequently heterosexist) etiquette. I'm sure much of this is attributable to the fact that I survived far more Cotillion and Junior Cotillion than the Geneva convention, or any reasonable interpretation there of, might possibly permit. Frankly, I think most of the stuff is just funny. Certainly, not all etiquette is absurd. Indeed, you should always thank your host and hostess. You shouldn't belch at the table. You should wash your hands. You shouldn't ask how much gifts cost. But ladies, don't take it the wrong way, but I'm not going to always make sure you're on the inside of the sidewalk when I'm walking with you. If I get splashed by a passing cart/car, you're going down with me.

As I'm sure all of you have noticed, every sub-culture has its own etiquette, graduate students included. While I can't speak for those outside the humanities, I have been given cause to think about the nature of etiquette among graduate students over the past few days. The anthropologist in me can't help but make a few observations about greeting rituals among North American graduate students. While there are variants on the ritual, it roughly follows the same pattern of bizarre one-upsmanship and thinly veiled snarkiness. What amuses me most are two things: (1) the seemingly unavoidable dominance challenge and (2) the almost scripted introductions. These introductions must include questions about advisor, spot in program and research. Example:

Student 1: Oh, I'm researching post colonial interpretations of Chaucerian scatology.
Student 2: Fascinating.
Student 1: Yeah, it really is, isn't it?
Student 2: Didn't P. D.Q. Thumbscrews write a monograph on that?
Student 1: Well, yeah, but it's been proven completely irrelevant by a more recent article by J. T. K. L. C. Dingles M.D., Th.D., Ph.D., Ll.D., O.D., W.C, D.O., B.O., B.S. Dingles completely revolutionized the field by introducing the significance of Kierkegaard's notion of the individual in light of post-Hegelian dialectics.
Student 2: Ah. Right. I think I read that somewhere.
Student 1: So what's your research on?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Note a few things about this interaction. (1) There is a required response affirming the interest/significance/difficulty of the research field, regardless of whether or not it is in fact interesting/significant/difficult. (2) Any proffered input is necessarily rejected as irrelevant or obsolete.

I would also add that one could in fact write a very interesting study of Chaucerian scatology, particularly Chaucerian diabolic scatology. But back to the task at hand...

The other interesting thing to note about graduate students is: even at cocktail parties with light appetizers, any and all food is fair game and will be consumed en masse. Moreover, a complete meal can be made of absolutely anything even marginally edible.


Graduate students have a lot in common with dogs. We're often hard to house break. We obey our masters (most of the time). We eat anything. And perhaps most importantly, we have been known to demonstrate somewhat disgusting habits in our ritual greetings.

she turned me into a newt

07 October 2005
Those of you who diligently follow the BBC will know by now that the 15th annual Ig Nobel Prizes were announced yesterday. (The complete list of present and past laureates can be found here.)

As always, there are a number of projects that really stand out. This time around, the BBC chose to focus on research that yielded a paper on the fluid dynamics of penguin pooh. Apparently, it would have been in poor taste for them to spill much ink over the winner in medicine, Dr. Greg A. Miller, inventor of "Neuticles".

According to the FAQ over at Neuticles.com, over 100,000 pets have been "Neuticled." Yes, not only have people started putting rubber prosthetics into their pets' scroti, they've rendered a neologism that apparently is a transitive verb. Who knew the aesthetics of canine wang were so compelling?


Apparently recieving an Ig Nobel Prize also results the outstripping of one's bandwidth, so Neuticles.com is unavailable. My question is, if your source of income wins an Ig Nobel prize, is that really good for business?

on the supremacy of anglican head dress

05 October 2005
Feast of William Tyndale, Priest.
Martyred 1536 (Though Lesser Feasts & Fasts doesn't call it that...)

While I remain a great fan of William Tyndale, there are those whose affinity far outstrips my own. Suffice to say, the good man was instrumental in the development of an English translation of the Bible and therefore in the birth and growth of the Anglican Communion. However, today, I shall leave such lofty reflections to others and will reserve my own hagiographic effusions for saints of a more Medieval nature.

Tyndale does, however, provide a nice segue into what I do wish to reflect on, namely, the supremacy of Anglican head dress. Over the past forty-eight hours, I've had a chain of email bouncing back and forth between a priest and myself in an attempt to work out the details for the Celebration for a Home with Eucharist following my move later this month. The emails have turned lighthearted, as they oft do, and it was suggested that the priest in question show up in full regalia, cope and all. My response was that such things would only be acceptable if she could also manage a maniple and biretta, or even better, a Canterbury cap.

You see, birettas are, in my humble opinion, foolish things. Their foolishness derives from the three-fins-and-a-pom-pom chic they attempt to evoke. Um, yeah. Now, I'm really into Amalarius of Metz and the Oxford Movement. I adore high liturgy and all of the symbolism that's attached to it. I remain firmly convinced that the maniple should still be worn. That said, I can come up with no reasonable or logical theological justification for the liturgical employment of a pom-pom. Hence, the more sensible and traditionally Anglican alternative, the Canterbury cap:

See, isn't that better? Doesn't William Laud just rock that shit? You bet he does.

Seriously though, as long as nobody tries to bring back chancel slippers...


In other news, the Blogger spell checker continues to provide great amusement as it does not know the word "segue."

blame it on paul iii

02 October 2005
Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Jesuits?

According to The Advocate:
A top Jesuit official has been contacting leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to protest a soon-to-be-released Vatican document that is expected to reinforce the teaching that gays are not welcome in the priesthood. The Reverend Gerald Chojnacki, head of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus, said in a letter to his priests that he was asking bishops to tell Vatican officials who are drafting the policy "of the great harm this will cause many good priests and the Catholic faithful."

Chojnacki wrote in the letter, dated Monday, that he had participated in the funerals of several gay Jesuit clergy over the last few years. "I find it insulting to demean their memory and their years of service by even hinting that they were unfit for priesthood because of their sexual orientation," he wrote. Chojnacki said he would be working with the Conference of Major Superiors, which represents leaders of religious orders in the United States, including the Jesuits, Franciscans, and others, and with bishops to fight "for the opportunity of a gay person to say yes to God's call in celibate service of priesthood and chaste religious life."

A priest who supports the protest provided the letter to the Associated Press. A spokesman for the New York province did not respond to a request for comment Friday. A Vatican official said last week that the upcoming "instruction" from the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education will reaffirm the church's belief that gay men should not be ordained.

Image from The Autobiography of St Ignatius of Loyola with Related Documents. Joseph F. O'Callaghan, trans. John C. Olin, ed. (New York: Fordham University Press, 1992), p. 90.

a sermon for the xx sunday after the pentecost

Proper 22, Year A 2005.
Preached at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lambertville, New Jersey.

Don't want to read? Download the mp3!
The music you hear is by Gathering Miriam, being comprised of the tremendously gifted Kiran Young Wimberly and Mary Beth Mardis. It is extracted from their rendition of "Be Thou My Vision" and is used by permision.

••• ••• •••

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Just the day before, "when they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, 'Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me."* "The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them."* And Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of the donkey colt as all the people shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David."* Later that day, he entered the temple and drove out the moneychangers and those who sold birds for sacrifice. He cured the blind and the lame. The next day, he returned to the city; the city he had turned upside down the day before.

Our Lord entered the temple again and began to teach. There, the "chief priests and the elders of the people came to him"* and challenged him. As we heard last week, they asked him, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"*

The rest of the chapter is the answer to that question. Whose authority, indeed?

Last week, we heard part of the answer in our Lord's question about the baptism of John and the parable of the two sons in the vineyard. Today, we hear of vineyards again.

On it's surface, this parable is a very easy to decode. The tenants are the people of Israel. The servants are the prophets. The landowner's son is Jesus Christ who is also "the stone that the builders rejected" that "has become the chief corner stone."*

The Evangelist is quite blatant, as Jesus tells the chief priests and the Jewish elders, "The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom."* It is very tempting indeed to interpret this parable as it was read by our forbearers in the first centuries of the Church and indeed as it was read in the middle ages. And as many folk read it today.

But I think neither Matthew nor the witness of scripture as a whole lets us off the hook so easily.

The dangers of supercessionist thought, thought that says the promise of God has been taken away from the Hebrew people and given to the Christians, are manifold and indefensible. Of the surety of the promise to the Hebrew people with whom God made Covenant through Abraham and Moses, St Paul writes in his Epistle to the Romans, "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."*

What then, are we to make of all this?

Let us read the parable in another way.

We can very easily put ourselves in the place of the tenants. In fact, we do so every year in our Holy Week observances as we all read the part of the crowd in the courtyard of Pontius Pilate, shouting, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" In a Lenten hymn, Johann Heermann writes, "Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee. 'Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee, I crucified thee."* Our tradition, our liturgy and our scripture remind us that we are just as culpable, just as guilty as those 2,000 years ago. We are all to often ready to proclaim, "Hosanna!" and then to fickly turn our hearts the other way and to say by our actions, if not our words, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" We are implicated quite directly by Matthew's parable - it is pointed as much as us as it was at the chief priests and elders. And we too, like them must ask, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?"

True, things have changed substantially. This parable was spoken before Good Friday. We hear it after the Resurrection. We hear it as a people who are already and not yet. We are already in grafted into the body of Christ by water and the Holy Spirit. As we hear from Paul today, "our citizenship is in heaven."* But we are not yet perfected. We are not yet lived into the fullness of the promise of Christ. We still have need for confession and absolution.

But let us read the parable in another way. Let us read it as though we were not the tenants, nor the slave messengers, nor even the new inheritors. Let us read it as though we were the vineyard itself. Listen to the parable again:
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watch-tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.' So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him."*

As much as we are those who were and are responsible for the crucifixion and death of our Lord, we are also, along with the whole cosmos, those for whom he became incarnate of the blessed Virgin Mary. We are also, in the words of the Psalmist, the vine that has been brought out of Egypt.* In our created-ness, which has been called good and very good, we are the vineyard that our Beloved has built on a very fertile hill that has been planted with choice vines.* We are the object of the affections of the Beloved and those in whom he delights. And yet, it is as the Psalmist says, the wall has been broken and the vineyard has been ravished by passing strangers and wild animals. We are beloved, but we are beloved sinners, and in this we are helpless but for the help of God.

I think few have captured this sense of duality - of being helpless but for the help of God - than our tradition's great poet and preacher, John Donne. In perhaps his most famous poem, Holy Sonnet XIV, Donne gets at this quite well. He writes:
BATTER my heart, three person'd God; for, you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow mee,'and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to'another due,
Labour to'admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely'I love you,'and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee,'untie, or breake that knot againe;
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you'enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chast, except you ravish mee.*

Like the vineyard, Donne describes us as trapped behind a wall - here the wall of our own sinful natures - and it is God who breaks in, breaks through the wall.

But let us read the parable in another way. Let us turn back to Matthew and answer the question of the chief priests and elders, "By whose authority?"

"The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone."* It is by the authority of the God who turns things upside down that our Lord does these things. It is by the authority of the God who entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt and drove the money-changers out of the temple. It is by the authority of the God whose thoughts are not our thoughts and whose ways are not our ways.* And it is this God, who is wholly other, wholly beyond human understanding, who is known to us in our Lord Jesus Christ and in the breaking of the bread, it is this God under whose authority we are. It is this God who breaks through the vineyard wall, not to destroy but to save, not by merit, but by grace alone. It is this God who is "more ready to hear than we are to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve,"*

By our sins, we are the wicket tenants.

By our created-ness, we are the vineyard.

By the mystery of the Incarnation for the sake of the whole world, we are the new inheritors.

By the authority of the God who turns things upside down, "our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself."*

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

plaudite omnes gentes

01 October 2005
For starters, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is a winner. Go see this movie. While it is well established that I'm a major Tim Burton fan (I liked Charlie), this is the best thing he's done since The Nightmare Before Christmas. Go see this movie.

That said, in 1987, Umberto Eco wrote an essay entitled "How to Be a TV Host." In this essay, he wrote:
Applause became so indispensable that even during the commercials, when the salesman would say, 'Buy PIP slimming tablets,' oceanic applause would be heard. The viewers knew very well that there was no one in the studio with the salesman, but the applause was necessary; otherwise the program would have seemed contrived, and the viewers would switch channels. ... They applaud at funerals, not because they are pleased or because they want to please the dear departed, but so as not to feel like shadows among other shadows, to make sure they are alive and real, like the images they see on the tiny screen. One day I was visiting a Bonga house when a relative entered, saying, "Granny was just run over by a truck!" The others all sprang to their feet and clapped wildly.

While Eco's parody was of television culture, I couldn't help but feel tonight that I descended into the nth circle of media hell in some surreal way that only Umberto could describe.


Because the entire movie theater applauded at every preview. Hell, half of them applauded at that dumb Coke commercial about the kids and their camcorder. It has apparently not dawned on the movie goers that those responsible for the drivel aimed at a population with the collective attention span of a single gnat can't hear you clap.

This is why we keep getting more commercials and more pointless previews. This is why I'm held hostage for half an hour before my film starts to previews with thirty scene cuts in sixty seconds. People actually enjoy this crap.

In other news, AMC broadcast another Best Buy "turn off your damn cell phones" spot a la Lion King, but with eagles instead of lions and vultures instead of hyenas. When the phone began to ring and the characters on screen reacted, the woman behind me said, "That sucks! I wanted that to be a real movie!"


The Eco piece can be found in How to Travel with a Salmon & Other Essays published by Harvest Books, 1992.

In still other news, the Blogger spell checker didn't know the plural of "hyena" or the word "drivel." I remain amused that it still doesn't recognize "blog" or "Blogger."

weather 1, motivation 0

Holy mother of monkey it's beautiful outside today. I slept in until 11:45, ate some leftover veggie fried rice and took a loooooong, relaxing bike ride. It's now 3:04, I'm showered and at my desk and looking out the window. The National Weather Service has said that there would be "abundant sunshine" today. "Abundant sunshine."

And me?

Yeah. It's me, desk and William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience.