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but time makes you bolder

30 November 2005
So apart from the Fleetwood Mac reference in the title of this post, it occurs to me that I have, despite some of my better efforts, began down the road to old-mandom. Namely, I have exchanged my Doc Marten's for a pair of Chelsea boots, also known as "blunnies" (per the Library Sage - a.k.a. She Who Knows All, namely, the reference librarian).

Part of me feels like I've completely sold out to the man, leaving behind Docs for sensible shoes. Then again, I'm blogging about it, so the sheer vapidity of that really ought outweigh the abandoning of the shoe style of my youth. E'en so, somehow, I don't think I Corinthians 13:11 applies to footwear...

That being said, damn, son, these are some comfortable shoes.

I also find it interesting that I, of Princeton Seminary, would be wearing what Timberland calls "Torrance" boots.

knuts over knitting

29 November 2005
I just want to go on record that I'm going officially nuts here. I stopped into Pins and Needles this morning to pick up some yarn so that I can start a new project and yowza did I find some fun schtuffs. I can't find a pic of the stuff online and I'm away from home so no digital camera, but it's a beautful shetland wool from Aran Knitting. So here I am, in the study suite, with a bag full of gorgeous yarn and a new pair of knitting needles and I've got to work.

[Insert feral howl here.]

die Shokolade heiß

27 November 2005
Okay, so I know you're all going to think I'm nuts, but I promise, this'll make you some darn good hot chocolate.

There are a couple of things that really open out the flavor of chocolate in incredible ways: vanilla, coffee, orange and chilies. Yeah. Chilies. If you're a Jerseyite, you know about the Bent Spoon and have probably tasted their Habañero Dark Chocolate gelato. Same deal. In fact, the original hot chocolate, drunk by Mayan kings, was pretty much just ground cacao and chili peppers. Trust me. It's a brilliant combination, especially when you forgo the Mayan preference for adding cornmeal.

Doing the recipe this way will not produce the really sweet hot chocolate to which most Americans are accustomed. Conversely, it's not nearly as bitter as some of the old school European chocolates. Instead, it's thick and creamy with a full, complex flavor. When you add the dollop of fresh whipped cream on the top, it give it just the right amount of sweet.

As for the ground chocolate, you can be industrious and do this yourself, or you can just buy a can of it pre-ground. If you like your beverage a little on the bitter side, you can always uses a more pure chocolate, like a 75%-95% pure cacao, but be warned, that's a lot of chocolate.

As usual, don't wuss out and use the whipped cream out of a can. Make your own. It's not hard, just remember to chill your bowl and mixer attachments before going at it. Remember, for whipped cream: granulated sugar bad; confectioners sugar good. Grand Marnier very good. On other occasions, you can also add some Bailey's Irish Cream or even a bit of the Godiva chocolate liquor, depending on what you're doing with it.

If you want a super extra special treat, right after you've drunk your way through a piping hot mug of this stuff topped with the fresh whipped cream, drink a little port. Your mouth will thank you.

So, for the recipe:

Hot Chocolate
yeilds 2 servings

12 oz. whole milk
14 heaping tbsp. ground 70% cocoa chocolate
2 tbsp. freshly made espresso
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. chili powder
a scant dash of nutmeg

Make the espresso first and allow it to cool a bit. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat until piping hot but not boiling, whisking constantly. Top with fresh whipped cream (it's extra yummy when you've added just a drizzle of Grand Marnier to the whipped cream).

it may be jersey, but it's home

I love the fact that the D&R Canal State Park is right at my back door.


what i did for my thanksgiving

26 November 2005
For starters, I learned about Hasidic Reggae. Yeah, you read that right. Hasidic Reggae. I have no idea if this is the same guy that was playing on Thursday, but I ran a quick Google search and you can listen to a few tracks here. I must say, I was intrigued.

Dinner itself was quite lovely and my culinary horizons were expanded to include creamed onions no less. Turn not up thy nose for they were most tasty.

Friday and today were spent studying. But tonight something truly exciting happened!

I finished my scarf!
I finished my scarf!
I finished my scarf!


Not that I'm happy or anything.

You know, for a first knitting project, it came out pretty well, though I definitely learned a few lessons, not the least of which being natural fibers good, acrylic blends bleych.

But enough from me. Take a look for yourself:





Next project, a ribbed scarf. After that, socks. Then, who knows?

sneaky, sneaky man

23 November 2005
So apparently Scott thought he could sneak up a blog without anyone noticing... either that or he hasn't quite gotten around to announcing it yet, as the first post was at 10am.

Either way, head on over to Sirtin Death and say hi!

The only question that remains is, can an uxorial redheaded blog be far behind?

creative adventures in thanatology

A clergy friend of mine sent me the following. It was origionally published in The Newyorker on 25 April, 2005, page 47.

MY LIVING WILL
BY PAUL RUDNICK


1. If I should remain in a persistent vegetative state for more than fifteen years, I would like someone to turn off the TV.

2. If I remain motionless for an extended period and utter only guttural, meaningless sounds, I would like a Guggenheim.

3. If I am unable to recognize or interact with friends or family members, I still expect gifts.

4. If I am unable to feed, clean, or dress myself, I would like to be referred to as "Mr. Trump."

5. Do not resuscitate me before noon.

6. If I do not respond to pinches, pinpricks, rubber mallets, or other medical stimuli, please stop laughing.

7. If I no longer respond to loved ones' attempts at communication, ask them about our last car trip.

8. Once I am allowed to die a painless and peaceful death, I would like my organs donated to whoever can catch them.

9. If my death is particularly dramatic, I would like to be played by Hilary Swank, for a slam dunk.

10. If there is any family dispute over my medical condition, it must be settled with a dreidel.

11. Even if I remain in a persistent vegetative state for more than fifteen years, that still doesn't mean bangs.

12. If my doctor pronounces me braindead, I would like to see the new Ashton Kutcher movie.

13. If I remain unconscious during a painful, lingering illness, I would like the following life lessons to be published in a book entitled "Tuesdays with Paul":
i. Treasure every moment.
ii. Love everyone.
iii. If you bought this in hardcover, you're an idiot.

14. I do not wish to be kept alive by any machine that has a "Popcorn" setting.

15. I would like to die at home, surrounded by my attorneys.

16. If my loved ones insist that the cost of my medical care has become an impossible burden, show them a Polaroid of their "beach shack."

17. In lieu of flowers or donations, I would prefer rioting.

18. I would like my entire estate to become the property of my cat, Fluffy, who said, "He wouldn't want to live like this, with that zit."

19. Assume that, even in a coma, I can still hear discussions about my apartment.

20. If there is any talk of canonizing me, please remember that I have often held the elevator for people who were still getting their mail, that I have twice offered a cab to a woman in a fur coat even though I was totally there first, and that I always waited to make derogatory comments until after the couple with the double stroller was a block away.

21. In the event of an open coffin, I would like smoky evening eyes.

22. At my memorial service, I would like my clergyman to begin his eulogy with the words "I suppose, in a way, we all killed him."

rasputin's gone batty

22 November 2005
Okay, we all know about Fat Boy Slim's musical about Imelda Marcos. We even know about the M.I.T. gang producing a Star Wars musical. These were pretty bad. One might even say a bit daft.

But this is fucking ridiculous.

Quoth the Guardian:
...for the past few years Osbourne, the former frontman of Black Sabbath and reality TV hero, has been writing a musical. It is based on the life of a historical figure who could be considered Osbourne's spiritual ancestor: Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, the Russian mystic and favourite of Tsar Nicholas II's court.


In the words of Homer J. Simpson, "I love legitimate theater."

bvm of the oaks

21 November 2005

From the miraculous apparition department, the BVM has apparently decided to make like a tree... though perhaps I'm "barking" up the wrong analogy...

Either way, be sure to check out the slide show. Slide 6 has a lovely close up.

Special thanks to Ed for pointing me to this wondrous news item.

•••   •••   •••


In other news, John has joined the blogsphere. Be sure to visit him!

an image to think on

19 November 2005

the ironing is delicious

18 November 2005
Mike Peters does it again.

Well said, sir. Well said indeed.

hild of whitby

Feast of St Hild
Abbess of Whitby, † 17 November, 680. Commemorated 18 November.
Lessons appointed for use on the feast of Hild are available here.

Among the saints of the church for whom I have a particular affinity, Hild of Whitby is at the top of the list. (Lots of folks call her Hilda, but the "a" at the end of her name is simply the thematic vowel left over from the Latinized, inflected form of her name. If we really want to be snobby, we should refer to her as Hild of Streonæshalch since the name "Whitby" wasn't used of the monastery until after the Norman Conquest.) Anywho, I think Hild is pretty nifty, as I've indicated elsewhere. In fact, I owe her something of a debt of gratitude as she is, in part, responsible for my admission to my beloved doctoral program insofar as my writing sample was about her.

Hild had an incredible life and is interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that as a woman, she ruled a monastic community of both women and men (called a double monastery) in the seventh century. Likewise, she had an incredible reputation as a wise advisor, so much so that princes from all around the region came to her for advice. She was patron and teacher to the great Anglo-Saxon poet-monk, Cædmon. She is perhaps most well known for her role as president of the Synod of Whitby, where it was decided that the English Church would join the Roman Church (rather than remaining a Celtic Church). A number of brief vitae and biographical snippets are available online, should one desire to go looking. That said, some are definitely better than others. Really, the best place to start in any serious inquiry about Hild is Bede. If you really want to dig into the nitty-gritty on Hild, shoot me an email and I'll send you my paper.

This morning, I got to thinking about Hild during Morning Prayer because of the collect for her commemoration. It reads:
O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to recognize and accept the varied gifts you bestow on men and women, that our common life may be enriched and your gracious will be done; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The italics are mine.

Hild truly was a reconciling friend in the midst of a very chaotic time. As I wrote in my essay on Hild a couple years ago:

Perhaps the historic event with which Hild is most readily associated is the Synod of Whitby in 664. Much like Hild’s story beings well before her birth with the Christianization of North Umbria, the story of the Synod begins some forty-three years earlier and closely follows the Irish-Roman tensions that were active in Hild’s life. While the story could easily be traced much further back, for the purposes of this paper, we will pick up the thread in 621, when Cumian Fota, abbot of Durrow took a group of Irish clergy to Rome and came back convinced that the Celts should change to the Roman observance of Easter. When he returned with this suggestion, Cumin Fota was sternly rebuked by Segene, the abbot of Iona who wrote to the pope in defense of the Irish observance and pleading for ecumenical toleration. For some years after that, there were considerable tensions between Rome and Iona – involving far more than the inconvenience generated by differing observances of the date of Easter. As seen earlier with Honorius I’s concern over the supercession of York by Lindisfarne, whichever ecclesial body was in the favor of the royal house was likewise in control of the region. On a very real level, the Paschal Controversy, while certainly being about the orthodox observance of Easter, was likewise about who would ultimately lay claim to North Umbria and England: Rome or Iona.

In 653, Queen Enfleda persuaded the King of North Umbria and the abbot Coleman of Lindisfarne to allow two young men, Wilfrid and Biscop to go to Rome. After a considerable journey and parting ways in Lyons, both arrived in Rome and were ordained in the Roman church. By the time Wilfrid returned to North Umbria, Alchfrid, Oswy’s son who followed his mother’s Roman preference, had become the sub-king of Deria. While a monastery at Ripon had been given to Eata and Cuthbert, Alchfrid appointed Wilfrid as abbot, who then instituted the Latin rite. Wilfrid turned Ripon into a center of Roman influence, spreading Roman liturgy, including Gregorian chant, and constructing an Italianate church, built by continental stone masons and bedecked in crucifixes and paintings. In this midst of Wilfrid’s attempts to bring Roman conventions to North Umbria, the Paschal Controversy came to something of a head. Bede records that the most zealous champion of the Roman tradition, quite beyond Wilfrid, was Ronan, an Irishman “who had been instructed in Gaul and Italy.”

Beyond the power concerns of the ecclesiastics, the divergent practices generated some inconvenience for the royal houses, “such that Easter was sometimes kept twice in one year,” once by the king and then later by the queen. While the differences in dates were generally tolerated during Aidan’s life, as Bede records, perhaps because of great respect for the man in se and by way of his efforts to “diligently cultivate the faith, piety, and love that marks out God’s saints.” Under Coleman, Aidan’s successor, the dispute became singularly more rancorous and there were those who were concerned that “they may have received the name of Christian in vain.” Given that Bede went to the trouble to record this concern suggests a particularly pressing pastoral problem in the life of the English common-folk far beyond the convenience of the royalty and the power claims of the competing Christian centers, Rome and Iona. Given the combination of these three factors, it is no longer possible to describe the Synod of Whitby as merely determining the date of the Easter observance, but being essentially formative in the identity of the English church. John Moorman contends, “had the Synod of Whitby chosen the [Irish observance] nothing but stagnation could have ensued. By choosing in favor of Rome, the Church of England brought herself in touch with the blood-stream of Catholic Church and could henceforth play her part in the life of Christendom.” (A History of the Church of England, 1980) While Moorman’s claim may be well on the enthusiastic side, his point is well made – the ramifications of the decision at Streonæshalch are not to be underestimated.

In the summer before the Synod was called, there was considerable trauma in the region, which only served to heighten the concern surrounding the matters discussed at the Synod. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that on 3 May 664 there was a solar eclipse and “in this year a great pestilence came to the island of Britain, and in that pestilence Bishop Tuda died, and was buried at Wagele.” This pestilence spread from the south to the north resulting in the flight of many to Ireland. Patently, this would have generated nothing short of absolute existential panic in the general population. In this context, the discussion of the date of Easter arose between Alchfrid, who favored Rome, and Oswy, his pro-Irish father. Bede records that father and son decided to hold a synod concerning the Paschal question, as well as “the tonsure and various other church matters” at Streonæshalch. The deliberations were carried out between Irish Bishop Coleman with his Irish clergy and Roman Bishop Agilbert with the priests Agatho and Wilfrid along with the support of James and Romanus. Hild, her community and Bishop Cedd supported the Irish, though Cedd is credited with acting quite impartially and fairly as an interpreter throughout the proceedings. The Synod was carried out under the presence of both father and son, with no recorded participation by Hild. That said, it is surely more than mere speculation to assert that her influence must have been felt given that the Synod was staged at an abbey over which she had such profound influence. Moreover, Hild’s status as a wise counselor of both common folk and nobility must have contributed to the choice of Streonæshalch as the location for the council.


Perhaps a bit over-pompous and longwinded of me, but my point is this: the very identity and practice of the Church in England was at stake. Far more than being a question of who is the Church, it was a question of who is the Church. The Irish Church was organized in a very different way that the Roman Church as it was organized around charismatic, monastic leaders rather than around bishops. The style of worship and of monasticism was likewise very different.

Hild herself was of the Irish tradition, yet at the Synod of Whitby she was able to serve well as president and to work for the unity and peace of the Church in the face of genuine schism. You can see where I'm going with this. It seems to me that the questions of human sexuality pale in comparison to the issues that Hild dealt with in her Church and in her time. As another great leader of the English Church, the poet-priest John Donne, has said,
"Where two contradictory opinions are both probable, they may be embraced, and believed by two men and those two be both learned, and discreet, and pious, and zealous men, for in such cases, humility and love of peace may, in the sight of God, excuse and recompense many errors and mistakings."


Anglican Network and Global South Primates, I'm looking at you here. Play nice.

impulse control sucks

17 November 2005
I turned on my computer this morning and took a gander over at Think Geek. They've posted new toys, and I must say, iCovet.

Behold, Hwæt, Hineh, Lo, Ecce, Idou, & cet, ktl. usw...



I've been wanting new headphones for a while. I've been seriously thinking about something like these. While I'm sure that these guys have better sound that the new ones from Logitech, I just really don't give a damn. Granted, I'm a total audio slut. I love my Klipsch sound system on my computer. I've been ferreting away money for a while now for a truly epic stereo. I likes me my music. But... wireless, bluetooth, integrated controls... *drool*

Thus saith the specs:

  • Interference-free digital sound and advanced Bluetooth frequency hopping technology

  • Long range of up to 30 feet so you can move freely

  • Long battery life—up eight hours per charge—gives you plenty of airtime

  • Integrated iPod controls let you adjust volume, play, pause or select tracks and more

  • Weight: Headset: 3.2 oz/90.7 g; wireless adapter: 1.1 oz./31.2


I mean, seriously, aren't those just the sexiest damn headphones you've ever seen?

paint by numbers, updated and redacted

15 November 2005
Number of times I've had to mop my floors in the past two days: 2 3
Number of times my toilet has over flowed in the past 2 weeks: 2
Number of times I've had to call my landlord because my shower exploded: 1
Number of times I've had to force quit Word since 6pm: 8
Number of times I've flipped of my computer since 6pm: 3
Number of times I've hung up on a telemarketer this week: 4
Number of loads of laundry completed tonight: 4
Number of loads of laundry folded as of yet: 0
Number of pages in the bibliography I just submitted: 7
Number of episodes of the Simpsons viewed this evening: 2
Number of minutes until today is over: 3

Conclusion: the average number for my life today is 3.444... 3.36364.

And here I was really hoping for a slice of π. Mmmm π.....

I still want a piece of π, damnit.

New day in t-minus 3. It can only get better.

This of course assumes that whoever "borrowed" a book from my shelves in the PhD study suite without telling me opts to return the damn thing since it's overdue and I don't want to have to buy the freaking book.

monkies!

And he's a big 'un too.

“The size of these specimens – the crown of the molar, for instance, measures about an inch across – helped us understand the extraordinary size of the primate,” says Rink. Sample studies further revealed that Gigantopithecus was an herbivore, feasting mainly on bamboo. Some believe that the primate’s voracious appetite for bamboo ultimately placed him at the losing end of the evolutionary scale against his more nimble human competition.

stitch 'n bitch

12 November 2005
While I'm well aware that what I'm about to post will be labeled TFG, I also recently began cooking with pink salt, so I'm probably already well past TFG.

Last night, I learned how to knit.

I have already informed that I'm naught but a fuddy duddy for doing so. However, she who suggested as much is now officially on notice that she'll not be getting a sweater next Christmas.

provocations

11 November 2005
All the talk about Proposition 2 and God in government has me thinking again about the way we read scripture as Christians.

A few weeks ago, I attended a talk by Dennis Olson, Professor of Old Testament at PTS about homosexuality in the bible. Dr. Olson spoke about a lot of things - particularly how we read the Old Testament in light of questions of human sexuality. His reading of the text was decidedly supportive of the full inclusion of lgbt persons in the life of the church. Dr. Olson did some really incredible things with scripture. It was the kind of exegesis that leaves you thinking, "Wow. I mean, wow. Why didn't I ever think of that? It's brilliant and completely obvious." That is to say, it was really good exegesis of the texts.

One of the texts Dr. Olson took on was Genesis 19:1-29, Sodom and Gamorrah. What is about to follow was inspired by Dr. Olson and closely follows his argument. That said, it's been a while since I heard him and this is my writing - so where it's good, give the credit to him. Where it's got problems, well, those would be my fault.

In other places, I've spoken about why this passage isn't about homosexuality so much as it is about hospitality.

He said, "Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant's house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you can rise early and go on your way." They said, "No; we will spend the night in the square." But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them." Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him, and said, "I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof."


Lot has a sacred obligation to protect the two men under his roof because they are his guests. Don't forget that earlier in this same narrative cycle, Abraham entertained the Lord without knowing it. Indeed, there was a sacred obligation to care for the stranger and the outsider. Elsewhere in the Old Testament, it is said that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality but rather failure to care for the outsider. (You should also have a look at Isaiah 3:9-12.)

Now, I would ask you, who are the strangers and the outsiders of today?

It's certainly not a stretch to suggest that gay and lesbian people have been strangers and outsiders in Western society for years. We don't have the same rights as other people, we are shut out of churches and civil institutions, we are all to often told, "You are not welcome here."

So, if lgbt persons are strangers and outsiders, might not we read this text as setting a mandate for inclusion rather than condemnation and exclusion?

deus absconditus

While I am tempted to wax wroth over Proposition 2, others have done a more than adequate job of that for me. (Have a look here and here for more information, should you wish it.)

Instead, I'm going to beat on another expired equine, namely Pat Robertson and George Bush. I'm quite sure you've all heard about ol' Patty's prophecy of divine wrath against the people of Dover, PA. After all, failure to accept intelligent design is clearly a rejection of God. I'm guessing that the esteemed Mr. Robertson gets this fussy over a little science, he'd definitely toss his cookies if someone sat down and took him through the relationship of Genesis to the Enuma Elish (the full text of which can be found here).

Of course, then there is El Presidente himself who operates on a direct line from the Almighty. I'm sure there's also a divine mandate for the treatment of prisoners as well... of course on that score, I think Mike Peters has it right:



To both Pat Robertson and George Bush, I say bollocks.

In all truth, if the Bible truly contains all things necessary for salvation and is the written record of God's saving deeds in history, then you'd think it could handle a little scrutiny. After all, we are to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest scripture. To insist that the only possible understanding of the Genesis narratives is a narrow literal reading is ultimately to fail to understand the significance of the text. The authors of Genesis never set out to provide a historical account of the creation of the world, but rather to provide a rich understanding of humankind's place in the world as creatures that have been made in the image of God.

As for God issuing commands to invade, kill and torture, somehow that just doesn't jive with our Lord's command to "love one another as I have loved you."

A common problem between both Bush and Robertson, and many in the United States, is that their conception of God is a small God, a vindictive God, and a God who conforms to their understanding of what is right. I too am guilty of this sin from time to time. But if we step back and think of the God who spoke the verse I just cited, John 13:34, we do not see a small God, but rather the God who broke into space and time to be born of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the sake of the whole world.

All of this is to suggest that we all ought to be quite weary of suggesting that God stands in angry judgment over one group or another, when it is fact the case that God stands in judgment over the whole creation and all creatures. We are not the lords of the creation, we are only those stewards to whom it has been entrusted. As such, we cannot possibly know the mind of God apart from what has been revealed to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. That ought to give us all pause because we all must stand before a God who became human, who suffered and died for the love of us. Ultimately, the only way we can approach the mystery of the will of this God is with fear and trembling, humility and love.

Ultimately, we must realize as Kierkegaard does in Fear and Trembling that "the love of God is, both in a direct and in an inverse sense, incommensurable with the whole of reality."

nerds unite

10 November 2005
Manifold have been the times that I have lain claim to the title "Alpha Nerd." After all, I've purchases movies simply because they mention Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite (never mind that they also have been known to feature pyrokinetics and telepathic fish men...). That said, I must humbly doff my cap to the folk of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Theater Guild. Yeah, M.I.T. theater.

And what does the M.I.T. theater bring you?

Naught else but Star Wars Trilogy Musical Edition.

Imelda Marcos, eat your heart out.

drunken animals

08 November 2005
Literally.

in memoriam

07 November 2005


Laurie Ann Franklin
7 November 1950 - 9 May 2001


May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace, and light perpetual shine upon them.

bad blogger, no biscuit

It's been a while since my last post. Many apologies. After my marathon day at the Met, my world got completely wrapped up in getting my life and apartment together for the "Celebration for the Blessing of a Home" (apartment blessing & Eucharist) on Saturday and the details for the All Saints solemn liturgy on Sunday.

Home blessing first.

I feel like my home was triply blessed. First by those that helped me move in, then by all those that came to celebrate with me, and finally in the actual liturgy. (Who doesn't love casting aspersions?) We did the whole liturgy, crammed unreasonable numbers of people into my bathroom and had a grand time doing it. One guest walked in at the very end of the liturgy, during the blessing & dismissal, only to find the priest flinging aspersions in her face. It took some explaining later, but the look on my friend's face was priceless. Earlier in the liturgy, when Mother was blessing my front door and casting aspersions with a bundle of rosemary, there were folk walking in the hallway. I only wish I could have seen their faces. I can only imagine what they were thinking - what with the rosemary, water and strangely dressed woman.

All of the foolishness aside, the liturgy for the Celebration of a Home is, in my thinking, a seriously neglected liturgy. The first churches were in homes. The fellowship and hospitality of Christian folk is fundamental to our life of faith. Benedict writes extensively about the sacredness of hospitality; that we should receive the stranger as though she were Christ. Indeed, for Benedict, the stranger is Christ.

Many of you know about some of my odd habits when entertaining... When I serve bread, I serve only a whole loaf from which all must break pieces. And with bread must come wine. The hospitality of a meal is at the most fundamental level, Eucharistic.

Returning to Benedict, he tells us that all of our life is holy - that there are no boundaries between the work of the altar and the work of the field. So it goes with the home. Our whole life is sacred. In blessing the home, we mark out the sacred spaces of our life and pray God hallow the home as a place of prayer and play, joy and tears, wholeness and holiness. All of this is to say that the liturgy for the "Celebration for a Home" really ought to be done more. It's the good stuffs.

As for All Saints, we done that up right what with the Gregorian Chant for the Introit, the incense and chanting everything that one can chant - lessons included. Boo-yeah.

and the winner is

04 November 2005
Okay, so last night was the deadline for posting in the miraculous apparition contest. So, it's time to announce the winners. According to the rules, I said I had to know who you are to win. Well, the there were three posts that I thought were all of equal caliber, all by the same person - but he didn't post his name:

St. Joseph of Cupertino (patron saint of Degree candidates, and happy deaths) appears at graduate schools worldwide.

Our Lady, Queen of All Saints (patron saint of Oklahoma) appears in a surrey with the fringe on top.

St. Florian (patron saint of the danger from water) appears in the wing of a flying monkey.


That said, I know who wrote these, so he'll be getting some Angel Snot in the mail, as he got the mad props from the reference librarian for the St. Florian line.

In non-pseudonymous category, John wins for this one:
Agnes of Rome, patron saint of Girl Scouts, appears on a thin mint cookie. Shrewd marketers seize the opportunity to crow that chocolate is better than sex.

He too will be getting some Angel Snot.

Over 35 entries in the contest. Not bad, not bad at all.

belloch!

Yesterday (the Feast of Richard Hooker, for those of you that keep up with such things), my Medieval Theological Literature seminar spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, arguably one of my favorite ways to spend a day. Aside from the thrill of engaging my brain while standing up rather than spending it working on my scholar's slouch, it was an incredibly exciting time.

There are currently two huge exhibitions that are of great interest to medievalists like myself, namely a truly impressive Fra Angelico (not to be confused with Frangelica, though I am quite fond of them both) show and a really nifty exhibition on the ecclesial arts of medieval Prague. In addition to these two wonders, this past week a spectacular Medici tapestry, "The Gathering of Manna" was hung in the Italian Renaissance Gallery.

What follows are the ramblings of a historian talking about art. Please do not confuse me with a real art historian. I have neither the requisite hair nor the training to be authoritative.

One of the things that made the museum visit really special is that we had our own guide, a longtime friend of my advisor who does the docent thing at the Met. We started the day as a group with our guide showing us his favorite things in the medieval gallery. I was especially struck by the Tabernacle of Cherves (enamel, ca. 1220-1230, Limoges). I'd really encourage you to click on the previous link - it will take you to an image that you can zoom in on fairly well.

The back panel on the inside depicts Christ being removed from the cross by Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus, with the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Beloved Disciple in attendance. Above the cross beam are two angels, one holding the sun and the other holding the moon. What you can't see on the inside of the tabernacle are the scenes of Christ being laid in the tomb on the tabernacle's right and sitting up at his resurrection on the leftand two scenes of Christ in heaven on the right and left upper sections.

On the tabernacle's right door, from top to bottom is the "Noli me tangere," the women finding the empty tomb, and the harrowing of hell. The front of the door, which you can't see, has the Christ child seated on the BVM's lap (a la Throne of Wisdom). On the tabernacle's left door, you will see Thomas touching Christ's side, Christ being recognized in the breaking of bread, and the road to Emmaus. On the front of the door is Christ enthroned and surrounded by the four evangelists/beasts.

What struck me about this piece is the way it visually arranges the stories it depicts, the right side relating a sense of the distance of the risen Lord and the left his nearness. This is made all the more powerful when you think about the function of the object as a storage place for the consecrated Sacrament, itself relating both the distance and tangible nearness of our Lord.

Of course, the other thing to think about is the sheer devotion that went into creating this object. The inside of the tabernacle would rarely be seen, except when taking out or putting away the consecrated elements. It might have been left open and empty on Good Friday, but even then, no one but a few priests would have seen the inside. Does this make the object wasteful if only a few can enjoy it? I don't think so... at least not in the context for which it was made. If you spend any time at all with this tabernacle, you get a tremendous sense of the prayer and devotion that went into its making. On the one hand, I'm very glad that it is in a place where so many people can come to see it and hopefully get some sense of the power of the medieval devotion to the sacraments. (And that it is in a place that it can be preserved!) On the other, it makes me a little sad that this piece is not still being used as it was intended to be in the life of a worshipping community.

Okay, enough about the stuff you can see anytime. Let's talk about Fra Angelcio. (The picture you're looking at is the stigmatization of St Francis from the Vatican's collection.)

This really was a spectacular exhibition, and New York Times columnist Roberta Smith agrees with me:
Pinch yourself. The Metropolitan Museum's sublime exhibition of the Renaissance painter Fra Angelico is not a dream, much less a heavenly vision. Sure, its images are populated by figures with halos, wings or both. And yes, these motifs create a veritable mirage of grace and elegance, color and light, serenity and perfect form.

But this show is entirely, memorably real. It brings the work of a beloved artist, long mythologized as a modest, devout Dominican friar who painted with divine guidance, solidly down to earth.


There were two things that make this show so special:

(1) It's a one in a life time affair. The Met worked quite hard to bring together a large, and reasonably representative collection of work from across the beatified artist-monk's life. They gathered the painter's work from all over the globe, from the Princeton University Art Museum to the Vatican's collection. Rarely does one get to see such a retrospective of the work of a medieval artist.

(2) At the end of the exhibition, you'll see three pieces by Benozzo Gozzoli and one piece on which Gozzoli and Fra Angelico collaborated. Mucho especial.

There is a striking Madonna with the Christ child in this exhibition that the organizers have fortuitously planted several chairs in front of. Unfortunately, I have been unable to locate a picture of this one on the web. Just as well, as it's one that you must see in person. When you go, and go you must, plan to spend some time just sitting in front of this one. At any rate, the Christ child is seated on the lap of the Blessed Virgin, reaching for a cluster of grapes she holds in her left hand. It's one of those paintings that thinks about you more than you're able to think about it. I know that sounds really weird, but I'm sure some of you understand what I'm trying to say.

Okay, enough aimless rambling from the Sloane and enough staring at the computer screen for you. Put your computer to sleep, grab your bag and get to the Met, at least before 3 January, Prague's last day (Fra Angelico's last day is the 29th of January)!

on blogging

02 November 2005
From the fine gents of Penny Arcade, a special edition strip about blogging at Forbes.com.

Much the funny.

dog have mercy

You know, just when I was thinking that the BBC had decided to stop running stories about the absurd, they up and publish a story on DogCatRadio.

Per the BBC:
Styled as "the radio station all pets prefer", DogCatRadio.com goes out live 17 hours each day from a van in the car park of a Los Angeles recording studio.

DJs speak to pets directly, and ask "pet parents" to send in pictures.


And why?

Because the founder of DogCatRadio was told to do so by his cat:
"My cat, Snickers, asked me to do it," Mr Martinez told the New York Times.


Um... yeah. Don't get me wrong. I like cats. I'm a major animal person. But never have I had a conversation with a quadruped about internet radio. But hey, if you've got a web savvy tabby, you can give DogCatRadio a listen.

stuffs

Two things.

First, the BBC reported this morning that Kenneth Branagh is making a new movie: a film adaptation of Mozart's Magic Flute. Hizell yizeah.

In all probability, this represents the first and perhaps only time the words "hizell" and "yizeah" were ever associated with Die Zauberflöte. But who's counting?

Secondly, earlier this week the organist from my church passed along two absolutely hilarious pdfs from the humor section of St. James Music Press' homepage: The Weasel Cantata: A Musical Study of the Dietary Laws of Leviticus (see Leviticus 11:29) and First Timothy for Male Chorus! (see 1 Timothy 2:9-14).

While putzing around on the page, I discovered something truly fabulous: The St. James Music Press Choir Personals. I've only extracted a few here - you really need to go read these for yourself. They're absolutely hilarious!

FOR SALE: Complete Edible Last Supper. All twelve disciples (made of pasta) included. "Very Good"” condition - one of Andrew'’s arms is broken off but can be easily repaired with a piece of macaroni and some squeeze-cheese. Perfect for that Good Friday meal. A-987

...


SNAKES, SNAKES, SNAKES: Tired of that boring worship service? Give your "“Children'’s Moment"” an extra boost by introducing them to Mark 16:18 "“...They will pick up snakes with their hands..."” These 12" squirmers look like rattlesnakes, but are actually Hognose Vipers with false rattles applied with surgical glue. Completely harmless! Only YOU will know the difference!

One Dozen Snakes only $39.95.
Guaranteed LIVE and WIGGLY!
Snakes-R-Us
A.R.T.S. (Alternative Religious Theater Supply, Inc.)
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1-800-SERPENT
Visa and MasterCard accepted.


...


Metrosexual with passion for interior decorating and Beethoven looking to meet life partner with a rank of bishop or better. New Hampshire OK. T-334


In other news, don't forget to enter the Sop in Wyn's Creative Hagiography Challenge! You can win a fabulous prize! There have been precious few entries and none from the clergy sector. I am most disappointed by this. Priests, I'm looking a you. *stern tapping of the foot*

Or is it the prize that's keeping my four other readers from entering? Hrm... perhaps I should consider less Dionysian prizes in the future...