Friday, March 30, 2007

'I didn't expect THIS!!!!!'...

...exclaimed the Reverend Crow T. Robot Robert Hirschfeld, of Grace Episcopal Church.

The dopey innocent, unworldly priest was taken aback by the catastrophic decompression furor that arose after he used a pickaxe to break a hole in the hull of his spaceship halted all weddings in his parish, in an attempt to tunnel his way through space to get back to earth promote same sex marriage in the Episcopal Church.

Despite the furor, the shiny, metallic reverend remained convinced of the rightness of his actions. "Well, believe me, Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding against the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid, and...I went ahead anyway."


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Bitchiness

As if Grace Church-St. Stephens in CO didn't already have enough trouble, their choir director has jumped into the fray as well. I'll say right out, I tend to hold church musicians in a certain disesteem. I like their work, but I don't much like THEM. Our last anglo-catholic parish in Ottawa was committed to music over anything else, and severely handicapped children were not considered much of an asset under those circumstances, so we left. So I'm used to church musicians who tend to think the sun shines out of their...larynx. I do have to say, though, that at such a time, when a man's reputation and possibly even freedom are at stake, to descend to querelous kvetching about sheet music and choir robes is self-absorbed prima donnaship of an exceptional degree. I hope the rest of the parish functionaries have a better sense of priorities, or we will be reading the following:

Letter from the Head of the Altar Guild to all Brass-Polishers and Linen-Menders

I have just been in contact with Bishop O'Neill about the shocking events at our beloved parish. Thanks to the precipitate action of the Vestry to hijack the parish and follow the renegade Fr. Armstrong all the way to Nigeria, the locks on the sacristy cupboards have been changed! And so I regret to say that I have been unable to retrieve the church linens and chalices, which I intended to turn over to Bishop O'Neill for safekeeping. All I was able to find were a can of Brasso from under the sink, and 3 wrinkled corporals and a very sweaty amice, which had been left in the washing-basket.

Letter from the Flower Co-ordinator

I was completely shocked by the actions of the Vestry, and immediately got on the phone to Bishop O'Neill to ask him what I should do about the Easter flower arrangements. As a lifelong Episcopalian, who intends to remain that way, I told him I don't know nuthin' about no Nigerian flower arranging, and asked if it would be more appropriate under the circumstances to decorate the altar with an arrangement of cacti.

Letter from the Coffee Hour Coordinator

As soon as I heard the news, I called Bishop O'Neill to tell him that two salt-shakers were missing from the church kitchen, and nobody had washed the coffee urn last Sunday, so I ended up having to scrub it with baking soda to get it presentable. If this is the way they do things in Nigeria, they can HAVE IT! I look forward to enjoying good, honest Episcopalian coffee with the rest of you before long.

UPDATE: Oof. Once again, reality trumps fiction.
The candlesticks, most of the vestry and the flock (an estimated 850 attended the three services there Sunday), and associate rector the Rev. Eric Zolner went with Armstrong....

Carolyn Bassett joyfully hugged an old friend that she discovered also had stayed with the Armstrong camp: "At least we won't be sent to the lions," she kidded. Later, Bassett mourned that half the altar guild had sided with the Episcopal Church.


You can find EVERYTHING on eBay

There's been a cloud hanging over me recently. Something I needed to do, but didn't know how to begin. Our salt supply is running out.

You have to understand, we don't buy salt like regular people do. James has a thing about salt - well, about any kind of powder at all. He is always building scenes with his Thomas the Tank Engine toys, and if you watch these programs, you'll soon discover that one of the basic plot lines involves a train running into something or other - snow, dirt, coal, chocolate, hay...there's always SOMETHING. James's great joy is to re-create these scenes, and so any time he gets his hands on some kind of powder, it ends up dumped in a pile over a train track, with a train running into it. White powders are the best, because they can act as SNOW, so over the years I have lost countless pounds of salt, sugar, flour, powdered milk, baking powder, laundry soap, you name it, in the cause of dramatic train accident re-enactments.

The worst incident was back in Boston, when James dumped out a whole box of black pepper to run his trains through. He then got mad at Thomas for some reason, and started throwing pepper at him. Thomas, of course, retaliated, and soon I had both of them howling in pain because they had pepper in their eyes. They also kept throwing pepper at each other, because now they had PAIN to avenge! I was frantically trying to wash their faces off with a wet cloth, but Thomas was a little more pro-active, so he sought relief by washing his eyes in the first liquid he could get his hands on - a bottle of apple juice. So now we were in a sticky, peppery, noisy, crying mess, which continued until I hauled them both upstairs and put them in separate showers to clean off.

As a result of this debacle, we learned to adapt. I've switched to liquid laundry soap, for one thing. But the most effective tactic was to go over to single-serving packages. Now I buy envelopes of yeast, baking powder, and baking soda, instead of the boxes. Our dishwasher uses those cubes instead of the pourable powder. Sugar packets, envelopes of hot chocolate, office-style packets of coffee - we've got them all.

The only problem is salt. You cannot buy individual salt packets retail anywhere. Bulk Barn and Costco will sell sugar and sugar substitute, but I've searched in vain for salt or pepper. We could always surreptitiously bring home a few from McDonald's, but that's stealing, and I wanted to find a permanent, as well as honest solution. Finally I tracked down a restaurant supply company that also sells to the public, and got a big supply. But that was 4 years ago, and now we're down to our last half-bag, and the company I used before no longer stocks salt and pepper packets.

I was about to go searching the internet again, when I thought I'd look at eBay first. I never would have expected it, but somebody IS selling salt packets - 6000 US Food Services salt packets! How they got them, I don't know, but this should last us for a good number of years. Then I'll worry about finding more.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Snow is retreating

The snow has almost completely disappeared from the garden! Of course, the ground is still frozen, so the melted snow was lying in pools of water on the surface for a while, but it's a great relief to see the grass again.

Now that the snow is gone, we have the usual "Oh, so that's where that thing went!" discovery process of all the things that spent the winter outside. James continued his habit of tossing unwanted things over the fence, and today I went over to the neighbour's backyard to pick up the various things that he'd thrown over. I found three KNIVES out there! Well, throwing knives over the fence is something that doesn't make particularly happy neighbours - thank goodness it was during the winter when no one was out there. But I have to put a stop to this right away.

This would be the ideal solution, but naturally we can't afford such a state-of-the-art lockup. I think I've found the remedy - a small, box-like gun safe, that measures 14"x11"x4" inside, and closes with a battery-operated number lock (key locks are too awkward - you can never find a key when you need it, and besides, James can steal keys and open things). I'm going to fit this onto a sort of pull-out drawer mechanism, and install it under a cupboard in the kitchen. That way we can get a knife quickly when we need it. It's not much use to have them locked up on a high shelf or in another room. Meanwhile, we'll keep them locked in a cupboard which is awkward (because it contains all sorts of other things we need, and has to be opened and closed a hundred times a day), but will keep the knives out of reach until the box arrives.

You have to be very nimble in your thinking to survive in this house.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

New bishop

The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa has a new bishop, the Very Rev. John Chapman. The Citizen article is very basic, but The Hairy Eyeball has more. Another liberal, from the looks of it, and a fan of that long-running vaudeville act, The Jesus Seminar. I don't expect this will change much in Ottawa, though he does say that he thinks that the membership loss has "bottomed out", which I very much doubt, but time will tell.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pure Happiness

I'm not that crazy about tenors, really. Partly it's because the deeper baritone voice sounds sexier and more natural, but it's also because a lot of the tenor roles in opera are heroic, but also pretty dumb. I mean, Don Carlo - he couldn't reason his way out of a concrete funnel. But this guy. THIS guy! Nicolai Gedda. His voice is so wonderful, it just makes me want to dance.

And this role of Chapelou he's singing here was his debut role at the Royal Opera House, Stockholm, when he was about 27. This particular song, is called The Test of Tenors because it contains the highest note ever written for a tenor voice - a high D. Imagine what people must have thought when they first heard this young tenor, singing THIS song! Hardly anyone can sing it, it's so difficult. I have a recording of him singing it in the original French, and he goes almost twice as fast, but this German version is also very good, despite the lip-synching, which never looks quite right in opera. It's odd that operas are translated into lots of different languages for performance before foreign audiences, but seldom English. It just doesn't sound right for opera, though it's not as if it's an unsingable language. We have hymns, and Handel's Messiah, and even English Ballad Operas, after all. Maybe the tradeoff is that English has the great American musicals instead - there's nothing quite like that in any other language.

I decided to post this because despite the late-day snow we've had, this has been a happy day - I saw the first Canada geese flying overhead this morning, so that means this is really it. It's really spring.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

TEC - The Quebec of the AC

I was reading this Mark Steyn piece on the never-ending drama of Quebec's "separatist" movement which never gets closer to separating. But when I came to the part about the "low-key ethnic cleansing" that's going on there, which is leading to the gradual disappearance of the English-speaking population, I felt as if I were reading about the similar policy of extirpating conservatives in the Episcopal Church.
The Quebec Liberals’ position is that you’re entitled to attend an English school only if you have a parent who was educated at an English school in Canada. The Pequistes’ position is that you should be entitled to attend an English school only if you have a parent who was educated at an English school in Quebec. Either way, it’s no good to a New Yorker or Dubliner contemplating a job in Montreal. So the English school rolls fall, and fall, until, as Scowen points out, today there are proportionately fewer anglophone students in Quebec education than francophone students in Ontario. The overnight exodus after the PQ victory in 1976 was perhaps unintended, but the slow death since is not: As a matter of policy, the Anglophone club is prevented, by law, from accepting any new members. You can leave, you can die, but you cannot join.
That's the situation in the Episcopal Church in the US, and I expect Canada is not far behind. With liberals now able (and willing) to veto the election of any non-liberal to the House of Bishops, conservatives are now realizing that they are trapped in this system, and will never have greater strength than they have now. Indeed, the system is set up to starve them to death within another generation, as conservatives bishops are replaced by liberals, and these proceed to choke off conservatism at the parish level by refusing to place priests who do not worship at the revisionist altar. "You can leave, you can die, but you cannot join."

Steyn's earlier paragraph is like a current snapshot of TEC:
His point is that it’s not enough to win the big nailbiting showdowns like the once-a-generation referendum when remorselessly, day by day, you’re losing everything in between. In 30 years, the anglophone population of Quebec has fallen by a third, from ten per cent of the population to seven per cent. Where will it be by, say, 2020? Smaller still, and older.
No wonder the Anglican Communion is in such a mess. It's one big Canada.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dean's birthday

It was Dean's birthday today! I baked an apple pie, since he doesn't care so much for cake, and I make the world's nicest pastry. It's called Never Fail Pastry, and IT IS!! It comes from a Mennonite cookbook, and my mom discovered it. She never made pastry when we were kids, because she was convinced she couldn't do it - it always was hard and tasteless. It turned out she just had a bad recipe. When she found THIS recipe, it was such a success, she was turning out butter tarts and pumpkin pies practically every week!
Never Fail Pastry

Sift together:

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Using a pastry cutter (or a fork, though it takes longer) cut in 1 lb. of lard, until the mixture looks like rough crumbs.

In a one-cup measuring cup, mix 2 eggs and 2 tblsp. vinegar. Then fill up the cup with cold water to the one cup mark.

Blend this into the flour mixture, cutting it in at first, then kneading it in with your hands. Don't handle it too much. If it's too dry, it will be crumbly, and there will be flour still in the bowl you can't blend in - add a little water, a spoonful at a time, until you can make a nice solid ball of dough. Contrariwise, if it's sticky and gooey, that means it's too wet, so just sprinkle in a bit more flour.

This makes enough for 3 double-crust pies. You can divide it into 3 balls and freeze it until you need it. When you roll it out, sprinkle flour on the counter, and roll with a rolling pin until it's the size you need. If it sticks to the rolling pin or the counter, sprinkle a little more flour, or rub flour on the rolling pin. You'll get the hang of it after trying it once or twice. The secret is not to handle it too much, and don't let it get warm, because if the lard starts to melt, it gets greasy, and that will make the crust tough. Keep everything cool, but not cold, and work fast, and you'll be famous for making the lightest pastry in the world.

Anyway, back to Dean's birthday. It's getting hard to choose presents now, so I asked him a while back if he'd like a useful present, or a fun present. He said a fun present, so I got him this: the complete collection of Thin Man movies on dvd. These are great fun, and we loved them on video when we were first married.

I told him that the other thing I'd been considering, the "useful" present, was a chainsaw, for cutting the wood he collects from the river, and he was quite relieved that he'd gone for the fun present. Not that a chainsaw can't be fun, of course - I'm sure it can. It's probably just a question of temperament.

It was also a lovely warm spring day, the first really warm day we've had. Half the snow has vanished from the back yard since Tuesday, and I can see plants already breaking through the soil, even though they were covered with snow a few days ago. The bleeding hearts have new shoots just at soil level, and I was stunned to see that the chives are already putting out green shoots! I ate one. Columbines are pushing up everywhere, and some of the herbs like thyme and oregano are still green on their lower leaves; I suspect they stayed green under the snow all winter. I can hardly wait to see what a week of warm temperatures will produce.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Take a bow

I considered giving the TEC bishops a Braxton's Lear for their recent emission following their March meeting, but I just couldn't do it. As it was an ensemble piece, there were some discordant notes, and I couldn't justify it. However, such an effort shouldn't go unremarked, so I've created a special award just for this occasion: The More-In-Sorrow-Than-In-Anger Golden Hairshirt

There was a lot of good stuff in this essay, starting with the protestation, yet again, of "the deep longing of our hearts for The Episcopal Church to continue as a part of the Anglican Communion." This was a step up from the "desire", or even "passionate desire" of the usual formula, though I note that it was introduced with "We affirm", which has taken on the status of, in Malcolm Muggeridge's words "the ritual introduction of a lie."
We would therefore meet any decision to exclude us from gatherings of all Anglican Churches with great sorrow, but our commitment to our membership in the Anglican Communion as a way to participate in the alleviation of suffering and restoration of God's creation would remain constant.
This sets the tone for much of what is to follow; the heavy hearts, the stern countenances, the lonely, misunderstood figure standing alone, silhouetted in the setting sun. The next bit breaks the mood a little:
We have no intention of choosing to withdraw from our commitments, our relationships, or our own recognition of our full communion with the See of Canterbury or any of the other constituent members of the Anglican Communion.
Translation: If you break up with me, I'm going to make a big scene in public.
Indeed, we will seek to live fully into, and deepen, our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Communion through companion relationships, the networks of Anglican women, the Anglican Indigenous Network, the Francophone Network, our support for the Anglican Diocese of Cuba, our existing covenant commitments with other provinces and dioceses, including Liberia, Mexico, Central America, Brazil, and the Philippines, our work as The Episcopal Church in many countries around the world, especially in the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Taiwan, and countless informal relationships for mission around the world.
Since our General Convention of 2003, we have responded in good faith to the requests we have received from our Anglican partners. We accepted the invitation of the Lambeth Commission to send individuals characteristic of the theological breadth of our Church to meet with it. We happily did so.
You never heard US complain. Oh, no, that's not our way. We just carried on smiling through, spreading a little sunshine wherever we went, even though nobody noticed the effort it took. Never thinking of ourselves, but then, we don't expect anyone to think about US.
Our Executive Council voluntarily acceded to the request of the Primates for our delegates not to attend the 2005 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Nottingham. We took our place as listeners rather than participants as an expression of our love and respect for the sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in the Communion even when we believed we had been misunderstood.
In the true spirit of Beau Geste, we said nothing when we were falsely accused. We just shouldered our unfair burden, and carried on without a word of complaint. Even though we thought that someone MIGHT have spoken up for us, after all these years of writing checks fellowship and sharing. was not to be.
We accepted the invitation of the Primates to explain ourselves in a presentation to the same meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. We did so with joy.
(And by the way, this is what you get when you try the Miss Manners route with these people. When you issue a command, it's pretty clear when it's not complied with. But sling out a squishy "invitation" or a "request", and you allow them to sidle back with any old half-baked pile of goo as a "response" and pretend that THEY'RE the ones being magnanimous. - Dr. M.)
At the meeting of our House of Bishops at Camp Allen, Texas in March, 2004 we adopted a proposal called Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight as a means for meeting the pastoral needs of those within our Church who disagreed with actions of the General Convention. Our plan received a favorable response in the Windsor Report. It was not accepted by the Primates.
We could say a lot about this, but we're too stoical.
At our meeting in March 2005, we adopted a Covenant Statement as an interim response to the Windsor Report in an attempt to assure the rest of the Communion that we were taking them seriously and, at some significant cost, refused to consecrate any additional bishops whatsoever as a way that we could be true to our own convictions without running the risk of consecrating some that would offend our brothers and sisters. Our response was not accepted by the Primates.
"at some significant cost", I hope you notice! Normally I wouldn't say anything, but, well, sometimes my feelings just break through.
Our General Convention in 2006 struggled mightily and at great cost to many, not the least of whom are our gay and lesbian members, to respond favorably to the requests made of us in the Windsor Report and the Primates' Dromantine Communiqué of 2005. We received a favorable response from the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates, which found that our effort had substantially met the concerns of the Windsor Report with the need to clarify our position on the blessing of same sex relationships. Still, our efforts were not accepted by the Primates in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué.
Did you hear me? "AT GREAT COST", I said! And we STRUGGLED! MIGHTILY! I wouldn't think it possible a single heart could remain unwrung by our tribulation, but those Primates just treated it as if it were NOTHING! And I hope you noticed the triple repeat there: that's anaphora, that is. There's not much use for Latin in this job, but it's worth it to get nifty rhetorical tips from Cicero.
Other Anglican bishops, indeed including some Primates, have violated our provincial boundaries and caused great suffering and contributed immeasurably to our difficulties in solving our problems and in attempting to communicate for ourselves with our Anglican brothers and sisters.
"Suffering", "difficulties" and "problems", all in one sentence, and all referring to ME.
We proclaim the Gospel of what God has done and is doing in Christ, of the dignity of every human being, and of justice, compassion, and peace. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, no male or female, no slave or free. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including women, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church. We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church.
In TEC there is both East and West,
And ne'er the twain shall meet,
Till all our reasserting foes
Lie crushed beneath our feet.
If that means that others reject us and communion with us, as some have already done, we must with great regret and sorrow accept their decision.
"We brought them the Gospel, but they would not listen. Damn them all."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Renaissance Guy

I am talking about Jon C. Mirsalis. He has my vote for the most original combination of accomplishments.

I know him from his music; he's written and performed scores to accompany several silent movies, among them The Phantom of the Opera (the 1925 original version), and my favorite, Fritz Lang's Woman in the Moon. The music for this is so nice, I've just copied it to play by itself. He's done some others that I have yet to collect, including two Zorro movies, but I'll get them eventually.

What is so unusual about this guy is his regular job: "By day his alter-ego is Jon C. Mirsalis, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., holder of Ph.D. degrees in genetics and toxicology and Director of the Toxicology Laboratory at SRI International." That's quite a combination of interests!

R.I.P. Karen Mahoney

I'd like to ask for prayers for the repose of the soul of Karen Mahoney. She was a teacher in Thomas's autism unit, and his home room teacher last year, and died last Thursday, during the Spring Break. We will miss her.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Six Weird Things

Kasia has tagged me for a meme: list 6 weird things about myself. This has turned out to be harder than I thought; I'm so used to myself, I don't see my weirdness as all that weird anymore. But there are a few things...

1) My first great collection (and I've gone on to collect many things) was when I was a child: I collected boxes. They had to be pretty, or oddly-shaped, or somehow unusual. I had them elegantly arranged on the shelf that ran across the top of my closet. When Christmas came around, my mom and sister would be allowed to borrow boxes to wrap presents in, on condition that I got the boxes back afterward. I had that box collection until I moved away from home, and then I was in real trouble when it came time to send presents myself. Not having any of my usual boxes, I had to scrounge what I could, and I remember giving Mom a Christmas present of an antique embroidered tablecloth...stuffed into a Kotex box! That one got a lot of laughs, despite my energetic protests to just open it and ignore the container, because THIS WAS THE ONLY BOX I COULD FIND!!

2) My current collections: Aluminum cookware, aluminum coffee pots, food grinders, silicon kitchen gadgets and baking pans, retro lamps, old cookbooks.

3) I feel sorry for inanimate objects. When I hit the brakes too hard, I feel sorry for my wheels. When I was at a country auction and nobody wanted a bunch of woolen blankets, I felt sorry for them and bought them myself (the start of another collection).

4) I've been known to make pancakes for supper - but only when Dean's not home.

5) I've never smoked a cigarette. I tried once, but I literally "didn't inhale" - I couldn't make myself inhale, because I knew it would hurt.

6) I have a phobia about talking on the telephone, and go to a lot of trouble to avoid doing it. This was difficult in the days when I earned my living as a secretary, but I managed to suppress my disgust with telephones enough to do a good job. My other phobia is getting my hair cut; it's mostly a social problem, because I feel obliged to talk during the process, and I'm never at ease talking with people I don't know (that's probably the root of the phone problem, too).

You don't say!

Snarky? Moi? I can't imagine how anyone could get that idea!
You Are a Snarky Blogger!

You've got a razor sharp wit that bloggers are secretly scared of.
And that's why they read your posts as often as they can!

Divine Dogs

Way back in 1987, when we were living in Washington, DC, I read and clipped this article by Henry Mitchell out of the Washington Post. That was long before I ever dreamed of having a dog myself; at that time, we had a cat, and we might have gone so far as to say we HATED dogs! But I don't know; this was just so funny and well-written and beautiful, I had to save it. Maybe it was a premonition of what the future would hold for us.

I recently found the article when looking through old cartoons, and thought it was so good, I wanted to post it on the blog for people to read. I don't think it's been anthologized in any of Mitchell's collections, and since it was from the pre-Internet age, it would be hard to find if you didn't know where to look for it. Alas, when I wrote to the Washington Post asking for permission, they told me that they were not currently granting permission to reprint Op-Ed pieces, but I could use such parts of it I thought suitable under the Fair Use rules. Accordingly, I can't reproduce the whole thing, but I will put down a few of the best paragraphs, and encourage anyone who can to pay the $3.95 to read it, until it somehow becomes available for free.
Why, you may ask, should so thoughtful a columnist urge the total phasing out of dogs in our country? Why, the dog eats $500 worth of food a year, he says, and this food or at least this money could go to the poor.

We may remember that woman who once broke an alabaster vial of precious ointment and was rebuked for extravagance--should not the money have been spent on the poor? But a competent judge of virtue ruled she did well. Love ought not to be assaulted in the guise of charity.

It is well known that Adam was obliged to flee Eden, his only steady companion a good hound. What good were angels then? They lost no time snarling at him in his distress, and one took a flaming sword against him. So much for angels. Even his dear wife was not much use, the day of his expulsion. Indeed, if she had cared more for dogs, and less for serpents and devils, it would have been better. Or so the Good Book reminds us... Dominican monks of the Middle Ages, to whom civilization owes something by the way, could think of no more pious name for their order than Domini canes, the dogs of God. Presumptuous, you may say, but they meant it in hope, and as a title to be earned...

Take the sparkling terrier. What human ever deserved his high spirits, his irrepressible affection? Who ever earned, really, such eyes, such faith or such furry comfort when dark days come? Who can doubt the terrier eases the loss of Eden?

Or take the cur, the mongrel, your basic dog. He is the same in all nations and all generations. Despised and rejected by some, he yet bears in his chromosomes and his heart every possibility of Dog. And those who find divine love too hard to comprehend may well find the dog an earthly approximation. Giving freely and not to be denied....

But it is hard to see how one finds grace, who kicks a dog in word or deed, and such a person should think of that warning given by one theologian (in another connection perhaps):
Bethink you by the bowels of Christ that you may be mistaken.
Or, again:
Now put away the works of darkness for the whole armor of light while there is time beneath the sun; living day by day in peace in that joy well given to mortal men. (Dogs.)

Catholic is as Catholic does

Victorian novelists must stick together, that's only right.

And so it is that I have found the illumination of one Victorian novelist in the works of another.

Whenever the graceful opus of the Swan of Newark is discussed, perplexity arises over the opening biographical comment on her home page: "I am a passionate radical Orthodox, Anglo-Catholic with a joyful Evangelical spirit." How on earth, ask these wonderers, can the word "Catholic" possibly apply here? Is not everything about the Lady Novelist contradictory to that term, starting with her profession?

I have discovered the key to this mystery.

Gerald Augustinus, at The Cafeteria Is Closed posted a story last week about the Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, refusing to allow the New Ways Ministry, a pro-homosexual activist group, to celebrate mass in the churches of his diocese. The story is interesting in itself, not least for the typical conspiracy-mongering rife among these Catholic moles. But my moment of enlightenment came when I read this quote:
Flynn's decision "is a betrayal of the core of our Catholic faith," Bayly said. "The church should be big and wide to support diverse opinions. For God's sake, it's Catholic — it's universal."
So THAT's what they mean by "Catholic" - a fecal stew of every poisonous idiocy known to man! And this is where Charles Dickens comes in. My mind flew instantly to that wonderful passage in the first chapter of "The Pickwick Papers":
Mr. BLOTTON would only say then, that he repelled the hon. gent.'s false and scurrilous accusation, with profound contempt. (Great cheering.) The hon. gent. was a humbug. (Immense confusion, and loud cries of "Chair," and "Order.")

Mr. A. SNODGRASS rose to order. He threw himself upon the chair. (Hear.) He wished to know whether this disgraceful contest between two members of that club should be allowed to continue. (Hear, hear.)

The CHAIRMAN was quite sure the hon. Pickwickian would withdraw the expression he had just made use of.

Mr. BLOTTON, with all possible respect for the chair, was quite sure he would not.

The CHAIRMAN felt it his imperative duty to demand of the honourable gentleman, whether he had used the expression which had just escaped him in a common sense.

Mr. BLOTTON had no hesitation in saying that he had not--he had used the word in its Pickwickian sense. (Hear, hear.) He was bound to acknowledge that personally, he entertained the highest regard and esteem for the honourable gentleman; he had merely considered him a humbug in a Pickwickian point of view. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. PICKWICK felt much gratified by the fair, candid, and full explanation of his honourable friend. He begged it to be at once understood, that his own observations had been merely intended to bear a Pickwickian construction. (Cheers.)
So now we know. Heretics are Catholics in the Pickwickian sense of the word.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Chesterton, right again

Chesterton wrote the definitive portrait of the Boomer generation, way back in 1921. These are the people who now own the Episcopal Church in the US and the Anglican Church in Canada, and this is why it is vain to hope for wisdom and maturity among them, no matter how many years they're given:
“A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation - the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.”

- G.K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News of July 9, 1921

Friday, March 16, 2007

Schori to conservatives: PWNED

As Chris Johnson has pointed out, it is now impossible for any conservative ever to be elected as bishop in TEC. I didn't pay too much attention to this at the beginning of the week, because Kendall Harmon was insisting that people shouldn't make premature comments while the "counting" was still going on. And now Rev. Lawrence is stating that he won't go along with any extra-canonical consecration. This antiquated "code of the Southern gentleman" guarantees that Mrs. Schori and her fan club will never get the ass-kicking she's begging for, but maybe that's why they're so careful in choosing their targets.

At times likes this, I turn to Chesterton, who saw so clearly where all this was going to end, almost eighty years ago:
One of the events which would have made me a Catholic, if I had not already been a Catholic, was the curious affair of the New Prayer-Book. It revealed to me a reality I had not hitherto realized. There really was a Church of England; or rather there really was an England which largely imagined that it possessed and controlled a Church. But this Church was not the Church I thought I had belonged to; the keen, cultivated and sincere group of men who claimed to be Catholic. It was a much vaster and vaguer background of men; who did not believe in anything in particular, but who claimed to be Protestant. But the vital point was that, whether they claimed to be protestants or clamorously bragged of being atheists, they all seemed to have this fixed idea; that they owned the Church of England; and could turn it into a Mormon temple if they liked. I could not, in any case, have gone on being owned in that way.

It's curious that Chesterton saw the beginning of the end with the coming of the 1928 Prayer Book, which so many faithful Anglicans today look upon almost as a lifeline. (Maybe there's room to insert here Dean's joke that the Eastern Orthodox also have this problem; "They're still arguing over the '28 prayer book ...1028, that is.") But it wasn't so much in the merits of this or that prayer - it was in the way a gang of jobbers could wangle control of something central to every Anglican's life and just play games with it, and no one could stop them. The "reformers" then were still reasonably modest, and the Church stronger, so the book that resulted wasn't that bad, but the heathen wreckers in the North American churches today are the legitimate offspring of these earlier faddists.

By the way, I've finished 'That Hideous Strength', and thought it a brilliant portrait of the "Progressive Party" that has today brought TEC to ruin. The weaselly plotting, the underlying brutalism, the cynicism and crassness, even the sexual perversion - perfect. And the trails of fleeing refugees wherever these people are permitted to flourish.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Adventures in drywall

I've mentioned the drywall repairs I've been tackling at home. Well, I'm glad to say that nothing as bad as THIS has ever happened in my house!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hinterland Who's Who

The Hinterland Who's Who commercials are something that must be embedded in every Canadian's DNA. When I hear that opening flute solo, I'm once again 5 years old in Edmonton, watching dull Sunday broadcasting on a black-and-white TV, at a time when we only had two TV channels - CBC and CTV.

These commercials are VENERABLE, so belief and acceptance are practically built-in. But when I saw (or rather, heard) this commercial on TV the other day, something seemed wrong. It was the line, "Human activities are threatening their habitat," coming after the introduction of the three featured species: The Barn Owl, The Swift Fox, and The Newfoundland Marten.

The Barn Owl.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Back to C.S. Lewis

I'm sorry to have to admit that I've given up on the Gormenghast books. They're just too slow for me. The descriptions go ON and ON, and to no particular purpose, as far as I could see. Maybe I didn't get far enough into them to realize the importance of a 2-page description of a wall, but I made it 3/4 of the way through 'Titus Groan' before I gave up. Everything was in such slow-motion, I began to wonder if the author had been on some mind-altering substance while writing it.

By contrast, I picked up C.S. Lewis's 'Out of the Silent Planet' and I was immediately pulled into the story, within the first 5 pages. I'll be starting 'Journey to Venus' tomorrow. I'm starting to feel like Hugo Weaving, who joked that he only makes movies in trilogies now - all my reading recently seems to be of trilogies, but this one promises to be a lot better than the last one.

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's spreading

Darn you, Peter Lee! Look what you've started!
The Archdiocese of Ottawa is considering whether to sue a group of parishioners at St. Brigid’s church to cover $50,000 in legal costs it incurred during a court battle over the church’s closing.
“Our lawyers suggested that it would be prudent to have the issue of costs reviewed,” said Gilles Ouellette, director of communications for the archdiocese, which last month received the legal go-ahead to close the 117-year-old church. “No decision has been made.”
The parishioners’ lawyer, Patrick Murray, called the archdiocese’s move a slap in the face.
“We really didn’t see this coming,” said Mr. Murray, a St, Brigid’s parishioner since childhood who worked the case without fee.
“It was a sentiment of shock and disbelief."
St. Brigid's is a super-conservative Catholic parish in an old, rundown section of centretown. The archbishop has been at war with them for ages, and finally shut down the parish, as the building is getting too old and too expensive to keep up.

There may be a lesson in all this for the Episcopalians in the Diocese of Virginia. Closing this church doesn't represent a windfall for the diocese - the building is old and fragile, but it's also designated a heritage site, so it can't be demolished. Turning it into anything else will still be expensive, as it has to be repaired and maintained, so buyers are few. The diocese is probably going to be stuck with a giant white elephant on its hands for years, and as the property deteriorates, it's either going to suck up resources for repair, or become less and less attractive to buyers.

Hen Party

If you think that you know what "communion" means in the Anglican Church, think again:
As the Anglican women delegates to the 2007 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) conclude their work this week in New York City, they are pledging to take their commitment "to remaining always in 'communion' with and for one another" to the wider Anglican Communion, and especially the 38 Primates, as a model for reconciliation.

The Anglican delegation of more than 80 women, representing 34 countries in the worldwide Anglican Communion, issued a statement March 3 vowing "to remain resolute in our solidarity with one another and in our commitment, above all else, to pursue and fulfill God's mission in all we say and do."
It looks like Anglican "communion" is now trade unionism with fancy dress. There's not one single mention of Jesus in this entire report - "communion" is now just something that people decide to have with each other. Notice how the Primates can still use the traditional understanding of the Church when dealing with this mess; the relationship is damaged by the actions of the errant party, just as in the Catholic Church, an unrepentant sinner excommunicates himself, and the statement of the Church just puts an official stamp on and informs the rest of the faithful of what is already a fact. But these women are so corrupted by their "power politics" view of the world that they can only comprehend the situation in the crudest of terms. In their view, an "issue of difference or contention" can CAUSE people to wantonly break off unity with others, and SEVER the bonds of affection. As if people would just naturally continue in tranquil union if only those Primates wouldn't be busybodies and go about smashing and severing things.

In the view of the Anglican women, the Primates' warning is inconsistent with the Christian mission of reconciliation and compassionate ministry, and a decidedly male approach to struggling with difference. All of the Primates are men of power, they note, except for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
That's why TEC has become The Peaceable Kingdom, now that that testosterone-addled Frank Griswold is gone and Her Serenity has ascended the throne.
"The women of the Communion have, I believe, moved from bewilderment to outrage at the ways in which a small cabal of leaders have continued to insist that the issues exercising them alone over human sexuality are inevitably to preoccupy us as well," said Jenny Te Paa, an Anglican UNCSW delegate and ahorangi, or dean, of Te Rau Kahikatea, the College of St. John the Evangelist in Auckland, New Zealand.

"The arguments are all a male ancient power play for territory and ownership of space, be it physical or theological," agreed Phoebe Griswold, a UNCSW delegate from the United States. "The women's ways forward have to do with working for the welfare of creation and the full flourishing of humankind."
Griswold, eh? Haven't I heard that name somewhere before?
Griswold is a founding member of Anglican Women's Empowerment (AWE), an international grassroots movement founded in 2003 to promote gender equality and to use the power of women to promote a humane agenda worldwide.
Nope, must be some other Phoebe Griswold.
What the Primates have failed to realize, Te Paa said, is that "the priority focus for Anglican women always has been the pressing issues of life and death, which are daily facing too many of the women and children of God's world. How can we compare the needless horrific suffering of women and girls being brutally raped when collecting firewood or water with the endless hysteria of male leaders wanting to debate whether gay men have full humanity or not?"
I'm glad I'm not the first one to use the word "hysteria" here.
Olajumoke Florence Akinkoye is a lawyer and a UNCSW delegate from Nigeria, whose Primate, Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, has been a leader of theological conservatives...."Everybody is aware of the Nigerian position," Akinkoye said. "My understanding of the Bible is God made man and woman. The Bible also says to be compassionate to others around us."
"Look, I have to work with these people, OK?"
The women's statement came after a "sacred space listening process," according to Nomfundo Walaza, a UNCSW delegate from South Africa and a member of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Don't tell me - it involved drums, right?
From this "sacred space listening process" evolved the women's commitment to remain in communion. According to Walaza, the statement was "passionately received" by all of the Anglican UNCSW delegates at a working session on March 3.
That means 3 entire floors of the UN building were stripped of every single kleenex and scrap of toilet paper.


The Women Are A' Gane Wud

Here's a blast from the past: Mary Malone is in town, promoting a new book. I remember reading about her in Anne Roche Muggeridge's "The Desolate City", and she was "a former nun" even then. Must be a bit of a downer when your principle claim to fame for over 20 years is that you failed in your first career choice.

Church needs to give women 'a public voice' or face collapse

ex-nun: Mary T. Malone says the female interpretation of Christianity has been suppressed for centuries, writes Jennifer Green.

Jennifer Green
The Ottawa Citizen

Friday, March 09, 2007

It was International Women's Day and not really any surprise to hear an internationally-recognized theologian and historian say the Catholic Church must include women more fully or fall apart.

The real attention-getter was the 12th century Christian mystic nun who compared the female orgasm and male erection.

Mary T. Malone, former chair of the the University of Waterloo's graduate department of religious studies, told an audience of about 500 at Saint Paul University yesterday that the female interpretation of Christianity has been suppressed for centuries, resulting in a badly abbreviated understanding of the faith.

The church still sees women as "wholly unnecessary to the understanding of Christianity," she said, pointing to the recent encyclical, or official letter, from Pope Benedict XVI that spoke about love without ever mentioning any women, except for Mother Teresa.
True, the first woman mentioned by name in 'Deus Caritas Est' is Mother Teresa, in paragraph 40. But Ms Malone must be like those hockey fans that start heading for the parking lot when there's still 5 minutes left to play in the game. Chapters 41 and 42 - the clinchers for the entire composition - are entirely devoted to the Virgin Mary, who, last I heard, was a woman. Or maybe only female orgasmics count in that category.

Ms. Malone, a former nun, and author of the three-volume reference book, Women and Christianity, discussed the explosion in Christian mysticism among women in the 12th to the 15th centuries, right at a time when many male theologians considered women less than human.

They also saw the body, especially women's bodies, as innately corrupt. Men were the spiritual ones, women were lustful and physical.
Except for that Virgin Mary, of course. Damn, she always comes along to screw up every handy stereotype!

The mystics saw no such division, seeing their bodies as conduits for grace. How could a human body be naturally bad, when, as the Bible says, "the word was made flesh" in Jesus? If anything, they saw the eucharist as the core symbol of female humanity.

"They felt like their bodies were godlike, that femaleness was godlike."
Ah, yes, the mystics. Those people nobody but seminary wonks have ever heard of. Those straight-down-the-middle orthodox thinkers Mrs. Schori is always recommending. Those folks.

Similarly, they did not see blood as a symbol of torture and death, as men did, but as life-giving. For them, it was a sign of the blood spilled at childbirth.
Were these brilliant mystics married women, any of them? Because in a time when childbirth was a dangerous, unhygienic, non-anaesthetized horror that you stood a very good chance of losing your life over, I'd say that the average woman going through labour would be pretty much in agreement with the view of those traditional male Catholic thinkers. They might even have taken some comfort in thinking of the pain and suffering of their Saviour, and related it to their own experience.

Their point of view caused great consternation among the bishops of the times, especially as they were not at all meek about their point of view.

One abbess refused to relinquish the body of a criminal who had taken sanctuary in her convent, even though the bishop said he would come in and dig it up himself.

She simply had her sisters muss up every grave in the convent's cemetery so he couldn't tell which body had recently been buried. Then she wrote him a letter in which she said, "You are wrong and we are right."
Then she slammed the door and rearranged the furniture and treated herself to a new pair of shoes.

She was excommunicated for her disobedience, but reinstated a few years later.
And even if she said she was sorry, SHE DIDN'T MEAN IT!

This tug of war between the sexes, and the church's deep distaste for the human body continues to this day.

Ms. Malone said in an earlier interview, "I am absolutely convinced that unless women begin to have a public voice, the Catholic Church will collapse."

"All of the big remaining controversies -- abortion, contraception, celibacy, homosexuality -- they all have to do with bodies," especially women's bodies.
Big remaining controversies? You mean, we're basically at the end of all controversy, and these are the only ones left to be settled? Funny how they all seem rather obsessively groinular in subject. I wonder if that's because humanity has really reached complete agreement on everything else, or because a few misfits have shrunk their world to a small, damp itch.

"Celibacy is a women's issue It's about women's bodies not being godlike and taking men away from God."
I think 'The Fox And The Grapes' applies here somehow, but I haven't quite figured out how.

Ms. Malone was also in Ottawa to promote her new book, Praying with the Women Mystics, a book of prayer-poems, one of which is entitled "Body Talk."

She said even today, nuns have formed new ways of worship, writing their own prayers, performing liturgical dance, decorating the sanctuary according to their own principles.

"It's like a parallel worship."

And does a priest or other authority ever come and tell them to stop?

"Oh, no, they wouldn't dare."

More than 10 years ago, Ms. Malone left the Catholic Church. "For me, it was clear: I can no longer worship or pray," she said at the time, "because of the language, and because it seemed so essential as the core of the tradition that God be male."

They were told that their femaleness was not godlike and what they did is found their femaleness as the core of their journey to God.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Going broke in the cold

Yes, it's STILL cold. And this morning I took my van in for its regular checkup, and they discovered that the brakes are going. ALL of them. Plus something is leaking in the engine, but they haven't found out what yet. So we are looking at $1000+ of ruddy car repairs. The van has to stay there until tomorrow, too, so I won't be able to drive Emma to karate tonight (maybe not such a disaster, as she got a diptheria/tetanus vaccination yesterday, and her arm still hurts, so she probably won't be sorry to stay home). But somebody had offered Dean a ticket to the Ottawa/Toronto hockey game tonight, and he turned it down because he thought Emma would be going to practise tonight! Aaarrghhh... I told him to get on the phone and see if MAYBE the guy hadn't given the ticket away to someone else yet. It should be a good game, and since Dean is originally from Toronto, he'd be happy no matter who wins. And considering the way the Senators have been throwing away leads recently, I wouldn't take a bet on who that would be.

Oh, well, there was one bright moment - I discovered another Pyrex coffee pot, with a very attractive handle, stranded in the garage, so I brought it inside and took it to the basement to join its brethren.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My collection

It's still cold and nasty out, so I thought I'd treat myself to a pick-me-up, and I got out my coffeepot collection to admire. Some of them had been getting a bit dusty, so I cleaned them off, then took a picture:

As you can see, I have 3 electric ones (back row), but I don't use them. About half of the others are for drip coffee - the early version of the Melitta filters we use today. I don't use those either, except just when I want to try one out. It's the percolators that have won my heart. The one we use every day is the one in the second row with the upcurved handle. It's a nice heavy weight of aluminum, made by Wear-Ever, and the handle is beautifully designed. There are also two Pyrex ones, and I have used them in the past, but I don't like having glass objects around all the time. James has broken a few Pyrex dishes and teapots, and I worry a bit about breaking the glass coffee basket insert myself, so these stay in the basement. The enamel one in the middle is a bit of an orphan - not aluminum like the others, and with a mismatched lid, but it was in a box lot with other stuff, so I kept it.

We used to have electric coffee makers like everyone else, but I found that they all burned out too quickly, no matter how expensive they were. And there were also problems with the filter getting blocked and overflowing, which was most annoying. Finally, we don't have that much counter space, and the coffee maker sat there all the time, taking up room. When our last one burned out a few years ago, in desperation I pulled out a vintage percolator that I'd picked up at an auction, and looked up instructions in an old cookbook of how to make perc coffee. It turned out great, and we've made coffee on the stove ever since.


Cabin fever

The kids are going nuts, the way they always do at this time of year. James especially has a hard time at the end of the winter - he's been in the house all season, not enough fresh air, not enough exercise, and his temper is just atrocious. We still have some amusing incidents, though. Yesterday afternoon, I noticed he had a little cut on his wrist - rather a rough cut. "What's that?" I asked. "Ouch," he answered. "What happened?" "Wall did that." Oh, hmmm...well, I'm sure wall had a very good reason for doing it! I tell you, it's getting bad when even the WALLS are starting to fight back!

Then there was Thomas. Normally, he's very, very sweet-tempered and gentle, but sometimes he works himself into a sort of agitated, anguished state, and it can go on for HOURS! He can't wind himself down, he just goes on and on, whining, bouncing on his toes, reciting lines from movies, pounding on things, and being an all-around pest. ALL his autistic behaviours just bubble to the surface, and he's a complete MISERY. Eventually something distracts him, and he'll subside into his normal self again, but while this is going on, there's nothing at all you can do. So since there's nothing to do, we've just learned to tune it out as much as possible, with occasional probes to see if we can find an opening to distract him.

Last night he was in one of these moods, started by some dispute with James, I think. At one point, he was so mad, he went into the bathroom, got one of James's bath toys, and SPAT on it! It was such a weird thing to do, I just laughed my head off. Wow, he really showed HIM! And of course, James was nowhere around, he wasn't even on the same floor of the house, so the performance was solely for my benefit (James wouldn't have cared, anyway). Funny that Thomas would know that that's a sure-fire way of indicating contempt and hostility, because he's never done it before, and he couldn't have learned it from any of us - we're not a spitting household. Maybe he saw it on a movie somewhere. Well, we take our entertainment where we can find it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Oooh, it's just so...Greco-Roman!

My friend Nasty, Brutish and Short has hit a double header - two posts in a row that made me laugh out loud. The first is about a unique gym in (where else?) the Netherlands that's promoting Naked Sundays. Funny, it didn't attract any women on the first day.

The second is one that I call "I'd Have Killed Him", concerning the absolutely ridiculous rigmarole one couple went through to get engaged.. And yes, as a matter of fact, Dean DID hand me an engagement ring over dinner in a restaurant, and I'm-a glad! As C.S. Lewis said, the great advantage of accepted ritual is that you don't have to exhaust and make a spectacle of yourself trying to be original. Now maybe Gayle will feel she has to top him when it comes to planning the wedding, and he'll have to chase her across the Atlantic in a yacht so that they can be married during a lunar eclipse while going round the Cape of Good Hope.

A brief note on the Residential Schools scandal

The earlier post referred to Mrs. Schori's complacent attitude toward the destruction of the Diocese of Cariboo as a result of the Residential Schools scandal. I'm not deeply versed in this matter, but it occurred to me that American readers might not have a completely accurate idea of what this involved. They hear the words, "Anglican clergymen", "students", "abuse", and "lawsuits" and immediately fill in the blanks based on the all-too-well-known scandal of sexual molestation by priests in the Catholic Church. They figure this is a case of dirty Anglican priests sexually molesting Indian schoolchildren in their care, and so naturally they are being sued now by the victims.

There's some of that in the story, but that's not all of it, by any means. The "abuse" being paid for now comprises a little more than you may expect. It isn't just rape and beatings; no one questions that people who endured that should be compensated. But "abuse" is being stretched to include the policy of assimilation that was favoured several generations ago, so people today are now paying compensation for a change of heart in what was once considered progressive treatment of Indians. The idea then was to make them more Western, more British, at a time when those were still considered good things.

And so the compensation isn't just being paid to individuals who were molested or assaulted - it's really a class action suit against the Anglican Church (and others), so that EVERYONE who attended one of these schools is going to get a payout, no matter what sort of treatment they experienced. The mere fact that the schools existed and that the government and society of the day promoted this policy is considered an injury. It would be as if a Catholic priest molested a boy, and then everyone in the church was awarded $10,000 because of the outrage of having attended such a contaminated parish.

Myself, I think this is a politically correct ripoff, but there's nothing I can do about what courts order the government to do with our taxes. The Anglican Church is another matter, however. As Ian Hunter wrote, if the Primate wants to crawl and cry about this to make himself feel good, he can do it on his own dime.

I stopped being an Anglican long before I became a Catholic, and one of the reasons I did was because of this pastoral letter from the then-primate. I could tell, when I read this, that the Anglicans had lost their marbles, and I saw no reason at all why I should toss my own money and effort down a rat's hole of futility. I felt especially insulted by the doubletalk about how we were all going to share the burden, but none of the money we gave to our church was going to be affected. I mean, come on. You don't have to be an accountant to realize that if my contribution goes to pay the light bill in the diocesan office, which formerly was paid for by interest from investments that have been liquidated to pay court costs, I am essentially paying for the court costs. Money is money. This letter from the Diocese of Niagara gives a not-bad overview of the points as regards the Anglicans, with the typical happy-face assurances that everything is going to be fine, but with at least an acknowledgement that there is some room for diversity of opinion about the justice of the whole matter.

Where's that global warming?

Today we are enduring the coldest day of the entire winter! It was -26C when we got up this morning, and the windchill actually hit that magical number of -40C, which as every Canadian knows, is the point at which Farenheit and Celsius coincide. So it's -40 no matter which way you count it. This Saturday it's supposed to reach +4C with rain, but for the remainder of the week, winter is going to be throttling us with its cold, scaly hands. I think I'll do a lot of ironing today.

Monday, March 05, 2007

For Purple Hazy Majesty, above the fruited plain

Mrs. Schori has delivered an interesting sermon in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend.

She started with praise for the public amenities of Portland, Oregon, which I'm sure are very nice, with handicapped-accessible sidewalks and transit. I'm sure every Christian would regard helping the halt and the lame as an act of charity, and worthy of praise. So it was a bit of a jolt when she introduced some very worldly rationales for doing good:
Now, I imagine that the adaptation required in this city wasn't easy, that it involved a series of struggles over how much it would cost, and who would be inconvenienced, and even why should we bother. And I imagine that a piece of the process had to do with the legal requirements of the Americans with Disability Act. Sometimes systems need legal sanctions before they will respond. Whatever's been involved, however, this city has become a beacon of light and hope for the differently abled, and it's had something to do with the push that's come from prophetic voices.
Yes, the threat of jail and lawsuits does tend to concentrate a mayor's mind, but it's rare to hear "the end justifies the means" preached from a pulpit. And since TEC is itself now so enamoured of "legal sanctions", it's no surprise to hear that Mrs. Schori considers lawyers and sherriffs "prophetic voices".
We understand that covenant promise in the same words that Jesus heard at his baptism – you are my beloved, and with you I am well pleased.
"My beloved SON" is the actual quote. This is not the first time she's pulled this little elision. I've finally figured out what's going on here. In its zeal for environmentalism, 815 is having its Bibles printed on perforated paper! Sure, you lose about every 10th word, but think of all the trees we're saving!
The ancient rules said, "no healing on the sabbath" because healing was understood as work, and the community around Jesus is struggling to make sense of this rabbi's willingness to ignore those rules. And, indeed, Jesus insists that he's going to keep on healing and casting out demons until the powers that be put an end to him, until they silence this prophet.
OK, rabbi, prophet...yes, that'll cover the Jews and the Muslims in the congregation. Anything else? No? Well, let's just stay with "prophet" for the moment, since Mrs. Schori is so eager to hand out that accreditation today. Besides Jesus and the ACLU, what do we know about prophets?
The prophets make a business of nauseating, offending, and repelling folks who want to insist that you can't heal on the sabbath, or shouldn't make life easier for somebody in a wheelchair.
Actually, I don't recall many prophets in the Old Testament who went around criticizing people for keeping the sabbath. As a matter of fact, I don't recall them suffering unduly from an excessive zeal on the part of the people for keeping the Commandments and the Law at all. Rather the opposite, actually; the Bible is filled with the fulminations of prophets against Israel for getting slack, ignoring the Law and doing specifically forbidden things. Yes, they also complained about people who would outwardly keep the rules but inwardly rebel and sin. Their solution was never to tell people to just abandon the laws; it was to keep the laws, and also accept their meaning in their hearts. Oh, and it wasn't "folks" who wanted to heal on the sabbath - it just one guy, Jesus. His idea to just set aside the Law was actually a New Thing. It wasn't something a prophet would normally do. Maybe that's why we don't call him a prophet, we call him the Son of God.

Then we get into a area that is a little closer to home for me:
Jim Cruikshank was there, and told us about the Diocese of Cariboo. That diocese doesn't exist anymore...
That's rather a dainty way of describing it. That diocese was bankrupted by lawsuits. In other words, it was hunted into extinction in the law courts. But financial ruin is not something that Mrs. Schori finds the least bit distressing:
The Diocese of Cariboo sought reconciliation as well, it dissolved its corporate structure in order to offer what it could in restitution. The people of that diocese have in some sense offered their lives in prophetic witness, in order that healing might begin on a new sabbath.
Isn't that nice? Doesn't that make you feel all warm and cozy about having every penny stripped from you in a courtroom? I hope TEC's victims legal targets in Virginia are paying attention. This woman thinks that bankrupting your churches and your people is inviting you to offer a "prophetic witness", and she's just the gal to help you do it.

Of course, that defiance of the Law she was boosting at the beginning of her sermon isn't much in evidence at this point. She never suggests that it would be "prophetic" to ignore the judges and the lawyers and the police, especially if they hand down a verdict in 815's favour. I guess it's one thing when the "Law" is just some silly old commandments, and quite another when it's furnished by a U.S. District Court, armed with the power of arrest. Those poor old Pharisees; if only they'd thought of slapping a fine on Jesus and garnisheeing his donkey, she would have been on their side.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Sunday icon - Jesus and the Children

This is an old icon I found on eBay. It's quite small - it measures about 7"x9.5". I love it. (You can click on the picture to see it in greater detail.) Jesus looks so tender and almost "relaxed" in this icon, if you could say that about a figure in an icon. The disciples are standing off to one side, a little perplexed at this unexpected interruption in the Master's schedule. At the top, you can see a procession of more mothers and fathers carrying children coming from the city out to the green countryside where this little scene is taking place. We have other icons more exciting and dynamic, but this one just makes me happy to look at.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Rubbed the wrong way

The Swan of Newark has a new category on her blog: Divine Sandpaper. Kendall Harmon is the latest to get this treatment. Of course, the premise is that HE is the sandpaper, grating on her, but reading through their respective blogs leaves no question about which of the two is the finer grain. I've got my own opinion of where Fr. Harmon's "better dead than rude" philosophy will get you when dealing with revisionists, but he seems determined to stick to it, which is probably why her post won't be appearing on his blog (or this one either, if it comes to that). But having entered The Sandpaper Zone, I hope he's man enough to realize what he's up against:

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After the snowstorm

Well, Dean FINALLY made it home, at 1:30 this morning! He was lucky to have gotten back that early, lots of other people travelling the same route were delayed yet another day. He couldn't make it through Chicago or Toronto, so eventually he ended up going to Philadelphia, then up to Montreal (on a plane with a broken, smelly toilet!) and then to Ottawa. And people wonder why I never want to fly again.

Emma was describing the week's adventures to him, and I could hear her while I was upstairs getting dressed. She said that she took Yin to her room during one incident when James was being particularly stormy, and then she said, "I heard James tantruming, and then I heard Mom tantruming..." Well! I wasn't going to let that pass unchallenged, so I stumped downstairs to the kitchen.

"Did I hear you say that you heard MOM tantruming?? Well, let me inform you, that *I* do not tantrum! I have perfectly reasonable reactions to intolerable provocations!!" By this time, Emma was laughing so hard there were tears in her eyes.

"I said, I heard James tantruming, and then I heard TOM tantruming! Just short for Thomas!"

"Oh. Well. Never mind then."

Friday, March 02, 2007

We used to laugh at this

It's an old Toronto newspaper clipping Dean saved some 25 years ago because of the humorous misprint in the middle.

Today, though, this sort of thing leaves me thinking that what we took as a misprint is now just a bald statement of fact.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Waiting for Spring

I know it's only March 1, but after a week of temperatures painfully struggling towards the freezing mark, we're now bracing ourselves for a big overnight snowstorm. It's starting to feel like those songs and cartoons during the 30s, assuring us that good times are just around the corner, and "Old Man Depression you are through, you done us wrong!" Of course, Al Dubin and Harry Warren wrote "We're in the Money" in 1933, so there was quite a wait before the promises came true, and it appears that Spring is coming just as slowly. Dean is stuck in Minneapolis, where the airport is snowed in - he was supposed to get home today, but he'll be coming back tomorrow night, via Montreal instead of Chicago. That same snowstorm is going to be hitting us tonight and tomorrow, and I'll have to check the news first thing in the morning to see if school transportation is cancelled for the kids.

But there are signs that things are changing. Two days ago, I was out in the still snow-covered backyard with Yin, and I observed TWO pairs of courting cardinals flitting about in the trees. Emma reported having seen a bright yellow bird this week too - probably a chickadee. I noticed that a week ago, all I was hearing outside was the voices of crows and squirrels, but this week there is constant birdsong from little birds. The snow is retreating a few inches per day from the fence, though we're about to get a good half-foot of it again, so all the scraggy grass will be covered up again. Still, it MUST be coming soon!

I did my first drywall repair today, and I must say, for a first attempt, it doesn't look too amateurish. It's down near the floor, so it's not too visible. My problem is cutting the wallboard and the hole exactly to match; I had a bit of a gap on one side of a few millimeters. I'll have to get a drywall T-square, because I think my measuring lines weren't straight enough when I have to cut a large piece of board. I have to put a second coating of drywall compound on it tomorrow, as the first coat around the edges is just drying. Still, I have all the other tools I need, and now I think I'll try to fix a spot in the basement where we had to open the wall to allow a frozen pipe to thaw out. It's been bugging me ever since. Unfortunately, this hole is right up near the *ceiling* of the basement (kitchen pipe that came down into the basement and then straight out through the wall) so that will be an awkward spot to work. But if I can get the measuring done accurately, I think it will go quite smoothly.