Friday, June 29, 2007

Dean, the Hewer of Wood and Drawer of...Wood

Dean sent me this email from work yesterday. You've seen the photo of our front porch, piled high with wood. Well, this is how it tends to get that way...
...I was taking a pleasant walk along Sussex Drive following yesterday's intense heat and thunderstorms...and after awhile I spied a rather nice neatly detached branch from a tall tree, almost free of bark, not much more than 12 feet long.

I thought about simply dragging it back with me...past the Prime Minister's house, past the French Ambassador's residence and into Foreign Affairs...though the main hall and just outside the cafeteria and then upstairs to the 6th floor of C Tower where a quick jaunt past our Legal Advisor's Office and the DG's would find me placing it against the wall of my office...only three feet or so jutting outside into the hallway.

But wait, I felt something..nothing I could put a finger on...that people might find my industry to be odd or quixotic but a fellow was working in his garage across the street and he graciously used his chain saw to cut it up into twelve 16 inch pieces...I noticed that the security guards at Pearson seemed interested in my treasure trove as I carried it in my arms...I think their look was probably envy...

I shall take the bundle home tonight courtesy of OC Transpo

The triumphant (sorta) return of MST3K!!!

It's not the actual MST3K, with Mike and the bots, but it's the guys who created it: Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett - doing humorous voice commentary for more horrible B-movies. Only the silhouettes at the bottom of the screen are different.

The first outing will be Hollywood After Dark, the story of a woman who wants to get into showbiz, but ends up sidetracked into the sleazy world of stripping. (Sounds a little like 'Girl in the Gold Boots'.) It'll be released in July, 2007, and followed the next month by Killers From Space. One nice thing will be that they're no longer straitjacketed by the 'science fiction' theme that they had to stick to when on the SciFi channel. In the early years, MST3K spoofed all kinds of bad movies.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Interesting echo from the past

While we've all been talking about the deeply confused Ann Holmes Redding, the Muslipalian "priest" of the diocese of Olympia, I was interested to read a similar story from about 10 years ago.

In 1997, Rev. Benjamin Chavis, a United Church of Christ minister, converted to Islam and made the same claim that it is possible to be simultaneously Muslim and Christian. I'm sure I didn't notice this at the time, because it was well before blogs, and I'm not a UCC member, so there'd be no reason for me to pay attention. But it is striking how very similar the arguments are - not only to those Ms Redding has made, but to comments by Mrs. Schori and other ECUSA leaders.

Compare Chavis:
Chavis Muhammad got a positive response from the audience when he made such assertions as, "The God who called me into Christian ministry is the same one who has now called me to be a minister in the Nation of Islam"; "If God is one, then why aren't we?"; "Will the church deny me obedience to God when God has called me to Islam? I'm going on, and to God be the glory."
and Redding:
Around that time, her mother died, and then "I was in a situation that I could not handle by any other means, other than a total surrender to God," she said.

She still doesn't know why that meant she had to become a Muslim. All she knows is "when God gives you an invitation, you don't turn it down."

There's the same blurring of just who Jesus is. Chavis:
For instance, when asked about his understanding of Christ and the Trinity, he answered, "For us in the Nation of Islam, we do have a Christology. Our response is to be obedient to Allah. We affirm not only creedal but practical Christology. What do you do when you get up from kneeling? Some can get up and do the work of the devil after they've kneeled.... What do we mean by triuneness? It was God in Christ. Jesus is a perfect example of obedience to God. So Jesus is not just a prophet. He is a son of God and we are sons and daughters of God. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad is a Christlike figure. Would we not think that God would send prophets and messengers in our time?"
“We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the ‘only begotten son of God.’ That’s how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal,” she continues. “When we say Jesus is the only begotten one, we are saying he’s unique in some way. Islam says the same thing. He’s the only human aside from Adam who is directly created by God, and he’s different from Adam because he has a human mother. So there’s agreement—this person is unique in his relationship to God.”
And just as they say that human beings and clams have 98% the same DNA, so we don't look at what the two religions are, we look at the rudimentary beginnings and pretend that this proves that they're really just the same. Chavis:
Chavis Muhammad reiterated several main themes: God is one; obedience to God is key; the Nation of Islam "practices what it preaches"; Jews, Christians and Muslims are born of the same root; and one can be both a Christian and a Muslim with no contradiction.
Redding explains that Abraham is the father figure who holds the three faiths together. In the Hebrew Bible is the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. In Islam, the story is the same, but it is Ishmael, not Isaac. In the Hebrew Bible, Hagar, and Egyptian slave, gives birth to a son before Sarah does but Ishmael is written out of the story. Christianity has genealogies of Jesus that also try to redefine the family. Islam reminds us that it was Ishmael who was the firstborn and restores that branch of the family.
There is a happy ending in one of the stories, though. Chavis's denomination saw through his flim-flam and concluded that he had abandoned his faith. A later article described the denouement: he was defrocked. Pity he'd been connected with such a fanatical bunch as the UCC; if only he'd been an Episcopalian, his dreams of "being a facilitator for Muslim-Christian dialog" could have been paid for by the diocese:
Redding's bishop, the Rt. Rev. Vincent Warner, says he accepts Redding as an Episcopal priest and a Muslim, and that he finds the interfaith possibilities exciting. Her announcement, first made through a story in her diocese's newspaper, hasn't caused much controversy yet, he said....

Redding believes telling her story can help ease religious tensions, and she hopes it can be a step toward her dream of creating an institute to study Judaism, Christianity and Islam."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More garden pictures

A few months ago, I posted a picture of our pathetic stone retaining wall, which had collapsed through a combination of a)winter freeze-and-thaw and b)James. We finally got around to rebuilding it. We pulled it forward about one foot, and reset the stones, this time with cement so James won't be able to push them over. It was a messy job, and for some reason, we didn't have enough rocks, so we had to scrounge them from the other walls. But it turned out quite nice in the end. Now all I have to do is to fill it the gap behind the wall. I've bought several bags of earth, but I'll also toss some rubble back there, too (that's the way they build walls in India - not garden walls. HOUSE walls - filled up with rubble and dirt.)

As for the growing things, I think we're going to pick the cherries this weekend:

And, of course, I have to show off the potatoes again:
And here are closeups of the flowers.

I LIKE potato flowers - I think they're very cute. The white ones are Chaleur potatoes, and the purple ones are Chieftain. The last variety, the All Red, are later, and their flowers haven't opened yet, but I suspect they'll be purple, too. this last variety has turned out to be susceptible to some leaf-biting creature, either the potato bug or the Japanese beetle. I sprayed them with a good all-purpose bug spray that would deal with the unknown pest. My hollyhocks have been RAVAGED by some bug, that's just skeletonized some of the leaves, so I sprayed them too. Today I went over to check them out, and there was a dead Japanese beetle lying right on a hollyhock leaf. Ha! Got him. I'll be spraying again next week. The interesting thing, though, is that while the hollyhocks were being tormented, my lilies were completely untouched, and usually Japanese beetles are a real pest for lilies. I can only suppose that they were so happy with the hollyhocks, they never got around to bothering the lilies.

By the way, it might get a little quiet in here over the next week. School ends today, and so the kids will be home all the time until summer camp begins after the long weekend. When they're home, they tend to monopolize the computer, so I may not be able to do much posting until they're in bed (and then I'm so tired I can't always get around to it).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh, and one last thing

I'm no great enthusiast for Native American religion. It has no meaning for me, and I'm often annoyed to have it dragged into public state ceremonies as if it's of some overwhelming importance to Canadians in general. Christianity had FAR more importance in the forming of this country, yet you never see solemn processions of Catholic priests opening Parliament or the Olympic Games.

But I really feel offended at the way Native culture is being used by the Anglican Church. All this stuff of drumming, dancing, chanting, sweetgrass-burning, and smudging is purely for photo-op purposes. When it's time for business, surprise! "Our Native brothers and sisters" are rather conservative on the subject of homosexual marriage, and so suddenly they're just like those primitives in Africa - off to the back of the bus with you, and thanks for the bead-and-feather show. It's that same magpie instinct that Mrs. Schori has demonstrated so often - pick up the bright shinies from other religions and carry them back to decorate the nest. But that's ALL they are - decoration. It's not taking them seriously at all. I think it's more insulting to other religions than just leaving them alone.

Winnipeg synod windup

Sigh. Well, I guess I'd better write a little windup post regarding the ACC Synod (it is over, isn't it? I stopped paying attention after I saw the front page headline in the Citizen yesterday.) Few seem to be fooled by the last-second "reprieve", courtesy of one vote in the House of Bishops. The real damage was already done with resolution A186, deciding that SSB don't conflict with Anglican doctrine. The too-clever-by-half tactic of splitting the difference isn't working this time; everyone knows that SSB are a done deal, just not on paper yet.
"On the one hand, we said it is a matter of doctrine, on the other hand, the church is not prepared to proceed immediately with the blessing of these same-sex unions," said Bishop Hiltz, who also said he was not sure how he would lead a church that had taken such an ambiguous stand.
For once, the revisionists have logic on their side. It IS a stupid and incoherent attempt to give everyone something to shut them up. If SSB really is consistent with Anglican doctrine, then what possible excuse is good enough for standing in its path? The "justice" crowd will ask the question, and the bishops have no possible answer that won't sound shifty and cowardly. "Other people won't like us!" is not going to stand up to the pressure very long, once reference to Civil Rights marches start flying around.

It's the exact parallel to Chris Johnson's argument on MCJ:
Besides, if Robbie's pointy hat was indeed a "new revelation" and ECUSA really believed that it was, then we have three choices: (1) ECUSA ought to demand that the entire Anglican Communion accept its view and it ought to withdraw itself from the Communion at the first possible instance until such time as the Communion did so. (2) Anglicans worship a deity who considers something to be a sin here but not over there. (3) God can and does change His mind, in which case He's not perfect and needs human guidance from time to time.
But I did say that for once the revisionists were being logical - it's not a normal condition.

I wonder if we'll ever know how the particular bishops voted? The runner-up for Primate, Victoria Matthews, voted Yes for A186 (I told you she wasn't really conservative), and No for A187 - was she the swing vote? Or did other bishops change their votes between the two resolutions, so that the numbers just worked out the way they did? I'm glad she lost; it would have been gut-wrenching for conservatives to be disappointed less than 24 hours after her election. With Hiltz, nobody ever had any expectations or hopes at all.

My own prediction is that over the summer, the A187 vote will be discredited as an outrageous subversion of Holy Democracy. The press coverage has already started spinning it that way:

Gay blessings rejected (National Post) "After a weekend of emotional debate at the Church's national meeting in Winnipeg, a majority of the 300 Anglican delegates here agreed to approve same-sex blessing ceremonies. For the decision to stand, however, Church law requires not a simple majority, but separate majorities among priests and laity, and also among the Church's 40 Canadian bishops. And while the priests and laity approved the move, it was voted down by a narrow majority of two bishops."

Canada's bishops veto synod on gay blessings (The Guardian)

or as the NY Times put it: "WINNIPEG, Manitoba, June 24 (Reuters) — Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada narrowly overruled clergy members and laypeople on Sunday to defeat a proposal to give churches the option of blessing same-sex unions."

And there will be more.

One final comment - I followed the progress of the debates and votes through Peter's fine blogging at Anglican Essentials, and he commented more than once that the prevailing atmosphere was one of confusion. That certainly came across. Clouds and clouds of confusion. At one point, I think he wrote that there was nothing but confusion about what was going on, and the chairman didn't seem to care. It all reminded me of M. Scott Peck's "People of the Lie":
There is another reaction that the evil frequently engender in us: confusion. Describing an encounter with an evil person, one woman wrote, it was "as if I'd suddenly lost my ability to think." Once again, this reaction is quite appropriate. Lies confuse. The evil are "the people of the lie," deceiving others as they also build layer upon layer of self-deception."
Not knowing any of the people present, I wouldn't say which of them was evil - probably none of them. But there was Evil present, and the proof of it is in the roiling atmosphere of confusion on Saturday and Sunday, which even came across in the written descriptions.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Weather Network

Americans might not be aware of this, but Canadians are weather fiends. We obsess about weather. There was an article in the Citizen long ago describing this obsession in hilarious detail. There were the car journeys through town in the winter, where every lighted information board providing the time and the temperature was discussed, and explanations sought for the discrepancies between them. "Well, THAT board is right over top the jewellery store sign, so those extra lightbulbs probably provide some heat, which is why it says -18 instead of -20." Naturally, only the COLDEST temperature can be the correct one.

We also like to boast about our weather to foreigners, especially Americans. When we recite our daily low temperatures ("It was minus 30 this morning when we got up! What do you think of that?") nothing makes us happier than when the American (hopefully from California) shakes his head and says, "I don't know how you can live there!"

So it should be no surprise that The Weather Network is popular. We first got into it when Emma was a baby. It was soothing, quiet, and repetitious; since we were exhausted and always being interrupted, this was a godsend. I knew that no matter how often I was distracted and interrupted, I could wander back and the Weather Network would still be there, still the same. I hadn't missed anything. Only baseball came close to that soothing, slow-paced security.

After a few years with the Weather Network almost continuously on, we noticed other benefits. It's odd, but autistic children quite like the Weather Network. My kids loved the blue pages with white lettering - they're still very fond of watching the credits for any movie. Just something about it appeals to them. Also, I think the calm music and the repetition appeals to them; no confusing emotions or facial expressions to have to read. The Weather Network has been our "default" TV channel for almost 17 years, so I think I'm qualified to notice when it changed its focus. It's not the same anymore.

For one thing, it's turned into a full-time global warming NAG. Almost every feature now bores on about environmentalism and global warming, and it's always with an alarmist message that the world is falling apart. It's starting to sound like the 'Beyond the Fringe' sketch about BBC reporting during WWII - "This is Alvar Lidell, bringing you news of fresh disasters." We have David Suzuki commercials (I still have only seen the beer one) and now even the Premier is popping up on the channel!

I don't want to see the Premier on the Weather Network. He belongs on the news, and I don't particularly want to see much of him there, either.

The Weather Network has decided to become up-to-date and cutting edge, and they've forgotten the fact that weather is not hip. It's weather, for crying out loud. It's supposed to be dull. When we want to avoid controversy, we talk about the weather. There's enough anxiety to be found watching big red blotches creeping across the country on radar screens, and seeing footage of the Mississippi flooding yet again. We don't need to be scared by imagined horrors that MIGHT happen some day. It's like reading a gardening book and finding the subject keeps getting onto plate tectonics. It's just not what we need to know.

It can have its comical aspects, though. Yesterday, I was watching The Weather Network, and the two bright and bubbly anchor ladies were talking about upcoming weekend weather in Ontario. One of them remarked "And Sunday they're having the Gay Pride parade in Toronto, and the weather should be just beautiful!" (I'm probably imagining that her voice was ever so slightly too smooth, as if she KNEW that this was kind of an unusual subject to bring up in a weather broadcast, but she was too cool to be concerned about it herself. But it did just seem like it.) The other lady bubbled even more enthusiastically, "Oh, yes! And that front that moved in today really reduced the humidity, which is great, 'cause you don't want it all hot and sticky... (suddenly looking self-conscious)... But we'll go into that later."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Well. That', then, eh?

Bishop Fred Hiltz was elected primate of the ACC, on the 5th ballot. According to Peter at Anglican Essentials, the deadlock was broken after the fourth ballot. Here were the vote totals:
Fourth Ballot

C 116 / 59 reqd
L 137 / 70 reqd

Fred Hiltz 56 / 75 (+3 / +2)
Victoria Matthews 60 / 62 (-2 / -2)

Fifth Ballot

C 116 / 59 reqd
L 137 / 70 reqd

Fred Hiltz 60 / 81 (+4 /+6) *Elected*
Victoria Matthews 56 /56 (-4 / -6)

Not a big vote shift, but then, we're not talking about a lot of electors here.

On StandFirm, someone was asking what caused the shift of support from Matthews to Hiltz? We'll probably never know, unless delegates go public with their reasoning. My theory is that the very even split was not really an even division between "liberals" and "conservatives". I know Matthews was touted as the "conservative" candidate, but only in relative terms. A conservative like me and the people at SF or MCJ would find her solidly liberal.

I think the electorate at the synod, both clergy and laity, are largely liberal. I think liberals voted for Hiltz because he's a liberal, and other liberals voted for Matthews because she's a woman. Don't EVER underestimate the amount of "me-tooism" in Canada vis-a-vis the U.S. I think a lot of people are envious that the U.S. elected a woman to head their church first, and wanted to prove that Canada is every bit as progressive. But threat of having to go over to the HOB for another candidate must have convinced some that that dream was not going to happen THIS time, and so some went for the true-blue liberal candidate. Hiltz isn't a woman, but he's got everything else a liberal could want.

Anyway, that's my wild guess of how it worked out.

The disappointment among the conservative bloggers is palpable. Not much comfort to offer.

"The worst is not, So long as we can say, 'This is the worst.'"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Garden pictures

Here is the clematis I was fretting about so much last year. As you can see, it's come back really strong this year. This is actually TWO clematis plants, but although they're both strong and healthy, only the purple one is producing a lot of flowers. The other one (I think it's a Nelly Moser) I transplanted last year from the back yard, where it was being suffocated by a big rhubarb. It survived fine and produced good strong growth this year, but only put out ONE flower, right down near the bottom. You can't even see it, because the hosta is hiding the base. I don't know why it's so stingy with its flowering, but maybe it's still recovering from the transplant.

Next is a picture Dean wanted me to put up. He's always been a collector of rocks and minerals, and now instead of keeping them packed in boxes in the basement, he's decided to put some out in the garden. The pale one in the front is a fluorite geode, I think; he knows the names of all the others. They look very nice when the sun comes out and catches their facets.

And finally - this is a damson plum! I thought I saw a spent blossom on the tree when I first bought it, but I could never find it again. Now it's got a little half-inch fruit growing on it!

Where's the outrage? -- I think I left it in the couscous

As a member of the Roman branch of the Vast Conservative Conspiracy™ seeking to destroy the Episcopal Church, when Greg Griffith of StandFirm speaks, naturally I obey. And so, as per his command to link to this story on our blogs, I'm going to join the pile-on about Ann Holmes Redding, the Islamopiscopal priest of the Diocese of Olympia. As everyone knows by now, she thinks she's both a Muslim and a Christian, and the Bishop of Olympia thinks this is all so exciting, in an interfaith possibilities kind of way.

The story is hilarious on its own, of course, but the secondary story that has cropped up is the issue of the Dog That Didn't Bark In The Night. That is, why have the reappraiser blogs completely ignored the whole embarrassing thing? MCJ is also asking where's the outrage?

It's too late to hope that this is going to "pass under the radar", though, all sorts of blogs have picked it up, not exclusively Episcopalian or religion-focussed. Even the great Belmont Club has noticed it, and summarizes the triviality of much of the left-liberal Western approach to religion:
For Redding becoming Muslim seemed simply a matter of tying a scarf around one's head just as the Christian priesthood consisted in donning a clerical collar. Religious choice, in many liberal minds, is an act of fashion. The so-called Muslim Redding seems oblivious to sharia law, whose judges would certainly object to the idea that you can be a Muslim at lunch and Episcopalian at dinner before becoming a Muslim again at breakfast.

But in many parts of the world, religion is not a question of which fashion accessory to wear today. Or of which words of unremembered faith one chooses to mumble in the next few hours. In other parts of the world, religion is a question of identity. It determines where you may go, with whom you may speak. It determines whether you will live or whether you will die. Anyone who doubts this should ask the Jews.

Pigs in Pokes

Gee, I'd almost forgotten about this article. It came out the same day as the Fleming opinion piece below. It was a letter to the editor referring to it that reminded me.

This article is mostly concerned with the same-sex stuff that will be making the headlines, but the paragraph that stopped me cold is on the second page (and is the one the letter-writer zeroed in on, too):
While sexual ethics fuel this dispute, many believe the struggle is actually a deeper debate about core Anglican doctrine: a tug-of-war over the way Scripture should be interpreted in the 21st century.

Many Anglican traditionalists and evangelicals, for example, hold to the view that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a real, historical event, just as the Bible says it was. Liberal attitudes are murkier; many say biblical accounts of Christ's "virgin birth" and resurrection should be interpreted symbolically, not literally.

So sensitive are these questions that none of the four bishops now seeking election to the leadership of the Canadian church agreed to answer questions about personal beliefs for this article.
That's what got me - the four candidates refuse to publicly confess what they believe. I've seen politicians get shifty during elections, but this is really bad. Whenever someone is nominated to the US Supreme Court, they have exhaustive hearings, and there's always a lot of attempting to "pin down" the candidates. They almost invariably refuse to answer questions like, "How would you rule in such-and-such a case?" because they say they can never decide any case in advance, and would have to judge each case on its merits. Infuriating, but logical. But I've never heard of a candidate refusing to say what they think of stare decisis, or Original Intent. It's like claiming to uphold the Constitution while refusing to define what the Constitution is.

And it's not just one candidate who's taking this tack - it's ALL of them! People will be voting in complete ignorance of the candidates basic beliefs. And this is the denomination that boasts about not having to leave their brains outside the church.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Bad news

I was weeding the swiss chard, near the currants, when I noticed an unpleasant odor. I took a closer look at the netting. I'm sorry to say, there's a dead chipmunk in there.


This wasn't supposed to happen.

I only wanted to protect the currants, and make the birds fly off when they tried to approach. I didn't want to KILL anything. This didn't happen last year. I'll never use that damn nylon netting again; there's got to be a better way. Maybe that cotton string net I saw in the Lee Valley Tools catalogue; it's soft and drapes, so I could tie it off above the ground, sort of like a balloon around the currant bush.

Now Dean and I are going to have to go out there with a shovel and a plastic bag, and disentangle the corpse. Ugh. These currants better be worth it this year.

Manners mayketh the Anglican

So all eyes are turning to Canada, and this is what they see. Meet the present and future Anglican Church of Canada, folks. Michael Fleming is the priest of St. Richard's Anglican, and co-chair of the task force that reported to the Diocese of Ottawa on same-sex unions.

His essay is essentially a plea for stately decorum while marching to oblivion. I'll leave others to judge just how well he interprets Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Was he telling the members to be patient and polite with people who were trying to re-write the Gospel? Or was he concerned that they were getting hot and bothered with each other over questions like, "Hey, the property line is on THAT side of the tree, so move your goats off my land before I kick your ass!" I can imagine him telling them to remember their Christian unity when it was endangered by smaller things; I can't easily see him assuring them that it didn't matter how many crazy ideas about God and Jesus they wanted to adopt, as long as they kept their numbers up and the volume down.
Paul's words speak to all, regardless of religious orientation, who find themselves in conflict or division with another person.
"Religious orientation" - that's a new one. I guess that means multiple religions inside one denomination, because people from other faiths don't much care what Paul said. And he sure wasn't addressing non-Christians.
For Paul, there is no place for scapegoating or laying blame on the other; no place for vengeance or recrimination; no place for marginalization; no place for pejorative labelling and name-calling. He calls us to sit down and look deeply into each other's eyes and see our mirror image; to listen to the other person without letting our own story prevent us from deeply hearing one another's heart; to respect the integrity that lies at the core of that person's being and know that our own integrity is being honoured as the words (and sometimes tears) flow; to accept the place where our sister or brother lives; to celebrate that diversity which has always been the hallmark of living in community.
And the only reason he didn't say "And don't be rude when people bring their lucky golden calf to the church picnic" is because he ran out of paper.
I remember the sometimes acrimonious debate over the ordination of women in the early 1970s and the often hurtful way in which the "winners" treated the "losers," and pray that we have learned hard lessons.
Yeah, because in 1971, we had 1,109,000 on the parish rolls, and in 2001 we were down to 641,845. So this time we're going to have to abjure the pleasure of abusing and kicking out the "losers", or else we'll derail the sucker train once and for all.
I think of the story of Jesus and the rich young man who, when told what he must do in order to follow Jesus, decides that what Jesus is asking is just too difficult, so he begins to walk away. The story in the gospels ends with this great separation, but I imagine Jesus walking beside the young man to where the road "diverged in a yellow wood" and saying to him as they bid farewell, "Adieu: may God walk with both of us and may we meet again ..."
I've heard some loser sermons in my time, but never anything as far out as this. Why bother writing down anything that Jesus said, if the complete opposite can apply just as well? So the young ruler DIDN'T give up his wealth to follow Jesus, but it didn't matter after all. Even Jesus himself told him not to worry, he'd be just fine.
Will we, regardless of where we stand on this specific issue, be able with all love and respect and honour to wish one another "Shalom"?
Just like Bo Peep in 'Toy Story', I think Father Fleming has found his moving buddy.
I recently wrote to one who is diametrically opposed to me on this question, saying, "My deepest prayer is that when this issue is decided, you and I will still be able to sit under the oak tree at St. Richard's and share our sandwiches as children of a loving God."
Yeah, sure, whatever. Inside the church, receiving communion at the altar rail, or outside the church, eating a sandwich under an oak tree. What's the difference?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mark Steyn notices the Anglican Church again

And the results are as hilarious as you might expect:
The other day, six Anglican archbishops called for the church to bless the unions of same-sex couples. The Anglican Church of Canada is about to have a big vote on the issue, and depending which way they swing it will either deepen the schism within the worldwide Anglican Communion or further isolate the Episcopal Church of the United States.

But never mind all that. What struck me was the rationale the archbishops came up with. This gay thing, they sighed. We've been yakking about it for years. Let's just get on with it, and then we can get back to the important stuff. "We are deeply concerned that ongoing study," they fretted, "will only continue to draw us away from issues which are gradually destroying God's creation – child poverty, racism, global warming, economic injustice, concern for our aboriginal brothers and sisters and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor."

Read the whole thing
The article is really about "global warming" and the pretensions of government to be able to "solve" it, along with all the other ills that flesh is heir to. But he does have a nice touch when it comes to writing about idiots. I suspect he'll be watching the shindig in Winnipeg this week.

Rescuing a chipmunk

I was inspecting the garden yesterday afternoon, when I noticed something moving around underneath the nylon netting that's draped over the currant bushes to protect them from the birds. It was a chipmunk, and furthermore, he was tangled in the netting! I picked up the netting and tried to shake him free, but somehow he'd gotten it around his head or face, so I shook, and he struggled and twisted, and in no time, he was in an even worse mess. The netting was twisted right around his muzzle, and formed a huge knot in his mouth! I tried to break it, but it was too strong, and the jolting just made him struggle more. So finally I ran back into the house and called Emma to come and bring me out some scissors.

We went back to the helpless captive and I started snipping at the netting. I had to be careful, because I could have easily just cut off the piece of netting holding him, and he'd have run off. But his jaw was basically wired shut with the tangled fibres, and if I did that, he'd simply starve to death, so I had to pick out the threads that were wound around and inside his mouth (and I suspect, even around his TONGUE), and get his face free before letting him go. It was tricky work, but he calmed down and stayed very still - probably thought he was about to be eaten. I carefully slipped the scissors inside his mouth and around his nose, and I don't think I cut him because I saw no blood. I'd have felt awful if I'd nicked him. It took a long time, because those threads were very tight and buried quite deep in his fur, but finally it all came loose and he dropped down and sped underneath the rhubarb, and from there into a crack in the stone wall. Now this morning, I saw a chipmunk run across the path, and I thought, "Is it YOU? Are you the one whose life I saved yesterday?"

This happened accidentally, but I remember a story in the newspaper back when I was living in North Vancouver. A fellow out walking saw a strange creature tumbling around in the weeds - sort of like a big, ungainly spider. When he looked closer, he saw that it was about half a dozen baby squirrels - some moron had BRAIDED THEIR TAILS together! The poor things were just helpless, tumbling about trying to run, all tied together by the tail. The man took them to a vet, who carefully undid the intricate pattern and got them free. I loved the quote the paper provided from the doctor, who I believe from his name was French-Canadian, so the imagined accent just made it funnier: "The poor guys were braided right up to their butts."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Nothing new under the sun

Jake's gracious acceptance speech for his Braxton's Lear award (I'm assuming it's THE Jake - I don't usually get top-drawer revisionists here, so I'm a bit wary that someone may just be posing as him, to make a fool out of me) illustrated an argument I made last year. He wrote
There have always been congregations in some kind of dispute with their bishop. The goal has been reconciliation. But now, with foreign bishops standing in the wings wooing them, and their nice assessments, away, such reconciliation doesn't have a chance. This behavior encourages congregationalism. Don't like your bishop? Then just choose another.
This is the sophisticated man-of-the-world pose, otherwise known as the "there is no new thing under the sun" ploy. Yes, there have always been congregations in some kind of dispute with their bishop. That doesn't mean that this is one of those cases. Just because in the past parishes have gotten into arguments with their bishops over trivial things doesn't mean that all arguments with bishops are trivial. This is like telling a beaten woman, "Oh, all couples have their little arguments!" Yes, they do, but that doesn't adequately cover her current situation. ALL little arguments don't end in fisticuffs; ALL women don't end up black and blue; and ALL bishops haven't tried to force sub-Christian, degenerate theology on their congregations.

It has to be made clear; we are not living in a Trollope novel. This is not going to end with some gentle head-shaking over the length of a chasuble or an inch of lace. This is life and death stuff for people who are thinking of eternity.

Let's not forget that the first revisionists weren't people who wanted to update church music or language - they were historians, who wanted history to be read differently based on their current political prejudices. Episcopal revisionists follow the same path. Dangerous ideas are "domesticated" and rendered harmless by pretending that this has all be discussed and decided long ago. So a hamfisted lawsuit by a Bishop Bruno is not an outrageous exercise of clerical tyranny; it's just a reprise of that quaint old comedy of the Bishop of High Dudgeon versus the Vicar of Puddington-on-the-Crawly over the date of the church fête.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Braxton's Lear - It takes a pillage

Fr. Jake cranks it up to '11':
So now Rwanda, Nigeria and Kenya are being allowed to consecrate bishops for North America, to better facilitate their pillaging of parishes. None of the entities will be recognized by Canterbury, of course, but I'm not sure that matters to them anymore. Any means, including invasions, to justify their ends; the expansion of their personal kingdoms, which more and more appear to have nothing to do with Anglicanism.

It appears once again that the Telegraph attempted to make much ado about nothing. Just another Primatial Pirate on the horizon, who has decided this is the time to unfurl his Jolly Roger. He condemns himself by his unethical behavior.
A year ago, it was only "sheep-stealing". Now we're up to "pillaging", and you all know what that leads to. The idea of Anglicans, Anglicans, for God's sake! "pillaging" and plundering and swinging cutlasses and generally running amok, is so ridiculous I hardly know what to say. It's like those websites where people dress their kitties up in pirate costumes for Halloween.

Mark Steyn has written a few times about how, the truculence of the language is in inverse proportion to the amount of physical risk on the Left.
These days, your average Chief of the defence Staff is a meek, mild-mannered, caring general who speaks softly and explains that the purpose of the highly limited bombing is to make it safe for our planes to go in and drop TV dinners....As the memory of real war recedes, the ersatz warriors of the political ops rooms have eagerly appropriated the martial imagery.
This sort of talk doesn't come well from people who think a "broadside" is something you pay your lawyer to come up with in court.

Michel Strogoff

Here's the scene from Michel Strogoff I was describing - I think it's my favourite in the whole movie. As I said before, just watch Mosjoukine's hands - so beautiful and expressive. How I wish this movie could get the gold-standard restoration treatment of 'Metropolis' and 'M'! Maybe some day. It's odd that the French were the first to start seriously restoring silent movies, but the Germans have taken over first place completely. I don't know so much about American silent movies, though I expect a lot of good work is going on in the U.S. too.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The absolutely last word on the Stanley Cup playoffs


Sunday, June 10, 2007

A little more Mosjoukine

I've begun posting on YouTube some clips from Mosjoukine's great masterpiece, "Michel Strogoff" (1926), directed by Victor Tourjansky. (And yes, I translated this one, too.) It's set in 19th-century Russia, but it's based on an adventure story by Jules Verne. The story's been remade several times, for cinema and TV. Mosjoukine plays Michel Strogoff, a heroic Guards officer who is sent incognito by the Tsar on a secret mission from Moscow to Irkutsk in Siberia. The Tartars are in revolt, and the evil Ivan Ogareff has escaped from prison and joined forces with Emir Feofar Khan to seize control of central Russia. Michel must reach the Grand Duke in Irkutsk with a letter from the Tsar, outlining the strategy for fighting back.

Mosjoukine got some blame for taking a role like this, and later on, that of Casanova. (He was actually the first choice for the role of Napoleon in Abel Gance's epic, but he turned it down.) It was thought that he was wasting his genius making crowd-pleasing movies like this, when he should have been pushing the boundaries creatively, as he did in his earlier movies. Since he was forgotten when the sound movies came, it probably doesn't really matter now. I think that he has a better chance of being rediscovered as a result of his more accessible movies, like this one, which is really a great adventure yarn, with lots of big sweeping production values.

The opening scene is a good example, with a ball at the New Palace in Moscow. Splendid set, beautiful costumes, and some of it was hand-coloured, to make it even more lovely. The restoration is good, but can't get the colour to look as bright as it must have when the film was new. Mosjoukine isn't in this section, he's introduced later, but we do get to meet the "comic relief", the two journalists, Jolivet and Blount - they play the standard Frenchman and Englishman, but they actually do become real characters, not just comic foils. And they sort of stand in for the audience, as constant observers of what is happening. Both actors were French, by the way, but I especially like Gabriel de Gravone as Alcide Jolivet, forever with his little box of candies for emergencies.

The second scene shows Michel travelling under the name of Nicolas Korpanoff, heading down the Volga with Nadia Fedor, a young woman he's helping to get to Irkutsk to rejoin her father. Also on the boat is Ivan Ogareff, disguised as a gypsy, and his sweetheart, Sangarre.

The last scene is in Ichim, where Michel comes face to face with Ogareff (not knowing who he is). Ogareff insults him, but Michel has to swallow the insult in order not to jeopardize his mission. As a result, everyone thinks he is a coward, especially Nadia. But as she remembers his heroic behaviour of the past few weeks, she realizes that he can't be a coward, and she finally understands that he is really the secret courier from the Tsar.

One thing that was so remarkable about Mosjoukine was his hands - very beautiful and expressive. He was renowned for the way he underplayed on film. He developed that style himself; if you watch his early films from Russia, you can see him still working out the best way to play to the camera, and he still can overdo it sometimes, as was not unusual when stage actors made the transition to film. But at a time when silent movies often had broad overacting, Mosjoukine was unique for the way he could express so much with the tiniest movements.

There's a scene coming up in the second half, where he and Nadia reach a gutted village and have all but lost hope of making it to Irkutsk - it's my favourite in the whole movie, and again it's because of the economy of movement and those beautiful hands of Mosjoukine. I hope to get that one up this week.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Love Song of Archbishop Rowan D. Prufrock

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
Rowan Williams has scuttled off to his summer break, but not before firing off a few rounds of grapeshot at the Anglican Church to keep the savages hopping. It started with his sorta, kinda, maybe-temporary guest list to the Lambeth Conference next year. It was accompanied by a letter which left things less clear than before.

Williams has mastered the art of sounding stern and focussed at the very moment he's melting into the fog like the Invisible Man. He's the Ted Baxter of Christianity: "At this point, and with the recommendations of the Windsor Report particularly in mind, I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion, take off glasses, look concerned!" And yesterday there was a podcast of his interview with Time magazine, which was very much in the same vein. Is there one single thing in this interview that anyone can grab onto and be sure of? Maybe the statement, "I don't like being blackmailed" - that's about the only thing I can see. For the rest...

There is only one thing more predictable than Dr. Williams trying to ride three horses at once, and that is the compulsion of conservative Anglicans to cast the runes every single time to try to divine what portents are hidden in his mystifying utterances. President Bush is called a poor communicator, but when people say that, they mean that he expresses himself in trite language, and has no ability to rise above the banal, especially when trying to discuss extraordinary or complex matters. But nobody has any doubt about what he means - his language may be feeble, but it's not confused. Williams really IS a poor communicator, because nobody is ever sure what anything he says means. Not even a politician could consistently get away with this sort of flim-flam, and normal people who wrote like this would be reprimanded or fired.

Every communication is followed by a flurry of "analyses", which usually consist of "Well, he's not saying that..." "Yes, but that doesn't mean that..." "Reading between the lines we see that..." and of course, the ever-popular "Oh, but this is written in Brit-speak; what he REALLY means is..."

Revisionists do some of this too, but conservatives are positively addicted to it, probably because they're the weaker party and are more desperate for positive auguries. They never question the conditions under which they're playing when it comes to Rowan Williams; his production of incomprehensible prose is simply accepted as if it were a physical fact of life that can't be removed. As if he spoke with a stutter, or as if his messages were coming intermittently over a static-covered line, and so portions of the text were simply missing and had to be surmised or deducted. Nobody has the guts to say, "This could mean anything or nothing. If Williams' mind is really this incoherent, then his judgment is worthless. If he deliberately writes like this in order to hide his ideas, then he's dishonest and equally worthless. Whatever the case, either he can redo this and give us a plain statement of what he means, or we'll cease to pay any attention to him."

It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow, or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
``That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.''

Just by chance

I picked up a second-hand copy of 'The War Against Boys' by Christina Hoff Sommers. I've heard a lot about it, so I thought it might be worth reading.

So almost immediately, I come across this story from the Times, partially reprinted in the Citizen.
The best-known toymaker in France is seeking to counter the spread of video games by encouraging boys to play with dolls.
If you thought that they might be promoting a French version of GI Joe (Foreign Legion François?), think again.

Corolle has launched a campaign to persuade les filles to return to a product that they are abandoning and les garçons to join them.

The company says that it hopes to prepare toddlers for an adult life as New Men — caring, sharing and looking after babies.

Mathilde Gailly, marketing director at Corolle, said: “Today fathers spend a lot of time taking care of their babies, so there is no reason why boys should not start with dolls.
Except that it sucks, and everyone knows it.
An initial workshop was organised yesterday to prepare for the campaign. “We have noticed that boys under 3 behave just like girls and place themselves in the role of the mother, giving bottles and changing nappies,” said a spokeswoman for Corolle.

“After 3 they start identifying with the father, and the way they play with their dolls changes. They put them on toy trains and send them down slides.”
The little buggers will keep trying to act all, you know, male (ugh). So we'll just stamp that out right from the beginning:
Mrs Gailly said that boys were happy to play with baby dolls, although not with Barbie-style toys.

“They like giving bottles and changing nappies but not brushing hair and doing make-up.” Although dolls have been in existence for the more than 4,000 years, the company says that the modern child, female and male, needs help in understanding them. So it is setting up workshops in Paris this autumn where two nursery nurses, a man and a woman, will offer advice on how to feed, clothe and bathe them.
And if that doesn't work, make 'em watch Teletubbies.
Edwige Antier, a leading child psychiatrist, said that boys who played with dolls would have no trouble establishing their sexual identity in later life.

“It’s not toys that influence sexual orientation,” she told Le Figaro. “But a boy will not manipulate a doll in the same way as his sister.” She added: “Fathers carry their babies around, why shouldn’t young boys push prams?”

Sometimes I'm actually GLAD my sons are autistic. They're completely impervious to this sort of manipulative propaganda. They are purely natural, and they can't be molded or pressured into becoming something they're not. And better yet, nobody even tries.

Garden going great - pictures

First of all, behold the glory of the potato patch!!!

There are 88 potato plants growing in the New Garden, with a possible 4 more on the way (one hasn't come up yet, but I think it still will, and I planted 3 extras to make up for 3 duds.) Now, on to the tomatoes:

This year, I'm using black plastic mulch for the first time, because it keeps down weeds and increases the heat of the garden bed. Actually, it's not really plastic; it's a biodegradable membrane made partly of cornstarch; it'll break down by the end of the season, and I can just plough it under into the soil in the fall. As the season advances, I'll probably cover it with some organic mulch to help along the breakdown. I planted 9 tomato plants, all of different kinds, but one died so I'll have to replace it. An interesting thing is that we also have 3 bonus potatoes growing in this bed! They burst through the plastic mulch, much to my surprise - the extra heat seems to have really invigorated them. I don't know if these are potatoes we overlooked last year (this is where we grew potatoes last time) or if they were in the compost I applied before planting, and have just sprouted (I get a LOT of stray tomato plants that start up that way, and one year it was a canteloupe that planted itself in front of the irises). Whatever the origin, we're going to leave them, since the tomatoes will grow tall and shouldn't be affected - these can just grow along the ground as best they can, and we'll see what results when we dig them up later on.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Quest for coffee

We have the same problem buying coffee that we do buying salt or sugar or baking powder, or anything that comes in powdered form. A tin of coffee is just a prop for James's endless Thomas the Tank Engine dramas, and he always dumps it out for his trains to run through. The solution is the same as the salt one - buy individual packets of coffee, like they have in hotels and offices. Fortunately, this is easier to find than salt packets - office supply stores generally stock them. However, I fear that Staples may be clearing out their supply, because their boxes of individual coffee packets are heavily discounted. As a result, I'm running around town, buying up every box I can find. Right now, I think I have a year's supply in the car, and I'm going to try all the other Staples stores to see if they've got any left.

There is one alternative solution, though, which doesn't hold when it comes to the salt problem - I can get coffee beans and grind them myself. James doesn't seem to care about the beans, it's the soft ground coffee that he wants. I do grind coffee on weekends sometimes, when there's no rush to make coffee in the morning, but I seem to be the ONLY one who will do it; Dean really doesn't like to mess around with measuring cups, he prefers to open a package and dump the coffee into the percolator.

Actually, I recently found a book about how to roast your own coffee, and I'd love to try that some time. You can actually use a popcorn popper - the only problem is that the roasting beans throw off a fair amount of chaff, so it would probably be better to do it outside. All I have to do is find some place that sells green coffee beans.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Anaheim at Ottawa, Game 4

Game 3 was a good one for Ottawa. I think they finally woke up and realized that it's HARD to win a Stanley Cup, and Anaheim wasn't going to just hand it to them. If they play like that tonight, then we may have a real series.

I dug out our Senators flag, which has been languishing at the bottom of a drawer since the Sens flamed out in 2003. We hung it on the front porch, making us the last people in Ottawa to hop on the bandwagon. James was studying the flag with great interest while I still had it in the kitchen. Finally I said to him, "What's that?" figuring he'd know the word "flag", and even if he didn't, he'd say something like "red" - when he doesn't know a word, he falls back on its colour as a way of describing it. Instead, he thought a moment, then said "GO!! GO!!" I'm guessing there are some Sens fans among his teachers.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Let me show off for a moment

As I think I mentioned a while back, when asked about my educational background, I was primarily trained as a translator. However, my life took a little turn, and I ended up caring for 3 handicapped kids, and never actually worked in my field. (I was quite good - I seemed to have a real knack for translating into legalese. My professors commented that I'd be great at translating insurance documents! Maybe it's just as well my career never took off.) But it's like driving, you never really forget how to do it, and over the years I've done odd translation jobs for friends and for myself.

Well, my love for silent movies brought me a little translation fun along the way. I'm very devoted to the Russian silent film star Ivan Mosjoukine - that's his picture at the top of my blog. Unfortunately, though he was a huge star in Europe in the '20s, he couldn't make the transition to talking pictures, and is now almost completely forgotten, except by a few oddballs like myself, and a man in England who collects his movies. I've bought a good number of Mosjoukine films from Tom Hamilton, and since many of them, from the peak of his career, were made in France, the intertitles are all in French. Very few have been translated - only one that I can think of, 'Casanova' (1928), because it was restored in the early 80s. So I started translating the intertitles myself. Tom was able to superimpose my translated titles over the originals, and now you don't have to speak French to enjoy Mosjoukine.

In tribute to this great actor, and to show off my one and only "credit", I managed (after hours of purgatory struggling with an editing program) to load onto YouTube the first 10 minutes of Mosjoukine's weirdest film, "Le Brasier ardent"(1923). This was the only film that Mosjoukine wrote, directed and performed in, so it offers interesting insights into how his mind worked, and what he wanted to do with film. The first 10 minutes show an utterly bizarre nightmare scene, where Mosjoukine plays at least 4 roles, and there are photos of him in a few more. He loved dressing up and playing multiple roles. This movie is a strange combination of comedy, surrealism, romance, horror, and poignancy. I'm going to try to put up another section, which is really bizarre - as I said in my IMDb review of it, sort of a combination of Kafka and Fred Astaire.

It's NOT restored, however, so one has to resign oneself to the less-than-perfect picture quality. But Tom added a soundtrack which I think fits really well, so it's quite easy to watch. There's nothing worse than watching a silent movie with some random music that doesn't match at all. I remember watching Fritz Lang's 'Siegfried' with some "greatest hits" classical music collection slapped on top. Siegfried was fighting the dragon while Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' was twittering away.

UPDATE: I've added a second section here. It's a pity it's so dark, but the film hasn't been restored. At least it's the correct speed, and Tom added suitable music.