Friday, December 25, 2009

Contexualizing the Christmas Story

If you have access to Facebook and wish to add to the discussion I hope to have provoked there, please do.

Merry Christmas and a Blessed Nativity of Our Lord to you all! As I do every year, I’ve spent considerable time humming or singing Christmas carols and hymns. And as I have for many a year passed, I’ve contemplated one particular hymnodic question.

Briefly consider this hymn written in 1643 by the Jesuit priest Jean de Brébeuf (#Canadian patron saint, Canadian martyr) for the Huron natives. Called “Huron Carol” or alternatively “’Twas in the moon of wintertime,” the hymn illustrates a question of contextualization that intrigues me.

*‘Twas in the moon of wintertime
When all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchee Manitou
Sent angel choirs instead.
Before their light the stars grew dim
And wandering hunters heard the hymn:
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born.
In excelsis gloria.”

Within a lodge of broken bark
The tender babe was found
A ragged robe of rabbit skin
Enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh
The angel song rang loud and high:
“Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born.
In excelsis gloria.”

The earliest moon of wintertime
Is not so bright and fair
As was the ring of glory on
The helpless Infant there
And chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus in born.
In excelsis gloria.

O children of the forest green
O sons of Manitou
This holy Child of earth and Heav’n
Is born today for you
Come kneel before the radiant Boy
Who brings you beauty, peace and joy.
Jesus your King is born, Jesus is born.
In excelsis gloria.

I would ask, “Is this hymn appropriate for Christian use?” If so, in what settings is it appropriate: liturgy, private use, caroling? Why or why not?

On the one hand, the song is beautiful (at least, the Jesse Edgar Middleton translation I am working from) and confesses the birth of Jesus Christ. However, I am curious about two aspects of lyrics.

First, how appropriate is the use of the name “Gitchee Manitou” for God? Is the use of this Huron name similar to the anglo use of “God” for YHWH, or is there significant reason to avoid using this name to refer to the Divine (ie; syncretism with indigenous paganism)?

"Gitche Manitou (Gitchi Manitou, Gitche Manito, etc.) means "Great Spirit" in several Algonquian languages. The term was also utilized to signify God by Christian missionaries, when translating scriptures and prayers, etc. into the Algonquian languages.
"Manitou is a common Algonquian term for spirit, mystery, or deity."]

Second, how appropriate is the re-description of the characters in the Christmas story to fit the Huron context? For instance; “wandering hunters” for shepherds, “chiefs from far” for magi, "fox and beaver pelt" for gold, frankinscense and myrrh, and “ragged robe of rabbit skin” for swaddling bands. Are there substantial objections, theologically or otherwise, to such modifications? Objections considered, are the alterations of detail acceptable for hymnodic use?

I do realize that these may be questions lacking conclusive answers, but what do you all think?


Friday, December 11, 2009

Out of My Ken

Dear Reader,

I have a sad state of affairs to report. The girl who is ignorant of fashion, clothing names, and ettiquette will be attending a wedding where the dress code is "day formal." Advised by the bride that this should be in the area of "Christmas Sunday Best" and "less formal than evening", she is still very uncertain.

The authority on fashion whom I most respect has interpreted "day formal" to indicate an "afternoon dress", "tea gown", or "dinner dress". Google is not helping me visualize these very well. What I have gleaned of info merely tells me (I think?) that there ought to be a close-fitting bodice with a flowing skirt (and maybe a train?), that there should be gloves worn (?) and some other variable and frighteningly incomprehensible bits about gloves and things.

I'll admit I'm very intimidated. I've never owned a pair of dress gloves in my life, nor am I at all familiar with what fashionable clothing called by it's proper name actually looks like. I know work-wear like Carharts, overalls, steel-toe boots - ya know, functional clothing.

This is a constant problem for me whenever I step outside the borders of hill-billy land and college-student kingdom. I never know what is appropriate wear nor how to fit my current wardrobe to meet expected standards. I consistently find myself (by my own observation and comparison of my attire to those around me) overdressed or underdressed for the occasion - or simply dressed very differently. I'm not terribly concerned about conformity, but I do like to not draw attention to myself in social settings where there is an established expectation.

Therefore, I want to ask some very dumb, very specific questions:

Do I need to obtain gloves? What sort?

Do I need a hat? What material? What style? What color?

Is a particular sort of shoes required? What sort/color/build?

What does the proper dress look like?

Grateful for any light on the topic,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Day You Quit Crying.

Yesterday morning I participated in a medical emergency. To be honest, I started the process. I didn't like how the patient was acting and breathing. I called the nurse, and within a few minutes all sorts of things were happening. We ended up sending the patient out to ER. While we were working, I was calm - likely because I was doing something to help, be it as little as holding the patient's hand or shoulder. After it was out of our hands and I reported to my instructor however, I found Nicole in a supply room and cried on her shoulder. The respiratory therapist saw me and I stopped.

Later that day he found me to show me labs from the ER. After explaining what had happened with the patient, he said something I'll never forget.

"What you did in the backroom is a good thing. Crying means you'll be a good nurse."
"Why?" I said.
"Because it means you care. The day you quit crying is the day you need to quit the job."

When I had awakened yesterday morning, one line of a song had been running though my head and refused to leave me all day.
But since it falls unto my lot
that I should go and ye should not
I gently rise and softly call
Goodnight and joy be with you all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Need for Caution: Contrition

I've become abruptly aware recently that many of the sayings and metaphorical phrases which I grew up hearing and using in a clean and witty sense may be understood in an unclean, perverted sense. I shall have to exercise much caution if I mean to keep my communication as clear as my thought.

To all my friends and readers: Forgive me if I have unintentionally said something offensive, suggestive, or improper. If it occurs again, please correct me and clarify. Apologies in advance.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, that's ok too.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Time to Go Home

When your 1st metacarpal-phalange joint is swollen, red, and too tender to move, you know it's time to stop studying and go home.

And when you call the thumb joint by it's anatomical name, it's time for a full night's sleep.

Slightly lonely and subconsciously fatigued,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Because I am an Epistemophiliac...


I crave this book. I found it in the library yesterday and it is amazing:

Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words.

From this book, my friend and I learned yesterday that we are both "epistemophiliacs" and have since used that word rather randomly.

Is rediscovering her love for words and language, philosophy and debate. ARG.

Friday, November 13, 2009


I just had a revelation. I have a whole 6 hours until 12 pm. A whole 6 hours I can use to finish a nutrition project! What ho! The wonder o' it.

Let's get 'er done.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Last evening through today have together composed the nicest birthday I think I have ever had. Simple, no fanfare, relaxing, are effective descripters. I did what I wanted to do.

Last night I came home to a nice, homecooked stirfry complete with vegetables, mushrooms, and onions. Instead of cake, we had apple pie at my request. Mom even bought cider. It was a very cozy meal - just the family, nothing elaborate. After dinner I received a few gifts - beautiful writing from my youngest sister, a CD of Handel's Messiah from my Grandparents, and a cell phone from my parents. Best of all, Dad brought out the guitar. He hasn't played since...I don't know when - probably at least a year. We drug out the old "Word of God" community song books and sang the beautiful charismatic semi-liturgical songs I used to love as a wee lass. The Te Deum setting in Daddy's book is still one of my favorite songs.

Instead of going to sleep or forcing homework down my gullet or even socializing online, I took up a book - the first fiction book I've cracked this semester. George MacDonald regaled me with his narrative of "wee Sir Gibbie" till nigh on 1:30am. It was delightfully satisfying and seemed a combination of several styles of writing I've appreciated in the past. The young, dumb, gentle-hearted orphan overcomes the odds with simplicity and forgiveness, wins the maiden, and in poetic justice inherits the house of his forbears, all in (relative) Scottish dialect.

The day of me birth I spent wi' me ain bonnie lad and some other friends. I would not have had the day any other way. It was relaxing, low key, and not "me focused" at all. I may safely say that in all my -- years, I've had ne'er a more pleasant birthday, nor received it sae gratefully as a day of rest.

Sunday Night's Addition: A note on the makeup. I'm going off of it. I've been wearing it off and on for the past week and a half because of acne severity. I hate acne: I hate the blotches on my face. I also abhore a mask, particularly clay, especially clay connected by association with coquettish behaviors. But I put it on because I hated the unnatural physiologic more than the unnatural cosmetic. Tomorrow, however, I'm done. I will not be ashamed of my face. If it causes unpleasantness to others, I will hide it again, but not till then.

Goodnight, dear reader. Tomorrow I begin my clinical work in Geriatrics. I don't have to get up at 4am, but I do need to rise at 5, and hence I shall now turn in. Here ends another post with no particularly deep point.

Friday, October 23, 2009

So, Singing, Self Saw Salamander

For the sheer sake of blogging something random...

I had my voice lesson this morning.

We moved to the grand piano in the choir room because it was so warm in our practice room.

All of a sudden, Brother G. stopped playing and got up. I looked over and there was a newt crawling on the tile floor! He picked it up gently and we looked at it. It had dust all over it and was starting to dry out. Brother G. took it outside and set it under some rain-soaked leaves.

When we checked on it after the lesson, the salamander was gone.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ebenezer (look it up)

Thus far by the grace of God...

Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

Clinical Practicum is over. Next week I take Exam III and the Theory Final. God-willing, I'll move on to Geriatrics.

I couldn't have passed this test without help. I barely began studying for it prior to yesterday. Lord knows the other classes, life changes, and distractions heaped on my plate. Yet, I feel that I knew the information I needed to; I predict a passing score. Not an excellent score, but a passing score - and that is all I need. For a sufficiently clear mind, alertness beyond my current sleep status, and a good memory, I thank the Lord.

Now I'm about to do something I haven't done in a week. I'm going to go take a walk by myself for pleasure. For no other reason than that I want to be in the air, sun, trees. I'll leave the Care Plans, the Nutrition reading, the exams behind for an hour. They won't go anywhere.

I've a sudden strange sensation of living a life different from what I thought it was. A life where I'm not in control, but controlled by another for my good. Life shifts in it's fluid course. On Christ the solid rock I stand: all other ground is sinking sand.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


This Post Not For the Squeamish. Death and Decay discussed.

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

Today I gathered bones.
In August, Chatter, my 2nd original goat died. I heard her cry out from the barn, but I thought nothing of it for the sound ceased as abruptly as it rang out. My goats often cry when they hear people's voices and I was busy. On a "rough day" scale of 0-10, it had been about an 8 already(one of those days where in order to keep my mind and body from pathologic thoughts and acts I hurtle myself into the woods to run till I cannot breathe and movement requires more than will). I was barely holding together as it was, dead tired from readying projects for entry to the county youth fair the next day. So, when conscience pricks drove my weary feet toward the barn, my foggy mind only considered it a routine animal check.

Her body still and bloated. Limbs outstretched. She did not answer my call. A glance told all.

When a foggy mind is slapped with something it is unprepared to handle, it goes haywire, shrieks, calls for help, pleads. But only for a moment. Negative feedback kicks in and the mind goes numb, for one must be able to act logically in crisis, even an emotional crisis.

Dad summoned, I returned to the barn. I touched her; stroked her face, her flank. The children came weeping. Perhaps I was a bit short with them. Dad sighed. It was already growing dark outside. Every piece of equipment capable of digging had broken down. We'd never manually dig a large enough hole that night. But something had to be done. It was warm and there would be no time the next day or the next week to shovel dirt.
"Sarah," he said, "It's the only good choice."
"Alright," I said. "I'll help you drag her."
We laid her 14 year old frame on a hillock under a single tree at the lake farm. Heavy but frail she seemed: I could not help but remember the stubborn, strong doe I first met. I touched the reddish black curls for the last time under the stars and glanced into the darkness. Were the coyotes already gathering?

I had not wept.
Today I gathered bones.

The leaves rustled beneath my feet. I carried a white cardboard box - probably used for bulk foods. The chill wind nipped around my ankles and the edges of my sweater. I thought of nursing and giving life. I pondered dirt, things that live, that grow, as weeds tangled my feet. Toward the tree fled my feet, my thoughts far away.

My feet stopped. I sniffed the air and set down my box. Clean, crisp autumn filled my nostrils as I pulled on vinyl gloves. Though I appreciate physical contact with my work, somehow, even symbolically, I didn't want this dirt on my skin or under my nails.

White, brittle pieces of mineral. The scavengers and elements cleaned well. Gently, I gathered every bit - some bones had been carried a few yards away. Some were missing altogether. Into the box, rib by rib, every tooth and chip, every dried scrap of sinew. Even three hooves remained. For some odd reason, this brought a joy to me, remembering how much difficulty Chatter had given me during hoof trims. Three locks of the glorious red coat also lay preserved, finding their way to the box as well. Last of all, I found the skull. Off all the bones, this was the only one I could clearly visually identify as Chatter's. I could see the smooth grove I used to stroke my fingers along while her eyes closed and head relaxed, the prominent ridge I used to itch for her. I laid it atop the pile. Having combed a 50 foot radius around the spot where we laid her, I broke off dry grass plumes and cushioned the rest of the box.

It's not that Chatter is in her bones, but they once were in her. I understood why we left Chatter's body to the birds, dogs, wind, sun and rain. It was sensible. It was necessary. Yet, part of me had always planned to bury her on the farm, next to Darey (my first goat) when he passed. When we left her clay on the hill, I thought of returning for her bones. One voice inside me pointed out that such action would be sheerly childish and sentimental, that there was no need. Yet another part of me quietly rose up, and, as if in defiance, resolved to go for the bones for the sake of practicing the childish and sentimental even while recognizing the sensible. I do many irrational things in my spare time which one could regard as silly - why not this as well?

There is nothing so much like a freshly plowed garden as a newly dug grave.

Two mounds near the pasture. Two more near the woods. The original herd and cat have passed. Even the doe I raised from a kid shows her years. The herd is unfamiliar to me now - I even have to ask the names of the younger ones.

My brother brought me two crosses. I was tempted to be annoyed, theologically. But the same part of me which brought back the bones squelched it. He meant kindly; he felt bad about the deaths, even though I do not. I laid them on the dirt for him, an adiaphoron. Even if Christ did not die to earn forgiveness of sins for animals, He certainly renewed all Creation by death and resurrection. Goats too belong to that created order.

Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?

Their Creator knows.

Thus Quoth The Patriarch: or Star Wars Plot Per Daddy

Star Wars plot according to Daddy:

"Beautiful girl
rescued by handsome boy
for dumb reasons
while doing exciting things
all over the universe."

Mommy: That sounds like a "universal" plot.

Children groan grinningly.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

His Blood Upon the Rose

Hello, Dear Reader,

I've not blogged for some time now, and all sorts of things are filling up my mind and making me ache to put them to paper, but time does not permit. Perhaps I'll find time for a few soon. Tonight, just one random point of interest.

My lovely sister introduced me to this song several months ago, but it never really caught my interest until recently. Like many other artistic works, it is the story in and behind Grace that most endears it to me. For me, underlying stories make up for many artistic defects. Symbolism in a song attracts me almost more than a story. So, when I tripped over the last verse, I sat back, puzzled, and scratched my head a tad (bit).

Now as the dawn is breaking, my heart is breaking too

On this May morn as I walk out, my thoughts will be of you

And I'll write some words upon the wall so everyone will know

I loved so much that I could see his blood upon the rose.

It seemed clear enough that "His blood upon the rose" was a symbolic reference to something or somebody, but who? My theological impulse of course brought a particular Man's particular Blood to my mind, but I shook my head. Couldn't be. Not in this type of song. But it couldn't be the singer's blood either, for he hadn't been executed yet, and even if he were envisioning the future, he wouldn't refer to himself in the third person, would he?

I asked my dear sister about this (or she asked me, or maybe we both asked each other) and we concluded that the best way to discover any potential reference would be to google the words, "his blood upon the rose." Having done this, she sent me this link. It appears that this poem was written by Joseph Plunkett, the singer in the song;

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

It's beautiful. Really, it is. Creation seen in light of, contained in, and redeemed by Christ's Passion. All pathways by his feet are worn...His cross is every tree.

So the reference in the song is to Christ. Amazing. In the midst of tragedy, in his last twenty-four hours with his newly married wife, Plunkett wrote "some words upon the wall" there in the Kilmainham Jail. It is my guess that these are the words. Not words of sorrow over separation from his wife, nor of anger over his impending death, nor a hymn to the fighters for independence, but an expression of the significance of Christ's Godhead and Manhood for creation.

Particularly am I struck by the last line of the poem in the context of Plunkett's approaching execution. His cross is every tree. Though I have no way of knowing how Plunkett was put to death, I'd hazard a guess that hanging was standard procedure. With this in mind, I'd venture that Plunkett saw in his death a participation in the death of Christ - and an entrance into life. Now that's beautiful.

The song Grace retelling Plunkett's last day ends with the words, "I loved so much that I could see his blood upon the rose." Whom did he love? His wife? But that doesn't make sense, except in the sense that he looks into eternity to see a future reunion. Rather than that, it would seem that Plunkett loved a Savior, and his wife in the brilliant light of the the Same.

Anyway. There's a late night extrapolation on the basis of very slight evidence. However, I just couldn't get this out of my mind. Take it or leave it. I can't support my speculation - I just think it's awefully lovely.

Good Night! (Morning)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Something to Think On


*Are practices inherently meaningful?

*Is history irrelevant when it is forgotten or ignored?

*Meat sacrificed to idols?

*What is pretend and pretending?

*Two ditches:

That's enough for now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My Very First Nursing Patient

Before I ever step foot in the clinical setting, I have identified my very first patient. She's nearer to me than any other, but, strangely, I've been quite indifferent toward many of her critical needs. Ironically, this indifference has grown as my interest and involvement with nursing has increased. That I now hope to remedy.

If I do not take care of myself, how can I hope to help my patients? How can I pledge myself to give my clients the most complete and holistic care I can, if the best my body and mind can offer them at the time of care is not the best which I could provide were I in good health and practicing a healthy lifestyle?

Hence, I must initiate the Nursing Process in regards to myself. Time being limited, I'll not run through all steps of the Nursing Process in this post (Assessment, Diagnosis, Planning, Implementing, Evaluating) but skip to one of my personal self diagnoses and the interventions I plan to address it. (Following info from Nursing Diagnosis Handbook, Mosby)

Nursing Diagnosis:

Sleep Deprivation - Prolonged periods without sleep.

Defining Characteristics (Those applicable): Acute confusion; agitation; anxiety; apathy; daytime drowsiness; decreased ability to function; fatigue; hand tremors; heightened sensitivity to pain; inability to concentrate; irritability; lethargy; listlessness; malaise; restlessness; slowed reactions; transient paranoia

Patient will awaken refreshed and be less fatigued during the day.
Fall asleep without difficulty.
Verbalize plan that provides adequate time for sleep.
Identify actions that can be taken to improve quality of sleep.

I'm planning that TQ will spend at least a half hour in physical activity each day, sufficiently hydrate herself, and shower and engage in devotions before bed in order to promote quality of sleep and quick commencement of sleep. Also, TQ will provide sufficient time for sleep by reducing the unnecessary waking activity of recreational online communications to a minimum of 30 minutes per day (including during study) on all school days/nights. TQ will complete homework, physical activity, and daily devotions before other unnecessary or recreational activities (excluding special situations which call for care of others and which clearly take priority over hours of sleep). TQ will initiate a 9:45 bedtime curfew to be strictly adhered to unless the next day's homework is still to be completed.

Interventions to be evaluated after a week, reassessment to be performed, and needed interventions implemented.

Now for some sleep!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just Wanted to Say


You are blogging faster than I can follow you. I haven't read the Blackbirds for over a month and I see I'm missing out on some good stuff. I haven't caught up on Pasto's stuff either! And as for Liturgical stuff, Cultural stuff, and Bioethical stuff, well! That's taken a serious hike. And please don't be offended if I'm not commenting on personal blogses. *implores on knees* I'm trying to skim them 'bout once/week or so, but, whew! they get away from me.

But I took a minute after lecture today to check out some resources for me as a Nursing student and woman.

National Association of Prolife Nurses : These guys are BOLD and take it beyond abortion. Read their Policies under the Resources link. I'm considering joining.
Michigan Nurses for Life : also great.
Feminists for Life: I'll definitely be thinking about this one. I like it when women challenge the meaning and connotations that "feminism" has taken on in this culture. Being a woman does not mean being as much like a man as I can be. :P

So, yeah. News:

I'm doing fine. Not dead yet (see a previous post for image status. Wow, Eowyn's really lookin' good in that picture considerin' the circumstances. :P ).

Nursing classes are going great! I'm really enjoying the lectures and the lab skills because they both engage the mind in critical thinking and focus on real human beings and their individual needs in every aspect of life. Nursing is holistic care of the patient as a human being, and that is what I've always wanted to do without knowing how to state it in such terms. My professors are wonderful, especially the lead professor for this semester. She's no-nonsense, but has a wonderful sense of humor and a passion and concern for patients and students. She's not going to baby us: if we want this training, we have to throw ourselves into learning. But she's a caring and effective teacher even while she demands a full return.

The reading for the classes is IMMENSE. And I'm not kidding. We had double digit numbers of chapters assigned for the first day! I thought I read a lot for Augustine! Ha! (Well, I admit that I didn't do all the reading for Augustine College that I was supposed to - Music, for instance and the Art supplement occasionally. :P) But I've found (and been given) some strategies for picking out the information I need and moving on through, so once I get into a rhythm, I think I'll be fine.

As the week goes along, I'm my confidence is picking up a bit, which is very important. I was a bit worried by my own lack of self-confidence, initially, because I knew it would pose problems for motivation, info retention, test-taking, relating to professors, anxiety, sleep, etc.

My hybrid (online) course, Nutrition, meets on Saturday. Blah. I loathe online classes and Saturday meetings don't tickle me either, but, heh, I guess it spreads classes out a bit. Math for Meds challenges me - not with complicated concepts, but with my own slowness. I'm not a speedy mental calculator and I haven't had a math class in 2 years. Ouch! It's getting better as I work through the practice problem sets. Ooooh! and I am taking voice lessons with a Dominican monk! I can't really explain why that tickles me pink, but, if you know me at all, you might have a general idea. ;)

Alshoooooo, I'm reading the Apostolic Fathers for an idependent patristic study dealie-thing with Pasto' and am suitably thrill-ed. I finished I Clement and II Clement (albeit misnomered) while camping.

So, yeah.

gtts, any one? What about a grain? Silly apothecary system of measurment. Mutters. As I delight to share jewels of wisdom, "gtts" is short hand for "drop." Go figure. A grain is an (archaic) apothecary measurement and is equivalent to 60 milligrams. We have to be familiar with it because apparently old docs don't learn new tricks. :P (Yes, I know, mixed metaphor. Gotta stop doing that. It's just so much fun!)

Can you tell I'm a little tired and hungry and happy after a few stressful days?
Ending ramble now: press any key to continue.

Monday, September 7, 2009

As if I wasn't scared enough before.... Math for Meds professor just sent us students this:


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not Dead Yet

Just lettin' you guys know that....

-Those who have not swords can still die upon them.

Ho boy! If life would simply slow down long enough to sleep! Cut off one foe, and another rises to take his place. Yeah, we find trusty and true comrades in the fight, but one can't help wishing for the banter after the battle, for time to make sense of all the hairs-breadth escapes and to appreciate the sacrifices made, time to laugh wearily at former fears and rest until the body and mind can hold no more.
Alas, school anon approacheth: truce, anyone?

(Speaking of frivolousness...No, this was not supposed to make sense or communicate anything deep.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Choices, choices, choices.

'k guys. I'm trying to decide which poems to declaim for the Fair. They have to be related either by topic or author. Last year I did Scottish poets. This year I'm loosely using the topic of "Poetic Reflections on Character" (made by me).

I know I want to declaim:
How did you Die?

Those are the first three poems below and require about 5 minutes. I could fill two minutes more, but I can't decide which poem to add of the ones I've typed out below. My least favorite of the options below is Be Strong and I figure that Not in Vain is probably pretty 'run of the mill'. But I can't decide between Polonius' Advice to Laertes and Waiting. I like Waiting a little more, but I don't know whether good ole Polonius fits with the topic better. I need some advice.

So please speak up and declare to me your wisdom!

How Did You Die?
Edmund Vance Cooke

Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
With a resolute heart and cheerful?
Or hide your face from the light of day
With a craven soul and fearful?
Oh, a trouble's a ton, or a trouble's an ounce,
Or a trouble is what you make it,
And it isn't the fact that you're hurt that counts,
But only how did you take it?

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that!
Come up with a smiling face.
It's nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there--that's disgrace.
The harder you're thrown, why the higher you bounce
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn't the fact that you're licked that counts;
It's how did you fight--and why?

And though you be done to the death, what then?
If you battled the best you could,
If you played your part in the world of men,
Why, the Critic will call it good.
Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
And whether he's slow or spry,
It isn't the fact that you're dead that counts,
But only how did you die?

Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Alice Cary
True worth is in being, not seeming,--
In doing, each day that goes by,
Some little good – not in dreaming
Of great things to do by and by.
For whatever men say in their blindness,
And spite of the fancies of youth,
There’s nothing so kingly as kindness,
And nothing so royal as truth.

We get back our mete as we measure –
We cannot do wrong and feel right,
Nor can we give pain and gain pleasure,
For justice avenges each slight.
The air for the wing of the sparrow,
The bush for the robin and wren,
But always the path that is narrow
And straight, for the children of men.

‘Tis not in the pages of story
The heart of its ills to beguile,
Though he who makes courtship to glory
Gives all that he hath for her smile.
For when from her heights he has won her,
Alas! it is only to prove
That nothing’s so sacred as honor,
And nothing so loyal as love!

We cannot make bargains for blisses,
Nor catch them like fishes in nets;
And sometimes the thing our life misses
Helps more than the thing which it gets.
For good lieth not in pursuing,
Nor gaining of great nor of small,
But just in the doing, and doing
As we would be done by, is all.

Through envy, through malice, through hating,
Against the world, early and late,
No jot of our courage abating –
Our part is to work and to wait.
And slight is the sting of his trouble
Whose winnings are less than his worth;
For he who is honest is noble,
Whatever his fortunes or birth.

Not in Vain
Emily Dickenson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Be Strong
Maltbie Davenport Babcock

Be strong!
We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;
Shun not the struggle – face it; ‘tis God’s gift.

Be strong!
Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”
And fold the hands and acquiesce – oh shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God’s name.

Be strong!
It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not – fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.

John Burroughs

Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind nor tide nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate,
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my hast, I make delays –
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me,
No wind can drive my bark astray
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own, and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep nor high,
Can keep my own away from me.

Polonius’ Advice to Laertes
(from Hamlet)
William Shakespeare

There, -- my blessing with you!
And these few precepts in thy memory
See thou character. –Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion’d thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But no expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy:
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
Ad it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Adolescence of the Adiaphoron

My dearest reader,

You've stuck with me for a year and a half now. I've rambled, ranted, philosophized, picturized, and poeticized. After writing 245 posts, a fraction of which I've actually posted, over two years of intense personal change between the ages of 16 and 18, it is time for my blog to come of age.

Up until now, I've written pretty much whatever I wanted in whatever form at whatever time with no obviously intended purpose. Sometimes I've been pretty childish about it, and I'm not proud of it all. On the other hand, I've stayed within a fairly narrow range of topics which I guessed would be acceptable to those who might read the blog and refrained from those which might provoke disagreement or antagonism. It's time for both of these to be revisited.

I'm about to create guidelines for myself and my reader pertaining to the writing and reading of this blog. Once these are in place, I plan to launch a series of blog posts dealing honestly with thoughts on Feminity, connections between thought, act, and spirit, and other topics I've previously been hesitant to comment on. At the same time as I allow myself greater freedom topically, I'm going to reign in a bit of the disorganized ranting, steam-blowing, and emoting - at least channel it through more orderly expression.

The Adiaphoron is growing up, just like I am. It's a slow evolution, but necessary. I need discipline and so does my writing. Greater freedom calls for greater restraint and guidelines to employ that freedom properly.

Let's see how this experiment works!


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lithuania: Part I

Laubas, people!

At the beginning of our European adventure, I halfheartedly attempted to journal about the happenings each day, but our host packed things so tight that I had absolutely no time to record everything properly, nor energy after the day finally ended.

So, with Elle’s help (who, by the way, journalled very faithfully) I assembled a brief sketch of our doings here in the beautiful land of Lietuva. I’ll add random commentary also, but there’s no way I’ll be able to set down things as they were or do justice to them.

Monday, June 29th – Day of Endless Airplane Surprises

We were supposed to fly out from O’Hare, Chicago Airport to Warsaw, Poland about 5:30pm. But we packed early and were waiting around taking care of last minute things when the telephone rang. Our flight had been delayed 7 hours at least – not what we wanted to hear. However, there was another route which might just get us to Warsaw in time for our connecting flight to Vilnius. We would have to be at O’Hare in 3 hours. Could we do it? Mom’s never been one to delay. We called Grandma and Grandpa (as it was far too late to take the South

Once in O’Hare, we checked in, etc, only to find that our flight to Frankfurt, Germany was over-booked by 100 some passengers. Some-how, we managed to be among the persons assigned seats (Snap got upgraded to Business Class – lucky duck!): Thank God! Then the plane was delayed. And delayed some more. After an hour or so we boarded. Once on the plane, we settled in for a looooooong ride. 9 hours. I read some Lithuanian history, slept, edited some writing, read some Touchstone Magazine, talked with the Guatemalan lady on the other side of mom (practiced my Spanish), ate the food they gave me, and in general was immensely uncomfortable because they build seats for people taller than 5’ 1.”

Tuesday, June 30th – Continuation of Airplaneness and Commencement of Jet-lag

Once we landed in Frankfurt, we immediately sped across the airport to find our connecting flight to Warsaw. We had a slight problem, you see. When our tickets were printed, somehow, we didn’t receive my ticket from Warsaw to Vilnius. In Chicago we were told that they’d print it for us in Frankfurt. In Frankfurt they said to wait until Warsaw. I was a little worried. :P
Anyway, we noticed that this one family that had also taken our Chicago flight to Frankfurt boarded our connecting flight to Warsaw. Snap and I joked that perhaps we’d follow them, or they’d follow us, all the way to Vilnius. We shouldn’t have laughed – it happened. :D

When we landed in Frankfurt, Mom was in a bit of a panic. Our flight came in late, and there was only about half an hour till we were to board the Vilnius flight. We couldn’t read the signs very well, nor speak Polish (though English was spoken too [ish –as Snap says]) and we still needed a ticket for me! Needless to say, we had a rather frantic 30 minutes weaving our way through the airport and arrived barely in time to board the bus for the plane. (We probably would have missed it if Mom hadn’t sent Snap on ahead to let them know we were coming.)

On the plane, I read some more Lithuanian history and found out that the Millennium Celebration of Lithuania as a historically mentioned entity is connected with the Lithuanian’s martyring St Bruno. You’d probably know him as St. Boniface.

(Ironically, the Oak is symbolic for Lithuania. Snap: I thought St. Boniface cut down the Oak. TQ: And the Lithuanians cut down St. Boniface... [Yeah, I know. It’s pretty lame.])

Lithuania (Christianized by that time) also finally defeated the Teutonic Knights, ending their era of power, at the battle of Zalgiris or Grunewald under Grand Duke Vytautas. I also found out something very, very, very interesting. Apparently, at the time of Luther, the Grand Master of the weakened Teutonic Order corresponded with that reformer; the outcome being that both he and the greater portion of the Order became Lutheran and the former head of the Teutonic Knights swore allegiance to the Grand Duke of Lithuania as – guess what! – the Duke of Prussia! (That explains alot!)

Anyway, we landed in Vilnius, claimed our baggage, and were greeted by our hosts. (No customs, no passport checks.) They dropped us off at the flat which their friends had kindly agreed to let us borrow and left us to sleep for a few hours (after the mistress of the flat fed us well!). At 7pm, they picked us up and took us to see a bit of the city of Vilnius.

First we visited a cemetery in which rested a monument surrounding the graves of 14 persons killed by the Soviet tanks in an attack on a TV tower guarded by the Lithuanian nationals. Then we walked through Cathedral Square (past the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania and the Cathedral) and took pictures of the statue of King Gediminas – the first king of Lithuania. We climbed a hill above the Square, overlooking Vilnius, whereon were planted three immense white crosses. As our host told it, the original crosses were pulled down by the Soviets, but buried by the people before they could be destroyed so that after re-independence they could serve as a model for the present monumental crosses. (We saw those original pieces also). Finally, we left one of our newlywed friends with her husband of a few days (they were so beautiful together) and went with the other to meet his family and have dinner.

The family is lovely. The boy is one of those young men who just capture a place in my heart on first acquaintance. He’s witty, charmingly unembarrassed, yet sensitive and comical. Of them all, he spoke English the most fluently. The girl is wonderful as well, sweet, and very helpful. It was so nice to have another female to hang around with and to help translate despite age differences.

Wednesday, July 1st – Museum and Concerts, Concerts.

In the morning, our host took us to an open air museum of historic Lithuanian life. Traditional farmsteads from each sector of Lithuania form replicas of small settlements in the countryside. Interpreters in traditional dress explain architecture and traditions. (unfortunately, not in Anglishke) We had a lunch of traditional Lithuanian food at a small cafe in one of these villages, and our host suggested we try a certain drink: Gira. He explained that it was made with bread dough left to sit for three or four days in water with sugar. (Snap and I grin at each other.) It was served us in a bottle; this was not the real gira, said he. Someday we should try homemade gira. (Snap drinks and whispers to me, “Do you think it is...?” I nod. “I kind of like it,” says she. I grin.)
We made it back to Vilnius just in time to catch the first festivities of the Millennium Celebration of Lietuva. First we watched a ceremony by the riverside which we couldn’t see much of because of the crowd. Monks from the Franciscan Monastery were chanting (I think they were real monks??) and girls in traditional costume were putting wreaths of flowers on the water. (No, Nick, we didn’t participate. :D) Then we ran to a Franciscan church (much defaced by the Soviets and still in the process of restoration) for what our host called “a concert” (I think that this term meant pretty much anything musical performed by one or two groups indoors. I’m still not sure) in which songs were sung by choirs – apparently songs about St. Francis (?). Then we ran to the Vilnius University church to hear a concert by the Lithuanian Boy’s Choir and another choir after them. Then we found our way back to Cathedral Square for a televised National Signing of Millennium of Lithuania Document thingy. Since it was all in Lithuanian, I’m not actually that sure what was going on, but different Lithuanian important figures spoke and choirs sang songs, and bands played, and people were honored, and video clips on the history of Lithuania were shown, and I saw REAL LIVE MONKS! (they were barefoot too...) We didn’t get “home” until very late.

During our entire first week in Vilnius, Snap and I discovered that (very unfortunately) whenever we sat down for more than 15 minutes, we would find ourselves struggling against an overpowering urge to sleep. It was rather unpleasant because we were in constant fear that our host would think we were bored and be hurt.

Thursday, July 2nd – Day of Churches, Song and Dance

We spent the first part of the day with our newlywed hostess visiting churches in the Old Town of Vilnius. They were all beautiful. It saddened one to see the destruction wrought by the Soviets still awaiting repair. Many churches had once been covered with beautiful frescoes where now only bits of colored plaster still suggest the artwork. Most of the churches we saw were Roman Catholic, but we saw a few Russian Orthodox as well. I found the Orthodox churches artistically a bit surprising. They differed from all the other Orthodox churches I’ve been in (in my vaaaasst experience of a grand 2!) and the Eastern art I’ve seen. Large western looking paintings graced the walls in some, even forming part of the iconostasis. Many of the icons were westernized and lacked the unique form and perspective of the eastern icons. Often I saw a mix of western paintings and eastern icons in the same space, right next to each other. In one Orthodox cathedral, I saw relicts of several saints (from the area) preserved and housed in an elaborately roofed box. I eyed some of the icons for sale a bit wistfully too. At one of the churches, a lady took us to a table, and through our translator told us to take one or two of the pieces on it. Most were paper copies of icons, but in addition to one of those, I was given a necklace pendant of Christ with the Theotokos and Snap received a miniature icon of St. Valentine. Awesome! (Now I have both an RC “dogtag” and an Orthodox one. I plan to wear the Orthodox one as there’s nothing theologically wrong with it that I can see. (And my Protestant friends might ask questions. [Naughty me]) The RC one (from a Baptist School’s Garage Sale :P ) petitions the Blessed Virgin to pray for us, which I am uncomfortable with. )

After lunch, we climbed a hill (in pouring rain) to Gediminas Tower, a tower preserved from the wall of the castle that once overlooked the center of Vilnius. For the slightly romantic girl who loves knights, armor and chivalry, the little bit of brick and stone was immensely exciting. I loved every bit of it, especially the view over Vilnius from which I could imagine how I would defensively and offensively arrange an army around such a fortress. Afterwards, we were handed over to our other host who took us to the National Philharmonic to hear philharmonic choirs from all over Lithuania and Lithuanian choirs from other countries. I’ve never heard anything like it. (The hall was packed, but our host somehow worked us in after half and hour or so of waiting on the steps. It was so worth the wait.)

But the day wasn’t over yet! We missed the final half hour of the Philharmonic Orchestra concert to run to the Song and Dance Festival (part of the Millennium Celebration) in an outdoor amphitheatre snuggled in a deep valley in a Vilnius park. People lined the hills to watch. We heard folk songs and watched folk dances (in traditional costume) till late into the night. (actually early morning) At the end of the Festival, the musicians played traditional polkas from each of the four provinces of Lithuania and our host dragged me and Mamita down for a dance. It was awesome!

Friday, July 3rd – Swimming and the Children’s Festival

In the morning our hosts drove us to a small inland lake to swim. It was quite cold, yet desire to be good guests proved a strong incentive. Once accustomed to the water, the swim was pleasant and refreshing. Falling through the floor of the changing booth was not. (I wasn’t hurt, just a bit scratched.) Afterwards, we went to the Children’s Choir Festival in which over 16,000 children from all over Lithuania sang for hours and hours and hours. It was also amazing. (Our host’s children sang and played in one of the orchestras.) After this even was over, we went to eat and then walked along Gedimino parkway, near the Parliament building. Our host’s wife related to us how she and her husband had stood at that very corner not so many years ago with many other Lithuanians, forming a living barrier around Parliament to protect it from Soviet tanks. (This occurred the same night as the assault on the TV tower.) She also showed us an exhibit with remnants of the blocks and barricades surrounding the building.

Saturday, July 4th – Genocide Museum, Mass, and Opera at a Castle!

Mom managed to use the internet to contact Daddy, courtesy of our flat hostess, before our host picked us up. The order of the morning was to be the Museum of the Lithuanian Genocide (Nazi and Soviet), situated in the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius. Cold stone speaks louder than anything our host could have told us. Upstairs we saw offices, displays on the Lithuanian Partisan resistance, the deportees to Sibera, the KGB infiltration and police rule. But downstairs we encountered the cells; cells for solitary confinement, water treatment, some padded to prevent suicide by tortured prisoners, the execution chambers. I had heard the tales, but had never seen. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Our host didn’t say much, but he didn’t have to.

After that, we went to the Cathedral Square. Because of the Millennium Celebration, a media trailer had been set up at one corner of the square. Mom had been eager to use the internet to contact Dad, and Elle and I likewise wished for a clue of what was passing at home. Our host said that the loudspeakers had announced that everyone was invited to use the resources within the trailer (including computers with internet access). Nervously, with much glancing around us, Elle and I followed her into the booth. I managed to glance at my inbox and answer two emails, when all of a sudden I heard the televised microphone announcer behind me. I heard some sort of question, and turned just in time to see the announcer stick the microphone in front of Snap’s face. She turned bright red and whispered, “I don’t speak Lithuanian.” I heard the announcer chuckle and say something about “American” as he turned away. Mom totally missed the whole exchange, and we couldn’t convince her that we wanted to get out of sight NOW! Accordingly, Snap and I beat it out of there, leaving mom to spend another few minutes emailing.

Once Mom had finished with her internet communications, our host and we walked through the booths in the park next to the Cathedral square. It was full of various performing groups in traditional Lithuanian costume (singers, demonstrators, smiths, cooks, dancers, etc), vendors, and children and spectators of all sizes. Elle took pictures. At 5:00pm, we went to Mass with our host and his family (it was a special Mass that they had to be present for) and then drove to Trackai. Trackai is home to the best preserved medieval castle in Lithuania – a castle on an island. And as if that weren’t enough, we were going to see an opera – an famous Lithuanian opera staged in the castle. Several friends of our host’s son came along (they were hilarious and interesting. One looked like Prince Caspian while another spoke fluent English and looked like a Rohirrim from the LOTR movies.) We ate a light supper together at a cafe which included something akin to Pasties and a whole tall mug of gira! (I look at Snap and whisper, “It comes in pints!” She nods.” However, Snap did not like the homemade gira because of the pellet looking things floating in it.) I drank ALL of mine, pellets and all.

Unfortunately, it was raining when the opera began and we could barely see anything through the mass of umbrellas (the audience sat in the courtyard and the opera was staged upon the walls and on a platform in a corner. Even though it was in Lithuanian and I could understand none of the words (excepting a few names), I could follow the general storyline and I enjoyed the performance immensely. Our hostess also found a plot synopsis in English for us to read which greatly illumined the musical goings on. The Teutonic knights plot to take the castle, one princess marries her love, while her “sister” is deceived and seduced by the Teutonic envoy into betraying her people, is verbally chastened by her Lithuanian prince, and is murdered by the Teutonic envoy before reaching the castle. The Lithuanian warriors lose the battle and die in a burning castle rather than surrender. It was all very dramatic, including real fire! *eyes widen* Ooh, aah!

We took pictures in the dark in front of the castle.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Two items

Two small items.

I copied down the following from an excellent and much loved (and worn) shirt of a friend in Vilnius. It was accompanied by illustrations:

Optimist - The glass is half full
Pessimist - The glass is half empty
Realist - The glass is.
Idealist - The glass should be full
Feminist - His glass seems more full than my glass.
Environmentalist - Save the water!
Anarchist - Let's break the glass!
Capitalist - Let's sell the glass!
Chemist - The glass is... (proceeds to list the chemical formula of glass which I failed to copy down)

Also, on the way home from the SB airport, Grandpa bought us Burger King. I was appalled (though quite humoured) at the message on the paper cups:

Maybe you want a lot of ice. Maybe you want no ice. Maybe you want your top securely fastened, or maybe you want to go topless. Hmmm? Maybe you want to mix COKE and SPRITE. Maybe you want to let your cup runneth over (we wish you wouldn't). Whatever you do, make sure to have things your way.

Note to self: Why a Biblical allusion?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Note to Self

Note to self:

Write down what you do and what you win in 4H unless you want a huge headache when applying for 4H Scholarships! You can't just look at a ribbon and guess what year it was given and for what activity...

And do it for your children, because they'll probably be just like you...

Friday, June 26, 2009


1. When I am swamped I tend to blog more often and more mundanely. I seem to find more time, when I have no time, and then tend to say nothing in a manner intensely amusing to myself. Ironically.

2. This is a good post. Thankfully I read it before I read the next one, or I wouldn't have been quite as impressed with it.

3. This is an excellent post. It put together so many puzzle pieces for me. Wow. I'll probably be pondering for a while.

(I find it interesting that no matter what I read lately, I'm always finding myself traveling in a circle around the Eucharist, Sexuality (Marriage and Procreation), and Natural Law. Huh. I wonder why this is?)

Of course, my recommendation does not render these pieces "good." Check my perception before embracing it, as I usually bestow my verbal approbation rather quickly and impulsively (hmmmmm. *ponders*) I could have failed in my speculative intellect... (eh, Dr. Tingley?)

Beddy bye!

What, ho! Who ever in the world scrubs fecal matter off goats and reads ethics pieces a few hours later, all the while so exhausted she thinks she's going to drop down asleep? I confuse myself sometimes. Now to sleep for four hours... (Goat Show in the morning)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lithuanian Churches


Foist ov awl,

't 'pears dat da Evangelical Lithuanian Lutheran Church has been 'round fo' a loooooong time - since the Reformaysh. 't also 'pears dat da Evangelical Lithuanian is in full fellowship with da LCMS (my synod, in case anybody was wondering.... :P )

But 'part from that, I can't really say much else, since I don't speak/read Lithuanian. hmmm.

Ecumenical Contacts
Confession of Faith

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No time, no time!

One breath at a time. My chest feels so tight with anxiety and frustration that it's emotionally hard to breathe.

I want to scream, but that won't help anything. Just keep praying and doing, Sarah.

Lithuania trip is coming so fast, I have so much to get done. Ultimately, though (tries to realize this) I'm not going to die if these things don't get done, though I will disappoint people and maybe ruin my reputation.

Blah. Well, from God is my honor - therefore I'm just going to do what I can and try not to sweat the rest.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cross as Noose, Noose as Symbol

Finally I'm getting this post finished! I can't believe how long this is taking me and how busy I have been!

As for the bishop, the sight of the guillotine was a shock to him, from which he recovered only slowly. Indeed, the scaffold, when it is there, set up and ready, has a profoundly hallucinatory effect. We may be indifferent to the death penalty and not declare ourselves, either way so long as we have not seen a guillotine with our own eyes. But when we do, the shock is violent, and we are compelled to choose sides, for or against. Some, like Le Maistre, admire it; others, like Beccaria, execrate it. The guillotine is the law made concrete; it is called the Avenger. It is not neutral and does not permit you to remain neutral. Who ever sees it quakes, mysteriously shaken to the core. All social problems set up their question mark around that blade. The scaffold is vision. The scaffold is not a mere frame, the scaffold is not an inert mechanism made of wood, iron, and ropes. It seems like a creature with some dark origine we cannot fathom, it is as though the framework sees and hears, the mechanism understands, as though the wood and iron and ropes have their own will. In the hideous nightmare it projects across the soul, the awful apparition of the scaffold fuses with its terrible work. The scaffold becomes the accomplice of the executioner; it devours, eats flesh, and drinks blood. The scaffold is a sort of monster created by judge and carpeter, a specter that seems to live with an unspeakable vitality, drawn from all the death it has wrought.

Thus the impression was horible and profound; on the day after the execution, and for many subsequent days, the bishop seemed overwhelmed...One evening his sister overheard and jotted down the following: " I didn't believe it could be so monstrous. It's wrong to be so absorbed in divine law as not to perceive human law. Death belongs to God alone. By what right to men touch that unknown thing?"

Good Evening, Dear Reader.

The preceding excerpt flowed from the pen of Victor Hugo in his epic work Les Miserables, Fantine, Book One, IV (Works to Match Words). Reading to my brother several days ago (now a week and a half ago), this passage re-awakened a personal sadness over impoverishment of symbols and their meaning in the full sense of the word "symbolic."

Imagine wearing a guillotine or a scaffold around your neck. Imagine hanging a picture of a corpse swinging from the gallows on your wall. Imagine tracing a noose around your neck with your fingers. Imagine praying before a rack or torturer's wheel. Are you feeling nauseated yet?

Yet, as Christians, we do many of these things (their equivalent, at least) quite regularly.

For what is the Cross but an instrument of torture and death? And it was as much a symbol as the guillotine of Hugo's day to the Roman world. What was said of the guillotine and scaffold above that could not be said of a cross?Before God died upon it, the cross was a horror, the embodiment of shame and excrutiating, prolonged death. And for the Jewish and Pagan world encountered by Christianity in it's early years, the cross was still such a symbol. Hence "the reproach of the cross" and the "foolishness of the cross" and the "shame of the cross."

Now, culturally, it's merely decorative. We arrange flowers on it. We put it on our walls, on our shirts, in our churches, around our necks in silver and gold, stick it to our cars, even tattoo it on our bodies without even stopping to think about what we're doing.

But the Cross "is the law made concrete." It is not pretty. It is gory and revolting. One can talk all one wants about crucifixion and remain unaffected - just as I could mention "drawing and quartering" until I saw Gibson's Brave Heart. Now even the words sicken me. (For those who have read Saint Joan by Bernard Shaw [a perfectly frivolous work except for some delightfully profound lines] one might think of "the Chaplain"'s reaction to Joan's burning.) Would we be as silly, unthinking, and irreverent today in our use of the Cross if it were still the norm in criminal punishment?

Though we have never witnessed crucifixion ourselves, we nevertheless confess the Cross as the means by which Christ won salvation for the whole world by incalculable suffering. What does it say about our God and His sacrifice to lightly treat the symbol of His agony in our flesh?

I think of the days prior to my awakening to orthodox catholicity when I was party to mockery of Roman Catholics using the Sign of the Cross. (Yes, Confession time) Sure, I can plead ignorance - the "Romophobia" (term borrowed from an Anglican friend at Hope) of the circles in which I revolved in my early life. But that doesn't diminish the significance of the act. In fact, it almost underscores a new sort of shame which attaches itself to the cross these days.

1. There is a sort of shame among the Protestant contingent when it comes to any relation between the body and spirituality. For many of them, there's a disconnect between spirit and body, the two are treated separately, and the idea that something done to the body could have any spiritual significance is often spurned as false and superstitious. * Thus the water of Baptism and the bread and wine of the Eucharist cannot have any effect upon the soul, besides being "bodily" signs to remind the Christian of "spiritual" things.

2. As said above, the cross, culturally, has become almost "merely" decorative. There is a deliberate, if ignorant of the purport of the action, impetus to separate the cross from its function. (Perhaps there is a link to Modernism and Post-Modernism here that needs to be explored.) People (generic populace) do not automatically think, "grotesque death" when they see a cross. They think, "religious," "christian," "jewelry," or any number of other categories (which they also often incorrectly define). This is especially aided by the Protestant de-body-ing of crosses. Remove the corpus and you've got two perpendicular lines intersecting. With the corpus, the average yokel might think, "Catholic," "Jesus," "church," or even "corpse," before he gets going on the aforementioned list.
People simply don't see a cross as a cross anymore. The sign is no longer symbolic of its function .
This "de-body-ing" the cross does away with the shame of death. But somehow, effacing the shame of the corpse of true Man from the cross, does not mesh with an understanding of the true God who truly became incarnate of the Blessed Virgin bodily, truly suffered bodily, truly died bodily, and was truly raised bodily.

So, on two counts, the mockery of the Sign of the Cross went awry. First, it operated on a false confession that what is done in the body does not matter. A sign doesn't do anything, therefore it is superstitious. Never mind whether it can confess the faith - that's done "with the mouth." Second, it failed to even remotely recognize the intrinsic meaning of the symbol as relating to either death or Christ. Both in the secular and sacred senses, none of the little "sitters in the seat of mockers" made any further connection with the bodily tracing of the fingers than "superstitious Catholics." We felt no shame, because we recognized neither shame nor glory in the simple geometric shape of the cross.

What is left of the glory if the shame never was?

I mean, if there was no intrinsic shame in the cross, why is it such a wonderful thing that Christ has made this tree glorious?

At any rate, there's a lot to chaw on. I'm more and more convinced that words and actions mean and do things - they aren't meaningless, even when they are misunderstood and misused. The spirit is not separate from the body. Rather the spirit lives in the body - not in an alcove, but permeating and filling the material in such a way that both together constitute one being, "the reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting." Even so, (if not quite so precisely) signs and symbols are not mere combinations of color and line, words not mere combination of sound. But each contain within themselves a fullness of history and usage. (This is why I'd often rather have a used book than a new one. Used books bring love with them in dirt and scuffs, in yellowed repair tape, and reglued pages.) This culture has cheapened our words and symbols by both a reductionistic approach and an approach that denies a real reality. To weed a garden is not the mere mechanical motions by which a hand grasps a plant stem by means of muscular contractions and extracts it from the earth, but rather an action comprehending and participating in the weeding of all gardens by all women, the nurturing of family, the tending of soil, yes, even suggesting an icon of the work of the Ministry and unseen Spirit. In the same way, a cross is not two intersecting lines alone, but comprehends every crucifixion and death, justice and injustice, pain, ridicule and shame, culminating in the one great crucifixion which implicates life, justification, vindication, glory, and resurrection in the one word or symbol of a simple cross.

As Hugo says of the Guillotine, the Cross is a living thing, three dimensional in its function, physically and metaphysically. And more than that. In each dimension, the Cross is a paradox as justice meets injustice, sin enounters holiness, glory transforms shame, life conquers by death, perishable is raised imperishable, as the immortal God-who-is-Man dies in order that He might not live without us and that we might live as He lives, sharing the same body.

And Arg! It's 11:57pm. It so annoying to have a brainwave the night before church. I so hope I'll still be alert tomorrow for the sermon. Someone, just slap me. :P

*Luther (in The Freedom of the Christian does say, " And so it will profit nothing that the body should be adorned with sacred vestments, or dwell in holy places, or be occupied in sacred offices, or pray, fast, and abstain from certain meats, or do whatever works can be done through the body and in the body... On the other hand, it will not at all injure the soul that the body should be clothed in profane raiment, should dwel in profane places, should eat and drink in the ordinary fashion, should not pray aloud, and should leave undone all the the things above mentioned, which may be done by hypocrites."
But to say that this passage corroborates the prevalent Protestant position refered to above, is to ignore the sentence which sits between these two preceding and clarifies them: "Some thing widely different will be necessary for the justification and life of the soul, sincethe things I have spoken of can be done by an impious person, and only hypocrites are produced by devotion to these things."

Luther does not say that the soul and body are disconnected or that nothing done to the body can affect the soul and vice versa. He was not so foolish. Indeed, we are saved body and soul by Baptism - a sacrament of water accompanied by the Word and Spirit of God applied to the body to convert the whole person, marking them as redeemed by Christ Crucified for the life everlasting. (See Luther's Catechisms on Baptism) No, the simple point Luther aims to make is that justification is not meritoriously gained by a man's actions. Man is justified by faith - not a belief he works up for himself, but the gift of God which simply receives the forgiveness freely given into its hands by Christ. It is not a striving or reaching for, but a bodily open mouth into which another delivers sustenance. The soul is not removed from the body, but lives in the body and through the body.
Would we assert that what is done in the body is unrelated to the soul we might expect Luther to respond, "Not so, impious men, I reply; not so. Tht would indeed really be the case, if we were thoroughly and completely inner and spiritual persons; but that will not happen until the last day, when the dead shall be raised. As long as we live in the flesh, we are but beginning and making advances in that which shall be completed in a future life," etc. Not that in heaven we shall be bodiless, for what then would be the purpose of confessing that we believe in "the resurrection of the body"? As Hugh of St. Victor says (refer to Treasury of Daily Prayer, Writing for Friday, Easter 7), "But if I shall rise in an ephemeral body, then I shall not be the one who rises. For how is it true resurrection if the flesh cannot be true? Therefore, clear reasoning suggests that if the flesh will not be true, without doubt the resurrection will not be true. So also, our Redeemer showed His hands and side to the disciples who doubted His resurrection He offered them His bones and flesh to handle, saying: 'Handle and see: for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me to have.'"
All that to say that this Protestant idea is by no means an orthodox one nor can it be properly ascribed to Luther.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I Would Not Be Afraid.

I do not want to be afraid any longer.

Pain, I will endure - it is my lot here on earth.
Longing, I will contain - it sustains my hope.
Love, I will give and not withhold - it nourishes the spirit

But Fear,
Fear corrupts Love, kills and squelches it.
Fear twists Longing, by strangling hope of fulfillment without abating the yearning.
Fear manipulates Pain, diverting it from it's proper end, and sealing lips that should pray.

Where shall I run from fear?

When I was small, I would run to my mother's arms, snuggle beside her in bed to escape nightmares. But she would always send me back to my own bed after the initial calm. Now I am too old to snuggle up in her lap. The fears I have now, my mother cannot calm.

But I am still a child of God. And I still have my Mother the Church. What then shall I do? Shall I run to her? I would - inasmuch as I am still a child. For only as a trusting child can I receive her comfort. And here is the sadness of it all. When I think myself begun to be wise, I begin to doubt my Mother. When I begin to doubt her, her gentle ministrations fall on skeptical ears. Ears which would believe her, but into which the wisdom of the world has whispered doubts concerning the wisdom of God. Kyrie Eleison!
So the child in me would cling to her skirts, would cry out to the Virgin's Son for His forgiveness - and does so. But when He bestows His blessed mercy and forgiveness, why does the upstart fool in me scorn His grace by doubting His absolution?

Our God's mercy is infinite, but how if I should fail to see Him? How shall my eyes be turned from seeing my own sin to beholding the righteousness of Christ? How shall I cease to call "unclean" what God has declared "clean"? And how shall I trust His Word that it is so?

God has not given us a spirit of fear. God the Holy Spirit drive out this fear which does not fear, love, and trust in God above all things, and fill the vessel of earth.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Book Lists

Hey Dear Reader!

I'm getting ready to write a ton. Not just to write, but because I have an opportunity this evening (I think) to actually put to page some ruminations which I've been waiting a chance to blog. So, if new posts get a bit thick here, don't worry. They'll calm down soon. And, as always, remember that this blog isn't for you to keep up on my life: it's for me to have a place to spew and share the spewtle (It's a word now...).

So, I'm going to lead into this series of posts with some lists.

What I hope to read this summer:

Summa Theologica - Thomas Aquinas (at least parts of it. Yeah, I haven't been very faithful as of yet.)
Augsburg Confession and Apology Thereof
Iliad and Oddesy - Homer
War and Peace - Tolstoy (Courtesy of Mr. Rhein)
Phantastes - George Macdonald
Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
Selections from Midieval Philosophers - ed. Richard McKeon (a garage sale book)

And others, as they turn up...

And now that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is out of the way, as well as The Man Who Was Thursday, I've had to pick the next books for my family/sibling reading aloud adventures. My goal is semi-classic/family friendly (read in "thinks will be Mom approved in language and taste")/ thought-provoking lit. that's comprehendable (in maturity also) by all sibs. Here's a tentative list.

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - unknown (if the boys don't get bored with the poetry.)
A Man for All Seasons - Bolt

I don't know what to read them after that, but by the time we get there, they might be old enough to launch into some C. S. Lewis Space Trilogy or take on some more hefty fare.

I'm going to try to read Les Miserables with Lukie. He wanted to read it for family reading, but Mom wanted to hear a plot she hadn't heard before. I'd like to read the whole thing myself, but if I can do it with Luke, that'll be even better.

So I'm off to write some more....

Friday, June 5, 2009

And I Am Seized Once More by the Blogging Urge

Dear Reader,

This is one of those nights wherein I ought to sleep instead of holding tryst with my computer keyboard in the dark hours of the night but in which I find that my mind is o'er brimming with words, though I am exhausted by my day. Hence, I take upon myself to write a short post. Hah! A hopefully short post which I may expand upon later.

I'm going to try to explain why I like the painting The Justice of Emperor Otto III by Dirc Bouts C 1460.

This particular diptych moved me greatly and I've developed a deep admiration for and attachment to it. In fact, I selected it as one of the paintings on which I wrote for my Augustine College Art final exam. Yet, when I mention my appreciation for this painting to family and acquaintances, I'm met at first with curiosity and then with, after I mention the subject of the painting, a sort of aversion and incredulity. You see, the two panels are titled, The Wrongful Execution of a Count and Ordeal by Fire.

What do I see in a work of art with such titles? First, take a look.

Prior to Augustine College, I probably would have barely glanced at these images or simply passed over them in disgust at the subject matter. But, thanks to Dr. Tingley, I was not able to treat this diptych so.
Such pictures, one would suspect, must certainly tell a story. As Dr. Tingley explained to the class, this diptych was painted for the wall of a hall of justice in the Lowlands. Strangely, the first panel depicts a miscarriage of justice - apparently historical.
Otto III, shown with his wife, gazing from the wall, has just sentenced a count, depicted in white below, to death. Otto's wife accused the nobleman of attentions to her after the count refused her overtures. The count walks to his death attended by executioners, priest, and his own wife who listens to him with downcast face. He swears his faithfulness to her and charges her to vindicate him. As the apathetic courtiers watch, the count is beheaded and the countess receives his head from the executioner.
In the second panel, the scene changes as the countess pleads her husband's innocence. To decide the point, she undergoes an ordeal by fire, meant to test in her own body the word of her husband against the Emperor's queen. If she is hurt by the red hot iron bar, her husband has played her false and deserved his death. If she is unharmed, he will be vindicated. The hot iron mars her not, the Emperor is aghast and his court astonished. In the background, the false wife of the Emperor burns at the stake for her slander and unfaithfulness.
At this point, please don't be repulsed by the tragic tale. True, it is tragic. It is sobering. But it is also beautiful in two points. One of these, Dr. Tingley brought out in his lecture: Human Justice ultimately accountable to Divine Justice.
Human Justice may be miscarried. Human Justice may be executed in anger and from false witness. Human Justice is fallible and may be twisted. Human Justice may condemn the innocent instead of aquitting him.
But Divine Justice will not and does not falter. Human Justice is accountable to Divine Justice. It is to Divine Justice and not Otto's Justice that the Countess appeals to as she confidently enters her ordeal. (Not that I'm advocating ordeals to determine guilt or innocence. Though, come to think of it, imagine how many criminals would continue to plead innocent if guilt were determined by ordeal!) Those who administer Human Justice ought to tremble before the Divine Justice to which they will be called to account. For those who such ministers condemn, fully believing them guilty though they were actually innocent, will be vindicated by the One who entrusted the sword to them.
Imagine being the judge who had to hear cases sitting before this diptych! What serious weight would it add to your judgements by its silent reminder of both the frailty of your justice and the Divine Court of appeal.
But there's another beauty to this painting-narrative which Dr. Tingley didn't touch on. This diptych could also be dubbed "A Tale of Two Wives" - one a faithless adulterer, the other a trusting, obedient wife. Both husbands trusted their wives. One betrayed and used his trust while the other upheld him even in his death.
Frankly, I'm quite amazed at the Count's wife. Her acts testify to a marriage of implicit trust between the partners. Honestly, how many women would first of all, believe a husband's assurance of fidelity when he had been condemned to death for unfaithfulness? And after that, how many women would trust such a husband to the extreme of testing his word in their own flesh?
Yet, this woman doesn't merely "trust" her husband in thought alone, or "hope" that he was faithful. She hears his promise as he's led out to die for breaking it and believes him. Not only does she believe him, but she quietly receives his final charge to prove his innocence. Her loyalty remains even after her husband's execution, nor does the shame deter her from keeping his trust. She appeals Otto's judgement and, moreover, does not satisfy herself with mere pleading. She offers her very body to test the Count's innocence. She trusts him not with her words alone, but with actively, she still trusts her very flesh to her husband just as she did in his life. The Countess enters the ordeal with a double confidence: a confidence in her husbands truthfulness, and a confidence in God as the just confirmer of the truth and vindicator of the innocent. Without such confidence, she would have reason indeed to tremble for her body. Yet neither of her confidences betray her - the faithful wife, obedient to her husband's last charge, passes the trial scatheless.
It is this unquestioning, undoubting trust and confidence in God and husband which marks the Countess' marriage in this pictoral narrative and so endears the diptych to me.
My brain isn't working well tonight, but I hope that was intelligible. Am not going to review before posting.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Comic Relief!

Dear Reader,

As I am in need of and currently enjoying little comic relief at this time, I thought I share some.

First, you simply must head over to Snap's place and read the history test! It's priceless.

Secondly, that Pine Cone Boy has given me permission to post quotes he took from Augustine. I stealed them from his blogses. Editorial Note: if there is a "me" in the following it signifies Zack. I must have forgotten to change it. Also, Bladerunner is Dr. Bloedow. And Metelsk is Dr. Metelski. And the funniest quotes are at the bottom so you really do have to read the entire thing!

Kyle: When I say there are seven students in my class, people ask, “You mean seventy, right?” “No, seven.”
David: “It’s kinda like seventy…”
Kyle: “…only divided by ten.”

Joel: Please tell me we have internet.
Zack: Nope.
Joel: Gah! My life is over!
Kyle: That was short.

Zack: I bet I know more Swedish than you do.
Kyle: (pointing at IKEA package) Then tell me what “Malm” means!

Zack: Fudge’d!

Joel: We have to make up a name for the frat we started five seconds ago. What rhymes with “frat”?

(On Joel’s strangely constructed closet)
Kyle: I can just imagine you sitting up there, reciting poety and thinking up rhymes for “frat”.
Joel: It’s like Narnia back here… ‘Oh, hey Aslan. Can you think of a rhyme for “frat”‘?

Me: Malm’d!

(This was a hypothetical dialogue Dr. Tingley was describing)
Torturer: Tell us who your accomplice is!
Victim: I like sardines.

Samantha: (on a fuzzy picture Tingley wanted us to indentify) It looks like a bat with a cleft lip.
Tingley: (on the same picture) Only one student has ever guessed it without any hints or prompting. He was one of the worst students that year, but he guessed it.

Tingley: People used to read Plato after supper, whereas now they read John Grisham or… Harry Potter. (looking at Zack's weird expression) I’ve probably offended some people already.
Zack: No, I just wish everyone would stop staring at me!

Kyle: Is there somewhere I can park around here without getting one of these? (holds up parking ticket)

Zack: The Basement People are on an excursion. Get all your hammering done now!

Harold: (on whether or not the Basement People would steal our stuff) I don’t think you’ll have any problems with them. (pause) I’m a little worried about your laptops.

Kyle: Also, when it’s raining, that tree tries to kill you.

Zack: (on Joel’s techno) Is that the song or are you rewinding?

([Zack]'d sat down next to Kyle with a creepy smile on [his] face)
Kyle: I thought you were trying to get me to drive you somewhere.
Zack: No. I just like being insane and enjoying every minute of it.

(later)Kyle: (on Joel) He’s insane and enjoying every minute of it!
Zack: Hey, at least I’m not smellily insane.
Joel: What?
Kyle: I think he doesn’t like your dreadlocks.
Joel: You’re a shameless antagonist!

Zack: (pointing at David’s cereal) Can I have some of that?
David: No… listen, my cereal is like your ice cream.(pause)
Zack: I’ll trade you.(Joel and David laugh)
Joel: I guess it’s not… that was really funny. (laughs some more)
Zack: OK, I guess I’ll have to write that one down…

Kyle: Huh? (opens a book cover which folded out without anything on it) I don’t get it. Why?

Dr. Patrick: Atheism explains nothing and leaves you with all the problems. At least Christians can blame God, and he doesn’t seem to mind.

Dr. Patrick: Do the hardest thing you’re capable of.
Joel: What?
Dr. Patrick: Do the hardest thing you’re capable of.
Joel: Oh. I thought you said, “Do the hardest thing and your head will blow up.”

Janice: Do you want anything to eat?
Clement: No, I’m fine.
Dr. Patrick: You don’t look it.

(Sarah was telling how she RA’d for another college once, and contrasting the guys’ disgusting residence with the girls’ lovely one)
Sarah: The girls’ house smelled really nice, with cookies and brownies…
Dr. Patrick: And not an intelligent word to be heard.

Bladerunner: In this course, you will never, never be allowed to say, “There is two”.

Kyle: (on his church) Most of the congregation is Chinese. And then you have a few token Caucasians such as myself.

Joel: Choir was mandatory, so I took that for a few years. Can’t read music. Then in high school I took band, and I was the trumpet. Still can’t read music.

Rev. Hayman: There have been a few people over the years who have gotten away with calling me “Dougie”.
Joel: Can I be one of those people?

Kyle: The rain is deceivingly wet.

Dr. Tingley: (reading Hegel) “To pit this single assertion, that ‘in the Absolute all is one,’ against the organized whole of determinate and complete knowledge, or of knowledge which at least aims at and demands complete development — to give out its Absolute as the night in which, as we say, all cows are black — that is the very naïveté of emptiness of knowledge.” (pause) Hwat?!?

(We were trying to translate the Latin idiom “Si vales, valeo” into a corresponding English expression. Various attempts included, “If you’re well, I’m well,” “If you’re fine, I’m fine,” “How are you,” and others)
Bladerunner: (clarifying) HI!!!

Dr. Tingley: Sorry I’m late today.
Joel: We’ll forgive you. Well, I will, anyway.

Dr. Tingley: If the fart, I mean, the heart… I’m really sorry these lectures are recorded.

(Emily was telling us how she abbreviated words like “tradition” and “delicious” to “tradish” and “delish”)
Zack: Gah, I HATE it when people do that!
David: Oh, it doesn’t mat to me.

Metelsk: Everyone has a book at home?
(we nod) Good. It has nice pictures.

Kyle: (on his Literature notes) I put down here on the timeline, “William the Conqueror does his thing. CONQUER’D!” And then later, here’s Christopher Marlowe. STABB’D!

Metelsk: (explaining Anaximander’s theories) That was his thinking. Well, good try.

Karen: Deer are so stupid! *sigh* We should just shoot all of them.

(I mentioned I was planning to bring an axe to the Ranch)
Janice: An axe? A hatchet maybe, or a tomahawk…
Karen: I love throwing tomahawks. (mimes doing so)
Sarah: See, this is what makes me afraid of Americans. Americans and Zack.
Zack: I like weapons.

Zack: (finishing drying pot lid) Here’s your LID.
Joel: Put it on the pot, please.
Zack: Never. I’ll die first.
Joel: That can be arranged.

Bladerunner: (coming out of a long tangent about Roman history) No, we didn’t do the verb… why am I talking about this? We’re supposed to be doing Latin…

Bladerunner: A noun in the nominative plural.
Karen: …Virorum?
Bladerunner: Oh no, no, no, don’t do that to me, Karen.

Bladerunner: First verb.
Joel: Amicos…
Bladerunner: Now Joel. Now Joel, don’t ruin my day.

Bladerunner: The verb?
Kyle: Iram… no, what am I doing…
Bladerunner: I don’t know what you’re doing. It puzzles me.

Bladerunner: “Caecilianus has a lovely dinner-guest.” (pause) A pig.

Bladerunner: Direct object.
David: Leonidas.
Bladerunner: Now David, don’t make my life miserable.

Bladerunner: The verb?
David: Salvi?
Bladerunner: What are you trying to tell me.

Sarah: The next chapter is exactly the same as the last one, except with masculine endings.
David: But that’s not exactly the same, then!

Joel: They look young and stupid. Why aren’t they in school?

Karen: (watching a beatboxing video) Can you imagine how much spit is in that microphone?

Prof. Warren: I won’t read all this; I don’t want to kill your brain cells.
Zack: You already have.
Prof. Warren: Yes, well, hopefully we’ve created a few along the way…

Kyle: I’ve decided to form a club called, “Paradise Lost: WTF?”

Joel: (on the Cyclopes) They’re irreparably nucleic.
Prof. Tucker: Now there’s a phrase.

Zack: I’m pretty sure I’m the metalhead of this residence.
Joel: Yeah. (pause) Actually, I’m not sure you are…
Zack: You’re right, I’m just a poser.
Kyle: Wow, that was a quick confession.

Rev. Hayman: (making some kind of Biblical illustration) If you hear a loud roar outside… (a bus rolls by loudly outside) …well, that’s not quite what I was thinking of…

Tingley: Something in my brain is upside-down.

Joel: Why won’t it just get cold?
Zack: Zeus is angry at us. We must make hecatombs.
Joel: We’ll pour out libations and slaughter a cow. Except I don’t have any cows. (looks out window) I hope that guy will do.

Tingley: We’ll be able to end early today. Mercifully. For once. (we didn’t, btw)

Tingley: (on a bust of a philosopher) What’s different here?
Samantha: He looks insane.

Tingley: (on a sculpture of Aphrodite and Pan) She’s got a slipper here, and she’s going to whack him. “Oh, you naughty thing!”

Emily: They’re probably in numerical order. Two coming after one, etc.

Clement: So how’s everyone tonight?
Zack: Peachy. I’m just peachy!
Sarah: I think we need to stop giving Zack sugar. And caffeine.

Note attached to plant: I’m drowning. Don’t water me, please!

David: (telling a joke) What do white children turn into when they go to heaven?
Joel: Black people?
David: No, angels.
Joel: Same thing.

Emily: (dramatically speaking of the alleged Beowulf movie) As Grendel’s arm was ripped from his body, so the plot of Beowulf was ripped from the poem!

Joel: (on Beowulf) He killed seven people before he was born.
Emily: Yeah. “I ate my twin!”

Karen: That’s not the question I was expecting…
Tingley: Deal with it.

The following bracketed quotes are from a film Dr. Tingley showed us:

[Narrator: Each man puts forth his own definition of love until finally, Socrates annihilates them all.

Teacher: Beautiful speech. Beautiful. But of course... it has to be demolished.]

Me: I have a possible solution to the subjective dilemma you find yourself in.

Karen: That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!
Joel: You don’t hear much, do you?

Kyle: I learned all this reading Tom Clancey novels.
Prof. Tucker: Yeah, they teach pretty much everything in those except character development.

Zack: Look, did you have some kind of weird drink at that party?(pause)
Joel: (in really weird voice) The weirdest.

Tingley: That’s a good question, and we should answer it — just not now.

Sarah: I’m a horrible person.
Kyle: But it’s such a nice horrible.

Bladerunner: And who do you think Ovid is speaking to?
Kyle: Umm… who’s Ovid?

Prof. Warren: Well, we’re finishing up Gregorian chant today, believe it or not.
Zack: I don’t believe it.

(the following exchange took place on MSN)
Zack: Where are you?
Joel: I’m listening to MM in hermitude.
Zack: Hermitude? I think you mean the Hermitage, my friend.
Joel: No, hermitude. It’s like solitude, but with a beard.

Rev. Hayman: What’s the word you use for a people like this? Common lineage, common language, common goals…
Joel: …communists?

Prof. Tucker: (on Buechner) His theology is not orthodox, but… y’know. Who cares.

Tingley: Plato called Aristotle “The Reader”. Which is a good thing to be called. (pause) Better than “The Gamer”.

Tingley: Please excuse the proximity in that sentence of God and a dung beetle.

Prof. Tucker: …the reign of King Elizabeth.
Zack: Umm… isn’t that Queen Elizabeth?
Prof. Tucker: No, King Elizabeth sounds right to me.

Prof. Tucker: “Interactional synchrony.” Sounds like a Police album.

Prof. Tucker: “Most drafts can be cut by 50 per cent without losing any information or losing the author’s voice.”
David: Wow. That’s a lot of per cent. That’s almost, like, half.

Sarah: Does Wolsey get his head chopped off?
Prof. Tucker: No, I think he just dies.
Kyle: I’d like to point out right now that those two things aren’t mutually exclusive.

Kyle: I think you really need to revise your definition of “feet”.

(Joel’s laptop starts making a weird beeping noise)
Tingley: Where is that noise coming from?
Joel: My laptop. And it’s never made that noise before. I didn’t think it was capable of making that noise.(pause)
Tingley We — we don’t have to flee the building?

Bladerunner: The Rape of Lucretia, that’s a nice story…

Dr. Patrick: (to Zack) Yes, your veins are fairly prominent!

Joel: Sir, if you had a knife, would you beat someone with it?
Rev. Hayman: I’d be inclined to use a hammer.

Dr. Patrick: So since you got the Templeton Prize, how has your life changed?
Dr. Heller: It has been RUINED.

Dr. Heller: Cosmology is more narrow. Cosmology is concerned with one thing only: the universe.

Joel: (on his scarf) It’s like a day-long hug from a very fluffy man.
Janice: Or an attempt to strangle you from a very weak man.

Tingley: When you hear people talk about art, what do you think of?
Zack: I think of film, actually.
Tingley: Well, you would, wouldn’t you.

Rev. Hayman: What does “amen” mean?
Zack: (remembering that we’d looked this up, but I couldn’t remember what it meant) …aw, crap.
Rev. Hayman: It does not mean “aw, crap”.

Tingley: Now, some people don’t like the word “argument”.
Zack: I like the word argument.
Tingley: We know you like it, Zack. That might be the first thing we learned about you.

Prof. Tucker: (on the Rime of the Ancient Mariner) First reactions?
Dave: I liked it.
Prof. Tucker: OK. Why?
Dave: Uhhh… it was cool…

Tingley: …the forum here was populated only by pigs, deer, and vegetables…

Bladerunner: What case is “tibi,” Kyle?
Kyle: Umm… dative?

Bladerunner: Dative. Dative, David. (pause) David dative. Dative David. (chuckles)

Karen: (on how she’d been using Emily’s method of abbreviaysh) I was doing the Scriptures reading and I thought, “justificaysh”.
Zack: Heh, and sanctificaysh.
Dave: Whoa, guys. That’s not funny. It has to do with your salvaysh!
Joel: (coming over) Hey guys, I really enjoyed that talk on the Transfiguraysh.

Kyle: I like carnage, OK? Nothing wrong with that.

Kyle: What did I tell you about dreamworlds of magic? No more dreamworlds of magic!

Tingley: Does everyone agree with that? Or do we have… dissenters?

Tingley: In a syllogism, two negatives don’t make a positive, they make a big nothing.

Tingley: Is it valid?
Joel: No. Yes.
Tingley: I got a “no” and a “yes”… FROM THE SAME PERSON!

Tingley: (speaking of Zack) I just wish we could dial the irony knob down, though…
Dr. Patrick: No no, rack it up!

Dave: I dunno… is there such a thing as too much Bach?
Prof. Warren: (immediately) No.

Joel: (on the garbage) It sounds like some fruity tree gone wrong.

Emly: I need something abrasive. Can I borrow your personality?

Nova: I feel like one big frozen nose.

Tingley: (looks at Joel’s tea) Looks like Joel’s poured himself a nice scotch.

Joel: Accept my hospitality or I’ll KILL YOU!!!

Nova: Somehow proximity to the food makes me feel safer.
Emly: You clearly haven’t seen me cook.

(watching Andrei Rublev)
Cyril: It’s like Ottawa: always winter.
Nova: But never Christmas!

Zack: Some people don’t think squirrels will be in heaven.
Emly: (in silly voice) Well, the people who think that are probably not going there anyway.

Rev. Hayman: Were you saying something, Samantha?
Samantha: Oh, I was just gonna say what Dave said.
Rev. Hayman. Oh. You might want to change that… I was about to rip him to shreds.

(Tingley rings “bell” for quiet in the class)
Joel: Every time you do that it makes me think of a wedding.
Tingley: What do I have to do to shut you up.

Cyril: (to Jesse) Ah, you Eastern Orthodox weren’t REALLY worshipping God this morning because you were praying in a language you could understand!

(Cyril says something about the pope)
Jesse: Who you worship.
Cyril: We VENERATE the pope, we do not WORSHIP him…
Jesse: Yes you do.