Friday, February 27, 2009

Never Have I Ever...But I Will

Never have I ever written 6 term papers in a matter of 4 weeks. But I will, or perish in the attempt.

Never will I ever complain about writing one or two term papers, ever again.

I will hold myself to this resolution: My philosophy term paper will be finished by 7 o'clock pm on Saturday, February the 28th. So resolve I, Dernhelm.

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Neat Excerpt from Luther's Genesis Lectures

"But now the Gospel has brought about the restoration of that image. Intellect and will indeed have remained, but both very much impaired. And so the Gospel brings it about that we are formed once more according to that familiar and indeed better image, because we are born again into eternal life or rather into the hope of eternal life by faith, that we may live in God and with God and be one with Him, as Christ says (John 17:21).
"And indeed, we are reborn not only for this life but also for righteousness, because faith acquires Christ’s merit and knows that through Christ’s death we have been set free. From this source our other righteousness has its origin, namely that newness of life through which we are zealous to obey God as we are taught by the Word and aided by the Holy Spirit. But this righteousness has merely its beginning in this life and it cannot attain perfection in this flesh. Nevertheless, it pleases God, not as though it were a perfect righteousness or a payment for sin but because it comes from the heart and depends on its trust in the mercy of God through Christ. Moreover, this also is brought about by the Gospel, that the Holy Spirit is given to us, who offers resistance in us to unbelief, envy, and other vices that we may earnestly strive to glorify the name of the Lord and His Word, etc.
"In this manner this image of the new creature begins to be restored by the Gospel inn this life, but it will not be finished in this life. But when it is finished in the kingdom of the Father, then the will will be truly free and good, the mind truly enlightened, and the memory persistent....Just as in the beginning the heaven and the earth were unfinished masses, so to speak, before the light had been added, so the godly have within themselves that unfinished image which God will on the Last Day bring to perfection in those who have believed His Word.
"Therefore that image of God was something most excellent, in which were included eternal life, everlasting freedom from fear, and everything that is good."

Luther's Lectures on Galations, Chapters 1-5

Monday, February 23, 2009

This is how I feel: Term Paper and Me

(And no, I'm not the one on the nasty critter thing. )

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Luther Marathon: The Tally Begins

Beginning at 4:15pm

On the Freedom of a Christian
Admonition to Peace
Whether Soldiers, Too, Can Be Saved
(and skimmed the other stuff in between Admonition and Soldiers - Something about Murderous Hordes of Peasants.... :D )

I love Luther's sense of humor. And his comment about princes and, I quote, "handsome, blond hair."

What I'm up Against: Alasdair MacIntyre

This is what MacIntyre says Luther says. Which is why I think he's wrong. Now I have one week and ten double spaced, 11 point pages to prove it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Little Help, Anyone?

So, I've made a diagram. But I think it needs help. I'm contrasting the teleological ethics of Aquinas with Luther's ethics. (But I really need some clarifications with the latter.) Any suggestions?

I'm sorry if it's too small. I can't make it any larger, or at least, Blogger won't let it be.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Status: Blissfully Sleepy

Slight interpretation: The verse is true too, but primarily I picked this one for the tired eyes. I've just fought my way through 14 hours of Lord of the Rings movies including a short break between every disk for fresh tea and a lunch and supper break. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Kick Ass Lutheran" Goes to Anglican Evensong

Picture a living room with two couches about five armchairs, a fireplace, two large picture windows, and a piano. People this room with a young girl lying with a book across the couch at the far end beneath a picture window, a young man in black with shoulder length black hair and a black laptop in an armchair kitty corner across the room from her, and three young women, one much younger than the other two, near him at the piano. They are fiddling with hymn books and making small talk preparatory to an attempt at making music.

"The annoying thing about Anglican hymns is that the tunes are just like the tunes I know for these hymns - only changed just enough that I mess up every...."

"Oh, no, no: Anglican hymn settings are the best. I know, I play for both an Anglican and Presbyterian church and Anglican settings are the best."

"Well, I'll grant you that they may be better than Presbyterian settings!"

The third young women interjects; "Better be careful. Sarah's not Presbyterian - she's Lutheran so she's got a pretty good claim to hymns too."

"Oh, well, Anglicans are still better than Lutherans: I don't care for Lutherans in general."

"No, no, you don't understand: Sarah 's not one of the Lutherans you know. She's a real ^kick ass^* Lutheran." *

(Understandably, I grin broadly, evilly, and benevolently at this point. So I have a reputation to uphold now do I? Hmm...)

After a good seven or eight hymns had been sung and Good King Wenceslaus had been inappropriately but very amusingly caricatured, the two older girls donned hats, boots, scarves, and mittens.

"You guys want to come with us to Evensong at St. Barny's?"

"Well, I haven't gotten any school work done today.....Oh, why not? It is Sunday after all. Let me grab my boots."
Seems the other occupants of the room thought the same.
Well, she grabbed more than her boots: also her hat, scarf, purse, mittens and a rather dry hunk of overbaked bread with a few drops of honey. (It was six pm. and she had not had supper.)
Apparently, the young man in black had the same idea - only he had a slice of raspberry cake instead. (Smart fellow)

So it was, that the ^kick ass Lutheran^* found herself on a rather pleasant forty minute walk across the city to Solemn Evensong at St. Barnabas Anglican Church with three other young people. She found it totally worth the trouble.

All the dear, beloved Adiaphora met her - her nose, her ears, her knees, her eyes. Wonderful, familiar hardwood pews filled the nave - with kneelers! Between the nave and the chancel stretched a beam, halfway between the ceiling and floor and on it a massive crucifix stretched with two female saints beneath, the pulpit adjacent. And further back, above the high altar, a gorgeous triptych of Christ in an attitude of solemn benediction, his piercing Byzantine gaze holding her own. He is flanked by two saints, one Moses, the other, perhaps the Baptist? (Yes, indeed, as the link proves.) And vestments? Oh, it was so nice to see vestments again after collarless pastors! Procession with crucifix? Oh, yessss! Incense? Definitely! Chanting? You bet!
mmmhmm. Absolution too? Well, it's the Word, so an Anglican one ^sticks^* just as well as a Lutheran.

And as if that bit of paradise wasn't enough, they followed it up with refreshments after. No kidding. The Anglicans really know how to set out the hors d'oeuvers.

Methinks she may go back. After all, who can resist the High Church? Certainly not the girl who has a reputation of ^kick ass Lutheran^ to uphold. :P

* Introducing ^mitten quotes^. In cold climates where one cannot conveniently form "quotes" with two fingers because of the cold, a new dialect of manual communication emerges. The ^mitten quote^ is made by bending all fingers at the second and third metacarpal joint, twice in quick succession within the confines of a mitten.

**No, I am not acquiring ^new vocabulary.^ I just had to share the eloquence of the recently bestowed status. .

Friday, February 13, 2009


Her eyes bugged out as a pasty hue crawled with lightning speed up her face. Her heart sprang to her throat as if stung, leaping in terror of the spectral horror printed in seeming characters of adamant on the four sheets (though they might as well have been marble) in her trembling ice-fingers; falling, falling, falling, three weeks flashing before her eyes, till her taunt body impacted the slimy ooze at the bottom of the clay pit and the vision vanished away into darkness. There she limply lay, gibbering, engulfed by the jelled clay, unable to muster even the will to set a quivering hand to the miry insurmountable walls. How long shall she lie there? An hour? Five minutes? Perhaps. But she cannot lie so forever - there's nothing to eat down in the muck. Soon she will realize that whether she begins soon or late, eventually she must force her constrained and bruised limbs to move - to beat their way out of the clinging ooze and grapple the slimy wall. There is no other option.

Sarah sighed: turning her face from the keyboard, her glance fell on four research paper assignments. Due in three weeks. Across those shrouded forms, the shadow of another falls.

It's not all that bad. A little drama puts it all in perspective. Kind of. I had looked forward to Reading Week (our equivalent of Spring Break) this coming week. Now I'm pretty much saying goodbye to my leisure plans. There is absolutely no way I'm going to have a Music Paper, a Philosophy Paper, a Scripture Paper, an Art Paper, and a Science Paper done in just a few weeks - even a month - if I don't devote my reading week to them. Sigh!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Happy- Happy Birthday!

On this most auspicious day eight fifths a decade ago, a beautiful princess was born. The bright, clear morning had never beheld a fairer nor sweeter child with unrivaled raven tresses.
As she grew, so did her beauty: her jet black curls quickly gave way to golden locks, and these to a golden brown and this to a rich oaken river sparkling with red gold loveliness. As her stature rose, so did her sweetness; though it must be confessed that in very early times her charm lay dormant under the crust of less amiable mannerisms, but the true personality burst forth in due time.
As yet the young fairy had neither suitor nor matrimonial offer, for the young knights had been duly barred from glimpse of her enchanting face. Yet all were eager to make her acquaintance on account of the whole wheat potato rolls which were regularly delivered to all with the Lady's compliments, wrought, it was said, by her own white hand.
On the night of her sixteenth birthday, however, all was about to change.....

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Contra Dance tonight at All Saints

I spent the last 3 hours contra-dancing at All Saints, an Anglican church not three doors down. I have not words - or rather, I do have words, but my expression could not craft them properly.

I love contra dance. It's simpler than Scottish country dance because there's no footwork, but it has that same group style. Except, you stay with your partner (generally) throughout and are grouped by pairs, in squares, within lines.

Though I've contra-danced before, I've never been to an open (public) contra-dance. Granted, it's not quite as fun when you don't know all the people (but in a way, it's more freeing). One of the guys in my class invited us girls, but none of the others ended up coming. I couldn't resist. It's been so long since I danced and there is something in me which delights to dance with groups, to be absorbed into the flow and swirl of syncronized human beings catching, twirling, and swinging each other.

I had worked all day (strange how my Saturdays are becoming homework days) looking forward to this evening's reward. I must confess that I did spend twenty minutes engaging in feminine peacockery, picking clothes, doing hair, and (don't anybody laugh) putting on a bit of makeup to cover the acne outbreak and the healing scars. My togs were simple, but, I thought, quite nice; riding boots, green skirt, light pink blouse, jean jacket, two French braids tied about an inch from the head so that the rest fell free. I wasn't sure how "dressed up" people got for these functions, and as things turned out, I was right in the middle of the spectrum.

Zach and I walked over for the brief instruction period before the dance started, which proved immensely helpful in cleaning the rust off my memory. The dances, themselves whirled their way as the biggest blast of the past month. The experienced dancers guided our movements, and after a few minutes with one of them for a partner, clumsiness melted, at least partially, away.

Talk about sweat! I shed my jean jacket after the first dance, but soon was completely drenched anyway.

It was a gathering of diverse nationalities. I was mistaken by two gentlemen for Eastern European, and by one for having French origins. In addition I was paid the honor of a bow and a kiss upon introduction ... on the hand of course! Maybe our young men should be taken to dances to learn manners from their elders, no?
Sadly, I had to turn down a dance with the said gentleman as I had need to take some rest before church tomorrow.

One quickly learns to let herself be guided while paying close attention so as to render the gentleman's task as easy as possible. One also learns to synchronize her "bounces" with her partner when swung (if the gentleman chooses to bounce). The gentleman does best to have a firm grasp so that the lady can have both support as she balances in the spin and resistance to move.

I need sleep so I should wrap up the post. But I'm looking forward to contra-dances often in the next few months.

Oh, one thing more. Zach had gone back to the college while I stayed for one last dance. But to my surprise, when I finally left, he was waiting to walk me home. Apparently, he had been to the college and back. He didn't have to do that and it was kindly thought of. Marvellous night.

New Tradition: Eowyn Statuses

True to my own frivolous mode of expression, I think I'm going to take up describing my status through various Eowyn depictions. Here's the one for tonight:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Doughnuts, Anyone?

Tonight, I managed to almost catch the house on fire. I'll explain later. (Hyperbole, by the by.)

I also made doughnuts, which are delicious, with the aid of my friend, Samantha. While doing so, we discovered a mutual appreciation of Michael Card and spent the next few hours while the doughnuts were frying and we were cleaning listening to his songs. And what do you know? One of our RA's walked into the kitchen. "Is that Michael Card?" she said. "Wow! I can't believe I'd forgotten about him." And she joined us singing.
It was great, but now it's late, and I must go to bed.
The doughnut's fate - for me must wait; until I rest my head.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two Painters; One Subject

Today during Art lecture I found myself again enthralled and piqued with curiosity by a few specific painters and pictures.
First, Caravaggio. Something about the way he employs deep darkness and light to illumine and illustrate his subjects strongly draws me. The realism catches in a special way. His figures are not prototypes or ideals but real people. One can almost touch them, smell them, breath the air of their painted atmosphere, feel the pain, wonder, surprise, courage of their countenances. They have personality and individuality.
Yet because they have personality, they are, in a sense, ideals. Caravaggio's figures are ideals of human personality. They stand at moments where we have been, they react to experiences as we would. They look like us in all our reality of both beauty and ugliness.

I had seen this image before, but it had not really spoken until I had been buried in Byzantine, Renaissance, and Mannerist paintings first.
St. Thomas (like many of us today) is incredulous, doubting, but amazed as, Jesus hand drawing his arm, he sticks his finger into Christ's wound. His eyes open wide and his forehead crinkles as if he find it hard to believe his senses. The other disciples sho just as much astonishment.
Consider the calling of St. Matthew (one of the original set of paintings which caused such a stir in Rome)...

...and the startled, incredulous look on the tax collector's face when the Lord points him out with singleness of purpose.
Or his inspiration as he writes the Holy Gospel (though I prefer Caravaggio's original, but rejected, painting of this subject where the angel guides the Evangelist's hand.)

...followed by the Evangelist's martyrdom...One can see the frightened horror in the face of the servant who flees, the contorted malice on the face of the executioner, the calm on Matthew's countenance as his uplifted hand receives the palm of martyrdom. Even the bystanders' unconcern is felt.
Consider the "Sickly Bacchus"... What viewer cannot tell that he is feeling the sickening, twisting pangs of his own over-indulgence?
Look at this depiction of the Taking of Christ...
What is Judas thinking as he gives his kiss? And Christ's expression? Is he feeling already the torment of the road He will walk that night? The right-hand onlooker wonders and the left-hand figure reaches out, opened mouthed in grief, terror, or flight.

Dare I even comment on this painting? It speaks for itself.

Just one more before I make my point.... The Crucifixion of St. Peter.

He is calm, unafraid, though his hands and feet have been pierced and even at the moment he is being lifted to die. He looks both at his cloak and at you. He seems to be saying, "When I was young like you, I dressed myself and went where I pleased. But now I am old I have stretched out my hands and someone else has dressed me and carried me where I did not wish to go. Yet I am glad for my Savior is at hand."

But I did not bring you, dear reader, through a brief sample of Caravaggio for the sake of these paintings. I wanted to introduce a bit of his style for the sake of comparison. For among all his paintings, this one grabbed my attention and held it. And when I was shown a painting by the daughter of one of his students treating the same subject, I must confess, I was more than a little intrigued.
If you know your Apocrypha, you could probably guess that this is indeed "Judith Decapitating Holofernes." The young, beautiful Judith divinely assisted to slay the pagan king who attacks Jerusalem.

I find this image fascinating not because of the gore but because of the expressions. Take a good look at the faces. Judith draws back, she seems to dislike what she must do in spite of Holofernes' evil. She seems to have set her mind to her task - a task impossible were she not helped by God. There is a strain to her eyes and face which indicates both a consciousness of her own danger, an awed resolve and confidence. Nothing about her face or her posture suggests revenge or anger on her part. Her whole attitude is that of an instrument. She is dealing Divine sentence, not her own. Her maid stands beside her, somber, ready, equally braced for whatever may come next. Holofernes face is a mask of terror and astonishment. His powerful figure seems strangely paralyzed as if he cannot defend himself, though no visible bonds constrain him. The strong has been defeated, the king brought low; the shock emanates from his visage.
Look at the painting again and contrast it with this image by Artemisia Gentileschi, the daughter of Orazio Gentileschi, a student of Caravaggio's.

The first thought which popped into my head when shown this painting, "Judith Slaying Holofernes," was, "Wow! that looks gory and painful!" The second thought riding on the heels of the first was, "Oh, my! Judith looks like she's enjoying this, like she's taking revenge on the man."
This Judith is so very different from Caravaggio's Judith. Perhaps her posture and expression are not so clear in these web-photos as in the paintings themselves, but I hope the reader can detect (at least partially) what I am getting at. This Judith is not shy of her task but almost seems to take a strange pleasure in it. This Judith is the one in control of the scene, along with her maid servant who holds Holofernes down. So very different from the Caravaggio depiction where it is clear that Judith is not taking control of the scene but that the mighty king is delivered into her hands.
The distinction struck me so hard, along with other reflections, that I resolved to look at these depictions again in more detail. However, when I had "googled" the topic, I stumbled upon an essay so well elucidating my own vague thoughts that I need not add my disorganized two cents but simply encourage the reader to peruse this essay; Portraying Judith and Holofernes: A Gendered Perspective.To give credit where credit is due, the previous two paragraphs borrowed in verbal concept from this essay, though the reflections arose beforehand of their own accord.

I'm not certain I completely buy into the whole "gender roles" theory, but the distinctions between the two paintings definitely seem to hold. (I'm more inclined to attribute the revenge to Artemisia's own painful youth and the reverberations from that incident. At least, several of her other paintings seem to reflect a sort of inward struggle with these sort of situations.)
Now what can we learn from this difference? Hmm. I'm not totally sure, except that I'd sooner hang the Caravaggio "Decapitation" on my bedroom wall than the Gentileschi "Slaying" any day. Caravaggio's Judith seems to trust - relying not on her own strength to stay Holofernes, nor on her maid, but on God. She does not turn from her task though it be dangerous and distasteful, but does even this deed in the strength and will of God. She seems to recognize that vengeance is not hers, that a death sentence is not hers to meet out, but God's. All young women would do well to keep these things in mind.
(And if I am totally off track, someone please let me know. :D )