Saturday, September 22, 2007

Gratuitous Rostral Column

Rostral Column on the Strelka
St Petersburg, Russia, 2004
(c) 2007 PES

Just because

Heather knocks my socks off again

How blessed we are to have Heather over at Holy Vignettes (and thanks MadPriest for pointing me to her).

She just wrote a moving and quite profound piece on fraction. A sample:

The good years aren't the years without losses; they are the years in which we make room for life.

Merits the detour, as the Michelin guides used to say. (Do they still say that?)
--the BB

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Inappropriate Content


There must be a time lag if I can call the resident of the White House a shithead and still be called PG-13. Bush, on the other hand, should be rated X for all the violence and degradation he has unleashed on the world. Just saying.

Oh, in case there is any confusion, I offer the Dhammapada as encouragement for us all, including myself. I certainly don't live up to it or to the injunctions of Jesus.

This might be a reasonable time to reprise an old poem.
The Pleasing Boy

The pleasing boy
who played by the rules
earned the smug toleration
of the unimaginative—
not affection, respect, or love
(perhaps a quiet admiration
for his ability
to tolerate crap)

It’s not enough,
he concluded tardily,
and decided to take his soul back,
to color outside the lines
and follow his imagination,
to take risks and live
with the consequent failures
as well as exhilarating successes,
to let fly the snarky comment
and show disapproval
as well as bestow
the wonted compliments

He’s gone back to dancing
in streets and hallways,
singing out loud,
drawing on sidewalks with chalk,
naming bullshit,
laughing too loudly,
playing with children and elders—
and even the occasional midlifer
who has begun to wake up
and wants to play too

17 October 2003
Update: the PG is for 2 occurrences of crap and 1 of queer. Interesting. And very queer.

--the BB

Unequal justice is no justice

It is time the prosecutor started connecting the damn dots. If he cannot see that the entire series of events in Jena, Louisiana, between white and black youths are interrelated then he must be deaf and blind.

I have heard no one say the black youths are innocent and should be held unaccountable but I do hear a cry from the earth itself that consistent standards be applied. White youths in incidents of violence seem to get slaps on the wrist and misdemeanor charges; black youths are charged with felonies. Why?

The use of nooses on a tree cannot be described as "funnin'." One cannot say skin color is not a major operant factor.

When will "the recent unpleasantness" become the distant unpleasantness?

I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; 10they cried out with a loud voice, ‘Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ (Revelation 6:9b-10)

Autumnal equinox, Matthew, Paul Victor

Tomorrow is the feast of St Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist. I shall leave elaboration on that to my betters. The Church Calendar is like a great pegboard of the year on which I can hang many things. Sometimes a saint's feast helps me remember someone's birthday, sometimes it is the other way around.

Matthew came first in history, though second in my mind.
Incipit to St Matthew's Gospel
folio 29r of the Book of Kells

First, for me, was the fact that my father was born on 21 September 1908. Were he still alive he would be turning 99 tomorrow.
The BB and his dad (some years ago)
[Yes, my hair was not always thin and gray
and I was, once upon a time, somewhat slender.]


This also means it must be autumn. I confess, this photo was taken later in the year some years ago. But it is beginning to feel autumnal. The air conditioning is not kicking in every other minute (and I set it at 80, well above my personal melting point). Today clouds came in, the temperature lowered, and we had quite a cloudburst as I was leaving work. The freeway was not moving much so I thought a wide surface road would be nice. Ha! So I drove for miles along a minor river. Drove? Paddled? Hard to distinguish.

I look forward to cooler days. And turning leaves. For now the ash trees near work are still quite green, a lovely rich, dark green.

We thank you, heavenly Father, for the witness of your apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of your Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

--the BB

Who should be ashamed? Not MoveOn!

Why don't we hear more people who will stand up and speak the truth to that little shithead in the Oval Office?

Keith Olbermann delivers once again. Thank God for him!

Online Videos by

An excerpt:
Terrorizing your own people in hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you?

The Republican Hamstringing of Captain Max Cleeland and lying about Lieutenant John Kerry met with your approval?

But a shot at General Petraeus — about whom you conveniently ignore it is you who reduced him from four-star hero to a political hack — that merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television?

Your hypocrisy is so vast, sir, that if we could somehow use it to fill the ranks in Iraq you could realize your dream — and keep us fighting there until the year 3000.

The line between the military and the civilian government is not to be crossed.

Full transcript available at Crooks and Liars.

Yes, the gloves are off. And I am tired of censoring myself with respect to the ignominious vermin in the current administration. If stronger language offends you, you might want to avoid this blog until Bush retires or my higher nature rises again.

h/t to Hoffmania for the video link

The Dhammapada on Joy

Let us live in joy, never hating those who hate us. Let us live in freedom, without hatred even among those who hate.

Let us live in joy, never falling sick like those who are sick. Let us live in freedom, without disease even among those who are ill.

Let us live in joy, never attached among those who are selfishly attached. Let us live in freedom even among those who are bound by selfish attachments.

Let us live in joy, never hoarding things even among those who hoard. Let us live in growing joy like the bright gods.

Conquest breeds hatred, for the conquered live in sorrow. Let us be neither conqueror nor conquered, and live in peace and joy.

There is no fire like lust, no sickness like hatred, no sorrow like separateness, no joy like peace. No disease is worse than greed, no suffering worse than selfish passion. Know this, and seek nirvana as the highest joy.

Health is the best gift, contentment the best wealth, trust the best kinsman, nirvana the greatest joy. Drink the nectar of the dharma in the depths of meditation, and become free from fear and sin.

It is good to meet the wise, even better to live with them. But avoid the company of the immature if you want joy.

Keeping company with the immature is like going on a long journey with an enemy. The company of the wise is joyful, like reunion with one's family. Therefore, live among the wise, who are understanding, patient, responsible, and noble. Keep their company like the moon moving among the stars.
--Chapter 15 of The Dhammapada, translated by Eknath Easwaran

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Feast of St Theodore of Tarsus

I am counting on Padre Mickey to be all over this but I have to put in a few words and graphics on behalf of the only (to date) Greek-speaking Archbishop of Canterbury, St Theodore of Tarsus. The photo below is one I took of a window frame in St Lawrence, Hallgarth, showing Abp. Theodore anointing St Cuthbert as bishop.Theodore was a Greek monk who was appointed to be Archbishop of Canterbury. He came to England with Adrian (or Hadrian) the African, a North African monk who headed up the archbishop's school in Canterbury. Together they brought a great deal of scholarship to the English Church. Theodore died on this day in 690 CE.

This was all during a time of incredible cross-fertilization of cultures. The Celtic and Roman usages were still sorting themselves out and influencing each other (it's not as if the Council of Whitby ended all influence). Benedict Biscop had traveled to Rome and brought back not only relics and icons but also imported Italian and Gallic artisans for Monkwearmouth and Jarrow. Celts and Saxons were influencing each other's cultures. It was an era of many saints and a flourishing culture (the Golden Age of Northumbria).

As we look back to those days and the legacy we enjoy from them, perhaps we might be less anxious about the multi-culturalism of our own era and choose instead to rejoice at the riches we enjoy from one another.

You can read more about Theodore here and here and here. For a decidedly different perspective (and one with more than a tint of lavender) there is a fictional work on him here.
Almighty God, you called your servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and gave him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in your Church, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

How timely. Amen and amen.
--the BB

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Площадь Островского

WHL stolling on Ostrovskiy Square, St Petersburg
(c) PES 2004/2005

Gratuitous Tuesday Evening Rose Blogging

A Piñata Rose photographed on April 26 of this year. This vine has had repeated blooms and they are fascinating. All manner of shades of scarlet, butter, crimson, purplish-pinks, tangerine. Since it has now had a season to establish itself I really look forward to next year!
--the BB

I have long desired have a bumper sticker with this text:

We would be so much happier a race if we could accept both halves of this. We attribute no end of inappropriate meaning to the sundry miseries of life, concluding erroneously that great misfortunes and endless minor crap occur for reasons. We insist on reasons. Perhaps we have displeased the gods (we would usually speak of God here but I think the reasoning is primitive enough to go back to earlier days). We are being punished. Or we are being tested. Can we not allow for surd shit? It is just part of the nature of things. Earthquakes are part of how our universe is constructed (well, our tiny fragment of it). If God lets nature be nature (much as we posit an allowance of free will to ourselves), then nature will do what nature does. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, tectonic plates gotta shift. To those whose lives or homes are lost and those who love them it is tragic. But there is no need to project moralism on to it. Not a punishment. Not a test. Just an earthquake. Let it be just what it is.

As for the second part.... Ah, just breathe it in. Even in earthquakes and other mishaps, grace abides. In human compassion, human action, and in the life force that causes green shoots to break through concrete, grace abides.

Just nattering. I saw my little bumper sticker graphic and couldn't resist putting it up.
--the BB

Monday, September 17, 2007

Just because we all need a break

A little John Brack to cleanse your palate

Between the steaming pile that is Iraq touched by Bush and the anxious frenesy of Anglicans (whom I refer to Susan Russell's gracious reminder to step away from the bread of anxiety), it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to me to have a mental tea dance.

Deep peace, y'all.
--the BB