Saturday, October 27, 2007

Admit it

I was just being silly and poking fun at cat blogging, but how can I NOT conclude that y'all come here to check out Friday prince blogging?
--the BB

Weary of hysteria

I have been a fan of Simon and Garfunkel since their first album, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, came out in October 1964 (and I was a freshman at Pomona College). While passing by albums at Costco last week I saw a 3-CD release of their music titled Old Friends.

Listening to music from my past is both comforting and disturbing, but mostly comforting. I had a very strange feeling creep over me, however, when listening through headphones at work to the following song, one I recognized upon hearing but had forgotten:

The sun is burning in the sky
Strands of clouds go slowly drifting by
In the park the lazy breeze
Are joining in the flowers, among the trees
And the sun burns in the sky

Now the sun is in the West
Little kids go home to take their rest
And the couples in the park
Are holdin' hands and waitin' for the dark
And the sun is in the West

Now the sun is sinking low
Children playin' know it's time to go
High above a spot appears
A little blossom blooms and then draws near
And the sun is sinking low

Now the sun has come to Earth
Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death
Death comes in a blinding flash
Of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash
And the sun has come to Earth

Now the sun has disappeared
All is darkness, anger, pain and fear
Twisted, sightless wrecks of men
Go groping on their knees and cry in pain
And the sun has disappeared

This, my younger friends, is the omnipresent sense of dread that hung over my generation, an awareness that nuclear holocaust could destroy the world and it COULD happen. We had no idea if there would be a future, though we hoped there would be. We were talking about the end of life on this planet, not a minor conflagration here and there.

Now demagogues and asshats (I am not sure one can distinguish the two but I am trying to keep it civil and this is the best I can do) are ranting about the threat of islamofascism [as if we didn't have enough christofascism right here at home to deal with] and trying to drum up hysteria among the general populace in order to
  1. garner votes [by being the shrillest and therefore the most aware of the threat???];
  2. keep us in a state of constant fear so we can be easily manipulated [cf. Naomi Wolf on this];
  3. justify all manner of stupidity and atrocity [Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Iran?];
  4. keep us distracted from real problems that actually affect most of us on a daily basis [healthcare, poverty, diminished earning power, bankruptcy, ineffective education, the raping of resources and poisoning of the environment, etc.] and are caused or exacerbated by deliberate policies that need to be changed or reversed. There may be more reasons, but I doubt any of them are good or in the interest of the American People or the rest of the world.

Where is the perspective? We once had thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads aimed at us for decades. That was a threat.

Are terrorists a threat? Absolutely! Does this threat need to be faced, understood, analyzed, and dealt with? Yes! Can you wage a war on a strategy? Well, no. Which is why a "war on terror" is sheer nonsense.

Fearmongers, the Cheney-Bush crime organization chief among them, are trying to convince us, to "catapult the propaganda" to use Bush's words, that we are facing the biggest threat ever.


As Bill Maher reminds us:
… At the Republican debate last week, Mike Huckabee said Islamofascism is the greatest threat we ever faced. Really? More than the Nazis and the Russians and the Redcoats?

He has a lot to say about putting things back into perspective. Check it out.

Let's return to sanity. Ratchet back the rhetoric of doom. And why don't we start a mass movement of laughing at demagogues when they say stupid things?

Btw, if Jesus told us not to spend time trying to figure out when he's coming back do you think he will be happy with people who try to hasten his return? You really don't want to piss him off, folks.

--the BB

Cutting through the crap

We don't torture, says Bush.
I am Marie of Romania, says the BB.

People Power and other stuff

One of the many sites I visit daily is The Mahablog: Home blog of the American Resistance. Barbara O'Brien is the blog proprietor and I really enjoy her writing. She does long thoughtful postings, incorporating rich, disparate material. I confess that I often skim articles (not just hers but at many sites) but when I take the time to peruse I am always rewarded.

She has a few current postings that I wanted to invite my visitors to take a look at.

In "The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran" she points to an article in Esquire that exposes the Bush maladministration's long-standing lust for war with Iran. Maha writes that:
What comes through in the article is how Iran and other countries in the Middle East have been making overtures to the US for years, to solve the regions’ many problems and its differences with the United States.
Needless to say, the Bushies will have none of it.

An excellent article ("Moral Relativism") follows on the issue of waterboarding and Rudy Giuliani's inability to call it torture outright. Maha quotes John McCain (who has this one right no matter how much respect he has lost in the past couple of years):
“All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used against Buddhist monks today,” Mr. McCain, who spent more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, said in a telephone interview.

Of presidential candidates like Mr. Giuliani, who say that they are unsure whether waterboarding is torture, Mr. McCain said: “They should know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.” [from the NY Times]
Can you imagine Giuliani saying it depends on who does it and under what circumstances? Oh. My bad. Given that it is Rudy, of course you can imagine it. Can you imagine it without disgust and moral repugnance? I thought not.

Thirdly, Maha presents us with a post on Naomi Wolf on “The End of America.”

As Maha says, "Wolf argues that the language, images, and manipulations that despots used in the past to break down democracies have a consistent pattern, and are being employed here and now." I urge you to click above and read the whole thing. I love the final quote from Wolf:
What the Founders intended was for ordinary Americans, ordinary people to assume the patriot’s task and lead the fight to restore democracy, and to see themselves as leaders.

Bearsy Bob says, Check it out.
--the BB

What, you thought I was some hairy tick?

Given that back when I was a Baptist and they did it with grape juice and thought nothing happened I still believed in the Real Presence, this should come as no surprise. I have been sacramental all my life (and no wonder I didn't last in a Protestant atmosphere).

Eucharistic theology
created with
You scored as Orthodox

You are Orthodox, worshiping the mystery of the Holy Trinity in the great liturgy whereby Jesus is present through the Spirit in a real yet mysterious way, a meal that is also a sacrifice.













I thank Tobias for pointing me toward this quiz. I see he is is more Catholic than I, which is not surprising. I could never quite swim the Tiber. If I should ever take a leap out of Anglicanism it would probably be all the way to Orthodoxy, since I am rather old-fashioned where the Italian Church gets all loosey-goosey or, more usually to the other extreme, loses humility and tries to over-define (and control) everything.

Even in my fantasy fiction the parallel "Christianity" is unabashedly Trinitarian though its soteriology is far more about mystical union than about rescue from sin.

Send your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts....

--the BB

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Friday Prince Blogging

It's still Thursday where I am but I figured I would post now so y'all can start your Friday right.

Today we remain with the Princely House of Liechtenstein, turning our camera toward Prince Hans-Adam II's second son, His Serene Highness Prince Maximilian Nikolaus Maria, and his lovely wife Princess Angela. So there's some equal opportunity for those of you who like looking at pretty women. Hey, so do I.

Prince Max was born on 16 May 1969 in St Gallen. He married Angela Gisela Brown (of Panamá) in St Vincent Ferrer's Church, New York, on 29 January 2000 and they have one child, Prince Alfons Constantin Maria of Liechtenstein (all according to Wikipedia and the princely house website).

Prince Max is fifth in line to the throne after his older brother, Erbprinz (Hereditary Prince) Alois and his three sons.

Look, since HSH Alois and the boys are doing fine, I'm sure Liechtenstein won't have to call on Maximilian, so I'm willing to trade W for Max until we can elect someone with two brain cells to rub together, a sense of morality, and a feeling of duty toward the welfare of the American People. I'll throw in Cheney and Rice if we can get Angela too. Deal?
--the BB

Just for the record

I am outraged by the false outrage generated over Pete Stark's having spoken the truth on the floor of the House. Ever since shoving firecrackers up frogs' butts, George Bush has taken pleasure in blowing things up. We all know Bush is a narcissist incapable of empathy and untouched by the damage he does except as it affects him. Pete Stark was getting into only somewhat hyperbolic territory when he spoke in outrage of laments that we cannot afford S-CHIP:

“You don’t have money to fund the war or children. But you’re going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement.”

Over the top? Absolutely. Might he have toned it down some? Of course. Does he owe the President an apology? Hell no! When Bush apologies for lying us into an unnecessary, illegal, immoral war that has wasted lives, shattered a country, and made the Unites States less safe, THEN it might be time to apologize to him.

Do we all recall the crack-addled fratboy making jokes about not finding WMD? Just what is so funny about exposing the bad intelligence and bad judgment that sent our troops to invade and occupy a country that was not threatening us (and then got our troops and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed)? Every time that sick SOB punctuates his illiterate, insulting speech with his nervous giggle, don't you wonder what happened to his soul somewhere along the line? (Well, considering his family situation one needn't wonder.)

Oh, and does Rep. Stark owe his colleagues an apology? Not in my opinion. His words hurt no one, and any harm consequent to his uttering them was caused by overreaction, not the words themselves.

Bush has so degraded the office of President of the United States that he can lay no claim to respect for the office so long as he is in it.

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Welcome, friends, to Constitution Thursday!

Hope you've enjoyed the Iraq fiasco because the Iran nightmare is coming at us like a freight train and nobody is doing a damned thing to stop the crazies.
--the BB

My momma had a saying

All right, y'all know I'm a phony not from the South and when she was alive I called her "mother" and not momma, but my momma had a mouth on her and I love to recall some of her sayings.

One of those was: "How can anyone be so stupid and live?"

I think we have met the die-hard Bush supporters.

Christ, have mercy.

You had it right, Mom, you had it right.

h/t to Hoffmania for the video
--the BB

The Supreme Law of the Land

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I'm just saying....
Article VI.
Clause 2: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

[Are you listening, Congress? Do you remember this document, somewhere in the recesses of your memory?]
--the BB

I try always to have a book with me

As usual, I found several of the multiple-choice questions offered no accurate choice (or could be taken too many ways--I AM a Myers-Briggs iNtuitive, after all):

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader

Literate Good Citizen

Book Snob

Fad Reader


What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

This is what the results should look like:

One room of my house is the designated library. Its two long walls are taken up by seven-foot-high bookshelves. There is one bookshelf in my bedroom and two more in my library. And half my books are still in boxes in the garage. When there are funds I will get more bookshelves. I should not be allowed in bookstores.

I got my "fad reader" mojo, what there is of it, for acknowledging having read The Da Vinci Code, The Name of the Rose, and at least two Harry Potter books (though I fudged on that question--it would never occur to me to read Bridges of Madison County, also on that list).
-the BB

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The upside

I come from a line of Cannabis farmers.

Granted Cannabis sativa var. sativa as opposed to Cannabis sativa var. indica. Still.

Why it is illegal to grow hemp in the United States is beyond me. That version of Cannabis is useless for psychopharmacology and extremely versatile as a crop with many uses. It simply makes sense to grow the stuff and take advantage of its fibers and oils. What are we so afraid of?

Ay, there's the rub. What are Americans so afraid of? Their own shadow, it seems, not to mention dirty looks from W or the thought of Republican disapprobation. [Rolls eyes.] Or wild-eyed foreign religious fanatics, as if we didn't have enough home-grown ones.

Update: Well, I suppose one example does not make for "a line of Cannabis farmers" but it sounded good.
--the BB

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Well shut my mouth

My slave-owning (good God, that is painful to write), tobacco and hemp growing great-great-grandfather Judge George Rhoades sympathized with the South during the recent unpleasantness (no, not the Anglican squabbles, the REAL unpleasantness--besides, old George was a pillar of the Baptist Church). He was a judge in Saline County, Missouri. I know about his southern sympathies because somewhere among my effects is his son's Bible in which may be found Judge Rhoades' obituary, which mentions them. Having googled my ancestor, I just learned the details about crops and the manner (i.e., slavery) of cultivating them.

Though I am fond of grits (and of my little Texas bluebonnet, Miss Amber), I have never considered myself anything but a Yankee.

I took the test.

The Yankee or Dixie? Quiz (for your entertainment, tittilation, or horror).

My score: 57% (Dixie). Barely into the Dixie category.

Where have I gone wrong, y'all? I swear, I spit out sweet tea the second it hits my lips!

(h/t to Fr. Bill for the quiz and to eager genealogists for info on Judge Rhoades)
--the BB

Monday, October 22, 2007

La luna è sorta

The Moon over the Mountains

New Mexico

24 September 2007

Contrast - Part 2

September 2007

October 2005

December 2006


10 September 2007

19 December 2006

How would we know day if not for night?

I deliberately took the recent late summer photo (top) to contrast with the one below it that I took last December (on what would have been my mother's 96th birthday, were she still alive). I wanted the concrete visual contrast of differing seasons in the framework of this familiar sight, the sidewalk I traverse leaving work.

A few millennia ago when I was an undergraduate, Mme Crosby shared a definition of art in a course on French Renaissance literature: "art as a frame to contain contradiction." Certainly all the "fire and ice" language that occurs in much Renaissance poetry lends credence to such a definition, and I think there is truth in it. Through our art we express the tensions of existence, struggling to show "both sides of the coin" if you will. It is the dissonance that gives music its forward thrust toward resolution, the tension of sundry conflicting needs and desires that launches storylines that we can care about. Without contrast and tension there is no texture, only sameness, a static condition without interest. It is not even true rest, only boredom.

Part of the joy of creative artistry is setting a challenge for oneself and puzzling out how to meet it. I remember how celebrating the Day of the Dead on the Sunday of the Bishop's visitation some years ago led to a creative challenge. We already had scarves for our Ethiopian processional crosses made of an African fabric with bright marigold orange and black plus bits of metallic gold. Perfect for Hallowe'en and Day of the Dead. But I wanted to make some new vestments. My love of color and design ran amok to create what I call the "festal green" set. The design is worked in blues and greens and reds with other highlights, but the lining is California poppy orange! Somehow it all works (and the vestments have been pictured in this blog). Who knew what would come out of trying to make certain shades of orange into liturgical colors?

A challenge, a struggle, a creative result.



Resolution in some new whole that contains the tensions and contradictions.

[All the lofty discourse above is simply justification for the fun of posting the two photos. Confession is good for the soul.]
--the BB

The confident and soaring great soul

Northwestern clouds as the rising sun hits them

Robert Barron writes:
To overcome fear is to move from the pusilla anima (the small soul) to the magna anima (the great soul). When we are dominated by our egos, we live in a very narrow space, in the angustiae (the straits) between this fear and that, between this attachment and that. But when we surrender in trust to the bearing power of God, our souls become great, roomy, expansive. We realize that we are connected to all things and to the creative energy of the whole cosmos.
What Jesus calls for in metanoia is the transformation from the terrified and self-regarding small soul to the confident and soaring great soul. The seeing of the Kingdom, in short, is not for the pusillanimous but for the magnanimous.

[And Now I See...: A Theology of Transformation. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998. Page 5]

What a glorious image calling out to us amid our fears. "The confident and soaring great soul"--isn't that something we all want to be? Isn't it sad when there are moments (and decades) when we don't even want that for ourselves? Isn't it a joy to be around people we recognize as great souls?

O God, you lead your people out of every form of bondage into freedom, out of constriction and into a wide place, out of shadowy valleys and into broad pastures: Free us from our fears and enlarge our souls that we may not only know the wideness of your mercy but also be for others wide and gracious places of refreshment. You have pitched your tent in our midst; enlarge the tent of our souls, for you contain all things and have condescended to enter our hearts. To you be glory now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
--the BB