Icon, Part 8: The Annunciation

 

“Rejoice, O Theotokos, O deliverance of Adam from the curse! Rejoice, O chaste Theotokos! Rejoice, O living bush! Rejoice, O lamp! Rejoice, O throne! Rejoice, O ladder and door! Rejoice, O divine chariot! Rejoice, O bright cloud! Rejoice, O temple, O most-gilded jar! Rejoice, O mountain! Rejoice, O tabernacle and table! Rejoice, O deliverer of Eve!” – Orthros of the Feast, Tone 2​“

On March 25, in both the Orthodox and Catholic churches, The Annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary, and of her assent to bear the Son of God is commemorated. This is exactly 9 months before the Nativity of Christ (Christmas). It is, on the Eastern calendar, the 7th Great Feast of the liturgical year. The primary Gospel account of this miraculous event is in the Gospel of Luke, but as with much else in the liturgical cycle, Church tradition, theology, and hymnody has so much more to say. In the centuries after the brief ministry of Jesus, succeeding generations of Christians had to come to terms with what, and moreover whom they had witnessed, and then work out and come to an understanding of the significance. Part of that reckoning was understanding who Mary was, and how profound her own role had been.

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The Role of Unions and Sexual Abuse in Public Schools

 

Over the weekend, the Miami Herald published a shocking story about a serial abuser in a local middle school. They report,

Middle school physical education teacher Wendell Nibbs sat down with a detective looking into allegations that he had asked a 14-year-old student when she would let him see her genitals.

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The Left’s Presumption of Their Own Bias

 

As time passed, and months and years went by, it became increasingly obvious that Mueller had found no collusion. And it seemed obvious from the beginning that there would be no collusion, because why on earth would the Russians want Trump in the White House when they could have had Hillary Clinton? But despite the lack of evidence, progressives really believed that there would be collusion discovered. Somehow.

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Jordan Peterson – a postscript

 

Further to @brianwatts satirical piece on Jordan Peterson’s latest book, let us not forget the inherent danger of any form of censorship.

Above all, remember that in 1823 the German-Jewish author Heinrich Heine wrote: “Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende Menschen.“ (Where you burn books, you will finish by burning people). 

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The first Sunday of Lent: The Triumph of Orthodoxy

 
The Triumph of Orthodoxy – Theodora’s restoration of icons. By Anonymous – National Icon Collection (18), British Museum, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7306236

Great Lent is the most profound time of the Orthodox year. The rigors of fasting (to the extent that you can do it – not everyone can, and if you can’t it’s nobody else’s business), the added services throughout the weeks, the very special nature of those services, the change in the tones of chanting from major keys to more muted and plaintive minor keys, and the change in the vestments and various draperies, covers, and hangings to darker colors, all together carry the change of the season. There is also a cycle of Sunday services as Lent approaches, with each Sunday being set aside for something significant to the history of the Church, to remind the Orthodox annually of the commitment they have made to carry on with the living tradition and faith of nearly two thousand years.

Eastern Orthodoxy is sometimes called the Church of the Seven Councils, after the first (and only) truly Ecumenical Councils (“ecumenical” here meaning those councils which could be said to truly represent all of Christendom, and whose decrees were universally accepted by all of Christendom – though the Catholic Church numbers many more, the Eastern prelates were either not represented, or the decrees of these councils were never accepted by them). The first Sunday of Lent is called, variously, The Sunday of Orthodoxy, or the Triumph of Orthodoxy, and commemorates the Seventh and final such council and its aftermath. This final council settled the final major theological question of the ancient Church: the proper role and place of religious art. In so doing, it closed arguments that had ebbed and flowed for nearly 500 years, and had been the cause of riots, banishments, and wholesale destruction of art throughout all of the eastern provinces of Christendom (many early relics and works of art from the East were sent West during this time).

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Quote of the Day: Greatness is a Decision

 

Everybody matters. Everything goes back to the people. I hire people first, coaches second. I recruit people first, players second.

But if you want to know what the biggest change in Clemson football is over the last 10 years, it’s this: it’s attitude. We control what goes in our heads. So many people let people walk through their heads with dirty feet. Greatness isn’t anybody’s destiny. It’s a decision.

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Town and Gown Troubles

 

There is a long history of Town and Gown troubles. Riots between university students and townspeople took place in the Middle Ages and they continue to this day. One difference, though, is that the combatants, for the most part, are students and police officers. There are outside agitators that are attracted to the fights. Anarchists travel to Portland from Seattle, and anarchists who reside in Portland travel to Seattle for away games.

On February 10 1355, Walter de Springheuse, Roger de Chesterfield and their companions from Oxford University walked into the Swindlestock Tavern. A disagreement over the quality of the wine resulted in an argument. The university men angered by the “stubborn and saucy language” of the wine-seller, threw the wine and its container at his head. The wine-seller expressed his anger to his friends and family, who armed themselves with bows and arrows and shot at the scholars and the chancellor who arrived to calm the situation down.

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The Kellyanne and George Debacle: A Sad Testimony on Marriage

 

This post is not going to cover the lurid details of the public spat between Donald Trump and George Conway. Instead, I’d like to speak to the degradation of the Conway marriage vows, to the absence of spousal respect and to the damage it causes to the family, especially the children.

Let me provide a little background. Kellyanne and George Conway married in 2001. They now have four children. Before working for President Trump, Kellyanne founded a polling company with many credits to her name. George is a private attorney.

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The Future Is Coming for You

 

It may be irrational to fret about the solemn frippery contained in a BBC editorial. Still, I can’t help but shiver in absolute terror when I read pieces like this. Roman Krznaric, the author, believes that our political order is fatally flawed. Why? I’ll let him explain:

The time has come to face an inconvenient reality: that modern democracy – especially in wealthy countries – has enabled us to colonise the future. We treat the future like a distant colonial outpost devoid of people, where we can freely dump ecological degradation, technological risk, nuclear waste and public debt, and that we feel at liberty to plunder as we please.

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Harvard Caught in Victim Vise

 

Haaah-vahd is caught in a virtuous-victims vise, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving center of intersectional grievance mongers. For the past year, Harvard has been slowly bled by allegations and then ugly revelations about their administration’s racial problem with Asians. Now, Harvard is being sued for profiting today from the racist Harvard past, specifically by exploiting the image of a slave. The plaintiff claims she is a descendant of the exploited African-American and suffers harm herself in seeing the continued exploitation of her ancestor by Harvard.

So, Harvard University is being sued for discrimination against Asians, in the same way as they once discriminated against Jews, and is being separately sued for the present-day continuation of its 19th-century exploitation of an African-American slave. Perhaps the Harvard shield of arms should be updated, replacing “Veritas,” written across three open books, with a plain black bar sinister.

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The Big Die-Up and Climate Change: Then, Now, and Always

 

As the Civil War drew to a close, a Texas frontier awash with millions of almost worthless, hard-twisted, wild-eyed cattle looked north to find a source of ready cash. The popular image is of the long drives toward the newly built railroads beginning to stretch across the middle plains of Kansas where a $4 Texas bovine would bring $30 to $40 for shipment back to more eastern slaughterhouses.

And it is certainly an accurate image since thousands of Texas cattle made their way to a series of Kansas railheads beginning with Abilene in 1867 and stretching to Dodge City later on. But many didn’t stop there and were headed north for the northern ranges. In fact, the first of these post-Civil War herds to land on the northern plains to be grazed was driven to Montana in 1866 by Nelson Story who used his earnings from a gold strike to outfit a Texas herd that would become both food for miners and seed stock for one of the first cattle ranches in Montana.

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A Happy Story: Crying in the Courtroom

 

I had a great experience in court this last week and by the end of a hearing, everyone was in tears.

Jane Doe (not her real name) decided to commit suicide by drinking herself to death, not unlike Leaving Las Vegas with Nicholas Cage. She rented a studio apartment and stocked up on alcohol. And she started drinking, drinking and drinking. Jane didn’t succeed. She dialed the Crisis Center and her finger hovered over the dial button. She finally pressed the dial button at 4:00 a.m. on November 30, 2015. She was taken to the Hospital, then to Detox, then to the local public substance abuse inpatient center.

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Breaking: AG Barr Delivers Mueller Summary Report to Congress

 

Attorney General William Barr sent his summary of the Mueller Investigation to Congress Sunday. You can read a PDF of the document here. The letter recounts the full Mueller report, dividing it into two parts: possible Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and obstruction of justice. Regarding the first, Barr writes:

The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

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Juxtapositions

 

I just got back from another trip to Capital City…ahem, D.C., and as it is every time, I had that “stranger in a strange land” feeling. I was in the area for the graduation of my nephew from Officer Candidate School, United States Marine Corps at Quantico. That part of the trip was amazing! Nearly 300 young men and women completed OCS and 231 of them were immediately commissioned as 2nd Lieutenants in the USMC, including my nephew. If you want to contemplate hope for our future as a country, just think of these hearty young officers. Please pray for them all and their chain of command. (The idea that Beto would be the commander-in-chief of such fine young Americans is stomach turning! He’s not fit to take my nephew’s Taco Bell order!)

My nephew is the “sheepdog” that Chris Kyle described…a natural leader of young men (he was captain of his college baseball team for two years) and a protector, always a helper, with a big heart. Our family is so proud of him!

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Quote of the Day: By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts

 

 “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” — Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral

So, there I was, looking for a quote about Spring, about how glad I am that the cycles go on, and that this fact has finally been borne out for this year, that the crocuses have finally emerged from their chilly beds, and that the hyacinths, daffodils and tulips are on their way, and I fell over this little treasure from Anne Bradstreet. The name was vaguely familiar, so I looked her up, and found that my recollection was correct: She’s an early American poet (born 1612, died 1672), and her claim to fame is that she’s the first published Puritan author of any substance. And, hey, she’s a woman! (That wasn’t such a big deal, the last time I ran across her, which I think was in a 1973 Survey of American Literature class, but I bet that makes her the bee’s knees now.)

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30 Percent a Slave

 

Let’s suppose you own a slave, and this slave of yours is very bright. (Automatically you might be imagining that we are back in the antebellum South, but that is incorrect. We are in modern times, so there’s not as much plantation work as there once was.) If you’ve got an intelligent, conscientious slave, it wouldn’t make sense to put him to manual labor, or have him just do random tasks for you around your house.

How do you get the most value out of this slave of yours? You could have him trained as a doctor or lawyer, and then rent him out. But what if he’s not really into the thing you’ve spent a bunch of resources to train him in? And how motivated do you think he’ll be to work hard for the employer he’s rented out to? You’ll also still be spending money to provide him with food and shelter, presumably. This is not a recipe for maximizing the value of your slave’s labor.

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McDonald’s, or, What You Can Learn from Work as a Teenager

 

I went to high school in Marquette, Michigan, a town of 22,000 in the Upper Peninsula. It is the largest city in the UP and is supported by a decent tourism industry in addition to mining and timber. The high school had about 1,200 students when I was there in the 1970s. Late in my sophomore year, a friend started working for the McDonald’s in town. I decided to apply and was given a minimum wage job.

I started work in the grill area, dressing burgers. The training was good, and I liked getting some money. I kind of just slid along, getting four-eight hours a week in two shifts on the weekend. Then an interesting thing happened. The general manager, not a particularly nice guy, asked me to clean the bathrooms. I went through the motions – mop, ice in the urinal, wipe things down, and came back to my post in the grill.

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Friday Food and Drink Post: Olive Me

 

I don’t really like olives all that much. But I adore the idea of olives. And olive groves. And the Mediterranean. The stories by Peter Mayle and Carol Drinkwater. The presence of olive trees, olive oil, olive wood, and of course “olive branches” in our mythological, literary and cultural traditions. And the history of an ancient industry that has survived, in many cases relatively unchanged, for thousands of years.

The idea of olives is so very different from my own chilly and pedestrian life at the moment. The idea of olives is beautiful, and soft and warm. (Important as I write this because, even on the third day of Spring, the view from my window is dreary, the wind is bitter cold, and nasty, little chippy bits of frozen something are falling from the sky.) So I’m thinking about temperate breezes from warmer climes, and the joys of olive farming.

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Theresa May and the Art of the Dither

 

Britain will not leave the European Union on March 29th. That is the only certain statement that can be made following the summit in Brussels yesterday. Even if Theresa May were to be replaced as Prime Minister, or if the Queen were to dissolve the current Parliament before any new legislation, international law, in this case the EU’s, is superior to British and they have agreed an extension.

An angry European Council have offered two new exit dates. If Mrs May’s Agreement were to pass through the House of Commons next week, then it will extend the UK’s membership until May 22nd to allow the necessary legislation to be enacted. If it fails again then the extension is only till April 12th. With the Speaker of the House having ruled a third vote on the Agreement out of order, it is unclear how the first scenario will happen.

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The Coming “White Listing”

 

In an excellent post by @brianwattIt’s Wrong to Support Jordan Peterson or Buy His Vile Book, there is an example of a “black list” in operation at Whitcoulls booksellers in New Zealand. They are declining to sell customers 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Setting aside the merits of the book (which are many) consider how declining to sell a book on any basis other than market demand is the precise example of a “black list.” But there is a coming “white list,” and it is worse.

It has only been in recent years that I have been introduced to the concept of “white listing.” This phenomenon was created to address the deluge of unwanted (sometimes malicious) messages, calls, and advertising that has been facilitated by the internet and robocall technology. Unlike blacklisting, which creates tables of phone numbers or internet addresses to block, white listing is the phone numbers and internet addresses that you have pre-approved to be let through to your phone or computer. It doesn’t take long in contemplating the creativity of annoying or bad actors to realize that white listing is more effective than blacklisting in controlling that to which you pay, or demands, your attention. Once you have gone to the trouble of identifying your circle of “good guys” it takes a lot less effort to stay current than to maintain an effective black list. But there is also an opportunity cost to excluding any previously unknown source of information or service. “White lists” constrain information — both bad and good.

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