Wales, Dragons, and the Book of Esther

Okay, Geoffrey of Monmouth fans, what does this sound like?

“….Mordecai… a great man and among the first of the king’s court, had a dream… And this was his dream:

“Behold, there were voices, and tumults, and thunders, and earthquakes, and a disturbance upon the earth.

“And behold, two great dragons came forth ready to fight one against another. And at their cry all nations were stirred up to fight against the nation of the just. And that was a day of darkness and danger, of tribulation and distress, and great fear upon the earth.

“And the nation of the just was troubled fearing their own evils, and was prepared for death. And they cried to God, and as they were crying, a little fountain grew into a very great river, and abounded into many waters. The light and the sun rose up, and the humble were exalted, and they devoured the glorious.

“And when Mordecai had seen this, and arose out of his bed, he was thinking what God would do; and he kept it fixed in his mind, desirous to know what the dream should signify.” (Esther 11:2-12)

And here’s Merlin and King Vortigern, in Regum Historia Britanniae, Bk. 2, chapter 3:

“As Vortigern, king of the Britons, was sitting upon the bank of the drained pond, two dragons… came forth, and approaching each other, began a terrible fight… After this battle of the dragons, the king commanded Ambrosius Merlin to tell him what it portended. Upon which, bursting into tears, he delivered what his prophetical spirit suggested to him….”

Most versions of the story make a big point of mentioning how big a racket the dragons were making.

In the History of the Kings of Britain, Merlin acts an awful lot like Joseph and Daniel and Solomon, and not much at all like a pagan druid. This is why it’s explicitly said that Vortigern and his advisors thought Merlin’s prophecies (which appear later in Book II at the request of the Bishop of Lincoln, and try hard to sound like the Book of Revelation processed through Welsh poetry) were based on “divine inspiration.”

These Biblical references are something that was more obvious to people in the past than to us, because we aren’t as big of Bible readers, or because our favorite books are different from theirs.

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The Sacramentality of Scripture

Scott Hahn has a nice lecture online at America Magazine and the American Bible Society’s new Bible catechetical website, The Living Word.

This is nice to see, as obviously a Jesuit-connected magazine like America needs to be spreading the Gospel in order to be more like itself, more as it was meant to be.

Anyway, the first few minutes are presenters introducing the website project’s ambitious goals; and then Hahn’s talk on “The Sacramentality of Scripture” starts about 12 minutes into the podcast.

The lecture also announces that Hahn is going to be a visiting professor at Mundelein this year.

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Nonus Is Good Nus

My first draft translation of Beatus’ Commentary on the Apocalypse has hit Liber Nonus. (That’s Book Nine to me and you).

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US Bank and “Have a Blessed Day”

The Anchoress considers the intersection between Christianity and business courtesy, with reference to the US Bank lawsuit about “Have a blessed day.”

In medieval Ireland, it was an offense punished by a fine if any craftsman or -woman did not pray for a blessing from God for the completed work. The first person who saw the work was also expected to bless it.

(Possibly because it was then suspected that one might have cursed it. Or possibly because a lot of solemn Irish imprecatory cursing happened in the workplace, and one needed to offset that.)

Moving aside the point, it turns out that there’s another brehon law/mystery series out there besides Peter Tremayne’s early early medieval Sister Fidelma; this one is set in the 16th century in the twilight of the Gaelic law system. Mara, Brehon of the Burren stars in a series of over ten books. The first book, My Lady Judge, is $2.99 on the Kindle.

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I Was Not Told There Would Be a Test

Our dear St. Beatus of Liebana, who has hitherto been quoting mostly the Fathers and the Scriptures, has apparently decided to branch out more in his reading as he approaches the last fourth of his Commentary on the Apocalypse.

He is throwing in the odd quote from Virgil and Seneca. Quotes that nooooooobody else caught, and which I am only catching because you look at them, and you look where you’ve marked the quotes with colored marker and where the page is unmarked, and you see there are unmarked bits that look like quotes, and you run them through the search engine and they are.

He is also cramming more subtle Bible quotes into his sentences, and the critical editions haven’t been catching that, either.

It is very nifty, but it is also very scary to be the only one noticing this stuff. And what if he’s quoting lost sources? There are some bits that definitely seem like quotes but don’t produce any search results.

On the bright side, computational linguistic analysis of texts is getting more sophisticated.


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Sooooo Close to Finishing Book 3 of Beatus

And if it weren’t for all those meddlesome quotes, I’d be done now!

Heh, actually I don’t mind, as finding lost quotes makes me feel useful and clever. Or at least good at bending search engines to my will. :)

On the first-pass translation side, I’m up to Book 8. So you can see that editing doesn’t go superspeed around here.

Also, I made a nice pork loin yesterday. I roasted it in my crockpot with Korean bulgogi sauce, and so it is sweet and very spicy! I also made rice to go with it this week, and then used up the extra sauce in the crockpot on some veggies. So I am feeling very efficient!

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Award-Winning Monster

1. It was revealed the other day that Marion Zimmer Bradley was not just an enabler of Walter Breen, her second husband the pedophile, but that she was a pedophile herself. She apparently raped children of both sexes, as did her husband. Her daughter also revealed that Bradley occasionally beat her up, partially drowned her, choked her, etc., as well as raping her and her brothers, foster-children, child visitors, etc. So basically a cozy little Berkeley house full of rape and torture. Since a fair number of Bradley’s friends were in and out of the house at all hours, one can doubt that they all knew nothing about it, although there was also a lot of drug use, which was awfully convenient. Here’s what was known when Breen was finally sent to prison, from the case records.

But both Breen and Bradley are dead, and only one of them died in prison; and frankly, that’s lucky for them because they should have been strung up. There aren’t that many husband and wife rape teams out there, but it does happen every so often. Still, this is a case for the true crime books. An extremely creepy case.

2. This week, there was placed on the Internet the sf-history-famous but never-before-available 1963 letter explaining why some of Berkeley fandom wanted Bradley’s husband out of local fandom, before she even married him (and brought her twelve-year-old son along as a handy victim). It revealed that heck yeah, there was plenty known against Breen in 1963, and certainly enough to call the cops on him. Furthermore, it revealed that among a wide variety of well-known fans of the day who were sent the letter, none of them called the cops, although they did sign off on the agreement to ban Breen from a big convention. Other signatories from across the country may or may not have known the extent of what was known against him. I knew a couple of them in their later years, and I hope to hell they didn’t know it all, because it sucks away a lot of my respect for them if they did.

As a gutpunch, I knew (as an acquaintance) at least one of the people who received the original letter. He is dead now, which is a good thing, because what kind of freaking spineless child-sacrificing moron DOESN’T CALL THE COPS!??

Fandom has not served its children well. There is no way to make this crap up to the victims, except perhaps by ceasing to obscure the matter.

3. My mom says there was a story about this on the national news this morning, during one of the morning shows, but apparently the story is invisible to search engines. Google News only shows news stories about it in Italian. Somebody must have one heck of a lawyer.

4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley is routinely assigned in classes. Do not do this.

5. A few of the authors who were published in Bradley anthologies have recently announced that they have donated the amount of their earnings to charities that aid victims of child rape. This seems like a good idea.

Janni Lee Simner

(Tiny aside:

(For years, there’s been a story going around about “a fan” who sued Bradley, or who cruelly dared to negotiate with Bradley, when Bradley wanted to use big chunks of the fan’s invented fanfic backstory for a new Darkover novel. It turns out that “a fan” was Jean Lamb, who was already a published fiction and non-fiction writer at the time, and who just asked her agent to iron out some clear terms. (It was Bradley who freaked out. As you would expect from a violent pedophile, she had pretty serious control issues, and this was apparently well-known among people who knew her personally.) So basically, Bradley told a lot of self-serving lies even in business matters, and a lot of her fans were willing to go along with her view of things, even in business matters.)

6. Sales of Bradley books do not benefit any of the Bradley children. All royalties go to a trust which benefits Elisabeth Waters, who was Bradley’s live-in secretary/other. She knew a great deal about all this crap, judging by her deposition. So yeah, probably best not to fund her.


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