Monthly Archives: September 2002

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Nobody Else Is Allowed to Die.

Over on the filk-uk list, Mich announced that her dad has been diagnosed with cancer of the liver and stomach.

After his tests came back, he went home and did his VAT tax form.

Lord, if it is Your will, please heal Mich’s dad. We really need more people like him here on Earth, so that we can learn from his courage (or cussedness!). We’ve already had one terrible autumn, remember; and the UK filkers lost many relatives and friends afterward, and even one filker. If there is any way we can help, please let us know; we will gladly be Your instruments. But if you have a better idea and know Mich’s dad would be better off with You, please help Mich and her family, and the whole UK filk community. Either way, please heal them and dry their tears, and so bring joy back to our songs. Amen.

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Poetry Link

I found this very nice translation of a poem by St. Teresa de Avila — totally serendipitously. (I was searching for the word “farble”.) The gentleman includes many other good stories and poems on his page, which I highly recommend. This is the Web done old school.

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If Not Me, Who?

A few years back, I put together a webpage on medieval Irish poetry, mostly because I was researching the subject and couldn’t find such a page myself. Not overly discouraged by the fact that I didn’t know Irish, I pursued it with forks and hope. (And a tiiiiiiiiny Focloir Poca dictionary.)

It turned out to be just as rough a production as you’d expect from someone who had no idea what she was doing. I was unsatisfied with my translations. My explanation pages on the various forms were far too prolix. I developed a mental block on writing in any of the forms myself (which was my real reason for doing the research in the first place). I held a class on it at Pennsic and felt humiliated by my terrible pronunciation being exposed in public. And, if that weren’t bad enough, I found that whatever reading comprehension I’d developed for Early Modern Irish (14th-16th century, IIRC) didn’t help a bit when people sent me email in everyday Irish that didn’t rhyme, scan, or rely heavily on the Irish word for “gold”. I tried to get into grad school and remedy my ignorance, but nobody wanted me. You can only bang your head into a brick wall so long. So I gave up studying medieval Irish poetry and abandoned my page to its own devices, secure in the knowledge that somebody somewhere would soon put together something better for one of the great literary treasures of the world.

But they haven’t. I did a websearch. There are a few pages which include the eeeeearly lyrics by the monks, but nothing definitive even there. The rest of Ireland’s poetic history in its own language is a blank, until the modern era. With all the academics and Irish speakers and medieval hobbyists in the world, my horribly inadequate page is still the only general information page on the subject. Don’t the academics have any pride? Why aren’t they promoting their own literature?

I once got an email from someone who didn’t think the Irish had a written language until the 1800s, until seeing my site. I was glad that I taught such people something, but honestly, I’m drastically underqualified for the task. But if those who can aren’t doing it…. :(

Time to pull out the dang forks again. *grumble*

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Blah

It’s a nice day outside, but I feel very blah — just this side of depression, but not quite there. I would connect this with my lack of progress on my album, the fact summer is over, or the fact that my job isn’t particularly satisfying. But the truth is that, even when I’m happy and doing well, I still am fully capable of being blah or depressed. People being nice to me is always a downer.

Last August, I was Interfilk guest at Conchord in LA. Wonderful con, wonderful people, and a wonderful vacation afterward with my friend Seanan, who let me stay at her house in San Francisco for a few days. But then I could barely bring myself to speak with any of the people I met, even a year afterward. I’m not sure if this is shyness — bringing me out of my shell always makes me scurry back to it so I can huddle myself in a fetal position and pretend I never left — or just my normal lack of self-esteem. But I feel very bad about it. People deserve better of me.

Good News

One of my old friends is apparently expecting. Hurray!

Voyage wrapped in darkness, full of danger
Futures spread with love before this stranger
Come to share our lives and learn our ways.
We will count the months and days

Till the stranger comes and makes us change:
Everything we have we’ll rearrange,
Every day we’ll worry, every night we’ll wake –
All this for a stranger’s sake.

This is how our people come to Earth.
Nothing we can do that has more worth –
Worth the time and trouble, worth the work and fear
When we have our stranger here.

That’s by me.

To-Do List

I need to find out exactly what commands this blogger thing accepts, and why some of the markup stuff doesn’t show up on my Netscape at home. I guess I also need to put in more links and stuff. Oh, yeah, and find out how to let other people know this blog exists. While it’s soothing to be able to write whatever I want in the sure knowledge nobody else notices, ranting to myself isn’t even preaching to the choir. It’s preaching to the lectern.

I suppose I could always translate the title into Latin. :)

Church Latin

I like Latin. I don’t love it, but it has a lot of beauty and style, and you can’t beat it for deathless literature. But you won’t find me reading Latin in the original for pleasure, like that gentleman, scholar, and master of science fiction and fantasy, David Drake. I am perfectly happy to read his vivid translations of Latin poetry, either on his webpage or in his Lord of the Isles fantasy series. I just don’t have that ‘they lied to me about what it said!’ drive to read the actual stuff. (Though if Drake’s translations from the Metamorphoses continue to be soooo much better than the translation we read in school, I could easily change my mind.)

I remember as a kid that I was thrilled to sing Latin stuff in choir. It was new and different, and it was Gregorian chant, right? Which meant it was from the Middle Ages, and that was cool. (Little did I know about Solesmes….) But that was with much preparation and a good hymnal to sing from.

These days, Latin songs in many parishes (not mine, thank goodness) seem to be dumped on me without warning. Or sheet music. Or even a lyrics handout.

Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

Look, I didn’t learn every common Latin hymn and Mass as a kidling. The stuff I did learn was probably not to the same tune, and anyway, we only did it once or twice in my life. It’s hard to try and dig up Latin words from something I learned back in 2nd grade, or figure out what the translation should be on the fly. Plus you have to pronounce everything the American church Latin way, which isn’t even the same as most of the medieval Latin pronunciation systems on my early music albums, and is definitely different from the classical Latin I took in high school.

The vast majority of those under 35 are far more ignorant than I. If I’m barely treading water, they must just hold their breath and hope for the Latin flood to recede soon. If people want to support the Latin tradition, they have to stop this arrogant assumption that ‘everybody knows the song’ and print out some lyrics.

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Out in the Vestibule

St. Albert’s is about a half hour’s walk away from my apartment. I don’t have a car, and the bus doesn’t go there directly. (Besides, I don’t really want to pay two dollars per church visit.) So I walk. Sometimes the weather is decent. But today it was humid to the point of drowning; I almost couldn’t tell if I was covered in sweat or just condensation. So, to spare my fellow parishioners, I found myself sitting out in the vestibule again.

You see some interesting flyers out there. I saw my name on one and did a double take. Apparently someone whose first name is Maureen is doing the Marian apparition thing. These flyers (which aren’t approved, I’m sure) are showing up in local churches more often. I still remember the one I found at St. Joseph’s, about the woman having visions out at Bergamo. Our Blessed Mother was telling people to watch the skies and stock up on bottled water. No word on whether she also told people to watch The X-Files. You know, I believe that there are genuine visions and apparitions, but these are definitely not the ones I believe.

You see a lot of parents with babies out there. I ended up singing the communion hymn to one of the babies who was getting bored. We both enjoyed it. Also, since her dad was holding her, it suddenly became more meaningful to sing, “‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.’”

So there’s the whole Church right out in the vestibule: families, people looking out for each other, the odd wacko, and stinky people like me. :) The Body of Christ is a mysterious thing.

Then I had to walk back home. It wasn’t quite as humid, but the sun had come out and it was hot. This Body part was very happy to get home to her air conditioning.

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Back in the SCA

Yesterday I went back home to the Barony of the Flaming Gryphon and took up again my place in the Middle Kingdom. It’s not a bad place, really. But while the demo on Labor Day was all about seeing my friends again and seeing people in the barony, Harvest Day was a rather rude reintroduction to the SCA as big deal.

I last went to Harvest Day when it was just a little fall picnic for members of the barony, with a little bit of emphasis on trying to recruit people into trying other activities in the arts and sciences or fighting. But now it’s a huge frickin’ camping event, with at least a hundred fighters whacking away at each other and what looked like at least thirty archers firing away at the targets. The place was crawling with nobility. It looked like Little Pennsic.

All my old friends were busy or hard to find, which is natural at a big event for a barony. I really should’ve found out whether Feast needed any random scullions, but I was too tired and hot to do much of anything besides sit around and talk with Nancy and Tucker’s Horde friends. Hanging with the Horde is always educational, though. They’re nice folks.

The bardic circle was really more of a concert by a group called Fintan (which I’ve never heard of, not that that means anything) and part of Drea’s band (or “consort”, since they play some early music) Musica Subterranea, which was news to me also. I have been away for a loooooong time, you see, except for Pennsics. (Insert comparison of Pennsic Scadians to Easter/Christmas Christians here.) We only spent a few minutes at the bardic, since we weren’t in the mood for a concert. Instead we went to the hafla (Middle Eastern dance/storytelling circle) and had a great time. The dancers were either very good and/or having a great time, which is nice to see. Also, non-Scadians don’t normally get to see male Middle Eastern dance, but I always find it enjoyable when I do…. :)

What I want to do is work on studying more medieval poetry and writing more of my own in the old forms. I’m a relatively decent poet, but very dissatisfied with my own efforts. I’d also like to find a way — God only knows how — to mend the severe fracture between early music (high culture and played only in the daytime or for dances) and the music Scadians actually make (filk, folk, and Celtic music). It would also be nice if more of the Scadians interested in Middle Eastern music and dance would actually perform early or classical music forms from the Middle East.

I don’t want to drive out the other stuff (Me? Against filk? Never!); but I do think medieval music ought to be more popular in an organization dedicated to the study of the Middle Ages. (Duh.) I don’t think lectures are the way to do it. Finding fun, highly rhythmic medieval songs and performing them in a high energy way is far more likely to be successful, especially if I can keep myself from getting snooty about what I’m up to. So that’s my Evil Plan of Known World Domination and Subversion. I wonder if it will work?

I wonder if I’ve been hanging around the Horde too much?

Yesterday Belongs to Me

Since Harvest Day took place close to Yellow Springs, Tucker, Nancy and I were obliged to visit Dark Star. For those not privileged to have visited, it is one of the best stores in the US for comics and used books. (So’s Bookery Fantasy in Fairborn, actually. Well, for comics. The used books have kinda gone by the wayside.)

I had to buy the first issue of the second volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Pass up the adventures of Mina Harker, Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo, and the rest? I think not. I was pleased to see that Alan Moore continues to be a genius. I loyally bought Ruse, despite the fact that Mark Waid is no longer writing it. (Noooo!) As long as there are snarky Victorian detectives with feisty partners and/or assistants, I am there. Particularly with the meta-mysteries of Ruse’s world.

I also got caught up with Girl Genius, Phil and Kaja Foglio’s chronicle of mad scientists in a steam-powered alternate world. Especially since I finally caught on that Bill and Barry Heterodyne were inspired by Bill Higgins and Barry Gehm and their famous “Bill and Barry Show”. IIRC, one of them was once called by their kid’s teacher because she had written in an essay about “What I Did Last Summer” that she went out to her uncle’s house, fired off model rockets and explosives, and helped Dad and his friend destroy Twinkies for science. Perhaps the child should be getting some counseling for these horrible destructive fantasies. Bill or Barry then explained that in fact they had done exactly these things, plus a few more that the kid had forgotten. :)

So: three comics. None of them include superheroes. All of them are Victorian alternate universes. Yes, I am a sad fan of Victorian pop culture!

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Relevant Readings

I’m sure everybody who went to Mass on Wednesday night noticed how apposite the readings were, even though they were just the ordinary Wednesday of that week readings. It didn’t seem like it at first (I was about ready to laugh when the reader started in on whether virgins should marry!), but pretty soon we were talking about the end of the world, and the blessings to those who hunger and thirst for justice. (And the woes to those who don’t.)

(It occurred to me later, by the way, that some people who treat other people badly “all because of Me” are doing it not because they openly oppose Jesus, but because they claim to serve him.)

But it really is amazing how often the readings are relevant to one’s own situation, even though they are set in their perpetual three-year cycle. (For that matter, it was amusing a few years back to watch X-Files on Sunday night and realize how many times you could apply the scripture of the day to the adventures of Mulder and Scully.) :) The Holy Spirit can speak to us through set routine just as well as through spontaneity.

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My Excuse

I haven’t written a lot in the blog lately. I was sick last week. Then my parents came home from their trip to England. Then 9/11 was upon us. And then it came to mind that I should probably actually do something about updating my archive of fanfic for the cartoon series Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century, given that it’s the only dedicated one. But I’m feeling better now, so here I go again.

Singing

I cantored a Mass again on Saturday. In some ways, it’s not easy. How do you sing your best when you have no way of hearing how you’re doing? (The speakers all point away from the altar, and there’s not enough echo to judge volume.) How can you sing best (ie, not directly into the hymnbook) without losing your place or getting too caught up to pay proper attention? How can you pay attention to Mass, pray, and remember that another song is coming up? Oh, and let’s not forget that ever-popular skill of Catholic singers: learn the new song as you go! (Okay, so I didn’t actually have to do that this week. But not being able to sight-read is a real pain in the butt.) I’ve gotten used to all this in choir, but cantoring is a whole different thing. It throws me off, which of course does marvels for my technique and confidence. I hope nobody noticed. Oh, well. At least I’m getting lots of practice in “just keep going”.

They say that singing once is praying twice. I don’t know about that. I do know that it’s easiest for me to feel the presence of God when I’m singing. However, it’s also very easy for me to get so distracted by the process of performance that I scarcely feel like I’ve gone to Mass. I don’t think that improves my singing, either. Ideally you have to achieve a sort of Zen state, where your body sings just the way you’ve practiced, your mind keeps an eye on the audience and nuances of performance, and your soul kinda basks in God. Unfortunately, this kind of multi-tasking was beyond me this week.

When I was a kid in the children’s choir at my parochial school, I used to worry all the time about whether it was wrong to enjoy singing so much. Reading about St. Therese and other mystics reassured my younger self somewhat, but I still worry about maintaining a proper balance. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of singing (or praying, or anything) solely in order to feel God more. I worry that it’s too much like opening your mouth equals ordering God like a pizza. Not that it works that way, but you can delude yourself into thinking that. Also, singing is a pleasure for
the senses, for the body, and for the ego. People who inveigh against the sensuality of liturgical dance while ignoring the sensuality of song obviously don’t get out much. I guess I shouldn’t tempt fate by telling them, though.

My first choir teachers, the Stocks, did a good job of grounding us kids in singing without being overbearing. My second choir teacher, Mrs. Sharon Busch of Ferguson Junior High School, specialized in petty tyranny. No doubt we were a trying bunch, but being yelled at is no fun, either. I didn’t really notice, because I loved singing. I learned my part. I learned the second sopranos’ part. I learned every part but the basses’. Mrs. Busch yelled at me. Then she apologized afterward, because I was one of the singers she wanted to keep for high school. So I went on my happy oblivious way, until I stood in the wrong place at choir competition at the end of the year. Mrs. Stock announced that it was my fault we had lost. Then she called me in for a conference and told me that I could either take the A I had earned and never come back, or take an F and be allowed to come back next year.

I really think she thought I would accept the F. I loved her. I loved her class. I didn’t have anything else; I was the one of the least popular kids in school, and I had no other teachers I really liked that year, my first year back in public school. I loved singing. I was desperate to learn the mysteries of sight-singing and become a soloist. Of course I would take her bargain; she’d done it to other students before (as I learned later). But at that moment, she was very fortunate that I was able to control my temper enough not to punch her.

I have my regrets now. I wish I hadn’t feared so much for my mother’s career as a substitute teacher. I wish I hadn’t just stomped out in a fury; I wish I’d asked that woman to repeat her terms to my parents, or to the school board. On the other hand, I managed to avoid killing myself after the incident (I thought about it seriously) and was even able to bring myself to sing in church again after a couple of weeks had passed. (I didn’t want to. I made myself, because I didn’t want her to win.) I began to focus on collecting and writing songs, using tape and memory to supplement for the composition skills I didn’t have. I became a filker, and spent countless nights in freezing hotel ballrooms, trading songs both old and written-out-in-the-hallway new. But though I did join the church musical group in college, I was never able to bring myself to audition for any choirs. I never joined another until last year.

The Stocks run our church choir. We sang after September 11th; we sang after we learned one of our parish priests had once done things he shouldn’t. We sing for God and our parish and the joy of music. I like to kid the Stocks, and sometimes I complain about the music. (I’m a songwriter. I can tell when a song stinks.) But though they make us sing on key, ;) they’d never try to make us puppets to dance to their tune.

I wonder why it took me so long, despite being pressured to join the church choir by so many people since that first summer after 7th grade. I think maybe it was that I distrusted people and their judgements. I knew that they were wrong about so many things (popularity, etc) that I couldn’t bring myself to realize that they were also God’s voice, trying to tell me to get back on the horse. (And at that age, of course you never listen to your parents.)

One thing I did learn from filking that I don’t think I would ever have learned either in church or in public school; I learned to harmonize on the fly. I don’t know why Catholics (white Catholics, anyway) don’t do this. It’s immensely simple once you get the trick, and it’s both fun and beautiful when people do it in large numbers. (It’s also a wonderful metaphor for the many and different gifts of the members of the Body.)

My dad’s a Methodist and he’s always done it (usually half under his breath) when we sing hymns at church. (He comes to Mass with the rest of us, as I think I explained below.) But it never occurred to me, as a kid, to ask him how he did it or how I could; it was just one of those mysterious Dad-powers, like being able to open a jar lid. Now sometimes we do it together.

I also learned from filking that if you can get people to sing, they will eventually make beautiful music. Catholics seem to be convinced that only a few people have beautiful voices and that everybody else should shut up. I hate that.

All I know about singing is this: No singer can totally control what sound comes out. All the technique in the world can be thwarted by a bad day. You have to open your mouth and sing, and leave the rest to God.

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My Parish

My old parish, St. Luke’s, is building a big new building next door to the old church. Next week is the last Mass in there. After that, it’s all Mass in the school gym till the new church is completed.

It gives me a panicky, grieved feeling. The parking lot in front of the school is being turned into a church, the sports field out back of the school are being turned into a parking lot, the last vestiges of my childhood will soon be gone — and nobody ever gave me or my parents (who still live in the parish) any kind of vote. If I liked those big roundy churches, I might be mollified a little. But I don’t.

I suppose I shouldn’t care. My parents stopped attending church at St. Luke’s about two years ago and moved over to the tiny University Parish. (It’s closer to their house, the priest is far more accessible and a good preacher, and the parish needs them as part of its life.) Dad and Mom, being relatively conservative folks, could deal with our old parish pastor’s theology and morals sermons. They weren’t bad, though occasionally Father would lecture us about parish politics that most of the congregation wasn’t even vaguely involved in, or the importance of filing into the pews in his preferred manner. But Dad (he’s a Methodist, but he’s always gone to Mass with Mom as well as attending his own church on Sunday morning) stopped wanting to come when the pastor made people start praying for the money for the new church. Most people didn’t want it; there wasn’t even vaguely a consensus; and then to be made to pray for the new church instead of parish renewal like we were supposed to? Mom agreed with Dad that this was too much to take. So after being part of St. Luke’s since her dad and mom moved out to Beavercreek in the sixties, my mom blithely left it and hasn’t been back, not even for spaghetti dinners or pancake breakfasts.

I really shouldn’t care. I tried to warn Father after Mass one day that the lack of consensus was dangerous and my parents were seriously thinking of heading for the hills over this. But he wouldn’t listen, even when I said that part of it was that the parish loves the old church. We had just had it desecrated the year before and had to have Mass in the school gym until the church was reconsecrated. The parish rallied. People packed the gym. When the church was finally cleansed and blessed and opened again, it was even more packed. People who hadn’t attended regularly in years came every week, and we took pride in our community and our church. Heck, I even came from across town and stayed with my parents overnight just to go to church in the evening.

All Father saw was that the church was packed every Mass, and the building was old. He saw a problem.

Well, it’s not my problem any more. I go to St. Albert’s and my parents go to Wright State, and it’s not like I’ll ever be moving back to Beavercreek. It’s not a place I’d really want to live anymore — all fakery and malls instead of woods and fields, like it was when I was a kid. I suppose the new building will work out somehow.

But I’ll try to get to Mass before the end, if I can. I want to say goodbye to the most beautiful church in the world, in what was (for a brief and painful time) the best parish ever.

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Strangers

I guess it’s not strange that Father shouldn’t have listened to me. He probably didn’t know who I was, even though he’d been there since before the whole scandal broke (one of our old priests was the guy accused along with Cardinal Bernardin of doing stuff with the seminarians; our priest was the one who’d actually done stuff — and wasn’t that a nice thing for us to find out?). I have to wonder how the priests can really know anybody in these big suburban parishes, other than the parish council and the neighbor kids.

See, you’re not supposed to bother the priests. Or the nuns. They’re busy. You’re allowed to say hi, or say you liked the homily, and you’re allowed to go to Confession. Anything more than that is Right Out, or at least that was always the impression I got from my mom growing up. I think most kids my age got the same lecture.

So I grew up in a church where the priests and nuns were sort of celebrity strangers, like the principal of a school. If you had to talk to them, you were in trouble.

I have to think this has something to do with the low level of vocations. It’s hard to imagine yourself being a priest or nun when you have very little idea what it’s like to be one. By the time I was nerving myself up to ask the nice German nun about it, the sisters had picked up and left our parish. (More mysterious parish politics we never heard about.)

I never talked to a priest about the times when I was having mystical experiences. I got tonguetied enough when I’d try to explain my exact sin problems when I was going in for Confession, or the few times I brought or tried to bring a moral dilemma to a priest. I’m sure I sounded stupid, but I wasn’t used to talking to a priest. My generation learned to keep its problems to itself, or deal with them by talking to another layperson. I’m sure this too has had very bad consequences. It’s probably where a lot of this schism and alienation is coming from.

I love my current parish, and the priests there are great. (Well, except for the one I never really met, who it turns out was living under a sort of house arrest because he’d done inappropriate things while a high school principal. Does this stuff follow me around?) But I still don’t feel like I really have the right to talk to them about my problems or my spiritual growth. Probably that’s why I’m blogging. I wonder if that’s why everybody else is blogging, too.

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The World’s Most Beautiful Churches

St. Luke’s Church.
The ur-church. In my brain next to “church”, this will always be the picture I’ll see. The inside walls are bare red brick; the roof and the pews are plain wood. The stained glass windows are melees of rainbow color in abstract almost-patterns, except for the beautiful “Mothers’ Window” over the choir loft. The tabernacle is right behind the altar (the logical place). I think I finally got used to the “new crucifix”, which was actually the “old crucifix” hauled down out of storage, where it had been since the Nixon administration. I never did get used to the two-tone Mary, Joseph and Jesus statues getting colored in by some artist, though thankfully she was made to repaint Mary as a brunette after her first effort was (ugh!) a blonde, blue-eyed, and pink-lipped Aryan Barbie. I also never got used to the new Mary statue in the grotto (behind and below the bell tower, between the church and the hill), although it really is nice. My brother’s Eagle project was the really cool cross-shaped garden in front of the church. All in all, this is the most beautiful church in the world. Though I’ll admit there may be a few which are almost as good. :)

My current parish doesn’t have a picture of the church up on the website, alas. It looks like a New England Congregational church from the mid-1800′s — three pillars in front, a spire on top, and painted white. I learned during our recent renovations that the altar area was originally painted in blue and gold diamonds, but these were painted over in white thanks to the high maintenance. And okay, they were a bit emphatic, but I’m in the SCA and I like an interior that’s chequy azure and or. :) When the church was expanded, a chapel was built behind the altar; there’s a movable wall, so that Mass can be celebrated with only one side open or both. The crucifix is two-sided and hangs right in the middle above the altar. Really nice. Finally, the new stained glass windows (replacing plain glass) add wonderful color and life to the church, as do the newly cleaned German turn-of-the-century Stations of the Cross. The only downside to this church is that the relatively low and flat ceilings don’t give good acoustics. But the organ’s good. The second-best church in the world. Come when Father Manning or Father Frank are celebrants.

Ascension for a large part of my childhood was a bomb shelter underground. Now it has a surface presence. Granted, it’s round and not all that gorgeous. But believe me, it’s prettier than cinderblock, concrete, and thoughts of nuclear war.

Holy Angels is one of the many churches in Dayton built during the 20′s and 30′s. They’re made from concrete, basically. But that’s okay, because they’re shaped well, have nice stained glass, and are painted with gorgeous wall and altar paintings! The acoustics are a little too good.

UD Chapel is purty. It looks like some kind of little Austrian church built during the baroque period. But I wish they’d kept the altar table up on the dais and shelled out for a decent sound system, because the way they have things now, with the altar on the long side, looks stupid. Pews instead of chairs would also be nice. Still and all, this is the home of the 10 PM Sunday Mass! What a lifesaver!

Holy Trinity looks very German immigrant. Inside, the funky electric-light heart-shaped “candle” rings reveal that a lot of the parish is now made up of Latin American immigrants. (1:00 Mass on Sundays is in panish. I recommend it if you know the language.) A small but very alive parish with a wonderful festival (mm, cabbage rolls!).

Immaculate Conception was supposed to be the cathedral if Dayton ever got to be an archdiocese. Very beautiful and big. Huuuuge church festival. They should make the raffle part of the state lottery.

St. Joseph and St. Mary don’t have websites. This is wrong, particularly since St. Joe’s is where you go if you need a 6 PM Sunday Mass. Very conservative parish, but the churchgoers are all over the map thanks to the great Mass time. The acoustics ring way too much, thanks to the lovely Roman basilica shape and green marble (okay, faux marble, but I never would’ve guessed it till I read the church history) pillars. The most beautiful wall paintings in Dayton, and very nice stained glass, particularly the three archangels right over the altarpiece. St. Mary’s I don’t remember much about (I’ve only gone there once), but its twin bell towers and bronze dome are beloved landmarks and very visible from the highway.

More beautiful churches I’ve visited:


Church of the Blessed Sacrament
, Hollywood CA. It’s two blocks behind the main drag. I found it by following the sound of the noon bell. The parochial school was a dead giveaway, and finding Mass about to start was a bonus. :) Look, Jesuits!

St. Bridget of Sweden, Van Nuys CA. (No website, alas.) It had one of those really nice California exteriors with a shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and a lot of nice statues, including Bridget wearing one of those Brigittine habits with the flames on. Cooool.

I can’t remember the name of the church in Burbank I went to back in 1999, at the first JAG convention. It was up on a hill, I know that, and we had a heckuva time finding it. It might have been St. Finbar’s, or it might have been St. Francis Xavier’s.

St. Brendan’s in Hilliard is the closest church to the current OVFF hotel. Very proud of its Irish heritage, very big, very crowded. Nice interior from what I saw.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral in downtown Columbus has a very convenient noon Mass I go to on Marcon Fridays.


St. Patrick’s
is a block or two past the Ohio Center, so this is where I spend my Marcon Sunday morning. Look, Dominicans!

All churches are beautiful when God is there. But these ones are especially nice.

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My Communities

Keeping up a blog is harder than it looks, especially when you get a cold or the blogger software eats a post that it took you an hour to write. The moral of the story is “always save everything”.

I spent Labor Day weekend missing my fellow sf fans. A large chunk of them were at Worldcon in San Jose (ConJose), including one of my friends who emailed her mailing list to tell us how much fun she was having. Cruel! :) We fans love to flock together anyway, and with the long hard year we’ve been having, that instinct was pressing hard on me. But I went to the Big Fat Jewish Wedding instead of Worldcon or Pennsic, and I don’t regret it; weddings are more intense and only happen once. I just wish I could have gone to Pennsic and Worldcon and the wedding, and let the rest of the world go hang this summer.

I obeyed that instinct last fall, and so did many others. Despite the worries involved with air travel, science fiction conventions had extremely high attendance. OVFF, Columbus’ filk music convention, usually has attendance of about 200. Last year it ballooned to 250 or more. It was crowded, but nobody complained. We wanted to be crowded; to see with our own eyes and feel with physical hugs that our online friends and postal acquaintances were alive and well. I went all the way to Atlanta in winter for GaFilk for the same reason. I had a lot of fun and good music from each, but it was the company I craved.

But even though I didn’t go to Pennsic, it came to me. I’d forgotten that Labor Day is also the big local demo for the Society for Creative Anachronism. There was my barony getting ready to march in the Holiday at Home parade. I saw old friends I’d been missing since I fell away from the SCA. I saw other friends I didn’t realize had joined. After all that time, it felt as if I’d never been away.

My barony is a community. Filk fans are a community. Science fiction fandom is a community that can be found all around the world. It’s weird to be part of a community where you are recognized by people, including those you’ve never physically met. It’s odd to have a reputation in this world of anonymity, and to have that reputation matter. But there’s a strange security in it, even when people annoy you or backroom politics start to affect your life. People know you, and your actions matter. Huh.

The parish I’m in now is a community, too. It’s odd for me. I’m used to anonymity in that part of my life as well. For the first time since I was a kid in school and was sure the priests knew everybody, I’m actually a bit disconcerted at the thought of going to Confession face-to-face or otherwise. The priests all know who I am! They’ll recognize my voice! (All die. Oh, the embarrassment.) Weird, eh?

The oddest thing is that our pastor’s mom lives on my parents’ street. We never really knew her, because she was always old and sick and stayed inside, and we kids were not supposed to bother her. I knew vaguely that her son was a priest and all, but it never would have occurred to me to talk to him, either. You don’t talk to strangers; you don’t bother the neighbors; you mind your own business.

I’ve lived by those rules all my life, except in fandom and the SCA. There we go by the geek rule: join conversations that sound interesting whether you know the people or not. It’s simple and comfortable to talk with people who assume you’re just a friend they haven’t met yet. There you are, an hour or two into the conversation and heading down to dinner together when you realize you all forgot to introduce yourselves. Of course, it’s vastly more comfortable to talk to fellow geeks, since they don’t demand that you maintain eye contact. (I never understand why normal people like that. Staring feels hostile to me, or at best boring. I can do it, but it’s soooo stupid.)

I think it’s fairly clear that the geek rule is superior to the suburban rules for creating community. Oddly enough, people in my parish do feel they can start talking to you without introducing themselves first. It’s endearing to find this trait among normal folks. I wonder if it used to be more common, back in the days when people talked to each other instead of staying inside and watching TV.

So if the Church is to be a community, we need to be geeky enough to actually talk to each other. It’s not a big deal. We’re all just body parts that haven’t met yet. :)

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