Monthly Archives: September 2006

Who Will Prove Me Wrong?

Interesting readings at Mass today!

The first one’s from Isaiah 50. Right before the reading we use for Mass, it says, “The Lord has given me a learned tongue, that I should know how to uphold by word him who is weary.”

Anyway, the reading was Isaiah 50: 5-9. Yup, buffets and spitting. But beyond that:

My vindicator is here at hand.

Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is my help,
who will dare to condemn me?

Or, amusingly, in the translation at Mass today, “Who will prove me wrong?”

The psalm was 114, and the second reading was the James bit about faith and works. But then the Gospel passage was Mark 8: 27-35 — “Who do you say that I Am?”

Well, that seems to be the whole question the Pope was trying to answer. And some people didn’t like his answer at all. 🙂


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Artemis Fowl and the Lost Colony

The latest Artemis Fowl book is a return to Eoin Colfer’s usual outrageous plotting. This book is a lot faster read than the previous book, The Opal Deception, but that’s a good thing. The last book suffered from having a really ingenious plot by the baddies, while the good guys tended to react rather than plan. This book doesn’t have that problem.

We have a really ingenious plan, a lot of fun plot and counterplot, nothing too wrenching, and yet, a definite avoidance of the reset button provided by memory wipe technology and some of the magic used. (Okay, so there is one reset button, but it’s part of the plot. You won’t be annoyed, especially since it doesn’t reset all the way.) Since children’s fantasy routinely reaches for the button marked “It never really happened”, this is a good thing.
Probably the most amusing part of this book is laid out in the first few pages. It seems that juvenile mastermind Artemis Fowl is finally being forced to take puberty’s calls. This leads to some unforcedly funny moments as Fowl deals with being attracted to pretty girls at moments which are not timely for him. His attitude towards this is resigned rather than rebellious, which makes it even funnier.

Also, it’s still fun to work out the cipher message at the bottom of the page. (I’ve been saddened to learn that most kids don’t bother to do this. Sigh.)

However, Eoin Colfer has obviously not got the bit of marketing sense (or brains God gave a goose) called ‘tact’. The Lost Colony, in this book,  of the lost Eighth Tribe of the Fairy Folk, is made up of people called Demons. Now, I ask you. If you’ve got people running around who are not intrinsically evil, and the only thing remotely demonic about ’em is that they have horns and tails, and you write children’s fantasy that you want to sell to libraries, why would you insist on calling them Demons? And why in the world would your publishers let you?

*smack head into wall*

So if you’re wondering why the latest Artemis Fowl book isn’t getting marketed like the last one — I think you know now.

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Mary, the Root of Jesse

The Patristic images and typology of Mary are startling, sometimes. I’m still grappling with Mary as the Ark of the Covenant, bearing the Word within her. But the Fathers go on to point out that she’s also the stone tablets on which the Law was written, Aaron’s flowering staff, and the manna. (It also points up that if, in the Old Testament, you stake something out for God’s use, it stays sacred and for God’s exclusive use.)

And then there’s Mary as the Burning Bush, containing within her the Flame but not being burned.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the Fathers mess with my mind again, as they pointed out that Mary is the root of Jesse, and Jesus the flower that springs from it. I mean, yes, I knew Mary was of the House of David. But with the fun Biblical tendency to equate genealogical heritage of a person with the person — well, she is Jesus’ human  genealogy, in a way.

Somehow, this never came up as a type in CCD class. But it’d be cool to illustrate — you draw Mary with the Jesse tree on her clothes, right over her womb! Wouldn’t that be neat!?

(Also, if Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is “a lion’s whelp”, that not only brings in the Aslan and apocrypha desert story imagery, but allows you to get the image of Mary as a lioness! Maybe it’s a good thing I can’t draw, because I’d go wild on the symbolism…sorta like Holy Whapping’s Matthew, but without the good taste….) 🙂

Typology and Biblical imagery is fun stuff to play with. Man, those Fathers really knew how to play.

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2996: Brian E. Martineau

Brian E. Martineau

On September 11, 2001, Brian E. Martineau was 37 years old.

Mr. Martineau was born in Edison, New Jersey, the birthplace of recorded sound. He had at least one sibling, his sister Tara. He attended Benjamin Franklin Elementary School. (I still don’t know his middle school, but Telecaster7 says that he went to J.P. Stevens High School with him; they were both in the Class of 1982.) He got his degree from Rutgers in 1988, and married his wife Bettyann on October 20, 1991. His daughter came along a couple of years later; his son, four years after that.

He was Catholic (or at least he had a Catholic funeral). So he was a member of the Body of Christ.

In high school, he’d had a band named Grand Messenger. As an adult, he had a collection of 5000 CDs. He loved classic rock, especially underground English bands. But he would put Britney Spears on the stereo whenever his daughter asked him.

He was fun-loving and genial. He liked to host parties, and he liked to cook.

But he was not one to conceal his opinions. From a high school friend:

I think I’ll always remember Brian for his very open opinions, speaking his mind, and most of all for his wonderful friendship. He was an excellent listener, and whether you wanted to hear it or not, he would open your eyes to the raw truth.

His field was insurance. He worked at Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield for a while. Here’s a quote from a client:

Precious few people have ever made such a strong, lasting impression on me. Brian’s competence in his trade, combined with his warm, jovial demeanor, truly made him special. I often told the account managers at Horizon that, if I ever need to get something done, I’m calling Brian. Brian was a “yes, we can do that” kind of guy, and he could.

And from a colleague:

I worked with Brian for years at Blue Cross. It is so true — there was never a day he wasn’t laughing or joking about something. What positive energy he had! I remember when I was promoted to Director — Brian was one of the first to congratulate me. He was just that kind of guy. He was sweet and he was gentle. And he loved life and his family.

From another old colleague:

I miss our calls and e-mails and the “only being cynical” attitude we had…
Can’t help remember all of the times the old “National” gang took road trips for lunch and you give your precise instructions.

You were one of the nicest “bosses” and friends I had.

Brian Martineau then came to work for Aon as a benefits consultant. This job was one in which people depended on him for prompt answers and help, and he did his best to do that. From a long distance colleague:

I worked with Brian for just a short time on our employee account. He gave this Nebraska farm girl a tough time and thought it would be great fun to get me to “the city”. During an illness that took me away from my office, Brian kept in touch with me by phone and his first questions were always about how “Miss Jill” was. I… am forever grateful to God that I had the pleasure of knowing him. It didn’t take long for Brian to make you a friend.

From another long distance colleague:

I miss our daily conversations (several times a day) on the large account we both shared. Although I never met you, I felt like I knew you forever. You always put a smile on my face and the laughter we shared was wonderful.

And from a colleague who also worked at Aon:

….his jokes, bluntness, and “get what he wants” attitude. Brian was literally “a meat and potatoes” kind of guy – we would go out to lunch and if anything looked “strange” to him – he would not touch it. I remember the last time we all went to lunch; it was right before his vacation in August with his family to the shore in NJ. He gave the waitress an extra hard time (humorously though) so we left her an extra tip… Thank you, Brian, for teaching me all that you did about employee benefits in the short time you were at Aon. You are a great person: funny, serious, bold, admirable, great underwriter, great daddy and husband.

Working at the World Trade Center on the 101st floor of the South Tower entailed working in and commuting to New York, which was a first for him. But he still got home before his wife, and so he cooked dinner for her.

Before he went to bed at night, he would always kiss his two children, even though they were asleep and didn’t know.

After a plane hit the North Tower, he called his wife to tell her he was leaving.

Sources used for this memorial article were many, but all are widely available on the Internet. The best source are his memorials in Newsday and the New York Times (published October 13, 2001) which was written from interviews with his family. There were also many condolence registers on the Web which provided me with information, but provided me with the most information. For more information, you may wish to visit a tribute by one of his wife’s friends. It includes several pictures and a song.

I hope that Mr. Martineau’s family and friends do not regard this writeup as intrusive; it was not intended to be. At college, I worked in an archive, and it was part of my job to create a portrait of a person from their papers. Here, all I had were other people’s reminiscences. I regarded this task as part of our duty to honor and remember our fallen, which is what the 2996 Project is about.

From what I’ve learned, I wish I could have met him.

I will finish with this:

Brian Martineau,
I will never know
The man behind your name.

But I know this:
You had a wife to kiss
And children, and you came

Home every night
Far from the light
Of that city of towers,

And made the meal.
No death can steal
Those ordinary hours.

All our days are numbered.
But you spent yours well,
Music, wisecracks, laughter —
So your friends all tell.
I am sure you faltered,
Sinned a time or two.
But pray for me, Brian Martineau,
And I will pray for you.

Brian Martineau,
I will never know
The man behind your name.

But I know this:
That you are missed —
And that’s worth more than fame.

(This post is part of The 2,996 Project, honoring individually every victim of September 11th. I will not post anything more until September 12th.)


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Holy Sonnet VI by John Donne

This is my play’s last scene ; here heavens appoint
My pilgrimage’s last mile ; and my race
Idly, yet quickly run, hath this last pace ;
My span’s last inch, my minute’s latest point ;
And gluttonous Death will instantly unjoint
My body and soul, and I shall sleep a space ;
But my ever-waking part shall see that face,
Whose fear already shakes my every joint.
Then, as my soul to heaven her first seat takes flight,
And earth-born body in the earth shall dwell,
So fall my sins, that all may have their right,
To where they’re bred and would press me to hell.
Impute me righteous, thus purged of evil,
For thus I leave the world, the flesh, the devil.

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“God’s Building, Nobly Wrought”

And thus employed, they fell below
The sway of man’s perfidious foe:
Plunged in the smoky sheer abyss
They sank bereft of their true bliss.

But that sore plight of ruined man
Christ’s pity could not lightly scan:
Nor let God’s building nobly wrought
Ingloriously be brought to nought.

He wrapped Him in our fleshly guise,
That from the tomb He might arise,
And man released from death’s grim snare
Home to His Father’s bosom bear.

This is from Prudentius’ “Hymn for Christmas Day”, and is not taken at all in context. But the smoke and the buildings made this seem like a good quote for the victims. The image of people as buildings is not uncommon in early Christian literature. (Once you call ordinary Christians ‘temples’, the metaphor is open for use.)

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From St. Gregory the Great’s Moralia

Blessed Job, though aimed at for death in his temptation, gained growth unto life by the stroke. And our old enemy grieved to find that he had only multiplied his excellences by the very means, by which he had thought to do away with them… for one that is evil can never believe goodness to exist, though proved by his experience.

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