Monthly Archives: December 2006

Oz (and Kiwi) Lang Syne

For all of us who quite liked the bits of Australian 80’s music that trickled over here to the States, Tim Blair presents possibly the best thread ever for New Year’s Eve. Yes, those of us who are stuck sick at home can now have nostalgia for some kind of alternate existence, as you throw yourself a Down Under dance party on YouTube….

Btw, don’t forget that Sarah Jane Adventures premieres tonight (tomorrow) over in the UK! (Time to go share a few bits.)

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Yet Another Fannish Moral Dilemma

Capcom has a videogame out called Okami. (O with a macron over it, actually.) In this game, in which all the scenes are rendered as if a Japanese inkbrush painting, you play the Shinto sun goddess, Amaterasu, as she wanders the earth in the form of a white wolf.

Now, I know a lot of people out there are asking themselves, “Could a Christian morally play this game, which obviously is based on pagan mythology?”

But personally, what I’m asking is how a Shinto worshipper — of which Japan is full! — could  possibly play this game. I mean, how could you play a goddess whom you believed to be a real being, highly interested in Japan and thus you?

We live in a very odd time. Very.

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Whitaker’s Words

Btw, I don’t want anybody to think I’m suddenly oh-so-great at Latin. (Especially since my grasp of certain conjugations is so darned weak.) There’s a wonderful free program out there, in several incarnations and platforms, called Whitaker’s Words. It doesn’t translate everything for you; but it does look up each word’s definition, number, gender, case, tense, etc. It must have been really tedious to enter the whole Latin dictionary and the whole paradigm for each word, but dang! is it useful. So thank you, William Whitaker.

Here’s a handy online version of Whitaker’s Words. You can also download a program for yourself here.

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Sermon IV, De sacrosancto corporis Domini sacramento by St. Albert the Great

This sermon has a lot of wonderful sensual images. I’m particularly fond of the Holy Spirit as a perfume-maker, of the faithful rushing to church when they smell the wonderful ointments on Jesus’ robes, and of the heat of the Spirit’s fire in the Church producing thermals on which the angels circle.

4th Sermon:
Of the third [thing] noted about sacrifice — to wit, the excellence of our sacrifice.

“Come, eat of my bread”, etc. and “Your motives”, etc., as in the first sermon. Likewise, the other themes as above, or similar. It was already told above of two [of the points] noted about sacrifice; now I am speaking about the third. Therefore, the third thing to be noted is the excellence of our sacrifice, that is, of the Body of Christ, which surpasses the sacrifices of the Law for three reasons, to wit:

I. In honor,
II. In dignity,
III. In power.

From the reason that [its] honor [lasts] as long as Time, [its] worth as long as God, [its] power as long as the effect of His goodness.

Our sacrifice excels the rest for the reason of honor, which will be proved from three things: from its outward appearance, its virginal origin, and its spiritual sweetness.

First, the honor of which sacrifice will be proved from its exterior appearance, because under no other characteristic could it be so clean, so beautiful, so honorable to have been served as under the appearance of bread and wine. For those many inconveniences do not attend it which would have attended those bloody sacrifices of the Law. Proverbs 17:1 — “Better a dry morsel with joy, than a house full of victims with strife.” The dry morsel is our sacrifice under the appearance of bread and its honor. Zachariah 9:17 — “For what is his good thing and what is his beautiful thing, but the grain of the chosen ones, and wine springing forth virgins?”

Second, it will be proved worthy of his honor that is corrupt in no way, but gets its origin from the virginal flower. Ecclesiastes 24:23 — “My flowers are the fruit of honor and of the honorable,” as if it says: My flowers of modesty and virginity are turned into the fruit of most noble and honorable offspring. Augustine*: “The nobility of the mother is from the divinity of the offspring and the nobility of the offspring is from the virginity of the mother.” Canticles 3:11 — “Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see King Solomon in the diadem with which his mother crowned him.” Gloss**: “Go forth from the ignorance of infidelity, and see King Christ in the diadem — that is, in the flesh — with which his mother, to wit, Mary, crowned Him. That is, she honored Him in this, that she is a virgin, not spoiled in appearance as other women, soiled with original sin.”
* Sermo 195. Migne, S. l. tom. 38, col. 1018.
** Interlinearis et ordinaria.

Third, the honor of our sacrifice will be proved from its spiritual sweetness, which all Christians draw from it. So then says Tullius, “It is honorable that his strength draws and wins us over”, as to wit, the virtuous thing, O truly greatest of its kind, which abounds in sweetness of kindness. And the thing of its kind is the sacrifice of the Body of the Lord. Ecclesiasticus 49:1 — “The remembrance of Josiah is like the composition of a sweet smell made by the art of a perfumer. His remembrance shall be sweet as honey in every mouth.” The remembrance of Josiah is the remembrance of the Savior, or of the sacrifice of the altar. Here the composition of the Holy Spirit is made out of His own expensive materials, His Divinity and humanity, and from the most pleasant honor and kindness — the odor which draws to itself the faithful ones of the Church. Canticles 1:2 [Songs 1:3] — “Your name is as oil poured out; therefore, young maidens have loved you. Draw me; we will run after you, to the odor of your ointments.” Therefore all who truly believe will frequently and fervently rush to the Church, in hope of grace and devotion, to this sacrifice which will be seen and prayed.

*** Cf. de Offic. 1. L. c. 17.

The second reason our sacrifice excels the rest is in dignity, which will be proved from the three most precious things out of which it is reckoned, to wit: out of Christ’s most pure Body, most just Soul, and most high Godhood. These three are represented in the paschal lamb, which will truly be in our sacrifice. Exodus 12:9 — “You shall eat the lamb’s head with its feet and entrails.” The lamb’s head signifies Christ’s Divinity, the entrails the soul, the feet the flesh. Wisdom 8:19 — “And I was an ingenious boy”, that is, the Son of God full of wisdom, “and had received a good soul”, that is, I come “to a body undefiled.” Behold, in Christ is God, soul, and body. Because of this we say three things: “Hail, Savior of the world, Word of the Father, true Victim, living Flesh, Deity entire, true man,” to wit, from flesh and soul.

Because of so much excellence of dignity, the sacrifice has triple prerogatives above the rest: it is accepted by God according to Himself, it is reverenced by Angels, it is adored by humans. The first is because of the just Soul, the second because of the clean Flesh, and the third because of the most high Godhood.

Of the first, Malachi 3:4 — “And the sacrifice of Judah… shall please the Lord”, that is, Christ, the just one of kings, of whom in Psalm 107:9 [108:8] — “Judah is my king.” Zachariah 9:9 — “And behold, your King will come to you, the Just One and Savior.” The sacrifice of Judah, therefore, pleases the Lord, because God the Father approves the offering of the Body of Christ, in which, to wit, He humbles Himself most greatly, even unto death — obeying the Father, and triumphing over the Devil, and redeeming the human race. Ecclesiasticus 35:9 — “The sacrifice of the just is acceptable….” “….and is an odor of sweetness in the regard of the Most High.”

Of the second, Matthew 24:28 — “Wherever the body shall be, there the eagles shall be gathered together also”, that is, the holy Angels. Pope Leo: “Around the Body of Christ are the eagles, which circle over us on the wing, on the Spirit.”* — clearly the holy Angels, lovers of the world’s clean spirits, doing homage to the Body of Christ in the world, and protecting the Faithful who are present. Gregory: “Who can have doubt of the Faithful, in the hour of whose sacrifice the heavens are opened? Choirs of angels draw near to that mystery of Christ; the highest join in with the lowest.”**

* In Decr. Grat. III. Dist. II. c. 38. Verba sunt. S. Ambrosii in
Expos. Evang. sec. Luc. c. 17, 37. Migne, S. l. tom. 15. col. 1782.

** In Decr. Grat. III. Dist. II. c. 73. S. Greg. Dial. lib. IV. c. 58.
Migne S. l. tom. 77. col. 425.

Of the third, Psalm 98:5 [99:5] — “Adore His footstool, for it is holy.” It is said in Isaiah 66:1 that the earth is God’s footstool; and it signifies the flesh of Christ, which is originally of earth. This is adored by us, because it is holy, because it is united to God. Augustine: “It is known that because the earth is in Christ, that is, the flesh, that it is adored without impiety, because the Word of God accepted it. Who adores it, then, does not gaze at earth; but better than that, he adores what is His footstool.”

*** Enarr. in Ps. 98. n. 9. (sed non ad verbum). Migne, S. l. tom. 37.
col. 1264.

Also Augustine: “The heretics say, ‘How is it, insofar as you do not deny that the flesh of something is not the creature, at the same time you adore flesh together with His Divinity, and devote yourself to it no less than to the Divinity?’ I respond, ‘On the contrary. In Christ, humanity is perfected. Therefore, I adore the Lord’s flesh, because it has been taken up to Divinity, and is united in Divinity’s unity. If you separate human from God, I will neither believe nor serve them. Would one not treat with reverence the purple or the diadem of the king if one found them lying on the ground? Truly, the king has clothed himself with them; one incurs danger of death if one scorns what should be honored with the king. So also in Christ the Lord, humanity is not lonely or naked, but united with Divinity — to wit, the one Son of God, true God and true man. If one scorns what should be honored, one will die eternally.”*

* Sermo 246. al. 58. de verb. Dom. in fine. Migne, S. l. tom. 38.
col. 1078.

Pope Alexander: “No better sacrifice can be, than the Body and Blood of Christ, and as this oblation is more powerful than the rest, so it has better claim to be honored and must be venerated.”** Therefore, because it is inestimably better than the rest because it is united with God, it ought to be most adored, and the children of Christians are to be taught to adore it reverently.

** Decr. Grat. P. III. Dist. II. c. 9. Ep. l. ad omn. orthod. c. 9. Migne,
S. l. tom. 130. col. 34.

The third reason our sacrifice excels the rest is in power, that is, through the effect of its goodness. It does triple good deeds in triple conditions of the Faithful: to wit, in this world, in Purgatory, in Heaven. In the first condition, it loosens daily sins; in the second, it lightens the burden of penalties; in the third, it produces great joy. Therefore, it is likewise that the holy sacrificial offering of the priest is broken into three pieces, so that the power of the sacrifice of the Body of the Lord is represented to foreshadow what it has the power to do in the triple conditions of the Faithful.

Leviticus 5:15 — “The soul which shall sin through mistake… shall offer for his offence a spotless ram”, that is, Christ, says the gloss.*** From which the Church sings, “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”

*** Interlinearia.

Gregory: “The Lord gives us this sacrament of salvation, so that, because we sin daily and we already cannot die, we would pursue the remission of sins through this sacrament of His Body.”*

* In Decr. Grat. P. III. Dist. II. c. 73. Ap. Alcuinum in lib. de divin.
offic. cap. de celebr. Missae, qui S. Gregor. citat. Migne. S. l. tom. 101.
col. 1270. Alii haec verba addicunt S. Augustino.

Of the second, Leviticus 17:11 — “I have given it to you, that you may make atonement with it upon the altar for your souls, and the blood may be for an expiation of the soul.” And therefore the flesh and blood of Christ is rightly offered by the Church for the souls of the dead, so as to release those who are bound there, for their leftover penance, from the penalties of Purgatory.

Augustine: “There is no doubt that the prayers and alms and sacrifice of Holy Church are useful to ease the souls of the dead, so that God should be urged to mercy on them from what they deserved for their sins in this world.”**

** Sermo 172. n. 2. Migne, S. l. tom. 38. col. 936.

Of the third, Leviticus 10:14 — “The breast also, that is offered… you shall eat in a most clean place, thou and thy sons and thy daughters with thee.” The breast, that is, exactly the best and sweetest part of the animal, signifies the sweetness of the Body of Christ, insofar as it is eaten in a most clean place — that is, insofar as it delights the blessed, who most have joy and rejoice in this sacrifice of the remembrance of their redemption, from the sight of our salvation and from admiration of the Divine goodness. Or surely, the breast is eaten in a most clean place — because the sweetness of the Body of the Lord, which here is grazed upon in a veil and in the Sacrament, is enjoyed by the blessed in heaven in plain sight.

Revelation 2:17 — “I will give the victors the hidden manna.” Further along, the gloss says***: “I Myself, who am the Living Bread which came down from heaven, and who was hidden in manna.” Which manna, even if it remains hidden now, will be shown then, remaining the reason for every flavor’s delight.

*** Interlinearis.

Hence, the Post-Communion prayer says: “May the Sacraments accomplish in us, Lord, what they contain, so that what we now take on to all appearances, we may put on in the reality of things”, that is, may we see the Body of Christ in plain sight and enjoy Him fully, according to that well-known [passage], John 14:21 — “Who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and show Myself to him.” And in this vision of the Lord, all our enjoyment of good things will be full. Psalm 15:11 [16:11] — “You shall fill me with joy with your countenance”, and (Psalm 16:15 [17:15]) — “I shall be satisfied when your glory shall appear.” Amen

+ Postcommunio in Dom. 17. post Pent.

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First Things Considered as a Helix of Semi-Pretentious Trolls

Usually, I enjoy reading First Things, whether or not I agree with their writers.

Today, they have decided to utilize typical troll methods. First they set out the bait; then they went back under their bridge, listening for the trip-trap of tiny hooves. Today’s troll: “Is any science fiction literature?” in the variant: “Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe produced literature. Now, does any science fiction stand near them?”

Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe all wrote some genre fiction, including some science fiction and fantasy. So, clearly, some science fiction stands very near them.

Now, if Mr. Bottum (yes, his real name) on First Things really wants to talk about other great literary works of science fiction by other great writers, he will have to restate the question in a civil way. (Being careful, by the bye, not to diss the sainted More and his Utopia, whom I would have expected a religious journal to have mentioned with respect for his contribution to the field.) He might also do the non-lazy thing, which is to read one of the vast numbers of articles and books written to inform you of the identities of great literary works which are also great science fiction, instead of trying to torque his readers into doing all the work for him.

But I particularly appreciate how a supposedly Christian writer is doing his busybody best to set back evangelization among science fiction fandom yet again. His ill-considered little post will be remembered decades after he’s dead and gone, as yet more proof that Christians are necessarily hostile to science fiction. What a gift for the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Now, stay tuned to see if the troll does the next logical thing — removing the literary credentials of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Dorothy L. Sayers for writing genre fiction — or if cowardice and his better angels stay his hand.

Sigh. It was a better Net when enlightened despot-admins could ban bandwidth-wasting troublemakers like this. Gharlane, thou shouldst be flaming at this hour.


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Gerald Ford, RIP

I was very young when Gerald Ford took office. But I remember him well. He was the first thing I remember seeing on the national news that wasn’t an astronaut, and he wasn’t someone worrying like the old president. He was solid, trustworthy, normal, and obviously nice. Everybody mocked him, but he didn’t seem to care; he just went on doing his job and being nice. And when the 1976 elections came around, my six-year-old self was incredulous that anyone could possibly want to vote for Jimmy Carter.

I still remember the first time I opened an Allan Drury novel and met Harley Hudson, the Senator from Michigan who became president almost by accident, and proved tougher than anybody expected. I now know that Michigan was a coincidence, and that Hudson was originally a fictionalized Harry Truman. But back then, I just felt astonishment, and then gratitude. Somebody else out there appreciated President Ford.

I’ve learned a few things over the years about Ford’s presidency that went over my head when I was a kid. I know why some on both sides opposed the pardon. But I think Ford was right. Watergate had dragged on too long, and the country needed to make an end of it, so it could get back to work and heal its wounds. None of his critics can say what their plans would have done. What he did, worked.

When I heard this morning that Gerald Ford had passed away, I’m not ashamed to tell you that I cried. He was a good president and a good man. Maybe he could have done better; maybe he could have started the Reagan Revolution earlier, or fought Roe vs. Wade, or done a zillion other things. Heck, he could have gone to Ohio State instead.

But what he did, worked. He muddled through, and so did America.

May God be good to him.

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Psychomachia — Modesty vs. Lust

Next on the grassy field appeared Modesty;
The virgin shines in lovely armor.
The Sodomite Lust is advancing,
whose ancestors warred with torches —
and a burning pineknot dipped in spruce tar
and sulphur, she thrusts in the maid’s eyes.
Modesty grabs for the flaming light,
and Lust tries to choke her with smoke.
But Modesty, the fearless virgin,
tosses a rock with her right hand
at the dire she-wolf’s red-hot weapon.
Thrown down, the pine torch goes out.
Then the whore’s bared neck’s bored through
with a shortsword. She vomits
hot steaming clots of infected blood;
exhaling her rotted breath,
she pollutes the neighboring air.

“She’s done,” exclaims the queen victrix,
“This will be your end, supreme one.
You’ll be flat on your face forever,
not daring to spit deadly flames
at God’s servants, men or maids.
Only Christ’s lamp kindles chaste souls.
Harasser of humans, think you can recover
doused powers, or grab breath to warm you?

“After the Assyrian bedroom?
Holofernes’ neck was chopped;
the drunk’s desire washed out in his blood.
Sharp Judith scorns the jewels and pillows
of the wife-betraying warlord
and quenches sinful frenzies with a sword.
The woman is carrying back
from the foe, a notorious trophy.
Go with unshaking hand,
bold heavensent defender!”

Maybe the strong matron’s companions
up till now were fighting
under the shadow of the Law,
Still, our times she shapes. In truth,
strength flows into earthly bodies;
the head of the great is cut off
by the weak, powerless servants.

“And after divine command already
gave an untouched virgin childbirth,
is it possible anything’s left
still to be done to you?
After the virgin birth — by which
the former origin of the human body
deserts nature, and the High Power
brings forth new flesh,
and the unmarried wife even
conceives God the Christ —
mortal man from his mother,
but divine from his Father.
Even now, from that which conceives Him,
everyone’s flesh is divine,
and takes the character of co-heirs
of God, by league of alliance.

“Of course, the Word made flesh doesn’t lose
being what it has been,
while the Word glues on experience of the flesh —
His majesty not diminishing through it,
but drawing the poor ones up to be nobler.
What He has always been remains so,
while He’s beginning to be what He’s not been.
We, who were not, are what we weren’t already;
we will be made wealthy, born into better.
He carries me back to myself,
remaining Himself. Nor does God lessen
what’s His by what’s ours; instead what is His
becomes our own; and He has carried us
up to Heaven with the gifts He granted us.

“Gifts like this — that you lie conquered,
filthy Lust, nor, after Mary,
are able to break through what’s right, what’s our duty.

“You deathroad guide, you gate of ruin,
staining the body and plunging the soul
into Tartarus! Take your gloomy head,
still cursed with cold, down to the Abyss!
Die, brotheldweller! Beg to the manes!
Be shut in Avernus, and dumped to the deeps
of the shadows of night.
May fiery streams pull you under,
may black and brimstone streams
whirl you round through resounding whirlpools —
and already, Greater one of furies,
you may not tempt Christ-worshippers,
for their cleansed bodies
will be guarded for the King.”

She said this, and glad Lust was killed dead,
Modesty washed in the Jordan’s waves
the corrupted shortsword sticky with ichor’s
red dew, and the wound-spotted shining iron.
So the victorious victrix purified the point
in the teaching river, destroying by baptism
what’d been blemished by the foe’s jugular;
nor yet was contented to sheathe the cleansed shortsword
back in its scabbard, lest rust under cover
occupy rough spots she had washed off
and eat off its sheen. In a Catholic temple
of the divine spring, she consecrated it
where it coruscates with light eternal.

This is a translation from Prudentius’ “Psychomachia”. You can read the previous part — Faith vs. OldGodsWorship — back here. (Given that the poem’s preface is almost a hundred lines summarizing all of salvation history, I think I’ll be leaving that for last.)

And yes, it does say “catholico in templo”! I don’t make this stuff up! 🙂

Pudicitia isn’t quite Chastity or Purity. It’s actually modesty, shamefacedness, maybe even shyness. So Modesty Blaise was following venerable precedent. 🙂

Notice the clear connection of Modesty’s weaponry to Judith’s, and of treating the body with respect to Jesus’ incarnation making flesh a holy thing. So this turned out to be very suitable for Christmastime.

Big huge illustrated “Psychomachia” page from Corpus Christi College in Cambridge. Note that Modesty’s obviously flameproof!

Over at St. Gall, the Psychomachia is in Cod. Sang 135, starting at p. 384. There are pictures of Fides rassling with Cultura Veterus Deorum on pp. 388-389. Pudicitia chucks rocks at Libido on p. 391.

I’ll try to translate Patience next week.


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“The Flower of Jesse” by John Awdlay, c. 1426

1. There is a Flower sprung of a tree,
The root thee of is called Jesse;
A flower of price,
There is none such in Paradise!

2. This Flower is fair and fresh of hue:
It fadeth never, but ever is new;
The blissful branch this Flower on grew
Was Mary mild that bare Jesu.
A flower of grace,
Against all sorrow it is solace!

3. The seed hereof was God’s command,
That God Himself sowed with His hand
In Bethlehem, in that holy land;
Amidst her harbour there he her found.
This blissful Flower
Sprang never but in Mary’s bower.

4. When Gabriel this maiden met,
With “Ave Maria” he her gret;
Between them two this Flower was set,
And kept (it) was, no man shall wit;
But on a day
In Bethlehem It gan spread and spray.

5. When that Flower began to spread,
And His blossom forth He led,
Rich and poor in every stead,
They marvelled how this Flower might spread,
And kinges three
That blissful Flower came to see.

6. Angels there came out of their tower
To look upon this freshly Flower,
How fair He was in His colour,
And how sweet in His savour,
And to behold
How such a Flower might spring in gold!

7. Of lily, of rose of ryse,
Of primrose, and of fleur-de-lys,
Of all the flowers at my device,
That Flower of Jesse yet bears the price
As most of heal,
To slake our sorrows every deal.

8. I pray thee, flowers of this countree,
Wherever ye go, wherever ye be,
Hold up the Flower of good Jesse,
For your freshness and your beauty,
As fairest of all,
And ever was and ever shall.

From Edith Rickert, Ancient English Christmas Carols: 1400-1700, at The Hymns and Carols of Christmas.

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The Pope’s Got Good Taste!

I always thought the Pope looked like a springerle kind of guy!

Via Amy:

But for the Pope’s home-style Christmas at the Vatican, everything is ready. Munich banker Thaddaeus Kuehnel has seen to it, as he has done for 25 years for his friend, then-Cardinal Ratzinger.

For 25 years, he has faithfully delivered to Rome every Christmastime everything that brings joy to a Bavarian in the holiday season: sausage,. Advent wreaths, ham, baked goodies, Kloster beer.

There are two Christmas trees in the Pope’s living room. Until a few days ago, they were growing in the Bavarian woods on the property of a farming family in Waldingen. Then Kuehnel came, the treees were chosen and chopped, and he strapped both trees securely to his car roof. They would not be unbound again until Kuehnel reached the courtyard of the Apostolic palace.

From that time, the trees became the responsibility of Carmela, Emanuela, Loredana and Christina, the Pope’s lay nun housekeepers. They not only decorated the trees, but also have to prepare the main dish for Christmas dinner from a deer shot by a Swabian hunter, Gisbert Sattler, earlier this week.

The wild game motif returns! That’s what happens when you have a holiday in hunting season.

Kuehnel also brought the Pope a variety of cookies made by Bavarian cloistered nuns – vanilla Kipferl, anise cookies, cinnamon stars, jam-filled cookies, and Stollen (a Christmas cake).

“The Holy Father has a weakness for sweet things,” says Sister Irma.

*grin* So now, the next time the Pope comes to dinner at your house, you know what kind of stuff to send home with him.

Presumably the anise cookies are springerle. The jam-filled cookies may be spitzbuben or linzers. The cinnamon stars show that the pope and the Bavarian nuns are rebels when it comes to fearmongering.

Here’s a recipe for Bavarian venison: looks like a good stick-to-your-ribs meal for all the hard work the Pope’s doing.

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The Boar’s Head in Hand Bring I….

Mike Adams’ professorial dream letter has attracted a good deal of attention. But one of the saddest things is down in the comments. At least one commenter refuses to believe that boars are edible, unless you castrate them at least a week before death. “Dogs won’t eat it.”

Well, gee, let’s think. Should we assume the rest of the world, eating boars since time immemorial, has a love for something that tastes really gross? Possible, of course. But perhaps we should look into the rest of the world’s cooking and preparation techniques. (Though I appreciate the difficulty of getting over being scarred for life. I know there are tasty ways to cook liver, but I haven’t yet had the courage to try them.)

If the boar smells bad, he’s gamy. The trick is to hang the boar to get out any gamy taste, just like people hang venison. Now, I’ve never done this stuff myself, but one gathers that the trick is to take out the guts (carefully, so as not to spill the contents) and drain out the blood (to cool the body and prevent spoilage), and then hang the carcass somewhere cool and somewhat ventilated. Perhaps in the old days, it was harder to find this stuff out, but we have the Internet.

The state of Missouri tells you how to hang deer.

How to hunt, hang and cook wild pigs. “They hunt wild boars because they eat them. The meat is delicious and free of preservatives or hormones… Remember: You’re not hunting cute pink pigs from the county fair. These are hairy, muscular wild boars. They are fast and smart, stand 30 inches tall at the shoulder, measure 4 to 5 feet in length, and can weigh up to 300 pounds. The hide over their shoulders serves as a thick armor plating, and their tusks grow to be 3 inches long. Their eyesight is poor, but their sense of smell is excellent. Stay downwind if at all possible… Boars travel in herds, wriggling through barbed wire fences, and they cover up to 40 square miles a day.” (Which, btw, explains why the Adams hunting party was unable to retrieve all the pigs they shot. Boars don’t stop, don’t notice they’re hurt, move faster than humans, and often don’t die. When you’re big, brawny, fat, and weigh a zillion pounds, this happens.)

I also know that it’s still pork, so you still have to cook that sucker at pork temperatures. Trichinosis is not your friend.

Wild boar recipes from Graig Farm in the UK

Texas Boar recipes, including an alternate indoor hanging technique — soaking the meat in ice water.

More wild boar recipes, including an oven simulation of a Hawaiian pig roast, and Still more.

Pig roasting tips, including cooking the head.

Miscellaneous wild animal recipes from the oldenNet.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for — a recipe for Boar’s Head from Brittany and another from England! Also, scroll down for a medieval Boar’s Head.

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Excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s speech about his trips

Referring to these difficulties makes clear one of the reasons why to many, having children appears a risk too great to take. A child needs loving attention. This means – we have to give him some time, time from our life. But precisely this essential ‘prime material’ of life – time – seems to be getting scarcer every day. The time we have at our disposal is hardly sufficient for our own life – how can we give it up to somebody else?

To have time to give time to others – that is a very concrete way to learn how to give ourselves, to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves.

To this problem must be added a difficult calculation: What standards do we have for measuring what we owe our children so that they may live rightly, and in doing this, also respect their freedom?

The problem has become so difficult because we are no longer sure of what standards to pass on; because we are no longer sure how freedom should be properly exercised, what is the right way to live, what is morally obligatory and what is inadmissible.

The modern spirit has lost orientation, and this disorientation prevents us from indicating to others the right way.

Indeed, the problem goes even deeper. Today, man is uncertain about the future. Is it permissible to send someone towards this uncertain future? Ultimately, is it a good thing to be a human being?

This profound uncertainty about man himself – alongside the wish to live life for oneself alone – is probably the deepest reason why to many, the risk of having children now appears unsustainable.

Indeed, we can transmit life responsibly only if we are capable of transmitting more than biological life, but also a sense that life can be lived even through crises, with a certainty of hope that is stronger than the clouds which obscure the future.

If we do not relearn the basics of life – if we do not rediscover the certainty of faith – it will be even less possible to entrust to others the gift of life and the task of meeting an unknown future.

Finally, also related to all this, is the problem of making definitive decisions: Can a man and a woman be united for always? Can one say Yes to last a whole life?

Yes, we can. We were created for this. In this Yes, a couple can realize their freedom and create the sacred environment of matrimony which widens to become the family and thus constructs the future.

At this point, I cannot keep silent about my concern over proposed laws for de facto couples. Many of these couples chose that way of life because, at least for the moment, they do not feel themselves able to accept the juridically sanctioned bond of matrimony. And so they prefer to remain as common-law partners.

When new juridical forms are created that would relativize matrimony, then the renunciation of any definitive bond would also obtain, so to speak, a juridical seal of approval. In this case, a definitive decision by anyone who already finds it hard to make one becomes even more unlikely.

Then, for other forms of coupling, there is an added relativization of genders – making the coupling of a man and a woman equivalent to that of persons of the same gender. This tacitly confirms the dismal theories that would take away relevance from the masculinity or femininity of the human being, as if it it only had to do with biological fact.

These theories claim that a person – that is, his intellect and his will – decides autonomously what he is or is not. This implies a devaluation of corporality, from which it follows that a person, wishing to be emancipated physically from the ‘biological sphere’, ends up by destroying himself.

To those who tell us that the Church should not interfere in these matters, we can only answer: Does not man interest us?

Do not believers, with the great culture of their faith, have the right to express themsleves about all this?

Is it not rather their – our – duty to raise our voice in defense of man, that creature who, precisely in the inseparable unity of body and soul, is the image of God?

The trip to Valencia has become for me a journey in search of what it means to be a human being.


My comments: This part of the speech cuts right to the heart of the problems of modern society, and of people I know. To its honor, science fiction as a genre has always insisted that the future is worth living to see, to be a human being is worthwhile, and that both the natural and the human world are full of wonders. It has insisted that the vastness of the stars is not a soul-crushing diminishment of all man’s dreams, but rather a vast and intriguing place of beauty and promise. But at the same time, there is this emphasis on intellect trumping all, will trumping all, and even a desire to leave the body for something better designed, more permanent, and less able to suffer — to be bodiless intellects in a computer, or cyborgs, and to live forever.

Fantasy and horror, which have always coexisted with science fiction as if the other half of its consciousness, have insisted, to their honor, that intellect and logic does not necessarily trump all, that other creatures may have their own wish to live, and that there are beings greater than we are which take an interest in our doings. But again, will tends to trump all, and power is an obsession.

In neither genre do babies or young children or married couples get much play. And in both, although much play and theorizing about moral standards is okay, and it’s okay to preach about the popular cause of the moment, mentioning anything else is largely forbidden. Freedom only goes so far — not as far as true freedom.

And worse still, you constantly see fans doing things to deprive themselves of human dignity. Things which they would fight if imposed upon them become good and enviable things if they choose them. Consent makes everything good — even wrongs to which no person can justly consent.

I’m glad our little pope is much more tactful and effective at pointing these things out than I am.

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The Russian Sherlock Holmes TV Adaptation

Well, actually, the Soviet one, from back in the seventies. But we’ll overlook that, since it’s an excellent and not propaganda-ridden adaptation, as far as I can tell. (I knew I should have bought those DVDs….) Watch a little bit on YouTube; ’tis nifty.

Holmes and Watson meet at St. Bart’s.

Holmes and Watson box. (Probably early in their association?)

Holmes stages the fight at Irene Adler’s.

Scenes from The Hound of the Baskervilles, with a fannish soundtrack remix.

Holmes meets Professor Moriarty. It feels like a seventies Doctor Who episode — in a spooky good way.

Holmes and Moriarty fight to the death on the brink of Reichenbach Falls. (Snakiness!)

Holmes reveals the true outcome of the fight to Watson — and Mrs. Hudson.


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Harry Potter… er, Peredur and the Holy Grail… er, Deathly Hallows. Of Hogwarts.

Since I can’t get to sleep with these cold pills in me, let us theorize.

1st Theory —

Once upon a time, there was a young man named Peredur or Percival or Galahad or… Harry Potter. His father was a great and powerful knight… er, wizard, who was either dead or at court or on a quest. Gone, anyway. So his son was raised way back in the waybacks, far from civilized society, without any knowledge of the world that should have been his own. Occasionally, he saw strange noble people come by, but the people who raised him lied about their identity.

But finally, he learned the truth, and set out to follow in his father’s footsteps. He came to a magic castle by a lake — a castle named… Camelot? Carbonek? Montsalvat? Hogwarts? Anyway, he met an old man there who was very kind to him and told him about his family. The old man trained him in the arts and manners of that strange new world, and told him everything he needed to know. But the young man was too polite to ask what was up with the strange magical items there and who they were to serve, or the old man’s wound, or how the land could be healed. He went on his way when he was fully trained, questing against all sorts of monsters, looking for his relatives…

But in the end, he had to return to the magic castle, and ask questions, and fix what was broken.

2nd Theory —

Because once upon a time, there were four founders of Hogwarts who were the keepers of four holy relics: the plate that Jesus used at the Last Supper, the kiddush cup from the same, Longinus’ spear, and the sword that slew St. John the Baptist, or which St. Peter used on Malchus. (Or maybe the actual Instruments of the Passion. Though, to be honest, the Byzantine Empire did a pretty good job of distributing bits and pieces of most of the Instruments in bits and pieces all around Europe and the Mideast.)

We know Godric Gryffindor had a sword. UPDATE: Brandon points out in the comments below that Helga Hufflepuff had a cup. We don’t know what the other Founders had… though of course the Horcruxes may well be involved.  So whether we’re talking the Grail stuff called Hallows or the Irish/Scottish ones or even a few of the Welsh Thirteen Treasures… it’s entirely possible that turning Hogwarts Hallows into Horcruxes would make them truly Deathly.

3rd Theory —

The Founders are buried in or around Hogwarts, like Bran’s head, and their mausoleum keeps the place safe. (As in the Hallows of Tolkien’s Gondor.) Although one hopes that the wizards can’t be described as “a withering people whose only ‘hallows’ are their tombs.” All those rotten kids should have been attending the school chapel on Sunday; then they’d have known. This is supported by the reported comment of Rowling to the director that Hogwarts had a burial area, and that it was not outside the walls. Common medieval practice would have people buried in tombs in the castle church/chapel, under the church floor, in the church crypt (all three suitable for high ranking people), or in the churchyard surrounding the church.

Given how lively Headmasters’ portraits and ordinary paintings and statues are, one wonders about funerary effigies and brasses of the Founders. Would they come to life in the hour of Hogwarts’ greatest need?

4th Theory —

Godric’s Hollow = Godric’s Hallow.

5th Theory —

That darned cup in the cave was either the Grail (probably belonging to one of the founders), or a forged evil and opposite copy of it. Maybe it’s even the Deathly Hallows. R.A.B. was Rex Arturus Britanniae. He was already going to die from his wound, so he and the Lady of the Lake….

Since “Weasley Is Our King”, Ron Weasley must be king rightwise born of all the Britons. (Darn those German Windsors, Scottish Stuarts, traitorous Welsh-French Tudors, pesky French Plantagenets, and invading Normans and Saxons! The true line of the Penweasel lives!) Ronald will pull the sword from the stone and inherit the crown of his fathers, maintaining the Celtic tradition of election of the most suitable from a pool of males with the right birth. (Sorry about your luck, Mr. Weasley. And Mr. Blair. And Elizabeth Windsor.)

Obviously this makes Hermione Guenevere and Harry Merlin. Or maybe Hermione’s Merlin, and Harry’s Lancelot. You could argue either way.

But anyway, Arthur fought an emperor named Lucius.

6th Theory —

“The Deathly Hallows” is a name along the lines of “The Perilous Siege”. Only the right person, or the worthy person, can go there and get out unscathed. Or maybe what you do there is worth the deathliness.

UPDATE: 7th Theory —

Since the game Hangman keeps getting mentioned, and “Weasley Must Die”, and the Weasley twins are even selling Hangman… well, maybe somebody will put Ron up on a gallows, either to gain power from the sacrifice of a king, or just to pressure Harry. Or maybe Percy will be framed and set up for hanging. Or maybe he’ll try to kill himself. (I’m trying to remember the ritual murder thing of the bog people. Hanging, drowning, and bludgeoning, wasn’t it? And some kind of theorized connection with Taranis’ mallet?) There are also certain magical ingredients that only can grow in the shadow of a gallows, and others that are taken from hanged men.

Somebody else with theories.


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Final Harry Potter Book Named

Today, the secret door opened on J.K. Rowling’s website, and the title of the seventh book was found within. (And on the news, etc., so I’m assuming this doesn’t need spoiler protection.)

So. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Well. I’m guessing she doesn’t mean Harry Potter and the Pale and Sickly Saints, so she must mean the other kind of hallows: a place. A holy building or holy ground.

Ten to one, we’re talking a graveyard.

When you add this to the fact that Rowling earlier registered the name Harry Potter and the Hallows of Hogwarts, things get just a tad more interesting.

(There is of course “All Hallows’ Eve” and “All Hallows’ Day”, but… eh. And I suppose it could deal with Deathly Hallows if Harry went through the veil and into Heaven, but… nah. It’s a graveyard. Or maybe Voldy’s church of himself. And I’m fairly sure we’re not talking about cricketers named Hallows, though one never knows.)

STOP PRESSES! Duh, there are other “hallows”. Arthurian ones. Irish ones. I’m sure Mike Aquilina and his buddy are more qualified to speak on the subject than I, but….

As far as I can tell in a quick net search, Waite apparently made up the term in his Arthur book. (The Hidden Church of the Holy Graal, forsooth.) He was just doing weird Christianity with a side of occult gnostic, but his idea has apparently been taken over by occult goddess-worshippers with a side of gnostic. Whatever.

Anyway, to him the major Hallows was the Holy Grail chalice, (the Christ Last Supper Communion one), with Longinus’ lance, a sword, and a dish or paten as less important ones. (Whatever, dude. Pick a random grouping, whatever.) I guess these all showed up in various and sundry mysterious appearances of the Holy Grail in various medieval romances.

Somebody apparently got the bright idea of calling the Four Treasures of the Tuatha De Danaan (the Stone of Destiny, etc, from the drowned cities of Falias, Finias, Murias and Gorias) the Four Hallows, instead.Inevitably, the Grail-related Hallows got melded by the minds of those with too much time on their hands (eh, probably Waite). So now we get all the Celtic occult pagan blending, and even pagan high priestesses calling themselves Hallows because they think the Grail is some female thing. Whatever.

It might be important to know that one of these Treasures, the Lia Fail (Stone of Destiny) is supposedly  the Stone of Scone, also one of the royal treasures of the UK.

However — getting to the point — it is entirely possible that Hogwarts might secretly be a Grail Castle. Dumbledore back in the last book would be the wounded Grail king, I guess. And the Room would probably deliver up a Holy Grail if you asked for it, and that probably would be a pretty good way to counter Voldemort. Or maybe it’s going to turn out to be some kind of weird Horcrux parody of the Grail quest. Or maybe the Grail itself will float through the Great Hall and save Harry’s life with its healing power. Who knows? Certainly you could have some fun if Harry’s too polite to ask questions…. 🙂

Or maybe he already failed to ask Dumbledore the right questions, and then left the castle of Hogwarts still troubled; and so will have to be told to go back to Hogwarts and try again? And perhaps become heir to Hogwarts’ power?

Perlesvaus, a Grail romance, includes a magic chessboard with pieces that move of themselves. The chessboard foreshadows or warns of Gawain’s failure to gain the Grail by checkmating him again and again. This is similar to Rowling’s apparent use of the chess game in the first book to foreshadow events in later books.

The Grail also provided plenteous feasts… very Hogwarts.

It might also be worth pointing out that the Fisher King in some versions received his wound from one of the holy things in his keeping (Longinus’ spear, usually).
Of course, it should be pointed out that neither seeking the Holy Grail nor achieving the quest for it are really recommended to those seeking long lives. Eternal lives is more like it. 🙂

Short coherent explanation of Grail literature, by Sandra Miesel

Some Grail texts

The Camelot Project

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