Monthly Archives: June 2009

Honorary Doctorate Wielder

Crimony. The University of St. Andrews just gave Stephen R. Donaldson an honorary degree, in the same ceremony as it gave one to N.T. Wright. Via Paleojudaica.

(That sound you hear is me biting my tongue.)

Although I will mention that anyone who complains about Tolkien’s wordiness does not even know the meaning of verbosity. Donaldson, OTOH…..

(Biting my tongue again.)

Anyway, one understands that St. Andrews is a very pretty town in the summer, and one is very glad for both men, even if one of them made me suffer hours of agony without even counting what he did to his characters, and I don’t mean the one who writes a lot about St. Paul.

UPDATE: To be totally fair, I should say that Donaldson is extremely erudite and well-informed when talking about writing and how to do it, and probably does indeed deserve a doctorate for his work in that area.

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The Register apparently ran a passionate but inaccurate article on the topic of grabby people claiming copyrights that don’t exist or which have run out. (Like, say, the Conan folks threatening legal action against the Broken Sea folks, who were only doing Conan stories in the public domain.) It called this “copyfraud”, which is a catchy name.

Apparently, Creative Commons got dragged into this, so here are their comments, with a link to the original article.

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Westphalian Folksong Archive Online

In happier news, you can apparently now listen to Westphalian folksongs until they come out of your ears.

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St. Albert the Great: His Cologne Autograph Manuscripts Did Survive l

UPDATE: I panicked too soon! Or rather, too late by half a month and more…. They did find both of the St. Albert manuscripts in his own hand, which makes me very happy. The link also shows where you can learn about other Albert mss in the city, but not in the same archive.

The moral of the story is that your resident Banshee should keep up better with the news.


Well, heckydarn. This stinks. It seems that, of the few manuscripts preserved from St. Albert the Great’s own time and hand, a few more may have been destroyed, in that horrible archive collapse into an inadvertently-manmade sinkhole, in Cologne. Copies exist, yes. But for the scholars trying to put out a new edition of his complete works, who intended to use all the new technology available since Borgnet did his edition in Victorian/Edwardian times… well, it looks like it’s not going to happen.

Read the bad news from the Koln (Cologne) Statsarchiv here in German, or in Google Translate here. (Yes, I know this article was from March 6, but I just read it today. Sorry.)

You can read earlier accounts of the horrible fate of the archive here from Roger Pearse.

Other accounts of stuff which may or may not have been lost forever, here at Google Translate.

Here’s the current state of matters, also through Google Translate. Archivalia is a German archives blog, so I’m sure it has tons more on this subject.

Anyway, there’s a video in German, and it shows some kind of book that’s only got its binding ripped while they talk about “handschriften”. (I mean, yeah, sad for the binding, but after a building collapse, not bad.) Are they saying this is one of the autograph manuscripts, or just something like them??

The autograph manuscripts still lost back in March, and possibly still lost, are Quaestiones on Aristotle’s On Animals (of which there’s an English translation from CUA), and St. Albert’s Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Which brings us to our next order of business. Clearly, this is a time to pray. (More than before. I mean, obviously any time when I first heard about this place getting destroyed, I couldn’t help but pray.)

Found via the website of the folks in Cologne who are putting out the new edition. Seriously, everybody, pray for them. This stinks.

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“Aurea Luce et Decore Roseo” from Rome

Elpis, Boethius’ first wife, was said to have written this great hymn for the morning of the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, which celebrates the beauty of the Roman sunrise, and Rome as a city made truly imperial red-purple by the blood of martyrs.

Here’s a choral version of the hymn, sung today at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, at the same Mass where it was also announced publicly that archaeologists had confirmed that the tomb on which the basilica was built is almost certainly that of St. Paul, as history and tradition have always agreed. The tomb will now be able to be seen more easily by visitors.

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Heather McDonald vs God

Apparently God doesn’t always give you what you want, does do things you don’t want, and doesn’t always explain His actions. This is news to us theists.

I fail to see how this makes God any different from, say, an editor. Yet clearly McDonald has no problem devoting her entire working life to the process of submitting articles to a mysterious, powerful being who doesn’t necessarily feel the need to explain his editorial decisions, give writers the assignments they want, and not give writers the assignments they don’t want. She blithely enters the roulette wheel, knowing in advance that she may meet the judgment, unappealable and unexplained, of “This does not meet our needs at this time.”

She doesn’t examine the whole matter from the point of view that, if real life is eternal life, that death might eventually turn out to be the equivalent of a paper cut. She is sure that God must take suffering and death seriously or not be worthy of worship, which is an awfully monotheistic ethical idea. People were willing to hoick offerings and prayers to many of the old pagan gods on the off-chance they’d get a positive response or be left alone. She is sure that a capricious god would also be forebearing about being ignored or too weak to do anything, it seems; she doesn’t seem to have any idea of grand defiance against the entire power of an omnipotent being. That’s too bad. I always like those declarations for Ethics vs the Universe. The people who make them never wonder where they got their ethics, but there you go.

Considering that she’s willing to celebrate the human spirit, and that the human spirit continually does the inexplicable or returns evil for good and good for evil, she apparently has no real problem dealing with the black boxes of other people’s personalities.

So basically, the only one who gives her a rash on this score is… God.

It’s a personal fight against a person, not an idea or principle. She just wants to be convinced that God is the Logos, Reason and Truth Himself. (And most likely, she also has something else going on which has nothing to do with reason and logic, which is usually how people work on all deep philosophical issues.)

This is why I’m glad I’m not an apologist, because honestly, I believe all people are capricious and hidden in unapproachable weirdness, and only God makes any sense. This is probably a heresy against humans being made in the image of God, of course. 🙂

Anyway, there are serious books and articles out there on the problem of evil and the reasons why disasters and tragedies are allowed. This isn’t one; it’s one of those mannered, disguised cries to the heavens that you can’t help but feel for.

A real convinced atheist, however, wouldn’t waste a moment’s time or emotion on this sort of theodicy/power of prayer thing, other than on the human level. Bad stuff would just happen, and there’d be no point dwelling on it. He wouldn’t care that people went to church about it; he couldn’t be bothered to worry or to decree how people should spend their energies. Prayer would be useless, but it wouldn’t be as if there were any particular way to deal with such troubles, other than acceptance or resignation. So it wouldn’t be his business, and his article would be one long “Eh. Why’d the editor wake me up on the weekend for this?”

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Thomist Fried Chicken

Apparently this is an instructional video for some kind of philosophy of religion course.

It’s followed up with Thomist architecture.

There’s also a video on the problem of evil pop.

I’m not really into philosophy and haven’t watched these yet, so I don’t know if they’re any good. But I thought I’d put them up so I’d remember they’re there!

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