Daily Archives: November 12, 2010

This Is Why I Can’t Read These Books 2

Please, writers. If it’s a fictional story that’s pre-1800’s, and you’re saying somebody looks like an angel, you’d better be talking about a cherubic baby, a cherubic boy, or a beautiful young man. We are talking Michael and Gabriel and Raphael here. NOT A WOMAN.

If your medieval hero thinks a girl looks like an angel, she better be masquerading as a guy at the time. (Unless she’s really really boyish in appearance.)

Now, you are allowed to say that a woman looks like a saint, and elaborate on exactly which class or individual of female saint she looks like. You might even get into her looking like a Virtue or some other allegorical figure. That would be awesome. “She looked like Fortune on her wheel, smiling at him on his way up.” “She looked like Philosophy appearing to Boethius in prison.” Mm, mm, medieval.


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Free Amazon Stuff

Okay, it’s still too early for Christmas, but it is the season for free stuff.

All you folks with kids, for a limited time you can download a Veggie Tales Christmas album from Amazon’s mp3 section for free. Of course, adults may just want to listen to singing vegetables too. 🙂

Sugo Music’s free A Very Merry Christmas Sampler is pretty nice instrumental music to listen to, as well as being the sort of thing you can put on as conversational background music without worrying anybody. Not elevator music, certainly, but a palate cleanser to freshen your brain a bit.

The Chacra World Music Christmas Sampler is similar, except folk/Celtic-ier. But again, that’s got a function.

There’s also the free Timeless Christmas, compiled by Amazon, which has the Irish Tenors, Michael McDonald, and Neil Sedaka on it. I know my parents would love it. (I gotta say, that Michael McDonald’s rendition of “The Wexford Carol” gives me pain in the sinuses. If you like it, though, go for it. It’s a good old Irish Catholic carol that doesn’t get nearly enough exposure in the US.)

I don’t want to sound all snobby, so I’ll point out this free album of new pop songs, since they don’t play actual catchy pop songs on the radio anymore. Full of the usual incomprehensible lyrics, of course.

Amazon also has a $1.99 album of Christmas classical music selections, one of those 99 Most X compilations. The difference is that this time, you get hours and hours and hours of music instead of just an hour or two. If you put this on your mp3 player, you are probably set for the season. If you missed downloading the 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music in time for Halloween, it’s still just a buck ninety-nine also.

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More Verbum Domini

More and more, I think it’s deliberate that the Holy Father focused on John leaning on the breast of Christ and Mary listening to God and singing as His Word dwelt within her. One of the big themes of his whole pontificate and teaching life is that Christian life is about meeting Christ and getting to know him. He repeats that again in this book. Then he focuses on “warm” figures like John and Mary as examples of the Christian reading and following Scripture. Neither are passive; both are actively responsive, and full of questions and interest and feeling as well as quiet pondering. He doesn’t fail to mention Peter and many others, but John and Mary frame this sucker.

This isn’t something far away and cold. This is about love and joy, and the way to really live.

Deacon Keith Fournier loves Verbum Domini too, points out that they are going to sell it as a book eventually, and points out that one old definition of a theologian is “someone who rests his head on the Lord’s breast.” Plus a lot more.

Paul Zalonski has a couple of posts on what the Holy Father says about lectio divina in the book. The later post comes with a nice arrow diagram showing and explaining the lectio divina process! There’s not much process, honestly; it’s the natural process of reading the Bible. Do not fear things with Latin names!

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Sore Losers

The vast majority of these guys really, really don’t want the Ottoman Empire in power, and they don’t want to think about how it was finally polished off by Ataturk’s secularized nationalism, not just the Triple Entente. Most of their countries only came into being because the Central Powers fell. Otherwise their home countries would be ruled by the English, the Germans, the Russians, the Italians, the French, the Austro-Hungarians, or possibly random tribal chieftains. But for this purpose, they whine and moan about the West making war on the Ottoman Empire, though of course it was okay for the Ottoman Empire to join with the Central Powers from the West and make war on the Triple Entente guys from the West. Of course. No problem with that at all.

As it happened, there were quite a few Muslims who fought against the Ottoman Empire in WWI (especially Shi’ite or Indian/pre-Pakistani ones, of course). But being honorless jerks, the “Muslims Against Crusades” had nothing better to do than burn poppies, even if it insulted the memory of their own great-grandfathers.

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More “Verbum Domini” Quotes

You know something’s written by a prof, when there’s a whole section talking about the various dimensions of Christ, the Word of God. Very pretty and interesting and not too long, and obviously there because he sees people misusing the expression “the word of God”.

Anyway, there’s tons more stuff after that. I’m going to jump around a lot to quote good stuff, and break up some of the Holy Father’s long paragraphs to show off the things I liked. I also capitalized stuff a lot more than is the actual document, but capitalization is just a style thing that doesn’t affect the meaning (unless you capitalized in the wrong place). And no, this isn’t something new. This is an exhortation, reminding people of things they already know and telling them to do stuff with it (or not do bad stuff) and thus summing up the fruit of the scripture synod from back in 2008.

About God creating everything by His Word, as told in Scripture:

“For us, this proclamation is a word of freedom. Scripture tells us that everything that exists does not exist by chance, but is willed by God and part of His plan, at the center of which is the invitation to partake, in Christ, in the Divine life.

“Creation is born of the Logos and indelibly bears the mark of the ‘creative Reason which orders and directs it’. With joy-filled certainty the Psalms sing: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of His mouth’ (Ps. 33:6), and again, ‘He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood forth’ (Ps. 33:9). All reality expresses this mystery: ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork’ (Ps. 19:1). Thus, Sacred Scripture itself invites us to acknowledge the Creator by contemplating His creation.

“… St. Bonaventure, who in the great tradition of the Greek Fathers sees all the possibilities of creation present in the Logos, states that ‘every creature is a word of God, since it proclaims God.’

“… Reality, then, is born of the Word, as creatura Verbi [creature of the Word], and everything is called to serve the Word.

“Creation is the setting in which the entire history of the love between God and His creation develops; hence, human salvation is the reason underlying everything.

“Contemplating the cosmos from the perspective of salvation history, we come to realize the unique and singular position occupied by Man in creation: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them”. This enables us to acknowledge fully the precious gifts received from the Creator: the value of our body, the gift of reason, freedom, and conscience.

“Those who know God’s word also know fully the significance of each creature. For if all things ‘hold together’ in the one who is ‘before all things’ (cf. Col. 1:17), then those who build their lives on His word build in a truly sound and lasting way.

“The word of God makes us change our concept of realism: the realist is the one who recognizes in the word of God, the foundation of all things.

“This realism is particularly needed in our own time, when many things we trust for building our lives, things in which we are tempted to put our hopes, prove ephemeral. Sooner or later possessions, pleasure and power show themselves to be incapable of fulfilling the deepest yearnings of the human heart. In building our lives, we need solid foundations which will endure when human certainties fail. Since ‘For ever, O Lord, Your word is firmly fixed in the heavens’ and the faithfulness of the Lord ‘endures to all generations’ (Ps. 119:89-90), truly, whoever builds on this word builds the house of his life on rock. (cf. Mt. 7:24)

“May our heart be able to say to God each day, ‘You are my refuge and my shield; I hope in Your word’ (Ps. 119:114), and like St. Peter, may we entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus in our daily actions. ‘At Your word, I will let down the nets.’ (Lk 5:5)”

It goes on and on like that, very lovely and very interesting, as the man seems to weave together just about every quote in the Bible that has “word” or “speak” in a phrase referring to God, and a whole bunch of Vatican documents. There’s a section on Christology, eschatology, the Father, the Holy Spirit, and sacred Tradition in relation to Scripture. Then there’s a section on how the Word of God calls us to respond: through the Covenant, talking and arguing with God, and with faith. This also includes a part on sin as refusal to hear and a breaking of the Covenant. There’s a section on where Mary fits into all this, with the awestriking, humbling old title “Mother of the Word of God” coming into play, and with Mary as an example of how to listen and respond to God’s Word.

Then there’s a big chunk all about the Church’s interpretation of Scripture, emphasizing that it’s pretty darned hard to understand God’s Word without entering into the life of God’s Church “by the very nature of the Scriptures and the way they gradually came into being”. This is aimed squarely at anybody who tries to read the Bible as solely a document of the past, rather than as something at work today. Tons of interesting stuff both for academics/theologians and for the ordinary Bible reader, from somebody who could never be accused of being anti-intellectual. (Him and his several apartments full of books.) There’s a strong section on faith and reason, as is suitable in a document about the Logos, which means Reason/Order/Logic/the Word. There’s a section on the Bible’s unity, which I’d think unnecessary if I hadn’t seen people on the internet opine that Christians could ignore the entire Old Testament and/or the Gospel, because those were books written for people who weren’t saved yet. And so on. Tons and tons of stuff.

It’s worth your time, especially if you read it bit by bit instead of trying to gulp it all down. 🙂

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