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Oral Literature Was the Prestigious Literature

In the ancient world, and in the world of the early Christians, we need to remember this. Prestige was associated with oral literature first, and with written literature only second. Learning was training the memory first, and the ars memoriae of locative memory and memory palaces.

In most traditional societies, it’s common to start learning bits of long epic poems at preschool ages, when kids don’t even understand the words of the archaic language they’re learning to recite or sing. They are directly exposed to all the rhetorical devices that aid memory, even when they just understand the sounds of them.

And of course, the early Christian Papias, who is known to have been mentored by some of Paul’s cousins who were female physicians, and ran a free clinic but sponsored the building of three monasteries, said outright that he preferred learning the teaching of Jesus and the apostles from people who had heard them preach, and not from books.

(Although his huge book of written reminiscences of eyewitness testimony has almost entirely been lost to us. Which shows the problem with relying on oral or written testimony.)

So it makes perfect sense that Paul (or whoever, or Paul’s team helping him) would compose a speech or series of speeches with more formal Greek and more rhetorical devices than he would use in a mere letter.

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More on Hebrews

Apparently it’s less like a letter, and more of a sermon format, or even multiple sermons on the same topic. (Three seems like a common scholarly guess.) And if they are sermons, it’s not the kind done in church, but more of an educational and encouraging preaching outside of church.

So in that case, it would make sense for St. Paul to have a more formal way of expressing himself than he would use in letters. Speeches and exhortations were supposed to be formal, and to make clever references, like the reference to the Odyssey. All the Scripture quotations would fit right in.

But if other communities were asking to be sent transcripts of this cool sermon series, a transcript could easily be turned into a letter by adding a postscript.

Anyway, it’s interesting to be thinking about salvation history during Advent.

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Laying Crime Victims to Rest, for Free

The Archdiocese of Detroit has a program to lay cremated remains honorably to rest in their local Catholic cemetery, regardless of religion, and without cost to families that don’t have the means.

This is a response to the sad situation that leaves many cremated bodies in some odd place in a relative’s house, or at a funeral home without anyone to claim the body.

Well, apparently the FBI had a major case in the Detroit office, which took years and years. And somehow, they were left with the custody of over 800 labeled cremains. (So maybe it was from a funeral home crime.) Even after families were contacted, only about 200 remains were claimed by families that were able to take care of the funeral themselves. And then they found out about the Archdiocesan program.

And so, on All Souls’ Day, the remains of 579 people were laid to rest in Holy Sepulcher Catholic Cemetery, there to await the Day of Judgment and the resurrection of the dead.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.

EWTN story.

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Manly Wade Wellman Reference!

A musician called Billy Strings has a Doc Watson tribute up on YouTube. About 31 minutes in, he plays a song that’s obviously the same, or close to, the Carolina song referenced in “The Desrick on Yandro” as well as all the other “The cuckoo is a pretty bird” quotes found in the John the Balladeer stories.

It’s one of the “My horses aren’t hungry” type of compilation of verses, but the tune also seems pretty likely to be close to whatever version Wellman heard, up around Asheville NC.

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St. Luke Baanabakintu, Martyr, Patron for Memory Problems

He used to walk 42 miles to Mass, and memorize the sermon, and then bring it back for his local community to hear. Word for word. He’s also called “St. Luka Baanabakintu.”

More about the amazing life of this Ugandan martyr. He was burnt alive on Ascension Thursday — June 3, 1886.

He is also regarded as a patron of sailors, fishermen, mechanics, blacksmiths, and students.

A very cool statue of the saint, on this Catholic school’s website. You may have to scroll down to see it.

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African “Hilarem Datorem”

I could do without the instrumentals, but the singing is great! It’s a really good arrangement/melody.

It’s probably this one: “Hilarem Datorem” by the Rev. Fr. Tony Okwy Umeh. If you scroll down, it’s a sol-fa sheet. So it probably didn’t originally have the instrumentals?

Using it as an offertory song is kinda on the nose… but I bet it works….

(“Hilarem [enim] datorem Deus diligit” — “[For] God loves a cheerful giver.”]

The nice thing is that the verses are also Bible quotes.

“Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I will give to you.”

“Truly, truly I say to you, this poor widow has thrown in more than all the others.

“For they have thrown into the offerings for God out of their abundance,

“But she out of her want has thrown in all she had to live on.”

“Truly I say to you” – “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

(Acts 3:6; Luke 21:3-4, Acts 20:35)

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What RoP Should Have Been?

A long, complicated fanfic comparing Numenor to Tyre and Carthage, with lots of plotting, and lots of villainy and heroism, both.

Full of Wisdom and Perfect in Beauty,” by Dracoena.

UPDATE: Almost a little too on the nose, identifying Melkor with all the Canaanite MLK/Melech gods _and_ with the Sun. Yes, Meleko was his Adunaic name. But he was also “lord of darkness” (Mulkher) to them. Or the author could have tied Meleko to other masculine Canaanite ideas.

The problem is that, clearly, Uinen would have been mucha insulta by being explicitly paired with Melkor, and she was around and visible to be visibly insulted. And Shammash/the Sun is not a MLK-styled god when he is a he, and is female in a lot of Canaan (as opposed to the male moon god), just as in Tolkien’s Legendarium and in his Numenor material. (Her Adunaic name is Uri, the feminine form of ure, sun.) Also, Sun/Wave is not a Canaanite pairing. And so on.

Using “Ashtarte” as a name for Uinen is linguistically unlikely, and confuses Asherat/Atirat (the mom of Yam, the sea) with Ashtart (the planet Venus). If Uinen’s title “Lady of the Seas” was translated into Adunaic, it would probably be something like “Azrubareth” or “Azrukhori.” (-ath and -eth are feminine Adunaic suffixes, as is -i, and while -e is technically neuter, it shows up a lot in feminine words.) Bareth and Baalit are close enough for funsies, so it would still make the point.

The fanfic idea is powerful, but I think the degree of apostasy, so early on, is ludicrous. They would already have been smote. If they had been worshipping a MLK god as a title of Eru, or if gradually the idea had seeped in that Eru and Meleko were the same… that would have been different, and the full creepiness could have slowly unfolded.

Otherwise… this is the sort of thing that could have made Jeff Bezos a lot of bucks, without insulting anyone. But Amazon did not do anything so sensible.

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The Lost King movie

There is a movie coming out, about the Ricardians who hunted out the body of King Richard III. They got one of the big armor experts to tell them what to build for the king’s armor in the movie, and that is pretty cool.

I hope this is a sign that it will be a good movie, as they are doing their due diligence. Unkike, say, Rings of Power.

Anyway, the interview with the armor expert talks.about how fake armor caused a dangerous accident when Olivier did Richard III, as he received an arrow wound in his calf and limped the rest of the production.

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The Hymn “Mary the Dawn”

Ha! I was reading a rather blah article on Marian hymns, and all of a sudden they divulged the mysterious origin of the song “Mary, the Dawn”!

Here’s the article, “The Popular Marian Hymn in Devotion and Liturgy,” reprinted from a journal. It talks about the song on p 132.

It was written by Justin Mulcahy, C.P. (the Passionists) under the pseudonym “Paul Cross.”

It’s a good hymn, and a lot of people think it’s traditional. So I’m glad to know who actually wrote it.

It’s kind of a sad article, though, because it shows how there have been generations of hymns written, and then rejected as cringe, and then a different kind of cringe hymn adopted. Even with Sturgeon’s Law being in effect in all times and places, this is kinda depressing. But of course, it’s also the effect of not providing people with a full spectrum of music and then letting the bad stuff shake out.

The other interesting thing is that it talks about evening novena services, which have largely ceased to happen because of Saturday Mass, but which still happen before or after Mass in some places.

The article also points out that “Sing of Mary” is actually a Canadian hymn by Roland Ford Palmer, from the Anglican/Episcopalian folks! News to me! And since that’s pretty much the only Marian hymn except “Immaculate Mary” that I was taught in early childhood… good to know!

But yeah… pretty much the entirety of post-Vatican II Marian hymnody just didn’t exist, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and even in the 1990’s. I look at the examples in the article and have never heard of any of them, never seen them in a hymnal, and definitely never heard them sung. “Gentle Woman” was about the only one that existed, for most congregations.

I like “Flight of the Earls” and “I Sing a Maid” isn’t bad, but they really don’t go together. Still, it’s a thing and it’s okay.

The big Marian “hit” of the last couple of decades is the “Star of the County Down” setting of the Magnificat. So cheesy, yet so satisfying. And it’s hilarious, because it was obviously written to appeal to radicals, but essentially gets used by conservatives to prophesy doom to unrepentant baddies. And it also goes against every suggestion by this article’s writer about what makes a “good” Marian devotional hymn, much less a “hymn for Eucharist,” as the writer puts it.

It is possible that there is no way to write a Marian hymn that isn’t a little bit cheesy. Because she’s your mom, and songs about moms are corny by nature. But that’s okay.

What’s not okay is the way that popular devotion is always getting dragged and sniffed at, instead of just improving on what is good without destroying anything. I mean, sure, I get in moods where I yell at everything, but that’s just for letting off steam. There are hymns so cringey that they’re torment-worthy; but I’m more worried about doctrinal and theological problems than Velveeta cheese levels. (And these days, you’re apt to get both.)

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Japanese Spa Beauty Product

So I was watching the Twix ASMR channel on YouTube, and she was visiting a special “head spa” that does all kinds of relaxing massages of the head and shoulders. And they started cleaning the Twix hostess’ hair with “tansan powder,” which is a beauty product that cleans the hair and scalp, and helps warm the scalp through a mild chemical reaction with water.

Do you know what “tansan powder” is?

It’s baking soda.

(Which apparently is known to be good for cleaning shampoo buildup off your hair, and leaves your hair shiny and your scalp healthy. But there must be a tad bit of vinegar or a mild acid, in the basin water, to get all that fizz.)

If your hair is dyed, you don’t want to mess with baking soda or vinegar rinses.

And if you’re not a Japanese trained salon lady, working out the balance of pH with vinegar and baking soda would be a pain in the butt, and you don’t want accidental chemical burns. So just do baking soda thoroughly, wash it out completely, and then vinegar thoroughly and wash it out completely. And don’t do the baking soda more than every long once in a while, because you could destroy your hair.

(You will notice that the spa lady puts a moisturizing conditioner on the customer’s head at the end, with a very gentle steaming mist. Which is there to protect the hair and put some moisture back into it.)

Anyway, the “beauty” tansan powder is from natural caves, blah blah blah, and is specially formulated. And Japanese companies love to train people on their products. But even so, be careful out there.

Baking soda – use it sparingly. Natural chemicals are chemicals, too.

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Changes at Ohio State’s Newman Center

Once, long ago, I spent six weeks at a “summer camp” taking summer college classes at Ohio State. I stayed in the dorms, hung out with students a couple years older than me, and had to resist a drunk guy trying to get in bed with me. (Thanks, “roomies,” for holding a alcohol-fueled party while rooming with someone not just underage but a minor, although thankfully I had a higher Wisdom score than both of you put together!) So yeah, pretty much the full college experience. Yay.

On my first Sunday during this time, of course I headed for the Newman Center to go to Mass, and possibly find some counsel and direction.

And honestly, the first Mass I went to… it was so bad, so badly run, so non-devout*… that next Sunday I just found a regular parish church in striking distance of campus, and I went there all the Sundays afterward. And it was one of the (many) reasons that I didn’t go to Ohio State, despite a great academic experience.

This was in the late 1980’s. Apparently it got somewhat better over the last few years, but not better enough.

So here’s a news story about the Paulists leaving Ohio State, and being replaced by a diocesan priest as chaplain. Obviously this is a loss in numbers. But the diocesan chaplains at Wright State have been five hundred percent better than anything I ran into, and Bishop Fernandes (when still a priest) was one of the guys who helped train some of our chaplains. So I expect good things, although obviously OSU is even more of a missions environment than WSU.

The idea mentioned in this article — that Courage, a Catholic group that gives people with odd attractions a normal Catholic way to deal with temptations, is somehow evil and scary — just shows that some people at this university parish have not been given help that lasts.

(Apparently everybody is supposed to “explore” LGBT feelings, but for anyone to “explore” their heterosexual side is Eeevul Conbersion Ferapy. Which Courage isn’t even involved with — but a lot of people who refrain from homosexual sexual activity for a while, and start hanging out more with people of both sexes, do naturally find themselves getting interested in the opposite sex. (You may now make jokes about the English navy, etc.) Kids going through puberty frequently go after anybody nearby who’s going after them, especially if they’ve ever been abused; but free choice in adult life creates a different world of possibilities. And everybody knows this. It’s why there used to be so many jokes about girls being Lesbian During College, and totally heterosexual afterward.)

Of course, time will tell if their new chaplain is up to this. And honestly, I can’t see how a single chaplain could possibly hear enough Confessions to serve an entire university’s Catholic students, without even mentioning faculty, staff, and associated alumni. So I suspect a lot of people will keep going to parish churches.

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*Not liturgically abusive/invalid, which was a blessing back in the 1980’s. Just really really lame, plus the first time I ran into “Don’t kneel,” plus really bad music, plus not even minimal effort to dress for church in any way. I forget where I ended up going for Mass the rest of the time, but it was okay enough. I think the Newman Center had good activities during the majority of the school year; but I suspect that the summer Masses were run by the “resident” laypeople, back then. Anyway, I don’t even have strong memories of it, but I went elsewhere.

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EWTN Broadcasting the 2022 Ratzinger Schulerkreis

The topic is “What I Received from the Lord, I Also Delivered to You” — Binding Truth and Development of Church Teaching.

The livestream on YouTube. The papers are presented in English by translator simulcast.

The Schulerkreis is the “circle” of theologians who were direct students of Joseph Ratzinger when he served as professor, and they meet in Rome every year. I don’t know if the Pope Emeritus was able to come, given his frailty and bad hearing and sight; but the theology papers are solid and interesting, (In contrast to the behavior of a lot of German bishops, it’s nice to see faithful German theologians.)

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Play/Mystery Play

Mary, Mother of God, a short movie done by kids, and portraying the Sorrowful Mysteries, in their own backyard.

There is something about this, that is really moving.

(I also think that somebody has been strongly influenced by The Passion of the Christ movie, but there are a lot of movies and tv shows about the Passion, and a lot of these things are in them.)

Also, fake blood is awesome, and every kid should get to play with it.

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Caidil Mo Ghaoil

That’s the Gaelic name for the tune called “Sleep, Dearie, Sleep” in English. It was used instead of “Taps” or other tunes in some of the Scottish regiments, which is why it’s now used for funerals, like that of Queen Elizabeth II.

The “official” English lyrics are by Sir Walter Scott. Allegedly. I have not found them.

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There is a very old tune called “Caidil Thus’ A Ghaoil” which is allegedly a tune learned from the fairies, from overhearing a fairy mother singing a lullaby. (Which usually means it “sounds weird.”) It looks like this is the first part of the current pipetune, and that somebody (human) composed a second part to spin it out longer. (And hoboy, the lyrics turn out to sound pretty human….)

Fairy lyrics:

Caidil thus’ a ghaoill (3X) ‘N leaba chaol nan clair.

Cha bhi mise bhuat (3X) Mach air uair na dha.

Caidil thu o! (3X) Dean o! Tamh!

Sleep, thou, o beloved (3X), in your narrow bed of boards.

I will not be away from thee (3x) When out about, it’s the two [of us].

Sleep, thou, o! (3X) Do it, o! Rest!


Another set of Gaelic lyrics, which seems to cover the longer modern tune:

Caidil mo ghaol (3X) Caidil, o, caidil, mo ghaol, mo ghaol.

Tha’n uile math, Na gabh dragh, Caidil o caidil, mo ghaol.

Sleep, my beloved (3X) Sleep, o sleep, my beloved, my beloved.

Everything is well, Don’t worry, Sleep o sleep, my beloved.


Sheet music from a book of regimental songs and bugle calls, with more information. The Seaforth Highlanders and the Cameron Highlanders both used the song to signal “Lights Out.”

“Sodger, lie down on yer wee pickle straw.

It’s no’ very broad and it’s no’ very braw.

But sodger, it’s better than naething at a’,

Sae sleep, sodger, sleep.”

More old sheet music of the tune.


The military lyrics are very similar in spirit to the later song “The 51st Highland Division’s Farewell to SIcily” by Hamish Henderson (ttto the pipe tune “Farewell tae the Creeks” by the piper James Robertson of Banff), which was filked as the Dorsai song “Green Hills of Harmony.” (Listen to that YT video, and notice that the original song actually had an _extra part_ that has been worn away by the folk process. It’s pretty, but yeah, I can see why it left us!)

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