Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once In A Blue Moon

This is the last day of the year and it will end with a blue moon. Blue moons used to be known as the third of four full moons in a season, but now describe the second full moon in a month, a phenomena that occurs every 33 months. The next one will take place in August 2012.

Here is a fun poem from the perspective of the moon and her annoyance with how poets describe her. I just love the word,'botheration' and how Coleridge doesn't let himself off the hook!

A Soliloquy Of The Full Moon, She Being In A Mad Passion

by Samuel Coleridge
Now as Heaven is my Lot, they're the Pests of the Nation!
Wherever they can come
With clankum and blankum
'Tis all Botheration, & Hell & Damnation,
With fun, jeering
And still to the tune of Transmogrification--
Those muttering
With no Hats
Or Hats that are rusty.
They're my Torment and Curse
And harass me worse
And bait me and bay me, far sorer I vow
Than the Screech of the Owl
Or the witch-wolf's long howl,
Or sheep-killing Butcher-dog's inward Bow wow
For me they all spite--an unfortunate Wight.
And the very first moment that I came to Light
A Rascal call'd Voss the more to his scandal,
Turn'd me into a sickle with never a handle.
A Night or two after a worse Rogue there came,
The head of the Gang, one Wordsworth by name--
`Ho! What's in the wind?' 'Tis the voice of a Wizzard!
I saw him look at me most terribly blue !
He was hunting for witch-rhymes from great A to Izzard,
And soon as he'd found them made no more ado
But chang'd me at once to a little Canoe.
From this strange Enchantment uncharm'd by degrees
I began to take courage & hop'd for some Ease,
When one Coleridge, a Raff of the self-same Banditti
Past by--& intending no doubt to be witty,
Because I'd th' ill-fortune his taste to displease,
He turn'd up his nose,
And in pitiful Prose
Made me into the half of a small Cheshire Cheese.
Well, a night or two past--it was wind, rain & hail--
And I ventur'd abroad in a thick Cloak & veil--
But the very first Evening he saw me again
The last mentioned Ruffian popp'd out of his Den--
I was resting a moment on the bare edge of Naddle
I fancy the sight of me turn'd his Brains addle--
For what was I now?
A complete Barley-mow
And when I climb'd higher he made a long leg,
And chang'd me at once to an Ostrich's Egg--
But now Heaven be praised in contempt of the Loon,
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.
Yet my heart is still fluttering--
For I heard the Rogue muttering--
He was hulking and skulking at the skirt of a Wood
When lightly & brightly on tip-toe I stood
On the long level Line of a motionless Cloud
And ho! what a Skittle-ground! quoth he aloud
And wish'd from his heart nine Nine-pins to see
In brightness & size just proportion'd to me.
So I fear'd from my soul,
That he'd make me a Bowl,
But in spite of his spite
This was more than his might
And still Heaven be prais'd! in contempt of the Loon
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.

And here's a sweet, sad song from Nanci Griffith about a lost love.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Truth At Any Price

In today's Wall Street Journal opinion page, Shelby Steele has an insightful article on both President Obama and the result of political correctness in our society. I've been following Steele's writngs and thoughts for a while now, having bought his book, The Content of Our Character in the early ninety's. Ironically, his most recent book is titled, A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win.

The point of the article is that the President has rejected any firm principles in order to maintain his bargaining position. Unlike Ronald Reagan who throughout his life made choices that put his popularity at risk and grew a core set of beliefs that in the end made him a decisive and overall beloved leader, President Obama has cultivated a politically correct core which leaves it empty in order to maintain popularity. This in turn has led him to be a weak leader because he has no core principles. Steele's criticism is aimed at our society as much as it is aimed toward our President. We, in our desire to be seen as politically correct, never demanded any explanations from this man when he was a candidate.

We are left with a rudderless leader, because we would not face any inconvenient truths about him. C.S. Lewis wrote of his wife, Joy Davidman, that she wanted "Truth at any price". I am in complete sympathy with her desire. When we will not face up to truth for whatever reason, to seem sophisticated, to avoid conflict, or simply to take the easier path, we end up with more problems and pain than can usually be imagined. As painful as it may be, it is at truth where real love, forgiveness and good will must begin. Otherwise, our personal relationships and our society are based on a sham and cannot continue in any healthy functional way.

Friday, December 25, 2009

An Ambivalent Christmas

Though I love Christmas, it always holds a bit of ambivalence for me. Jesus is born and worshiped, yet the prophecies even before his birth tell of wretched, horrible things to come, that he will be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

This Christmas the ambivalence is even greater. I am to be celebrating the Christ child while still mourning the death of my own. I'm afraid there isn't much room in my heart for the celebrating this year. My Christmas wish list changed from nursing dresses and diaper covers to that new book by Scot McKnight and maybe some paint for the bathroom. This just isn't how it was supposed to be, and yet, it is.

So here we are at Christmas, twelve days of it in fact. A child is born to die so that others might live, even those who who never had to chance to take a breath. It is deserving of both joy and sorrow. I wonder if these paradoxes are obvious those in the heavenlies, or only to those of us on this side of the veil.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Dear Santa

We've been visiting this Santa for eleven years, since Emma was two. He's become a dear old friend who always remembers the girls.

Gotta love a Santa that explains to the children that it takes becoming a Saint and going to Heaven to have the power to deliver all those gifts to all the children. How different our Christmases would be without Saint Nicholas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent. The Gospel reading is from Luke 1:46-55.


Note: This song was written by Hildegard of Bingen.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Quiddity readers. I hope you find something on this blog either helpful, interesting, or both. A big thank you to Andrew for the hat tip!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stones To Bread

The Sunday school class which I attend has been studying the book of Matthew. In reading the book as a whole, rather than in snippets and pieces, I noticed something which I hadn't seen before. In chapter three, John the Baptizer warns the Pharisees that they cannot entrust their salvation to the fact that they are children of Abraham, for God can raise up children of Abraham from stones. He was basically telling them that they aren't necessary for God's work to be fulfilled, and if they wanted salvation they'd better stop thinking that they are.

Then, in chapter four, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting to be tempted by the Devil. The first temptation as recorded by Matthew and Luke is the temptation to turn the stones into bread. Is there a connection between John's reference to stones and the Devil's? Not being a believer in coincidence, I think there must be.

In all three of Satan's temptations, there is the enticement to take the easier way, which was not God's way. There is also the temptation of Jesus to prove he is God. So, in these temptations the virtues of courage and faith are attacked and the vice of pride is appealed to. A return to Eden in a way.

Returning to the first temptation. "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." On the surface, it seems innocuous. What could it hurt to make some bread, after all the hunger was great, and Jesus had the power. But giving into this temptation would have circumvented God's plan and also made Jesus weaker to resist the following temptations. I can just hear the taunting, behind the command. "Come on Jesus, If God can raise up sons of Abraham and if you are God, surely this can't be too hard for you. Why continue suffering as you are? In fact why should anyone suffer from hunger if in fact you are God and can do such miraculous feats?"

In all the temptations is the temptation to avoid the cross and suffering. Christ is the bread broken for us. He is the son of Abraham and of God. Those in Christ are also his body, children of Abraham and of God, to be broken for others. In a very real way, Christ's temptations are ours.

There is a song I remember singing in various Christian youth settings. The lyrics go:

Would you be poured out like wine upon the altar for Me?
Would you be broken like bread to feed the hungry?
Would you be so one with Me that you would do just as I will?
Would you be light and life and love My Word fulfilled?

Yes, I’ll be poured out like wine upon the altar for You.
Yes, I’ll be broken like bread to feed the hungry.
Yes, I’ll be so one with You that I would do just as You will.
Yes, I’ll be light and life and love Your Word fulfilled.

I don't think any of us had a clue what those words really meant. I think I'm just starting to grasp the meaning in part.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gaudete Sunday 2009

Today is Gaudete Sunday, when in the middle of the traditional Advent season of repentance and reflection, this day is set aside for rejoicing. The rose candle on the Advent wreath is lit as we look forward to the Saviour's coming. So it is reflective of our lives. A time of mourning is interrupted by a moment of joy and yet in the joyous season to come, which we know as Christmas, we are reminded of mourning and sorrow as Simeon prophecies of the infant Jesus and his mother, then later as the infants in Bethlehem are slaughtered on King Herod's orders.

Nothing is simple. The birth of a child is bloody and painful and begins the road to death which often is also bloody and painful. Yet, we are called to rejoice because ultimately death has been defeated, though in our eyes and experience we won't see this until Christ's return. So it is by faith that we say both, "How long?" and "I praise you.".

Gaudete, gaudete
Christus est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.
Tempus ad est gratiae hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae devote redamus.
Deus homo factus est natarum erante,
Mundus renovatus est a Christo regnante.
Ezecheelis porta clausa per transitor
Unde lux est orta sallus invenitor.
Ergo nostra contio psallat jam in lustro,
Benedict domino sallus regi nostro.

Update: I previously had a video embedded which is no longer available. I hope you enjoy the new one. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Loreena McKennitt Snow lyrics

White are the far-off fields,
And white the fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree
Falls down scarce audibly.
The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
Like some soft minister of dreams
The snowfall hoods me around;
In wood and water, earth and air,
A silence is everywhere.
Save when at lonely spells
Some farmer's sleigh is urged on,
With rustling runner and sharp bells,
Swings by me and is gone;
Or from the empty waste I hear
A sound remote and clear;
The barking of a dog,
To cattle, is sharply pealed,
Borne, echoing from some wayside stall
Or barnyard far afield;
Then all is silent and the snow
Falls settling soft and slow
The evening deepens and the grey
Folds closer Earth to sky
The world seems shrouded, so far away.
Its noises sleep, and I
As secret as yon buried stream
Plod dumbly on and dream.
I dream
I dream
I dream
I dream