Archive for August, 2008

Ochlophobist: “Communist propaganda techniques and American political branding techniques are essentially the same thing”

While once again restating that delving into politics isn’t really high on the list of intended purposes for this venue, the Ochlophobist has provided some excellent food for thought — for example: “[I]deology reigns in this country today in as great a fashion as it has reigned under communist regimes. It is different only in that our ideologies are market controlled rather than state controlled.”

Now hunting down a copy of Pieper’s Abuse of Language — Abuse of Power

Sanctus Deus, sanctus fortis, sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis

Here’s a fascinating liturgical curiosity, courtesy some weird Dutchman named Gerrit Gerritszoon.

I’d love to know if anybody has tried to use this, and/or if anybody has tried to set any of it to music.

On the efficacy of prayers and chemotherapy

My father-in-law, Joe McKamey, was told that if the chemotherapy was working, he’d feel better (despite the chemo itself being debilitating). I will say that when I saw him this last weekend, had I not known he was sick, I don’t think I would have been able to tell — he played drums for three hours at a church picnic on Sunday, and it was only at the very end that he flagged at all.

So, he had bloodwork done on Monday to see how things were going — and the good news is, the chemo is working very aggressively and his body is responding well. At this rate, they think the treatment will get all of it. They’re now talking about having years left, not months. The other side is that while this is a form of pancreatic cancer which is more treatable, it is also prone to recurrence, so he will need to be vigilant moving forward.

I know Joe’s been prayed for by a lot of people. Has that made a difference? As a Christian, I certainly am inclined to think so — and there have been other cases involving prayer, involving my mother, for example, and other people I’ve known, where what seemed to be an open-and-shut scenario turned around remarkably quickly. My sense of things is that when doctors get confused by a recovery, probably there’s more to what’s happening than meets the eye. Joe’s is not necessarily one of those cases, but I will say that he went from having 3-6 months and his wife talking about planning his funeral, to having a more treatable form, to the current state of things within about ten days. No matter which way you cut it, that’s a dramatic reversal.

What are we to make of that? I don’t know. I believe we’re supposed to pray for the sick as a matter of faith and believing that God can work miracles, but I also believe it’s presumptive to assume that He will. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, but that doesn’t mean it’s a magic spell which binds a supernatural entity to do our bidding, in other words.

All I can say is, I’m mighty thankful, both for everybody’s prayers and the chemotherapy, and I’d say that both are still needed.

All ye saints, pray to God for us!

An announcement that I may have an announcement later

So, I’m going to be deliberately vague about the details because you never totally know what’s going to happen between the moment somebody says, “Yes, this is a good idea, let’s do it” and the time when the ostensibly accepted suggestion is theoretically supposed to be implemented, but it would seem that a couple of pieces which have appeared in this forum are being picked up by a print publication for down the road use. Actually — it might be better to say that a few brain-dump style (let’s be honest) postings here have served as the raw data from which more organized and economical essays were culled, and a certain magazine has indicated that these versions will be run in the near future.

Lest any further misleading impressions be out there, nobody stumbled across my blog and was so impressed that they had no choice but to contact me immediately. Rather, I thought I had some things here which might be appropriate for the publication in question, if I could only find something useful buried under all of those words. Once I had cleared enough of the prolix dust away to have an idea of just what I had, I queried the editor by e-mail and asked if he/she was interested. He/she was, and asked if I might have anything else. I got an e-mail yesterday from this person asking for a short bio to run with the pieces in question, so I think it will happen, but I’ll believe it 100%, and subsequently tell you about it concretely, once I’ve got the actual issue(s) in my hands.

Assuming it happens, hopefully both of you out there reading this will be pleasantly surprised. Regardless — it’s been a nice model of how the query process is supposed to work. I probably shouldn’t get used to it.

Price comparison shopping for Greek textbooks

So, as it works out, I’m taking Modern Greek this fall, and that’s it. I’ve canned further Syriac for the time being — frankly, it’s just tough to justify the time commitment at this point, since I was doing it to prepare for the path of further graduate study, and now that hardly seems likely to come to fruition. I’ve got enough Syriac at this point to be able to bash through texts I’m likely to run into with a dictionary and a grammar; for what I’m likely to need it for going forward — which is what, exactly? — that ought to be fine.

Modern Greek is a little easier to justify. There are people I know now with whom I could speak it. I still very much want to travel in that region, even if it probably isn’t going to be for the purpose of grant-funded research, and there are other reasons it could be useful — such as finding myself someplace where the only church is a Greek-language parish, maybe. (Using that as justification, I acknowledge that Russian, Arabic, and Romanian would also be a good plan from here.)

It also might make asking questions of His All-Holiness about his book a bit easier. (I still have never talked much about that, have I? I’ll have to get around to that someday.)

Anyway — today I ordered my Greek textbooks. The course is using Communicate in Greek by Kleanthis Arvanitakis and Froso Arvanitaki. Rather than just snatch them on a whim from the campus bookstore, I decided to do a little poking around online to see if that was actually going to be the best way to go. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Campus bookstore — $103.75 for the first year textbook, workbooks, and CD
  • — unavailable, for some unknown reason
  • Greece In Print — with shipping, $105.21 for the set
  • Direct from the Communicate in Greek website — $99.08 (approximately, since it’s actually priced in euros)

All more or less comparable. At this point it seemed like going direct from the website would be the best way to go — hey, four bucks is four bucks — but the tradeoff was going to be that they were shipping from Greece, and it would be difficult to know for sure that they’d arrive before 2 September.

Then I checked one more place — and as it worked out, Orthodox Marketplace had the whole set, with shipping, for $72.63.

That’s probably the one time it will ever cost less to order from there, but I’ll take it.

“Tell them it’s okay to talk about the cancer

My uncle George was thought a few weeks ago to have bladder cancer.

Turns out they were wrong.

He has prostate and lung cancer instead. Aggressive cases, too.

I’m hopefully going to get to see him in a couple of weeks. His brother’s son may be the only connection he makes with his brother this side of the parousia.

All of that is to say, if you could sneak in a prayer for George Barrett right after you say one for Joe McKamey, that’d be great. Maybe one for Richard Barrett, elder and younger alike (we’re not senior and junior) while you’re at it.

The Divine Liturgy in English — one last comment (for now)

Many thanks to Esteban Vázquez, proprietor of The Voice of Stefan, who has been kind enough to notice a couple of recent postings.

One last comment about The Divine Liturgy in English for the moment that doesn’t directly have to do with The Divine Liturgy in English — can somebody once and for all clarify what the deal is with the response “Most Holy Theotokos, save us” being chanted during litanies at “Commemorating our most holy, pure, blessed, and glorious Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary…”? It was something which leapt out at me the very first Divine Liturgy I ever attended because it spoke to a fundamentally non-linear approach to worship, and I’ve been struggling to figure out the rhyme and reason to why some parishes do it, and some don’t. My parish does it, the first couple of parishes I visited did it, it’s done on the Angelopoulos, Mount Lebanon Choir, and Boston Byzantine Choir recordings of the Divine Liturgy, but it was conspicuously absent during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy which Pope Benedict XVI attended a couple of years ago, and it’s not done on the Cappella Romana disc. It strikes me as a curious omission, given how exhaustive they’ve tried to be otherwise in terms of making sure that this Liturgy is presented as complete. Anybody want to take a stab at clearing this up for me?

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