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Archive for February, 2009

Patriarchate of Antioch: “All bishops within the Antiochian See are auxiliary bishops”

Posted to the website of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America:

THE DECISION REGARDING THE AMENDING OF ARTICLES CONCERNING BISHOPS ACCORDING TO THE BY-LAWS OF HE PATRIARCHATE

CHAPTER VI, THE BISHOPS

Article 75: The Patriarch is the reference point of all bishops in Damascus, Patriarchal Monasteries and Vicariates; and they are under his authority[.]

Article 76: The Metropolitan is the point of reference of all bishops in his Archdiocese and they are under his authority.

Article 77: All bishops within the Antiochian See are auxiliary bishops and are directly under their spiritual authority.

Article 78: The Metropolitan defines the responsibilities of the bishops and the place where they should serve. The bishop does not do anything contrary to the will of the Metropolitan.

Article 79: The aforementioned articles 75, 76, 77 and 78 are applicable in all Antiochian Archdioceses and whatever contradicts these articles is null and void.

Issued by the Holy Synod of Antioch, Damascus, February 24, 2009

Signed by:

His Beatitude, IGNATIUS IV, Patriarch

His Eminence, ILYAS, Tripoli

His Eminence, ELIA, Hama

His Eminence, ELIAS, Tyre and Sidon

His Eminence, GEORGE, Homs

His Eminence, PAUL, Australia

His Eminence, DAMASKINOS, Brazil

His Eminence, ESPER, Houran

His Eminence, BASILIOS, Akkar

So, there is a great deal I could say about what this looks like to me, and there are a number of things which stick out like a sore thumb on which I could comment. Not just this text, but the language used in posting it:

Since this was a special Synod meeting with only one item on the agenda concerning the bishops, the proposed text of this decision was sent to the members of the Holy Synod, who were not present, for their approval. (emphasis in original)

However, before I shoot my mouth off, is there anybody familiar with the situation who would care to comment?

For potentially useful background reading, I suggest the interview with His Beatitude Patriarch IGNATIUS IV in the December 2008 issue of The Word, pp. 5-8. I might also suggest His Eminence Metropolitan PHILIP’s discussion of primacy at the American Conference of the Fellowship of Ss. Alban and Sergius last June.

I will be very curious to hear what people have to say.

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Nice ways to spend Valentine’s Day or, things I’ll probably only ever be able to pull off once, part V

magic-flute-ticket1Word to the wise: programs are £4 apiece at ENO, and cash only.

Thus it was that all I had for Emily to sign at the end of the evening was my considerably-large ticket stub.

Thus it was, too, that I kept thinking to myself throughout the production, “Man, I wonder who that Sarastro is? It sounds a lot like Robert Lloyd,” and had to ask Emily afterward, “Who was Sarastro?”

“Robert Lloyd,” she answered.

“Oh. Well, that explains everything.”

Flute was, well, Flute. I’ve seen it probably more than any other opera, and as a piece of theatre, it just doesn’t wear terribly well for me. The dramatic impetus is silly, the reversal in terms of who the bad guys are is extraordinarily abstract, and the more people try to explain how deep it actually is the more it sounds like Wolfie and Manny just pouring a bunch of pretentious nonsense onto the page. I’ve never seen a great staging of it; because it is so ridiculous, there’s not really staging so much as there is performers moving around whatever the director’s concept is. This concept involved Tamino fighting off a bear attack with the flute.

Let me say that again: there was a bear attack, which Tamino fought off with the flute.

As Frank put it, “I was not prepared for the bear attack.”

That said, as a piece of music, it is incontrovertibly wonderful. When it’s well-sung, you don’t worry too much about the ridiculousness, and luckily, this production was well-sung. It was a reasonably young cast, save for Lloyd, and everybody brought a lot of energy and musicality to the table. Emily held her own very well and sounded like a million bucks; she has always been a perfectionist in the five years I’ve known her, so I expected no less. Her overall approach struck me as being very similar to that of Kurt Streit‘s; there’s a very similar slender, shimmery, laser-pointer-accurate approach that blossoms when she’s darn good and ready for it to blossom. Like Streit, it’s a bit early music-y in that regard, and it allows a lot of musical artistry to be displayed that might otherwise get lost in the blast of a vocal firehose.

Following the show, Megan, I, Frank, Emily, and Ayla, an old schoolfriend of hers, and her boyfriend went to a bar called The Marquis for a drink. (“I’d like a Booker’s Manhattan and some nachos.” “I’m sorry sir, but we aren’t serving cocktails or food any longer this evening.” “So what can I order?” “Beer.”) Just about the entire cast and the conductor were there, too. You know, in high school, we went to Denny’s after shows for coffee and cheesesticks. In Seattle, a place called McMenamin’s provided the post-performance libation and nourishment. It’s nice to know that, even amongst seasoned professionals at a very high professional level in a different country, the initial impulse after a performance is to go out and drink something bad for you.

Afterward, it was becoming imperative that we Feed the Megan, so there was a Parting of the Couples. Frank and Emily had an early morning trip to Scotland for an audition and also needed to eat something; we hugged goodbye, affirmed that we hoped it wouldn’t be three and a half years before we saw them again, and that was that. Thanks for making time to see us, guys — it was awesome.

We had a light dinner at a restaurant called Browns. Good pasta, good wine, decent service, not obnoxiously expensive. At the request of Megan’s father and mother-in-law, we toasted them in absentia; I managed to get the cuff of my brand new white shirt in the marinara sauce.

It was Valentine’s Day, we were together, we were in England, we had seen friends, we had seen one of those friends in an opera, and Megan had given me daisies.

Doesn’t get much better than that.

Then it was off to bed; we had to get up early to make it up to Oxford in the morning.

The tip jar (baby, tip jar) is back on the counter

tip-jar

I finally discovered an alternative to Amazon’s now-defunct Honor System; the link to the right has been updated, and don’t everybody click on it all at once.

Nice ways to spend Valentine’s Day or, things I’ll probably only ever be able to pull off once, part IV

“I get really nervous about anniversaries and holidays,” Megan told about a month and a half ago. “You always come up with these big, extravagant, amazing things and I feel like all I have to offer is just some dumb little daisy.”

“That may be how you see it,” I said, “but to me it’s the most beautiful daisy I’ve ever seen.”

Thus it was that, on our Valentine’s Day in England, Megan was on a quest for daisies.

We finally found ourselves up and about around 11:30am; we were to meet Emily and her husband Frank at 3:30pm, so we had some time to kill. We set to finding real coffee (since the room was outfitted only with Nescafé and an electric kettle) and food; thankfully, we found both at the Caffé Strand just around the corner from our hotel. There we had excellent coffee, in fact, as well as terrific grilled croissants. I think we got out of there for around £11 — do note that they are cash only, if you are inspired to go. Also, I hadn’t realized before that if you’re just ordering coffee (rather than an espresso drink), the convention is to specify black or “white” (with cream added). If you just ask for coffee, they’ll ask you what kind.

We still had about three hours to kill and breakfast to walk off, so off we went.

It was a chilly but clear day; chilly enough that when we walked by the street vendor selling fresh roasted chestnuts that we got some, and nice enough for the obligatory hi-we’re-tourists-let’s-pose-with-Lord-Nelson’s-lions photos. (By the way, it’s a little harder to climb up there, as well as a farther jump down, than it immediately appears.)

From Trafalgar Square we walked to Westminster Abbey, passing a demonstration in the vicinity of Downing Street regarding an issue in Sri Lanka. I have to plead ignorance on what the exact issue was; a group called the Tamil Tigers was being protested as terrorists, with the British government having some involvement. For some reason I am not sure I can explain, I found the whole thing fascinating and am curious to know more.

From Westminster Abbey (we didn’t go in; I have something of an aversion to paying to go into churches) we walked to Westminster Cathedral. Now, when I was here a year and a half ago, I had no idea where I was going and walked from Victoria Station to Westminster Cathedral back to Victoria Station via a route so convoluted I don’t think I could reproduce it even if stinking drunk, blindfolded, and forced to walk backwards. Turns out it’s a straight shot along Victoria Street. That made me feel quite dumb.

Anyway — every time I’m in Westminster Cathedral I think to myself, “You know, you’re not actually using all of these beautiful Byzantine chapels… can I just take one back with me for my church?” There was a wedding going on while we were there; I suppose having one’s wedding at a landmark like that necessarily entails the presence of tourists. The one time I’ve been in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York there was also a wedding going on. We spent probably about an hour there; Megan’s souvenir was a bottle of holy water which she is going to send to her father.

We strolled back in the direction of Leicester Square, and met Frank and Emily at the Pret A Manger (“Ready to Eat”) in Leicester Square. “The Pret”‘s concept is, more or or less, organic and healthy fast food; it’s very good and more-or-less reasonably priced (although if somebody can explain to me the logic behind London’s quirk of charging extra sales tax if something is eaten in, that’d be most appreciated). We caught up for awhile, then decided to go to the National Portrait Gallery for a bit before Emily’s 5pm call.

Beforehand, however, Emily decided to drop some things off in her dressing room at the theatre, so we all followed her backstage. Virtually every backstage area of every theatre I’ve ever been in has been identical; this managed to cause my stomach to clench up a bit walking around back there, but I just reminded myself it wasn’t IU’s Musical Arts Center and I was fine. One way or the other, it was worth it to get to see, um, “Madam”.

“Bride of Frankenstein?” I asked. “You’re not the first person to say that,” said Emily.

The Gallery was cool to see, but as Megan and I both noted, it’s very odd when anything after 1400 A.D. just strikes you as too modern for your interests. On the other hand, the banter between Frank and me about some of the individuals depicted, such as a person named “Alcock,” reminded me that I have actually missed the two of them a good deal.

Then Emily was off to her call; Frank followed Megan and me back to the hotel so we could change into our opera clothes; then it was a full-on hunt for daisies.

See, we had seen a number places throughout the day where daisies might be procured, but each time Megan had deferred, not wanting to carry them around all day or just have to take them back to the hotel. We figured, what the heck, surely there’s an obvious place to get flowers in the theatre district?

Well, eventually, yes, there was — initially, however, there was not a florist as far as the eye could see. I even stopped somebody I saw carrying flowers and asked where they had bought them; “Nowhere near here, sorry,” was the answer. Finally we noticed the grocery store Tesco, which is where Megan was able to find her Valentine’s Day daisies to give to me at long last.

Then it was off to the opera.

Nice ways to spend Valentine’s Day or, things I’ll probably only ever be able to pull off once, part III

oxford-ticket-13-feb-2009I got some news on Friday that I’m thrilled to have received, to say the very least. It’s one part of a triple threat, a trifecta even, of excellent possibilities, and it is seeming rather possible right now that by this time next week, I will have found out that the other two, and thus all three, have occurred.

My only gripe is that I was hoping that I might have heard this before we went to England, so that celebrating these bits of news might be yet another pretense for the trip.

That’s okay; it just means we’ll have to go again.

But you were waiting to hear something about Oxford. Warning: this is perhaps going to be the most academically dense installment of this account. Apologies.

A couple of weeks before we left, I e-mailed my friend and Anglophile Mark Powell to see if he had any suggestions for things to do and see. E-mail Alexander Lingas, he said. He’s there.

Dr. Lingas let me know that, Friday evening, he would be delivering a lecture at Oxford’s Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies on Byzantine chant in Late Byzantium, and that we would certainly be welcome to come if we wanted.

I was of two minds about this, truthfully. I thought to myself, wow, what a neat opportunity to sample, even on a small scale, the academic life while we’re there, on a topic which is near and dear to our hearts, and discussed by somebody whose work we respect and have been influenced by, even.

On the other hand, that’s the same day on which we will have just concluded roughly seventeen hours of travel, and it will most certainly mean that we’ll be taking two trips to Oxford, since I was really hoping to show Megan around there (and convince her that it’s someplace we want to live and do postdoctoral work someday, but never mind that now).

Oh well. Guess we’re going.

Thus, after refreshing ourselves with showers and fresh clothes, we took the Tube to Paddington Station from Charing Cross (this is a lot easier than it initially looks on the Tube map, by the way; you just push the waste all the way in so that the door can close… uh, wait — what I meant to say was, just take the Bakerloo line north from Charing Cross to Paddington — it looks like this shouldn’t work on the map, at least at first glance, but it in fact does), and off we went. An hour later we were getting off at Oxford station.

I took us right to the Ioannou Centre (alas, the Cock and Camel, where I had a nice breakfast a year and a half ago, has been replaced by an Italian restaurant); it’s a rather new building, and I remember walking past it a year and a half ago thinking, “Hey, I need to figure out a way to visit this place next time I’m here.” (This is not the accomplishment of memory it sounds like; you go down the main drag from the train station till you get to the other main drag which is perpendicular to the one you’re on, go left, and after a block or two there it is on your left.)

We got to the hall a half hour early or so, which gave us an excellent opportunity to look like American tourists who obviously didn’t belong there, awkwardly standing outside a darkened lecture hall doing nothing while students and faculty were quite well-occupied around us. Still, people showed up soon enough to provide us fish out of water with a little bit of a pond.

The lecture, “Cathedral and Monastic Psalmody in Late Byzantium: Towards a Final Synthesis?”, was intended as an introduction to the issues surrounding the late medieval Byzantine repertoire for scholars who are in fact Byzantinists but not music specialists. Since I’ve read his dissertation, many of the broad strokes of what he discussed were not new to me, but it was very interesting to hear him sing off of the medieval manuscripts, as well as talk about some of the transmission issues with the medieval repertoire. What was great about hearing somebody like him talk about these things is that he was able to make clear that this is a part of a greater body of living tradition and practice; this is not just What Those People Back Then Used To Do.

A point which I very much appreciated: Dr. Lingas said that chant scholars such as Egon Wellesz have tended to discuss the Paleologean repertoire in the context of a narrative of overall cultural and political decline in Constantinople; of course, I’m reading The Fall of Constantinople: 1453 right now, and Runciman very pointedly observes (perhaps with people like Wellesz in mind) that culturally, Byzantium was quite alive and well even as the Empire was in its death throes. Anyway, as this particular narrative of decline has gone away, it’s been replaced by a narrative of specifically religious decline, bizarrely (at least to me) represented by a disappearance of congregational singing and the rise of professional-level, melismatic chant. “The end result is the same [in both narratives,]” Dr. Lingas said. “The cantor has hijacked the liturgy.” He took great pains to disabuse the audience of these notions, demonstrating that a great deal of continuity (but not stasis, he stressed) can be seen between the Paleologean material and the received tradition of the present day, and that by no means has the cantor hijacked anything. Since I have been the cantor getting accused of doing the hijacking, the defense to a general audience was most appreciated.

Following the lecture, we hung out for a bit at a reception for Dr. Lingas, talked with him briefly, had a lovely chat with a DPhil student there who is writing his dissertation on Galen (“I guess I specialize in pain,” he said), and then we needed some real food. We told Dr. Lingas we would see him at church on Sunday (“Great — it’s the day for Byzantine chant in English,” he said), and then hunted down a meal.

We found ourselves at an Irish pub chain restaurant called O’Neill’s; chain it may have been, but it was tasty and reasonably inexpensive, and a good place for a beer and some stew.

We were ready to head back — we’d be in Oxford again on Sunday, anyway. By this point, we had been up for close to thirty hours (give or take), and we were nodding off on the train back to London to say the least. Back in the hotel room, we were asleep before our heads even hit their respective pillows.

Travel tip: having an international flight arrive in the morning and then tiring yourself out so that go to bed at a normal hour is a great way to beat jet lag.

Next installment: When Your Definition of Modern Is Anything After 1400 or, How Emily Hindrichs Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Her Wig

By the way…

…for various reasons I don’t feel like I can publicly announce the specifics quite yet, but I will say that for those of you who know about the various things for which I’m waiting, I got word today that one of them, the one which is biggest in its scope, is a go. 2009 is having a very, very different first third than 2008 had, let me just put it that way.

Okay, back to the travel writing.

Devotions to the Sacred Heart in The Saint Ambrose Prayerbook

Taking a breather for just a second from recounting travels, let me inject the following —

In response to a question from Ryan Close regarding how the Sacred Heart devotions are presented in The Saint Ambrose Prayerbook:

The text used is identical to that in The Saint Augustine Prayer Book, with two significant exceptions and one or two minor exceptions that I am not convinced aren’t typographical errors (“heaven” instead of “haven”, for example).

The first significant difference is in the introduction. SAugPB says:

This devotion arose only in the seventeenth century. It is directed to that human heart taken by God the Son when he became Man. The heart is the seat of love and the human Heart of Jesus reveals the fundamental fact of religion that God loves us. Devotion to the Sacred Heart bestows a deeper insight into the Divine love and a surer confidence in it. As we see something of God’s love, we shall want to make a return in terms of love and this devotion enables us to express the love of our own hearts. (p. 242)

SAmbPB says, differences in bold:

The Western Orthodox use of this devotion — although the devotion didn’t develop until the 17th century, long after the schism between the East and West — is directed to the compassion of Jesus Christ, represented by His Sacred Heart. The devotion does parallel the Eastern Rite devotion found in The Akathist to the Sweetest Lord Jesus, which has been popular among Eastern Christians for centuries. It is not a devotion to a specific physical organ and body part, anymore than when we say of ourselves, “my heart within me is troubled,” but to Our Lord’s compassionate love for us. The heart is long been taken to be the symbolic seat of love and the Heart of Jesus reveals the fundamental fact of Christianity that God loves us. Devotion to the Sacred Heart bestows a deeper insight into the Divine love and a surer confidence in it. As we see something of God’s love, we shall want to make a return in terms of love and this devotion enables us to express the love of our own hearts. (p. 370)

The other noticeable difference is in the first Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. SAugPB renders it thus:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus! living and life-giving fountain of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, glowing furnace of love! Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Saviour! consume my heart with that fire wherewith thine is ever inflamed; pour down on my soul those graces which flow from thy love, and let my heart be so united with thine that my will may be conformed to thine in all things. Amen. (p. 242)

SAmbPB reads, again differences in bold:

O Sacred Heart of Jesus! living and life-giving fountain of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, glowing furnace of love. Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Saviour, consume my heart with that fire wherewith Thine is ever inflamed; pour from thy love, and let my heart be so united with Thine that my will may be conformed to Thine in all things. Amen. (pp. 370-71)

A couple of slight punctuation and capitalization differences, but the deletion of “those graces which flow” seems very deliberate and intentional. My guess is that the editor wants to eliminate any suggestion of the notion of created grace.

Otherwise, the text is identical, save for some differences in punctuation and capitalization conventions, and the Litany of the Sacred Heart beginning with the Greek Kyrie rather than the English, and containing an appeal to “Heart of Jesus, heaven of repose” rather than “haven of repose”. As I said, I’m not convinced that that’s not a typo.

A more thorough comparison of SAugPB and SAmbPB, to say nothing of a list of errata in this first edition of SAmbPB, is certainly in order; I’ll see if I can do that soon.

Hope this helps.


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