Posts Tagged 'western rite orthodoxy'

Varii (go see Watchmen) and (go see Watchmen) sundries (go see Watchmen)

A “Byzantine” monastery from the late 5th/early 6th century has been found about five miles west of Jerusalem, reports CNN:

During the first few weeks, the team exposed the church’s narthex, the broad entrance at the front of the church, whose floor is covered with colorful mosaics in geometric patterns, he said.

“Unfortunately, at the conclusion of the excavation this mosaic was defaced and almost completely destroyed by unknown vandals,” Mor [the leader of the excavation] said.

Ouch. On the other hand, I smile at this detail (particularly since I just finished my first-ever attempt at homebrewing):

The excavators also partly exposed a complex wine press, said Mor. Grapes grow well in the region, and it’s likely the monks sold the wine.

And it’s in my period and region, too. Hmmmmmmmmm.

The screenwriter of Watchmen urges people who liked it to see it again, preferably this Friday or Saturday (a tip of the hat to

This is a movie made by fans, for fans. Hundreds of people put in years of their lives to make this movie happen, and every one of them was insanely committed to retaining the integrity of this amazing, epic tale. This is a rare success story, bordering on the impossible, and every studio in town is watching to see if it will work. Hell, most of them own a piece of the movie.

So look, this is a note to the fanboys and fangirls. The true believers. Dedicated for life.

If the film made you think. Or argue with your friends. If it inspired a debate about the nature of man, or vigilante justice, or the horror of Nixon abolishing term limits. If you laughed at Bowie hanging with Adrian at Studio 54, or the Silhouette kissing that nurse.

Please go see the movie again next weekend.

You have to understand, everyone is watching to see how the film will do in its second week. If you care about movies that have a brain, or balls, (and this film’s got both, literally), or true adaptations — And if you’re thinking of seeing it again anyway, please go back this weekend, Friday or Saturday night. Demonstrate the power of the fans, because it’ll help let the people who pay for these movies know what we’d like to see. Because if it drops off the radar after the first weekend, they will never allow a film like this to be made again.

Fine by me — er, seeing it again, that is, not the other proposition. Who wants to see it with me on Saturday sometime?

I saw Watchmen in IMAX last Friday. It is worthy of its own post, and that might happen after I see it a second time, but I will say for the moment that it is a challenging, adult, in-your-face, no-holds-barred piece of art which is worth seeing and to which it is worth reacting. Yes, it is violent and the violence makes you giggle in a way which makes you very uncomfortable with yourself after the fact. Yes, there is a bizarre use of Leonard Cohen’s original recording of “Hallelujah” (which, I must say, is very jarring listening to begin with when you’re used to the — dare I say it? — superior Jeff Buckley version). Yes, I read the book — I read it for the first time probably twenty years ago and have read it any number of times since then, including reading it aloud to my wife. I’ve read much of what’s been published about Watchmen the book and have been following its development as a film since way back in the day when Comics Scene had a half-page interview with Sam Hamm about his screenplay and about how Terry Gilliam would direct it. Hamm, as I recall, speculated about perhaps Michael York as Adrian Veidt and Robert DeNiro as Edward Blake. Might have been interesting.

Anyway, go see it. I’ll go see it with you. Blade Runner shouldn’t have taken as long as it did to be recognized, and I’d hate to see a similar fate befall Watchmen. It’s a big-budget Hollywood art movie, much like The Dark Knight was, but unlike TDK this doesn’t have much in the way of presold factors that allow people to be fooled into thinking it’s just an action movie. It’s not perfect, but that’s okay. Just go see it, and then we’ll talk.

After the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts tonight, Fr. Peter was talking about how Orthodox Christianity permeates the first film of The Matrix trilogy. “It’s all about the Fathers,” he said. “It’s an Orthodox movie through and through.”

“If that’s the case,” I replied, “it must be advocating specifically the Western Rite.”

“Why is that?” Fr. Peter asked, tilting his head at me with a quizzical expression (which is not uncommon).

Without missing a beat I looked him right in the eyes and said, “There is no spoon.”

I will be going to Confession this weekend, I imagine. I don’t look forward to the penance.


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.

The Saint Ambrose Prayer Book

Thanks to Fr. Benjamin Johnson over at Western Orthodoxy, I learned of The Saint Ambrose Prayer Book a week and a half ago or so. Much of the formation I had as an Episcopalian which led me down an Anglo-Catholic path was thanks to The Saint Augustine Prayer Book, and while I’ve not had the nagging, unfulfilled yearning for that aesthetic that some ex-Anglicans have, I do have to give credit where it is due to the Anglicans who taught me about Apostolic Succession, the Sacraments, and the Real Presence, among other things. Thus, the idea an Orthodox devotional manual after the fashion of the St. Augustine at the very least got my attention.

It arrived yesterday, and while I’ll keep my comments brief, it’s presented really nicely. It is compact, practical, easy to read, the catechetical information is very useful, and the renderings of the prayers and liturgical texts are beautiful and elegant. It is clearly a conscious Orthodox re-think of the St. Augustine, to the extent that it is organized in a nearly identical fashion, many of the images used are similar, the typeface is pretty darn close to being the same, and even the Forewords are word-for-word identical in places. I found myself wondering at times if the text of the St. Augustine had been entered into a word processor and then simply updated where it was determined was necessary. As a result, it feels very much like seeing an old friend wearing brand new clothes.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, by the way; I’m no authority one way or the other on the implementation of the Western Rite and have never seen it in action, but I do think that, insofar as it is an attempt to reclaim historically Orthodox liturgies for modern practice, it could be a good thing. I have no way of knowing if it is or isn’t in its present manifestation.

My main complaint is, as with many Orthodox publishing projects, the copy-editing could have used at least one more pass, and some of the typos are a bit embarrassing, given how nice the rest of the book is. The Foreword somehow manages to be a “Forward”, and there are a number of places where “principle” manages to sneak in for “principal”. If you’re talking about a primary reason, folks, use the word “principal” and do so on “principle.” Follow me? There are also errors like being referred to page 188 for the Six Penitential Psalms, only to have nothing of the kind be within ten pages of 188. One hopes these things can get cleared up in a second edition.

I’ll have more to say once I’ve spent more time with it, but I’d recommend it, at least at this point, partcularly to somebody who comes from a background like mine. You’ll remember some of the good things about Anglican practice that helped you to relate to Orthodoxy better when you started down that path.

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