Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sheep-herding performance art

This is cool:

The dogs are so impressive.

HT: Secondhand Smoke

Welcome, Happy Morning

I haven't had a hymn post for a long, long time. This morning we sang "Welcome, Happy Morning" to the catchy tune "Fortunatus" by none other than Arthur Sullivan. The text is a translation of the ancient Easter hymn by Venantius Fortunatus, which some of you may know in its incarnation as "Hail Thee, Festival Day." Call me a Philistine if you will, but I like the Sullivan version better than the Vaughan Williams one! Perhaps this is partly because "Hail Thee, Festival Day" is a stinker to play and for the congregation to sing, jumping back and forth as it does on the hymnal pages. But I also prefer the text translation that goes with the Sullivan tune. Here are the words:

“Welcome, happy morning!” age to age shall say:
“Hell today is vanquished, Heav’n is won today!”
Lo! the dead is living, God forevermore!
Him, their true Creator, all His works adore!


“Welcome, happy morning!”
Age to age shall say.

Earth her joy confesses, clothing her for spring,
All fresh gifts returned with her returning King:
Bloom in every meadow, leaves on every bough,
Speak His sorrow ended, hail His triumph now.


Months in due succession, days of lengthening light,
Hours and passing moments praise Thee in their flight.
Brightness of the morning, sky and fields and sea,
Vanquisher of darkness, bring their praise to Thee.


Maker and Redeemer, life and health of all,
Thou from heaven beholding human nature’s fall,
Of the Father’s Godhead true and only Son,
Mankind to deliver, manhood didst put on.


Thou, of life the Author, death didst undergo,
Tread the path of darkness, saving strength to show;
Come, then True and Faithful, now fulfill Thy Word;
’Tis Thine own third morning; rise, O buried Lord!


Loose the souls long prisoned, bound with Satan’s chain;
All that now is fallen raise to life again;
Show Thy face in brightness, bid the nations see;
Bring again our daylight: day returns with Thee!


I've been slow all these years: I just this morning realized that "Come, then True and Faithful, now fulfill Thy Word" refers to Jesus' predictions before His death of His own resurrection.

As you can see, this is one of those Northern Hemisphere hymns. Having a reader from New Zealand particularly brings this home to me. Christianity originated in the hemisphere where it is dark and cold at Christmas and getting to be spring at Easter. In fact, the whole dating of Easter in the Western church calendar is predicated on the connection to spring. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the first day of spring! And so many hymns reflect this, particularly during Advent, at Christmas, and at Easter, from the gorgeous "Lo, How a Rose" ("She bore to men a Savior, when half-spent was the night...") to the one above.

The incorporation of the seasons into Christian symbolism, liturgy, history, and hymnody has been incredibly enriching. But I do have to admit that it must be harder to appreciate if you have lived all your life in a country where the seasons are the opposite, where it is just getting to winter at Eastertide and is the height of summer at Christmas!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ugly clothes

In less than two months, Esteemed Husband and I will be winging our way to Belgium for a short conference in Leuven. This is a Big Deal, because we almost never travel. Fortunately, we have found someone nice and efficient to stay with the girls, and Eldest Daughter will be a great co-babysitter as well. So we're going.

I wanted another skirt for the conference, and after shopping fruitlessly on-line, I ordered one from Lilies Apparel, which I have mentioned before. The skirt should be pretty, though I've never ordered a skirt from them before, but I won't see it for a few weeks. Ordering a skirt from Lilies is a little like ordering a book from Lulu. They don't start making the physical item until you order it. This is nice, because I got mine customized for length and waist size. I think it will come in time, though.

It's a bit pricey, and after ordering it I was seized with a sudden qualm: What if unbeknownst to me my local Meijer superstore had in the meanwhile started selling nice women's clothes and had a skirt I could have bought for much less?

But I needn't have worried.

I had to go to Meijer for something else and took a gander at the women's clothing section. With the exception of a few shelves of T-shirts, all the clothes there had been made in strict accordance with standards provided by the Federal Bureau of Ugly Clothes. I'm sure there is such a bureau, and if you doubt it, go look at the women's clothes at a local superstore sometime.

They were absolutely hideous. I'll start with the skirts, because that was what I was shopping for. The only ones I really looked at were the super-long ones, because the only other kind were the super-short ones. Nothing in between, of course. The super-long ones were called "peasant skirts," but any self-respecting peasant woman would, I'm sure, rather wear a garment made out of a cornmeal sack. They were made of something that I believe is called "crinkle cloth," and it looks just like you would think something called "crinkle cloth" would look--like the tissue paper that comes out of a gift bag and has been wadded up and then partially smoothed out again. Somehow this "crinkle" appearance made even white look like a dirty color. The other colors were a flat, dusty black and various shades of industrial sludge. And on top of everything else, they were see-through. How nice: A pseudo-modest skirt so long that it places a woman in danger of falling flat on her face when she walks while at the same time making Superman's X-ray vision superfluous for purposes of seeing through her clothes.

(While I was looking at these skirts, a young woman was wailing over the radio overhead, "I get so emotional, baby!" Over and over. Should she maybe see somebody about her problem?)

On the way to the skirts, I caught sight of the tops. I see these on women all the time. Most of them are what I would call the maternity camisole look, only often they are brown, which isn't a usual camisole color: Exceedingly immodest, thin little straps or a halter top, deep cleavage, and an ugly sort of bunched-up bodice-formation, with a maternity-style loose skirt underneath the bodice to form the rest of the top. Or, for the squeamish among us, there is the "wear your underwear on top of your clothes" look: The foregoing maternity camisole with a still rather plungy T-shirt sewn underneath it.

Who thinks of these things? Who would actually want to wear them? I suppose some women wear them because they can't find the T-shirt shelves or perhaps even because they buy their clothes without thinking. But the clothes are so, so ugly. The ugliness is in some ways even more striking than the immodesty.

So, reluctantly, I tore myself away from the women's clothing section, muttered something under my breath about the emotional girl on the radio, and took myself off home.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Excellent rant against PC-speak

Do you hate PC-speak? Do you hate all the deceptive, cloying, mind-befogging, euphemistic mental manipulation to which the self-styled Guardians of Culture want to subject you by means of telling you how you must talk?

You will love this post. It's a rant. It's a self-styled rant. Warning: It uses one bad word in the course thereof, once. (He says he will hereby redefine it, since language changes and we can make words mean whatever we want them to mean.) It's hilarious. Here are just a few quotes, but you will want to read the whole thing:

Unless you can tell me, off the top of your head and without looking it up, the name in any Eskimo dialect for a Virginian, I suggest your concern for their concern for our names for them is illegitimate...
Maybe if I video-taped myself with a kidnapped and innocent civilian journalist, one to whom I’d falsely promised safe conduct, and battered in his skull with a thurible while dressed in miter and alb all the time singing GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO, my tender feelings would be nourished and guarded. Or is it only the deadly enemies of their own culture the death-cult members of the death-culture Left wish to see lauded, aided and abetted?
Let me explain that I regard political correctness as worse than a lie.

A lie is a straightforward attempt to deceive a victim. It [is] almost honest by contrast. Political Correctness is a corrupt attempt to poison thought and speech, and to impose upon the nobility and courtesy of its victims to get them to deceive themselves. A frequent side effect of PC jargon is that it renders rational conversation difficult, indirect, or even impossible.

Innocent and well meaning people are actually fooled by this simple trick. Sad to say, most people think like magicians. They believe in the rule of true names. They think (or rather, they feel) that when they are calling one thing by another name, that the actual nature of reality changes. They put themselves in a position where they can no longer talk about real things. Words are severed from referents.
If you successfully substitute the word 'Inuit' for 'Eskimo' on the grounds that 'Eskimo' is an insult, you will have successfully convinced the next generation that all their forefathers who used the word 'Eskimo' deliberately meant and fully intended an insult, or were foolish or negligent enough to utter an insult by accident. That conviction will be false, a lie, and you (in a small way, one more straw on the camel's back) will have helped to perpetrate it.

And there's more. Yes, he gets to feminist revisionist language, too. No one is spared. It's a tour de force (a few misspellings notwithstanding).

Bonus link: If you have never read P. J. O'Rourke's glorious rant on this same subject (politically correct language), the one containing the sentence, "I feel a spate of better writing coming on," do yourself a favor and read it, too.

HT: Scott W. at Romish Internet Graffiti

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Y.D. on Infinity

Tonight at supper, Youngest Daughter (age 5 1/2) asked me, "What is the name of the biggest number?"

With some excitement, I told her, "There isn't one! If you name any number, there is always a bigger one." After talking about this for a while, and using the word "infinity" a few times, I asked her, "Do you understand?"

"No," she said, fairly cheerfully. End of subject for the time.

After supper, she got out a pencil and paper. "I'm writing the numbers up to infinity," she told me.

"But you can't!" I said. "It's not possible."

"Yes, I can," she insisted. "I have a paper and pencil, and I'm going to write them." A little later, she added, "I'm going to write the numbers up to 500."

"That's not infinity," I said. "Do you know what 'infinity' means?"


"If a thing goes on forever, that means it goes on to infinity. Numbers go on to infinity, and that means they never end."

A little later, she told me that she was trying to write, "The fact is that things go on forever. They never end." But, she added, she couldn't remember how to spell "things." I suggested that "numbers" is easier to spell than "things." We talked for a bit about how to spell "numbers."

Then I said, "Besides, it depends on what things you're talking about. Some things do come to an end, but others don't."

"Cups come to an end!" she said.

"That's right. Cups come to an end. But numbers don't."

Next stop: Actual and potential infinities.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bill Luse's great Easter Youtube

I don't do enough linking from here to my friends' blog pieces. There are a lot of reasons for that, and I'm not promising amendment of life. It's sometimes hard enough to put up something original of my own. (Hey! Maybe I don't have to, if I fulfill my sense of blogging responsibility at this personal blog by linking more frequently to other people's neat posts. Gotta think about that one.)

But it suddenly occurred to me that, since I enjoyed Bill Luse's Youtube video for Easter so much--and I e-mailed the link to a couple of people who definitely wouldn't have seen it otherwise--I should link it from here for any of my readers who don't go over to Bill's page regularly.

I won't tell you what the song is ahead of time. See how many of the people in the pictures you can identify. I got dry-eyed as far as Terri Schiavo.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

How do you pedal backwards so fast, Rick?

I always knew I disliked Rick Warren. Read about his backpedaling on supporting Prop. 8. Simply disgusting. Nothing like handing the keys of the city to the sodomites just when they are on the attack. I've got a clue for you, Rick: If you want Larry King and his friends to like'd better not be a Christian. Not one to whom Christianity means anything about, y'know, the real world.

HT Rick Pearcey

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Because He Lives

Imeem beats Youtube, hands down for selection of songs. I spent a lot more time a year ago looking for a good version of this on Youtube, and every single one had something wrong with it. It took a while on Imeem too, but here's a nice, classic version.

Happy Easter!!!

Because He Lives - Heritage Singers

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Christus Dominus Hodie Resurrexit

Alleluia! He is risen!

Christ The Lord Is Risen Today - Glad

It's About the Cross

Eldest Daughter found this video and has urged me to embed it for Easter weekend. In fact, she wanted me to do it yesterday, for Good Friday, but I had the other post yesterday. It's actually a Christmas song, and the youtube video is of some people (the Chongs) whom I don't know. They have very cute kids, though.

So there are a number of incongruities--the pictures of the adorable children go for about three minutes before the pictures relate directly to the meaning of the song. And putting up a Christmas song at Easter time may seem a bit odd. But any of you who know a particular evangelical Protestant tradition know that Christmas songs with Good Friday themes are not unknown in that context. (I'm dating myself by mentioning this, but Christine Wyrtzen's "Shadow of a Tree" was pretty popular when I was a teenager.)

I think it's an enjoyable video, and great words to the song. Thanks to the Chongs, whoever they may be, for sharing it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Baby stays awake, saves her own life

All of you parents out there, perhaps mothers especially, have been through nights when a baby simply will not go to sleep. Fuss, fuss, fuss. Or sometimes, happily wide awake...until you lay him down. Youngest Daughter started out alert in the delivery room and has continued to be alert since then, pretty much non-stop. And she was a night owl. At 3 a.m., she would wake up for a feeding, and no matter how low I tried to keep the lights, I'd see those bright, big eyes looking all around. Head turning. The world was just so interesting. Why would anybody want to sleep? Ever?

Well, now there's a disturbing story out of Canada with a happy ending (or a happy plateau for the moment), because a baby wouldn't go to sleep.

Two-month-old Kaylee Wallace has Joubert Syndrome, which is causing sleep apnea. She breathes fine on her own when awake but is ventilator dependent (to some extent or other) while asleep. Her parents had decided to "let her die" and donate her heart to another child using the non-heart-beating donor protocol. I've written about this protocol here. At Kaylee's hospital, they planned to wait five minutes after her heart stopped before declaring her dead, but in some places where they use this protocol they wait only 75 seconds before declaring an infant dead and taking his organs.

So, in a macabre death-watch, they carted Kaylee off to the operating room around a time when they expected her to go to sleep, took her off her ventilator, and...waited for her to fall asleep and die, or "die"--stop breathing, let her heartbeat stop for five minutes, refuse to revive her, and then harvest her heart for another child. But it was just one of those darned things: Kaylee was too interested in living. Maybe she thought the operating room looked cool. She wasn't ready to fall asleep. No, no, no. Who knows what they tried. It boggles the mind. Did somebody snuggle her to try to make her comfy, so she would fall asleep and die, so they could get her heart? I don't know. It's hard to imagine people participating in such a process. But she wouldn't play ball. The story says the process was supposed to go through if she died in two hours. So I'm guessing she stayed awake for two hours, bless her little heart. (Literally.) Just went on breathing.

The hospital says that Kaylee is "no longer a candidate" to be an organ donor, but that this determination is "subject to change." I assume that at a minimum this means they aren't just going to try this little dance of death over and over again, hoping to catch Kaylee sleeping. But it's unclear what would make her a candidate once again.

Meanwhile, her parents are "scared" by the fact that she didn't die! You see, they've made up their minds that Kaylee is dying (though this is questionable), and now they consider that if she dies without having her organs harvested, they have also "lost" another child who might have received her heart. Says her father, "If she's going to die, we got to keep trying. I want my child to pass on because she can't survive, and to save that child. This is our first child and the dreams of the grandparents, the hopes of the future...have been dashed, yet the hopes of another child doing the same thing is what we live on for here." Get that? What they are now living for is the hope that their baby may die in such a way that her organs can be harvested. And, "That's what scares us right now," Wallace said Tuesday, his voice cracking. "Losing our daughter's OK, I understand that, but I don't want to lose two."

I wonder what they will tell Kaylee if she lives.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Quote of the week--If you don't help Herod, are you "honoring" him?

I usually don't do quotes of the week, but this one was really good.

From a commentator at Zippy's blog, apropos of Obama Catholics who defend Notre Dame in offering him an honorary degree with the "we are supposed to honor our leaders" shtick:

[T]he Magi's circumvention of Herod was in direct contrast to Paul's command to honor leaders.

That just nails it.