Sunday Shrine Delayed: St Patricks Cathedral, Chapel of the BVM

This is my favorite part of St Patrick’s. But first, a lovely pic of the cathedral I found on Wikimedia.[below]
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Here’s another. They did much better at photographing the building in place. [below]
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Here’s an image that shows you roughly where the chapel is. It’s on the right, where the blue light is flooding in.  It was far more vivid in real life. [below]

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Here’s a closeup of those gorgeous windows. I like the arabesque tracery dominated by that gorgeous cobalt blue.
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Here’s the main event– the chapel we’ve all been waiting for. [below]
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Here’s a closeup of the chapel altar. It’s magnificent, as appropriate.
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Seriously, look at this floor. Here’s a reason to be humble and stare at the floor during mass.
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This wasn’t inside the Marian Chapel but was near by. So I leave you with the Pieta in honor of the day before All Saint’s Day.
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Sunday Shrine– St Patrick’s Cathedral

This place has so much beauty, it is difficult to decide what pictures to post.  On my delightful tour of Down Town NYC, the highlight of my  trip was seeing Dagger John’s gift to God, Man and posterity.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

After having shamelessly used other artist’s work for years on end, I present my own humble examples. Most of these are taken with my cell phone, so the quality isn’t quite up to my standard.

However, the subject matter is so wonderful I’m going to use it anyway.  If you don’t mind, I may use several Sundays to cover the best highlights. Remember, guys, the com box is there for a reason!

[above] The Cathedral is situated right downtown, next to office buildings and several malls– in the middle of everything.   Really should have brought the wide angled lens for this shot.

 

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

[above] It’s not quite as integrated with the surrounding area as St Peter’s in Chicago. Then again, St Peters of the Loop is built into a slab like building along the row, so it would be hard to build a church to look more at home with a bunch of rectangular glass buildings.
Here, the surroundings have had to blend in to St Pat’s than the other way around. When St Patrick’s was first built, this was the outskirts of Town.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, Right Portcullis Door, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

[above] This is for scale. When I first saw the church in place, I thought it looked a bit on the small side… until I saw people in context with the building. Ah, yes, now THAT is a cathedral.

 

 

 

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this  FDL.

 

[left] Some exterior details, plus [ right] a wonderful floor mosaic with the  coat of arms of the first Archbishop of New York. Click on the image to see more detail.

 

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this  FDL.

[above] This is a view of the sanctuary from the front door, angled in favor of showing off the magnificent French High Gothic ceiling. The golden structure in the distance is the Holy of Holies, where the altar and tabernacle reside. The dark T shaped structure on the right is the ambo, an elevated shelter where the priest stands to give his homily. These were used in the days before microphones to project the priest’s voice so everybody in a large space could hear. Contrary to popular opinion, people cared about the congregation getting something out of the mass well before Vatican II came about.

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St Patrick’s Cathedral, Sanctuary shot.New York Photo Credit: Margot St. Aubin :: I release this with a FDL.

[above] This is a clearer picture of the sanctuary itself. Clearly, mass is being said, which limits my options in terms of approach and angle.

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Photo:: Declan Finn Released into Public Domain

[above] Here’s a closeup of the ambo.  The candelabra is really gorgeous, too.

 

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Photo: Declan Finn License: PPD

[above] Here’s a side view of the altar. Green fabric, the gold framework, and the candles…  Also is a nice canopy shot. Look at the filigree in both the wood and the gold.  You can see how it ties into the Celtic knotwork in [#1b below], too.

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Photo:: Declan Finn License:: Public Domain

#1b⇑

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Photo:: Declan Finn License:: Public Domain

#2b⇑

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Photo:: Declan Finn License:: Public Domain

#3b⇑
[above, #3a]  Another view from the altar, to the rose window, where the organ is. The beautiful blue window cascaded blue light over us.

[above, #3b] Now we turn our attention to the floor. I wish I could have asked everyone else to leave so I could have better displayed how gorgeous the floors are in here. This is a sample near the altar. Uh, I think it was built by and for the Irish… but I’m not sure… 😛

[above, #3b] I found this in the photo compilation of my companion on our trip here. I don’t remember him taking this one, probably because I was “high on architecture.”  Yep, that is an official architecture rush.

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Photo credit: Declan Finn ; License Public Domain

 

[above] The church was full of gorgeous detail to admire for those paying attention. Stuff like this doesn’t need to be there, but it certainly points to the devotion and artistry of those who designed and built this place.

There are a lot of beautiful churches that make a nice facade that otherwise are not reinforced by robust construction and layered attention to detail in their function.  This is a church that will be admired and looked to for thousands of years for “how you build a structure dedicated to a purpose.”

People keep telling me how elitist it is to have beautiful churches.

I say, “No. This was built for everyone, not the just the church. For most people throughout history, this was the only palatial structure that a person of any station could just walk into and take a rest, pray, and ask for a priest. Yes, even in the middle of the night.”  For hundreds if not thousands of years, the official position was that a church never locked it’s doors. Period.

And that is how it should be. Our hard and modern hearts make allowances for locks and whatnot today, but even in eras more dangerous than our own, it was the last refuge for the lost.

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Ramon Casas i Carbó [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday Shrine Bumped to Monday

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Photo credit:: Declan Finn License: PPD :Margot Gawking…

This is a preview for the really awesome Sunday Shrine post that will be coming to you… tomorrow. Because it’s late, and I’m tired, and Sunday Shrine deserves to be done well.

Take a wild guess what site I’m going to post about.
Hint: Many of the photos I took live. Others were contributed by a fond admirer who is clearly a better shot than I am.

At any rate, I promise pretty pictures.

Soon. Very soon.

The Crucifix and the Cross: Questions Answered

Cristo_crucificadoThere have been a lot of articles about banning crosses lately. Bridging the differences between east and west, we see people on two continents strive to get rid of them. On pretty much every article in question, I see at least one Facebook comment, “People should note the difference between a cross and a crucifix.”

I am not certain if the problem lies in the fact that no reporter bothers to investigate the difference, or if that the commentariat wishes that the difference be expressed in the  banning.

I’m inclined to believe in the former. The latter is too depressing to think about.

Just in case, I aim at both ideas.

First, the crucifix depicts Christ on the cross. (see painting above) There are many styles, from the dramatic, bloody, and starving, where suffering is plainly evident. There are stylized crucifixes, which suggest a shadow of a body to an almost generic figure. Others show a more loving aspect to our Lord while pinned to the cross, thus speaking plainly the closeness of the Resurrection to his suffering and death. These are almost exclusively Catholic. There may still be high church Anglicans that carry the crucifix, but they are swimming cross the Tiber by the day, as their own church, drunk on letting it all hang out, lose their flock to the howling wilderness.

By Dmitry Ivanov (Own work) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dmitry Ivanov (Own work) [Public domain or CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Orthodox among us have the twin cross which might carry the corpus. (That’s what a representation of Christ on a cross is actually called.)

Even they are a bit more temperate than those Catholics at showing off the corpus. Catholics seem almost mad over it.

A plain old cross is, just that. Two planks of wood tethered together, used to describe almost every other flavor of Christianity other than Catholicism. There are an almost infinite number of ways to describe two sticks tied together, two planks of a tree, two rods of iron that intersect, welded unbreakably together.

By Kehlmann Studio Archive (Kehlmann Studio Archive) [CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kehlmann Studio Archive (Kehlmann Studio Archive) [CC BY 1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

So I must point out…

If both the crucifix and the cross both refer to Christianity, you will never convince a Marxist that there is any difference. To a bourgeois, you could argue that a cross without a corpus is a kinder and gentler thing. If he already believes that Catholics are harmful but another sort of Christian is benign, he will sleepily go along with what you say. But never, ever will a Marxist or any form of communist see the difference. If it points to God, he will destroy it, no matter how kind or benign the object. He will destroy the Easter bunny rabbit, along with the empty tomb.

You must understand that the Marxist revels in that which shocks, that which marvels and that which makes one uncomfortable. Inhumanity to man is the mark of his faith. Man’s inhumanity to God might make God plausible, and that must be eradicated first of all.

For Christ’s crime was not that he was kind, not that he was a wise teacher, that he healed the sick, or that he banished demons, that he sang or ate on the Sabbath day. It was not even that he raised his friends from the dead, or broke us free from the bonds of sin. It is that he is God and we are not. That is the full stated crime of Christ Jesus. And for that He must suffer for all of our sins.

I argue that a crucifix speaks this truth more eloquently, but a cross points to the same truth with a more general sort of point. An empty cross is a stage, a sentence without an object. A crucifix points to the lengths God would go to love his children.

A cross states there is room on his Throne for everybody. Think carefully, and tell me again which message is more gentle.

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The Special Hell

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I found another category of “specially damned” individuals rampant in modern times. All those people who morph the faces of their friends or famous people (who can tell) on classic paintings. If that weren’t bad enough, they share them to the point it uselessly pollutes Google image search with the world’s most wretched and ugly Photoshop.

For goodness sake, what did Velasquez ever do to you?!  Just search for Velasquez if you really want your eyes to bleed.

OK, Fine. This is by far the best of the lot. It’s even funny.

So I guess sentence reduced to eating desert first and purgatorial probation.

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Review: HONOR AT STAKE

 

The review you’ve all been waiting for…

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The closest thing you could describe me as in high school was a Goth. I played Vampire the Masquerade, both tabletop and LARP, for 15 years. I read both Anne Rice and Barbara Hambly, and liked the latter better. Hell, I even watched My Best Friend is a Vampire, probably one of the most underrated teen films of all time. I even watched that brief flash of awfulness they called the Masquerade tv series. Hint: we called it “The World of Noon”. I watched Forever Knight, Buffy, and Dark Shadows. Hell, I was weaned on The Munsters. Morticia Addams hosted one of my favorite B movie horror shows back when I was watching a hick station from a 60’s Zenith that had technicolor and a fish eye lens. Fortunately, her show was done in black and white. Then again, it flickered back and fourth from color to black and white, so I’m not sure which it really was.

..But it was my best friend who was obsessed with vampires. Yeah, that’s what I kept telling myself.

By the time the books that True Blood was based on hit the shelves, I was a bit burned out. I read them, and enjoyed them. The TV show lost me when the actor with the best southern accent became the supervillain. Sure, I saw it coming, but it still galled me.

Oh, then there was Twilight. Sure, an enthused friend handed them to me. She did a fine job of convincing me they were awesome.

They weren’t.

I was pretty sure, by the time I put the first book down, scraping my gray matter with a paint scraper was too kind a way to get rid of that drek. I felt DIRTY because of that book, and no, not in a good way. I was pretty sure I was done with vampires. For good.

Then Declan Finn comes out with Honor at Stake. Dammit, I thought I was over this. I’m even hauling out my Rasputina and Black Tape for a Blue Girl thanks to this guy. He already knows he’s responsible for all the Cruxshadows appearing in my playlist. And, he’s not sorry at all.

That’s a good thing.

It will be all his fault if I start wearing black lipstick again, I swear.

Okay, I’m joking about that last part. No, seriously, this guy writes about… ahem, real vampires, not the sparkly fucked up Jar Jar Binks of the vampire world. They are deadly hunters, with vestiges of humanity that make them more frightening.

And yet, it is one of the most powerful love stories I’ve read in a long time. For a wonder, he’s not all angsty and whiny and whatnot. The Goth movement whine came later… thanks to Morresey and those Emo wannabes who can’t see out of their own pain. The whole point of Goth is to celebrate the darkness of life, because it is short. And, Declan gets it. He really gets pretty much everything we loved about vampires by displaying an impressive knowledge of the classic repertoire. Then he brings in his own contributions, turning it up to 11. He uses both Thomas Aquinas and advances in modern science to give a whole new dimension to the moral, ethical and medical possibilities behind the beloved predators of the horror world.

There is plenty of action and Things Going Boom, this being penned by the Mighty Finn. But this is more meditative, more emotional, and the raw feeling he wields like a master is something to exult in.

I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Amanda, and Marco is a fun character to follow. His life is a very real look into an outcast with a unique set of problems. He’s a PA. And he likes killing people.
In fact, that goes back quite a ways into his personal history.

He’s not a serial killer. Yet.

He’s a lethal weapon with a brain, and that makes him even odder than most nerds. Fortunately for him, patching people up is much harder than taking them down, so that scratches his itch for a challenge, and being up to his elbows in blood. Mostly.

Marco practices fencing, because he always needs a new challenge. That’s where he meets Amanda, who is just as good as he is. But there is something… off about her.

He knows killing people is wrong, and there are even people out there he likes, But… look out if he has to defend himself. Most of the traditional big city predators in his neighborhood have already found this out the hard way. He also has a secret that makes his problems a bit hard to deal with, or even talk about them.

Is there anyone out there who might understand?

Well, then he meets Amanda. Who has– shall we say– good reasons to understand.

They meet (not quite cute, but meet flirt?) at a late night college fencing class. The tension crackles, the steel flies, and soon they find themselves in a class of their own.

When they aren’t trying to lop each others’ heads off.

Though clearly wealthy, she has what seems to be more than a lifetime’s store of sadness in her past… and is so far passed jaded she is a smooth and graceful sculpture. Yet in battle is quick, clever, and vicious… So they get along excellently. The statue discovers she can be moved.

Why should such a splendid creature be alone? Seems to be the question each of them asks.

Until Marco finds himself bound and gagged on an unfamiliar Brooklyn roof…

And no, I’m not going to tell you how it ends.

Suffice to say, there is a lot of heat, a lot of fang and the action spirals ever upward to a innuendo/confrontation that has to be read to believed. Advisable to turn up the AC before proceeding.

Let’s just say, as excellent as they both are in the dojo– or in the street, a great deal of backup needs to be called before this train gallops toward a breathtaking finish. You will see vampire bars explode, gang on gang action, Vatican ninjas and some very heavy firepower.

Did I mention that the FBI gets involved? Merle Kraft isn’t exactly what you’d call a normal FBI agent, he specializes in the strange, and the exotic. He’s a short Asian cross between Penn Jillette and Fox Mulder, with piercing blue eyes. Like any magician, he brings a bit of baggage with him– which blends wonderfully into an already explosive mix.

He has questionable, nay diabolical relatives and a dubious past.

Can Amanda and Marco trust him?

And… even that is not enough. After all, something evil is not only creating murder and mayhem in NYC, but seems to be emanating from the UN building.

Trust me, it’s an enjoyable ride. Highly recommended.

 

Plus something fun I found on G+. Why is it here?   Um… no reason… 😈

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Favorite SF Books

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ED: Here’s an old draft that I published elsewhere. Stuff is busy today, so I’m bailing on blog posts that are actual work.

There’s supposed to be a short snippet at the OWG about your favorite SF novel. I can’t do it. I just can’t. 50 words about a single title is just too confining.

I guess I will have to settle with which changed me the most in a lasting way. With this, I have narrowed it down to three.  They are… Fairy Land, The Diamond Age, and A Brave New World.   Fairy Land is a book I read in 2001. It broke my head.  Beautifully written, a compelling story with a gut wrenching twist at the end. The style is reminiscent of “When Gravity Fails” except the world is even more layered vivid and intense.

The Diamond Age is a wonderful character driven story that happens to be about how people socialize and learn.  Expect the usual zany Stephensonian world features, and the death of cyberpunk.  But, it was a good death.

I don’t even have to write about A Brave New World. So I won’t.

Woah, wait! That’s not fun!  We can’t have what’s good for you be The Best Science Fiction ever.  It’s about which was the most exciting and engrossing SF, right? I guess I could come up with three.  Fun is a big category, and it’s hard to measure, let alone rank.  Those are– man, do I have to choose?  There are a fist full of Bujold, so I will arbitrarily pick Brothers in Arms.  Weber gave us Honor Harrington– we’re up in the 20-30 range? Pick one. Take two, they are that good.

I’m also partial to Cherryh, from The Pride of Chanur to The Foreigner series.  One of my favorite Elizabeth Moon SF stories is “Remnant Population”.  Then there’s Sarah Hoyt.  Her short stories are overlooked, but let’s make our life simpler and stick to novels.  What, you mean I have to pick… one?!

Oh, no, it’s about mind altering worlds and strange concepts and the wonder in the universe. So Count to A Trillion by John C Wright tops that list.

Should it be all dancing about architecture? well, maybe not. We are storytelling about science. Science in real life is filled with great stories, many of whom are never told.  This is why the System of the World trilogy is technically science fiction. Even if its’ also historical fiction,and a swashbuckling epic romp through at least eight novels woven together into three great ox stunning books.

So… you see the problem?  Wait… this is a PROBLEM?!

Music: That Terrible Freedom

The song is actually called “Trial by Fire” by a ThouShaltNot… not to be confused with “Through Fire”..a forthcoming novel by Sarah Hoyt.  I do have to wonder if this song inspired her… for various reasons.

My musings lead me to wonder what Ariel’s life was like after he was released by Prospero.  One of my many story ideas is about what happens when a magicians apprentice is loosed on the world after his master died.  Because the Green Angel Tower series pissed me off that much.  But I can’t say that Tad Williams didn’t warn me.

But it may be why so many young people seem terrified of freedom. If you are coddled and protected all your life, and have no freedom at all– it eventually becomes threatening. It evolves into a spectral variation on Fear of the Unknown.

It doesn’t help that they are trained from birth to know that power over others is more valuable than personal freedom– while being taught they believe otherwise.

But do you trust freedom that was designed by people you don’t even understand?  But if you don’t know the unintended consequences (and these poor children don’t even know they exist, apparently), how can you know that what you design yourself through will gives you what you really want?

 

 

The Phyrric twitter Barrage

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From my last post… (Age of Ultron Review, for those just arriving)

Speaking of gauntlets, I guess I have to talk about the Pyrrhic twitter barrage.

Joss is so not one of my political compatriots. Yet these women… can’t even wrong properly. Seriously. Why attack and devour one of their own? They call that a win? If they think they scored points in the culture war, well, let’s just say they were engaging in some deliberate friendly fire, just because.

Hell of a way to lose, mon cheri. God Speed, and enjoy those ashes in your mouth. If this keeps up, those of us in the “leave me alone” contingent won’t have to fire a shot.

So I said above, “You can’t even wrong properly” as if a retrograde reprobate such as myself knows what I’m talking about. Well, you see, just because I’m not flinging poo from across the isle does not mean I have always been what I am today. I have a fair degree of experience with the whole feminist culture warrior shtick, and I took my leave based on experience. I was also not born in an echo chamber. My family spanned the culture war from both ends, so I had a good look at the best and worst of both worlds.

In order to fisk these criticisms, I don’t even have to dip into the well of my knee jerk libertarianism– or probe the depths of my Catholic sympathies. Logic and reason don’t even have to enter into it. All I have to do is channel my mother, who was also a second wave radical feminist. Compared to these people, she had nuance. She had read a bit more history. But it is still the putrid foundation from which their culture springs.

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She would have given him points for quoting Abigail Adams at a critical juncture, when we learn that a certain character with leadership qualities gets many of them from his SO. We have seen Black Widow be nothing but a strong, dispassionate warrior for two or three films, and now we see what is behind those eyes, what she struggled against to overcome. When she shows some sign of regret… how can you truly struggle without it? We are informed that she is insufficiently strong, because she did not celebrate a decision that was forced on her. Excuse me? So now we aren’t pro-choice, but no choice?

Well, at least you are being honest for a change. And I guess the fact that she has rescued several heroes and has the massive Hulk wrapped around her little finger means nothing.

Now for a place where they really fell down on the job. The Red Witch. Oh, sure, she’s the bad ass who brings the strongest heroes down low, and is the only reason why her unassailable speed-demon brother bothers to get up every day. She even catches Ultron unawares and manages to get her and her sib away alive, which is a real accomplishment when dealing with that cruel and vindictive robot.

But she had a massive breakdown in the middle of a critical battle– and has to get a pep talk from a strong male character to move on. And guess what? He’s the closest to the straight white male the whole movie has. Burn. Aaaaannnnd, they miss it completely.

Where are the haters when you really need them? Do they have the true courage of their convictions, or do they fling poo because that is all they know how to do? They can’t even do it particularly well by their own standard.

You need a flipping Catholic libertarian to school you on how it’s done. You had one job…