Upcoming Episodes; and Sunday Shrine

 

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St Aubin Church in Treves. By Rensi at German Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

UPCOMING POSTS

Soon we are going to do something that we haven’t done in a long time…  A Margot’s Wino Night. Instead of babbling about wine I’ve had in the privacy of my own humble abode, I actually went to a Winery in that place that isn’t The Hamptons.  I went to a great place, with wines I both liked and didn’t.  Stay tuned…

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St Aubin Church in Treves.

I’m also going to be reviewing the second in Declan Finn’s  “Codename” Series, Codename: Unsub.  But that might take me a week or so. I’m in the middle of other reading projects that are taking a lot longer than expected.

I also have a GF recipe that I want to try out… it partially comes from a mix, so we’ll see.   Hint: It’s a dessert, and it’s not pumpkin pie spice related. But it is a good representative of the essence of Fall, so be not afraid.  IT will be seasonal.

St Aubin Church in Treves.

St Aubin Church in Treves.

Today I cheated with the Sunday Shrine.  The pictures are from Nortre Dame church in St Aubin’s, or L’église Notre-Dame à Cunault. The Church dates from the 12th Century.  To put that in perspective, Thomas Aquinas might have known about this church.

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St Aubin Church in Treves.

Also, I’m looking for suggestions. I figure I have about three people reading me at this point.  If there’s something you want to see here, please post.

Comments? Please? Hell, I wouldn’t mind tomatoes thrown at this point.

No canned tomatoes, however. I have to draw the line somewhere.

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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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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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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?

 

 

What is Freedom? Of Speech? (Part I)

What is Freedom? Freedom of Speech?

Before we get into Freedom of Speech, Let’s look at Freedom first.  My reason? Too many people do not know what freedom is.

Illustrative of this is a Chesterton quote, who sums it up neatly.

“Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.”
What’s Wrong With the World, GK Chesterton

What isn’t a bid to avoid responsibility is an attempt to avoid suffering at all costs.  This explains how the Left can simultaneously claim to support “free speech” and decry anyone who speaks and is threatened– or killed.  I mean, it’s easy to decry a dead man when he isn’t there to refute what you say.  And… now we understand.

Rights aren’t issued by consensus.  If they were, the strongest arm would always win.   Rights are God given– innate, if you prefer.

It’s not just me.  Let’s look at the definition in detail.

1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:
He won his freedom after a retrial.
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3.the power to determine action without restraint.
4. political or national independence.
5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery:
a slave who bought his freedom.
6.exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually followed by from):
freedom from fear.

Does that really sound like something that is under the shadow of a death threat?  Sure, speaking your mind can be dangerous. You know what? When it becomes that dangerous, that means you have to escalate beyond words to defend your rights. There are other options outside of giving up because it’s scary or hard.

Oh, and here’s my personal favorite definition of freedom:

14.civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.

Hint: killing people over ugly words or pictures is not only despotism, but barbarism.  You want to live under such a government? Make haste and move there. Please. We just might rescue this faltering republic that much more quickly without your…”help”.

Some people only think they can revoke the right to free speech by censorship, threats or taking lives.  They are gravely mistaken. Free American mouthpieces that pander to those who would put  our freedom to the sword aren’t any better.  These are not citizens but mewling slaves for hire, ratting their self-imposed chains so they can force them on the rest of us.

Aristotle meets Jesus

An oldie but a goodie.

Margot St. Aubin

Aristotle depicted by Raphael, holding his Ethics: detail from the Vatican fresco The School of Athens, 1510 – 1511.

I think Chesterton is ignored today because we do not have the intellectual fortitude to understand his point. We are blinded by wit and a clever turn of phrase, but do not see the meaning behind what is said.

Thought is virga, showering us, yet dries up before it touches the soil. Because we do not believe that reality is real, thought is less than metaphysical, less than smoke. Talk is cheap and meaning is non existent.

Moral relativism is the philosophy of depression and death– a death of cold. That is, falling asleep, thinking everything is fine.  All you see is the whiteness of a blank page; there appears no reason to worry. Yet reality will still devour you, and finds it easier to do so when there is no…

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Sunday Shrine: Cathedra Petri

By Ricardo André Frantz (User:Tetraktys) (taken by Ricardo André Frantz) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

 Today is the feast of the Seat of St Peter. “Upon this Rock I build my Church.”  Ahh Bernini.  So glorious!  (Yeah, I needed a break from Lent, too. 😉 )

  ⇓Yes, this image depicts an on-going mass.  Dude, taking pictures during mass? Really?  But it is a nice picture, and gives you a sense of scale.

But  I can understand why some people go, “but why all the stuff? Wasn’t Jesus a humble carpenter? What are you people on?”

Well, it’s like this. Jesus is your buddy, (which is a pretty radical position for a deity) and I’m not denying that. But he’s also GOD. And God is the omnipotent omnipresent creator of the universe and everything in it. He is Existence Itself. The culmination of All that is Good. He is Love, yes, I can go on and on about this all day… even all eternity. But the point is… think about when this was built.  What was it’s purpose?

⇓⇑Nice closer image of the chair. 

By Antoine Taveneaux (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“To glorify the Pope?” snarks the peanut gallery.  Well, I’m sure the man who commissioned this had an ego problem or two, but it was designed, built and dedicated to the Greater Glory of God.  At least some people here had intent, and it was meant not as a palace for a king, but a palace for God HImself. Meaning it should surpass the beauty of all palaces, the personal wealth of all kings, both in the past, in the present, and in the future.  And that is why Bernini made it as he did. Even if you question the Pope’s motives… will you question that this artist did not want to give his absolute best to God?

⇓Below here, is the altar of sacrifice. That is why the pillars have a vaguely abominable appearance. This is Cavalry.  Cuddly putti aren’t called for in that context. That is why the angels on top of the roof cornice are mourning..

By Dnalor 01 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 There were holy men working for the church, even back then. And they did not question it. It was built for the Faithful, and for God.  A church was the only establishment where ordinary people would see this kind of thing.

Furthermore, comparing a Pope to a king is ludicrous. The Papacy is the longest standing democratic institution on Earth.   How so? Look at the first picture.   It’s a shot from the Papal enclave that ultimately voted in Pope Francis.   Also, the Pope only teaches what Christ teaches, and cannot make up new teachings. He can reformulate rubrics and how things are done, but it must always conform to what Christ taught, or his teaching is invalid. So he does what Christ says, and is a servant of his Church, mostly to proclaim unity, arbitrate squabbles and represent her in the global theater.

Returning to the topic of elaborate and gilded churches, I have one last point. There is a tradition and teaching that a church is where heaven touches Earth, a place where God dwells amongst his people. (Hint: This is my body.) SO it reflects not only the glories of Heaven, the presence of God’s Glory on Earth, but also the Temple on the Mount. (Hint: He shall return in Glory.) If that isn’t reason to have glorious surroundings, I don’t know what is.

⇓Another attempt at scale and impact, backing off, trying to soak it  all in.

By Michael Day (St Peter’sUploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons