Monday, December 25, 2006

All is Calm, All is Bright

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying:

Ere zij God in den hoge!
Vrede op aarde,
In de mensen
Een welbehagen.

Merry Christmas everyone

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Things observed from the back of a Winnipeg Transit bus

OK, I don't know what it is about Winnipeg Transit buses, but there just seems to be more interesting things happening on them compared to their Vancouver counterparts. Perhaps this is because in Winnipeg I get to sit in the back and observe; in Vancouver I always end up squished in the one square foot space left by the front door...or maybe its all because the good people of Winnipeg are just plain more interesting. Anyways....
Two mornings in a row this otherwise normal seeming middle-aged man gets off the bus at the legislature with his right boot halfway on, halfway off. Like he left the house in a rush that morning and didn't have the time to put it on properly. He steps off, and proceeds with purpose in a straight line to his destination, through the snow, heedless of the beaten path just off to his side, with his right boot halfway on, halfway off and the cuff of his pantleg resting wrinkled upon the top. Two mornings, two new paths through the snow. Perhaps it will all be beaten down by the end of the winter. Beaten down by this man with his right boot halfway on, halfway off and the cuff of his pantleg resting wrinkled upon the top.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Christmas Reflection Courtesy of St. Augustine

In honour of the season, a wonderful, imagery-laden quote from our good friend St. Augustine. It's worth a few reads.

The Word of the Father,
by whom all the cycles of time was made,
when he was made flesh,
caused the day of his birth to take place in time,
and in this human genesis willed to have one day,
when no day opens without His divine command.

With the Father He precedes all the ages of the world,
by the Mother He set Himself on this day
in the courses of the years.

The Maker of man was made man,
that the Ruler of the stars might suck at the breast;
that the Bread might be hungered;
the Fountain, thirst;
the Light, sleep;
the Way be wearied by the journey;
the Truth be accused by false witnesses;
the Judge of the living and the dead be judged by a mortal judge;
the Chastener be chastised with whips;
the Vine be crowned with thorns;
the Foundation be hung upon the tree;
Strength be made weak;
Health be wounded;
Life die...

He who was before all the ages,
without any beginning of days, Son of God,
deigned in these days just past to be the Son of man;
and He who was begotten of the Father,
not made by the Father,
was 'made' in the mother whom He had made;
that here and now He might spring from Her,
who except through Him could no-when and no-where have been.

- St. Augustine
Sermon CXCI (on Christmas)

Friday, December 08, 2006


Paper writing: I love it and I hate it. I hate how it takes so long to take an idea you have fully intact and perfect in your head and shoehorn it into the limited vocabulary you have from staying up late reading the dictionary. Writing essays is like wrestling for me. I wrestle this idea into 10 pages of prose.
I just handed an essay on the relationship between Pope Gregory VII and King William the Conqueror of England. Don't worry, I can see you staring at your computer screen and tilting your head and saying "hm" in sympathetic interest. That's been the typical response. Its an odd topic I'll admit. I came attracted to it because in general I love historical connection. Sure it's nice to have all these random facts in your head, but when you can connect things together like Christmas cards on a string above the mantle, it's beautiful.
What comes to mind when you think of 11th century Europe? Probably not much. What about the year 1066? If you grew up in the Commonwealth you should know that this is the date of the Battle of Hastings, the Norman Conquest, King Harold getting shot in the eye, King William taking the throne in the last successful military invasion of the England. What else? Well, the Church had gone to shit, priests were getting married, holy things were being bought and sold like used cars, hardly the kingdom of God. But along comes a number of pious popes who wanted to change that and so we get the papal reforms. Their solution to the problems in the church? Stop people from doing bad things. How were going to do that? By having more authority. If only the word of the pope would be obeyed lickety-split, there'd be no problems. The problem was that this other group of fellows, let's call them 'kings', because that's what they were, weren't too quick to take orders from a pope and so there's this big controversy, all of a sudden you have three guys claiming to pope, yadda yadda yadda.
So my question: how did these two events converge? I basically threw them at each other and saw where the sparks flew and started writing. Turns out William helped the papal agenda along rather nicely. They got on relatively well. William helped the papacy bring about reform and the papacy helped William assert his rule over the English he didn't slaughter. That's about it.
Until you look further and you see that here we have England and the pope getting along nicely, but in 500 years with old Henk #8 things changed.
So that is when history gets fun for myself. When you begin to string the lines from one event to another across geography, across time.
If anyone actually wants to read my paper, let me know I'll send you a copy. (...crickets...tumbleweed...)
As for me, I have library books to return.