31 December 2007

Fruitorium Rotunda

See Poll at right.

Art Journal

It always amazes me what you can find on the internet. One thing leads to another and pretty soon you aren’t surfing in Kansas any more but are snooping around someone’s collection of Victorian fire screens and hair receivers. And it proves the point that no matter what my wrinkled grey matter can come up with, someone, somewhere has thought of it before, and, in this age, probably has a blog or a web site on the subject. The spectrum of subjects that people collect, study, obsess and blog about is dazzling. If the mind of man can conceive it, some one has blogged it. That can be a good thing, but it also can be not-so-good. You find the sublime, the spiritual, the most noble aspects of God’s finest creation on one hand, and on the other just the opposite. Plenty of material to prove the axiom that, “People will do anything for money”.

One aspect that impresses me is not only does the subject exist in a blog, but that the delivery is done so very well in many cases. People put hours and hours into their special interest blogs with lots of photographs, text, links, graphics etc. The level of expertise is astounding (At least it is to me, the pre-computer generation).

The subject matter is endless. Pencil collecting. Fountain Pens. Old tools. Hairbrushes. Militaria. Genealogy. Antique bicycles. I found a web site about Intentionally Hidden Old Clothing. Some of the most confounding pages are the professional/technical/academic sites that communicate something very specific and meaningful only to their own kind. Kinda like you gotta speekee the language before it makes any sense.

There is a lot of interest in notebooks, journals, art journals and the like. Expensive notebooks seem to be necessary for journaling, and that art-journaling thing: More than a sketch-book; a graphic journal of one’s life; A diary for the eyes. All sorts of media are used for collage, drawing, calligraphy, painting all in a book form. A private world of art! Some are beautiful, all are interesting. People are not shy about sharing them either. Next time you want something interesting to look at, find some art journals on the web.

25 December 2007

The Burning Babe

AS I in hoary winter's night
Stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat
Which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye
To view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright
Did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat,
Such floods of tears did shed,
As though his floods should quench his flames,
Which with his tears were bred:
"Alas!" quoth He, "but newly born
In firey heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts
or feel my fire but I!"

"My faultless breast the furnace is;
The fuel, wounding thorns;
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke;
The ashes, shames and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on,
And Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought
Are men's defiled souls:
For which, as now on fire I am
To work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath,
To wash them in my blood."
With this he vanish'd out of sight
And swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind
That it was Christmas Day.

Robert Southwell, 1561-1595
English Roman Catholic Priest, scholar and poet
Martyred for the Faith

Christ is born! Glorify Him!

Merry Christmas to All!

21 December 2007

Holiday Morning

Adoration of the Magi, Pieter Aertsen, C. 1560

I read an article about the continuing discussion of the use of the seasonal greeting “Happy Holidays” instead of the traditional English “Merry Christmas”. The company which owns Banana Republic, Old Navy and The Gap is one of the major retailing chains instructing its employees to wish customers “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” for fear of offending someone. One print advertising piece mentioned, “The perfect gift to open on Holiday Morning”! Golly Gee.

Apparently the politically correct bean-counters that run this outfit believe that sales would be lost if some clerk in some store in some mall somewhere in the United States spoke those cheerful words, “Merry Christmas!” to a customer. They gauge the threat of a lawsuit to be significant enough to warrant not taking the chance. Given the fact that the courts in our country are known for entertaining ridiculous and frivolous lawsuits based upon imagined slights, the businessmen may have a point, albeit, a slight one.

Not being a lawyer or an accountant I know I am not qualified to plumb the depths of the sophisticated thinking that gives rise to this phenomenon, but all this hub-bub strikes me as queer indeed considering that many retailers in America rely on the Christmas shopping season for a large portion of their annual sales revenue. If it wasn’t for Christmas shopping a lot of these shoppers would not be shopping at all. The truth is that retailers do everything they can to encourage people to spend ridiculous amounts of money for Christmas shopping while pretending it is not “Christmas shopping”; it is “Holiday Shopping”. “Holiday” as in the observance of the winter solstice, Saturnalia, Yule, and the re-birth of Mithra. If they had their way, the word “Christmas” would be removed from our vocabulary altogether, the entire month of December turned into one unbroken orgy of spending insanity, and malls decorated as temples for the worship of consumerism.

However, even in our dumbed-down society, everyone knows that Christmas is the Christian Feast in celebration and remembrance of the birth of the Christ child, Emanuel, God incarnate in the flesh. You can debate whether or not the U.S.A. is a “Christian” country all you want, but the point remains that Christmas is deeply embedded in our culture and our national psyche and no amount of fiddling around with it by merchants will change things. Its all about the baby Jesus. Christmas is here to stay, and I say to them, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine”.

“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, Every One!”

02 December 2007

St. Nicholas of Myra

St Nicholas the Wonderworker and Archbishop of Myra in Lycia

Troparion - Tone 4

In truth you were revealed to your flock as a
rule of faith, an image of humility and a
teacher of abstinence; your humility
exalted you; your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Nicholas,
entreat Christ our God that
our souls may be saved.

Santa Klaus, Old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Papa Noel, Father Christmas, call him what you will, the legendary man of mirth and abundant gifts, has his origin in a very real person. Each year, on December 6, Christians around the world remember this man of faith for his acts of selfless giving and love and his abiding dedication to the cause of Christ during very trying times. Over the centuries, especially in the west, St. Nicholas has become associated with the Feast of the Nativity, Christmas, because of the custom of observing the Feast by the giving presents in imitation of the gifts given by the Magi to the Christ child in Bethlehem. The good Bishop became renown during his lifetime for his own gifts to the poor and needy of his flock and after his passing the legend grew until he became a part Christmastide celebration. The next time you put on the red suit and say, "Ho Ho Ho", consider who you are remembering.

You can read more about the real Saint Nick at: