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On “Patton,” Sunday School teacher

File:Patton during a welcome home parade in Los Angeles, June 9, 1945.jpg

General George Patton (lower right), at a “welcome home” parade; Los Angeles, June 1945.

 

It’s fitting on Memorial Day, 2014, to remember someone like George Patton, who was at once heroic and controversial.   For example, there’s a scene in the movie Patton, where the general spoke to a group of Army chaplains who’ve been touring the front.  Part of the tour included Patton’s private quarters, where one chaplain noticed a Bible.  Knowing the tremendous responsibilities at stake, the chaplain asked if Patton actually had time to read that Bible.

Patton said, “I sure do.  Every Goddamn day.”

*   *   *   *

He cursed like a sailor and believed in reincarnation, but Patton was a devout Episcopalian, as shown in the film starring George C. Scott.

For example, Patton was at a low point in his career during World War II, after the “slapping incident” in Sicily.  He was almost sent home in disgrace, but he found comfort in Psalm 63.

The film showed Patton praying, then going out to apologize to the troops. As he went, he recited Psalm 63, “humble and defiant.”  As abbreviated – and in the King James version, naturally – the psalm went like this: “O God, Thou art my God, early will I seek Thee. My soul thirsteth for Thee…  But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword, they shall be a portion for foxes…   Everyone that sweareth by Him shall glory. But the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.”

Later in the war, after his Third Army helped overrun German forces in France, the Germans counter-attacked in the December 1944 Battle of the Bulge.  The coldest winter in Europe’s history helped the Germans with terrible weather; snow, ice, and fog.  It kept the planes of the Army Air Corps grounded, unable to help. It got so bad Patton ordered his chaplain to write a “weather prayer.” The prayer, he thought, would help his tanks break through to the 101st Airborne, surrounded in Bastogne.  The prayer went like this:

Patton's Prayer

 

*   *   *   *

Patton also believed in reincarnation. According to websites, he believed that he had served in previous lives as a soldier under Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.), and later as Julius Caesar himself.   To a nephew Patton once said, “I don’t know about other people, but for myself … I know there are places I’ve been before, and not in this life.”

Which brings up another scene from the movie.  While riding in a jeep with General Omar Bradley, Patton “sniffed out” the site of an ancient battle, between Carthaginians and Romans 2,000 years before.  Patton said, “I was here,” then turned to Bradley and added, “You don’t believe me, do you Brad?”  He then added, “You know what the poet said:”

Through the travail of ages,midst the pomp and toils of war,have I fought and strove and perished, countless times among the stars.  As if through a glass and darkly,the age old strife I see, when I fought in many guises and many names, but always me.

Patton then asked, “Do you know who the poet was?” When Bradley smiled slightly and shook his head, Patton answered, “Me.”   Which raises an interesting question.  Would Patton’s belief in reincarnation – or his cursing like a sailor – keep him out of heaven, despite all that he did for America, democracy and freedom in World War II?

*   *   *   *

In the end, Patton was both a devoted Bible-reader and a man of deep faith.  He was a man who accomplished much in the one life that we know he had.  But just like Robert E. Lee – another devout Episcopalian you may have heard of – Patton didn’t wear his religion on his sleeve.  He had a job to do and he did it, and for the most part kept his private religion private. It’s hard to think that God (or St. Peter) would keep George Patton out of heaven just because he cursed “like a sailor” or believed in reincarnation.  It would ever so boring without him… 

And by the way, “Old Blood and Guts” also taught Sunday School at the Church of Our Savior San Gabriel California, as shown below:

 

The upper image is courtesy of Wikipedia.

As to Patton’s belief in reincarnation, see also George S. Patton – Wikiquote , which included the following, from “a letter to his mother from Chamlieu, France, during World War I, revealing some of his speculations about reincarnation,” dated 20 November 1917:

I wonder if I could have been here before as I drive up the Roman road the Theater seems familiar — perhaps I headed a legion up that same white road…  I passed a chateau in ruins which I possibly helped escalade in the middle ages.  There is no proof nor yet any denial. We were, We are, and we will be. 

The “Patton Prayer” image is courtesy of the generalpatton.com website, http://www.generalpatton.com/images/prayercard.jpg.

The “New Patton Role” image is courtesy of Church of Our Savior San Gabriel California, the church Patton attended (when possible).

 

On spam and “angels unaware”

 

The Scribe recently caused a major firestorm.  (But to paraphrase Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men, “Is there any other kind?”)  He did this by attempting to share his Blog by way of a older-person singles-group email list.*

The short version of the lesson learned:  “I shan’t be doing that again!

But the episode was instructive, and it did lead to a couple of Bible-verse memory jogs.  It also led to a realization of an apparently-unique theme of this Blog: As a general principle, it’s better to be open-minded than close-minded.  So if that idea bothers you – if your mind is already made up in many or most things – you might as well stop reading right now.

One reason it’s better to be open-minded – The Scribe contends and will contend during the life of this Blog – is that you simply get much more out of your Bible study that way.  If you read the Bible with a closed or “narrow” mind, you’ll simply be cheating yourself out of the opportunity to live life “in all its abundance,” as Jesus promised in John 10:10.

Getting back to unsolicited email – also known as “spam” – it certainly does present a major problem for all internet users. (See Unsolicited Bulk Email: Definitions and Problems.)   But from that a general principle might be gleaned:  While most unsolicited emails present a problem, that doesn’t mean some of them don’t also present an opportunity.

That is, to simply close your mind and reject all unsolicited email is arguably as unwise as refusing to extend hospitality to anyone, regardless of circumstances.  That’s because – as the Bible says in Hebrews 13:2 – “Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.”  (The “angels unawares” language comes from the King James Bible, the one God uses.)

The updated version of that could be:  “Don’t automatically reject all unsolicited email, because you might find some of it interesting or even – heaven forbid – enlightening.”

On the other hand, neither clumsiness, nor stupidity, nor ignorance of the law is any excuse.

Then there’s the nice lady who created the email list in question, the nice lady who ended up getting so much grief because of the offending mass email, and to whom The Scribe has apologized and will continue to apologize profusely.

When The Scribe tactfully suggested that some of irate recipients of the offending mass email might be a tad grumpy -“Who are you and take my name of your *&^&% list” was a typical response – the nice lady politely responded that “These people are not grumpy.”  But she also noted that “I am getting hundreds of emails every day and they are all nasty.”

Which led to another Bible-verse memory jog, to wit: Matthew 7:16, which in the Good News Translation reads, “You will know them by what they do. Thorn bushes do not bear grapes, and briers do not bear figs.”  Which might be interpreted: It’s pretty hard to send a nasty email without being tainted by nastiness yourself.  (See also James 3:11, in the Aramaic Bible in Plain English: “Is it possible that from one spring, sweet and bitter waters go out?“)

The point is, this was a Christian older-person singles-group email list.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of 2d Corinthians 5:18 – saying God has “given us the ministry of reconciliation” – The Scribe can only apologize yet again, and promise that the mistake will never repeated.  Then too, his grievous error might prevent other “newbie” Bloggers from making that same mistake: Never, ever try to expand your unique “ministry” – whatever it is – through such a mass email list.

Mea coopa, mea coopa, mea maxima coopa
Mea coopa, mea coopa, mea maxima coopa

Point taken.

 

The cartoon is courtesy of http://www.reverendfun.com/add_toon_info.php?date=20070115&language=en.

*  The practice of referring to oneself in the third person is Illeism, “sometimes used in literature as a stylistic device.  In real life usage, illeism can reflect a number of different stylistic intentions or involuntary circumstances.” Illeism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   Former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole “regularly referred to himself in the third person, a habit that made him the target of ridicule in a series of skits on Saturday Night Live.” 11 Famous Illeists | Mental Floss.

The “mea coopa” reference was to one of the verses from Jimmy Buffett’s song “Fruitcakes.” And a note: That’s the way it comes out when he sang it, but the actual words are “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”  A Youtube version can be seen at FruitcakesJimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.  For the lyrics see Jimmy Buffett – Fruitcakes Lyrics.  One other point to be added from the song, Jimmy noting that the “God’s honest truth is it’s not that simple,” which is why it pays to have an open mind.  (Put another way, the Bible message is simple enough for a child to understand, yet we adults can spend a lifetime plumbing its depths and still not understand more than a fraction of its eternal truthes…)  Note also the following from Wikipedia: “Mea culpa is a Latin phrase that translates into English as ‘through my fault.’  It is repeated three times in the prayer of confession at the Catholic Mass: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa — ‘through my fault, through my fault, through my [own] most grievous fault.'”

 

 

On “ON Bible readings for May 11”

File:Cooper, Oliver Cromwell.jpg

Oliver Cromwell – Wikiquote:  “Use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me…”

 

 

On or about May 14, 2014, the Scribe was trying to clean up this Blog by sending the original post, “On Bible readings for May 11,” to the site’s trash bin.    (He did save it on a disk drive for future use.)   The main goal was to keep from overloading the Blog with old posts on Sunday Lectionary readings “from long ago.”  But for some reason, typing in “dorscribe” in the search engine then led to the aforementioned “May 11” post being at the top of the list of links.  But clicking on that old link led to the following message:

This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it?

That was followed by the note: “It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.”  (On the other hand, you would be right there on the Blog site, and could click on either “Home” or “About that ‘DOR Scribe guy.'”)

Anyway, there’s probably a lesson in all of this, and perhaps that lesson is that you shouldn’t be a “historical revisionist.”   (See for example: Historical revisionism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, and/or Historical revisionism (negationism) – Wikipedia, …)

That is, “constant revision of history is part of the normal scholarly process of writing history,” but historical revisionism in turn can be and often is “the illegitimate distortion of the historical record such that certain events appear in a more or less favorable light.”

Which brings up a key point:  One thing you’ll find out about the Bible – as for example in future posts – is that the people who compiled the historical books of the Old Testament were definitely not “revisionists.”   They presented a picture of their ancestors “warts and all.”

So, lesson learned:  No more sending old posts to the trash bin.

 

On a dame and a mystic

File:Julian of Norwich.jpg

Dame Julian of Norwich

 

In the Episcopal church-calendar, May 8 is the Feast Day for Dame Julian of Norwich, a town in England a bit north and a tad east of London.  She was born in 1342 and died “about” 1416.  As Wikipedia noted, she was an English anchoress regarded as an important early Christian mystic.   (That clunk you heard was a Southern Baptist having apoplexy over the word “mystic.”)

We don’t know much about Julian, and in fact the name “Julian” is pure guesswork:  “Her personal name is unknown and the name ‘Julian’ simply derives from the fact that her anchoress’s cell was built onto the wall of the church of St Julian in Norwich.”

An anchoress (the female version of an “anchorite”) is someone who has “retired from the world;” someone who, “for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society” in favor of an intensely prayer-oriented, ascetic, and “Communion-focused” life.  Anchorites are usually considered to be a type of religious hermit – seeking to live a solitary life devoted to God – and the “anchoritic life is one of the earliest forms of Christian monastic living.”

And as originally defined, mysticism “referred to the biblical, the liturgical and the spiritual or contemplative dimensions in early and medieval Christianity.”   (Talk about “original intent…”)  And consider this from the Book of Common Prayer, at page 339: “we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of thy Son, the blessed company of all faithful people.”

That’s a reminder that there should be two sides to any and every Christian church: a “corporate” or business to keep things running smoothly, but more important, a “mystical” side to help the individual church-goer achieve that long-awaited “union with the divine” (and with each other), but we digress. . .

One of the quotes from Dame Julian is this, about “our customary practice of prayer:”

“. . . how through our ignorance and inexperience . . . we spend so much time on petition. I saw that it is indeed more worthy of God and more truly pleasing to him that through his goodness we should pray with full confidence, and by his grace cling to him with real understanding and unshakeable love, than that we should go on making as many petitions as our souls are capable of.”

(See also the prayer of Rabia Basri, in the “Parable of the three suitors.”)

Anyway, when she was 30 years old Julian had a severe illness and was on her deathbed when she had visions of seeing Jesus.  From that experience she wrote her Revelations of Divine Love, as seen in the illustration above.  It had 25 chapters and was some 11,000 words long, and is thought to be the “earliest surviving book written in the English language by a woman.”

For more information check the following sources:

Julian of Norwich – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

www.goodreads.com/author/…/156980.Julian_of_Norwich

Julian of Norwich – Wikiquote

 

http://www.theotherpages.org/poems/faces/evelyn_underhill_1.jpg

Evelyn Underhill, seen above, could be said to have followed in “Dame Julian’s” footsteps.  Underhill (1875-1941), was “known for her numerous works on religion and spiritual practice, in particular Christian mysticism.”  (There’s that “clunk” again.)  Her books included:

  • The Mystic Way. A psychological study of Christian origins (1914). Online
  • Practical Mysticism. A Little Book for Normal People (1914);

 

The Bible – Lectionary Musings and Color Commentary

File:Gustave Brion - Notre-Dame de Paris 1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Quasimodo Sunday!

 

That’s right, the Sunday after Easter is also known as Quasimodo Sunday, as explained below.  But first, a note:

As soon as I can figure out all the bells and whistles – the confusing conglomeration of signs, symbols and icons on the webhostinghub.com dashboard – I’ll be  commenting on a weekly basis on the upcoming Sunday Bible readings, as set out in the Revised Common Lectionary, the three-year cycle of Bible readings established by the Episcopal Church.

For example, the upcoming Sunday – the Sunday After Easter – is also known as “Quasimodo Sunday.”  That’s aside from being known as Low Sunday and/or St. Thomas Sunday, or in some cases “Doubting Thomas” Sunday.  I look forward to it.

The DOR* Scribe

 

Re:  “Quasimodo Sunday.”   (And no, that’s not me being given a drink by sweet Esmerelda in the image above, courtesy of Wikipedia.   It’s the image titled, “Esmeralda gives a drink to Quasimodo in one of Gustave Brion‘s illustrations.”)

Now, the Sunday after Easter is perhaps best known as “Low Sunday,” because of the unusually-low church attendance that day, especially compared with the unusually high attendance on Easter Sunday.   And it’s also known as St. Thomas Sunday, “because the Gospel reading always relates the story of ‘Doubting Thomas.'”

(That the story where Thomas the disciple comes to believe “only after being told by the resurrected Christ to place his finger in the nail marks and his hand in His side…  In the Gospel accounts, this event takes place on the eighth day after the Resurrection, hence their significance for this Sunday.” (Wikipedia.)

But finally, the Sunday after Easter is also known as Quasimodo Sunday, but not through any connection with Victor Hugo’s character in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.   Instead, the name comes from a Latin translation of the beginning of First Peter 2:2, a traditional “introit” used in churches on this day.    First Peter 2:2 begins – in English and depending on the translation – “As newborn babes, desire the rational milk without guile…”

In Latin the verse reads:  “Quasi modo geniti infantes…”    Literally, “quasi modo means ‘as if in [this] manner.'”

So there you have it, the story behind Quasimodo Sunday.

 

*   “DOR” stands for the Daily Office, a set of assigned Bible readings beginning on page 933 of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.  (Thus “Daily Office Readings.”)   By doing the readings on a daily basis, you can get through virtually the entire Bible in two years, and the psalms and Gospels three to four times.

That’s as compared with the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), which sets out a three-year cycle of Bible readings.  (“We” are currently in Year C.)  Thus a devout 69-year-old Episcopalian, who has attended church faithfully since he was 21, will have heard the entire Bible read to him some 16 times, and the psalms and Gospels some 48 to 64 times.

Those assigned Bible readings will be the basis for the color commentary to follow in the upcoming posts.