Mary’s Visitation and Jefferson’s Monster – 2023

Artist He Qi‘s interpretation of The Holy Spirit Coming down OR: “Jefferson’s Monster…”

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Welcome to “read the Bible – expand your mind:”

The Book of Common Prayer says that by sharing Holy Communion, Christians become “very members incorporate in the mystical body” of Jesus. The words “corporate” and “mystical” are the key. They show that a healthy church has two sides. The often-overlooked “mystical” side asks, “How do I experience God?” This blog will try to answer that.

It has four main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (See John 6:37.) The second is that God wants us to live lives of abundance. (John 10:10.) The third is that Jesus wants us to read the Bible with an open mind. As it says in Luke 24:45: “Then He [Jesus] opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” The fourth theme – and most often overlooked – is that Jesus wants us to do even greater miracles than He did. (John 14:12.) 

And this thought ties them together:

The best way to live abundantly and do greater miracles than Jesus is: Read, study and apply the Bible with an open mind. For more see the notes or – to expand your mind – see the Intro.

In the meantime:

May 28, 2023, was Pentecost Sunday. (The Day of Pentecost, not the Season of Pentecost.) Three days later, May 31, 2023, celebrated the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin. A week later, Sunday, June 4, came the First Sunday after Pentecost, also called Trinity Sunday.

The weekend of Trinity Sunday, I visited West Springfield, Massachussetts. My brother and his family live there, and they insisted I come up to see the 2023 NEPM Asparagus Festival. The “family-focused event offers more than 100 local vendors providing food, beer, wine and cider as well as agricultural crafts and exhibits.” Including a lot of attention to Asparagus.

I may update all that later,* but in “the other meantime,” back to the the Feast of the Visitation. And Trinity Sunday. Past posts include The Visitation – 2016, Mary’s Visitation – and Pentecost – 2017, and – from May 2018 – The Trinity – Jefferson’s “3-headed monster.”

Taking the last one first, the 2018 post noted first that Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of what was one church. (Now many denominations, hopefully united in Faith.) It marked a big change in Ministry. Before Pentecost One, “the Spirit was poured out almost exclusively on prophets, priests, and kings.” But now God recruited “all different sorts of people for ministry… All would be empowered to minister regardless of their gender, age, or social position.” Thus the First Pentecost was a “momentous, watershed event.”

Which brings up the Trinity – as in Trinity Sunday. Many find “God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit” hard to understand. Even one as smart as Thomas Jefferson. He called the idea a “Three-headed Monster.” (A side note: I like better the metaphor, “an ocean in which to swim.”) I said Jefferson was too much like Nicodemus, taking the Bible “way too literally.” Or you could say:

The Trinity is one of the most fascinating – and controversial – Christian dogmas.  The Trinity is a mystery.  By mystery the Church does not mean a riddle, but rather the Trinity is a reality above our human comprehension that we may begin to grasp, but ultimately must know through worship, symbol, and faith.  It has been said that [this] mystery is not a wall to run up against, but an ocean in which to swim.

From which we can glean: 1) Reading the Bible too literally only takes your spiritual journey so far. 2) Jesus said – to people who didn’t understand His earthly sayings – “Then how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?” 3) John 21:25 noted many things Jesus did, “which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” And finally, 4) “The Lord has not empowered even his holy ones to recount all his marvelous works.” (Ecclesiasticus 42:17.)

Which is another way of saying there’s more to the Bible than meets the eye.

That’s why the Wesleyan Quadrilateral says that apart from Scripture, “experience is the strongest proof of Christianity.” (See also Job 42:5.) In other words, “we cannot have reasonable assurance of something unless we have experienced it personally.” (Apparently Jefferson didn’t have that experience.) In sum, the Trinity is a “reality above our human comprehension.” A reality that we can only begin to grasp. The same is true of much of the Bible, especially the “mystical” parts. (Which may be why some choose literalism. It’s ever so much easier…)

Back to the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (The formal name.) As Wikipedia noted:

The Visitation is the visit of Mary with Elizabeth as recorded [in] Luke 1:39–56.  It is also the name of a Christian feast day[,] celebrated on 31 May…  Mary is pregnant with Jesus and Elizabeth is pregnant with John the Baptist.  Mary left Nazareth immediately after the Annunciation and went “into the hill country” [of Judah] to attend to her cousin.

Wikipedia added, “In the Gospel of Luke, the author’s accounts of the Annunciation and Visitation are constructed using eight points of literary parallelism to compare Mary to the Ark of the Covenant.” (Which I didn’t know.) Also, Mary’s Magnificat echoes Old Testament passages including the Song of Hannah, in 1st Samuel 2:1-10. There’s more background in Visitation – 2016, but here’s the main point: On May 31 we celebrate the early meeting of Mary and cousin Elizabeth. “Their meeting sets the stage for all that will come later, and it is women who recognize it first.” (See also Mary Magdalene, “Apostle to the Apostles.”)

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The Virgin Mary in prayer – Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato

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The upper image is courtesy of The Good Heart: Holy Spirit Coming (Painting by He Qi):  

“A genuinely good heart is a heart that is open and alight with understanding.  It listens to the sorrows of the world.  Our society is wrong to think that happiness depends on fulfilling one’s own wants and desires.  That is why our society is so miserable…”

See also He Qi « Artist:  “One could say that among other things his paintings are a celebration of colour.  The style of his work is iconic, and [his] images are strong but gentle.”

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

For more on the Asparagus Festival, see Ninth annual Asparagus Festival held on Hadley town common – MSN. Or Google “asparagus festival western massachusetts.” Then on Sunday June 4, we visited the “Little Poland” festival. See 10th annual Little Poland Festival takes place in New Britain (CT), and PHOTOS: New Britain celebrated Little Poland Festival. My verdict, the Asparagus Festival featured draft beer, the Polish Festival only canned. Plus the Polish Festival was livelier, with more music and lots of people celebrating and “dancing in the streets.”

See also Pentecost – “Happy Birthday, Church!”

Re: Trinity. According to What is the origin of the doctrine of the Trinity, “The Trinity is Christianity’s most unique, defining, incomprehensible, and awesome mystery.” And that while some “unbelievers mistakenly call this a contradiction,” it is rather “a mystery revealed by God in His Word.”

Re: Jefferson’s “Three-headed Monster.” In his letter of December 1822, he used phrases like “hocus-pocus phantasm of a God like another Cerberus,” and that with Christian believers, “gullibility which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason, and the mind becomes a wreck.”

“Heavenly things.” John 3:12, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?”

Re: Job 42:5. The Bible Hub site has different translations. The CE Version reads, “I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes.” The NLT reads, “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.” See also Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

We are not to suppose that Job means to say that he actually “saw” God, but that his apprehensions of him were clear and bright “as if” he did. There is no evidence that God appeared to Job in any visible form. He is said, indeed, to have spoken from the whirlwind, but no visible manifestation of Yahweh is mentioned.

The lower image is courtesy of the Marian perspectives link at Mary, mother of Jesus – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “The Virgin in Prayer, by Sassoferrato, c. 1650.”  (Or in the alternative:  “Jungfrun i bön (1640-1650). National GalleryLondon.”)

My 2016 post included a cite to The Visitation Painting by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, and this:

Although not a big part of the Christmas story today, in the past, the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth was considered very important.  The two women were cousins.  Elizabeth, an old woman, is the wife of the priest Zechariah, who is told by an angel that his elderly wife will become pregnant.  Unknown to the couple, their child will grow up to become John the Baptist.  Mary was pregnant with Jesus.  When they meet, Elizabeth’s baby leaps for joy inside her womb.  Elizabeth and Mary both realize that Mary’s child is very special.  Their meeting sets the stage for all that will come later, and it is women who recognize it first.

The site added that all paintings of the Visitation “are based on the Gospel of Luke, 1:40-45, the only place where this story appears.”

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As noted in the opening blurb, this blog has four main themes. The first is that God will accept anyone. (John 6:37, with the added, “Anyone who comes to Him.”) The second is that God wants us to live abundantly.  (John 10:10.) The third is that we should do greater miracles than Jesus. (John 14:12). A fourth theme: The only way to do all that is read the Bible with an open mind:

…closed-mindedness, or an unwillingness to consider new ideas, can result from the brain’s natural dislike for ambiguity. According to this view, the brain has a “search and destroy” relationship with ambiguity and evidence contradictory to people’s current beliefs tends to make them uncomfortable… Research confirms that belief-discrepant-closed-minded persons have less tolerance for cognitive inconsistency

So in plain words, this blog takes issue with boot-camp Christians. They’re the Biblical literalists who never go “beyond the fundamentals.” But the Bible can offer so much more than their narrow reading can offer…  (Unless you want to stay a Bible buck private all your life…) Now, about “Boot-camp Christians.” See for example, Conservative Christian – “Career buck private?”  The gist of that post is that starting the Bible is like Army Basic Training. You begin by“learning the fundamentals.” But after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training.”

However, after boot camp, you move on to Advanced Individual Training. And as noted in “Buck private,” one of this blog’s themes is that if you want to be all that you can be, you need to go on and explore the “mystical side of Bible reading.*” In other words, exploring the mystical side of the Bible helps you “be all that you can be.” See Slogans of the U.S. Army – Wikipedia, re: the recruiting slogan from 1980 to 2001. The related image at left is courtesy of: “” 

Re: “mystical.” Originally, mysticism “referred to the Biblical liturgical, spiritual, and contemplative dimensions of early and medieval Christianity.” See Mysticism – Wikipedia, and the post On originalism.  (“That’s what the Bible was originally about!”) See also Christian mysticism – Wikipedia, “In early Christianity the term ‘mystikos’ referred to three dimensions, which soon became intertwined, namely the biblical, the liturgical and the spiritual or contemplative… The third dimension is the contemplative or experiential knowledge of God.” As to that “experiential” aspect, see also Wesleyan Quadrilateral – Wikipedia, on the method of theological reflection with four sources of spiritual development: scripturetradition, reason, and “Christian experience.”

For an explanation of the Daily Office – where “Dorscribe” came from – see What’s a DOR

On “her spirit returned” – and Ascension Day

When Jesus spoke to the daughter of Jairus, “her spirit returned” – she came back to life…

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Saturday, May 20, 2023 – The Daily Office Readings for Friday, May 12, included Luke 8. Starting at verse 40, Luke 8:40-56 tells of Jesus raising a dead girl and healing a sick woman.

That Friday morning, Luke 8:55 caught my eye.

It all started when Jairus, a “ruler of the synagogue,” asked Jesus to come to his house. His only daughter, 12 years old, was dying. But by the time Jesus healed the sick woman, a man came from Jairus’ house and said, “Your daughter is dead… Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

Jesus assured Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

When Jesus got to the house and told mourners the daughter wasn’t dead, but sleeping, “They laughed at Him.” (A strange reaction?) Then came Luke 8:55. Jesus went into the room where the body lay, with the parents and three disciples. He spoke to her, and, “Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up.” (Other translations read, “And her spirit returned.”)

Which made me wonder, “Where did her spirit go?” (Between the time she died and when Jesus brought her back to life.) Put another way, “Where did her soul go?” (And is there a difference, between soul and spirit?) The Bible tells of at least 10 People Raised From the Dead, including Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, and Tabitha. (Dorcas.) They all raise the question, “Where did their souls – or spirits – go, between the time they died and they were brought back to life?”

Those are deep questions, but somehow they seem related to the idea of Ensoulment:

[T]he moment at which a human or other being gains a soul. Some belief systems maintain that a soul is newly created within a developing child and others, especially in religions that believe in reincarnation, [or] that the soul is pre-existing and added at a particular stage of development. [Emphasis added.]

Wikipedia added Aristotle‘s saying the human soul enters the forming body some time after conception. (40 days later for male embryos or 90 days for female embryos, though he didn’t say how to tell the difference.) He added that quickening –  when a pregnant woman first starts to feel the fetus move – “was an indication of the presence of a soul.” That in turn raises the question: “Where do these souls – entering into the fetus – come from? Are they created ex nihilo at the moment of conception? Are they ‘created’ at all, as we understand the term?”

We might answer those questions by asking another question. “Is the human soul a form of energy?” If the human soul is a form of energy, we have our answer. The First law of thermodynamics says that “energy is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form.” Which means that if a human soul is a form of energy – and I’d say it is – then it is neither created at the moment of conception, nor destroyed at the moment of death.

Then there’s Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

I could say “The Bible Says It, I Believe It, That Settles It,” but that would only raise a host of new questions to debate.* For now let’s just say that at least this once, the First law of thermodynamics and Jeremiah 1:5 support each other. (Even if they don’t agree exactly.) God knew Jeremiah’s soul – or spirit – at some time before He formed Jeremiah “in the womb.”

Which again makes me wonder, “Where exactly was Jeremiah’s soul, or spirit, before God formed him in the womb?” That too is a deep question, but this and the other deep questions all seem somehow related to the most recent Feast Day, to wit: The Feast of the Ascension. (“Related” to me at least. INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW!)

This Feast – coming this year on May 18 – commemorates the “bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven.” (And it’s “ecumenical,” meaning “universally celebrated.”) In terms of importance it ranks right up there “with the feasts of the Passion, of Easter, and Pentecost.” It’s always celebrated on a Thursday, the 40th day of Easter. (More precisely, the 40th day of Eastertide, the 50-day church season running from Easter Day to Pentecost Sunday.)

That’s the part of the Gospel account that began when Jesus led the disciples out of the room where He first appeared, and on out of Jerusalem. (“To the vicinity of Bethany,” right after Luke 24:45, where He “opened their minds,” as noted above.) Then came Luke 24:50-51:

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.

And speaking of the First law of thermodynamics, I first mentioned that concept back in 2014’s On Ascension Day. I argued then that that Law was “proof positive that the human soul – a definite form of energy – is neither ‘created nor destroyed, but simply changes form.’” Which to me raised the question, “Where was my soul before I was born?” I included a Note:

That brings to mind a meditation from the Kaballah (basically, “Jewish mysticism”). See e.g. Kabbalah – Wikipedia. In the meditation, you imagine your soul, before you were born, in the situational-equivalent of sitting around a kitchen table. You are sitting around this hypothetical table with other souls yet to be born. With these other souls, you talk about your future life, looking ahead to what you might accomplish in your upcoming “incarnation.” 

And if that’s an accurate representation, it could explain how God “knew Jeremiah’s soul” at some time before He formed the prophet “in the womb.” But of course there are plenty of people who don’t believe in the bodily Ascension of Jesus into heaven, or the whole idea of life after life for that matter. That’s where we Christians turn to Hebrews 12:2, which calls Jesus “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” And a pioneer is “a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area.” So just as Jesus ascended to heaven – body and soul – we have the hope of following Him there at the end of our earthly pilgrimage.

But of course the best proof for all this comes from personal experience, and I can say from personal experience* that there’s definitely something to this “Jesus stuff.”

You can take my word for it, or you can work to interact with God yourself. Either way:

Here’s wishing you a happy (belated) Ascension Day!

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 “Jesus’ ascension to heaven,” by John Singleton Copley

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The upper image is courtesy of The Raising of the Daughter of Jairus, 1881 – Gabriel von Max.

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

The full Daily Office readings for Friday, May 12, 2023: “AM Psalm 106:1-18; PM Psalm 106:19-48, Wisdom 16:15-17:1Rom[ans] 14:13-23Luke 8:40-56.

Re Luke 8:55. See also, Raising of Jairus’ daughter – Wikipedia. The daughter’s age “represents the age at which girls come of age in Judaism,” and thus:

Mark and Luke mention the girl’s age to emphasi[z]e the tragedy of her dying before her father could marry her off, receive a dowry and expect grandchildren to continue his lineage. Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan (2001): ‘Thus the father may have faced financial loss as well as social disgrace, in addition to the personal sorrow of his daughter’s illness and death.

Re: The subtle difference between spirit and soul. See What Is the Difference Between a Soul and a Spirit, or What Is the Difference between the Soul and the Spirit?

Re: Ensoulment and quickening: “Other religious views are that ensoulment happens at the moment of conception; or when the child takes the first breath after being born; at the formation of the nervous system and brain; at the first detectable sign of brain activity; or when the fetus is able to survive independently of the uterus (viability).”

Re: First law of thermodynamics and the idea that energy is neither created nor destroyed, it simply changes form. I found that thought comforting, somehow, years ago when my nephew (Kenny) died tragically, too young and for no apparent purpose. That was an example of “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” (Nietzsche.) My Faith was shaken to the core, but came out stronger.

Re: “Creatio ex nihilo.” According to Wikipedia, the term – Latin for “creation out of nothing” – is the doctrine that matter – including souls and energy itself – “is not eternal but had to be created by some divine creative act. It is a theistic answer to the question of how the universe comes to exist. It is in contrast to ‘Ex nihilo nihil fit’ or ‘nothing comes from nothing.'” 

Re: “The Bible Says It, I Believe It, That Settles It.” That article notes the “oversimplification of scripture [which] ignores a host of historical and cultural considerations we must take into account when we study scripture because there were historical and cultural circumstances that directly influenced the writing of the Bible.” It cites Bible passages that support killing “witches,” and children who curse their parents, for example. See also Just because you believe the Bible ‘says it’ doesn’t ‘settle it:'”

To use the Bible in this way is an oversimplification at best and a lazy or arrogant generalization at worst. The author of Hebrews challenges us to see the word of God (logos) as a breathing life-force that is actively effective to penetrate into the depths of each of us, bringing conviction and discernment to our lives as we engage in relational interaction with the Spirit of God… [Further,] squabbles over inerrancy lose substantive value and overlook the contamination of the Scriptures by frail and sinful humans. Humans transmitted, wrote, transcribed, translated and interpreted the Bible.

Note also the definition of INTERACTION, according to the Cambridge Dictionary: “an occasion when two or more people or things communicate with or react to each other.See also Wesleyan Quadrilateral – Wikipedia, on the four sources of theological and doctrinal development, of which personal experience – personal interaction with God – “is the strongest proof of Christianity.”

Re: INQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the term is “used when asking someone to give you information that was previously secret or unknown.” But see also National Enquirer – Wikipedia, “During the 1980s, the tabloid’s slogan in radio and TV ads was ‘Enquiring minds want to know.'” 

On the May 18 feast day see also Ascension Day 2017 – “Then He opened their minds.

Re: Hebrews 12:2. The full passage reads: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The lower image is courtesy of the Wikipedia article, Ascension of Jesus. To the caption above I added, after He – Jesus – “opened their minds…”

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On Saints Mark, Philip and James – 2023

St. Mark, second from the right. His symbol is a lion, seen sleeping in the right foreground…) 

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Saturday, April 29, 2023 – Last Tuesday, April 25, was the Feast Day for Saint Mark, also known as Mark the Evangelist. Next Monday, May 1, is the Feast Day for St. Philip and St. James.

Turning to St. Mark first, his Gospel is a Cinderella story. For centuries the Early Church Fathers neglected his Gospel. St. Augustine called it “the drudge and condenser” of Matthew. His written Greek was clumsy and more awkward than the more-polished Greek of Matthew, Luke and John. Result? Mark’s was the “least cited Gospel in the early Christian period:”

But “this Cinderella got her glass slipper,” beginning in the 19th century…  That’s when Bible scholars finally noticed the other three Gospels all cited material from Mark, but “he does not do the same for them…” As a result of that, since the 19th century Mark’s “has become the most studied and influential Gospel.”

In other words, later scholars concluded that Mark “started the process and set the pattern of and for the other three Gospels.” That late recognition – of Mark as the real trend-setter of the four Gospels – is where the Cinderella metaphor comes in. On the other hand, there’s some debate whether the Great Commission at the end of his Gospel is authentic.

That end, Mark 16:14–18, leads to a question: Did Mark write it, or was it added later?

According to some critics … Jesus never speaks with his disciples after his resurrection. They argue that the original Gospel of Mark ends at [16:8] with the women leaving the tomb.

Mark 16:8 says the women – Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome – “fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” That could be a bad place to end a Gospel of hope, so some scholars think a later redactor added more to the part after Mark 16:8.

That add-on included the Great Commission, maybe to cheer things up.

I explored this idea in 2015’s St. Mark’s “Cinderella story.” One scholar said that if the Gospel ended at 16:8, Mark had painted a “bleak and frightening picture.” But he did so – the scholar said – because that was what Mark’s main audience was going through at the time. His Gospel – ending at 16:8 – merely reflected that great persecution. In other words, Mark didn’t candy coat the trials and tribulations that all followers of Jesus can go through.

But is that Mark 16:8 ending so bad? Here’s what leads up to verse 8:

As they entered the tomb, [the women] saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Even without the Great Commission, this ending offers hope. As one author said, there’s “a mystery in it, a divine mystery of God’s revelation that will happen yet. And I think it’s that sense of hope that is deeply appealing.” In other words, that “terrible anguished” original ending – even without the Great Commission – is nevertheless “not the ending.”

One view is that the shorter ending means the Resurrection continues “even to this day.” By and through the way we live our lives even 2,000 years after Jesus. Another view is that an ending at Mark 16:8 simply reflects the reality that life isn’t a bowl of cherries. A third view is that a good Christian is not called to a life of ease: “It is to vigor, not comfort that you are called.“

The longer ending presents a neat and tidy happy ending, all wrapped up in ribbons and bows. The shorter ending gives us a picture of life as it really is. Including Christians , and that can be confusing to some of them. (But only to those who haven’t developed a strong Faith.)

And speaking of confusion, that leads to Saints Philip and James. The problem is, we’re not sure who they are. “James” was popular and widespread name in Jesus’ time. It was associated with Jacob, who became “Israel” by wresting with the angel in Genesis 32:24-32. The English name “James” is a variant of “Jacob,” or in Hebrew, “Ya’akov.” And the New Testament lists at least three “James” who could fit the bill, and possibly as many as eight.

Our best guess is the James remembered on May 1 is James the Lesser, also called James the Son of Alphaeus. (Not to be confused with James the Greater, also called “James the Elder.”) This lesser James “appears only four times in the New Testament, each time in a list of the twelve apostles.” But he gets his own feast day, as does St. Philip.

The best guess here is that this Philip is Philip the Apostle, but there was also a Philip the Deacon. “One of the seven men chosen by the Apostles to perform certain administrative tasks for the poor in the early Christian community at Jerusalem (Acts 6:5-7). Because of his zeal in preaching the gospel he became known as Philip the Evangelist (Acts 21:8).”

But again, our best guess is the May 1 Feast Day remembers Philip the Apostle. Wikipedia had this Philip as a disciple from Bethsaida, and that Andrew and Peter were from the same town. Jesus tested him in John 6:6, and he and Andrew told Jesus about some Greeks who wanted to see Him in John 12:20-22. Wikipedia also noted that this Philip is not to be confused the “the Deacon,” in Acts 8:26-40, “Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.” In past posts I’ve made that mistake myself. As to why these two saints are celebrated together:

The two apostles Philip and James the Lesser are remembered with a single liturgical feast because their relics, transferred respectively from Hierapolis and Jerusalem, were placed together in the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles [“Santi Apostoli“] in Rome.

So as I ended my 2022 post, Here’s to Saints Philip and James – “Whoever you are.

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Saints Philip and James the Lesser – in the “Basilica of the 12 Holy Apostles…*” 

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The upper image is courtesy of Peter Paul Rubens: The Four Evangelists:  “Rubens portrayed the four evangelists while working together on their texts.  An angel helps them…   Each gospel author can be identified by an attribute. The attributes were derived from the opening verses of the gospels.  From left to right: Luke (bull), Matthew (man [angel]), Mark (lion), and John (eagle).” See also Four Evangelists – Wikipedia.

I borrowed from past posts including 2015’s On St. Mark’s “Cinderella story,” 2016’s More on “arguing with God” – and St. Mark as Cinderella, On St. Mark, 2020 – and today’s “plague,” On St. Philip and St. James – May, 2020, and 2022’s Here’s to Saints Philip and James – “Whoever you are.”

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

“Vigor not comfort.” I last noted that phrase from Evelyn Underhill in Thanksgiving 2022 – and an Unknown American Icon. The quote is from Practical Mysticism, by Evelyn Underhill, as edited:

Hearing now and again the mysterious piping of the Shepherd, you realize your own perpetual forward movement . . . and so are able to handle life with a surer hand.  Do not suppose from this that your new career is to be perpetually supported by agreeable spiritual contacts, or occupy itself in the mild contemplation of the great world through which you move.  True, it is said of the Shepherd that he carries the lambs in his bosom; but the sheep are expected to walk, and to put up with the bunts and blunders of the flock.  It is to vigor rather than comfort that you are called.  (E.A.)

Ariel Press (1914), at page 177. See also Evelyn Underhill – Wikipedia.

On developing a strong Faith. See Arguing with God.

Philip the Evangelist is identified as the man in Acts 8:26-40, “Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch,” not Philip the Apostle. Earlier posts to the contrary are mistaken. See also CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Philip the Apostle – New Advent: “The second-century tradition concerning him is uncertain, inasmuch as a similar tradition is recorded concerning Philip the Deacon and Evangelist — a phenomenon which must be the result of confusion caused by the existence of the two Philips.”

Re: Santi Apostoli. A “6th-century Roman Catholic parish and titular church and minor basilica in RomeItaly, dedicated originally to St. James and St. Philip, whose remains are kept here.”

The lower image is courtesy of Saints Philip and James – Franciscan Media. Caption: “Image: Detail of reredos | Polytych by Maestà | Wikimedia.”

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On Doubting Thomas Sunday – 2023

A stained glass version of the Apostle Thomas proving to himself that Jesus had risen…

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Back in 2014, I posted First musings – Readings for Doubting Thomas Sunday. Looking back – nine years later – the post seems primitive. But it was only the second blog post I ever did. My first post was The Bible – Lectionary Musings and Color Commentary. It was about Quasimodo Sunday, also known as Second Sunday of Easter. (Because Easter isn’t one day, it’s a whole season. It lasts 50 days, from Easter Sunday to the day of Pentecost or “Whitsunday.”)

As if all that isn’t confusing enough, this April 16, 2023 – the Second Sunday of Easter – could also be called “the Sunday of Many Names.” Aside from the two mentioned above, it’s called “Doubting Thomas Sunday.” That’s because the Gospel reading is always John 20:19-31, the story of disciple Thomas and the doubts he had about Jesus being risen from the dead after being crucified. It’s also called Low Sunday and the Octave of Easter, but I’ll get to those later.

Getting back to Doubting Thomas, Wikipedia defines the term generically as a “skeptic who refuses to believe without direct personal experience.” The term refers to the Apostle Thomas, “who refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles, until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.” On the other hand, you could say that experiencing – in person – the Force that Created the Universe is or should be what church-going is all about. (See for example, Wesleyan Quadrilateral.)

Wikipedia went on to explain that Thomas the Apostle – also called Didymus, meaning “The Twin” – was best known from the account in John 20:19-31. He questioned Jesus’ resurrection at first, but after his direct experience – seeing and touching Jesus’ wounded body – he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” Of course we can’t have that direct experience – not in this life anyway – but there’s something to be said for having doubts and then overcoming them.

You could say there are two kinds of faith. The first is blindly believing, without asking any questions, having any doubts or asking how other people have interpreted the Bible. The second type does ask questions, does dig deeper and as a result often comes across doubt. You could think of that second type of faith as a form of resistance training. The Blind Faith Christian doesn’t like “resistance.” He does the same old boring exercise, over and over again, and stays at the same low level of spiritual fitness. The Healthy Doubt Christian welcomes resistance, and asks the probing questions that often lead to doubt. But in the process, he ultimately grows spiritually stronger by overcoming that resistance, by overcoming those doubts.

That 2014 post had a link, If you doubt and question … It asked, “If you doubt and question your faith will it become stronger?” Unfortunately the current link won’t take you there, but back then the “Best Answer” to the Yahoo question included this:

Remember Thomas, the disciple, who wouldn’t believe in Christ’s resurrection until he put his hand into Jesus’s wounds. He went on to die spreading the gospel in Persia and India. God gave us free choice, He doesn’t want us to be robots, He could have made us like that, but wanted us to choose for ourselves. You learn and grow by questioning. 

In other words, there seem to be Christians who see The Faith of the Bible as a spiritual strait-jacket, a pre-shaped form into which “we” have to mold ourselves. This type of Christian also seems to believe that St. Peter will have some kind of checklist at the Pearly Gates, so that if you don’t answer every litmus test question exactly right you won’t get in.

Other Christians see The Faith as a set of Spiritual Wings, like it says in Isaiah 40:31:

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I.e., a set of spiritual wings that can take you to wonderful places and experiences you couldn’t imagine. The choice is yours, but as for me an my house, I’ll pick the spiritual wings.

And now back to those other names for the Second Sunday of Easter. One is Low Sunday, because church attendance falls off so drastically that first Sunday “after.” (Compared with the high attendance of Easter Day itself.) Another name is the Octave of Easter. That’s the eight-day period, “or octave, that begins on Easter Sunday and ends with the following Sunday.”

Then there’s that Quasimodo Sunday. But that’s not because of Quasimodo – the guy shown in the image below – better known as 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…” [Or, “pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up” in salvation.] In Latin the verse reads: “Quasi modo geniti infantes…” Literally, “quasi modo means ‘as if in [this] manner.’”

Since “geniti” translates as “newborn” and the translation of “infantes” seems self-evident, the “quasi modo” in question roughly translates, “As if in the manner” (of newborn babes)

And incidentally, that character in Hunchback of Notre-Dame was named after the opening words of First Peter 2:2. In the New International Version it reads, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” 

Which brings us back those “Blind Faith” Christians. They like staying “newborn babes,” spiritually. They don’t want to grow up in their salvation. Or as noted below, they stay in the security of Christian boot camp, where they learned the fundamentals. They don’t want to venture out and use the skills they’ve learned. Or have the spiritual adventures of a “spiritual wings” Christian.

The bottom line? Don’t be a Quasimodo!

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The upper image is courtesy of Doubting Thomas – Image Results. See also Crossroads Initiative, which featured the image.

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

Season of Easter. See Eastertide – Wikipedia. Also ponder this: The second Sunday after Easter – Easter Sunday – would not be until next Sunday, April 23. On that note see also 2021’s Happy “Sunday of Many Names!”

“As for me and my house.” Joshua 24:15, “if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Quasimodo Sunday. The link from the Catholic News Agency shows yet another name: The “Sunday following Easter is typically remembered as ‘Divine Mercy Sunday,’ a feast day established by Pope John Paul II which honors the divine mercy of Jesus.”

The lower image is courtesy of Quasimodo – Wikipedia. Caption: “‘A tear for a drop of water’ Esmeralda gives a drink to Quasimodo in one of Gustave Brion‘s illustrations.”

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On the Annunciation and the end of Lent – 2023

“Surprise!” Gabriel makes his announcement to Mary  and she shrinks back in terror…

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Saturday, April 1, 2023 – Last Saturday, March 25, was the Feast day set aside for the Annunciation. The full and formal title is the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the Angel Gabriel gave Mary a big surprise. It offers a good metaphor, of how the early Church Fathers sometimes “figured it backwards.” And it all started with the birth of Jesus. 

First, those early Church Fathers decided they’d celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25. (For reasons explained later.) Then figured back nine months. Since they said Jesus was born on December 25, He had to be “conceived” the previous March 25. That’s where the Annunciation comes in. It celebrates “the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus,” Son of God, “marking his Incarnation.” From there it’s not much of a leap to conclude that Conception and Annunciation had to happen the same day.  “She would conceive” became “she did conceive.”

Which brings up how Mary probably reacted, as shown in the painting above by Rossetti:

…look at Mary’s expression… This is not one of acquiescence or pleasure. This is a look almost of horror at what she has just been told… She is painfully thin and her hesitance and sad look tinged with fear endears her to us. 

Or consider what Garry Wills said: “For me, the most convincing pictures or sculptures of the Annunciation to Mary show her in a state of panic … shrinking off from the angel, looking cornered by him.” He noted especially some 14th century paintings, “where Mary is made so faint by the angel’s words that she sways back and must grab a pillar to keep herself upright.”

Which is one way of saying that being God’s Chosen isn’t always a bowl of cherries. That’s pretty much what Simeon told Mary in Luke 2:35, that “a sword will pierce even your own soul.” (When she presented the eight-day old Jesus in the Temple.) No wonder she shrunk back in terror.

Something to ponder during this Lenten period of “prayer, penance and self-denial.”

As for early Church Fathers choosing December 25 as when Jesus was born, there is one familiar old wives’ tale. That the day was a pagan holiday, Saturnalia, which the Fathers chose “to make Christianity chime with a polytheistic society already attuned to December 25 revelry.” But an article from the Biblical Archaeology Society says that couldn’t be true:

Hippolytus was a Christian author who wrote in the early third century AD, and Saturnalia and the feast of Sol were not celebrated on December 25 that early in Roman history; Saturnalia never was, and the feast of Sol only came to be later. So Hippolytus clearly could not have chosen the date to please pagan sentiments.

Hippolytus calculated December 25 as Jesus’ birthday before 235 A.D., before those “pagan sentiments” even existed. (He died in 235 A.D., and the Feast of Sol didn’t start until 274 A.D.)

Then there’s Why December 25? | Christian History | Christianity Today. It said the “eventual choice” of December 25 was made “perhaps as early as 273,” well after Hyppolytus died, and that early Fathers “decided to commandeer the date,” introducing a new festival, because “pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity.”

Of more interest is the idea that some leaders opposed celebrating Jesus’ birthday at all: “Origen (c.185-c.254) preached that it would be wrong to honor Christ in the same way Pharaoh and Herod were honored. Birthdays were for pagan gods.” But these are called Rabbit Trails. More to the point, note that the day coincides with the “northern vernal equinox:”

An equinox occurs twice a year, around 20 March and 22 September.  The word itself has several related definitions.  The oldest meaning is the day when daytime and night are of approximately equal duration.  The word equinox comes from this definition, derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night).

So the Annunciation is celebrated about the time of the vernal equinox. (Vernal from the Latin word for “spring.”) In turn the birth of Jesus is celebrated about the time of the winter solstice. (The summer solstice is the year’s longest day, the winter solstice the shortest.)

Which just goes to show that the Christian history hasn’t been a smooth, painless road, even with Jesus pointing the way. Or as Job 5:7 put it, “Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Which brings up the matter of the Incarnation. As Wikipedia put it:

The Incarnation … is the belief that [Jesus], “became flesh” by being conceived in the womb of Mary…  [The Son of God] took on a human body and nature and became both man and God… [I]ts clearest teaching is in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…” The Incarnation is commemorated and celebrated each year at Christmas, and also reference can be made to the Feast of the Annunciation; “different aspects of the mystery of the Incarnation” are celebrated at Christmas and the Annunciation.

Which brings up tomorrow, Palm Sunday. It starts Holy Week, which in turn marks Lent’s “beginning of the end.*” That week ends in the triumph of Easter, and begins with “Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.” But in between comes the seeming tragedy of Good Friday. Which just goes to show how God can transform our lives as well, even from seeming tragedy.

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 “Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem,” marking the beginning of Holy Week… 

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The upper image is courtesy of Rossetti Annunciation – Image Results. See indented quotation is from The Annunciation by Dante Gabriel Rossetti – my daily art display.

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

I borrowed from past posts, including 2015’s The Annunciation “gets the ball rolling,” and The Annunciation (2022) – and Mary “shrinking back.”

Re: Luke 2:35, and “a sword will pierce even your own soul.” From the NASB 1995 translation, the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).

The full “Biblical Archaeology” citation is December 25th and Christmas – Biblical Archaeology Society. Also, aside from Hippolytus of Rome, there was also a Hippolytus of Athens, a figure in Greek mythology, and the Hippolytus, the subject of the play by Euripides.

Re: “Beginning of the end.” A feeble attempt at a clever allusion to a Quote by Winston S. Churchill: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” (After England’s victory at El Alamein, North Africa.)

The lower image is courtesy of Palm Sunday Paintings – Image Results.

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On “Black Saturday” weddings in Lent – and other matters…

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I last did a post on February 27, On Ash Wednesday and Lent – 2023, a little over two weeks ago. I had just finished up a five-day, four-night adventure, canoeing into the Okefenokee Swamp. In recovering from that adventure I missed Ash Wednesday. But I figured I did some good penance by enduring the butt-numbing discipline of paddling a canoe for hours and hours on end. (Not to mention mosquitoes and watching out for curious gators.)

On the other hand – kind of an Alpha and Omega – it looks like I’m going to miss Easter Sunday as well. My grandson is getting married this spring, and guess what date he and his fiance picked? April 8. It took me awhile to figure out, but that’s the day before Easter Sunday. That’s Holy Saturday to some people, while other devout people call it Black Saturday.

BTW: I’ll miss Easter Sunday – or at least going to church – because it’s 450 miles down to Tampa. After the weekend “party time” with one extended family, one I haven’t seen in awhile, I’ll want to get home quick. (“Forgive me, Lord, but I’m not up to drinking that much any more.”)

And just as an aside, I also had to change a long-sought doctor appointment. The doctor I’ve seen for years moved to a distant city. My new doctor – the one my brother and his wife picked after the same move – is very popular. She’s so popular that when I tried to make an appointment back in the middle of 2022, the earliest appointment I could get was April 7. But because I’ll be driving down to Florida for the wedding, I had to make a new appointment. The date for my new appointment? October 31, Halloween Day.

At least it’s in 2023, but I figure all this rigmarole is worth some good Lenten points.

For one thing, it led me to do more research on Holy Saturday. It’s the final day of Holy Week, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Specifically, the day “commemorates the Harrowing of Hell while Jesus Christ’s body lay in the tomb.” In some places it’s also called “Black Saturday.” That would seem – at first blush – not to be an auspicious day for a wedding.

Then there’s the article, Good Friday and Holy Saturday: Getting Married During Lent. It noted that as holy sacraments, “Catholic weddings during Lent [are] allowed except on two days.” Those two days are Good Friday and Holy Saturday. “If one were to ask a priest to allow a wedding on any of the two above-mentioned days, the immediate response is going to be a no.” But then, the young couple is not going to get married in a Catholic church – on April 8.

As to the “why,” Holy Saturday is a day of mourning. It reminds us of “Christ’s laying in the tomb.” Accordingly, the Catholic church says that “merrymaking, noise, and activity” must be kept to a minimum. No sacraments are allowed, including marriage and holy communion. There are some limited exceptions. Holy communion can be given as a Viaticum, to one who is dying; in other words, as part of Last Rites. Then too, “When there is an imminent threat to one’s life, such as death knocking on one’s door, lifting matrimonial restrictions is a possibility.”

In other words, a couple can get married if one partner has one foot in the grave. Which is not just an idiom meaning one is on the verge of death. (Close to death or in terrible condition.) It’s also the name of a British sitcom series that ran from 1990 to 2000. As for the idiom itself, “This picturesque hyperbolic phrase was first recorded in 1566.”

None of which I knew before researching for this post.

There’s one more thing. Hotels in the Tampa Bay area are a lot more expensive than I’m used to. I used to live across the Bay in Pinellas County, for 50 years, up until 2010 or so, so I never paid much attention. But trying to book a reasonably-priced room down there turned out to be a wake-up call. Not least of all because they all want hefty deposits, starting at $100 a night.

I finally found a room – a swanky Hilton – for $250, and thought that wasn’t too bad for two nights. But “through my own fault, my own grievous fault,” that turned out to be the price for one night. I’d been trying to book a room for some time, was tired, and seem to have been swayed by the fact that they didn’t charge a deposit. I also found out that it’s difficult to exercise that “free cancellation” option. So I’ll spent the evening of Good Friday at a swanky Hilton in the resort area that is Tampa and the Gulf Coast. But I learned some valuable lessons.

For one thing, from now on I’ll use the “pay at the hotel” option. As for those disgusting deposits, I’ll read through the fine print when booking online. (Or I could just reduce my visits to the Tampa Bay area to an absolute minimum.) As for learning valuable lessons, I’ve mentioned before that some people choose not to give up things as part of their Lenten Discipline. Some choose – as I have done in the past – to spend Lent in contemplation. That’s the spiritual discipline that “seeks a direct awareness of the divine which transcends the intellect.”

As Wikipedia explained, contemplation also means “profound thinking about something.” And in a religious sense, “contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.” Then there’s this:

Within Western Christianity contemplation is often related to mysticism as expressed in the works of mystical theologians such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross as well as the writings of Margery KempeAugustine Baker and Thomas Merton.

I’m sure I’ll find other spiritual matters to contemplate between now and the end of Lent, 2023. (And do a future post or two on.) But until then, I’ll go ahead and ponder the spiritual lessons already mentioned. Then too, I’ll ponder the lesson about “whenever a relative or good friend schedules a spring wedding.” From now on I’ll be sure to check the date, just to make sure no such future wedding happens during Holy Week, and especially not on “Black Saturday.”

And in so “contemplating,” I’ll be in pretty good company. Just like Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, and the nice lady “contemplating” below

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The upper image is courtesy of Black Saturday Holy Week – Image Results.

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

For more on contemplation as a Lenten discipline, see 2016’s My Lenten meditation. I borrowed the lower “nice lady contemplating” image from that post. It also included Lenten disciplines: spiritual exercises or ego trip? The 2016 post noted that for that Lenten period I contemplated “just when, where and how Moses came to write the first five books of the Bible. (The Torah.)”

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On Ash Wednesday and Lent – 2023

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This past February 22, 2023 was the Feast Day called Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent, and Wikipedia said this about Lent:

According to the canonical gospels of MatthewMark and LukeJesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Lent originated as a mirroring of this, fasting 40 days as preparation for Easter.

Lent in turn is a season devoted to “prayerpenance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.” But getting back to Jesus “wandering in the Wilderness” for 40 days, those 40 days mirrored the 40 years the Hebrews also spent “wandering around.” (Led by Moses.) But here’s the good news: Eventually those wandering Hebrews found the Promised Land. In much the same way, after 40 long days of penance, Lent leads us to the much-anticipated celebration of Easter, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. (“The Lord is risen … Indeed!”)

And here’s another bit of good news. It’s not 40 straight days of self-denial.

That’s because there are actually 46 days of Lent. 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. And why is that? Because Sundays don’t count. Sundays in Lent are basically “days off,” when you can still enjoy whatever it is you’ve “given up.” For example, if you’ve given up chocolate for Lent, you can still enjoy some chocolate treats on Sundays during Lent.

And by the way, somehow that little nugget of Bible wisdom got overlooked by the people who made the 2002 romantic comedy, 40 Days and 40 Nights. In that film the main character had to not have sex – to refrain “from any sexual contact” – for the duration of Lent. But as noted above, he “could have taken Sundays off.”  Which again just goes to show:

It pays to read and study the Bible!

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And speaking of wandering Hebrews who eventually found the Promised Land: The link above connects to an article, The Promise of the Promised Land | My Jewish Learning. It explains why possession of this Promised Land depends so much on continuing “moral behavior:”

Those who live in the land are tempted to take part in the struggle between the powers as a way to aggrandize power for themselves. But the only way to live in the Land peacefully and to bring a vision of peace to the world is by refraining from participation in those pagan power struggles and by liv­ing a life of justice and truth in accordance with the Torah.

On that note, America has also been seen as the Promised Land by many, but I’d say that in view of today’s backstabbing politics – not to mention ongoing natural disasters – we Americans have been weighed on the balances and found wanting. But I’m not talking about restoring that balance through so-called Christian nationalism. (Which is anything but Christian.) Instead today’s “Christian nationalists” are more like the Pharisees and other too-conservatives who plagued Jesus in His time, and who continue to plague real Christians “even to this day.”

But as Garry Wills and others have noted, Jesus was above politics. “My Kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36.) And as I explained in Garry Wills and “What Jesus (REALLY) Meant.” Jesus simply never got involved in politics. He focused instead on healing the divisions so prevalent during His time on earth, not making them worse. (As some politicians do today.)

In other words, true Christians today should – to the extent possible – refrain from participating in today’s “pagan power struggles.” But instead, too many identify themselves as “Conservative Christian” or “Liberal Christian.” In plain words they place their political beliefs before their Christian faith. In plainer words, “Don’t place politics over your Christian faith.”

In turn, if one party believes it’s the “more Christian,” it’s time to put up or shut up. It’s time for them to show they’re part of the Ministry of Reconciliation. (2d Corinthians 5:18.) But getting back to the Garry Wills post, for him – along with Johnny Cash and Billy Graham* – Jesus was all about love. And that’s not to mention the Apostle Paul, who gave us 1st Corinthians 13:4-7.

The main theme of Wills’ book is that Jesus was “radical” in his love for all people. (Even – gasp – for liberals! And for that matter, even for those people [who] are a real pain in the ass.) Wills noted that Jesus spent little time with the well-to-do, and seemed to prefer the company of whores, lepers and outcasts of all types. As Wills put it, Jesus “walks through social barriers and taboos as if they were cobwebs.” 

Which is also the Christian love Johnny Cash showed. In Cash’s Religion and Political Views, the author wrote, “I like to think that Johnny was above politics and more about people and peace and happiness and cooperation.” Or as Cash’s daughter Rosanne said, her father “didn’t care where you stood politically.” He could “love all stripes, and that’s why all stripes claim him.”

Something to contemplate during this Lent 2023, when we look ahead to Easter.

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Lent leads to celebrating Easter Sunday and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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The upper image is courtesy of Ash Wednesday Images – Image Results. It goes with an article at the website, Classical Astronomy – Home of the Signs & Seasons Curriculum, including this:

People often wonder why the dates of Easter and Ash Wednesday and other feasts are different each year. These are “moveable feasts” that are fixed by the cycle of the Moon’s phases. Easter (or properly, Pascha) is essentially defined to be the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the first day of spring, which is different every year. Ash Wednesday is defined to be 40 days ahead of the pre-calculated date of Easter.

I based this post on past posts on the subject, including On Ash Wednesday and Lent – 2016, On Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent – 2020, and On Ash Wednesday – 2022. Also, I borrowed the “from any sexual contact” observation from OMG! Is it time for Lent again?

The Book of Common Prayer reference. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

America also “Promised Land.” The full link cite is America as the Promised Land | Museum of the Bible.

“The Lord is risen … Indeed.” The link is to Paschal greeting – Wikipedia, noting that in many churches this is part of the traditional greeting on Easter morning and throughout Easter week: “Christus surréxit! – Surréxit vere, allelúja.” (“Christ is risen” – “He is risen indeed. Alleluia!”):

This ancient phrase echoes the greeting of the angel to Mary Magdalene, to Mary the mother of James, and to Joseph, as they arrived at the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus: “He is not here; for he has risen, as he said” (Matt 28:6). [1] It is used among Catholics when meeting one another during Eastertide; some even answer their telephones with the phrase.

Billy Graham. He so believed in Jesus’ message of loving all people that some too-conservatives called him either “False Shepherd” or “Antichrist.” See Billy Graham – Ecumenicalist and False Shepherd and BILLY GRAHAM: SERVANT OF CHRIST OR OF ANTICHRIST? His “crime” seems to have been that he could get along with people like Muslims and the Pope. (Heck, he probably even got along with “whores, lepers and outcasts of all types.“)

The lower image is courtesy of Lent – Wikipedia. The caption:  

Lent celebrants carrying out a street procession during Holy Week [in Nicaragua.] The violet color is often associated with penance and detachment. Similar Christian penitential practice is seen in other Catholic countries, sometimes associated with mortification of the flesh.

The article added that Lent’s “institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus … which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

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On “the night life in Jerusalem” – from four years ago…

I enjoyed many a Maccabee at “the Leonardo,” though it wasn’t  on my Google Map radar…  

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Can you say, “Ooooops!

February 8, 2023 – I first wanted to post this over three years ago; just after Christmas, 2019. I wanted it as part of a “big and pleasant” year-end review of my earlier-in-2019 trip to Israel. (More precisely, a review of my pre-trip Google research on “where are the bars in Jerusalem?”) A year after the trip – in May 2020 – I got back to the project, but this time with a side look at the then-new COVID pandemic. Then the project again got side-tracked, for reasons I can’t remember. Then this last February 2, 2023, I started working on an eBook about the Jerusalem trip. I typed in “Jerusalem” in the search box above right, and that’s when I found this still-in-the-draft almost-post. So what follows is mostly what I wrote back in December 2019, but with some editing and updating.

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December 27, 2019 – This past May of 2019 I flew over to Israel with a group of 20 or so people from my local church. We were all taking part in a two-week course given by St. George’s College, Jerusalem, called the Palestine of Jesus. Just after I got back from Israel – on May 29, 2019 – I posted Back from Three weeks in Israel. It focused mostly on the last day of the trip, which was a “cluster” (half a word). That “cluster” involved the long Wednesday I flew back home; 11 hours on the plane, combined with six “fast forward” time zone changes. (Also after getting lost in Tel Aviv trying to get to Ben Gurion airport from my lodging.)

This post will review the pre-trip research I did before I left for Israel. And it will talk about how our expectations don’t always match up with reality. That’s another way of saying – as John Steinbeck said – “You don’t take a trip. A trip takes you.” But first some background.

Back home I like to end the day with two ice cold beers. That’s my reward for working on my writing, blogging and painting, along with other projects around the house, up until 10:15 p.m. or so. And I wanted to continue that “end-of-the-day reward” sense in Jerusalem, with a nice cold draft beer if possible. But if not, with some other form of “O-be-joyful.” (A code-word for ardent spirits.) Which in a way brings up the the photo atop the page.

Before leaving home I did some Google-mapping to find the closest bars to St. George’s College – and Pilgrim Guest House. (At the apex of Nablus Road and Sala-Ad-Din Street.) That research seemed to show the nearest bars to St. George’s were a mile or more away. But then – once I got to Jerusalem – I found a pleasant lounge at the Leonardo Moria Classic Hotel. Shown above, Google Maps says it’s a mere two-minute walk from St. George’s Guest House. (And I timed it myself.) Officially, the Leonardo is located at “9 St. George Street.” But as it also turned out, the College itself had a “Garden Bistro,” which served beer and wine.

That Garden Bistro included a “mini-bar” – a small bar within the complex itself – that served cocktails for those pilgrim’s at St. George’s who wanted a little something stronger to go along with their evening meal. The photo at left shows the courtyard where we usually had our evening meals.

I also noted it was “nice to know where to get a bit of wine nearby; i.e., wine which ‘gladdens the human heart.’ (Psalm 104:15.)” But like I said, that place closed fairly early, so if you wanted a night-cap later on in the evening, “the Leonardo” was the place to go.

The Leonardo not only stayed open later, it also featured Maccabee beer instead of Taybeh. Maccabee is the featured Israeli beer, while Taybeh is brewed by a Palestinian company. They’re both good, but Leonardo’s Maccabee “on tap” seemed colder. And some nights the Leonardo had a piano bar as well. One evening a yarmulke-topped pianist played the Chicken Dance. But I seemed to be the only one there who’d ever heard it before. (“Can you say, ‘incongruous?'”)

But all that came later on. On my first full day in Jerusalem – a Sunday – I first had to recuperate from the jet-lag, no-sleep red-eye flight that left Atlanta around 10:00 p.m. local time on Friday night. That Sunday morning – after arriving late Saturday night (local) – I took a long walk along Jaffa Street and found the BeerBazaar. (One of those “clustered” bars.)

That is, the BeerBazaar was one of those bars I’d seen in my pre-trip research.

But I had a hard time finding many of the other bars I was looking for. Which brings up another part of my pre-trip research. As part of that research, I mass e-mailed the 20 or so people in my local church group, to share my findings. The email began:  “For those of you interested in such things – like maybe having an after-dinner aperitif after a long hard day hiking through the wilds of Judea – I did a little research via internet and Google Maps.” I did note the “Garden Bistro” at St. George’s, “right on the Nablus Road complex itself.”  Which turned out to be true.

But as noted, the “Bistro” closed down fairly early, so in the “before I left email” I added, “for those interested in such things, it looks like the closest bars (etc.) are clustered about a mile or so southwest of the College.” Which also turned out to be true. There was a cluster of bars about a mile southwest of St. George’s, including the BeerBazaar.

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I have some more notes on some other places I found in my research. I’ve included them at the very bottom of this post, after a bunch of other notes. If you like, you can read them as if they came from Tom Wolfe‘s whiz-bang style of writing in The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby. Or maybe from Hunter S. Thompson‘s note-heavy Gonzo journalism.

I’ve mostly included them “for further review at a later time.” However, there are references to things like a liquor store I found on Davidka Square, or a “Hataklit” bar with karaoke, which I never found, or a “Video Pub Gay Bar,” which I didn’t really look for. Or the Dublin Irish Pub

So I’ve included them for later review, but there are references to things like a liquor store I found on Davidka Square, or a “Hataklit” bar with karaoke, which I never found, or a “Video Pub Gay Bar,” which I didn’t really look for. But lest we forget our feast days, last Thursday, February 2, 2023 was the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. The idea of such a “presentation” – of Jesus, as a baby 40 days after Christmas – followed a thousand-year-old custom that began with Exodus 13:2, where God said, “Consecrate to me every firstborn male:”

Counting forward from December 25 as Day One [for Jesus], we find that Day Forty is February 2. A Jewish woman is in semi-seclusion for 40 days after giving birth to a son, and accordingly it is on February 2 that we celebrate the coming of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus to the Temple at Jerusalem.

And working backwards, I’ve written about this commemoration in The Presentation of Jesus – 2/2/22The “Presentation of our Lord” – 2020, and in 2017, On the FIRST “Presentation of the Lord.” Check the links for more information, but the gist of the 2017 post is that Jesus was “presented” twice. We celebrate the first presentation every February 2d. The next one we celebrate on Good Friday each year, remembering how Jesus was about to be crucified…

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Ecce homo by Antonio Ciseri (1).jpg

What could be called the “Second Presentation” – Good Friday, Jesus about to be crucified

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The upper image is courtesy of Leonardo Moria Jerusalem – Image Results. As for the distance from there to St. George’s, Google Maps actually says it’s a four minute walk, but it has you walking down St. George Street and over to “Sderot Hayim Barlev,” also known as Highway 60 (Israel–Palestine), then up to the other side of the hotel. The lounge entrance is on the side closest to St. George Street.

The Book of Common Prayer. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

The full beer links are Maccabee Beer – Tempo Israel’s leading company for beer, and Taybeh Brewing Company – The finest in the Middle East.

“O Be Joyful.” See O-be-joyful – 17 of the Finest Words for Drinking

O-be-joyful began reaffirming the positive properties of intoxicants about two hundred years ago, and although the word is not in considerable use today, a book from 1977 asserted that an abbreviated form of the phrase was still in common use in some areas, and that “some New Englanders even today write ‘OBJ’ on their shopping lists.”

Back in the old days of our country, whiskey – for example – was used instead of hard currency:

One of the first media of exchange in the United States was classic whiskey.  For men and women of the day, the alcohol did more than put “song in their hearts and laughter on their lips.”  Whiskey was currency.  Most forms of money were extremely scarce in our country after the Revolutionary War, making monetary innovation the key to success.

See Why Whiskey Was Money, and Bitcoins Might Be.  So it was in that spirit – primarily – that I looked for some “O be joyful.” 

The lower image is courtesy of Pontius Pilate – Wikipedia. Wikipedia caption: “Ecce Homo (‘Behold the Man’), Antonio Ciseri‘s depiction of Pilate presenting a scourged Jesus to the people of Jerusalem.” 

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For those interested in visiting some of those Jerusalem bars – a mile or so southwest of St. George’s – here are some observations. (Even if those visits are only metaphoric.) They were gleaned from notes I took, via Googling, before I left for Jerusalem. For example, I saw on Google Maps that a number of bars seemed to be clustered “down by ‘Cat’s Square’ and/or ‘New York Square.’ The closest is Hataklit Bar. According to the Google Map review it has ‘Great cocktails’ and it has karaoke.” I wondered if they had David Allen Coe’s “You never even called me by my name,” but never got a chance to find the place. I must have walked by the street, “with the Hawaiian-sounding name,” a dozen times, but its entrance remained hidden. (Officially, its address is 7 Heleni ha-Malka, Jerusalem.)

From this point I’ve included some other notes, mostly in non-italic type, some of which I will use in the new eBook about my 2019 pilgrimage to Israel…

Not too far SW of that is Mike’s Place, “Kosher restaurant,” and great cocktails. It has an easier address to remember, Jaffa Street 33. Yet another place is Dublin Irish Pub, 1.2 miles SW of St. George’s… I saw that – according to Google Maps – there was even a “Video Pub Gay Bar,” near the Hataklit karaoke place. (“What goes on in Jerusalem, stays in Jerusalem?”) But seriously, for those interested in a bit of take-out libation, there are three Avi Ben Wine Stores in Jerusalem:

Avi Ben offers a wide selection of kosher and boutique Israeli wine as well as imported wines from the Bordeaux region in France, Italy and Spain. Avi Ben also supplies a wide choice of spirits from around the world.

The closest one is Yosef Rivlin Street 22. That too is about a mile SW of St. George’s, not too far from Cat’s Square, shown at left. (Apparently it used to be populated with cats, but no more. See “#BringTheCatsBackToCatsSquare.” One guy wrote, “There used to be a little market on the square, young folks gathering and playing music. But thanks to our ultra orthodox brethren the city’s dying. This place died too. Still, it’s close to the city center, restaurants, the Old City…. Ellipses in original.)

So anyway, Avi Ben stores have a “range of gifts including wine glasses, accessories and gift baskets, as well as an assortment of chocolates, olive oils, coffee, cheeses, and more.”

It’s also near the Hebrew Music Museum and the Friends of Zion Museum.  Another BTW:  All these places could be closed on May 2, for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

And in the process of doing all this research – no extra charge – I saw that if you wanted to walk that mile or so to the Hataklit kosher restaurant or the Dublin Irish Pub, you’d have to pass through the “Green Line.” That’s  Highway 60, also called the City Line and the ‘1949 Armistice Agreement Line.’” I emailed Genia at St. George’s, asking if that would present a problem. “Is it possible to walk through [the Green Line], over or around what appears to be a pretty busy highway? She wrote back, “there is no problem walking around the College.  Whatever streets you are passing by, there should be no problem. They are not really very close to us.”

[And there was no problem. My first day – a Sunday – I crossed the Green Line and ended up at the BeerBazaar, a boutique bar in the center of Jerusalem.]

And here are some other notes about the trip, unedited, for future eBook reference:

left atl about 10:30 p,m, friday, very little sleep, got to Istanbul, then Tel Aviv. “Breezed” through customs with the help of the shuttle driver, though he had a hell of a time finding Herod’s [Guest House] on Isfahani Street. [A side note. While we arrived on Saturday night, our lodging at St. George’s didn’t start until the following Monday. So for Saturday and Sunday night we had to arrange our own lodging.]

Sunday I wandered around, Mostly on Jaffa street. Found BeerBazaar and liquor store on Davidka Square. Met Greta, but no further contact

Got a nice room early on Monday, 5/13, opening reception, etc. Dinner at Jerusalem Hotel, ate too much, kabobs, beef, chicken, lamb, miserable overstuffed night

Tuesday. Mount of Olives, lecture room, dozed off a couple times.  Lousy sleep patterns. Pools of Bethesda, etc.

Wednesday [May] 15th

city of david, coming down with a cold, excused myself from Holocaust museum, got the “‘Quils,” day and night, slept good for a change.


Four beers during the day, Taybeh,  early night, early morning

[Then there was this;] “Shalom, y’all!”  

Referring to the “Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used idiomatically to mean both hello and goodbye.

And here are some other notes, from various Facebook posts…

It’s a shade after 11:00 p.m. here in Jerusalem.  (A shade after 4:00 in the afternoon back in the ATL.)  I just got back from up on the rooftop of St.George’s Pilgrim House, where my wash-and-wear clothes were drying in the breeze.  During the day it’s “hot as Gehenna” (Google it) here in the Holy Land, but at night it’s quite pleasant.  Cool and breezy, “Up on the roof…”  (Google it.)

Up there on the [terrace] and down in my room I’m in the process of sipping a brandy and water.  (“Sommelier,” for those interested in such things.)  And reflecting on the events of the day.

This morning we visited the Church of the Visitation, in Ein Kerem. After  lunch at the “Tent Restaurant, Beit Sahour,” we visited the Church of the Nativity and St. Jerome’s chapel and tomb, both in Bethlehem.  The church was both packed and crowded, and after standing around – and learning some fairly interesting talking points – I did a Good-Samaritan thing and gently persuaded a fellow pilgrim – who was in danger of getting stressed out – to forego a hump-through-a-tunnel extension of the tour, AND go to the garden restaurant next door and have (another) Taybeh (Palestinian) beer.

In situations like this you have to pick your battles.  It seems to me that finding a spiritual breakthrough usually comes in relative solitude, not when your surrounded by hot, sweaty and pushy “fellow travelers.”  (Google it.)

Speaking of which, the theme of the Visitation to Mary centered “on Mary responding to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to set out on a mission of charity.”  But there I didn’t see a whole lot of charity in the visit we made at the end of the day…

As my brandy-and-water is winding down and it’s getting time for bed – we’ve got an early start in the morning – I’m tempted to say the road to both freedom and spiritual enlightenment is littered with dumbasses along the way.  But hey, that wouldn’t be Christian…

Of course I knew that before I came over here. But before you start thinking I’m getting grumpy in my old age, it actually has been a pretty fun trip. I wouldn’t have missed it…

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On Saints Peter and Paul, January ’23…

“Two Scholars Disputing” – Saints Peter and Paul – but they mostly worked together… 

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I’ve been remiss in posting lately. December 2022 turned out to be a busy time, what with two family Christmases, one up in Massachusetts. (Which included my driving up there through yet another “storm of the century.”) That’s why my posts went from Advent ’22 to Epiphany ’23 – without much to say about Christmas. (Not to mention having to say “farewell Mi Dulce.”)

But hopefully I can now start getting back up to speed.

On that note, last week’s January 18 was the Feast Day for the Confession of St Peter. This Wednesday, January 25 is the Feast Day for the Conversion of St Paul. I covered these two feast days in Peter confesses, Paul converts, from January 2016. The post started off saying that on June 25 each year we have a feast day for both Apostles together. But in January we remember both men separately. “Or more precisely, we remember how these two ‘Pillars of the Church‘ took two completely different paths to the same destination.” That is, closer to God:

On 18 January we remember how the Apostle Peter was led by God’s grace to acknowledge Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20), and we join with Peter, and with all Christians everywhere, in hailing Jesus as our Lord, God, and Savior.

Put another way, January 18 commemorates Peter as the first apostle to confess Jesus as Messiah. On the other hand, the January 25 Feast Day commemorates how “Saul (or Paul) of Tarsus, formerly an enemy and persecutor of the early Christian Church, was led by God’s grace to become one of its chief spokesmen.”  (See Conversion of St. Paul, emphasis added.)

In other words, Peter came to his position of authority from “inside the church.” On the other hand God pretty much dragged Paul kicking and screaming into his position of authority.

Turning to the Confession of Peter, that refers to this New Testament episode:

[The] Apostle Peter proclaims Jesus to be Christ – the Messiah. The proclamation is described in the three Synoptic GospelsMatthew 16:13-20Mark 8:27–30 and Luke 9:18–20. The proclamation of Jesus as Christ is fundamental to Christology … and Jesus’ acceptance of the title is a definitive statement for it in the New Testament narrative.

In turn, on January 25 we remember how Paul was once a devout and zealous enemy of early Christians, as told in Galatians 1:13-14. He was “extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers,” persecuting the newly-formed Christian Church and trying to destroy it. But then came his Damascus Road Experience. He was literally struck blind, for three days. Thus the claim that Paul was “pretty much dragged kicking and screaming into his position of authority.”

The Bible also includes his part in the stoning of Stephen, in Acts 7:57-8:3.  (“Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.”) So in plain words, Paul’s Damascus Road experience “changed him from a Christ-hating persecutor of Christians to the foremost spokesman for the faith.” But before that could happen, he had to convince those Christians – in Jerusalem especially – that his change of heart was genuine.  Their change of heart came about mostly through the work of Barnabas:

To sum up, if it hadn’t been for Barnabas and his willingness to give Paul a second chance – a second chance for the formerly zealous persecutor of the early Church – he might never have become Christianity’s most important early convert, if not the “Founder of Christianity.”

For more on Paul’s change of heart, see Paul restored – from the Damascus Road, from April 2016, which spoke of the transforming power of Jesus.

Which sums up the theme for the post, that power to be transformed – if you let God into your life and read the Bible with an open mind. As for my not being able to do a post for Christmas ’22, you can see some background details at The 12 days of Christmas, 2018-2019. Which included the thought that If Jesus had been a conservative, we’d all [still] be Jewish!

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Caterpillar to butterfly – what stage are you in, Biblically speaking?

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The upper image is courtesy of Albert Bierstadt Museum: Two Scholars Disputing REMBRANDT.

The Book of Common Prayer. The “corporate-mystical” prayer is on page 339, the post-communion prayer for Holy Eucharist, Rite I.

“Storm of the century.” See December 2022 North American winter storm – Wikipedia, on the “extratropical cyclone created winter storm conditions, including blizzards, high winds, snowfall, or record cold temperatures across the majority of the United States.” I tried to make the 1000-mile drive in two days, but because of that snow, ice and fog had to stop the second night in Milford PA…

The 12 days of Christmas, 2018-2019.” That post also included a note that the concepts of sinrepentance and confession should be viewed as tools to “help us grow and develop, and are not to be used as a means of social control.”

The lower image is courtesy of Caterpillar To Butterfly – Image Results. See also How Does a Caterpillar Turn into a Butterfly? – Scientific American.

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Epiphany ’23, the end of Christmas and “farewell Mi Dulce…”

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January 11, 2023 – I know should be doing a post on the feast of Epiphany, last January 6, but I just had a big shock. I learned – on Facebook of all places – that the “young” lady I started dating in June 2013 just died. She was a mere 76 years old, as I also just found out. (I never could get a straight answer about her age when we were together.) But she seemed remarkably healthy the last time I talked to her, on December 30, 2022. (We stayed in touch even after the dating.)

During our halcyon days I took to calling her “Mi Dulce,” which roughly translates in Spanish as “My Sweet.” (She was a sucker for such flattery.) And in reviewing my past posts I just did get my memory refreshed about the times I mentioned her in this blog. One post was Returning from a pilgrimage – and the coming holidays, dated November 21, 2014.

That November 2014 post fits in nicely with the idea of Epiphany – January 6 – as marking the end of a long holiday season. That long holiday season – that “old-time winter festival” – actually started back on Halloween and just ended two months later, this past January 6.

There’s more about that long holiday season later on, but first here are some notes from an earlier post that year, On the “Infinite Frog.” (From July 2014, that mentions Dulce.)

That summer I took a two-week trip to New York City and Montreal. At the same time Mi Dulce took a two-week trip up to her home town, Cleveland. As I drove home – on I-81 through Virginia – I called her on the phone and we had a nice chat. But then she started talking about some “infinite frog, infinite frog.” Which made me wonder, “What the heck is an Infinite Frog?” It turned out she was talking about getting back her Infant of Prague doll – like the one at left – which she’d somehow lost track of as she grew up.

Which gives a flavor of how our conversations often went.

Later that year, on August 10, 2014, I did a post on St. Michael and All Angels.  

There’s a church in Stone Mountain –  St. Michael & All Angels’ Episcopal –  that Yours Truly and his Dulce passed the other day while leaving Stone Mountain Park. That led to the question, “Who the heck is this St. Michael guy?” 

Which just goes to show you can advance a spirit-pilgrimage even driving past Stone Mountain, east of Atlanta. I came to learn that the Archangel Michael is the one who reach[es down] to save souls in purgatory.” To which I said, “Hey, I’ll take all the help I can get!

Skipping ahead – to May 2015 – I mentioned Dulce again in On “Job the not patient” – REDUX. In it I noted that I spent a lot of time driving, and that much of that driving back then was spent “visiting Mi Dulce, who lives three counties over.” (Close to 60 miles each way.*)

To pass the time driving I got the habit of listening to lectures on CD. One lecture was Hebrews, Greeks and Romans:  Foundations of Western Civilization, by Professor Timothy Shutt. Through that lecture I learned that at the end of the Book of Job, “Job realizes divine omnipotence and understands the folly or trying to penetrate God’s plan and purposes with the limited mind of a human being.” Put another way, we are just not up to the task of fully understanding God:

We are simply not up to the task, not wired for such an overload. We are no more prepared to comprehend an answer than – to make use of a memorable example – cats are prepared to study calculus. It’s just not in our nature

Which is something I wouldn’t have learned without driving over to visit Ms. Dulce. (And come to think of it, I never managed to figure out – to fully understand – her mind either…)

Put another way, too many humans limit the majesty and power of God to their limited brain-power. So they tend re-make God’s mind to be more like their mind. They don’t do what God wants them to do. They don’t expand their minds or their horizons. And they never come close to eventually doing greater miracles than Jesus. (John 14:12.)  

All of which is not a bad set of lessons to learn driving over the visit Mi Dulce.

And now back to Epiphany. The post mentioning the lady that is most relevant to Epiphany is Returning from a pilgrimage – and the coming holidays. Posted in November 2014, it talked about my return from an eight-day canoe trip out in the Gulf of Mexico, 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi. It also talked about Epiphany as “the end of Christmas,” noted in the title:

Christmas ends the season of Advent and begins the 12 days of Christmas. Those 12 Days end on 12th Night, which marks the start of The Epiphany. “12th Night” … is the evening of January 5, also called the Eve of 12th Day. It’s also called the Eve of Epiphany, and was formerly known as the last day of the Christmas season, “observed [also] as a time of merrymaking.” Note also that in medieval times, 12th Night marked the end of a winter festival that started on All Hallows Eve – now called Halloween – back on October 31.

There was a note – in the Notes – “regarding the title of Shakespeare’s play “Twelfth Night.” In parentheses I added, “courtesy of ‘Mi Dulce,'” and I think that was because I had to explain to her either the play or the concept of Epiphany. But as they say, “in teaching you will learn.” And through the lady in question I learned that there actually are websites for Infinite Frogs.

For more information on Epiphany, the end of 12 days of Christmas and the long liturgical season starting last October 31, check the links above. But it’s been exhausting trying to process this emotional jolt, so I’ll sign off for now. Here’s hoping the rest of the year turns out better.

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There actually IS a website for “infinite frogs. . .”

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The upper image is courtesy of Image Rest In Peace – Image Results.

“Mi Dulce.” See also, ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian (or actually an Independent), from my companion blog. I posted that on November 8, 2016:

Mi Dulce is Spanish for “My Sweet.” That’s what I call the lady I’ve been “dating” some time now. (Since the start of the relationship, [when] I started saying she had me “wrapped around her little finger…”) Also since then she’s broken up with me at least 10 times.

And that was just in the three years since we first met in June 2013. Therein I also wrote about her using the “8-track tape mode of political discourse.” The thing about 8-tracks was that they never stopped, they used a “continuous loop” system, and no rewind. “As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again.”  

“Infant of Prague.” The full cite is e Infant Jesus of Prague – Wikipedia, referring to the 16th-century wax-coated wooden statue of the Child Jesus holding a globus cruciger of Spanish origin, now located in the Discalced CarmeliteChurch of Our Lady of Victories in Malá StranaPragueCzech Republic. First appearing in 1556, pious legends claim that the statue once belonged to Teresa of Ávila and was consequently donated to the Carmelite friars by Princess Polyxena of Lobkowicz in 1628.” See also Infant of Prague Doll – Etsy.

On that note, the “Infant doll” image is courtesy of Wikipedia, with the caption, “A German copy of the statue, with a white wig instead of the traditional blonde hair, circa. 1870.”

“Three counties over.” From Peachtree City to Conyers. Google Maps says its 60 miles using the interstates up to and through Atlanta, but traffic that way is always congested, if not stopped completely. So I usually took the back roads, which meant a drive of an hour and a half to two hours each way.

The lower image is courtesy of Infinite Frogs | Are We Full Yet? 

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