Archive for October, 2009

Please avoid opening sentences like these:

“X is such an important part of society today”

“In today’s society, x are popularly consumed”

These sentences are born of desperation and cowardice, and we hates them forever.

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I sometimes think that modern organized religion is more defined by who is kept out than who is allowed in.  Is there a particular sort of Heaven or Hell that gets described? Are there particular sorts of people who will never trouble you again? I’m sure it shows my intellectual bias that my idea of a good afterlife is a space where things are explained, understood, restored and reconciled.

But the idea of reconciliation that hinges on agreeing to be bigotted together bothers me — so the bridge across the Tiber offered by Pope Benedict to the disaffected Anglicans seems loathsome in some ways and hypocritical in others.  Last night I was talking with a colleague about the theological kludge that was going to allow married Anglican priests to become married Catholic ones — despite the continued ban on homegrown married Catholics in the priesthood, and I was surprised to realize that my colleague was among those who would have wanted a vocation, if only the sacraments of marriage and ordination were not mutually exclusive.

For a more elaborate discussion of religion and ethics in ordinary discourse, see this essay by Randy Cohen, the ethicist at the NY Times.

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Leia-mousieSomewhat civilized Himmie turns out to be a fine mouser.  She darted past Malkin and grabbed herself a mousie from behind the bookshelf.

Fortunately, she did not decide to gut it in my office or on the bed, or in the stairwell.  She dropped it, it tried to hide underneath her, and I grabbed it in a plastic newspaper sleeve [by far the most useful portion of our daily paper on some days…]

I have been informed by Word that this photo must be removed from her computer as fast as possible when I get home…..

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Some religious traditions do a better job of keeping their history alive than others. While being reminded of every significant activity that ever happened on a particular date strikes me as perhaps oppressive, I really am having problems with the ahistoricism of the church I nominally attend.

Honestly — our take on the Gospels goes back to at least 1541. Surely there’s been some interesting thinking that could filter into a sermon every so often.  I’m sure there a few complicated things you had to study in your theology and homiletics courses back in seminary.  PICK ONE!  Because if I only get to hear your personal insights from the week, I’m not part of a tradition, I’m part of a studio audience.

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I think this is the gate outside the garden of the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans

I think this is the gate outside the garden of the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans

I had not realized that “loving bluntness” was in common use as description of behavior or style of speaking. I guess it’s harsher than “loving kindness”, but still has some religious echos, at least that’s what I gather from the sorts of sites where the description is used.

A phrase that is certainly more common is “unique and personal”, which doesn’t make it much less irritating to me. Part of that irritation comes from living on the border between the humanities and the sciences — science isn’t exactly or purely _im_personal, and way too much of what I’m getting from this set of students is confessional and visceral: could we all just take a few steps back and think about what you’ve been saying?

Sometimes I worry that my personal biases creep too much into my critiques of ‘creative’ student work.  But then I remember that I’m not the only person who’s giving them feedback, and if you’ve gotten to post-grad work, you ought to have the stomach for hearing other perspectives.  So then I go back to the stacks of earnest vagueries and try again to get those writers beyond just wanting to merge into their reader’s consciousness so that everyone sees and feels and values exactly the same things.  Show your readers something new, something they hadn’t thought of before — fine — but ixne on the possession thing, okay?  I am not going to stop the world and melt with you.  Boundaries, people!

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The closest thing to the FAIL blog for craft items: Regretsy.com

I am not surprised, however, to hear that crafters wanted the images there to link back to their online shops.  Publicity is publicity [although in the case of some of the regrettable items, it’s ‘pube-licity’ of the sort that shouldn’t be on your screen at work].

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HazyBlaze-VT09Courtesy of Karen Armstrong’s The Case for God:

“A myth was never intended as an accurate account of a historical event; it was something that had in some sense happened once but that also happens all the time.”

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Cardamom tea, brewed with fresh mint leaves in the water:  very tasty. But where to find good cardamom tea outside a Lebanese restaurant?

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QuestionmarkButterfly1Answer to mystery butterfly what likes roosting in the fig trees and feeding on damaged fruits: It’s a Question Mark!

You can imagine how this warms my rhetorical heart…

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Here already are the cats,
And the basil,
And the figs,
And the evening darkness interrupted by a waning Moon.

Dinner is over
Dinner is ‘NOT YET’
Leftovers soon to be pounced upon

We wait for something like a bee
Buzzing down side streets
Veering slightly askew
To land in the driveway.

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