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Still snowed in

I’m loving staying at home. Watched Alexander Nevsky last night. Great film.

In today’s news I notice that the Pope is going on about his favorite target: the gays. Christ, that guy thinks about sex a lot. Which I suppose is understandably since he’s supposed to not be having any, but really? Isn’t Christmas just two days away? You’d think he’d have plenty to talk about in regard to the birth of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Gay groups and activists have reacted angrily after Pope Benedict XVI said that mankind needed to be saved from a destructive blurring of gender.

Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was as important as protecting the environment.

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One of our holiday traditions is seeing The Tudor Choir at Christmas. The music of this choral group speaks for itself. Embedding has been disabled, but if  you’d like to get a taste of it click here.

This year the Tudor Choir is doing a few concerts in the area including Christmas Carols at the Blessed Sacrament Church in the University District on December 27th, which I’ll be at. You can actually get into this concert for free since it is at a church, but I always buy tickets because I feel guilty. I’m not exactly religious but I love early music.

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The Explainer on Slate tells you how to do it. I’m not sure when this will come in handy though.

At a Seattle fundraiser on Sunday, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden warned supporters that, if elected, Barack Obama will be tested by “an international crisis” early on in his first term. He also advised the crowd to “gird your loins,” since the tasks ahead for the next president will be “like cleaning the Augean stables, man.” What’s the best way to follow Biden’s advice?

With a belt. To gird means to bind or encircle, and loins refers to the area between your hips and ribs. (Note: In this case, loins does not refer to the genitals, as with Nabokov’s “light of my life, fire of my loins.”) So, “to gird your loins” means, literally, to wrap a belt around your waist so that your clothes don’t flop around. The phrase stems from the Bible and is scattered throughout both the Old and New Testaments—composed during notoriously floppy sartorial eras. When Elijah “girded up his loins” (1 Kings 18:46), he was probably wearing a knee-length robe. It’s likely that he fastened a cord tightly around his waist, then shortened his garment by pulling it up and letting it flounce over the belt. Or he might have taken the hem of his robe and tucked it into his belt, creating a makeshift pouch or pocket.

Romans prepping for a fight also needed to gird their loins. Especially if he needed to ride a horse, a Roman might have gathered up the skirtlike portion of his outfit, passed it through his legs, and fastened the whole mess with a girdle (a leather belt, basically, also used to hold tools or weapons).

Biden, of course, was advising his supporters to gird their loins in the figurative sense—that is, to brace themselves for a test of mental or emotional endurance. He was perhaps unintentionally echoing the apostle Peter, who recommended “girding up the loins of your mind … and [setting] your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Also, Paul, who in the Epistle to the Ephesians, mentions “having your loins girt about with truth” (Ephesians 6:14).

Picture via LurgenFreePresbyerian.

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Really, what hope do we have of defending ourselves from a terrorist attack if the evil doers out there can infiltrate the Catholic church as apparently happened in 1982.

The late Pope John Paul was wounded by a knife-wielding priest in 1982, a year after he was shot in St Peter’s Square, but the injury was kept secret, his former top aide says in a documentary film.

A crazed ultra-conservative Spanish priest, Juan Fernandez Krohn, lunged at the pope with a dagger and was knocked to the ground by police and arrested. The fact that the knife actually reached the pope and cut him was not known until now.

“I can now reveal that the Holy Father was wounded. When we got back to the room (in the Fatima sanctuary complex) there was blood,” Dziwisz says in the documentary.

Truly fascinating. They’re everywhere.

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What is sacrifice?

I’ve always been a bit of a romantic. As I’ve said in earlier posts, I really bought into the idealism of the founding of the U.S. You know the checks and balances that have been withered away over so many presidents who cared more about power than they did about the idea of America. Anyway my point is that I am a romantic.

And my idea of sacrifice, the title of this post, is very romantic also. If you want something bad enough, sometimes you have to give something up in order to get that. And sometimes making a sacrifice is essential in order to get what you want. In Christianity, sometimes you make a sacrifice and get nothing in return, but you do that because you love God. Abraham lucked out a bit in that he didn’t really have to sacrifice Isaac to show his love for God.

In Twenty-First Century America (and I can only guess in other places as well) the idea of sacrifice is disappearing. People want to have their cake and eat it too. Let’s take climate change. Most everyone knows it’s happening, but rather than give up something to mildly avert it we say “I have a right to drive a single-occupant vehicle. Technology will save me.”

In Seattle right now, they are considering imposing a 20 cent bag fee for plastic bags at the supermarket. Many people are upset.

Them: It will drive up grocery costs.

Me: By $1.00?

Them: $1.00 is a lot to poor people.

Me: Everyone can bring reusable bags. Even poor people. The reusable bags will pay for themselves.

Them: I can’t remember to bring a bag with me every time.

Me: Yeah life stinks doesn’t it. Remembering things and all that.

I really don’t get it. If we know that plastic bags pollute our environment, how could a small inconvenience like bringing a cloth bag be so awful?

Convenience, convenience. We all need convenience.

Going back to gas prices. We know oil is polluting our environment, but rather than sustain an inconvenience like (gasp!) filling our tires correctly or (gasp!)  taking the bus, we say drill drill drill. Meanwhile our actions cause wars in the Middle East where real men and women make the very real sacrifice of their lives for us. For our convenience. It’s really quite twisted.

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Via Matt Yglesias.

I’m not sure I understand what the purpose of this sign is. Do they think they are going to bring parishioners to the pews with that kind of sign? Most people go to church because they find it uplifting.

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