Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Who's a Celt now? - 7

A quirky translation of witches' chants

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,Part 4, Part 5,
Part 6

Stephen Oppenheimer, the anthropologist who combines DNA, archaeological, and linguistic evidence to argue against any "glorious Celtic heritage" in England, further argues that Celtic languages were not widespread there before the Roman invasion.

His work reminded me of a quirky book that was published in 1973--a peak year for books on Paganism and Witchcraft, as I describe in the chapter "The Playboy and the Witch" in Her Hidden Children. That book was The Roots of Witchcraft, by the English writer Michael Harrison.

Harrison's approach to nonfiction (he was also a novelist) was "bisociative," as Colin Wilson kindly put it: "His mind suddenly perceives the relation between his thesis and some apparently unrelated subject, which gives his work a continued element of unexpectedness."

"Continued element of unexpectedness." In other words, how did he get there?

But Harrison's book is still on coven reading lists. He completely bought Margaret Murray's idea of "the Old Religion," protected by the 11th and 12th-century Plantagenet kings, and all of that, and refers to Gerald Gardner's adaptation of Murray as "usually correct." So people who want to believe in an unbroken continuation of the Old Religion from Then until Now love Harrison; I think that my old friend Evan John Jones was one of them.

This despite Harrison's casual "bisociative" assertions, such as the one that the Persians enjoyed electric lighting in the 5th century BCE. If that were true, I think that President Ahmadinejad would be using it to justify Iran's nuclear program. But I digress.

Intrigued with some alleged witchcraft chants and other words recorded during the Renaissance and early modern witch trials, such as the famous "Eko Eko Azarek" chant, Harrison set out to decipher them.

He decided that they had to be from a "pre-Celtic tongue." Now Oppenheimer is arguing that much of England was speaking a Germanic tongue before the Roman invasion, setting aside the former idea that most of England spoke some ancient variety of P-Celtic (a predecessor of Welsh) at that time. But what might have come before that?

A generation ago, Harrison thought that it had to be Basque, the enigmatic language that some believe is a relic of the oldest Neolithic language(s) of Western Europe. At least Basque would fit with an Iberian origin for most of the population of the British Isles, you have to grant him that. And he was writing before the DNA studies were conceivable.

Not knowing Basque, but possessed of a Basque-English dictionary, he set out to decipter the witches' chants and thus demonstrate that they were--he thought--in an ancient liturgical language that followers of the Old Religion knew by rote even after they had lost the sense of the words.

He had lots of fun, you can tell.

Unfortunately, sometimes his folk etymology--the idea that two words that sound alike must mean the same thing--leads him to some odd bisociative conclusions. For instance, "Alammani," sounds like "al yemen" in Arabic, so that Germanic tribe must have an Arabic origin!

But with his dictionary, Harrison proved to his own satisfaction that (a) the ritual language of the "Old Religion" was Basque, and (b) since the Basque language might well be Neolithic, then (c) certainly the "Old Religion" was indeed the Stone Age religion of Britain, as Gerald Gardner had proposed in the 1950s. QED.

"Eko Eko Azarek"? It means, claims Harrison, "Kill for the November feast," as in right about now, the feast of Samhain, when surplus livestock might be slaughtered. Don't tell your hardcore Gardnerian friends that you know that "secret" meaning.

As for me, "Ez dakit euskaraz hitz egiten."

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'We feel the ancestors longing for us'

 Masks created for goddess invocations by artist Lauren Raine are a big draw at the Spiral Dance celebration at Kezar Pavilion. Chronicle photo by Kurt Rogers
Coverage of this year's Spiral Dance in California, with goddess masks by Lauren Raine.

Read more at Broomstick Chronicles.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

You sexy witch - 1

The GetReligion bloggers wrestle with the alleged trend towards sexy witch costumes. ("Bring 'em on," in the words of our Beloved Leader.)

Is that Morgan Fairchild in the illustration? Or just a generic blonde?

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Who's a Celt now? - 6

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,Part 4, Part 5

Everything that we thought we knew about Celtic culture is probably wrong.

But there is still language, right? If "Celtic" is not a genetic code, and it's not a spirituality, at least there are Celtic languages: Gaulish, Cornish, British-leading-to-Welsh, Irish and Scots Gaelic, right?

Yes, but who was speaking them? Maybe only a minority, not the whole population of the British Isles before the Roman invasion or, following that, before the Anglo-Saxon invasions. Maybe there was no "genocide."

Read this article by the British anthropologist Stephen Oppenheimer and prepare to have your preconceptions exploded.

Some excerpts:

The orthodox view of the origins of the Celts turns out to be an archaeological myth left over from the 19th century. Over the past 200 years, a myth has grown up of the Celts as a vast, culturally sophisticated but warlike people from central Europe, north of the Alps and the Danube, who invaded most of Europe, including the British Isles, during the iron age, around 300 BC.

. . . . The other myth I was taught at school, one which persists to this day, is that the English are almost all descended from 5th-century invaders, the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, from the Danish peninsula, who wiped out the indigenous Celtic population of England.

. . . . But who were those Ancient Britons left in England to be slaughtered when the legions left? The idea that the Celts were eradicated—culturally, linguistically and genetically—by invading Angles and Saxons derives from the idea of a previously uniformly Celtic English landscape. But the presence in Roman England of some Celtic personal and place-names doesn't mean that all ancient Britons were Celts or Celtic-speaking.

There is so much more. I could end up excerpting the whole article. One more:

A picture thus emerges of the dark-ages invasions of England and northeastern Britain as less like replacements than minority elite additions, akin to earlier and larger Neolithic intrusions from the same places. There were battles for dominance between chieftains, all of Germanic origin, each invader sharing much culturally with their newly conquered indigenous subjects.

And they were cheeseheads.

A leading anthopology blogger comments favorably.

So, realistically, Americans who fancy themselves "Celts" should be heading for Elko, Nevada, for the big Basque festival

But wait, there is more!

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Who's a Celt now ? - 5

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

While they wanted to present Wicca as the indigenous religion of Britain, the founders of contemporary Witchcraft were not so much caught up in the "Celtic" mythos. Some, in fact, favored the Saxon.

By the 1970s, however, "cardiac Celts" were everywhere. Writers such as John Sharkey formulated a magickal Celtic mythos: his book Celtic Mysteries was at the top of my first coven's reading list. It had all the pieces of "Celtic" special-ness, including "Celtic Christianity" but also a great deal about the Triple Goddess, whose explication owes more to the genius of Robert Graves than to any Iron Age Celtic poem.

Needless to say, my fellow Witches and I were reading Graves' The White Goddess along with Celtic Mysteries. Since Sharkey's ideas of Celtic Paganism were largely derived from Graves, correlating the two was easy.

All "Celtic Paganism" owes a huge debt to Graves, since before he came along, the only Celtic Pagans getting any attention were the Druids, and there was no Goddess religion there!

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Who's a Celt now? - 4

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

There is no gene for "Celtic," and, as we have seen (if you followed the links), "Celtic culture" is largely an invention of the late 18th and 19th centuries--created by the English and/or of Welsh, Irish, and other tradition-inventors who went to London to make the culture scene.

Those might include James Macpherson, creator of the allegedly ancient Scottish "Ossian" poems in the 1760s, and Edward "Iolo Morganwg" Williams, creator of allegedly ancient Welsh literature and key figure in the Druidic revial. (See also "fakelore".)

Williams' "Druidic" planes of existence--Annwn, Abred, Ceugant,and Gwynfyd--made it into Robert Cochrane's Witchcraft tradition, oddly enough.

Then you have the translators and "improvers" of ancient literature, such as Lady Charlotte Guest, who produced the version of the Mabinogion that most people know. Evangeline Walton's novelized version was on my first coven's reading list, and it was treated like holy scripture.

In 1890s Ireland, the Anglo-Irish poet William Yeats and his unrequited love, Maude Gonne, stoked themselves on translated Iron Age epic poems and even tried creating a magickal order based on "Celtic" themes as against the more Kabbalistic Golden Dawn, of which Yeats was a member.

By the 1920s, the Irish writer James Joyce would refer to the whole anti-modern and backward-looking "Celtic Twilight" literary renaissance as the "cultic twalette." Maude Gonne, of course, "took it to the streets" in the build-up to the 1916 Easter Rising and never went back to "Celtic" ceremonial magic.

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Don't know much about Julian

But if you are reading this blog, you probably know enough to try the Emperor Julian trivia quiz.

I got 13 out of 15, but as the quiz's author writes, "The early Byzantine emperors showed a woeful lack of originality in names."

Save a dog--Vote yes on 44

OK, one endorsement on the crowded Colorado ballot: Amendment 44.

It would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, putting Colorado into much the same legal territory as Alaska.

Cannabis is not really part of my life, but I don't care to see headlines like this one from Texas: Dead Dog, $5K in Damage, Guns, and Grenades . . . and Two Joints.

I will vote for 44, then, not because I'm a big pot smoker but because I am sick of the excesses of the War on (some) Drugs. Voting yes seems to be the only way to register an opinion, since politicians are generally scared to be branded "pro-drug," regardless of their private feelings.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Outed by 'the chair'

My department chair (that's how we say it in Academia to avoid the sexism of "chairman," even though it makes him sound like an ornate piece of furniture) recently invited me to speak to one of his classes.

To establish my credentials, he handed a copy of my book Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America around the seminar table.

Because I teach English rather than history of religion, not too many people had known about it. I did thank him in the preface for his support of my unconventional scholarship, however. But I had to chuckle too, because some of these students are my students this semester too.

I don't exactly wear my pentagram on my sleeve at the university. I am what I am (and they ought to give the department some kind of diversity points benefit for having me), but I don't advertise.

Consider, for instance, my student C____, with whom I worked closely on an important project over the summer, one that might further her career. She's bright and willing to do far more than the minimum work required. She is also more or less of a fundamentalist Christian. It would not surprise me if she thinks that the universe was created in six 24-hour days. But I liked having her in class all the same.

If she knew I was in the Craft, would it spoil the professor-student relationship? All she would have to do is Google me, but students are generally incurious about their professors' lives, I think.

Meanwhile, another student who was working on an interview-based article in a magazine-writing class told me that if her first interviewee did not work out, she could interview "a friend who was Pagan."

"Let's stick with Plan A," I said.

And, meanwhile, a department colleague asked me if Her Hidden Children was for sale in the university bookstore.

Duh! I had completely forgotten about the display shelves of books by faculty members.

So I printed out the page from AltaMira Press's online catalog and took it to the bookstore manager.

Today she emailed me: It's back-ordered until December.

I should be glad, since that seems to indicate that it is selling. Hope so.

Leaving the meat uncovered

Sheik Taj Din al-Hilaly, Australia's senior Islamic cleric, explains rape and how women serve Satan:

“If you take uncovered meat and put it on the street, on the pavement, in a garden, in a park, or in the backyard, without a cover and the cats eat it, then whose fault will it be, the cats, or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the disaster.

I just felt that I needed to share that. Pagan cat-owners, please don't be offended.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Remembering Richard Brautigan

When I was an undergraduate, his books were in every dorm room.


War fatigue

This is not a political blog, but I could not help noticing the recent White House admission that they were dropping "stay the course" from their political talking points. (NPR audio here.

We know that the rationale keeps changing. First it was weapons of mass destruction, but there were none. Then it was regime change--agreed, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy. And "bringing democracy." And "fighting terrorism." I think the public is growing weary, but the elections next month will show just how weary.

More to the point, yesterday's panel on NPR's Morning Edition focused on language (which I do blog about) and how simply calling the Iraq situation a "civil war" would force us to re-think our approach. (Audio here) Why language matters.

Iraq, in a sense, is not a nation. "Iraq" is not "Arabic for Vietnam," as some antiwar people suggested in 2003. It's more like "Arabic for Yugoslavia."

Yugoslavia ("Land of the South Slavs") was created by the Great Powers in 1918, following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire. It contained several small nations that had, at times, independent existences when they were not controlled from Venice, Istanbul, or Vienna as part of larger empires.

After World War II, Marshall Tito and the Communists kept them glued together. In 1991 the lid came off for good, and the whole former "nation" exploded into war.

When we got rid of Saddam's government, we unwittingly took the lid off Iraq. And Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfield were so historically ignorant that they did not see the trouble coming.

Iraq, too, was created by decree following the defeat of the Turkish Empire in World War I and the loss of most of its Middle Eastern holdings. Some Englishmen drew some lines on the map and lo, Iraq! And they put some homeless Arab king in charge and called it a nation.

Bush & Co. thought they were liberating France--like going into Baghdad was Paris 1944, with people throwing flowers and pretty girls kissing the brave GIs, followed by a government-in-exile being installed and things eventually getting back to normal.

As we see now, they were clueless. We keep talking about building up the Iraqi police and army, but I think that those forces chiefly draw recruits who sign up to get uniforms, pay, and lots of guns and ammo with which to slay their religious, ethnic, and tribal enemies. Where is the sense of nationhood?

Polical blogger Steve Sailer quotes columnist John Tierney:

The problem is that [Iraqis] have so many social obligations more important to them than national unity. Iraqis bravely went to the polls and waved their purple fingers, but they voted along sectarian lines. Appeals to their religion trumped appeals to the national interest. And as the beleaguered police in Amara saw last week, religion gets trumped by the most important obligation of all: the clan.

The deadly battle in Amara wasn’t between Sunnis and Shiites, but between two Shiite clans that have feuded for generations. After one clan’s militia destroyed police stations and took over half the city, the Iraqi Army did not ride to the rescue. Authorities regained control only after the clan leaders negotiated a truce.

So let's just call it a civil war and make our plans based on that fact. I've wondered for a long time if Iraq, like Yugoslavia, was not fated to break into at least three smaller countries--and if that might not be a good thing.

OK, back to the usual blogging.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Who's a Celt now? - 3

"Celtic Spirituality" as religious outbidding.

During the recent Spanish Peaks Celtic Music Festival, St. Benedict Episcopal Church in La Veta, Colorado, took out a small ad in the program for their Celtic Spirituality weekend.

Yes, before the contemporary Pagan movement was underway, various Anglicans were pushing "Celtic spirituality" as a way to make an end run around the Roman Catholics. Their claim that the Church of England was rooted in the so-called Celtic church permitted claims such as this:

[The Church of England] preserved a tradition of [Celtic and Anglo-Saxon] scholarship which Rome had lost, together with a love of discipline which the Celt never had. The result was a vigorous, dignified, and self-reliant national Church.

Arthur G. Willis and Ernest H. Hayes, Yarns on Wessex Pioneers (1954)

Best of both worlds, you see. It's all about Celtic special-ness.

Whereas the Vatican may claim the keys of St. Peter, Celtic spirituality lets one claim a link to the ancient, noble Druids (one of several interpretations of Druids, as will be neatly enumerated in Ronald Hutton's upcoming book on them). See, for instance, this "Christ as Druid" prayer, attributed to St. Columba, but I wonder.

By claiming that Druids were peacefully converted and led their Pagan peoples into Christianity, the "Celtic church" casts itself as the irenic alternative to "convert-or-die" monotheisms.

Celtic Christians want to be like Druids, because one interpretation of Druids is as proto-monotheists. That interpretation came from writers who never met a Druid, as Stuart Piggott explained forty years ago.

Some Episcopal clergy became a little too enthusiastic about Druidry and learned the hard way where the borders were.

I do not want to be too hard on the American Episcopalians. That church has been slowly self-destructing since the 1960s, when it became infected with a bad case of Vatican II-envy.
More to come.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Aleister Crowley: The other Loch Ness monster

The entertainment side of the BCC goes all spooky about Boleskine House (via YouTube, Part 1 of 4).

....the house in which demonic forces remain until this very day . .

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Who's a Celt now? - 2

The word "Celt" first appears in English in 1706, but it referred then usually to the people of ancient Gaul (modern France), says the OED. There are some earlier uses of "Celtic," again referring to the Gauls, from the late 17th century.

"Celts" begame fashionable as Noble Savages after Scotland, in particular, was no longer seen by the English as a military threat. "Bonnie Prince Charlie's" attempt to be king of England died at Culloden Moor in 1746, after a promising beginning.

Something similar happened in Ireland after the 1798 uprising was put down, I would suggest. Noble savages are most "noble" after they have been defeated.

King George IV and then Queen Victoria elevated Scottish tartans into high fashion. The linking of specific tartans to clans was a Victorian-era invention.

By the 1870s a Celtic Magazine was being published in Britain, and the whole Romantic association of Celticity with poetic melancholy and an allegedly Pagan-tinged form of Christianity was well underway.

More to come.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Who's a Celt now?-1

When I blogged the recent local Celtic music festival, I promised more on the tangled web of Celticity. This foggy, rainy, sleeting night seems a perfect time to begin.

Take the assertion of Stephen Oppenheimer, an anthropologist who has published on the ancient populations of the British Isles:

"Celt" is now a term that sceptics consider so corruped in the archaeological and popular literature that it is worthless.

In music, however, "Celtic" is a genre. Compare "Country and Western," which requires performers and listeners to be neither rural nor residents of the North American West in order to enjoy it.

Be glad you have the music, because in genetic, cultural, linguistic and perhaps even religious terms, "Celtic" means nothing in particular.

As Marion Bowman said in her important 1993 article, ""Reinventing the Celts" (Religion 23 (1993): 147-156), "Celtic sells." She later gave us the wonderful term "cardiac Celt," for someone who knows in their heart that they are "Celtic," in other words, "less tainted [by modernity] . . . repositories of a spirituality that has elsewhere been lost."

Not just Pagans but some Christians have reinvented themselves as cardiac Celts as well.

More to come

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Monday, October 16, 2006

March of the Zombies

Aussie Dave notes a parade of the Undead in Wellington, New Zealand.

The internal link seems to be dead, but here is his take on it.

And here I thought it was something special to have a Day of the Dead parade.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The religious marketplace in late antiquity, or 'the more things change . . .'

Studying the program book from the upcoming American Academy of Religion-Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting, I came across this description of a joint session session between the Europe and the Mediterranean in Late Antiquity Group, the Manichaean Studies Seminar, and the Religion in Roman Egypt Consultation:

This joint session addresses how, in the conditions of general tolerance that prevailed from Constantine to Theodosius, religious groups adapted from their prior established or illicit status to a free market of open competition and adopted various strategies of attracting or retaining adherents.

Two thoughts: Does this sound familiar? And, second, sometimes it's too bad that the mushrooming size of the joint annual meeting means that the two bodies will no longer meet together after 2007. Although the SBL has a biblical focus, some very interesting work on late Classical Paganism does slip in.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I have seen the future of Paganism, and it's polyester

Jason Pitzl-Waters adds more on Paganism in the YouTube era. He wonders, "More importantly, will modern Paganism change to become more 'video friendly'?"

Take, for instance, the videos posted by the publicity-hungry Corellian Nativist Tradition. There you may see CNT leader Don Lewis dressed like a small-town insurance agent. His sport coat alone would drive someone to agnosticism.

It's the horrible cultural pressure of American Protestantism. No one feels like they can be religious in public without putting on an ugly necktie and an unctuous, phony-sincere voice.

Next, pews and hymnbooks for Samhain. Shudder.

Given a choice, I would take dressing up like one's [imagined] ancestors. Here are some Russian Pagans of the "Circle of Pagan Tradition" doing just that.

UPDATE: Browsing NeoWayland's blog, I see that the Corellians have had some sort of leadership meltdown. It looks as though the "largest and fastest growing Wiccan Tradition in the world" now has two official home pages. What was that about Protestants?

Jane Austen in Woad

I had a long and not terribly encouraging talk with my editor at Rowman & Littlefield last week about a book project involving SF/fantasy and Paganism.

Then I walked to another building on campus, where students from the English Club were selling used books and baked goods. A copy of Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Forest House (1993), the prequel to Mists of Avalon, more or less jumped out at me, and for fifty cents I bought it.

Bradley said it was partly based on Bellini's opera Norma, but really, it's Jane Austen in woad.

Imagine: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single Druid in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Have I changed so much since I was rather caught up in Mists? Should I blame the alleged ghost-writing by Diana Paxson? (Warning: lugubrious music on link.)

The book's allegedly Pagan religion is awfully Protestant. People go around saying things like, "Goddess forgive my sin."


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Can you adopt a tradition?

It's not just contemporary Pagans who are vexed by that problem. Journalist Ron Dreher of the Crunchy Con[servative] blog tries to respond to a political conservative's criticism, the critic being columnist Maggie Gallagher.

And then his commenters arrive in flocks.

And the argument goes around and around, sounding very much like Wiccans and reconstructionist Pagans arguing, only with different religious language.

And then a real Pagan does arrive in the comments. Someone tries to refute him by quoting G.K. Chesterton, as though the definition of "pagan" had not matured over the last hundred years. Is that the best they can do?

Yes, a sort of philosophical/literary paganism was in vogue in Chesterton's time--the next issue of The Pomegranate will have an excellent article on that era. But it is not exactly what we are talking about now.

Druidry on YouTube

Pagan instructional videos have actually been around since the late 1980s. Now it is the YouTube era, as Druid Ian Corrigan demonstrates. (Not counting clips from Charmed, of course.)

If you understand Dutch, here is some news coverage. There is an English translation in the sidebar.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

'Western Pagan Cult' Comes to India

Wicca reaches India, reports The Telegraph of Calcutta. It's just a "study group" now, the paper says. (Sure!) There is a Web site, of course, which suggests that the organizers have been Wiccan for some years, in fact.

A month after bisarjan, a western pagan cult worshipping the Mother Goddess looks set to rise from oblivion in the city.

The Wiccan Brigade, to be launched some time in mid-November by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, will be a platform for those interested in studying wicca and using the branch of knowledge to holistic effect.

Some years ago, when I learned that Wiccan groups were starting in Brazil, I was surprised, because I thought that Brazil already had plenty of magical religion. "Too 'Christian' for them," reported my priestess friend whom a Brazilian group had brought in to speak to them.

But for these Indians, is Wicca more Western and somehow suitable for educated people yet still compatible with Hindu culture? We shall find out.

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Unspeakable blasphemous horror

From "The Heroic Nerd," a review essay by Luc Sante in The New York Review of Books, discussing works by and about H.P. Lovecraft:

He was also frightened of invertebrates, marine life in general, temperatures below freezing, fat people, people of other races, race-mixing, slums, percussion instruments, caves, cellars, old age, great expanses of time, monumental architecture, non-Euclidean geometry, deserts, oceans, rats, dogs, the New England countryside, New York City, fungi and molds, viscous substances, medical experiments, dreams, brittle textures, gelatinous textures, the color gray, plant life of diverse sorts, memory lapses, old books, heredity, mists, gases, whistling, whispering—the things that did not frighten him would probably make a shorter list. He evidently took pleasure in his fears, at least those on the creepy-crawly end of the spectrum, and although he really did suffer from his fear of cold, for example, this did not prevent him from exploiting that fear in a couple of stories, one of them ("At the Mountains of Madness") his best.

H/T: 3 Quarks Daily.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Why the Pope hired the Swiss

You did not know that the Swiss did the drumline thing?

Give these guys pikes and halberds and use your imagination. (YouTube video--fast connection required.)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cut-rate Bacchantes

I came to the university this morning, and as I walked up the steps to one building, I found an ivy wreath lying at my feet.

Having had the benefit of a liberal arts education, I immediately thought, "The Bacchantes were here last night."

One problem: it was plastic ivy. Maybe today's Bacchantes shop at Hobby Lobby. In southern Colorado, we do not have ivy-covered university buildings. And maybe that's a good thing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

An appointment in Del Norte

Every time that I drive through the small southern Colorado town of Del Norte, I am annoyed. Still they have failed to erect a sign on US 160: "Birthplace of Chas S. Clifton." I may have to make my own, I thought, and bolt it to a convenient post.

But not now. Del Norte may have been my first home, but that is nothing compared to its being the site of a papal consecration.

Reading the Holy Office blog (written by a religion journalist) I learn that the next pope was supposed to have been consecrated there last August.

But the ceremony was delayed. There may still be time to attend. Maybe I could get my photo taken with the pope, and Del Norte would be doubly famous.

Note that the next pope is from Oklahoma. Southern Colorado is always full of Okies and Texans fleeing the summer heat. Were he a Texan, the venue would be Lake City, and that is a longer drive.

Keep reading Holy Office for more on radical traditionalist Catholics:

And, frankly, who can blame people for getting caught up in the excitement? In a crowded religious marketplace, radtrads have a lot to offer: poorly-pronounced Latin, ample parking at half-deserted storefront churches, the glazed certainty otherwise present only in certain murderous androids, and even the prospect of receiving messages from the Virgin Mary, some of which might tell you to go ahead and marry a couple more wives.

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