Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hate Mail - Redux

Like I said, you're about as classy as neck tattoos. 

"That day, the last of my youth, on the last of our mountains."

David and I that summer cut trails on the Survey,
All week in the valley for wages, in air that was steeped
In the wail of mosquitoes, but over the sunalive weekends
We climbed, to get from the ruck of the camp, the surly
Poker, the wrangling, the snoring under the fetid
Tents, and because we had joy in our lengthening coltish
Muscles, and mountains for David were made to see over,
Stairs from the valleys and steps to the sun's retreats.

Our first was Mount Gleam. We hiked in the long afternoon
To a curling lake and lost the lure of the faceted
Cone in the swell of its sprawling shoulders. Past
The inlet we grilled our bacon, the strips festooned
On a poplar prong, in the hurrying slant of the sunset.
Then the two of us rolled in the blanket while round us the cold
Pines thrust at the stars. The dawn was a floating
Of mists till we reached to the slopes above timber, and won
To snow like fire in the sunlight. The peak was upthrust
Like a fist in a frozen ocean of rock that swirled
Into valleys the moon could be rolled in. Remotely unfurling
Eastward the alien prairie glittered. Down through the dusty
Skree on the west we descended, and David showed me
How to use the give of shale for giant incredible
Strides. I remember, before the larches' edge,
That I jumped a long green surf of juniper flowing
Away from the wind, and landed in gentian and saxifrage
Spilled on the moss. Then the darkening firs
And the sudden whirring of water that knifed down a fern-hidden
Cliff and splashed unseen into mist in the shadows.....

David:  Earle Birney 

Hate Mail

Tell Stupie Stevie that I studied the Canada Health System AND MOST OF ITS FUNDING COMES FROM INCOME TAXES.

The Canadian taxes on liquor, cigarettes and other such health destroying items are, as I recall, set at a level that offsets the cost to their health care system from the consumption of those, I'm not sure exactly where the money from those is allocated but they, obviously, wouldn't be enough to fund the great Canadian health care system.  Clearly the Canadians have more sense and, more importantly, a sense of justice in such matters than the United States.  The extent to which they benefitted from adopting their constitution two centuries after the one the United States is insanely saddled with and, so, could learn from our many and massive mistakes which we have yet to learn from, is worth considering as to why we're stuck whereas they haven't been.  Though the disease of corporatism is catching and if Canadians aren't careful they'll get duped out of their health care system, "free speech" and, especially "free press" will be the means of talking them out of it. 

Update:  I was curious to see what I could find out about how the liquor taxes in Canada are allocated.  While I have yet to find a succinct account of that, I did come across this interesting and informative pamphlet, Reducing Alcohol -Related Harm in Canada, which pretty much supports a lot of what I said, especially about the role the media plays in promoting alcohol abuse and the use of taxation to change behavior and, obviously, as a means of funding the many educational proposals in it. 

Update 2:  If Goebbels had been Simels

"All those lies, they were jokes.  It's not my fault you guys didn't get them. "  

News You May Have Missed

I don't know how true it is but in a 15 stupidest things said about LGBT people this year, Huffington Post claims that the idiotic Steve King told people that you could marry your lawn mower in 2015. There are some attractions to the idea.  I can imagine there would be tax advantages if you could claim your lawn mower as a dependent - you wouldn't even have to put gas in it, I'd guess or even cut grass with it.  Though the consummation would be a dicey prospect. 

Do read the list, but consider that the incredibly stupid things said in it are no more stupid than any other list of bigoted statements made about Muslims, religious folk in general, Christians, women, black people, etc.  Bigots all come from the same place and speak the same language of lies. 

Tax Alcohol Put The Money Into Prevention Stop The Media From Selling Us To The Alcohol Industry

I am tired.  It's been an exhausting month for my family.  I'm tempted to just say I'll see you in the new year but you know me better than that.  Another thing I got from my family is a big mouth.  

The good news is that my brother didn't die on Christmas day, what we'd all figured he was ornery enough to pull on us. If he had any sense of what's happening around him.  He still hasn't regained consciousness.  I don't know what it is that makes drunks so ornery around Christmas but it seems to go with the territory.  I'll have to go in today or tomorrow and talk to him, try to rouse him.  It's hopeless but it's got to be done.  It's hard, too, to see your younger sibling look like the oldest person you've ever seen and worse because of the jaundice and lesions where his skin is breaking down, I assume due to his dying liver.  We all agreed that we weren't going to sugar coat this, not after seeing it a second time.   I don't know if people saw how horrific end-stage alcoholism is if more of them would stop drinking but it's led most of us to give it up as my mother seeing her uncle die of alcoholism kept her from ever being tempted to take it up.  

I've mentioned before the time during Ken Burn's series on prohibition being on TV I outrage some of the purveyors of the common received wisdom by saying the only thing wrong with prohibition was that it didn't work.   Right thinking people are not supposed to think there was anything to recommend prohibition but, even with all of the problems of smuggling, organized crime, people getting pinched for brewing beer at home, etc. it's not as if having free and easy access to alcohol isn't without its own problems.  But if it had succeeded and no one drank alcohol I don't see that it would be any worse than a world in which no one smoked tobacco or any number of other health ruining habits.  Neither alcohol nor nicotine are things you need to live, you're more likely to die or suffer ill health if you use them.  Both of them are bad for those who are close to those who use them.  Imagine a world in which there were no drunks having accidents on the roads, no drunks getting violent with other people, no one getting drunk and raped, etc.  

I'd like to see a stiff national tax put on liquor with the proceeds used for grass roots alcohol prevention programs and a ban on movies and TV shows presenting drinking as glamorous and sophisticated. Product placement in those are the diseducation that has sold us out to some of the more destructive industries allowed to operate openly around us.  The schools don't have a chance of changing that, as I mentioned last week, they are swamped by the competition for the time and minds of students, they should not be required to try things like that when they are already at a disadvantage in doing what they are supposed to be doing now.  

Friday, December 25, 2015

Tomás Luis de Victoria - O Magnum Mysterium

Robert Shaw Singers
Robert Shaw, director


Christmas is a day to thank God for salvation of life from the confines of the physical universe.  It is a day to be thankful for consciousness, the very core of our being and that it is not the slave of physical causation and that it extends past the bounds of physical being.  It is a day to be grateful for the possibility of escaping the pain of evil through the Jewish prophetic tradition.  It is a day to thank God for the way to do that, foremost as taught by Jesus, one of those prophets and more.  Much more, the fulfillment of justice though love, the motive of the Law and the only secure means of transcending its possible harshness.  It took me a life time to see that and I'm thankful that I did. Who needs superfluous presents after that?  It's everything. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Hate Mail

"In lieu of a life, of course."

You and Martin Shkreli have a similar idea of what a life is. 

Jennifer Higdon - O Magnum Mysterium

Handel and Haydn Society.
Grant Llewellyn, director

This setting is unusual in that most of those I've ever heard are for voices alone, without instruments. It is also unusual in using an English translation as well as the Latin original.

Frank La Rocca - O Magnum Mysterium

Artists Vocal Ensemble
Jonathan Dimmock, director

Juan Cole's Christmas Eve Post Is Great


"So the flight to Egypt of the holy family was the migration of Syrian refugees from a combination of religious and political persecution. A blanket killing of boy babies is what we would now call a war crime, and Jesus was directly targeted. Like little Aylan Kurdi, who washed up dead on a Turkish beach, he was forced by a violent regime out of his home, to seek refuge in another country. Unlike Aylan, baby Jesus survived the journey to Egypt."

While Juan Cole is often not exactly Christian friendly - and, admittedly, the "Christians" he's not exactly friendly to earn it by their un- if not antichristian words and deeds - I love his post today filling in the background history and making some intelligent speculations about the birth and the early years of the life of Jesus.   His analysis of the story of the Magi is the first one that makes real sense, I've generally assumed it was mostly myth but, if he is right, maybe it's a lot more true than that.

The wise men or magi from the East and Jesus in the manger are staples of Christmas celebrations. (Matthew does not say there were three wise men, and early Syrian tradition held that there were 12 of them). Actually, however many there were, the wise men caused baby Jesus a very great deal of trouble.

Magi were the priests of the Zoroastrian or Parsi religion of ancient Iran. Iranian religions like Zoroastrianism and Mithraism were present in the Near East. In fact, the Iranian Parthian Empire (250 BC-220 AD), stretching from Afghanistan to Mesopotamia, had taken the the Near East and greater Syria away from Rome briefly for a couple of years some 33 years before Jesus was born. In that couple of years, the Iranians deposed the Rome-appointed local governor, Herod the Great, who fled to Rome, and the Iranians installed the Hasmonean, Antigonus, son of Aristobulus II, as their governor.

Herod intrigued with Mark Antony, who was planning a counter-offensive, and offered him a bribe, and talked up the Persian threat, so that the Roman senate appointed him king over the territory when Mark Antony took it back. Herod played the same Iran card with the Roman Senate that Binyamin Netanyahu now plays with the US Congress.

So Zoroaster predicted that following a star would lead his priests to a nativity scene, where they would find the world-savior, which they would have called Saoshyant.
Oh, no, Iranian religious leaders spreading their religious ideology in Syria! Alert the Republican National Committee!
The delegation of wise men from Iran appear to have met with Herod before they went off wandering around looking for the savior. Herod tried to keep good diplomatic relations with the neighboring Parthian Empire, still strong in what is now Iraq, explaining why he might have given the priests safe passage.

In any case, an Iranian invasion had deposed Herod once, and he would have been very nervous about Iranian priests spreading end-of-days talk about the rise of an everlasting king. You just have to read the Qumran scrolls to see that some Jewish sects would have been primed for this Iranian message. According to Matthew, their millenarianism got back to Herod.
He says that the magi were instructed in a dream not to go back for an audience with Herod after he had been angered by their prophecy, and so they departed directly “to their own country, by another way.” I.e. they sneaked back to Iran, avoiding Herod’s guards.
Herod, having heard the Zoroastrian prophecy that the Saoshyant or eternal monarch had just been born, took it literally and was afraid that on reaching adolescence an Iranian-inspired boy-king would dethrone him, just as the Parthian emperor had in 39 BC at the beginning of his career. So he announced he would kill all boy babies 2 years old or less

Most important of all, Juan Cole notes how the American congress would never let a refugee Baby Jesus or his parents into the country, he would be excluded under laws and measures proposed by, mostly, the Republicans.   Cole's take on Matthew 25 will give me a lot to think about for weeks, maybe years to come.  I will be sending extra money to Oxfam Syrian Refugee effort and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, both of which aid refugees and others regardless of their religion, citizenship or other status.   

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Anton Webern - Dormi Jesu - Five Canons on Latin Texts op 16 #2

Rachel Platt, soprano
Michael Harris, clarinet

Dormi, Jesu! Mater ridet
Quae tam dulcem somnum videt,
Dormi, Jesu! blandule!
Si non dormis, Mater plorat,
Inter fila cantans orat,
Blande, veni, somnule.

Sleep, Jesus! Mother smiles
Who sees such sweet sleep,
Sleep, Jesus, sweet one!
If you won't sleep, Mother weeps,
While she spins, she prays a song,
Come, gentle sleep.

This is about the only specifically Christmas related song that Webern wrote.  While I was posting Messiaen's Twenty Meditations on the Baby Jesus I said that Webern was, as well a Catholic mystic. That is apparent in the texts he chose to set, vocal music accounting for a large part of his works. That's true of many of the most prominent composers in the 20th century, something that is less true of the 19th century.

Béla Bartók - Romanian Christmas Carols

Dezső Ránki, piano


Daniel Pinkham - Christmas Cantata

UC Davis University Chorus
Jonathan Spatola-Knoll, Conductor

The second movement of this Cantata is on the text of O Magnum Mysterium.  It's a much performed work, though there are often serious problems of balance between the brass instruments and the chorus.  This performance is the only one I've ever heard where you can understand most of the words. Pinkham was a friend of one of my teachers, I met him once, he was a fun guy.

1. Quem Vidistis, Pastores

Quem vidistis, pastores? Dicite.
Annuntiate nobis in terris quis apparuit.
Natum vidimus, et choros angelorum,
Collaudantes Dominum,

Whom did you see, shepherds? Tell us.
Tell us who has appeared on earth.
We saw him who was born, and a choir of angels
praising the Lord.

2. O Magnum Mysterium

O magnum mysterium
et admirabile sacramentum,
Ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
Jacentem in prasepio.
Beata virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
portare Dominum Christum.

O great mystery
and wonderful sacrament,
That animals might see the Lord born,
lying in a stable.
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was
worthy to bear the Lord Christ.

3. Gloria in excelsis Deo

Gloria in excelsis Deo
et in terra pax
hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Jubilate Deo omnis terra,
servite Dominum in laetitia.
Introite in conspectu ejus, in exultatione.
Scitote quoniam Dominus ipse est Deus:
Ipse fecit nos, et no ipsi nos.

Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace
to men of good will.
Rejoice in the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with joy.
Come into his presence with exultation.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who
has made us and not we ourselves.

Can't Put It Off Any Longer- Claude Balbastre - Quand Jesus Naquit à Noël

Michel Chapuis, organist at the organ of Saint-Jean-de-Losne


I love Daquin's variations on this Noel but this one is glorious.

A Self-Indulgence.

Sometime in the last decade, when I wrote for a popular blog, I realized that one of the cheapest ways of getting a discussion going was to bring up the "worst of" topic, worst movies, worst books, worst Christmas song.  I told them about the worst Christmas album of all time, which, so far as I know wasn't ever made.  I invented it to threaten to put on Steve and Eydie's Christmas in Las Vegas if the stragglers at a Christmas party didn't clear out so I could go to bed.  

I was tempted to put up one of the worst of arguable seasonal horrors, the recording of Bach's Magnificat as performed IN ENGLISH! by the gargantuan Mormon Tabernacle Choir and an orchestra under the should-have-known-better direction of the late Eugene Ormandy.  But, listening to the first few minutes of it, I can't do that to anyone.  It is one of the worst performances of a piece of great music I've ever heard.  It's not an incompetent performance, it is just entirely wrong and an offense against music.  It deserves to be an example of the truly terrible idea that translating can turn into.  I really don't think there is any way to translate the text of the Magnificat into English which will fit any setting of the Latin text which won't do fatal damage to the music and, so, the text.  

As to the worst Christmas song of all time?  I don't know but for me it might be the putrescent, phony and syrupy Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas from the dreadful Meet Me in St. Louis.  That is the song that could make me get violent if I were subjected to it under stress, one of the many reasons I never, ever go shopping during the Christmas season anymore.  It is responsible for me growing to hate the sound of Judy Garland's voice, it took decades for it to have that effect but the last time I heard the recording of her singing it I realized I couldn't stand to hear her voice anymore.  Which is too bad as I used to like her singing.  Don't get me started on Sinatra or Elvis.  It's been a King and Chairman of the Board free Christmas for me, so far, and I don't want to jinx that.  And don't get me started on Regis and Kathie's version of Silver Bells. Such a thing does exist, it has to be heard to be believed how bad it is.  And both of them did Christmas albums, though that's the only number from them I've ever been involuntarily subjected to.  It seared a permanent scar into my memory.  

Christmas Is For The Birds

I got curious to see if St. Francis might have been the first advocate of bird feeding as an active thing so I did a little poking around.  In the United States the things I've looked at attribute the practice to Henry David Thoreau who fed birds. But the same sources point to a St. Serf of Fife in Scotland in the 6th Century, credited with taming a pigeon by feeding it. Since most of the stuff that is known about St. Serf would seem to be on the same level as the biography of Paul Bunyan, though more environmentally friendly, that could be apocryphal as well.  The account I posted the other day about St. Francis advocating feeding the birds at Christmas was at least from someone who knew him.   

It probably doesn't matter who did it first, not as important as feeding the birds and protecting them and their habitat.  Some sources noted that the Mosaic law includes a requirement for leaving land fallow as a source of food for birds and other wild animals and kind treatment of animals, in general.  This webpage has a lot on it that made me happy to see.  That part of the Bible needs a lot of promoting.   

I think feeding the birds as a Christmas observance needs to be promoted. Maybe giving bird seed as a Christmas present should be promoted.  It would be a lot more enjoyable to watch the birds eating than it would be to have another superfluous and tacky Christmas decoration to have to take down the week after Christmas or regifted unused.   

Worst World Problems

In looking around the web about what people are chattering about this morning, I'm surprised to find they're still going on about the friggin' Starbucks coffee cups, now denuded of reindeer and snowflakes and the such.  Of course this all started with FOX and its annual promotion,  getting its geezer base in a lather over the latest pretend slight to their sensibilities.  That FOX and similar "war on Christmas" are also the force behind global-warming denial, something that endangers real reindeer, real snowflakes and the desire to turn the North Pole into an underwater oil slick is solid evidence about how under our idiotic "free press" abslutism, "news" has turned into something that would make the Stalin era Pravada and Isvestias look like great journalism

That anyone could even be discussing this as something to do with religion, as they are doing at such places as Religion Dispatches, shows how degraded the discussion has become.  This is a promo by some of the worst TV and radio companies to get their cult member like audience worked up and pointed in the right direction over a rote holiday promo by a coffee chain.  That would be "right" as in right-wing.  It has nothing to do with Christianity, at all, that is if Christianity is has anything more substantial in it than the coffee cup figures of the snowflake and reindeer that the defenders of "Christmas" are supposedly all worked up over.

If there is any part of the population worked up over Starbucks' coffee cup design, and I'm not convinced those folks are much more real than the any other part of this nonsense, then their Christianity is as ephemeral and meaningless and so, far more a sacrilege than the minimalist December holiday coffee cups.

And the opposite is as true, the annual phony umbridge of the atheists, secularists, wall-of-separationists, pagans, etc. over the fact that the majority of Americans, Canadians, etc. are Christians and that the culture which they comprise the largest percentage of takes some notice of Christian holidays, all that is, as well, a phony attempt at ginning up stuff and, in many cases, to get attention and money for "secularist" organizations.   It has nothing, at all, to do with protecting civil liberties and freedom.  As I'll never stop mentioning, the high mark in that effort happened in the first half of the 1960s as different branches of government put up overtly Christian displays of overt Christian Christmas all over the place.  Yet, somehow, civil liberties survived and even thrived.

As an aside, if there is anything that has led to a decline in Jewish religion in America, it's secularization that has done that, not Christianity.   I doubt there has been a time in the history of the country when more Christians value Judaism as a living, ongoing and entirely legitimate community apart from Christianity than today.  The ridicule of it as heard from most people seems to me to come from secular and atheist sources who also promote the urban myth that anti-semitism is a manifestation intrinsic to Christianity.

In so far as there is anything important in this it is as a measure of the degrading of the collective American mind, the trivialization of our thinking, the superficiality of both our religious (and non-religious) thought and political lives.  As real problems for both religion and our government are screaming for attention, you'll probably find that such trivial matters get huge amounts of attention.  Of course, a lot of that is because it's easier and more fun to get whipped into a lather over this stuff than it is to face anything serious, something that points out what a failure both the media is as a source of information and a catalyst for serious and important thought.   I would say it's an indication of the failure of our educational system but they've been as shoved aside as genuine religion by that same media which is the predominant cultural force in our lives.  About the most attention that education in my state has gotten this season is over a nervous nellie of a superintendent ordering a teacher to take down a pink Hello Kitty Christmas tree from her classroom.  Oh, hell, the thing is so funny I'm going to post the picture.

In a way it's fitting that it should be an ephemeral corporate promotion that is the object of such pseudo-religiosity and the focus of our pseudo-news.   PR and the entertainment it is pushed through is the real state religion of corporate America and it is as ubiquitous as it is phony.  The two sides of this, the pseudo-Christians of FOX and the other cabloid-hate-talk-radio side and the would-be valient secularists are really just two factions in the materialist reformation where this modern thirty (and counting)-year-war is being waged.  None of this is of any consequence except as a means of getting hold of the organs of government and the courts, and, sorry, secularists, that has worked a lot better for the FOX side than it has for you guys, you are getting roped in and sucker punched on this and your latest lead balloon of turning the country atheist isn't working very fast. As I've pointed out, even the Pew survey folks, who have promoted the alleged de-religionizing of American admit that most kids raised as atheists don't stay atheists.

The real opponents of the FOX, etc. side of this will not be materialists, either of the vulgar or the intellectual type, they will be those who take the real opposition to that seriously, mostly Christian, some of them Jews and Muslims, some belonging to other religions.  I am just about certain they will not be found among the Unitarian etc. deists but that's a long series of posts, in itself.  They certainly won't be found among the fans of Seinfeld and other sit-com impiety, they won't be found on TV, though perhaps Colbert might slip in a few snippets of subversion on the topic.  He's a Catholic, you know.  I read somewhere he teaches Sunday school.

As to those stupid Seinfeld festivus poles, I'm trying to be more civil in honor of Christmas so I won't tell you where to stick those.  Seinfeld was never funny, it was just stupid.  You suckers will buy anything they put up on TV.  Just like those FOX folk you love to look down on.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

J. S. Bach - Magnificat in D

Nikolaus Harnoncourt, director

Unfortunately the soloists don't seem to be listed and I don't have time to chase their names down.
Pretty good performance, this piece never gets old.  Never. Nor does the text.

Miklós Kocsár - O Magnum Mysterium

Qing Higher Education Park Chorus

Palestrina - O Magnum Mysterium 


Have A Franciscan Season

'eah,  I think it's a good idea to celebrate the solstice in a Franciscan way, Christmas too.  In his Second Life of St. Francis Thomas of Celano, one of the earliest Franciscans who knew Francis,  personally, he quotes him in his Second Life:

If I ever speak to the Emperor, I shall beg him of love of God and myself to enact a special law forbidding anyone to kill our sisters the larks or to do them any harm.  Similarly, all mayors of towns and lords of castles and villages should be obliged each year on the Nativity of our Lord to see that people scatter wheat and other grains on the roads outside towns and villages so that our sisters the larks and other birds may have food on such a solemn festival.  And in reverence for the Son of God,Who with the most blessed Virgin Mary rested in a manger that night between an ox and an ass, anyone who owns an ox or an ass should be obliged to give the choicest of fodder on Christmas Eve. And on Christmas day the rich should give an abundance of things to all the poor.

You can contrast that to the documented pagan practice of killing animals and people, that way to mark the winter solstice that has been papered over in the common received non-wisdom.

One of the things noted that St. Francis was responsible for a re-Christianization in Europe during one of the many periods of retrenchment of charity and other virtues that mark the would-be Christian world.  We are in a severe period like that one, if we need something really badly, it's another St Francis, another St. Clair. American Christmas has become a pretty thoroughly heathen holiday under a un-Christianity that makes what Francis rejected look mild by comparison.

Got to stock up on bird seed.  We don't keep big animals anymore.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lionel Rogg - Laudes Creaturarum - The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Céline Cornu Zozor, soprano
Diego Innocenzi,  organ

Altissimu, onnipotente bon Signore,
Tue so le laude, la gloria e l'honore et onne benedictione.
Ad Te solo, Altissimo, se konfano,
et nullu homo ène dignu te mentouare.
Laudato sie, mi Signore cum tucte le Tue creature,
spetialmente messor lo frate Sole,
lo qual è iorno, et allumini noi per lui.
Et ellu è bellu e radiante cum grande splendore:
de Te, Altissimo, porta significatione.
Laudato si, mi Signore, per sora Luna e le stelle:
in celu l'ài formate clarite et pretiose et belle.
Laudato si, mi Signore, per frate Uento
et per aere et nubilo et sereno et onne tempo,
per lo quale, a le Tue creature dài sustentamento.
Laudato si, mi Signore, per sor'Acqua,
la quale è multo utile et humile et pretiosa et casta.
Laudato si, mi Signore, per frate Focu,
per lo quale ennallumini la nocte:
ed ello è bello et iucundo et robustoso et forte.
Laudato si, mi Signore, per sora nostra matre Terra,
la quale ne sustenta et gouerna,
et produce diuersi fructi con coloriti fior et herba.
Laudato si, mi Signore, per quelli ke perdonano per lo Tuo amore
et sostengono infirmitate et tribulatione.
Beati quelli ke 'l sosterranno in pace,
ka da Te, Altissimo, sirano incoronati.
Laudato si mi Signore, per sora nostra Morte corporale,
da la quale nullu homo uiuente pò skappare:
guai a quelli ke morrano ne le peccata mortali;
beati quelli ke trouarà ne le Tue sanctissime uoluntati,
ka la morte secunda no 'l farrà male.
Laudate et benedicete mi Signore et rengratiate
e seruiteli cum grande humilitate.

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.
To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
for by You, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.


Reading about the Nazi attempt to replace Christmas with the winter solstice put me off the neo-Pagan attempt to do the same thing.   Not to mention the widespread nonsense about the theft of the friggin' Yule.  I'm still reading that all over the place when the slightest amount of fact checking would show it is a load of nonsense.  This is a better way to see it.

Claudio Monteverdi: Exulta Filia Sion

Tomáš Král - baritone
Petr Wagner - viola da gamba
Jan Čižmář - theorbo
Václav Luks - organ

Exult, daughter of Sion, sing praise, daughter of Jerusalem.
Behold, your holy king, behold the saviour of the world comes.
All nations, clap your hands,
rejoice in God with the voice of exultation,
let the heavens be joyful with the voice of exultation,
let the earth exult in the voice of exultation,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
He has redeemed Jerusalem.
Exult, daughter of Sion, sing praise, daughter of Jerusalem.

Giovanni Gabrieli - O Magnum Mysterium

Charles Brett. Richard Farnes,. Stephen Cleobury.
Stephen Layton and The Choir of King's College, Cambridge and The Philip Jones Brass Ensemble

Daniel Elder - O Magnum Mysterium 

Westminster Choir
Joe Miller, director

I think this setting by Daniel Elder is by the youngest of the composers I'll be posting, it is one of the more unusual ones.  

Bad Week After a Bad Week On To a Bad End

What we feared last week has become a near certainty, another close member of my family is on what is almost certainly their deathbed due to chronic and severe alcoholism.  Another of those who used the lines so thoughtfully provided to them by self-declared rationalists about Alcoholics Anonymous being "religious" and that it "doesn't work" that it's "a cult" etc.  So relatively recently after another of our brothers died a horrible death from alcoholism, it's taught us what devastating means.  I went to see him this morning.  

My brother who went with me said he looked worse yesterday. We don't expect him to really regain consciousness, he hasn't breathed on his own for a week and the nurse, obviously trying to prepare us, said that the longer it goes on the more problems are going to come from being on the ventilator.  We knew that.  We told her that we'd been expecting the worst, not going into details. 

About the only good thing that comes of this is that it's shown some of us why we shouldn't drink.   I wish I could show everyone what the last stages of alcoholism look like, have them experience what they are like.  It's a question of how long it's going to go on at this point.  I might miss some days, depending on me being needed.  

Francis Poulenc - O Magnum Mysterium

Choir of the New College, Oxford
The director isn't named.

As one of the comments say, there are a few problems with the audio but the score is there.

William Byrd - O Magnum Mysterium

Jenny Högström, Soprano
Laura Binggeli, Alto
Dino Lüthy, Tenor
Daniel Pérez, Bass
Stefan Müller, director

Update:  If you hadn't guessed, I'm posting different settings of this text from the Christmas Matins office service. I didn't know how many really fine ones there were until I started looking for them.  While there aren't as many as for the Magnificat, there are more than will fit into the next five days.  I may continue it past Christmas day.

O great mystery,
and wonderous sacrament,
that animals should see God born,
lying in a manger!

It was brought to mind by the passage in Isaiah I noted the week before last, "Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."  I've never found the dogma that animals don't have immortal souls to be either convincing or congenial.   My friend RMJ notes that Luke is a subtle theologian, I wonder if his noting that Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger, from which animals eat, isn't him noting that the animals were a witness to God made flesh as well as people.  I would think that implies that they have a higher status than soulless objects.   The text of this chant calls animals seeing God born, lying in a manger a sacrament.  The old Catholic Encyclopedia, in its long article on the definition of sacraments begins, "Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification."  Yet, in this chant, the outward sign is made to animals as well as people.  And, in Luke, it is the humblest of people who live in closest proximity to animals who are the first to whom it is announced, it's in Matthew that the wise and mighty find signs of it in their astrology.

That's one of the things that make this about my favorite Christmas text, as I mentioned in a previous year, the setting by Tomas Luis Victoria about my favorite of all.  I'll post that sometime during the week.

Jeffrey Tayler and David Silverman Call Out Religious People for Acting Like Atheists

In studying the catastrophe that atheism has been for the left I've come to the conclusion that it is a rare atheist on the left for whom atheism and the destruction of religion is not their first and all important goal.  From the Nation, to The Progressive, from Salon to the Washington Post, with few exceptions, atheists are primarily motivated by their hatred of religion and, with some exceptions, the passionate desire to believe they are superior to the majority of humanity due to their atheism.

I have also come to the conclusion that atheism is inseparable from a penchant for lying.  Again, with some exceptions, they are as addicted to lying as the far right, the Tea Party, the fans of Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and any of the other Republican candidates for president.

I have called out a number of atheists who write online and in magazines, none of them, though are as complete an example of what's wrong with atheism as Salon Magazine's Jeffrey Tayler.  Tayler poses as the kind of pseudo-leftist I'm talking about.  His weekly hate screed, this week, shows how phony he is, it is a shout out for the right-wing atheist David Silverman of Madelyn Murray O'Hair's American Atheists.  In it Silverman, who is the atheist who wanted to join in the loony hatred of CPAC, praises the intelligence of O'Reilly, saying he's too intelligent to believe what he claims to in regard to religion.

But the money quote is this hilarious line of lies,

"Because religion poisons people. Religion makes good people hate . . . . Religions creates divisions that shouldn’t be there. It gives us nothing but hate while saying it’s giving us love. "

Don't hurt yourself laughing.

If you want to see what a pile of lies that is, look at Jeffrey Tayler's article, his archive at Salon, the record of American Atheists as a venue of sheer hatred, its founder, O'Hair who was probably as hated by atheists as by anyone because she was a supernova of viciousness, selfishness and hate, and, most of all, the atheists who comment on Tayler's post.

Atheism, with very, very few exceptions is a manifestation of conceit, disdain, hatred and vicious dishonesty.  It has nothing in it that would tell atheists that they should try to be anything else and, unsurprisingly, they seem to violate none of those tacit ethical and moral commandments against those character flaws and sins.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

John Harbison - O Magnum Mysterium

BBC Singers
Stephen Cleobury, director

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

O great mystery,
and wonderousl sacrament,
that animals should see God born,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Morten Lauridsen - O Magnum Mysterium

University of Utah Singers
Brady Allred, director

In An Honest Academic Community, Under An Honest Legal System, In A Decent Society There Would Be No Question That James Tracy Should Be Teaching At A University

It used to be a quaint idea that the reason for an educational institution to exist was to tell the truth. Now, the truth is, in some instances and in some contexts ambiguous or open to question.  In many instances it is not possible to discern the truth or even determine if there is or isn't "a truth", the last one is especially true in the social sciences when the alleged questions being answered concern a quite artificial thing, I've written about several of those when the research pretended to be about religion.

But there are many things, many events, many conditions of being, many absolute and hard facts about which there is absolutely no sane question as to what is true about them.  People who deny the truth of those things are rightly considered insane and, if their eccentric ideas impinge on their work they can be fired for them.  If it gets bad enough, they can be compelled to have treatment to control their symptoms and keep them from being a danger to other people.

This is about the case of an attention seeking associate prof of that most inaptly named academic field, "communications" who has tried to make a name for himself by promoting himself as a Sandy Hook denialist.  

Florida Atlantic University on Wednesday moved to fire a professor who outraged many by calling the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School an elaborate hoax.

James Tracy, an associate professor at the university,  has written that although the news media reported that 26 people died in a mass shooting at the school in Newtown, Conn., the incident was staged.

He not only wrote about it, he has used his blog and registered mail to directly go after parents whose children were murdered, hectoring and ridiculing them for refusing to talk to him or to provide proof that their murdered child had ever existed, using the pose of academic research as cover for his pathological harassment.  The parents of Noah Pozner wrote an op ed in the Sun Sentinel talking about some of the harassment they'd endured.

“Tracy even sent us a certified letter demanding proof that Noah once lived, that we were his parents, and that we were the rightful owner of his photographic image. We found this so outrageous and unsettling that we filed a police report for harassment. Once Tracy realized we would not respond, he subjected us to ridicule and contempt on his blog, boasting to his readers that the “unfulfilled request” was “noteworthy” because we had used copyright claims to “thwart continued research of the Sandy Hook massacre event.”

That, in 2015 there is any possibility that such a person might an acceptable member of the faculty of any university is evidence that our country has lost its mind.  That such a person is the member of a faculty in "communication" which is presumably in the business of training journalists only puts the jimmies on the loony cream bun and jam regime that has taken over. The free speech absolutists, and there are some defending what he has done and his employment at the university, are striking the absurd and dishonest pose that people must be free to discover the "truth" no matter what.  How that differs from the insane inverted intellectual regime of 1984 is something the intellectuals among them might consider.

The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right.

They are what Orwell wrote about.

This is a result of the regime of protecting lies that I wrote about the other day, the pose of bending over backward to allow any theoretical point of view a respectful hearing and due consideration because, heavens, if you start restricting what can be said the next step is people being hauled up before HUAC and books being banned in Boston and Ulysses being confiscated by customs.

The Sandy Hook denialists are a product of two things, gun industry propaganda encouraging the insane paranoia of gun nuts - aided and abetted by the Republican party - and the encouragement of the most insane of our nutcases that their delusions are as valid as the hardest and coldest and cruelest of fact.   The deaths of children in our streets and in our schools are a sacrifice we allow to some of the most dishonest legal, academic and intellectual poses in the history of human culture.  In the United States, they are a product of a decadent intellectual movement which used the most absurd application of freshman logic putting the curiosity that you can't establish anything as absolutely true under some rather artificial logical games.  It's an insane and absurd intellectual ploy largely developed  constructed for the profit and convenience of publishing and other entertainment media and other such frivolous purposes.   It has, though, taken over to the extent that it endangers the possibility of a decent society.

No decent society would maintain someone like James Tracy is a suitable academic, certainly not as one training future journalists.  No decent society would tolerate the harassment of people whose children had been murdered by academic ambush artists who lie about the absolute fact that their children had been murdered while attending the early grades of their elementary school.  Anyone who maintains he had the right to harass them should be relieved of being taken seriously on any topic.