2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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I think the most amazing statistic is that this was viewed from 101 countries in 2015! I suspect that this is a consequence of my very open profession of historic Christianity, and my consequent concerns for my close religious kin in troubled countries of the world.

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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Christmas 2015

(H/T Rod Dreher)

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I blogged recently about a — let’s call him a “self-proclaimed (and self-made) Christian” who editorialized on why he wouldn’t celebrate Christmas.

Well, ‘Tis the Season, I guess. Responding generally to such things, a Greek Orthodox Priest makes the case that December 25, and especially late-December generally, have pretty good claim to being the actual, historical time of Christ’s birth:

[St. John Chrysostom] then continues his argument from a biblical perspective, explaining the Jewish tradition of the censing of the Temple in Jerusalem by the high priest, who would enter the Holy of Holies only once a year (Hebrews 9:7; Lev 16:29-34) during the Feast of Tabernacles in September. He points to the Gospel of Luke 1:8-15, when Zacharias was selected to enter the Holy of Holies to offer incense (perhaps there was no high priest that year and the group of Levites, who were on duty at the time selected by lot, according to tradition, the priest who would make the offering in the place of the high priest).

Zacharias entered the Holy of Holies to offer incense and there he had a vision of an angel of the Lord who announced to him the birth of his son, whom he was to call John. Soon after that, Elizabeth, his wife, became pregnant.

Continuing with the biblical narrative, Chrysostom points out that six months later, the angel Gabriel appears to the Virgin Mary and announces to her that she will bear the Son of God and also reveals to her that her cousin Elizabeth is already in her sixth month of pregnancy (Luke 1:30-37).

Chrysostom concludes that, Elizabeth became pregnant in the latter part of September (after the Feast of Tabernacles) and the Virgin Mary became pregnant six months later in the latter part of March. If we count nine months from that time we end up at the latter part of December, which is the time when Jesus was born. Hence, the celebration of Christmas on December 25 is justified.

But I’ll also repeat my original answer: The argument is utterly immaterial to whether I celebrate Christmas and celebrate it on December 25: That’s what the Church does. I’m in The Church. We should have finished about 4 hours before this posts. I hope the Grinch at least enjoys whatever football airs today.

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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

 

Annual Auden Adventure

I fulfilled my self-imposed Advent discipline, reading W.H. Auden’s For the Time Being, Sunday evening. Would that all disciplines were so delightful!

I have excerpted it more extensively in 2014 (Here’s my part 1 and part 2 comments), and perhaps earlier than that. This year, brevity.

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I have but now escaped a raging landscape:
There woods were in a tremor from the shouts
Of hunchbacks hunting a hermaphrodite; …

(Feeling, speaking in W.H. Auden, For the Time Being. I suppose it was twisted of me to think of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and catty of me to share the thought.)

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O God, put away justice and truth for we cannot understand them and do not want them. Eternity would bore us dreadfully. Leave Thy heavens and come down to our earth of waterclocks and hedges. Become our uncle. Look after Baby, amuse Grandfather, escort Madam to the Opera, help Willy with his home-work, introduce Muriel to a handsome naval officer. Be interesting and weak like us, and we will love you as we love ourselves.

(Herod, contemplating the Massacre of the Innocents, in W.H. Auden, For the Time Being)

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For the Time Being is a pivotal book in the career of one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. W. H. Auden had recently moved to America, fallen in love with a young man to whom he considered himself married, rethought his entire poetic and intellectual equipment, and reclaimed the Christian faith of his childhood. Then, in short order, his relationship fell apart and his mother, to whom he was very close, died. In the midst of this period of personal crisis and intellectual remaking, he decided to write a poem about Christmas and to have it set to music by his friend Benjamin Britten. Applying for a Guggenheim grant, Auden explained that he understood the difficulty of writing something vivid and distinctive about that most clichéd of subjects, but welcomed the challenge. In the end, the poem proved too long and complex to be set by Britten, but in it we have a remarkably ambitious and poetically rich attempt to see Christmas in double focus: as a moment in the history of the Roman Empire and of Judaism, and as an ever-new and always contemporary event for the believer. For the Time Being is Auden’s only explicitly religious long poem, a technical tour de force, and a revelatory window into the poet’s personal and intellectual development. This edition provides the most accurate text of the poem, a detailed introduction by Alan Jacobs that explains its themes and sets the poem in its proper contexts, and thorough annotations of its references and allusions.

(Amazon’s summary of Alan Jacobs’ 2013 critical edition of the poem, which also is available in Edward Mendelson’s Collected Poems of Auden)

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“In learning as in traveling and, of course, in lovemaking, all the charm lies in not coming too quickly to the point, but in meandering around for a while.” (Eva Brann)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.