23 April 2017

Female Deacons, again.

I saw in my feed over at Facebook that some bishop (I believe it was an American bishop) hosted a discussion on the possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate.  Several people commented to the effect of "The question should b asked of what effect this will have on attendance, etc."

I suppose the questions should be asked, except that, up here in Canada at least, there is absolutely no need to ask it at all.  The answer is already before our eyes.  It is present in the Sunday Masses of The Anglicans, the United, the Presbyterians, and other nominally Christian churches that adopted female ministers.  It is present in their dwindling congregations and their closed churches. It is before our eyes on the church signs of so many of these churches, which state that there will be but one service every Sunday.  It is not the answer they wish to hear, but it is the answer none the less: attendance will collapse.

The question that would follow is 'why?'.  Why would people stop attending when this wonderful reform is finally carried out?  The answer is not simple, nor is it palatable.  Part of the answer would go like this: a congregation is seldom a homogeneous mass.  They have different wishes and desires.  With an average congregation, some will desire change and to bring the Church more into line with the times, some will desire things to remain the same, and many will not have given the matter much thought. Should this change be made, you stand to lose who want no change very quickly.  And the ones who wanted the change... In my experience, they will drop off fairly quickly, too.  The change was not extensive enough, or fast enough, or not enough of something. Or they will decide they want something else as well... followed by something else... followed by something else. They will move on.  The people who don't give it much thought- well, their feet are halfway out the door to begin with in my experience.  Some may stay, but others will drift off before too long, for their own excuses- all different variations of apathy.  But surely those who left because of this issue will return.  Actually, they won't.  Most likely they will have discovered that they enjoy sleeping in on Sundays.

We need to face the fact that those who are demanding the Church change do not want a changed Church.  They do not want to Church to have a few modifications.  They desire that the Church not be at all. 

I sincerely do not know how anyone in Canada can deceive themselves into believing attendance will increase when all the evidence- all of it- points in the opposite direction.  One must be capable of incredible self deception to believe otherwise.

Talk like Shakespeare Day

Today is the 453rd anniversary of Shakespeare's birth, or the 401 anniversary of his death.  Take your pick.  It is therefore Talk Like Shakespeare Day.

Unfortunately, II didn't feel particularly inspired today.  The best I could come up with was translating the words to 'Play that Funky Music, White Boy' Into faux Renaissance speech/  So, instead I'll just republish the thing I wrote last year.

What need has Shakespeare for me? What am I
That I should add my praise to th'immortal
Poet of my tongue? Yet, grace demands it,
And gratitude: We must praise our masters
Though our praise fall ever short of their worth.

Then list, O reader faire, unto my words,
For on this day, this happy day,  a mere
Four and one half centuries (plus years six)
Was born to us a bard. No man before
Nor since ever so wielded quill and ink.
Soul of his age, soul of ours, who saw
The full compass of man in all ages.
Never was born one whom Shakespeare wrote not,
Never can one be born out of Shakespeare.
In all ages and all places does brood
Hamlet in his sables,  Macbeth does ford
His bloody river, and an Iago
Tempts Othello to mad, jealous murder;
Star damned Romeo seeks his Juliet,
And Lear rages at his ill-use, 'til breaks
His heart: And yet more: What tavern knows not
Its Falstaff, braggart great? He lies, we know,
Yet laugh we still, as did the wayward prince.
Theseus blesses where his law could damn,
And Malvolio storms, claiming his day
Shall come.

A language small was thy inheritance:
A language great was ours, enrich'd by thee
In words as well as poetry.  So much
Thou gave'st thy beloved English, much more
Than can ever be repaid: And for thanks
Thou art much abused, they name known, naught else.
Taught by ill- learn'd schoolmasters to students
Unwilling: among them, thy glorious
Name a curse.

                         Take then,  O my master great,
My praises small, for though small they may be,
They are honest.  As long as beats this heart,
My tongue I shall not enjail within teeth
And I shall praise thee, not as thou deserves,
For no mouth can speak thy worth, nor hand write
Praise high enough: A mere candle am I
Lit against the darkness rising.  Take, I ask,
What I give, essaying to catch thy tone
If not thy worth, as I speak as thou spoke
For this one day, and be not offended
Thou needst me not, I know well, but I thou
Dost need and love, William of Stratford,
This day and ever master of my tongue,
And I am grateful providence saw fit
To grant us thee for time short and for time


Far far from Wipers
Is where I long to be
Where the bloody German snipers
Won't go sniping at me.

Yesterday was the 102nd anniversary of the beginning of the Second Battle of Ypres.
Months before the battle began, the Allies and the Germans had reached a stalemate on the Western Front. Both sides began looking for tactics and weapons that would allow them to breakthrough the deadlock and bring them victory. By April 1915, the Germans had decided to unleash their new terror weapon at the Ypres Salient- a slight bulge in the trench lines around the town of Ypres, the last part of Belgium still in Allied hands- chlorine gas.

Holding the Ypres (mispronouced 'Yipers' or 'Wipers' by the British troops) was a bloody affair. The crescent shaped bulge in the line meant the allies were essentially surrounded on three sides. The only place out of range of the German guns was in the town itself. The Ypres salient suffered thousands of casualties every week with no actual offensives occurring- just the bloody rent paid to hold the last symbolic piece of Belgium.

It was at the salient that the Germans determined to unleash their gas as soon as the weather conditions were favourable. They chose to launch the attack at the part of the line held by British and French colonial troops (in the case of the British, the colonials being the Canadians). There had bee warnings that the Germans may be planning on using gas, but High Command refused to believe it. On April 22nd, the unbelievable happened and gas was unleashed at the French side of the lines. Some of the troops held their ground, others fled. Many died. The Canadian First Division, seeing a whole opening up in their flank, formed up and moved to close the gap, counter attacking the advancing Germans through the night. Against the gas they urinated into their handkerchiefs and held them over their faces, the ammonia in the urine counteracting the chlorine gas.

They were not merely hampered by the gas, but also by their own rifles. The Canadians at that time used the Ross Rifle, which began its life as a hunting rifle. As a hunting rifle- and, as it turned out, a sniping rifle- it was quite effective. But in combat, where it was fired fast and often, it over heated and jammed. Its bayonet was also prone to falling off. The Canadians still managed to drive the Germans back and close the gap, marking the first time colonial troops defeated a European power on European soil.

The Germans launched another attack in the coming days, this time at the Canadians. They held their lines, but were forced to retreat back closer to the city of Ypres. There the line continued to hold for another two years, but now the city itself was within range of the German guns. The entire salient was now within the range of the German guns, and the bloody rent became even bloodier. In two years, the salient would again be the place of another offensive, this one launched by the British, which became one of the most horrific battles in the history of war. It is officially called the Third Battle of Ypres, but it is better known by the name of Passchendaele.

Returning to the Second battle of Ypres, it was then that a young doctor, exhausted from treating the casualties, stepped out of the operating tent to take a brief rest. He looked out on a nearby cemetery field, heard the distant roar of the guns, and saw the poppies beginning to grow. Inspired by the moment, he pulled out a notebook and a pencil and scribbled down a few lines of poetry. Those lines began; "In Flanders Fields the poppies blow..."

22 April 2017

Still going through my mother's thinigs

Found this a while back.  I kept it and got a frame for it.  It hangs with the blessing Puff and I had from St John Paul II.  I should try and trade around, collect a few more.  Get the full set.

It was procured by my Grandfather, whose name I have removed. The last intelligible words my mother spoke in my presence (albeit several days before her death) were: "Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world."  So I think she qualified for the indulgence.      

17 April 2017

How shall debate be stifled this time?

What is the current standard response by supporters of Trump to critics of the current regime? Have they come up with one yet?

For the last eight years there was a ready response on the lips of Obama supporters. It didn't matter how you phrased your criticism, this is what happened:

A: I believe the president's policies in this matter are well intentioned but will ultimately miss the mark, and ultimately not only not produce the results predicted but achieve the exact opposite of their stated purpose. I have written a thirty page article on the matter. It is well researched, copiously annotated and has been vetted by three separate peer review boards.

B: Racist!

This, of course, was only against white people. On the occasions when the critic was black, the response was far harsher, using terms like oreo, sell out, race traiter and house n-word.

The point of saying such things is not to engage in debate: it is the opposite of debate.  it is an attempt to silence the other side by demonizing them.

There are those who believe it is only the Left who tries to silence disagreement by calling names or making accusations, but it is not so. Prior to Obama we had the eight years of Dubya. HIs reign gave rise to this gem of dialogue:

A: I am deeply concerned about the increasing powers given to the executive branches, the CIA, FBI and DHS. While I understand the threat posed by terrorism, these new powers have the potential to irretrievably damage the Bill of Rights and run counter to the spirit of individual liberty enshrined in the constitution.

B Why do you hate America?

So, not that anyone even knows how to have a diaogue or a debate anymore, but in the unlikely event that one comes along, what method shall supporters of the current administration use to crush and demonise those who hold differing opinions?

Younger came back from her trip to Vimy

I haven't mentioned it much here, but my younger daughter went on a class trip to Vimy in honour of the centenary of the battle (we call it the Battle of Vimy Ridge, though in other countries it is remembered, if it is remembered at all, as the northern portion of the battle of Arras) and spent ten days touring around France and Belgium.

The trip was good, though she did have some complaints about spending much of the trip partnered with a wet blanket/complainer who did not want to do much and complained about what they did do.  (I am certain her parents will consider their money well spent.)  So my daughter missed opportunities to see many things because of her.  For instance, they had a chance to visit the Sainte Chappelle in Paris before breakfast one day, but the visit came with a catch: you could not go alone.  You had to go with your partner.  Younger was up for the trip but her partner did not want to get out of bed just to see another church.  So they missed out on seeing this:


Here's a link to an unfortunately written article about my mother, in honour of what would have been her 93 birthday.

16 April 2017

Easter Sunday, 1940

What I missed this Easter

I saw no specials on television this year.  No rebroadcasts of old favourites, no attempts at replacing the old with new specials.  I didn't even see any documentaries purporting to unveil any new real Jesus' this year.  That has me somewhat concerned.  The fact that no one was trying to make us look ridiculous can only mean that they find us to be not worth the effort.  They did not give up attacking us because we were winning, but because they concluded we were irrelevant.

It will get worse.

A few weeks ago someone scrawled hate speech on the basilica of St Paul's in Toronto.  Today someone threw an incendiary device through the window of a church in the Weston area of Toronto, forcing the cancellation of Easter services.

He is Risen, Alleluia

Image result for the resurrection

14 April 2017

Good Friday

No automatic alt text available.

He was spurned and avoided by men,
a man of suffering, knowing pain,
Like one from whom you turn your face,
spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our pain that he bore,
our sufferings he endured.
We thought of him as stricken,
struck down by God and afflicted,

But he was pierced for our sins,
crushed for our iniquity.
He bore the punishment that makes us whole,
by his wounds we were healed.

11 April 2017

A little bit about singing

As I mentioned earlier, I sang last week for Palm Sunday.  It didn't go too badly, although the Vexilla Regis could have gone better.  On the upside, I won't be singing for Easter Sunday.

A few years back the organist asked me to sing for Easter.  I was flabbergasted.  I split Sundays with some Cantrices, a few of whom are better than me. For such a holy day, we should go with our strengths.  Unless.... the organist thought I was the better choice?

"Are you sure?" I asked.  "I mean, this is such an important day...."

"Yeah, I'm sure," he said. "Everyone else is busy."

So, there will be no burst bubble for me this year.  I opted out of singing this Easter because my  daughter will be returning from her school trip for the hundredth anniversary of Vimy late Saturday/early Sunday.  I would most likely be too exhausted to sing.  However, the soprano is quite good, better than I am, so there's that.  The only downside?  Without me singing, the chance of the proper sequence being sung is zero.  And that's a shame.

Conversations at Home.

My wife occasionally asks me why I hardly ever speak these days. The Answer is simple: there's no point.

My conversations generally run one of two ways. The first typically goes like this:

Me, to someone who has their face glued to some sort of screen: Listen, I have this Terribly Important Thing to tell you.

Them: Yeah.

Me: Are you listening?

Them: Yeah,

Me: Alright, the Terribly Important Thing requires us to do Some Specific Thing at a Very Specific Place at a Very Specific Time.

Them: Yeah.

Me: Got it?

Them: Yeah.

Some time later.

Me: Are you ready?

Them: For what?

Me: For that Very Important Thing.

Them: What? Why didn't you tell me?

Then there's the Second. This one comes with having children.

Me, to my wife: Wife, there is something very important we must discuss. It's about

One of the girls, from the upstairs bathroom: I NEED TOILET PAPER UP HERE!

Me: I'LL GET IT IN A MINUTE! As I was saying, this is the most important thing I'll ever


Me: I SAID I'D BE UP IN A MINUTE! Where was I? Oh yeah. It is of absolutely critical importance that




Me: Grrrrr

Conversations. They're really overrated.