Friday, July 21, 2017

Summer Lights

From Southern Lady: 
As the sun slips below the horizon, the shadows of dusk try to nudge us inside, but what we really want is to linger a little longer in this blissful summer weather. Here are a few of our favorite ways to extend the evening in brilliant and stylish ways...Simple-yet-chic designs by Southern artisan extraordinaire Natalie Chanin inspired an outdoor tableau to usher in the first days of fall. The happy gathering is bound to last into the evening, so hang pierced-tin lanterns among the branches to light the area when the sun begins to fade. (Read more.)
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On Vacation Bible School

From The Federalist:
These programs are written and produced by Christians with good intentions, but the baseline bait n’ switch philosophy is perverse, like trying to get your child to eat vegetables by embedding them in a Twinkie. Sure, the child will hear some good things about God, but the medium of the message—the razzle-dazzle theme, characterless music, throwaway crafts, forced theatrics, the theological minimalism—is what the child internalizes.

The deeper message conveyed is that what is meant to be an eternal truth is derivative, unserious, inauthentic, forgettable, commercial, frivolous, and cheap. Based on the evidence, millennials figured out how to nibble at the bait and leave the hook bare. To speak generally, the medium of the message becomes its own catechesis, catechizing children in the forms of pop culture. The shallow entertainment value of attention-grabbing imagery and soundtracks keeps the soul bopping around from thought to thought, preventing any sort of serious reflective thinking. Yes, even four-year-olds are capable of reflective thinking!

Meanwhile, the focus on the phantasmic—commercially generated themes, images, and archetypes—undermines what is meant to be a Logos-based faith consisting of organized and systematic thought. Yes, kids can learn about concepts like sin, redemption, and the Incarnation! Finally, the programs’ essential ephemerality encultures children in a throwaway culture, suggesting implicitly that the faith is one of the passing fads to grow out of, rather than an eternal truth to grow into. Yes (goodness!), children yearn for steady, eternal things in their lives! (Read more.)
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Abu Simbel

From Ancient History:
Abu Simbel is a temple complex, originally cut into a solid rock cliff, in southern Egypt and located at the second cataract of the Nile River. The two temples which comprise the site (The Great Temple and The Small Temple) were created during the reign of Ramesses II (c. 1279 - c. 1213 BCE) either between 1264 - 1244 BCE or 1244-1224 BCE. The discrepancy in the dates is due to differing interpretations of the life of Ramesses II by modern day scholars. It is certain, based upon the extensive art work throughout the interior of the Great Temple, that the structures were created, at least in part, to celebrate Ramesses' victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE. To some scholars, this indicates a probable date of 1264 BCE for the initial construction as the victory would have been fresh in the memory of the people. However, the decision to build the grand monument at that precise location, on the border with the conquered lands of Nubia, suggests to other scholars the later date of 1244 BCE in that it would have had to have been begun after the Nubian Campaigns Ramesses II undertook with his sons and was built as a symbol of Egypt's power. (Read more.)
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cristo Velato

From Aleteia:
Although Corradini was in fact commissioned with the job in the first place, he died having only produced a clay model for what would later be a definitive piece sculpted in marble. It was Giuseppe Sammartino, then, who ended up producing the astonishing sculpture of a dead Jesus, covered by a transparent shroud carved out of the very same marble block shared with the rest of the statue. Sammartino’s mastery – the veil covering the figure of Jesus being in fact “transparent” — didn’t only gain him a well-deserved place in the history of Western art, but also turned his artwork into the stuff of legend.

Some stories claim Sammartino covered his sculpture with a linen veil he managed to transform into marble by means of complex chemical-alchemical processes. Those very same legends would also claim that Raimondo di Sangro, the commissioner of the sculpture, was himself an alchemist who taught Sammartino the mysteries of his pseudo-science. Of course, these are but legends. (Read more.)
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“Service Trips” and Voluntourism

From the Almost Doctor's Channel:
Do you want to feel fulfilled? Do you want to “Be the change you wish to see in the world?” How about adding some international healthcare experience to your residency applications? The common theme in those sentences is “you”. But it shouldn’t be about you, it should be about the people you’re there to help.

My least favorite but most common response when asking someone about their micro-trip abroad goes something like this: I was heartbroken to see how life is there. It really makes me realize just how good we have it. My life will never be the same.” (*Rolls eyes*)

If you truly want this experience — to change your world perspective, etc. — then at least call it like it is and admit you’re going on a self-fulfillment trip. Don’t call it humanitarian work when the only human benefiting from this experience is you.

As Al Jazeera America points out, “As admirably altruistic as it sounds, the problem with voluntourism is its singular focus on the volunteer’s quest for experience, as opposed to the recipient community’s actual needs.”

Ask yourself this: Do you want to go help, or do you want the people to be helped? If you honestly care more about the latter, then understand that the best way to help a community may not involve you personally traveling to it. Unskilled, short-term voluntourists often do very little to actually help a community develop in a sustainable manner. (Read more.)
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Love, Needlework and Alexander Hamilton

From Two Nerdy History Girls:
True love, a war-time memento, and virtuoso needlework: inspiration doesn't get much better for me than that! This elaborately embroidered mat was stitched by a young woman in Albany, NY in 1780, specifically to surround the miniature portrait of her fiancé. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

The mat is worked in silk and metallic (now tarnished) threads, with metallic bobbin lace (also now tarnished) framing the miniature. The lace may have been a costly import - perhaps it had originally trimmed a gown - or it may have been worked by the young woman herself. The harmony of the design, the elegantly shaded colors, and the precision of the stitches all indicate that she possessed considerable skill with her needle as well as a flair for design.

There's also little doubt that this was a labor of love whose sheer exuberance (imagine how brilliant it must have been when the colors were still fresh and the metallic threads glittered!) threatens to overwhelm the tiny miniature, which is less than two inches in height. You can just tell that the young woman was dreaming of her beloved with every stitch she took. Perhaps she even kept the miniature nearby as inspiration.

Who were these two sweethearts? The needleworker was Elizabeth Schuyler, 22, and her fiancé was Lt. Colonel Alexander Hamilton, 23, who was serving in the Continental Army as an aide-de-camp to Commander-in-Chief Gen. George Washington. In 1780, the American Revolution was dragging through its sixth year, with no resolution in sight. The war had brought these two together - they had become engaged during the army's winter encampment earlier in the year - just as it also kept them apart during the summer and fall. Both had hoped for a quick wedding, but Alexander's military duties forced them to postpone their marriage until shortly before Christmas, 1780. (Read more.)
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

She-Sheds

From the Times-Picayune:
When life in the palace of Versailles with Louis and their four kids got to be too much, Marie Antoinette slipped away to the Petit Trianon, a quaint (by royal standards) cottage in the garden. Two-hundred-plus years later, women across America have found the young queen was onto something. Today, "she sheds" -- small outbuildings women have created for their own purposes -- are fast becoming the new "it" structures. "The term she shed was barely on the radar two years ago," said Erika Kotite, author of "She Sheds: A Room of Your Own" (Cool Springs Press, January 2017). "Today a Google search surfaces millions of hits. Pinterest is on fire with she-shed content, and last year, a new TV series called "He Shed, She Shed" came out on FYI Network" -- all in response to a pent-up need for some private space. (Read more.)
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Controversial Observations

From Robert Royal:

There is something like an emerging theocracy in the United States, with a Manichean vision. But it’s the theocracy of sexual absolutism that cannot tolerate pluralism or dissent. The Little Sisters of the Poor, Hobby Lobby, evangelical bakers, anyone who stands up to the contraception-abortion-“gay-marriage” (and now) “transgender” juggernaut risks legal jeopardy and accusations of being a “hate group.” (Spadaro and Figueroa echo this claim, saying the Evangelical-Catholic alliance represents a xenophobic, Islamophobic, purist vision that is really an “ecumenism of hate.”)

Fighting the sexual theocracy is imperative, for believers and non-believers alike who care about liberty and the common good in a pluralist society. The courts have – so far – found for defenders of religious liberty, largely Catholics and Evangelicals. But that such cases even have to be brought tells us who is really trying to impose a kind of totalitarianism on America. Most traditional Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, and others would be happy, at this point, to be just left alone.

All this is invisible to Spadaro and Figueroa, or is dismissed as a cover for something sinister. They know not the heart of American Evangelicalism, which is generally closer to the thoughtfulness of a Russell Moore than to blind Fundamentalism (which is why we use two different terms for the two groupings). Their labeling American Catholic conservatives as “integralists” is another slander and a sloppy misapplication of a term from one period of European history to something else entirely. They could easily have learned this.

The authors claim that Pope Francis has outlined an alternative to “militant” Christianity. But their obsession with “dialogue” over these matters is a plausible strategy only to people who have never had to confront the sharp edge of the culture war. And believe they can go on avoiding it forever. They can’t. (Read more.)
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