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November 8th, 2010 04:19 pm - On that "shelter homeless, feed the poor" thing---
This morning, my mother met up with several people from church to do a normal maintenance work day. When they got there, they discovered that Actually, if you have *any* sort of triggers at all, you probably shouldn't click this )

So, that happened.

Well, at least the local homeless people seem to have gotten the idea that our church is a place you can go when you're at the very end of your resources. So we must be doing something right.

ETA: Right, probably not the right night to finally watch Shaun of the Dead then, oops.

(18 comments | Reply)

October 31st, 2010 06:22 pm - Sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia
Ah. Of course I wore my voice out the day before Reformation Sunday, when we sing all the good old traditional hymns.

Anyway, to make me less depressed after listening to Pastor's Reformation Day sermon, which was all about the deeply disappointing way the ELCA is (slowly, politely, quietly) attempting to schism itself over the issue of same-sex partnerships (which our Churchwide Assembly decided they approved of last year), here is an embed of the video our Presiding Bishop posted as part of the It Gets Better project, which [personal profile] beatrice_otter linked to a few days ago:
Video + transcript )
And, wow, I'd never really thought about the fact that Lutheran pastors have a specifically recognizable style, but it is so very painfully obvious what denomination he's from even without the intro. Which is to say: it's not by any means a perfect statement, but I am *so proud* of my Bishop for deciding to join the project, especially given the way his Church is spasming over it right now, and the cultural Lutheran more that you avoid divisiveness at all cost.


...oh, is there another holiday on 31 October? Sorry, you know how tunnel-vision us Christians can get about other folks' holidays. :P

I have very specific tastes when it comes to horror, I have come to realize.

The horror I find nicely shivery brings in a few particular factors: the unseen monster and the unknown fate; the incomprehensible but malignant outsider sentience; and the shift of ordinary things and places into sudden objects of fear.

The first horror-y fiction I ever read that I actually both found scary and liked was the classic fantasy novel The Face In The Frost, by John Bellairs. It's a short novel which combines parody/humor, classic quest fantasy with evil wizards, and that sort of deep horror of the mundane and unknowable. It stars two wizards named Prospero (but not the one you're thinking of) and Roger Bacon (also not the one you're thinking of) as they try to stop Melichus (a old schoomate of Prospero's) from evoking a formless, all-encompassing alien evil out of a mysterious book.

The book was clearly inspired by the Voynich manuscript, a deeply creepy Medieval book full of drawings of cyborg women, strangely biological-looking circle diagrams, and alien plants, which is written in a mysterious script that has never been decrypted. Melichus' book from The Face in the Frost is very similar, but it is finally read - by Melichus - after he discovers that, when you study the book obsessively, sleeplessly, compulsively, staring only at the pages of the book until all the rest of the world seems unreal - suddenly it wavers into something readable. Something alive, strange, something that wobbles between not quite real and too real to exist, but readable.

I've always wanted to mock up some pages of the book, properly bespelled, and since I finally found my stylus, I drew them for All Hallows. Here it is, a two-page spread from Melichus's evil book:
a two-column layout that looks like it's from a medieval manuscript, with intricate and creepy drawings of plants, circle diagrams, and naked women in plumbing all around the margins. The text is in an alphabet that is strangely familiar, but not one you know.
And yes, if you figure out how to read it properly, it really does decrypt by itself, one slow letter at a time, alive and wavering but readable, like the evil book in the story: there is proper magic in it.

The plaintext I used was a nonsense poem from later in the book. The marginals are directly inspired by the Voynich manuscript - luckily the artist of the Voynich wasn't a particularly good draftsman either.

If you figure it out or try try and fail, let me know? I've never really tested this method on anyone else, so I'd love to know how well it works. Anybody posting a full decryption within the next few days gets their comment screened, but discussion of methods is strongly encouraged. :D

ETA: If you want to know how this encryption works, [personal profile] siegeofangels worked out the cheating decryption method, and I give the rest of it away in comments to her entry.

(24 comments | Reply)

March 28th, 2010 12:33 pm - Why do they still let me teach Sunday school?
Things I said to Mom's Sunday school class while last-minute substituting as teacher today:

1. So Jesus got, like, really pissed, and he totally trashed the whole place, dude. It was radical.

2. Why can't God be a girl if He wants to be? He can do anything; who says She's never a girl? (this got a cheer from the girls in the class, p.s.)

3. A fast overview of every Judas-apologia fanfic ever written for the Easter story, from the Acts of Pilate to the Gospel of Pilate, with a long digression about how by Easter the disciples were spending most of their time bickering like siblings who had been trapped in a car for too long.

Things I almost said, but stopped myself at the last minute:

1. Jesus hates teabaggers! (I didn't actually say that but I laid the groundwork. And I want a bumpers sticker now that says "God Hates Teabaggers: Matthew 22:21") I felt unexpectedly justified when Pastor decided to preach his sermon about how the Democrats in Congress are like Christ Triumphant riding into Jerusalem (let us strew roses at their feet) and the Republicans are just like the Pharisees and Sadduccees. :P

2. The reason they didn't listen was because it was women who saw them, because nobody ever listens to women, but remember that Christ spoke to girls first, before he spoke to the men; he believes we're the ones worth talking to first. (I almost said this but we were running out of time and I figured "God's a chick" was enough Christian radical feminism to start them with.)

3. Aslan is a fraud and Narnia sucks. (Didn't actually mention Lewis, but talked about *why* Aslan is a fraud. Also, didn't say "Jesus is more like a Time Lord than a Highlander," or compare "He will knock four times" to "before the cock crows thrice." Be proud of me.)

Let that stand as your warning: as today was Palm Sunday, and it's my very favorite Christian holiday, I plan to talk about Christianity, and specifically Holy Week and Easter, a lot for the next week. It will be in rather the same sort of tone as the above. If you'd rather not be exposed, filter or unsubscribe me; I won't be offended. It will be back to business-as-random-usual come Monday after next.

(48 comments | Reply)

April 5th, 2007 09:33 pm - eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani
I've just come home from the Maundy Thursday service, the first one I've ever attended. I think the lesson to bring from it is don't go to the Maundy Thursday service unless you're also going to make the Good Friday and Easter Sunday ones - it's like having the cable modem go on the fritz at the very most depressing part of the fic.

I'd never seen the altar stripped before. I'd never seen the altar *bare* before. Sitting in the nearly-empty sanctuary, intoning the 22nd Psalm in unison to a just-stripped altar, and then walking out in utter silence to a frosty wind ...

yeah, that was something.

(Of course, I didn't actually get to go out in silent contemplation of the words of Christ, because Mom had volunteered to count the money, so instead I sat in the office and re-read John 13. Bonus points to anyone who gets why I said I felt like Judas Iscariot.)

You see, you may have heard of Christmas and Easter Christians, people who only come to church on those two days? My family's the opposite. We'll go to church every other day, but on those two days we're far too busy with pagan fertility rituals to go to church. So I have never actually been to a service when the altar was bare before. Never been to a Good Friday or Easter Day service either. And won't be going this year on Sunday, either, because we'll be playing with painted eggs and candy bunnies at my grandfather's house, as usual.

I kind of want to go to the Good Friday service tomorrow night after we pick up Katy, though, now that I know what I've been missing. Plus the program tonight said that tomorrow would be a tenebrae service, which sounds really, really awesome (in the old sense) ( and also fairly short).

PS: Darcy is in The Box. She won't let Bingley in The Box with her. So Bingley has dragged out the Peacock Feather, which Darcy can't resist, and is waving it around to lure Darcy out of The Box so that she can take possession. Cats are scary.

Current Music:: and abounding in steadfast love...

(5 comments | Reply)

January 28th, 2007 05:09 pm - Another Sunday meditation
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Went to Bed with No Clothes On.

...I learned that jingle at some point in my childhood, and I know there was more to it. The internet knows of that rhyme (and cites it back to WWII) so I'm not just making it up, but the only version the internet has can *not* be the version I knew, because it has dirty words, and not only that, dirty words that only rhyme if you're British. Now it's going to keep being stuck in my head until or unless I figure it out.

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", of course, is a very common element in English prayers, charms, and spells. There's the well-known "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, / bless the bed that I lie on. / Four corners to my bed, / four angels round my head," which is pretty clearly what the nekkid time version is based on. A quick google also gives me the list of four evangelists in part of an old American blessing to be said over firearms (which something tells me the Winchesters would know well!); an anti-witcchcraft charm against hailstorms; a fertility charm for the land; protection in a lawsuit; and a charm to cure cramp. (Plus several that are hidden under $#%*& academic lock. What, exactly, is the point of that again? Keeping people from learning? I guess I must have really graduated, too, because the library's removed my JSTOR access. I need that access! I can't *survive* without that access! It's entirely possible that one of the reasons I tried to not graduate is that I couldn't stand the thought of losing my university library card! God's ankles, now I'm depressed.)

I could probably find as many again if I took a quick look through my library of paper books on the subject. But the best-known of them all is the "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John" bed-time rhyme, sometimes called the Black Paternoster and more often the White Paternoster, though it has very little in common with the French-style White Paternosters that show up in Les Mis and The Canterbury Tales. In Popular Nursery Rhymes Jenifer Mulherin says the British version may date back to Celtic rituals, but I'm more apt to be reminded (by the four angels 'round the bed) of Senoy, Sansenoy, and Semangelof, the three angels tasked to protect Jewish children against the spite of Lilith.

Some people source the prayer to the 17th century, where it was apparently first put in print by Dr. Thomas Ady in 1656. (Ady is better known as the writer of influential books attempting to insert some rationality into the witchcraft panic.) Margaret Murray, in The God of the Witches (who, granted, must always be taken with several grains of salt) gives a White Paternoster from a mid-17th century witch trial which is much more similar to Chaucer's version, and then she gives a Black Paternoster, implied to be from the same source, which is a four-corners charm clearly similar to the modern Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but uses Latin forms of the names and is an adult's house-blessing rather than a bed-blessing ("God be into this house, and all that belangs us" to rhyme with Joannes.) If Murray can be trusted, then, the charm already existed in two very different version by the 1650s or so.

And "Matthew, Mark, Luke and John", in modern versions, is often intermixed with the other famous nursery prayer, "Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep". A whole bunch of versions of both these prayers are listed at Bedtime Prayers, along with a bunch of more twee childrens' prayers with all references to death, of course, ruthlessly bowdlerized. It seems to be a younger prayer - the first references look to be from the 18th century in "A New England Primer". There seems to be a persistent delusion on the 'net that it was printed in the 12th century in the Enchiridion of Pope Leo. The Enchiridion of Pope Leo is a *highly* dubious document, which in the tradition of late-Renaissance magickal publications, claims a pedigree older than it deserves. Given how demonstrably innacurate all the citations to it are, I'm not going to lay bets whether the prayer's actually in the book (the references seem to all have propagated from the wikipedia entry on Christian Child's Prayer (which is just *bad* beyond my ability to fix it, though I tried), detectable through use of a version of the book's name that seems to be *very* uncommon in English.) Although from Waite's description in Book of Ceremonial Magic, it seems reasonable that somebody, at some point, might have inserted some version of that prayer in some copy of the grimiore. I did find what seems to be an online Spanish translation of the book, which may or may not be complete, but doesn't seem to have anything resembling that prayer to the limit of my knowledge of Spanish.

Of course, it also shows up in Metallica's Enter Sandman.
(In other news, "Supernatural" continues to rock.)


Mind, none of that exactly solves the question of what the Evangelists did in bed with no clothes on. But hey! It may still be stuck in my head, but at least by now it's probably stuck in yours, too.

Current Music:: matthew, mark, luke and john, went to bed with no clothes on
Current Mood:: [mood icon] amused

(1 comment | Reply)

January 21st, 2007 02:29 pm - Your meditation for the second Sunday after Epiphany
Today's New Testament Reading was 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Verses 12-31, NRSV: )

[Poll #911188]

Actually, last week's reading was the first part of that chapter, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, which is one of my favorite bits of the Epistles, because it can be read to justify the practice of magic and all sorts of other non-traditional spiritualities, as long as you do them in faith in Christ.

In other news, SNOOOOOW!!!!!

(6 comments | Reply)

January 7th, 2007 04:02 pm - your Epiphany meditation
[Poll #902312]

*Yes, yes, I know, the locusts were probably actually the fruits of the carob tree, not the swarmy crawly things with eyes. But the honey was probably actually honeydew, which is even closer to being bug pee than *normal* honey, so it evens out.

**I have been giving the people in my Sunday School coloring pictures brown skin for a long time now.***** One of the kids called me on it today for the first time, and said Jesus and Mary were white, and when I asked him why, he said, well, for one thing, they always are in every picture he'd ever seen of them. I hope I managed to both teach him a little about the limits of race and teach him to think twice about things that are just "always" without, you know, confusing him even further. (At least he wasn't bored!)
Besides, we don't have any peach markers left.

***Actually, hasn't he been on the Report yet? Stephen should totally invite him if he hasn't.

****Well, it's a better explanation than the one in Matthew, anyway! And I've read some interesting Biblical analyses which point out that Christ, and the early Church, and probably John too, were bankrolled largely by wealthy widows.

*****I also colored my Temple all bright and stripy today. I'm on a one-woman mission to remind people that all those old ruins used to be painted! Pretty colors! Because they were. And then maybe it'll catch on and when I do my house all frescoes and murals the neighbors won't complain.

Current Music:: The children will listen

(8 comments | Reply)

June 11th, 2006 12:01 pm - Very Truly I Tell You
In honor of Holy Trinity Sunday, another excerpt from the book of Wicked Words, under 'wench':
Athanasian wench, "a forward girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her" (Grose, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1769).... the reference being to the first words of the Athanasian Creed, quincunque vult (whoever desires).
See, this is why I love being a Christian. :D

In the sermon today (which I actually stayed awake for, since I don't have to get up early for Sunday School any more) the Pastor was talking about politicians and pastors who claim they have a special knowledge of the Word of God, and how unwise (and unChristian) it is to listen to them without first engaging your own knowledge of Scripture and of the Holy Spirit. And how Martin Luther liked say that such people, who claimed to hear God speak to them, really probably had only been listening to bees trapped in their bonnets.

... the next time somebody gets evangelistic with me about Our Only President, I'm going to say 'he's just got a bee in his bonnet' and change the subject to the Peasants' Revolt.

Also: Happy day at church! My little Sunday School kid's dad is home from Iraq after nearly a year away! We had cake and decorations and (courtesy of Mom's hoarding tendencies) flag pins for everybody to wear! Hooray! (Of course, one of his brothers wasn't there to welcome him home, because his unit left Friday morning. They're trying to arrange for him to get to visit for a day or so first, but the standard procedure for that is for his brother's unit to call his unit and ask, but his brother hasn't *got* a unit any more, because the *five* of them that were left at the end of the deployment ended up attached to a Kentucky unit, that can't do that sort of thing for the Maryland guard, so they're all like chickens without heads at the moment.... I think the brother who decided to spend his weekends at M:tG tournaments instead of National Guard training is not at all regretting the choice.)

Oh, and completely unrelated: to a certain five of you who answered my poll: the penalty box in soccer is the marked area of the field near the goal where a foul results in a penalty kick rather than a free kick. So there!

Current Music:: holy, holy, holy
Current Mood:: [mood icon] amused

(2 comments | Reply)

April 16th, 2006 08:28 pm
He is risen! He is risen.

(and I am back online.)

(2 comments | Reply)

April 9th, 2006 03:48 pm - Thus ends the reading
Today was my very favorite holiday ever - Palm Sunday! We have a parade and a play in church!

Actually, today in church, for the first time ever, I was one of the helpers in the service. (I say 'I was' rather than 'I signed up to be', because Mom signed me up and then didn't tell me 'till a week later.) So, yay! I got to be lay reader, and I got to hand out the wine to people and say "The blood of Christ, given for you" about two dozen times, and be part of a miracle. I'd never helped with communion before - back in the day when I was an acolyte, I always refused to do it on Communion Sundays, because not only was I not communing yet, I wasn't even baptized (and nobody at church ever remembered that I wasn't baptized, so when it came up in conversation - awkward!)

Anyway, I experienced another miracle after church, too, a miracle like the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, when I sat down at coffee hour and started making my Easter basket out of my processional palms. I started out with nine small palms. I was going to make a square basket, 3x3 on the bottom and then three rows around the sides, but somehowe it ended up being 5x5x5 instead, and then I made eight or nine crosses to put in it. And when I had finished I looked over at my pile of palms and somehow, I still had six left. The pile just never got smaller!

Knock and the door shall be opened unto you, man. Seek and ye shall find.

Actually, making a basket like that is an act of faith on its own - for the first three-quarters of the work, I have what looks a huge tangle of cracked and bent leaves that will never, ever resemble anything and really I ought to just chuck it and give up; but keep going, and suddenly - snap - it transforms into a cute (if somewhat stringy and lopsided) little green-and-yellow basket that's a lot stronger than it looks. (And will last forever once it dries - this one's at least three or four years old and still up to carrying eggs in.) I make a basket once a year on Palm Sunday (when I have the materials and have the time) just so I don't lose the skill - basketweaving is *brilliant*. Someday I'm going to get around to teaching myself how to make a pine-needle basket like the natives around here did, or sweetgrass like the prairie-dwellers in Mom's part of the country, or how to cut and soak and split the invasive bamboo that's taking over our scrublands. But gathering and learning how to work the materials is the *hard* part, alas. (Plus, do I have space for lots of pretty-but-too-lopsided-to-sell baskets? No, I have no space at all.)

Current Mood:: [mood icon] mellow
Current Music:: we are one in the spirit


March 5th, 2006 08:58 pm - When shall we three meet again?
I just got back from the first meeting of our church's 50th anniversary commemoration committee.

Is there something wrong with me that I actually had fun? Really. It was fun.

And I'm glad I went, as one of the youngest active members, so there'll be somebody who remembers this stuff in another 50 years. 'Cause they aren't going to put the best stuff in the official records. For example, I learned tonight that one of our pastors - the one who was there before the one who married my parents - quit because the secretary and president of the church council got married. Unfortunately, at the time they were *elected* to council, they'd both been married to *other* people. And nobody, including the pastor, noticed what was going on until the divorce papers were filed. "Well, he always drove her home after council meetings," says Ms. G----. "We just didn't figure out *why* until later."

Dude, that's way more interesting than who was the first Sunday School superintendant and who designed the communion service.

Anyway, other than that, stuff has been happening. Much of it involved evil cackling and conspiracy between my sister and me. Unfortunately, it also involved me not getting any homework done yet this weekend, so I don't have time to blog about it. Maybe someday. Maybe she'll blog about it and I can just link - that would be nice.

Current Mood:: [mood icon] busy


February 28th, 2006 09:36 pm - here i am
Today being the day that my church celebrates the Feast of St. Pancake, I came home from school (a lovely day filled with midterms and quizzes) and headed right to church, after stopping to put on my dancin' shoes and some of my grandmother's jewelery.

I ended up getting there very late, but that was okay, because we had Game Night right after, and I had great fun, but four hours straight might have been a bit much. So I ate pancakes, and played blocks and Candyland and puzzles with my little Sunday school kids and their families. (They also brought Hungry Hungry Hippos, but I didn't get a chance to play. Man is that game loud! The little one loves it, so his mother is trying to get him to agree to send it to Daddy in Iraq, so that Daddy and his friends in the National Guard can play instead. :D I hope she convinces him, I just love the image it brings up.)

Then it was bedtime for the little ones, so I played my first game of chess in *years* (and lost), and then us few remaining 'youth' (aka under-30s) pulled out the set of Quiddler cards we gave Mom for Christmas. That game, however, quickly degenerated into 'find a word in the dictionary that [livejournal.com profile] melannen doesn't know', which quickly degenerated, of course, into 'find the dirty words in the dictionary'. (What? It was fascinating, especially since the dictionary didn't *have* any dirty words - the entry under 'sex' didn't even *mention* the act of intercourse. And the book was only thirty years old, too.)

For Lent, I have decided to give up reading lj and fanfic during my classes. I plan to put a daily update on my lj as to how well I'm keeping it up, too. (I know, I know - baby steps, okay?)

ETA: MY GOD! Alan is *canonically* in love with Denny; I'm starting to actually suspect that they're planning to take this beyond (really, really freaking heavy) subtext. Which is just *wrong*, because it's old, fat William Shatner. And Daniel Jackson.

Current Music:: boston legal, in a few minutes
Current Mood:: [mood icon] recumbent

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February 27th, 2006 11:08 am - nothin' don't mean nothin'
There was a breakdown on the MARC line this morning, so the train was extremely crowded: I ended up standing in the aisle, next to a guy in a skullcap who was reading a large book that had parallel Hebrew/English text. (Probably Talmud? It was talking about Pesach guidelines, which makes sense, since tomorrow is the day we Protestant Christians celebrate the Feast of the Holy Pancake.) Anyway, I glance over at the English text to see what book it is, and what it *said* was something like "the meat of lamb must be completely roasted", but what I *read* was "My god, you guys are completely toasted," which immediately sent my mind running to [livejournal.com profile] kenosis_kalon's favorite story in the Torah, the one where the Lord smites the sons of Aaron for toking in the Tabernacle. Man, I love Judeao-Christian tradition.

(Which reminds me, some day I need to get copies of the recipes they use at church to make the Holy Pancakes. I've been helping to cook and eat them since I was about three, and they are the best pancakes ever, even the banana ones.)

Yesterday in church the lesson was the Transfiguration of Christ, so I spent most of the service thinking about Ascension and the Stargate mythos, of course. But the stellar moment was when Pastor intoned Peter's line "YOU are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God," and one of my little Sunday School kids, in the pew behind us, shouted out, "No I'm not!" (Yes, we know, princess. At least, I hope the Messiah will be less given to temper tantrums. Then again, you never know.)

Current Music:: Me and Bobby McGee
Current Mood:: [mood icon] pious


August 1st, 2005 03:53 pm - GIP (it's bigger on the inside than the outside.)
Finally got around to finding my doll-icon .xcfs and making myself a summer one, now that it's August. q-:

Also, I seem to have accreted myself a Dr. Who sound theme on the laptop.

And now that I've finally found a good, short overview on the Doctor which is suitable for someone who has not once, in her life, watched an episode of the show -- except between midnight and 4:00 in the morning -- perhaps I will finally learn to keep my Doctors straight. (I have discovered that the ones I like best are 1, 3, and 7, I am reasonably fond of 4 and 5, and I have seen almost nothing of 2 and 6. And none at all of 9, of course, which I am waiting for until I can acquire it legally. [My uncle is a very old-school Dr. Who fan who is not internet-enabled and he didn't even know 9 existed!] And, speaking of stupid American TV decisions, I saw 8 when he first appeared and all I remember is that he was not *my* Doctor.)

And this is the best mood theme ever, and I'd switch to it if I weren't still convinced that someday I'll finish my Snoopy one.

Um. In other news, stuff has been happening, and I haven't been updating my lj about it. Vacation Bible School is this week. The lady doing the food has decided that *every single day* she is going to serve the kids boiled greens as their snack, and *nobody* has been able to talk her out of it.

This laptop's power situation is very dodgy. The batteries are acting highly erratic, the power cord is 9/10s of the way frayed through, the socket it goes into is bent and has a loose connection, and the casing is cracked all around it. It's currently working only due to the magic of duct tape; when that fails, I do have some epoxy putty. What I really need is a sonic screwdriver. q-:

ETA: 57%, yay!

Current Music:: I think we have some dr. who books around somewhere. hmm.
Current Mood:: [mood icon] amused

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