kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
... the whole "updated Horsemen of the Apocalypse" wherein Pestilence is an Anti-Vaxx Mom thing, right, as distinct from being e.g. Andrew Wakefield or A Failure To Teach The Scientific Method or whatever is just... yet another iteration of The Sin Of Eve, isn't it?

I mean I was already bored of it, but the pattern "keep a woman ignorant, lie to her, then blame her" is sort of... notable, I feel.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
A brought up originalism this morning (very briefly: it's a legal approach to interpretation of the US constitution that views the Constitution's meaning as fixed as of the time of enactment, rising to prominence in the 1980s) as contrasted with the Living Constitution/constructionism.

It seems obvious to me that this is a theological argument at least as much as it's a secular one, in that originalist interpretations are associated with conservatives (notably Scalia) in a way analogous to Biblical literalism (a school of thought arising, ish, in the 18th century) in contrast with exegesis that treats religious texts as living documents that require reinterpretation in light of their present contexts. (I am contrasting "theological" and "secular" there deliberately, rather than "theological" and "legal": for the purposes of this post I'm taking the perspective that the Bible is a text that sets out a system of laws and precedents.)

I'm neither a theological scholar nor a legal scholar (and nor for that matter am I especially familiar with the US politicolegal system beyond the obvious osmosis) so I'm obviously handwaving quite a lot here, but I would be interested in Your Collective Thoughts on the matter, if you have them and feel like talking!
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
In that it was the set of readings about how it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven, and so there was a lengthy break before the homily in order to pass out and fill in forms to set up standing orders to the parish...
kaberett: A cartoon of wall art, featuring a banner reading "NO GLORY SAVE HONOR". (no glory save honour)
  1. CN: abortion; suicide. Read more... )
  2. We are all of us sinners, and as tempting as it is to believe that it's possible to devise a timeless set of rules that if followed precisely will keep us pure, unblemished, etc, unfortunately the world's a bit more complicated than that and you're going to have to think and you're going to have to make decisions and you're going to have to act according to your lights as best you know how having assimilated and contemplated information being fed you; following rules without heart does no-one any good, but just because no single set of rules that will work absolutely in all cases exists does not mean that you don't have to try, or that it's okay to not wash your hands. Compare and contrast: we're all *ist, there's no single absolute set of rules that applies in all situations, you've got to think critically about what you're doing and act as best you can work out, ...

Worship

Jul. 29th, 2015 07:49 pm
kaberett: A cartoon of wall art, featuring a banner reading "NO GLORY SAVE HONOR". (no glory save honour)
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.


Read more... )
kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
Defining my terms at the top of the page. )
The part where I wryly tell anecdotes so you can gauge your interest in reading several thousand words on the topic
I've been talking intermittently over the last little while about shit like theology as repository of psychosocial extelligence (e.g.). Thursday lunchtime I realised with some dismay that I needed a purification ritual and I needed one fast and all of this is stuff I'm cobbling together as I go along, but I ended up with: sorting out my hair; showering even though it was hard; scrubbing my face and hands with some of the nice salt we keep in; moisturising with the E45 that I stuck a couple of bay leaves in lo these many years ago; eating half a teaspoon of honey from a friend's parents' hives; and then I spent the journey over to the tattoo shop meditating, and now I have symbology etched on me, and it is good -- but I have also realised that I've been doing most of my talking about this stuff via chatting with people one-on-one and I might perhaps benefit from going into a bit more detail, a little more formally.

So. )
kaberett: Blue-and-red welly boots on muddy ground. (boots)
See, right, the thing that annoys me even more than People Criticising Christianity Wrong is lazy, compassionless theology rooted in shame and fear, especially when it's coming from sodding priests.

This is how bad today's sermon was: I walked out after the Peace and my mother joined me after communion, and was genuinely surprised I hadn't walked out while the guy was still talking.

Read more... )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Well, let's see, there's the standard-ish stuff: every year my mother makes fruitcake and Christmas puddings, very kindly leaving out glacé cherries because I consider them an abomination, doing the marzipan and royal icing herself; Teebäckerei, whose recipe I have unaccountably failed to type up, which are biscuits with much of the flour replaced by ground nuts (usually a combination of walnuts and hazelnuts though almonds are also acceptable) and a small quantity of grated dark chocolate; as mentioned, my father makes around twelve dozen mince pies every year.

There is a Thing my mother and I started doing when we went hiking the summer after I turned 18, the summer before I went to university, the summer I decided I might be a geologist: we collected a small handful of cranberries and brought them back with us and froze them, and then come the Solstice and such we boiled them up with bought cranberries, on the general principle of holy water. (Er, for those less steeped in this stuff than I am: you add any amount of holy water to a vessel containing water that has not been blessed etc and the whole lot is rendered sacred. (This is a thing that never made any sense to me about Buffy: why would anyone buy multiple bottles of holy water! You just... add some more to the stuff you got out of the tap! Or like add it to the reservoir and BOOM. As it were.)

Other than that, the main traditional food is non-veg and as such I haven't eaten it in years. Discussion of meat preparation. )

Satsumas and clementines are a thing, from Heiliger Nikolaus on. Increasingly, cheese & crackers & port (my mother keeps getting asked to play the organ at weddings, which she detests because she is not terribly good at it, and being given nice port in payment).

Nusspotitze! That is also a thing that we make fairly regularly at this time of year.

And that is more-or-less that. If you would like me to elaborate on any points or discuss things I've failed to touch on, let me know! ♥
kaberett: On May the 3rd 2013, an Adelie penguin looks REALLY UNPLEASANTLY SURPRISED and slightly flaily with its flippers. (HOLY SHIT)
Okay, so this one is (~surprise~) a bit fraught for me, because a lot of my culture-of-origin identity is very bound up with Mitteleuropäischer expressions of Catholicism, so I end up feeling a lot more adrift with the whole atheist thing than is wholly comfortable.

All of which said, my traditional stuff is:
  • you make a wreath from misc evergreen from your garden (or, in the more specific sense, misc evergreen you've nicked from a Cambridge college's gardens); you place your Advent candle in the middle of it, and add a candle round the edge for each Sunday of Advent in the appropriate colors as they happen. Advent is very much a time of preparation & reflection: to think about what one has done and what one has failed to do, and all that.
  • the 6th of December, Heiliger Nikolaus: on the evening of the 5th, you polish your shoes and leave them lined up neatly beneath a window, and awake to find (if you've been good!) that Nikolaus has been by in the night and filled them with goodies, traditionally nuts & clementines & chocolate coins. (My mother normally manages to source chocolate Schilling - when that was relevant - and these days usually gets her hands on chocolate Euro. Me, I noticed that M&S were selling chocolate brussels sprouts and thought it would be worth it for the laugh). If you have not then instead the Krampus chases you with switches...
  • on the other side of the family, my father gets Very Definite about making mince pies in the week running up to Christmas; he normally makes a round twelve dozen, as I recall, glazed with water+sugar (because my baby brother is lactose intolerant). He makes the pastry - standard unsweetened shortcrust - but usually buys in the mincemeat; I am still working through the batch I made a couple of years ago, during The Winter Of My Discontent.
  • (My mother makes fruitcake and steamed puddings a little while in advance; she makes the marzipan and royal icing, and in deference to my tastes leaves the glacé cherries out.)
  • Otherwise, preparation waits until Christmas Eve: present wrapping and bringing in (and decorating) the tree (which lives in the garden), and setting up the crib, and so on. (The Wise Men then advance from the far side of the tableau to the stable over the course of the twelve days.) We listen to the King's Carol Service because my father, bizarrely, insists; my mother staples the Christmas cards to lengths of ribbon and hangs them from the walls; we get out the Strohsterne etc.


... and then we are into The Day Itself, which involves Church and arguments and I am kiiiiiind of intending to run back to London to spend the day with a bunch of heathens this year before heading back on Boxing Day.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
I think in fact I am going to turn to the thing closest-to-hand, which in the current instance is that I am reading a volume of Borges' selected poems in parallel translation; unlike my recent rant about Bly's translations of Neruda here the translations are a joy. They were prepared by a group of approximately eight different translators (I have on loan a copy of the di Giovanni edition), in close collaboration with Borges himself, and it is an absolute joy and clearly a labour of love.

(The other thing I am reading at the moment - well, I might as well make it what-am-I-reading-Wednesday, I suppose, slyly participating for possibly the first time ever - is Lightspeed's Women Destroy SF special issue, which again is a collaborative work: 109 women directly involved in bringing it to fruition, and over a thousand submissions. Again: it is a labour of love.)

-- I think, in fact, what I am attempting to tease out here is not the specifics of any one piece of art, much as the Borges poems are breathtaking both in their choice of words and in their ideas; instead I think what I am seeking is the concept of playing catch with art (thank you, [personal profile] elisem), of collaborating in the creation of beauty.

Thus, of course, my adoration for Elise's work, too; that it is created to hold stories, and part of the joy is finding the story that goes with the art (or at least that will sit with it for a while). That the tangible object is beautiful is a bonus: the same is true of intangible objects. The feeling of being part of a puzzle of a hundred or more people, breathing and moving in time to fit complex transient shapes together -- there is nothing like being part of an orchestra: in the playing, Purcell's chords are played away.

This is, slowly, a perspective I am managing to bring to bear on organised religion: that it's a collective attempt to codify what we've worked out about how we work, by muddling through, to put it in a form that we'll be able to remember. Thus "count your blessings" - despite how often it's said dismissively, as a challenge, whatever - resurfaces as my ten good things; thus everything happens for a reason; thus the focus on the universality and inevitability of both imperfection and love; thus ritual, thus remembrance, thus honour. (No Glory Save Honour, explained over the next few pages of that comic.)

So. Fact and fiction and poetry, all wrapped in beauty: how earnestly we try across time to take care of one another, to give the best advice we can, to work together and to make love: the collaboration, not the thing itself.
kaberett: a patch of sunlight on the carpet, shaped like a slightly wonky heart (light hearted)
They say, I think, that moments
can hang preserved in drops of amber
suffused with bone-deep memories
of setting autumn suns.
In Mass I see the elderly &
think of my Grossmutti, who
placed sacrificial flowers on
the altar, very nearly til she died
& in so doing offered up
her blood, her knees, her strength;
I think of Papa, who still heaves
his way through grassy lanes
to kneel, to genuflect, to offer peace.
And in Mass I hear the children
as they whisper to their parents
having not yet realised just how well
the church carries their voice
(nor yet been taught: above all else is silence);
in them, and in the fretful babies
this strange unwieldy future
reflects me backwards to myself.
That imperfection is inevitable
is without doubt its greatest grace:
the same is true of love.
Take heart. Take strength. Take space.
kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
(No, really, incredibly grumpy insomnia. I was in bed by midnight. I spent nearly 90 minutes failing to get to sleep via trying several of the usual tricks. I have to be up to teach stats in a little over five hours. I was up at 7.30 today and spent nearly 6 hours on my feet teaching. And then After Gadget - the blog - updated, and now I'm bitter and resentful about people ~getting better~, because yeah, that'd be LOVELY, but the knee that used to only start complaining after most of a week of serious hiking now grumbles like anything after too much time spent walking or standing - I used to do shit like the Tongariro Crossing and now 1km/day is too much for me to manage sustainably, and none of the physio I've done has worked, and... it's 2.22 and I need to be up in five hours and it's too late to drug myself to sleep without making a mess of tomorrow and I'm a bit hyperbolically despairing, basically, within the bounds of mostly-normative rather than pathological emotion, thank you Lewis Wolpert.)

I think I begin to understand one of the routes to ending up ordained.

The summary to date: I was brought up Catholic, and specifically Austrian Catholic, so my cultural identity is tied up in my religion. Around 12-13 I realised I was queer; around 15-16 I started to realise I was trans, though I didn't have those words for it, quite, at that point; and somewhere in between I decided that the way the Vatican and my Church as a whole behaved was ethically indefensible and I left the faith, still believing. It hurt. Around 17-18 I stopped feeling guilty for not believing; then two or three years ago I started building some observance back in: I attend Mass on All Souls', though I pointedly disengage from celebrations of Christmas and Easter, because why on Earth would I want to participate in festivals of a religion I left.

And yet over the past six months or so I've begun to understand religion as a means of transmitting knowledge about not just "eat this and die" but also... ways of understanding how brains & minds work; ways of interpreting the self. I noticed last week that "count your blessings" isn't inherently as snide and dismissive as I often hear it: it's the essence of my ten-good-things, a directive towards gratitude, with the why stripped out: worn smooth through being passed mouth-to-hand. I'm simultaneously surprised & not that I didn't notice sooner.

I thrive on why. But I begin to see how this, messy and confused and abbreviated and pared down as it is, has value. I start to see why one might dedicate one's life to teasing out meaning, to teaching it, and to know all the while that one is helping over and above the comfort-of-ritual.

This, too, feels like growing up.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
There's a series of ads running at the moment with straplines to the tune of "GOD KNEW YOU WOULD SEE THIS", and some smaller blurb about how it's a Christian dating website, isn't that amazing, God also knew that you'd want to date another Christian, etc etc etc.

... and, of course, it's a service for which you have to pay in order to get any use out of it.

Now, I might be unduly prejudiced due to being an embittered ex-Catholic, but the thing this reminds me of most of all is the merchants Jesus drove out of the temple, to the extent that I am uncomfortable about these ads primarily because of a creeping sense that they are contra-Biblical and contra-What Would Jesus Do. And therefore really skeevy and kinda blasphemous.

TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS, o readership, should you so desire...

Saints

Dec. 26th, 2013 06:30 pm
kaberett: A series of phrases commonly used in academic papers, accompanied by humourous "translations". (science!)
I don't saints much, particularly, especially not these days, but:
  • I will occasionally mutter darkly under my breath to St Anthony upon having lost An Thinge;
  • St Piran, obvs, because Mebyon Kernow;
  • St Christopher, because of journeys - he is often painted on house-ends in rural Austria, visible as you leave or enter villages, and shrines along roadsides to him are common;
  • and Heiliger Nikolaus, after whom The Shetland Pony is named (having been born on his day), and who is a big part of my cultural heritage.

If I were a better Catholic I'd be telling you about all the early pre-C10th female saints my mum considered taking her confirmation name for (she ended up going with Mary), but I'm not, so there we go.

However! Saints are one of the places where my status as a third-gen immigrant and heritage speaker of German/speaker of English as a second language end up interacting really weirdly with the bit where I'm a slightly bitey atheist, because - polishing one's shoes and leaving them beneath a window on the evening of the fifth of December is what one does, it's one of the ways you know where you're from, and - reconciling my intense antipathy to secular celebration of religious festivals (this is why it is generally a bad idea to wish me a happy Christmas) with my cultural heritage is... sometimes an interesting line to walk.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
[personal profile] sorrillia noted that I have, several times in the past few weeks, used phrases like where the gods live, and asked me to expand a bit on my current relationship with religion and deities.

The short version is: whether or not supernatural entit[y/ies] exist is pretty much irrelevant to my life. I try to be kind and compassionate and good, to minimise the harm I do, and I want to be doing this because it is right rather than because I am scared of the consequences if I don't. Smaller me, sad and scared and with no idea what to be if not Catholic (but certain that Catholic was no longer a path they could take in good conscience), defiantly asserted that any God worth worshipping would understand this, and any other didn't deserve to be.

Since then, I have come rather more to terms with my atheism.

So how does this fit with my talking about where the gods live? Mmm. I recognise the value of ritual and the familiar (I've known beauty in cathedrals in the stillness of the day): that's why I go to Mass on All Souls', and why I light candles, and why I will sometimes find a chapel to sit in, in the cool and the quiet and the filtered-down light.

And I recognise the value of religious restrictions arising from if you do this thing, you will die; therefore, don't. And that is some of what I mean when I talk about gods, these days: it's why I make offerings to glaciers and pour out libations for mountains, because in doing so I remind myself that these things are large and they are old and they will kill me without compunction or hesitation for being just the slightest bit careless; they insist upon respect.

So: stillness and quiet and a sense of space are what I mean, really: something you can capture a little of inside a church, but which I prefer in a setting where I am physically, as well as emotionally, reminded of the vastness of space and of time. That sense of wonder, of awe - yet not of insignificance - is what I am talking about, because this is an astonishing and beautiful place that we live in, and I can find it easy to forget when I am forever rushing.

-- which is some of what I mean, also, when I say that learning to love a city feels, to me, like learning to love people: learning how to know the lares and penates, and how to find the heart of quiet in something so large.

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kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
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