Festivities!

Today: Happy Halloween! Happy NaNoWriMo Eve! Happy Reformation Day!
Tomorrow/Sunday: Happy All Saints’ Day!
Monday: Happy All Souls’ Day!
Wednesday: Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Did I leave anyone out?

As I said to my Calvinist friend, “my little ecumenical heart is always a little sad on Reformation Day.” I’m glad for Luther and what he did, but I still hope for a day when the Church is reconciled to itself.

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year (a dagger into my heart, let me tell you), but I am writing: it’s my turn for Bede. So for tradition’s sake I will watch a vampire movie tonight and stay up until midnight to write the first few lines. Good luck writing, fellow writers! This year I’m “a lover, not a writer,” in the NaNo sense. I salute you! May your fingers be swift, your caffeine be strong, and your word count multiply like rabbits. If you’re doing NaNo this year, let me know, so I can send you pretty pep talk cards and whatever other goodies I can.

On Monday, the Renaissance Group will be performing for an All Souls’ Requiem Mass. It’s our first performance so I’m nervous, but excited too.

Funny how all these holidays snuck up on me. In Oklahoma you were always forewarned by the sudden weather change in October: the dark stormy clouds, blustering winds, leaves swirling in a flurry of wind-borne fire, the sharp crispness of the air, the tanginess of apple cider, scents of dampness and occasional woodsmoke. Here the weather has been the same since I arrived, if getting gradually yet progressively colder. Today Felic and I are going to carve pumpkins, and then maybe it will actually feel like Halloween.

Edit: Well, we don’t have time to carve pumpkins, but the lady at the University Travel Agency wore a witch’s hat while we BOOKED OUR TICKETS TO ROME. I’m going to Rome for Reading Week!

Faith & Politics

Firstly: Read this post on Kali’s blog. She wrote a very eloquent, educated Christian response to a letter sent to her by another Christian who was dragging religion into politics.

Today I had coffee with a former Pentecostal, a Calvinist, and a nondenominational Baptist—sounds like Hard Soap again, except I represent Laura’s spot by being the liturgical one—and the subject turned briefly to American politics. Yesterday I read the ridiculous, ignorant, absurd Focus on the Family’s “Letter from 2012.”* This followed by the discussion today, the similar letter Kali received and her cogent response to it, only reinforced to me my rather “unchristian” approach toward government and politics.

The Christians who draft these letters need to remember the Constitution. There is separation of Church and State for a reason. It works both ways people: keep the Church out of the State, and keep the State out of the Church. And nowhere do I believe it is written that Christians should take over the government and impose their teachings on everyone else. Faith is a spiritual matter, not a political one. We, as individuals, should be promoting the Gospel of Christ through our lives, attitudes, actions, and words, trying to be as Christlike as possible. The State isn’t commanded to do that. We are.

* I found this response to Focus on the Family’s letter. I recommend reading it.

Holy smokes!

Last Tuesday our Latin class was unexpectedly cancelled, causing much speculation. Today Felicity and I arrived slightly later than usual, and thus didn’t get our usual, coveted seats right next to the white board, and were forced sit across the room. I sat behind Jesse and Sam, finally sitting with the other English majors. Class begins when Maxwell-Stuart arrives, so the students have the tendency to get there early, as he has more than once begun class five minutes early. Amidst the banter as we waited for him to arrive, Sam exclaimed, “Holy smokes!” Jesse and I followed his gaze and muffled our own shocked exclamations.

It was Dr Maxwell-Stuart, and he wasn’t in a kilt.

Class was cancelled last week, he apologized, because he had to go to the hospital. He continued: “My treatment has a curious side effect, which leaves me unable to wear my kilt.” Of course, the dear man declined to go further.

However, his attire today only increased the awesomeness that is the PMS*: high top converse, jeans, and a business shirt with sleeves rolled up just far enough to reveal the tattoos on both his fore-arms. Did I mention that he wears a gold earring? Seriously, I think I have the coolest Latin professor ever.

* This nickname was bestowed upon him by a previous student, not myself. It is also much easier than saying out his multisyllabic name every time.

Homecooking

This evening was just lovely. The past couple days I’ve been feeling just sort of blah and “gray,” but tonight Jane, Emma’s mom, had Felicity, Ginger, and I over for dinner. She picked us up in front of Gannochy and drove us out to her house which is about twenty minutes out. As we drove out I realized that I hadn’t left town since I arrived 4 weeks ago, and it was incredibly refreshing to see the little stone fences and sheep and horses and green. I love the sea, but the sea and the sky are the same shades of blue and gray and so are the buildings… It was wonderful to see living things.

We had a homecooked meal, with carrot and sweet potato soup (yum!), followed by salad and pasta, with a plum and apple crumble for dessert (mmm!!). We stayed until 10 PM just talking! We have plans to have dinner again, and sometime to go to Ikea in Edinburgh, and an open invitation to call Jane whenever we need a “mom” if we get sick. 🙂

When we stepped outside, the sky was so clear and black with pinpoints of light just hovering above arm’s reach. Incredible.

Love must be sincere

It’s been interesting and much cause for thought being a Christian in the medieval program. I’ve brought it up with Felic, and from time to time we wonder how one could be a medievalist and not be a Christian, whether being Christians ourselves gives us an advantage over non-Christians in our field because we share a similar background with the people we’re studying, or whether being Christians makes us biased, unfair. How to balance faith with academic discourse? I enjoyed Mirror of the Blessed Life of Jesus Christ because it was a devotional book, but I mustn’t let that prevent me from placing it in context, recognizing also that it was used as anti-Lollard propaganda, one extremist’s reaction to another.

The CU says a lot about evangelism, and for the first time I’m surrounded by people who do not know the Bible as well as I do, that actually I’m the odd one out now for having begun reading it at age 8 with no small amount of seriousness. Golly, do I know my Bible Drill. 🙂  But here, as at OBU with all its talk about missions, I hesitate. Not because I am ashamed of the Gospel—on the contrary, I know my Redeemer lives, that he is the body and person of Jesus Christ, Son of God and God himself, the mystery of the Trinity—but because I have never been one for confrontation. Especially now, as I am rereading The Sparrow, as I think on Emilio Sandoz and the Jesuits, on the human condition, on my own approach and relationship to God, the conclusion to my hesitation is that I am a soul seeking God, on a journey of my own, and this will manifest itself in the mirror of my life without needing words.

Continue reading

Busynesse

My sister-in-law said on her blog that “if you’re too busy to blog, then you’re too busy!” I read this while I glanced through my blogroll this morning during my quick Internet routine, prioritizing emails, posts, etc, to go over again when I get back from class and (maybe) have a little time. Considering that my posting frequency has dropped, and correspondingly the posts have become longer, my response was “but I am busy!” I try to make up for my infrequent posts by writing interesting ones when I do. Otherwise you might get a post written while I wait for my oatmeal to cool to a temperature suitable for consumption, the oatmeal-and-apple being my second breakfast, masquerading as lunch, for the day, eaten in an absentmindedness caused from staying up until 1 AM doing homework that we weren’t going to turn in, for a class I’m not even being assessed on. I need to go to the store, as my options for lunch were pasta or oatmeal, and I opted for oatmeal because it took less time to make, and I’m on my last tea bag. After I finish reading Nicholas Love today I’m supposed to call Felicity and we’ll both make the dreaded trip to Tesco. Until then, I’m going to eat my apple, finish my tea, read “Sunday” and the Treatise, go over the discussion questions, and brush up on my Lollardy and Carthusian monks.

A moment of victory: Dr Maxwell-Stuart switched to my side of the room half-way through the new exercises–“I don’t want to leave anyone out unnecessarily”–where I sit at the front, leaving me no time to prepare, and I successfully parsed Stellam claram viderunt et statim Altum Deum laudabant. “They saw a bright star and immediately began to praise God on High.” Three weeks into Latin and we’ve got 6 cases, 4 tenses, and 4 declensions, and somewhere in my brain it’s beginning to click.

More than once this passage has come to mind over the past few weeks:

For povreliche yfostred up was she,
No likerous lust was thurgh hir herte yronne.
Wel ofter of the welle than of the tonne
She drank, and for she wolde vertu plese
She knew wel labour but noon ydel ese.
But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,
Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage;
And in greet reverence and charitee
Hir olde povre fader fostred shee.
A fewe sheepe, spynnynge on feeld she kepte,
She wolde noght been ydel, til she slepte.

–“The Clerk’s Tale,” The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer, IV. 213-224

Dolphins

Laura’s birthday was this week, so today Felicity and I took her to Jannetta’s and then hung out at The Central. Jannetta’s is the gelato place in town. Ice cream, mmm… I had Ferrero Rocher and it was amazing. We were going to walk down to West Sands but it was cold so we went to the long pier instead.

That’s half-way down the pier, looking back into town. The castle ruins are on the right, the cathedral ruins and St Rule’s tower are in the center, and in between the two amongst the mass of buildings are Gannochy and the English buildings.

The view of the North Sea was incredible… and we even got to see dolphins! I tried to get a picture of them…

Laura showed us around Deans Court after dinner and then we went back to the pier for stargazing. The sky was partly cloudy, but because we’re just a small town next to the sea, and so far north, the stars are breathdaking. I can’t wait to go out to the pier on a clear night! Tonight we had an amazing view of a 3/4 harvest moon rising over the black sea, casting a glittering golden path across the waves to the horizon. I tried to take a picture, but just couldn’t do it justice. It’s times like these that I wish I had a better camera that can take nighttime pictures.

My day off and I only got to read two pages of The Sparrow. This makes me very sad indeed.