Tuesday, November 28, 2006

100th Post

For my 100th post I was going to do a top 100 list, but I decided that that was too much so I decided to do a top 10 list of the top 100 lists I thought about doing:

10. 100 foods I want to eat right now
9. 100 reasons I hate winter in Idaho
8. 100 "stars" I wish would go away
7. 100 things I didn't want to see at a family reunion
6. 100 things you don't want to overhear your chef say
5. 100 things you don't want to overhear your surgeon say
4. 100 things you don't want your surgeon to say to your chef
3. 100 words that are always funny
2. 100 people I don't want to sit next to me on a plane
1. 100 things Jesus wouldn't do


Monday, November 13, 2006

A Thank You to Boise Graffiti Artists

I grew up around "street art." It isn't like I'm from the inner city or anything, but when I was a kid, I used to like to look at graffiti when we would drive across town to church or to see my aunt and my grandma. My favorite example was that building near the junction of I84 and 405. Someone had painted an elaborate piece of art that took up the entire top story of the warehouse, but, after several years of improvement, the city (I guess) had it painted over. I totally understand their decision, but I do miss the painting.

When I worked at Pamplin Music, I got to know the destructive nature of tagging. We had to have the building repainted a few times in my four monthes there to cover the graffiti and discourage more tagging.

Now, it seems that Boise has taggers who have defeated the most difficult problems with their art: in Boise, they have been tagging pieces of paper and then taping them up, that way admirers can take them home and the city can just cut them down. Maybe Boise should start a campaign to provide graffiti artists with giant sticky notes.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Wisdom from Robert Jordan I

I've just added Robert Jordan to my blogroll. He is a great author and I think it ashame that he has not received the recognition he deserves for writing one of the most popular series ever, even if it is Fantasy. I just thought I'd share an entertaining quote that sounds like Gina:

. . .(T)hat Dancing with the Stars baloney . . . is strangely entertaining, one might (say) weirdly entertaining, much like a train wreck involving Borat and Rush Limbaugh in clown makeup.
While I don't find it that entertaining, that description helps me understand why Gina keeps swithching the tv back there. It might also explain why some of my friends like to go dancing, skating, or bowling with me: "It's so horrible, but I can't look away!"

Friday, November 10, 2006

Does Self-Denial have Ascetic Appeal?

So, I've been thinking a lot about ascetisism (self-denial) lately, mostly because I've been renewing my relationship with the desert fathers and mothers. These monastics lived, as their name implies, in the desert, in Egypt. They were trying to figure out how to overcome the natural predilection to sin. They had a great deal of success with solitude, fasting, prayer, and physical labor as methods of overcoming their addiction to sins like anger, various sexual sins, drunkeness, gluttony, and laziness. While I believe that they went too far with their asceticism, sacrificing their health for freedom, they were on the right track, I think. In view of this, I am currently trying to figure out what they might teach us about self-denial as a tool for becoming better people. In the interest of following this train of thought, the following is an excerpt from the alphabetically sorted Apophthegmata Patrum ("Sayings of the Fathers (and Mothers)."

[Though sayings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers were probably first uttered and recorded in Bohairic Coptic, I have only been able to find their writing in Greek, and I suspect, based on cryptic comments of a translator of the Latin version, that the Greek collections of sayings are the oldest extant (that exist and have been discovered). I've included the Greek text to give James and others a chance to practice the (spiritual?) discipline of reading Greek. The English translation is my own (and the reason that I am up this late)]

ρχ το Ρ στοιχείου.

First [Saying] of Section R

Περ το ββ το ωμαίου.

Concerning the Appa from Rome.

αʹ. λθέ ποτε μοναχός τις ωμαος, κα κη-
σεν ν Σκήτει γγύτερον τς κκλησίας· εχε δ κα
να δολον πηρετοντα ατ. δν δ πρεσβύτε-

ρος τν σθένειαν ατο, κα μαθν κ ποίας να-
παύσεώς στιν, ε τι κονόμει κα ρχετο ες τν
κκλησίαν, πεμπεν ατ. Κα ποιήσας εκοσιπέντε
τη ν Σκήτει, γέγονε διορατικς κα νομαστός.

There was once a monastic who was from Rome and he lived in Sketis near the church; he even had a servant looking after him. The Elder, seeing his sickness and learning the sort of restfulness it is [that it was caused by illness], used to send whatever was given to the stewardship of the church to him. When he had been in Sketis twenty-five years, he became a man of discernment and [made a] name [for himself].

κούσας δέ τις τν μεγάλων Αγυπτίων περ ατο,
λθεν δεν ατν, προσδοκν σωματικήν τινα πολι-
τείαν περισσοτέραν ερεν ν ατ. Εσελθν δ
σπάσατο ατόν· κα ποιήσαντες εχν κάθισαν.
Βλέπει δ ατν Αγύπτιος φοροντα μάτια τρυ-
φερ, κα χαράδριον κα δέρμα ποκάτω ατο,

κα προσκεφάλαιον μικρόν· χοντα δ κα τος πόδας
καθαρούς μετ σανδαλίων· κα τατα δν σκανδα-
λίσθη, τι ν τ τόπ οχ πρχε τοιαύτη διαγωγ,
λλ μλλον σκληραγωγία.

A certain Egyptian, hearing of his great [achievements], came to see him, expecting to find some kind of extraordinary acetic lifestyle (conduct of the body). [The Egyptian] came in and he greeted him and they prayed and sat down. Then, however, the Egyptian saw the comfortable clothing on him, and the reeds and [animal] skin under him and [his] small pillow, and also that he had clean feet and was wearing sandals. When he had seen these things, he was scandalized, because such a way of life had not [yet] come to that place but it was [a] very severe [way of life].

Κα διορατικς ν γέ-
ρων νόησεν τι σκανδαλίσθη, κα λέγει τ πηρε-

τοντι ατόν· Ποίησον μν ορτν δι τν ββν
σήμερον. Εκαίρησε δ μικρν λάχανον, κα ψησε·
κα τ ρ ναστάντες φαγον. Εχε δ κα μικρν
ονον δι τν σθένειαν ατο γέρων· κα πιον.
Κα ς γένετο ψ, βαλον τος δώδεκα ψαλμος,

κα κοιμήθησαν· μοίως δ κα τν νύκτα. ναστς
δ τ πρω Αγύπτιος, λέγει ατ· Εξαι πρ
μο. Κα ξλθε μ φεληθείς.

The old man, though, because he was discerning, knew that [the Egyptian] was scandalized and he said to his servant, “Make a feast for us today [in honor of] the Appa.” At the right time, he took up a few dried vegetables and boiled them and when the time (hour) [came] they got up and ate. The old man had a little wine, because of his sickness so they drank [it]. Since it was late, they said the Twelve Psalms and were lulled (to sleep) and passed the (whole) night in that way. Early the [next] day, the Egyptian got up [and] said, “pray for me,” but he went away without learning anything (being helped).

Κα ς πλθε
μικρν, θέλων γέρων φελσαι ατν πέμψας μετ-
εκαλέσατο ατόν· κα ς λθε, μετ χαρς πάλιν

δέξατο ατν, κα πηρώτησεν ατν, λέγων·
Ποίας χώρας ε; Κα λέγει· Αγύπτιος. Ποίας
δ πόλεως; δ φη· γ λως οκ εμ πολίτης.
Κα λέγει· Τί ν τ ργον σου ες τν κώμην σου;
Κα λέγει· Τηρητής. Κα λέγει· Πο κοιμ; δ

επεν· Ες τν γρόν. Εχες, φησ, στρωμνν πο-
κάτω σου; Κα λέγει· Να, ες γρν εχον θεναι
στρμα ποκάτω μου; λλ πς· Επε δέ· Χαμαί.
Λέγει ατ πάλιν· Κα τί εχες βρμα ες τν γρόν;
ποον ονον πινες; πεκρίθη πάλιν· νι βρμα

πόμα ες γρόν; λλ πς ζης; φησί. Λέγει·
σθιον ξηρν ρτον, κα ε ερισκον μικρν ταρί-
χιν, κα δωρ. ποκριθες δ γέρων επε· Μέγας
κόπος. νι δ κα βαλανεον ες τν κώμην, να
λούησθε; δ επεν· Οχί· λλ ες τν ποταμν

τε θέλομεν.

When [the Egyptian] had gone a short distance away, the old man, wanting to help him, sent [his servant] to call him back (that he might be called back). He received him again with joy, and he begged him, saying, “Where are you from?” He answered, “Egypt.” “From what city?” He answered, though, “In my whole life I [have] not [been] a citizen [of any city].” So he asked, “What did you do for work in your country?” He answered, “I watched [sheep?] (was a keeper).” How did you sleep?” Then he said, “In the field.” “Did you have a blanket [to sleep on]? he asked. He [answered], “Yes, in the field I had a blanket I slept on (under me). “But how,” he asked. “On the ground. He asked him again, “So, did you have meat in the field? And (or) what sort of wine did you drink?” Again he asked, “ [Was there] food or drink in the field?” “But how did you live?” He said. “I ate dry bread and a little salted [fish] if I found it, and [I drank] water. So the old man asked, “[Was it] hard work? Was there a bath-house in the country, so that you could was yourself?” He said, “No, I bathed in the river if I wanted to.

ς ον ξέλαβεν ατν γέρων ες
τατα πάντα, κα μαθε το προτέρου βίου ατο
τν θλψιν, θέλων ατν φελσαι, διηγήσατο ατ
τν προτέραν ατο διαγωγν τν ν τ κόσμ,
λέγων· μ τν ταπεινν ν βλέπεις, κ τς μεγά-

λης πόλεως ώμης εμ, κα μέγας γέγονα ες τ
παλάτιον το βασιλέως. Κα ς κουσε Αγύπτιος
τν ρχν το λόγου, κατενύγη, κα κουεν κριβς
τ λεγόμενα παρ’ ατο. Πάλιν δ λέγει ατ·
Κατέλιπον ον τν πόλιν, κα λθον ες τν ρημον

ταύτην· κα πάλιν μ ν βλέπεις, οκους μεγάλους
εχον κα χρήματα πολλά· κα καταφρονήσας α-
τν, λθον ες τ μικρν κελλίον τοτο· κα πάλιν μ
ν βλέπεις, κραββάτους εχον λοχρύσους, χοντας
πολυτίμους στρωμνάς· κα ντ’ ατν, δέδωκέ μοι

Θες τ χαράδριον τοτο κα τ δέρμα· πάλιν τ ν-
δύματά μου πολλς τιμς ξια ν· κα ντ κείνων,
φορ τ ετελ τατα μάτια· πάλιν ες τ ριστόν
μου πολ χρυσίον νηλίσκετο· κα ντ κείνου,
δωκέ μοι Θες τ μικρν λάχανον τοτο, κα τ

μικρν ποτήριον το ονου. σαν δ ο πηρετοντές
μοι παδες πολλοί· κα δο ντ’ κείνων, κατένυξεν
Θες τν γέροντα τοτον πηρετσαί μοι· ντ δ
βαλανείου, βάλλω τ μικρν δωρ ες τος πόδας
μου, κα τ σανδάλια δι τν σθένειάν μου· πάλιν

ντ μουσικν κα κιθαρν, λέγω τος δώδεκα ψαλ-
μούς· μοίως κα τν νύκτα, ντ τν μαρτιν
ν ποίουν, ρτι μετ ναπαύσεως ποι μικράν μου
λειτουργίαν. Παρακαλ ον σε, ββ, μ σκανδαλι-
σθς ες τν σθένειάν μου.

Therefore, when the old man took all of these things in and he learned of the suffering of his former life, he wanted to help him and he described his [own] former way of life in the world [to the Egyptian] saying, “The humble me which you see, [I am] from the greatest city, I am a Roman. Indeed, I became the greatest [of those] in the palace of the king.” When the Egyptian heard the beginning of the story (word), he was moved and he listened intently to the things that he said for his benefit. He began to speak to him again, “So then, I left the city behind, and I came into this desert, once again, me, [the very same person] whom you are watching, I had a mansion and many things to meet my needs, and I despised them. I came to this small room (cell), once again, me, [the very same person] whom you are watching, I had beds of solid gold, I had the highest quality of blankets, and in place of these God has given me this reed [mat] and [animal] skin [on which I lie]. Again, my vestments were worth a great price and in their place I am wearing these shriveling, cheap garments. Again, I used to spend a great deal of gold on breakfast, and, in its place, God gave me this small [amount of] dried vegetables and this small cup of wine. There were many servants who cared for me and, behold, in place of all of these, God moved this old man to take care of me. In place of the bath-house, I splash a small amount of water onto my feet, and [I wear] sandals because of my sickness. Again, in place of musicians and singers (phps. Harp players), I tell you he has given the Twelve Psalms in the same way at night. In place of the sins which I have committed, until I shall find (make) refreshment, [he has given me] this short service. Therefore, I encourage you, Appa, not to be scandalized by my weakness.

Τατα κούσας Α-
γύπτιος, ες αυτν λθν, επεν· Οαί μοι, τι π
πολλς θλίψεως το κόσμου ες νάπαυσιν λθον,

κα οκ εχον τότε, νν χω· σ δ π πολλς
ναπαύσεως ες θλψιν λθες, κα π πολλς δόξης
κα πλούτου λθες ες ταπείνωσιν κα πτωχείαν.

Hearing these things, the Egyptian, examined himself and said, “Woe is me, because I came from great worldly suffering to this refreshment but what I did not have then, I do have now. But you came from great refreshment to this suffering, and you came from great glory and wealth to humility and poverty.

Πολλ δ φεληθες πλθε, κα γένετο ατο
φίλος, κα παρέβαλλεν ατ συχνς δι’ φέλειαν·

ν γρ νρ διακριτικς, κα πλήρης εωδίας το
γίου Πνεύματος.

Then he went away, greatly encouraged, and he became his friend, and he stayed with him for a long time for help. For he was an discerning man and filled with the aroma of the Holy Spirit.

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