I was saddened to hear today of the death of Minnesota author, Bill Holm.
I first met Bill while visiting friends in his hometown, Minneota, MN. The friend I was visiting was then the pastor at a local church that Bill attended from time to time. He told me that a first visit to Minneota wouldn't be complete without meeting Bill Holm - and though I'd never heard of Bill Holm at the time, I trusted that he was right. So we "popped by" his house and were fortunate to find him at home. A home that was jam-packed full of books - stacks and stacks of them - books about every subject imagineable. And I remember thinking as we sat around his kitchen table all afternoon how amazing it was that he could speak so knowledgably and eloquently about every topic that came up - and how amazing it was that hours had flown by as if they were seconds.
A year later, when Bill was the speaker at my church's anniversary banquet, he stayed at our home (which was then the church apartment, a former pastor's residence), and we were delighted to enjoy the company and conversation of this incredibly insightful and larger-than-life sort of man again.
He was simply one of those people you never forget once you've met him.
An excerpt from his 2006 holiday letter: "I recommend a half hour a day of Bach for the entire human race. Might save us."
And a quote from the local evening news last night:
"The world of letters has suffered a devastating loss today, with the death of Bill Holm ... Bill was that rarest of combinations: devastating in his critique of provincialism, militarism, and the abuse of power in all forms; but also profoundly tender, musical, and filled with compassion for all living creatures. His work will live on -- in Chinese, Icelandic, and Italian editions, not to mention ours -- but we will miss him deeply."
Friday, February 27, 2009
I was saddened to hear today of the death of Minnesota author, Bill Holm.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Blogpal Dixie tagged me for the "Fifth of the Fifth" meme - meaning that those who are tagged are supposed to post the fifth photo from the fifth folder of photos from our computers. Not all that long ago, I played the Fourth Photo meme and landed on a photo of my chrismation. Since my 4th folder was called "Chrismation," I feared the next folder was going to be "Church" and that, like YoungerSon, the few readers I have would think that my life is "all Church all the time." (Uh, it's not.).
Fortunately, my fifth photo folder is "Family." But I must confess to a little fudging on this one. The fifth photo in the folder is a photo of DearHusband, and he was less than enthused about my use of this particular photo for this meme. So I went to the end of the folder and counted back to the fifth-last one.
And here it is: the fifth-last photo from my fifth photo of photos. It's YoungerSon, who loved everything snowman when he was a pee-wee. Here he is on a winter's day about 8 years ago when he was 3.
Posted by Cha at 1:51 PM
Friday, February 20, 2009
Urban Chicken 101 - Albert Bourgeois, Urban Chicken Farmer.
Posted by Cha at 9:09 AM
Friday, February 13, 2009
So what's a church secretary to think when she comes to work on a Thursday morning and she finds this on her desk - right next to the computer monitor? (I had to move it out of the way so that I didn't have some sort of a seizure).
"Please, God," I prayed, "let this have been left here by someone who knew that I would laugh at it and not someone who thought I might be moved to venerate it."
(Turns out it was left by someone who knew I'd laugh at it - whew! In a church setting, you can never be sure...)
Video credit goes to my friend Kate, a member of this parish and one of those I first suspected of leaving this on my desk. It wasn't Kate.
Posted by Cha at 5:21 AM
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Transposzing family had a lovely houseblessing this past Sunday afternoon.
I love the brief rite of houseblessing, as the family (and all present) proceed from room to room singing the Theophany troparion as holy water is splashed lavishly on our stuff (kitchen counters, the beds, icons, workspaces, and various other things throughout the house.) It was particularly nice for this church music-oriented Christian as we got to sing the troparion in 4-part harmony for the first time this year, thanks to ElderSon's newly-changed baritone voice and the presence this year of my godmother - a soprano!
Even though we just had houseblessing last year, I wanted to do it again already this year in order that my newly-set aside and fairly humble little painting workshop in the corner of the basement could be blessed this year...and so it was.
I recently read in a priest's comments on the church website of another local Orthodox parish that it was his intention to visit every household in his parish for houseblessing, whether or not he was invited to come and bless it. I'm not quite sure what I'd think of this if I were a member of his church. Would one have to use the days between Christmas and Theophany to "Flip This House" and then try to keep it "flipped" until the priest shows up to bless it - which might not be until just before Lent begins? Or does one take the "Bless This Mess" sort of approach and let him bless the house in whatever condition it happens to be in at the time? (Does one make their priest kick the clothes lying on the floor in the children's room aside in order to bless their room? And then after blessing when it comes time for weekend chores, does one simply suck up random dog hair which has been blessed into one's vacuum cleaner???)
One way or another, I'm glad we got to arrange the date of our houseblessing ahead of time.
Posted by Cha at 4:47 PM
Monday, February 9, 2009
Or your automatic admiration, either ...
I read with interest Steve Robinson's very sensible approach to Orthodox Celebrities, written just after the Polamalu-hype in the Orthodox blogosphere. His take makes such good sense to me and put words on exactly why I thought it was so weird. (Perhaps this makes me a curmudgeon, too).
Here's one good reason to think twice about making some sort of American Orthodox idol out of folks in the limelight who happen to be Orthodox:
(It seems that I have seen virtually nothing in the Orthodox blogosphere about him recently.)
The truth is that whether we are professional athletes or famous actors or rock stars, or whether we are the butcher, the baker, or even certain candlestick makers, all are strugglers ... me, you, A-Rod, Polamalu ... everyone. It's just that some of us have the luxury of keeping our struggles out of the newspapers.
Lots of famous people are Orthodox. It's best to keep things in perspective.
(Blogger note: I totally love that Ortho-blogger Christopher Orr is on this list! Our boys kids have watched "The Mighty Ducks" a million times and I have yet to see it even once. But I'll be watching the next time it's on for sure!)
Posted by Cha at 6:36 PM
Friday, February 6, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
Looking through my regular reads this morning, I saw that Deb had a post appropriate for this day, the Meeting of Our Lord in the Temple.
Looking farther down the page, she embedded a little video of a churching - and only upon closer inspection did I notice it was from my own church!
How fun to be surprised by such familiarity on the web!
(I think this little one turned 1 year old yesterday!)
Posted by Cha at 2:52 PM
Posted by Cha at 6:42 AM
Sunday, February 1, 2009
To my previous post ...
Here's a worth-reading comment from a Q & A-type forum, Orthodox Christianity's LiveJournal. I lift it here out of context (the context being answering questions about certain Orthodox traditions that the "asker" did not understand - and perhaps did not really want to understand.) It is worth noting that further into the discussion, he discourages the"asker" from seeking spiritual counsel and guidance on the internet...which is, of course, the wisest spiritual advice any priest could offer.
"This may be hard to hear for some, but I think it's worth saying: When searching for truth, it is not we who are the measure of what is true. That is, what I think, what I feel, what I perceive, what I believe, what I desire—these are not proper criteria for determining the truth. The reason for this is that human beings are so very capable of self-delusion. This is not something we want to hear, especially in this age and culture which has taught us that everything we encounter should be judged not by timeless and universal principles, but rather by what we ourselves prefer and perceive. We never stop to think that perhaps our preferences and perceptions may be sorely mistaken.
The Orthodox Church will not "reform" any of its dogma or moral teachings, because they are based on timeless, universal revelation from God, not on social constructions and human design. As such, becoming Orthodox means submitting to Christ in His Church, not sifting the Church for elements we like and don't like. Often, someone who encounters the Church will find things that call to them and draw them in, but perhaps may not wish to submit to certain moral teachings or dogma. But the truth is that all of it is a whole—Orthodoxy is not a movement, a set of teachings, a philosophy, an institution or ideology, subject to the whims of history and human corruption. The Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ, a divine-human organism of which He is the Head and first member. Our response to Him should be one of embrace, obedience and humility, which includes being willing to change our actions, beliefs, preferences, desires and perceptions.
Life in the Church is for the purpose of transforming human beings into what they should be, not what they want to be. In short: it's about Him changing us in the Church, not about our determining what we like about Him or His Church. If there's something in Orthodoxy I don't like or don't want to accept, it is I who need to be changed. That's really of the essence of the Gospel. Without humility, we cannot be saved. If we don't want to be saved and prefer to keep our own desires, well, Christ will not force salvation on us. It's each of our choice."
The writer of these comments is an Orthodox priest in Charleston WV who uses the online handle, Skeuphylakion. Seems he prefers to be otherwise anonymous. His blog is open to invited readers only, which he describes pretty clearly as folks he already knows. Too bad - I'd like to read more of what he has to say.
Posted by Cha at 5:34 PM