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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Shorts 01: Holi festivities, omertà, and so forth

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — an olla podrida or highly spiced Spanish-style stew ]
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Holi Festival:

Today is Holi Festival for those who celebrate it, the day on which we color each other in dyes in honor of Prahlad, a child devotee of the Supreme Beloved:

Accordingly, I wish that all may be drenched in the colors of devotion this Holi, most joyful of festivals!

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Omertà:

For a taste of something very different — there has been considerable discussion recently of Paul Manafort‘s seemingly obstinate refusal to plead to Mueller’s charges and save (salvage) at least some of his skin by becoming a cooperating witness rather than an overwhelmingly indicted criminal in the Russian influence affair.

What I haven’t seen suggested is that the man may be following a code: specifically omerta:

a code of silence about criminal activity and a refusal to give evidence to authorities.

Particularly if his Mafia bosses happen to be rough and Russian.

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Hope Hicks:

There’s an intense Vox piece on the sexism to be found in a plethora of press reports on Hope Hicks. The provocative title: When does Hope Hicks get to be a “wunderkind” instead of a “former model”? And the provocative fact:

None of this coverage mentioned the salient fact that Hicks’s modeling career spanned ages 10 to 16. She landed the Ralph Lauren deal at age 11. By 16 she had quit her part-time modeling job to focus on her true passion, lacrosse.

I nwon’t get into the sexism issue, but that “salient fact” does seem to put much of the “former model” language in its place.

Hick is, however, still model-style gorgeous at 29 — as seen in this photo in which she’s on her way to testify to the House Intelligence Committee:

Given Donald Trump‘s known eye for beautiful women, isn’t Hope Hicks‘ beauty too a “salient fact”?

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Language lesson

Under the title McMaster Gives a Belated Russian Lesson, Foreign Policy introduces us to the words maskirovka — military arts by deception — and vranyo. The latter is best explained by the verbal spiral I commented on yesterday:

A Russian friend explained vranyo this way: ‘You know I’m lying, and I know that you know, and you know that I know that you know, but I go ahead with a straight face, and you nod seriously and take notes.’

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Bluff or threat?

That’s the question Putin’s recent claims sets before us, and an item in Australian BC’s Is Vladimir Putin bluffing or should we be worried about his new ‘miracle weapons’? caught my eye — a quote from our own Nuclear Posture Review:

its [Russia’s] “escalate to de-escalate” doctrine implies it might respond with nuclear weapons in any conventional war.

You know my preoccupation with pattern? Okay, “escalate to de-escalate” has ann exact opposite in French:

Now almost as familiar in English as in French, “reculer pour mieux sauter” — which I imagine is originally an equestrian show-jumping expression — means to step backwards, the better to leap (forwards).

A Pattern Language for Strategy, check!

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Trump, Guns, and Golf

The entire text of Kevin Drum‘s Mother Jones article under that title reads:

Hey, did Donald Trump ever sign that executive order allowing guns at all his golf resorts, like he promised to do? Just wondering.

Well, did he?

Mindblowing WWJD from GOP Teens

Monday, April 17th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — a very basic blogpost on religious violence — specifically in authentic and weird, early and late Christianity — and sheer insanity ]
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On the Monday after The Defeat of Death, a bizarre scriptural exchange among followers of the GOP Teen twitter account at the intersection of christianity and violence, snd a sober examination of the same topic from one of the early Fathers of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom aka GoldenMouth John [below].

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Take a deep breath as we enter choppy waters:

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St. John Chrysostom‘s Homily 84 on Matthew 26. 51-54.

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched forth his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.

Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again your sword unto his place, for all they that take the sword, shall perish by the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot pray to the Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? How then should the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?

Who was this one, who cut off the ear? John says that it was Peter. [John 18:10] For the act was of his fervor.

But this other point is worth inquiry, wherefore they were bearing swords? For that they bore them is evident not hence only, but from their saying when asked, “here are two”. But wherefore did Christ even permit them to have swords? For Luke affirms this too, that He said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And when they said, Nothing, He said unto them, But now, he that has a purse, let him take it, and a scrip, and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. And when they said, Here are two swords, He said unto them, It is enough.

Wherefore then did He suffer them to have them? To assure them that He was to be betrayed. Therefore He says unto them, Let him buy a sword, not that they should arm themselves, far from it; but by this, indicating His being betrayed.

And wherefore does He mention a scrip also? He was teaching them henceforth to be sober, and wakeful, and to use much diligence on their own part. For at the beginning He cherished them (as being inexperienced) with much putting forth of His power but afterwards bringing them forth as young birds out of the nest, He commands them to use their own wings. Then, that they might not suppose that it was for weakness He is letting them alone, in commanding them also to work their part, He reminds them of the former things, saying, When I sent you without purse, lacked ye anything? that by both they might learn His power, both wherein He protected them, and wherein He now leaves them to themselves by degrees.

But whence were the swords there? They had come forth from the supper, and from the table. It was likely also there should be swords because of the lamb, and that the disciples, hearing that certain were coming forth against Him, took them for defense, as meaning to fight in behalf of their Master, which was of their thought only. Wherefore also Peter is rebuked for using it, and with a severe threat. For he was resisting the servant who came, warmly indeed, yet not defending himself, but doing this in behalf of his Master.

Christ however suffered not any harm to ensue. For He healed him, and showed forth a great miracle, enough to indicate at once both His forbearance and His power, and the affection and meekness of His disciple. For then he acted from affection, now with dutifulness. For when he heard, Put up your sword into its sheath, [John 18:11] he obeyed straightway, and afterwards nowhere does this.

But another says, that they moreover asked, Shall we smite? [Luke 22:49] but that He forbad it, and healed the man, and rebuked His disciple, and threatened, that He might move him to obedience. For all they that take the sword, He said, shall die with the sword.

And he adds a reason, saying, Think ye that I cannot pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. [Matthew 26:53-54] By these words He quenched their anger, indicating that to the Scriptures also, this seemed good. Wherefore there too He prayed, that they might take meekly what befell Him, when they had learned that this again is done according to God’s will.

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What think you?

Happy Easter, with a Bach blessing

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — from the heart, may it go to the heart, as Beethoven once said ]
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Yesterday, Nicholas Kristof posed the question, President Carter, Am I a Christian? His subhead read, Christians celebrate Easter on Sunday. But wait — do we really think Jesus literally rose from the dead?

Here’s a taste:

NICHOLAS KRiSTOFF: How literally do you take the Bible, including miracles like the Resurrection?

PRESIDENT CARTER: Having a scientific background, I do not believe in a six-day creation of the world that occurred in 4004 B.C., stars falling on the earth, that kind of thing. I accept the overall message of the Bible as true, and also accept miracles described in the New Testament, including the virgin birth and the Resurrection.

KRiSTOFF: With Easter approaching, let me push you on the Resurrection. If you heard a report today from the Middle East of a man brought back to life after an execution, I doubt you’d believe it even if there were eyewitnesses. So why believe ancient accounts written years after the events?

CARTER: I would be skeptical of a report like you describe. My belief in the resurrection of Jesus comes from my Christian faith, and not from any need for scientific proof. I derive a great personal benefit from the totality of this belief, which comes naturally to me.

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Et Resurrexit, from the Credo, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, performed by Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin under the baton of Daniel Reuss:

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I guess I’m a reverse Bultmann: I don’t want to de-mythologize Christianity, I love to re-mythologize it.

If the Bible opened with the words, “Once upon a Time, God created the heavens and the earth..” and the Creed, “I make-beieve in One God, The Father Almighty..” we would still be in story, but no longer subject to the same kind of debate as to the historicity or dubiosity of the narrative’s claims. It’s a move that the literary critic Northrop Frye made on a more intimate scale when he called the Book of Revelation:

a fairy tale about a damsel in distress, a hero killing dragons, a wicked witch, and a wonderful city glittering with jewels”

I’m not interested in this move because it’s literary criticism; I’m interested in it because it rescues the great story corpus of our civilization from blind literalism on one side and blind debunking on the other.

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Bach, I believe, in his towering Mass in B Minor — written by a fervent Lutheran to the Latin, hence Catholic, text of a rite he would have celebrated in Luther’s and his own native German — offers those who cannot believe the literal truth another avenue to experience the majesty of the ideation. This at least need not be disavowed by those leabving the faith, and may serve as a welcome portal to those entering it.

Wishing you a happy and blessed Easter, one and all..

Chag Pesach Sameach!

Monday, April 10th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — to all our Jewish readers, and thinking especially of Richard Landes in this season ]
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BL MS Oriental 2884 (early 14th-c Catalonia)

Wishing all a blessed Passover — with a hat-tip & illuminated greetings to Emily Steiner.

A Shakespearean concept? Merry Merry!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — to all our readers, with seasons greetings from all of us at Zenpundit ]
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The great French director Jean Renoir decided to cast himself as Octave in his film The Rules of the Game, widely considered to be among the greatest works in that medium. The effect was liberating — Renoir himself, playing Octave, has a greater knowledge of the director’s wishes than any other actor in that remarkable film, and this gives him a joyous freedom and spontaneity that delights us, his audience.

Jean Renoir, left, as Octave, in his film Rules of the Game

And all the world’s a stage, eh? with every film a play within the greater Play?

Nativity scene, from Jean Renoir's film, Grand Illusion

Is it too much to suppose that a director of Worlds, having seen Rules of the Game, might decide to try the same trick — setting aside the director’s chair to play the role of a small child, born homeless in some obscure corner of a minor galaxy?

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Wishing all at Zenpundit bright Zen, decent punditry, and a merry Christmas…


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