March 6th, 2012

mad hatter

What a way to start the day

My father's cousin Iola has died. She was 95. The funeral is in Anderson on Thursday. I could go, but I'm swamped. I will send flowers.

This event occasioned a call from my sister Kathleen, which is always a trial. I'm glad she told me about Iola's death, but my sister is one of those who can't figure out how to end a conversation. Nor can she resist giving information one is already is possession of, advice one does not need, criticism for not visiting her, not-so-subtle hints that she wants said visits to be solo (i.e., without my wife), and on and on. She will talk until something forces an end to the conversation -- in my case this morning, an urgent need to go to the bathroom. Thank God she doesn't have my cell phone number.
his friend Jesus

Even Homer nods

In an otherwise literate post on National Review Online, Mark Corallo referenced the Christogram IHS as a Jesuit acronym for Latin Iesus Hominem [sic] Salvator, "Jesus, Savior of Mankind." I commented that back in seminary, we learned that the symbol was a Greek abbreviation of Jesus' name, the first three letters of which are iota, eta, sigma.

Religious folk are prone to these sorts of back-formations. They know it's got a meaning, but they're guessing as to what it is. What they come up with is largely a function of their background. Iesus Hominum Salvator seems right to people who think Latin confers a spiritual cachet, so the embroidery on the paraments is probably Latin. Apparently, some folks think IHS stands for "In His Service." My guess is, those folks are English-speaking Protestants.

But what it also shows is that even smart people -- even smart, religious people -- are sometimes less well-informed than they think. Which is no big deal if you're the manager of the local feed store; but if you're a hot-shot opinion writer prominently featured in a national opinion magazine, you'd think you'd be a little more careful. After all, if you want people to buy your main premise, it doesn't help if you look like you don't know what you're talking about on the minor allusions you sprinkle throughout your prose.

The Ten Commandments, Part VII

Exodus 20:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

The Seventh Commandment: No adultery

Getting a sermon launched on the subject, “thou shalt not commit adultery” is kind of heavy going. I was looking around for just the right way to broach the subject when I remembered the perfect joke. I hadn’t told it in years – and I’d never told it from the pulpit. The reason for that is that way back in seminary my wife informed me that if I ever told that joke from the pulpit that she would divorce me.Collapse )