September 24th, 2014

humped zebra

A totaly frivolous bit of meddling in another country's institutions

When I was a child, I noticed something about English monarchs: the names of kings or queens whose reigns were marked by tyranny or disaster tend not to be used any longer. There has never been a second King John, for instance. Or a third King James. Or a fourth Richard. Or a ninth Henry. Even the Edwards -- the most quintessentially English of names -- ended with the melodrama of the uncrowned Edward VIII. The only reason there ever was a William III -- not to mention a Mary II -- was the overthrow of James II; they were unplanned.

Which brings us to Charles, Prince of Wales. The current heir apparent would be Charles III, if he takes the crown in his first name. This is a bad omen. The first Charles lost his head (literally). The second was nobody's example of a role model. Of course, he has lots of other names to choose from: his full moniker is Charles Philip Arthur George. Edward VII grew up as Albert Edward ("Bertie" to his family), but declined to become King Albert so as not to outshine his father, who had had to settle for being Prince Consort.

Prince Charles is a loopy sort. Personally, I don't think he'd make a very good king, even with the short leash they keep British monarchs on these days. But are we really ready to rehabilitate the Charlies? Assuming he's still able to pursue an active reign when his mother dies, he could stack the odds for success by picking a different name. Philip is out, though, since the only King Philip England has ever had was Mary I's Consort -- you know, the guy who later on sent the Armada against his former sister-in-law, Elizabeth I. And no English monarch has ever been presumptuous enough to take the throne in the name of King Arthur (Henry VII named his firstborn Arthur for the propaganda value, but he died before his father). So, I'm guessing we've got a George VII on our hands.

Spiritual disciplines, part three

Spiritual Disciplines: Fasting
Matthew 6:16-18

Childhood is a time for figuring out the rules of the world. Some of these are natural processes, such as what happens when you touch something hot; others are social realities administered by adults, such as the concept of “proper attire.”

Those of us who attended school in the '50s and '60s remember that there was an immutable order to the lunches served in the cafeteria: Wednesday was always something like beans or chili, for what reason I have never learned (although I vaguely remember Capt Kangaroo singing a song about it); meanwhile, Friday was always some kind of fish – usually a fish sandwich or fish sticks – often accompanied by macaroni and cheese. And when we asked why we always had fish on Friday, we were told, because Catholics were required to eat fish on Fridays, so it was a convenience for them that we all eat fish on that day.Collapse )