A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004 :::
The ricin attack, whose effect on services in DC will probably work itself out in the next few days--togther with the only indication we have of the motives of the perpetrator or perpetrators--has indeed inspired thoughts about the "Global War on Terrorism." They will appear here tomorrow. The following stuff will be funny...ish.

Today's edition of the indispensable Best of the Web makes light of today's New York Times op-ed page, which carries an analysis of the Democratic field.

By an astrologer.

It does defy logic, particularly for a paper that prides itself on cool and informed analysis. The father of a chap named Augustine and his best friend contrived to debunk astrology nearly 1700 years ago by searching for pregnant women among their retinue (which would in the course of things back then include slaves, retainers, renters, and regular old servants.) Two women were due at the same time, and indeed had the children within a few minutes of each other, as best as could be determined, in an era without clocks, by having other servants run over with the news as soon as the kids got spanked for the first time. (They more or less met halfway.)The kids were as different as night and day. Q.E.D.

But interest in the stars despite has persisted, despite such spoilsports, extending even unto several members of the family of A Mind That Suits, though not the distinguished blogger himself.

What the lady has to say is not without interest, however. BotW quotes her as saying, anent John Kerry, that he was "Born with the rare Mars retrograde..."

Now, despite the giggling that is the subtext of the entry on Best of the Web, edited by the sharp and witty James Taranto, there is an important point to be made. A Mind That Suits finds himself wondering what another distinguished columnist might say about the matter. Indeed, he is fairly certain, and so, with apologies to Dave Berry, he would like to point out to Mr. Taranto that "Retrograde Martians" would be a great name for a rock group.

The question rises, of course, of why serious people from the Upper West Side (with houses in the Hamptons) look to an oft-debunked ancient practice for particular predictions and yet are so free about making fun of people who routinely go to Mass but do not expect to hear which stock to invest in.

And speaking of Mass, A Mind That Suits got a little surprise in his morning.

A Mind That Suits has always sworn by the Rough Guides, although they show the signs of the silliest kind of world-traveling leftist pretensions. The otherwise useful 2000 edition of the Rough Gide to Rome pointed out with a mixture of frustration and satisfaction that the Eternal City had "finally" gotten a good sushi bar. Why, in a city which is sorrounded by two provinces of farms that produce fresh food nearly year round and which has a fine tradition of cooking that extends back thousands of years, would you look for sushi? It is probably better in most American cities, and would be even better if you went to Japan. In fact, I bet the Rough Guide to Japan would tell you exactly which city or town is best for which kind of sushi, and it'd probably be right. (He finds himself wondering if the Rough Guide to Tokyo exclaims that that capital city has "finally" gotten a good thin-crust pizza place.)

In any case, he is working through the typically informative Rough Guide to Bulgaria, a beautiful and largely unspoiled country that may find itself visited anon by this distinguished distinguished, sprightly blogger. It seems that with the breakdown of order and the economy that followed the collapse of communism, churches have become concerned that their awe-inspiringly beautiful religious art will walk away, and so are open only for services, which is indeed a pity but probably wise. In offering advice on when to expect churches to be open, the guide helpfully informs the reader that "The morning liturgy--which commemorates the Last Supper--begins at 8 or 9."

Now these guides pride themselves on filling every sentence with knowing asides, so they could not just say "there are services every morning at 8 or 9," but is it really news that communion is a memorial of the Last Supper? It makes it sound as if you could not find such an event routinely at about the same time throughout the English Speaking world.

One can imagine that even 20 years ago, the sentence might have run anywhere along these lines:

"As with Roman Catholic Churches throughout the West, there is a Mass every day, usually in the morning at 8 or 9."

Or perhaps:

"Local churches celebrate Mass every morning around 8 or 9, just as Catholic Churches in the West do. Catholics should be aware that, in keeping with uniform Orthodox practice, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church uses the name "Divine Liturgy."

Or perhaps:

"The Orthodox Church holds to the same belief as does the Roman Catholic Church, that all liturgical celebrations are somehow an extension of the most important one, the Mass. Because of that, the Orthodox routinely refer to eucharistic celebrations as the Divine Liturgy, whereas Western Catholics tend to use the distinct word 'Mass.' As with Catholic Churches, there is always a eucharistic celebration at 8 or 9."

However, this writer must confess that it was probably news to the authors, and probably also news to their target audience, and they probably do not realize how many Masses are offered every day in their own neighborhoods. It was a couple of years ago that a young man in his building blurted out to this writer that he "doesn't understand what you do on Sunday mornings."

The distinctly Orthodox thing about the services is that both morning Mass and Evening Prayer last about an hour and a half.

And they stand the whole time, except during certain seasons when they throw themselves on the ground three times in rapid succession. Since the only service where I saw that was in Ukrainian (and was Byzantine Catholic, not Eastern Orthodox), I never did find out what was up.

With that, we must be off...

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 5:37 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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