Saturday, February 28, 2009

Beatles Song of the Week

This week's song is from ABBA.  It was a special request from a friend but it was very nice to translate since Benny and Bjorn's first language was not English and so it was idiom and dialect free. 

Homines ubique sunt
Cum sense exspectationis,
In aere adest,
Emittitque igniculum
Trans conclavem. Tui oculi
Ardent in obscure
Et nunc iterum agemus.
Initium scimus,
Finem scimus,
Domini scaenae. 
Id omnino prius egeramus
Et nunc redimus
Plus adipiscimur
Quod significo scis.

Cape statim aut relinque,
Hoc tempus est totum accipimus.
Nihil promissum est
Paenitentiques non sunt.
Decerndendum magnum non est
Scis quod facere
Quaestio est,
answers are near the bottom of the right hand column.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Margery Kempe, Part two

     I should not laugh at Margery, I am a mother too although I do not have fourteen children.  Margery had a son whose business was shipping merchandise out of Lynn. She liked to visit with him and try to get him to give up his job and the world and "follow Christ"  She did this to the point where "he fled her company and would not gladly meet with her".  One time, when they met "against his will", she asked him, since he would not follow Christ, to at least keep his body 'clean' and not mess with women.
     As he seemed to have to do a lot of sailing, he found opportunities for some hanky-panky abroad and he picked up a disease.  His face was covered in blotches and people thought he was a leper.  This got him fired from his job.  He blamed this on his mother having put a curse on him so people went to her and begged her to lift the curse. Margery would not lift the curse unless he came and begged her to himself.  Although this took place six hundred years ago, it could be taking place anywhere in Canada today since it is a Sunday afternoon and the traditional day of Mother's guilt.
     At last and in desperation, he went to speak with her and she made him promise to behave better.  So then, she prayed and she prayed and whatever illness he had cleared up.  Later, this same son married a woman in Prussia where he lived and they had a daughter.
      The daughter in law had one of those crazy fits we all get from time to time and it made her decide to meet her mother in law.  They left their daughter with friends and came to England to visit Margery and her husband.  The day after the son arrived, he became ill and died.  It must have been Margery's cooking because the husband followed soon after.   And there was the daughter in law - trapped in England and at her mother in law's mercy and whims.  She stayed with Margery for a year and a half until enough letters from Germany begging her to return home had come and Margery could no longer reasonably keep her.  Usually at this point, God comes along and commands whatever Margery wants to happen but God would have had to visit the daughter in law for her to stay. This did not happen.
     Unfortunately, in those days, it was not permitted that a woman travel on her own so they needed a man to take her back.   One was found but he was a stranger so then Margery offered to accompany her daughter in law to Germany.  Her confessor forbade her to go but when did Margery ever listen to him?  She knew "my daughter had rather I were at home" but she is a mother in law.  She was going.  As if on cue, Jesus appeared at this point and told her that he commanded her to do it.  Since it was a direct order from God himself, it was no longer her fault that she was going to go.  Although she was a little surprised with her daughter in law as "there was no one so much against her as was her daughter, who ought most to have been with her."  You see, Jesus should have also appeared to the daughter in law.
     They got to Danzig and had a good welcome there except that, after five or six weeks, it finally sunk in that her daughter in law did not want her around.  After all - taking into account time spent travelling - she had been stuck with her mother in law for nearly two years every day and night!  Margery expressed great surprise at this. Fortunately for both of them, at this time, God appeared once more and commanded her to go on a pilgrimage to Wilsnack, saving both of them from a horrible scene.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beatles Song of the Week

Solitarus sum, mori volo,
Si iam non mortuus sum,
Puella, cur scis.

In mane, mori volo,
In vespera, mori volo,
Si iam non mortuus sum,
Puella, cur scis.

Mater de caelo fuit,
Pater de terra fuit,
Sed ego de universitate sum
Et quid pretium est scis.

Solitarus sum, mori volo......

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Book of Margery Kempe, part one

     Margery Kempe is called a 'mystic'.  If one uses the definition of mystic from the Oxford Concise Dictionary - "One who seeks by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain union with or absorption into the Deity..." then it fits but she really does not do anything that one could not spot on an average day in any Southern Baptist Church.  She cries when she experiences the 'rapture' and so loudly that she disturbs the congregation with whom she is worshipping.  Many a priest was dismayed to find her attending their sermon as it seems that her weeping was loud enough to distract the congregation from hearing the Word of God.  I am sure it was not her intention to keep people from hearing Psalms and the like being read out loud, but it seems as though this was the result nevertheless.
     It does not seem as though anyone could tell Margery what to do.  She insisted on wearing the white of purity in spite of being a married woman and having borne fourteen children. After her husband died, when she wanted to go somewhere and her confessor forbid it, she declared that Jesus himself told her to go and off she went.  She was accused of heresy many times, a charge that could have lead to her execution but her sharp wit and tongue saved her every time she was tried.
     How do we know so much about the life of an ordinary woman from the 14th and 15th centuries in England?  Jesus commanded her to have her life story written down and so she found someone to write her autobiography for her since she herself was illiterate.  It is rare to hear the voice of a woman from the Middle Ages so this book is a treat.  In spite of the point of this book being to inspire others to follow Christ, this book inadvertently tells more about her life, her neighbors, her husband, the behavior of pilgrims and the dangers of travel in the Middle Ages.  She went to Rome and Jerusalem and even took a pilgrimage to Santiago (she took the route by sea instead of walking over land for Santiago).
     She repeatedly tried to get her husband to let her take a vow of celibacy insisting that sex was 'very painful and horrible' to her.  Men and women had a legal right to sex from their spouse and one could not take such a vow without the consent of the other.  Eventually she succeeded. 
    After the vow, they continued to live together and her husband took sick.  Margery tells how as he grew old, he 'turned childish' and in  his senility lost the ability to control his bowels.  He would sit by the fire and "voided his natural digestion in his linen clothes".  She was a little irked at this since cleaning him up kept her from her contemplations as she needed to change his clothes, wash him, make fires, and clean the soiled clothes.  These are the days before Depends and indoor plumbing or toilets even.  Margery then goes on to say that she would then think about all the times she had "many delectable thoughts, fleshly lusts, and inordinate loves" for her husband and she was glad to be punished for it by the same person.
    Like so many human emotions, Margery's feelings about sex are complicated.  She must have liked it and him; they had fourteen children together.  His death freed Margery to travel even more whenever her confessor would allow her to or she could sneak off.  Women could not travel freely in the Middle Ages and it was required that a woman have a man to accompany her to go anywhere or Margery would have gone all over the place.  As it was, she travelled far more than we suppose ordinary people to have done in those days.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beatles Song of the Week

Heri vesperi verba ad amicula dixi,
Numquam conaris scio,
Age, age, age, age,
Places, me place quam te placeo.

Necesse non est te monstrare viam, amans.
Cur necesse semper est te dicere, amans,
Age, age, age, age,
Places, me place quam te placeo.

Lamentandus non volo,
Sed intelleges in corde semper pluit,
Tibi totum placendum facio,
Tecum arguere arduus.
 Cur me adiectus cies?

Heri vesperi verba ad amicula dixi,
Numquam conaris scio,
Age, age, age, age,
Places, me place quam te placeo 


    It is with a heavy heart that I review one of my original hypotheses about the name Antiochus being bestowed on the first bearer of the Elder Wand in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that I put forth in this article.  I was not looking for more background to Harry Potter, I was looking for a story I had read recently about a monk who, having had his relics stolen and replaced with a lump of coal by some rascals, held up the coal and said that it was one of the coals that St. Lawrence had been roasted with.  Stories about St. Lawrence pop up in the unlikeliest places. I thought it might have been in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales but it is more likely that I read the story in Boccaccio's Decameron.
      While I was thumbing through the Canterbury Tales, I came across the Monk's Tale about Antiochus a pre-C.E. king who attacked Jerusalem with the intent of razing it to the ground as related in the Biblical text, Maccabees.  God struck him down before he could ever strike a blow.  J.K. Rowling plundered the Pardoner's Tale for her fable about the three brothers who 'defeated' death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows so it seems more likely that she got the name Antiochus from the same source.  Especially when the "Spear of Destiny" that her characters were fighting over would be the one that Hitler had taken from the Habsburgs in Vienna.  It was held by Grindelwald and the re-taking of the wand by Dumbledore ended WWII much like the spear was recovered by Patton just before Hitler's suicide.
     Like so many things in Harry Potter, the fan theories are better than the novels themselves.  Bohemond would have been much more suitable as a character to have owned the first wand to make the bearer invincible in battle.  But then he does not appear to have valued the spear and trusted to his own 'genius' rather than a gimmick so perhaps not.