Came next the chill December

December 4, 2007

Last night’s Jesse tree reading: Genesis 1:24-28, followed by some quick discussion about ‘dominion’ and ‘in the image and likeness of God’. After reading about the custom somewhere else, we’ve decided to have the Three Wise Men journey throughout the house on their way to the Nativity Set in our little shrine. They were last spotted in the kitchen, atop the microwave. Where will they be next? Who knows? We only know that they’ll arrive at the crèche on January 12.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’ve been doing some traveling and I thought I’d point out a couple of the podcasts that I listen to when I’m flying: American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith, hosted by Krista Tippett and Audition, by Mars Hill Audio. I subscribe to these two plus the latest This American Life via iTunes and they’re usually enough to get me through the average flight. Squishy, noise-baffling earbuds help too. If I was made of money, I’d buy a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones. A fellow traveler let me try his out once, and I was blown away by how well they worked. The jet noise simply vanished away, and all was blissful silence. Luckliy, Bose isn’t the only game in town but holy mackeral, they’re still pricey. And I really don’t fly that much at present.

I’ve also spent a little time reading through Spe Salvi, the Holy Father’s encyclical on Christian hope. Parts of it are very scholarly in tone, especially the portion dealing with the difficulties in translating Hebrews 11:1 where

…we find a kind of definition of faith which closely links this virtue with hope. Ever since the Reformation there has been a dispute among exegetes over the central word of this phrase, but today a way towards a common interpretation seems to be opening up once more. For the time being I shall leave this central word untranslated. The sentence therefore reads as follows: “Faith is the hypostasis of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen.” For the Fathers and for the theologians of the Middle Ages, it was clear that the Greek word hypostasis was to be rendered in Latin with the term substantia. The Latin translation of the text produced at the time of the early Church therefore reads: Est autem fides sperandarum substantia rerum, argumentum non apparentium—faith is the “substance” of things hoped for; the proof of things not seen. Saint Thomas Aquinas, using the terminology of the philosophical tradition to which he belonged, explains it as follows: faith is a habitus, that is, a stable disposition of the spirit…

And so on. It’s meaty stuff. I look forward to reading analysis from others in the coming days.

Finally, before too much more of December gets away from me, let’s peek at The Mutabilitie Cantos one last time this year.

And after him, came next the chill December:
Yet he through merry feasting which he made,
And great bonfires, did not the cold remember;
His Saviours birth his mind so much did glad:
Upon a shaggy-bearded Goat he rode,
The same wherewith Dan Jove in tender yeares,
They say, was nourisht by th’ I[d]oean mayd;
And in his hand a broad deepe bowle he beares;
Of which, he freely drinks an health to all his peeres.

Perhaps 2008 will see me actually finish The Faerie Queene. We’ll see.


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