Tag Archives: Council of Nicaea

Where do we belong?—Meditations on the Feast of Saints Peter & Paul—where DO we belong?

Always hoped that I’d be an Apostle, knew that I could make it if I tried;….. then when we retire we can write the Gospels so they’ll still talk about us when we die….

Jesus Christ Superstar, Andrew Lloyd Weber (Broadway 1971, Movie 1973)

2 Timothy 4:1-8.   As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Saint Peter’s self-chosen mission was as Apostle to the Jews, Saint Paul’s to the Greeks, though they both died in Rome.  Originally they belonged to the same Jewish Community as Joseph & Mary, John-the-Baptist, and Jesus himself.  We might imagine that Peter and Paul belonged, presumably as devout members of the Temple of Jerusalem, but possibly not even close, but they belonged to that race and religion and linguistic and ethnic group, in Roman Occupied Judea, aka Palestine, aka Syria, presumably being very close in age and community to Jesus Christ himself.  

In the service of the Anointed “Son of God”, heir of the Royal House of David, the tree that grew from Jesse’s loins, Peter and Paul became the most famous and visible to history of all Jesus’ Apostles. They belonged as apostlesPaul’s letters and writings were generally deemed to “belong” in the Bible by the Council of Nicea.  But the “Gospel of Peter” was deemed by that same body NOT to belong, although it scholars of early Christianity still discuss it extensively, see e.g.: 


My “Forward Day-by-Day Booklet” suggests that this is a day when we should all consider, like Peter and Paul, where we belong, whether we are Christians or Jews or Pagans, to begin with, and then what we should do next.  Without our community, what should we do and how?  Should we accept the world as it is or try to change it?  Where do we belong in history?

We are free, endowed by God and/or Natural Selection with Free Will, but that is perhaps the greatest of our burdens.  “Our world recognizes the subversive nature of the Christian faith and subverts us either by ignoring us or by giving us the freedom  to be religious—as long as we keep religion a matter of personal choice.”   (From “Resident Aliens” by Stanley Hauerwas.

Has the South “Run the Good Race?” Is it time for the South (and California and Texas and the Union as a whole) to choose a different Path?   If we cannot “keep the faith”—do we really belong here?

Pat Buchanan has always been one of my favorite political writers.  He now asks whether the South still belongs in the Union, and I think it is a valid question.  Frankly, I believe that the Union does not belong anymore.  As my long-time (but currently “vacationing” personal assistant Peyton Freiman said sagely some years ago, “The United States needs to Secede from itself.  I think this has only become truer with time.  The South should Secede; California and Hawaii and Texas and Alaska should Secede. New England and New York should secede.  The Federal Union should be dissolved.  Obama can have the District of Columbia all to himself and the Supreme Court and Congress.  Illinois and Michigan might want to secede but then let Chicago and Detroit Secede and form an Isolated trio of City States with D.C., Detroit and Chicago exist under Obama.  The states should not recall their congressmen, because they are only worthy to be forgotten, not recalled…. In fact, all the States should simply revoke their Congressmen’s citizenship and order them to remain in D.C. or emigrate to Afghanistan, Israel, or Saudi Arabia or Yemen, depending on their political preferences.

Does the South Belong in the Union?

Friday – June 28, 2013 at 12:27 am

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Is the Second Reconstruction over?

The first ended with the withdrawal of Union troops from the Southern states as part of a deal that gave Rutherford B. Hayes the presidency after the disputed election of 1876.

The second began with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a century after Appomattox. Under the VRA, Southern states seeking to make even minor changes in voting laws had to come to Washington to plead their case before the Justice Department and such lions of the law as Eric Holder.

Southern states were required to get this pre-clearance for any alterations in voting laws because of systematic violations of the 14th and 15th amendment constitutional rights of black Americans to equal access to polling places and voting booths.

The South had discriminated by using poll taxes, gerrymandering and literacy tests, among other tactics. Dixie was in the penalty box because it had earned a place there.

What the Supreme Court did Tuesday, in letting the South out of the box, is to declare that, as this is not 1965, you cannot use abuses that date to 1965, but have long since disappeared, to justify indefinite federal discrimination against the American South.

You cannot impose burdens on Southern states, five of which recorded higher voting percentages among their black populations in 2012 than among their white populations, based on practices of 50 years ago that were repudiated and abandoned in another era.

You cannot punish Southern leaders in 2013 for the sins of their grandfathers. As Chief Justice John Roberts noted, black turnout in 2012 was higher in Mississippi than in Massachusetts.

Does this mean the South is now free to discriminate again?

By no means. State action that discriminates against minority voters can still be brought before the Department of Justice.

Even the “pre-clearance” provision of the VRA remains. All the court has said is that if Congress wishes to impose a pre-clearance provision on a state or group of states, Congress must have more evidence to justify unequal treatment than what “Bull” Connor did in Birmingham back in 1965.

Congress could pass a bill today authorizing Justice Department intervention in any state where the registration of blacks, Hispanics or Asians fell below 60 percent of that electorate.

What Congress can no longer do is impose conditions on Southern states from which Northern states are exempt. Washington can no longer treat the states unequally — for that, too, is a violation of the Constitution.

The Roberts court just took a giant stride to restoring the Union.

Yet the hysterical reaction to the decision reveals a great deal.

What do critics say they are afraid of?

While conceding that immense progress has been made with the huge turnout of black voters in the South and the re-election of a black president, they say they fear that without the pre-clearance provision this would never have happened. And now that the provision no longer applies to the South, the evil old ways will return.

On several counts this is disheartening.

For what the critics of the court decision are saying is that, no matter the progress made over half a century, they do not trust the South to deal fairly and decently with its black citizens, without a club over its head. They do not believe the South has changed in its heart from the days of segregation.

They think the South is lying in wait for a new opportunity to disfranchise its black voters. And they think black Southerners are unable to defend their own interests — without Northern liberal help.

In this belief there are elements of paranoia, condescension and bigotry.

Many liberals not only do not trust the South, some detest it. And many seem to think it deserves to be treated differently than the more progressive precincts of the nation.

Consider Wednesday’s offering by Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson. The South, he writes, is the home of “so-called right-to-work laws” and hostility to the union shop, undergirded by “the virulent racism of the white Southern establishment,” a place where a “right-wing antipathy toward workers’ rights” is pandemic.

The South is the “the heartland of cheap-labor America. … When it wants to slum, business still goes to the South.” Then there are those “reactionary white Republican state governments.”

Were a conservative to use the term “black” as a slur the way Meyerson spits out the word “white,” he would be finished at the Post. Meyerson’s summation:

“If the federal government wants to build a fence that keeps the United States safe from the danger of lower wages and poverty and their attendant ills — and the all-round fruitcakery of the right-wing white South — it should build that fence from Norfolk to Dallas. There is nothing wrong with a fence as long as you put it in the right place.”

Harold looks forward to the day that a surging Latino population forces “epochal political change” on a detestable white South.

The Year’s and the Day’s Deep Midnight—aka the Solstice—Longest Night and the Shortest Day, with thoughts on John Donne, Samuel Pepys, King Charles II, and the 1751 Calendar Act—but December 21 was the night we always used to put up the Christmas Tree as Advent came to an end…..from this day forward, the Sun Returns to Us….

Today we think about Calendars—-a large number of misguided souls believe that today has some great mystical significance in the Maya Calendar.  Some people even think the world might end today.  Some people think “it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”  I actually DO feel OK, come to think of it—I’m here in beautiful New Orleans, and nothing anywhere could be finer or sweeter than to savor this day in this spot and from this vantage point in the French Quarter.

But the Solstice is a fine day to think about the Calendar regardless of the correlation or miscorrelation of the Maya Calendar.  I honestly do not believe that the Aztec Fifth Sun (Nahui Ollin = “4 Earthquake”) or Maya Baktun 13 (properly correlated) are actually ending today, and if they did, good riddance I guess.  These last 500 years have not been kind either to the Maya or the Aztec.  But I still favor, as I have for almost 32 years, George Clapp Vaillant’s correlation rather than the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson works just as well with the Crónica de Oxcutzcab and MUCH better with the archaeological record of the transition between the Terminal Classic and Postclassic…. Vaillant was the pioneer of stratigraphic excavation and ceramic chronology in Mesoamerican Archaeology, and his very early (mid-1920s) Harvard doctoral dissertation on the Ceramic Chronology of the Maya Lowlands was….really just amazing, as was his work at Holmul and his later work in the Valley of Mexico while working at the American Musem of Natural History in New York….

In the mid-17th Century, until the Calendrical Act of 1751.  It is widely known that in September 1752, Great Britain switched from the “Old Style” Julian Calendar (aka “O.S.” on many 18th century monuments, including almost all the old Colonial Churchyards in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut)  to the Gregorian Calendar. In order to achieve the change, 11 days were ‘omitted’ from the calendar – i.e. the day after 2 September 1752 was 14 September 1752.

An Act of Parliament triggered all this (yes, for a long time the Government has been telling us “what time it is”) – this act, the “Calendar Act” of 1751 bore the preambular title of An Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use.

What isn’t so widely known is the second, and in some ways even more significant change which the Act introduced – as named in the first part of the Act’s title. The Act changed the first day of the year (or, if you want to impress your ignorant, historically unaware, quasi-illiterate American friends with a new word, the Supputation of the Year).

Prior to 1752 in England, the year began on 25 March (Lady Day) as it had indeed since long before the time of Julius Caesar after whom the Julian Calendar was named.   March 25 was one of the two dates seriously considered for bearing the honor of Christmas (birthday of Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior of the World—I mention this only because most people think of Christmas as strictly an event in the commercial and party calendar these days) at the Counsel of Nicea under Emperor Constantine the Great.   But March 25, from the Biblical Evidence of Shepherds being out tending their sheep on the hillsides of Judea, would make a lot more sense as Christmas than December 25, when the sheep would all have been brought down out of the cold….

Lady Day is one of the Quarter Days, which are still used in English, Irish, and Scottish legal circles. The Quarter Days divide the year in quarters (hence the name :-), and the Quarter Days are: Lady Day (25 March), Midsummers Day (24 June), Michaelmas Day (29 September), and Christmas Day (25 December).

Lady Day was one of the days when rents were traditionally due. In fact, this practice must have continued will beyond the 18th century as I’ve seen paintings of large meals for farm workers on Lady Day. Taxes were also due on Lady Day. With the ‘loss’ of 11 days in September 1752 and the stories of riots on the street, people weren’t impressed with having to pay their taxes in March 1753 like nothing had happened (in fact, as 25 March 1753 was a Sunday the taxes were due on Monday 26 March 1753 ) – so the taxman skipped the 11 days and decreed that taxes were due on 6 April 1753. And, to this day, the UK tax year starts on 6 April.

In any event, in Jolly Old England in the Good Old “Old Style” Days, the day after 24 March 1642 was 25 March 1643. The Act changed this, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a short year – it ran only from 25 March to 31 December.  The famous riots which occurred all over England “GIVE US BACK OUR 11 DAYS” were in part a response to the fact that the rents for that year were increased, along with the taxes…. always a bad thing to do in defiance of the Traditional Rights of Englishmen….

To throw some just a bit more confusion into the issue, Scotland had changed the first day of the year to 1 January in 1600 (in 1600, Scotland was a separate kingdom). When King James VI of Scotland became also King James I of England in 1603, the possibilities of date confusion must have been very large.

Historians have to tread rather carefully when reporting winter month dates prior to 1752. For example, in The Tower of London there is some graffiti scratched into a cell wall by someone imprisoned in January 1642 for his role in the Battle of Edgehill (which took place on 23 October 1642).  And this is totally accurate, historically: January, February, and most of March of 1643 (by our reckoning, were originally considered to be part of 1642—the graffitist was NOT delusional by any stretch at all).

Historical documents contain, from the century or so before the Calendar Act, substantial evidence of contemporary dual dating in England and especially Scotland.  For example, some essentially contemporary paintings of the execution of King Charles I (aka “King Charles the Martyr”) on Tuesday 30 January 1648 have a title bearing the date 30 January 1648/9.

Samuel Pepys’s famous diary begins on New Years Day (1 January) 1660, but it is clear that this is actually the year 1659/60. So was the Calendar Act in 1751 merely formalising common usage, or was it a radical change ?  The preface to one recent and authoritative edition of Samuel Pepys’s diary states that using 1 January as the start of the year was common practice at that time – i.e. 1660.

Likewise, a tourist pamphlet I once collected at Broughton Castle (just SW of Banbury in Oxfordshire, the ancestral home of the Fiennes family, including the aristocratic Norman and Cavalier ancestors of Hollywood/Pinewood actors Ralph and Joseph.  It is appropriate to recall Ralph’s portrayal of famous Fascists in “Schindler’s List” and “the English Patient” and Joseph’s “M” roles Martin Luther, Merlin, and Most recently as Monsignor Timothy Howard, not to mention their nephew “Hero” who played Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort in the Half Blood Prince.  Yet another member of the family is “gasp” an archaeologist—Michael Fiennes.

Anyhow the tourist guide pamphlet for the mediaeval manor house Broughton refers to a speech made on Thursday 27 January 1658 – and the pamphlet states it was printed in 1659.  In order for the day to be a Thursday, this must be referring to 27 January 1658/9 (i.e. the pamphlet was printed some months after the speech), however the year is specified as 1658 – and not as 1658/9.

So did the year of Charles II’s glorious restoration, in fact commence on 25 March in 1658, or on 1 January in 1660 ?

Perhaps the answer is connected with the coronation of King Charles II in Scotland on 1 January 1651 – that’s a Scottish date, for a Scottish king. Perhaps the Royalist cause Cavalier Longhairs used ‘Scottish’ dates, and the Roundhead Parliamentarian cause used ‘old style’ dates?  This theory doesn’t sit well with the fact that from 1654 Pepys had been steward to Edward Mountagu, a General-at-Sea in Cromwell’s Protectorate, but Pepys was to make his fame and fortune and contribution to literary and social history during the Restoration and Reign of King Charles Edward Stuart, II.

King Charles II did not become king of England until 8 May 1660 (coronation on 23 April 1661), after the start of Samuel Pepys’s diary.

In the Julian Calendar, leap years occurred every 4 years, and in leap years the 29 February was added.

But remember that 29 February was in the last quarter of the year by the old reckoning.

And so it appears that leap years have NOT always (at least in the Old Style) been those where the year number was one less than an exact multiple of 4! (e.g. 1600, 1660, 1776, 1788, and all American Presidential Election Years since).

The House of Commons Journal for Wednesday, February 29th, 1659 would seem to bear this out – remembering that this date is otherwise expressed as 29 February 1659/60, and appears in Samuel Pepys’s diary as 29 February 1660 (just to add to the confusion).

House of Commons Journal for Thursday, 29 February 1643 (otherwise 29 February 1643/4) and House of Commons Journal for Tuesday, 29 February 1647 (otherwise 29 February 1647/8) confirm this, although note the Latin form of the dates which was presumably dropped in the Commonwealth/Protectorate.

Anyhow, a truly Old-Style English Christmas Tree will always go up on the Night of the Solstice and this is totally perfect and appropriate and in line with the Pagan heritage of the Christmas tree.  I wish everyone else would stick to the schedule properly—I hate it that the New World Order Common Commercial Christmas starts November 1 (at the latest) in all the stores everywhere IN THE WORLD.

I love the old-fashioned ways of putting up the tree on the Shortest Day and Longest Night—and keeping it up a few days past Epiphany at the most.  Christmas really is more magical when it’s limited to “the Season” properly defined.  Kind of like how Mardi Gras in New Orleans has become a nearly year round thing with beads and tokens all over the place all year….

Thursday night, I had a young Moldovan cabdriver from Kishniev this evening to bring me back from Tulane Law via the Trolley stop restaurant on Saint Charles.  He was sure I had never heard of his country, said I was the first American ever to accurately locate it between Romania and Ukraine, and was even more amazed that anyone in the US would know where the River Moldau was….. luckily for him, he had no idea why it was I know so much about Moldavia… why I know it better than I want to…..  It was so refreshing to see someone so young and innocent talking about American Christmas and New Orleans Mardi Gras customs….and being so amazed by them all…..

Remembering that from the early 13th to the mid-18th Century, Old Style, before the 11 day Calendrical adjustment, the Shortest Day and Longest Night of the Year fell on December 13, and came to be known as Saint Lucy’s Night, I reproduce today, as I do every year, John Donne’s Nocture on Saint Lucy’s Night in memory of my grandmother who knew how to keep this season so very well…. and this was the ONLY night she ever put up the Christmas tree at 3516 Lindenwood in Highland Park, or wherever the season happened to land us….

A NOCTURNAL UPON SAINT LUCY’S DAY,                                       BEING THE SHORTEST DAY,                                                                   by John Donne

‘TIS the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
            The world’s whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
    For I am every dead thing,
    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
            For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
    I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
    Of all, that’s nothing. Oft a flood
            Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
    Were I a man, that I were one
    I needs must know ; I should prefer,
            If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
    At this time to the Goat is run
    To fetch new lust, and give it you,
            Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s and the day’s deep midnight is.