Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 31

Styles of Christian Worship?

I've been reading Mere Comments, and the following thoughts struck me:
I’m a 17 year old who grew up in a traditional church that went contemporary. I changed churches a while ago, and am now going to a traditional church again. I find that the service: the hymns and anthems sung, do provide a lot more depth for reflection and meditation. I enjoy the music, and I enjoy the theology. I enjoy being able to hear myself sing, and not being subject to worship leaders who take themselves too seriously, and imagine themselves as pop stars. Although I will admit that there are many youth who do prefer and do want contemporary services, I find that too often these youth treat contemporary services as a platform for their self-promotion, and if I were to exaggerate, a sanctified version of American Idol. For too many youth, contemporary youth services have become the status quo, they accept and like contemporary services because they do not know the alternative.
and
I find it very odd that many Christians, who reject relativism in theology or ethics, are very comfortable with it when it comes to worship, as if our worship of God Almighty were merely a secondary issue as to which Christians should agree to differ according to their tastes. For me as an evangelical, however, it is not a question of ornate liturgies: a simple worship service with little more than an old upright piano can be extraordinarily moving. The question is not whether styles may differ in worship, but rather whether there ought to be one attitude among all Christians, namely, that of reverence and awe in our act of worship. If this is not the attitude we seek to encourage, then we are not worshiping God—we are simply entertaining men.
and
Attractiveness as a criterion of value in worship, which includes the demented notion that everyone present should be able to understand everything that is said and done in it, apart from elevation of the heart and mind (sursum corda!), is simply a way of justifying pearls before swine—and here I do not refer simply to the gentile, but the swinish nature within, with which every Christian must do battle. The beauty of the liturgy, no matter what culture it arises from or what collective taste colors it, must strike those who observe it from outside as coming from above the confines of their own worlds, as “something else,” as having a justification that involves the elevation of the mind and its senses because it comes from beyond and is by no means answerable to it. Which is to say that a large number of churches have things precisely backwards.
HEAR HEAR!

WOULD YOU LET YOUR DAUGHTER WEAR THIS PROM DRESS?

Be shocked here.

I think even hookers would feel exposed in that...

It's bad enough seeing children and teenagers in low-cut jeans with half their backsides hanging out... it's even worse seeing middle-aged adults in them.

JUST SAY NO TO CRACK!

As the saintly late Metropolitan Archbishop Antony of Sourozh said, 'I don't really care what people wear to church, I just don't want to have to look at their underwear'.

Peking, not Beijing!

Soundtrack: I'm currently up to *HERE* (puts hand at eyes) with tacky Chinese New Year Music, and if I hear ONE more Tong Tong Tong Chiang, I'm going to scream.

Serge, in a comment on another post of mine, asked 'Peking is Beijing though. Is it true that phonetically that's what it always should have been according to the Chinese name?'

I can't believe I haven't blogged about this before, so, here goes...

The name of the current capital of China is 北京 - current Mandarin pronounces that Beijing. It hasn't always been called that though.

The earliest name of that city, sometime in the 1st millennium B.C. (I forget the dates) when it was the capital of the state of 燕 Yan, was 燕京, pronounced Yanjing in current Mandarin.

In the days of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, the Mongols called it Khanbaliq, and the Chinese either called it 大都 (Dadu in current Mandarin, meaning Big Capital) or 北京 (Beijing in current Mandarin, meaning Northern Capital). It remained 北京 (Beijing in current Mandarin) till the Nationalist government of China in the 1910s renamed it 北平 (Beiping in current Mandarin pronunciation, meaning Northern Peace), as they had their capital in 南京 (Nanjing in current Mandarin pronunciation, meaning Southern Capital). When the Communists found themselves the victors after the Chinese Civil War, they changed the name back to 北京 (Beijing in current Mandarin).

Now, why on earth am I harping on with that phrase in current Mandarin? Aha. Therein lies the key to all of this. The pronunciation of Mandarin (the Northern dialect/language of China) has changed greatly over the last 1000 years. Current Mandarin contains sounds that did not exist before the Mongol and Manchu invasions - examples are j and zh (these are written in the Pinyin romanisation as I can't do IPA symbols on my keyboard).

Research into the pronunciation of Mandarin as it was before these invasions has revealed that it was far closer to the way the Southern dialects/languages are pronounced (indeed the Southerns preserve far more Classical usages as well as pronunciations).

北 was pronounced more like pey (unaspirated p there). Rather like Cantonese who call it puck (again unaspirated p).

京 now pronounced jing, was once pronounced king (unaspirated k there), and the southern dialects/languages still use that pronunciation.

Now, the English Peking is derived from the French/Latin Pekin, which reflects accurately the earlier pronunciation. I prefer, when communicating in English, to use the term Peking, which for centuries was the accepted English term, and has the hallowing of continuous usage. Naturally, when speaking Mandarin, I use the Mandarin pronunciation. Just because the Mandarin pronunciation has changed doesn't mean one should automatically change the names of the city in other languages.

Just as how the English name for the city of Florence is derived from the original Latin name for the city - Florentia. No one has seen fit to insist we say Firenze as the modern Italians do. Why should the case of Peking/Beijing be any different?

NEFAS!

Soundtrack: Alto Giove by Porpora, from the soundtrack to the film Farinelli il Castrato.

Was talking earlier to a fellow music lover with whom I regularly exchange music on the Soulseek network. He's a music teacher from Italy, and we sort of chat in a broken mix of Italian, English and Latin (don't ask me how we manage to understand eacher, we just do). The topic turned to the Classics, and he mentioned in passing that Italian schoolchildren don't learn about the Romans anymore - at all.

I was naturally shocked, and asked him if he was kidding. He said he was entirely serious. Imagine that. Italian schoolchildren - the heirs of the ancient Romans, don't learn about those ancestors of theirs who once ruled almost all of Europe and the Medeterranean. It seems some hare-brained liberal politician decided it'd be far more useful for them to learn about the unification of modern Italy instead.

He and both used the same word to describe this state of affairs - the Latin NEFAS, meaning sin, crime, abomination, or when used as an interjection horror! monstrous! dereadful!. It literally means something that is so horrible that it cannot even be spoken of , but has far more weight than the English term unspeakable.

Ah, the benefits of a classical education.

In other news, this might interest some readers: A Politically Correct Christmas Story.

Late Development?

Soundtrack: Si Iniquitates Observaveris by Samuel Wesley. Something I sang with my secondary school choir over a decade ago. It's for 3 voices - Tenor, Baritone and Bass, and is short but very pretty. Midi may be found here and the pdf score here.

A bit of a random thought, but I've realised that two strange things have happened to me these few years (and I'm not just talking about getting fat):

1) My vocal range has extended itself downwards. My lowest comfortable and reasonably loud note used to be D (the D below the bottom line of the bass clef, about 73.56 Hz). Slightly more than a year ago, I discovered I now had a comfortable C (65.89 Hz). This is very odd, as my voice broke over a decade ago.

2) I used to be pretty sure my height was 173-175cm (that's about 5'9"). These days I stand next to guys who're 178cm (that's 5'10") and I find we're the same height (even without shoes on). The only conclusion is that I've grown an inch or so between the ages of 24 and 27, which would be very very odd.

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 28

How very curious

"It is illegal for any member of the Nevada legislature to conduct official business wearing a penis costume while the legislature is in session."

If, in fact, you are now blushing, please remind yourself that for such a law to exist, someone had to have done this...

What Social Status Are You?

You scored as Luxurious Upper Class. As a member of the upper class, you will always have the satisfaction that there are many underneath you to slave for your every need and want. Live the high life.

Luxurious Upper Class

96%

alternative

79%

Upper middle Class

63%

Middle Class

54%

Lower Class

17%

What Social Status are you?
created with QuizFarm.com


HA I say... Ha bloody Ha! Curious that the next possibility is Alternative... I'd always thought I was pretty alternative...

IMDB?

I'm amazed... I have an Internet Movie Database entry!

A Vaguely Korean Post

Soundtrack: No soundtrack because I'm blogging while I watch a film on DVD!

Was reading Joshua's blog Katolik Shinja, and came across this curious little post on Seoul's new Chinese name for itself: Shouer (首爾/首尔). Basically the issue was to get a Chinese name to correspond the pronunciation of Korean Seoul (서울, Sôul) instead of the Chinese Hancheng (漢城/汉城), which is actually the old Chosôn (Joseon) era Korean name of its capital.

Personally I think it's silly for the Koreans (or Coreans, as some would have it) to tell the Chinese what to call their capital in Chinese - how silly would it seem if the Armenians suddenly stood up and insisted we call their country Hayastan (as they call it) instead of Armenia? Hancheng 漢城/汉城 has the hallowing of ancient usage in Chinese, and should remain in use!

And this set me thinking, because there are two names for Korea in use in Chinese: Chaoxian 朝鮮 and Hanguo 韓國, and neither of these sounds anything like Korea which most of the other languages of the world uses.

So I discovered that Chaoxian 朝鮮, which corresponds to the Korean "Chosŏn" (조선) is derived from the name of the Korean Chosŏn (조선) Dynasty. This shouldn't be surprising to anyone who realises that China was never known as China in the old Imperial days, but bore the name of the ruling dynasty - Great Ming Country da ming guo 大明國 or Great Ching/Qing Country da qing guo 大清國.

Next I also discovered that the term Korea is derived from another old dynasty of Korean - the Koryo/Goryeo (고려; 高麗).

More info to be found here!

All this talk is making me hungry. I'm fixing myself a late night snack... beansprouts blanched in boiling water, dressed with sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds... a Korean nibble =)

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 27

我不下地獄,誰下地獄?

A Chinese saying has struck me - 我不下地獄,誰下地獄?

Translated literally, 'If I do not go to Hell, who shall go to Hell?'.

It's not about justifying the commission of evil deeds - it's a saying of the Buddha (as my learned friend Anthony tells me), about compassion. It comes from the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha Vow Sutra, and the Bodhisattva Kishitigarbha once made a vow to save all sentient beings, including the hungry ghosts and the beings (both human souls and demons) in hell. Better translated, 'If I do not go to hell to help them, who else will go?' is the famous declaration popularly attributed to Kishitigarbha. No matter what the crime or the karma, he is willing to have a connection with any being, and to help free them from suffering. Yes, it's about compassion. He who is best able to bear suffering should take it upon himself to bear it.

In today's context, it may be taken to mean something along the lines of 'the one best able to bear the suffering should do it' or more colloquially 'it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it'.

Rather pretty, I think.

Grotesques & Gargoyles

Discovered these two luverly grotesques/corbels and had to share them:

and .

Perhaps a quotation from Isaiah is appropriate here:

Against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? (Isaiah 57.4)

Oh, and I so need a manicure. I can't type like this, my nails are too long. If I'm not too lazy, I'll find time to go have one done tomorrow. Meanwhile, bedtime!

Τετάρτη, Ιανουαρίου 26

Return to Blogdom

Alrighty. Back to Blogdom. Hello again everyone.

Gran's exequies will be mentioned in another post.

Have so much to blog, don't know where I'll find the time to, but I shall... somehow.

Random nugget: in 1700, there were 2508 nuns in Venice? Better yet, there were 11654 prostitutes?

Angela tells me that a convent of Carmelites in Rome is charging the equivalent of £100 per person per night for bread and breakfast. Scandalous.

One side-effect of sitting at Gran's bedside for 14 hours daily is that even though I'm in no mood to study, watching films on DVD helped pass the time. I'm supposed to be doing a ton of Latin translation homework - mostly extracts from Augustus' Res Gestae, but with Gran in such a state, I can't concentrate. I don't suppose anyone can blame me. So here are some of the films I've been watching:


In The Mood For Love (花樣年華) - Cantonese. Set in Hongkong of the 1960s. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung. Maggie Cheung keeps changing cheongsams every few minutes. Oh, she looks so stunningly elegant in those. I swear, if I had a woman like her, I might try going straight. Anyway, back to the film. Very much an art film. A rather slowly-paced film - evocative, but will drive most viewers up the wall. Music's awfully good - bossa nova, chinese songs.

Johnny Mnemonic - Keanu Reeves. Sci-fi. Based on a short story by William Gibson of Cyberpunk fame. Amusing. Action film. Blah blah blah.

Fahrenheit 9/11 - amusing. Didn't know the Bush-Bin Laden families were so deeply connected. Good film. A bit of a hatchet job, but not unfair.

The Opium War (鴉片戰爭)
- 150+ minutes long. The Chinese characters speak Mandarin, English characters English - both very correct. The film is a 1997 production, a gift of the director to the Chinese people, on the occasion of the return of Hongkong to China. It tells the story of how Britain forced the sale and encouraged the smuggling of countless tonnes of opium to China in the 1800s, the efforts on the part of the Chinese to stop this, and the retaliation on the part of the British - stealing Hongkong to make up for the loss of profit. Imagine that - Britain under Queen Victoria, having banned opium in the home counties, sold more opium to China in month than the international drug trade of today trades in various drugs. The word 'shameful' comes to mind, but there really isn't a word strong enough. Most Brits today don't know of the events - it's a shameful chapter in British history that Britain has not yet had the courage to face and apologise for, and I doubt even the BBC would dare treat the topic. Anyhow, the film's surprisingly good. The subject is dealt with fairly, and there are heroes and villains on both sides. The film makers had the biggest film budget in Chinese cinema history, and had countless extras from the People's Liberation Army. It's truly an excellent production. The attention to detail is breathtaking - both the Chinese scenes and the ones set in England (they actually filmed some scenes in Oxford).

Stage Beauty - A bit like Shakespeare in Love, but set during the Restoration (1660s, reign of King Charles II), in an age where women are banned from the stage and hence men and boys who specialise in female roles rule the stage. Centre of the action is Kynaston - the greatest of these men who play women onstage. Kynaston manages to piss off Nell Gwyn, the King's mistress (and budding actress) by a diatribe against women acting, and the King passes legislation banning men from ever playing women on English stages again, and allowing women onstage. Kynaston, the last of his kind, begins a love-hate affair with his former dresser, who becomes the first great actress. Nice costumes. Music by George Fenton, who did the music for Dangerous Liaisons and The Madness of King George - both excellent uses of Baroque music for period films. Fenton does a somewhat so-so job here, none of the music being quite memorable. There's a gem of a scene, where Kynaston rehearses the death scene of Desdemona from Othello - him playing Desdemona and his female dresser playing Othello.

What Lies Beneath - horror film. Stars Michelle Pfeiffer and Indiana Jones (his name escapes me for the moment). Not terribly good. The sort of horror film where one can tell a scare is coming up because the music changes.

Unbreakable - Bruce Willis and James Earl Jones. An interesting take on the 'genesis of a superhero' theme. Not bad at all. I'm starting to like Night M. Shyamalan's films. Very nice feel.

The Brotherhood of the Wolf (Le Pacte des Loups) - Based on the real beast of the Gévudan in France during the reign of Louis XIV (I think). In French. Quite good. A period action film. The chap who vanquishes the beast has a Iroquois companion-fighter (ah, this is where the elegance of the Greek term συμμαχος is perfect) who has an absolutely droolsome body.

The Terminal - Tom Hanks & Catherine Zeta-Jones. Man trapped in an airport due to immigration situation. Amusing. Not bad. Certainly not one of the great films of all time, but entertaining nonetheless and a nice way to pass 2 hours.

Also watched were Quills (with particularly interesting trivia), Onmyoji, Onmyoji 2 and Vanilla Sky - these will get reviewed later.

Okay, that's enough for one post - more tomorrow!

Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 17

Eventful Weekend

It's been quite an eventful weekend.

2 deaths, a birth and a wedding.

Death I: Grandma Susan died early on Saturday morning. Her funeral's on Tuesday 9 a.m. Malaysia Time (that's 1 a.m. GMT). I'll have my cassock and psalter, will be reading it over the body tonight at the wake and serving the funeral mass tomorrow.

Death II: James Creffield, husband of Geetha Creffield (my fave teacher from junior college, and dear friend), died tragically in a rock-climbing accident on Saturday afternoon. It appears he fell and fractured his skull and died within the hour. Irony, when you consider the two had been on Phuket beach when the tidal wave struck and had escaped with their lives. James was about 40 years old. The funeral's today at 5 p.m. in Singapore - I'd go but I have my own wake to attend to, and there's a Chinese tradition that two parties in mourning ought not meet (I presume the 'Yin' forces reach critical mass or something). There was an obituary in Sunday's papers that, quite unfortunately, made me chuckle. James was described as (and I paraphrase from memory) '...loving husband, son and great guy!' I don't know about you, but I think that's simply ghastly. The bit announcing the funeral time ended with 'Come and say goodbye to James'. It's awful. Really awful. It smells like someone who has no idea what obituaries are about wrote it. I'll bitch about the fellow in a separate post.

Requiescant in pace

Birth: the wife of a distant relation gave birth on Saturday afternoon.

Wedding: Calista and Huzaifah got married and had their big big wedding dinner on Sunday night. A jolly occasion, but since we're all ACJC drama people and ACJC alumni at that wedding, it was ever so slightly darkened by James' passing. Still, congratulations to Callie and Husi!

meanwhile, some links from various places:

Talk of changing carnival date irks Catholic leaders in Brazil - Of course it would. The whole point of Carnival is to have a bit of fun before Lent. Now these money-grubbing organisers want to make it later, putting it INSIDE Lent.

Babylon wrecked by war: US-led forces leave a trail of destruction and contamination in architectural site of world importance - This is a damning report from the authorities at the British Museum.
"This is tantamount to establishing a military camp around the Great Pyramid in Egypt or around Stonehenge in Britain," says the report, which has been seen by the Guardian.

Among the damage found by Mr Curtis, who was invited to Babylon by Iraqi antiquities experts, were cracks and gaps where somebody had tried to gouge out the decorated bricks forming the famous dragons of the Ishtar Gate.

He saw a 2,600-year-old brick pavement crushed by military vehicles, archaeological fragments scattered across the site, and trenches driven into ancient deposits.

Vast amounts of sand and earth, visibly mixed with archaeological fragments, were gouged from the site to fill thousands of sandbags and metal mesh baskets. When this practice was stopped, large quantities of sand and earth were brought in from elsewhere, contaminating the site for future generations of archaeologists.
GOOD GRIEF. Now I really want to throw a large rock at the American forces.

"It Was Horrible, Horrible!" - A First-Hand Account of What Goes on Inside a Chula Vista Abortion Clinic. Not for the squeamish.

Σάββατο, Ιανουαρίου 15

Vixit - oremus

O God, who alone art ever merciful and sparing of punishment, humbly we pray to Thee on behalf of the soul of Thy servant, Susan, whom Thou has commanded this day to go forth from this world. Hand her not over to the power of the enemy, but command that this soul be taken up by the holy angels and brought home to paradise, so that, since she hoped and believed in Thee, she may not undergo the punishments of hell, but rather possess everlasting joys. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Of your charity, pray for the soul of the newly-departed servant of God, Susan. We got a call this morning - Gran passed away early today, about 5 in the morning. I never thought the first time I'd get to use my psalter, reading it over the body of the departed, would be at the passing of one of my own.

Give rest, O Christ, to Thy servants with Thy saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more,
neither sighing, but life everlasting.
Among the spirits of the righteous perfected in faith,
give rest, O Saviour, to the soul of Thy servant.
Bestow upon it the blessed life which is from Thee, O loving One.

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 14

For you LOTR fans

While there is a St Meriadoc, as well as three saints named Peregrine or Peregrinus, as far as I know there isn’t any St Frodo. However, there is a St Frodobert, whose memorial is 8th Jan.

from Mixolydian Mode and Quenta Nârwenion.

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 13

Malaysia, O Malaysia

Malaysia, O Malaysia. How backward thou art. The hospital where gran is, has 4 elevators. Of the 4, 2 are out of service. Even though they all bear 'Made in Malaysia' labels, it appears that they've been out of service for over a month. The excuse for the delay in repairs is that the head office lacks spare parts. Uh. What? Yes. A company that manufactures elevators in Malaysia, doesn't have spare parts. One cannot but wonder if they make just enough for selling elevators and none of them had the presence of mind to think that these elevators might at some point require spare parts. Dad thinks the parts came from abroad and the elevators were merely assembled in Malaysia.

Amusing signs of bad English: 'Buy 1 Free 1', 'Try our Goreng Pisang (fried bananas) of the Unforgotten Crispness', 'The Security Camera is Operational. Thank You For Your Co-operation'(seen in an elevator).

Random Cool Trivium

At the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople (now Istanbul), on the balcony, there's a bit of graffiti on the stone railings. Nothing unusual, except that it's Viking-era graffiti. In RUNES.

Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 10

Gran's not looking so good.

Gran's looking bad. Her systems are failing and she was getting gangrene in her lower extremities - she's never had good circulation in the hands and feet even at the best of times. It's hard to tell when she's awake or lucid, as she sorts of comes and goes. She's on morphine and is somewhat restless, flailing her arms at random intervals.

I've anointed her with oil from St Nektarios of Aegina, oil from St John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, as well as oil from the Romanian Skete on Mt Athos. Mum and I have read over her the Canon for the Sick from the Old Rite Prayerbook, as well as extracts from the Roman Office for the Visitation & Anointing for the Sick, as well as the prayers for the commendation of a departing soul. It's curious - Gran always quietens down after we've prayed. She has icons of Our Lord, the Mother of God, St Panteleimon (Pantaleon) and St John of Shanghai above her bed. I'm praying for a good and quick death - there's nothing more dolorous than a lingering death.

I've managed to find a net connection briefly and wanted to report a miracle.

We still don't think Gran's going to make it, barring a miracle (which *may* happen, who knows), but we had a bit of a miracle yesterday.

When we got to the hospital in the morning, we found her left leg was purple and swollen - gangrene had set in, from the foot up to the knee, and Gran was obviously in pain even through the morphine. We said some prayers and the Troparia and Kontakia of Ss Panteleimon, John of Shanghai, Nektarios of Pentapolis and Elizabeth the New-Martyr (those 4 saints have icons above Gran's sickbed), and anointed her with oil from St John of Shanghai and St Nektarios. We then kept watch. In the afternoon, we took a peek at her leg and found that it had turned back to pink from purple, and instead of being cold, was now warm again. The doctors were amazed.

I must return to the sickbed now - Thanks again to all of you for your prayers.

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 6

Addendum

Just got a call from Borneo. Seems Gran's on the mend again. Yo-yoing back and forth. Oh Lordy. I'm still packing my black cassock. If there should be a funeral mass, I'm going to serve - it'll be my equivalent of when the eldest grandson offers incense and bows at Chinese funerals.

This bit of info is too good to pass up -I've been doing some research on Chinese funeral customs, and have stumbled across a rather disturbing (though mildly amusing) phenomenon: Strippers at Taiwanese Funerals.

Yes. I'm not kidding. Apparently up to a third of traditional Chinese funerals (this excludes Christian ones) in Taiwan now have a stripper at the wake. Academics who've tried to analyse this bizzareness have given three possible explanations for this:

1) That it's intended as entertainment for the departed. After all, since the funeral marching band plays tunes beloved of the deceased, in order to evoke his memory and also to give some last entertainment to him, why not the salacious entertainments he enjoyed too? Chinese traditionally have outdoor entertainments during the seventh lunar month to entertain the spirits of the dead, so obviously according to this logic, the dead can enjoy a bit of saucy fun too. I find this believable, but rather tasteless.

2) Traditionally, funerals are a very Yin (the cold/dark/soft principle of the Ying-Yang duality) affair, attracting evil and unclean spirits, and the sight of naked bodies repels them. I'd imagine one more than makes up for the evil spirits driven away with the horny devils thus aroused. On the other hand, this might be a parallell to the Sheela-na-gigs, which are female exhibitionist carvings found on walls, abbeys, convents, churches, pillars and other structures in Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, as well as in other parts of Europe. They come in many different shapes and sizes, but all share the same characteristic of a prominent and often enlarged genitals, often held open by the figure's hands. Most date from the middle ages. Anyhow, it appears that the female genitals are, in many cultures around the world, credited with the power of driving away evil (the evil eye, the devil etc). Fascinating.

3) The third theory is that this completes the gamut of the human body's forms at the funeral - from the corpse to the living mourners to the writhing sexually-charged figures of the strippers. Yeah. RIGHT.

Amusingly enough, academics who've observed these strippers at funerals report that the mourners usually pay no attention to the strippers. I find that quite hard to believe.

Personally, I want either a full Byzantine funeral (preferably Russian usage, but Greek will do too) or Latin Tridentine Requiem (Sarum rite will suffice)... so there will be NO STRIPPERS AT MY FUNERAL. I repeat, for all my friends reading this, NO STRIPPERS!

Exequies Coming

Out of your charity, pray for Susan, my grandmother, who is about to pass from this world. My parents and I are popping up to Borneo tomorrow morning, hoping to see her before she goes. God knows when we'll be back (I certainly don't). I'll be back for Calista's wedding next Sunday (16th), certainly though.

Naturally, I pray that God either restores her to health or take her quickly - naught is more dolorous than to behold the prolongation of suffering and prolation of relief in those whom one holds beloved. Insh'Allah, we hope. If I ramble somewhat, your indulgence is begged. If I get flippant or formal - that's my method of coping with tragedy. Flippancy is a sort of release valve, while formality is, to me, more appropriate for expressing true grief and deep sorrow than the usual bawling and sobbing seen at Chinese funerals.

Gran's nearly 90, so she's had a full life. As the eldest (nay, ONLY) son of the eldest son, I suspect I'll have stuff to do during the exequies, as I'm supposed to be the most important of the grandchildren in the Chinese tradition. On the other hand, this being a mostly RC family, I truly haven't a clue about what I'll have to do - I suspect there won't be any incense sticks to offer or bows to make.

As a Byzantine Christian, I'm bringing my Psalter. The Byzantine tradition has the entire Psalter of 150 psalms read over the deceased (preferably several times) during the wake and up till the funeral. From my Latin (RC) roots, I'm also bringing the Roman Officium Defunctorum (Office for the Departed), in addition to the Offices for a Departing and Departed Soul.

Some would call it unlucky to speak of funerary arrangements while the person is still alive - those superstitious Chinese would call it suay or unlucky. I on the other hand, don't see it as such - arrangements should be made while one is still lucid and not overcome by grief.

Oh, and in case you wonder what the word exequies means, it simply means funeral rites. The singular is exequy, and the word is derived from the Latin exequiae meaning the same thing, derived from the verb exsequi meaning to follow to the end.