Daily Readings week of 20 Trinity

The Daily Offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon. The readings are as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate supplemented with other devotional material.

  • Sat – BVMMPEPMartyrology
  • XX Sunday after Trinity / 21 Pentecost (St Gregory the Wonderworker BC, St Gregory of Tours BC) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Mon – Dedication of Basilica of Ss Peter and PaulMPEPMartyrology
  • Tue – Feria (St Pontianus of Rome PM) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Wed – St Edmund KMMPEPMartyrology
  • Thu – Presentation of the BVM (St Gelasius, PM, St Golumbanus, A) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Fri –St Cecelia of Rome VMMPEPMartyrology
  • Sat – St Clement PM (St Felicitas, VM) – MP – EP – Martyrology
  • Sunday Next before Advent / Last Pentecost (St Chrysogonus M) – MP – EP – Martyrology

O Sapientia – First Advent Meditation

A blessed Advent! For my friends in the Western Ecclesial traditions, a little explanation: our Eastern Pre-Nativity Fast starts today. Advent is, of course, a Western Name, but we call it the Advent Fast here in America’s mostly-convert communities. Yes it is a bit longer than Western Advent, but for what it’s worth your fast used to be this long as well – and it was a fast, like (or close to) the fast of Lent. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain is treated to a sumptuous feast by his host who, in response to the compliments, reminds his guest, “It is a fast.”

This is the first of my seven Advent Meditations for this year.  It’s an annual practice, and it helps the Pre-Christmas focus. The meditations, as always, take a starting place the Great O Antiphons that are recited on the nights leading up to Christmas in the monasteries of the West.

Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.

Wisdom, who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, reaching out mightily from end to end, and sweetly arranging all things: come to teach us the way of prudence.

I’m a bit flumoxed, I confess, as to what the topic is.  So I’ll stick with what’s on my heart: faith.

Faith does not mean simply to verbally or mentally assert that some words are true, but rather, placing all contrary social pressure and fear aside, to act as if those words are true. James 2:26, etc. Many parents tell the kids they believe in Santa, but they go out and buy presents anyway. Woe betide the mother who believes in Santa so much that she sleeps without shopping in December.  It dawns on me that most of the time my faith is rather more like that: I’m happy say the Creed, but I make sure to back up my choices with some extra shopping.

If “prudence” means, in part, thrift and conservation, I’m doubling my efforts, as it were, doing one thing and saying another.  My Faith is misapplied.

How would I live if what I said I believed was what I really believed?

Who would I treat differently?
Who would I watch over?
Who would I avoid?
What would I do in the world?
What would I buy?
What would I eat?
How would I act?

If, as our Antiphon says, God’s wisdom ordereth all things, then this thing, here, in front of me, now… is a gift form God.  I think it might be interesting to ask the question as each situation arises, not WWDJ, but rather WWJHMD? What would Jesus have me do?  How do I best work out my salvation in this situation with these people at this time?

How can we make it through Advent as if, at the end, God will meet us?

Thoughts on Advent in the Orthodox Western Rite

Monday (11 Nov) was Martinmas for westerners on the Gregorian Calendar, for Old Calendar folks it falls on Saturday 24 November. In times past, in Northern Europe, the next day (12 November) was the beginning of the Advent Fast. I did a little research on Advent because, as a pious Orthodox Convert, I assumed our 40-day long fast was the “normal” one that the “heretical” west has trimmed and, finally, destroyed. So, believe it or not, I was looking for Sunday propers for the “six or seven Sundays of Advent” as would have existed in the “orthodox” west before the Carolingian Religion took over the Roman church… I was asking the wrong questions, of course.
One thing we (I’m making assumptions here, but it seems to be “We Americans”) keep looking for is a religion that is unchanged and unchanging. Seems to be a real issue for us: there are cultures that have had indoor plumbing longer than our nation has been around.  Most countries have church buildings older than our denominations.  We get lost in vastness of history and look for some thing “changeless”.  In a talk at St Vlad’s, Frederica Mathewes-Green once referred to having found “the Church that never changes”. Anyone with an eye to history realizes the development of liturgy and culture inside Orthodoxy runs a parallel to our liturgy’s evolution. Almost every assumption that “What we do now” is “What we have always and everywhere done” is false. So I was asking “when did what we used to do devolve into what we do now?” I should have started with “What did we used to do?”

 First – and not by way of dismissal – we have to realize that the East didn’t celebrate Christmas. The East had Theophany. The West had Nativity. It was was a gradual process whereby the two cultures let their feasts influence each other and appear on each other’s calendar. In other words, Christmas, or “The Feast of the Nativity after the Flesh of Our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ”, to give the full name, is – at least as far as the East is concerned – a Western Innovation, albeit one that worked well for the Church and one that was accepted with the consensus fidelium.

When this innovation took hold in the east, it made sense to apply to it the same sort of thinking that had already be applied to Pascha. The East opted for a forty day fast prior to Christmas in order to mirror the forty days that lead up to Pascha. By this time the Pascha fast had ceased to be about preparing catechumens (there were not many adults anyway) and all about preparing for Pascha, itself. The same became true of the Advent Fast. There was no tradition of Baptism on Christmas, of course: but there was already a model for a pre-feast fast. So we just used it again. In the West, which had celebrated Christmas for a while, there was no consensus about the pre-feast fasting at all. In some places it was a longer in some places shorter. Remember, Lent was originally just one day long – fasting on Good Friday. So word that Advent Fast varied in length from 4 or 5 Sundays, to several weeks of limited fasting should not at all surprise us. By the time the west settled on a pattern it was the four weeks we currently have. The Early Middle Ages, however, still saw the 40 day tradition in some places.

A Synod held in 590 established that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from November 11th until the Nativity would be offered according to the Lenten rite. This and other traditions, such as fasting, show that the period of time now established as the Advent season was more penitential (similar to Lent) than the liturgical season as we know it today. A collection of homilies from Pope St. Gregory the Great (whose papacy was from 590-604) included a sermon for the second Sunday of Advent, and by 650 Spain was celebrating the Sundays (five at the time) of Advent. So it seems the liturgical season was established around the latter part of the 6th century and first half of the 7th century. For the next couple of centuries, Advent was celebrated for five Sundays; Pope Gregory VII, who was pope from 1073-85, reduced the number to four Sundays. 


For a much fuller – a more geek-happy – history, please see this article from the Catholic News Agency. It is filled with names and dates and minutiae. It notes that the “Ambrosian liturgy, even to this day, has six weeks of Advent; so has the Gothic or Mozarabic missal.” I find it interesting that the west decided to use Lenten services in Advent – underscoring the fasting with Liturgy. There is no such Liturgical modification in the East, although I think it must be understood that there is also not much of a tradition of daily Eucharists in the East and so no need for liturgical changes as such, especially during the week. What I think can be agreed on is that, considering both the East as a whole and the full history of the West, the tradition is for Advent to be a bit longer than simply the fore-part of December and maybe a couple of November bits and that it was a decidedly post-schism Pope who established – firmly – the four-Sunday Advent we know in the West today. So it is worth asking why it is that the canonical Orthodox Western Rite, Antiochian and Russian, adhere to this practice? It might be more in keeping with our Orthodox Western Ancestors to follow the Byzantine rite, starting on 15 November, or, even, to return to the post-11-11 Monday Wednesday Friday pattern that was traditional in much of the west prior to the schism. I know that, at least in ROCOR, the Bishops have asked recent WR converts to refrain from post-schism practices in general until they are evaluated by the Synod – and they have to use the non-ecumentist Julian Calendar. It would be interesting if *all* the calendar innovations were undone. I confess, again in these pages, that part of my fascination with the Orthodox Western Rite is more than a little geeky-time travel. It’s a bit like those Sci-Fi books that ask “What if the South had won the War?” So I really would like to see the canonical OWR explore a bit more.

My Rite of St Tikhon website allows for some flexibility in the daily office: I would being using the Ferial Canticles on 15 Nov and start singing Alma Redemptoris Mater the Advent Antiphon of Our Lady.

As always I will begin my Advent Meditation series on WR liturgical Texts and continue through the season.

Byzantine Time

This is not a post about culturally and ethnically Orthodox folks who never seem to get to Church before the sermon.

As an Orthodox Convert exposed to other Orthodox Converts and our peculiar brand of stress-inducing hyper-piety I’ve often heard a discussion of “Midnight to Midnight vrs Sunset to Sunset”.    The argument being that from Genesis on the Bible “clearly” starts the day at Sunset, and that the liturgy “clearly” starts a feast day with Vespers and that Saturday night “Clearly” is the beginning of Sunday and that the “Fathers clearly” marked time from Sunset to Sunset.  Therefore we should not mark our days from some artificially created “midnight” but rather from Vespers to Vespers (at least) if not from actual Sunset to Sunset.

This means fasting from Thursday night at Sunset until Friday night at Sunset.  It also means we can go out at Midnight.  Curiously, it never seems to mean the pre-communion fast starts at 6PM the night before, and so Saturday’s party goes from Friday Sunset until midnight between Saturday and Sunday.

But all that aside, the argument has me, today, looking at Liturgical Time.

East and West both have the same liturgical tradition in this respect: any feast day starts with a Vespers and continues through with a Eucharistic commemoration the following day.  The West the tradition evolved to “extending” the feast by adding a Second Vespers that – rather like the day-and-a-half long Saturday above, makes a feast go just a little bit longer than a “normal” day.

In the Book of Common Prayer this tradition reverses: a “basic” day is Morning and then Evening Prayer. In many ways this makes sense in an essentially parochial  environment (and what was initially a very anti-monastic environment).  The common folks get the “today is today” matter-of-factness of it all and I suspect that simplicity was a crucial issue in this decision.  But also the experience of the day, at least in the west, is that “today” does not include part of last evening before bed.

The BCP tradition therefore became one where a  feast day means Morning Prayer, (Possible) Eucharist, Evening Prayer.  After a while the BCP tradition gave certain feast days “Eve of” readings.   Thus instead of Second Vespers of the Latin Rite it becomes the First Vespers that were the “extra added part” of the feast day in English Usage.  In the Orthodox Western Rite it is this way in the Rite of St Tikhon.  In the Rite of St Gregory it is the older, Latin way.

As I am editing the office for daily use, this awareness of time strikes me as very important: it is the sanctification of time that is the point of the daily hours, be that just family prayers in the AM and PM or the seven/eight-fold office of traditional monasticism (East or West) or the Western Rite’s offices of Morning and Evening prayer.  Certainly the idea of a day starting and ending at midnight, consisting of Morning and then Evening, is an innovation no more recent than the 15th century.  But even so it is no where near as recent as some major changes in the Eastern liturgy. (The Pascha service we serve prior to the Divine Liturgy today evolved in the 19th century!)  But all the services are about the eucharistic sanctification of time, the inclusion of our daily motions of living, moving and being into the Divine eternal present that is gathered around the Altar of Communion.

To do this we must be aware of the time.  No mater how we count the days, we must count them.

The daily hours make us aware of the passage of time, of the daily flow that comes either in the stasis and prayer of a monastery or else the daily ebb and flow of a working or farming life with stops in Morning and Evening, even the four-fold division of modern hours (Morning, Noon, Evening, Bedtime).  Each phase is taken, blessed, and broken in offering before God so that it may become a vehicle of grace for us.

Daily Readings, Week of 19 Trinity

The Daily offices for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon, as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate together with other devotional material. For other material, see the Book of Common Prayer as published by Lancelot Andrewes Press.

  • Saturday – Dedication of the Basilica of St Saviour (St Theodore Tyro, M) – MPEPMartyrology
  • XIX Sunday after Trinity / 20 Pentecost (St Typhon, Respicius & Nympha, Mm) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Monday  St Martin of Tours, BC (St Mennas M, Theodore the Studite, M) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Tuesday – Feria (St Martin I of Rome, PM) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Wednesday – Feria (St Britius of Tours, BC) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Thursday – Feria (Gregory Palamas, BC) – MPEPMartyrology
  • Friday – Feria – MPEPMartyrology
  • Saturday – BVMMP – EP – Martyrology

Sine Nomine

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Daily Readings, Christ the King

The Daily Readings for Morning and Evening Prayer in the Rite of St Tikhon, as assigned by the Antiochian Western Rite Vicariate together with other devotional material. For other material, see the Book of Common Prayer as published by Lancelot Andrewes Press.

Hedonic Choice

That definition is a key phrase, “considered in terms of pleasant sensations” and it provides us with a logical course for the second image:

There are many reasons this may be of concern to a Christian, but I want to lay aside the first one: Hedonism is not only about anti-Christian moral choices.  Once can find intrinsic pleasure in long periods of silence, luxurious polyphony, Gregorian or Byzantine Chant, religious art is all kinds of expensive and collectible, religious garb is pricier than even the most expensive of bespoke hipster clothing, one can enjoy the health benefits of a feast/fast cycle, and there are even fetish clubs celebrating celibacy and enforced chastity.  One can be a Christian for purely self-interested, hedonic reasons.  There are a lot of “Church Shoppers” who make very hedonistic choices in their churches: better music, better choirs, better sermons, better people, better coffee hours, better Sunday Schools, better parking, better service times… I rarely hear “better theology” as a reason but when I do hear bout theology it’s most often “I’m XYZ and I need a church that won’t judge me for that.”  Churches are “shopped” for hedonism all the time.

We make the same choices in clothes, sex, food, housing, bank accounts…

Choice is the problem, really; and freedom of it.

Christianity asks us to make a choice – any choice – for another reason: St Paul asks us to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling”.  Every choice we make is part of that. This homeless person in front of me now? This argument with my spouse? This supper with my parents? This meeting at the office? This random flirtation on  the subway?: This invitation to a Christmas party? This job interview? This customer service phone call?  This customer call me at work? This is the tool God has given me right now for working out my salvation here and now.  The choices I make will echo through eternity as either steps forward or backwards.

Which shall it be?

Hedonic choices would have us decide based on what makes me feel good. Christianity asks (compels?) us to make choices based on what is true.  Additionally, Christianity posits Truth not on doctrinal points or moral regulations but on relationship: Truth is a person, Jesus Christ.  Any action of His is True, and any true action on our part is His. Since Jesus Christ is God, is Love: Truth is Love, not an offensive or defensive proposition or exclusive fence, but an embracing, engaging Divine Person. Mind you, I’m not saying that ordering the steak over the pasta is a choice for or against salvation.  But why did you decide to go out at all?

One of my own personal struggles is acceptance of what’s in front of me.  A daily morning prayer has us ask God for the grace to accept what he sends but how many times do we just go out looking for something else?  When Jay and Sean-Franc got me a new phone for Christmas last year how long was it before I was looking for something new?  When the house is full of food, why do I go out to eat? Because there’s nothing here I want right now.

Clothes?  Why do I have so many clothes above and beyond what I need to wear: because they look nice, they make me look nice and because they make me feel good about myself.  Clothes let me do that? Yup. I don’t think I really know what is going on on my brain – beside hedonism – when I turn to clothes to make me feel good about myself.

We want to include sex in the envelope of love, but is it?  Remember Truth is relationship and Love: not lust, not the grinding need to get off that allows us to use another person as a toy.  Our society floats something called “Sex Positive” attitudes.  Certainly sex-negative attitudes provoke judgmentalism, but promoting sex as a positive and always good – because it feels good – is equally abusive to the most intimate relationship into which we can enter.  But what happens when the person in front of me is there for these sexual reasons? Do I turn him or her away out of charity or out of judgement?  Do I deny any intimacy because it might lead to sex, rather than learning to walk the moral tightrope?  Do I cave in to “it feels good” or do I run away and hurt others?  Both propositions seem damaging to my soul and to others.  That same prayer I cited earlier asks God for the ability to “act firmly and wisely without embittering or embarrassing others”.  So often it is far easier to embitter and embarrass others and feel just a little bit superior at the same time in an act I like to think of as eremitic masturbation.  It’s just as hedonistic as if you had jumped in the sack together: it feels that good.

I prefer to eat green, organic, locally produced, vegetarian fed, everything.  Farm-fresh food, veggies hand-harvest and raw, beer locally brewed with hops grown in the back yard of hippies I love and pigs slaughtered after being pre-mourned by the children of Farmers I watched grow up. There’s honey grown in hives fed on flowers hand-watered by the ladies up the street and Meyer lemons rolling down the walk way in my garden along with bitter oranges that make for excellent marmalade for topping the local artisan bread raised up on the native yeasts of the Bay Area.  Life is good, especially at dinner time.

The thing is: picking the thing that feels good is usually the easiest!  We are so focused on here, now, make me feel good, that we forget the long term effect.  Just today I heard a podcast daring Urban Activists to stop focusing on smaller is better and realize that combining more people in sustainable ways in large cities is greener than letting the population run wild everywhere: but that might mean my housing prices collapse!  Al Gore admits Ethanol is a bad idea, but that the time getting Iowa farmers behind him seemed like a better presidential option.

It feels good now, but it’s gonna suck later always seems like the better option over it sucks now.

I hear a lot of talk among the conservative folks about sex.  Increasingly, though, I think the sex issue, the divorce issue, the abortion issues, the gay marriage issue: these are all symptoms of the same thing that keeps us fat, that addicts us to drugs of all kinds from caffeine to adrenaline and endorphins, from pot, alcohol to scary movies and roller coasters (which are, admit it, rather like publicly acceptable porn).  We wear immodest clothing because it makes us feel good – even when we are chilly.  Seems we have built a society designed to satisfy our every desire – for good or ill.  You know how easy it is to care for the poor? You never even have to see them.

Reverse Identity Theft

XKCD totally gets it! I am an early adopter. I joined and paid for Blogger when Ev was still in an apartment on Judah St. My Twitter number is only 6 digits. I’ve had an Amazon account since 1998 or so. I’ve had my gMail account only a tiny bit less: certainly it was this millenium, but it was before 9/11.  I can still see the office I was sitting in the day I got my invite – and sent out a few to friends who asked.  Back in those days you could still do cool things like hold raffles on your website:  “I’ve got some more gMail invites, the first ten of you to write and post a Haiku about how awesome Cherry iMacs are (and link to me) will get one…”  The cool thing is that I was in so very early that I managed to get my first initial and last name at gmail.com with no numbers or other qualifiers at all.  

I’ve got a common last name.  You’d may not be surprised how many people think their email address is mine.  Over the years – including once whilst writing this article – I’ve very politely written back to a number of parties and said, “I think you’ve sent this to the wrong address.”  Other parties have registered my email address assumedly by mistake, or else used my email address to avoid spam in their real address.  There are a lot of my first initials out there.  There would be my real name, eg, Huw, then Hugh, Henry, Hyrum, Harry, Harold, Halley, Heather, Henrietta, Haighlea, Harley etc, and then because it’s gMail and the punctuation doesn’t matter, there’s h. and h- and h_ in all of its possible permutations.  Then there’s typos – as the most recent one was (evidently the party left out a middle initial in the address).  

So for the humorous, yes, one party put my email address on her bridal registry:  I do hope she liked all the avocado green place settings.  I couldn’t resist.  There were travel documents – one airline with whom I was already registered kindly assuming that anyone using my address must actually be me – I could have cancelled them, at least they didn’t ask me to pay for the tickets to Europe!  Magazines constantly send offers to me thinking they are reaching more appropriate folks.  One party in England used my address to register at a couple of very posh eateries of the sort that bother to write personal emails to invite you to come back to dinner.  One party in LA uses my address, still, for just about everything – and her parents don’t seem to remember me every time I have to write and say “I’m not your daughter.”

Honestly, I only get annoyed when they keep contacting me after I’ve clicked unsubscribe or when I’ve contacted them once to say “Not me”.  The only thing more annoying is the woman who owned my phone number before I got it and bounced a lot of checks.  After eleven years with this phone number I still get calls from claims investigators looking for this scofflaw from North Carolina.

The security aspect, however, wasn’t quite clear to me until one party registered his first initial and last name at gmail.com (my email, that is) as his email on his SAT.

With no way to turn it off until it was too late, the SAT sent his score and my email address to just about every college in the known universe.  I was able to tell the SAT they had the wrong address with one click, but the report had been sent out already.  At my address, he was offered scholarships, invitations for visits and telephone interviews if he couldn’t show up.  I heard about visiting days, advanced programs and work-study options.  Most of these had “unsubscribe” links at the bottom and since I couldn’t be bothered to track any of this I did, just as a matter of course, click unsubscribe on everything.  Those that didn’t have unsubscribe were blocked as spam (thank you, gmail for an excellent filter) and, after a couple of months, it all stopped.  But as the next admission cycled rolled around, a few colleges decided to try again.

After clicking unsubscribe one morning, suddenly I was staring at the home address of my erstwhile kin! One college, a tiny school in Missouri, didn’t unsubscribe, but rather invited someone to “confirm their account settings.”  I tried it again, yup: his home address and phone. No, I didn’t call him and say, “Hey, I’m the reason you never got your SAT scores or that scholarship to Harvard.”  Instead I contacted the college admissions office and said, “This may be a FERPA violation.  You’d better check.” Of course it wasn’t their fault – but it seems kind of odd to reveal so much information based on an unverified email.

Since that time, I’ve had more shocking events.  People often send the most revealing photos to the wrong address.  The email today was a photograph of handwritten account information, including phone numbers and, one assumes, some kind of UK personal ID number.  I was most horrified at the Real Estate agent in Ontario that kept sending me loan documents for a family (that had given the wrong email) even after I asked for her to stop.  My assumption is that she called the family to confirm the email address and that they, again, gave the wrong email.  But really, when you get email from an address, that’s about all you need. Loan documents…. with a lot of info on them. Just imagine that for a minute: with whom would you want to accidentally share your banking information?

This is what happens when you either mistype the intended email address or else give the wrong email address: you share personal information. Full stop.  It’s not “Reverse Identity Theft” so much as “Free Identity Give-away”. You’ve created a security leak on your own: and how much of one depends entirely on the company with whom you’re doing business.

You may share it with someone  who is kind-hearted and who will write you back and say ”you’ve reached the wrong address” or you may not.   You may reach someone who changes the color of your place settings, or you may share payment information or banking information in a way that can put you at risk!

After more than two decades in customer service of one form or another, I no longer think that most of these are mere mistakes.  I’ve worked for ISPs and websites. I’ve managed customer files for employment agencies and for IT departments in colleges.  Over and over people do not know their email address.  That’s not a mistake: that’s stupid.  “Ma’am, that address is not in our database. Sir, there is no account with that address.”  I have no idea how they manage to do this.  To me it’s like not knowing your own phone number.  Yes, certainly, it may be hard in a given moment to remember your own number – I never dial it, you know!  But after a moment you remember it and go “Ah, yes”.  And yes, certainly, people have multiple email addresses – I’ve got 7 or 8!  But again, it’s like your work phone and your home phone, or, better, your land line, your cell phone and your work phone and the fax number at the office – all of these are usually within easy reach of whatever passes for the remainder of my memory.

Uncharitably, either the vast majority of users are so very dense as to be unable to find their hometown on a map, or else  – with a bit more charity – they are just making up stuff to avoid giving out personal information over the internet.  “I’ll just say my email address is bilbo at baggins dot com and it will all be ok”. But that is just as stupid. Someplace Bilbo is waiting to get the next email and he may have nefarious plans on your precious information.

Right now I’m dealing with a very annoying case: a party used my email to register her B&N Nook.  Now, I’m greatly astonished that there was never a validation email: click here to validate your account. Sure, I never had to validate my Kindle – but I’ve had the same address on my Amazon account for over a decade: that address was validated back then. I’m equally astonished that it took several weeks of conversation with B&N to get someone to contact their customer and asked her for a proper email address.  I’ve even called B&N and they won’t talk to me about the account because I can’t validate it!  But I could reset the password. Why would a customer do this?  Why would a company not want to correct it?  Who knows.

Again, when you either mistype the intended email address or else wilfully give the wrong email address you share personal information. Full stop.