Growing Up

I had two sets of male role models when I was growing up. Like many a child born in the mid-1960s and starting school in the early 1970s, my surrounding culture, my schools and my TV were filled with young men (and women) that looked like the older teenagers in That Seventies Show. I had bullies that lookst like the curly-haired guy in sunglasses. I had stoners that looked like Ashton Kutcher, I had various friends who looked like all the other folks.  I was younger: only 6 in 1970 – so I could look up to all these folks (like my Uncle Bobby) and say “When I grow up I want to be cool like them.” Perhaps you see where this is going, but by the time I was 18, the 70s were over and the 80s were under way. We had elected Ronald Reagan; Alex P. Keaton was what young men were supposed to turn into.  Apart from a brief moment in HS when I was the Goody-Two-Shoes guy from That Seventies Show it all ended before I got there and when college started, well.. it was kinda boring.


To be honest, by the time I got to College, no one did pot or acid (it was about cocaine and MDMA) and, while there was a lot of sex to be had, AIDS erupted on the scene at the exact same moment that I moved to Greenwich Village.  The party literally stopped just as I walked in the door. Bye bye, Hippes.  One whole set of male role models stopped being valid. I guess I could have changed into the world’s most out-dated College student, but, instead, I just moved along with the culture.  Polo shirts, high tops, jeans and sneakers, knit ties (with flat ends) and feathered hair.  I still had hair…

Something strange happened after that, but we’ll get to that in a minute. First, back to 1964…

The other set of role models in my life had nothing to do with teenagers or college students and very little to do with the 1960s, actually, except for the fact that they were there.  My Childhood was surrounded by what you might call Southern Gentlemen Farmers. Farmers certainly: Mr Gray was as large a peanut farmer as was Mr Carter.  My Grandfather, with quite a respectable Gov’t job, was his friend and so, in our small rural town, we were “respectable.”  They wore hats.  And ties. They dressed like we see in old Black and White TV shows and movies.  And when I grew up, I wanted to be like them – because that’s what adult men looked like: most of the older people in Don Drapers life – including Mr D himself.

So, to recap:  I wanted to get a little older and be a hippie; then, be a man in hats and ties.

Problem was, when the hippies (ie, Baby Boomers) grew up they didn’t, really, grow up. And so their kids – and all of us who followed them – didn’t grow up either. There’s are three (four?) entire generations out there who think “grown up” means earning a lot of money, preferably for not so much work, and wearing jeans and t-shirt all day. Yes, I know, clothes don’t make the man… but anyone who works in the fashion industry (or who watches Bugs Bunny) will tell you: dress different to act different. This is why Mr Rogers used to change into a sweater and sneakers… but keep his tie on: that’s what guys did.

I am, just now, 2 years shy of my Grandfather’s age when I was born.  That’s a bit of an earth-shaking statement.  I don’t feel old, or anything like that: but I also don’t feel like I’m half the man he was: this is not a gay/straight comment.  It’s a baseball cap and blue-jeans comment.  By my age the vast majority of my ancestors (who lived to my age) had raised multiple generations of family, and were resting on well-earned laurels.  Most people my age can’t even care for house plants, let alone children.  Because they still are children.  In fact, I want to turn that around: I think it’s the self-sacrifice and martyrdom of marriage and childbearing that makes children into adults.

Most people I know personally (gay and straight) are trapped in a kind of perpetual adolescence. Our clothing choices make that visible.  Yes, I know cultures change and clothing styles change, but even at a church party, I can see the difference between parents and non-parents. Or, equally, between married and single people.  The latter may age… but we’re all sort of wrapped up in something we can’t get rid of without the help of another.  We may be wearing the same clothes – but why, I wonder, are we all dressed like the kids?

There’s this interesting, on-going discussion about “dressing for dinner” in Downton Abbey, who should, who does and doesn’t, why they don’t.  Mind you: “not dressing for dinner” in Downton is still wearing more layers of clothing than most of us wear in a week worth of office work.  At one point the Dowager Countess refers to “play clothes” while speaking to two adult men in suits with vests, suspenders, white shirts, dress shoes, ties and bowlers!  Not dressing for dinner means wearing a tie instead of a bow tie or wearing a black tie instead of a white tie. There is, however, never any question of jeans and tshirt.

Again, I know cultures change.  But we still know what we’re doing: because when we go to a formal party or to fancy event, or a work party, or a wedding or a funeral, we dress up.  We know that we are spending most of our life dressed down or: dressed like kids, even at work. In those rare occasions when we dress like adults we know we’ve done something extra, something formal. But most of the time we all still dress like we are going out on a play date – even when we’re on a very adult sort of date indeed.  And adulthood starts, really, at the Prom: it should all be clear from there on out, that we’ve “Come of age” and we should dress like it.

A friend of mine pointed out that we don’t get dressed to “be someone” we dress up because we want to honor the people we will be with. You dress up at a funeral out of respect for the dead.  You dress up for a wedding out of respect for the Bride and Groom.  This has always been true: even in the Bible. That’s why the man with the bad clothes gets tossed out of the wedding feast. He’s dissing the family. But we go to church in jeans and Hawaiian shirts.  Look at the President or the most recently Former President with their collars open: feels kinda disappointing really. If if you don’t have enough self respect to dress like the leader of the free world, at least when you meet me you’d better look the part.  It’s insulting otherwise: I’m supposed to call you sir and Mr President, and you can’t even wear adult clothes like an adult? Mr Clinton blows them away in terms of style just because he wears a tie all the time.

I don’t know: would dressing up preclude us asking like children all the time?  Certainly not because people have acted childishly all along – even in Downton. And some of the most childish people I know are wearing bowties these days.  But, can you imagine a world where leaving the house meant looking nice? Not being caught dead in sweats – even at WalMart?  Wearing shoes rather than sneakers unless there was a gym in the forecast, using hats that looked nice rather than dusty? The good folks on Downton are a bit out of my class: some of those tweed suits, even the ones worn by the servants, cost $1,000.  I’m not going to go out and buy one.  But I do wonder what life might be like if we wore hats and vests as a matter of course, if my dressing up was a mark of respect for you; a life where my fedora was daily wear along with a tie and if that didn’t make me look like an oddly eccentric San Franciscan of  Certain Age, but rather an adult among other adults, divided from our juniors by age, experience and clothing. And where my clothes showed a mark of respect to you and where you understood that if I showed up in jeans and a shirt – if we were not cleaning out the garage, that is – I fully meant to say “you’re not worth it to me”.

Prayer for Rain

In 100 days, parts of California could out of water.

OGOD, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom, and the righteousness thereof, all things necessary to their bodily sustenance; Send us, we beseech thee, in this our necessity, such moderate rain and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth to our comfort, and to thy honour; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Teh Gay as First World Issue

Toying with an idea…

  1. Same sex attraction seems to be a universal human and other-species event – not that all species or all humans have it, but it seems common enough to need no special comment. It seems it may be a natural part of  life events, a dysfunction, a mutation or a part of something we’ve not yet discerned.
        
  2. Throughout most of human history you got married and you raised kids to preserve the family, to care for you in old age, to work the farm, to hunt the woolly mammoth. Sexual attraction, per se, wasn’t an issue. Seemingly – likewise by tradition – same-sex action was used as punishment or pleasure, as venting or whatever, but as a secondary reality.
     
  3. People were not “Gay or Straight” but rather sexual. Sex did some things (legal/good/social) and some other things (illegal/not good/anti-social) and even some other things (commercial/military/social+anti-social).  In some cultures there were roles for what we might consider as “sexual transgressors” such as effeminate men cross dressing and living as women, but in other cultures these roles did not exist.  These were not sexual identities as we have now, but rather functions of sex.
        
  4. Marriage, as an institution, preserved so much of society in its very self that the idea of not participating was unthinkable. Until very recently not participating in marriage (unless you were a monastic) also meant that you were become a burden on the family or else alone – totally alone. The spinster aunt in the garret, the bachelor farmer, the crazy cousin who always needs family support.
        
  5. Only in very wealthy societies do we have the wherewithal to imagine that just because we feel something we must act on it.  Only in wealthy societies can we take a feeling and require it to become our identity – and cause others to develop identities either with us or in opposition to us.
        
  6. Only in wealthier societies focused on individualism do we have the finances – and the leisure – to explore such things. Wealth alone is not enough: as in many wealthy societies (ancient and modern Empires, including Ancient Rome and the British Empire in the 17th-Early 20th Centuries) heterosexual marriage was not only the norm but de rigueur even for those who were same-sex attracted as a component of social identity and mobility, as a quality of class standing and economic stability. It’s leisure: the time to say ‘I don’t have to grow my own food, care for my parents/children, work-all-day-and-sleep-all-night, so I can explore my feelings’.
        
  7. In the modern world we have decided that wealth, individualism and freedom of choice/action are supreme moral imperatives. When we “liberate” another society or make economic contact with another society and say things like “wealth and personal freedom” they catch our morals too. Even in “First World” countries poorer communities do not have the same issues because the family is such an important part of fiscal viability that opting out is not considered until one leaves the community.
        
  8. The choice to be sexual active or not is a freedom granted by our wealth and leisure. It would not be a valid choice, even in a more liberal culture, 150 years ago neither in a less-wealthy culture now.
        
  9. The idea that we are right and therefore everyone must yield to our desires/cultural choices is as solidly as based on mere personal and/or cultural bias as any religious claim that we are wrong. 

Daily Office, 29 Jan – 15 Feb AD 2014

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, unofficially supplemented with other devotional material taken from the Breviary and the Psalter. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily Psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.

I don’t usually post this far forward: The links are all valid, but the daily offices are being edited – they will be ready by the day you click on them. This will get us right up to the I Vespers of Septuagesima!


January

  1. Wednesday – Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  2. Thursday – Feria (St Martina, VM) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  3. Friday – Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.

February

  1.  Saturday – St Ignatius of Antioch (Bridget of Ireland V) – MPEPMartyrology.
  2.  Purification of the BVM (Sunday 4th after Epiphany)MPEPMartyrology.
  3.  Monday – St Blaise B.M. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4.  Tuesday – New Martyrs of Russia (St Joseph of Aleppo) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  5.  Wednesday – St Agatha, VM – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  6.  Thursday – St Photius, CD (St Dorothy) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  7.  Friday – St. Romuald, Abt – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  8.  Saturday – BVM Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  9.  Sunday 5th after Epiphany (St Cyril of Alexandria BCD, St Apollonia VM) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  10.  Monday – St Scholastica, V – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  11.  Tuesday – St. Gregory II, P.M. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  12.  Wednesday – Feria – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  13.  Thursday – Kentigern, BC – MP – EP –  Martyrology.
  14.  Friday – St Valentine PM – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  15.  Saturday – BVM Ss Faustinus and Jovita MM – MP – Martyrology.

Daily Office 18 – 26 Jan A.D. 2014

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, unofficially supplemented with other devotional material taken from the Breviary and the Psalter. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily Psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.


  1. Satruday – BVM (St Peter’s Chair at Rome) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  2. Sunday 2nd after Epiphany Ss Maris, Martha, Audifax and Habakkuk, Persian, MM at Rome; St Mark Evgenikos, B. of Ephesus – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  3. Monday – Ss Fabian P. & Sebastian, Mm at Rome – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4. Tuesday – St Agnes, VM – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  5. Wednesday – Feria (Ss Vincent, Dea. M. & Anastasius, M.) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  6. Thursday – Feria (St Merentiana, VM) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  7. Friday – St Timothy, B. – MPEP –  Martyrology.
  8. Saturday – The Conversation of St Paul, Apostle MPEPMartyrology.
  9. Sunday 3rd after Epiphany St Polycarp, B. – MP – EP – Martyrology.

St Augustine on the Created Beauty

Wherever I look, heaven and earth and all that is in them tell me that I should love you, Lord; and they cease not to tell it to all men, so that there is no excuse for them. But what is it that I love when I love you? Not the beauty of any bodily thing, nor the order of seasons, not the brightness of light that rejoices the eye, nor the sweet melodies of all songs, nor the sweet fragrance of flowers and ointments and spices: not manna nor honey, not the limbs that carnal love embraces. It is not these I love when I love God. Yet in a sense I do love light and melody and fragrance and food and embrace when I love my God – the light and the voice and the fragrance and the food and embrace in the soul, when that light shines upon my soul which no place can contain, that voice sounds which no time can take from me, I breathe that fragrance which no wind scatters, I eat the food which is not lessened by eating, and I lie in the embrace which satiety never comes to sunder. It is this that I love, when I love my God.
And what is the object of my love? I asked the earth and it answered: “I am not he”; and all things that are in the earth made the same confession. I asked the sea and the depths and the creeping things, and they answered: “We are not your God; seek higher.” I asked the winds that blow, and the whole air with all that is in it answered: “Anaximenes was wrong; I am not God.” I asked the heavens, the sun, the moon, the stars, and they answered: “Neither are we God whom you seek.” And I said to all the things that throng about the gateways of the senses: “Tell me of my God, since you are not he. Tell me something of him.” And they cried out in a great voice: He made us. My question was my gazing upon them, and their answer was their beauty. I asked the whole frame of the universe about my God and it answered me: “I am not he, but he made me.”
Surely this beauty should be self-evident to all of sound mind? Then why does it not speak to everyone in the same way? Animals great and small see it, but cannot put a question about it; for in them reason does not sit in judgement upon the evidence of their senses. But men can question it, and so should be able clearly to see the invisible things of God understood by things which are made; but they love created things too much and become subject to them, and subjects cannot judge. All these things refuse to answer those who ask, unless they ask with power to judge. If one person merely sees the world, while another not only sees but questions it, the world does not change its speech – that is, its outward appearance which speaks – in such a way as to appear differently to the two people; but it presents exactly the same face to each, saying nothing to the one, but answering the other: or rather it gives its answer to all, but it is only understood by those who hear its outward voice through their senses and compare it with the truth within themselves. For truth says to me: “Your God is not heaven or earth or any corporeal thing.”
St Augustine, Confessions X.6; Word in Season V.

Daily Office Readings 12 – 18 Jan AD 2014

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. Each MP/EP link will take you to a complete office, needing only the daily psalter or, for MP, the Martyrology link.


  1. Sunday within the 8va of the Epiphany The Holy Family; St Benedict Biscop – MP – EP –  Martyrology.
  2. Monday – Octave day of the Epiphany – MPEPMartyrology.
  3. Tuesday – St Hilary, B, St Felis, P. St Sava (Sabas), B.C., – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  4. Wednesday – St Maurus, B; St Paul the First Hermit, C. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  5. Thursday – Feria (St Marcellus I, Pope, M.) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  6. Friday – St Anthony the Great, Ab. – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  7. Saturday – BVM (St Peter’s Chair at Rome) – MP – EP – Martyrology.
  8. Sunday 2nd after Epiphany Ss Maris, Martha, Audifax and Habakkuk, Persian, MM at Rome; St Mark Evgenikos, B. of Ephesus – MP – EP – Martyrology.

An Important Announcement!

Know, dearly beloved Brethren, that by the mercy of God, as we have been rejoicing in the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, so also do we announce unto you the joy of the Resurrection of the same our Saviour.
Septuagesima Sunday will be on the 16th day of February.

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the fast of most holy Lent will be on the 5th of March.

On the 20th of April we shall celebrate with joy the holy Pasch of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ will be on the 29th of May.

The Feast of Pentecost on the 8th of June.

The Feast of Corpus Christi on the 19th of the same month.

On the 30th of November will occur the first Sunday of the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom are honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

I am Herod.

Notes from Father’s Sermon yesterday.
1. We like to compare ourselves to shepherds and magi
2. We know where the messiah is to be born, we have a wealth of patristic commentary, we are surrounded by support for our faith yet we most often decide to act in a most unfaithful way.
3. We are more like Herod.
4. It is our simple daily choices that make it so.
5. We have a standard of living in America higher than Herod could imagine… But we fail in charity.
6. Being mindful on a moment to moment basis of our actions and choices in light of our faith is what is needed.

A.D. VIII Kal. Jan.

I
n the 5199th year of the creation of the world, from the time when in the beginning God created heaven and earth; from the flood, the 2957th year; from the birth of Abraham, the 2015th year; from Moses and the going-out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the 1510th year; from the anointing of David as king, the 1032nd year; in the 65th week according to the prophecy of Daniel; in the 194th Olympiad; from the founding of the city of Rome, the 752nd year; in the 42nd year of the rule of Octavian Augustus, when the whole world was at peace, in the sixth age of the world: Jesus Christ, the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by His most merciful coming, having been conceived by the Holy Ghost, and nine months having passed since His conception was born in Bethlehem of Judah of the Virgin Mary, having become man.