Archive for August, 2006

Gerusalemme Liberata continues, as Armida finishes Phase 1 of her plan and moves on to Phase 2.

Book 4, Part 2


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The siege of Jerusalem continues, as the wizard king of Damascus sends the Saracens an unexpected form of aid: his lovely witch niece, Armida. Yup, it’s time to unleash a one woman courtly love black ops team on the defenceless Crusaders!

Book 4, Part 1


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“On the Lapsed” concludes with some scary stories about receiving the Eucharist unworthily, more praise of the martyrs, and a moving call to repentance for the whole community.

I should probably explain a couple things, though. The “peace” from the martyrs was a custom where people asked those about to get martyred to forgive them their sins against them. This was fine, but it grew into asking the martyrs to forgive all their sins, and then to martyrs signing “Get Out of Sins Free, Do Not Pass the Priest, Do Not Do Penance” cards that said the martyr had forgiven X his sins, so X should be admitted to communion in all Christian communities. And then, there were the martyrs who forgave and then got spared martyrdom. (Oops.) So Bishop Cyprian is reining this in, and telling people to go confess to their priests instead, as is normal. (Even if they’ll also have to do the normal huge amount of penance for a huge sin.)

The certificates Cyprian refer to were some kind of signed affidavit that the bearer had made a sacrifice to the Emperor and wasn’t a Christian. Apparently, Cyprian wasn’t enamored of the fake ID method of avoiding persecution.

(Read the Catholic Encyclopedia for the details on both kinds of papers.)
Btw, Cyprian wasn’t martyred in this persecution, because he “withdrew” from Carthage, as he advocates to others. But he was martyred in a later one, and the people of North Africa were very proud of him.

Part 2



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“Treatise III: On the Lapsed” was written immediately after a nasty period of Roman persecution. But the most discouraging thing for poor Bishop Cyprian was how many of his flock hurried to sacrifice to idols so as to keep their homes and businesses.

This is highly topical, given what happened to poor Centanni and Wiig. Thanks to Mike Aquilina for suggesting it.
Part 1


Expect the concluding part tonight.

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This is an interesting little piece about teaching Christianity, with some very good encouragement for speakers. It also touches on linguistics and neuro-psych, just because.

St. Augustine. Blogger born before his time.

Part 1


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Against Heresies continues as Irenaeus keeps pointing out that, if the Gnostics are going to claim that the Demiurge is the Creator of everything on Earth, including the Gnostics, they can hardly go around saying that the Demiurge has only an animal nature while Gnostics like them are spiritual beings.

Irenaeus also begs God’s forgiveness for descending to the Gnostics’ level enough to argue with them on their own terms, and opines that there isn’t enough hellebore on earth to purge their bowels of foolishness. Yeah, I think this particular theory gets on the good saint’s nerves.

Chs. 29-30: Refutation of the Views of the Heretics as to the Future Destiny of the Soul and Body. Absurdity of Their Styling Themselves Spiritual, While the Demiurge is Declared to Be Animal.


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Against Heresies continues as Irenaeus finishes off his comments on the uselessness of numerology for theological inquiry, and then breaks it to us that nobody but God is ever going to know and understand everything about Scripture or things of the spirit. Especially since the most modern science doesn’t know everything about ordinary Earth stuff going on all around us. (He must’ve been really interested to know how tides work, ’cause he keeps bringing that up!)

Chs. 26-28: “Knowledge Puffeth Up, But Love Edifieth.” Proper Mode of Interpreting Parables and Obscure Passages of Scripture. Perfect Knowledge Cannot Be Attained in the Present Life: Many Questions Must Be Submissively Left in the Hands of God.


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Little Fuzzy continues as Victor Grego, planetary manager for the Company, decides to be proactive about the Fuzzies and protective of the Company’s charter. If he can just control the words, he really can control the world….

Part V


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The Battle of Pharsalia plays out, and utter carnage ensues.

No, your workmates probably don’t want to hear this episode, even if it’s not quite as gory as the hand-to-hand combat at sea bit was.

No, the bit about this battle determining history “for all times” isn’t an exaggeration. Pompey and Crassus got the furthest in control of the East of any Roman. Caesar was meaning to wage war out the Parthians’ way, but was interrupted by the Ides of March. Roman expansion to the East pretty well stopped after that. By the time the Empire was headquartered over in Byzantium, they had the Persian Empire to deal with; and when the Persians went down, it was to the Muslims. Thereafter, the Byzantines were always fighting various Muslim groups until 1453, when Constantinople fell to them.

So, yes, Lucan is talking to you.

Book 7, Part 2


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Pharsalia continues — or rather, the Battle of Pharsalia begins. Pompeius fears the omens and Caesar loves them, but both know the stakes are high as they speak to their men.

Chock full of quoteable (and much quoted) lines!

Book 7, Part 1


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Updated and corrected. The Ascent of Mount Carmel continues, as St. John describes how faith will lead to understanding and the union with God. Then there’s an interesting discussion of spiritual vs. natural understanding, and what types of knowledge go where.

I know a lot of this must be traditional theology/philosophy, but you don’t run across this sort of thing in books today. It’s interesting; sort of a mini spiritual neuropsych course. 🙂

Chs. 9-10: How faith is the proximate and proportionate means of the understanding whereby the soul may attain to the Divine union of love. Wherein distinction is made between all apprehensions and types of knowledge which can be comprehended by the understanding.


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Updated and corrected. The Ascent of Mount Carmel continues. St. John breaks it to us that no created thing (creature) and no knowledge we can comprehend is able to bring us union with God. Only God can do that, so you may as well get out of the way and let Him go at it.

Chapter 8: How no creature and no knowledge that can be comprehended by the understanding can serve as a proximate means of Divine union with God.


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Updated and corrected. The Ascent of Mount Carmel continues with a discussion of how the Gospel tells us that the way to heaven is narrow and harsh. So to make it up the path and fit through the gate, we have to drop all the useless things we cling to, but which encumber us.

Chapter 7: Wherein is described how strait is the way that leads to eternal life and how completely detached and disencumbered must be those that will walk in it. We begin to speak of the detachment of the understanding.


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One of my gentle readers and commenters was just asking about whether, after I finished The Ascent of Mount Carmel, I intended to go on and read The Dark Night of the Soul.

Heh. Funny you should ask that, Wald.

You see, it seems that after I read Book II, Chapter VI, I somehow managed to proceed to read the connected material in Book II, Chapter VII — of The Dark Night of the Soul. Since both books are on the same plan, use the same poem, and explicate the same general areas (although with different concentrations and depth), this mistake was not immediately obvious to me. I then proceeded to return to the pages in my cache — which were the wrong pages. So Chapters 7-16 are from the wrong book.

(It does make it virtually certain that I’ll do The Dark Night of the Soul next, as it means I’ve already done almost a quarter of that book. Though I will have to re-record the credits for those chapters.)

The major problem is that I cannot immediately replace all the Dark Night chapters with Ascent chapters, since that’s going to take a long time to re-record; but if I don’t do that, it’s very likely that the archive.org server where I store the chapters is going to be too full to load anything. I will, however, update the podcast listings as quickly as I can. I will keep the old posts as drafts, and repost a corrected version of them when I do Dark Night on purpose.

“I apologize for the inconvenience and misunderstanding” seems a bit paltry for this magnitude of circumstance, but I do apologize.

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The Nebuly Coat continues as we learn more of the history of Cullerne Church, spend some time in the past, go to evensong, and meet a mysterious stranger.

(I think anyone who’s been in a choir will enjoy this chapter.)
Chapter 6


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