Archive for August, 2006

The Nebuly Coat continues its stroll through the sleepy Dorset marsh town of Cullerne. Now, however, the pace picks up, as we get proof that something odd is going on — something unexplained, and perhaps even sinister.

It’s one thing to have an elderly lady insist that her mother’s painting is valuable. But an outsider’s offer to buy?

Chapter 5


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The siege of Jerusalem begins, and we meet the Antiochian princess Erminia. Since Tancredi’s mysterious love at first sight turns out to have been Clorinda, and Erminia has a crush on Tancredi — you can tell that things are going to get messy.

Third Book


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Against Heresies continues with some chapters on why you shouldn’t take numerology too seriously, and how you can pick all sorts of random numbers out of the Bible. (There really is number symbolism in the Bible, of course, but it’s not any kind of secret code.) This also enables Irenaeus to make a long, amusing riff on occurrences of the number five in the Bible, as he also goes into the five ages of man we were hearing about in Chapter 22.

Chs. 24-25: Folly of the Arguments Derived by the Heretics from Numbers, Letters, and Syllables; God is Not to Be Sought After by Means of Letters, Syllables, and Numbers; Necessity of Humility in Such Investigations.


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Against Heresies continues with a chapter on when Jesus was baptized and died. Then there’s a chapter on why you probably don’t want to pick random healed people as a type of your random Pleroma guys.

Chs. 22-23: The Thirty Aeons are Not Typified by the Fact that Christ Was Baptized in His Thirtieth Year: He Did Not Suffer in the Twelfth Month After His Baptism. The Woman Who Suffered from an Issue of Blood Was No Type of the Suffering Aeon.


Chapter 22 is often used as a stick to beat on Irenaeus and attack the accuracy of his knowledge handed down from the apostles. But this controversial chapter seems to me to be badly misunderstood.

Look, if you first read a paragraph on ‘Jesus was baptized when he was 30, and then he went up to Jerusalem for the next three Passovers. The third time he went up for Passover was when he was crucified,” I think it’s pretty clear the writer is saying, “Jesus died at the age of 33.”

The whole next section is what I like to call “oratorical and poetical froufrou”. Thanks to the way classic writers love to drive in their points, if you don’t understand a froufrou section, you can pretty well assume it amounts to the same dang thing as the non-froufrou before it. (This is why Irenaeus gives us the non-froufrou first.)

So no matter how incompetent the Latin translator, Irenaeus is not saying Jesus was 50 (or 100, like one wacky site that claims Jesus lived until Trajan took the throne, instead of John doing it. Even though it’s John who famously lived to be a really old geezer. Sigh.).

Just to make this perfectly clear, you’ll hear a part in the next soundfile where Irenaeus explains the five ages of man. The English translator translates the same word, “juvenis”, as “the first stage of early life” in Chapter 22, but “maturity” in the next bit (and “the prime of life” in the footnotes for the next bit). Confusing and annoying.

So for your convenience, what Irenaeus is saying: to be a rabbi, you had to be older than 30. According to the classical scheme of things, you were successively a a baby, a child, a youth, and then someone “in the prime of life”. After 30, it was all downhill and you were old. You weren’t really really old until you were over 40 or 50, but you were old. (Hence the age prohibitions in US law on being a senator or president. Senator (from “senex”, old man) means “elder”, so you have to be at least 30. A president has to be even older — 35.) Jesus was 33, so he counted as old when he died even if he wasn’t a real geezer.

(And since Jesus was the suffering servant and looked like crud, he probably looked 40 to the people he was arguing with.)

I hope that helped clear all your questions up. Next, world peace!

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Little Fuzzy meets a biologist, and mutual appreciation ensues.

Part IV


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Little Fuzzy returns and brings more surprises with him. We also meet some less friendly inhabitants of Zarathustra’s wilderness.

Note: “damnthing” is all one word.

Part III


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Podcast Still Hazy!

Sorry, folks. Archive.org’s datacenter has officially moved, but Little Fuzzy is still MIA as far as uploads are concerned. I even tried a couple of slick tricks to get in without the details page — and found out that archive.org has fixed my slick tricks!

Ah, well. Waiting is good for the soul. But I still apologize for the inconvenience.

In the meantime, you might want to visit a new side-project of mine. I found a cool yet very out-of-print book over at the UD Library. So I photocopied several chapters, and am currently typing them in (so as to get my own handy copy). It is called The Blessed Virgin in the Fathers of the First Six Centuries, and it’s by a guy named Livius (no relation). Chock full o’ Marian references! Anyway, I’ve only gotten the first introductory chapter and most of the second done, but there’s some interesting stuff even there. Enjoy!

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Archive.org is still deep in the throes of reorganization and system slowdown. I haven’t the foggiest when I’ll be able to update Little Fuzzy. The latest chapters of Irenaeus are up; but I didn’t have time to label them (and stuff like that) this morning, and now they seem to be inaccessible again. As for anything else on here, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether you’ll be able to access them at all with archive.org running slow.

Still, this doesn’t happen often, and the archive.org server space is free (not to mention a valuable service to the public). So I apologize for the inconvenience. Please keep trying back; I’ll let you know when new stuff goes up.

Meanwhile, Librivox makes its public domain audiobooks available on bittorrent as well as from archive.org, and mine may even be floating around out there somewhere. (Since I did make them public domain, that’s perfectly okay.) So take a look, and go feed your need for audiobooks.

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Blog Announcement

Archive.org has been experiencing a system slowdown for the last few days, and so I’m having a hard time updating Little Fuzzy. I’m going to try to get the new chapters up tomorrow morning early. I’ll try to put up the Fathers chapters at the same time, so we won’t be slowed down like this tomorrow night.

I apologize for the inconvenience. If I could just get a little further ahead of the game, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about such things.

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Oooh, this one’s a another spooooky half-chapter of the Pharsalia! Pompey’s son visits the most evil necromancer-witch in in all of witch-haunted Thessaly!

(Ties in rather nicely with what I’m reading right now — N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God, in which he points out at length that the Greeks and Romans of Jesus’ time didn’t believe in ghosts doing human stuff like eating regular food or being able to be touched, thought the soul would like to escape the prison of the body and hate to come back, and would have regarded a resurrected person as Really Creepy. He doesn’t really go into the Pharsalia that I saw, presumably because it’s not popular anymore, but it really proves his point. Even better than Homer and Virgil.)

(But mostly, it’s just creepy.)

Book 6 (cont.): The Witch of Thessalia.


The battle of Pharsalia commences next week. Same time, same podcast.

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I’ve been too busy and sleepy to mention I’ve had an upswing in readers this week, thanks to Julie D’s podcast article for Spero News. She called my podcast “difficult to categorize”. Hee! In the words of the song, “If you have to put me in a box, make it a BIG box.”

We tend to forget that literature is not just fiction, but everything written. Christian literature is not a tiny earnest section in the bookstore; it’s undoubtedly the lion’s share of everything ever written. All Christians should be interested in pretty much everything, because God and His grace are everywhere, and so is the good, the true, and the beautiful. There is no reason to narrow our view when God has provided us with so much to see.
(Non-Christians should take an interest in everything too, of course! An educated, logical, sensible citizenry is the bulwark of freedom. Besides, it’s more fun to know literature than not, and public domain literature is cheap.)

So that’s why I choose the big box. This site is full of books and stories I’ve read and enjoyed, works I haven’t read by authors I like, authors I think should be brought back, and stuff I’ve run across and think looks interesting. In other words, it’s pretty much like browsing bookshelves with me. (Except that I don’t creep you out by taking deep happy sniffs of papery air and occasionally running my fingers along the bindings.)

Welcome, Spero News readers. Enjoy looking around, and feel free to subscribe or stop by often. Leave comments if you have problems or if you just have something to say. There’s almost a year’s worth of podcast here, so you shouldn’t run out of listening material. 🙂

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The Nebuly Coat continues. It’s Westray’s first full day in town, and he starts it off with a visit to the church and a story about the past.

Chapter 4


Once again, I really apologize for my bad Dorset accent. I did try to study up, but I have the awful feeling that I keep sliding into every other accent but the right one. You can hear real Dorset accents in clips like these at the BBC’s Voices website.

UPDATE: Both broken links have been fixed.

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Tasso continues his poem, and Godfrey meets with ambassadors from Saracen-ruled Egypt.

Book 2 (cont.)


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Tasso continues his story, and we meet two brave and admirable maidens: Sophronia, a Christian native of Jerusalem, and Clorinda, a Muslim knight errant from a far country.

There really were some Muslim women who fought in battles, probably as part of Arab traditions of clan warfare. (For example, Fatima, one of Mohammed’s many wives, rode out in battle with her sword while heavily pregnant.) However, it is likely that European poets’ dreams of exciting exotic women were a big factor here — particularly the lady fighters of the Orlando Furioso and the Arthurian romances. Spenser’s Fairy Queen does the same.

Book 2, Part 1


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Yeah, it’s a sermon on the Dormition (“falling asleep”, aka death) of Mary. What does that have to do with the Feast of the Assumption? Well, the Eastern churches believe that Mary died, was resurrected after three days by Christ, and was then taken up to heaven. The Western churches tend to oscillate between Mary dying first and Mary just getting scooped up like Enoch and Elijah.

St. John of Damascus was a Christian courtier who lived in Damascus — not under the Byzantine Empire, but the Ummayad caliph, in conquered Syria. However, though he had to live as a dhimmi, he didn’t have to live under Emperor Leo the Isaurian, a rabid Iconoclast. From over the border, St. John wrote his influential treatise On Holy Images, saying what his fellow Christians in the Empire could not.
But Emperor Leo apparently got his revenge by have his people forge a letter purporting to be from St. John, which offered to open Damascus’ gates to an invading Imperial army. The Caliph, not thinking about how unlikely it was that St. John would make a deal with somebody who wanted him dead, cut off St. John’s hand. (Some say his hand grew back, which made the Caliph apologize.) But either way, St. John retired to a monastery and continued to write.

On the Dormition: Sermon I


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