Starting to look like Saturnalia

McDonnell Planetarium Decked Out for the Holidays

It is starting to look a lot like Christmas, at least around here and snow is on its way. It is in the forecast for tomorrow. So maybe, but probably not. Yesterday, I brought up the purple tubs full of ornaments, also-known-as the purple worn of D&D fame. I cleared the mantel of the everyday knick-knacks and decorated it with the X-mas stuff. Today, we’ll fetch the tree and then straight away put it up in the living room. Normally, we let our live tree acclimate to the warmer inside temperature, by first staging it through the basement, but it is supposed to hit fifty this afternoon. I figure that by then the tree lot’s mercury will be pretty close to what the basement regularly resides at. After the tree is up and has been decorated, then it will really start looking like Christmas around here.

Observant readers might have noticed that I used both the parochial and secular connotations for the holiday that falls every year on the 25th of December. I’m not declaring war on Christmas or anything like that. Even an ardent Christian should have realized by now that there are now more than a little bit of secular undertones to this once entirely religious holiday. Maybe entirely is even too strong an assertion, because it is thought that early Christians chose this time of year to celebrate Christmas, because another Roman holiday, Saturnalia, was available then to mask the Christian’s religious activities. A little bit of drunken bacchanal would go a long way to disguise their devotions. I mean, who wants to get thrown to the lions on Christmas Eve?

I don’t think that it was mere chance that the early Christians chose this time of year for their story of rebirth. Winter solstice is the nadir of the year, with the shortest day and the longest night. It is not by accident that the New Year is celebrated a week later. Scholars wanted to wait that week in order to be sure that the days had in fact begun to get longer again. Does anyone celebrates Saturnalia anymore? While the whole world, if only in its commercial form, celebrates Christmas. This year though Saturnalia is staging a comeback. On December 21st, winter solstice day, the planets Jupiter and Saturn will be in a conjunction. Last summer there was another conjunction of these two planets and we witnessed it while at the cabin. This time they will be close enough to each other that both planets’ mini solar systems should be viewable in one frame. Last time, in those darker northern skies we could see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. I pray that it is not cloudy here on the 21st.

 

That Voodoo That You Do So Well

Haitian Vodou Vévé

It was disclosed this week that earlier this month, Trump’s spiritual adviser, televangelist Paula White, had prayed the following:

In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now. We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.

Here’s the clip. White, who leads the White House’s Faith and Opportunity Initiative and provided the invocation prayer at Trump’s inauguration, defended her prayer in tweets. This disclosure comes on the heels of Trump’s attendance last week at the anti-abortion rally March for Life, where he proclaimed, “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”

Maybe it’s just me, but commanding someone to miscarry doesn’t seem very pro-life. Pro-lifers tend to view every child as a gift from God and that no one should ever pray for any woman to miscarry. Christianity teaches that no one should ever pray for evil or harm to befall another person. Jesus asked us to pray for our persecutors, not to curse them. To love our neighbors as ourselves.

It was also unclear what she considers to be a satanic pregnancy. Do parents have to be belong to some sort of devil worshipping cult or is just being a Democrat good enough? In the past, White has characterized Trump’s enemies as being aligned with evil. On the other hand, it could become an abortion loophole. Doctor, I need an abortion because my baby is satanic. Most religious leaders view White at best as a charlatan and at worse a heretic or maybe it’s the other way around. As he claims, Trump always picks the best people.

Ezekiel 4:9

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley

When I first began coming to my in-law’s cabin, I stirred up a breakfast cereal controversy. I liked Cocoa Puffs, which my mother-in-law thought was simply horrid. While maybe not as healthy as the rather bland and tasteless cereals that they preferred, I liked it and in the scheme of things, what is really all that awful about chocolate frosted sugar-bombs anyway?

Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself… – Ezekiel 4:9

Anne and I were in Meijer’s yesterday, working our way through the shopping list, when we came to bran. Harry had asked for it and had just written the word bran. When we got to the cereal aisle, we spied boxes of Food for Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Cereal for sale. Maybe if you find yourself lost in the desert for forty days and forty nights, it might be a good idea to have a bowl of it. I mean, how much more inspirational can you get, then by quoting the Bible, chapter and verse? We thought of getting some for Harry, just to see his reaction, but it cost twice as much, for a box that was half the size of other brands. In the end we decided not to and got raisin bran and not just bran. Hang the expense. 

Today, Anne went to town to do yoga and I went for a bike ride. I rode out to the lighthouse. On the way out, I rode through where the 6 mile construction crew had constricted traffic down to one lane. I almost made it through the mile and a half, before cars began coming the opposite way. I ducked into the closed lane.

I got to the lighthouse just as the Soo Locks Tour Boat, which was doing its regular Wednesday run out to the lighthouse and blew me a master’s salute. On the way back I first stopped at the Dancing Crane for a little latté. I again navigated the construction slalom and again couldn’t make it to the end before the other cars began coming at me. Another cyclist going the opposite direction had just made it through in time.

I stopped at the Bay Mart store in Brimley. Going in, I noticed a sign on the door that read, “Cyclist, please remove your helmet.” Figuring that the sign was for full face masked motorcyclists and not bicyclists, I didn’t take mine off and I thought I detected a look from the clerk, but it must have been something else, because he greeted me warmly with the news that tomorrow they will stripe 6 mile. Plans are to have a bike lane for the entirety of the newly paved road.