Daily Update: Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

Shavuot

We have no Saints to honor today, but at sunset today the Jewish feast of Shavuot begins.

The two-day Jewish holiday of Shavuot is connected to the season of the grain harvest in Israel. In ancient times the grain harvest lasted seven weeks and was a season of gladness (Jer. 5:24; Deut. 16:9-11; Isa. 9:2). It began with the harvesting of the barley during Passover and ended with the harvesting of the wheat. Shavuot was thus the concluding festival of the grain harvest, just as the eighth day of Sukkot (Tabernacles) was the concluding festival of the fruit harvest. During the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem an offering of two loaves of bread from the wheat harvest was made on Shavuot. Shavuot was also the first day on which individuals could bring the Bikkurim (first fruits) to the Temple in Jerusalem (Mishnah Bikkurim 1:3). The Bikkurim were brought from the Seven Species for which the Land of Israel is praised: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. Shavuot commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to the entire Israelite nation assembled at Mount Sinai, although the association between the giving of the Torah (Matan Torah) and Shavuot is not explicit in the Biblical text. The custom of all-night Torah study goes back to 1533 when Rabbi Joseph Caro, author of the Shulchan Aruch, then living in Ottoman Salonika, invited his Kabbalistic colleagues to hold a night-long study vigil, in the course of which an angel appeared before them and commanded them to go live in Eretz Yisrael. According to a story in the Midrash, the night before the Torah was given, the Israelites retired early to be well-rested for the momentous day ahead, but they overslept and Moses had to wake them up because God was already waiting on the mountaintop. To rectify this flaw in the national character, religious Jews stay up all night to learn Torah on this night.

While I was sleeping last night I got a text from Lisa that Ken (her husband) had to get a pacemaker on Tuesday after he got home from Connecticut.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Ninth Day of my Pentecost Novena. Today was a Heavy Business Volume Day for the
Memorial Day Weekend. After the Pre-Shift Meeting, Richard was on Mini Baccarat all day. I was the Relief Dealer for Blackjack, Three Card Blackjack, and the $5.00 minimum Blackjack table, then I was the Relief Dealer for Blackjack, Three Card Blackjack, and the Sit-down Blackjack table. On my breaks I continued reading The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon by Alexander McCall Smith.

On our way home from work we stopped at the ATM at our bank to get some cash. Once home, I set up my medications for next week (I have one prescription to renew on Tuesday, and one OTC Vitamin to get). I then ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper while Richard paid bills. Next, I went to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. While doing my Hour I started reading the May 18th, 2015 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. When I came home I took a nap for the rest of the day. Richard put most of the Music I had on the computer on his Galaxy S-4, but ran out of room, so he will get a 64g SD card. Our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team lost their game with Florida by the score of 1 to 2 in their semifinal game at the SEC Tournament; our Tigers will next be in the College World Series later this week. I did not go to the 4:00 pm Mass, and I did not do my Daily Update.

Tomorrow the Jewish feast of Shavuot continues. It is also is the great feast of Pentecost, and the World Day of Prayer for China – Our Lady of Sheshan, Help of Christians. Tomorrow is also the birthday of my daughter’s friend Chelsie here in town (1988), and the Indianapolis 500 automobile race. We will be at work for another Heavy Business Volume Day for the Memorial Day Weekend. On my breaks I will do my Daily Update via WordPress for Android. In the afternoon I will make my lunch salads for Monday and Tuesday, and go to the 6:00 pm Mass.

Today our Saturday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Utah Phillips, American labor organizer, folk singer, storyteller, and poet. Born as Bruce Duncan Phillips in 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, his father was a labor organizer and his parents’ activism influenced much of his life’s work. He met folk singer Rosalie Sorrels in the early 1950s and remained a close friend of hers; it was Sorrels who started playing the songs that Phillips wrote, and through her his music began to spread. He served in the United States Army for three years beginning in 1956 (at the latest). Witnessing the devastation of post-war Korea greatly influenced his social and political thinking. Following his military service, he went to Salt Lake City, Utah, and joined Ammon Hennacy from the Catholic Worker Movement in establishing a mission house of hospitality named after the activist Joe Hill. He adopted the name U. Utah Phillips in emulation of country vocalist T. Texas Tyler. He worked at the Joe Hill House for the next eight years, then ran for the U.S. Senate as a candidate of Utah’s Peace and Freedom Party in 1968, receiving 2,019 votes. After leaving Utah in the late 1960s, he went to Saratoga Springs, New York, where he was befriended by the folk community at the Caffé Lena coffee house, where he became a staple performer throughout that decade. He also ran for president of the United States in 1976 for the Do-Nothing Party. Phillips was a proud member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies). As a Christian anarchist and a pacifist, he found the modern-day Wobblies to be the perfect fit for him, an iconoclast and artist. In recent years, perhaps no single person did more to spread the Wobbly gospel than Phillips, whose countless concerts were, in effect, organizing meetings for the cause of labor, unions, anarchism, pacifism, and the Wobblies. An avid trainhopper, Phillips recorded several albums of music related to the railroads, especially the era of steam locomotives. His first recorded album, Good Though! (1974), is an example, and contains such songs as “Daddy, What’s a Train?” and “Queen of the Rails” as well as what may be his most famous composition, “Moose Turd Pie”, wherein he tells a tall tale of his work as a gandy dancer repairing track in the Southwestern United States desert. In 1991 Phillips recorded, in one take, an album of song, poetry and short stories entitled I’ve Got To Know, inspired by his anger at the first Gulf War. The album includes “Enola Gay,” his first composition written about the United States’ atomic attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Phillips was a mentor to Kate Wolf (died 1986), American folk singer. He recorded songs and stories with Rosalie Sorrels on a CD called Workers Doxology (1992), a student project at Boise State University, which turned into the CD The Long Memory (1996). Ani DiFranco recorded two CDs with him, The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere (1996) and Fellow Workers (1999), and he was nominated for a Grammy Award for his work with her. His “Green Rolling Hills” was made into a country hit by Emmylou Harris, and “The Goodnight-Loving Trail” became a classic as well, being recorded by Ian Tyson, Tom Waits, and others. Until it lost its funding, Phillips hosted his own weekly radio show, Loafer’s Glory: The Hobo Jungle of the Mind from 1997 to 2001, originally broadcast from KVMR in Nevada City, California. In August 2007 Phillips announced that he would undergo catheter ablation to address his heart problems. Later that autumn he announced that due to health problems he could no longer tour. By January 2008 he had decided against a heart transplant (died 2008): “The state can’t give you freedom, and the state can’t take it away. Freedom is something you’re born with, and then one day someone tries to deny it. The extent to which you resist is the extent to which you are free.”

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