Daily Update: Monday, December 28th, 2015

Massacre of the Holy Innocents by Giotto di Bondone and Fourth Day of Christmas

Today is the Fourth Day in the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!). Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs. And today is the Fourth Day of Christmas, with four calling birds.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, King Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem so as to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn King of the Jews whose birth had been announced to him by the Magi. The story is not mentioned by the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus, nor in the other gospels; in fact, the first appearance of the story in any source other than Matthew is in the 2nd-century apocryphal Protoevangelium of James. The commemoration of the massacre of these “Holy Innocents” (considered by some Christians as the first martyrs for Christ) first appeared as a feast of the western church in the Leonine Sacramentary, dating from about 485. The story assumed an important place in later Christian tradition, with the Byzantine liturgy having 14,000 Holy Innocents and an early Syrian list of saints stating that there were 64,000 Holy Innocents. Coptic sources raised the number to 144,000 and placed the event on December 29. Taking the narrative literally, and judging from the estimated population of Bethlehem, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1910) more soberly suggested that these numbers were inflated, and that probably only between six and twenty children were killed in the town, with a dozen or so more in the surrounding areas. Today is also the Fourth Day of Christmas; the four “calling birds” mentioned in the song The Twelve Days of Christmas were originally four “colly birds”, using another word for a blackbird.

Last night our New Orleans Saints won their home game with the Jacksonville Jaguars by the score of 38 to 27; our Saints will play their last regular game of the season (and their last game of the season, since they are not in the playoffs) in an away game with the Atlanta Falcons on January 3rd, 2016 in the noon game. And Richard gathered up the trash and put the trash bin out at the curb.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Fourth Day of my Epiphany Novena. From 3:00 am on I was fasting. Richard was on Three Card Poker today, and I was on Pai Gow, with a long stretch of no players from about 5:00 am until 9:00 am. I heard from Liz Ellen that she had arrived home safely.

At 11:00 am, after we clocked out, I went to the clinic and had blood drawn for lab work ahead of my January 7th, 2016 appointment with my oncologist. Naturally, since I was hungry, we went through the drive through at McDonald’s in Kinder for my lunch. On our way home I read the December 28th, 2015 issue of Sports illustrated. Once home I read the morning paper, then I took a nap, with Richard joining me. I got up at 4:00 pm and managed to put the bracket for my LSU flagpole up, just above the bracket for my regular flagpole (the poles are different sizes), then watched Jeopardy!. Out mail brought me a Christmas card from my friend Linda in West Virginia. Richard woke up and came out while the national news was on, and I came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update. Our New Orleans Pelicans will be playing an away game with the Orlando Magic tonight, and our LSU Women’s Basketball team will be playing a home game with Samford; I will record the scores of the games in tomorrow’s Daily Update. And Liz Ellen reported that she had picked up her cat Winger from the vet; he will spend a day or two upset with her, then things will be back to normal.

Tomorrow is the Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas (Alleluia!) It is the Optional Memorial of Saint Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr (died 1170). Being the Fifth Day of Christmas, our Gift is five golden rings (actually birds again). And tomorrow is the birthday of my kids’ friend JJ, one of the former Assembled (1986). I will set the clock for a half hour early, and we will sign the Early Out list tomorrow at the casino. Tomorrow our LSU Men’s Basketball team will be playing a home game with Wake Forest. And tomorrow evening in the world of College Football, our #20 ranked LSU Tigers will play Texas Tech in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl; may our Tigers do better in this bowl than they have done in the past few post-season bowls.

Our Parting Quote this Monday afternoon is from Claude-Anne Lopez, Belgian-American writer and scholar who specialized in studies of Benjamin Franklin. Born as Claude-Anne Kirschen in Belgium in about 1920, she grew up with French as her native language. When she was in her late teens, she and her family immigrated as refugees to the United States in 1940 to escape Nazi occupation after the German invasion during World War II. They settled in New York City. Kirschen worked in the French section of the Office of War Information in New York. There she met her future husband, Roberto Sabatino Lopez (1910-1986), a wartime refugee immigrant from Italy. They married in 1946 and moved to New Haven, Connecticut, as he had been offered a position as assistant professor at Yale University. They had two sons, Michael and Lawrence. In the 1950s, Yale began a project in collaboration with the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia, to publish the papers of Benjamin Franklin. Lopez began working on the project, transcribing and translating papers from French, and later from Italian and German. Recognizing that she had insights to contribute from a female perspective, she published some articles on Franklin’s personal life and was promoted to editor. Her first book, published in 1966 (and reprinted in 1990) was Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris. Her 1975 work, The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family (reprinted in 1985), won a PEN award for history in 1976. In 1990 she published Le Sceptre et la Foudre: Franklin à Paris (1776-1785), in French. In addition to serving as associate editor of the Franklin Papers Project, Lopez was a senior research scholar in the Department of History. She was also a co-founder of the Friends of Franklin, devoted to study and preservation of his works. She participated in the Creativity Foundation, established in 2000 in honor of Franklin. That same year she published My Life with Benjamin Franklin, collected essays about her work and his life. In 2002 Lopez was the adviser to the PBS mini-series Benjamin Franklin, directed by Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer. It won a Primetime Emmy Award. She also appeared on a variety of television talk shows, including PBS Think Tank, and that show’s episode “Was Benjamin Franklin the First American?”, which aired in May 2003 (died 2012): “I was looking for a part-time job that I could do, preferably at home, while keeping an eye on the children. That’s exactly what this was. It was a job that I was delighted to get. And so, for my 65 cents an hour, which is what I was paid in those days, I transcribed from French … my native language. I didn’t know what anything was about, and I felt rather lost. Then I began to see that some people appeared regularly. So instead of going day by day, I thought: Why don’t I take out the entire correspondence with one person? You transcribe better when you do it that way. I began to realize that the most interesting and lively letters were written to women. I decided to write my first book, Mon Cher Papa: Franklin and the Ladies of Paris. After the book was done, I was invited to lectures and talk shows, and I realized there was tremendous interest in Franklin’s family life. That’s a topic nobody had addressed.”

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