Daily Update: Sunday, January 10th, 2016

Baptism of the Lord

Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the Feast that closes out the Christmas season.

According to the Gospels, John the Baptist humbly objected to baptizing Jesus, insisting instead that Jesus baptize him. Jesus persisted and John acceded to administer Jesus’ baptism. In accepting John’s baptism, Jesus is seen as identifying with sinful humankind and expressing his full solidarity with us. Jesus inaugurated his public ministry by stepping into the place of sinners with all our guilt on his shoulders and carrying it down into the depths of the Jordan. His baptism by John marked his acceptance of death for the sins of humankind; his coming up out of the water depicted his resurrection. The Baptism of the Lord is observed as a distinct feast in the Roman Catholic Church, although it was originally one of three Gospel events marked by the feast of the Epiphany. Long after the visit of the Magi had in the West overshadowed the other elements commemorated in the Epiphany, Pope Pius XII instituted in 1955 a separate liturgical commemoration of the Baptism, to be celebrated on January 13th. A mere 14 years after the institution of the feast, Pope Paul VI set its date as the first Sunday after January 6th or, if in a particular country the Epiphany is celebrated on January 7th or 8th, the following Monday (as it will be in 2017). Pope John Paul II initiated a custom whereby on this feast the Pope baptizes babies in the Sistine Chapel. This Feast of the Church marks the end of the Christmas season, and we now return to Ordinary Time, so-called because the Sundays are recorded in ordinal terms (the 3rd Sunday, the 4th Sunday, etc.) until the Season of Lent.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. After we clocked in we signed the Early Out list, just for the heck of it on the last day of the pay period. Richard was first on a Pai Gow table; when they closed his table he helped change Blackjack cards, then was the Relief Dealer for Pai Gow, Mini Baccarat, and a Blackjack table. I was on Macau Mini Baccarat; when my last Macau players left, we closed that table, and opened up the Mini Baccarat table. We got out early, at 6:15 am (we were told that they got fourteen people out early yesterday), and Richard told me that he put in for 7.00 hours of PTO to cover the time he had gotten out early during the pay period. On our way home we stopped at Champagne’s, and Richard got stuff to barbeque tomorrow.

We arrived home at 7:30 am, and I read the Sunday papers. I then went to bed for about 8:00 am, and slept the sleep of the just until 3:00 pm. I then printed out our Vacation 2015 expenses, using the CSV file I had gotten from my new Checkbook Pro app on my Android. Our LSU Women’s Basketball team lost their home game with #13 ranked Texas A&M by the score of 35 to 53; our Lady Tigers will next play an away game with Vanderbilt on January 14th. And our New Orleans Pelicans lost their away game with the Los Angeles Clippers by the score of 111 to 114 in OT; our Pelicans will play an away game with the Los Angeles Lakers on January 12th. And once I finish off the last of the King Cake and this weblog, I will go to bed.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor; we will instead note that tomorrow is Plough Monday, and that tomorrow is the College Football Playoff National Championship between #2 Alabama and #1 Clemson. (Go Tigers!) We will go to work for the first day of the two-week pay period, and Richard will be fasting after 3:00 am. After work we will go to the Clinic so that Richard can have blood drawn for lab work ahead of his appointment with the Nurse Practitioner on the 18th, and I will pick up some prescriptions. And tomorrow evening is the College Football Playoff National Championship; I doubt if we will watch the whole game, as we have to work on Tuesday.

Our Sunday Afternoon Parting Quote on this last day of the Christmas season comes to us from Robert Stone, American novelist. Born in 1937 in Brooklyn, New York, his father abandoned his mother soon after his birth. Until the age of six he was raised by his mother, who suffered from schizophrenia; after she was institutionalized, he spent several years in a Catholic orphanage. He was kicked out of a Marist high school during his senior year for “drinking too much beer and being ‘militantly atheistic’ ” and did not graduate. Soon afterwards, Stone joined the Navy for four years. traveling to Antarctica, Egypt (where he witnessed the French Army bombing Port Said), and pre-Fidel Castro Havana. In the early 1960s he briefly attended New York University; worked as a copy boy at the New York Daily News; married and moved to New Orleans, where he sold encyclopedias; and attended the Wallace Stegner workshop at Stanford University, where he began writing a novel. Although he knew the influential Beat Generation writer Ken Kesey and other Merry Pranksters, he was not a passenger on the famous 1964 bus trip to New York. Living in New York at the time, he met the bus on its arrival and accompanied Kesey to an “after-bus party” whose attendees included a dyspeptic Jack Kerouac. Stone’s first novel, A Hall of Mirrors, appeared in 1967. It won both a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship and a William Faulkner Foundation Award for best first novel. Set in New Orleans in 1962 and based partly on actual events, the novel depicted a political scene dominated by right-wing racism, but its style was more reminiscent of the Beat writers than of earlier social realists, alternating between naturalism and stream of consciousness. It was adapted as a film, WUSA (1970) based on Stone’s screenplay of his own novel. The novel’s success led to a Guggenheim Fellowship and began Stone’s career as a professional writer. In 1971 he traveled to Vietnam as a correspondent for an obscure British journal called Ink. His time there served as the inspiration for his second novel, Dog Soldiers (1974), which featured a journalist smuggling heroin from Vietnam. It shared the 1975 U.S. National Book Award with The Hair of Harold Roux by Thomas Williams. Stone’s third book, A Flag for Sunrise (1981), was published to unanimous critical praise and moderate commercial success. The story followed a wide cast of characters as their paths intersected in a fictionalized banana republic based on Nicaragua. The novel was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Pulitzer Prize, and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award, once following its hardcover release and again the next year when it was reissued in paperback. In contrast to the grand, somewhat satirical adventure epics Stone was commonly associated with, his next two novels were smaller-scale character studies: the misfortunate tale of a Hollywood movie actress in Children of Light, and an eccentric at the midst of a circumnavigation race in Outerbridge Reach (based loosely on the story of Donald Crowhurst), published in 1986 and 1992 respectively. The latter was a finalist for the National Book Award for 1992. Bear and His Daughter, published in 1997, was a short story collection that lost the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction to American Pastoral by Philip Roth. Stone taught in the creative writing programs at various university programs around the United States. He was at Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars from 1993 to 1994 and subsequently at Yale University. Stone returned to the complex political novel with Damascus Gate (1998), about a man with messianic delusions caught up in a terrorist plot in Jerusalem. The novel was a finalist for the National Book Award for 1998. It was followed in 2003 by Bay of Souls. Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties (2007) is Stone’s memoir discussing his experiences in the 1960s counterculture. For the 2010 – 2011 school year, Stone was the Endowed Chair in the English Department at Texas State University – San Marcos. He was also active in many of the writing seminars in and around Key West, Florida, where he resided during the winter months. Stone was appointed an honorary director of the Key West Literary Seminar serving in that capacity during the final decade of his life.  The final novel that Stone published in his lifetime was Death of the Black-Haired Girl which appeared in 2013 (died 2015): “[In the late 1950’s or early 1960’s] I was selling [Collier’s Encyclopedias] in Pearl River County, Mississippi, and other areas not far from New Orleans. And every time we hit a town with our encyclopedias, we always got busted by the cops, because they always thought we were in town agitating. We were locked up about seven times. We had to get the Collier’s lawyers to come spring us. And sometimes we didn’t know if they were going to beat us to death, or if they were going to buy us coffee.”

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