Daily Update: Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Anselm of Canterbury and Grounation Day

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint Anselm, Bishop and Doctor (died 1109). Today is also Grounation Day, the second holiest date in the Rastafarian calendar (after Coronation Day on November 2nd).

Today’s Saint was born to the Italian nobility in 1033 at Aosta, Piedmont. At age 15 Anselm wanted to enter religious life, but his father prevented it; he therefore turned to other worldly pursuits. Upon the death of his mother, at the age of twenty-three he argued with his father, fled to France, and became a Benedictine monk at Bec, Normandy in 1060. He studied under and succeeded Lanfranc as prior of the house in 1063, and was made Abbot in 1078. Because of physical closeness and political connections, there was frequent travel and communication between Normandy and England, and Anselm was in repeated contact with Church officials in England. He was chosen as reluctant Archbishop of Canterbury, England in 1092; officials waited until he had fallen ill before attempting to convince him to take the post. As bishop he fought King William Rufus’s encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independence of the Church, refused to pay bribes to take over as bishop, and was exiled for his efforts. He travelled to Rome, Italy and spent part of his exile as an advisor to Pope Blessed Urban II, obtaining the pope’s support for returning to England and conducting Church business without the king’s interference. In 1100 King Henry I invited Anselm to return to England, but they disputed over lay investiture, and Anselm was exiled again, not returning until 1106 when Henry agreed not to interfere with the selection of Church officials. Anselm opposed slavery and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men. He strongly supported celibate clergy, and approved the addition of several saints to the liturgical calendar of England. He was one of the great philosophers and theologians of the middle ages and a noted theological writer. He was far more at home in the monastery than in political circles, but still managed to improve the position of the Church in England. He was chosen as a Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI. Today is also Grounation Day, the second holiest date in the Rastafarian calendar (after Coronation Day on November 2nd). On this day in 1966 Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia flew to Jamaica and landed at the airport in Kingston. Some 100,000 Rastafari from all over Jamaica converged at the airport to see the man they devoutly believed to be God Incarnate and mobbed the plane on the tarmac. The Emperor appeared and waved to the crowd, then disappeared back into the plane; the Jamaican authorities had to ask leaders of the Rastafarian movement to speak to the Emperor to negotiate his departure from the plane. For the rest of his visit to the country, the Emperor showed marked partiality to the Rastafarian leadership, and it was from this date that the Rastafarian movement gained respectability in Jamaica and throughout the world.

I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that Richard had mowed the grass. And our #5 ranked LSU Tigers won their Baseball game with Southeastern Louisiana by the score of 11 to 4.

I woke up in my room at the Bourbon Orleans in the French Quarter in New Orleans at 7:00 am. At about 8:00 am I walked down to Café du Monde. While waiting on Julie to arrive, I had two café au laits and two orders of beignets, read the New Orleans Advocate and the USA Today, finished reading the April 4th – April 11th issue of my Jesuit America magazine, read the April 2016 issue of Acadiana Catholic, and started reading the March / April 2016 issue of The Bible Today.

Julie arrived at about 9:45 am; we walked to Arcadian Books and browse, then to Beckham’s Books (where I purchased two books). We then went to the Cathedral, where I lit my candle, then headed back to the hotel. I checked out, we collected my car, and we drove all the way up Canal Street to the cemeteries. We went to Cypress Grove Cemetery and visited one of Julie’s favorites, the grave of Katie McIlhenny, then went to Metairie Cemetery to see our favorites. We drove back down to the French Quarter and ate lunch at The Gumbo Pot in the Jax Brewery building. We had a very good visit, and it’s good to have my friend back again. (We also decided that we will not do a trip again to the Quarter until the late fall; it was quite hot and steamy in the City.)

I left the City at 3:00 pm, and headed homeward. Richard called me at 3:30 pm, and cautioned me about the weather that I would be going through. As it turned out, although I did meet with a few thunderstorms and heavy rain, my major problem was when I got to the Siegen Lane exit south of Baton Rouge; the traffic slowed down to a crawl, and it took me about half an hour or forty-five minutes to get from the Siegen Lane exit to the I-10 / I-12 split. A little after 5:00 pm I was across the bridge at Baton Rouge, and I got home at 6:45 pm. And that brings me to now, doing my Daily Update; and when I finish this Daily Update I am off to bed.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor, so we will note that tomorrow is Earth Day, the first day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and my brother Michael’s birthday (1955). Weather permitting, one can see the Lyrid Meteor shower in the predawn hours. The Full Moon will arrive tomorrow at 12:25 am. Richard and I will return to the casino tomorrow for the start of our work week. On our way home I will get my salad supplies, then make my lunch salads for Friday and Sunday, and eat my Friday salad. Our #5 ranked LSU Tigers will begin a three-game home Baseball series with #7 ranked Mississippi State tomorrow evening; I will post the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update.And tomorrow at sunset the great Jewish feast of Pesach begins.

Our Parting Quote on this Thursday afternoon comes to us from M. H. Abrams, American literary critic. Born as Meyer Howard Abrams in 1912 in Long Branch, New Jersey, he was the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants and the first in his family to go to college. He earned his baccalaureate degree from Harvard in 1934, and won a Henry fellowship to Magdalene College in the University of Cambridge, where his tutor was I. A. Richards. He returned to Harvard for graduate school in 1935 and received a master’s degree in 1937 (the same year he married) and a Ph.D. in 1940. During World War II he served at the Psycho-Acoustics Laboratory at Harvard. He described his work as solving the problem of voice communications in a noisy military environment by establishing military codes that were highly audible, and inventing selection tests for personnel who had a superior ability to recognize sound in a noisy background. In 1945 Abrams became a professor at Cornell University. The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition was his first book, published in 1953; Abrams wrote that until the Romantics, literature was typically understood as a mirror reflecting the real world in some kind of mimesis, whereas for the Romantics, writing was more like a lamp, the light of the writer’s inner soul spilled out to illuminate the world. Literary theories, Abrams argued, can be divided into four main groups: Mimetic Theories (interested in the relationship between the Work and the Universe), Pragmatic Theories (interested in the relationship between the Work and the Audience), Expressive Theories (interested in the relationship between the Work and the Artist), and Objective Theories (interested in close reading of the Work). The literary critics Harold Bloom, Gayatri Spivak and E. D. Hirsch, and the novelists William H. Gass and Thomas Pynchon were among his students at Cornell. In 1962 he was the founding editor of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and was the editor of the article  “The Romantic Period (1798–1832)” in that anthology. In his introduction to Lord Byron, he emphasized how Byronism relates to Nietzsche’s idea of the superman. In the introduction to Percy Bysshe Shelley, Abrams said, “The tragedy of Shelley’s short life was that intending always the best, he brought disaster and suffering upon himself and those he loved.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature did not include Anglophone writers from places such as Canada, but it did include writers from various places in the British Isles, for instance, William Butler Yeats, who was appointed a senator in the Irish Free State. Abrams served as General Editor for the first seven editions of The Norton Anthology of English Literature before handing the job to Stephen Greenblatt, a Shakespeare scholar and Harvard professor. Abrams was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963. The Milk of Paradise: The Effect of Opium Visions on the Works of DeQuincey, Crabbe, Francis Thompson, and Coleridge was published in 1970. In 1998 Modern Library ranked The Mirror and the Lamp one of the 100 greatest English-language nonfiction books of the 20th century. His last book, The Fourth Dimension of a Poem and Other Essays, was published in 2012 (died 2015): “[I went into English because] there weren’t jobs in any other profession…, so I thought I might as well enjoy starving, instead of starving while doing something I didn’t enjoy.”

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