Daily Update: Sunday, June 5th, 2016

Boniface and Day of Remembrance for Victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Ramadan

Today is the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  It is also the Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr (died 754). And on this first Sunday in June we have the annual Day of Remembrance for Victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as mandated by the State of Louisiana. Today is also the birthday of my Internet friend Jean in California (1968). And we note that today at sunset (inshallah) the Islamic month of Ramadan begins, according to an edict from the Fiqh Council of North America.

Today’s Saint was born about 673-680 at Crediton, Devonshire, and was educated at the Benedictine monastery at Exeter, England, where he became a Benedictine monk. Starting in 719 he became a missionary to Germany, assisted by Saint Albinus, Saint Abel, and Saint Agatha. They destroyed idols and pagan temples, and then built churches on the sites. In 723 Boniface encountered a tribe worshiping a Norse deity in the form of a huge oak tree. Boniface walked up to the tree, removed his shirt, took up an axe, and without a word he hacked down the six foot wide wooden god. Boniface stood on the trunk, and asked, “How stands your mighty god? My God is stronger than he.” The crowd’s reaction was mixed, but some conversions were begun. Boniface was made Bishop, and then Archbishop of Mainz. He reformed the churches in his see and built religious houses in Germany, along with founding or restoring the dioceses of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Franconia. He also made three trips to Rome to confer with the Pope. He had the support of Charles Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, in his evangelizing efforts in Germany. He then evangelized in Holland, but was set upon by a troop of pagans, and he and 52 of his new flock, including Saint Adaler and Saint Eoban, were martyred at Dokkum, Freisland (modern Netherlands). He is the Patron Saint of the city of Fulda, Germany, of the country of Germany, and co-Patron Saint of England with Saint Augustine of Canterbury and Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne. Turning to secular matters, in 2008 the Louisiana Legislature added LA Rev Stat § 1:58.4, mandating a Day of Remembrance for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, stating, “The first Sunday after the commencement of hurricane season of every year shall be recognized as a day of remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita Day shall be observed as a memorial of one of the greatest tragedies in the state of Louisiana.” Today is also the birthday of my Internet friend Jean in California (1968). Turning to the Islamic world, Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar, which lasts 29 or 30 days according to the visual sightings of the crescent moon, As there are no interlocutory months in the Islamic calendar, any given month usually begins each year about 10 to 12 days earlier than in the previous Gregorian calendar year (and the determining of when a given month starts is an art, not a science; I depend on the ruling of the Fiqh Council of North America). It is the Muslim month of fasting, in which Muslims refrain from dawn until sunset from eating, drinking, and sexual relations. Muslims fast in this month for the sake of demonstrating submission to God and to offer more prayers and Quran recitations. The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also teaches Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity. It becomes compulsory for Muslims to start fasting when they reach puberty, so long as they are healthy, sane and have no disabilities or illnesses. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting. Also exempt are pregnant women if they believe it would be harmful to them or the unborn baby, women during the period of their menstruation, and women nursing their newborns. At sunset, the family will gather the fast-breaking meal known as Iftar. The meal starts with the eating of three dates, just as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to do. Then the Maghrib prayer, which is the fourth of the five daily prayers, is said, after which the main meal is served. Over time Iftar has grown into banquet festivals. This is a time of fellowship with families, friends and surrounding communities, but may also occupy larger spaces at mosques or banquet halls, where a hundred or more may gather at a time.

Due to inclement weather, the College World Series Regional at Alex Box in Baton Rouge between our LSU Tigers and the winner of the Rice / Southeastern Louisiana game was postponed to Sunday. And the New Moon arrived at 10:02 pm.

I did my Book Devotional Reading and posted to Facebook that today was the annual Day of Remembrance for Victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, as mandated by the State of Louisiana. On our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once we clocked in at the casino, Richard was on a Blackjack table, and I was on the $5.00 Minimum Bet Blackjack table. (I saw something today that I don’t recall ever seeing, in 16 ½ years of dealing cards; a player hit a hard 18 – twice. And both times she busted by doing so.)

When we got home I read the Sunday papers while eating my lunch salad, then I came to the computer to do today’s Daily Update, as I plan to go to bed for the duration as soon as I am done with the computer. At 4:00 pm at the College World Series Regional at Alex Box in Baton Rouge our LSU Tigers will play the winner of the Rice / Southeastern Louisiana game (I will record the score of the game in tomorrow’s Daily Update). And Ramadan will start at 8:11 pm (local time) tonight.

Tomorrow is the first full day of Ramadan. And tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Norbert, Bishop (died 1134). Richard and I will return to the casino to work our eight hours. I will do my Exercise Walking tomorrow afternoon, and at some point tomorrow at the College World Series Regional at Alex Box in Baton Rouge our LSU Tigers will play another game (dependent on how they do on Sunday).

Our Parting Quote this Sunday afternoon comes to us from Ray Bradbury, American fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery fiction writer. Born in 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois, through his ancestor Mary Bradbury (died 1700), who was sentenced to be hung during the 1692 Salem witch trials but whose sentence was never carried out, he was related to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Humphrey Bogart, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Millard Fillmore. Between 1926 and 1933 the Bradbury family moved back and forth between Waukegan and Tucson, Arizona. In 1931, at age eleven, young Bradbury began writing his own stories, sometimes on butcher paper. In 1934 the family settled in Los Angeles, when young Bradbury, who loved movies, was fourteen. He would sneak into the Uptown Theater to watch previews, and would roller-skate around town picking up autographs from film stars. Bradbury’s first pay as a writer was at the age of fourteen, when George Burns hired him to write for the Burns and Allen show. At this time he was writing stories based on Edgar Allen Poe and Edgar Rice Burroughs; after listening to the radio show Chandu the Magician every night, he would write out the entire script from memory. In high school Bradbury was active in both the Poetry Club and the Drama club, initially planning to become an actor but becoming serious about his writing as his high school years progressed. In 1936, at a secondhand bookstore in Hollywood, Bradbury discovered a handbill promoting meetings of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society. Thrilled to find there were others with his interests, at the age of sixteen Bradbury joined a weekly Thursday-night conclave. He graduated from high school, but did not attend college; he sold newspapers and went to the library three days a week. His first published story was “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma”, which appeared in the January 1938 number of Forrest J. Ackerman’s fanzine Imagination!. In 1939 Bradbury joined Laraine Day’s Wilshire Players Guild where for two years he wrote and acted in several plays, which were so bad he gave up playwriting for twenty years. Bradbury’s first paid piece, “Pendulum,” written with Henry Hasse, was published in the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in November 1941, for which he earned $15. His bad eyesight kept him out of the military during World War II. By late 1942 he was making a living selling stories to science fiction magazines. His first collection of short stories, Dark Carnival, was published in 1947 by Arkham House, a small press in Sauk City, Wisconsin, owned by writer August Derleth. In 1949 he collected several related stories into The Martian Chronicles (published 1950). Fahrenheit 451 came out in 1953. Bradbury was hired in 1953 by director John Huston to work on the screenplay for his film version of Melville’s Moby Dick (1956), which starred Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab, Richard Basehart as Ishmael, and Orson Welles as Father Mapple. A significant result of the film was Bradbury’s 1992 book Green Shadows, White Whale, a semi-fictionalized account of the making of the film, including Bradbury’s dealings with Huston and his time in Ireland, where exterior scenes that were set in New Bedford, Massachusetts, were filmed. Something Wicked This Way Comes was published in 1962. Oskar Werner and Julie Christie starred in Fahrenheit 451 (1966), an adaptation of Bradbury’s novel directed by François Truffaut. Starting in January 1967 Fahrenheit 451 was subject to expurgation by its publisher, Ballantine Books with the release of the “Bal-Hi Edition” aimed at high school students. Among the changes made by the publisher were the censorship of the words “hell”, “damn”, and “abortion”; the modification of seventy-five passages; and the changing of two episodes. In the one case, a drunk man became a “sick man”, while in the other case cleaning fluff out of a human navel became “cleaning ears”. For a while both the censored and uncensored versions were available concurrently, but by 1973 Ballantine was publishing only the censored Bal-Hi edition. When Bradbury found out about the expurgated edition in 1979 (quite by accident; one of his friends showed him an expurgated copy), he demanded that Ballantine Books withdraw that version and replace it with the original, and in 1980 the original version once again became available. Considering that Fahrenheit 451 deals with censorship, Bradbury found the whole episode quite ironic. Bradbury received a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement at the 1977 World Fantasy Convention and was named Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy at the 1980 World Science Fiction Convention. In the 1980s Bradbury concentrated on detective fiction. From 1985 to 1992 Bradbury hosted a syndicated anthology television series, The Ray Bradbury Theater, for which he adapted 65 of his stories. Bradbury suffered a stroke in 1999 that left him partially dependent on a wheelchair for mobility. Despite this he continued to write. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Bradbury was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 1st, 2002, and 0n November 17th, 2004, Bradbury was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts, presented by President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. In 2005 it was reported that Bradbury was upset with filmmaker Michael Moore for using the title Fahrenheit 9/11, which is an allusion to Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, for his documentary about the George W. Bush administration. Moore called Bradbury two weeks before the film’s release to apologize, saying that the film’s marketing had been set in motion a long time ago and it was too late to change the title. On April 16th, 2007, Bradbury received a special citation from The Pulitzer Board, “for his distinguished, prolific, and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” Bradbury made regular appearances at science fiction conventions until 2009, when he retired from the circuit. When the publishing rights for Fahrenheit 451 came up for renewal in December 2011, Bradbury conceded that the work could be published in an electronic form — provided that the publisher, Simon & Schuster, allowed the e-book to be digitally downloaded by any library patron. The title remains the only book in the Simon & Schuster catalog where this is possible (died 2012): “The problem in our country isn’t with books being banned, but with people no longer reading. Look at the magazines, the newspapers around us – it’s all junk, all trash, tidbits of news. The average TV ad has 120 images a minute. Everything just falls off your mind. […] You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

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