Daily Update: Monday, July 25th, 2016

James the Greater (Rembrandt) and Christopher (Titian) and 2016 Democratic National Convention

Today is the Feast of Saint James the Greater, Apostle (died 44) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Christopher, Martyr (died about 251). The 2016 Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania begins today, and today is the birthday of Richard’s cousin Lele here in town (1947).

The son of Zebedee and Salome, and the brother of Saint John the Apostle, James may have been the cousin of Jesus. An apparent disciple of Saint John the Baptist, he was a fisherman who left everything when Christ called him to be a fisher of men. He is called “the Greater” simply because he became an Apostle before the other apostle of the same name (Saint James the Lesser).  He was present during most of the recorded miracles of Christ; after the Resurrection, he preached in Samaria, Judea, and Spain. The Acts of the Apostles records that Agrippa I had him executed by the sword, making him the first Apostle to be martyred. The pilgrimage to his relics in Compostela, Spain, became such a popular devotion that the symbols of pilgrims have become his emblems. For centuries, the Spanish army rode to battle with the cry “Santiago!” (“Saint James!”) He is the Patron Saint of pilgrims and pharmacists, and of the countries of Spain and Portugal. We also honor on this day Saint Christopher, Martyr (died about 251). He was a third century martyr in the persecutions of Decius. His fame derives from the pious legend of him being a “Christ-bearer” (Christopher). Legend states that he was a powerfully built man named Offero who wandered the world in search of novelty and adventure. He came upon a hermit who lived beside a dangerous stream and served others by guiding them to safe places to cross. He gave Offero instruction in the truth of God. Offero took the hermit’s place, but instead of guiding travelers, he carried them safely across the stream. One day he carried a small child across the stream; the child’s weight nearly crushed him. When they arrived on the other side, the child revealed himself as Christ, and he was so heavy because he bore the weight of the world on himself. He then baptized Offero with water from the stream. Christopher’s service at the stream led to his assignment as the Patron Saint of travel and travelers, and of those whose jobs involve heavy lifting and carrying. While the Roman Catholic Church still approves devotion to him, listing him in the Roman Martyrology among the saints venerated on July 25th, it removed his feast day from the Roman Catholic calendar of saints in 1969. Christopher is still a very popular saint; and I have medals of him in both of our vehicles, and carry a medal of him on my key chain. The 2016 Democratic National Convention begins today at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Finally, today is the birthday of Richard’s cousin Lele here in town (1947).

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb. On our way to work we gassed up the truck at the Valero gas station, and I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Once at the casino in ADR I called the pharmacy and renewed a prescription. When we clocked in, Richard was the Relief Dealer for Flop Poker (until that table closed), Mississippi Stud, and Three Card Poker, and I was on Pai Gow. On my last break I called the pharmacy and learned that my prescription was not ready.

Once we arrived home, I read the morning paper while Richard mowed the grass and used the weedwhacker (thereby breaking the spool of the weedwacker). I then worked on genealogy; at 4:00 pm Richard went to bed, and at 5:00 pm I watched Jeopardy!.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saints Joachim (died first century B.C.) and Anne (died first century A.D.), Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 2016 Democratic National Convention continues at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and today is also the birthday of my cousin Richard in California (1953). We will work our eight hours at the casino, and, as I only have one more Advance Daily Update Draft done (the one for tomorrow), I need to get busy getting ahead on my weblog.

Our Monday Afternoon Parting Quote comes to us from Bel Kaufman, German-born American author and educator. Born as Bella Kaufman in Berlin in 1911 (where her father was studying medicine), her parents were born in Russia, and her mother was the oldest daughter of famed Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. The family returned to Russia, and Kaufman was raised in Odessa and Kiev (in present-day Ukraine), with Russian as her native language. She published her first poem, “Spring,” in an Odessa magazine. In 1922 the family moved to the United States. She and her family lived in Newark, New Jersey, where her father practiced medicine and where her mother, Lala Kaufman, initially composed works in Russian but went on to write sketches and stories in Yiddish that were published regularly for many years in the Jewish Daily Forward (Forverts); she also translated some of Sholem Aleichem’s works from Yiddish into Russian. Upon entering school in New Jersey at age 12, she was placed in classes with first graders hindered because of language. She credited a teacher who helped her learn the English language with her love of English literature. She attended Hunter College in New York, graduating in 1934 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 1936 Kaufman graduated with a Master’s degree in literature from Columbia University. She married in 1936, and she and her husband had two children. She began work as a teacher in various New York City high schools, while also working part-time as a writer (including writing articles for Esquire magazine under the name Bel Kaufman, shortened because Esquire only accepted manuscripts from male authors). She and her husband divorced in 1961. In 1965 she published Up the Down Staircase, a novel about an idealistic young honors college graduate who becomes an English teacher in a New York City high school and deals with the gritty realities of her colleagues and students. The book was based on Kaufman’s own teaching experiences. Up the Down Staircase became an enormous success, remaining on The New York Times Best Seller list for 64 weeks. In 1967 the book was turned into a film of the same name. The book was turned into a play, appearing in over 100 Broadway, off-Broadway and road stage productions, and became popular as high school and college productions. In the 1970s she married Sidney J. Gluck, an acclaimed writer, photographer, China expert and public interest advocate who ran the Sholem Aleichem Memorial Foundation. In 1979 Kaufman published a second novel, Love, etc.,which was not a critical success. She later wrote several short stories and continued as a teacher and lecturer in New York City. In February 2011, at age 99, she was hired by her alma mater Hunter College to teach coursework on Jewish humor. In 2010 Kaufman celebrated her 99th birthday at the annual memorial to her famous grandfather, Sholem Aleichem (died 2014): “I do not like writing; in truth, I hate writing, and would rather do anything else. But the joy comes when, almost in spite of myself, I come close to what I want to say. A sentence or an insight leaps from the page.”

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