Daily Update: Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Lucy by Domenico di Pace Beccafumi

Today is the Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr (died about 304)

Our Saint was born in 283 in Syracuse, Sicily, to a rich family, and vowed her life to Christ. Her Roman father died when she was young, and her mother arranged a marriage for her. For three years Lucy managed to stall her mother’s plans; finally, to change her mother’s mind about the girl’s new faith, Lucy prayed at the tomb of Saint Agatha, and her mother’s long hemorrhagic illness was cured. Her mother agreed with Lucy’s desire to live for God in perpetual virginity; however, her rejected pagan bridegroom, Paschasius, denounced Lucy as a Christian to the governor of Sicily. The governor sentenced her to forced prostitution, but when guards went to fetch her, they could not move her even when they hitched her to a team of oxen. The governor ordered her killed instead. After torture that included having her eyes torn out (and miraculously restored), she was surrounded by bundles of wood which were set afire; the fire miraculously went out. She prophesied against her persecutors, and was executed by being stabbed to death with a dagger. She is usually shown in iconography as a young girl carrying her eyes in front of her on a plate, and her name comes from the Latin word for light. She is the Patron Saint of writers, martyrs, the blind, salesmen, those suffering from throat infections or epidemics, and the cities of Perugia, Italy, and Mfarta, Malta. In Scandinavia on this day the eldest girl in the family portrays Saint Lucia; putting on a white robe in the morning and wearing a crown full of candles, she serves her parents Lucia buns and coffee or mulled wine. A Hungarian custom is to plant wheat in a small pot on Saint Lucy’s day. By Christmas green sprouts appear, signs of life coming from death. The wheat is then carried to the manger scene as the symbol of Christ in the Eucharist.

Our mail Monday brought us a Christmas Card from Matthew and Callie – a photo card with our Kitten posing.

When my alarm went off for work, Richard took his shower first, then when he finished getting ready for work he left for work on his own in the truck. I did my Book Devotional Reading, then left for work in the car; it was raining heavily and overcast when it was no raining, so I did not see any Geminid meteors. Once I arrived at the casino in ADR I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Richard signed the Early Out list, and we clocked in. Richard was on Three Card Poker, and got out with no time and headed home. I was the Relief Dealer for the Second Mississippi Stud table (only once before it closed), Mississippi Stud, and Three Card Poker. On my breaks I finished reading Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith via Overdrive on my Tablet.

Coming back out on the floor at 1o:30 am, I could hear thunder outside, and a goodly portion of lights inside the casino winked out momentarily. After I clocked out I was unable to get my Diet Coke from the coke machine in ADR 2, as the machine was haywire, and when I went over to the Pharmacy to pick up my prescriptions, their computers were still down from the electrical surge (so I will pick up my prescriptions on Friday after work). The computers were also down at the Feather Fuel, but I was able to get my Diet Coke there.

When I arrived home Richard had put up the tree. I ate my lunch salad and read the morning paper, then I took a nap, which lasted for the rest of the day. While I was sleeping Richard went to Wal-Mart, got LED lights for the tree, and put them on the tree; I did not do my Advent Candles; the Full Moon arrived at 6:07 pm;  I did not do my Daily Update; our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA game with the Golden State Warriors by the score of 109 to 113 (our New Orleans Pelicans (8-18, 0-4) will next play a home NBA game with the Indiana Pacers (13-12, 1-2) on Thursday), and our LSU Tigers beat the North Carolina Central Eagles in a College Basketball game by the score of 70 to 66 (our LSU Tigers (6-2, 0-0) will next play a home College Basketball game with Texas Southern Tigers (4-6, 0-0) on Saturday).

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor (died 1591), and the Remembrance of Servant of God Catherine Doherty (died 1985), and tomorrow is an Ember Day, the first of three for this season of the year. The Geminid Meteor Shower continues tomorrow, and tomorrow is the birthday of Devonne, another one of Richard’s cousins, and of Laurie, the daughter of Richard’s sister Bonnie in Texas (1966). I will do my laundry and the Weekly Computer Maintenance, package up the presents for our Kitten, and do my Book Review for Precious and Grace by Alexander McCall Smith for this weblog and for my Goodreads and Facebook accounts and do my Daily Update for yesterday, Tuesday, December 13th, 2016. I will then mail out the package to Kitten. Our Lady Tigers will play a college basketball game with the Sam Houston State Bearkats. And I will continue to put out Christmas decorations, now that Richard has put up the tree and the tree lights for me (thank you very much, Richard).

Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Benedict Anderson, Chinese-born American scholar. Born in 1936, in Kunming, China, to an Irish father and an English mother, his father was a commissioner in the Imperial Maritime Customs Service, which was run by a European official who collected taxes on behalf of the Chinese government. The family moved to California in 1941, and then to Ireland in 1945. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1957 with a degree in classics before enrolling at Cornell. He received his Ph.D. in government in 1967, and remained at Cornell for his whole career. While still a graduate student, he published, with Ruth T. McVey, a searing account of the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66, when, after a failed coup, at least 500,000 Indonesians were massacred because of real or supposed links to the Indonesian Communist Party. A Preliminary Analysis of the 1 October 1965, Coup in Indonesia (1971) helped undermine the official narrative of the coup. In retaliation, he was banned from the country in 1972, and returned only after the fall of the dictator Suharto in 1998. (Long suppressed as a topic of discussion in Indonesia, the massacres were the subject of two recent documentaries, The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014), by the filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer.) It was America’s bitter experience in the Vietnam War, and the clashes during that era among Vietnam, Cambodia and China, all Communist states, that prompted Anderson’s curiosity about the origins of nationalism. His best-known book, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, first published in 1983, began with three paradoxes: Nationalism is a modern phenomenon, even though many people think of their nations as ancient and eternal; it is universal (everyone has a nation), even though each nation is supposedly utterly distinctive; and it is powerful (so much so that people will die for their countries), even though on close inspection it is hard to define. Anderson argued that nations emerged only after three beliefs were weakened: that elite languages (like Latin) offered unique access to truth about existence; that society was naturally organized around leaders who ruled through divine dispensation; and that the origins of the world and of humankind were essentially identical. Starting in Western Europe, economic change, scientific discoveries and a revolution in communication broke down those old beliefs. A new way to meaningfully link fraternity, power and time was needed to replace them. Essential to this process was, as Anderson put it, “the revolutionary vernacularizing thrust of capitalism.” Mechanical reproduction of printed matter helped people who might have otherwise had trouble understanding one another in person, given enormous linguistic variations, to understand themselves as part of a community. It also slowed down changes within languages, making them seem fixed and stable. And it created “languages of power,” like the King’s English or High German, which were more prestigious than other vernacular tongues. The result were communities, that is, nations, that were limited (every nation had borders) and sovereign (the Age of Enlightenment and political revolution had eroded the idea of divinely ordained dynastic rule). By “imagined,” Anderson did not mean that nations are not real; indeed, he wrote, any community larger than a village in which people know one another face to face is to an extent imagined. The “deep horizontal comradeship” that characterizes a nation is socially constructed, he wrote, but also heartfelt and genuine; it explains why people die and kill for their countries. While the preconditions were set in Europe, Anderson argued, the development of national consciousness began in the Western Hemisphere, in the United States, Brazil and the former Spanish colonies, in the late 18th century. From there, it spread to Europe and then to former colonies of Europe, in Africa and Asia. Anderson was renowned not only for his theoretical contributions but also for his detailed examinations of language and power in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines; he was fluent in Indonesian, Javanese, Thai and Tagalog. Among his many other works are a collection of essays on nationalism in Southeast Asia; an essay on the social forces behind a 1976 counterrevolution in Thailand, three years after a student revolt there toppled a military dictatorship; an analysis of the influence of anarchist ideas on Filipino nationalism; a travelogue about Wat Phai Rong Wua, a popular Buddhist tourist destination in Thailand that tries to depict what hell would be like; and several books on language, power, violence and belief in Indonesia. He retired from Cornell as an emeritus professor of international studies in 2002. At his death Anderson had been finalizing an English translation of  A Life Beyond Boundaries: A Memoir, which was first published in Japanese. The book urges readers to resist the easy comforts of imagined homes, extolled the joys of learning languages and of teaching and doing field work, and examined the New Left’s influence; the English translation was published in 2016 (died 2015): “Unlike most other isms, nationalism has never produced its own grand thinkers: no Hobbeses, Tocquevilles, Marxes or Webers.”

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