Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. In the secular world, today is Earth Hour Day, a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). Today is the date of the Municipal Primary Election in Louisiana. In the world of Middle-Earth, this is the date in 3019 (Third Age) when the One Ring perished after it went into the Cracks of Doom on Mount Doom. And today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Turning to the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the first chapter of the book of Luke the Angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin of Nazareth named Mary to announce that she would conceive a son from the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit whom she would name Jesus. Mary told the Angel, ”Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” and Jesus was conceived. In the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar the feast is moved if necessary to prevent it from falling during Holy Week or Easter Week or on a Sunday (as it will be next year). It is an ancient feast; when the calendar system of Anno Domini was first introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525, he assigned the beginning of the new year to March 25th, since according to Christian theology the era of grace began with the Incarnation of Christ. (There is also some evidence that the Church Fathers believed that the Crucifixion was on the same date, and that the Annunciation was being celebrated before Christmas was celebrated.) The first authentic allusions to the feast are in a canon, of the Council of Toledo (656), and another of the Council of Constantinople “in Trullo” (692), forbidding the celebration of any festivals during Lent, excepting the Lord’s Day (Sunday) and the Feast of the Annunciation. The date was the historic start of the new year (Lady Day) in England, Wales, Ireland, and the future United States until the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar in 1752. It should also be noted that this day is not a Marian feast, but a Christological feast; hence the long name of the Feast, The Annunciation of the Lord. Today is the date of the Municipal Primary Election in Louisiana; Richard and I, in our locale, will only be voting for a judge. Today is also Earth Hour Day. A global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as World Wildlife Fund), Earth Hour annually is observed (usually on the last Saturday in March, but sometimes a week earlier if that date conflicts with major religious holidays) by asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Earth Hour was conceived by WWF and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights. Following Sydney’s lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008. In February 2012 Earth Hour launched its 2012 campaign, “I Will If You Will”, with the intention of engaging its growing global community to go beyond the hour. Using a dedicated YouTube platform IWIYW asks Earth Hour’s digital community to inspire people from all corners of the globe to take sustainability actions and to share their commitment to the environment with their own social media networks. By Earth Hour Day 2013 the “I Will If You Will” campaign spread to more than 50 countries, generating momentum behind Earth Hour’s push to be an ongoing movement for change. The tagline for the 2015 global campaign was “Change Climate Change”, returning to the movement’s original focus to initiate citizen action on global warming.Uniquely participating in Earth Hour activities are the inhabitants of Sibuyan, an island in the Philippines, who turn on their lights to elevate the message of using renewable energy. The island’s source of energy comes from a mini-hydro power plant. Earth Hour 2017, with the theme “Shining a Light on Climate Action”, is scheduled for Saturday, March 25th, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants’ local time. (Alas, as usual, I will be in bed asleep at that time.) In Middle-Earth, when Sauron had made the One Ring to control the rings he had made and given to elves, dwarves, and men (circa 1600, Second Age), he had transferred a great part of his native power to it, and it made its wearer invisible. The ring would also extend life indefinitely, and would eventually corrupt the wearer. When he was defeated (but not destroyed) in 3441 (Second Age) (the same event that began the Third Age) Isildur cut the ring from Sauron’s finger and put it on his own finger. The Ring betrayed him at the Battle of the Gladden Fields; it slipped off of his finger on its own, and Isildur, now visible to his enemies, was slain. In Third Age 2463, Déagol and Sméagol (of the ancestors of the Hobbits of the Shire) were fishing in the Gladden Fields when Déagol found the Ring. Sméagol coveted it, and when Déagol refused to give it to him as a birthday-present. Sméagol killed him. Sméagol then was banished by his family, and went to the deep caverns under the Misty Mountains in 2470. By 2941 he was wizened up, and would hold conversations with himself, using both his given name of Sméagol and his nickname of Gollum. Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit of the Shire, found the Ring under the Misty Mountains at that time, and unwisely let Gollum know his name. Bilbo carried the Ring back to the Shire, and, after many years, passed it on to his nephew Frodo Baggins in 3001. By this time Gollum had left the Misty Mountains to search for the Ring, his “Precious”. Gandalf the Grey by this time had established that the ring in Frodo’s possession was the One Ring. In 3018 Frodo left the Shire with his friends, reached Rivendell, and accepted the charge of being the one to destroy the Ring. Frodo (assisted by his loyal friend Sam) took the Ring through great peril to the Cracks of Doom in Mordor, where the Ring had been forged; however, his will failed at the last moment. Unable to resist the growing power of the Ring, he put it on his finger and claimed it for his own. Even as Sauron became aware of Frodo claiming the ring, Gollum viciously attacked Frodo and bit the Ring from his finger. Ecstatic to finally recover his long-lost “Precious”, Gollum teetered on the edge of the abyss, then lost his footing and fell with the Ring (and Frodo’s finger) into the fire. At the Ring’s destruction, Sauron’s power was immediately broken and his form in Middle-earth was destroyed. (J. R. R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic; it is hard to believe that the date when Jesus became Incarnate in the womb of Mary and the date that Evil was unmade in Middle-Earth are the same date purely through coincidence.) In 2003 Sean Kirst, of the Syracuse, New York Post-Standard newspaper, suggested to the Tolkien Society that March 25th of each year be Tolkien Reading Day, with the aim of encouraging the reading of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien and the use of Tolkien’s works in education and library groups. Since then all subsequent Tolkien Reading Days have been organized by Kirst. And today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade; it is a United Nations international observance designated in 2007 to be marked on March 25th every year. The day honours and remembers those who suffered and died as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade, which has been called “the worst violation of human rights in history”,in which over 400 years more than 15 million men, women and children were the victims. It was first observed in 2008 with the theme “Breaking the Silence, Lest We Forget”; the theme for 2017 is “Remember Slavery: Recognising the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”.
Last night our #4 LSU Tigers lost their College Baseball game with the #12 Florida Gators by the score of 0 to 1, our #11 LSU Lady Tigers won their College Softball game with the #15 Georgia Lady Bulldogs by the score of 4 to 3, and our New Orleans Pelicans lost their NBA game with the Houston Rockets by the score of 107 to 117.
When I woke up today, I posted to Facebook that today was Earth Hour Day, Election Day in Louisiana, the date in 3019 (Third Age) when the One Ring perished after it went into the Cracks of Doom on Mount Doom, and the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade in four separate postings. I then did my Book Devotional Reading, put out the flag, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. After the Pre-Shift Meeting, Richard was on Macau Mini Baccarat (which turned into a regular Mini Baccarat game late in the day); we had a heavy tipper on the table, and Richard estimated that between him and the relief dealer they dropped about $2,000 in dealer tokes. I was on Pai Gow all day, and mostly dead between 6:00 am and 9:30 am. On one of my later breaks I sent a text to Michelle giving her the dates when we will be gone, telling her that the mail and newspapers will be held, and asking if she could check on the outside cats every so often (she responded that she would). I also put in for PTO for Friday, June 23rd, and made a note on the ScheduleEase that I would amend my request to include the dates through Tuesday, June 27th when those dates become open.
When we got home from work I ate my lunch salad while Richard paid bills. He then left on his erranding (he deposited the payments for the in-town bills, voted, got gas for the truck, got supplies at Wal-Mart, and got crawfish tails and boudin to take to South Carolina), and I went to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. During my Hour I finished reading the March 20th, 2017 issue of my Jesuit America magazine, and started reading the January / February 2017 issue of The Bible Today. I then got gas for the car, voted at city hall, and ran the car through the car wash; when I returned home I zeroed out the Trip counter that records vacation miles.
Once home again I set up my medication for next week, and set up my medications for the week after next, when we are on vacation. (I have three medications to renew, one of which is critical, as I am about to run out.) I plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro; the numbers did not add up, and Richard got very angry with me when I could not make sense of his explanation (he later apologized, saying he was mad at himself, not me). I also printed out the log of our vacation spending from back in November, and printed out the summary for each class (cash, and credit). I then made myself some peanut butter Ritz crackers, and got busy with today’s Daily Update. Our #4 LSU Tigers (17-6, 3-1) are playing an Away College Baseball game with the #12 Florida Gators (15-8, 1-3), and the Home College Softball game that our #11 LSU Lady Tigers were to play with the #15 Georgia Lady Bulldogs was rained out.
Tomorrow is the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Lætare Sunday). With no Saints to honor, we note that on tomorrow’s date in 1979 the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington, DC by President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin, with American President Jimmy Carter witnessing the signing, following the 1978 Camp David Accords. Richard and I will work our eight hours, and I will make up my list of what I need to pack for our vacation. In the afternoon I will roll up the coins that have been deposited in the change bottle on the kitchen bar. Our #11 LSU Lady Tigers (25-7, 2-2) will be playing two Home College Softball games with the #15 Georgia Lady Bulldogs (26-5, 2-2) , our #4 LSU Tigers will be playing an Away College Baseball game with the #12 ranked Florida Gators, and our New Orleans Pelicans (30-42, 5-10) will be playing an Away NBA game with the Denver Nuggets (35-27, 5-8).
Our Parting Quote on this Saturday afternoon comes to us from Jonathan Edward Schell, American author. Born in 1943 in New York City, he graduated from Harvard University in 1965. His first book, The Village of Ben Suc, was published in 1967. From 1967 until 1987, he was a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he served as the principal writer of the magazine’s Notes and Comment section. In the early 1980s, Schell wrote a series of articles in The New Yorker (subsequently published in 1982 as The Fate of the Earth), which were instrumental in raising public awareness about the dangers of the nuclear arms race. The Fate of the Earth received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among other awards, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Critics Award. Schell became a persistent advocate for disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons. In 1987 he was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was a columnist for Newsday from 1990 until 1996. From 1998 to his death he was a Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and the Peace and Disarmament Correspondent for The Nation magazine. Schell was a fellow at the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy in 2002, and the next year, he was a visiting lecturer at Yale Law School. In 2002 and 2003, Schell was a persistent critic of the invasion of Iraq. In 2005 he became a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Yale’s Center for the Study of Globalization. His last book, The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, was published in 2007. At the time of his death he was a Visiting Lecturer at Yale College (died 2014): “Either we will sink into a final coma and end it all or, as I trust and believe, we will awaken to the truth of our peril, a truth as great as life itself, and, like a person who has swallowed a lethal poison but shakes off his stupor at the last moment and vomits the poison up, we will break through the layers of our denials, put aside our fainthearted excuses, and rise up to cleanse the earth of nuclear weapons.”