Category Archives: Ren

Greek Church and Indians. Vegan Things. Running.

Last Sunday I went to Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Indianapolis. I would go there for every liturgy if I could. As it is, they don’t have church every single Sunday yet, because they are a fledgling congregation started by a handful of Greeks who are trying to maintain their faith in a different way. I respect it. Though I can read Greek (not well), I cannot speak a lick of it. What keeps me interested in the Orthodox Church, particularly in which the liturgy is delivered predominantly in Greek? What keeps me coming back is the very old tradition, the way link it provides to the early church, and the way the ceremony of it relates to what I imagine Jewish culture to have contributed to my faith.

Sunday, I noticed a few new facets of the service that speak to me. One is the fact that even if you don’t understand what is being said, you can understand what is being said. I don’t know what the priest intones over the Eucharistic elements, but I can tell by the actions he makes that the moment is sacred and should be revered. I can tell that he is giving great respect to the wine and bread, while also making them holy. How can I tell? He bows his head and covers them with incense before proceeding with any words.

Nothing is done without incense, which brings me to another new thing I learned.Incense is very important. So important that the priest would not even mix the wine and water or bring out the bread until the incense worked. He had to light the charcoal himself because the altar helper couldn’t get it to light. Once the incense got going, the priest, Fr. John, returned to the table of elements and fragranced them in order to continue the liturgy.

The incense difficulty made me think of Saturday night when Adam and I went to Mounds State Park to a summer solstice celebration. We didn’t know when we decided to go to it that the point of the evening was to learn about the Miami Indian culture and to be spectators for their personal tribal summer solstice ceremony, which was held on the Great Mound, an ancient ceremonial mound. Before the ceremony could begin, the mound had to be fragranced with sage. The sage served two purposes: to cleanse the area and to provide a sweet smell to welcome the ancestors. I am still trying to understand the connections between sweet smells and the way they affect our ability to worship and contemplate. I do know that certain smells can instantly transport me to memories, to ideas, to experiences I have had. The smell of Greek Church is a familiar and likable place.

I love Holy Apostles because it is new and is held in the back chapel of another church. It’s young and things get messed up. Fr. John intoned that the readings came from the Gospel of Mark and they really came form Matthew. Those of you that know the liturgy know that the second most important part of the service is when the gospel enters and then is read, so messing up right there is kind of a big deal. However, Fr. John said at the beginning of his homily that sometimes mistakes happen in liturgy, because it is performed by humans. We mess up. “What is important is to keep the peace in the face of mistakes,” he said. Yeah, I agree. It’s important to keep the peace.


I am giving this vegan thing another whirl, but I am trying not to be an ass about it. I did make a fantastic pasta dish the other night: whole wheat pasta, acorn squash, tofu, a teeny bit of maple syrup, Italian spices, salt and pepper, and a teeny bit of cinnamon and clove. It was delicious. I am hoping to lose a little bit of weight by cutting back on fats and calories through not eating cheese and eggs. We’ll see how long it lasts.


I ran two miles today and it went well. My heel hurts, but I am still not sure what’s wrong with it. I don’t think it’s an achilles injury, but it could be. I can tell you that as soon as I get health insurance, I am going to get it checked out. For now, though, I am trying a new style of running that seems to help.


Food: banana, juice, smoothie (tofu, soy milk, strawberries, blueberries, wheat germ), two baby bagels with soy peanut butter, chick pea patty frozen dinner, naked PK breadsticks with pizza sauce, mango smoothie

This Weekend

collier: Poetry, Cole, Howarth
nowatzki: rice, coles, Brown
stockton: presentation, cavendish

write PCM paper and let it rest till next weekend, send to Sarah

teaching: make grade sheets for each student, so I can grade as we go, and then reflect

call Ico and Elizabeth and tell them I can’t come cook
Saturday: Indy with Adam and Bec
Sunday: Church


The Blazing World

bears: men, women, and children; strange language
foxes: wild-geese: satyrs: they can all understand each other, but can the Lady understand them?

  • Emporer of the Blazing World (published 1666)
  • html article on cavendish
  • linked article access from BSU
  • ships made of gold and leather?
  • Emperor’s palace
  • gates at every half mile
  • like slave narrative and travel narrative: the Lady is perceived like a goddess, and she has learned their language by this point well enough to tell what they are saying
  • precursor to Aphra Behn, Lady Montague, etc. telling details in comparison to what is familiar in Europe (England); orientalization of different culture
  • list of men page 133
  • description of the elements (wind, snow, etc) page 138-139

So far it seems as if Cavendish is relating the structure of the Blazing World while trying to explain the things that her contemporaries don’t understand. She is delving into science, nature, religion, politics, and architecture. It seems as if no subject is of limits to her critical eye, and no answer seems too outlandish for her to propose as her questions solution. Each group of experts exhibits the qualities that she thinks are necessary to understand their particular facet of technology. For example the bird-men are the nature/science guys. They talk about the wind and the snow, etc. So their animal characteristic seems to go with their human occupation. I am not sure if there is anything to that idea, but so far it seems to hold true. See how it unfolds.

Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis

Francis Bacon seems to be saying that New Atlantis is more advanced than England because they speak a variety of classical as well as modern languages. Initally the inhabitants of the new Atlantis seem to private and wary of strangers, but they then extend an exceptional amount kindness to the people who land there, even giving the speaker a private audience with the ruler. However, only one person attains this honor. This text sort of reminds me of Lady Mary Wortley’s discussion of Turkish bathhouses and some other travel narrative, as the speaker seems more interested in elucidating the differences between Europe and New Atlantis, or New Atlantis and the old, than he does in simply telling a story. Each portion of the story is couched inside a scientific description of what the new land has to offer. Why are the assets of the new land told through eyes of the “Jew” and why are the inhabitants of this land compared with biblical people? The original parchment they brought out to the ship was written in ancient greek, hebrew and latin, which are all languages of the church. Is a utopia by default embued with scriptural language for Bacon?

Toward the end Bacon focuses on the inhabitants advanced technological abilities: sounds, fragrances, lighting. This reflects the state of technology in the renaissance as people started to experiment scientifically and to envision new ways to think about old problems: airplanes, submarines, the riches of Salomon’s house. Merchants of Light, Depredators, Mystery-Men, Pioners or Miners, Compilers, Dowry-Men or Benefactors, Lamps, Inoculators, and Interpreters of Nature: more celebratory statuary for men, but also sing praises to God.

Seemingly we are to read that the leader of New Atlantis shared all of this with the speaker for the good of other nations. He was allowed to write it down and share it. And not only that, but they were generous with there money.

We Have Never Been Modern

nature (real), politics (social), discourse (narrated)

“Here is the second misunderstanding. If the facts do not occupy the simultaneously marginal and sacred place our worship has reserved for them, then it seems that they are immediately reduced to pure local contingency and sterile machinations.”

E. O. Wilson: speaks of naturalized phenomena, then socities, subjects, adn all forms of discourse vanish

Pierre Bourdieu: speaks of fields of power, then science, technology, texts, and teh contents of activities disappear

Jacques Derrida: speaks of truth effects, then to believe in the real existence of brain neurons or power plays would betray enormous naivete

“Each of these forms of criticism is powerful in itself but impossible to combine with the other two.”

1: a confused mass2 a: an intricate or complicated situation (as in a drama or novel) b: an acutely painful or embarrassing misunderstanding c: a violently confused or bitterly complicated altercation : embroilment d: scandal 3a

Tue Jan 8 13:37:25 2008
imbroglio – Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

What does it mean to be modern?
The repressed returns and with a vengeance

“Whether we are antimodern, modern or postmodern, we are called into question by teh double debacle of the miraculous year 1989.”

Ancients VS. Moderns

Modern: two sets of practices which must remain distinct
1) the first set of practices, by “translation,” creates mixtures between entirely new types of beings, hybrids of nature, and culture (networks)
2) the second set, by “purification” creates two entirely distinct ontological zones: that of human beings on the one hand; that of non-humans on the other (modern critical stance)
“Without the first set, the practices of practices of purification would be fruitless or pointless. Without the second, the work of translation would be slowed down, limited, or even ruled out.”

“Nietzsche said that the big problems were like cold baths: you haev to get out as fast as you got in.”

anthropology tackles everything at once

apodeictic, apodictic a. evident; demonstrable; incontrovertible.

Tue Jan 8 14:28:28 2008
Dictionary of Difficult Words – apodeictic, apodictic

Focusing on the debates between Boyle and his archcritic Thomas Hobbes over the air-pump, the authors proposed that “solutions to the problem of knowledge are solutions to the problem of social order.” Both Boyle and Hobbes were looking for ways of establishing knowledge that did not decay into ad hominem attacks and political division. Boyle proposed the experiment as cure. He argued that facts should be manufactured by machines like the air-pump so that gentlemen could witness the experiments and produce knowledge that everyone agreed on. Hobbes, by contrast, looked for natural law and viewed experiments as the artificial, unreliable products of an exclusive guild.

Tue Jan 8 14:36:54 2008
Shapin, S. and Schaffer, S.: Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life.

One may encounter the terms exegesis and hermeneutics used interchangeably; however, there remains a distinction. An exegesis is the interpretation and understanding of a text on the basis of the text itself. A hermeneutic is a practical application of a certain method or theory of interpretation, often revolving around the contemporary relevance of the text in question

Tue Jan 8 14:53:30 2008
Exegesis – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hobbes, politics; Boyle, sciences

Three paradoxes of Nature and Society (see p. 32)