Old Style Bible Find and Streamers Over St. Joseph

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I love books. I have more books than I can ever hope to read and will buy more anyway so there will never be hope of reading them all. I do e-books as well, and there it is mainly convenience but no art, no tangibles, no love. You can’t smell it, hold it, praise it: you merely get done with it and then push the button that takes you back to your main library.

I have about 350 e-books and I can say one thing about them. They are a lot easier to move than the other 700 or whatever number of real books I have!

Anyway when I was growing up my mother had (probably still has) one of those giant family bibles that used to be popular through I guess the 70’s. There was a declaration page where you filled out your name and dated it. It had the family record of marriages, births, baptisms, grand colorful photos of the famous religious paintings. The gilded pages, the leather cover, the fancy writing at the opening of each book, etc. They were beautiful works of art. Heavy enough to be a bludgeon, yes, but beautiful.

Nowadays the best you can hope for is something in imitation leather. They just don’t make them like that anymore – at least not that I have been able to find.

And I’ve been looking, periodically, for years. Even wanted one as a committed atheist simply on esthetic grounds alone.

Today I found one, and it’s a keeper.

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It is a 1970 edition of the NAB (that’s New American Bible to you) Marian Edition. Half-Priced Books rocks. I found a single solitary copy of this edition on Amazon for $80, I got mine for $20. That picture above is not too clear, it is a separate section of the Sermon on the Mount done up in great font and trim. The book also has a complete section on Mariology (hence the name of the edition) the stations of the cross (which I only knew from a South Park episode) a pictorial presentation of the sacrifice of the mass, almost every religious painting I’ve ever seen then some, and then some other some common to most Bible editions.

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And the gloss photos are very nice as well.

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Then later last evening Brenda and I were out for a walk and we got the most brilliant photo opportunity… but we don’t carry our phones with us. Within less than 2 minutes walking time from our apartment are two churches. One is Living Hope Bible Church – Evangelical (arf) so close I could huck a baseball from my apartment and hit it, the other, right across the street from it, is St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

It was about an hour from sunset so the sun is far to the west and behind some clouds. The humidity was high so the air was wet. When that happens it causes the sun’s rays to “stream” from behind the clouds. We were walking the dogs through the parking lot of the Bible Church and Brenda sees the magnificent streamers of cloudy light across the sky (there might be a term for that, not sure). She points it out and mentions it’s funny we are seeing it from a church (when the sun and clouds do that it is very biblical looking). Behind her several steps I look up and I see something even more impressive.

“Come here and check out something even more awesome!”

St. Joseph’s is about 30 feet higher in elevation than the other church. And between a valley of tree peaks that line the parking lot of the Living Hope Church you can see the tall cross that sits atop St. Joseph’s roof. And about that was the sun behind the clouds with its streaming light.

It was pure artwork.

So we haul ass home to get our cameras. Unfortunately Brenda is wearing flip flops so we are hindered. We rush back out there because these things do not last long. It wasn’t as majestic when we got back but I took several pictures anyway.

Then I rounded the parking lot to get in the road in front of St. Joseph’s. The priest of St. Joseph’s, Father Todd, was talking to a parishioner (I presume) at the gates or entrance. He sees me stepping in the middle of the road walking towards them holding my camera up. I wave for him to duck but he was already doing it “you have something going on above you!” I yell, and take my pictures. “I know!” he yelled back.

It is not as good as it could have been and I wish I had a real camera because the shot below could have been really beautiful. But you can tell from the photo I did get that 5 minutes or so earlier it was quite a great sight!

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Here is another one. Notice Father Todd is still trying to stay out of my way.

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The hill that I live on has some fantastic views especially some hauntingly midnight moon shots. I’m taking my camera with me from now on.

 

 

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11 responses to “Old Style Bible Find and Streamers Over St. Joseph

  • taichiwawa

    It is said that beauty does not exist in the world except in a mind capable of perceiving it. Does this mean that beauty does not exist?

  • bensira587

    You know I can’t answer a question like that without going on and on, right? You’ve known me long enough for that.

    Does red not exist except in an eye capable of perceiving it? Where is the tickle? In the feather or the skin? On a strictly philosophical level I say the answer is yes and no.

    Let’s play with it. Let’s say the universe is a giant clockwork with no clockmaker. It is simply the result of a string of causations going back to some inexplicable point – no God. Let’s also say that we are the only planet in the entire realm of existence that has life or mind of any kind. One day a gamma ray burst, or an unsuspecting astroid rids Earth of all life – snuffed out.

    Are the rings of Saturn still beautiful? The constellations? The ocean waves, the full moon shifting through wispy clouds, etc. Let’s say it is the day after the event. Let’s even change it and say there is still one organism left on Earth – one lucky man. All the things of beauty (some of them anyway) are still there. If he were near an observatory or a good telescope, he could still admire the rings of Saturn, the moon, their beauty.

    Let’s say he is upon a mountaintop on his back looking up at the stars, breathing his last breaths. “It is so beautiful…” he croaks, and with that exhales his last breath and passes on (well, not “on” I’ve constructed a purely mechanical universe here).

    What changed from the moment when the last mind capable of perceiving beauty could perceive and then when he could not? Nothing. The object of beauty is still there as before. But there is no one left to say that it is so. The acknowledgement of beauty is gone yet it is still there. It is not as if beauty were as Bishop Berkeley’s existence that disappears when it is not perceived (except for his run around with God backing it up).

    Of course I no longer believe reality or the universe or existence is simply a giant clockwork of mechanical causations going back to some inexplicable starting point. But I took the hard position to argue from because in such a world it would seem that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not from an evaluative standpoint as it is usually applied, but from an ontological angle.

    I haven’t considered the issue of beauty from the theological side yet, but I presume such a question as yours would be much easier to answer that way.

    As for the usual meaning of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, I reject it, and I accept it. I reject it in the sense of an “anything goes” approach. You admire a rose, and the guy next to you admires a fetid pile of fly infested shit. You both claim for your objects the title of beauty. I say, one of you is wrong, one of you is perverting beauty and elevating ugliness (for whatever reason – the admiration or love of beauty needs no explanation or justification, the other does).

    But I accept it on a continuum as well, including of different forms. One man may find beauty in Beethoven’s Piano Sonata 3, while another may disdain classical music and admire the beauty of, say, the sadness of Kenny Roger’s Lady. Or one could find Bea Arthur to be his standard of feminine beauty, while another finds Dawn Mills (go Mary Ann!) to be so.

    I have nothing to say to such differences. But I would have something to say about the man who only admires the “beauty” of corpses. Or that claims to admire the cacophony of indistinguishable noise of some punk music.

    From an evaluative aspect, you see, it becomes difficult. One cannot hand over beauty to mean merely “that which pleases anybody” some people are fucked up, twisted and malignant. Beauty has to be objective, but it can’t be “scholastic” either. (By the last I mean the stringent definitions that used to be followed for instance, following to the letter Aristotle’s definition of what constituted a play.) You can’t make beauty arbitrary the first way, and you can’t make beauty arbitrary the second way either.

    You can see that subjectivity in regards to beauty merely reduces to arbitrary assertion. But attempting to make a case for the objectivity of beauty is in danger of the same risk.

    And, to tie this all up, and before you bring it to my attention. I fully realize my ontological argument and my evaluative argument are at odds. I claim, implicitly, in my ontological argument, that beauty is objective, that it is “out there”. In my evaluative argument I leave room that some of it resides “in here”. I think both answers are right. I have never been able to draw the two cohesively together.

  • taichiwawa

    Though I’m sure your arguments would upset staunch proponents of the contrasting ontological/epistemological positions, I respect your confessed ambivalence. I have read psychologists “explaining” the bio-evolutionary foundations of our aesthetic sense. Interesting and maybe even enlightening to some extent, but the explanations shouldn’t diminish the experience of apprehending that which is aesthetically pleasing.

    Note I did not say beautiful here, at least not in the common sense. Hypothetically, a movie about the holocaust might include many of those ugly elements you cited, but still be a work of art.

    On a personal note, I would say that in keeping with my worn out old book/reality analogy: the physical book is only lifeless stuff, the real book is the experience the reader has.

    • bensira587

      The holocaust movie could also, in addition to being a work of art, contain beauty. Overall, despite horrors and ugliness, it can, as a whole, be a work of beauty. Or it could be a work of despair and still be art. Beauty is a noble end of art, but they are no synonymous.

      Then again, can there be beauty in despair, sorrow, hate? We haven’t defined the term.

      Many art forms have the ability to contain many parts. It can say many things. Singular art works are more limited. If you are going to display cans full of shit (as in the “art” piece ARTIST’S SHIT by Manzoni) you don’t have a lot of room to claim beauty. I’d say none.

      Sculture is limited in its ability of expression and so is portrait, landscape, object of study (a fruit bowl for instance) painting, in ways a sonata, play, poem, novel are not. Note I did not exhaust the types of paintings possible by any stretch.

      I have read psychologists “explaining” the bio-evolutionary foundations of our aesthetic sense.

      I will quote Lafferty for that.

      Ah, dog dirt, not more academic hooey!”

      But I agree with your point.

      …the physical book is only lifeless stuff, the real book is the experience the reader has.

      Agree again. But what of the writer?

  • Sylvie D. Rousseau

    “..magnificent streamers of cloudy light across the sky (there might be a term for that, not sure) …”
    We have a regional term in Eastern French Canada, the part still called Acadie, as it was named under the French rule, now New Brunswick province and Madelene Islands: “pied-de-vent” (“wind feet”). The term is not recorded in the French dictionaries we use most, that are from France. I found the technical term “crepuscular rays” (“rayons crépusculaires” in French) on the internet, as well as many other poetical names, often related to religion, like Jacob’s ladder, God’s fingers, pathways to heaven.

  • taichiwawa

    Speaking of aesthetics and names for things, I came across this bit of cleverness this morning:
    It seems pulchritude can be measured in milihelens and fractions thereof. A milihelen is a unit of beauty sufficient to launch a single ship.

  • taichiwawa

    Now if I could just spell it correctly… It should be millihelen.

  • taichiwawa

    File under: Aesthetics and Cultural Evolution.

    What do you get when you cross the Japanese schoolgirl pop genre with heavy metal?

    . . . BABYMETAL!

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