30 April 2008

A contest staggers on; a Radical Proposition for a New Christian Biblical Canon; the Increased Need for Creative Discipline; Some disjointed facts

Dearest Clank asks if the contest to produce the most sensible explanation of the use of the phrase "Pippa Passes" by this scribe is still going on. Well, the only response to it I received was from Bro. Joel who correctly identified its origin (poetic play by the same name by Robert Browning), but declined the prize of a fine book from the Endless Box of Books because he has plenty to read already. (Strange attitude, that -- there are never enough books.) Ok, Clank, darling, the contest goes on! The first and best (aside - that may be mutually exclusive - in other words, I will judge the competition by naked caprice) explanation of WHY I use "Pippa Passes" so frequently wins. Hint: The answer is obscure and metaphorical, and also representative of my curmudgeonly ethic.

In Bible study, we are about to study the Book of Philemon (fy-LEE-mon), one of the letters of Paul. This one is written to Philemon, a rich guy, concerning a newly-converted runaway slave named Onesimus (oh-NEES-e-mus) and, if you close one eye and stand on one foot, it can be read as moderately disapproving of slavery. The MacArthur Study Bible (heartily recommended by Bro. Joel as very helpful in figuring out what's going on, and he's right) says that the early Church refrained from condemning slavery because it was so widespread that such a position would have resulted in even stronger suppression of the Christians. I sense a bit of situational ethics there. The Book of Philemon is short and obscure, but on the other hand it manages to ramble without making a point. So, I have a radical suggestion. I'm not sure who would comprise the Supreme Council of the Universal Church, but we need to find them and they need to meet. I envision that they will pour over the back issues of No. 3 Equity Court, and find the (host of) observations which are pithy, pointed and Universally True. They will proceed to number the posts by chapter and verse, and replace the Book of Philemon with the Book of No. 3 Equity Court. OK, I've done my part, get busy and summon the Council.

Self-publication - by blog, website, PC/Mac with printer, digital camera & photo printer, spell check, grammar check, Google, etc. - has innundated our lives with visual and language-based information and product. A natural effect is that the quality of that product has diminished markedly. Take photography. It used to be, you had to dump a good bit of money into a decent camera, dump lots more money into film, and then dump a whole lot more money into developing. That kept amateur and uninspired and untrained photographers in check, because random or mindlessly fanatic production costs a whole lot of money. And take the art of the essayist, which is practiced with greater or lesser skill by about every blogger. Before 1900 or so, essays were handwritten and the factual information therein had to be gathered grain by grain from physically written sources or from direct observation. Cursive writing is done slowly, so I presume that those essayists had more time to think about what they were writing and more opportunity to reflect and modify after the first draft. The cost of manually setting type and printing raised a pretty high expense-bar, and only quality work cleared that bar. This is the challenge of the 21st Century writer, photographer, philosopher or artist -- absent the financial disciplining automatic in manual publication, we have to find some inner discipline to think and produce high quality things. That just ain't easy.

Random facts which are figuring in further writing:
A cabin heated by wood uses about 15 cords of wood per year, which is the yield of 0.7 acres. (A cord is the amount of firewood which can be stacked in a volume 4'x4'x8'.)
Conventional 2-lane highway consumes 100 acres per mile. (1 acre = 44,560 square feet.)
Interstate (4+ lane, limited access) highway uses 600 acres per mile.
"Disabled" is a poor vocational choice.
"Alimony recipient" is a poor vocational choice.
It's a dangerous world, and there are lots of dangerous and nasty people in it.
Gasoline engines are very inefficient (i.e., the great majority of the energy content is wasted as heat rather than used to propel the vehicle).
Cars move people very inefficiently, i.e., you need to spend the energy to move 2000 pounds of metal along with 200 pounds of person.
The loudest environmentalist (pejorative) or most committed conservationist (favorable connotation) is about as responsible as the Caddy-driving millionaire for the climate/environmental mess.
The entire concept of energy consists of management and movement of solar-created resources.
If it rains on Monday, it rains all week. (That one isn't true, but it's catchy.)

Pippa passes.



Anonymous said...

What in God's name were you smoking when you wrote this?

rosa said...

Roger, you know I love you, but that bit about essayists is bunk. All those pretty handwritten manuscripts were written out by copyists--most essay writers wrote rather quickly (newspapers have been printing tripe since the 1740s or so afterall). In fact Mary Wollstonecraft's _A Vindication of the Rights of Woman_ (about 250-300 pages) was written in 10 weeks.

Also, lots of dreck has been published in our history even when it was copied out by monks. Quantity of writing has always been plentiful; it's just that the quality is usually what makes it through time.