Author Archive

Feast of George Frederick Handel (April 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  Handel

Image in the Public Domain

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GEORGE FREDERICK HANDEL (FEBRUARY 23, 1685 OLD STYLE/MARCH 5, 1685 NEW STYLE-APRIL 14, 1759)

Composer

Also known as Georg Friedrich Handel and George Frideric Handel

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I should be sorry if I only entertained them. I wish to make them better.

–Handel

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The feast day of this saint in The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is July 28.  The Episcopal Church adds Johann Sebastian Bach and Henry Purcell to that feast.  The ELCA/ELCIC version of the feast is Heinrich Schutz, J. S. Bach, and G. F. Handel.  My strategy in this matter is to break those two feasts apart, as I have begun to do.

Handel was a child prodigy.  He was a child of the 63-year-old Georg Handel (a barber-surgeon) and Dorothea Taust, of Halle.  Our saint, born on February 23, 1685 (Julian Calendar)/March 5, 1685 (Gregorian Calendar), played the organ at the ducal court at Weissenfells at the tender age of eight years.  The following year Handel began to study composition and various instruments under Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau, an organist at Halle.  By the age of ten years Handel had at least six sonatas for oboe and continue to his credit.

Georg Handel, who died in 1697,  wanted our saint to become an attorney.  So it came to pass that young Handel studied law at the University of Halle.  Our saint completed that course of study, per the wishes of his late father, although he had begun to support himself as a church musician.  Handel, although a Lutheran, was organist at a Reformed church.

Handel became a musician and composer.  Among his friends was composer Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), whom he met in college.  From 1703 to 1706 Handel worked in Hamburg, a center of German opera.  He played the violin and the harpsichord in the opera orchestra there.  Our saint also wrote the St. John Passion and this first two operas (Almira and Nero) at Hamburg.

Handel spent 1706-1710 in Italy.  There he visited Florence, Rome, Naples, and Venice, met major Italian composers, and composed major works, including operas.

After completing his Italian tour Handel went to work as the musical director for Georg Ludwig, the Elector of Hanover (and, starting in 1714, King George I of Great Britain).  Our saint visited London, where he debuted his opera Rinaldo, in 1711.  The following year he settled in that city.  In 1726 he became a naturalized British subject.

Handel was a great composer.  He and J. S. Bach, who was unlike him in many ways, wrote much of the best music of the Baroque Era.  The great Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), citing Messiah (1741), declared that Handel was “the master of us all.”  Handel’s vast catalog of compositions included instrumental and vocal music, from the Water Music to operas to oratorios on Biblical topics (Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, Samson, Esther, Israel in Egyptet cetera).

Handel, a lifelong bachelor, enjoyed life and lived it well.  The man who demonstrated the ability to speak three languages in the same sentence was generous of spirit and gave liberally to charities; he had much to share with the less fortunate.  He, although a solitary figure, enjoyed parties, good food, and fine wine.  He did not hold grudges and, when he realized that he had caused offense, was quick to apologize.

Handel died in London on April 14, 1759, aged 74 years.  The site of his burial was Westminster Abbey.

I intend no disrespect to lawyers when I write that it is fortunate for the world that Handel became a composer, not an attorney.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF HUGH THOMSON KERR, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND LITURGIST; AND HUGH THOMSON KERR, JR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PLUTARCH, MARCELLA, POTANOMINAENA, AND BASTILDES OF ALEXANDRIA, MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF RANDOLPH ROYALL CLAIBORNE, JR., EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF ATLANTA

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness,

who teaches us in Holy Scriptures to sing your praises and who gave your

musician George Frederick Handel grace to show forth your glory in his music:

Be with all those who write or make music for your people,

that we on earth may glimpse your beauty and know the

inexhaustible riches of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Savior;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 7:1-6

Psalm 150

Colossians 2:2-6

Luke 2:8-14

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 491

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Site of the Former Parsonage, Vidette United Methodist Church, Vidette, Georgia   1 comment

Related to my previous post is this one.

I visited Google Earth again and saved some pictures of the Vidette United Methodist Church, the former parsonage (in street view, dated January 2008 and August 2008) and of the site where the parsonage was (from above, dated October 30, 2016).  Then I cropped one of those images, inserted it into a Word document, and dredged up memories from 1980-1982.

I have examined this fuzzy image, for which I have no street view counterpart yet.  I have noticed the shadow in it–presumably from a chimney.  In my bedroom I did have a closed-up fireplace with a heater in front of it.  That chimney had therefore marked one corner of the site of my former bedroom.

My memories regarding the dining room are vague.  I recall about where it was (between the kitchen and my sister’s bedroom), but I do not recall the relative size of the room.  I am likewise vague about the size of the kitchen.  It was a small house, however, so none of the rooms was cavernous.

I will not post any of the saved images, except for scan of a printed, black-and-white version of a cropped satellite photograph.  I do, however, encourage any of you who might to curious to look up Vidette in Google Earth, find the church and the site of the parsonage next to it.  Finding the church should not be difficult, for the town is really small.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2017 COMMON ERA

Memories of Vidette, Georgia   1 comment

Vidette UMC 01

Vidette United Methodist Church 1980-1982

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I have been spending much time using Google Earth recently.  In particular I have been examining satellite and street view images of Vidette, Georgia, in western Burke County, where my family and I lived from June 1980 to June 1982.   My father was the pastor of the Vidette-Friendship-Green’s Cut United Methodist Charge.  I was seven, eight, and nine years old at the time, so I did not pay attention to most of the local ecclesiastical matters.  (Battle of the Planets, a dreadful  and frequently nonsensical American dubbing of a superior Japanese cartoon series, was much more interesting to me.)  I have learned, however, that the responsibility for the move in 1982 was a joint matter shared by my father and certain lay members.  Moving away was also a blessing.

Vidette Parsonage 01

The Parsonage, 1980-1982. My sister’s bedroom was on the right. The front room was in the center, off the porch. My bedroom was to the left, behind the twin windows at the porch.

The parsonage, located next to Vidette United Methodist Church, was in need of repair.  It was an old structure with one bathroom, no corridors, and no central air or heating.  The den was a narrow room in the middle-back section of the house, located between the master bedroom and the bathroom on one side and the kitchen and the dining room on the other.

Vidette Parsonage 02

I come from a bookish family.

Vidette Parsonage 04

The den. The dining room was to the left and the bathroom as to the right. My sister’s bedroom was to the left, through the front room. My bedroom was to the right, through the front room.

Vidette Parsonage 03

Look at me!

How many parishioners would have chosen to live in a house in that condition?  But the structure was good enough for the pastor and his family, right?  No!

The front room, just off the front porch, separated my sister’s bedroom from mine.  My bedroom, facing onto the front porch, was obviously supposed to be the pastor’s study, for it had a built-in closet and lacked a closet.  It had to be my bedroom, however, for there was no other room.  It was good to have the use of a built-in bookcase, however.  The large heater provided heat during the winter.  I dressed in front of it on cold mornings.

Much of life during the main part of the week during the school year occurred in Waynesboro, the county seat.  There we visited the bakery some Mennonites owned.  In that town my mother worked in the city hall and my sister and I attended school.

Vidette UMC 02

Me

1980-1982 were not good years for me.  I was struggling with life.  Certainly moving every few years did not help with regard to that matter.  I was not very sociable, and not just because of my introversion.  So I was possibly the worst Cub Scout ever.  At least I tried to be sociable, I suppose.  When we moved away, I terminated my involvement in the Cub Scouts.  Also, my physical awkwardness (evident in P.E.) contributed to my social awkwardness, as some of my classmates took the opportunity to mock me.  When my third grade class received Honorable Mention in the dodgeball tournament at Waynesboro Elementary School, many classmates blamed me.  Also, when (not by my doing) classmates learned of my middle name (Randolph), I became “Randolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”  My friend was Ola Mae Bailey, the kindly elderly woman who lived next door.  She did more for me than perhaps she knew.

Did I mention that I have never really wanted to have children?  My childhood experiences contributed to this decision.

The South Georgia Conference has broken up the Vidette-Friendship-Green’s Cut Charge.  As of last week, when the most recent round of ministerial appointments took effect:

  1. Vidette went onto a charge with Mt. Moriah, north of Matthews, in Jefferson County.  (By the way, I recall a pulpit exchange that took my father to Mt. Moriah one Sunday in 1980-1982.)
  2. Friendship was on a charge with First United Methodist Church, Waynesboro.
  3. Green’s Cut was a station church.

There have been changes to structures since 1982:

  1. Vidette U.M.C. has expanded its fellowship hall and covered the gap between the back of the church and the front of the fellowship hall.
  2. Eventually Vidette U.M.C. ceased to use its deteriorating parsonage.

The Google Earth street view image (dated August 2012) of the house shows a decrepit, abandoned building.  Plywood covers one half of the front windows of my sister’s former bedroom.  In the satellite view (dated October 30, 2016), however, the parsonage is absent.  I get the impression that the demolition of the house must have been fairly recent, based on the obviousness of where the parsonage had been.

As I examine satellite images of Vidette, I recall events, scenes, and routines.  I think of (God help me!) The Lawrence Welk Show.  I recall the church hayride through the local cemetery one Halloween.  I also remember that, one Halloween (I suppose), some people bobbed for apples outside the front of the fellowship hall.  I recall the Sunday morning that Buddy the dog went to church.  I also remember watching Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Greatest American Hero, and Pink Panther cartoons.  I recall my sister watching the Fame series, before it went into syndication.  I also remember the town park and the only store in town.  I recall ecumenical engagements with the Bethel Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (disbanded a few years ago), whose pastor had an obsession with the Book of Revelation.  One of their vacation Bible schools sticks in my memory.

As I examine satellite images of Vidette, I realize how fortunate I am not to live there any longer and to live in Athens-Clarke County.  I thank God in real time for what I have.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2017 COMMON ERA

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The Definite Article   Leave a comment

Above:  The

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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One should use the definite article (the) cautiously.  I argue this point, for I prefer to speak and write accurately.  I also like for others to do the same.  The misuse of “the” renders one’s argument objectively false by overstating one’s case.  Such shoddy discourse annoys me.

As I have noticed, many college students have been (and are) overly found of “the.”  During my years of teaching U.S. history survey courses in college, I have emphasized the fact that many colonists in what became the United States remained loyal to the British Empire during the American Revolutionary period.  In stating this plainly I have manifested fidelity to objective reality.  I have also instructed pupils both orally and in writing not to write of “the colonists” as if all colonists were of one political mind and warned these students.  Nevertheless, many students have not heeded my instructions to write of the past accurately in their essays.  I have graded those essays accordingly.

Another fault of misusing “the” is applying it in the spirit of invective.

The ______s insert negative stereotype here.

Infamously, for example, the Gospel of John mentions “the Jews” (in most English-language translations), although the Greek word is actually a geographical term sometimes.  Whether the term should be “the Jews” or “the Judeans” in English in any given verse, the issue of invective remains.  In the case of the Gospel of John, how can one avoid reading those passages without considering the millennia of Christian anti-Semitism inspired partially by the invective in that text?

In 2017 we continue to have problems with invective, often expressed with the misuse of the definite article.  Human nature is constant, after all.  One might engage in partisan invective, for example.  Or one might be a racist or some other variety of bigot, perhaps with regard to religion.  Or maybe one might be merely an unrepentant ethnocentrist and Nativist.  Either way, one engages in stereotyping, thereby overlooking the diversity inherent in any population.  One therefore engages in the sin of judging others.  One also makes objectively false statements.

Shall we strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and to think, speak, and write objectively correctly?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Feast of Sts. Flavia Domitilla of Terracina and Maro, Eutyches, and Victorinus of Rome (April 15)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flavian Dynasty Family Tree

Source = Michael Grant, The Roman Emperors:  A Biographical Guide to the Rulers of Imperial Rome, 31 BC-AD 476 (1985)

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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SAINT FLAVIA DOMITILLA OF TERRACINA 

Roman Christian Noblewoman

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SAINTS MARO, EUTYCHES, AND VICTORINUS OF ROME (MARTYRED CIRCA 99)

Priests

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St. Flavia Domitilla (III) was related to Roman Emperors of the Flavian Dynasty.  The daughter of Flavia Domitilla (II), daughter of Vespasian (reigned 69-79) and sister of Titus (reigned 79-81) and Domitian (81-96).  Her husband was consul Titus Flavius Clemens, a nephew of Vespasian and a first cousin of Titus and Domitian.  St. Flavia Domitilla and her husband converted to Christianity.  For being Christians they suffered; the husband went to martyrdom and the wife went into exile on the island of Pandataria, in the Tyrrhenian Sea.  She did not go into exile alone.  With the noblewoman went a friend, St. Maro of Rome, as well as Sts. Eutyches and Victorinus of Rome.

The exile ended during the reign (96-98) of the Emperor Nerva, who who had plotted successfully to assassinate Domitian.  Our four saints returned to Rome.  There Sts. Maro, Eutyches, and Victorinus became priests and preached in public.  For that they died circa 99, during the reign (98-117) of Trajan.  Sources have long contradicted each other regarding the fate of St. Flavia Domitilla.

Martyrdom remains plausible, of course.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 27, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CORNELIUS HILL, ONEIDA CHIEF AND EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF JAMES MOFFATT, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SCHOLAR, AND BIBLE TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN THE GEORGIAN, ABBOT; AND SAINTS EUTHYMIUS OF ATHOS AND GEORGE OF THE BLACK MOUNTAIN, ABBOTS AND TRANSLATORS

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Almighty God, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:

Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of your servants

Saint Flavia Domitilla of Terracina,

Saint Maro of Rome,

Saint Eutyches of Rome, and

Saint Victorinus of Rome,

may persevere in running the race that is set before us,

until at last we may with them attain to your eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Micah 6:6-8

Psalm 15

Hebrews 12:1-2

Matthew 25:31-40

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 724

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Feast of Sts. Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius (April 14)   Leave a comment

Icon of Sts. Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ANTHONY OF VILNIUS (BORN NEZHILO)

Brother of

SAINT JOHN OF VILNIUS (BORN KUMETS)

Relative of

SAINT EUSTATHIUS (BORN KRUGLETS)

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MARTYRS IN LITHUANIA, 1347

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This feast comes to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days from the Russian Orthodox Church.

These three saints, young men, were courtiers of Algirdas (reigned 1345-1377), Grand Duke of Lithuania.  They had converted to Christianity and received new names at baptism.  They were safe until 1346, when Grand Duchess Maria Yaroslavna, the Christian wife of Algirdas, died.  Algirdas had converted (at least officially) to Christianity years prior, but he reverted to paganism as a widower.  The Grand Duke outlawed evangelism.  Nevertheless, Sts. Anthony and John preached in public.  The prisoners then refused to eat meat on a holy fast day.  The Grand Duke, therefore, had St. Anthony hanged on April 14, 1347, and St. John strangled and hanged ten years later.  Their relative, St. Eustathius, later also refused to eat meat on a holy fast day, so he be joined his relatives in martyrdom on December 13, 1347.

Jogaila (reigned 1377-1381, 1382-1392), the son and immediate successor of Algirdas, converted to Roman Catholicism in 1386 and united Lithuania and Poland.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs

Saints Anthony, John, and Eustathius of Vilnius

triumphed over suffering and were faithful unto death:

strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure

reproach and persecution, and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-15

Psalms 3 or 11 or 119:161-168

Romans 8:335f or 2 Timothy 2:3-7 or Hebrews 11:32-40 or Revelation 7:13f

Matthew 10:16-22 or Matthew 14:1-12 or Matthew 16:24-26 or John 15:18-21

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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Feast of Blessed Rolando Rivi (April 13)   Leave a comment

Above:  Blessed Rolando Rivi

Image in the Public Domain

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BLESSED ROLANDO RIVI (JANUARY 7, 1931-APRIL 13, 1945)

Roman Catholic Seminarian and Martyr

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I study to be a priest, and these vestments are the sign that I belong to Jesus.

–Blessed Rolando Rivi

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Rolando Rivi came from a devout farming family of San Valentino di Castallarano, Reggio Emilia, Italy.  He, born on January 7, 1931, discerned his priestly vocation at an early age.  At the age of 11 he entered seminary with the intention of becoming a priest.  Our saint, as did the other seminarians, wore a cassock.

The Italian Fascist Party, which had come to power via elections a few years after World War I on a platform of making Italy great again, fell from power in 1943.  At the end of that revolution the new government established an armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943.  Shortly thereafter Nazi forces occupied northern Italy and made former dictator Benito Mussolini their puppet ruler in the region.  Across northern Italy bands of partisans of various political stripes organized to support the Allied war effort.

The Roman Catholic Church found itself in a difficult position.  Since it had collaborated with the Fascist government, certain partisans (notably the Socialists and the Communists in the area of San Valentino) targeted priests for assassination.  On the other hand, Nazi forces occupied Rivi’s seminary in June 1944, thereby effectively closing that institution.  (Nazis were also fascists, by the way.)  The church was stuck between fascists and anti-fascists.

In that difficult context our saint continued his studies at home and insisted on wearing a cassock.  His parents, concerned for his safety, suggested that he wear other garb, but he refused.  That refusal led to Rivi’s martyrdom.  On April 10, 1945, after serving Mass at the parish (whose priest had moved on for safety’s sake, after an attack by partisans), Rivi headed for woods, where he meant to study.  He never returned home.  Partisans kidnapped and tortured him.  On April 13 they forced our saint to kneel at the edge of his grave.  As he prayed, partisans shot him in the head and the heart.  He was 14 years old.

This murder was politically sensitive for a long time.  The murderers were, after all, enemies of the Nazis and the Italian Fascists, as well as allies of the Allies.  On the other hand, they also killed a young man for no reason other than his faith.

Pope Francis declared Rivi a Venerable on March 27, 2013, and a Blessed on October 5 later that year.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST

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Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyr Blessed Rolando Rivi

triumphed over suffering and was faithful unto death:

strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure

reproach and persecution, and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

2 Chronicles 24:17-21 or Jeremiah 11:18-20 or Wisdom of Solomon 4:10-15

Psalms 3 or 11 or 119:161-168

Romans 8:335f or 2 Timothy 2:3-7 or Hebrews 11:32-40 or Revelation 7:13f

Matthew 10:16-22 or Matthew 14:1-12 or Matthew 16:24-26 or John 15:18-21

–Adapted from The Alternative Service Book 1980, The Church of England

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