A Psalm and a Poem for Solace

My area has seen covid cases rising, and of more concern, hospital ICU capacity creeping up over comfortable levels. I haven’t taken the Cherub into a public space since before March. Mostly, I take advantage of curbside grocery pickup. Since she can’t sit in the car by herself, that means I don’t go anywhere, either, except on weekends when her dad now takes her. But weekends are busier times when everybody else is shopping and I don’t like that.
The Cherub doesn’t speak. I go for days without seeing or speaking to anybody but the Cherub and I have found that some days my voice has gone rusty from lack of use.
But at least I have her. I have the rest of my family, too- I don’t see them daily, but I do see at least a couple of them once or twice a week, whether they come here or I go there. What about people who don’t have anybody at home, and nobody in the area? What about people who live alone, far from family, in areas that have been shut-down for months? How long has it since somebody hugged them, held their hands, patted them on the back?

My income is largely independent of shut-down. Most of it is military retirement pay, Cherub’s social security benefit, and some Amazon sales income. There are people who have no income and haven’t for a very long time. On the other hand, I loaned two people some money to tide them over a specific emergency situation, and now it looks like they won’t be able to pay me back, and two large bills came in unexpectedly. I am not going to go hungry, I’m just saying that even for those with a little financial security, things are precarious.

People are frightened, angry, sad, mad.
A friend sent me Malcolm Guite’s response to Psalm 61, so I share it with you:
Set Me Up Upon The Rock: A Response To Psalm 61

I hope it is of some comfort, meaningful, real comfort, not the be warmed and filled sort.

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Unique, and not pricy, stocking stuffers


Some really sweet and clever ideas here and most, if not all, send your dollars to small, independent businesses rather than the big places the government has chosen to support while closing mom and pop shops.

I don’t think it’s evil or even mildly bad to shop Amazon or Walmart. Your friends and neighbours work there, too, and sell things via Amazon. But this season those places are doing very well, thanks to governments shutting their competitors down and choosing the big guys with the deepest pockets over tiny operations.  If you have any spending dollars to spare, consider the Davids in business.

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Destruction vs Creation

“The events in which I find myself enveloped will probably spare me the inconveniences of old age….”
French scientist Lavoisier, writing to a cousin from prison. He was guillotined, as he had expected, a day or two later on totally spurious charges, one of only seven scientists murdered by the French revolutionary gov’t.

His wife, who helped him in his work and illustrated his texts for him, survived him by many years. She saw to it that the man most responsible for her husband’s execution was himself brought to justice and executed. He was actually guilty of many of the crimes he had lain at her husband’s door.

In an interesting twist, there was another man who first brought Lavoisier to the attention of the bloodthirsty misrule and unreason of the Reign of Terror.

Marat. He was dead by the time his spiteful accusations had yielded their fruit, killed in his bathtub by either a crazed Anti-fan, or a political opponent who thought he was a murderer who would destroy France, depending on your take.

Marat wanted to be a scientist, but his work was discredited by the Academy, and chiefly Lavoisier, who investigated his work and found it largely not credible. Marat turned to politics and journalism.

You may have seen the painting of Marat, dead in his tub, turbaned head drooping, skin sallow and distempered. He spent most of his days in the tub with soothing herbs and probably oats for a debilitating case of eczema. He had a board over the tub so he could receive visitors while seeking relief, and he used it for a writing desk, too, his poison pen going out to main and destroy.
The painting is by David, who served on the violent side of the revolution alongside Marat.

David also painted a very different portrait of Lavoisier and Madame Lavoisier before the revolution began. In this charming piece, the young couple are together in their lab, surrounded by instruments Lavoisier himself designed, and with a portfolio believed to be Madame’s sketches for his next book.

David was Madame Lavoisier’s art teacher. She took lessons to help her husband in his work. She sketched his materials and experiments for his books and other publications.

Lavoisier had done brilliant, humane work.he implemented reforms and improvements to the tax code as well as to improving crop yields so peasants would no longer starve. He improved the standards in science and other fields. He was not an oppressor.none of that mattered.
A mathematician said at his death that it took them seconds to remove that head, but it would take a century for France to produce another one like it.

Destruction is easy.
3 minute audio program on Lavoisier, science, and the humanities:

Book I just finished:
Lavoisier in the Year One by Madison Smarty Bell

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Is math a human creation or a human discovery?

“It is time for all members of our profession to acknowledge that mathematics is created by humans and therefore inherently carries human biases. Until this occurs, our community and our students cannot reach full potential.” -CMPM #MathValues
“With Dalhousie’s pronouncement, we get a good look at what such indigenizing efforts might mean in practice: censorship of viewpoints deemed offside of Indigenous political demands.”
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Family Devotions 1870 part 3

This is from an old book of family devotions, slightly adapted.  It’s a call and response reading.  For Master just school your master of ceremonies for the morning- it can be a parent, or a child who reads well enough, or a guest, or visiting family member.

Master. We praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.

Family. All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.

M. To thee all angels cry aloud ; the heavens, and all the powers therein.

F. To thee cherubim and seraphim, who continually are uniting, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God.

M. Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory.

F. The glorious company of the apostles praise thee.

The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise thee.

The noble army of martyrs praise thee.

The holy church, throughout the world, doth acknowledge thee.

M. The Father of an infinite majesty;
Thine adorable, true, and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost, the comforter.

Thou art the King of glory, 0 Cbrist, and the everfasting Son of the Father.

F. When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a virgin.

When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.

We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.

M and F together. We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed.

Make them to be numbered with thy saints, in glory everlasting.

M. O Lord, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.

F. Govern and lift them up forever, and may we daily magnify thee.

M. And F. Together. And worship thy name ever, world without end.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.

O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy On us.

M. O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee.

F. And may we ever confide in thee, now and forevermore.

Together. Amen.

Sing a hymn together. Try The Lord’s My Shepherd.

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