Thursday, January 05, 2006

Armenian Christmas, Greek Epiphany

The Armenian Orthodox church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity and Theophany on January 6, which is tomorrow.  A note in the St. James Armenian Apostolic Church's bulletin (PDF) explains why:

Why Do Armenians Celebrate Christmas on January 6th?

"Armenian Christmas," as it is popularly called, is a culmination of celebrations of events related to Christ's Incarnation.  Theophany, or Epiphany (or Asdvadz-a-haydnootyoon in Armenian, which means "Revelation of God").  This is the central theme of the Christmas Season in the Armenian Church.  During the Armenian Christmas season, the major events celebrated are the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem and His Baptism in the River Jordan.  The day of this major feast in the Armenian Church is January 6th.  A ceremony called “Blessing of Water” is conducted in the Armenian Church to commemorate Christ’s Baptism.

It is frequently asked why Armenians do not celebrate Christmas on December 25th with the rest of the world.  Obviously, the exact date of Christ's birth has not been historically established nor is it recorded in the Gospels.  However, historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ's birth on January 6th until the fourth century.  The feast of Christmas was not a separate church feast for the first four centuries of Christian history.  It was celebrated with Epiphany in the one great feast of God's appearance on earth in the form of the human Messiah of Israel.

The Nativity began to be celebrated on the twenty-fifth of December in order to offset the pagan festival of the Invincible Sun, which occurred on that day.  The Church established it quite consciously as an attempt to defeat the false religion of heathens.  Christ is the True Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), who is himself worshipped by all of the elements of nature.

[snip]

Christ was revealed at His Baptism as God and Savior.  The voice of the Father and appearance of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove likewise was a revelation of the Holy Trinity and One Godhead.

The feast of Christmas is the celebration of the world's salvation through the Son of God who became man for our sake that, through Him, we might ourselves become divine sons of God the Father by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in us.

Other Churches

The Greek Orthodox Church also celebrates tomorrow as a holy day, the Feast of Epiphany, when the three wise men or Magi arrived in Bethlehem.

The Old Calendrist Orthodox churches (including the Russians and Serbians) celebrate Christmas on January 7th, which is December 25th on the Julian calendar. 

Roman Catholics around the world will celebrate Epiphany as a holy day tomorrow, January 6th, but for Catholics in the United States this solemn feast has been deferred until the following Sunday, which this year falls on January 8th. 

Armenian Bible Exhibit through Sunday

Due to Armenian Christmas, the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) has extended its exhibit, "The Breath of God: The Bible in the Armenian Tradition", until Sunday, January 8th.  The museum will be open Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 pm.  (It might be open Friday afternoon from 1-5 pm as well, but as this is Armenian Christmas, it would be best to call.)

The exhibit examines the most important book in the Armenian tradition, the Holy Bible, known in Armenian as the Asdvadzashoonch. The focal point of the exhibit is the "Garabed Gospel Book" (1207 AD) donated to ALMA by Julie Der Garabedian of Wisconsin.

The exhibit has been extended. It will close on January 8, 2006. On that afternoon ALMA will hold a reception honoring the Ms. Der Garabedian for her wisdom and benefaction in ensuring that the Gospel Book is permanently housed in its rightful place for the benefit of all Armenians and Americans.

For directions, contact information, and rate schedule, click here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Old Letter Reveals Sacco & Vanzetti Conspiracy

"He then told me that the men were guilty, and he told me in every detail how he had framed a set of alibis for them"

It sounds like something out of Pynchon:

Ordinarily, Paul Hegness wouldn't have looked twice at Lot 217 as he strolled through an Irvine auction warehouse, preferring first-edition books and artwork to the box stuffed with old papers and holiday cards.

But Hegness looked inside the box, and found a 1929 letter from socialist activist Upton Sinclair to his attorney. Above the signature was a catchy concluding paragraph:
"This letter is for yourself alone...Stick it away in your safe, and some time in the far distant future the world may know the real truth about the matter. I am here trying to make plain my own part in the story."
More at HNN...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Boston Tagged Photos on Flickr Watching

Among the recent interesting photos appearing in the Boston-Tagged stream on Flickr:
  • Joseph Warren's statue at the Bunker Hill monument. Warren, who had been elected President of the Provincial Congress, died at Bunker Hill with hundreds of others from both sides, and was postumously promoted to General. His death is depicted in Trumbull's famous painting, which I have used for my Blogger profile image.
  • Hawk Fight in the Fenway
  • Here is a Chi-Rho, most likely on the facade of a 19th century Protestant church somewhere in the Back Bay.
  • Many folks these days believe that they don't believe in anything. But the wiser, more honest little kids inside them may quite unexpectedly jump for joy and hope when they see this.
[via Universal Hub]

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Who Signed It?

They are homeowners and apartment renters, singles and married couples, old and young, newcomers and natives. They come from the East End and the West End, from New Town and the Square, from the banks of the Charles to the slopes of Meeting House Hill. They are Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Their names indicate a cross-section of Watertown's diverse ethnic heritage--Armenians and Italians, Irish and Greeks, Latinos and French, Vietnamese and Chinese.

According to a web database, at least 394 Watertown citizens (note: server occasionally down) teamed up with the record-shattering number of 170,000 other registered voters from all across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, despite threats and intimidation and the certainty that their names and addresses would be published on the Internet, to assert their rights under the oldest continuing written constitution in North America.

They signed. And they signed proudly.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mt. Auburn Hospital Heat Fails, Patients Redirected

From Boston.com:
Mount Auburn Hospital's boilers failed on Wednesday, cauysing a loss of heating that forced the transfer of 25 people, including two newborns, to other hospitals.
Mt. Auburn Hospital is the closest hospital to the East End of Watertown.
The hospital stopped taking new patients through noon on Thursday.
Which means it should be open again in about five minutes.

Additional coverage:

"Christmas Revels" Founder Dies

The AP is reporting [via boston.com] that John Langstaff, the founder of the Watertown-based Revels, has died following a stroke. Langstaff was 84. May he rest in peace.

I've never seen a performance, but I can't say I'm particularly interested in doing so. The "Christmas Revels" show is a misnomer: it is not a celebration of Christmas, but of the Winter Solstice. I can understand the attraction for some, but my heritage is Christian, and I celebrate Christmas (actually Advent) this time of year. I really don't have the attention, time or budget to spare on silly neopagan facsimiles of the real thing.

Now I don't mean to suggest that culture and art is a waste of time. This time of year, Boston is awash in cultural opportunities, including Christmas and Hanukkah concerts, carol sings, Dickens, the Nutcracker, and my personal favorite, Black Nativity.

There are certainly times when the season can seem overwhelming, when the retina builds up toxic concentrations of enzymes responding to the colors red and green, and you feel like a CRT monitor in need of a screensaver. But I can't imagine that someone whose appetite is fatigued of eggs for breakfast is really looking for EggBeaters. I dunno. Maybe it's just me.

In any event, it is impossible to deny the popularity of Christmas Revels in Boston and in other cities. Langstaff created a fixture in the local arts scene, and he will be missed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Armed Robbery on Market St. in Brighton

From BPDNews.com, the new blog from the Media Relations office of the Boston Police Department, we learn of some gun violence alarmingly close to home:
At 1:44am, a masked suspect armed with silver and black handgun, entered the Store 24 on Market Street in Brighton and demanded money from the clerk. The suspect grabbed a safe from the store and fled after ordering the clerk into a storage closet. This investigation continues.
Yikes!

Update: Meanwhile, there's some better police news from Newton (as reported by WBZ):

When Officer Rocco Marini got the call that a woman was in labor early Monday morning, he raced to her home and calmly delivered a healthy baby boy right there in her living room.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Apologies

1stly, for going 11 days without a post. Actually I've written several excellent posts, but they are stuck in my head or in draft mode and if you ever see them, they surely won't be as excellent as they are right now. 2ndly, for the double post of the Trumbull painting. I was experimenting with Hello and trying to set a profile image, and the filename I used on the first post was too long. Blogger enforces a 68-character URL limit for the profile image. Now back to blogger's block...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

2005 Elections: Local Conservatives Clobbered

In Watertown (Excel Spreadsheet), Republican Steve Aylward finished sixth in a field of six. Aylward finished within the top four spots in three precincts, but placed last in all District A and B precincts, perhaps indicating poor organization in District A and in Precinct 6 of District B, which were not particularly strong for leftist candidates and issues.

In Cambridge, Republican candidate Andre Green finished 14th out of 18 candidates, receiving only 181 (1.1%) out of 16,070 first-place votes in Cambridge's Plan E proportional representation electoral system. Libertarian candidate Bill Hees did only slightly better than Green, receiving 198 first-place votes. Green picked up only 18 additional votes from the first four rounds of reapportionment (that is, Galluccio's surplus voters plus Condit, Hall and LeTremouille's seconds). After Green was eliminated, only 55 of his 199 votes rolled up to Hees, illustrating the sharp divisions between these two wings of what is supposed to be one "conservative movement". Green's seconds were enough to boost Hees from 13th to 12th and give him 278 votes at the end of the seventh round.

Cambridge's PR system (yet another futile attempt to circumvent Arrow's Impossibility Theorem) makes it difficult for voters to select a balanced slate of councilors. A liberally inclined voter agreeing with The Alewife that Andre Green could "speak the truth to the well-born Democrats, who dominate the city" would have had to have selected Green as her first choice in order for Green to certainly benefit at all from her vote. Strategically, it might make sense for voters to habitually choose the weakest candidates first, in order to maximize their ballot's chances of affecting the outcome, but it is difficult to vote strategically without good polling data.

In Boston, Ed Flynn increased his preliminary round vote totals by over 95%, but remained in 8th and last place and did not win election.

Our former Downeast Counties by a modest margin adopted a radical provision normalizing transsexual behavior. The difference between Tuesday's vote totals and the votes on a similar question five years ago are too great to be attributed to the passage of time. But that is cold comfort to Mainers. The consequences of the new law are mostly unknown. What is known is that in the absence of a similar provision in Massachusetts law, the government here nevertheless encourages some children who suffer from gender identity disorder (or merely have been misdiagnosed) to consider mutilating themselves and other misbehavior. It goes without saying that Massachusetts parents are not notified of this sort of counseling.

The worst hurt of the night came from California, where the parental notification law was narrowly defeated. Besides helping to save the lives of babies and the health and well-being of young women, the law would have made it more difficult to cover up the rape of vulnerable young women, including the mentally impaired and the children of illegal aliens.

The one bright spot was the resounding defeat of the CPA in Watertown, a successful defense of property led by the intrepid John DiMascio.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

TAB Endorses Tax Increase: "A little gas on the boom"

The Watertown TAB & Press has endorsed a massive tax increase for its readers. In an editorial published Friday, the editors of the progressive weekly urged Watertown taxpayers to vote themselves a substantial cut in their after-tax earnings. The tax increase would be used to fund unspecified government programs. However, some of the money might be used to fund specified government programs.

According to the TAB, if the tax increases are "used wisely", landlords will let these costs "trickle down" to tenants, presumably in the form of rent increases. "Will it make a huge difference?", the TAB asked rhetorically. Unfortunately, the TAB did not provide any information in its editorial that would help its readers answer that question, offering instead a modest haiku-like koan:

"Some residents will pay $57 a year; some will pay more, some less."

The editorial did not state whether renters unable to afford to live in Watertown after the inevitable rent increases might qualify for any "affordable housing" that the government might build with the new money it will collect from the tax.

The TAB's rationale for increasing the amount of our money we give to local politicians to spend as they desire is that the state government will also give some small amount of our money to the same local politicians as a reward for our vote. In fairness, I should note that the TAB also included an additional nonsensical jibberish reason for supporting the tax, which is impossible to paraphrase:

"Looking towards the future, that is what the Community Preservation Act does. During the last couple of months leading up to the Nov. 8 election, most candidates and Watertown residents have issued concerns that our town government has not looked towards the future. Now is the time to look towards our future. The CPA helps us do that, which is why the TAB is urging residents to vote yes..."

Regardless of whether this increase is approved, TAB editor David Ertischek will not have to worry. Ertischek is a Jamaica Plain resident, and his office is located in Needham.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Watertown TAB Admits "Progressive" Agenda

I must say one good thing about David Ertischek--he is bold about disclosing his own political leanings. The recently-appointed Watertown TAB & Press editor, in his first election cycle endorsements as editor of any newspaper anywhere, threw away all pretense of political neutrality and non-partisanship by writing of one candidate:
"We like that she leads our town in becoming a more progressive community."
According to WordNet 2.1, a synonym of progressive is liberal, and an antonym is conservative. A tip of the tricorne to H2otown.