Mosaics, Flowers And Raphaela Running Amok

This past weekend was the yearly Flora In Winter exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum.  Our family has made going to this a tradition, and we were looking forward to the first weekend in February, which is when it usually falls.  I happened to see an article in a local weekly and realized it was this week, so we were able to attend.  A special attraction this year was The Dead Toreador by Manet and which is on exhibit here until the end of March.  With or without Manet, the WAM is a world-class art museum and is an absolute must-see.  At one point during our time there I was standing next to an El Greco and I thought – My God!  I am standing next to an El Greco!!!

The girls enjoyed the day.  Vaia took it all in, while Raphaela, who is just now walking, took advantage of the wide open spaces – by far the biggest vistas she has ever encountered – by running all over the place.  We left a bit early due to the exertions of being parents of young children, but it was truly a wonderful day. Here is Raphaela checking out the Greek mosaic:

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January 30th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Fr. Ephraim’s Lentil Chili

This recipe comes to us from Fr. Ephraim.  Friday is his name day, so if you see him be sure to greet him properly.

5 cups vegetable stock

2 cups of brown lentils

Salt and pepper to taste

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 cup chopped onion

2 cups chopped bell pepper (I use red and orange)

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 cup prepared barbecue sauce of choice

Hot pepper sauce to taste (I would say use it liberally – Ed.)

Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving, optional

Bring the broth to a boil in a soup pot. Meanwhile, pick through the lentils checking for stones or debris. Rinse and drain the lentils. When the broth boils, add the lentils and salt and pepper to taste. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook at a very slow boil, covered (crack the lid to vent if the pot threatens to boil over), for 20 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice to the pot. Add the onion, pepper, garlic and barbecue sauce. Simmer 15 minutes, covered, stirring frequently.

Remove the pot from the heat. Add the hot pepper sauce to taste, if desired. Serve topped with cheese if desired.

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January 27th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Phase 2 Stage 2 Photos

How about some photos of the latest stage in the construction process?  The Founders Court and classroom areas (and my office) are completed, and work has begun on the auditorium itself.  This all started a few weeks ago.  I rolled into the parking lot one day and it looked like the parking lot was being strip-mined!  It turned out to be digging for the “Bump Out”, as we are calling the stairway shell and dedicated space for the Orthodox Food Pantry.  Here is a picture – from the lack of mountains of snow you can tell this is not the most recent picture:

You will have noticed that the seal is in place in the foyer.  There were rumblings about why there was a delay with this, and you know how stories can take on a life of their own.  The original seal was broken in transit and had to be sent back, so in the meantime the space was bare.  George K. – a true artist – came and put in the replacement when we received it:

Here is the last picture ever taken of the floor with the Grecian keys still in place.  The building project is awesome, but there is also a sad aspect – we will miss some of these things, but it is all for the best:

These are photos of the Cotsidas Auditorium abatement.  One of the main thrusts of this stage is, well, pushing back what was the stage area so there is more room.  The theory is that stages are used, in our case, five or ten times a year, so why not have portable stages that can be stored away, freeing up more room?  One irony in all this is that our architect did the Grecian frets design around the stage by hand when he was a 14 year old intern during  the original construction – this is bittersweet for him as well:

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January 26th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Before The Dawn

That is the name of the book I made reference to in yesterday’s sermon when I was talking about theories of the first language spoken by our earliest ancestors.  Several people asked me about in the maw of chaos that is coffee hour at the Cathedral.  The book is great – here it is 10 in the morning and I am already looking forward to reading it tonight after basketball.  In the chapter entitled First Words the author writes about the language that was spoken by the band of adventurous people who took the fateful step out of Africa into the rest of the world.  The idea is that to be as advanced as they were they must have been able to communicate.  There is of course no recorded evidence of what the language sounded like, and there are no archaeological remains, but genetic research, among other innovative research, gives us some insight.  The part that really interested me was the research involving sign languages, especially ones that are developing, where we can see how they are being built.  This is what I mentioned in the sermon as my story – the fact that gesturing seems to be something we are wired to do.  I got some laughs when I mentioned that I am Greek and Italian – of course I am going to talk with my hands!  But it is true.  Think of this next time you are on the phone and gesturing and remember that the person on the other end of the line can’t see you.

Each culture also has its own particular gestures, while others seem to be universal.  The small clusters of people who speak ancient Greek in southern Italy actually have hand gestures different than their Italian-speaking neighbors – these gestures are closer to those used in Greece.  What a wonderful, interesting world in which we live!

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January 24th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Children/Stones

Once in a while in scripture there is an intersection between Greek mythology and the Old or New Testament writings.  The one that immediately springs to mind is Japheth, one of Noah’s sons.  I imagine his name comes from Iapetus of Greek myth – his story is here.  A more obvious connection is in Matthew 3:9b, where John the Baptist says “For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”  The quote contains a pun if you were to translate it into Hebrew – banim – sons – and ‘banim – stones.  In Greek the pun is not obvious – lithon and tekna – but in the myth of Deucalion’s Flood Deucalion throws stones that became men, with laas and laos being nearly the same word.   Jim Morrison, a devotee of esoteric knowledge and myth, used elements shared with these stories in his song The Soft Parade: “Catacombs, nursery bones, winter women growing stones, carrying babies to the river.”

Was there a myth floating around the eastern Mediterranean/Near East back in the day associating children and stones?  I have not come across anything similar in Assyrian or Egyptian mythology but I have only scraped the surface.  Any feedback here is appreciated.  Incidentally, I would at times clash with classmates at the seminary who thought it inappropriate to make connections between scripture and mythology or other religious traditions.  S.H. Hooke puts it nicely in Middle Eastern Mythology:

“To say, as we have done, that the gospel writers used the forms and language of myth to describe the events which had taken place before their eyes, is not to deny the reality of these events, but to affirm that they belonged to an order of reality transcending human modes of expression; belonging, indeed, to what Berdiaev has called ‘metahistory’. “

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January 19th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

NYC

This was my Monday morning read – an article on Korean greengrocers in New York and why things have changed since their heyday in the ’80s.  The article hits on many points – immigration, upward mobility, culture clash – and there are many similarities to the Greek immigrant experience.  Great article.

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January 17th, 2011 by Fr. Greg

Hike Part II

So, back to the hike.  There were 14 of us in our group with an age range between 7 and 80.  All made it to the top and, more importantly, to the bottom safely.  The group has its origins in a scout troop back in the day, with the old scout master and several of his former scouts, now adults, making up the nucleus of the group.  Everyone else is a neighbor or someone like me who has received a special invitation to join the fraternity.  We are men of tradition, and several were followed yesterday.  The morning began at the meeting place in Shrewsbury.  From there we went to Nik Rylee’s, a diner in Winchendon, for breakfast.  And this was a breakfast.  They have something called the lumberjack special, which has pretty much every common breakfast food, and a bunch of the guys ordered it.  I stuck with an omelet and home fries.  We lingered a bit there – I think everyone was enjoying the toasty (harf harf harf) atmosphere and a bit hesitant to go back in into the cold, which was between -5 and 5 depending on where in town we were.  Once we got our crampons on and were all kitted up we started hiking, and all thoughts of the cold pretty much disappeared.

And it really was a beautiful day – sunny with no wind.  The parking lot at Monadnock was full, and there was everyone from snowshoers to people jogging -really – up and down the trails.  In years past when it was this cold and windy there were maybe one or two other groups climbing, but lack of wind made this a popular day – there were actually traffic jams on the mountain in a few places.  We spent more time than usual at the summit and took some pictures, then descended a bit until we found a good place to have our lunch.  From there it was a pretty quick but cautious descent – going down is when most injuries happen.  We then repaired to George F’s house, where Sophie had her usual delicious spread for us and we celebrated with the traditional Harvey’s Bristol Cream toast.  We are especially proud of Alexander and young George, who at ages 7 and 9 proved to be true warriors.  Bill, who is a young 80, also conquered the mountain in style.

Many people think were are batty for doing this but it is truly fun and a satisfying accomplishment.  There is also the camaraderie; many of us only see each other this once a year but there is such a special bond  between us that it is like no time has passed.  It is also great exercise and a chance to do winter climbing without worrying about avalanches, pulmonary edemas, and other not-so-fun stuff associated with climbing big mountains.  Can’t wait until next year!

Here is a picture George S. snapped of me on the summit – soon to be my Facebook profile picture:

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January 16th, 2011 by Fr. Greg