The most recent blogging topic is hats. I am going to stay away from blogging about hats in Orthodoxy because there is some controversy, especially in the Orthodox blogosphere, about the status of the kalimauki – the black hat you see some priests wear – as liturgical garb for priests. So I figured I would talk about a very cool hat from the past.
There is probably no time where a guy wears a hat more than when he is in college. Rolling out of bed and heading to class, going out, whatever – hats, at least when I was in school, were part of the uniform. At UVa, there were two very popular hats beyond the usual Virginia ones. You would often see University of South Carolina hats, largely due to what was thought to be a clever abbreviation of the Gamecocks nickname. There was another hat that I could not figure out until someone clued me in. The hat featured the logo below, and I would rarely go a day without seeing someone wearing one. The hat turned out to be the official cap of the Carolina Mudcats, based in Zebulon (in the Research Triangle of North Carolina). It turns out the current incarnation of the team is recent – the original Mudcats moved to Pensacola and became the Blue Wahoos. UVa’s teams are nicknamed the Cavaliers, but no on involved with the school calls them that. The nickname for the nickname is Wahoos, or ‘hoos. A wahoo is a fish that supposedly can drink many times its weight, so you can imagine how the nickname developed. So we have come full circle with college hats…
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December 23rd, 2013 by Fr. Greg
The 40 Days Of Blogging exercise has begun! You can read more about the project at the Preachers Institute site. Things are a little different this year – Fr. John is giving us a topic each day to write about, and he decided to start things off on a whimsical note – today’s topic is beards. I had to chuckle when I saw that for two reasons – I just blogged about beards the other day in my Chrysostom post, and recently the “Orthodox Beard Police”, as Fr. Peter calls them, were swarming on Facebook and calling out those of us Orthodox priests who don’t have beards. The implication is that we are somehow less Orthodox than they are because of this. Actually, they don’t imply anything -they come right out and say it.
The practice of our priests having beards is a custom, not a requirement. I grew up under a priest who did not have a beard and, when he traveled to Greece, did not travel as a priest because he did not want to grow one. Many of my other mentors are from the Archbishop Iakovos era, when many priests didn’t have beards. So it has always seemed normal for me to not have a beard. The Beard Police practiced their trade when I was in the seminary. There was definitely a feeling that you “weren’t really Orthodox” if you didn’t have beard. I greatly enjoyed not giving in to such people – how dare they judge my faith based on facial hair? Thankfully, most Orthodox are not part of this bunch, nor are the vast majority of bearded priests that I know and consider friends.
I should also note, and I am not a vain person, that my beard is almost completely white and I cannot grow sideburns – just for the record. My recent beard adventure coincided with the Sox World Series run, but this was coincidental – I did not grow it as a playoff beard. Sometimes in January I grow one for our yearly Mt. Monadnock winter hike. And that is pretty much it. Remember, the man makes the beard – the beard does not make the man.
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November 15th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
The NFL recently repealed the Tuck Rule, which was a strange and often-misunderstood rule concerning the throwing motion, intent, and loss of the ball by the quarterback (this is a terrible explanation – just read the linked article). The phrase “Tuck Rule” has special resonance for Pats and Raiders fans due to the infamous Tuck Rule Game. I remember watching the play and being heartbroken when it happened, only to have a complete turnaround when the ref made the ultimate call – and by complete turnaround I mean it was like being in an elevator crash and then being rocketed into space. Long-suffering Raiders fans were upset and raised an uproar when this happened (if Twitter had existed back then it would definitely have crashed). We even longer-suffering Patriot fans were ecstatic, of course. Lost in all of the controversy, though, were three facts:
-The Tuck Rule was interpreted correctly.
-The Competition Committee of the NFL had a chance to change the rule after the season and didn’t.
-The Raiders had plenty of chances to win the game and had only themselves to blame. Bill Simmons made these same points in this old column (about halfway down).
Pats fans of a certain vintage will get the Sugar Bear Hamilton reference. He was called for a phantom roughing-the-passer call in the 1976 playoffs, and the call resulted in a Raiders win. The Tuck Rule is gone, likely forever, but we will always have the memories.
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March 23rd, 2013 by Fr. Greg
Lent has begun in the Orthodox world (as late as is possible with regards to our western brethren – this is one of those years where the two celebrations of Easter are very far apart) and we ushered it in appropriately at Sts. Anargyroi. The ecclesiastical day begins at sundown the day before (only the fasting day keeps to the everyday calendar) and so we kicked off the Lenten season with vespers on Sunday night followed by the traditional forgiveness greeting – at the end of vespers we formed a receiving line and embraced each other and asked for forgiveness. Monday morning we kicked off Kathara Deutera – Clean Monday – in fine fashion with a brisk walk along the rail trail behind the church.
In Greece Clean Monday is a big day with joyous outdoor activities featuring the flying of kites. Of course, it is much warmer this time of year in Greece so we have a bit of a problem in transferring customs. Also, there was no way we could pull of a kite-flying activity. However, since Lent began so late this year, I thought perhaps we could do some sort of outdoor activity, and the rail trail (an old railroad track that has become a paved bicycle/running/walking path all the way to Stowe) seemed a natural fit for what would likely not be brutal weather. Ominously, Prez pointed out that it was to be 15 degrees in the morning, but it was more like 25 degrees (still hideously cold, of course) but the sun was out, there was no wind, and those warriors who came out for the walk had a great time and warmed up rather quickly. It was unanimously agreed that we will do the walk again next year, weather-permitting of course. It was great to get the blood moving and spend some time in good fellowship as we embarked on our Lenten journey. The picture below is courtesy of Ted van Lingen, who was also among the walkers. Bedankt, Ted!
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March 19th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
One of the ways in which we are trying to teach our children about art is by buying old calendars – usually in January bookstores and mall kiosks have calendars that didn’t get sold at Christmas for sale at a huge discount. I usually find our house calendar in the same way – last year it was an awesome Mucha collection while this year we have a new Beatles photo to look forward to each month. Disappointingly, despite the Mucha find, not many art calendars seem to be available. I don’t think this is because they all sold out – I imagine they just are not big sellers. In kiosks and stores dedicated exclusively to calendars I found very few featuring artists, while there are seemingly hundreds with dogs, horses and other themes. One art calendar I did find was this Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post collection. This week we are going over Bottom Of The Sixth from April 23, 1949 (see below).
You can read an analysis of the painting here. The painting shows umpires deciding whether or not to delay or call a baseball game due to rain. There is a hint of sun above the third ump’s head, so there is a chance the game could continue. What I find interesting is that the title (and the scoreboard reflects this) has the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, meaning that if the game is called then Pittsburgh would win, since a game is official after five innings. Yet Rockwell has the Brooklyn manager pointing to the sky with glee, implying that a rainout would benefit the Dodgers. The Pirates skipper, whose team would win in a rainout, looks upset. Did Rockwell make a mistake in having the game in the sixth inning? Or is Brooklyn’s manager pointing to the sun coming out? I favor the former idea, since the rain dominates and the manager looks gleeful.
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March 6th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
The other day I visited old friend Bill K. at Olympic Wine & Spirits on Grafton St. in Worcester. This place used to be called Renaissance Wine & Spirits before Bill and his family bought it. I went there once some years ago to buy a bottle of wine and was startled to hear someone say “I can’t believe there is a (expletive deleted) priest in a liquor store”. Good grief. So, it was nice to go there and see a friendly face. In talking with Bill I remembered a story from The Sporting News or SI back in the day. The International Olympic Committee was going after a diner in New York that used the name Olympic and the logo of the five interlocked rings. The IOC was going after this place – no doubt Greek-owned – for using the logo and theoretically profiting off of it. This was likely in the pre-internet era, and I can’t find any reference to it. Bill has a good grasp of the law on this one – you can use the rings as long as they are not in the same order and position as the famous Olympics version. Check out the website that I linked to above – the rings emerge as bubbles from a martini glass that stands in for the y in the word Olympic. Great job Bill!
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February 11th, 2013 by Fr. Greg
A high school in Mississippi has given up the tradition of an invocation before its football games – check out an opinion piece on the issue here and the website of the group who is behind eliminating the prayer here. My interest in this incident is not really a religious one – being originally from New England I did not grow up with the tradition of prayer before games and it is not something I really care about one way or the other (although plenty of other civic gatherings have invocations, even in the Northeast). Rather, I am interested in the mind-your-own-business angle, which has a regional component. Prayer before games is a longstanding tradition in many parts of the South. If a community wants to do it and one or two people don’t like it or are offended, should the practice be stopped? The organization that drove the move to end the practice in this case is the Freedom From Religion Foundation (see the link above), which bill itself as “protecting the Constitutional principle of separation of state and church (note the reversal of the usual order of a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution). If you check out their website, though, you will see the group is not just for separation but is actively anti-church. They are also based in Wisconsin but have a national reach. Why not let the people of Mississippi do what they want? Why is a group from Wisconsin involved? This is not a matter of protecting someone from harm, which would be a totally different thing and quite understandable reason for outsiders to get involved. Annie Lauire Gaylor, the FFRF co-president quoted in the article, says that people shouldn’t have to pray to enjoy the football game. Who is making anyone pray? It is words over a loudspeaker. She later utters the chilling phrase “illegal prayer”. It has been a while since I have blogged, but reading those two words fired me up. What have we become?
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August 21st, 2012 by Fr. Greg