Pondering in her heart. (Redux)

Greeting, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is taking a break from real life to wish you all (such number of ye as there may be) a Merry Christmas.

There is so much that your Maximum Leader would like to write about, but he finds little time. (A constant refrain in this space…) What have we learned this year?

Nothing…

Not a damned thing. Our politics are boorish and crass. Our culture is excessive, unrestrained, and frequently vile. And having said that about the United States, your Maximum Leader recognizes that we have it better than any other country out there.

This time last year, your Maximum Leader tweeted (follow him on the Tweety-box @maximumleader) the following pithy line:

Well… Here is a little more on that thought…

At the time, your Maximum Leader should have written: Civility is the spanx holding in the barbarism of humanity. This thought came to your Maximum Leader as he was sitting down contemplating why he is an observant Catholic. In a meandering stream of thoughts your Maximum Leader eventually thought back to a lecture he once heard (and took notes upon) in college. The theme of this particular lecture was how many upper-middle class Victorians in Britain had the foundations of their social thinking shaken by scientific advancements but continued to behave as they had “for the good of society.” To restate this, science had cast doubts on long-held traditional beliefs. Evolution is the chief example of this, shaking the belief of traditional Christian Creationism. While these people were having to try to sort out what the basis of civilization itself should be, they continued to do the things they’d always done - like going to church on Sunday, acting like gentlemen and ladies and all the other tell-tale outward signs of being civilized.

Your Maximum Leader started to think to himself that our civilization is a very tenuous thing. This isn’t a new thought to him, or others. But for some reason that day the thought weighed heavily on his mind. Then, his mind moved from the sublime to the silly. He imagined the “body” of all humanity being constrained by nothing more than some shaped spandex. Humanity’s true nature has to be hidden, shaped as best as possible actually, by a thin veneer of something else. Civility is that thin veneer that keeps all the fat and bulging of our corpulent humanity in any sort of shape. Of course, over time the spanx wear out and cease to hold in that which they are designed to hold in… Your Maximum Leader wonders if the spanx of our civilization isn’t being pretty sorely tested by the mass of barbarous fat straining to break free…

Of course, this time of year should not be spent dwelling on the unpleasantness in the world… We should try to elevate our thoughts and celebrate the possibility of humanity’s advancement. The Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar resets itself every year in Advent. One of the priests at your Maximum Leader’s parish suggested that like the church resetting the liturgical calendar each of us should try to reset our own personal quest towards living a life more in the image and likeness of Christ. Your Maximum Leader is sure that priests across the world, an ministers of every denomination, have preached the same message. Through our free will we have the potential for salvation. Your Maximum Leader wants to think this salvation is more than just spiritual salvation, but we can have societal salvation. We may not agree politically on items, but your Maximum Leader hopes that we in the United States (at least) can see the benefits our shared Anglo-Western-Judeo-Christian civilization and take steps to preserve it.

Oh… The silly things your Maximum Leader wishes for at Christmas…

Anyhoo…

Tis the season to read over the Gospel of Luke and perhaps contemplate its meaning. This year your Maximum Leader has been thinking a bit about Mary. Take this portion of Luke, Chapter 2:

8 And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.
9 And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.
10 And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
11 For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
14 Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
15 And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.
16 And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.
17 And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child.
18 And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Your Maximum Leader has always been struck by verse 19. “Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.”

There is not much in the Bible about Mary. The passages directly mentioning her are very few. But there is always a gem in there. Your Maximum Leader’s money is on Luke 2:19 as the greatest of these gems. What does it say about a young girl that she should experience all she had and was still able to take in what she had seen and heard and ponder its meaning? If you aren’t a Christian, still take a moment to think through all this. Your Maximum Leader speculates that most young girls of the first century AD who had just delivered a baby under less than ideal circumstances might not be reticent and ponder their situation with the grace or poise that he reads in this verse. Of course, if you a Christian, there is a lot more going on in that one line.

Your Maximum Leader would like more people to keep the words they hear or read about and ponder them in their hearts. A little more pondering and little less talking and shouting might do us all a bit of good in preserving civilization.

And now… El Greco…
The Adoration by El Greco

Peace and goodwill to you all.

Carry on.

“We’re on a mission from Gad.”

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that there is good news ye olde news wire today.

Apparently His Holiness (and likely most of the College of Cardinals) have a soft spot for a film by John Landis. To wit: The Vatican Endorses “The Blues Brothers.” Here is the release from Reuters in full:

TAORMINA, Sicily (Hollywood Reporter) – When Jake and Elwood Blues, the protagonists in John Landis’ cult classic “The Blues Brothers,” claimed they were on a mission from God, the Catholic Church apparently took them at their word.

On the 30th anniversary of the film’s release, “L’Osservatore Romano,” the Vatican’s official newspaper, called the film a “Catholic classic” and said it should be recommended viewing for Catholics everywhere.

The film is based on a skit from “Saturday Night Live.” In the story, Jake and Elwood — played by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, respectively — embark on an unlikely road trip featuring concerts, car chases, clashes with the police and neo-Nazi groups, and attempts at revenge from a spurned lover, all, ostensibly, to raise money for the church-run orphanage where they grew up.

But aside from a brief appearance from Kathleen Freeman as a wrist-slapping nun referred to as “The Penguin” and the brothers’ periodic claim that they were on a mission from God, spirituality does not play a significant role in the film.

In addition to Belushi and Aykroyd, the film featured an all-star cast including musicians James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, and Chaka Khan, in addition to noted actors John Candy, Carrie Fisher, Charles Napier, and Henry Gibson, and cameo roles for Frank Oz, Steven Spielberg, Landis, Mr. T, and Paul Reubens.

With the recommendation, “The Blues Brothers” joins the list of dozens of films recommended by Catholic authorities that includes Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments,” “Jesus of Nazareth” from Franco Zeffirelli,” Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ,” Victor Flemming’s “Joan of Arc,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” from Frank Capra.

Your Maximum Leader should put the movie on the olde Blu Ray player tonight and celebrate…

In a stream of consciousness type of codicil to this post… Another film on the list is “The Passion of The Christ.” In that movie the highly desireable Monica Bellucci plays Mary Magdalene. It has been a while since your Maximum Leader has attempted any sort of RCBfA type post… So here is Monica Bellucci for your viewing pleasure.
Monica Bellucci
Please note the fruit on the banquet tables in the back… Because as we all know, where there is fruit there is art. You know something, and this is a sad confession to make, Monica Bellucci is the only reason your Maximum Leader bothered to watch “Shoot ‘em up.” It was a horrible film, made slightly less horrible by Ms. Bellucci being in it.

BTW, did your Maximum Leader mention that Ms. Bellucci just made the number one spot on Pajiba’s list of the Ten Hottest Celebrity Women over 40 list. You can clicky the link if you like to see the other nine…

Carry on.

Objectification

Greetings, loyal minons. Your Maximum Leader doesn’t like to objectify women. He particularly doesn’t like to objectify the platonic object of his affections, the lovely and talented Lola Astanova. But, then she posts a photo of herself on the beach while visiting Reunion island and well… Your Maximum Leader is a hormonally normal heterosexual man. What can he say? He can’t help himself.

Lola on the Beach
See what your Maximum Leader means?

Think of this as a reward for reading through the mess of political crap in the post above this one.

If you need further rewards… Check out Miss Astanova’s photo page. But if you do check out her images, would you also listen to some of her beautiful music too please? Your Maximum Leader bought her album off iTunes for $9.99. He probably would have paid more for all of the joy he’s gotten listening to it.

Ah… Lola…

Carry on.

Forgetful

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader has seen that the National Weather Service has increased the forecast of snow in this are to 16-24 inches of accumulation. That is a lot.

All this weather talk has been making your Maximum Leader think of sunnier weather… and art… He always thinks of art you know. If only there were a way to combine sunny weather and art in one visual medium?

Perhaps the late great Alberto Vargas could help us with that…

Indeed he can…

vargas_suntan.jpg
Depending on your workplace, that image might be NSFW.

Your Maximum Leader loves the caption on that piece. BTW, Your Maximum Leader should point out that suntan lotion should be applied every 15-20 minutes while outdoors in the sun.

NB to Sir Basil: Please note how sun reflects realistically off the fruit and there is no sweat on the bubbly.

Carry on.

Still checking for fruit…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader is still checking various pieces of artwork to make sure they have fruit… Here is a sort of racy one:

Allegory of 4 Seasons

Bartolomeo Manfredi’s Allegory of the Four Seasons.

Fruit present… It’s arty…

Carry on.

Fall festival you say…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader sees that Sir Basil is warning that we’ll be studying for a fall festival with the RCBfA.

Your Maximum Leader has found his study partners:
Vampire Hotties
He’s especially fond of Monica Bellucci in the center there.

And if Mr P needs enticing to come to this meeting perhaps this will help:
vampirehotties2.jpg

By the way… Your Maximum Leader, who as you all surely know is a Dracula fan, went and got Dracula the Un-dead the other day. He is a sucker for the “official sequel” status of this book. So far Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt are doing pretty well keeping your Maximum Leader turning the pages… Perhaps a review will be up before Halloween.

Carry on.

If there is fruit…

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader reminds you that if there is fruit in the painting it must be art…

For your viewing edification… Susanna (or Shoshanna - he’s told by Jewish friends) and the Elders by Alessandro Allori.
Susanna & the elders
Clicky to embiggen.

Your Maximum Leader had completely forgotten the story of Susanna and the Elders. He had to quickly refresh his memory before he felt he could post this piece of art.

He might read the story to his children over the weekend…

Carry on.

RCBfA & Astronomy

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was thinking that it has been a while since he last posted anything relating to the RCBfA. Today is as good a day as any to make up for lost posting.

You see… Your Maximum Leader was reading about night in the most recent issue of National Geographic. More accuarately, he was reading about how night isn’t all that dark in many areas of the developed world and why that isn’t a good thing. Your Maximum Leader agrees. Night should be dark and the heavens not obsucred by light reflecting off cities and such…

But your Maximum Leader digresses…

So… There is, in this issue of National Geographic, a photo of a road sign proclaiming a street be “Milky Way.” The photo is shot at night and one can actually see the Milky Way in the background.

That got your Maximum Leader to thinking. He seemed to remember seeing a painting once called “The Origin of the Milky Way” in the National Gallery in London. At first he remembered it as a Titian. But later realized he was incorrect and it is a Tintoretto. For your viewing pleasure, Tintoretto’s “Origin of the Milky Way”:
milkyway.jpg
Clicken to embiggen.

And while we are thinking of Tintoretto… How about his “Four women playing music.”
4womenplaying.jpg
Again, clicken to embiggen. Sadly, your Maximum Leader hasn’t found too many string quartets of the type Tintoretto was painting here. This painting serves as a reminder to your Maximum Leader that he must go to Florence - where there is lots of art. (And presumably artful string quartets.)

Carry on.

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