April 8th, 2005

gamiila sig #2

May flights of angels lead you into Paradise

What a send-off they gave him! It's almost unbelievable the Vatican could have organised such a splendid funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II in such a short space of time; and I take my hat off to the Italians for the way they've managed to make everything run smoothly in the last week, the massive influx of faithful wanting to pay their last respects notwithstanding. There is this standing joke in Europe, that hell is where everything's organised by the Italians, but this week they've certainly proved that to be unfair.

For me, the most interesting part of the service were the prayers offered by the priests and patriachs of the Eastern Churches -- I didn't recognise all of them but I saw representatives of the Greek-Orthodox, Coptic and Ethiopian churches; it meant a lot to see them participate in the liturgy and pay their respects to a Pope who worked so hard at oecumene...although we might have wished him to have been a little more successful at it. It was also very good to see representatives of the other world religions in the VIP enclosure, plus all the heads of States and no fewer than 3 American presidents, none of whom are Catholic.

That made the absence of any member of our Royal House that much more painful. Our government decided that sending the (staunchly protestant) prime-minister alone would suffice, and said the Scandinavian royals weren't going either. So what was Carl Gustav doing there, then? But of course, the decision for any royal to attend or not lies ultimately with the Queen, and the fact that she hasn't deigned to go has deeply offended the Catholics in Holland. She is, after all, supposed to be our Queen, too; and some have said it felt like we had travelled back 150 years in time, when to be Catholic meant being a second class citizen, not allowed to worship freely, not allowed to enter the civil service, etc. If she felt that she couldn't very well go herself, she could at the very least have sent her Catholic daughter-in-law, or either one of her Catholic sisters; or even Princess Marilène, the Catholic daughter-in-law of her protestant sister. The Prince of Wales even postponed his wedding to that horsey woman by a day so that he could be present, and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan attended a memorial service in Tokyo.
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gamiila sig #2

Book meme

Gakked from viciouswishes

1. Choose five of your all time favorite books.
2. Take the first sentence of the first chapter and make a list in your journal.
3. Don't reveal the author or the title of the book.
4. Now everyone try and guess.

1) Abishag the Shunammite washes her hands, powders her arms, removes her robe, and approaches my bed to lie down on top of me. -- God Knows, by Joseph Heller
2) The Brangwens had lived for generations on the Marsh Farm, in the meadows where the Erewash twisted sluggishly through alder trees, separating Derbyshire from Nottinghamshire. -- The Rainbow, by D.H. Lawrence
3) At the age of fifteen my grandmother became the concubine of a warlord general, the police chief of a tenuous national government of China. -- Wild Swans, by Jung Chang; identified by anonypooh
4) My dear Mark,
Today I went to see my physician Hermogenes, who has just returned to the Villa from a rather long journey in Asia. -- Memoirs of Hadrian, by Marguerite Yourcenar
5) 'I have been here before,' I said; I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were creamy with meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest. -- Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh; identified by meko00

I can't imagine my life without books. Ever since I first learned my letters at age 5, it has been my favourite pastime to read, something I'll enjoy doing any time, any place, anywhere. I always carry a book in my purse (currently, that would be Bill Bryson's Notes From A Big Country), and browsing through bookshops and libraries easily qualifies as the most satisfying time I can spend anywhere. Drop me in a strange town, and I'll check out the local bookshop before I'll go anywhere else...unless I run into an interesting-looking shoe shop first, of course.

I can never part with my books, either; and I hate having to lend them because so often, I don't get them back without having to nag the borrower for them, or I don't get them back at all. I know that eight years after having asked to borrow it, Timo still keeps possession of my copy of Susan Sontag's The Volcano Lover, and Chris still hasn't returned The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, and it's been more than a decade! (But that's okay, he can keep it; it was a load of tosh, anyway).

So when I go and see my Dad in the home that he is in, sometimes I look around me and I get scared that that'll be me in 30 years, living somewhere where there are no books, where there is no room for a bookcase in your private quarters, and where there's no intellectual stimulation of any kind. Really, I think I'd rather be dead.
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