July 20, 2019

Gloria Inmarcesible

Today is Colombia's Independence Day, so to Doña Gloria Inmarse Sivle from Don José Cañucí: ¡Feliz Día de la Independencia!

🇨🇴 P.S.

🇨🇴 It all started over a flowerpot in Bogotá somehow.

July 14, 2019

Happy Bastille Day!

On this day in 1789 the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille, thus beginning the French Revolution.

July 7, 2019

If Only

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
—Luke 17:5-6

In the first part of Luke 17, there are four sayings of Jesus that appear here together, but which could probably be talked about independently, because each of them is important.

Occasions for stumbling are
bound to come
...  [Luke 17:1]
 the first one, Jesus tells his followers that something is forbidden, and that’s that they not to trample on the faith of the weak—or, more broadly put, we’re not to stand in the way of one another’s relationship with God.

If the first saying was something forbidden, the second one was a requirement: and this was forgiveness. And the forgiveness that Jesus describes is a rather illogical forgiveness, for it goes beyond what we usually think of as “advisable”.

The fourth saying is a bit rough around the edges, I think. It tells us that we

July 4, 2019


Back before we had an official national anthem, one of the main candidates for the unofficial honor was a song called Chester, written by William Billings in 1770 as a psalm tune. Later, Billings penned other words to go with the tune, and it's this newer one that became the most popular patriotic song in America soon after independence. Though it is little known today, it is an excellent example of early American music, and is much more representative of the new nation that "was brought forth upon this continent" than The Star-Spangled Banner could ever dream of being.

So Happy Independence Day! from William Billings and our ancestors. This is what they'd have been singing on July 4, 1780.

Let tyrants shake their iron rod,
and slavery clank her galling chains,
we fear them not, we trust in God—
New England's God forever reigns.

Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,
with Prescot and Cornwallis joined,
together plot our overthrow,
in one infernal league combined.

When God inspired us for the fight,
their ranks were broke, their lines were forced,
their ships were shattered in our sight,
or swiftly driven from our coast.

The foe comes on with haughty stride;
our troops advance with martial noise,
their veterans flee before our youth,
and generals yield to beardless boys.

What grateful offering shall we bring?
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud hallelujahs let us sing,
and praise his Name on every chord.
William Billings, 1778

June 23, 2019

The Ravens' Payback

You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.
—1 Kings 17:4

The ravens owed God a favor. A few hundred years earlier, when Moses was laying down the Law to the Israelites, God had put it into his head to declare some animals clean, and some animals unclean. Clean animals were those whose meat the Israelites could eat. Unclean animals were those whose meat they were forbidden to eat. There were all kinds of categories and virtually every animal found in that part of the world was covered by these dietary rules—the fish of the sea, the animals on the land, and the birds of the air. Among the birds of the air which the Israelites were forbidden to eat were, you got it, the ravens. It actually should