Tag: Veneration

Crystals the Color of Sweat and Blood


I was a minor rock hound — a rock pup, if you will — in my youth. Nothing serious, a small collection, only a few spectacular finds of my own, the rest either dull or store-bought. I liked crystals. But not as “wellness” aids. The folklore surrounding minerals, including their medicinal use, is part of their history. Still, I found myself mildly disappointed by the degree to which even geology shops treated the folklore as true.

Apparently, “wellness” claims for rocks have only gotten worse — er, I mean, more popular — since I was a young rock hound. Gwyneth Paltrow, for example, has gifted the world with Goop, like crystal-enhanced water bottles! Yoni eggs! (Warning: these eggs NSFW.) Rose quartz, with its soft pink hue, is particularly popular for “wellness.” Fair-trade certification, which is supposed to guarantee humane treatment of workers, is also popular in wellness products. But — and it’s a big but — most “wellness” crystals are far from fair trade. That pretty rose quartz is the color of sweat and blood.

Poor folk paid pennies to mine, in cramped, dangerous conditions, rocks that richer folk will sell for hundreds of dollars doesn’t shock me. Terrible as these mining jobs are, people choose these jobs over the other available alternatives. But then, I’m usually of the attitude that there’s no reason why bad conditions couldn’t get worse, and that’s not an attitude I’d expect the “wellness” crowd, which believes in “wellness,” after all, to share. Even someone resigned, or callously indifferent, to human suffering might balk at the environmental damage wreaked by humanity’s current appetite for crystalline “wellness.” I have a rare stone in my wedding ring, but it’s lab-created: I didn’t find it appealing to molest tons of extra earth for one small pebble, not even for a wedding ring — especially when a better-quality version of the same crystal can be easily made in the lab. Natural and environmentally-friendly aren’t always the same thing.

The 3rd Sunday of Lent: The Precious and Life-Giving Cross


In Paradise of old the tree stripped me bare; for by giving me its fruit to eat, the enemy brought in death. But now the Tree of the Cross that clothes men with the garment of life has been set up on earth, and the whole world is filled with boundless joy. Beholding it venerated, O ye people, let us with one accord raise in faith our cry to God: His house is full of glory.  Third Kathisma for the Holy Cross

The 3rd Sunday of Lent is The Sunday of the Veneration of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.  We are now at the midpoint of Great Lent proper, and then at halfway through the week following the 3rd Sunday also halfway to Pascha (Holy Week is not considered part of Great Lent).  In some outward respects, the purpose of the Sunday of the Cross is similar to the Elevation of the Cross commemorated in the early Autumn, yet it is also different.  Christ is coming and will enter Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and as one writer expresses it, “…before the arrival of a king, his royal standards, trophies, and emblems of victory come in procession and then the king himself appears in a triumphant parade… so does the feast of the Cross precede the coming of our king, Jesus Christ.” (Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion, p79)  

Every Sunday during Lent serves to remind us of the coming of Pascha – the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and His resurrection signaling the defeat of Death, and the restoration of Mankind to communion with God.  We have had two commemorations of Orthodox history and theology, first with the Sunday of Orthodoxy (with the final affirmation of the Incarnation of God in the flesh), and then the Sunday of Gregory Palamas (affirming that while God is unknowable, He makes Himself known to us through His energies), and now the affirmation of how the symbol and tool of a painful death is turned in its purpose into a symbol of eternal life.  Throughout the services of this day, we are reminded of this counterpoint time and again.  As Adam brought death into the world through consuming fruit from a tree, the Cross has instead become the tree of life, and the curse of Adam has been broken.  The outstretched arms of Moses before the Red Sea are compared to the Cross as well.  There are many more besides, referenced throughout the Canticle read during Orthros.

[Member Post]


Many thanks to the members who stepped up in a month full of holiday travel and events, answering the challenge to write on the theme of veneration. Bookmark this one and peruse the uniformly excellent posts if you missed some. There are lots of dates available in January Group Writing: Renovation. Follow the link to […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

Venerating the Mother of God: Stabat Mater speciosa


The serendipity of a saint search led me to the story of Jacopone da Todi. That led to two poems, and onward to musical settings. This exploration led to reflections on Mary, the Mother of God.

A saint’s story.

Jacopone da Todi was a successful Italian lawyer in the northern part of Italy. He was worldly, and his wife was pious. One day, she went to a public tournament to help her husband’s career. The stands collapsed, crushing spectators, and da Todi was suddenly a widower. He blamed himself, renounced his secular life, and became a Franciscan.

[Member Post]


“As soon as a man comes to life,” wrote Martin Heidegger, “he is at once old enough to die.” That’s not exactly a new insight, but it does have the virtue of clarity, which wasn’t Heidegger’s long suit. Being and Time is so incoherent that it makes Hegel look breezy in comparison. Still, statements like Heidegger’s do […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

The Khmer Holy Trinity: the Mother, the Father, and Lord Shiva


“Venerate the Gods in your home before the one in the vatt (Buddhist monastery).” — Khmer Proverb

Buddhism is the state religion of Cambodia, where 96% of the population consider themselves practitioners of Theravada Buddhism. But when it comes to veneration, the mother and father always come first; veneration of the Buddha is relegated to the very back of the line. To us, our mother and father are what we refer to as the Gods in our home.

[Member Post]


Remember when portrait art, music, and literature scaled the heights of human achievement, most often with the purpose of offering a representation of those aspects of  the culture that should be held in the highest regard by all? Well, if you attended school after any coursework in Western Civilization was viewed as heresy and expunged […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

Veneration of the Righteous Among the Nations


Many Jews (and even non-Jews) are preoccupied with the nightmare of the Holocaust. In one sense, that obsession is understandable; what took place, its horrors, exceed the imagination. I also believe that anti-Semitism is still a danger to the survival of the Jewish people.

At the same time, that period during WWII demonstrated the courage of many people who were prepared to rescue the Jews, even at the risk of their own lives. People like Oskar Schindler and Corrie Ten Boom are probably two of the best-known people who saved the Jews from certain death. But the museum at Yad Vashem in Israel has memorialized 26,500 people, who also aided Jews; they are called the Righteous Among the Nations. Here’s one story of one family’s courage:

In 1925, Alexander Weber converted to Judaism. A year later, he married Lina Banda, a Jewish woman from Hungary. The couple moved to Berlin, where they raised their seven children. In their building, at 48 Dragonerstrasse Street, was a shop rented by a farmer named Arthur Schmidt. Schmidt used the shop to store the fruit and vegetables he brought from his farm in Worin, Brandenburg.

Icon, Part 5: The Nativity of Christ


Thy Nativity, O Christ our God, hath given rise to the light of knowledge in the world; for they that worshipped the stars did learn therefrom to worship Thee, O Sun of Justice, and to know that from the east of the Highest Thou didst come. O Lord, glory to Thee. Apolytikion of the Nativity of Christ 

The Orthodox icon of the Nativity is jarring to our western eyes. We are accustomed to seeing Joseph and Mary in a warm-looking and very clean wooden barn, each about the same age, kneeling before a wooden manger that has a glowing Christ-child within, while angels shout triumphant above, shepherds approach, and the Magi, newly arrived, kneel with their gifts while the star that guided them shines brightly above the entire scene. Look closely at this scene, though, and things seem off. There is no warm and clean wooden barn, but a jagged mountain with a dark yawning cave. The Christ-Child is within, but He’s wrapped up in bandages? And is the manger really a stone box that looks more like a coffin? Mary is laying out on a blanket, dominating the scene, while Joseph (an older Joseph) is down the mountain looking forlorn while a very strange and sinister figure talks at him. What is happening here? This is not the quiet and happy Nativity we know and cherish in our candle-light caroling, nor is it the Stille Nacht we envisage while the snow quietly falls.

For us, Christmas comes not only just past the darkest night of the year, as winter bears down ever more upon us, but also at the end of the year, at a time when we are busy making resolutions, travel plans, loading up on presents, and gathering with family. It is a time where many of us are granted rests from work, a vacation in the midst of everything. We can kick up our feet in front of the fire, pour some egg nog, watch Christmas TV specials, and relax through the New Year, which we’re going to cap off with another party. But look closely at this icon instead. Mary looks exhausted, Joseph is worried, and the layered scenes have an underlying urgency to them.  Clearly, the Nativity of Christ is here depicted not as an end goal, but (to borrow from Winston Churchill) the end of the beginning, a portentous marking of things yet to come.

[Member Post]


As far as Christmas Carols go I’m mostly a fan of the old hymns. The older poetry had to conform to a stricter set of rules. You have to spend a lot more effort on your word choices when you’re constrained like that, and the effort shows in the quality of your writing. They also […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

The American Reverence Problem


Last year’s huge hit film Greatest Showman, with its highly fictionalized story of P.T. Barnum’s rise from the slums to the apex of American success and society, could be thought of as a case study in what makes American’s quintessentially themselves. There is however one scene that makes another and for the purposes of this essay, more important point about the American character: The meeting with Queen Victoria. For the three people on Ricochet who have been living under a rock and have not seen it yet, the meeting threatens to end in disaster when the Queen makes a remark about Tom Thumb’s height and gets from him the response “You ain’t exactly reachin’ the top shelf yourself, sister.”

And everyone in the room holds his/her breath waiting to see how the Queen responds to this irreverent remark concerning her person. Will she be offended at the lack of deference to her state? Will she ignore it? Or will she be able to laugh at herself? She does, they do, the audience does (it was a laugh line after all) and the film goes on. More than anything else, though, this one line of dialogue is what distinguishes Barnum’s Americans from the British subjects in the scene. Not attire, status or fame, but the attitude toward a person who is supposed to be and is accustomed to being treated with deference and even reverence by others in society. The Brits are shocked and the Americans are all kicking themselves for not having made the remark first.

The Veneration, or Not, of the Saints


The topic of veneration is a bit of a challenge for me, as the first association I have with the word is the veneration of saints. I’m Lutheran though, and Lutherans don’t venerate saints; we’re kinda famous for not doing so.  If you’ll indulge a flippant over-simplification, we don’t think God is an officious bureaucrat who requires all the relevant department heads to sign off on a request before fulfilling it or a lazy kid who won’t do his chores until his mom nags him.

That being said, we do still have a place for saints in our worship. They are for our education and edification, if not our veneration.  My Liber Hymnorum, a hymnal of Latin hymns used by the early Lutheran church, describes a year of saintly feasts, from St. Sebastian on January 20th to the Holy Innocents on December 28th, with stops for St. Gregory in March, St. Anne in July, and St. Michael and All Angels in September, as well as about a dozen others. The Brotherhood Prayer Book, a Lutheran breviary, lists dozens more notable church fathers and mothers whose feast day is a chance for honoring and remembering their extraordinary lives, including doctors of the church like John Chrysostom, Anselm of Canterbury, Bede the Venerable, and Augustine of Hippo.  (If you see a St. Martin Lutheran Church, it is recognizing Martin of Tours, not Mr. Luther.)

Venerating Dead Politicians


Have the American people venerated certain dead presidents? If so, what has happened to that veneration? From our coins, to our classroom walls, to the stories we tell, have we seen a sort of secular iconography, challenged by political iconoclasts?

Dennis Prager has long held that America has a unique value system, which he styles “The American Trinity.” The American Trinity is on our coins: “E Pluribus Unum,” “In God We Trust,” Liberty.” Looking at our four most common coins, we also see four presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR.

Perhaps you remember portraits of Washington and Lincoln hanging in grade school classrooms. If you are Generation X or older, you likely learned generally positive things about Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and FDR. Go back far enough, and you may have seen portraits of FDR hanging in homes and public spaces, where people identified him as on the working man’s side.

Ave Maria: Venerating the Brave Virgin, and her Consent


Warning: Including some crass humor in the description of a Great Christian Mystery is intended to drive home just how extraordinary a woman Mary must have been, as well as the extraordinary — indeed quite odd — nature of the mystery involved.

Ave Maria, gratia plena… Hail Mary, full of grace… These words, whether set to the sumptuous music of Biebl’s much-beloved one-hit wonder, sung to another tune, or simply spoken, will ring out through many a church today, the last Sunday of Advent, the last caravanserai parishioners pause at before reaching Bethlehem itself, and the Word Made Flesh.

Icon, Part 4: Veneration and the Incarnation


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d. He was in the beginning with G-d. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, [1] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it….  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5, 14)

Thus far we have examined the first three festal icons of the Orthodox liturgical year, and in them see some of the conventions necessary to understand and interpret them (conventions such as the avoidance of over-realism, use of symbolism, a flattening of time and overlapping of events). The next Great Feast is, of course, the Nativity of Christ (Christmas), but in the interlude, I thought it time to address the icons themselves, their reason for being, why they are venerated, and what veneration even means in their context. And to do that, we should start with the prototype and, in its way, the most important icon of all, that of Jesus Christ Himself, and of one particular form — The Icon Not Made By Hands. All of Orthodox iconography is in vain if it does not point to Christ, and it is from Christ that all iconography stems.

As the Gospel of John says in its opening, “And the Word become flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory…” This is that fundamental claim of Christians, that G-d Himself took on actual and real human form — The Incarnation (which we observe as Christmas). Throughout all of prior history, G-d forbade any attempt to depict Him because you cannot depict the ineffable. Yet He came and took on human form (real flesh and blood), which we depict all the time, so this form we can depict. (I’m greatly oversimplifying this argument, however. It took 800 years, a lot of misuse of Christian imagery, two iconoclasms, and finally the 7th Ecumenical Council to sort this out.)

[Member Post]


Do you hear what I hear? Time to deck the halls and make things merry and bright. I speak, of course, of our monthly Group Writing theme: “Veneration.” There are still several days open on the sign up sheet. We’ve had posts on architecture, music, and persons worth venerating. Who is worthy of veneration? Who […]

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

[Member Post]


Good writers are hard to find. Let us celebrate and venerate our favorite writers today. Who are you reading? What do they write? Are they still alive? I suppose my two favorite authors are H. Beam Piper and Jo Rowling. I can go back and reread anything they wrote over and over again. Preview Open

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

[Member Post]


  This month’s topic, Veneration, got me to thinking about the way so many women venerate the fashion experts in New York and Paris, hanging on their every word. Slavishly following their dictates. And who, you may ask, are these arbiters of taste and fashion? Preview Open

⚠️ This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet's community of conservatives and be part of the conversation.

Join Ricochet for free.

How Gods Are Made


The late, great Terry Pratchett is one of my favorite authors. In his fantasy universe known as the Discworld (so named because the world is a disc resting on the backs of four giant elephants standing on a turtle swimming through space) he explored nearly every facet of humanity: war, peace, family, crime, politics, time travel, magic, and even religion. A concept running through a number of his books is the notion that believing in something causes it to exist and grow strong.

In Small Gods, a satire on the Reformation, he describes the origin of the gods thus: just as the physical universe was formed of the collation of dust from the origin of the universe, there was a great cloud of gods spread evenly over the universe. As humans believed in a god, it became stronger and better able to answer prayers. Moreover, the gods took on the characteristics of the humans who believed in it — a god of shepherds had a different personality than a god of goatherds, as their followers had different views of how one controls livestock — and the god took its physical characteristics from the sculptures and icons of the followers. e.g. Patina, the goddess of wisdom, was supposed to be associated with an owl; because her most famous sculptor was terrible at sculpting birds, she now has a penguin.