Friday, August 26, 2005

Various

* Last night I happened to be near Harbourfront and was able to catch a bit of the National Ballet of Canada doing a free sample performance to promote their upcoming season. Unfortunately, I missed about two-thirds of it, but they had an excellent performance of Theme and Variations (choreography by Balanchine and music by Tchaikovsky). There really needs to be more free and low-cost ballet of this sort; ballet has a lot of potential appeal (more than one would think) but how often is ballet really made accessible (local and relatively inexpensive) to ordinary people? Not often. That's a ticket for eventual disaster, I think, a problem that plagues opera, as well. Maintaining a fine art requires casting a wide net to find the sort of people in all walks of life who might be interested in it if they actually had a chance to see it in person. When an art begins to be of interest only to the relatively wealthy, as a sign of luxury, it has begun to die.

* Thanks to everyone who contributed to the science fiction discussion; it was quite fun, and my reading list has bulged with science fiction works that were highly recommended that I had never read before (some of which I had never even heard of before). I've already begun to read some of them; Steven Riddle had recommended some of the works of James Blish; I had heard of him, I think but I had never read him. Having read Black Easter and A Case for Conscience in the past few days, I'm hooked. I'm still looking for The Day after Judgment; in the meantime I'll be reading They Shall Have the Stars. I also went back and re-read some Stapledon, and I confess I'm wavering on whether I really should have chosen Sirius over Odd John. The reasons I gave for choosing Odd John still stand, but Sirius is such a good story. Putting aside my doubts about that, when I look over the list in light of the comments, I think I chose very well. Here and there it was entirely a judgment call, but I think these were for the most part cases that would be a judgment call for everyone (e.g. Verne). The most controversial choices I made, I think, were the particular selections for Heinlein and Dick -- both authors deserve the mention, but I'm a bit weak on both. The big weakness for the list is that it virtually stops at 1969: from 1970 to the present I have only one work (Ender's Game). It's interesting to consider how the list might change if the focus were shifted from novels to short stories; several commenters recommended very good short story anthologies, and from my list Miller and Sturgeon are actually brilliant short story writers who each managed to put out one stunningly good novel. A number of authors would drop off completely, while a number of authors we don't normally classify as SF (Jack London, for instance, who wrote several interesting short stories in the genre) might come up for consideration.

* Additional Links: Fr. Jim Tucker has a good post up in which he clarifies what is actually meant by a vow of celibacy (it's not quite what you probably think it is).

"Deeper Thought" considers how normative the experience of the early church should be for Evangelicals (HT: Jollyblogger).

The Jollyblogger discusses Reformed Eschatology, always an interesting topic. Despite finding it interesting, I always approach these distinctions as an outsider; I'm frankly a moralist in my interpretation of the book of Revelation. That is, while I don't deny that there's likely to be more to it than this, I think an interpretation of Revelation has gone wrong if it is not primarily (even overwhelmingly) about how we are to live our lives now. Also, an approach to Revelation that I wish were more common is that of Austin Farrer (The Glass of Vision; A Rebirth of Images; The Revelation of St. John the Divine). But I liked this post quite a bit.

At "Thinking Deeply" there is an interesting post arguing against Hick's religious pluralism.

* From H. Rider Haggard's She:

"Is there no man that will draw my veil and look upon my face, for it is very fair? Unto him who draws my veil shall I be, and peace will I give him, and sweet children of knowledge and good works."

And a voice cried, "Though all those who seek after thee desire thee, behold! Virgin art thou, and Virgin shalt thou go till Time be done. No man is there born of woman who may draw thy veil and live, nor shall be. By Death only can thy veil be drawn, oh Truth!"

And Truth stretched out her arms and wept, because those who sought her might not find her, nor look upon her face to face.

"Thou seest," said Ayesha, when she had finished translating, "Truth was the Goddess of the people of old Kôr, and to her they built their shrines, and her they sought; knowing that they should never find, still sought they."

"And so," I added sadly, "do men seek to this very hour, but they do not find out; and, as this Scripture saith, nor shall they; for in Death only is Truth found."

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