The Most Awesome Team Name Ever

Someone somewhere has an incredible sense of humor. I choose to believe that this was done on purpose, because this happening by accident is too sad a thing for me to accept.

These are your Deaf Leopards.

Straight hashmark-awesome. Hat tip to @geokearns on the twits.

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Yeast From Beards

This might be a little much. Rogue’s brewmaster is overseeing the production of a beer the yeast for which was extracted from his beard, which has not been shaved since 1978.

The Rogue people in this article are giving a mirabile visu! spin to finding a viable beer yeast in his beard, but I suppose if you were going to find such a yeast in anyone’s beard, in would be that of a man who spends all day every day in front of beer.

My Christian Brothers: Having No Beard Make You Weird

“The beard is a masculine ornament, given to us by God not for any practical purpose, but for our dignity.” – St. Augustine

(Roman Catholic brothers, consider skipping this post. I pick on you in it. And if you do not skip it, bear with me in love.)

This past Sunday I experienced something that made me realize, or at least form a theory for, why so few Roman Catholics have beards.

Think about it. This doesn’t prove anything, of course, but think about the Roman Catholics you know. Do any of them have beards? I can think of one or two of my own acquaintance, but overwhelmingly, they are clean-shaven.

Some of this, I believe, is connected with the roman-ness of the Roman Catholic church. Scipio Africanus, the man who defeated Hannibal, and scion of the mid-Republic, is said to have been the first Roman to shave. After him, the Roman fashion was always to be clean shaven, except for brief periods when imitating the Greeks might have been seen to have been fashionable. Shaving was a symbol of being Roman, usually over against being Greek, but also in comparison to the barbarian races.

Shaving was a rite of passage of religious significance for the pagan Romans, and a sign of manhood. Having a long beard meant slovenliness and squalor. The propensity of early Christians to grow a beard signaled two things: the eastern origins of their faith, and their willingness to be seen as other than Roman.

As Europe moved further into the Christian era, the barbarian Christians brought the beard back in. Men had beards. Warriors had beards. Knights had beards. Beardlessness was a sign of extreme youth, or of femininity.

Priests of the Western church began to shave. It became a symbol of celibacy. It became a symbol of control over the flesh and sin. Men have their appetites to kill and rut and grow beards, but the Roman priests overcame that through shavery.

According to a very interesting post at the Catholic Encyclopedia (the complexity of which will allow you to poke holes in this wee little post if you care to, although it will still hold water after you’re done):

The legislation requiring the beard to be shaved seems to have remained in force throughout the Middle Ages. Thus an ordinance of the Council of Toulouse, in 1119, threatened with excommunication the clerics who “like a layman allowed hair and beard to grow”, and Pope Alexander III ordained that clerics who nourished their hair and beard were to be shorn by their archdeacon, by force if necessary. This last decree was incorporated in the text of the canon law (Decretals of Gregory IX, III, tit. i, cap. vii). Durandus, finding mystical reasons for everything, according to his wont, tells us that “length of hair is symbolical of the multitude of sins. Hence clerics are directed to shave their beards; for the cutting of the hair of the beard, which is said to be nourished by the superfluous humours of the stomach, denotes that we ought to cut away the vices and sins which are a superfluous growth in us. Hence we shave our beards that we may seem purified by innocence and humility and that we may be like the angels who remain always in the bloom of youth.” (Rationale, II, lib. XXXII.)

This body is a body of sin; the beard is an unleashing of the body. Therefore mortify the beard.

Thus the scholars of the West, inspired to shave by their connection to a cultural Rome that Frankish kings and Saxon peasants knew nothing of, and driven to shave by their desire to overcome concupiscence, became the clean-cheeked representatives of our faith.

But none of this, I propose, is the reason Roman Catholics today are still shaven.

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You may have heard that I have an awesome beard. A beard perhaps worthy even of El Cid, defender of Christians before the Moorish hordes, que en buenhora nació. His wife called him “the perfect beard”. His beard has a facebook page. Of his beard El Mio Cid himself hath said, “Thanks be to almighty God, it is long because it has had much loving care lavished on it. What reproach can you cast on my beard? All my life it has been my chief delight. No woman’s son has ever plucked it and no one… ever tore it.” Truly here, and not in the tonsured scriptoriums, was a paragon of Christian manliness in the Middle Ages.

But could El Mio Cid de Bivar, champion of Christendom, have taken the Lord’s Supper?

“Only if we practice intinction. That will permit the host to pass my mustache unmolested.”

My mustache runs over my lip, as I’m sure the mustache of El Cid Campeador did. This past Sunday, as one of the elders at my church handed me the chalice and I dragged deep and full of the wine, I got to enjoy a second sip courtesy of all the wine still caught in my mustache.

Think that’s gross? It’s just being human. Any dude with a mustache runs his lower lip over his mustache after taking a quaff of any drink, be it beer or water. But you couldn’t do that with transubstantiated wine.

So this is not a theological argument. Well, it is, but barely. It’s an anthropological one. My point is this: only dudes who shaved could have come up with a doctrine like the Roman Catholic one of transubstantiation. It is a doctrine that tries to drag earth, kicking and screaming, all the way up to heaven. But isn’t it our belief that the Kingdom of Heaven comes down to earth? This very real wine very really is Christ’s blood right here and right now. It has come down to you, and you may drink it and feast with it. Also, this very real man very really is God right here and right now. He has come down to you, and you may drink and feast with him. And while you’re at it, grow a beard with him, as he surely did.

Hence we shave our beards that we may seem purified by innocence and humility and that we may be like the angels who remain always in the bloom of youth. Here’s a question of sacramental theology for you. Do you want to be like the angels, or do you want to be like our Lord Jesus?

We are meant to be glorified humans. If we begin to reject our humanity, we will twist our glory and come up with all sorts of weird ideas.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

When we mortify the flesh, we are to mortify our members, our arms and legs. These arms and legs are things like fornication and covetousness. We pluck those eyes out. This is very physical.

The new man is also very physical. Your new man may or may not be circumcised, but he certainly has bowels. And these are bowels of mercy.

We are not to cast aside all that is physical. We are to save it. We are to save men and their beards and their appetites. And if our priests tell us that it is best to not mate, we’ll be all weird when it comes to sex. If our priests tell us that this bread and wine is not so base as real bread and wine, we will become either aesthetes or drunkards.

And if our priests act like it’s best no to have a beard, we’ll go beardless.

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“I’m going there to see my Father. And finally get a decent shave.”

It is perilous to despise that which Jesus glorified. And we all do it. This has been a history of one weird scorn that developed in one corner of Christendom, and how it becomes part of a complex of ridicule for that which God has chosen to glorify. Ridiculing and despising that which God has glorified is what the world does. In this way the church is like the world.

If we despise wine, we will hate fellowship. If we despise sex, we will hate women. If we despise beards, we will hate brotherhood and masculinity. If we despise feasting, we will hate weddings and life together.

Don’t be like the angels. Figure out what sort of human Christians are supposed to be, and do that. Do I write you a new commandment, that all men must have beards? I do not write a new commandment, but an old commandment I write you. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

So I urge you, but do not command you: Grow out your beard, you son of a King! When he appears, we shall be like him! And if there’s beer at the right hand of God, my brother, I’ll buy the first hundred rounds if Jesus is clean-cheeked.

Review of Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider

My chief fear when buying this cider was that it would be too sweet. Rest easy. It is not.

Fox Barrel is owned by Crispin, so our prospects were good.

The bouquet on this thing is a strong and straight blackberry, although not so big that it makes you fear death by berry. The pour is less carbonated than I’d expect, featuring a deeply blushed but completely translucent red (I’d be curious to know if the color is achieved strictly with blackberry juice, or if something else is added).

My preference is for drier ciders. More Strongbow and less Woodchuck. That’s one of the attractive features of pear ciders for me, and this one did not disappoint. Although it was sweet (how could it not be, with berry juice?), the sugar only touched lightly on the tongue, and transitioned with the swallow to a nice bitterness, and finally a clean finish.

Fox Barrel apparently has other pear ciders. I will be trying them.

 

Why Christians Shouldn’t Say “America” When They Mean “The United States”

I admit that this is a peeve for me. So let me get that out of the way before I make my real point.

Listen, beloved, you ought not to call these here United States “America”. They’re the United States. Of America, sure. There are other United States in the Americas, such as the United States of Mexico or the former United States of Brazil, but we can acknowledge the original nature of the United States in this. We can’t grant the geographical America thing.

Americans call the U.S. “America”. But I’m not hear to bash Americans. The Brits do it too. It might, for all I know, be an English language thing. I haven’t asked enough Australians or South Africans to say. And I’m all for semantic convenience. As an American of Latin extraction this use of “America” annoys me, but I realize it’s a personal reaction. So whatevs.

Have your way on the whole “everyone knows you mean the U.S. when you say America” thing.

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What is Our Lord holding? The Law as given to Moses? The Law as given to our Founding Fathers?

Here’s the real reason you shouldn’t call the U.S. “America”.

The United States are/is a polity. America is an idea.

The U.S. can’t ever be ‘Merica!™, but America can be. It is worrying to see Christians thinking of the United States as a nation with a special role to play in God’s plan for the world, a sort of Christian Manifest Destiny. Sure, the United States may have enjoyed some wonderful blessings, but so have many others, and at the end of the day, it is part of the City of Man.

Many post- and late-Cold War Kids like me will wonder why I even bother to say this. In part, because many Christians still believe it. But mostly because, while the idea of America’s Special Christian Destiny may be on the way to bankruptcy, it needs to die. And for the health of the Church, the sooner the better.

We encourage the continuation of this thinking when we say America, even in our own minds. America, as I’ve said, is a special magical place. It’s a pagan place. Stop saying it.

The United States are a place (“is a place” my Yankee friends will say) that we can be honestly patriotic about. The United States are where I’m from. The country I pray for, the country I weep for. It is natural and good for an American to love the U.S. more than he loves Ecuador. All we Americans should. But let us not pray for America, lest we find ourselves praying for the idea of America.

Let us pray for these here United States, for its polity and its people. May God have mercy.

3 Mistakes Women Make in the Bedroom

Instead of posting on this blog the past couple of weeks, I’ve been cruising the back alleys of the internet. There I stumbled across galtime.com, a website like many others, serving the needs of women in love and life 24 hours a day.

I read about the 3 Mistakes Women Make in the Bedroom that Dr. Jane Greer is most concerned about. There are, of course, many other mistakes women are prone to make, the silly little things, but these three are of a more pressing urgency than the others. Not that the others aren’t important! You should still read 6 Things Women Do That Scare Men Off, 7 Reasons Why You Don’t Want Sex, and 5 Ways to Be a Better Lover. Not to mention 5 Tips For Getting In “The Mood”. Because if you can’t figure that one out, your man’s going to leave you this very week.

Anyway, back to the urgent 3 Mistakes. Here’s a quote:

Mistake #1: Comfy Clothes
I know, ladies, that you want to be in those those comfortable nightgowns, those comfortable jammies, that you wear. But, honestly, the quickest turn-off to your partner or spouse are your comfy clothes. So, if you want to spice things up in your love life, shed those comfy clothes and find a ice, hot bra or a nice nighty, something you can be slinky, sexy and comfortable in that will be a TURN-ON to your partner.

Mistake #2: NOT Taking the Lead
Don’t wait to get asked to dance, meaning you’ve got to take the lead. You don’t have to wait for your partner to ask you to have sex or make love with them. Get involved, get into bed, take the lead and get your partner into bed with you. You’ll both have a lot of fun and enjoy yourselves.

Mistake #3: Criticism
It’s to be avoided at all costs. Nothing will turn off your partner faster than you telling him what you DON’T like and what you don’t want taking place. On the other hand, what will be a complete arousal and turn-on is letting him know what he CAN do to please you and what will excite you if he does it.

So, tell him what you like, wear those sexy clothes and, most importantly of all, take the lead so that you can have the fun you’re looking for!

Remember, ladies, the good doctor tells us that these are mistakes to be avoided AT ALL COSTS! Nothing ought to stand in the way of you keeping your man happy with what, let’s face it, has been pretty mediocre service. This is all good advice, but at the end of the day, Dr. Greer is a woman. If you ladies want a man’s take on these 3 Mistakes, The Giant is here for you. You can read my take, you can watch the video at the end of this post, or you can do both.

Giant Take on Mistake #1: Comfy Clothes

It is well known that husbands do not think it’s sexy when their wives wear hubby’s t-shirts. Wait. What?! Of course they do! And what about the sweet way some flannel pajama pants accentuate the plump shapeliness of the derriere? Or is that just me?

Even if it is just me…come on! Women, are you really going to wear black lacy panties all day every day? Or sneak off to change if there’s a chance of “intimacy”? Or wake up before your husband so you can put make-up on?

The real problem, of course, as it is with the other two “mistakes”, is men and husbands. If it is true that “the quickest turn-off to your partner or spouse are your comfy clothes”, then men are all evil assholes. Husbands, if comfy clothes are a turn-off, learn to look at your wife through new eyes. Because the ones you’re using now aren’t working.

It isn’t they who woo us. It is we who woo them. That means we come to them as they are, and we entreat their affection.

Giant Take on Mistake #2: NOT Taking the Lead

I’m not sure why “not” is all in caps.

Wives apparently mess up by NOT taking the lead.

I’m sure most husbands would be glad to have a wife who did their work for them. Wait a second…that’s already a thing! A few years into my marriage I suggested to my wife that it might be nice if she were a little more assertive, if she went after me once in a while.

Know what she did? She laughed at me and told me to be a man. Seriously. Those were her very words.

And that’s sexy.

Nothing wrong with wifey taking the lead. But husbands, you are men. You’re the hunter, you’re the wooer. And your biology backs that up. You’re always going to be going after her; if she came after you, it would only be for variety’s sake, because she will never come after you the way you go after her (although later on it will be okay if she comes after you). So be content with that. That’s your role. You’re the pursuer. Don’t pout and make her chase you; that’s at least as harmful to the female mind as an unresponsive and arbitrary woman is to her man’s wee little psyche.

Giant Take on Mistake #3: Criticism

When I initially read Dr. Greer’s blurb, I was reading for a laugh. Then I hit this one and I stopped laughing. It hit home a little more. I’ve had this exact conversation with my wife. The point made is not so much that women are always nagging and criticizing their men; it’s that women shouldn’t frame things negatively in bed. Less “don’t do that” and more “yes, do that”.

Great point for both sexes. But in sex, the man is usually the performer. He is the one who is doing it to her. He is more vulnerable to criticism because he is initiating and following through. Fair enough. Women should be considerate of that.

But the underlying assumption is the same stupid thing. That the problems in the bedroom are the woman’s fault. Nothing wrong with asking wifey to frame things more positively. But husbands ought to stop being whiney and susceptible and start being doers. You make it so that your wife feels comfy wearing comfy clothes. You make it so that your wife doesn’t have to take the lead when you’re actually the one who wants to have sex all the time. You be the one to set a positive atmosphere, to praise her beauty and her skill.

Stop whining. Maybe then your wives will stop being so insecure. If you want to be built up, build her up. If you tear her down, you’ll go down with her.

Anyone for a closing pun?

Maybe Christian men aren’t manly enough to be feminine.

Studium et Liturgica

Authors like Anne Douglas (The Feminization of American Culture) and Leon Podles (The Church Impotent:  The Feminization of Christianity) have documented what might be called the “feminization of the church.”  More recent offerings like Why Men Hate Going to Church bring statistical data and anecdotal evidence that men just don’t seem to like, or fit in, at most  churches.  While I think these authors all make good points, I was recently struck at how “feminine” certain Puritan theologians were.  For many in my conservative Reformed circles, the Puritans are the standard against which we measure our own orthodoxy and our spiritual fervor.  Many Puritans are revered for their “manly” courage and heroic gospel deeds.  I don’t want to belittle any of that–I simply want suggest that some of the these “manly” Puritans spoke, wrote, and preached in quite “feminine” terms.

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