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January 14, 2015


Might there be some way for whomever is in charge of ushers to give this sideman some instruction on the meaning of the occasion, and the notion of welcoming all to worship? I truly hope so.

I agree, but it's probably too late now: that was back in the 1990s and I think he's probably retired from his duties. It's certainly been a lesson to us, when we've served in similar capacities!

The project involving used Christmas trees is evidence of a comparatively wealthy society guided by the right priorities. A minor matter but pointing in the right direction. On the whole foreigners instinctively like Canada. True or false?

I think of them as winter lights and keep them up as long as I want.

Hi ET --Good name and good idea! I'm actually thinking of putting some up, even now.

Roderick, you know, I think they do, but I'm not sure. Depending on where people have come from, they certainly find the winters difficult and long, but in general the country is benevolent, fairly gentle; the people friendly and kind. I can only speak about Quebec, where there are language issues on top of everything else for newcomers: almost everyone has to learn either French or English in order to function here. Navigating the governmental systems is always difficult for newcomers, too, and Canada's bureaucracy is just that. I think tourists like it but are sort of puzzled, especially if they've visited the U.S. The resemblances are there, but underneath, the countries are pretty different, with Canada being a lot less abrasive, brash, noisy, in-your-face; more polite and gentle, but also a lot more bland (some would say "boring." Quebec, being more European and weird, was a lot more attractive to us. I don't think I'd like living in Toronto or Ottawa, for instance.

As one who lives here, I can assure you that Ottawa is quite nice. For example, you can be in Montreal in two hours. :)

So, a national stereotype that works. That was my impression after two or three flying visits. Some day someone will get around to typing England and the Anglos. Cynical? Remote? Trouble is I see those as compliments.

It's no real excuse, but probably the church official (I don't recognise the term 'sidesman' in this context) who was anxious to get away had been up all night preparing for the Christmas Day services. I write as one very familiar with Christmas exhaustion for church employees. But...no excuse for rudeness.

So beautiful, but I really can't stand the cold any more. Too thin-blooded after living in Hawaii all these years.
That's a funny story. The usher might also have pointed out to you that there is no Santa Claus!

I have been to evensong at St Paul's and can assure you that the ushers were just as brusque, ushing us out before we had a chance to pause and reflect on the service. Any attempt at walking slowly and looking at the church felt like it was viewed as an attempt to evade the admission charge. Unfortunately many cathedrals and large churches have a similarly institutional and unwelcoming air. (A very notable exception is Hexham Abbey.)

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.