Monday, February 25, 2008


Why is the page from which I manage this blog called a dashboard? Ever since I logged on I've been hearing it in my head:

I don't care if it rains or freezes,
Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Hanging from the dashboard
of my blog.

Please make it stop. And then tell me, why "dashboard"?

Being Me

It is one of those nights; too tired to stay up, or to read any longer, I make sure the c-pap machine is running and the earplugs are in place, and turn off the light, only to find that gentle sleep has fled. I stare into the darkness. Sometimes I just lie there thinking, but this is not one of those nights. There was really no point in writing about that except perhaps to explain to myself why I am sitting here typing at five to two on a night when I went to bed at eleven. On really good sleepless nights some interesting thoughts might come to mind, brilliant letters or essays might compose themselves with more ease than they ever do in the day), or the decisive answer to all problems might be revealed. It's all forgotten by Matins, of course, but there you are: it was brilliant while it lasted.
Just now, in bed, before I gave in and got up, I was thinking about existence and dancing. I might not get around to dancing in this note, but we'll see.
Every now and again I start to marvel at the fact that I should have the fortunate and privileged circumstances to have been born a Canadian in the mid-twentieth century. What if I had been born somewhere else, some other time? But before I allow myself to speculate on the possibilities, and wonder what I have done to deserve all this (which is precisely nothing), and allowing for the fact that it is right to marvel and be thankful at the privileges, the comforts, and the opportunities that I have, I have to remember that I am not putting the point correctly.
You see the point isn't that "I" was lucky enough to be born in Canada in 1956 to parents who were quite successful in life, but that the child who was born to those parents in 1956 turned out to be "I" (or, if you're more comfortable, "to be me"). That combination of heredity and envoironment could not have happened at any other time or in any other place. Had my parents not married, or had one or the other never existed, I would not have been born somewhere or somewhen else. According to the best theology I know, orthodox doctrine rejects the idea of the pre-existence of the human soul (and with it the appalling image of little souls in some heavenly hiring hall waiting to be called). But we will avoid further theological speculation just now. The question of how God's will works in cooperation with the freedom of his creatures is involved, and that is too much for 2:30 in the morning. I'm not going to open all those books. Not even the Summa.

The main result of this line of thought is that I should be even more thankful for these seemingly fortuitous blessings and opportunities than otherwise. But what it led me to when I couldn't sleep was the reflection that if all this is so, and I am a creature of this place and time, why do I feel (some of the time, about some parts of life) that I am not at home, and should have been born in another time, even though that is impossible. This is where the dancing comes in. But I am fading again, the grammar is getting too difficult to manage: it is almost tme to put my head down on the pillow and watch sleep run away again. So just a quick word which might serve as a link to a future post.
Ever since public school I have been uncomfortable with dances and parties where there is dancing. But when I watch movies set in the late 18th or very early 19th centuries, I think: I could do that! Right up to the introduction of the waltz, I think, the dances look to me like they make sense than anything that came after.
But I have to stop now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Public Orator?

While I was filling in the profile, I thought to myself, how many people who read this blog will know what a "Public Orator" is. That is a less distressing question than "how many people will read this blog?"

That this is a relatively obscure topic is suggested by the fact that our friends at Wikipedia don't have an article on Public Orator!

The office can be traced back to 1564, when the University of Oxford appointed an Orator to greet Queen Elizabeth I when she visited. The office was made permanent soon after that. The Public Orator was the official spokesman of a university upon all public occasions, who wrote, read, and recorded all letters of a public nature, presented candidates for honorary degrees, with an appropriate address, and performed other like duties. The office still exists, and is held in much esteem. To find out what the present duties of Public Orator are in the ancient Universities, you should consult the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge

The duties of Public Orator of Trinity College, Toronto, are less onerous. The College statutes [4.4.1] state that "A Public Orator shall be appointed annually by the Corporation. The duties of the Public Orator shall be such as the Board may from time to time prescribe." In practice this means that twice a year the Orator has to write a very brief citation in Latin for honorary degree recipients and read it, in Latin, at Convocation. As well as being brief, this citation should be funnier than the English one, so that the handfull of people who can understand it are amused. It might possibly enter the Board's mind that the College needs to write an official letter to someone in Latin, but this is unlikely.

The post of Public Orator is honorary.


To anyone who might bother to read this, Hello.

I decided to experiment with blogging before I had sorted out what I might want to say. So this is a space-saver, so to speak; a means of ensuring that I have the forum when I am ready to make a speech.

Anyway, it's a Saturday morning, and I'm avoiding work that must be done. Tomorrow's sermon for starters ....

More later