Category Archives: Lent

An Embarrassment of Riches

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Five a Day.”

By: FRATER BOVIOUS


Exiled!

Exiled!

(Day 7) I’ve been here for a week now, and everything is as they say. I’m on a private island, exiled here “for your protection” they said. House arrest, says I. Each morning the ship comes in, my only contact with the outside world, and deposits my supplies.

I got to pick what I wanted, five food stuffs. Each morning I get a a six pack of eggs, 2 oranges, a pint of milk, a small loaf of french bread, and two Cuban Monte Cristo #2 cigars. I had to argue about those. “I’m consuming them,” I said. The HC (Head Captor) relented, admiring my taste.

Most of the early part of my day is spent gathering firewood and setting it up to dry so that I can keep a fire burning. They gave me a lighter, but I have used it sparingly since I don’t know if I will get another one. I found a piece of rebar left over from the construction of the abandoned Jack Tar village about a mile from the drop point, to light my cigars with. I just leave it in the fire until it is red hot, and the cigars light easily.

(Day 21) I really wish I had requested scotch instead of milk. I wasn’t thinking. Or, I was over-thinking, believing I needed the nutrition in the milk rather than the solace in the scotch. Smoking a cigar and sipping on milk just isn’t doing it for me. And scotch doesn’t need refrigeration. I pretty much have to drink the milk up by midday.

There are other foods on the island, I’ve been able to catch some fish and roast them up, and with the oranges, milk, bread and eggs, I seem to be nourished. Sometimes, sitting and poking at the fire, staring into it as mankind has done for ages, savoring my evening cigar, I’m content. Other times, I am lonely. So lonely.

I am reminded of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

“Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.”

(Day 67, I think) Caught my beard on fire today. Leaning over the fire cooking eggs, got a little close and pfft. So, now I guess I know how to “shave.” I’ll just use the rebar and carefully trim my beard and hair. Maybe. Lost track of the days of the week some time ago. I had been trying to rest on Sunday, and say some extra prayers and such, since there is no priest here. But, I just lost track one day. They all seem to melt together. I think I detect a change in the weather. A little cooler. A little less humid. But, I have no idea what day it is, and am not sure how long I have been here. Now, I just guess when it is Sunday. For some reason, I have lost interest in tracking time. It seems pointless. So, I throw in some extra prayers when I am not foraging further and further for wood, or just exploring. Or just laying around.

(Day whatever) I decided it is Lent. I took some of the cigar ashes and rubbed them on my forehead. For Lent I decided to stop daydreaming about attacking the ship that delivers my food and killing all my captors with my sharpened rebar tempered in the daily fires. Partially this is because I don’t have sharpened rebar (it’s a daydream) and partially because I’m just not sure I’m supposed to be having such thoughts of mayhem as my constant companion. I also decided to quit cursing eggs, though I had gotten quite inventive with my invective. My captors have no idea what indignities they would suffer as I forced them to emulate a chicken laying an egg. Ah well, giving it all up for Lent. I figured I would count out 40 days (skipping my arbitrary Sundays) and at least start a calendar again. I decided not to give up cigars for Lent.

(20 days into Lent) I have decided, even with the loneliness, I’ve got it pretty good. The weather is tolerable when it is not excellent. I don’t have to get up in the morning and go to some job I hate. I don’t miss TV but I do miss Pandora, the Voice of Enigma Channel. I replay that scene in Summer Rental where John Candy is learning to sail and says to the gnarly old sea captain, “You must know a lot of ocean songs.” Skully replies, “I do. Here’s a sea ditty me mother taught me.” And he breaks into the theme song of the Love Boat. I laugh and laugh as I puff my cigar and watch the moon over the ocean. For some reason I feel very alive.

(Good Friday) Lent has been good for my state of mind, and I don’t want it to stop. What next I wonder? I reenact the scenes I can remember from Jesus Christ Superstar (The Passion of the Christ, while a much better film, just doesn’t have all the cool songs.) Giving up thoughts of mayhem has balanced me out. Now I greet my captors cordially, and thank them for the effing eggs and inquire politely if I can change my foodstuffs. They laugh and say no. It doesn’t make me mad anymore. Have I given up? Or am I just a better person? Why do I feel so… rich?

(Easter Sunday) When the eggs come, they are hardboiled and colored! I stare incredulously, and then look at the HC. He shrugs, says they figured out what I was doing when they saw the ashes on my forehead, and decided to surprise me. That moment of mercy and companionship washed over me and I knelt down and cried and thanked them. The HC pulled me to my feet and said, “The political situation changed. Your exile is over. It’s been over for a couple of weeks, but we thought you might want to finish your Lent. You seemed, I don’t know, whole.”

A moment of silence. “Gather up whatever you want, your exile is over.”

Advertisements

“Sometimes I don’t even know who you are…”

Said one of my best friends (Frater Cowculus, to be explicit) when I told him I really liked the movie “Purple Rain”.

BY Frater Bovious


(CARROLLTON, Tx – Cradle of Civilization) So, yeah. Purple Rain. Prince. And, oddly, Truth – as in “I Would Die For You.”

The first time I heard this song I was watching a VHS tape of Purple Rain on my TV. What with Prince’s overtly sexual gyrations, it was pretty easy to miss the lyrics of this song. Then one day, many many years later, I heard the song on the radio, and became intrigued by the lyrics – went home, used the Internet as Al Gore intended, and found the lyrics. Oila! here was a song that, for me at any length, appeared to be about Jesus, whether by accident or design, I’ve no clue:

I’m not a woman
I’m not a man
I am something that you’ll never understand

I’ll never beat u
I’ll never lie
And if you’re evil I’ll forgive u by and by

U – I would die 4 u, yeah
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u

I’m not your lover
I’m not your friend
I am something that you’ll never comprehend

No need 2 worry
No need 2 cry
I’m your messiah and you’re the reason why

‘Cuz U – I would die 4 u, yeah
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u
You’re just a sinner I am told
Be your fire when you’re cold
Make u happy when you’re sad
Make u good when u are bad

I’m not a human
I am a dove
I’m your conscience
I am love
All I really need is 2 know that
U believe

Yeah, I would die 4 u, yeah
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u

Yeah, say one more time

U – I would die 4 u
Darling if u want me 2
U – I would die 4 u
2 3 4 U

I would die 4 u
I would die 4 u
U – I would die 4 u
U – I would die 4 u

So this is my own odd introduction into the season of Lent – to consider the truth that Jesus died for me. And you.

Sometimes, I don't even know who you are - or, to put another way, "Truth? What is that?"

Sometimes, I don’t even know who you are – or, to put another way, “Truth? What is that?”

Question with brief intro: Ever heard someone say, “Well, I’m not a theologian…” I would like to say that at one level, we all are theologians to the extent that we are interested in, or seek, the truth. I have no idea what Prince’s intent was with this song. I think I recall reading he was a Jehovah’s Witness or something. Nevertheless, while not a rigorous theology, I found some truth in his song. Have you ever been riding along in a car or sitting at home listening to the radio and suddenly realized the song had an unsuspected depth? Or presented a truth, however flawed in its presentation, that for some reason that day was the first time you noticed? And it made you stop and consider? If so, then you may have come across an accidental theologian. Please let me know in the comments.

On another note, some may wonder at Frater Cowculus, and note that I am Frater Bovious, and wonder all the more. Keep on wondering. Muhuhuwahahahaha.

A Bird in the Hand

Is it worth two in the bush?

Maybe not

BY Frater Bovious


I choose "Now!"

I choose “Now!”

CARROLLTON, Texas — If you offered your dog a biscuit and said “You can have this biscuit right now, or you can wait 15 minutes and I will give you two biscuits,” assuming no prior training, what would your dog do? Having tried this experiment with my dog, Coco, I have learned that he believes a biscuit in the mouth is worth two in the bush, every time.

The iconic version of this experiment with humans is the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment of 1972, you can look it up, it’s interesting. Basically, kids ages 4 to 6 were presented with a marshmallow and told that they could eat it now or wait 15 minutes and have two. Only 1/3 of the kids managed to get two.

In general the experiment is thought to indicate the amount of self-control a kid has, as demonstrated by the ability to delay gratification. As an added bonus, follow-up studies seem to indicate that those that could delay gratification were more successful in life as demonstrated by career, spouse selection, lower incidences of addiction, etc.

Follow up and additional experiments have raised questions regarding whether or not self-control was the factor in play. Instead of self-control some have argued that the ability to reason and predict outcomes impacts whether or not the kid opts for the immediate marshmallow. And further experiments showed that kids who had been lied to or otherwise disappointed by a failure to keep a promise tended to immediately eat the marshmallow.

As if all the above are not inter-related.

First relevant point is that age is a factor. It is a biological fact that our brains develop over time and become more and more capable of rational thought. Just like I can’t simply say to Coco, “Do you want this now or would you rather have two in 15 minutes” and have him understand the question, the Stanford Marshmallow experiment was not done with one and two-year old children. Please note it was also not done with 30-year-old adults either. It seems self-evident that the ability to reason plays a role in self-control.

Also note they did not put a line of coke in front of an addict in withdrawal and say, “You can snort this now, or you can wait 15 minutes and snort two lines of coke.” It also seems self-evident that severely altering brain chemistry with addictive drugs impacts one’s ability to reason and that also plays a role in self-control.

The ability to delay gratification then is not an innate trait present in some and not in others. It is an ability that some learn and some do not, or that some have short-circuited.

So, what about this bit of folk wisdom that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush? It’s rather situational and conditional. The Marshmallow experiment would seem to indicate that a bird in the hand is not worth two in the bush, if one can be reasonably certain one can get the two in the bush. The key word being reasonable, that is able to be reasoned out.

A dog will choose the bird in the hand every time because they cannot reason to a future potential good. And, in the wild, this is behavior that has immediate benefit. And in uncertain situations where one cannot reasonably predict the outcome of behavior, it is reasonable to get what you can when you can get it because you just don’t know if you will have another chance.

But, we are not dogs. We have abilities, and therefore options, that dogs simply do not have and never will have.

So, let’s talk about concupiscence! Yeah, I’m tying this into Lent again. I talked about concupiscence in an earlier post here. Simply put, as a summary of the above, a Lenten observance of delaying gratification is an opportunity to be fully human, and to realize our potential as children of God.

As a quick aside, I link to an article below that links to an article by a person that writes a lengthy article about her dismay at how 2012 worked out for her. It is a long and interesting read about how her life has kind of fallen apart and which she ties to her refusal to delay gratification but that it’s all good in the end mostly because she gets to write the truth about herself.