Tag Archives: Christ Church Cathedral

Reflections on Love and Pride in Lent

To all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, a Blessed and Deeply Reflective and Repentant Lent.Above all we should reflect on God’s love for us, and the nature and extent of all love here on earth among us mortals in the course of our Salvation.Without the three species of love, the world is a desolate place indeed. But Agape, Philios, and Eros are not and have never been equal or easy to understand and relate to one another.

During Lent we should all reflect deeply on the things inside us that destroy and build up love of all types, but especially Agape, the love and charity of God Himself towards us all.

Pride is considered one of the seven deadly sins, for example, but is loving Pride sinful or Godly? 

And how can parental pride in their children or a child’s or a group.of children’s pride in his or her parents be considered as anything other than an expression of love?

Pride is love, but it is obviously neither eros nor philios, although it is certainly in some contexts similar to and compatible with brotherly love, and the pride of a man in his beautiful wife or of a woman in her successful husband is equally compatible with eros, and seems virtuous in all ways rather than sinful.

I simply cannot accept that all pride is sinful.  In her song, the Magnigicat, the Blessed Virgin Mary articulates a series of emotions which can only be called pride, pride in the Glory of God, pride in God’s justice, pride in her own inheritance as a daughter of Abraham, and pride above all in her unique and special relationship with God and her unique and special role in His plans for the salvation of the world.  I think it is fair to say that Mary’s expresdions of pride are filled with Agape, the love and charity of God. 

Pride is an issue for many of us in America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa as we confront the demands of the Church of England and its Anglican Commmunion and Episcopal affiliates abroad that we apologize for our own Christian parents, grandparents, and ancestors for their sins, real and imaginary, such as Slavery, Segregation, or belief in the righteousness of White Supremacy.

I, for one, refuse to believe that family pride is sinful, or that the extended family pride we might call pride in our bilogical, constitutional, cultural, ethnic, legal, national, political, racial, or social heritage is sinful either.

I suggest that deeper study and understanding of history are critical to the analysis and comprehension of all the elements of our heritage.  Historical study and reflection seems like a good appropriately reflective and potentially penitential activity which might constitute a good sacrifice of time for Lent.

Bishop Morris K. Thompson in his Ash Wednesday homily yesterday (March 5, 2014) suggested that such a sacrifice of reflective time was a much more appropriate item to dedicate one’s demonstration of commitment to Lent than giving up chocolates or candy bonbons.  

I believe that there is room for both Godly love and Godly pride in Lent, and that we can and should love our families, both near and far. It was with great happiness and pride, for example, that I followed the example of Saint Paul in addressing this letter to my “Brothers and Sisters in Christ.” 

MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL: The Episcopal Clergy Indicts the Dead and seeks to Smear the Memory and Silence the Voice from the Tomb behind the Pulpit at Christ Church

On this Third Sunday in Advent, two and a half months after addressing my letter to the Bishop of Louisiana (where Bishop Leonidas Polk is buried) and the Clergy of Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles Avenue and Trinity Church on Jackson Street in New Orleans (whose largest meeting and banquet room is called “Bishop Polk Hall”), I have received not even a whisper of a written response from any clergyman.  https://charleslincoln3.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/1-october-2013-letter-to-bishop-thompson-of-louisiana.pdf

(The Dean of Christ Church, Dean David A. DuPlantier, simply and summarily refused even to speak to me about the topic, saying my perspective and thoughts were unworthy to be discussed and that Bishop Polk was “a villain”.  This all happened on Sunday October 20, 2013, I believe.  After dismissing me and my letter “embracing slavery” and condemning Bishop Polk, Dean DuPlantier then, with a truly remarkable lack of self-consciousness, I think, having just judged me, my culture, my race, and my personal family heritage and historic inheritance as unworthy of discussion, then proceeded to deliver a fine sermon on one of my favorite Bible Passages, the Parable of the Unjust Judge in Luke, 18: 1-9.   I myself found the irony quite delicious.  Dean DuPlantier himself had become the Unjust Judge, and he was passing judgment on the man and the spirit entombed directly behind the pulpit from which he spoke.

But plans move ahead towards this historical travesty and insult to socio-cultural reality, as was just published on Friday the 13th, St. Lucy’s day, by Ms. Orissa Arend, a “New Orleans Mediator, Psychotherapist and Freelance Writer” (who has written a book about the Black Panthers in New Orleans, and their 1970 shootout  and other standoffs with the New Orleans Police, just for example: http://www.uapress.com/titles/sp09/arend.html).  

I find it more than a little ironic that the University of Arksansas advertisement asserts that “Orissa Arend has forced us to see these self-defense militants from every point of view imaginable”, adding that these “self-defense militants . . . creat=[ed] survival programs.”  Now what would Ms. Arend say if I told her that if she studied the history and origins of the Ku Klux Klan, she would discover that (honestly) the (original, 1860s-1870s) Klan MUST BE described in exactly the same terms.  

In any even, Ms. Orissa Arend’s enthusiastic article endorsing the Episcopal Church’s Mass for Racial Reconciliation can be found at: http://www.atthreshold.org/2013/12/13/a-service-of-healing-january-18-2014/.  I maintain that there is neither healing nor reconciliation to be found in distorting history and vilifying our ancestors, but my full response (which I submitted on her blog, but which is “awaiting moderation” and so, she may or may not publish it) follows (in full) herein below:

Dear Ms. Orissa Arend:
I speak for the First Bishop of Louisiana, Confederate General, and War hero in the service of his people and their liberty, whose untimely death in Northern Georgia you celebrate. I speak for the man and the spirit of the Lost Cause buried behind the Pulpit at Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans.

I ask you, and for all Episcopalians in New Orleans, Louisiana, the South, and the United States of America, to give voice to those with whom you supposedly propose reconciliation: Indeed I ask you—how can there be any reconciliation at all if the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants of the South are given no voice to speak to the honor of their ancestors and their cause in this supposedly momentous “Mass of Racial Reconciliation.”

President Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans after the opening of Confederate Memorial Hall, attended by Howard, Tilton, and many of the other great leaders of the City. James K. Polk was President of the United States and he often visited his cousin Bishop Leonidas Polk in Louisiana.

Where are the descendants of those who made the South what it is in this whole plan of reconciliation? Are you as happy that half a million Southern Soldiers died in 1861-65 as you are about the death of Bishop Polk? Should Bishop Polk’s remains be disinterred and his bones burnt and scattered in Lake Pontchartrain?

If so, I want nothing more to do with the Episcopal Church, because it will have betrayed the very reasons, the very traditions, which have always caused me to adhere to it.  I  am writing to you in part to ask that you circulate to your readership the letter I wrote to the current Bishop of Louisiana on October 1: https://charleslincoln3.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/1-october-2013-letter-to-bishop-thompson-of-louisiana.pdf.

To this letter I have so far received no reply whatsoever from the Bishop or anyone else although I published it on-line and circulated it to other members of the Diocese of Louisiana, especially here in New Orleans.

I personally can think of nothing more futile and repugnant than a Mass for Racial Reconciliation which falsifies the truth about the origins, nature, and history of Black African Slavery on the one hand, and treats my ancestors, and other people descended from or who may admire the founders of the Episcopal Church in Louisiana, as criminals, outcasts, and victims. Leonidas Polk was a hero and a visionary, as were many if not most of the Confederate leaders.

Ironically, the Confederate vision was one of a free and constitutional government. Even more ironically, the people of America today suffer from multifarious and complex forms of corporate and governmental oppression which portend of a universal slavery for all mankind.

I submit to you that the Presiding Bishop’s proposed Mass for Racial Reconciliation is a sham designed to distract Americans from certain grim realities including the fact that we are headed towards a very dark future, without freedom, without lawfully constituted or ordered government which depends for its authority on a high tech set of chains and whips which make the instruments of chattel slave ownership in the Old South look like the Palaeotechnic toys they were.

In Barack Obama’s America—more blacks will spend a year or more in prison than were ever slaves. More people (white, black and hispanic) will pass through the so-called criminal justice system than were ever black in America. This is the most imprisoning nation in the world. Is it a coincidence that the 13th Amendment which abolished chattel slavery authorized slavery or involuntary servitude as a punishment for a crime? Or that the standards of due process of law have declined while the likelihood (or now near certainty) of conviction after arrest has risen exponentially in America since the adoption of the 13th Amendment? Does it matter that there really was NO “prison culture” to speak of in America prior to 1861, but ever since 1865, Prison Culture has grown and grown and grown? 

I think the Proposed Mass for Racial Reconciliation should be scrapped until it can be redesigned to address historical truth and present socio-cultural and economic reality. I would submit that THERE CAN BE NO RECONCILIATION UNLESS ALL PARTIES, INCLUDING THE DESCENDANTS AND ADMIRERS OF THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT AND ARMIES AND THEIR CAUSE, ARE ALSO PRESENT AND SPEAKING. ANY RECONCILIATION WITHOUT US WILL BE FALSE AND EPHEMERAL AT BEST, DECEITFUL AND DISHONEST AT WORSE.

Can Racial Reconciliation be achieved by Ignoring or Falsifying History? An Open Letter to the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana regarding “Truth, Honor, and Pride”

I have basically been very happily based in New Orleans, Louisiana, since I arrived here from Maui, Hawaii on December 9 of last year.  You know, there are ups and downs everywhere, but I had missed living in this city ever since I graduated from the Tulane College of Arts & Sciences on May 11, 1980, and have wanted to return here ever since.  I actually did return for several years 1997-2000, but was so wrapped up in my problems in Texas, I was basically bouncing back and forth.  One of the most consistently agreeable aspects of my life in New Orleans has been attending Church at Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles & 6th Street, occasionally visiting at Trinity on Jackson right around the corner from my temporary home on Prytania (since March 8, 2013). One of the things I love most about New Orleans is its history—basically it’s impossible to take a walk, anywhere in this city, and not confront history face-to-face, it’s everywhere.  Basically, even the majority of the historic architecture in French Quarter really dates from the 19th century city, the actual 18th century buildings number in the dozens at the highest possible count.  The Garden District and “Uptown Audubon” mark a progression through the 19th century into the 20th.  St. Charles itself has been hideously scarred with mid-twentieth century cheap apartment buildings which took the place of many blocks of Victorian houses… but to either side of St. Charles, the historically decimating devastation is less.

How few people realize just how deeply New Orleans was shaped by the ante-bellum era and how loyal it was to the Confederate States of America, ESPECIALLY AFTER (ironically enough) the collapse of that nascent Federal Republic in 1865.

It is also undeniably true that the question of race-relations hangs like a sword of Damocles over the heads of the people of New Orleans.  The question comes up all the time, usually in emotional and rarely in analytical terms.

Ever since I heard, at the beginning of September, about an “Ecumenical Mass of Racial Reconciliation” being planned for January 12-21, 2014, I have been reflecting on the question of race and history in this wonderful town, this city where by dint of history black Americans first created a kind of “Jazz Aristocracy” recognized all over the world in the 1920s….

I wrote my initial thoughts on this question in a letter I just completed and delivered on Wednesday to the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana and other members of the Clergy at Christ Church and Trinity Church.  

I have been told that in the bad old days of the Civil Rights movement, when the barriers of segregation were first being torn down, they had special “greeters” at Christ Church would take black folks aside and suggest to them that they might be “more comfortable elsewhere.”   The inversion of history is so great, I more than casually wonder whether I’ll now be afforded the same treatment for challenging the modern “politically correct” mythos of race.  

I attach here two versions of my letter to the Bishop and Clergy—only one of which I actually delivered (the October 2, 2013 version in which I reflect on the sinfulness of pride).  

2 October 2013 Letter to Bishop Thompson of Louisiana

1 October 2013 Letter to Bishop Thompson of Louisiana

I owe a great debt to two of my California friends who read over this letter before I delivered it: Shelene Emily Peterson of Belmont and Daniel Christian Mack of San Juan Capistrano.  Shelene keeps my English in line and tries to control my tendency to ramble (obvious with only limited success, although you should see how much she cut out….).  Dan made me realize the error of asserting, oxymoronically, “pride” which is inimical to Christian faith—although it is a critical element of human identity and sanity, it seems to me, that we must love ourselves for what we are.  And our ancestry shapes us, both culturally and genetically, whether we would wish it so or not.

11 Tips on New Orleans Restaurants 2013

(1)    Irene’s Cuisine is today the very best restaurant in New Orleans.  This is not a trivial statement.  I have been coming to this town and appreciating it’s cuisine for over 40 years.  Irene’s is the best today, located at 539 St. Philip Street, New Orleans, LA 70116.  It has surpassed and now ranks (at the present time) solidly above the French Quarter’s traditional “ABC” of Antoine’s, Brennan’s, and Court of Two Sisters (and, justly, all of these old tourist magnets rank lower than either Irene’s or Upperline today—this is correct, although not all Zagat scores are).  Irene’s Cuisine is equal and comparable, in my opinion, to the old (pre-Emeril) Delmonico’s for imagination and innovative quality.

(2)   Apolline is the best on Uptown Magazine, giving my former favorite Martinique Bistro a major run for the money…4729 Magazine, New Orleans 70115.  Apolline is comparable in quality not only to Martinique Bistro 5908 Magazine, New Orleans 70115 but also to Upperline, also close-by, at 1413 Upperline.  Pay no attention to the two points difference between these three on Zagat.  Apolline’s menu is more inventive/”cutting edge.” But Irene’s is the best in town, even though it only exceeds Martinique by one Zagat point.

(3)    Casamento’s New Orleans at 4330 Magazine (just three doors downtown/riverside from Napoleon) is fabulous but its hours are  so hopelessly erratic and limited, and the menu is just limited—but it’s still a wonderful landmark restaurant.  Casamento’s is the only “simple Old New Orleans” place where I will still eat raw oysters.  Their fried oysters are wonderful—basically this is the only place that still has oysters the way I remember them from my undergraduate years at Tulane in the 1970s—(i.e. big and juicy).  Their Gumbo is authentic and good, but not quite as good as my absolute favorite “simple old New Orleans place”:

(4)    The Trolley Stop at 1923 St. Charles Avenue (my father Charles was born in 1923, so I never have a problem remembering this address).  I go to the Trolley stop several times a week because (a) it’s cheap and WITHOUT ANY DOUBT the absolute best value of ANY restaurant I’ve been to in Orleans Parish, (b) it’s excellent, (c) it’s authentic, (d) it’s consistent, (e) it’s close to where I live and open for breakfast/brunch/lunch (i.e. until 2:00 p.m.) every day (Sunday-Wednesday and 24 hours Thursday-Saturday).  It is the ONLY place in town that is every BIT as good now as it used to be (except that it used to be open 24/7 before Katrina).

(5)   Sushi was simply NOT a feature of New Orleans life or cuisine when I was in College over 33 years ago.  I live within several blocks of Sushi Brothers and Hoshun on St. Charles (they are across the street from each other, respectively 1612 St. Charles and 1601 St. Charles, both in 70130).   Sushi Brothers’ “Bye-Bye Katrina” is probably the best sushi roll I have ever had anywhere although their Tiger Roll is a close runner up.  Hoshun has a more varied non-sushi menu including some “PF Change’s'” type “Nouvelle Chinese”—the steamed dumplings being perhaps my favorite there.  

(6)    Kyoto at 4920 Prytania and Sushi Brothers receive equal Zagat Ratings but I would give Sushi Brothers the edge only because of it’s specialty dishes.  The quantities are greater and the value better at Kyoto, which is more of an Uptown Student hangout…. which is also the disadvantage of the place I often get sick listening to Law Students talking about their lives and careers—the conversations are totally symptomatic of what is wrong with law in America (nobody cares about anything but money—NOBODY in law is even REMOTELY interested in Law, Justice, or the Constitution).  

(7)  Another surprisingly good value in the 70130 neighborhood (in which I had never actually lived in any of my sojourns into New Orleans, though I certainly knew the Trolley Stop, Commander’s Palace, and Delmonico’s) is Casa Roma at 1901 Sophie Wright Place one block upriver (or uptown lakeside) from (the roughly triangular) Coliseum Square where Henry Morton Stanley’s family’s beautiful 1837 house is marked by a historic plaque at 1729 Coliseum.  Casa Roma is as reasonable as the Trolley Stop but much larger and more spacious (of course Casamento’s is painfully small as a matter of space).   Casa Roma has everything that you’d expect from a good middle class Italian Restaurant and, like the Trolley Stop, it’s staff is very “New Orleans” friendly in manner.

(8)   Pascal’s Manale at 1838 Napoleon is another “recherches du temps perdue” place which hasn’t changed very much since the 1970s except it’s prices have gone way up with age and a place on the tourist map.  Its menu combines excellent gumbo and other New Orleans creole specialties with excellent Italian, but you’ll pay twice as much as Casa Roma or the Trolley Stop for equivalent quality.  Overall, I would rank Pascal’s Manale as a very agreeable experience in spite of the price rather than because of it, comparable in this sense to Tujague’s down in the Quarter at 823 Decatur.

(9)   Sukho Thai at 4519 Magazine and LA Thai at 4938 Prytania (within walking distance of each other) are both excellent and on my “regular” list, but I cannot decide which I like better.  The portions are slightly smaller at LA Thai (three doors uptown from Kyoto) but possibly very slightly higher quality.  Sukho Thai has the worst cell-phone reception in all of New Orleans (don’t ask me why).  The menu at Sukho Thai is slightly larger, more varied, but the staff is slightly surly for some reason.  (Kyoto and Apolline both win, in the Uptown ratings, for friendliness although Trolley Stop overall wins on that score also—

(10)   Upperline, right around the corner and to left from Kyoto and LA Thai, is extremely friendly (and the owner/manager JoAnn Clevenger almost always comes out to talk to you).  The Zagat Guide numbers, rate Upperline and Irene’s Cuisine equally.   Upperline is clearly the most expensive on this particular list, but that is the only possible criticism, and not much of one at that, because the food is superb.

(11)   Fresh Market at Louisiana and St. Charles has been the biggest adjustment, psychologically, but also (right after the Trolley Stop) my most regular “off-campus” (Tulane University Center) hang-out of the past six months.  Call me crazy (everyone else does why shouldn’t you?) but I cannot adjust to the fact that Fresh Market is operating in a building that functioned for over 100 years (including all my undergraduate years and afterwards) as a mortuary, one of New Orleans’ largest, most centrally located, and prominent.   The old marble inscription is still there on St. Charles, and the exterior of the building is unaltered.   But there’s nothing creepy about the inside—it is friendlier and better than Whole Foods way further up on Magazine in the old Bus Barn and they have some excellent sandwiches.  I go to Fresh Market often because it’s a perfect “after Church lunch” place on Sunday and just few blocks from Christ Church Cathedral.   Sometimes I will sit on the front (St. Charles side) porch of the old Columned Mortuary for the good shade and the breeze, or sit upstairs using wi-fi.  And there I will pass away the whole Sunday afternoon around there because I have at least a half-dozen times or more gone both to one of the traditional morning choral services and the Cathedral’s highly innovative “Real Presence” (“pseudo-Iona Movement/Taize” and/or “out of the prayerbook completely”) “Sunday School for Adults” at 6:00 (complete with props and photos and “activity areas” for prayer and meditation during the eucharist, and the most exquisite soloist singer I have found recently in any church, actually, anywhere at all–the pure-voiced, angelic Kimberly Mouledoux).  

St. George the Anarchist? Adolf the Good Shepherd? St. George of Lydda was not a Good Shepherd, but on AH’s 124th birthday we might well reflect whether Der Fuhrer appealed to the sincere craving most people have for a Good Shepherd, a true leader: meditations at the Cusp of Aries & Taurus: April 20-23, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Today is St. George’s Day, the national day of England, Aragon & Portugal, Greece, and Russia (literally the Four Corners of Europe).  The real dragon that the historical St. George slew was not a scaly monster with wings but (in effect) the last gasp of Pagan imperialism and imperial taxation for the ancient Gods in Rome.  He was a nobleman who died a noble death for the highest of all causes: preservation of his own faith, morals, philosophy, and religion.  

George’s father, Gerontios, was a Greek, from Cappadocia, Asia Minor, a high officer in the Roman army of the Eastern Empire and his mother, Polychronia, was a Greek from the city Lydda, Palestine.  George’s parents were both pre-Nicene, pre-Imperial adoption Roman Christians and from noble families of Anici, so their child was raised with Christian beliefs, although it is probably fair to say that Christian beliefs of the late 3rd century might have included a lot of what we now consider “Gnostic” and other heresies.  His parents decided to call the future saint by a rather humble name: Georgios, which in Greek means “earth-worker” or “farmer”.  

No records attest or even suggest St. George’s birthdate or exact age, but “as a young man,” sometime in his early-to-mid twenties, before A.D. 302, George traveled to Nicomedia (now Turkish “Izmit” by the Sea of Marmara), the imperial city of the Eastern Roman Empire (from 284-324, just until the foundation of Constantinople).  There in what was then the Primary Center of the collapsing Roman Empire, George offered his services to the Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian and applied for a commission in the Roman Army, specifically the late imperial version of the Praetorian Guard. Diocletian welcomed this young nobleman, apparently quite warmly, as the Imperator had known George’s father, Gerontius — one of his finest soldiers.  By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

In the year AD 302, Diocletian (following his junior imperial co-regent Emperor Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice (tax or offering of some sort) to the ancient Roman gods still prominent at the time.  A Christian himself, George son of Gerontius objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler.   Roman Emperors, presumably, did not much like their edicts to be questioned, since their edicts were law.  (The current President of the United States feels much the same way).  

George’s actions put Diocletian in a pickle, however.  George was either his best or one of his best tribunes and the son of either his best or one of his best officials, Gerontius.

In what can only be called an act of Anarchism and Defiance of Leadership, George loudly renounced the Emperor’s edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ.  Diocletian sought to convert George, to “save” him as it were for Apollo, Jupiter, Juno, and Zeus, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if George would bow down and sacrifice to the Roman gods.  The Emperor essentially offered George massive and generous bribes and benefits, which the saintly young Christian never accepted.

Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to haveGeorge executed for his defiance.  But, just to make the Emperor’s situation worse, before his execution George gave all his not inconsiderable wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords from which George survived three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia’s city wall, on April 23, 303.

A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. George’s body was returned to Lydda in Palestine for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.  So the Dragon that George slew in fact was the dragon of obedience in violation of his faith, of his God and of his Truth.  St. George was a nobleman who followed no leader but Jesus Christ, although he might have been close in wealth to the Emperor had he consented to the bribery and pressure.   So let us feast today in memory of St. George the Anarchist, whose defiant death as an Imperial Tribune, so close to the emperor, brought the triumph of Christianity in Rome one major step closer.  

For all these reasons St. George was truly heroic and a model for our time, and his inheritance of the Ancient Indo-European mythic status as Dragon Slayer is altogether appropriate and fitting (see Calvert Watkins: How to Kill a Dragon Oxford University Press).  It seems particularly appropriate to celebrate St. George one week after April 15, in honor and memory of all who in adherence to their faith in freedom and the Constitution to defy the illegal taxes and sacrifices required of them in these United States today.  

In following Jesus Christ, St. George in fact died more as a Dragon himself than as a sheep—he died with full knowledge of the earthly riches and power he could have possessed, if only he had abandoned his Lord for his earthly leader.  

And all of this happened on the Cusp of Aries & Taurus (Does History Make Myth or does Myth Make History?): Does the following astrological characterization (“randomly” selected not by me but by Google as the first listed) seem at all appropriate for a week commemorating Adolf Hitler, Cannabis sativa L., Earth Day, Good Shepherd Sunday, and St. George’s Day?:

“Often times referred to as the as the “cusp of power”, the Aries/Taurus combination is one you do not want to fight against. I say this because you may never win; a fire/earth combination is never easy to beat. Aries is a fiery and impulsive sign.  They charge forward even where angels fear to tread and have no problem doing what needs to be done to obtain their objective. The Taurus part of this combination grounds the impulsiveness and provides an air of practicality and endurance. It is like a tug of war and the feel of both involved is set in concrete.
The Aries Taurus combination is truly dominant and capable of being a force you cannot control. Make no doubt, they will be a leader wherever they end up being and you will do their bidding. At home or even at work, they are the established principal and do not like submitting to someone else’s authority. At the same time, all of this ‘being the alpha’ of the group can also overwhelm them causing them to lose their drive or ambition. They begin to question if it is worth all their effort and skill. But for as strong as these two signs are, they are also very, very dangerous.
They are the first signs of the zodiac as well as their element and quality. Like many first signs you will always have a fight for lead position. They surround themselves with people who are not afraid to go toe to toe with them and don’t mind going that extra mile. They enjoy a challenge and love to be intellectually stimulated. As someone who loves an Aries Taurus cusp, you will need to be patient with them as they can be quarrelsome and changeable at the best of times, especially if you have their heart. You will get the brunt end of many aggressions because again, they expect you to be able to take it. If you can remember that they are likely to follow their instincts rather than rules, it might help you two get along better.  As a person living within this cusp, you are a bundle of energy at the best of times. The Aries in you is ready to take on the world while the Taurus in you thinks great idea but let’s sit down and plan strategy before you attack. If you are unable to find your own personal balance you are left restless and stressed. Finding the proper balance takes time, trial and error. You have to find your own path, one where you can let your aggressive nature out to play while keeping certain things in life stable and relaxed.”

(http://xstrologyscopes.com/articles/aries/aries-taurus-cusp)

We’ll see what happens today, but so far Sunday, April 21 has been the most dramatic day of this “Cusp” for me, mostly because of what happened at Church.  It was the Fourth Sunday of Easter and “Good Shepherd Sunday”—due to my own schedule and whereabouts on Sunday I ended up going to the evening service at the Trinity Church Chapel on Jackson Street instead of my usual trip to “Real Presence” at the Cathedral.  The 6:00 pm service at Trinity is much more conservative and traditional than the radically “avant guarde” event at the same time at Christ Church on St. Charles.  

The drama started immediately when the opening hymn was (Episcopal) 1982 Hymnal: 522 (Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken–http://www.hymnary.org/hymn/EH1982/522).  The words are almost irrelevant: the tune, the music, is Franz Joseph Haydn Opus 76, no. 3: the world knows this as Deutschland über Alles.  Interesting choice the day after Hitler’s birthday, don’t you think?  To aggravate the complexity of the thought, and the coincidence.  Father Henry Hudon’s sermon concerned “Leadership” concluding “the Good Shepherd is the one who leads his flock, whom his flock will follow willingly.”   The Psalm was 23 of course:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: 
He leadeth me beside the still waters. 
He restoreth my soul: 
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; 
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: 
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: 
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Historically speaking, Adolf Hitler was not a “Good Shepherd” for Germany or the world.  He did not lead them to green pastures or still waters but led Germany into near total self-anihilation by fighting a war that should never have been fought.  Even if we consider that Hitler had been a Good Shepherd for Germany right up until September 1, 1939, the invasion of Poland ultimately led to the cancellation of any good thing he or his regime had ever done.  Hitler did indeed lead the world into the valley of the shadow of death where everyone, both Germans and non-Germans, had much to fear in those days.  Goodness and mercy were not notable features either of the Third Reich nor the World War, nor of the Allied Occupation of Germany which followed.   The War Crimes Trials held in 1946-49 (and sporadically thereafter) are among the greatest mockeries of justice in history.

But none of this changes the fact that Hitler operated as a remarkably “Good Shepherd” in the sense of a persuasive leader—a man whom his people followed.  Many in the Patriot movement criticize Americans for being “Sheeple”—and yet our religion, or symbolism, everything in Christianity teaches us that the Lamb of God should be the leader of all the sheep.  The Gospel on Sunday was John 10:22-30 “My sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life and they will never perish.  No one will snatch them from out of my hand.  What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.”  

One of Hitler’s Harvard-educated followers Ernst Hanfstaengl once rhapsodized about the Nazi leader, “What Hitler was able to do to a crowd in 2½ hours will never be repeated in 10,000 years,” Hanfstaengl said. “Because of his miraculous throat construction, he was able to create a rhapsody of hysteria. In time, he became the living unknown soldier of Germany.”  Hitler’s sheep knew his voice, but perhaps he did not know them.  Hitler not only gave an early death rather than eternal life to a huge number of his people, especially a near generation and a half of the good-looking young German men pictured in film-clip after film-clip from the 1930s shouting “Sieg Heil.”  What could be more ironic?  Hitler’s personality followed very closely to the Aries-Taurus cusp described above.  Was it written with Hitler in mind?

And herein is the deep and troubling problem: people crave leadership.  They long for a “Good Shepherd.”  This is not merely a feature of the German people at all.  The Americans since at least 2000 have recently been led down several paths by two good and persuasive leaders whom they did not question.  The paths on which the United States of America has walked since 2000 are clearly paths to tyranny, despotic dictatorship, and one form or another of Socialism or Communism which will be utterly incompatible with the Constitution of 1787, or its ten 1791 Amendments known as “the Bill of Rights.”  

The comparisons between Bush, Hitler, and Obama may get tiresome, but they are not pointless.  Very few people in the world are actually capable of living as true leaderless “anarchists.”  I fancy that I am one of the few who can manage, in large part because I am my grandparents’ grandson, and I know a few other true “anarchists”, but most people long to be told what to do.  While teaching I learned this: most students hate a professor who encourages them to go their own way and be creative.  They want strict instructions and stricter guidelines.

Prior to the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, I had spent parts of Saturday meditating as I always do on the horrible incongruity of 420 being Adolf Hitler’s birthday and International Marijuana-Pot, “Cannabis sativa culture” day.  I don’t smoke pot anymore (never did very much) but almost everyone else in the world does or seems to.  I last smoked in July 1991, right here in New Orleans in fact at a party my wife Elena and I threw in the Mary Martin suite at the Pontchartrain Hotel, within a few blocks of where I’m sitting writing this in fact.   Elena’s little sister Alex and a bunch of Maya archaeological luminaries attending the International Congress of Americanists including Clemency Chase Coggins, Merle Greene Robertson, David H. Kelley, Edward B. Kurjack, Norman Hammond, and Harriot Topsey, were having a great time lighting up in one of the rooms while others were sitting “talking shop” in another.  Elena made a gigantic scene when she found her (underage) sister smoking in a room full of adults and told everyone the horrible study of her brother George and his decline due to drug addiction (he died nine years later in January 2010, at the ripe old age of 51).  It was the beginning of the end for me and Elena but it was absolutely the last time I ever touched Pot.  

Still, as an anarchist I believe in Freedom and the right of each individual to choose his way, and for that reason I support the 420 movement to the extent that it proposes an abolition of all government interference with both the production, sale, and distribution of whatever people really want, even if they are led to destructive habits by bad shepherds….. Yes, I do think part of freedom is the freedom to follow even Bush, even Hitler, even Obama, even Stalin, but it is the duty of every Anarchist to try to turn sheep into wolves…..

Earth Day has never been that “big” a day in my life.  I was President of the Environmental Law Society at the University of Chicago and have always fancied myself an environmentalist.  But in recent years, I have become extremely uncomfortable with the Environmental Movement largely because of its alliance with “Agenda 21” and what Obama Czar “Cass Sunstein” (my former professor for both Environmental and Administrative Law at the University of Chicago) calls “Command and Control” state action.  “Command and Control” over the economy under PRETEXT of environmentalism is to my mind, totally wrong.  

I submit that sound money is the best guarantor of sound economic policy.  But for ludicrously extravagant government expenditures in the 1920s-1930s, none of the gigantic dams could ever have been built along the Colorado River and, without that hideous diversion of water, the ecological fiasco known as Southern California suburbia could NEVER have come into existence.  Los Angeles might have remained a small railroad town.  Although, pushing the model back further, the great railways of the 1860s-1890s which created (among other things) Los Angeles and Pasadena, would likewise never have happened if government had stayed limited and constrained by sound monetary policy and the Constitution of 1787, limited by the Bill of Rights.  Dams are the greatest ecological and environmental curses known to the Planet, yet they provide short term comforts which people love.  As I have often written, Dams are just the latest manifestation of “Oriental Despotism” which is the original form of state-based welfare, the original basis for welfare-based “command and control” over large populations.  Ecologically speaking, NOTHING is more wasteful, destructive, and against nature than the water-redistributive policies which have transformed Southern California, Southern Nevada, and most of Central and Southern Arizona into suburban wastelands.  Abolish the free credit easy money economy, restore gold and silver as the only lawful currency, and the dams will soon cease to function, have to be torn down, and the Southwestern Deserts will reclaim the suburbs, slowly but surely.  That is MY dream for Earth Day.

But finally, will it take a real St. George to achieve such an ecological turn around?  A modern St. George might well be the man who dismantles the dams.   St. George, the Patron Saint of England, Greece, Aragon (Catalonia), Egypt, Lithuania, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia.   St. George, by all accounts, was a leaderless Anarchist.  He was NOT a Good Shepherd.  He apparently did not lead people at all, but acted alone and set an example.  I think this is why St. George is such an appropriate Patron Saint for England, and Americans would do well to think more of his example as well.