Ultimate guide to Stir-Up Sunday 2018 – Christmas pudding

Sunday, 25 November is ‘Stir-up Sunday’, so make your favourite Good Housekeeping Christmas pudding recipe and stir to make a wish!

Source: Ultimate guide to Stir up Sunday 2018 – Christmas pudding | Good Housekeeping

On the secular customs and traditions of Stir-Up Sunday – e.g., the making of the Christmas Pudding!

“It is a tradition that harks back to Victorian times when the family would gather together to stir the Christmas pudding five weeks before Christmas. The opening words of the Book Of Common Prayer, used on the last Sunday before Advent, reads: ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people,’ so the tradition stands that this is the day to get stirring!”

Morning Prayer (with Sermon) for the Sunday Next Before Advent, 2018

The Sunday Next Before Advent: “Stir-Up” Sunday!

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Good morning, folks, and a joyous Sunday to you! For those of us who are Christians, today is the Sunday Next Before Advent (Propers follow, below): since the Church’s calendar begins on Advent Sunday, then in a sense I suppose one could think of this as the Christian “New Year’s Eve.” Although if we become intoxicated, let it be with the Holy Spirit, and not with more carnal potions! At least not this early in the day…

Today is also known as “Stir-Up Sunday,” from the opening words of the Collect for the day: “Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people…” – a most apt petition, on this last Sunday before the beginning of the season of both penitent preparation and joyous expectation that is Advent! Indeed, just as the “Gesima” Sundays in late Winter prepare us for the coming of Lent, so “Stir-Up” Sunday gives us the opportunity to prepare to keep a holy Advent.

It is also the day on which many in England (and some here in the States, if of English heritage and affections) “stir up” the traditional Christmas pudding. The lovely “Full Homely Divinity” blog recounts the matter thus: Continue reading “The Sunday Next Before Advent: “Stir-Up” Sunday!”

Teaching video: a shortened form of Evening Prayer

Welcome to my first “teaching video” – in this case, on a rubrically-correct but condensed or abbreviated form of Evening Prayer.

The rubrics of the The Book of Common Prayer 1928 permit a significant degree of reduction in the length of Evening Prayer (Vespers) while retaining its form and a lot of its contents, making it perhaps easier to fit into our often hurried, harried, and hectic early 21st century lives.

If you have the time and opportunity to say the full Office on a regular basis, more power to you! Give thanks to God for that blessing. But if you do not, here is a way to say a shortened form of the Office which is, nonetheless, fully in accord with the rubrics contained in the 1928 Prayer Book.

And here is the very interesting and informative blog post which inspired this teaching video: Evensong at Home: A New Shortened Form for Busy Families. I encourage you to check it out – especially if you found my verbal explanations confusing.

Gun News of the Week: ATF Says “Assault Rifle” is a Bogus Term | Outdoor Life

Colt competition rifle

A Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “white paper” correctly identifies “assault weapons” as a politically contrived term with no real meaning and recommends dramatic federal law revisions in how they are regulated.

Source: Gun News of the Week: ATF Says “Assault Rifle” is a Bogus Term | Outdoor Life

The ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms – now Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, but still usually called by the older nomenclature) finally gets it right!

“Authored by ATF second-in-command Ronald Turk, the “white paper”… says the agency is interested in reforms that ‘promote commerce and defend the Second Amendment without significant negative impact on ATF’s mission to fight violent firearms crime and regulate the firearms industry.’

“Turk wrote that the misleading ‘assault weapons’ term to describe AK-and-AR-style rifles should be replaced with ‘modern sporting rifles,’ to reflect how the use and popularity of these firearms has grown. In fact, he noted, their use in ‘sport shooting’ has grown ‘exponentially’ and such guns ‘are now standard for hunting activities.’

“The ATF official also argued in favor of changes in policy for the import of WWII-era military weapons, such as M1 Garand rifles.”

Hallelujah! Now, it’d be nice if this would have some practical effect on the absurdity of some states’ gun-control laws, including Maryland’s…

Lessons from Nature: invasive aliens

Invasive species alert sign
Sign warning of the presence of zebra mussels, an invasive alien species.
Migrants throwing rocks at helicopter
Central American economic migrants throw rocks at a circling helicopter in Mexico, on their way to the United States (where they plan to illegally cross the border), November 2018.

I have spent a lot of years of my life teaching outdoor and environmental education, conservation education, and sustainable agriculture education. And one thing I have learned, as a guiding principle, is that the natural world can often serve as a lens through which to view human society with greater clarity and awareness.

Let me cite one example, which seems to be impinging itself upon us, here in the West, with greater and greater urgency:

It is now a commonplace, among the “talking heads” of the Western media, political, and academic elite, that “diversity is a strength.” Some even go so far as to say that diversity is “our” strength. The notion is not completely without merit: there is a type of diversity which can be a strength.

The biologist and ecologist E.O. Wilson, for example, has demonstrated how biodiversity can greatly enhance resilience: the ability of, for example, a natural forest ecosystem to resist the impacts of a changing climate, or infestation by pests or diseases, especially as compared to a monoculture tree plantation, or a grain farm.

But – and this is a big “but”! – this is true only of a certain type of diversity, the sort which comes about naturally, over centuries or even millennia. An example in the natural world might be a healthy forest, meadow, or wetland. And example in human society might be the tremendous diversity of cultures, customs, and tradition which make up the vibrant tapestry of Europe.

Ecologists have long recognized the existence of a category of organisms to which “human ecologists” appear oblivious (or, more accurately, feel socially and politically constrained to ignore or deny): invasive aliens, which often find fertile soil in a new ecosystem, in which are there few or no natural controls to limit their spread. Invasive aliens in their original locality are perfectly fine and non-disruptive, because there are natural controls that limit their spread, and prevent them from getting out of hand.
Continue reading “Lessons from Nature: invasive aliens”

French far-right overtakes Macron in EU parliament election poll

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Source: French far-right overtakes Macron in EU parliament election poll

Finally, some good news out of France!

“Marine Le Pen’s National Rally has overtaken the centrist party of Emmanuel Macron, the French president, for the first time, according to an opinion poll released Sunday, in a further sign of the rise of the far-Right in Europe. The Ifop poll measured voting intentions for European Parliament elections next May, seen as a decisive battle between pro-EU liberals and Eurosceptic populists that could be pivotal in shaping the future of the European Union after Brexit.”

Remember, of course, that to the “mainstream” (Left-wing) media, anyone who is not hard-Left is “far right,” and love for one’s own people and nation is tantamount to Nazism…

Granted, the lead is not dramatic; but it is significant:

“The poll showed Ms Le Pen’s party, formerly known as the Front National, with 21 per cent of voting intentions compared to 19 per cent for Mr Macron’s La Republique En Marche (LREM) party.

“Together with the seven per cent of people planning to vote for a smaller far-Right party, Stand Up France, and two per cent going for two small “Frexit” parties, the French far-Right has won 30 per cent of voting intentions, a five-point gain since August, according to the poll…

Populist parties’ gains have increased fears in Brussels that anti-immigrant Eurosceptic parties may wield greater clout after the May elections.”

We can only hope.