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Donkey – Who hasn’t heard of Mary riding into Bethlehem on a donkey?  Well, before the late 1700’s, no one had.  This word entered our language as slang (ironic since it replaced the word ass, which has come to have quite the list of its own slang definitions since).  Donkey is perhaps a diminutive (smaller or junior version) term for a dun, a small horse. The word dun is an old color word meaning “dull grey-brown”.

 

Ass – Is one of the few words classified as cussing, swearing, profane, or generally “bad” that I will speak, as it is found in the Old King James Bible, and also in “What Child is This?”  Etymologists seem to agree that this name for the animal comes from the Middle East.  Whether the name comes from the word meaning “strong” and a sense of stubbornness or docile patience, or if that word derived from the beast’s behavior, I can’t tell, but they do seem to be related.

 

Oxen – Beside the ass in “What Child Is This?” we find an ox kneeling at the Lord’s manger.  Our language’s history is replete with plurals formed by adding –en, but according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, this is the only true continuous survival of such a plural into Modern English.  As best I can tell, the early origins of this animal name refer to the male, and mean “to sprinkle”, referring to their fertility.  In some religions, the gods of fertile fields are pictured as bulls or oxen, for this reason. I think the Proto-Indo-European root, *uks-en-, and the Sanskrit attestation, uksa, sound like yak, but no one else has seemed to notice, except the Edenics researchers, who cite Sanskrit gayal; Hebrew ‘agol, “calf”, from a sense of “round” or “going around”; and Hebrew aqqow, translated “wild goat” in KJV, and from a root meaning “to groan” – which I will note is indicative of hard work, which oxen and yaks are more wont to do than goats.

 

Sheep – The animals actually appearing in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth are sheep.  While Scandinavian languages use a word like faar for “sheep”, and Gothic languages use relatives of lamb, and other Indo-European words are similar to ewe, our word sheep has been in the Germanic family for a while.  Wiktionary hints that sheep may be from the same root as shave – referring to the importance of the animal’s sheered wool?  We use the same word for one sheep or many, but in Old Northumbrian, the plural is scipo.

 

Lamb – After consulting multiple etymology dictionaries, and none of them having any insight into the sense of the word lamb, I checked the Edenics sites.  Edenics is somewhat appealing to me in that it credits meaning to sound and spelling, and does a good job compiling words with similar spellings and intriguing analogies in meanings.  They don’t do such a good job tracing transitional words through history in literature, leaving them in a different category from traditional etymologists.  So.  Lekhem is, in Hebrew, “bread, food, flesh” – possibly from a root meaning “to make war”.  It may be a stretch, but by Ezra’s time, Aramaic had ‘immar for “lamb”, the root maybe indicating “something that is called or brought forth, progeny”.  Because L’s and R’s can shift in pronunciations, it is even possible that this and the Hebrew word for wool, tsemer (think Merino) could be related to lamb: swap out the R for the L and reverse the order.  Arabic lahm means “meat”.  Dutch lichaam is “body”.  Finnish has a word for an animal (a sheep?), lammas.  Is this the source of llama, or is it related to our next Christmas animal, the camel?

 

Camel – Traditionally, three wise men arrive in the Christmas story with their caravan of camels bearing gifts to the star-heralded King.  Camel comes from Hebrew gamal (which is even the name of one of their letters), and might be related to Arabic jamala, “to bear”.  Some Edenics writers think that llamas, as the primary beast of burden in South America, may trace their name from a similar source.

 

Besides the animals appearing in the Christian story of the Incarnation, our traditions have come to include several other animals in the seasonal festivities.

 

Reindeer – In some languages, rein or its equivalents stand alone as the word for this animal.  It seems to have to do with the impressive growth of horns on their heads.  The suggested root is PIE base *ker- which would associate it with the Greek for ram, krios.

 

Deer – Before the 1400’s, this word just meant “animal”, a word distinguishing creatures from humans, usually applied only to wild animals.  Its origins are from words that have to do with breathing, thus separating this class of creation out from life which has no breath (a rather biblical concept).  This same thought-pattern is said to have given us the word animal from Latin animus (“breath”).

 

Polar bearPole is from Latin polus, Greek polos, “pivot, axis of a sphere”.  Some say it is from a root meaning “turn round” and having to do with concepts of turning, rolling, and wheels.  An etymology I find less likely suggests a root meaning “stake”, “to nail or fasten”.

 

Bear is one of the most interesting etymologies.  Most etymologists say that it is named for the color brown, which makes it kind of funny that we apply it to so many similar creatures – by class like polar bears, or appearance like koalas and pandas – that have different colors!  Beaver is also said to derive its name from the same color root, *bher-.  And a Greek cognate, phrynos, meaning “brown animal”, applies to toads!

 

An alternative etymology for bear is one that relates it to words meaning “wild”, like Latin ferus.  The Proto-Indo-European root would then be *ǵʰwer-.  If you follow Edenics, you might be interested in their similar etymology of bear (and boar) to roots B-R, F-R, and P-R all associated with wilderness and lawlessness – the outskirts of civilization.

 

Bears are classically associated with the poles (which are also on the outskirts of civilization, unless you heed the rumors about an elvish toy workshop), especially the north, because of the constellation Ursa Major.  Ursa is from the Latin for bear.  The Greek for bear is arktos, from whence we get our word arctic.
Boar – There is a carol introduced to me by Archibald Asparagus from Veggie Tales, called “The Boar’s Head Carol”.  Apparently it is also on Josh Garrels’ new Christmas album.  It’s the only reason I know to connect boars with Christmas, and it is probably more accurately derived from Yule traditions, but I can’t have mere boring things like sheep and donkeys in my list!  The origin of this word is unclear, probably because, like most animal names, for a very long time it has just referred to the creature we know by this name.  All sorts of Germanic peoples have basically called it the same thing.  One not-well established hypothesis associates this word with Lithuanian baĩsas , “terrible apparition” and Old Church Slavonic běsŭ, “demon”.  As I mentioned above, it might actually come from a word meaning “wild”.  Demons are also rebels, exiles from the holy forces of God, and capable of appearing as “terrible apparitions”.  Boars, apart from any spiritual creepiness, are pretty terrifying themselves.  I think of the kid from Old Yeller hiding in a tree while ravenous wild pigs bite at his leg.

 

Goose – In the old days, goose was a favorite Christmas entrée.  Before goose, it was gos, like gosling, and before that it was gans, like gander.  The theory is that gans and similar words for geese and swans in other languages are imitative of the honking these birds make.

 

Puppy – Finally, puppies have begun to appear under Christmas trees with big red bows around their necks, calculated to bless the hearts of small children. The word came into our language in the late 15th Century, applied to a woman’s small pet dog, instead of the larger and fiercer breeds kept by men for shepherding or hunting.  In the Middle French, whence we get the word, it was a toy or a doll, sharing its ancestry with puppet.  Original root words had to do with children and smallness.

 

Credits to

The Online Etymology Dictionary

Wiktionary

Edenics

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

A while back I posted a recipe for a chocolate custard cheesecake dip.  Since then, I’ve been working on modifying the recipe to be stiff enough to actually be a cheesecake, and this Thanksgiving, I think I’ve got it!

My favorite part, besides the taste, is that it is no-bake (after the crust is made), so no complicated baking regimens to prevent cake from cracking or browning.

Chocolate Custard Cheesecake

Crust*:

Cream:

1 stick of salted butter

1/2 t. vanilla

1/2 c. brown sugar.

Mix in:

1 eggs

1 egg YOLK

Add:

1 1/2 c. flour

1 t. salt

1/2 t. baking POWDER.

Stir until just combined.

Add:

3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 c. sugar

Stir/knead until sugar and flour is incorporated.

Press dough into bottom and barely up sides of a large spring form pan (at least 9 inches in diameter).

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes, until crust is set, still soft, and only barely starting to turn golden (edges will be a bit darker golden brown).

*Alternatively, for an entirely no-bake cheesecake, you could use a traditional chocolate cookie crust (1 package crushed chocolate cookie pieces and 1/4 c. melted butter) pressed into a spring form pan.  Chill this in the refrigerator while preparing the rest of the crust.  I haven’t tried this, just read it online.

Cheesecake:

In medium saucepan, whisk together and heat to a simmer on MED:

¾ c. (or 1 small can) EVAPORATED milk

¼ c. flour

Stir in until melted, and remove from heat:

½ c. chocolate chips

Separately, beat until pale:

3 egg YOLKS

⅓ c. sugar

Slowly pour warm milk mixture into eggs, whisking constantly.  (If not done carefully, there will be small pieces of cooked egg in the custard, which should then be strained out before the next step.) Return to MED-LOW heat.

Mix in:

(another) ½ c. chocolate chips

2 t. corn starch

Cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes.  Keep stirring.

Separately, beat:

3 packages cream cheese (24 ounces total)

⅓ c. sugar

dash of salt

Pour chocolate custard into sweetened cream cheese and mix thoroughly.  Top crust with this custard mixture and chill at least 4 hours. When slicing, make sure knife goes all the way through crust; hitting chocolate chips feels like hitting the bottom of the pan sometimes.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Peace Wielder

My brother and I were talking tonight, about a painting I saw, called “The Peacemaker”.  Peacemaking seems to me to be an art that is rare, one that I am unfamiliar with, and that when my friends and I pursue it, we’re begging God to lead us in, because we’re clueless.  We’re making these things up as we go, having few examples to follow.

I want to learn about peacemaking. I want to help heal breaches, but also, I think, God wants me to wield peace against lies and hatred and despair and loneliness – to make peace strong and alive. There is this picture in my head from the stories I’ve been reading, of grape vines invading things with life, and winding around them, and binding them together, and making them strong as a defense against that which would break us.

Tonight I’m working at these words, but they aren’t capturing how excited this idea is burning me, how even trying to ponder the words to use is deepening the picture, and grabbing at parts of me I wasn’t sure were connected.  But they are.  They remind me of a time this past year when my identity and calling seemed to be clarifying:

“I like people, a lot, and I love to find out who they are.  I want to help them to know what God is doing in their lives, and also to help them walk in those things by faith.  I’m especially interested in helping them to persevere in hope and faith; to love others and pursue unity; and to live church as a sort of radical, God-empowered inter-dependent family.”

Because I don’t believe that, when God saves us, He turns us only into evangelism machines.  He gives us back the abundant life that was His idea with humans in the first place.  We become the light set in the lampstand that won’t be hidden.  Our lives have fruitful, governing purpose in this world, and, God help me, I want to live it wildly well.

Our world needs this.  The weapons of division, of hatred, of bitterness, of classifying people as hopeless and other, are damaging nations, families, God’s church.

The darkness, though, it has a lot of work to do, to hack at a many-corded strand that is already plaited.  It has a lot to do to dim the glory of the good works God has ordained for His people.  It fights weakly against the strength of truth and love, chosen and held up and uncompromised.  Evil gives up ground to the fruitfulness of a people zealous for good works, abiding in the Christ whose we are.  It bows in the face of self-sacrifice purchasing reconciliation through forgiveness.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

The following are not endorsements, but according to my research, these are the more qualified candidates running for election (in Colorado, at least): Tom Hoefling, Darrel Castle, Evan McMullin, Mike Smith, and Michael Maturen. There are a few others who seem like good people, but probably couldn’t handle being president. I have objections to some of the policies of each of these candidates, some more than others. If you are from another state, and would like help finding out whether any of these men are qualified to receive votes in your state, please contact me.

Of the ones on this list, only Castle and McMullin, I believe are on enough ballots to, by some miracle, win the election in the Electoral College (get to 270 votes). Hoefling could win outright via ballots and write-in’s (he’s registered as a qualified write-in in enough states). But the rest of them are on enough ballots to force the election to go to the US House of Representatives for a decision between the top three recipients of electoral votes (per the Twelfth Amendment). Also, Hoefling, Castle, and Maturen represent parties that could be built for the future, whereas McMullin and Smith are essentially** Republicans who would just be sending a message to the GOP for the future to nominate such candidates rather than a man of doubtful conservative credentials like Donald Trump.

Tom Hoefling (America’s Party, but running as a write-in in most states) is my favorite candidate. I’m not endorsing* this man, and I’m not sure whether I will vote for him or someone else or no one else. His website has a basic summary of his “plan for America” and on the right sidebar, a list of categories or topics in blog format which you can click on if you are interested in a particular issue. That site is: http://www.TomHoefling.com There is also a site for America’s Party, with a platform and constitution that goes into more detail: http://www.selfgovernment.us/platform.html

I have appreciated the access this candidate grants to the general public. He has a teleconference townhall that anyone can join every Tuesday and Thursday evening, and he is quite responsive to questions on Facebook. He is well-read on the founding fathers and other philosophy of government type books. I believe he is a Christian, and a God-fearing man. He believes the US President should/legally can use his office to enforce the 5th and 14th Amendments in the case of abortion (I think he calls this his “Equal Protection for Posterity” position). Even if he doesn’t win anything, and even if I don’t vote for him, I believe his candidacy is educating many people on some important issues, particularly the debate over “judicial supremacy”.

Darrel Castle (Constitution Party, American Constitution Party) also seems like a good Christian man. His running mate, Scott Bradley is a Mormon. The Constitution Party’s Platform is the best commentary on the US Constitution that I’ve ever read. I’m not sure Castle is as genius as the platform, and I’m not sure he holds to it all, either. He was in the Marines during the Vietnam War. He’s had his own website (www.DarrelCastle.com) for years, on which can be found audio files explaining many of his positions. I don’t think I ever got around to listening to any of them. It seems to me that, like most Americans, Castle’s belief in the Declaration of Independence and the “rights” claimed in the US Constitution are blended with his religious worldview to shape his understanding of government. As I understand it, he is big on states’ rights. For more information on the issues he’s running on, you can see his campaign website:www.Castle2016.com/home

Evan McMullin I list next because of his ballot access and popularity. All along I’ve understood McMullin to be a Republican’s Republican. If you have believed in the party and its platform, and if you trust them to act on these issues, he’s probably the man for you. He has a background in the CIA, with Goldman Sachs, and also as an advisor to the United States Congress. Most of his policies are straight down the line status quo (see his website:https://www.evanmcmullin.com/issues), with the possible exception of his belief in global warming. He wants to replace Obamacare and keep our military involved in policing the world. He is a Mormon, polling competitively in Utah.

Mike Smith I first discovered when showing my sister-in-law the long list of people in the United States running for president, and he was from Colorado, so I looked up his website,http://www.mikesmith2016.org/issues.html. I was pleasantly surprised that he wasn’t some crazy (because there are some of those running). He, like McMullin, is pretty typically Republican, but likely for slightly more limited government (balanced budgets, reduced spending, simplified tax code), and has an educated understanding of “apocalyptic Islam” and the threat it poses to American interests. A highlight from his social policy is, “I will not nominate any Justice to the Supreme Court who believes that the Constitution provides unenumerated rights to abortion.”

Michael Maturen is running with the Solidarity Party, which I first heard about from a Catholic blog. As such, the party’s values are very Catholic, including matters of abortion, marriage, and war. Maturen has the potential to appeal to Christians who were attracted to Bernie Sanders. His economic policies and beliefs about the size and scope of government are far more socialist than I believe in or want to support. For example, “The [American Solidarity Party] advocates the replacement of privately-funded health insurance with a decentralized ‘single-payer’ system.” Such programs would be unconstitutional, unless our Constitution is amended. Their energy and environmental policies are a moderated take on the environmentalism that may appeal to Green Party constituents. If you are Libertarian only because you think the government is wasting its resources fighting the war on drugs, the Solidarity Party is for “decriminalization (not the legalization) of recreational drusgs.” This party presents the most complete synthesis of Democrat and Republican ideals that I’ve ever encountered. The Solidarity Party’s website (http://www.solidarity-party.org/complete-platform) presents a thoughtful approach to government, and I believe Maturen constitutes a more worthy candidacy than Trump, Clinton, Johnson, or Stein.

* Tom Hoefling believes, with the Declaration of Independence, that government ought to be of the people, by the people, and for the people; and that governments are instituted to secure the rights of the people to life, liberty, and happiness; and that when a government establishes for itself a pattern of tyranny, lawlessness, or disregard for God’s righteousness, it is the right of the people to throw off such government. Whereas I believe that God ordains governments to carry out justice, and that the citizens do not have the right, before God, to rebel against their governments. I believe that submission is a lost virtue in our society, and I am not sure that in good conscience I can endorse someone who promotes philosophies of unsubmission. But in that case, I do not know if there would be any candidate in America for whom I could vote. So. That’s my crazy hang-up this election season.

**Evan McMullin is associated with a few parties, including “Better for America”. He is still essentially a Republican.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Hoarding

I realized a while back that I was trained to be a hoarder.

Each of my older relatives: parents, aunts, grandparents – wanted to know what I collected.  I had to have an answer.  Otherwise I was an incomplete person and buying birthday gifts for me would have been unnecessarily tricky.

So. I began to think of things I would like to collect.  Here is a sample: tea cups, old books, Belle Barbie dolls, candles, pens.

In addition to “collecting”, people set me an example of saving things in case I would need them, or my children might want to.

Books romanticized saving, describing heroines discovering forgotten treasures stored in attics.

We went to garage sales and learned that items have resale value.  Why throw them away when your kids can auction them for profit at an estate sale in a hundred years when you’re dead?

The Antiques Road Show showcased items whose value appreciated the longer you saved them.

So, when I tell myself I don’t need something; when I drop off a load of things at the Goodwill, and don’t even get paid for them; when I evaluate which things in my possession I would actually want to save from a fire, and find a rather short list of necessities – I’m doing pretty well, overcoming this narrative of hoarding.

I’m trying to get better at being a simple, more-Millennial person.  I have friends who teach and encourage me.  And now, since I’ve identified all these influences, I can devise a rebuttal:

As my friend says, “We collect friends, not things.”  Another friend says that “Stores are for storing things.”  I don’t even have an attic, and it is not quite so romantic to think of finding treasures in the trunk of my car.  My last three garage sales taught me that the time and work it takes to sell my own junk yields a low hourly wage.  Antiques Roadshow has started airing episodes where they show how much the item’s appraised value has changed, from the original airing to the rerun, and a lot of them have gone down.  (Beanie Babies are not a craze anymore.)

I don’t know if there is a moral reason to hoard or not, but here was a glimpse into my journey to becoming less encumbered.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Heroes

Today I was thinking about heroes.  So often our favorite super heroes can save everyone.  Doc Ock tosses six different people six different directions, and destroys the brakes on a speeding train.  Spider-Man shoots his webs to save the stragglers, uses his super strength to stop the train, and saves the day.

In that same movie, Spider-Man decides to come out of retirement to save a little kid from a fire, and is disheartened to hear afterwards that some “poor soul” on a higher floor didn’t make it out.  But this isn’t shown as an inevitable edge to the protagonist’s reach; I get the impression that we’re supposed to believe that if only Spidey hadn’t been taking some time for himself, both victims would have made it out alive.

Sometimes the crisis of the plot is the hero deciding whether to save one dear friend or to save a larger group of people (and somehow, predictably now, the dear friend  heroically sacrificed is saved in the nick of time anyway).  Other times, the super hero makes a glance at the crushing weight of collateral damage: fighting evil is a destructive war.

How often do the heroes in our tales face the fact that their powers are, however impressive, limited, and they cannot save everyone?  What if we saw heroes not only facing this, grieving this, but standing slowly – like a weight-lifter, only the weight is borne in the heart, bending shoulders –  standing, straightening, squaring those shoulders, and going out with all the zeal they had yesterday, to save the ones they can, to face defeat again and again, to still care about every one they can’t save the same as they care about the ones they can, and still to try?

Today I was driving to an abortion clinic, to stand outside among such heroes, who spend day after day watching most of the moms they encounter go right on ahead and end most of the lives the sidewalk counselors are trying to save.  This is a heavy burden.

It is not all discouraging failure.  Yesterday, a couple changed their mind, and rejected the violence they had intended.  Would Spider-Man bear up against those odds: one rescued for dozens lost?  These people do.  By the grace of God, they are real heroes.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

Across the Sky

Have you noticed that many processes are interactions?

Farming and gardening are examples that involve a lot of work and initiative and dominion – but in cooperation with what “naturally” occurs: rain, sun, a branch sprouting in the wrong direction. To get good fruit, we humans both initiate and respond.

Children are raised not by a curriculum, but by attentive discipleship: when we go out and when we come in, when we sit and when we lie down and when we rise up.

Writing or creating art – even these are best done when, as I have read, we “sit with” our material (sometimes sharing the process with a community of artists). We look at it in lots of lights. (Isn’t it convenient that the sun moves across the sky, shining on different aspects of creation in the course of a day?) We wait until we have enough facts, and the facts from outside of us have been catalyzed by the spirit within us. Then comes culmination, fruit-bearing, birth, harvest, maturity.

This is sometimes ugly, sometimes bearing witness to what we wish would just erase itself from existence, and letting it change us instead of ignoring it. This is sometimes painful, sitting in the dark with grief and failure. This is sometimes hard, persisting in a process whose end we are unsure of.

I think that God is (slowly) teaching me about His wisdom and glory in *using* time, and this truth is part of it. It isn’t only beautiful seeing a basket of picked elderberries, or a kid finally making a selfless choice, or a fleeing sinner caught at last by the merciful Shepherd. The *process* is beautiful. The loving abiding with people, and tender tending of our works are profoundly moving. I think God is excited to work this way, and that inspires me.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn