Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Prayer for the forgotten dead.

I came across this beautiful prayer a few days ago and it has stayed with me ever since. It is at the same time deeply charitable in its concern for the forgotten and a unsettling reminder that we, too, will someday drift out of living memory:

Prayer for the Forgotten Dead

O merciful God, take pity on those souls who have no particular friends and intercessors to recommend them to Thee, who, either through the negligence of those who are alive, or through length of time are forgotten by their friends and by all. Spare them, O Lord, and remember Thine own mercy, when others forget to appeal to it. Let not the souls which Thou hast created be parted from thee, their Creator.

May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Men Who Hate Women

I've finished the first two books in the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire (check out those Wikipedia pages for more information). Larsson, a Swedish writer, wrote these two novels and a third (to be released on May 25th in the US) before his sudden death in 2004. He had completed outlines for more books in the series but I read today that his father says that only the first three will be published.

The English translation of the Swedish title of book one is "Men Who Hate Women" - and that is indeed the theme of these two books. It's not subtle. The female protagonist is bisexual and has plenty of reason to hate men who hate women. The male protagonist is divorced and is the lover of a married woman whose husband accepts the relationship. The bad guys (and, no, there are no bad girls) are all sadistic abusers of women. Wait ... I just thought of one bad female character and her great sin is ignoring her husband's abuse of women. So, yeah, it's pretty clear what point Larsson is trying to make.

It does not, however, interfere with the story. Not that I would mind if Larsson did get preachy. It's a serious problem that merits unequivocal condemnation. These are nevertheless thrilling stories. Given the subject matter (and the fact that they're both murder mysteries) you should expect a bit of gruesomeness if you decide to read them.

Lisbeth Salander (the "girl" of the titles) is a fantastic character. One Amazon reviewer said, "Don't mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo" and if you read the books you'll know what they mean. She devises very effective methods of dealing with men who hate women - and you can't help but cheer her on.

My only complaint is that Larsson occasionally tested my suspension of disbelief. One villain in particular - the "blonde giant" - seems to have entered the story straight out of a James Bond movie. But these are murder mysteries so that is to be expected.

I almost didn't read the second book. "Dragon Tattoo" was good but it felt like a traditional murder mystery, a genre that's never interested me. "Fire" was far more engrossing. I'll definitely be in a bookstore on May 25th when "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" is released.

One final note: I "read" these in audiobook format. I am guessing that I would have had a difficult time keeping track of the proper nouns if I hadn't first heard them pronounced. I'd recommend listening to at least the first book if you don't grasp Swedish pronunciation. On the other hand I just did a Google search and there is plenty of help online if you read a print copy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Ephraim Syrus on Holy Saturday

They sealed you up within the tomb, and set guards, that your resurrection might be believed among those who deny you. It was for you that they sealed the tomb and set guards, O Son of the Living One! If they had neglected you and left you and gone after they buried you, there would have been room to lie and say that the disciples stole you, O Quickener of all! When they craftily sealed your tomb, they made your glory greater.

Daniel was a type of you, so also Lazarus; one in the den, which the Gentiles sealed up, and one in the tomb, which the people opened.

If they had left your tomb open, their mouth could have remained open. But they went away because they had shut your tomb and sealed it and closed their own mouths. Yea, they closed it, and when they had senselessly covered your tomb, all the slanderers covered their own heads.

But in your resurrection you persuade men concerning your birth. You were pure in the womb that was sealed and alive in the tomb that was sealed. The womb and the tomb, being sealed, were witnesses to you and to your divinity.

The belly and hell cried aloud of your birth and your resurrection: The belly, which was sealed, conceived you. Hell, which was closed up, brought you forth. Nature did not cause either the belly to conceive you or hell to give you up! Thus do they proclaim that you are of heaven.

Sealed was the tomb to which they had entrusted you, that it might keep you dead, that is, safe, and virgin was the womb, which no man knew. Virgin womb and sealed tomb, like trumpets, proclaimed him in the ears of deaf people.

Ephraim Syrus, from the readings for Holy Saturday in The Treasury of Daily Prayer.

About Me

I'm Rachel's husband and Darcy's daddy. I'm a Hoosier, an accountant, and an Episcopalian. Politically, I'm a progressive who believes in the preferential option for the poor. I use the blog as a sort of journal - to interact with my reading and sketch out ideas.