The church was built in 1920 and still stands on a bluff overlooking the beautiful, aqua green-colored San Juan River. It’s a small building, but apparently the congregation has moved away or now attends mass somewhere else. I just happened across this place last Sunday and was struck by the awesome locale of the small church. Not far away is the Navajo Dam and behind that is the man-made Navajo Lake, but if you approach this special place from the south, you would never know that they were there.
In the afternoon light, the church interior took on an almost mystical air, as the intense Southwest sun filtered through the small window above the altar and illuminated the sacred space with sunlight. Fortunately, the camera easily captured this event.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
According to Catholic Online the Virgin Mary first appeared to Juan Diego, a 57 year old Aztec man in 1531, near present day Mexico City. Even from the beginning Juan believed in what he saw on the hillside, but the priests at the nearest church were not so convinced. Gradually, over a few weeks, more appearances by the loved Saint along with a miraculous cure convinced the church elders that the Holy Virgin was present in Mexico.
Here she took on the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her likeness, which mysteriously appeared on a Spanish tilma back in 1531, has been reproduced and copied all throughout Mexico and the Southwest USA, numerous times. Many churches of the region, both small and large, bear her name as does this small chapel built in 1920.
The phrase “cherry on top” makes me think of an ice cream sundae or something sweet like that. As for me personally, I have never cared for the preserved red cherry on top, but I do enjoy fresh cherries immensely. Besides the obvious Christian theme, maybe that is what this picture is about. Enjoy and here is the official definition for the phrase according to the Oxford dictionary.
“A desirable feature perceived as the finishing touch to something that is already very good.” Fits this picture very well, don’t you think.
Back at the end of January I was standing outside my place-to-stay in Arroyo Seco, NM. Immediately the vivid violent panorama of the snow-covered mountains caught my eye, so I rushed indoors, grabbed my point-and-shoot digital camera and snapped off several photos of the towering peaks, just as the sun was setting in the west. The above picture features a mountain range called the Sangre de Christo mountains. For those of you, who do not understand Spanish, Sangre de Christo literally means “Blood of Christ”. The colorful handle was first applied by the Spanish explorers, who visited this part of New Mexico during the 16th century and took special notice of the intense color of the mountains, displayed as the sun set in the west and cast its rays eastward, illuminating the towering summits in the process. This natural phenomena is very similar to the “alpenglow” found in Switzerland.
Coronado On the Upper Rio Grande
Francisco Vásquez De Coronado was a Spanish explorer, who ventured into the southwestern portions of the United States in 1540, 1541 and 1542. His adventures took him to the Colorado River, many Native settlements in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Reportedly, he and his party of explorers traveled as far east and north as Kansas. The above mural can be found in the mountain town of Taos, NM and documents Coronado’s journey north along the Rio Grande, where he encountered many of the Pueblo villages. In 1542 Coronado returned to Mexico, but his footsteps were followed several decades later by other Spanish explorers.
The Sangre de Christo Range
The Sangre de Christo Range in the southern Rockies is quite extensive, for it extends from Glorietta Pass near Las Vegas, NM in the south all the way north to the Colorado Springs area, where the mighty Pikes Peak can be found. The above photo was also taken in the Taos area, but features a different group of peaks located slightly to the north.
Originally, Boxing Day – the first weekday after Christmas Day – was observed as a holiday “on which postmen, errand boys, and servants of various kinds received a Christmas box of contributions from those whom they serve”. (Charles Dickens)
Boxing Day gets its name not from the martial art of landing a closed fist on your opponent, but from collection boxes left at churches. In these boxes gifts for the poor and less privileged are dropped and then re-distributed. There is also a tradition, as described above by Dickens, where certain occupations are rewarded with small gifts from their beneficiaries. All of these activities can occur on Boxing Day, which is readily celebrated in Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, as well as many Eastern European countries. Boxing Day is closely related to the Feast of St. Stephen, which also occurs on December 26. It is believed that the boxing tradition of gift-giving was begun by Christians celebrating the much-revered Jerusalem saint.
Saint Stephen is believed to be the oldest of Christian martyrs. In fact, Stephen was a Jerusalem deacon, who was stoned to death in the year 35 A.D. by a mob that was encouraged by a historical figure named Saul of Tarsus, who would later be known (after his conversion to Christianity) as Paul the Apostle.
The feast of St. Stephen is observed in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Greek Orthodox churches. It is also mentioned in the popular English Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslaus.
Today is Saint Patrick Day, which is a feast day that celebrates his memory and is observed on the day of his death, sometime in the fifth century. Although born in Britain and/or Wales, most of his life is associated with Ireland and the Christian Church.
Croagh Mountain is a coastal mountain in Ireland, where it is believed the popular saint fasted for forty days during Lent. Currently, pilgrims gather at the summit on the last Sunday of July to honor the Irish Saint. The mountain is located in County Mayo and is just over 2500 feet high. The chapel at the summit is referred to as the Croagh Patrick Oratory. By the way the gaelic word, croagh, is similar to the English stack.
Saint Patrick first came to Ireland after being captured by raiders. It is believed he spent his first six years on the island herding sheep near a place called slemish. During this time he was able to learn the Gaelic language.
This weekend was the last in a planned series of public discourse, called the Munk Debates. An initiative of the Aurea Foundation, the Munk Debates occur twice a year and are featured on CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting company. Having the past Prime Minister of Great Britain, participate in this event, probably heightened exposure for the occasion. For as it turned out, the debate was widely covered by the press, both in the US and Great Britain. (I think live viewing was restricted to Canada)
According to a poll of attendees, Hitchens won the exchange with his premise that religion is a destructive force in the world. Tony Blair, who has converted to Catholicism since leaving public office, took an opposing view that religion can be a powerful force for good.
The public appearance of Hitchens was noteworthy as he is currently undergoing chemotherapy at present for cancer of the esophagus. Presently the noted man of letters has a bit of a ghostly appearance due to his frequent medical treatments. Reportedly, Mr. Hitchens had cut back on his chemo, so as to be mentally awake for the debate. My only wish, is that it’s a shame the two could have taken opposite sides on the most recent Iraq War that still lingers on, even to this day.
Recently, one of the more noteworthy of the planet’s writer-philosophers has been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus and as of late the writer has been making the literary rounds discussing his condition – and of course philosophizing about the whole event and what it all means. And this philosopher is none other than Christopher Hitchens, one of the most widely read authors of the English language.
Mr. Hitchens even caught my eye when he wrote about Stieg Larsson and the popular posthumous success that has surrounded the Swedish writer, since The Millenium trilogy was published. In fact, that one little post has drawn more attention than anything else that I have written, for Hitchens very much liked Larsson’s writing and was glad to the literary world know about it in an article that appeared a while back in Vanity Fair.
Now Christopher Hitchens is back in Vanity Fair, solemnly contemplating his own demise and his unshakably stating his conviction as an atheist. In his Atlantic Monthly interview, Hitchens takes the time to discuss all the letters that he has received since his public declaration on the spread of his cancer to the lymph nodes.
According to the British writer, responses to his condition can be roughly divided into three groups. Those that wish him the best, even though the odds are against a successful recovery, those that hope for a deathbed confession and conversion and finally those that hope that Hitchens go straight to hell. And the big issue here is not his unwaivering support of the American-lead Iraq War, but rather a little book that he wrote entitled, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
This book has been in the book stores for a few years now and whenever I see the catchy title I often pick the manuscript up, just to sample a paragraph or two. And from what I’ve read, it’s not hard to see how the non-fiction title became such a big seller. However, one just can’t help but wonder, if somehow his current situation is not in somehow pyschically related to his commercial success with the atheist title. Of course, Hitchens has categorically denied anything of such a nature and has even stated that if in the future, he ever comes out with a statement that is the least bit similar to a confession or conversion that it should be automatically rejected as a by product of the chemotherapy or pain-killing drugs.
Still I would like to join the first group of writers and hope for a recovery for the “Hitch” as he likes to be called. I am sure that the writer has plans for other literary efforts and I hope that they will be forthcoming in the near future.
The solstice has now passed and the days are getting longer, but the thermometer is dropping, as the New Year quickly approaches.
What better time to walk around in the freezing cold and photograph some of the seasonal creations that are on display in this northern city, where hours of actual daylight dips below ten hours.
Perhaps this explains why some of the older cultures resorted to building large bonfires to light up the winter night sky.
Nowadays, in the modern era we have the electricity to do the chore for us.
Here in Portland the popular thing to do is to decorate the tress or buildings with balls of lights. It really does look quite splendid in the long winter sky, but I have noticed that the lighting displays have become increasing thinner as the nation struggles throught he darkness of lean economic times.
Here is another picture taken from the city park with a hint of afterglow in the night sky. This concept of hanging lights on trees is quite unique to my eyes and quite wonderful as well.
And finally one more picture of some lights on a tree along with the moon in the night sky which is close to full.
Such is the wonder of the new digital technology, which allows me to go out and take the night picture with a hand held Kodak digital camera, come home and slide the SD card into the slot on my computer and post this picture just hours after it was taken. Best wishes and a Happy New Year, Everett Autumn
Here is a still picture from the newest release by Joe and Ethan Coen, entitled A Serious Man. It is an image of the main character standing on the roof of his own home, which is located in a very mundane and grassy suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The setting works very well for this mastery-told story that follows the trials and tribulations of a Jewish Physics Professor, Larry Gopnik (played by Michael Stuhlbarg).
This image is everywhere, as a promotion for the film. Only after seeing the movie did I realize that this particular still, both satirizes and also confirms the archetype of “The Fiddler On the Roof”. I think it is safe to say that this scene, where Larry Gopnik has to climb up on the roof to adjust the family TV antennae, so that his teenage son can watch F-Troop, is designed as a late sixties version of the classic Jewish tale. In fact throughout this thoroughly engaging film, there is the constant presence of Jewish religious thought, often portrayed by a series of rabbis both young and green and old and learned. But don’t let the presence of a large number of religious leaders deter anyone from viewing this comic gem of a movie. For in this witty piece of cinematic storytelling, the religious message is relayed through a series of humorous, entertaining and sometimes tragic events. The movie makes the forever valid assertion that good storytelling involves tragedy and misfortune as often as it does triumph and success.
This movie is really two fables. The first one occurs in the past, somewhere in Poland, where the three characters where clothing and inhabit a setting straight out of Fiddler on the Roof. This excellent piece is very short and at first appears to have no relationship to the main tale. The bulk of the movie follows Professor Gropnik through an extraordinary series of mid-life crises that seemed to have come his way by divine providence, just to rattle his soul and test his faith.
All in all, A Serious Man is a very good perhaps even a great movie, which was written from scratch by the two talented brothers. This cinematic episode is another fine effort from these two, as the pair continues to leave their artistic stamp on the Hollywood movies of the late 20th and early 21st century.
Hope all is well, as we quickly approach the Holiday season and New Year. Best wishes Everett Autumn.