Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Strive for that one instant!

The focus of prayer is not the self. A man may spend hours meditating about himself, or be stirred by the deepest sympathy for his fellow man, and no prayer will come to pass. Prayer comes to pass in a complete turning of the heart toward God, toward His goodness and power. It is the momentary disregard of our personal concerns, the absence of self-centered thoughts, which constitute the act of prayer. Feeling becomes prayer in the moment in which we forget ourselves and become aware of God. When we analyze the consciousness of a supplicant, we discover that it is not concentrated upon his own interests but on something beyond the self. The thought of personal need is absent, and the thought of divine grace alone is present in his mind. Thus, in beseeching Him for bread, there is one instant, at least, in which our mind is directed neither to our hunger nor to food but to His mercy. This instant is prayer.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 348–49 (emphasis original)

Friday, November 26, 2021

Thoughts on the "metaverse"

So Facebook has renamed itself Meta and is dumping vast amounts of money into the metaverse. I'm reminded of the 1909 short story "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster. You can read a plot summary on the wiki here. Because it is out of copyright, you can read the complete short story here. It's a mere 25 pages and well worth your time.

Here's a portion of the last couple of pages, which is loaded with good theology as a mother and son are faced with the collapse of everything they know:

They wept for humanity, those two, not for themselves. They could not bear that this should be the end. Ere silence was completed their hearts were opened, and they knew what had been important on the earth. Man, the flower of all flesh, the noblest of all creatures visible, man who had once made god in his image, and had mirrored his strength on the constellations, beautiful naked man was dying, strangled in the garments that he had woven. Century after century had he toiled, and here was his reward. Truly the garment had seemed heavenly at first, shot with colours of culture, sewn with the threads of self-denial. And heavenly it had been so long as it was a garment and no more, man could shed it at will and live by the essence that is his soul, and the essence, equally divine, that is his body. The sin against the body—it was for that they wept in chief; the centuries of wrong against the muscles and the nerves, and those five portals by which we can alone apprehend—glozing it over with talk of evolution, until the body was white pap, the home of ideas as colourless, last sloshy stirrings of a spirit that had grasped the stars.
Dystopian? Yes, but with a nice snippet of hope in there, too. Read the whole thing to find the hope I'm talking about.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

It might start there, but…

For neither the lips nor the brain is the limit of the scene on which prayer takes place. Speech and devotion are functions auxiliary to a metaphysical process. Common to all men who pray is the certainty that prayer is an act which makes the heart audible to God. Who would pour his most precious hopes into a deaf abyss? Essential is the metaphysical rather than the psychical dimension of prayer. Prayer is not a thought that rambles alone in the world but an event that starts in man and ends in God. What goes on in our heart is a humble preliminary to an event in God.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 347

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Monday, November 22, 2021

It's more than the will…

But prayer goes beyond the scope of emotion; it is the approach of the human to the transcendent. Prayer makes man a relative to the sublime, initiating him into the mystery. The will, at times, is an outsider to the sanctuary of the soul. It ushers in great things, but does not always control them. The will to pray opens the gates, but what enters is not its product. The will is not a creative but an auxiliary power, the servant of the soul. Creative forces may be discharged, but not engendered, by the will. Thus, inclination to pray is not prayer. Deeper forces and qualities of the soul must be mobilized before prayer can be accomplished. To pray is to pull oneself together, to pour our perception, volition, memory, thought, hope, feeling, dreams, all that is moving in us, into one tone. Not the words we utter, the service of the lips, but the way in which it is performed, the devotion of the heart to what the words contain, the consciousness of speaking under His eyes, is the pith of prayer.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 347

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And that's why just saying "my thoughts and prayers are with you" falls short. That's the will to prayer, but not the actual substance. The actual substance is throwing the whole body, mind, and soul into it. And that can be hard at times. It's easier to go through the motions, but far less rewarding and satisfying, as tomorrow's excerpt will talk about.
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Sunday, November 21, 2021

Persian Inscriptions: Abbreviations

I thought I had bookmarked a site with a listing of Persian inscription abbreviations, but alas, no.

Anyway, here's the basic rule: "The standard siglum for Old Persian royal inscriptions is by initial letter of the king’s name, letter for the location, and lowercase letter for the order of its discovery; thus, DNa stands for Darius (I), Naqš-ī Rustam, first inscription." (Political Memory in and after the Persian Empire, vii). While this is good information, is doesn't help much, does it?

But, Livius.org has a nice listing, which is the one I thought I had bookmarked.

Table of contents for copyediting stuff.

Friday, November 19, 2021

Prayer without works is…

To most people, thinking is a thing that grows in the hothouse of logic, separated from the atmosphere of character and of everyday living. They consider it possible for a man to be unscrupulous and yet to write well about righteousness. Others may disagree with this view. However, all of us, mindful of the ancient distinction between lip service and the service of the heart, agree that prayer is not a hothouse plant of temples but a shoot that grows in the soil of life, springing from widespread roots hidden in all our needs and deeds. Vicious needs, wicked deeds, felt or committed today, are like rot cankering the roots of tomorrow's prayer. A hand used in crime is an ax laid to the roots of worship.» It is as Isaiah said: “And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; Yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood.” Life is fashioned by prayer, and prayer is the quintessence of life.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 346–47

Thursday, November 18, 2021

What's the purpose of prayer

Prayer is not thinking. To the thinker, God is an object; to the man who prays, He is the subject. Awaking in the presence of God, our aim is not to acquire objective knowledge but to deepen the mutual allegiance of man and God. What we want is not to know Him but to be known to Him; not to form judgments about Him but to be judged by Him; not to make the world an object of our mind but to let it come to His attention, to augment His, rather than our knowledge. We endeavor to disclose ourselves to the Sustainer of all, rather than to enclose the world in ourselves.—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 346

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Sorry for the hiatus; I'm a trifle busy right now and don't have a lot of time for leisurely reading. But, I decided to carve out a few minutes every day for Heschel.

While I might quibble with some of what he says here, I think that on the whole, he is correct. Prayer isn't about us! It's about God. I read somewhere the other day that Mother Theresa was once asked how she prayed. She replied, "I listen." The questioner then asked what God said. She replied, "He listens." After a pause, she continued, "And if you don't understand what that means, I can't explain it." Yep.
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Thursday, November 11, 2021

The order of the elements in a bibliography

I don't know about anybody else—well, that's not quite true—but I never was very clear about what order stuff is supposed to appear in the bibliography. Does the edition precede the editor (I've seen it that way)? Does the edition precede the translator (I've seen it that way)? Where does the series name/number go?

I asked a fellow copyeditor one time, and they replied that my question made their head swim! That was encouraging, because I thought I was alone in it.

In cases like that, I turn to the basics: CMS17 and SBLHS2. Being lazy, I perused all the examples—multiple times. I should have been rereading the text, because the answer was right in front of me, in SBLHS2 §6.1.1. Sequence of Information. Can't get much clearer than that, can it?

So, what is that sequence (remember, for bibliographies; footnotes play fast and loose with the page number location and only list all the authors/editors if they are 3 or fewer; otherwise, et al.)?

Author/Editor (last, first, Author2 [first last], Author3 [first last], etc.). "Title of article." Pages xx–xx in Title of book. Edited by Editor 1 (and Editor 2, etc.). Translated by Person. X ed. x vols. Series Name x/xx. City (State): Publisher, xxxx.
If there is more than one publisher, then a semicolon separates them:
Fribourg; Presses Universitaires; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, xxxx.

Some are more complicated, but you get the idea. Perusing the examples with this as a foundation will hopefully keep you (and me) from getting too confused.

We're all libertarians now

Have you noticed lately how many people are claiming, "It's my body!" in answer to why they are or aren't doing something, be it vaccines or abortions?

Isn't it ironic that both left and right are claiming the same thing—but for different things?

The right claims "It's my body!" when they don't want to wear a mask or get a vaccine.

The left claims "It's my body!" when it comes to abortion rights.

But what if they are both wrong?

I know that's sounds like heresy in our culture, where individual rights are sacrosanct. But, think for a minute. What if the body politic has a say? What if we consider the common good for a minute?

When was the last time you heard someone talk about the common good?

Yep, we are all libertarians now...

Just an
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Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Managing bibliographies, part 1

After a bit of a hiatus, more on copyediting. In this post, I'm showing you a system that works for me. Others use other systems, but I found this to be the simplest and haven't found it necessary to modify in over five years now.

Bibliographies are the one area where the style guides diverge the most. For this post, I'm assuming SBLHS2, with the amendments from their blog as necessary.

For the example here, I am using a bibliography from a collection of essays, so the bibliography is only for one chapter. That both simplifies and complicates things, but the principles are the same.

I always start with the bibliography when I edit. It makes sense to get that checked and fixed first. Otherwise, if you edit the chapter first, any errors you find in the bibliography will need to be corrected on stuff you've already done. When you are paid by the page, which I usually am, that's costing you money—and causing more stress to hit the deadline.

Before I start, I create a separate file with the bibliography and name it Chapter# Working Bibliography, so in this example, the file is 20_Working_Bibliography.docx. For chapters below ten, I use a leading zero to keep them sorted properly, so 07_Working_Bibliography.docx, etc.

I check every bibliography entry for accuracy using WorldCat for books, and Google search for articles. When WorldCat results seem contradictory, I try to find the publisher's website. Whatever you do, don't rely on Amazon's listings; they are notoriously error-ridden, just ask any publisher!

For articles, a Google search will usually show you an academia.edu or some other web despository, which is really nice, because they usually have the original document. Barring that, another gold is a book reference. If the Google book reference disagrees with your entry, try a different book. In cases of disagreement, if I can't find the original, I go with the best two out of three or three out of four. If it is a mess everywhere, I put an author query on it for them to check.

The next problem is how to keep track of short forms and to prevent a full entry twice or only a short entry. And, most importantly, when an author has been referenced in the body text, so you don't use their first name twice. The following example is what works for me. Your mileage may vary! Note that for this bibliography, I had to create it from the footnotes, so their are no em-dashes for multiple entries of the same author. When I copy it into the chapter at the end, I fix that. But it is handy for creating a sorted combined bibliography (I'll talk about that in a future post—consistency in multiple author volumes is a big concern).

This is from chapter 20. The "20." at the beginning of an entry means it has been referenced once. The underlined portion means that it has been referenced by that short form later in the chapter. The asterisk means that they have been referenced by first name in the body text.

After editing the chapter, I always check to make sure everything in the bibliography has been referenced. Because there is the chapter number at the beginning of the entry, it is easy to scan down the page. I usually enter it as a search term to highlight it, making it easier to see.

If an entry doesn't have a number in front, I do a search on the chapter to confirm it is missing. If it is, I either mark it with a query, or if instructed by the publisher, delete it from the chapter bibliography. I always leave it in my working bibliography! Very few publishers allow uncited entries in the bibliography, but sometimes they will allow a "Related Works" or "Further Reading" section, which is why I keep the original intact. (It's also fun to see how much an author "pads" their bibliography—expecially if it is a revised dissertation. The highest percentage I've ever seen is 25 percent. Most come in around 2–3 percent.)

Here's the table of contents for all the copyediting stuff.

Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Musings on clicking through on a link

The other day, I chased a Tech Radar link on how much sleep you need. I know that they say your sleep needs change as you get older—and I've experienced that several different times in my life. So, I was wondering what the latest research was.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post; I might come back to that some other time. The point of this one is that the link didn't really say much of anything; it was more a glorified advertisement, with the whole thing building up to the products they were plugging at the end, and for which I'm sure they get a nice commission.

No surprises there; that's only too common these days. Gotta keep the lights (and servers) on somehow!

But how they did it was what I found interesting. First graphic: An older Asian couple sleeping in a bed. Second graphic: A thirty-something guy w/longish hair and the short, neatly trimmed beard that is stylish. Third graphic: A lesbian couple sleeping together. Fourth graphic: A thirty-something woman walking along a paved path with fall-colored leaves.

It was almost like they were keeping a checklist of things to cover. They know their main clientele will be somewhat "woke" middle-to-upper-middle class thirty-something, white people, so they want to cover the bases. I suspect the Asian couple was chosen instead of a POC couple to show they were against the anti-Asian attitudes that Covid caused to rise to the surface. The lesbian couple was to show that they are not homophobic. And we have to have the good-looking white guy and the woman walking outside to glue it together for their clientele.

Am I being overly cynical here? Maybe. But I doubt it. To paraphrase Jesus in John, "He didn't need anyone to tell him what goes on in a marketer's mind, for he knew." I've worked in marketing a long time. Rule one: Know your clientele. Rule two: Don't piss them off. Rule three: Show that you sympathize with their concerns (or at least pretend that you do!). Rule four: Get them to buy.

Just an
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