Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

29 July 2005

The Development of Masonic Ritual 1390-1843

I have finally begun working on the history of Masonic ritual course for the Maine Masonic College. These last eight weeks have been incredibly busy, so I have not had the contemplative opportunity to reflect and decide on course scope. This is the proposal I wrote to them:

Name: Christian A. Ratliff

Address: ...., South Portland, ME 04106

E-mail and Tel. Number: ....

Title of Course: The Development of Masonic Ritual 1390-1842

Course Level: General Awareness . Skill Building . (FUNDAMENTALS) .
Extensive Study . Other .

Course Type: (LECTURE) . Seminar . Correspondence . Reading/Report . Practicum .

Location: (Please give suggestions and preferences):
Anywhere from Kittery to Bangor is acceptable for me.

Length of Course: (SINGLE SESSION) . Multiple Sessions . Number: ___________

Please Describe:
This course is structured as a single presentation of two to four hours with
the opportunity for dialog during the entire presentation.

(Note: This category does not apply to Correspondence, Reading/Response or Practicum offerings.)

This course covers the development of Masonic ritual from its start as a simple guild initiation during the Gothic Constitutions period through the aborted attempt to create a common Masonic ritual in the United States at the Baltimore Convention of 1843. The discussion will focus on the change points in the development of the ritual: fear-inducing oath before God, bigradal system with E.A. and F.C., quest for a M.M. (Three Sons of Noah), public Freemasonry and the start of the M.M., creation of the lectures, and finally attempted ritual consolidation.

The history of Masonic Ritual is a key to understanding the history of the Craft in general as it encodes the history at various stages. This insight allows us to discover errors in theories about the origin of the Craft, for instance, John Robinson's Templar theory of "Born in Blood" is predicated on the existence of a M.M. degree during the Gothic Constitutions period. Since the trigradal system did not develop for more than three hundred years after the Templar suppression, such a history for the Craft is virtually impossible.

Such insights are the gift of a firm grasp of Masonic ritual. The course will attempt to provide the necessary overview and point out worthy texts to expand the knowledge of the attendees. A comprehensive bibliography is a key handout at the end of the session.

Materials needed:

A good night's sleep, writing implement, and notebook as the history is both
complex and diverse and handouts will not be provided until after the lecture
is concluded.

How will participants’ learning be assessed?

As it is a lecture format, there is no plan to perform an assessment. If this
is desired one can be composed.

Budget and equipment needs?


Submit by e-mail to mainemasoniccollege@mainemason.org or by postal mail to:
Maine Masonic College c/o Edward L. King, Secretary, PO Box 816, Bangor, ME 04402

26 July 2005

Life Without an iPod & Life Without a Croncast

Three weeks ago I was listening to Warren Zevon, Johnny Cash, and The Croncast on a fishing trip in Bethel, Maine. I went to charge up the iPod in the truck and at some point it was zapped by the experience. When I returned home the iPod was not really working anymore.

What followed was three weeks of incredibly difficult programming, commuting and just general grumpiness. I had not realized just how much I had come to depend on this steady stream of music (Johnny Cash), old time radio (Superman), and humor (The Croncast) brought by the little white majik box.

Fortunately, and it feels weird to say this, the sales person at Circuit City (iPod Cafe) convinced me, back in January, to buy their City Advantage Protection Plan for $60. My brilliant wife, a less gregarious version of Betsy, promptly got on the horn with Circuit City. She took my dead iPod placed it carefully in a box and sent it off to the people at Circuit City. They took one look at it and put a gift card in the mail to me. She went to Circuit City on Monday, while I was at work, and bought me an iPod photo (30GB). The new iPod is totally great, far better than my previous model with its lax battery life.

So, I fired it up and listened to The Croncast (Show #97) to find my favorite married couple (read: genuine people) having a little trauma. Then I find them on vacation. As a lowly blogger, I want to send out a huge shout out to Kris and Betsy Smith, the funniest, realest damn couple in the world of podcasting! I look forward to hearing new shows from you in the future, when you are back from vacation. I will have someone take a picture in October when I am up in the woods listening to your show on a fishing trip, miles from telephones and electricity.

Brigit as an Altar Server

Brigit as an Altar Server
Originally uploaded by cratliff.

Here is a picture of Brigit on Tuesday 26 July 2005 serving the altar for the first time at Holy Cross Church in South Portland. She had a wonderful time, did a good job, and is looking forward to serving the altar again soon.

I had not noticed what feast day it was until Tandy opened the missal and saw it was the feast of Saints Joachim and Ann, the parents of Mary. St. Ann has looked after my family and helped up in many trying times. It could be coincidence, but I do not see it that way.

25 July 2005

Adrian's Bachelor Party Pictures

Adrian with Maeve's Handbag
Originally uploaded by cratliff.

A steady stream of pictures were taking starting at lunch and going right up through paintball. There are no just too tired to press the little button on the camera. As Bert mentioned in an email, "Very few pictures that would prevent anybdinner pictures because I wasody from running for president in the future, too. I'm not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing!"

You too can see the unvarnished truth at Flickr (Adrian's Bachelor Party Set).

24 July 2005

Catholic Moral Theology?

So, I was trying to keep down my dinner as I read the linked article. It outlines an unbelievable situation where the Remdemptorists are retaining a priest who fathered a child as a seminarian. As a result, the vow of poverty he took, part of being a Redemptorist, is preventing him from fully supporting his son. The most unbelievable moment of all comes from this quote:

As the birth of the baby approached, Collopy, then 26, went to court seeking child support from Uribe. She also sued the Archdiocese of Portland and the Redemptorists for $200,000. She alleged that the seminarian, by having sex with a parishioner, had breached his fiduciary duty as someone who "performed pastoral duties for the archdiocese."
Their son was born in February 1993. In 1994, the archdiocese — headed by then-Archbishop of Portland William Joseph Levada, now a cardinal in the Vatican and advisor to Pope Benedict XVI — filed a motion to have Collopy's suit thrown out.

The archdiocese said it had never directly employed Uribe. It further argued that "no one other than the parents are responsible for support of a minor child" and that the case had statute of limitations problems.

Finally, the archdiocese said the "birth of the plaintiff's child and the resultant expenses … are the result of the plaintiff's own negligence," specifically because she engaged in "unprotected intercourse."

What kind of Catholic moral theology is that? The Church believes it is sinful to have sex outside of wedlock, but they believe it negligent to have unprotected sex outside of wedlock? If she had required a condom and it failed, would she then not have been negligent? Please tell me I am not reading this. The Church is being run by priests or by lawyers?

The original article is in the LA Times, but I read it in Roman Catholic Blog.

23 July 2005

Lower Enchanted Pond

Lower Enchanted Pond
Originally uploaded by cratliff.

My favorite picture of Lower Enchanted Pond on a early Autumn morning. The camp site for our Dead River trips is just behind this position. There are other landscape photographs like this on flickr.

Thank goodness Noah and Brook turned me on to flickr.

22 July 2005

The Returnable Bachelor Party

A good friend from work is having his bachelor party this weekend. Rather than a sopping drunk, bankrupting, fist-full-of-dollars evening at a strip club, which is what most people think of when you say bachelor party, if they forget about Tom Hanks an the Nun, we are going to have fun. The plan is to spend a few hours at Maine Indoor Karting racing around the track. After karting we are off to dinner in the Old Port, where the primary issue is which restaurant to pick. Then it is up to Firestorm Paintball in Limington to fire painballs (or paintballs) at each other until the sun goes down. Finally, we go back to the Old Port for carousing and showing off our paintball bruises in crowded bars. It may not sound like fun to some, but it is perfect as far as I am concerned. My own bachelor party was a night of beer and snooker at the local pool hall.

What does this have to do with returnables?

I live about ten or fifteen minutes from Maine Indoor Karting so I invited people over for lunch. People are going to show up here at 11am for keilbasa, chicken, onion rings and potato salad. The missing ingredient is a nice beer to go with lunch. I started putting the returnables, which had been stacked all over the garage, into my trunk. It was soon filled along with my entire back seat! It took the better part of an hour to process them all at RSVP. I went over to their beer and wine shope to buy these:

The total cost for this bounty: $7.00! Not a bad deal for a case of various and sundry beer.

19 July 2005

The Injuring Door and Home Improvement Nightmares

I spent this past weekend working with my father-in-law on his house. My task was to replace the trim on a door, the trim having become victim to the weather. The task seemed easy enough until I removed the old trim and found the dry rot went a fair bit deeper into the door frame. Off to The Despot to purchase a door frame kit. The helpful sales guy tried to con my father-in-law into buying a whole new door with the assertion that it was the same price as the frame kit. The math was interesting to say the least:

  • frame kit $70
  • sill $20
  • door with window $189
  • Sales guy arguing that $90 equals $190 Priceless!
After some wiggling we escaped The Despot with out lives and just the $90 option. Replacing the frame went well for me, considering it was my first time. The miter cuts, without the aid of a chop saw, was somewhat less than entertaining but it came out alright in the end. The door opens and closes and latches and no longer needs to be tied open. The project was essentially a success, but...

In the process of winging the metal sheathed door around I managed to torque my back pretty terribly. This simple act transformed what we call "sleep" from a solid seven or eight hours of solace to two hours of low grade unconsciousness bracketed by a grunting turn from one side to the other. This gave a new freedom to nightmares, which were all home improvement oriented.

I dreamt I was standing in my kitchen when I hear a groaning sound and turned to look at the sink. I realized the counter top was lifting because the outlets appeared to be sinking down into it. Then a loud cracking sound and water shooting into the sky and *** I woke up sweating and nervous with lancing pains in my back. It was 2:37am and I was too rattled to get back to sleep. I grabbed my pillow and went downstairs to check if my countertops were in place still; all was well in the kitchen. I picked a snack and settled onto the couch to continue my reread of The Physics of Star Trek, an excellent book for the literalists of the world if it is a little dated here and there.

Two hours later I was asleep again having dozed off on the couch. I was walking through my in-law's garage and I needed to walk through the door I replaced. Every time I approached it would fall in toward me then when I pushed it the door would fall away outside. Trying to find a balance point while searching the floor for a screw or a nail or something to secure the door before the window breaks *** My youngest is sitting on the couch asking me what is wrong, it is 5:30am.

After getting her settled with a snack and a saved show. I just want to mention that the folks who invented TiVO have a special place in Heaven. Now you can save the shows on TV that your kids can actually watch safely and rely on the good old V-chip to keep the bad stuff at bay. I went upstairs with my pillow again to try and catch a few good Zzzz's. No sooner had I laid down than the nightmares came again with the basement flooding again or the garage falling down. Soon I gave up and went downstairs for breakfast.

The horrors of home improvement nightmares.