Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Feminine names for God...

"Blessed be the Creatress and Governess of all things, the holy and undivided Trinity: now and forever, world without end."
-Antiphon on the Benedictus for Trinity Sunday, use of Sarum.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Liturgical TeX

One of the things I've been working on is figuring out how to set liturgically things on the computer.  There are certain stylistic requirements for my tastes, all of which can be difficult to meet in the same program.  I've had a lot of luck with OpenOffice.org, but of course styles stay hidden, and errors can creep in when one forgets to use a style instead of manually setting something, and then goes to change the style later.

I've flirted with TeX before, but the learning curve is a bit steep.  I've recently come back to it when I learned that XeTeX will use features that certain .att or opentype fonts may contain- and it's the only free program, besides TextEdit, that will, on Mac.  Hoefler Text, one of the fonts that comes with the Mac OS, has a lot of these features, such as "archaic" ligatures, and internal long Ss.
Using XeLaTex, this is what I've come up with recently.

XeTeX allows the use of unicode characters - though it took me a while to figure out that the file must be saved, at least in TeXShop, with "UTF-8" specified as the encoding - both for opening and closing.  It won't default to it.

The drop caps are set with the "lettrine" package; the fonts set with "fontspec."
To get the stars, versicle and response, and cross symbols, I used these macros:

\font\Versiculus="Cardo:color=FF0000" % Cardo and Apple
% Symbols are the only two fonts I
% have with the Versicle and
% Response symbols; TeX won't
% substitute automatically.
\def\{$\star$\ } % TeX's star is only in math mode
\def\V{ {\Versiculus ℣.}}
\def\R{ {\Versiculus ℟.}}
\def\cross {{\fontspec{Zapf Dingbats} ✠ }}

So, using the packages fontspec, xunicode, xltxtra, and lettrine, the first bit is set like this:

\setmainfont[UprightFeatures={Ligatures={Common,Rare},Swashes=Inner}, ItalicFeatures={Ligatures=Rare,Swashes=Inner,Colour=ff0000}]{Hoefler Text}

\chapter*{Table Blessings}  % the * is to suppress numbering.
\section*{Before Dinner \\ Throughout the Year}
\V Bless ye.  \R The Lord.
\subsection{Psalm 145. 15-16.}
\lettrine[lines=3]{\fontspec{Goudy Initialen}T}{he} eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord; \⋆ and thou givest them their meat in due season.
% The first drop cap is a different font; the
% successive ones will be \lettrine{T}{he}
Thou openest thine hand, \⋆ and fillest all things living with plenteousness.

Glory be \emph{\&c.}

\V Lord have mercy upon us.  \R Christ, have mercy upon us.

% ... and so on

Next up, I'm going to experiment with another documentclass I found, called memoir, to see if that doesn't make it easier to fix the margins, headings, and spacing to be more in line with liturgical norms.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A paradox.

At the behest of my brother-in-law, I just finished a conversation with him and a friend of his about Christianity. My brother is in the process of learning more about Christianity, and coming to find his own views, and was interested in having us present our views in dialogue with each other. His other friend is a Calvinist, with liturgical sympathies.

My brother found it very enlightening, but I found it tedious at times. I find it a bit odd, though maybe it isn't as odd as it seems: I can have wonderful conversations about religion, God, Christ, &c., with people of *other* religions, but it can be very difficult to talk with certain Christians about. Part of what I felt was a weakness on my side was that he was rigidly appealing to the Bible, and specific verses, to support his views- which I at times found quite objectionable. On the other hand, he thought my views were unfounded. Of course, I think they were founded, but not usually on a verse here or there, but more on the understanding I get of a fuller picture. Like any art, however, I can't define that. The picture is more than the sum of this verse and that verse, and I don't know how to put it into words that convey how it gets assembled in my brain.

For the most part, I try not to espouse heretical views. In a few cases, I might anyway, but I'm probably not too insistent on them; the church believes orthodoxly on my behalf, and I'm open to being wrong. But that's really as far as I'm interested in going on some issues. I don't know how to "explain myself!" justifying details of my understanding of the ineffable, especially when my understanding is very much reflecting through a dark mirror. One of the more uncomfortable parts of the conversation was about salvation and redemption. I've just about finished Alister McGrath's intro to Christian Theology. The chapters on salvation, redemption, atonement, &c., are all very vague. Salvation seems to have meant a lot of things to a lot of people, and there isn't an orthodox understanding, and the nature of redemption seems to have been understood in a lot of ways, all acceptable. But, to me, some of them are unacceptable- I cannot think that Jesus died on the Cross to either pacify or pay the debt to an indignant God who intends to do us ill because we were unsuccessful at following his rules. Now, to be sure, there's truth to be found in that; but over all I find that to be uncompelling, and, in fact, off-putting. His response was that that was my problem, it was in the Bible, parts of it were horrifying and offensive, but were true and we were obliged to change to accommodate them.

Our biggest difference was on people of other religions, the state of their salvation, and the obligation to evangelise them. He seemed to think they're damned unless they hear the good news of Jesus from another person. I don't think they're necessarily damned- no more so, at least, than nominal Christians. I'm willing to "evangelise" by doing good deeds, but I can't imagine telling someone who may already have a fine relationship with Christ that they're going to hell and must convert because they don't use my words. He would say they do not have a relationship with Christ, because in the Bible Christ asserts that he can only have relationships with those who come to him under that name and form, and that is why we must spread it.

It's frustrating. My exposure so far to theology has mostly left me as unclear after as before. It hasn't brought a whole lot of light to my understanding. And yet, it seems I will have to learn more - and take notes - not to build a spiritual edifice, but rather as a foundation against the buffettings of other Christians.