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I propose an amendment to the name of your "As If Center." Make your center acceptably European ("centre") and Germanize the "as if" ("als ob") : the "Als Ob Centre." It's more pretentious that way, and suggests a smart allusion to Hans Vaihinger's "Philosophie des Als-Ob," according to which we can have no real knowledge of reality, but only useful fictions, narratives of the self which we construct and live by.

Your "fictive" academic conference will therefore be also "performative" (another good critical theory term): it will embody your centre and be an exercise in the philosophy of fictionalism.

Topic will be prayer, psychotherapy and ecclesiology in light of the eschatology of the Law of Preponderance of Means over Ends. The ghosts of poor Frank Kermode and Wallace Stevens will speak. Liturgical rubrics as Notes towards a Supreme Fiction, theosis as The Sense of an Ending, with an added Adlerian holism for hesychasm, in an age of Church committees.

My scolding is directed -- or should be directed -- at myself first, then my clerical colleagues, then the laity. But I still protest the over-scheduling of children away from the life of the Church.

I am ambivalent about your issue with Mother's Day. Thank you, first of all, for putting the possessive in its proper place. I agree with you that this is a "pseudo-semi-quasi-demi" feast day. I would add that it typically degenerates into maudlin sentimentality, along with the rest of American civic religion.

I defend Mother's Day in Orthodoxy mainly because the feminine charism and motherhood is being suppressed from all sides, left and right. Manhood is turning into a cartoon, and womanhood and motherhood have become insults. Because of this, and its latent anti-war (and anti-commercial and anti-industrial) meaning, I think I will continue to do my annual Mother's Day bulletin.

Thank you for your comment.

7. Most of your examples scold laypeople for choosing these activities over church, but my example in this category would be the parish making a pseudo-semi-quasi-demi feast day out of Mother's Day. (Different from your citing of "urgent" alternatives, but granted spurious priority nonetheless.) And the priest is totally all for it; he's not just bowing to pressure from Mother's Day devotees. Our parish's annual special coffee hour brunch is kind of a bore, but at least it's after Liturgy. But the priest's predictable elevation of Mother's Day in his sermon over whatever's on the church calendar that day is tedious in the extreme. (This year, MD was on Myrrhbearers' Sunday, and they barely got mentioned! And they're mothers!) This puzzles me in some ways because the priest is usually all about liturgical correctness otherwise. I think the sentimental "conservatism" of culture-war, nuclear-family-values-flavored symbolism, the chance to venerate it in church, is irresistible to some people. Oh how I wish I could inject the actual historical meaning of Mother's Day, which was about anti-war activism, into this mix if they want to go all Mother's Day once a year. Heh. But you know how THAT would play. (BTW, I'm a mom and on the receiving end of this fluffy veneration every year, so this isn't sour grapes from a non-mom.)

I would welcome a collaboration for the production of a decent translation of a Clear Exposition. I would be in favor, push comes to shove, of a completely underground sort of publication, even one that remains in cyberspace and never sees a printing press or a bindery.

In all seriousness, would there be merit to a collaborative project for a new translation? Or are we left to beg a publisher? Or find an eager seminarian? Louth's translation of St John on the Divine Images seems quite helpful but for the life of me I cannot find the PE in a form I would really want to share.

James, you are inspiring me to construct an entirely fictive (but, mind you, attend-able in "theory") academic Conference with this and other presentations on the bill of fare. I might put your suggestion as the plenary. I love the "As If Center," but we need to render it into are more appealing latinate form: words like "stuff," "whatnot" and "saints" are too offensively concrete and honest. Think MLA.

Tie Dye Casual. Hmmm. Shorts, sandals, muumuu's, pantsuits, jeans and tee's, rainbow motif's. "Diversity of metaphor." I'll chew happily on that one.

I think the missing attibute in # 6 is the clear absence of a colon, mid-title, not to mention the usual descriptive I-can't-wait-to-sign-up-for-that caption.

"Self Perpetuating Commission for Academic-sounding Monologues: Meaning and Reflection on the Presence / Absence of Possibilities for Prayer in Contemporary Speech". Guest hosted by the As If Center for the Intercession of like Saints, Stuff and Whatnot. Sessions address the diversity of metaphor in communion, discourse, silence and rubric among the worship life of the multi-ethnic parish. Business Tie Dye Casual attire recommended.

Gee, that was clear, huh? As the Armstrong & Miller RAF pilots might say, "Isn't it?"

Greg: I forgot to complain about that very thing. The conflation of veneration and worship is one issue: there are many others in the extant translations. I would rather see a decent translation of this than a new "standard" translation of the Divine Liturgy.

Joseph: I'll take your addition to paragraph 6 "without qualification." I'm glad to see someone else has shared my puzzlement (and annoyance) at the dearth of Irenaean iconography. Does this saint have cooties or something?

6. And the use of modifiers so that, by the time something is said, it has been so equivocated that nothing has really been said.

10. On St. Irenaeus... my daughter Irena (4 months old) was in need of his icon. It was available from only one online store and even then out of stock. I had one commissioned a few weeks back.

Is there even a decent translation of Precise Exposition in print currently? Or are we left with handing folks translations that don't distinguish between veneration and worship?

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