Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Level Up

Synchronicity abounds!

Just yesterday I put my copy of A Dance with Dragons aside to watch the trailer for The Knights of Badassdom.

Tyrion Lannister is back as a POV character (Huzzah! the only Westerosi with a sense of humor) and I was happy to see Peter Dinklage show up in chain mail as a LARPer.

But, of course, we have Gary Gygax, the co-founder of D&D and creator of Gen Con, largely to thank for the fact that LARPing is now part of the mainstream. Today (July 27) is Gary Gygax's birthday, and my pal Ethan Gilsdorf has the lowdown on the planned memorial statue in Gygax's honor in Lake Geneva, WI.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tales from the Library, Part 3

A non-robot snippet from my current research project...

I recently came across the story of the death of Gerard, bishop of Hereford and then Archbishop of York. He was suspected by his congregation at York of being a necromancer, on account of the fact that he would spend part of every afternoon reading a book of astrology (the Mathesis of Julius Firmicus). One day, feeling unwell, he dismissed his servants and went into his garden to get some relief. His servants later found him dead with the book of astrology under his pillow. The canons at York were so enraged by the un-Christian practices of their archbishop that they refused to allow him to be buried in York Minster, and "would hardly suffer a lowly clod of earth to be thrown on him outside the gates."

Mathesis was written in the middle of the fourth century, and it circulated throughout the Middle Ages. There was a flurry of interest in astral science (astronomy and astrology) right around Gerard's lifetime, and most of the activity in England was in Hereford and its environs. But I guess the Good News of the Mathesis hadn't yet penetrated into the north...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Investiture Controversy Redux

The state-controlled Catholic Church in China recently appointed its second bishop (the first was in November)...without the consent of Pope Benedict XVI.

The last time this became a big deal was in the late eleventh century, when the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope went eyeball-to-eyeball over who had the authority to invest bishops (among others) with their sacred authority. The HRE accused the pope of being a false monk and a traitor; the Pope accused the HRE of being corrupt and unfit to rule, and encouraged the emperor's subjects to revolt. And then shit got real: Barefoot pilgrimages in the Alps, penance, excommunication, anathema, damnation, accusations of devil-worship, secular revolt, martyrdom, and much, much more.

This time, the rhetorical salvos* have already begun: Benedict XVI is "deeply saddened" by the "violation of the norm of can. 1382 of the Code of Canon Law," and that the "consecrating Bishops have exposed themselves [sic, and /smirk/--.ed] to the grave canonical sanctions laid down by the law of the Church."

Let's pull up our chairs and watch the next round of "Quien Es Más Macho: El Papa o Los Otros?"

*Via Twitter. That's right, Ben16 is sending out tweets.