Daily Archives: August 10, 2022

(Telegraph) Rhine close to running dry in German energy nightmare

Germany’s Rhine river will become impassable for barges carrying coal, oil and gas later this week, in a devastating blow to factories upriver.

Levels at Kaub, a key point along the waterway west of Frankfurt, are predicted to fall to below 40cm on Friday, according to the German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

At that chokepoint, the river becomes effectively impassable for many barges, which use the Rhine to move a range of goods including coal, oil and gas.

Water levels will then fall further to 37cm on Saturday, officials warned.

The river runs from Switzerland through France and Germany to the Netherlands, where it joins the North Sea.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Germany, Science & Technology

(Church Times) Bishop Dyer is suspended from duty in Aberdeen & Orkney

The Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, has been suspended from duty, it was announced on Wednesday, after two formal complaints alleging misconduct were made.

An official statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church said: “Due process will now follow, through the clergy disciplinary canon. . . The suspension will be kept under regular review. It does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed.”

The Bishop of Edinburgh, Dr John Armes, will serve as Acting Bishop of the diocese during this suspension, in addition to his normal duties.

Bishop Dyer’s tenure has been troubled since early in her time in office. She is the first woman bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was elected by the College of Bishops after the diocese failed to agree a candidate….

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Ethics / Moral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church

(TLS) Rhodri Lewis reviews Helen Hackett’s new book ‘The Elizabethan Mind’

As the second Elizabethan age drifts towards its close, Gloriana’s subjects sit uneasily with themselves – distanced from the senses of cultural, social, political, religious and even existential security that earlier generations could, it sometimes seems, take for granted. One of the many virtues of Helen Hackett’s new book is to remind us that, grim as all of this may be, there is little new under the sun.

Although Hackett is a professor of English, The Elizabethan Mind is a work of cultural and intellectual history. In it she reconstructs the nature and scope of the human mind as the sixteenth century understood them. Her source materials are what the early moderns referred to as “poetry” and what she calls “literature”: fictional writing in all its forms. As such, she has written a literary history too – one in which she juxtaposes the canonical and extra-canonical (the translator Anne Lock, the poet Isabella Whitney and the autobiographer Thomas Whythorne, among too many others to list) to illuminating and persuasive effect. But there is no disciplinary inwardness here. It is just that, as Hackett explains, “for the Elizabethans … it is arguable that greater advances were made in understanding the mind through literature than through science”.

By the end of this book the claim seems more than merely arguable. This is partly thanks to Hackett’s compendiousness, but chiefly because she shows that early modern works of literature were capable of grasping a problem theoretical accounts of the human mind worked hard to obscure: amid a range of competing and ostensibly authoritative explanations for the origins and nature of human cognitive power, it was all but impossible to determine which ones were true. In 1611 John Donne famously claimed that “new philosophy calls all in doubt”, but in 1599 Sir John Davies had already channelled a century or more of learned opinion in declaring that “All things without, which round about we see, / We seeke to know, and have therewith to do: / But that whereby we reason, live, and be, / Within our selves, we strangers are theretoo”. Hackett makes it clear that the early modern English had no need of Galileo to feel dazed and confused by their place in the world.

The concluding two chapters are marked by a change in focus. Rather than early modern beliefs about what the mind is or could be said to be, their subject is one of the things that it does – and that the early moderns helped it to do better. That is, the form of applied cognition that we call writing. One chapter looks at the experimental forms of selfhood made possible through autobiography, sonnet sequences and prose fiction such as Sidney’s Arcadia; Hackett is especially strong on the Christian inflections of writing the mind, as the pious subject seeks introspectively to write his or her way to cognizance of having been touched with grace. The last chapter turns to Hamlet. It was Matthew Arnold who first proposed that, in the play’s soliloquies, we observe “the dialogue of the mind with itself”. Hackett is interested both in the dynamics of this dialogue, and in the ideas that it seeks to articulate. If she sometimes treats the soliloquies as if they can be abstracted from the dramatic whole of which they are a part, her approach never feels gratuitous. She needs Hamlet to do certain things in rounding out her history, and she ensures that it does them.

One surprise is that Hackett largely overlooks the debate about the boundary between human beings and, to borrow a phrase, beasts that want discourse of reason. After Vesalius had demonstrated that there was nothing distinctive about the anatomy of the human brain (no special place for the rational soul), this dividing line came to look ever more porous. Montaigne could amuse himself with the notion that his cat was playing with him because he knew that only one of them would be writing essays about their time together; because only one of them enjoyed the liberating benefits of language and Christian belief as Montaigne construed them. Others were less sure of the exceptionalism with which the human condition was conventionally framed. Lear’s anguished “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life / And thou no breath at all?” is a fine case in point; Descartes’s cogito (like his bête machine) is another.

As it stands, The Elizabethan Mind is an outstanding achievement: broad-ranging, intelligently synthetic and written in unflaggingly lucid prose.

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Psychology

(BBC) Loire Valley: Intense European heatwave parches France’s ‘garden’

The Loire Valley is known as “the Garden of France”. But the garden is withering.

France’s worst drought since records began has turned lush vegetation into arid fields of brown crops, shrivelling under what is now the fourth heatwave of the year.

In Vincent Favreau’s vegetable farm, where he produces food for a hundred families in the area, the parched earth has stunted the growth of the cabbages. His potato plants are burnt out, producing just half the crop of a normal year.

“Either the vegetables will die of thirst, or they won’t develop enough during this crucial period of growth,” he said, sifting through the dry soil, which he hasn’t been able to water since restrictions came in two weeks ago.

“With this heat and wind, we can’t compensate for what the sun is evaporating. I’ve never seen something like this in my twenty-two years here. If it doesn’t rain within two months, it’ll be a disaster.”

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, France

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Laurence, Deacon and Martyr

Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy servant Laurence didst triumph over suffering and didst despise death: Grant, we pray, that we, steadfast in service to the poor and outcast, may share with him in the joys of thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Alcuin

O King of glory and Lord of valours, our warrior and our peace; Who hast said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” be Thou victorious in us Thy servants, for without Thee we can do nothing. Give us both to will and to perform. Grant Thy compassion to go before us, Thy compassion to come behind us: before us in undertaking, behind us in our ending. And what shall I more say, unless that Thy will be done, Who dost will that all men should be saved? Thy will is our salvation, our glory, and our joy.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Proch′orus, and Nica′nor, and Timon, and Par′menas, and Nicola′us, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.

And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyre′nians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cili′cia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

—-Acts 6:1-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture