Built as a residential home in 1630, in the heart of the oldest part of Amsterdam and bordering the infamous red light district, this particular steep-gabled building holds a remarkable secret. Making your way through the nearly 400-year-old corridors, kitchens, and bedrooms, there is a narrow and steep staircase that leads to the upper floors. Where, hidden away in the attic, is a magnificently miniature, fully-appointed Catholic church.
The clandestine church, known in Dutch as a “schuilkerk,” was secreted away in the attic on purpose due to the persecution of Catholicism in Holland in the 17th century. Unable to hold mass in public, Jan Hartmann converted the attic of his home to a church in 1663.
I think I shared before that my younger sons were going to be serving every single liturgy of Holy Week at the convent. Well, they did!
And it was lovely.
I read Christopher Beha’s Arts and Entertainments – it had been praised in various faith-n-lit forums, so when I saw it on the library shelf, I decided to give it a go. It’s a very quick, initially entertaining read – I read most of in one evening.
It’s the story of a youngish man who teaches drama in his own high school alma mater. He’s a failed proessional actor, whose former girlfriend has gone on to star in a wildly successful television show. Married, he and his wife struggle with fertility, and in order to pay for treatments,assured of anonymity in the transaction, he succumbs to temptation and sells a sex tape made with his former girlfriend.
Of course the veil is ripped away immediately, and the novel is about the power of contemporary reality-television culture and there was certainly a theological/spiritual observation being made. As the kingmaker reality-television producer (a former seminarian) declares, the audience has replaced God as the arbiter of good and evil, as the motivator for human choice and behavior:
“In the world I used to live in, good is whatever God wants. That’s it. There’s no other measuring stick. There is no good before God. When we say that God is good, all we’re saying is that God is God. In the world I live in now, it’s the same thing. There’s only one criterion. What does the audience want? Does the audience want you to be honest? Does the audience want you to be kind? . . . The audience has only one way of expressing its interest—by watching. They might watch because they love you. They might watch because they hate you. They might watch because they’re sick. Doesn’t matter. Is that good or bad? The question doesn’t make any sense. Good is whatever the audience watches.”
I think this is an astute observation, but I think that Beha actually doesn’t cut deeply enough here. In confining his characters’ hijinks to the world of television-and-movies celebrity and reality TV, he lets the rest of us off the hook.
I say this because “the audience” isn’t just people who watch TV and peruse gossip sites. The “audience” that must be pleased is composed of our blog readers, Facebook friends, Instagram and Twitter followers…all of which feeds the human temptation to make choices and behave for thGod’e sake of others’ opinions rather than God’s will.
It’s the temptation to perform instead of just live.
So…three stars for Arts and Entertainments because, while it certainly kept me entertained, it did get a bit repetitive and stayed on a level that was just too safe.
So I bought this in Spain.
People were puzzled.
Why would you want a sharp carrot?
Well, I finally broke it out and used it this week, and here’s how it’s done.
There’s an edge that functions as a peeler, and it’s nice and sharp.
And then you use the “sharpener” part to make curls or rosettes. Nifty.
And if you really want to, you can certainly just sharpen your carrot:
I fell down on the Easter egg stuff this year, but honestly, with 10- and 14-year old boys in the house, the pressure is not overwhelming. Although this year’s version (I didn’t have the energy to tackle the Ukrainian eggs this year) was chemically and mechanically intriguing enough that the 14-year old wandered into the kitchen on night and made a couple of his own volition.
I bought some 100% pure silk ties at the thrift store – darker colors are preferred. Then you wrap the eggs in that fabric, then wrap each again in a square of white sheet or pillowcase, and boil for fifteen minutes.
The site I got this from recommended not eating the eggs because of the risk from the dye You can do blow-out eggs in this manner, but you’d need to weight them down in the boiling water.
If I ever do this again (which I probably won’t), I would make sure the silk was more evenly wrapped and every bit of eggshell was in contact with fabric. We had some blank patches. I’ll also remember to put vinegar into the water next time….
Alabama: Where you go from a slight morning and evening chill to three-foot mosquitos showing up in your house all within a week’s time.
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