Daily Archives: January 5, 2009

New Year Prognostications

A number of folks have linked to a quite memorable set of predictions for the forthcoming year from James Kunstler’s Fustercluck Nation blog. I think that 2008 has demonstrated the fragility of our current economic system. In particular I think that the combination of the credit crunch, fluctuations in energy costs and the Madoff scandal have further eroded whatever confidence folks had in Wall Street. Coming as all this does at the beginning of a new president promising change,  that leaves a whole lot of question marks up in the air.

Again, although I think the basic facts underlying Kunstler’s predictions are correct, I’m suspicious of their apocalyptic cloaking. I don’t foresee a collapse of America-as-we-know it in the coming year. I do think things will get worse; I do believe that we will start to see a shift in the MSM from the r-word (recession) to the d-word-that-rhymes that nobody wants to mention yet.

Whenever I reflect on our world situation, my mind keeps getting drawn back to Joseph’s dream of the seven lean years—recognizing here that sven is not intended literally but as a substantial space of time. We’re there.

And, more worrisome than Kunstler’s apocalyptic is this even-toned article from The Oil Drum on Energy Return on Energy Investment. Here’s a quick-n-dirty summary:

  • The energy expended to produce oil energy ratio has been steadily becoming less productive
  • In the 1930’s the ratio was roughly 1:100 (energy expended [in kilojoules]: energy gained)
  • By the 1970’s it was more like 1:30
  • The ratio is now somewhere between 1:18 to 1:11
  • “In fact, if the rate of decline continues linearly for several decades then it would take the energy in a barrel of oil to get a new barrel of oil. While we do not know whether that extrapolation is accurate, essentially all EROI studies of our principal fossil fuels do indicate that their EROI is declining over time, and that EROI declines especially rapidly with increased exploitation rates (e.g. drilling).”

This tells me that whether everything comes to a head in 2009 or not, the oil economy really is on the way out and we’d best get very busy about preparing for its end.

There’s an old saying about “making a virtue out of necessity” which has floated to mind a couple of times recently. In relation to that I think we’d be wise to start cultivating virtues before they become necessities. I do believe that “sustainable” is going to become one of the coming year’s most over-used words that will cease to have any rhetorical force by its over-exploitation by February so I’ll return to less secular and less comfortable words: “simplicity” and “ascesis”.

M and I know that we have too much stuff and are attached to too much stuff than is good for us. Letting go will be a theme this year. Intentionality and discipline need to occur this year especially as they apply to how we structure our time and how we consume.

In short, it means further consideration of a rule of life in personal terms, in household terms, in traditional terms, and outside-the-box terms. We’ll keep you posted on what develops…

Plainchant Gradual for RCL Year B from OJN

Prompted by the previous post on English language graduals, Fr. John-Julian has sent me an electronic version of his just completed (note the 2009 copyright date!) Gradual that corresponds with the official lectionary of the Episcopal Church, the Revised Common Lectionary.

A quick history note for those primarily accustomed to the “new” liturgy… Formerly there were only two readings at a standard mass in the Western Church—the “Epistle” and the Gospel. When the cycles were first constructed they were separate as they circulated in two different books. They linked up with one another in the 8th century or so as exemplified by their combined treatment in the Commentarius in Evangelia et Epistolas of Smaragdus and as we find them in the writings of Amalarius of Metz. The “Epistle” was often but not always from the New Testament epistles; on fasts it came from the prophets—see Ash Wednesday in the American 1928 BCP  as a survival of this formerly consistent custom.

Was there a Psalm appointed? Well—yes and no. Technically, no—but there were Mass Propers appointed which originally served as an appointed psalm because the Introit and Gradual—and sometimes the Offertory and Communion—were often taken from the same psalm. After the Epistle, the choir would sing the Gradual (a psalm with an antiphon, eventually only a verse or two of the psalm), then proceed into the ceremony surrounding the Gospel. This was a Sequence incorporating an Alleluia or, in fasting seasons, a Tract. The Sequence/Tract was a fairly late addition to the mass, note that the 10th century Leofric Missal contains no incipts for Sequeces/Tracts. (Sequences as a whole were supressed at Trent with the exception of 5)

So—in Fr. John-Julian’s work you’ll find the psalm appointed for the Sunday/feast in the RCL treated as a gradual with an antiphon, then the appointed psalm with a matching tone. The Sequences are biblical verses preceded and followed by alleluias; the Tracts are sections of psalms or other biblical texts (viz. Proverbs for Lent 2). The Sequences/Tracts are to be sung before the Gospel.

Ok, that’s enough lead in, here’s the file as a PDF: rcl-b-all-graduals-ojn