The History of Pews

Luke T. Harrington wrote the other day about the history of church pews. He’s a Lutheran church historian and writes rather humorously, so enjoy.

Is there anything more reassuring than a church pew?

Simple. Humble. Sturdy. Two rough-hewn planks, fastened with a handful of nails, permanently fixed to the floor—and open to all. Occasionally padded, often not; not comfortable, exactly, but comforting. An invitation to the weary traveler to sit and hear the Word of God proclaimed; a simple reminder that we follow a humble, crucified carpenter; the perfect symbol that all are equal at the foot of the cross. From the greatest king to the poorest pauper, from the holiest saint to the most desperate sinner, all have sat in these pews before us, pondering their failings and begging for mercy. Despite the advent of stadium-style seating and auditorium-like worship halls, the simple, ancient pew endures—and no wonder, because it is, and always has been, the perfect metaphor for the faith.

Except—nothing I just said is even remotely true. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of all that. Would you like to know the true story of the pew? Okay, then—buckle up. (But not actually, though, because pews don’t have seatbelts.)

It turns out that there’s no evidence of churches having seating of any kind for at least the first 1,400 years or so of Christianity. In other words, Augustine, Athanasius, Jerome, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin—all those guys very likely lived their whole lives attending churches that were standing-room-only. During ancient Christian worship, parishioners could stand, kneel, or even mill about the nave if they so chose. There’s no record of whether they engaged in stage dives and crowd surfing, so we’re forced to assume they did. […]

In other words, seating in churches didn’t really become a thing until parishioners got bored enough to wish they were sitting down—that is, about the time of the Protestant Reformation. In order to emphasize how not-Catholic we were, we began to jettison everything from our worship: confessions, creeds, communal prayer, a weekly Eucharist—basically everything except long, boring sermons. And when your “come to church” sales pitch is essentially “Listen to me yammer about Jesus for several hours!” the response is predictably going to be “Uh, can I at least sit down for that?”

And so, the pew was born.

Sounds scarily close to right to me.

When pews first began to gain in popularity, however, they weren’t anything you probably would have recognized as pews—they were more like those luxury skyboxes they have at sports stadiums. So-called “box pews,” which were particularly popular in England and America, were anything but the austere benches you’re used to, and featured four walls—often shoulder-height or higher—along with doors, windows, curtains, kneelers, tables, and sometimes even fireplaces. Basically you could hide in them and do whatever the 17th-century version of playing games on your iPad was (I’m guessing cock fights?).

They were also bought and paid for—and frequently custom-built—by each congregation’s wealthiest families, who held actual deeds to them and frequently passed them down to their children as real estate, like the world’s worst timeshares. On the rare occasion that the deed to a pew would free up, there was more often than not a public fistfight (a metaphorical one, usually) over which family would get it—being seen in a prominent pew was an important status symbol, like having the biggest beard at an Acts 29 church or having the dorkiest fedora at Hillsong.

If I recall, Boston’s Old North Church (and probably others) still has them, including their owner’s names on brass plaques. You know names like Revere, Adams, Washington, and such. Interesting history, I think. And at least it probably did minimize this.

Eventually, though, the more reasonable voices won out, and most parishes did away with their box pews, replacing them with the “free and open” wooden benches we know today, resulting in worship services where uncontained toddlers run rampant, ruling over their terrified congregations with tiny iron fists.

In any case, we had finally all learned our lesson, and now nobody goes to church to be seen, which is why we all cram into the back pews and leave right after communion.

Right, guys? Or is that just me?

Who? Me? Nah, you must be talking about that other guy over there, the one who gets his nap during the sermon and then leaves. By the way, I think that is the reason we tend to have coffee hours after church, so we’ll hang around.

Via: The History of Pews Is Just as Terrible and Embarrassing as You’d Imagine

Saturday Wrap up.

Welp, we made it to Saturday, again. Only two days left till we can try Monday all over again. Been a busy week, though. Mostly from Powerline.

Also from Powerline, this week’s Ammo Grrrll shouldn’t be missed.

[…]

They do all start with “R,” and that is close enough for the brain-dead, lazy, chickens**t losers who have to believe themselves to be part of something important and worthy. Instead of what they actually are: just cowardly, blackshirted criminals wearing little bandana masks like they wore when they were six, playing “Cowboys and Indians.” (Or Boys of Cow and Indigenous Peoples in pc language. Don’t bother learning the correct language – the game is virtually illegal now on playgrounds anyway, along with Tag, Monkey Bars, Dodgeball, and chewing your bologna into the shape of a gun.) […]

Resistance is risking torture and death in World War II Occupied France by helping to hide Jews or downed Allied pilots from the Nazis. If captured, trust me, Literally Hitler saw to it that the worst thing that happened to them was not to lose their New Year’s Eve hosting gig.

Resistance is women risking torture and death in Central American dictatorships by wearing white and making a fuss about the “disappeared,” who number in the thousands.

Resistance is trying to become some sort of law enforcement agent in Mexican cartel territory. Or being Coptic Christians in a Muslim country.

Resistance was smuggling matzoh into Communist Russia, or God forbid, trying to leave Russia, especially for Israel. Do you think those caught lost just their endorsement for the Squatty Potty? No. They lost everything – housing, jobs, families. “Wintering” in Siberia. Or lifelong confinement in a “mental hospital.”

And Resistance was the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King marching for the most elemental human rights and dignity and risking beatings, jail and death threats that were eventually carried out. The pusillanimous morons protesting white women selling burritos or demanding that all white professors exile themselves from a campus are not only NOT part of his legacy; they are simply crude and ugly racists themselves.

Noisy ill-bred louts that they are, they often remind me of something the Duke of Wellington (no not that one, although scum fits them far better than it ever did British soldiers) when he was Prime Minister, something about a “whiff of grapeshot”. Be interesting to see how fast they can run.

This is a stray comment from somewhere (I forget where, sorry)

I was having lunch with some Europeans recently (all obsessed with Trump) and they wanted to know if I thought Trump could change. I answered that Trump being himself has allowed him to become: (1) a billionaire; (2) President of the US; (3) married to a European underwear model. You think he believes he needs to change? One English lady laughed and said “I see your point.”

And, of course,

Happy Saturday.

Continuing the Mission

One year ago today, the day of the Brexit election, my post started with a quote from Thomas Paine, this one

THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but “to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER” and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God.

It was true in the winter of 1776, and it was true last year, and it is still true. But the British, being the steadfast friends of freedom they have always been voted to leave the EU regardless. They’ve had a tough year. They will stay the course, I think. We’ll talk about that later, but just for comparison what happened in the year after we Americans declared independence? A quick overview from BritishBattles. com.

  • Battle of Long Island:The disastrous defeat of the Americans on 27th August 1776 leading to the loss of New York and the retreat to the Delaware River.
  • Battle of Harlem Heights:The skirmish on 16th September 1776 in northern New York island that restored the confidence of the American troops.
  • Battle of White Plains:The battle on 28th October 1776, leading to the American withdrawal to the Delaware River and the capture of Fort Washington by the British.
  • Battle of Fort Washington:The battle on 16th November 1776 that saw the American army forced off Manhattan Island and compelled to retreat to the Delaware River.
  • Battle of Trenton:George Washington’s iconic victory on 26th December 1776 over Colonel Rahl’s Hessian troops after crossing the frozen Delaware River; the battle that re-invigorated the American Revolution.
  • Battle of Princeton:The sequel on 3rd January 1777 to the successful Battle of Trenton: the two battles began the resurgence of the fortunes of the American Colonists in the Revolutionary War.
  • Battle of Ticonderoga 1777:The humiliating American abandonment of Fort Ticonderoga on 6th July 1777 to General Burgoyne’s British army.
  • Battle of Hubbardton:The hard-fought battle on 7th July 1777 in the forest south-east of Fort Ticonderoga.

The next winter will see the naked Continental Army starving at Valley Forge. We didn’t win our independence until 1783. I think the cousins will have a somewhat easier time, but their perils are also different. But amongst other things, they have us. As they started this trend, we picked it up last fall, not a little encouraged ourselves by Brexit.

Dan Hannan recapped the status the other day for us.

An unexpected defeat is always unsettling. I suspect many ConservativeHome readers were disoriented when two in five people voted for Jeremy Corbyn. We wondered how we had so misunderstood our own country; and that was following a vote that we had won.

In the days following the referendum, three false assertions became widespread. First, that Leave had won dishonestly. Second, that the country had become more racist. Third, that the 52 per cent had wrecked the economy.

The “liars” complaint is levelled the losers of every vote. Political campaigners are not trying to behave like neutral academics: they are trying to win. Both sides make good and bad arguments; both sides get to rebut each other’s claims.

Remain told us that a Leave vote would trigger a recession in 2016, cost every family more than £4000, cause Scotland to leave the UK and transplant the Calais refugee camp to Kent. In fact, Britain boomed after the vote, support for Scottish separatism plummeted and the Calais jungle was dismantled. […]

What of the idea that the referendum somehow unleashed xenophobia? The notion that the Leave vote had been “all about immigration” was endlessly repeated in Remain circles and on the BBC. In fact, every opinion poll showed that sovereignty had been the main motivator. Lord Ashcroft, for example, carried out a massive survey on the day, interviewing more than 12,000 people, and found that democratic control was by miles the biggest issue for Leavers (49 per cent of them named it as their main reason for backing Brexit), with immigration a distant second (which was cited by 33 per cent). But opinion polls, for many Remainers, were no match for anecdotes: “Well, one Leaver I spoke to said…” […]

Saddest of all, though, was the determination to believe that Britain would become poorer. To be fair, several experts thought there would be an instant crash. A week after the poll, 71 per cent of City economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a recession in 2016; in fact, Britain grew faster in the six months after the vote than in the six months before it. Another survey, by Reuters, found that the consensus among economists was that unemployment would rise by 9,000 a month in the second half of last year; in fact, it fell by almost exactly that amount.

Well, almost none of that happened. In fact, Britain is booming.

From Euro-Guido:

UK manufacturers’ order books are at their highest level since August 1988. A CBI survey of 464 firms found a “broad-based improvement” in 13 out of 17 manufacturing sub-sectors, with food, drink and tobacco and chemicals leading the British-made boom. Meanwhile, export orders rocketed to a 22-year high. CBI Chief Economist Rain Newton-Smith said:

“Britain’s manufacturers are continuing to see demand for “Made in Britain” goods rise with the temperature. Total and export order books are at highs not seen for decades, and output growth remains robust.”

Outstanding!

Britain’s got some serious problems, many of them caused by uncontrolled immigration, and by a Conservative Party which seems to have lost its mooring in history. Not to mention a press that is at least as biased as the American one. So it ain’t all beer and skittles. But remember what Paine wrote, and hopefully they will get themselves back on track one way or another. Along that line, I was thinking the other day that Tom Jefferson and George Washington were miles prouder to be British (until arbitrary government forced them out) than Jeremy Corbyn ever dreamed of being. Sad for a prominent politician to owe his allegiance to something outside his country, mostly for his own aggrandizement. Right General Arnold? Was Peggy Shippen worth it?

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

Otto Warbler, Rest in Peace, and Now…

Mandatory credit REUTERS/Kyodo ATTENTION EDITORS – FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. 

May he and his family find peace

 

And may those that did this rot in hell.

Was it perhaps a bit foolhardy to go on a tour to North Korea? Yeah, probably it was. But you know what, Otto was damned well an American, and Americans, especially young Americans are like that. He was, I was, and I’ll bet you were too. It’s part of who we are. Nobody else is like this, maybe the old Romans were, and for a while, the Brits came close, but that supreme self-confidence is bred into us like it is no other. And it’s why we have accomplished so much.

And you know, I’m getting awfully tired of these clowns here, and all over the world that think Americans are going to quit being Americans and simply become docile European transplants. It ain’t going to happen this week, ain’t going to happen next year, and it probably ain’t going to happen this century either. P.J. O’Rourke nailed it for me and many others when he wrote:

I was having dinner…in London…when eventually he got, as the Europeans always do, to the part about “Your country’s never been invaded.” And so I said, “let me tell you who those bad guys are. They’re us. WE BE BAD. We’re the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes. And we’ve got an American Express card credit limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go. You say our country’s never been invaded? You’re right, little buddy. Because I’d like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who’d have the guts to try. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying ‘Cheerio.’� Hell can’t hold our sock-hops. We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of. I’d rather be a junkie in a New York City jail than king, queen, and jack of all Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.”

Of course, this guy should have punched me. But this was EUrope. He just smiled his shabby, superior European smile. (God, don’t these people have dentists?)

He’s right, you know, try it. If you can get past the strongest military the world ever saw, then you get to take on the people, with 300,000,000 arms and trillions of rounds of ammunition of our own. Americans left, right, and center are pretty much all like that. You mess with us, at your peril, it don’t matter much if you’re a Mexican drug lord or Vladimir Putin. America, in large part, whatever our deluded elites say, remains America, and America damned well intends to remain free.

Now this poor kid, Otto, supposedly he took a propaganda poster (there are reputable stories out there saying that is bullshit, but whatever). A Nina Bookout over at Victory Girls said

Many people are going to want to blame somebody…ANYBODY…for Otto’s death. But the plain truth of it is, the North Korean government is the one to blame. They didn’t have to make an example of that young man the way that they did. They could’ve and should’ve just made him leave the country. Instead they chose to thumb their noses at the United States and ‘make an example’ out of this young man.

What did the Obama Administration do? Nothing. And they ALSO told the Warmbier family to keep their mouths shut because doing otherwise would make the Norks mad.

Well, guess what? That didn’t stop the Norks from torturing and killing Otto. And that especially didn’t stop them from sending this young man home in a heinous, in-your-face kind of way to all Americans.

What can President Trump do in retaliation? What should he do? The country is already starving. So economic sanctions probably won’t work. Their missile program on the other hand, needs to be shut down and shut down BIGLY. The North Koreans’ cyber warfare capabilities are increasingly problematic as well. Shut them DOWN!

Do I want President Trump to do something just so we can all feel better? NO. But a hostile nation state held an American citizen captive all because of an incredibly stupid poster! That same hostile nation state, by far the worst dictatorship regime in the world, tortured an American citizen. Otto’s death is completely due to the evil that is North Korea. In my opinion, President Trump should make North Korea understand the grave consequences of their actions. Otherwise, they will decide to inflict worse on other American citizens without impunity. The Trump Administration has a great deal to consider over the coming days in that regard.

 

I agree. A bit over a hundred years ago, an American citizen (actually, he had renounced his citizenship to save his property in the Confederacy, but nobody noticed) was held captive in Morroco, not even by the state. An American President had the entire Atlantic Flotilla off the coast of Morroco, including seven battleships. This is how a confident America acts. It doesn’t kowtow to a tinpot despot, who tortures Americans until they are in a coma and then send them home, so all the world can see what they’ve done.

That other President was Theodore Roosevelt, of course, and the Secretary of State, John Hay, who had been Abraham Lincoln’s private Secretary sent this cable.

This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.

Perhaps we should learn from history instead of living through it again as farce.

 

The Yanks Are Coming, Again

John Hinderaker over at Powerline caught something that I should have. It happens. He quotes the Science and Environmental Policy Project’s The Week That Was:

Mr Hilton discusses the highly successful UK petrochemical firm Ineos. The firm may invest €2 billion (£1.76 billion) expanding its European petrochemicals capacity, possibly in Belgium. But location is only part of the issue. As Mr. Hilton states:

Once you have built a major chemical complex, your main (in many ways, your only) worry is the cost of the raw material you need to feed into it. This can account for half or more of total production costs, and is similarly crucial for other energy ­intensive industries such as refining, iron and steel, glass, cement and paper.

Until a few years ago Europe and America paid more or less the same amount for their petrochemical feedstock — the US had a slight advantage but not so great after transport and other costs had been factored in. (Middle East plants, sited right by the oilfields, did have such a price advantage but lacked scale.)

This is no longer the case thanks to the fundamental changes across the Atlantic. The Marcellus field, which spreads over several states and is just one of many in the US, produces 15 billion cubic feet of gas a day which is almost twice the UK’s entire consumption. But the result is that US prices have disconnected from the rest of the world and the subsequent feedstock prices have given American chemical plants so vast a price advantage that, on paper at least, there’s no way Europe can compete. It is staring down the barrel of bankruptcy, not now, but in a few short years, unless it can find some way to get its raw ­material costs down to American levels.

Thus far, the effect has been muted — and the European industry has had a little time — because the US petrochemical industry was originally not built for indigenous US gas and oil supplies but instead located near ports and configured to process supplies of oil from the Middle East.

But this is changing fast. There has been virtually no big petrochemical investment in Europe in the past decade whereas in the US since 2010 some $85 billion of petrochemicals projects have been completed or are under construction. Spending on chemical capacity to 2022 will exceed $124 billion, according to the American Chemistry Council, creating 485,000 jobs during construction and more than 500,000 permanent jobs, adding between $80 billion and $120 billion in economic output. After years where chemical capacity has run neck and neck with Europe, the American industry is about to dwarf it.

Makes all the sense in the world, when one thinks about it. And it’s true all through the energy sector. When I started this blog, we, in America, were paying about $5/gallon for gasoline (mostly slightly less) while Britain was paying about £4/Liter, if I recall. The BBC says they are now paying £1.19/Liter while we are paying ~$2/Gallon. But there are almost 4 liters in a gallon, and while I don’t remember what the pound was worth 6 years ago, I suspect it was considerably more than $1.28. And while we’re OK on Gasoline, we’re pretty much awash in Natural Gas, to the point that we are using it to replace coal in electrical generation, because it burns cleaner, while exporting coal to China.

So often I say here that America was built on abundant (and increasingly cheap) energy. I don’t usually document it because it seems pretty obvious to me, but it really is. Think about why such companies as Amazon, which are really little other than overgrown mercantile houses (in itself a concept we pioneered a hundred and fifty years ago with such firms as Sears, Roebuck, and Co.) both started and prospered so mightily here.

This will, I think become obvious quicker in chemical plants (do remember that the fertilizer we use on crops, another field that the US/Canada dominate, are products of chemical plants). Fracking is going a long way towards making America competitive with anybody in the world, again. And if you combine that with the traditional American propensity for innovation, well, the limits of our return become hard to discern.

We’re Doomed, Doomed I Tell You.

From Philly.com

Seventeen years after the Year 2000 bug came and went, the federal government will finally stop preparing for it.

The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies, including an obscure rule that requires them to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that many feared would afflict computers at the turn of the century.

The Pentagon will also be freed from a requirement that it file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed about 1,200 man-hours every year.

“We’re looking for stuff everyone agrees is a complete waste of time,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. He likened the move to the government “cleaning out our closets.”

Deregulation is a major ambition of President Trump’s agenda; he has signed more laws rolling back his predecessor’s regulations than the combined total of the three previous presidents since the process was established by the 1999 Congressional Review Act.

Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday dealt with the Y2K bug, according to a memo OMB released. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government.

Yeah, it’s a silly story, but you know, its something that happens in all organizations. We get in habits, and no matter how irrelevant, we keep on, keepin’ on. Most of the time, it does little to no harm and might build respect for tradition, but in large part, it’s kind of silly. As Doug Powers said.

The people working in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Horse & Buggy Administration are feeling a little nervous about their jobs right now.

In other news, all from Powerline, this time.

But one is far superior

Of Course

 

 

 

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