The Mysterious Etruscans

EtruscansThe Mysterious Etruscans
Steven L. Tuck, Ph.D.
The Great Courses
Audio download $44.95 when on sale
If the course is not on sale, check back – the sale price will come around again

I was a classics major at Pitzer College back in the 1970s. That meant I studied the Greek and Latin languages along with Greek and Roman history, literature, art, and archaeology. The Etruscans were predecessors of the Romans. They interacted with, and fought with, both the Greeks and the Romans. And yet in my four-year classical education they were barely mentioned at all. Perhaps they got a chapter and a lecture at the beginning of a Roman history class.

That’s a shame, because the Romans owed much to the Etruscans, as this course makes clear. The Romans got the paved road, the arch in building architecture, and most of their religion from the Etruscans. The Etruscans had their own qualities, however, that were unique in the ancient Mediterranean. Women were nearly equal to men, it appears, and children showed up in Etruscan art. Children did not show up in Roman art until the time of Augustus, when he made a deliberate decision to include them as part of his reworking of the history of Rome.

As fascinating as this course was it was also frustrating. That is because it included a lot, and I mean a lot, of Etruscan art. Professor Tuck does a marvelous job of describing each piece for the audio-only listener, but I reached a point where I was saying to myself, “Hey, I’m missing out on a lot here!” But then, if I were watching the video version I would be sitting on my rear, while the whole intent of my downloading lecture series from the Great Courses is to have something to listen to when I’m out walking.

So it’s all good.

a thousand cranes

There was a marvelous story on the local KABC 7 news last week.

Cassi is CranesforCassia student here at Hemet High School. She hasn’t been to class because she is fighting a rare form of bone cancer. She and her mother learned of the Japanese tradition of making origami cranes. The crane represents hope and prosperity.

When her classmates learned of Cassie’s interest they got together and made one thousand paper cranes. Cassi showed up at Hemet High last week to receive the cranes, which she will hang in her room.

Oh, and at the same time there was a blood drive, recognizing the fact those fighting cancer need blood transfusions.

People doing good for others.

Complete story and video here.

Sacred Music Friday: Durufle – Sanctus

Here’s more Maurice Durufle. Thanks, Fran! Requiem: IV Sanctus . The Yale Symphony Orchestra with Yale Glee Club, Jeffrey Douma, Music Director, and the Elm City Girls Choir, Rebecca Rosenbaum, Music Director.

avoiding dualism

The Eastern Church has long placed more emphasis on the Incarnation than the Western Church, which early on got caught up in a sort of Platonic spiritualism. I like the perspective Richard Rohr takes on this.

quoteWe have created a terrible kind of dualism between the spiritual and the so-called non-spiritual. This dualism is precisely what Jesus came to reveal as a lie. The principle of incarnation proclaims that matter and spirit have never been separate. Jesus came to tell us that these two seemingly different worlds are and always have been one. We just couldn’t see it until God put them together in his one body.

The Lawrence Durrell Travel Reader

TravelReaderThe Lawrence Durrell Travel Reader
Lawrence Durrell
Open Road Media, 420 pages
Amazon Kindle edition $7.99
Purchased during an Early Bird Books sale for $1.99

I read Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet during my Claremont cockroach days of the mid-1970s. It is a beautifully written set of four novels that tells the same story from four different perspectives. Around that same time I read a bit of Durrell’s other work, but not much. When I saw that this book was briefly on sale for $1.99 it was a no-brainer, especially since I was between books at the time.

Durrell was stationed in Alexandria with the British army at the end of World War II. From there he was sent to the island of Corfu as a press officer. After that he lived on various islands in the Mediterranean while with the military and then as a civilian. This book is a compilation drawn from various autobiographical books of his experiences on those islands, as well as a few essays written much later. The book is organized by geographical location, with sections on Corfu, Rhodes, Cyprus, and Sicily.

Durrell does a great job of providing a vivid picture of the people and landscape of the islands. For the most part it’s not travel writing because he is writing about the places he lived. But enjoyable writing it is, and if you enjoy travel writing you will enjoy Durrell’s “place” writing, as he calls it.

how I see it

One of the basic tenets of Christianity is the return of Christ. In Eucharistic Prayer A in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer we say the words:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Other denominations use those words and there are similar words in the other Eucharistic prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. But what does “Christ will come again” really mean?

A lot of people over the centuries have taken those words literally. The Apostle Paul initially expected the imminent return of Christ, as his earliest letters attest. His tone changed as time wore on and Christ didn’t show up. Indeed Christ’s failure to return caused a lot of consternation in the early church.

Christ’s non-arrival has failed to deter many people over the centuries, however. Still today people are waiting. I remember after the Six Day War in 1967 my minister at the Methodist church here in Hemet excitedly announced that the Second Coming would now happen at any time.

I’m afraid that such people will continue to be disappointed.

During the season of Easter at Good Shepherd Episcopal, the Prayers of the People were framed by these words set to music:

quoteLove one another as I have loved you.
Care for each other. I have cared for you.
Bear each other’s burdens. Bind each other’s wounds;
so you will know my return.

For me, when we do those things, that is Christ’s return.

our latest kitchen appliance

Terry and I have a new kitchen gadget…er, appliance.

NuWaveWe were looking into air fryers, so I checked with the good folks in the Yahoo Kitchen Appliances group. I was told, quite clearly, to forget the air fryer and get a NuWave oven. They said the NuWave Oven would do much more for much less money, as it combines conduction, convection, and infrared cooking.

They were right.

Terry and I went to Bed Bath & Beyond to look for one. They didn’t have the oven in stock, but I ordered it. I had my 20% off coupon in hand, they gave us free shipping,NuWaveChicken and it was shipped directly to me. It arrived on Wednesday. I tried an air-fried panko chicken recipe that evening. Marvelous! Crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. Thursday I used it to make my roasted mixed nuts. It worked great and I didn’t have to heat up the oven.

I’m not much of a steak person, but we made a pepper steak with sirloin for NuWaveSalmonThursday dinner. One half of it was thicker than the other, so Terry got her preferred medium and I got my preferred well-done. Very tasty!

For Saturday dinner I made grilled salmon with basil. The salmon was moist and quite delicious. On Sunday Terry made a marinated Thai pork tenderloin. It was tender, moist, and full of flavor.

We’re sure to get a lot of use out of this thing.

Sacred Music Friday: Durufle, Agnus Dei

Maurice Durufle – Requiem: VI Agnus Dei. The Yale Glee Club, Jeffrey Douma, Music Director and Elm City Girls Choir, Rebecca Rosenbaum, Music Director. Thanks to Fran for this!


For a long time I was a serious, avid photographer. Then, one year when we were at Lake Shasta I realized that I was too busy trying to get the right picture to actually savor the moment. I decided it was time for a change, and I was better off channeling my creativity in my writing. I sold my expensive equipment and lenses and purchased a smaller camera with a fixed lens.

InstagramThat has worked out well. I still take pictures, but that don’t get in the way of my experience of the moment. I got some really great pictures on our 2011 Alaska trip without obsessing over getting the perfect shot.

Recently I decided that I would up my photo sharing just a little. My friend Kate shared some of her Instagram photos on Facebook, and I thought it would be fun to do a little Instagram sharing as well. It’s been fun so far.

I generally share all of my Instagram photos on Facebook simultaneously, but if you’d like to see my photos directly in Instagram, I’m mikec2209 there.

Thank you for your support, as Frank Bartles used to say.

healthy snacks

Several years ago I got in the habit of making seasoned almonds. I would cover them in olive oil, season them with whatever I was in the mood for (chili powder, cayenne, Csnacksajun, etc.) and bake them at 350° for ten minutes.

Somehow I got out of that habit. I don’t know why.

Recently I saw something online that referred to doing this. I thought it would be a good idea to return to this practice. And much healthier than the Snickers that I have been munching on in the evening. Terry had some mixed-nuts-unsalted-no-peanuts from Sprouts, which she allowed me to experiment with. The result was very tasty. So on our next visit to Sprouts we picked up a bunch more of those. I’ll be making this a regular thing.

As I said, much better than Snickers.