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Post-battle report, day 2

(Dateline Minot, ND) Well, what do you know? Live steel combat isn’t as safe as I said it was.

Yesterday I got a good solid crack on my right thumb which, I feared, would keep me from holding the sword solidly. Fortunately it’s not as bad today as I expected, though swollen and stiff.

Today I got a good smash on the right little finger, which broke the skin and required a bandage. In a later fight, Ragnar managed to stab me (the point being blunt, of course) just above the mouth, again on the right side. It’s a nasty place for an abrasian, because it won’t take a bandage well (due to my beard), but I’m frankly delighted to have a dueling scar at last. I was wounded with a sword! What could be cooler than that?

And yes, I’m entirely aware of how insane that sounds.

On the other hand, you know the chicks dig it.

We did our final set today without injury (not for lack of trying on my part, I assure you).

In other Hostfest news, the crowds are large, and from my experience they’re in the mood to spend money. If my book sales keep up as they’ve started, I’ll go home very satisfied (and not just with my rakish scar).

Reba McEntire was the big concert the first night. Other acts on the big stage include Clint Black and Ray Stevens. There’s also a special venue for Abbacadabra, an Abba tribute group, and William Christopher (who played Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H*) stars as the pastor in a production of the major midwest hit, “Lutheran Church Basement Ladies” (no, I didn’t make that up).

And, as in previous years, The Oak Ridge Boys are doing two shows a day just around the corner from us. At the moment, they’re singing “The Boys are Back.”

More as the situation develops.

If I live.

The face of St. Paul

The Vatican has made public the oldest known portrait of the Apostle Paul. It’s Fourth Century, so it’s not exactly contemporary, but it does conform to the traditional description.

Vatican archaeologists have uncovered what they say is the oldest known portrait of St Paul. The portrait, which was found two weeks ago but has been made public only after restoration, shows St Paul with a high domed forehead, deep-set eyes and a long pointed beard, confirming the image familiar from later depictions.

As I understand it, we do have (unlike in the case of Christ) a physical description of Paul which is very probably authentic. Not a photogenic fellow. Short, bow-legged, bald, with a prominent nose and thick lips.

It must be St. Paul week in Rome. They have also announced authenticating bones found under the Vatican as being Paul’s.

Tip for both stories: Archaeology in Europe.

The Proper Use of Pain

Frederick Buechner on “The Stewardship of Pain.”

Pain can become a treasure if we treasure it to the point where it can become compassion and healing, not just for ourselves, but also for other people. If you want to see that sort of thing in operation, the treasuring of pain, the using of pain to the healing of yourself and others, someday attend an open meeting of AA or any of the related groups. That is exactly what those people are doing, sharing their hurts, their experiences and their joys.

And remember the cross. It seems to me that the cross of Christ in a way speaks somewhat like this same word, saying that out of that greatest pain endured in love and faithfulness, comes the greatest beauty and our greatest hope.

Happy birthday, Sissel

Today is Sissel Kyrkjebo’s birthday.

Here’s a video of her doing a lovely Swedish hymn, “Bred Dina Vida Vingar,” (Spread Wide Thy Wings) during a concert tour in the Faeroe Islands. This was back in 1991, before she was spoiled by success and cut her hair short.

Some Faults Are Worse for Certain People

George MacDonald writes, “He might have been unjust for the sake of his own–a small fault in the eyes of the world, but a great fault indeed in a nature like his, capable of being so much beyond it. For while the faults of a good man cannot be as evil as the faults of a bad man, they are more blameworthy, and greater faults than the same would be in a bad man.”