No hacking

I’m forced to lay off the hacking until December 14, when my new laptop will hopefully arrive. Which means I’ve got some time to pick up other things that don’t need a fast computer. Like continuing an old project of mine: learning to read the bible in Greek. My parents gave me a nice copy of Rahlfs’ edition of the Septuaginta for my birthday in 1993, and I’ve been working up the courage to get started on it ever since. (My attempts at Hebrew have been even more laughable, at least I can read modern Greek a little.)

Fortunately, there is a very nice KDE application that’s a lot of help, namely Bibletime. Bibletime can use various resources, such as bible texts, lexicons and commentaries, and uses the sword library to load them. There is plenty of material — translations in all kind of languages.

And there is also a free electronic edition of the Septuaginta. (LXX,
so called because the tradition will have it that seventy-two Alexandrinian Jewish scholars translated all of the Law in seventy-two days — the text is the oldest text of the Law we have, even older than the Hebrew texts that have come down to us, and is used as the authoritative text in the Orthodox Church).

There’s also a word list, the so-called Strong’s Numbers that is a reasonable fit for this text. Only recently, even after I got my Rahlfs edition, a real lexicon to the Septuagint has been published — and then another one got published, for good measure. The riches! The Septuagint is a difficult book full of obscure koine Greek, neologisms and hebraisms so a good lexicon is important here. Pity I blew my book budget already…

Strong’s glosses really aren’t quite good enough: for instance, I wish that in “εν αρχη εποιησεν ο θεος τον ουρανον και την γην”, “γην” wasn’t glossed as “a primary particle of emphasis or qualification (often used with other particles prefixed):–and besides, doubtless, at least, yet.” I am fairly sure that “γην” means “earth”, here… But that’s not bibletime’s fault. And the Strong’s numbers are still useful, especially when having a KJV or Statenvertaling parallel to the LXX.

But all the pieces are basically complete: text, translation, glosses. If the app doesn’t suck, I can get started.

Bibletime’s usage of Strong’s numbers has improved a lot, too. Previously, the numbers were shown inline in the text itself, breaking up the flow. Clicking on a number would show the gloss. Now there’s a nice little box that shows the gloss if your mouse cursor is over a Greek word.

Bibletime is very usable, very polished, very helpful and very stable. One of the better KDE applications that are developed outside KDE svn.

Vereniging van Orthodoxen H. Nikolaas van Myra

Last Saturday it was 25 years ago that our parish priest with other Dutch orthodox believers founded the ‘Vereniging van Orthodoxen “H. Nikolaas van Myra”‘. This society has as its primary aim to bring believers, clergy and laypeople, from all jurisdictions  (Russian, Greek, Rue Daru Russian, Serbian, Coptic, Eritrean,  Ethiopian, Georgian, Finnish — and there are more) together. Whether or not we succeed in that aim, the vereniging still exists 25 years later and we celebrated that.

Saturday morning we had a pontifical liturgy (with our own vladyka Gabriel and episcopos Athenagoras) in the 11th century Greater or Lebuinus Church in Deventer. This church belongs to the Protestant Church, but they gave us the freedom of the place. We could even use the old high altar for our altar — for the first time since the reformation, the Holy Liturgy was celebrated on those steps.

The most touching moment was when our bishop, Vladyka Gabriel, took the little dish with the antidoron after the communion of the priests from me and brought it to the Jansenist (old-Catholic) primate and the Roman Catholic bishop who had been seated in our altar and bade them eat and drink of it in the hope that one day he and they could celebrate together in full communion and as token of esteem and friendship.

(Next day our priest asked me to do the same for the visiting father Antoine from the Roman Catholic monastery of Chevetogne.)

Anyway, we even made it to the website of our town:

I’m the right-most acolyte, the one carrying the dikyrie — didn’t know my beard had reached these proportions yet…

Saint Basil the Great on Usenet

A thoroughly up-to-date saint, is Saint Basil the Great. Here is his opinion on Usenet (του Αγιου Βασιλειου περι του Πνευματοσ βιβλιον):

There is no lack in these days of captious listeners and questioners; but to find a character desirous of  information, and seeking the truth as a remedy for ignorance, is very difficult. Just as in the hunter’s snare, or in the soldier’s ambush, the trick is generally ingeniously concealed, so it is with the inquiries of the majority of the questioners who advance arguments, not so much with the view of getting any good out of them, as in order that, in the event of their failing to elicit answers which chime in with their own desires, they may seem to have fair ground for controversy.

(KPdf, by the way, is incredible nowadays. Not only does KPdf handle bookmarks, table of contents really well, it also handles Greek letters, can even copy the Greek in the pdf I’m reading now
to the clipboard and finally renders the text just beautifully.)

Carolling away

All was not well with the world, this Christmas, which makes me almost feel guilty that we had a thoroughly good time, this year.  Our church was so packed that it was next to impossible for the priest to actually get far enough into the reception room to bless the table. But despite the sometimes literal crunch, everyone was relaxed and glad to be there — but it’s true that we need a new, bigger church building, as the first four people I spoke with immediately told me. We’re working on that.

Our Uzbek friends have won a small victory over our immigration and naturalization department and are allowed to start a new  asylum procedure. And they joined us for dinner and the singing of Dutch, English and Latin Christmas carols afterwards.

The next day, yesterday, we had only twelve people in church, but, well, that was to be expected, on Boxing day. A nice, convivial meeting with the priest afterwards, and an equally nice evening with my father left me in a fine mettle to tackle Irina’s hard disk today.

But I must admit that working on Krita was far from my mind — fortunately Sven, Casper and Cyrille have been working hard. Casper has almost finished a rewrite of the core code that should help performance a lot and make it easier to actually get at pixels to do stuff with them. Cyrille has done a lot of work higher-level code that should finally make it automatic to use selections in tools and filters. And Sven is working on something called autogradients — a widget that makes it as easy to define and use a gradient as it  currently is to pick a color.

And tonight, and tomorrow, I have reserved for finishing the cms stuff. When I’m done, Krita will have the infrastructure to achieve feature parity with Photoshop 6 on the color management stuff, and an actual implementation that goes a long way to have all those features.

And today it’s snowing…

A new state religion

Today’s Trouw contained three very interesting articles on the separation between Church and State. Now this is a topic that is bound to make passions flame up and overheat arguments. Which is probably because most people don’t know what ‘separation of church and state’ means. These Trouw articles did a good job explaining; I’ll just summarize.

Separation between church and state means that there is not one, established church that people need to be a member of in order to be eligible for government posts or in order to be electable. (In Denmark, Great Britain and Greece, there is no separation between Church and State, but only in Greece there is a strong pressure to belong to the Orthodox Church in order to be eligible for a public post).

It does not mean that all religion, all religious influence, all signs of religion are banned from public life — as it appears to be in France. That is called laïcité, and it is a completely different thing than separation of church and state. The point is this: two hundred years ago, there was a profound change. Before that time, one had to be a member of the state church, which was a church controlled by the state, not a church that controlled the state, in order to be eligible for a public post. Membership was enough; actually believing was not necessary. From the Roman emperor worship to the Anglican nobles of England, outward appearances were enough.

Afterwards, no matter what your religion, you could not be banned from public life. You were free to get elected on the platform of your religion; when elected to enact policy based on your religion, when opposing the government, doing so on the platform of your religion. In short, you were free to believe, and act according to your beliefs.

The trend nowadays is to claim that religion, that belief, is a private thing, a thing that should not be admitted into the public space. In effect, this means that one has to hide one’s religion, one’s beliefs. And then the situation is no longer different from the pre-modern times, when there was a state religion that one had to publicly conform to. Only now we have a-religiousness, atheism if you want, which has become the state religion, the state ‘church’.

And no longer are separated State and Church.

Rue Daru

Last weekend, we’ve been to Paris. For the children and Irina it was the first time in their life, while I’m an old hand, having been in  Paris in 1991 or thereabouts with a school trip. We had a reason for the trip; friends of ours got married in the crypt of our bishopric’s cathedral in the Rue Daru:

Of course, being in Paris means, especially if you’re nine years old, seeing the Eiffel Tower and all the other landmarks, including the throng of Chinese tourists in front of the Mona Lisa. (More Chinese than Japanese, curiously enough. When I was last in Paris, that was definitely the other way around.)

Any way, I’m back to hacking Krita now, with fixing the crop tool and the selection handling being the top priority for now. Michael Thaler has saved the honour of Krita by keeping us in the intro to the cvs digest with his cool shearing code. This week, my hopes are for Cyrille Berger’s work on ksjembed scripting for Krita…

Liturgy — in English, Dutch and Church Slavonic

It used to be a regular occurrence, the absence of Father Theodore of our parish. And often a priest from another parish, sometimes even from another country, would step into the breach and celebrate the Holy Liturgy with us in Deventer. Today, for the first time since quite long, Father Theodore was in Russia again, and we had a guest priest.

Father David helped us out — but Father David is not just from another country, he’s from another continent. An American from Los Angeles who now studies Ethics in Leuven, he is not quite fluent in Dutch, so we celebrated in English. Mostly in English; our choir sang in Dutch, the Lord’s Prayer was in Church Slavonic, and I had to read the Gospel in Dutch.

It was the first time I heard the familiar texts of the litanies, the consecration and all the other prayers I know nearly by heart, in English. And that was so beautiful and fitting, a really smooth translation, especially compared to the texts in Hapgood, The  Orthodox Service Book, which I have in a 1922 edition.

About the only point where I was jerked out of the flow was at the consecration itself: in Dutch the priest says ‘Het Heilige voor de Heiligen’, but in English it’s something like ‘The Holy Things to the Holy Ones’ — and that anemic ‘things’ felt quite wrong.

Another reason it’s good to have the occasional guest priest is that, since I am an acolyte married to a choir member, we hardly ever  have the chance to attend liturgy in another church, which means in turn that we need these visits to ‘calibrate’ our customs and expectations. And it’s always good to hear someone different preach the homily, because that, too, makes one listen with new ears. Todays homily was very different from Father Theodore’s way of preaching, and it was very apposite: about the necessity to give up any dreams or ambitions that are not from God and the Holy Spirit, if you want to follow new dreams and ambitions, ones that are not produced through listening to the yakking of the world around one.

Whether that means that I should finally make a decision about what I should really concentrate on: Krita, the novel-in-progress or my study at St. John the Theologian, is something that I am rather reluctant to contemplate.

The problem is — if I don’t code, I feel blunted, if I don’t write
I feel cramped and if I don’t study I feel stunted… The other side of the
same problem is that I really don’t have enough time to do everything
at the same time.