Saturday, January 19, 2008

We trice our and large - S. Maturin in "The Ionian Mission."

One of the great jokes in all of O'Brians novels came when Stephen Maturin, "practised" (made sport of) upon a fellow ship mate, a professor named Graham.  As they were talking Graham decried, "the nautical mind" which Stephen promptly defended by choosing a "faux ami" to put the pompous Graham in his place. So Stephen used this phrase to talk about "pudding."

"Puddings. We trice'em athwart the starboard gumbrils, when sailing by and large."

Proud of his new nautical knowledge, Graham repeated it at dinner.  Of course this shocked the whole wardroom with whom he was dining, and actually eating a pudding called 'spotted dog,' The saying brought a priceless response from them.

"Graham's surprise was nothing to that of the wardroom:

'By and large?' they said. 'Gumbrils' starboard gumbrils?' Jack's spotted dog hung in his gullet for a moment before he understood that someone had been practising upon the professor's credulity, an ancient naval form of wit, played off many and many a time on newly-joined young gentlemen, on himself long, long ago and by Pullings and Mowett on Dr Maturin in former years: but never to his knowledge on any man of Graham's eminence.

"Puddings we have sir,' he said swallowing his own, 'and plenty of them. There is a wreath of yarns tapering toward the ends and grafted all over that we clap about the fore and main masts just below the trusses before we go into action, to prevent the yards from falling; then there is a pudding on the boat's stem, to act as a fender; and the puddings we lay round the anchor rings to stop them chafing. But as for gumbrils, why I am afraid someone must have been practising on you. They do not exist.'

The words were scarcely out of his mouth before he wished them back: he knew Stephen extremely well, and that detached dreamy expression could only mean a consciousness of guilt.

'Unless,' added quickly 'it is some archaic term. Yes, I rather think...'

"But is was too late. Captain Harris, the Marine, was already explaining by and large. With a piece of fresh Gibralter bread and arrows drawn with wine, he showed the ship lying as close as possible to the breeze: '... and this is sailing by the wind or as sailors saying in the jargon, on a bowline; whereas large is when it blows not indeed quite from behind but say over a quarter like this.'

'Far enough abaft of the beam that the studdingsails will set,' said Whiting.

'So as you see,' continued Harris, it is quite impossible to sail both by and large at the same time. It is a contradiction in terms.' the expression pleased him and he repeated , 'A contradiction in terms.'

'We do say by and large, said Jack. 'We say a ship sails well by and large when she will both lie close when the wind is scant and run fast when it is free. No that is what your informant meant.'

'I think not, sir,' said Graham. 'I think you first supposition was correct. I have been practised upon. I am content. I shall say not more.'

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By and Large

[Q] “Where does the term by and large come from?”

[A] It’s a nautical expression, from sailing ship days.

With by and large the modern landlubber means “in general; on the whole; everything considered; for the most part”. When you start to read up on the origin, it’s easy to get confused because dictionary editors and writers on word origins (this one included) have a lot of trouble understanding the terminology. With the help of books like William Falconer’s Dictionary of the Marine of 1769, I think I’ve sorted matters out.

Imagine a ship at sea travelling west. If the wind were blowing from exactly north or south, sideways on, it was said to be on the beam (the beam being the side of the ship at its widest point, usually by the mainmast). If the wind was blowing from any point in the half-circle eastward of the line from north to south, from nearer the stern, the ship was said to be sailing large. This comes from the idea of something being unrestricted, allowing considerable freedom (as in a fugitive being “at large”), because ships sailing large were able to maintain their direction of travel anywhere in a wide arc without needing to make continual changes to the set of the sails.

To some extent sailing ships were able to make progress into the wind, that is, with it blowing from forward of the beam. Those with good handling capabilities could get within five or six points of the wind (there are 32 compass points in a complete circle). In such cases, the ship was said to be sailing by the wind, by here having the sense of “towards”. If the ship were pointed closely into the wind, but with some margin for error in case the wind changed direction slightly, it was said to be full and by (sailing by the wind with her sails full of wind), or close-hauled, because the lower corners of the main sails were all drawn as close as possible down to her side to windward. If the helmsman by mistake turned the ship closer to the direction of the wind than it was capable of sailing, the wind would press the sails back against the masts, stopping the ship dead in the water and possibly breaking the masts off; in this case the ship was taken aback, the maritime source of another common metaphor.

You will appreciate that a ship could either sail large or it could sail by the wind, but never both at the same time. The phrase by and large in sailors’ parlance referred to all possible points of sailing, so it came to mean “in all possible circumstances”. You can see how that could have become converted in layman’s language into a sense of “all things being considered”.

From Dave McClatchey:

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sorry Rob, everything is not Spiritual

Rob Bell has a nicely provocative title to one of his latest DVD sermons called "Everything is Spiritual." Later he says that he means everything in life is spiritual. While think I know what he is getting at, these two statements are not true to what scripture has to say about "spirituality" and what is spiritual.

One of the things he says is that in Hebrew, the word "spiritual' does not exist. He says that for the Hebrew mind, everything in life is spiritual, meaning it comes from the life giving Spirit. In the beginning...the Spirit hovered over the waters. The Spirit is the creative power. So the creation is of the Spirit. But is everything that happens in this world of the Spirit or from God? Is God pleased with everything in this world he created?

The short answer, is no. God is not pleased with everything in the world. The life-giving Spirit who made us and the universe is not pleased with what has happened. Was it "spiritual" for Adam and Eve to disobey God and eat the fruit he forbade them to eat. No. Was it "of the Spirit" that Israel turned away from the God that made them a nation and blessed them so he could bless the world. No. Is it "spiritual" for us to murder, to be angry, to divorce our spouses, to not provide for our children, to make war against innocent nations? No. It is not of the Spirit.

Paul the Apostle tells us that there a lot of things that our not Spiritual. He says thing that things like " sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like, are contrary to the Spirit. He says, " I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal. 5:19ff He says these anti-spiritual things are from our sinful nature. Clearly not of the spirit.

But Pauls says that the " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Gal. 5:22 ff. Paul makes a clear distinction between that with is spiritual and that which is not.

So we cannot really say "Everything is Spiritual". Rather we should say, everything that God himself made is spiritual. The way that God intended us to live, is spiritual. But anytime we create something that goes against the nature of God, like gas chambers for killing millions of people, we create an unspiritual object. Anytime we live life in a way that that is against the nature of God, like hating our neighbors, we are unspiritual.

But...if Rob is saying, that there is an artificial divide between the sacred and the secular, then he is right. Natural is not unspiritual and, supernatural is spiritual. God made the natural, God is supernatural. The natural is of the spirit. Work is no less spiritual than play. Church work, is not more spiritual than work outside the church. Both where made by God, they are spiritual.

So let's not hear any more of this nonsense that everything is spiritual. God wants us to use our head's so nonsense is not spiritual.

Sorry Rob, but, I just thought (in all humility) I'd keep you from being unspiritual. But we're both spiritual even though we both at times act unspiritual.