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This is the first page of the manuscript of “To Autumn,” composed by Mr. Dennis Coot John Keats on September 19, 1819 after an evening stroll about Winchester.  (It has become something of a tradition for ol’ Robbo to post the poem itself here every September 22, but this year I thought I’d do something a little different.  Those of you wishing to refresh yourselves with the actual verse or a literary analysis of it are free to wiki-clicky.)

Ironically, today, the first day of Autumn, will actually be about ten degrees warmer than yesterday, the last day of Summah.

It’s a close call, but I think I can say that Autumn is my very favorite season of the year.  I love everything about it: the breaking of the weather, the sense of transition, the ever-shortening days, even the contemplative melancholy associated with the approach of Winter.  I find myself feeling the most alive in body, mind and spirit, particularly on those dank, gray, chilly days when the leaves have turned and are starting to fall.  (As much as I like Spring, it loses out on points because it ends in Summah, the season I positively despise.  Also, while I feel the rebirth of life in Spring, too, that sensation tends to be much more specifically physical and less innalekshul.)

Heck, I even like the names of the next two full moons, the Harvest (which occurs tonight) and the Hunter’s (which occurs in October).

I sometimes wonder whether the fact that I enjoy Autumn so much is a foreshadowing of how I will feel about my own Autumnal years.  I certainly hope so.  I was once accused by a soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend of being born 60 years old.  It wasn’t meant to be complimentary, but I believe different people come into their own most fully at different stages of life, and perhaps there was something to it after all.

At any rate,  navel-gazing aside, I am looking forward to the next few months tremendously.

Yesterday in her religion class, the eldest Llama-ette raised the question:  If Adam and Eve had not sinned in the first place, would Christ have had to take human form and sacrifice himself?  As Father S said in response, this is actually an excellent question, as it gets right to the heart of Christianity.

I mention this not in order to show off the gel, but because it reminded me again of a rayther dopey article I read the other day in which the Vatican’s senior astronomer said that ” he would be delighted if we encountered intelligent aliens and would be happy to baptise them.”

Speaking on the eve of addressing the British Science Festival, Dr Consolmangno said he had no problem with science and religion co-existing together.


Dr Consolmango is one of a team of 12 astronomers working for the Vatican, said the Catholic Church had been supporting and funding science for centuries.

He said he was “comfortable” with the idea of alien life and asked if he would baptise an alien, he replied “Only if they asked.”

The author of the article wraps up by claiming:

The discovery of aliens would raise huge theological problems for the Roman Catholic church that would make the debate over women priests, clerical abstinence and contraception pale into insignificance.

In fact, such discovery would do no such thing, and this statement is nothing more than a cheap dig by a fellah who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Indeed, Dr. Consolmango’s talk of baptizing aliens reminds me of some fascinating speculation:   There is nothing in Scripture or the teachings of the Church, so far as I am aware, that denies the possibility of alien life.  Going further, there is nothing to suggest whether the stories of such alien life in any way resemble that of Mankind.  While the underlying existence of the Trinity across (and indeed, beyond) the Universe would mean that God may have a relationship with other beings, Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross is, it seems to me, specific to us Earthlings.  (And even more importantly and specifically, to us Humans.  Christ didn’t sacrifice himself for the wombats.)  What form or actions He might take on some other world – if any – would necessarily be specific to the circumstances of the beings there (i.e., whether they were also made “in God’s image” like Man and whether they, too, fell).

Thus, it seems to me that it’s perhaps silly to talk of the application of Christianity, i.e., a religion centered on Christ’s specific sacrifice for Mankind, off-planet.  Although I appreciate Dr. Consolmango’s underlying sentiment, which really goes to the compatibility of science and religion, I think it probable that this is a case of celestial apples and oranges.  Or, perhaps more accurately, a case of apples and who the heck knows.

C.S. Lewis plays around with this idea in his Ransom trilogy, as well as in the Narnia series, and it’s one that I find quite intriguing, although without actual contact ultimately unresolvable.

The string of perfectly lovely nights we’ve had of late has sparked a debate that has simmered in the port-swiller household ever since there’s been a port-swiller household.  To wit: When do we leave the windows open at night and when do we close them?

Ol’ Robbo is a great fan of sleeping in cold, crisp, fresh air, with blankets added or subtracted as necessary.  Mrs. R, on the other hand, regularly complains of being “frozen” any time the temperature dips below, oh, about 75 degrees and prefers in such cases that the house remain hermetically seeled.

In all of our seventeen years together, as yet we have found no permanent resolution to this conflict of interest.  This morning I was accused of sneakily opening windows when Mrs. R wasn’t looking, with the result that the marital bower supposedly resembled a refrigerator.  (Moi? Perish the thought!)

Anyhoo, as has so often happened before, I have once again begun to mull the advantages of separate bedrooms…….


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September 2010