Take this job and shove it

So what do you think about that flight attendant who got fed up with a passenger whose overhead luggage fell on him after landing, whereupon he got on the intercom to cuss out the passenger, then grabbed some beer off the service car and activated the emergency exit to slide onto the tarmac?

Authorities said [Steven] Slater dropped several f-bombs on a JetBlue flight’s loud speaker Monday night, grabbed two beers, deployed the plane’s emergency slide at Kennedy Airport, and then took off.

From all accounts, the 38-year old Slater simply had had enough.

Sporting a cut on his forehead from fallen overhead baggage, Slater walked out of Port Authority Police Headquarters after the incident, handcuffed with a smirk on his face and absolutely nothing to say.

But passenger Philip Catelinet said Slater had plenty to say over the plane’s public announcement system while he was on board JetBlue Flight 1052 out of Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon.

“He said, ‘to the passenger who called me a (expletive expletive, expletive) you. I’ve been in this business 28 years. And that’s it, I’m done’,” Catelinet said.

Catelinet said Slater spouted the obscenities after his flight landed at JFK from Pittsburgh International Airport. Airport authorities said Slater snapped after he argued with a passenger attempting to get overhead baggage before the plane was parked at the gate.

via Judge Grants Bail For JetBlue Flight Attendant « CBS New York- News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of NY.

Now I’VE wanted to do that, when stuck on the tarmac and fed up with bad airline service, but it’s strange for someone working for the airline to take such measures against his customers.  I do know that flight attendants do suffer abuse from passengers. This reminds me of a time when I was stuck on the runway at Detroit, after my flights had already been messed up. A fellow passenger started complaining about the airline to the flight attendant, saying how every time he flies this airline he has problems, how this company is one of the worst run ever, how the owners don’t know what they are doing, and on and on. The flight attendant, the representative of this company to the passenger, shut him up by saying, “You think that’s bad? How would you like to work for them?”

At any rate, Mr. Slater certainly deserves the Johnny Paycheck “Take This Job and Shove It” award.

Interesting jobs

To celebrate the doctrine of vocation and as a build up to Labor Day, let us consider Interesting Jobs.   Here is one:  Major league baseball interpreter.

An interpreter’s job can be consuming, from taking phone calls from a confused player in a grocery store aisle to helping a player’s wife get a driver’s license.

“It’s one thing to be bilingual,” says [Kenji] Nimura, who is unique in the major leagues and especially valuable because he’s fluent in English, Japanese and Spanish. “It’s another to be bicultural.”

That’s why the role has grown as quickly as the Asian influence in the majors, where this year’s 12 Japanese players, three Taiwanese and two South Koreans usually are accompanied by an interpreter.

And note that the correct word is interpreter, not translator. Word-for-word substitutions seldom work between English and the Asian languages.

“If I give a direct translation, it will sound vague,” says Nimura, born in Japan but raised in Los Angeles. “I cheat a little. It’s like a scene in Lost in Translation. As long as I get the meaning right.”

Ever wonder why the translated answer often seems much shorter than the original answer?

“American players follow the formula,” Nimura says. “Say what you’re going to say, say it, say what you said. In Japan, they don’t give you an answer until the end.” . . .

Nowhere do the cultural differences show up more than in trying to interpret what goes on in the clubhouse.

The hazing Kuroda received is unheard of in Japan. So are the moments like the day in spring 2009 that Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones wanted to pass a message to new pitcher Kenshin Kawakami.

“Tell him, I said, (expletive)’ ” a grinning Jones said to interpreter Daichi Takasue, then a 21-year-old fresh out of the University of California-Santa Barbara, where he had been trained specifically for moments like this.

Al Ferrer, the former longtime coach at UCSB who now trains and supplies interpreters armed with the knowledge to deal with coaches and game situations, laughs when he remembers Takasue relating the incident.

“He told me, ‘I bowed my head and said Mr. Jones told me to say (expletive)’ ” Ferrer says. “Ragging is not a part of their culture.”

Nor is swearing, something Guillen discovered during one of his colorful clubhouse speeches when Japanese pitcher Shingo Takatsu was on the roster.

“I saw the translator was quiet,” Guillen says. “I’m screaming to him, ‘Make sure you tell him what I say.’ The (interpreter) says, ‘We don’t have those kinds of words in Japan.’ “

via Baseball interpreters bridge gap between players, new culture – USATODAY.com.

What are some other Interesting Jobs?  Do any of you have one?

The Teutonic Knights

We’ve talked about the Hospitallers, aka the Knights of Malta and–in Bo Giertz’s novel by that name translated by Cranach commenter Bror Erickson–the Knights of Rhodes.  You have already heard of the Knights Templar, with their mysterious and allegedly occultic secrets and their alleged ties to the Masons.  There is also another order of monks who fought wars:  the Teutonic Knights.  Now they are in the news, as the remains of their original Grand Masters have been discovered in the Polish town of Kwidzyn, which was once the Prussian city of Marienwerder.  The skeletons will be buried, with great ceremony, in the cathedral, though not without controversy, the Teutonic Knights having pretty much ravaged Poland, while also using the sword to bring Catholicism to the Baltics:

The remains were discovered in the cathedral’s crypt in 2008 and identified by DNA and other testing as being those of Werner von Orseln, the knights’ ruler from 1324-1330; Ludolf Koenig von Wattzau, who ruled from 1342-1345; and Heinrich von Plauen, from 1410-1413.

Next to the coffins will be plastic replicas of what the men are believed to look – long-haired men draped in cloths – based on a 16th century mural in the cathedral, said Bogumil Wisniewski, a city archaeologist.

Fragments of original gold-painted silks found on their skeletons are being displayed separately.

The Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s Hospital in Jerusalem was founded in the late 12th century to aid German pilgrims in the Holy Land. It evolved into a military order whose knights wore trademark white coats with black crosses. Later, they forcefully brought Christianity to swaths of northeastern Europe and ruled an area near the Baltic Sea coast in what is now northern Poland.

via Poles hope deadly knights will now bring some good.

They too, like the Knights of Malta, combined combat with running hospitals.  The order still exists, though without the military dimension to their good works.

How does the doctrine of vocation apply to these military orders?

It’s nature to nurture

The conventional view in academia today is that sex is biological, but gender is a cultural construction.  That is, roles that are attached to being male or female are nothing more than the impositions of culture.  Well, I just observed my 15-month-old granddaughter picking up her first doll.   She had played with teddy bears and the like, but she never even saw a doll that looked like a baby.  This one wasn’t hers.  But she picked it up, cradled it, supported its head, and kissed it.  How did she know to do this?  No one taught her to.  She is not particularly receptive to culture at her age.  Her brother, at the ripe age of three, had no interest in that particular toy, even though he has some inchoate notions of babies from the existence of little sister.  But she knew immediately how to play mommy.

The sacramental imagination

A common notion in studies of Christianity and the arts  is “the sacramental imagination.”  It goes like this:  Christians with a high view of the sacraments believe that spiritual realities are mediated by means of physical things.  Christian artists with those beliefs, therefore, can easily employ images derived from the material world in order to communicate their faith.  This is also why so many Christian artists are Roman Catholics, a church whose sacramental theology encourages this kind of imagination.

That may be.  But it occurred to me–while contemplating that “Luther and the Body” article I blogged about earlier in the course of this road trip that I’m still on (driving long hours giving time for just thinking)–that Lutheran sacramental theology offers a basis for this sacramental imagination more than Roman Catholicism does.

The Roman Catholic view of Holy Communion teaches that the physical bread and wine is no longer present. We receive Christ’s Body and Blood only.  We perceive the “accidents” of bread and wine, their appearance, but the only “substance” is that of Christ.   This take on the physical material reality seems to be more that of Eastern monism–that the physical realm is an illusion–than an actual affirmation of the physical as a vehicle for the spiritual.

The Lutheran doctrine of the Real Presence, though, teaches that the bread and the wine, in their physicality, are still present, as is the actual Body and Blood of Christ.  (Again, don’t call this “consubstantiation,” which is the Roman Catholic attempt to explain this  teaching in terms of their own “substance” and “accidents” distinction that Lutheranism rejects.)

The mode of Christ’s presence is explained not in terms of different “substances” but in terms of “the ubiquity of Christ.”  That is, just as God is omnipresent without displacing the existence of other objects, Christ, because of His personal union of the divine and human natures, can be, in His body, present in bread and wine.   Not that He is in the Sacrament only in the sense of God being everywhere, but in a unique sacramental union in which He is present specifically through the Word of the Gospel, his body and blood being given and shed “for you.”

Now, this kind of teaching first of all is going to encourage those who believe it to think of God in Christ as being not far above the universe, looking down, as the imagination of many Christians has Him, but, rather, as being very close.  God, of course, is both transcendent and immanent, but the latter often gets minimized, which it can’t in Lutheran spirituality.

Furthermore, Lutheran theology also teaches the presence of God in vocation.  (It is God who gives us this day our daily bread through the vocation of the farmer and the baker; God milks the cows through the work of the milkmaid; God creates new life by working through mothers and fathers; vocation is a mask of God, etc., etc.)  This again encourages people to see the spiritual dimensions of the physical world.

For artists, it means that not only physical images can manifest the spiritual realm, the very act of creating–whether by paint, words, film, or whatever medium one’s vocation involves–manifests not just the presence of God but His activity, that He creates by means of human creation.

Martin Luther’s Body

I was browsing through the library, when imagine my surprise when I saw the latest issue of the American Historical Review with a big picture of Luther and Melanchthon on the cover.  The lead article is entitled “Martin Luther’s Body,” focusing on how fat he was (contrasting to the skinniness of the medieval saints) and on how his language, thinking, acting, and theology were all so physical.

The article is alternatively humorous (as when the author discusses and defends Luther’s scatalogical language), absurd (discussing the social construction of the body), and insightful (relating Luther’s physicality to that of Lutheran spirituality, with its insistence–against both Catholicism and other Protestantism–that Christ’s presence in the Sacrament is physical and in physical bread).  She also notes Lutheranism’s embrace of the physical realm, in its relatively positive views of sex, food and drink, the body, and earthly life (what we would call “vocation”).  The thing is, the scholar seems to get Luther and Lutheranism!

Like most scholarly journals, this one is only available online with a subscription, but here is a description from the journal’s press release:

Lyndal Roper takes a fresh look at Martin Luther in the April 2010 issue of the American Historical Review, focusing on the way depictions emphasizing Luther's “monumentality” and his own relationship to his body informed the theology of Lutheranism.

“This was a man whose body was fundamental to his personality,” writes Roper, a fellow and tutor in history at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Unlike saints and other pious figures, whose thinness illustrated their aversion or indifference to the temptations of the flesh, Luther’s stoutness was an unmistakable feature of his iconographic representations, she notes. . . .

In “Martin Luther’s Body: The ‘Stout Doctor’ and His Biographers,” Roper explores the way Luther constantly referred to the body — and specifically his body — in his writings and pronouncements, especially in the famous Table Talk.

Rather than seeing his preoccupation with the body as a character defect or neurosis, she proposes that Luther “offered a religious worldview that did not separate soul and body but incorporated a robust, redoubtable, and often mucky physicality.” Luther’s physicality — “his bulk, his digestion, his anality” — was intrinsic to his theology, including his views of the devil, she writes. Portraits of “the stout doctor” during and shortly after his life helped establish the emerging identity of Lutheranism.

via AHR for April: Luther’s body, suicide in Africa, the state in South Asia: IU News Room: Indiana University.


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