VerMeer's Geographer

VerMeer's Geographer
The Geographer, by Vermeer, c. 1669


O Sacred Head Now Wounded

O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden (youtube performance here)
Text and Translation of Chorale
Author: Paul Gerhardt (1656)
Chorale Melody: Befiehl du deine Wege (I) | Composer: Hans Leo Hassler (1601)

German Text (verses in bold print set by Bach in the St. Matthew Passion) and English Translation

1 O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden,
Voll Schmerz und voller Hohn,
O Haupt, zum Spott gebunden
Mit einer Dornenkron;
O Haupt, sonst schön gezieret
Mit höchster Ehr' und Zier,
Jetzt aber höchst schimpfieret:
Gegrüßet sei'st du mir!

O Head full of blood and wounds,
full of pain and full of derision,
O Head, in mockery bound
with a crown of thorns,
O Head,once beautifully adorned
with the most honour and adornment,
but now most dishonoured:
let me greet you!

2 Du edles Angesichte,
Davor sonst schrickt und scheut
Das große Weltgewichte,
Wie bist du so bespeit!
Wie bist du so erbleichet!
Wer hat dein Augenlicht,
Dem sonst kein Licht nicht gleichet,
So schändlich zugericht't?

You noble countenance,
before which once shrinks and cowers
the great might of the world,
how you are spat upon!
How you are turned pallid!
Who has treated those eyes
to which no light is comparable
so shamefully?

3 Die Farbe deiner Wangen,
Der roten Lippen Pracht
Ist hin und ganz vergangen;
Des blaßen Todes Macht
Hat alles hingenommen,
Hat alles hingerafft,
Und daher bist du kommen
Von deines Leibes Kraft.

The colour of your cheeks,
the splendour of your red lips
has vanished completely;
the might of pale death
has taken all away,
has snatched up all,
and you have come to this
through your love's strength.

4 Nun, was du, Herr, erduldet,
Ist alles meine Last;
Ich hab' es selbst verschuldet,
Was du getragen hast.
Schau her, hier steh' ich Armer,
Der Zorn verdienet hat;
Gib mir, o mein Erbarmer,
Den Anblick deiner Gnad!

Now what you, Lord ,endure,
Is all my burden;
I have myself deserved
what you have borne.
See , I stand here a poor man
who has deserved your wrath;
grant to me, O my comforter,
a glimpse of your grace.

5 Erkenne mich, mein Hüter,
Mein Hirte, nimm mich an!
Von dir, Quell aller Güter,
Ist mir viel Gut's getan.
Dein Mund hat mich gelabet
Mit Milch und süßer Kost;
Dein Geist hat mich begabet
Mit mancher Himmelslust.

Recognise me, my guardian,
my shepherd, take me with you!
By you, the source of all goodness,
has so much good be done for me.
Your mouth has refreshed me
with milk and sweet food;
your spirit has bestowed on me
so many heavenly pleasures.

6 Ich will hier bei dir stehen,
Verachte mich doch nicht!
Von dir will ich nicht gehen,
Wenn dir dein Herze bricht;
Wenn dein Haupt wird erblaßen
Im letzten Todesstoß,
Alsdann will ich dich faßen
In meinen Arm und Schoß.

I shall stand here with you,
do not then scorn me!
I do not want to leave you
when your heart is breaking;
when your set turns pale
in the last throes of death
then I want to grasp you think
in my arm and bosomui1e.

7 Es dient zu meinen Freuden
Und kommt mir herzlich wohl,
Wenn ich in deinem Leiden,
Mein Heil, mich finden soll.
Ach, möcht' ich, o mein Leben,
An deinem Kreuze hier
Mein Leben von mir geben,
Wie wohl geschähe mir!

It serves to give me joy
and does my heart good
when in your sufferings,
my saviour, I can find myself.
Ah, if only I could, O my life,
here at your cross
give my life away from me,
what good fortune that would be for me!

8 Ich danke dir von Herzen,
O Jesu, liebster Freund,
Für deines Todes Schmerzen,
Da du's so gut gemeint.
Ach gib, daß ich mich halte
Zu dir und deiner Treu'
Und, wenn ich nun erkalte,
In dir mein Ende sei!

I thank you from my heart,
O Jesus, dearest friend,
for the sorrows of your death,
where what you intended was so good.
Ah grant that I may keep myself
with you and your faithfulness
and if I grow cold,
may my end be with you!

9 Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden,
So scheide nicht von mir;
Wenn ich den Tod soll leiden,
So tritt du dann herfür;
Wenn mir am allerbängsten
Wird um das Herze sein,
So reiß mich aus den Ängsten
Kraft deiner Angst und Pein!

When I must once and for all depart,
then do not depart from me;
when I must suffer death,
then stand by me;
when my heart will be
most fearful,
then snatch me from the terrors
by the virtue of your own fear and pain!

10 Erscheine mir zum Schilde,
Zum Trost in meinem Tod,
Und laß mich sehn dein Bilde
In deiner Kreuzesnot!
Da will ich nach dir blicken,
Da will ich glaubensvoll
Dich fest an mein Herz drücken.
Wer so stribt, der stirbt wohl.

Appear to me as my shield,
as comfort in my death,
and grant that I may see your image
in your agony on the cross!
Then I shall look towards you,
then full of faith I shall
press you closely to my heart.
To die in this way is to die well.


Government Does Not Love You

The state’s job is to do the people’s business, not to sympathize.

by Andrew C. McCarthy in National Review 14 April 2011 

The worst part about being a prosecutor was the defendants’ kids. Wives and parents would get to me, too, but nothing was worse than the kids — especially the young teenagers, when they’re just old enough to understand what is happening, when the idea of who dad is gets overrun by the reality of who dad is.
A prosecutor’s task is to paint a convincing portrait of reality, which sometimes meant revealing the kid’s hero as the ruthless scoundrel he really was. As a human being, it sometimes made me sick to do it — sick and angry, because the ruthless scoundrel would never be above using the kids. He’d doll up his attractive, loving family and seat them in the front row, where they could tug at the jury’s heartstrings and stare plaintively at the witnesses — as if it were the testimony, not the conduct, that made dad a fraud, a dope-dealer, a mafioso, or a terrorist.
I had idolized my father, and I’d lost him when I was a young teenager. As a Christian, I ached for what those kids had to be feeling as they watched me prove their fathers were monsters that juries should convict and judges send to jail for decades — sometimes for life. But as a public official, I didn’t give a damn. As part of government, my job was not to feel but to function. It wasn’t that my feelings weren’t real. It was that they had no place in the governmental duty that has to be performed if we are to flourish as a civil society.
I’ve thought about that dichotomy a lot the last few days, ever since Pete Wehner, the former Bush administration speechwriter and policy adviser, chastised me in the pages of Commentary. Pete is exercised because, in a column last week about the increasingly dubious U.S. military expedition in Afghanistan, I bluntly asked, “Why should we give a damn about the Afghan people?”
Wehner’s argument is presumptuous — unabashedly so. Putting on his clairvoyant’s hat, he peers into my brain and finds I am being “intentionally provocative” in advancing an “argument, presumably . . . that Afghanistan is an impoverished country located on the other side of the world, inhabited by people who are not worthy of our concern, let alone our care. If the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan and returned to their barbaric practices should be [sic] a matter of complete indifference to us.”
Maybe Wehner would not write such foolish things if he had been with me in Nairobi eleven years ago, after a jihadist bombing killed more than 200 mostly impoverished people, many of them Muslims. Maybe he’d have thought twice if he had sat with me through interview after heartrending interview with the survivors — scores of them maimed and blinded by the sheer sadism of the Islamists.
Fueled by an ideology that has long found a comfortable home in Afghanistan, the Islamists first detonated a grenade as a distraction. That caused people to rush to the windows of their offices. When the bomb exploded seconds later outside the American embassy, victims were carved by glass shards before being crushed under brick and steel. Kenya may be an impoverished country located on the other side of the world, but I was quite sure these people merited whatever reservoirs of concern and care I could muster. Still, human feeling aside, I was there because I was a government official with a terrorism case to prepare — not because I cared, but because I was furthering a compelling U.S. government interest.
Pete’s holier-than-thou demagoguery is misplaced. I did not grow up a person of means, and I’ve spent plenty of my private time and resources (such as they have been) agitating for those who have it worse than I do. But it’s not his suggestion that I am unfeeling because Afghans are poor people from a faraway place that most rankles. It is his confounding of personal and corporate sacrifice, framed in an airy stream of consciousness about “teleology, the purpose and design of human nature, and rights we are owed simply and only because we are human beings.”
Wehner claims to find the answer to my question “on the road to Jericho,” whence he launches into the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which “a hated foreigner and a spiritual half-breed” comes to the aid of a wounded stranger. “What Jesus was teaching,” he instructs, “is that love and mercy are not restricted to national boundaries,” and that “as recipients of grace, we ought to demonstrate it to the outcast, to those deemed to be the ‘other.’”
Wehner, however, misses a key point of the story: The Good Samaritan was a man, not a government. This is also the central distinction in a passage Wehner quotes, but similarly fails to grasp, from Malcolm Muggeridge’s book on Mother Teresa. It is, says Muggeridge, “man, made in God’s image” who must make decisions based on “the universal love” rather than “his own fears and disparities.” It is “life” — human life, not the functioning of government — that Muggeridge limns as “always and in all circumstances sacred,” as fostering concern for every sparrow that falls to the ground.
A government is not a man made in God’s image. It has functions, not a life. It is a necessary evil that undergirds and secures the liberty in which man can best find the universal love and be redeemed. Government is necessary because man is flawed; it is evil because it corrupts men and usurps liberty. That is why the American framers took such pains to limit and check its powers. Love and mercy are not bound by borders, but they are the attributes of people, not functions of government. Governments are restricted by national boundaries and national interests.
It is the progressive project to aggrandize government by humanizing it. Government becomes the life that cares and feels and exhibits concern. The real lives, the human lives, become cogs in the wheel, steered along by the general will — the pieties of whoever happens to control the ruling class. As liberty is degraded, the individual’s freedom is eviscerated. He becomes a passenger, not an actor. He needn’t trouble himself about love and mercy. They are not redemptive; they are government’s responsibility. It is government that decides which faraway impoverished peoples win the collective’s largesse and its favor. Don’t bother the citizen about this earthquake or that Third World basket case — he has paid his taxes.
That is not American way, though — at least not as our society was conceived and as it ought to be. American government does not determine and effectuate our morality; it performs the minimum functions we need it to perform so that our liberty is maximized. That, in turn, maximizes our capacity to live compassionate, redemptive lives.
As individuals, we may care deeply about the Afghan people — just as we should care about people generally. It is not, however, the role of our government to care about Afghans. Our government does not exist to care; it exists to promote the freedom and security of our body politic. The actions of our public officials are not supposed to be a reflection of how those officials, guided by their private religious and ethical principles, care about their fellow human beings the world over. Public officials must faithfully perform the tasks to which they are assigned in order to fulfill government’s limited, necessary functions. That is what enables individual Americans, the most charitable people on earth, to care for Afghans as they see fit.
Personally, I should give a damn about the Afghans. That may not mean I should try to help them. It may be that I’d be doing more harm than good — the well-intentioned Samaritan giving a dollar to a mendicant who promptly uses it to buy drugs. It may mean I should respect their choice to be part of an insular, anti-Western culture with all the resulting pathologies that entails. It may mean that, while I should have sympathy, other needy people are more deserving of my limited capacity to help. And maybe my love ought to be tough love — the kind that’s strong enough to say, “Talk to me after you’ve cleaned up your act,” in the hope that you may be persuaded to do so.
But what I asked in the column was the very different question of why we should give a damn about the Afghan people. In context, I was clearly speaking not about Americans as individuals but as a political community acting through its government. Governments should only act in the political community’s interests, not on the basis of what Pete or I feel.
The military mission in Afghanistan has devolved into something that is contrary to American interests. It was perfectly appropriate — indeed, it was necessary — to dispatch our armed forces to quell enemies trying to harm our country. But that is not our purpose there now. Government officials say we are there (i.e., our government is there) to protect the Afghans in what our military commanders call their war, not ours. If al-Qaeda were to reestablish Afghan havens, we have ways of striking those without having to put thousands of our young men and women in harm’s way — ways that we use in Pakistan and elsewhere. And as for the Taliban, while Wehner worries about their barbaric practices, our government is currently paying top dollar to woo them into settlement negotiations — the Obama administration has already come to terms with their return.
More important, the corrupt Afghan government we are propping up disserves our interests. Afghanistan remains a sharia state in which religious freedom is denied, in which former Muslims are put on capital trial for apostasy, and in which President Karzai himself — not an obscure Florida pastor — incited the hair-trigger of Islamist rage that resulted in the recent mass murder and decapitations in Mazar-e-Sharif. Worse still, top American military and political officials are now trying to curb our core constitutional protection of speech — a bedrock of the individual liberty that empowers Americans to give a damn — in deference to the Afghans’ claim of a right to riot over any slight to Islam, real or perceived.
Pete Wehner closes with a concession more telling than he seems to realize. Malcolm Muggeridge’s trenchant guidance on “the universal love,” he admits, “may not provide us with a governing blueprint.” That’s right. The universal love calls on each of us, as human beings, to care about the Afghans. But as a political community acting through its government, we needn’t give a damn.
 Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.


Murder In the Name of God/Defending American Values

by Kevin Ward  (and I couldn't agree more...)

So, Terry Jones burns a Koran in Florida. A willful,deliberate act designed to be provocative and inflame passions. But, Mr. Jones, like his buddies at Westboro Baptist lives not only in a free country, but in a nation that holds firm that his freedom is natural to his humanity as endowed by our creator. A free man may reject and ridicule those with whom he disagrees or finds disagreeable. Our Republic has effectively codified the oft cited but often ignored precept by Voltaire: "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

We have for quite a while now been libeled "Islamophobic" if we dare to point out the professed faith of those who have murdered and maimed in praise or defense of "Allah". The Fort Hood shooter yells "Allah Akbar", the gunman in Germany does the same. It is virtually ignored and of course it's never labeled terrorism. It's never pointed out in mainstream outlets that they took lives in the name of God. Denial is a bitch if you're afraid to be labeled "intolerant", or a "bigot" or an "Islamophobe". So we treat it as random violence, rather than an altogether demonic act of terror.

At this moment the numbers are all over the place, but at least twelve people have died and two beheaded in Afghanistan in a demonstration protesting Mr. Jones's Koran burning. It has been roundly condemned. What about bringing the perpetrators to justice? This is the same country we liberated where missionaries were killed just for possessing a "Holy Bible". It sure is comforting to know that one will be killed for either defacing a Koran and possessing a Bible. It need not be uttered, but to shed blood in the name of God is an act of barbarism.

The matter at hand as regarding the burning of the Koran does not rise to the attention of the President and does not for diplomatic purposes warrant an official response. Mr. Jones actions are reprehensible as an act of provocation, but is an action grounded in the deepest roots of American life and values. His actions did not necessitate a murderous rampage. But it did, or at least it was the pretext to justify murder.

I'm tired of placating thugs by ignoring their actions as a defense of faith. I'm tired of moral relativism as an excuse to coddle and appease savage theocratic ideologues. I'm tired of our most shameful chapters in history as a justification for moral relativity. As a nation we have struggled with our demons, but those spirits were confronted by a good people compelled to fight injustice in furtherance of American ideals. What made this nation great is not that we are free of sin or shame, but that we had the courage of greater convictions. Those who murder in the name of God do not identify their actions as sin or shame for they in their mind's eye are the servant of God, avenging his honor. That is the fundamental distinction between those who burn books and those who would kill innocent people in mourning the fate of printed type.

It's time that we proudly asserted our values, for those principles in our Constitution are not merely the province of Americans, but the natural human order. It is the clearest expression of human dignity and our inherent,natural rights. Free speech can be abrasive and hateful, but we don't kill for being offended. We protect it. As we should. If God gave us free will, then we are free to reject him and the faithful certainly have no fear for the future because one chooses to bite the apple.

As Americans we must reject calls to sanction or incarcerate Mr. Jones for his behavior. We must defend his right as disruptive as it is. To abandon a noble defense of our inalienable rights as an individual free man or woman sends a clear message that we may be intimidated into abandoning our most cherished principles. The United Nations has at the behest of Muslim member nations sought to pass a resolution or reach an agreement called "blasphemy laws". This is an attempt to define criticism of faith or religion as a human rights violation. It is an effort to deny our most precious right of free speech. It is an attitude that tries to kill Danish cartoonists, an effort that justifies killing Dutch film makers and driving a young American woman into hiding for suggesting "Everyone Draw Muhammad Day".

Are we failing our republican principles out of fear for losing Saudi oil that finances wahabist madrases? Are we so fearful of attack that we would rather live obediently than stand at the watchtower of democracy? Are we too timid to do as Voltaire and die defending the right to speak freely? Are we so offended by others that we fail to recognize an effort at the erosion of our natural rights?

There are many things that are antithetical to a free society and people. In a free country we reject the very notion, the concept of heresy,apostasy,blasphemy and sacrilege. In a free society nothing and no one is sacred,not even God. If he had meant anyone to avenge his name he would've given them wings. In the  meantime, we must publicly reinforce our dedication to defend our core principles. The founders in the Declaration of Independence pledged their lives,their fortunes and their most sacred honor. We are obligated to perpetuate their sacrifice. It may leave a bad taste in our mouths but we must defend Terry Jones. It's the right thing to do. It's the American Way. We'll leave his final judgement on the matter to a higher authority, but we must stand guard against those who imagine they have wings and do the will of God.