This is a website about seeing the world differently. The content represents my attempt to practice looking and listening, in order to see and to hear what God is doing in God’s world. In fancy theological parlance, this is called discerning the missio Dei, the Mission of God. Learning to recognize the Mission of God in the world is an act of humility, a realization that it’s not our mission, it’s not about us at all. It’s about what God does and is doing. This truth makes this website a bit conflicted since it also a portfolio of things I have written, spoken, and made; a recipe for pride, a constant problem. But, conflicted as it is, may it be a prayer nonetheless.
Cynoceph is derived from the Latin form of the Greek word: κῠνοκέφᾰλοι, which means dog-head. The cynocephali were creatures who possessed the body of a human and the head of a dog. These creatures were popular in the romances and “travel” literature of late Antiquity, and the Middle Ages. In some accounts, St. Christopher himself was a cynocephali. In other stories, the cynocephali live in the lands of the “distant” East. The many references to cynocephali, both literary and visual, attest to the medieval fascination with the monstrous. This has been understood by scholars to be a way of dealing with “the other.” Why name this blog after such a phenomenon? I’ll let the reader draw their own conclusions.
“non est species, neque decor” is from the Vulgate translation of Isaiah 53:2. The NRSV translates the phrase: “he had no form or majesty.” Seen as a Messianic prophecy, the passage has inspired the Christian imagination for centuries:
For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people. They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
The phrase is quoted in Robert Lowell’s The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket.
The Rev. James Stambaugh is a Deacon in the Episcopal Church, and a follower of Jesus. He graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary with a M.Div. in May of 2017. James is an amateur artist (just in case that wasn’t apparent). Reading, writing, and contemporary art are things that James is interested in. All opinions expressed in the blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, or Jesus.