June 24th, 2010

never there

Football; Tennis; A History of Christianity

TV watching started early yesterday - I watched the England match - but it doesn't quite count as part of "TV night", even tho we were both watching it, coz J was at work and I was at home. Pleased to see the team actually seemed to turn up to this match, and pull off a win when they really needed one. Very tense at the end though, Slovenia didn't give up. I was a bit sorry that the US scored in their match in the end (tho I gather they deserved it), coz I'd kinda hoped Slovenia would go through - of the 4 matches I've watched so far in this World Cup Slovenia were playing in the two that were more fun to watch. Fingers crossed now for Sunday (and I suppose that was the plus of the US winning, I'll be able to watch the next England match).

Then in the evening we switched on the TV again in preparation for watching some of the stuff on the magic box, but discovered there was a tennis match still going on ... I think when we tuned in it was somewhere in the 40s for games each, and over 9 hours total played. And the somewhat mind-boggling, awe-inspiring spectacle sucked us in. Of the two of them Isner looked the tiredest, barely moving around at all, but he still seemed to be doing the most thinking about where he was putting the ball - forcing Mahut to run about the court and react to things. Isner nearly, nearly broke Mahut's serve when it was at 58-59 (Mahut on 58, serving second so always serving to stay in the game), and then play was suspended coz of the failing light at 59-59. Incredible that they were still capable of playing like that after over 6 hours on court in that session (the game started on Tuesday). It's a shame that once one of them wins it (finally) that he's unlikely to do as well in round 2, coz whichever it is must be knackered and the round 2 opponent will be pretty fresh having had an unanticipated rest. I assume they'll be changing the rules at Wimbledon after the end of this tournament, as awe-inspiring as this is, it's "broken" the system rather.

So after an hour of tennis we didn't have time to watch the 2 hour programme we'd originally planned on watching, so instead watched the next episode in the A History of Christianity series. This one was about the Orthodox church - which formally split from the Roman Catholic church in the 1000s but the two had been drifting apart for a while before that. The Orthodox church was the state church of the eastern half of the Roman Empire, with its centre of power in the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. That part of the Roman Empire stayed together a lot longer than the Western half - it became what we now call the Byzantine Empire & didn't really totally collapse until the 1200s in the midst of the crusades. So the Orthodox church had that sense of coherence and of being part of the state for a lot longer than the Catholic church. The first half of the programme looked at the church up until the sack of Constantinople by the Catholic Crusaders - which was the final nail in the coffin of relations between the two churches, 200 years after they'd formally split over the wording of the Nicene Creed (does the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father (Orthodox, original wording), or from the Father & the Son (later Catholic wording)). Then the second half looked at the Russian half of the Orthodox church - which developed from the original Orthodox conversion of the Slavs in Serbia etc (and developed a writing system for them, called Cyrillic after St. Cyril (although his actual alphabet wasn't used)). It became the larger part of the church after the Catholics and the Muslims crippled the Byzantine Empire & was taken up enthusiastically by the beginning Russian state in Moscow as part of their legitimising of their rule - they set themselves up as the heirs to the Byzantine Empire. Both spiritually via the church, and literally by marrying into the family of the last Byzantine Emperors. Even the title Tsar (or Caesar) is part of this. The programme talked a bit about Ivan the Terrible & St Basil's cathedral & moved on to the church coming under direct control of the state with Peter the Great - and indeed it was state controlled until the Communist revolution. When it was almost totally wiped out, I guess I hadn't really realised that people were being persecuted that much for their faith in Russia as recently as the 20th Century. Though I should've known, having covered bits of USSR history at school. It ended on an upbeat note for the church in Russia - now permitted, and part of people's lives again. But coming into contact now with attitudes that the Western church has both had to deal with for longer and created itself.

And during that we were interrupted by a flying beetle! The cat suddenly made a made dash for the fireplace, and we saw there was a cockchafer over there. Thankfully the cat spotted it before it buzzed us, they're big enough beetles that we'd've probably both screamed like girls & flapped about ... well, I definitely would've anyway ;)