Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Gifts

"And when we give each other gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself."

— Sigrid Undset

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Origins of the Name Noel

I had heard that people weren't certain of the origins of NOEL - and the explanation on Wikipedia seems a bit convoluted.

The thought occurred to me that it could be a simple abbreviation of the last four letters in IMMANUEL.

The WAW (a Hebrew letter) can express both "U" and "O". A little child or someone not entirely familiar with Hebrew or Biblical pronunciations might certainly shorten it this way.

Immanuel: Born is the King of Israel.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What About You, Boy?

To the ilk of theologians who think that "we are all that [God] has at last," Mr. Manfred raises some questions:

What About You, Boy?
by Frederick Manfred

Is your work coming along?
Are you still making candles
Against darkness and wrong?
The whole thing is to blast.
Blast and blast again.
To fill the black
With songs, poems, temples, paintings,
Anything at all. Attack. Attack.
Open up and let go.
Even if it’s only blowing. But blast.
And I say this loving my God.
Because we are all he has at last.
So what about it, boy?
Is your work going well?
Are you still lighting lamps
Against darkness and hell?

Friday, July 30, 2010

What's the Difference?

The other day, I began to wonder if Democrats thought that the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" was our nation's first unfunded public mandate. Maybe the Democrats are simply trying to fund that mandate . . .

Then, while on vacation in South Dakota, I stumbled across a bookrack at a rural gas station which featured books by a local author, Ben Goode. The excerpt below comes from his book, How to Confuse the Idiots in Your Life, pp. 57-59. You might discover and enjoy other titles by this humorist at

Caveat: These caricatures are for entertainment purposes only, intended to give equal opportunity at spoofing both "sides."


A Democrat believes she has a right to force you to live the way she wants you to because only people supported in some way by the government are capable of compassion and understanding and because of a persistent feeling of moral superiority, which she feels because she never discriminates by reason of race, (only against white males and because of religion and political ideology).

Although she's promiscuous and a heavy burden on society because she's on the dole and even though she has had many abortions, she still has very high self-esteem because she recycles her pop cans and because she once went on a march to save the guppies and has a "Celebrate Diversity" bumper sticker on her YUGO.

Democrats believe that aside from themselves, people aren't capable of managing the really important phases of their lives without government help, because everyone is some type of victim. They believe that it's okay if someone breaks the law as long as he is their candidate, that all military personnel are evil.


A Republican believes he has a right to make you live the way he wants to because he has a feeling of moral superiority, because he never discriminates against anyone because of religion, (only because of gender or race and socioeconomic opportunities). He believes a person is above the law as long as he supports free market economics and his candidates. He also realizes that all wars are good because we all get rich, provided we're not too dead.

Although he's pretty much a hypocrite, the fact that he holds higher standards for others, especially Democrats, than he does for himself does not bother him. He still has high self-esteem because he donated $100.00 last year to his alma mater's athletic scholarship fund and because he smiled and gave a noogie to a street person last Christmas.

Republicans believe that anyone who isn't rich must be lazy. In fact, if they themselves hadn't had to wrestle with the burden of having been born rich, they would undoubtedly be even more wealthy and

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Freedom from Gossip

"Luther's conversation was also remarkable for its freedom from any spiteful or frivolous gossip, of which even at Wittenberg there was then no lack. Of such scandal-mongers, who sought to pry out evil things in their neighbors, Luther frequently used to say, 'They are regular pigs, who care nothing about the roses and violets in the garden, but only stick their snouts into the dirt.'"

from Life of Luther by Julius Koestlin, p. 320.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lowering My Ears

At the barbershop yesterday, the barber quipped to the next client in line. He said that after a man gets married, he can either be happy or he can be right. I wonder what he meant by that...

Look Around You

During the summers, I enjoy listening to the repartee at the speed of light on the Dennis Miller Show. It was there that I learned about the BBC science spoofs entitled Look Around You. The two seasons and associated materials can be found at the Look Around You BBC home website.

I enjoyed the Periodic Table - which has to be examined closely.

The videos are readily available and most easily accessible on YouTube such as this one on maths (as the British are wont to call mathematics), the brain, sulfur and germs.

If you can appreciate British humor, you are likely to go from dead-panned facial expressions to gut-busting laughing your face off. You might never watch NOVA or the Discovery Channel in the same way again. (I wish they'd do one on Darwin in the same manner.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Luther, Katie, the Garden and the Fish Pond

"Luther frequently assisted his wife in her household. He was very fond of gardening and agriculture, and we have seen how he sent commissions to friends for stocking his garden at Wittenberg. On one occasion, when going to fish with his wife in their little pond, he noticed with joy how she took more pleasure in her few fish than many a nobleman did in his great lakes with many hundred draughts of fishes."

Life of Luther by Julius Koestlin, p 318.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Robert Browning

Take the cloak from his face, and at first
Let the corpse do its worst!

How he lies in his rights of a man!
Death has done all death can.
And, absorbed in the new life he leads,
He recks not, he heeds
Nor his wrong nor my vengeance; both strike
On his senses alike,
And are lost in the solemn and strange
Surprise of the change.
Ha, what avails death to erase
His offence, my disgrace?
I would we were boys as of old
In the field, by the fold:
His outrage, God's patience, man's scorn
Were so easily borne!

I stand here now, he lies in his place:
Cover the face!

Taking God's Name in Vain

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway has produced an excellent article entitled Vainly Naming the Name for Christianity Today. This would be good material for any catechism class studying the 3rd Commandment (Lutheran numbering of the Commandments) to read.

Regarding the numbering of the commandments (there are three traditions of different ways to number the commandments in the Decalogue), you might enjoy reading James Akin's overview entitled The Division of the Ten Commandments. (Please note that this reference is not an unqualified endorsement of everything that is discussed on that page.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Luther's Bowling Alley

"Luther also had a bowling-alley made for his young friends, where they would disport themselves with running and jumping. He liked to throw the first ball himself and was heartily laughed at when he missed the mark. He would turn then to the young folk and remind them in his pleasant way that many a one who thought he would do better and knock down all the pins at once would very likely miss them all -- as they would often have to find in future their life and calling."

From Life of Luther by Julius Koestlin, pp. 320f.

Who Stands and Waits

John Milton

WHEN I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
'Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?'
I fondly ask. But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, 'God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.'

And to turn a quote: "Don't just do something. Stand there."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday: Crucianus + Christianus

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Luke 14:27 "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Matthew 10:38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." Matthew 16:24 "Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Galatians 6:14 "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

LUTHER: “Whoever is no crucianus, if I may so express it, is also no christianus. That is to say, he who does not bear the cross is no Christian; he is not like his Master Christ.”

(St. L. II:467, cited in Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, III:70.)

Sit and Listen

If you can sit day and night in a tavern or somewhere else with good companions, gossiping, talking, singing, and bawling, and not grow tired or feel that it is work, then you can also sit in church for an hour and listen in the services of God and his will.

But now we have the damnable devil, who makes the people so blind and so surfeited and sated that we do not realize what a treasure we have in the dear Word and go on living so rudely that we become like wild beasts.

Let us take it to heart then and remember, whenever we preach, read, or hear God’s Word, whether it be in the churches or at home through father, mother, master, or mistress, and gladly believe that wherever we can obtain it we are in the right, high, holy service of God, which pleases him beyond all measure. Thus you will be warmed and stirred to love hearing it all the more and God will also grant that it bear fruit, more than anybody can tell.

For the Word never goes out without bringing forth much fruit whenever it is earnestly heard, without your being the better for it. Even though you do not see it now, in time it will appear. But it would take too long to tell all the fruits now, nor, indeed, can they all be numbered.

Let this suffice as a foreword to St. Paul’s message, to stir us to listen more diligently to God’s Word, as indeed it is necessary to be reminded of this every day and in every sermon. And it also is pertinent to this text we have taken from St. Paul, for in it he reproaches these same shameful spirits who take hold of God’s Word with their own wisdom and likewise soon allow themselves to think they know it well and that they no longer need to listen to it or learn from anybody else. They turn to unprofitable talk about whatever is new or strange and the mob likes to hear.

They presume to be masters of the Scripture and everyone’s master; they want to teach the whole world and still they do not know what they are saying or asserting. For this is precisely the plague that results; when the Word of God is not proclaimed with earnestness and diligence, the listeners become listless and the preachers become lazy; there the concern must soon collapse and the churches become desolate.

Then inevitably there appear these false spirits, who offer something new, attract the rabble to themselves, and boast that they are masters of the Scriptures, and yet are always the kind of people who themselves have neither known nor ever experienced what they are teaching. This is already gaining ground among us and God’s wrath and punishment for our weariness and ingratitude is coming down upon us.

(The American Edition of Luther's Works, vol. 51, pp. 264-265.)

[1 Cor. 1:17 ". . . to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Voltaire and the Earthquake

On All Saints' Day, November 1, 1755 a devastating earthquake hit Lisbon. It had a profound effect on philosophical leaders like Voltaire who wrote a lengthy poem about it.

In light of the recent disaster in Haiti, there may be some benefit to reflecting on the past. These websites have some stories to tell:

Thomas Vernon

Engines of our Ingenuity

Poetic Reactions

Political Mavens

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cassandra Tropes and Truth

by Louise Bogan

To me, one silly task is like another.
I bare the shambling tricks of lust and pride.
This flesh will never give a child its mother,—
Song, like a wing, tears through my breast, my side,
And madness chooses out my voice again,
Again. I am the chosen no hand saves:
The shrieking heaven lifted over men,
Not the dumb earth, wherein they set their graves.

Cassandra and Truth in TV Tropes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Memorization

Cicero, Institutio Oratoria, Book II, VIII, 3.

For it is a better exercise for the memory to learn the words of others than it is to learn one's own, and those who have practised this far harder task will find no difficulty in committing to memory their own compositions with which they are already familiar.

Further, they will form an intimate acquaintance with the best writings, will carry their models with them and unconsciously reproduce the style of the speech which has been impressed upon the memory. They will have a plentiful and choice vocabulary and a command of artistic structure and a supply of figures which will not have to be hunted for, but will offer themselves spontaneously from the treasure-house, if I may so call it, in which they are stored.

In addition, they will be in the agreeable position of being able to quote the happy sayings of the various authors, a power which they will find most useful in the courts. For phrases which have not been coined merely to suit the circumstances of the lawsuit of the moment carry greater weight and often win greater praise than if they were our own.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"The Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good"

John Ruskin; The Stones of Venice (II, Chap 6)

. . . no good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art. This for two reasons, both based on everlasting laws. The first, that no great man ever stops working till he has reached his point of failure; that is to say, his mind is always far in advance of his powers of execution. . . . The second reason is, that imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, of a state of progress and change.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Memoirs of Hadrian

Margaret Yourcenar, The Memoirs of Hadrian, p. 3.

My dear Marc,

Today I went to see my physician Hermogenes, who has just returned to the Villa from a rather long journey in Asia. No food could be taken before the examination, so we had made the appointment for the early morning hours. I took off my cloak and tunic and lay down on a couch.

I spare you details which would be as disagreeable to you as to me, the description of the body of a man who is growing old, and is about to die of a dropsical heart. Let us say that I coughed, inhaled, and held my breath according to Hermogenes' directions.

He was alarmed, in spite of himself, by the rapid progress of the disease, and was inclined to throw the blame on young Iollas, who has attended me during his absence.

It is difficult to remain an emperor in presence of a physician, and difficult even to keep one's essential quality as man. The professional eye saw in me only a mass of humors, a sory mixture of blood and lymph.

This morning it occurred to me for the first time that my body, my faithful companion and friend, truer and better known to me than my own soul, may be after all only a sly beast who will end by devouring his master. But enough. I like my body; it has served me well, and in every way, and I do not begrudge it the care it now needs.

I have no faith, however, as Hermogenes still claims to have, in the miraculous virtues of herbs, or the specific mixture of mineral salts which he went to the Orient to get. Subtle though he is, he has nevertheless offered me vague formulas of reassurance too trie to deceive anyone; he knows how I hate this kind of pretense, but a man does not practice medicine for more than thirty years without some falsehood. I forgive this good servitor his endeavor to hide my death from me.

Hermogenes is learned; he is even wise, and his integrity is well above that of the ordinary court physician. It will fall to my lot as a sick man to have the best of care. But no one can go beyond prescribed limits: my swollen limbs no longer sustain me through the long Roman ceremonies; I fight for breath; and I am now sixty.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Contra Vocational Education

A couple of thoughts against a mere vocational education:

"You are put to a stern choice. . . .You must either make a tool of the creature, or a man of him. You cannot make both. Men are not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be precise and perfect in all their actions. If you will have that precision out of them, and make their fingers measure degrees like cog-wheels, and their arms strike curves like compasses, you must unhumanize them." -- John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice.

"I insist that the object of all true education is not to make men carpenters, it is to make carpenters men; there are two means of making the carpenter a man, each equally important: the first is to give the group and community in which he works, liberally trained teachers and leaders to teach him and his family what life means; the second is to give him sufficient intelligence and technical skill to make him an efficient workman . . ." W.E.B. DuBois, The Talented Tenth.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Benefit of Publishing One's Imperfections

Michel de Montaigne, On Friendship.

My defects are becoming natural and incorrigible, but as fine gentlemen serve the public as models to follow, I may serve a turn as a model to avoid . . .

The act of publishing and indicting my imperfections may teach someone how to fear them. (The talents which I most esteem in myself derive more honor from indicting me than praising me.) That is why I so often return to it and linger over it. Yet, when all has been said, you never talk about yourself without loss: condemn yourself and you are always believed -- praise yourself and you never are.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Leisure Preserving Tranquility

Seneca, On the Shortness of Life.

"Some take a break in the middle of the day and keep any less demanding task for the afternoon hours. Our ancestors also forbad any new motion to be introduced in the senate after the tenth hour. The army divides the watches, and those who are returning from an expedition are exempted from night duty. We must indulge the mind and from time to time allow it the leisure which is its food and strength. We must go for walks out of doors, so that the mind can be strengthened and invigorated by a clear sky and plenty of fresh air. At times it will acquire fresh energy from a journey by carriage and a change of scene, or from socializing and drinking freely.

"Occasionally, we should even come to the point of intoxication, sinking into drink but not being totally flooded by it; for it does wash away cares, and stirs the mind to its depths, and heals sorrow just as it heals certain diseases. Liber was not named because he loosens the tongue, but because he liberates the mind from its slavery to cares, emancipates it, invigorates it and emboldens it for all its undertakings. But there is a healthy moderation in wine, as in liberty. Solon and Arcesilas are thought to have liked their wine, and Cato has been accused of drunkenness; whoever accused him will more easily make the charge honorable than Cato disgraceful. But we must not do this often, in case the mind acquires a bad habit; yet at times it must be stimulated to rejoice without restraint and austere soberness must be banished for a while.

"For whether we agree with the Greek poet that 'Sometimes it is sweet to be mad,' or with Plato that ' A man sound in mind knocks in vain at the doors of poetry,' or with Aristotle that 'No great intellect has been without a touch of madness,' only a mind that is deeply stirred can utter something noble and beyond the power of others.

"When it has scorned everyday and commonplace thoughts and risen aloft on the wings of divine inspiration, only then does it sound a note nobler than mortal voice could utter. As long as it remains in its senses it cannot reach any lofty and difficult height: it must desert the usual track and race away, champing the bit and hurrying its driver in its course to a height it would have feared to scale by itself.

"So here you have, my dear Serenus, the means of preserving your tranquility, the means of restoring it, and the means of resisting the faults that creep up on you unawares. But be sure of this, that none of them is strong enough for those who want to preserve a fragile thing, unless the wavering mind is surrounded by attentive and unceasing care."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

On the Pleasure of Hating

William Hazlitt, On the Pleasure of Hating.

It is easy to raise an outcry against violent invectives, to talk loud against extravagance and enthusiasm, to pick a quarrel with every thing but the most calm, candid and qualified statement of facts: but there are enormities to which no words can do adequate justice.

Are we then, in order to form a complete idea of them, to omit every circumstance of aggravation, or to suppress every feeling of impatience that arises out of the details, lest we should be accused of giving way to the influence of prejudice and passion? That would be to falsify the impression altogether, to misconstrue reason, and fly in the face of nature.

Suppose for instance, that in the discussion of the Slave-Trade, a description to the life was given of the horrors or the Middle Passage (as it was termed), that you saw the manner in which thousands of wretches, year after year, were stowed together in the hold of a slave-ship, without air, without light, without food, without hope, so that what they suffered in reality was brought home to you in imagination, till you felt in sickness of heart as one of them, could it be said that this was a prejudging of the case, that your knowing the extent of the evil disqualified you from pronouncing sentence upon it, and that your disgust and abhorrence were the effects of a heated imagination? No. Those evils that inflame the imagination and make the heart sick, ought not to leave the head cool.

This is the very test and measure of the degree of the enormity, that it involuntarily staggers and appalls the mind. If it were a common iniquity, if it were slight and partial, or necessary, it would not have this effect; but it very properly carries away the feelings, and (if you will) overpowers the judgment, because it is a mass of evil so monstrous and unwarranted as not to be endured, even in thought.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Peace Through Suffering

John Ruskin, The Work of Iron in Nature, Art, and Policy.

Think over what I have said; and as you return to your quiet homes tonight, reflect that their peace was not won for you by your own hands, but by theirs who long ago jeoparded their lives for you, their children; and remember that neither this inherited peace, nor any other, can be kept, but through the same jeopardy.

No peace was ever won from Fate by subterfuge or agreement; no peace is ever in store for any of us, but that which we shall win by victory over shame or sin; -- victory over sin that oppresses, as well as over that which corrupts.*

For many a year to come, the sword of every righteous nation must be whetted to save or to subdue; nor will it be by patience of others' suffering, but by the offering of your own, that you will ever draw nearer to the time when the great change shall pass upon the iron of the earth; -- when men shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks; neither shall they learn war any more.

*Ed. Note: (Ephesians 2:14-16, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity." (See also, 1 Cor. 15:54-57; Cf. 2 Sam. 12:10 with Luke 2:35)

Monday, February 1, 2010

When Technology Blinds

Joseph Pieper, Learning How to See Again.

"We have lost, no doubt, the American Indian's keen sense of smell, but we also no longer need it since we have binoculars, compass, and radar. Let me repeat: in this obviously continuing process there exists a limit below which human nature itself is threatened, and the very integrity of human existence is directly endangered. Therefore, such ultimate danger can no longer be averted with technology alone.

"At stake here is this: How can man be saved from becoming a totally passive consumer of mass-produced goods and a subservient follower beholden to every slogan the managers may proclaim? The question really is: How can man preserve and safeguard the foundation of his spiritual dimension and an uncorrupted relationship to reality?

"The capacity to perceive the visible world 'with our own eyes' is indeed an essential constituent of human nature. We are talking here about man's essential inner richness -- or, should the threat prevail, man's most abject inner poverty. And why so? To see things is the first step toward that primordial and basic mental grasping of reality, which constitutes the essence of man as a spiritual being.

"I am well aware that there are realities we can come to know through 'hearing' alone. All the same, it remains a fact that only through seeing, indeed through seeing with out own eyes, is our inner autonomy established.

"Those no longer able to see reality with their own eyes are equally unable to hear correctly.

"It is specifically the man thus impoverished who inevitably falls prey to the demagogical spells of any powers that be. 'Inevitably,' because a person is utterly deprived even of the potential to keep a critical distance."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Teach Us To Pray

From Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book, pp. 106-107.

Luther, in his preface to the German Psalter (1528) wrote, "If you want to see the holy Christian Church painted in glowing colors and in a form which is really alive, and if you want this to be done in a miniature, you must get hold of the Psalter, and there you will have in your possession a fine, clear, pure mirror which till show you what Christianity really is; yea, you will find yourself in it and the true gnothi seauton ["know thyself"], and God himself and all his creatures too."

If the Psalms are our primary text for prayer, our answering speech to the word of God, then Jesus, the Word made flesh, is our primary teacher. Jesus is the divine/human personal center for a life of prayer. Jesus prays for us -- "he always lives to make intercession for [us]" (Heb. 7:25). The verb is in the present tense. This is the most important thing to know about prayer, not that we should pray or how we should pray, but that Jesus is right now praying for us (see also Heb. 4:16 and John 17). . . .

Prayer is shaped by Jesus, in whose name we pray. Our knowledge, our needs, our feelings are taken seriously, but they are not foundational. God, revealed in the Scriptures that we read and meditate upon and in Jesus whom we address, gives both form and content to our prayers. In prayer we are most ourselves; it is the one act in which we can, must, be totally ourselves. But it is also the act in which we move beyond ourselves.

In that "move beyond" we come to be formed and defined not by the sum total of our experiences but by the Father, Son, and Spirit to whom and by whom we pray.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keeping a Standing Army

John Ruskin, On Art and Life, (Penguin Books, Great Ideas, p. 95-96)

"The argument brought forward for the maintenance of a standing army usually refers only to expediency in the case of unexpected war, whereas, one of the chief reasons for the maintenance on an army is the advantage of the military system as a method of education.

"The most fiery and headstrong, who are often also the most gifted and generous of your youths, have always a tendency both in the lower and upper classes to offer themselves for your soldiers: others, weak and unserviceable in the civil capacity, are tempted or entrapped into the army in a fortunate hour for them: out of this fiery or uncouth material, it is only soldier's discipline which can bring the full value and power.

"Even at present, by mere force of order and authority, the army is the salvation of myriads; and men who, under other circumstances, would have sunk into lethargy or dissipation, are redeemed into noble life by a service which at once summons and directs their energies.

"How much more than this, military education is capable of doing, you will find only when you make it education indeed. We have no excuse for leaving our private soldiers at their present level of ignorance and want of refinement, for we shall invariably find that, both among officers and men, the gentlest and best informed are the bravest; still less have we excuse for diminishing our army, either in the present state of political events, or, as I believe, in any other conjunction of them that for many a year will be possible in this world."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On the Transfiguration of our Lord

Do we assume that the Transfiguration of Christ was for the benefit of Peter, James and John (cf. 1 Peter 1)?

But what if it was rather for the benefit of Moses and Elijah?

And why do all of our Transfiguration hymns emphasize vision, seeing and light when the emphasis of the text is: LISTEN to Him?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Caution: Brondos Hymnwriting

Today I "wasted" some time having a go at composing some verse, but clearly committing the error of appending inferior lines and marring the works of such a great wordsmith as G.K. Chesterton. What I have done, as evidenced below, is probably akin to painting a daisy wreath on the head of the Mona Lisa. But I have done it -- after becoming enamored of Chesterton's depictions in first two stanzas, but then being disappointed in his third because he says too little of Christ and His Means.

So, taking the chance that my efforts would be met with either approval or disdain, I send you Chesterton's first two stanzas followed by my own recent creations (which are still likely to be edited further by me):


O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry.
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not Thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
For sale and profanation
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord.


Thy two-edged sword dividing
What double-minded men,
With scoffing and deriding,
Vainly obscured, do then
Recall midst glorious psalter
That Thou to us drew near --
Upon Thine earth and altar
A Sacrifice so dear.

In truth and peace provide us
What we by grace have heard;
At font and altar hide us
In Christ and in His Word;
And thus delivered, grant us
In faith and hope and love,
To thrive where Thou dost plant us
With thoughts of heav'n above.