Sunday, December 04, 2005

Vinet. --- “Religion finds the love of happiness and the principle of duty separated in us; and its mission --- its master-piece ---- is to reunite them.”

I really like this quote. So practical. Life is a complicated affair and our self love is so intense that we need continual direction toward our duties or our lives, and the lives of those we love can soon unravel. God's ways, His masterpiece, is balance.

Often we hear that religion is a crutch. Actually, I think atheism is a crutch of sorts. Jesus raises the bar of personal integrity so high that none can achieve it.
One cannot begin the journey of following Christ without knowing Heavenly help is necessary or achievment is impossible.
But the atheist lowers the moral bar so low that one can slither on their belly and cross over.
So which is the crutch? Reaching for the high ground and when our efforts are exhausted, calling on a higher power, or smashing the higher power "crutch" and lowering the bar to the floor?
Another good movie, "Smile" The story of how a 17 year old, brat, raised in Malibu with all the world at her feet, has an interest in a charity like Mercy ships sparked in her by a teacher.
The first 1/3 of movie is a waste but the last 2/3rds are great. Frank sexual conversation in the beginning, not good for kids. Pretty easy to skip over though.

Dim Ghosts

“They pass me like shadows, crowds on crowds,
Dim ghosts of men that hover to and fro,
Hugging their bodies round them like thin shrouds
Wherein their souls were buried long ago;
They trampled on their youth, and faith and love,
They cast their hope of human kind away,
With heaven’s clear messages they madly strove,
And conquered – and their spirits turned to clay;
Lo! How they wander round the world, their grave,
Whose ever-gaping maw by such is fed,
Gibbering at the living men, and idly rave,
“we only, truly live, but ye are dead.”
Alas, poor fools, the anointed eye may trace
A dead souls epitaph in every face.”
Joseph Haven.

I like this description, but not all steeped in upbelief have "dead soul epitaphs" on their face.
It often takes a long time to see the needs in people, we have walls so high that first glances will never discover the hearts regrets. But some wear it loud.

Well said!

Thought, shivering in the Arctic winter night of unbelief; life, pining on the barren banks of secularism; society, festering in a corrupt use of sensationalism; agnosticism, turning its back to the sun, refusing to see anything but the blackness of its own shadow; materialism, substituting the dance of atoms for the processions of omnipotence, and reading its destiny in the dust of death and not in immortal progression—where is the cure for all this but in the men who know God with a knowledge that is power and life? The world is hungry for God, and is dying for the want of the spirit of truth and love.” Prof. L. J. Evans
"Make the most of what there is good in institutions, in opinions, in communities, in individuals. It is very easy to do the reverse of this, to make the worst of what there is of evil, absurd and erroneous. By so doing we shall have no difficulty in making estrangements more wide, and hatreds and strifes more abundant, and errors more extreme." Dean Stanley.

When I read this it made me think of something my cousin had said, how his inlaws didn't understand him. I thought, hmmm, which of us understands himself? How can we expect others to understand us when we continually go on sprees that confoundnd ourselves?
“By necessity, by proclivity and by delight, we quote.” – Emerson
“Thought is the first faculty of man; to express it is one of his first desires; to spread it his dearest privilege.” Raynal.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Where sin and striving cease---


When on my day of life the night is falling,
And in the winds from unsunned spaces blown,
I hear far voices out of darkness calling
My feet to paths unknown;
Thou who hast made my home of life so pleasant,
Leave not its tenant when its walls decay,
O Love devine, O Helper ever present,
Be Thou my strength and stay!
Be near me when all else is from me drifting.

Earth, sky, home's pictures, days of shade and shine
And kindly faces to my own uplifting,
The love which answers mine.

I have but Thee, Oh Father! Let thy spirit
Be with me then to comfort and uphold;
No gate of pearl, no branch of palm,
I merit,
Nor streets of shining gold.
Suffice it if--my good and ill unreckoned,
And both forgiven through Thy abounding grace---
I find myself by hands familiar beckoned
Unto my fitting place;
Some humble door among Thy many mansions,
Some sheltering shade where sin and striving cease,
And flows forever through heaven's green expansions
The river of Thy place.
There, from the music round about me stealing,
I fain would learn the new and holy song,
And find, at last, beneath Thy trees of healing,
The life for which I long.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

One Plain Rule

"There is only one plain rule of life, eternally binding and independent of all variations in creeds, and in the interpretations of creeds, embracing equally the greatest moralities and the smallest; it is this---- try thyself unweariedly till thou findest the highest thing thou art capable of doing, faculties and outward circumstances being duly considered, and then do it."
---John Stuart Mill

This quote is a tall order but who can deny the truth in it, or how the world would profit if we all considered this when entering life as an adult. Trying ourselves to find out our capabilities is no small project in itself.
Balancing that with our faculties and outward circumstances, certainly the other half of the equation, takes a long hard look as well.

The Twang Thang

For those of you who don’t get the “Twang thang” in country music and like that “thumping from the city like the sounds of Pdiddy?" You occasionally miss some good lyrics. Country music is music about life, pretty and not so pretty. Rich in Americana, songs about home, family, God and country with a 50’s rock and roll beat. Anyway, if not convinced my point was simply to share a few lines from a song getting a lot of air play now. The title “That’s Something to be Proud of” or something like that, is a story about a man who when young sat listening to his father tell stories of the good old days when they walked five miles uphill, both ways, to school, fought heroically in the war; one line is “your uncle and me made a fearsome pair, flying F 15s through hostile air.” Anyway, the boy grew up and didn’t make all the same choices of his father, “when I turned 18 I was bound for anywhere else”. He ends up north of L.A. out of money, working maximum hours for minimum wage, falls in love, has a child, sells his muscle car for a foreign job and asks his Dad if he is ashamed of the way he turned out and wonders if he let his father down. The following are the lines I like-----
The father responds-

“Well he lowered his voice, and raised his brow;
and said,’ now you listen to me now’
That’s something to be proud of
Something to hang your hat on,
No need to make a million,
Just be thankful to be working.

If you’re doing what your able,
To put food on the table
Providing for the ones you love,
That’s something to be proud of.

Well, that’s something to be proud of
That’s something to hang your hat on,
That’s a chin held high
If a tear falls down
Keep your gut sucked in
And your chest stuck out,

If all you really do is the best you can,
You did it man!
And that’s something to be proud of!"

Although this may not embody man's entire purpose, it is a good start and every child needs to feel this from his parents.

Sweepings on the tomb

The imperfect thing or thought,
the fervid yeastliness of youth,
The dubious doubt, the twilight truth,
The work that for the passing day was wrought,
The schemes that came to naught,
The sketch half-way twixt verse and prose,
That mocks the finished picture true,
The splinters whence the statue grew,
The scaffolding 'neath which the palace rose,
The vague abortive throes,
And crudities of joy or gloom:--
In kind oblivion let them be!
Nor has the dead worse foe than he
Who rakes these sweepings of the artist's room,
And piles them on his tomb.

When I read this the first few times I didn't get it. After further thought, I think I found his meaning. Each of us, on our journey, starts, stops, aborts and concludes many endeavors.
It is not always pretty as we begin a work, and the process itself may leave refuse, but one must not judge a person by the refuse, but rather the intent and finished project. Whadaya think?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

No self interest

“ The common people understand not many excellent virtues; the lowest virtues draw praise from them, the middle virtues work in them astonishment or admiration, but of the highest virtues they have no sense or perceiving at all.” Bacon

Here in the annotations by Richard Whately, D.D. are some examples of the higher virtues—

“He will do good without calculating upon much gratitude; yet will be grateful, with most generous ardor himself. To take any unfair advantages, or even to take all fair ones—to press his rights to the utmost---- to press close to the limits of what is wrong, and anxiously consider whether he may be allowed to do this, or omit that,-- he disdains, and would feel degraded by it. Of the virtues of such a man as this, the vulgar have indeed no perception.”

Of all the influences of Christianity that reached deep within me when examining the faith it was the countless acts of goodness, done, not out of compulsion, fear, guilt or even duty, but rather by a grace moving people to act, not out of self interest but rather from a joy of doing as Jesus did, loving, touching, giving, helping. Knowing He dwells in goodness, not for gain, but because His kingdom is of such. Such a beautiful thing to give, expecting nothing in return, but because we value others regardless of their faults or shortcomings.

When the hearts cry is, “Does no one care? Will no one come?” And to be moved by God to be the vehicle of his love and say, “Yes, I am here.”
Such as I have, I will give you; I may not have gold, but I can give you counsel, I may not be able to relieve your need, but I can relieve your sadness; I cannot cure you, but I can comfort you; I cannot take away your poverty, but I can ease your spirit Not for glory, or return payment, without strings attached, no agenda, but because Jesus loves you and because he does, I sense your need and want to do such as I can.

It is true, I had no idea or concept of the purity of giving for the good in it without looking for reciprocation. What a breath of fresh air, truly the beauty of holiness.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A luxury in tears?

"You get many soft, susceptible, sentimental spirits to weep over any scene or tale of woe,
but it is not those who will weep the readiest over the sorrow who will do the most to relieve it.
Sympathy has its own selfishness; there is a luxury in the tears that it loves idly to indulge.
Tears will fill the eye--should fill the eye, but the hand of active help will brush them away, that the eye may see more clearly what the hand has to do." .....William Hanna

I can relate to this quote. I think as a Christian, our heart becomes tender and the sentimental spirits, and tears that well, are emotions planned by God. But this emotion is to be examined to see if in it there is an opportunity for change, either in ourselves or to the sufferer. In my experience, if the examination does not begin during the moment, time washes away what perhaps was an opportunity.

Led by a child

When I reached the age when grandchildren began to come, I was inspired in many ways by them. Older, somewhat wiser, I was drawn into the life of the child in a fresh new way. Life is kind of a blur when you begin rearing your own children but by the time grandchildren come along you have had time to season some and your nervous system allows you to enjoy what once only sped by.
I was inspired to write a few poems and the following is one I find some merit in, and it leads to the next piece.

Led By A Child

The purity of children, God’s most precious gift;
When I behold its beauty, I’m aware of the drift
I’ve taken from virtue, in its grandest form,
It’s God’s reminder of what will be the norm
In the Kingdom Eternal, where the saints will be filed
Before the throne, and lead by a child.

It’s been said that infancy is a Messiah that pleads
Fallen man to aspire, more than all of the creeds,
And God with His spirit, each son would adorn
The innocence of children, holiness reborn.

Words fail to express, like the beauty of a rose,
The impression of innocence on someone who knows,
His life has been stained, and darkened inside,
When from the bosom of God, he ceased to abide.
So God has planned each birth to begin,
His display of purity, to draw us back again.

Having written that, when I came across the following poem with a similar theme it struck home….

“This sweet child which hath climbed upon my knee,
This amber-haired, four summered little maid,
With her unconscious beauty, troubleth,
With her low prattle maketh me afraid.

Ah, darling! When you cling and nestle so
You hurt me tho’ you do not see me cry,
Nor hear the bitterness with which I sigh
For the dead babe I killed so long ago.
I tremble at the touch of your caress;
I am not worthy of your innocent faith;
I who, with whetted knives of worldliness,
Did put my own child-heartedness to death;
Beside whose grave I pace forever more.
Like desolation on a shipwrecked shore.

There is no little child within me now,
To sing back to the thrushes, to leap up
When June winds kiss me, when an apple-bough
Laughs into blossoms, or a butter-cup
Plays with the sunshine, or violet
Dances in the glad dew. Alas, alas!
The meaning of the daisies in the grass
I have forgotten; and if my cheeks are wet,
It is not with the blitheness of a child,
But with the bitter sorrow of sad-years.
O, moaning life, with life irreconciled!
O, backward-looking thought, O, pain,
O, tears!

For me there is not any silver sound
Of rhythmic wonders springing from the ground.
Woe worth the knowledge and the bookish lore
Which makes men mummies, weighs out every grain
Of that which was miraculous before,
And sneers the heart down with the scoffing brain.
Woe worth the peering analytic days
That dry the tender juices in the breast
And put the thunders of the Lord to test,
So that no marvel must be, and no praise,
Nor any God except necessity.

What can ye give my poor starved life, in lieu
Of this dead cherub which I slew for you?
Take back your doubtful wisdom and renew
My early foolish freshness of the dunce,
Whose simple instincts guessed the Heavens at once.” Richard Realf

Monday, October 03, 2005

I rented a great movie the other night titled "Born in the Brothels". It is a moving, inspiring movie about a woman who went into the red light district of Calcutta India to film and tell the story of women there. During her time there she met and fell in love with the children born of the prostitutes. She then began sharing with them her talent of photography. As the story unfolds, I became captivated by the undying spirit of the children, not to mention their creativity, even in the worst circumstances on earth. I think it should be a 'must see' by all. I showed it to Carissa and Jordan, who loved it as well. There are only two parts where Indian women are scolding children in the most horrid language, trust me you can't imagine it, that is not fit for anyone, much less children, thankfully that part is in subtitles and can easily be skipped. The movie is in English, but when an Indian person speaks that doesn't know English, they put in sub-tiles.
I watched it twice and enjoyed it more the second time.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Preach Jesus

There are many sermons today on many things from pyscho-babble, name it and claim it, watered down religion and on it goes. I guess that's why I like T.De Witt Talmage; he preaches Jesus in all His glory. This excerpt from a sermon titled "Sunset" is based on the scripture
"Abide with us, for it is toward evening"
For the flavor, I'll include the beginning and the end.

"It is a dismal thing to be getting old without the rejuvenating influence of religion. When we step on the down grade of life and see that it dips to the verge of the cold river, we want to behold some one near who will help us across it. When the sight loses its power to glance and gather up, we need the faith that can illumine. When we feel the failure of the ear, we need the clear tones of that voice which in olden times broke up the silence of the deep with cadences of mercy. When the axe-men of death hew down whole forests of strength and beauty around us and we are left in solitude, we need the dove of divine mercy to sing in our branches. When the shadows begin to fall and we feel that the day is far spent, we need most of all to supplicate the strong, beneficent Jesus in the prayer of the villagers, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening....."

"Trouble is an apothecary that mixes a great many draughts, bitter, and sour and nauseous, and you must drink some one of them. Trouble puts up a great many packs, and you must carry some one of them. There is no sandal so thick and well adjusted but some thorn will strike through it. There is no sound so sweet but the undertakers screw-driver grates through it.
In this swift shuttle of the heart some of the threads must break. The journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus will soon be ended. Our Bible, our common-sense, our observation reiterates in tones that we can not mistake, and ought not to disregard; it is toward evening.
Oh, then, for Jesus to abide with us! He sweetens the cup. He extracts the thorn. He wipes the tear. He hushes the tempest. He soothes the soul that flies to Him for shelter. Let the night swoop and the euroclydon toss the sea. Let the thunders roar--- soon all will be well. Christ in the ship to soothe his friends. Christ on the sea to stop its tumult. Christ in the grave to scatter darkness. Christ in the heavens to lead the way. Blessed all such. His arms will inclose them.
If earthly estate take wings, He will be an incorruptible treasure. If friends die, He will be their resurrection. Standing with us in the morning of your joy, and in the noonday of our prosperity.
He will not forsake us when the luster has faded, and it is toward evening."

Friday, August 26, 2005

"Love is clutched at in preference to the laborious process of changing from within."
Karen Horney.

I think this may be one of the most common faults of youth. We fail in relationships, sometimes over and over again, but instead of looking within and confronting our faults, we "fall in love" again, caught up in the universal acceptance that comes with a romantic flurry.
"We learn our virtues from the friends who love us, our faults from the enemy who hates us.
We can not easily discover our real character from a friend, He is a mirror, on which the warmth of our breath impedes the clearness of the reflection." Jean Paul Richter
"The greatest object in the universe, says a certain philosopher, is a good man struggling with adversity"; yet there is still a greater,
which is the good man that comes to relieve it. Oliver Goldsmith

I think the best word picture I ever saw of this is in the movie "Bear" where the huge male grizzly comes to the rescue of the cub assaulted by a cougar.

Drunk with Fancy and mad with opinion

Every man who, by his opinion, is engaged against authority, should do well to study his doubtful opinion less, and humility and obedience more. But you say, that this concerns not me; for my disagreeing is not in a doubtful matter, but I am sure I am in the right; there are no ifs and ands in my case. Well, it may be so; but were it not better that you did doubt? “ A wise man feareth,” saith Solomon,
“ And departeth from evil; but a fool rageth and is confident:” and the difference between a learned man and a novice is this, that the young fellow crieth out,
“I am sure it is so;” the better learned answers “Possibly it may, and peradventure it is so, but I pray inquire:” “He is the best judge that conjectures the best,” not he that is most confident; for as Xenophanes said wisely, “ Man does but conjecture, but God only knows.” It is no disparagement to a wise man to learn, and, by suspecting the fallibility of things, and his own aptness to mistake,-- to walk prudently and safely, with an eye to God, and an ear open to his superior. Some men are drunk with fancy, and mad with opinion. Who believes more strongly than boys? Who are so hard to be persuaded as fools? And who so readily suspect their teachers as they who are governed by chance, and know not the intrinsic measures of good and evil. “It is a little learning and not enough, that makes men conclude hastily.” And clap fast hold on the conclusion, before they have well weighed the premises; but experience and humility would teach us modesty and fear.” Jeremy Taylor

I like this piece because I see so much of myself in it, especially when I was young. Not that I don't fall prey to "drunken fancy and mad opinions" still. But with age and being the fool one to many times, I have learned to slow it down a bit and listen more.

Illiterate Phantasms

"There is in every righteous person, a new vital principle; the Spirit of grace is the Spirit of wisdom, and teaches us by secret inspirations, by proper arguments, by actual persuasions, by personal applications, by effects and energies; and as the soul of a man is the cause of all his vital operations, so is the Spirit of God the life of that life, and the cause of all actions and productions spiritual: and the consequences of this is what St. John tells us of, “Ye have received the unction from above, and that anointing teacheth you all things:” All things of some one kind; that is, certainly—all things that pertain to life and godliness; all that by which a man is wise and happy…..
Without this principle, divers fanatics, some among us, misunderstanding, look for new revelations, and expect to be conducted by ecstasy, and will not pray but in a transfiguration, and live upon raptures and extravagant expectations, and separate themselves, from the conversations of men, by affections, by new measures and singularities, and destroy order, and despise government, and live upon illiterate phantasms and ignorant discourses." Jeremy Taylor

I like this piece because of the balance I get from it. The first part speaks to the moving of the Holy Spirit by His "secret inspirations, proper arguments, (He deals with the issues of highest priority and speaks clearly) actual persuasions, and personal application", and wraps it up in highly motivating "energies". But when I was a young Christian I was easily misled sometimes by "new revelations"wraped in clouds and high level spirituality by those that presented themselves as dining on raptures and ecstasy. Now those that know me know I am open to and greedy for, the wonders of God and His mystical ways. That being said, had it not been for bread and butter teachings I should have long since been lost in a sea of confusion.
"If sin hath gotten the power of any one of us, consider in what degree the sin hath prevailed;
if but a little, the battle will be more easy, and the victory more certain; but then be sure to do it thoroughly, because there is not much to be done; but if sin hath prevailed greatly, then indeed you have very much to do; therefore begin betimes, and defer not this work, till old age shall make it extremely difficult, or death shall make it impossible."
Jeremy Taylor

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Charity, admits no excess but error.

We are all familiar with the passage where Jesus tells the disciples to sell all that they have and give to the poor. I like the following interpretation by Bacon....
"Sell all that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and follow me"--- that is, sell not all thou hast, except thou come and follow me-- that is, except thou have a vocation wherein thou mayest do as much good with little means as with great-- for otherwise, in feeding the streams, thou driest the fountains.

Comments on " charity, admits no excess but error" by Whately.

Bacon is speaking here of what is now called benevolence and his remark is very just, that it admits of no excess in quantity, though it may be misdirected and erroneous. For if your liberality be such as to reduce your family to poverty, or-- like the killing of the hen that laid golden eggs-- such as to put it out of your power hereafter to be liberal at all; or if it be bestowed on the undeserving; this is rather to be accounted an unwise and misdirected benevolence than an excess of it in quantity.....
For there can be no doubt that careless, indiscriminate alms-giving does far more harm than good; since it encourages idleness and improvidence, and also imposture. If you give freely to ragged and filthy street beggars, you are in fact hiring people to dress themselves in filthy rags, and go about begging with fictitious tales of distress. If, on the contrary, you carefully inquire for, and relieve, honest and industrious persons who have fallen into distress through unavoidable misfortune, you are not only doing good to those objects, but also holding out an encouragement generally to honest industry.
You may, however, meet with persons who say, "as long as it is my intention to relieve real distress, my charity is equally virtuous, though the tale told me may be a false one. The imposter alone is to be blamed who told it to me; I acted on what he said; and if that is untrue, the fault is his and not mine."
Now, this is a fair plea, if any one is deceived after making a careful inquiry; but if he has not taken the trouble to do this, regarding it as no concern of his, you might ask him how he would act and judge in a case where he is thoroughly in earnest , that is, where his own interest is concerned. Suppose he employed a steward or other agent to buy for him a house, or a horse, or any other article, and this agent paid an exorbitant price for what was really worth little or nothing, giving just the same kind of excuse for allowing his employer to be thus cheated; saying,
'I made no careful inquiries, but took the seller's word; and his being a liar and a cheat, is his fault, and not mine;' the employer would doubtless reply, 'the seller indeed is to be condemned for cheating; but so are you, for your carelessness of my interests. His being greatly in fault does not clear you; and your merely intending to do what was right, is no excuse for your not taking pains to gain right information.'

I like and agree with what is being said here, but there are times when careful inquiry is impossible and in those circumstances I react on emotion, a tugging, a judgment or some other difficult to describe feeling.

Atheists, ever handling holy things, but without feelings....

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Love and Passion

I've been reading an essay by Bacon on Love. It covers many aspects but I'll just share some on passion and wanton love.

"...As if man, made for the contemplation of heaven, and all nobel objects, should do nothing but kneel before a little idol, and make himself subject, though not of the mouth (as beasts are), yet of the eye, which was given him for higher purposes."

when I read that, the part that stuck out to me is "makes himself subject.... of the eye"
In the previous essay on Envy, he made a statement, that to me, dovetails with this one.

"A man that is busy and inquisitive is commonly envious; for to know much of other men's matters cannot be because all that ado may concern his own estate; therefore it must needs be that he taketh a kind of play-pleasure in looking upon the fortunes of others; neither can he that mindeth but his own business find much matter for envy; for envy is a gadding passion, and walketh the streets, and doth not keep home...."

In the context of "wanton love" the connection I saw was in--" being subject to the eye, and taking a play-pleasure in looking on others, with a gadding passion which walketh the streets and doth not keep home."

There was another line I liked and lived regarding passion;-- "This passion hath its floods in the very times of weakness, which are great prosperity and great adversity."

That made me think of times when people are going through marital problems, or teens that are dealing with serious issues etc., find what they think to be love, or passion, that comes in like a flood during these times of weakness. It seems the antidote but often ends as the poison.
Can you relate?

And lastly, "Nuptial love maketh mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth and embaseth it."


" We may imitate the Diety in all His moral attributes, but mercy is the only one in which we can pretend to equal him. -- We cannot, indeed, give like God, but surely we may forgive like him."

Gay colors

" If a woman wears gay colors, rouge and a startling hat, a man hestitates to take her out. If she wears a little turban and a tailored suit he takes her out and stares all evening at a woman in gay colors, rouge and a startling hat!" -- Baltimore Beacon.

100 years ago what was considered bold has changed, but the heart of man is the same.
Is there any hope for us?

"Witching Time"

“It is now the very witching time of night; when churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood and do such business as the bitter day would quake to look on!” – Shakespeare.

Now that you have read this graphic quote, and I'm curious to know what it brings to your mind; it reminded me first of the warning I gave to someone that kept late hours and slept long into the day. I cautioned them that after about 11:00 at night it is rare that much good is done. And on looking at my life, if I were able to erase all the transgressions committed after eleven, my condition would be much improved. Then I began to try and apply this as a metaphor for the souls condition. What do you think?

Now the opposite direction, I could not recall the name the Puritans give for Midnight revelations, but the following quote follows their thought.
“ This dead of midnight is the noon of thought, and wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars.” -- Anna L. Barbauld.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Christian Unity?

While visiting Eric, Christian asked why there are so many denominations. When I read this piece I thought it brought some light to his question.

Christian Unity
“It is very important to have a clear notion of the nature of the Christian unity spoken of in the Scriptures, and to understand in what this ‘true bond of unity’ consists, so often alluded to and earnestly dwelt on by our Sacred Writers.
The unity they speak of does not mean agreement in doctrine, nor yet concord and mutual good will; though these are strongly insisted on by the apostles. Nor, again, does it mean that all Christians belong, or ought to belong to some one society on earth. This is what the apostles never aimed at, and what never was actually the state of things, from the time of Jerusalem. The Church is undoubtedly one, and so is the human race one; but not as a society or community, for, as such, it is only one when considered as to its future existence. The teaching of Scripture clearly is, that believers on earth are part of a great society (church or congregation) of which the Head is in heaven, and of which many of the members only ‘live unto God’, or exist in his counsels,-- some having long since departed, and some being not yet born. The universal Church of Christ may therefore be said to be One in reference to HIM, its supreme Head in heaven; but it is not one community on earth. And even so the human race is one in respect of the One Creator and Governor; but this does not make it one family or one state. And though all men are bound to live in peace, and to be kindly disposed towards every fellow creature, and all bound to agree in thinking and doing whatever is right, yet they are not at all bound to live under one single government, extending over the whole world. Nor, again, are all nations bound to have the same form of government, regal or republican, etc. That is a matter left to their discretion. But all are bound to do their best to promote the great objects from which all government is instituted, -- good order, justice, and public prosperity.
And even so the Apostles founded Christian churches, all based on the same principles, all sharing common privileges,-- ‘One Lord, one faith, one baptism,’ – and all having the same object in view, but all quite independent of each other. And while, by the inspiration of Him who knew what was in Man, they delineated those Christian principles which Man could not have devised for himself, each Church has been left, by the same divine foresight, to make the application of those principles in its symbols, its forms of worship, and its ecclesiastical regulations; and, while steering its course by the chart and compass which his holy Word supplies, to regulate for itself the sails and rudder, according to the winds and currents it may meet with.
Now I have little doubt that the sort of variation resulting from this independence and freedom, so far from breaking the bond, is the best preservative of it. A number of neighboring families, living in perfect unity, will be thrown into discord as soon as you compel them to form one family, and to observe in things intrinsically indifferent, the same rules. One, for instance, likes early hours, and another late; one likes the windows open, and another shut; and thus, by being brought too close together, they are driven into ill-will, by one being perpetually forced to give way to another. Of this character were the disputations which arose about church music, the posture of the communicants, the colors of a ministers dress, the time of keeping Easter, etc.” Richard Whately, D.D.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

"What is truth? said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer."

While visiting Eric, we went to a book store and I beat him, by a hairs-breadth, to a book on Bacon’s Essays annotated by Richard Whately, D.D. Archbishop of Dublin, who I have never heard of but really like his thoughts. The previous post came from that book. This piece I thought I’d share, is on truth.

“There is not necessarily any moral virtue in receiving truth; for it may happen that our interest, or our wishes, are in the same direction; or it may be forced upon us by evidence as irresistible as that of a mathematical demonstration. The virtue consists in being a sincere votary of Truth;-- what our Lord calls being ‘of the Truth,’ – rejecting ‘the hidden things of dishonesty,’ and carefully guarding against every undue bias. Every one wishes to have Truth on his side; but it is not every one that sincerely wishes to be on the side of Truth.”

I find this somewhat troubling because I see in myself a love for Truth and knowledge, a hunger for the mysteries of God, but the living up to those is sadly lacking.
Acts 17:21
All the Athenians and the foreigners who live there, spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.

There may be Athenian blood in me. I would be happy to apply one tenth of what I read, truth is I would do well to apply one tenth of what I learned in my first year as a christian.
I hope it's like nutritious food, it keeps you from disease but only by continual consumption.
That being said, when a season comes where I have no appetite, then I know I'm in peril.


Most persons know that every butterfly (the Greek name for which, it is remarkable, is the same that signifies also the Soul,- Psyche ) comes from a caterpillar or larvae. The last name which signifies literally a mask, was introduced by Linnaeus, because the caterpillar is a kind of outward covering, or disguise of the future butterfly within. For it has been ascertained by curious microscopic examination, that a distinct butterfly, only undeveloped and not full-grown, is contained within the body of the caterpillar; that this latter has its own organs of digestion, respiration, etc. suitable to its larva-life, quite distinct from and independent of the future butterfly which it encloses. When the proper period arrives, and the life of the insect, in this its first stage, is to close, it becomes what is called a pupa, enclosed in a chrysalis or cocoon and lies torpid for a time within this natural coffin, from which it issues, at the proper period, as a perfect butterfly.
But sometimes this process is marred. There is a numerous tribe of insects well known to naturalists, called Ichmeumonflies; which in their larva-state are parasitical; that is, inhabit, and feed on, other larvae. The fly being provided with a long sharp sting, which is in fact an ovipositor (egg layer) pierces with this the body of a caterpillar in several places, and deposits her eggs, which are there hatched, and feed, as larvae on the inward parts of their victim. A most wonderful circumstance connected with this process is that a caterpillar which has been thus attached goes on feeding, and apparently thriving quite as well, during the whole of its larva-life, as those that have escaped. For, by a wonderful provision of instinct, the ichneumon-larvae within do not injure any of the organs of the larva, but feed only on the future butterfly enclosed within it. And consequently, it is hardly possible to distinguish a caterpillar which has these enemies within it from those that are untouched.--- But when the period arrives for the close of the larva-life, the difference appears…..Of the unfortunate caterpillar that has been preyed upon, nothing remains but an empty skin. The hidden butterfly has been secretly consumed.
Now is there not something analogous to this wonderful phenomenon, in the condition of some of our race? May not, a man have a kind of secret enemy within his own bosom, destroying his soul—Psyche,--- though without interfering with his well-being during the present stage of his existence; and whose presence may never be detected till the time arrives when the last great change should take place?
“It is only in a long life, that time is afforded us to complete anything, to learn anything thoroughly, or to reform oneself.” Author unknown

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Let me live out my years

I like this --

We speak of the comforts and ease of old age, but our noblest selves do not really desire them. We want to do more than exist, we want to be alive to the very last.

Let me live out my years in heat of blood!
Let me die drunken with the dreamer's wine!
Let me not see this soul-house built of mud
Go toppling to the dust-- a vacant shrine!

Let me go quickly like a candle light
Snuffed out just at the heyday of its glow!
Give me high noon-- and let it then be night!
Thus would I go.

And grant that when I face the grisly Thing,
My song may triumph down the gray Perhaps!
Let me be as a tuneswept fiddlestring
That feels the Master Melody-- and snaps.
John G. Neihardt

Will work for food

My cousin Jim sent me a touching story about a corner panhandler.
Made me think of this poem.

There are songs enough for the hero
who dwells on the heights of fame;
I sing for the disappointed-
for those who have missed their aim.

I sing with a tearful cadence
for the one who stands in the dark,
and knows that his last, best arrow
has bounded back from the mark.

I sing for the breathless runner,
the eager, anxious soul,
who falls with his strength exhausted,
almost in sight of the goal;

For the hearts that break in silence,
with a sorrow all unknown,
for those who need companions,
yet walk their ways alone.

There are songs enough for the lovers
who share love's tender pain,
I sing for the one whose passion
is given all in vain.

For those whose spirit comrades
have missed them on their way,
I sing, with a heart o'flowing,
this minor strain today.

And I know the Solar system
must somewhere keep in space
a prize for that spent runner
who barely lost the race.

For the plan would be imperfect
unless it held some sphere
that paid for the toil and talent
and love that are wasted here.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Friday, June 24, 2005

A Teaspoonful of Calf's-foot Jelly

I have been reading T.Dewitt Talmage and this chapter is on recreation and the blessings and the temptations of vacations. The “watering place” he refers to is a resort where we go to relax and get away. He gives a series of warnings and his colorful style just had to be shared. I agree with his premise but have to laugh at his descriptions. Enjoy—

“ Another temptation hovering around the watering place is to the formation of hasty and lifelong alliances. The watering places are responsible for more of the domestic infelicities of this country than all other causes combined. Society is so artificial there that no sure judgment of character can be formed. Those who form companionships amid such circumstances go into a lottery where there are twenty blanks to one prize. In the severe tug of life you want more than glitter and flash. Life is not a ballroom where the music decides the step; nor can bow and prance and graceful swing of long trail make up for strong common sense. You might as well go among the gaily painted yachts of a summer regatta to find war vessels as to go among the light spray of the summer watering place to find character that can stand the test of the great struggle of human life.
Ah, in the battle of life you want a stronger weapon than a lace fan or a croquet mallet!
The load of life is so heavy that in order to draw it, you want a team stronger than one made up of a masculine grasshopper and a feminine butterfly.
If there is any man in the community who excited my contempt, and who ought to excite the contempt of ever man and woman, it is the soft-handed, soft-headed fop, who, perfumed until the air is actually sick, spends his summer in taking killing attitudes, and waving sentimental adieus, and talking infinitesimal nothings, and finding his heaven in the fit of a lavender kid-glove. Boots as tight as an inquisition; two hours of consummate skill exhibited in the tie of a flaming cravat; his conversation made up of “Ahs,” and “Ohs,” and “He-hees.” It would take five hundred of them stewed down to make a teaspoonful of calf’s-foot jelly. There is only one counterpart to such a man as that, and that is the frothy young woman at the watering places, her conversations made up of French moonshine………….”

“Finding his heaven in the fit of a lavender kid-glove; and the woman made up of French moonshine.” I love it!!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

"The world cannot show us a more exalted character than that of a truly religious philosopher, who delights to turn all things to the glory of God; who, in the objects of his sight, derives improvement to his mind; and in the glass of things temporal, sees the image of things spiritual."

Good and ill

"The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together; our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our virtues." -- Shakespeare

I like that, and I have read many things on that theme. It is the plight of all thinking adults.
There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us that we would despair if we didn't have so many examples of others fouling up, it somehow takes the full spotlight off of our latest folly.
Life asks more of us than we are willing to give, but still, we want to give. We want to make a mark deeper and wider than we have as yet. I want a stronger character, deeper devotion to God and family, persevere longer, respond more lovingly, and on it goes. I can name no virtue that I have mastered. No temper I control at all times.
I like the following quote, I'll leave it at that.

" The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another;
and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he hoped to make it."
James M. Barrie.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


“To sum up all; every good man is a new creature, and Christianity is not so much a Divine institution, as a Divine frame and temper of spirit—which if we heartily pray for, and endeavor to obtain, we shall find it as hard and as uneasy to sin against God, as now we think it impossible to abstain from our most pleasing sins.
For as it is in the spermatic virtue of the heavens, which diffuses itself universally upon all sublunary bodies, and subtilely insinuating itself into most dull and inactive element, produces gold and pearls, life and motion, and brisk activities in all things that can receive the influence and heavenly blessing:-- so it is in the Holy Spirit of God, and the word of God, and the grace of God, which
St. John calls “ the seed of God;” it is a law of righteousness, and it is a law of the Spirit of life, and changes nature into grace, and dullness into zeal, and fear into love, and sinful habits into innocence, and passes on from grace to grace till we arrive at the full measures of the stature of Christ, and into the perfect liberty of the sons of God: so that we shall no more say, ‘The evil that I would not, that I do’;-- but we shall hate what God hates, and the evil that is forbidden we shall not do; not because we are strong of ourselves, but because Christ is our strength, and he is in us; and Christ’s strength shall be perfected in our weakness, and his grace shall be sufficient for us; and he will, of his own good pleasure, work in us, not only to will, but also to do, as the apostle more accurately says; “to will and to do it thoroughly” and fully, being sanctified throughout, to the glory of His holy name”……Jeremy Taylor

As I read this it so inspired me to believe in his ability to cause change. Not to be discouraged about actions and attitudes that may have prevailed for years but to trust in this “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”. His ability to “change dullness to zeal, sinful habits to innocence.”
I see so clearly the laws of nature; gravity, mystery, tides, lunar effects, metamorphosis, and yet I need to be reminded of “the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” Is this law less powerful than the laws of nature? I doubt not!
Can he bring change in me like he can change a blade to a blossom? Can He cause motions and tides to rise in me? Yes He can. Will the dull places be abandoned, the weak things forsaken, the tide of holiness be stilled? No!
A thousand failings and the answer is still a resounding No! Do I doubt the laws of nature? Never considered it. Then let me not doubt the laws of the Spirit.

I did have to read this piece over a few times to get all the nectar, figuring out "spermatic virtues" and "sublunary bodies" but with Webster's help I found great hope in each line.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Gaiety abated

"In Sardis there grew an herb, called Appium Sardis, that would make a man lie laughing when he was deadly sick; such is the operation of sin."

That quote by Thomas Brooks reminded me of the following by Jeremy Taylor---

" But so have I known a bold trooper fight in the confusion of battle, and being warm with heat and rage, received from the swords of his enemy, wounds open like a grave; but he felt them not, and when by the streams of blood he found himself marked for pain, he refused to consider then what he was to feel to-morrow; but when his rage had cooled into the temper of a man, and a clammy moisture had checked the fiery emission of spirits, he wonders at his own boldness, and blames fate, and needs a mighty patience to bear his great calamity.
So is the bold and merry sinner; when he is warm with wine and lust, wounded and bleeding with the strokes of hell, he twists with the fatal arm that strikes him, and cares not; but yet it must abate his gaiety, because he remembers that when his wounds are cold and considered, he must roar or perish, repent or do worse, that is, be miserable or undone."

That is a sobering piece, not your Robert Schuller kind of exhortation. But when my flesh raises up like a bold and merry sinner, and longs to be warm with wine or lust, somehow reflection on a "Precious Moments" sculpture doesn't do it.

Old Paths

The following is in the introduction to Thomas Brook's book on satan's devices. His illustrations broaden every chapter.....

"And now, if thou pleasest, read the work, and receive this counsel from me.
First, Thou must know that every man cannot be excellent, that yet may be useful. An iron key may unlock the door of a golden treasure, yea, iron can do some things that gold cannot.

Secondly, Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating, upon holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee's touching of the flower that gathers the honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet.

Thirdly, Reader, if it be not strong upon thy heart to practise what thou readest, to what end dost thou read? To increase thy own condemnation?


Oh, it is dangerous to love to be wise above what is written, to be curious and unsober in your desire of knowledge, and to trust to your own capacities and abilities to undertake to pry into all secrets, and to be puffed up with a carnal mind. Souls that are thus a-soaring up above the bounds and limits of humility, usually fall into the very worst of errors, as experience doth daily evidence. Thomas Brooks-- Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices.

This is no prohibition against seeking the spiritual application, as you re-read it, the caution is about pride not mystery.

Acts 17:21
"All the Athenians and the foreigners who live there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas."

Monday, May 30, 2005


The context is a battle in the Civil War—

It was in the terrible battle of Atlanta that the brave and idolized McPherson fell.
The news of his death spread with the speed of lightning along the lines, sending a pang of sorrow through every soldier’s heart. For a moment it seemed as if despair would demoralize the whole army, until General John A. Logan, on whom the command now rested, took in the situation and, on his furious black stallion, dashed down the lines, crying at the top of his voice, as he waved his sword in the air, “McPherson and revenge!
McPherson and revenge!”
An eye witness wrote; “ Never shall I forget—never will one of us who survived that desperate fight forget to our dying day—the grand spectacle presented by Logan as he rode up and down in front line, his black eyes flashing fire, his long, black hair streaming in the wind, bareheaded, and his service-worn slouch hat swinging in his bridle-hand and his sword flashing in the other, crying out in stentorian tones, ‘Boys! McPherson and revenge!’ Why, it made my blood run hot and cold, and moved every man of us to follow to the death the brave and magnificent hero-ideal of a soldier who made this resistless appeal to all that is noble in a soldiers heart, and this, too, when the very air was alive with whistling bullets and howling shell! And if he could only have been painted as he swept up and down the line on a steed as full of fire as his glorious rider, it would today be one of the finest battle pictures of the war.”
This impromptu act of courage was even more inspiring than a reinforcement of ten thousand men, and converted his almost despairing command into mighty conquerors; and the day was won.

Put that courage into a saint and he will become a missionary like Judson, a reformer like Howard, a preacher like Paul, or a martyr like Sir Thomas More.
It is this spirit that has withstood the opposition of wicked men in the progress of the achievedd acheived victory in the face of trials and death.....

This piece comes from my new book "Onward to Fame and Fortune" and I share it because this is the kind of story that inspires me. It made me think how children today are brought up with the courage of "Super Heros" or imaginative figures and not from examples of history. For me these stories are very inspiring and have an infectious quality that fiction lacks. This story reminded me of a scene in "Brave Heart".

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Look and Listen

Two merchants met a dervis in the desert, who was traveling alone.
“You have lost a camel,” he said to the merchants.
“ Indeed we have,” on of the merchants replied.
“ Was he not blind in his right eye, and lame in his left leg?” continued the dervis.
“ He was,” answered the merchants.
“Had he not lost a front tooth.?” Added the dervis.
“ He had,” replied the merchants, beginning to think that the lost animal was found.
“ And was he not loaded with honey on one side and corn on the other?”
“ Most certainly he was,” the merchant said, “and as you have seen him so lately, and marked his so particularly, you can, in all probability, conduct us to him.’
The dervis responded, “ I have never seen your camel, nor even heard of him but from you.”
“ A pretty story, truly!” exclaimed the merchants, supposing they were standing face to face with a thief or robber. “ But where are the jewels which formed a part of his burden?”
“ I have neither seen your camel or the jewels,” insisted the dervis.
Satisfied that the dervis was a robber, the merchants seized him and carried him before the court for examination. Nothing was found on his person to convict him, nor could any evidence of guilt be discovered.
“A sorcerer! A sorcerer!” exclaimed the merchants, and they hastened to get him indicted for sorcery. But the drevis put an end to their proceedings by addressing the court thus:--
“ I have been amused with your surprise, and own that there has been some ground for your suspicions; but I have lived long and alone, and I can find ample scope for observation, even in the desert. I knew that I had crossed the track of a camel that had strayed from its owner, because I saw no mark of any human footstep on the same route. I knew that the animal was blind in one eye because it had cropped the herbage only on one side of the path; and I perceived that it was lame in one leg from the faint impression which that particular foot had produced upon the sand. I concluded that the animal had lost one tooth because wherever it grazed, a small tuft of herbage was left uninjured in the center of its bite. As to that which formed the burden of the beast, the busy ants informed me that it was corn on one side, and the clustering flies that it was honey on the other.”

“One purchaser notices every defect in cloth or garment that he examines, while another overlooks them; one traveler notes everything on his journey—trees, landscapes, crops, farms, homes, thrift or decay, proofs of enterprise or shiftlessness, and a score of other things, which another traveler fails to see; one reader becomes familiar with the style, purpose, sentiments, and scope of an author, pleased with excellence and pained by defects, while another catches only the general drift of the book, without being able at the conclusion of his reading to discuss its subject matter intelligently, or even to give a passable analysis of the volume; one pupil masters each branch of study to which he gives his attention, never satisfied until he understands each subject so that he is able to reason for the belief that is in him, while another is content with a parrot-like recitation or less, neither comprehending the author nor mastering the subject.”

This story and paragraph are from my knew book, and this chapter is about discrimination and discernment. There are many moral and practical applications in the chapter. The chapter encourages us to teach our children these virtues and seek them ourselves as a most important character trait for success in all of life. I think the encouragement is such a good one and I also think that our lives are broadened, deepened, protected and enjoyed more as we are able to discern.

“Onward to Fame and Fortune” by Wm. M. Thayer. The title sounds secular but it isn’t. It is published by The Christian Herald in 1897, and well worth picking up if you can find it on the internet.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Stirring Within

On my visit to Lincoln City last weekend I scored a great old book. As I was thumbing through it I read the following paragraph in the introduction---

My dear Mr. Burke,-- You will agree with me that every one must decide and direct his own course in life, and the only service friends can afford is to give us the data from which we must draw our own conclusions and decide our course. Allow me, then, to sit beside you and look over the field of life and see what are its aspects.
Tell me Mr. your name, do you not feel a spirit stirring within you that longs to know, to do, and to dare; to hold converse with the great world of thought, and hold before you some high and noble object to which the vigor of your mind and the strength of your arm may be given?
Do you not have longings like these, which you breathe to no one, and which you feel must be heeded, or you will pass through life unsatisfied and regretful? I am sure you have them, and they will forever cling round your heart till you obey their mandate.
They are the voices of that nature which God has given you, and which, when obeyed, will bless you and your fellow-men.
Now all this might be true, and yet it might be your duty not to follow that course. If your duty to your family or parents demands that you take another course, I shall rejoice to see you take that other course. The path of duty is where we all ought to walk, be that where it may.

I just love that. Such practical advice and nearly every one I have ever met knows that stirring to "know, to do and to dare" something noble we can throw ourselves into. I also like the way he balances these inner longings with our duty.
A word somewhat out of style today. But certainly a big part of manhood is doing our duty, even though it doesn't offer the same dare or risks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

I find homo sapiens to be the most interesting study. Myself included. We have a longing for society, friendships and fellowship with others. That being said, we have the most difficult of times getting along, without offending one another.
Try as we will, not long after people gather, we find we have said or done some action that we wished we had not. We seem to jockey for position, swell and snort for elevation. Not content with mere discussion, we have this need to defend our intellectual ground, or pout if our self perceived status isn’t recognized. As often as not, we leave discussing others faults or blaming them for not valuing our presence. It is a madness of sorts. I say it’s a madness because the list of short comings we hide is nearly endless. To borrow from Jeremy Taylor’s list of shortcomings;
We speak of ourselves as though we have forgotten our follies and weaknesses, the sins of our youth and the weakness of our age,
Their imperfect grace and the long list of omissions of duty,
our hesitations and fears, reservations and cowardice,
All our shame and things we are sorry for,
The evil intentions and little plots,
Our carnal confidences and trust in things of this world,
The overindulgences and lack of self-control,
our wilder escapades and materialism,
The wasting of time and eager submission to compromise,
Our trifling complaints and little peevishnesses,
The mixtures of the world with the things of the spirit,
And all the times we received mercy and the ingratitude we showed,
Our breaches of promise and abandoning of holy purposes,
The breaking of resolutions, and the plundering of our vows.

These things we are tempted to conceal and present ourselves to society as though we have nothing to hide. Were the curtain drawn back on all of our folly, one could scarcely imagine how our society has continued.

These things being said, not a day later we find ourselves craving the company of others. I was reading a piece from William Law’s “Christian Perfection” and he writes about our weaknesses in a vivid way—

"Let us take another view of the weakness and disorder of our nature. When we see people drunk, or in a violent passion, we readily own that they are in a state of delusion-- thinking, saying, and doing irregular things under the promptings of their high spirits. In these states we all see and acknowledge the power of our bodies over our reason and never suppose a man capable of judging or acting wisely as long as he is under the influence of violent passions or drink.
Whether a man be drunk with passion or strong drink, there is the same weakness of mind, the same disordered imagination, the same misapprehension of the nature of things.
We are always in a state either of self-love, pride, hatred, envy, covetousness, or ambition. One or more of these passions affect in some degree our spirits in the same manner that liquor affects us. A silent envy, a secret vanity which nobody sees raises disorderly thoughts in our heads and perverts our judgments in the same manner as do more violent passions."

When I read the part that says " we are always in a state either of self-love, pride, hatred, envy etc."
It made me think and wonder; are there no times when I'm free of self-love, times when I am truly humble? As I went through the list it was difficult to remember when I spent an hour free of some distemper.

Now to bring this to the spiritual battlefield I’ll turn to Thomas A. Kempis --

“For the love of God you ought cheerfully to undergo all things, that is to say, labors and pains; temptations, vexations, anxieties, necessities, infirmities, injuries, slanders, reproofs, humiliations, confusions, corrections, and despisings.
These are a help to virtue; these are the trial of a novice in Christ; these frame the heavenly crown. I will give an everlasting reward for a short labor, and infinite glory for transitory confusion.” Thomas A Kempis

“Trials of a novice in Christ”, would that I weren’t still a novice in Christ after thirty some years as a Christian, but to cheerfully undergo all the vexations and confusions I encounter with others is still one of my greatest challenges.

Monday, May 09, 2005

"A large charity is the growth of years, the last result of may trials." Stopford A. Brook

There's some comfort in that.

Ahhh, simplicity

"Let us learn to be content with what we have, with the place we have in life. Let us get rid of our false estimates, let us throw down the god Money from its pedestal, trample that senseless idol under foot, set up all the higher ideals-- a neat home, vines of our own planting, a few books full of the inspiration of genius, a few friends worthy of being loved, and able to love us in turn; a hundred pleasures that bring no pain or remorse, a devotion to the right that will never swerve, a simple religion empty of all bigotry, full of trust and hope and love, and to such a philosophy this world will give up all the joy it has." David Swing

I like that, false estimates, vines of our own planting, of course a few books ( or more ) and a few friends, maybe throw in there a wife or two.

We Are Not Our Wounds

“When we are cut off from the ones we love, it’s easy to define ourselves solely by our wounds, by all the ways we have been hurt and maligned. Without strong connections and input from others, we become isolated and in our isolation the places that hurt, the places that are raw and bleeding, capture our interest. Conversely, the more we are connected to love ones and are engaged within community, the more we are defined not by what we are lacking but by our presence and our impact on the lives of those around us.” The Community of Kindness"

I bought what I thought was a follow up book to "Random Acts of Kindness" but it turned out to be kind of new Age. I did find some interesting thought none the less. This particular piece jumped out at me. I know so many that are cut off from loved ones by distance, and I have seen the described sentiments occur. I think there is a lot of truth in it.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

"Criticism often takes away from the tree caterpillars and blossoms together."


"He who has no inclination to learn more will be very apt to think that he knows enough."

How true that is. We see it when it comes to religion most often. The story of the "Truth Bird"
brings that out so clearly. But I think we are very apt to think we know enough about a great many things. Maybe never so demonstrated as with people. A few brief conversations or observations, and we know enough of that person to know, we needn't pursue a friendship.
How that conclusion dwarfs our life.

Now here is a humiliating quote for me--
" Voracious learning, often over-fed, digests not into sense her motley meal. This bookcase with dark booty almost burst, this forager on other's wisdom, leaves her native farm, her reason, quite untill'd. -- Young

That made me think about all the books I have in my library. "Other's wisdom", which make no mistake about it, I am so thankful for. My library has been my fellowship, my encouragement and my support throughout my Christian walk. None the less, the quote convicts me of the many times when I was truant in personal time with God, alone in His word, seeking his light in a passage, reasoning together with him and no one else.


" Leisure, itself the creation of wealth, is incessantly engaged in transmuting wealth
into beauty by secreting the surplus energy which flowers in great architecture, great
painting and great literature. Only in the atmosphere thus engendered floats that
impalpable dust of ideas which is real culture. A colony of ants or bees will never create
a Parthenon. -- Edith Wharton

I had to read that piece over a few times, but I like it. As I consider my own life, although when working I am making money, it is in my leisure that I create. I never thought about leisure in that light. I know in my leisure, if I am not busy doing something creative, I am most tempted. That aside, leisure is a time to do things useful. It may be that useful thing is to have a time of rest or recreation, but aside from that it is time to create, whether in the garden, on the blog, behind a camera, in front of an easel or creating spires and turrets adorning architecture. I'm so thankful for every curve and flowerette on a building. My eye follows each line with appreciation. I'm afraid economics has reduced our buildings to pure function now, but what a price to pay!
"Impalpable dust of ideas which is real culture." Just as this little quote stirs up the dust of ideas, I will not view my leisure quite the same.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Are we men?

"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist.
He who would gather immortal palms must not be
hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore
if it be goodness." Emerson

I like that quote, I also like the old paths; there is strength in tradition, maybe safety,
but if we be ever conforming, when will we be exploring, if never
exploring, where will advances come from?

Saturday, April 02, 2005


"All the passions," says an old writer, "are such near neighbors, that if
one of them is on fire, the others should send for the buckets." Thus love and hate being both passions, the one is never safe from the spark that sets the other ablaze.-- Bulwer

" Oh, how the passions, insolent and strong, bear our weak minds their rapid course along;
make us the madness of their will obey; then die, and leave us to our grief's a prey!

And lastly---

"Passion is the great mover and spring of the soul; when men's passions are strongest, they may have great and noble effects; but they are then also apt to fall into the greatest miscarriages.-- Sprat
" The absent are never without fault
nor the present without excuse."


"All earthly delights are sweeter in expectation than in enjoyment;
but all spiritual pleasures more in fruition than in expectation."

Self culture

"The more perfect the sight is the more delightful the beautiful object.
The more perfect the appetite, the sweeter the food.
The more musical the ear, the more pleasant the melody.
The more perfect the soul, the more joyous the joys of heaven
and the more glorious the glory.

I like this quote. As we age and naturally gain more knowledge, our
appreciation of our world grows and brings us more pleasure.
In addition, as we cultivate ourselves, and learn more about God, people, places
and things, though it may require effort, we are rewarded with a deeper level of
living, a savor that slothfulness will never know. Don't you think?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Giving advice

Advice and reprehension (blame and reproof) require the utmost delicacy; painful truths should be delivered in the softest terms, and expressed no farther than is necessary to produce their due effect.
A courteous man will mix what is conciliating with what is offensive; praise with censure; deference and respect with the authority of admonition, so far as can be done in consistence with probity (sincerity, integrity) and honor.
The mind revolts against all censorian power which displays pride or pleasure in finding fault; but advice, divested of the harshness and yet retaining the honest warmth of truth, is like honey put round the brim of a vessel full of wormwood.—
Even this, however, is sometimes insufficient to conceal the bitterness of the draught. -- Percival

I had opportunity to use this outline for advice just recently, and I am so glad I did.
So practicle. Would that I had followed this outline many times in the past.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Measuring Stick

“Deceive not yourselves, there is no other measure but this; so much good as a man does, or so much as he would do, if he could, -- so much of religion, and so much of repentance he hath, and no more….”
Jeremy Taylor

When I first read this, I questioned that religion could be reduced to such a short definition.
I look forward to comments. Certainly the statement embodies much of Christ's teaching.
It stings all earnest Christians I'm sure. I found some comfort in it as well; "or so much as he would do, if he could.." I have read before that a true Christian always feels that he should do more, where a professor only, feels too much is demanded. I think it is an indication that God lives and moves in us, as we wish we could do more in those areas that practically, prayer is our only option.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Polywog Christians

“It so happens in the mud and slime of the river Borborus, when the eye of the sun hath long dwelt upon it, and produces frogs which begin to move a little under a thin cover of its own parental matter, and if they can get loose to live half a life, that is all; but the hinder parts, which are not formed before the setting of the sun, stick fast in their beds of mud, and the little moiety of a creature dies before it could be well said to live; so it is with those Christians, who will do all that they think lawful, and will do no more than what they suppose necessary; they do but peep into the light of the Sun of righteousness; they have the beginnings of life; but their hinder parts, their passions and affections, and the desires of the lower man, are still unformed; and he that dwells in this state, is just so much of a Christian, as a sponge is of a plant, and a mushroom of a shrub; they may be as sensible as an oyster, and discourse at the rate of a child, but are generally short of the righteousness evangelical.” -- Jeremy Taylor

I love a barbed arrow tipped with wit. But now I must see myself as a mushroom.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Many persons might have attained to wisdom had they not assumed that they already possessed it. ----Seneca
What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?

The Cabin on the homestead

There's a cabin on the homestead
In a valley far away;
Where the pines are always sighing,
and the lazy breezes play.

There's a creek that's ever winding,
ever winding to the sea;
Just a silver ribbon gleaming
In a land that's far and free.

There's a mother ever waiting,
and a light that ever shines
In the cabin on the homestead;
and the tie that ever binds.

But they've roped me in the city
and I guess I'm doomed to stay,
While ever my mind's a wand'ring
and ever my mem'ries stray.

Dreaming, dreaming, ever dreaming
While my eyes grow dim with age;
Drifting, drifting, ever drifting,
life is passing page by page.

E'er I long for the solitudes
stretched beneath the Milky Way;
To dream alone, the world my own
In the evening's dusky gray.

To sit at night, in dreamy light
Of my campfire's flapping flare;
To rest in peace, where worries cease,
Forgotten, the world of care.

Oh, I'd love to ditch my collars
and my jewel-studded shirt;
Leave behind the smoke-screened cities
and their sorrow, noise and dirt.

Just to sit again and ponder
on the banks of that old stream;
Not a care, a task, a sorrow,
Just to sit and dream and dream.

But life drives us ever onward,
One step backward and we fall;
And grim duties ever lead us
O'er a rough and winding trail.

So I must forget my dreaming
of the days that used to be,
And the cabin on the homestead;
For no more will I be free.
-- Roy Thomas Greenup

Monday, February 21, 2005

Every Street is a Theater

“There is a precise analogy in moral life. Men are seeking enjoyment in rude ways, or sulking in a complaining mood, because they have nothing to make them happy! But the art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things. If we pitch our expectations high, if we are arrogant in our pretensions, if we will not be happy except when our self-love is gratified, our pride stimulated, our vanity fed, or a fierce excitement kindled, then we shall have but little satisfaction out of this life. The whole globe is a museum to those who have eyes to see. Rare plays are unfolding before every man who can read the drama of life intelligently. Not go to theaters? Wicked to see plays?
Every street is a theater. One cannot open his eyes without seeing unconscious players. There are Othellos, and Hamlets, and Lears, and Juliets all about us.
Be cheerful yourself, and good natured, and respectful, and every man has a secret for you worth knowing. There is a school-master waiting for you behind every door. Every shopman has a look at life different from yours.
Nobody knows a city who only drives along its streets. There are vaults under streets, cellars under houses, attics above, shops behind. At every step men are found tucked away in some queer nook, doing unexpected things, themselves odd, and full of entertaining knowledge.”
H.W.Beecher – Star Papers, Unclaimed Happiness

Saturday, February 19, 2005

"Every man thinks that his own geese are swans."

" Whenever that becomes a personal possesion which is legitimately an object of love, and which involves one's character for good taste, sound judgement, and personal power or prowess, its value, in the eye and heart of its possessor, is raised above the estimate and appreciation of others minds."

Timothy Titcomb -- Gold Foil
"We live in the future. Even the happiness of the present is made up mostly of that delightful discontent which the hope of better things inspires." Timothy Titcomb

I run across this theme penned by many. It intrigues me and frustrates me. To live in the moment, an art I have not mastered. To get out of the future, with my prophecies of impending
" Cold broth hot again, that loved I never;
Old love renewed again, that loved I ever."
" I once heard a preacher remark that were it not for the interposition of sleep, by which all men are separated once in twenty-four hours from the consciousness of their own meanness, they would all die of self-contempt." Timothy Titcomb

When I first read that I found it a little harsh; but then a scripture came to mind-- " Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this."
"If you pursue good with labor, the labor passes away, but the good remains; if you pursue evil with pleasure, the pleasure passes away, but the evil remains."


I am inclined to think that if our minds were capable of apprehending the essential facts of the life we see, we should be convinced that happiness is one of the most evenly distributed of all human possessions. The laborer loves his wife and children as well as the lord, and takes into his soul all the tender and precious influences that flow to him through their love as well as he.
Food tastes as sweetly to the ploughman as the placeman. If the latter have the daintier dish, the former has the keener appetite. Into all ears the brook pours the same stream of music, and the birds never vary their programme with reference to their audiences. The spring scatters violets broadcast, and grass grows by the roadside as well as in the park. The breeze that tosses the curls of your little ones and mine is not softer in its caresses of those who bound over velvet to greet it. The sun shines, the thunder rolls, and the stars flash, for all alike. Health knows nothing of human distinctions, and abides with him who treats it best. Sleep, the gentle angel, does not come at the call of power, and never proffers its ministry for gold. The senses take no bribes of luxury; but deal as honestly and generously by the poor as by the rich; and the President of the United States would whistle himself blind before he could call our dog from us.
Timothy Titcomb -- Gold Foil

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


We must not fear lest the knowledge of His gifts make us proud, so long as we are attentive to this truth, that whatsoever there is of good in us comes not from ourselves. Alas! Do mules cease to be disgusting beasts simply because they are laden with the precious and perfumed goods of the prince? St. Francis De Sales

So, an ass is an ass still, though it carry a thief's booty or a King's bounty.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

From Within

The hopelessness of any one's accomplishing any thing without pluck is illustrated by an old East Indian fable. A mouse that dwelt near the abode of a great magician was kept in such constant distress by its fear of a cat, that the magician, taking pity on it, turned it into a cat itself.
Immediately it began to suffer from its fear of a dog, so the magician turned it into a dog. Then it began to suffer from fear of a tiger, and the magician turned it into a tiger. Then it began to suffer from its fear of huntsmen, and the magician in disgust said, " Be a mouse again. As you have only the heart of a mouse, it is impossible to help you by giving you the body of a nobler animal."
And the poor creature became a mouse.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

They are little, nimble, compact skinfuls of ingenious, fertile,
endless, untiring mischief.
H.W.Beecher- Star Papers

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Thackeray wrote of a fashionable lady cousin in Paris:
“She is come to ‘my dearest William’ now, though she doesn’t care a fig for me. She told me astonishing things, showed me a letter in which every word was true, and which was a fib from beginning to end. A miracle of deception – flattered, fondled, coaxed. Oh, she was worth coming to Paris for!… Pray God to keep us simple. I have never looked at anything in my life which has so amazed me.”
" We have said that there is no difference between one person and another more characteristic and noticeable than the facility of being happy."
Henry Ward Beecher

This quote disturbs me some. In my youth I seemed to have an inexhaustible facility for finding happiness. Somehow with the weight of life I find that faculty ground down, lost its tip, and finding happiness takes a determined effort, where once it flowed so naturally.