Sunday, July 10, 2016

And When I Have Seen Him, I Shall Never Die

I shall rise from the dead... I shall see the Son of God, the Sun of Glory, and shine myself as that sun shines. I shall be united to the Ancient of Days, to God Himself, who had no morning, never began... No man ever saw God and lived. And yet, I shall not live till I see God; and when I have seen him, I shall never die.

~John Donne, from Sermon CXVIII, Preached at St. Paul's Cathedral on Midsummer Day, 1622

Monday, May 9, 2016

No More Hopeless than the Most Moral and Respectable Person in the World

“To make it quite practical I have a very simple test. After I have explained the way of Christ to somebody I say “Now, are you ready to say that you are a Christian?” And they hesitate. And then I say, “What’s the matter? Why are you hesitating?” And so often people say, “I don’t feel like I’m good enough yet. I don’t think I’m ready to say I’m a Christian now.” 

And at once I know that I have been wasting my breath. They are still thinking in terms of themselves. They have to do it. It sounds very modest to say, “Well, I don’t think I’ good enough,” but it’s a very denial of the faith. The very essence of the Christian faith is to say that He is good enough and I am in Him. As long as you go on thinking about yourself like that and saying, “I’m not good enough; Oh, I’m not good enough,” you are denying God – you are denying the gospel – you are denying the very essence of the faith and you will never be happy. You think you’re better at times and then again you will find you are not as good at other times than you thought you were. You will be up and down forever. 

How can I put it plainly? It doesn’t matter if you have almost entered into the depths of hell. It does not matter if you are guilty of murder as well as every other vile sin. It does not matter from the standpoint of being justified before God at all. You are no more hopeless than the most moral and respectable person in the world.

~Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Emphasis mine)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

He Sits at the Right Hand of God

I have a caretaker who is better than you and all the angels; he lies in a manger and nurses at his mother’s breast, yet he sits at the right hand of God, the Almighty Father.

~Martin Luther, written February 7, 1546 to his beloved wife. He died 11 days later.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Farewell to you and the Youth I have spent with you...

“If in the twilight of memory we should meet once more, we shall speak again together and you shall sing to me a deeper song.
And if our hands should meet in another dream, we shall build another tower in the sky.”

~ from The Prophet, Khalil Gibran

Monday, December 21, 2015

Who Made Lame Beggars Walk and Blind Men See

"And how did little Tim behave?" asked Mrs. Cratchit...

"As good as gold," said Bob, "and better. Somehow, he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day [the one] who made lame beggars walk and blind men see."
~Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit, from Charles Dickens' Christmas Classic "A Christmas Carol," discussing their crippled child, Tiny Tim, while Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present look on unseen.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

When Farmer Oak Smiled

"When Farmer Oak smiled, the corners of his mouth spread, till they were within an unimportant distance of his ears, his eyes were reduced to mere chinks, and diverging wrinkles appeared round them, extending upon his countenance like the rays in a rudimentary sketch of the rising sun."

I love these opening lines to Thomas Hardy's classic novel of an independent and spirited woman courted by three suitors. I watched the film adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd last night, my third time in as many months, and found more insight now that I've finished the book. Farmer Oak, as can be easily discerned from the lines above, is a delight, and Hardy's talent with the pen inspires in me such admiration, as well as sadness that he so early gave it up (with his last novel being released thirty years before he died). Just think what else there might have been!

Back to Farmer Oak:

"In his face one might notice that many of the hues and curves of youth had tarried on to manhood: there even remained in his remoter crannies some relics of the boy. His height and breadth would have been sufficient to make his presence imposing had they been exhibited with due consideration. But there is a way some men have, rural and urban alike – for which the mind is more responsible than flesh or sinew – a way of curtailing their dimensions by their manner of showing them; and from a quiet modesty that would have become a vestal, which seemed continually to impress upon him that he had no great claim on the world's room, Oak walked unassumingly and with a faintly perceptible bend, quite distinct from a bowing of the shoulders. This may be said to be a defect in an individual if he depends for his valuation as a total more upon his appearance than upon his capacity to wear well, which Oak did not. He had just reached the time of life at which "young" is ceasing to be the prefix of "man" in speaking of one. He was at the brightest period of masculine life, for his intellect and emotions were clearly separate: he had passed the time during which the influence of youth indiscriminately mingles them in the character of impulse, and he had not yet arrived at the state wherein they become united again, in the character of prejudice, by the influence of a wife and family. In short he was twenty-eight and a bachelor."

Isn't it beautiful? Happy and fortunate is he who can craft a novel.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Bibliotherapy? Yes, Please.

Somewhere along the way, and I'm not entirely sure how it happened, I took a break from reading. Well, I never fully walked away from that most treasured pastime, but my reading went in the direction of reading non-fiction (which is apparently the trend these days). Instead of reading my beloved classics, I read theology and biographies and "histories of...". Movie adaptations of books, however, have a way of sending me running to the bookstore to experience again the delight of a story I've just seen told on the silver screen. Thank God for movie adaptations! Right now I'm reading Far From the Madding Crowd from Thomas Hardy and enjoying not only the story, but also Hardy's insight into human nature, and his magnificent crafting of sentences and paragraphs.

I read on this morning an article entitled Can Reading Make You Happier? In it, the author talks about receiving bibliotherapy, a kind of therapy where books are recommended based on what ails ya. This therapy sounds wonderful, and in a time when seemingly so few people are reading, it also sounds hard to come by. I love it when a friend recommends a good book to me, even more so when the books is apropos to something that I'm experiencing in my life at that time. (Any suggestions out there?)

Two of the bibliotherapists in the article have written a book, The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies: An A-Z of Literary Remedies. What's fun, is that in the book deal, as the book has been published in other countries and languages, up to 25% of the book is allowed to be adapted for local audiences (and to include local writers). So:

The new, adapted ailments are culturally revealing. In the Dutch edition, one of the adapted ailments is “having too high an opinion of your own child”; in the Indian edition, “public urination” and “cricket, obsession with” are included; the Italians introduced “impotence,” “fear of motorways,” and “desire to embalm”; and the German added “hating the world” and “hating parties.”
These ailments amuse me. Do the Dutch have too high an opinion of their children? Do Italian men struggle with impotence? Can a novel help? Anyway, it's all very interesting.

My bibliotherapy is working. Far From the Madding Crowd is a delightful and a welcome reprieve from the world. Both happily and sadly, I am almost finished. Next up, however, is a book that has long been on my reading list: Middlemarch. I daresay that the heft of that novel will ensure that I have its company at least two weeks before I must find something else to read.

I'm off to put myself into a "pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and... (to bring) the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm."