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Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas!


This Christmastime....

May we all realize that we really do have a wonderful life. And then realize that we can do more every day to really live it. May our bellies be filled up to the brim with laughs.  Drink lots of eggnog while you can, and sing lots of carols. Tear open all of your presents and when you get that wrapping off, be surprised. Go to the parties, deck the halls, be full of joy and full of fun. Make sure your tree is the craziest of all the trees with tinsel, lights, color. Be with friends, be with family. Be together and have a grand time. Read the best Christmas stories over and over and over again, especially the First one. Let's try to see through wide young eyes and marvel at it all. Marvel at the beauty. Marvel at surprises. Marvel at squeals of delight. Marvel at perfect Christmasy dinners and at hands joined around the table. Marvel at God's goodness. Marvel at the night when a human girl held the Messiah in her arms.

Merry Christmas. And may God bless us. Every one.





Friday, November 14, 2014

Slow Your Breath Down

Some musings on this Future of Forestry song...


"For you were once a child of
Innocence
And I see you just the same
Your burdens couldn't win or
Lose a thing
Oh, I'd tell you once
Again
But you're always on
The run." 
( Slow Your Breath Down.)



Running. Rebelling. Forgetting. The child who has been loved more than anything in the world. Why does he run? He has been taught to love God. Why is he afraid of surrendering to Him? He has broken their hearts. Does he even realize? One of the saddest kinds of running away is the kind where he doesn't actually go anywhere at all. But he's so far away. His heart is lost and that's thing they've really been fighting for. 

They've stayed up at night for this child his entire life. Awake for the hungry infant. Awake for the sick toddler. Awake for the frightened child. Now they're more awake than ever before for their lost boy, who's a nearly-grown man. This child, who has been taught all the right things and loved in all the right ways. Cried over, prayed for, kissed, picked up, disciplined, encouraged, sung to, fed, clothed, played with, talked to. Being a God-pleasing parent means you must almost love yourself out with loving so much, and never ever stop. You must find your life by giving it up. 

To the child always on the run: You can come back. They will be there. Waiting, wanting, to come and meet you. Waiting to show you how to trust and love again. Waiting to wrap a new robe around you and to put new shoes on your feet. They'll take you back "a thousand times again" (Future of Forestry). And just like the Father never ever ever gives up on any of His children, they're never ever ever going to give up on you. If only you'll slow down long enough to find out. 



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Wonder

Yesterday I got to hold someone's freshly-born baby. She was barely more than twenty-four hours old, bundled in pink. So new, so tiny, so wonderful.

"The world will never starve for want of wonders; but only for want of wonder." (G.K. Chesterton)

So be there. To wonder. To marvel. To be amazed at the tiny, absurd things that make life beautiful.

"Behold. A world so full of wonder, full of laughter, full of life." (Jenny & Tyler, Everything You Do.) Tiny humans are being born; they are learning to speak, to laugh, to read, to walk, to live. Green, living things are bursting out of dirt. Spring is turning into Summer, into Autumn, into Winter. People are falling in love. A dimming dying orange sun disappears before our eyes every night.

There are the wonders. We have only to wonder at them. "I love you to the moon," my little sister tells me. "And back and back and back." 

Even through the most horrible evil. Through ISIS and Ebola and women who choose to kill themselves because they're afraid to die. Through pain and separation and fear and children who have to find out that daddy was once mommy and mommy was once daddy. Through our dirty, messed-up world, there is still the awe, if we will see it.

It's when we all stop marveling, that the world will starve.

Look up, and watch the leaves turn red and die. They're only going to do that once this year so you don't want to miss it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."
-William Cullen Bryant





Monday, September 15, 2014

Laughing in the Face of Darkness

"Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that." (Cormac McCarthy, The Road.)

This.

This is why we have to fight for our hearts, and (sooner or later) our children's hearts, with everything we've got. Because, "innocence, once lost, can never be regained. Darkness, once gazed upon, can never be lost." (Milton) This is where we see why the Goodness, Truth, and Loveliness are actually so important.

The bad things can certainly be tucked away in a back drawer underneath the clutter of other ideas and thoughts. But somehow you'll keep on opening them back up, bumping into them, always remembering, always knowing they are there. When you aren't watching, they'll ooze out in the way you live your life, the way you look at the world.

Full of fear.

Full of guilt.

Full of anger.

"This world is rated R," says N.D. Wilson. "And no one is checking IDs….Do not try to hide your children away from the world forever, but do not try to pretend there is no danger."

There are two mistakes to be made: Throwing the child to the wolves is one. Hiding the child completely away is another. Leave a child totally alone in the darkness and they'll become one with it. It'll devour them. Evil likes to prey on the most innocent and unprotected ones first.  On the other hand, though, one day, every little girl and every little boy will hear things and know things that will cause them to become less of a child; things that will take away the innocence. Every child will sometime see the darkness. And if we have deceived them into thinking that all the world is Candyland, they will one day, all in a flash, all on their own, find out there's a Mordor. And there they will be. Defenseless and confused and angry. And so very weak.

That's why they have to be ready. Dangerous. Quick. The things that are put into them will be there forever. Give them eyes full of grace. Hearts full of joy. Minds full of goodness. "Bellies full of laughter" (N.D. Wilson).



And when they see the ugliest darkness, they'll be able to laugh in its face, because they'll know that one day there'll only be Light.


~allie

Friday, August 1, 2014

Peace Like a River - Quotes




"We and the world, my children, will always be at war. Retreat is impossible. Arm yourselves."


"Hope is like yeast, you know, rising under warmth." 



"I'll lack a word, and she'll dump out a bushel of them."


"Don't you ever doubt it? Davy asked. 

And in fact I have. And perhaps will again. But here is what happens. I look out the window at the red farm - for here we live, [my wife] and I, in a new house across the meadow, a house built by capable arms and open lungs and joyous sweat. Maybe I see our daughter, home from school, picking plus or apples...maybe one of our sons, reading on the grass or painting an upended canoe. Or maybe [my wife] comes into the room...with Mr Cassidy's beloved rolls on a steaming plate. Then I breathe deeply, and certainty enters into me like light, like a piece of science, and curious music seems to hum inside my fingers." 


"At that moment I had no notion of identity. Nor of burden. I laughed in place of language." 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Life For Yours - Quotes


THIS is a fantastic little book. Wilson takes us along on a "walk through the Christian home", beautifully explaining how each and every room manifests the Gospel. 


"If a family cannot celebrate with joy and gladness across the board, then somebody should order a pizza."

"The kitchen should not be a place where boys and men are aliens. Any masculinity that washes off in dishwater had to have been pretty superficial to begin with."

"What happens when the jar of your life is jostled? What comes out? If bitterness splashes on to everyone, that simply tells us what the jar was already full of."

"...Something called "food" doesn't mysteriously appear at the grocery store all shrink-wrapped - it grew, lived, and died somewhere. And whenever we give thanks for food, we are thanking God for the gospel."

"If someone reacts to fast food like an orthodox rabbi watching someone fry bacon, then he is a food idolater."

"True spirituality involves ice cream, particularly if you have the kind of fudge sauce my wife makes."

"Displays of rage and temper in a Christian home are the moral equivalent of keeping copies of Penthouse on the coffee table or bringing home shoplifted goods to show the family at dinner."

"We are saved from wrath by wrath....An angry man will only be delivered from anger by seeing how angry God was with it."

"When Adam first saw Eve, he wrote the first poem."

"Men who want to remain faithful must remember that lust is not a sensation; it's a road with an established destination...When lust is planted, the harvest is consistently some sort of sexual grief."

"Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, but it's too easy to be cynical."

"Life is not as simple as the legalists would like it to be."

"Jesus had air in His lungs, food in His stomach, and dirt on His hands."


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Queen of Iowa // Andrew Peterson

The Queen of Iowa.

This lovely song will have so much more meaning if you listen to Peterson tell its story. I promise it's worth eight minutes of your day. <3


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

At Home in Mitford - Quotes


A few favorite quotes from Jan Karon's first Mitford book. 




"What do you want to talk about?"

"Everything and nothing. What you did today, what I did today, what we'll do tomorrow. About God and how He's working in our lives. About my work, about your work, about life, about love, about what's for dinner, and how the roses are doing... Life is short," she said. 


"He would pray for rain and take her walking in it."


"He loved the sound of any laughter, but hers was a laughter that ignited something in his spirit." 


"He bounded through the hedge and into his yard and saw her standing in his door. She opened the door for him and held it wide as he came up the steps, and for one fleeting moment suspended in time, he sensed that he had come at last to a destination he'd been running toward all his life." 







Monday, June 16, 2014

Marvelous Light


This song is beautiful. Inspired by this equally beautiful line from a book by Andrew Peterson: "He moved through the days in peace and wonder, for his whole story had been told for the first time, and he found that he was still loved." 







I am not who I once was
Defined by all the things I've done
Afraid my shame would be exposed
Afraid of really being known
But then you gave my heart a home

So I walked out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame into a hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light

With years of keeping secrets save
Wondering if I could change
Cause when you're hiding all alone
Your heart can turn into a stone
And that's not the way I wanted to go

So I walk out of the darkness and into the light
From fear of shame and into a hope of life
Mercy called my name and made a way to fly
Out of the darkness and into the light

There's no place I would rather be
Your light is Marvelous
Your light is Marvelous
You have come to set us free
You are Marvelous
Your light is Marvelous

So I walked out of the darkness an into the light
From fear of shame into a hope of life
Mercy called my name and right away to fly
Out of the darkness an into the light

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Brave Tragedy


An essay I wrote on whether Christians should go to war... 
            


      “But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade.”  (Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front)

       When it all comes down to it, the soldiers killing each other in wars are really, after all, just boys. Not too terribly long ago, every one of them was born as somebody’s baby, sat on somebody’s lap. They all had a family who loved them and they all have a cause they’re fighting for, no matter how wrong or right it might happen to be. They each have their own beliefs and ideals and morals and lives. And many times, brother is set against brother when Christians war on opposing sides. Is this heroism, for a Christian to shoot another Christian full of lead? Or is it only tragedy? Sometimes the heroism is a tragedy, but that does not make it any less courageous.

       “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:9-11) That’s a haunting caution. He hates his brother and he is walking aimlessly with no idea where he’s headed or where he’s been. He’s walking with only, always darkness as his companion. Many people insist that this tells us we should never fight our brothers in Christ, or else we are hating them, and therefore walking away from God and into darkness. The key clarification here is that war does not necessarily equal hatred. War is hatred if we are fighting for wrong reasons, if we are hating them while we fight.

       Another thing that differentiates war from is hatred is the fact that we aren’t rallying up other churches and calling them to war against us over differences in belief or because we don’t like them. That would obviously be incredibly stupid and petty and wrong. That would be walking in darkness. However, there’s a difference when there happen to be Christians on both sides of a war and they happen to fight each other. If a Christian American is confronted by a Christian German with a gun ready to kill, the American has every reason, every right, to shoot the German right away, without worrying about whether he’s a brother or not. He’s not hating the German by following the brutal rules of this war they’re both trying to survive. And I believe those two will fellowship gloriously in Paradise. The blood and the crying will all be done away with and the men will have passed to a further level of understanding, a further level of loving.

       Obviously, the reasons we’re killing matter immensely. But is there ever really a reason big enough for Christians to fight? At the heart, it’s a discernment issue. If a man’s country is going to war over money or power he should think long and hard about whether that reason warrants him leaving his family and going to slaughter people. Sometimes, by refusing to fight, we are being more of a patriot to our true country, than if we ignored our convictions and fought for foolishness. But, if his family is directly threatened, if freedom is threatened, then sometimes war is the only brave thing to do. If we sit back and grow old only talking about peace, our peace will be taken right from under our noses. Freedom is only bought with a high price and that may mean killing the ones who threaten to destroy it. If we do not, we will live to regret the passiveness. “You have done nothing for which you should be ashamed,” they assure Benjamin Martin, in the movie ‘Patriot’. “I have done nothing,” he bitterly replies. “And for that I am ashamed.”

            The heroic thing is not the killing. It’s the fighting. The heroic part comes when we are brave enough to fight for what we love. War isn’t always hatred. War doesn’t always mean we are abiding in darkness. The darkness comes when we forget that they are our brothers. It comes when we fight selfishly. It comes when we stop thinking of the other side as human. “We always see it too late,” writes Remarque in All Quiet on the Western Front. “Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils just like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony-- Forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?”

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Story Of My Life.

THIS.

Just watch it now.


(***And please completely and utterly ignore the fact that 'One Direction' ever had anything to do with this song. As one very wise soul once said, "One Direction is so much better without One Direction.") ;)



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We Don't Know We're Not Free.


My final Omnibus essay. Bittersweet. :)


“O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in it!” (William Shakespeare)


Humanity denied nothing. “Never put off till tomorrow the fun you can have today.” (Huxley, Brave New World). This is a world of unrestrained pleasure. Whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like, however you feel like. No disease or old age. No trouble. Is this paradise? Not quite. In this strange, dystopian world of Huxley’s, it is happiness that matters. Always, only happiness. There is not truth, or goodness, or beauty. There is never loyalty, never love, because, you know, “everyone belongs to everyone else”. ‘Mother’ and ‘marriage’ and ‘family’ are all the dirtiest words anyone could think of, because here in this highly advanced society there is none of that primitive nonsense. Nobody ever has a mother because every child is conceived in a laboratory test tube. For fun, people go to the “feelies” or listen to the “sexaphones” or take “soma” drugs. And then they can all “have” whoever they want. This is a culture gorged on pleasure, saturated in it. And into this Brave New World steps John. He’s lived in another culture all his life, out in the wilderness where they still get married and have babies and become old and die. And then he is found. They take him to the new civilization. And in this happily depraved world, the Savage is horrified by what he finds. And he’s horrified even more by the power it has over him. He’s horrified that he’s falling into temptation and wanting to give up morality. The power of being given far too much of exactly what we want is much stronger than the power of having all that taken away; much stronger and much more dangerous. The wisest and best thing is to withdraw yourself from temptation, instead of trusting that you’re strong enough to resist it. 

It could be very cleverly argued that one can do the most good by living in the midst of perversion and being a quiet example. The wicked will see the truth and believe. That may sometimes be true, but there is a fine line between being an example and risking your soul. At the beginning, John does try to live quietly and morally within all the immorality. He keeps to himself and refuses to mingle with the people who are pushing him to ignore goodness. He’s doing well, he’s resisting the power. But stronger temptation comes and in the form of the girl he loves more than anything in the world. He wants to have her... for his wife. But Lenina doesn’t understand his desire to marry. Marriage disgusts her. She only wants pleasure and she wants it right away. She tempts him, tempts him terribly, using every bit of her power. John is at first bewitched, but in a sudden horrid realization, he becomes outraged. The one he had loved so purely was not so wonderful. She wasn’t wonderful at all. She only wanted to corrupt him and she had been dangerously close to succeeding. “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)

Another argued method for fighting strong evil would be to live in the midst, but to speak out against it, instead of only keeping quiet. We are called to be witnesses, lights in dark places, right? And “whoever is not with me is against me” (Luke 11:23). That’s obviously true. But, like everything else, this involves an element of discernment. Some people in some places are just going to believe what they want to believe, no matter what you say. You can show and prove and argue until you’re blue in the face, but if they don’t want to listen, they won’t listen. Would we as Christians conscientiously decide to live in Las Vegas or on Bourbon Street and try to be an example there? There’s a difference between being a witness and knowingly placing ourselves in temptation. We are weak and easily led astray. “The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). In his anger, John abandons the idea of keeping the truth to himself. Rashly, he takes their “soma” from them and throws it out a window into the street below. This sparks a deep, awful hatred for the savage man. They spring on him, try to kill him. It is the first strife in generations. He has taken what was most precious to them all and destroyed it, explaining as he did so, that it was evil. He has taken away the thing that allowed them to keep on ignoring the truth. They are swallowing lies along with the soma and the soma  is what made it all go down smoothly. When faced with the Truth, they respond with aversion. “What you need,” the Savage told them, “is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.” And nothing does. Nothing ever costs anything. Nobody ever gets a chance to do anything noble. Nobody ever loves anyone else too much. Nobody tells the truth, because happy, soma-coated lies are a whole lot more appetizing. Truth hurts, sometimes worse than anything else. But Truth also sets you free. And that day, John realizes why they will never hear him: They do not want to be free. 

“I don’t want comfort,” John cries in desperation, in contempt for the false and easy life they have set before him. “I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin...I’m claiming the right to be unhappy.” Goodness, Truth Beauty; they are all true humanity. But so are unhappiness, denial, danger, sin. Trouble is the true fallen humanity. “True humanity isn’t realized when troubles are filtered through a soma sieve, but rather when man anguishes through his troubles, confronts them, and triumphs.” (Kathryn Walker, Omnibus Essay Brave New World). So John runs away, which is sometimes the bravest thing we could possibly do. He finds a place where he can be alone, and live simply and freely. Here there is truth, there is goodness, there is even beauty. Here, the temptations are memories. Here, society has no power over him. 
But even here, in this haven, there is no peace, because there is no God. He prays to many gods, but there is no faith in his prayers. There is no hope of forgiveness because he won’t let go. He is desperate and despairing and burdened, but he won’t let it go. He beats himself and cries and worries about his sin, about his life, worries about how he was tempted, worries about messing up and giving in. John wants to be clean, but instead he’s in agony. That’s man alone. That’s why the story ends with suicide instead of redemption. John resisted temptation, he fled from sin, he cowered from doing evil...But he tried all that on his own. And even when he had escaped from them, he couldn’t escape from himself. “I, even I,” says the Lord, “am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25). At the end, it was the ugliness inside himself, rather than on the outside, that made him despair. Being ruled by what we love. It’s a cruel paradox. We don’t even know we’re not free, because we’re in bondage to ourselves. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Shock Report.


Shock Report: Aborted and Miscarried Babies Were Incinerated and Used to Heat UK Hospitals
 ...Burning deceased babies in a trash incinerator.
Thousands of aborted or miscarried babies were incinerated along with medical waste at U.K. hospitals, with some of the remains being used to help heat medical facilities.
Babies were thrown into the burner alongside waste such as bandages and syringes. 

Supposedly these hospitals (weakly) argued that this burning of our children is one of the ways they can "remain green". They like to call it "sustainable energy" or "women's rights" or "clinical waste". "Magic" words. They like it to sound clean and progressive.

Guess what? It's not.

There they are shoveling babies into the ovens along with the garbage and burning them up. When you actually have the nerve to take your fingers away from your eyes and look, it's like the most horrific of horror movies come all too true.... All bloody and guilty and awful. There's no way in the world they can see those thousands of little bodies and not know exactly what they're doing.
 "For every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods." - Deuteronomy 12:31
I happened to read this verse a few days ago and immediately thought of those hospitals. It's just like that, I thought. I mean, except they're not exactly sacrificing them... 

But actually. They are. 

They are their own gods. Money and power and progress are their gods. Choice...is their god.

Those babies were not only murdered, not only burned. They were sacrificed. 


We are so advanced. We are so sophisticated…. And the pagans today stand around that fire grinning just like the barbaric worshippers of old.

Back then, they called him Molech and they killed in primitive darkness. Today they call him Choice and they kill in clean, white rooms. 

Shock Report: There is nothing new under the sun.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Existence

"I remember in those days loving God for the existence of love and being grateful to God for the existence of gratitude."

- Marilynne Robinson, Gilead

Simple Obedience

"Obedience is simple, rationalization complicated." - RC Sproul jr

Paradox: Usually the simplest things are not easy. 

Conforming yourself means being crushed and changed into the shape He chose. That's not easy. It hurts.

Rationalizing means telling yourself you're alright, your sin is alright, your life is alright. And that's not hard. It feels good. 

But that's only at first. 

You can only believe your own lies for so long. 

And then you will suddenly realize you're not alright. You're not even close. "Dead in our sins." (Ephesians 2:5) So easy and it's become the most complicated mess you could imagine. You've been beating your head against a wall.

Simple obedience is what He asks for. The strength to do one thing that's... simply hard. Only obey. And sometimes that's the hardest thing in the world. But in the end, when you've seen sin for what it is, you'll realize you were being honest (with yourself, with the world). And it's the simple Truth that sets you free. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Madness of Grace


A beautiful post by Toby Sumpter...
The Madness of Grace

"This is the madness of grace. Let it bewilder you. Let it startle you. Let it make you laugh and cry. Let the words fail. There really aren’t any.
What? Me? Yes, you."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Law Fulfilled


Law fulfilled. 

What does it mean? What does it matter?

Adam and Eve. God says, "Here is the law. Don't eat the fruit." And they were able to obey. Obviously, though, they didn't.

Israel. And God says again, "Here is the law." But this time it is utterly unfulfillable. Unattainable. Unreachable. Man has lost his one chance to not sin. So now he cannot stop sinning. So now the Law cannot merely be "don't eat" anymore.  It's infinitely more complicated than that and the human condition is infinitely hopeless. 

And so we are driven to search for hope. We are driven to God.

That's where Grace versus Works comes from. Our goodness, our works, are laughable in the face of so much required. And that's the point. Grace is the point. The condemnation must be taken away (or else we are dead). But the Law must be followed. 

So...Christ.

"When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward." (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.) 

The Law was not broken. The power of the Law was broken. The chains of the Law were broken. We are smothered, sheltered, washed, in righteousness. And through that death and sacrifice and rising again, through God's back turning, through wrath satisfied, we are clean. The Law has been kept for us. Law fulfilled. Redemption bought. We are free. And the Death turns into Life. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Absurdity

"What practical sense does it make to fall in love, or to play with a small child, or to sing, or to do anything at all that makes life more than calculation of profit and loss...?"
 - Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child. 

Absurd. But that's what makes it beautiful.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Only Thing Worse.


"The only thing worse than having a family, I discovered, is not having a family." 
- Theodore Dalrymple

Family is a messy thing.

They're the ones who know all of your deepest secrets; your darkest fears; your grimmest days; your most shameful sins. And you know every one of theirs. And still. You're supposed to love each other more than anyone else in the whole world.

How could that even work?

Why should that even work?

It's heart-rending to have a family. It's overwhelming and draining, and sometimes you'll wonder how it could ever possibly be worth it. "The supreme adventure," said Chesterton, "is being born." You're born into the middle of somebody's life, and then you're married into the middle of somebody's life. And so, for always and always, you're bound to people, through thick and thin, for better or worse. You always will be. And sometimes things are going to get too hard, too personal, too stressful.

We have to embrace that. Not accept it. Embrace it. No matter how tempting it might be, we can't hide. Your siblings will annoy you. Your parents will disappoint you. Your children will break your heart. You'll have to sacrifice and work and cry.

And then you will look back and realize that you wouldn't change it for all the world, and everything else besides. From the moment you slip the ring onto somebody's finger and say that you "do", you've given up yourself. You've accepted a "duel of honor to the death" (Chesterton), and it's then that the end truly begins.

We don't have to fear that end.  Paradox: "The only way to find your life is to lay your own life down," (Andrew Peterson.)  And when you take a moment and look around you at the life you've found, you'll realize that the "dying" was a small price.

C.S. Lewis once said, "The sun looks down on nothing half so good as a household laughing together over a meal." I'm happily realizing how right he was.


Family is messy, yes. Messy, raw, embarrassing. And so very beautiful.




~allie

Chesterton (At His Best).


Why should we reck of hours that rend
While we two ride together?
The heavens rent from end to end
Would be but windy weather,
The strong stars shaken down in spate
Would be a shower of spring,
And we should list the trump of fate
And hear a linnet sing.

We break the line with stroke and luck,
The arrows run like rain,
If you be struck, or I be struck,
There’s one to strike again.
If you befriend, or I befriend,
The strength is in us twain,
And good things end and bad things end,
And you and I remain.

Why should we reck of ill or well
While we two ride together?
The fires that over Sodom fell
Would be but sultry weather.
Beyond all ends to all men given
Our race is far and fell,
We shall but wash our feet in heaven,
And warm our hands in hell.

Battles unborn and vast shall view
Our faltered standards stream,
New friends shall come and frenzies new.
New troubles toil and teem;
New friends shall pass and still renew
One truth that does not seem,
That I am I, and you are you,
And Death a morning dream.

Why should we reck of scorn or praise
While we two ride together?
The icy air of godless days
Shall be but wintry weather.
If hell were highest, if the heaven
Were blue with devils blue,
I should have guessed that all was even,
If I had dreamed of you.

Little I reck of empty prides,
Of creeds more cold than clay;
To nobler ends and longer rides,
My lady rides to-day.
To swing our swords and take our sides
In that all-ending fray
When stars fall down and darkness hides,
When God shall turn to bay.

Why should we reck of grin and groan
While we two ride together?
The triple thunders of the throne
Would be but stormy weather.
For us the last great fight shall roar,
Upon the ultimate plains,
And we shall turn and tell once more
Our love in English lanes.

- G.K. Chesterton, A Marriage Song

Thursday, January 23, 2014

For Righteousness' Sake.


“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.” (Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, Chapter 135.) The interesting, and somewhat odd, comparison has often been made between Melville’s Captain Ahab and Jesus Christ. Ahab spends his life pursuing the whale, against all odds, over and around every obstacle. And Christ spends his life “pursuing” His Father, in the same way. Two men. Two ambitious, radical men. Are they so similar, after all? Might be. But I don’t think so.

 

“If anyone would come after me,” Jesus said, “let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Ahab had a somewhat similar philosophy. His men, once they became his men, were expected to remain his men, no matter what the cost. They would be led through what seemed to be hell, itself, and they were expected to follow. Everything else had to be put away. The only thing that mattered now was that they follow, wherever that might happen to lead. Both men were radical men. They told people things that hadn’t been heard before. They told people things that seemed impossible. They required an almost immeasurable price: suffering and the very possible threat of death. There was no guarantee of safety, from either; only the guarantee of trouble.

 

But with Christ there is something that Ahab could not offer. There is comfort. It didn’t matter what the trials might be, because they would come. It didn’t matter how long, or how horrifying, the journey, because it would be worse than they could imagine. It didn’t matter if you died, even. There would always still be this inexpressibly wonderful reward. And it was a far more beautiful thing than the pathetic piece of money that Ahab used to bribe his crew. Jesus threw the tables, but Ahab threw away joy. Ahab’s quest was a quest of self-fulfillment, while Jesus was led by something outside of His own passions. The disciples weren’t following a man obsessed with revenge, rather they followed a good Prince who died to redeem His kingdom from the one who had tainted beauty and truth. This Man was, in the words of C.S. Lewis, “not safe”. But He was good. Ahab died because he was too proud to ever stop defying. Jesus died because He was humble enough to not defy at all. Ahab did not have the ability to focus on the needs of his men. He was too busy clutching at what he thought he needed. But Jesus bids us come to Him when we are weary. He knows how to give us rest. Ahab has no way to promise us anything enduring, but Christ promises everlasting peace. Jesus was not a tame man. He was wild and he was sometimes frightening. He spoke harshly to the air, the sky, the sea, and even they listened. Ahab thought he could control the sea, but he could not. And it was ultimately the sea that killed him.

 

Ahab, in the end, was a bitter man. He’d “strike the sun if it insulted [him],”(Chapter 36). He was bitter because he had not lived for anything outside of his own desires. “For hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee,” he screamed at the whale. For hate’s sake. That was all he had lived and suffered for. Hatred. And at the last, that sounds so terribly meaningless. “Blessed are those,” said Jesus, “Who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:10). When we live and suffer for righteousness, instead, the kingdom of heaven is ours. That’s the promise. That’s the difference. Ahab fought for hate and he failed. But Jesus fought for righteousness. And that makes the biggest, most wonderful difference in the world. Take heart. He has overcome.


~allie 

 


Monday, January 20, 2014

Called Home.

This essay was for Omnibus. "Compare Huckleberry Finn with The Odyssey", it said... An unusual topic, and I was intrigued. ;) 



“Here is the beautiful place - who could mistake it?
Here is Odysseus’ hall: no hall like this!”
(-Homer, The Odyssey, book 17, line 340-1)

Home. We all want to go back. We want to go back whether we think so, or not. Even if our own house was full of strife and hatred and things we try to forget. We want home, because we know. 
somewhere in the deepest part of us that home is something entirely different from house. And we know that that difference makes all the world. Odysseus wanted his home. He longed for Ithaka. And in this he was, as Chesterton said, a true soldier: He fought, not because he hated what was in front of him, but because he loved what was behind him. Love is strongest; stronger than hate. “Beside love, even wrath whispers.” (N.D. Wilson.) That love was what gave him the dedication to go on fighting his way back for over twenty years. That beautiful love is what makes us more sympathetic to Odysseus’s story, than to, say, Huckleberry Finn’s story. Both are adventures. But only one tugs at our heart. Only one rouses that familiar longing for home.

Obviously, Odysseus had his share of shortcomings. In fact, he and Huck shared a good many weaknesses in common. Both struggled with - or maybe delighted in - trickery. Neither saw a problem with warping the truth a bit when it benefited them in a notable way. “Please take it,” [said Huck] (Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, Chapter 11), “and don’t ask me nothing - then I won’t have to tell no lies.” That is to say, if you do ask me questions that I don’t see fit to answer, then I’ll tell you a lie straight off. Huck also dressed himself up on several occasions; once as a girl. And Odysseus disguised himself as a beggar. “Come, weave us a scheme so I can pay them back!” says Odysseus, ready for some sort of sly revenge. (Homer, The Odyssey, book 13.43). This theme of deceit is rather pervasive in both stories. Both heroes are also deceived by somebody else, at least once in the course of the tales. And they were both avid adventurers. Neither paid any heed to caution. Neither knew what it meant to be ‘timid’. They each threw themselves whole-heartedly into the life they were living at the moment. That involved dead men, and deranged witches, and runaway slaves, and long, dark nights alone.

The key difference we have here is purpose. Huck is running away from home. Odysseus is running toward home. That’s why we can sympathize more with the burly soldier, than with the pitiful orphan child. We know what it feels like to want to be back where we belong. Oh, we can laugh at Huck’s antics, we may even cry at bits, but all the while, we have this odd sort of unsettlement about the whole thing. Huck is trying to get away from where he’s supposed to be. That’s the point of the story and we can’t feel quite right about that. Odysseus on the other hand has a purer longing. He wants back. He wants back to where his wife and son are waiting - faithfully, he hopes. Early on in the story, he is warned and tempted by the alluring Calypso: “I wish you well, however you do it, but if you only knew in your own heart how many hardships you were fated to undergo before getting back to your country, you would stay here with me and be lord of this household and be an immortal...” (Book 5, lines 205-210) But Odysseus resists, he flees from temptation, and he keeps on his steady way home. He’d rather see his home again and die, than to live forever in a strange land. We see this unbelievable loyalty and our hearts ache for Odysseus. We know that his longing is good, and true, and noble.


“My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:18) Wanting to be at home, and at peace, is a holy desire. And it doesn’t matter how long you travel, or how much you suffer, if you’re headed in the wrong direction. Journey’s end makes all the difference. If you struggle all your life, but headed down instead of up, what good will that do you? If you wrestle against the way things ought to be, then your wrestling is all in vain. That is Huck. He is living, fighting, lying, in vain. He doesn’t know that the unrest he feels inside comes from the desire tohave home, not to escape home. We want him to come back, to come and be at peace, but he never does. He can only keep on and keep on and keep on, with no fulfillment. But that’s not Odysseus. In the end, his struggles are all made beautiful. The moment he steps ashore Ithaka, the wretchedness all goes away. Because, well, he’s back. He’s back to “live in felicity/ and make this palace lovely for [his] children.” (Book 13, lines 75-76). This is home. There’s nowhere like this.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

They Were Alive.

"Children collected butterflies, coins, stamps, arrowheads, feathers, rocks, and insects. They bought magazines and traded them with one another. They traded baseball cards. They played rummy, poker, pinochle, and cribbage. They mapped the woods. They learned bird calls. They foraged for nuts, and mushrooms, and berries. They jumped off bridges into streams. They rode freight trains. They needed no committees. They were alive."

"It has been many years since I have seen a child, of any age, lying on a grassy field and staring up at the sky."

(-Anthony Esolen, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child.)


Instead we have this:


Children can't be bothered to look up there at the sky anymore. Our culture has has spoiled their wonder. They are not alive. They only exist. There's no beauty in just breathing but not living. And there's no beauty in just living, but not living well. "Spend your life," says N.D. Wilson. "And if time is a river, may you leave a wake." 

And may our children have the courage to do the "brave nothing of beholding the sky"(Esolen). 

~allie