Tuesday, January 1, 2019

George Herbert's Jesu

From The Temple.

In the Latin alphabet here is no "J" and "I" is used instead. On public buildings, schools and government monuments, you often see "IVSTICE" [JUSTICE]. The poems on the back of the 1633 edition of The Temple are listed in alphabetical under with this poem appearing under "I." George Herbert takes this convention and sees "Jesu" as "IESU."


JESu is in my heart, his sacred name
Is deeply carved there: but th’other week
A great affliction broke the little frame,
Ev’n all to pieces: which I went to seek:
And first I found the corner, where was J,
After, where ES, and next where U was graved,
When I had got these parcels, instantly
I sat me down to spell them, and perceived
That to my broken heart he was I ease you,
                                And to the whole is J E S U.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Lost in a Big Tent

Alice C. Linsley

Many in the Episcopal Church USA have embraced a new religion. The religion derives from many ideological threads: modernism, feminism, process theology, rights activism, etc.

In this religion people may believe whatever they want. The only thing that matters is that we all love one another and non-judgmentally embrace a wide range of attitudes and behaviors that the Bible describes as "sin."

The historic Faith that was received and passed down by the Apostles has been revised to fit contemporary values. Theological revisionists worked diligently, though rather illogically, to create a "big tent" where everyone would feel welcome. Alas, the tent was destined to collapse, and it has.

The same-sex "wedding" ceremony of two seminarians last week in the Church of England is an example of where revisionists theology leads. It is praised as a victory, even as the Church of England loses members weekly. Likewise, the Church in Wales has seen a 15% decline in membership in the past five years.

In the United States, the Episcopal Church (TEC) lost 37,669 members in 2015, a decline of -2.1 percent, while attendance declined -20,631, down -3.4 percent. A net 43 parishes closed, bringing the denominational total to 6,510 congregations.

This new religion is an example of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is an example of insanity. Madness comes of losing one's grip on reality. A religion that poses a gender continuum as reality is lost. The State (as here) may recognize bisexual, transgender, unspecified, indeteriminate, and gender diverse, etc., but the Christian Faith acknowledges only male and female, created in the image of God. This is a fixed reality; as fixed as heaven and earth, night and day, good and evil, and true and false.

Without a fixed reality, our grip on permanent virtue is lost and we slip beneath the murky waters of insanity. I am reminded of something G.K. Chesterton wrote in The Ball and the Cross:

Christianity is always out of fashion because it is always sane; and all fashions are mild insanities. ...The Church always seems to be behind the times, when it is really beyond the times; it is waiting till the last fad shall have seen its last summer. It keeps the key of a permanent virtue.

Some years ago I was in residence at the University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee. I was there to do summer graduate studies. As part of my research I conducted an experiment with Sewanee faculty and advance degree students to test why dialogue with Anglican revisionists is impossible. Here is the experiment, limited in scope, but still revealing.

Imagine a medium slightly curved yellow banana and a yellow Magic Marker. One end of the banana has been removed, revealing a circle of white fruit. The Magic Marker has a yellow cap and on the opposite end there is a round white bottom. In the experiment, I presented these objects to 5 men and 5 women and asked them to respond to 6 imperatives. The banana and marker were placed side by side on a table with the white ends toward the person interviewed. Each person was asked in private to do the following:

1. Pick up the yellow thing.
2. Pick up the long yellow thing.
3. Pick up the thing that is like the moon.
4. Pick up the thing that is like a sword.
5. Pick up the thing that is to be eaten.
6. Pick up the thing that is used to write.

The first two, though descriptive, are ambiguous. Of the ten participants only one person declined to act on the basis that she needed more information. Three people picked the banana, arguing ontologically that the banana is naturally yellow and therefore the true “yellow thing.” One picked the highlighter because it is manufactured and therefore more of a “thing.” One picked the highlighter because it is always yellow whereas the banana changes from green to yellow to brown. One picked the banana on the basis of her interpolation of the suffix “er” and concluded that the banana was “a little bit longer” than the highlighter. Three people, not able to decide between the objects, picked up both.

Revisionists love ambiguity because it allows for many diverse responses to God’s imperatives. The greater the ambiguity the easier it is to fudge.

Coming next to imperatives 3 and 4, we find associations. All ten participants selected the banana as being like the moon. When I asked how each came to this conclusion, eight answered that the banana’s curve reminded them of a crescent moon. Two further noted the white circular end of the banana as being like a full moon. One also noted the white circular end of the Magic Marker and thought it looked like a full moon, but decided that the banana was still “more like the moon.”

When asked to pick up the thing that is like a sword, eight selected the banana and two selected the marker. The eight that picked the banana said that it reminded them of a curved sword. One who selected the marker had imagined a straight sword. The student who selected the marker had associated it with a straight sword and the adage “the pen is mightier than the sword.” (A+ for imagination!)

Revisionists enjoy the association game because it allows for a range of opinion based on subjective associations. For example, if the majority of people can be influenced to associate a monogamous homosexual lifestyle with Christian holiness, then the majority opinion will carry the day.

Imperatives 5 and 6 are: Pick up what is to be eaten. Pick up what is used to write. Here there was universal agreement and no time taken to mentally process. For all 10 participants the choice was unambiguous and the selection was made immediately.

God created humans with a male and female complementary teleological distinction. It is obvious that God did not create gay and lesbian, as there is no language in Scripture and Tradition defining the purpose of gayness and lesbianism. In a fit of childish willfulness (disguised as modernism) the revisionist is likely to insist that the banana is for writing and the marker is to be eaten. A typical revisionist’s response to orthodox teaching is: “I see it differently,” but this doesn’t fly when everyone, except the revisionist, recognizes that the banana is food and the marker is an implement.

So it is that natural and intended purposes cannot be discussed intelligently with revisionists. So it is that ambiguity is elevated above certainty, and the biblical worldview is set aside in favor of pseudo-psychology.

Is it any wonder that the folks wandering around in the big tent seem lost?

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Remembering Tom Wolfe

I heard Tom Wolfe speak at the annual Kent State Writers' Conference in 1996. He was captivating and charming. His wit was evident, as was his often searing assessment of contemporary American culture.

I admit that I much preferred the more humble talk given by John Updike the year before, but that is a matter of taste and not a reflection on the work of Mr. Wolfe.

Tom Wolfe died in May. What follows is an excellent article about him and his work, reproduced only part, with a link at the end to the original publication.

When the great Tom Wolfe died on May 14—he of the white suits, the spats, and the prose style as exuberant as his wardrobe—I, like millions of others, remembered the many moments of pleasure I had derived from his work.

My Wolfe addiction began on a cross-country flight in 1979, shortly after The Right Stuff was published. Always an airplane and space nut, I was fascinated by Wolfe’s re-creation of the culture of America’s test pilots and astronauts at the height of the Cold War. And there was that extraordinarily vivid writing. At one point I burst out laughing, scaring the daylights out of the elderly lady sitting next to me but not daring to show her the passage—it must have involved Pancho Barnes’s Happy Bottom Riding Club, a saloon outside Edwards Air Force Base—that set me off. 
After The Right Stuff got me going on Tom Wolfe, it was impossible to stop. The first half of Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers—Wolfe’s scathing account of a reception thrown for the Black Panthers by Leonard and Felicia Bernstein—remains the quintessential smackdown of political correctness among the 1-percent cultural elites. From Bauhaus to Our House explains why anyone with an aesthetic sense thinks something is seriously wrong with modernist architecture, and does so in a way that makes you laugh rather than cry. 
Then there was Wolfe’s first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities. One of its chapters, “The Masque of the Red Death,” takes its title from Edgar Allan Poe and with mordant humor dissects the vacuity of Manhattanites consumed (and in some cases destroyed) by their grotesque, over-the-top consumerism. I recently re-read that stunning set-piece and the thought occurred, as it had before, that here was a far more effective polemic against materialism than anything ever issued by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Bonfire was also brilliant in skewering the destructiveness of New York’s race hustlers, the obtuseness of a values-free media, and the fecklessness of too many politicians. 
Asked once by monks who run a prestigious prep school what they might do to disabuse parents of the notion that their sons were doomed if they didn’t get into Harvard, Duke, Stanford, and the like, I suggested giving a copy of I Am Charlotte Simmons to the parents of every incoming senior. Wolfe’s fictional tale of life on elite American university campuses in the twenty-first century is a sometimes jarring exercise in the social realism practiced (a bit less brutally) by Dickens and Balzac. But Charlotte Simmons, like Wolfe’s other fiction, has a serious moral core and an important cultural message. The young innocent, the brightest girl in town, who makes it to an elite university, gets corrupted by stages. And her moral corruption is preceded by intellectual corruption—the class in which she’s taught that there’s really nothing properly called “the truth.”

Read the full article here: A Caveat to the Great Tom Wolfe by George Weigel

Friday, July 13, 2018

Tolkien's Love of Germanic Myth

"Though J.R.R. Tolkien arrived at Exeter College as a Classics (Great Books) scholar, he found his real passion resided in Germanic and Northern language and myth. Actually, he loved all myth, but it was northern myth that most inspired him, especially the languages behind the myths. Mr. Garth does a wonderful job making the various classes Tolkien took as alive today as they were for him a century ago."

This is an interesting review of John Garth's book on Tolkien at Exeter. The book is titled Tolkien at Exeter College: How An Oxford Undergraduate Created Middle-earth (66 pages, Exeter College, 2015). The review is written by Bradley J. Birzer.

Birzer writes:
Never judge a book by its size. This little book is only sixty-three pages long, but its author, John Garth, knows very well how to write concisely and vigorously—White and Strunk would be proud. In other words, there is a lot in this short book. 
Tolkien would be proud as well, for Mr. Garth does him nothing but justice. And, in what must be a bizarre coincidence, the two authors share not just a first name, but Garth actually means “beloved” in Tolkien’s Gnomish language of 1917. John Garth, is, quite truly, “John the Beloved.” 
Mr. Garth’s longer book—the one that made him justly famous—Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (Houghton Mifflin, 2003) is not only a must own, but, arguably, the finest scholarly book yet written on Tolkien as a man and a thinker. In that book, Mr. Garth ably demonstrated the necessity of friendship, association, and fellowship in Tolkien’s real and invented worlds.

Read it all here.

Related reading: Who Were The Inklings?; Tolkien's Hobbit at Age 75; J.R.R. Tolkien: Hope for the Older Writer; Tolkien Trained as a Spy; INDEX of Topics at One on One: The Writing Life

Thursday, July 12, 2018

INDEX of Topics

INDEX current as of 2 January 2019

ADVICE for Writers
The Writer's Obligation by Wendell Berry
Advise for Writers by Elizabeth Gilbert
Writer's Block. No Problem
John Scalzi Speaks to Young Writers
Meter and English Language Poetry
8 Ways to Stimulate Creative Writing
Floating a Book Proposal
Print-on-Demand Self-Publishing
Commissioned Work Can Be Rejected
Poetry Dances by Ed Pacht
Interview with Orhan Pamuk
Hope Ellen Rapson Reflects on her Classical Education

Lost in a Big Tent
Divorce Episcopal Style

The Challenges Writing Teachers Face
Depicting Violence in Fiction
Use Poetry to Teach Parts of Speech
Virtual Non-Reality
The Problem of Suffering
Creative Tension Between Plot and Theme
Building Student Portfolios
Focus on Details
Opening Paragraphs That Rock
Priming the Poetry Pump
Poetry Experiment
The Fiction Germs That Spreads
Scholarly Reflection Produces Poem
Evocative Poetry
From News Report to Poem
Want to Write Poetry? Read Literature!
What Makes a Good Short Story?
Poems Are Orange Juice Concentrate
Hope Rapson Offers Writing Instruction
A Poetry Experiment
Ana Maria Matute's Childhood (in Spanish)


James Bernstein
    James Bernstein's New Book

Kate Breslin
    In Defense of Kate Breslin's For Such A Time

Tad Cornell
    The Needle's Eye: Sonnets to Cristos

Cynthia Erlandson
    These Holy Mysteries

Naguib Mahfouz
    The Cairo Trilogy

Ed Pacht
    Sylvanus Anonymus of the Greenfriars

Luci Shaw
    Harvesting Fog

Rayanne Sinclair
    Beso Dulce
    Steal Away
    Page Turner
    Flight Risk

Jackie French
   The Girl From Snowy River

Elizabeth Laird
   Hiding Out

Nick Muzekari  
   A Gift For Matthew

Psychometrics of Mystery Writers
Why Read Old Books? by Victor Davis Hanson
Favorite Orthodox Reading
Old and Relevant

Writing Challenge 2017
Random Word Poetry Contest (2015)
Chandler Hamby Wins the Short Story Extension Contest
Short Story Contest (2013)
Contest Winners (2011)
Random Word List Poetry Context (2009)
From Random to Reason (2008)
Arabic Prince of Poets Contest
Cheese Poem Contest
Spanish Short Shorts Contest Winners

In The Spring by Guy De Maupassant
Who Were the Linkings?
JRR Tolkien: Hope for the Older Writer
Tolkien's Masterpiece (excerpt) by Rossko
C.S. Lewis Explains the Allegory of Narnia
Stories Don't Hold Still, Ed Pacht
Spirituality-Lite is a Hot Commodity by Bronwyn Lea
Chesterton on the Value of Detective Stories
Chesterton on Premature Celebrations of Christmas
Charles Williams as Literary Critic by Stephen Barber
Mark Twain 100 Years Later
Dorothy Sayers: A Mind of Her Own by Alice C. Linsley
Who is Sunday? Who is Thursday? by Alice C. Linsley
Prince Caspian: Taking the Right Path by Connie Looney Cassels
C.S. Lewis on the Resurrection
Be True to the Truth At Your Core
Pen Pecked Dreamers by Alice C. Linsley
Religious Themes in Writing
Of Wasps and Darwin by William Henry Hudson (1841-1922)
The Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth by Thomas De Quincey
On Unamuno's Prayer of the Atheist
On Childhood: Before the "Dark Hour of Reason"
Herding Pigs by Gwyneth Berry
Kayaking by Hannah O’Malley

Halloween or All Saints?

The Frustration of Jonah
Meditation on a Broomstick
Eve's Diary (According to Mark Twain)

The Writer's Journal

Seamus Heaney Died Today
Kaleem Omar RIP

POEMS (listed alphabetically by topic or author)

Acrostic poems

Belshazzar's Wall by Ed Pacht
Hannah's Acrostic by Hannah Mulliken
How I Love Ice Cream (Spanish acrostic) by Hannah Mulliken
Acrostic for Hannah Mulliken by Ed Pacht
Color Me Thankful by Haley Grace Hall

Trying Not to Be Too Sunny by Mary Harwell Sayler
The Africa Chesterton Never Knew by Alice C. Linsley

Alice C. Linsley's poems
Athos Tabernacle
Hard to Love
Mystic Exile

Ancient Monuments
Ziggurat (and Helix) by Amy Chai
Two Cities by Peter Mullen

Canis Major by Robert Frost
Reflections of the Chabot Observatory by Edna Linsley Gressitt
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer by Walt Whitman

Autumn Daybreak by Edna St. Vincent Millay
October by William Cullen Bryant
Autumn Pentecost by Cynthia Erlandson

Banana Man by Ansil Williams (Trinidad and Tobago)

Morning Birdsong by Sam Whitaker
A Blackbird Singing by R.S. Thomas
May my heart always be open to little birds by E.E. Cummings
Care of Birds For Their Young by James Thomson
Windbound by Lydia Emeric

Boy Scouts
The Boy Scout's Mother to Her Friends by Edna Linsley Gressitt

Camping by Ashlynn Watkins

The Final Redemption of Cats by Dorothy L. Sayers
In Memory of Max, My Kissing Kitty

Poems About Cheese

Christ the Redeemer of All, poem by St. Ambrose of Milan
Surrender by Peter Ould
Jesus and the Concrete Jungle
The Pursuit by John C. Nichols

Did You Know? by Shelby Stuart
A Song of Gifts to God by G.K. Chesterton
The House of Christmas by G.K. Chesterton
The Three Wisemen by G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton on Premature Celebrations of Christmas
The First Christmas by Chandler Hamby (Grade 6)
Christmas Poems by George Herbert
Hypostasis by Hope Ellen Rapson
A Stable Should Suffice

Raymond Foss: New Hampshire Poet

Trophy by Curtis Surovy

Daily Routine
Tedium by Ransford Laryea
Tuesday Morning by Matthew Morgan

Poem About Dog Sledding by Curtis Surovy
My Party by Ed Pacht
Topaz's Misadventure by Miriam Parrish

Doors Close by Mason O'Connor
Houses, Gates and Doors

Ed Pacht's poems
Go Ye Into the City
Pain Like Broken Bones
A Really Big Party
Mass of the Visitation
Lament for the Hills
The Rose
Spoiled Milk
Why Do I Write?
Acrostic for Hannah Mulliken
Leah's Burden
Love-Soaked Road
Ed Pacht Captures Mickey Blue Eyes
Novum Ordo
From Random to Reason
Ed Pacht: New Hampshire Poet
The Precious Wood
A Hard Lent
Wise Men Follow

Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen by George Herbert
Easter Monday ("Bright Monday") by Cynthia Erlandson
Genesis 3:15: What Easter is About by Dior Hartje and Courtney Rupp
Bunny Joy by Piper Todd
A Blessed Easter

The Prayer of the Atheist by Miguel de Unamuno

Trout by Kaleem Omar

My Perfect Neighbor by Alice C. Linsley

Digging by Seamus Heaney
Faint Remembrance of Paradise by Hannah Mulliken

Robert Frost on a Disused Graveyard

The Hike by Mallory Phillips

My Childhood's Home by Abraham Lincoln
Homeless in LA by Matthew Morgan

On Being Human by C.S. Lewis

Temptation in the Wired Wilderness by Holly Ordway

King Arthur/Arthurian Legend
Taliessen (excerpt) by Charles Williams

Lenten Meditations
Stepping Out From the Shadows by Amy Bridges
Pride Halts Progress by Andrew Calvert
Beyond One's Self by Zach Esenbock
Making a Place For Love by Rick Childress
Looking Past the Haze by Nelson Lane
A Hard Lent by Ed Pacht

What God's Love Can Do by Hope Ellen Rapson
Lope de Vega on Love

The Mountains by Edward Muir
Alone Looking at the Mountain by Li Po
Returning to Songshan Mountain by Wang Wei
Lament for the Hills by Ed Pacht

Mystic Exile by Alice C. Linsley
Prophet's Payday by John C. Nichols

Anthropologic Study of True Myths by Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo

Ode to Marian Anderson by Ransford Laryea

Pain and Suffering
Pain Like Broken Bones by Ed Pacht
Affliction by George Herbert
Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu by Pablo Neruda

Do I Really Want to Know? by Martiese Morone
Windbound by Lydia Emeric

We Who Prayed and Wept by Wendell Berry
Poems and Songs for Memorial Day
Fourth of July poem "Screaming Fire" by Chandler Hamby

Possible Answers to Prayer by Scott Cairns
Missa Cantata by Evelyn Underhill
Mass on the Feast of Transfiguration by Ed Pacht

John Bekkos in Jail by Peter Gilbert

Waiting for the Spring Rain by Ed Pacht
Rain by Hannah O'Malley

The Final Redemption of Cats by Dorothy L. Sayers

St. Cecilia's Song by Ursula Vaughan Williams
Espiritu by Rayanne Sinclair
Ave Maria Gratia Plena by Oscar Wilde
Religious Poetry

The Rose by Ed Pacht

View of the Sea by Justin Clements
The Farmer and the Sea by Wendell Berry
Funeral by the Sea by Chandler Hamby
Sailing by Gwyneth Elaine Berry

The Hope of New Snow by Dior Hartje
Winter's Alliteration by Justin Clements

[in Just-] by E.E. Cummings
Unfailing Spring by Savannah Baker, Lydia Emeric, Jordan Romain
Yearning for Spring After a Hard Winter, a poem by Sue Smith
When Spring Dons Her Flowers
A Cold Spring by Elizabeth Bishop
Hold Fast to Good Things

August by Lizette Woodworth Reese

Texas Hill Country by Matushka Elizabeth Perdomo

Acrostic to Celebrate Thanksgiving by Haley Grace Hall

On Time by John Milton
Time by Callula Xu

The Accomplishments of Trees
Wendell Berry's Farm
Out From the Shadows by Amy Bridges

Tropical Islands
The Tropics by Douglas Brooke Wheelton Sladen
Night By the River by Arjane rona Cruz Torres (The Philippines)
Banana Man by Ansil Williams (Trinidad and Tobago)

On Vain and Shallow Women
Cardenal's Prayer for Marlyn Monroe

Winter's Alliteration by Justin Clements

Zacchaeus and Jesus by Tatiana Kopchuk
Fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 (excerpt) Fr. John Hunwicke’s Christmas homily at St Thomas’ Oxford
Spurgeon's 1885 New Year's Sermon
Peter Marshall on the American Dream
The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis

The Flint Knife by Jordan Romain
Solitary by Alice C. Linsley
The Boy and the Jewel that Made Him King by Hannah Mulliken
Soft Thorns by Chandler Hamby
El disastre en el campo por Victoria Bastin
The Hand of God, Kristy Robinson Horine
A causa de mi papa por Anthony Morello
El payaso y la abeja por Benjamin Guzicki
Mi tio en un lio por Kelsey Lamb
La dependiente vigilante por Brittany Cole
El pescado prevido por Katie Tierney
Un cambio de fortuna por Taylor Goodlett
Mi perro afortunado por Sheila Holsclaw
El padre equivocado por Suzannne Casey
La obsesión del conductor por Kelsie Doss
Siempre feliz por Daniel Lyons

A Dancing Disciple
I am Persuaded
Loving God With My Mind

Saul Bellow
Jose Luis Borges
Charlotte Brontë
Rita Mae Brown
G.K. Chesterton on Divine Frivolity
Annie Dillard
Fannie Hurst
Dorothy Parker
Ayn Rand's Claim to Be Unique
Carl Sandburg
John Saul
Dorothy Sayers
Mary Heaton Vorse


Wendell Berry
Be Not Ashamed
The Old Elm Tree By the River
The Writer's Obligation
The Farmer and the Sea
The Stones
The Farm (excerpt)

Jose Luis Borges
Remembering Jose Luis Borges
"Merely a Man of Letters" Jose Luis Borges: An interview

William Cullen Bryant
Autumn Daybreak

Scott Cairns
Possible Answers to Prayer
Scott Cairns Explores Reality Through Poetry
On Slow Learning

Ernesto Cardenal
Prayer for Marilyn Monroe

G.K. Chesterton
Chesterton on the Value of Detective Stories
Chesterton on the Kingdom of Heaven
Who is Sunday? Who is Thursday?
Christmas Day
On Premature Celebrations of Christmas
The Wise Men
The Donkey's Greatest Moment
St. G.K. Chesterton
G. K. Chesterton on Divine Frivolity
The Three Wisemen
The Africa Chesterton Never Knew
The House of Christmas

Joseph Conrad
The Censorship of Plays in Great Britain
Joseph Conrad's The Censor of Plays

E.E. Cummings
May my heart always be open to little birds

Dante's Creed

Charles Dickens
Dickens on English Churches

Annie Dillard
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Fyodor Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky's Orthodox Convictional Faith by Dimitru Sevastian
Dostoevsky's Confession

John Finlay 
On Rembrandt's Portrait of an Old Man Reading the Scriptures

Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Haunted Mind

Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls

George Herbert
The Pearl
Prayer the Churches Banquet
O! Let me rise

W.H. Hudson
Of Wasps and Darwin

Juana de Ibarbarou
About Juana de Ibarbarou (in Spanish)

John Keats
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket

C.S. Lewis
The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment
C.S. Lewis Explains the Allegory of Narnia
Lewis' Impressions of Billy Graham
Hedonism in the Chronicles of Narnia
On Being Human

García Lorca
The Lament of the Guitar

George MacDonald
Another Look at George MacDonald

Ana Maria Matute
About Ana Maria Matute (in Spanish)

Edna St.Vincent Millay
Autumn Daybreak

John Milton
Milton's Rational Lost Angel (excerpt from Paradise Lost)
The Rivers of Eden (excerpt from Paradise Lost)
On Time

Pablo Neruda
Canto XII from The Heights of Macchu Picchu

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The Children's Hour

Octavio Paz
Wind, Water and Stone

Rainer Maria Rilke
In the Beginning

Dorothy Sayers
The Lost Tools of Learning
Response to Dorothy Sayers' Lost Tools by Alice C. Linsley
Last Morning in Oxford
The Final Redemption of Cats
Murder By Arsenic: Reflection on Sayers' Strong Poison

William Shakespeare
Famous Shakespeare Quotes
Shakespeare Lost in Translation, excerpt from Laura Bohannan's "Miching Mallecho, That Means Witchcraft" Magic, Witchcraft, and Curing. University of Texas Press.

Jonathan Swift
Meditation on a Broomstick

R.S. Thomas
A Blackbird Singing

Hunter Stockton Thompson

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Another Look at George MacDonald

MacDonald in the 1860s

Born 10 December 1824 in Huntly, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died 18 September 1905 (aged 80) in Ashtead, Surrey, England

George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister who pioneered figure fantasy literature in the 19th century. He was a graduate of the University of Aberdeen.

MacDonald's notable works include: Phantastes (1858); David Elginbrod (1863); At the Back of the North Wind(1871); The Princess and the Goblin(1872); and Lilith (1895). In addition, he wrote several works on Christian apologetics.

He mentored a fellow writer Lewis Carroll and his work influenced W. H. Auden, G. K. ChestertonJ. R. R. TolkienE. Nesbit, and Madeleine L'Engle.

C. S. Lewis regarded MacDonald as his "master" and wrote, "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later", said Lewis, "I knew that I had crossed a great frontier." 

MacDonald's faith was one of the factors that lead Lewis to question atheism. 

The relationship between C.S. Lewis and MacDonald is the focus of a Facebook group called C.S. Lewis and his Master.

Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence."

Elizabeth Yates wrote of Sir Gibbie, "It moved me the way books did when, as a child, the great gates of literature began to open and first encounters with noble thoughts and utterances were unspeakably thrilling."

Even Mark Twain, who initially disliked MacDonald, became friends with him, and there is some evidence that Twain was influenced by him. 

Oswald Chambers wrote in his "Christian Disciplines" that "it is a striking indication of the trend and shallowness of the modern reading public that George MacDonald's books have been so neglected."

In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in MacDonald's work. There is another interesting Facebook group dedicated to discussing the works of MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, and G. K. Chesterton.

Michael R. Phillips has written an excellent book on George MacDonald: Scotland's Beloved Storyteller. I highly recommend it. Phillips makes extensive use of MacDonald's own writings as well as the accounts of Greville MacDonald, his son.

Phillips also wrote George MacDonlad’s Transformational Theology of the  Christian Faith. It is a compilation of the published sermons of George MacDonald, some complete and presented in both original and edited formats, others condensed to highlight essential themes. The selections are introduced and briefly placed in their theological and historical context Michael Phillips. This 400 page volume is a thorough and significant presentation of the theology and thought of this 19th century Scotsman and his place in Christian theological history.

Alice C. Linsley
Writer and Independent Researcher (meaning I'm poor! :)

Friday, July 6, 2018

Murder by Arsenic

I recently read Dorothy L. Sayers' Strong Poison for the second time. This 1931 novel is the fifth featuring Lord Peter Wimsey. It is the first in which the character of Harriet Vane appears. As a mystery novelist, Vane knew all about arsenic poisoning, and when her former lover died in the manner prescribed in one of her books, a jury nearly find her guilty. But Lord Peter Wimsey was determined to find her innocent.

In the novel, Sayers recounts some of the famous arsenic murders in British criminal history. That made me curious to know more.

Then I found this piece Murder by Poison in the New Yorker (2013) written by Joan Acocella, and I recommend it.

Alice C. Linsley