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Showing posts from August, 2008

Borges' Literary Magic

Ross Smith has written an interesting piece comparing Borges' and Tolkien's ficitonal worlds. Here is an excerpt:

The world famous Argentinian writer José Luis Borges published a short story titled Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius1. In it, Borges describes a planet called Tlön, our knowledge of which, according to the narrator, Borges himself, has been pieced together from various works by anonymous authors, each writing on a specific characteristic of that world.

The fictive Borges comes across Tlön for the first time in a mysterious copy of the Encyclopaedia Britannica which contains an entry not to be found in any other copy. Intrigued, he seeks to increase his knowledge elsewhere, but there is nothing to be found in any of the numerous sources he consults. However, the fictitious world resurfaces in a mysterious book addressed to a recently deceased friend of the author, in the form of the eleventh volume of A First Encyclopaedia of Tlön. This encyclopedia, we are told, describes …

Haiku: Images of Home

The following haikus were originally published in the 1996 issue of Selah, an annual publication of the Western Ohio Christian Writers Guild, p. 56.

Be waiting for me
warm kitten and ball of yarn.
Here's room for play.

Alice C. Linsley

Golden candle glow
Hearts at fireside warmed at home.
Serene at last.

Esther McGraw

Towheads play at home
pick raisens from Daddy's toast
plant hotdog trees too.

Hope Rapson

Another Raymond Foss Poem

Sunday Afternoon
Raymond Foss

Sunday Afternoon
The loon and I
Alone on the lake
Below the threatening sky.
He watches me warily.
His red eye afire.
Am I a predator.
He doesn’t know.
He drops below the waves
Bobbing back up again.
The swallows dart and dive
Skimming on the wind dimpled surface.
Too early for boaters.
Too late for fisherman.
Quiet on the water.

To read another lovely poem by Raymond Foss, go here.

Tolkien's Masterpiece

Tolkien created a universe on a scale which was entirely unique. No one before or since has come close to equalling his achievement, because no one before or since has followed a creative process as singular and unrepeatable as Tolkien’s.

This enormous scope is a significant factor when trying to explain the extraordinary and lasting popularity of Tolkien’s work, and why The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings remain in the best-seller lists several decades after their publication, when most other imaginative fiction writers of Tolkien’s generation are forgotten. Dozens of authors have created cities, continents, planets, galaxies, even parallel universes, but none have succeeded like Tolkien, because his Middle-earth was much more than just a setting for his novels; rather, it was his life’s work, spanning more than half a century, during which time he sought to fill in every detail, to leave no corner of his enormous canvas blank. He was not particularly concerned about being a successf…

The Problem of Suffering

I recently read CS Lewis' The Problem of Pain. It is a well-reasoned and cogent apologetic for the Creator's abiding love. I have some trouble with Lewis' evolutionary view of the human species, but find his conclusion compelling: pain too is in the service of God's love.

This is the conclusion of many great figures of history: Abraham, Joseph, Moses, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, Kierkegaard... and George Herbert. Herbert's poem Affliction continues to be a powerful statement of the endurance of love, not simply in the midst of pain, but by virtue of pain.

How counter-intuitive it is to even speak of the "virtue" of pain! Yet human experience tells us there is value in suffering. The suffering of the olympian preparing for the trials of competition. The pain of the soldier as he pushes the limits of his physical and mental endurance. The grief of parents who have lost a child and who reach out to parents suffering similar loss. And in the face of dev…

George Herbert's The Pearl

Some readers of Students Publish Here will remember when I shared a dream I had involving a luminous pearl. In my dream, the pearl appeared suspended in air to my right at a distance away that required me to move toward it. This meant that I had to step out of the procession of priests and turn my back on my bishop to take hold of it.

It was a prophetic dream, occurring almost 20 years before I left the priesthood and turned my back of the bishop’s activism for homosexual partnerships and same-sex ceremonies in the Episcopal Church.

New Hampshire poem, Ed Pacht, wrote a poem about my dream which captures the turning point perfectly in these words:

... a precious pearl, a pearl without a price,
a crystal of the loving tears of God,
a jewel with a secret name upon it,
a secret name that named my soul,
and as I sang the words upon that stone,
I bent in awe before it marveling,
thinking not upon the glad procession now behind me,
but upon the prize that I now saw,
and I bent to seize it, rising with…