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Showing posts from January, 2009

John Updike RIP

John Updike died today. A little more light has gone out of the world.

According to his publishers, he died of lung cancer. He was 76.

I met John Updike at the annual Kent State Writers’ Conference about 20 years ago. We spoke briefly following one of his mesmerizing talks. He was gracious to this novice fiction writer and also very encouraging. I liked him.

Updike won two Pulitzers, for “Rabbit Is Rich” and “Rabbit at Rest,” and two National Book Awards.

He grew up in the Protestant community of Shillington, Pa., where the Lord's Prayer was recited daily at school. He attended church faithfully and theological themes run through many of his works. He was open about his doubts, which made his writing all the more authentic. In that respect, he reminds me of Wendell Berry.

In a 2006 interview with the Associated Press, Updike said, "I remember the times when I was wrestling with these issues that I would feel crushed. I was crushed by the purely materialistic, atheistic acco…

C.S. Lewis on Women Priests

Priestesses in the Church?
By C.S. Lewis


I should like Balls infinitely better', said Caroline Bingley, 'if they were carried on in a different manner... It would surely be much more rational if conversation instead of dancing made the order of the day.' 'Much more rational, I dare say,' replied her brother, 'but it would not be near so much like a Ball.' We are told that the lady was silenced: yet it could be maintained that Jane Austin has not allowed Bingley to put forward the full strength of his position. He ought to have replied with a distinguo. In one sense conversation is more rational for conversaton may exercise the reason alone, dancing does not. But there is nothing irrational in exercising other powers than our reason. On certain occasions and for certain purposes the real irrationality is with those who will not do so. The man who would try to break a horse or write a poem or beget a child by pure syllogizing would be an irrational man; thoug…

An Appalachian Tale

Mountain Dance
Carla Chandler

Treana looked around at the sparsely furnished mountain house, lit by an oil lamp. In the corner, a shelf of mom’s books stood like children waiting for candy. On the bottom shelf were only three books. One was Treana’s favorite because it was her first book. She wrote it in eighth grade and used the modest monies to buy her momma an electric cook stove from the catalog that mom had on the wish wall for eight years. Momma said it was the prettiest thing she ever saw. It made Treana sad to think how her momma would be gone by the next year. Treana and her older brother David never would taste anything so good as momma’s made-with-love, yummy victuals.

The other two books brought her world fame and a Pulitzer Prize, along with a bank account that would last a life time.

In the other corner was the wood stove that Mom stoked with wood David stocked to the brim in the wood box. Every little thing in the room reminded Treana of Momma and her stories of life in the…

A Very Short Short

Andrew’s Letter
LeAnn Terrell

Mandy pulled her coat tighter as she ran down the steps of her apartment building. The night was cold and the rain continued to pour. She could not shake the chill that was building inside her, a chill that was from more than the cold, damp weather. She knew it came from her very soul. It was her fear, a fear that continuously haunted her and even now made her afraid to open the letter. She clutched the letter close to her as she ran down the street, uncertain of what she should do.

Mandy was the kind of girl that other women envied. Her long chestnut hair framed her ivory face and her blue eyes were framed by long lashes. Her petite and shapely frame turned many heads and men often stole a second glance. None of this mattered to Mandy because when she looked in the mirror she saw a woman who didn’t deserve happiness. She constantly doubted herself and feared the future. She was certain that her life would take a turn for the worst. The anxiety clouded her m…

Elizabeth Alexander Inaugural Poet

Elizabeth Alexander has been chosen by President Elect Barack Hussein Obama to deliver the Inaugural Poem. She teaches in the Department of African American Studies at Yale University.

Alexander began as a formalist poet, but has developed a more intuitive approach. Describing her writing process, she says, “A lot of it is just making space for the mysterious ‘What’s next?’ You can prepare for the poems, but you can’t wrestle them into existence. A whole, in its roughly hewn parameters, makes itself known to me. Then there’s tinkering, revising, perfecting, which is in fact the majority of what I do.”

Here is a sample of her work:

The End
Elizabeth Alexander

The last thing of you is a doll, velveteen and spangle,
Silk douponi trousers, Ali Baba slippers that curl up at the toes,
Tinsel moustache, a doll we had made in your image
For our wedding with one of me which you have.
They sat atop our coconut cake. We cut it
Into snowy squares and fed each other, while God watched.

All other things are g…

God's Fulfillment of the Promise to "the Woman"

Concerning the fulfillment of God's Promise to "the woman" (not yet named Eve) in Genesis 4, Fr John Hunwicke writes:

Once upon a time, a thousand years ago in a church which was probably several hundred times larger than S Thomas's, the great basilica of Blachernae in Constantinople, high up on the ceiling near the Altar, was an enormous picture of a Palestinian teenager, that selfsame Girl who is such a lead-player in the Christmass celebrations. There she stood orans, her hands raised in prayer, and in front of her womb, in a round circle, a painting of her Divine Son - his hand lifted in blessing. That image of Mary was called Platytera tou kosmou, the Woman Wider than the Universe. Mary was Great with Child; her Child was Almighty God. She contained the One whom the heaven of heavens is too narrow to hold. Can a foot be larger than the boot or an oyster greater than the shell? For Christians, apparently, Yes. Mary's slender womb enthroned within it the Maker …

Spurgeon's 1885 New Year's Sermon

"And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new."—Revelation 21:5.

HOW pleased we are with that which is new! Our children's eyes sparkle when we talk of giving them a toy or a book which is called new; for our short-lived human nature loves that which has lately come, and is therefore like our own fleeting selves. In this respect, we are all children, for we eagerly demand the news of the day, and are all too apt to rush after the "many inventions" of the hour. The Athenians, who spent their time in telling and hearing some new thing, were by no means singular persons: novelty still fascinates the crowd. As the world's poet says—

"All with one consent praise new-born gawds."

I should not wonder, therefore, if the mere words of my text should sound like a pleasant song in your ears; but I am thankful that their deeper meaning is even more joyful. The newness which Jesus brings is bright, clear, heavenly, enduring. We are at this …