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Showing posts from August, 2010

Dorothy Sayers: A Mind of Her Own

Alice C. Linsley

Dorothy Sayers’ writings reveal her to be one of the most politically and religiously unaccommodating women of the 20th century. She distained propaganda, saw through commercial advertizing, resisted trends, defended human dignity and argued for the integrity of the creative process.

Carl Olson writes, “In an age of skepticism, cynicism, and false ‘freedoms,’ Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) was a passionate and occasionally scathing voice of reason. Like her friends C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, and Charles Williams, Sayers was a brilliant Christian thinker, an Anglo-Catholic who took doctrine seriously and bristled at the growth of ‘fads, schisms, heresies, and anti-Christ’ within the Church of England.”

Sayers’ writings reveal her opposition to all careless regard for human dignity. Lord Peter is always delicate, even compassionate, in making inquiries of the broken-hearted and the scandalized. He must overcome his lordly pride in order to accept his beloved Harriet Vane on her …

High School Junior Writes About What Matters

The Deepest Desires of Mankind

By Elizabeth Barney, Grade 11


Materialism has been defined as the belief that physical well-being and worldly possessions hold the greatest goods and highest values in life. People have become so successful at fabricating and manipulating the world that we have come to believe that altering our surroundings is the way to solve our problems. Due to these assumptions, materialism now directs our lives. Humans identify themselves and others by beauty, power, and wealth.

The 20th century has seen a huge upsurge in the importance of physical beauty, particularly in women. The fashion, cosmetics, and plastic surgery industries have thrived on the preoccupation that affects women in every sphere, whether they choose to pander to it or not. Alissa Quart wrote, “Youth is nothing less than a metaphor for change.” Kids are just trying to establish their identities (Colson 127). From puberty onwards, young girls are pressured by the media to look a certain way. This…

Jonathan B. Hall on Oral Tradition

We are continuing discussion of oral tradition from here.

Jonathan B. Hall's writings mostly concern the pipe organ and sacred music. Before studying organ, he studied English literature. In this piece, he combines his interests in music and literature.

Over at his blog, Jonathan has written about how symmetry (what I call "binary distinctions") are an aspect of the form that provides greater meaning.  He notes that the loss of grandfather in a popular holiday poem, results in imbalance and loss of meaning. The Bible sustains the binary distinction of male-female, heaven-earth, God-Mankind, because the tension of the opposites reveals the greater meaning.  In this thoughtful piece, Jonathan demonstrates how this is so.

Jonathan writes:

One of the holiday songs we all don’t know in common is “Over the River and Through the Woods,” a poem by Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880) of Medford, Massachusetts.

Five miles northwest of Boston, Medford is, I think, the birthplace of much …

The First Ruler, Part 3

Alice C. Linsley
(Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.)


     It was cool when Ra left his cave but it grew warmer as he descended to the spring-fed lake. He stood on the bank of the lake facing the east and began his prayers as the sun rose over the horizon. Using the half of the sacred ostrich egg, Ra scooped up water and poured the water on the ground, forming a straight line from west to east, between where he stood and the bank of the lake. He prayed:

“Father, I greet you as you come from your house in the east and begin your daily journey to your abode in the west.”

Ra then poured water in a line perpendicular to the first line, this one running north to south to form a cross. Then he prayed again:

“I have but one dwelling place as I am but dust and will return to dust. Father, grant that my territory might extend from the north to the south for as far as the eye can see.”

Then Ra stood at the center of the lines he had made with the water, at the center of the cross, and he pour…

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Mother Goose: A Modern Oral Tradition

Mother Goose is an archetypical country woman who supposedly wrote stories and rhymes that have become standard fare for the nursery. Nobody knows who she is or whether she even lived, though most would agree that her roots are in England.  In fact, there are different versions of her rhymes so even the words aren't set in stone.

The Mother Goose ryhmes are a good example of how oral tradition preserves meaning while not always preserving form.  We are not going to explore the possible social critique conveyed in these rhymes. We are interested only in how the various versions maintain meaning. Consider the following versions of Bah, Bah Black Sheep.

Bah, bah, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, marry have I,
Three bags full;
One for my master,
One for my dame,
But none for the little boy
Who cries in the lane.

Here's another version:

Bah, bah, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full.
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy