Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Too busy

Exams and report cards. More needed to be said? Maybe next week I'll have a real post, I'm certainly having real thoughts.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Checking in on those who are checking in.

I see from my counter at the bottom of my blog that there are about 10 people a day checking in. A comment from my dear wife on the last post made me wonder "Who are you?" I know Brenda and Sabrina and Valerie are here quite often, but who else is here? I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Life Imitates Art...?

I can't say as I actually understand the depths of human sadness. I used to think so, and today reflecting on those days, I don't really know what took me there and why.

I think depression is an easy place to get to. It reminds me of my cannon post a couple of months ago, that our minds take us places even without us as willing participants. That is, we take the journey of each step willingly, but we don't have the map as to where we're heading and if we've never travelled that way before, its easy to end up in a place we didn't even know existed, let alone want to visit...or move to.

All that to say that there was a time that I might have been depressed. Maybe I should ask Mom or Dad about it. Maybe they have insight. I didn't know what it was then. I thought it was realism.

I read a really good book about 1991 or 1992. Inside Out by Larry Crabb. You may recognize the title. It was really good and realistic. I'm not knocking the book. For a guy like me though who was reading and not discussing or having any real human connections with regard to life at that point, not even really knowing that that was healthy, it became a little dangerous. What it left me with was a sense of self-loathing. I was sinful, my whole life was tainted by selfishness and motives based on my Calvinistic sense of total depravity. (Today, Calvin speaks to me more in a comic book with his pet tiger than he does in "The Five Points".)

At the same time, my mind was also being filled with Christians who were tainted by sadness for the first time. Before this, the first 20 years of my life, Christians were only sad at funerals, or, they used to be sad, but now they had Jesus. That was my impression, not the law, not what I was taught, maybe it was the sheltered Bible-belt upbringing, I don't know and I don't really knock it, I just was surprised that Christians were getting divorced, feeling lonely, getting angry with God, feeling tired and like their finances were ruined. I knew they got sick and sometimes died, but they were always old with grey hair and grandkids too. I was introduced to bands like 77's, Daniel Amos, Mike Knott and LSU, Undercover, Mark Heard, Bruce Cockburn, Altar Boys and a few others, all claiming to be Christians but with a different outlook on life than I'd ever heard of. They seemed to be experiencing pain and still holding on to their Christianity. Ric Alba, a guy from the Altar Boys sang a song that included the words,

Don't pat me on the back and ask if its all better now,
When I'm torn in two I don't mend so easily.

I thought I heard a baby cry, it was the man next door
I heard somebody say, hey big boys don't cry anymore.
Well, I used to think so to, but I think I know better now

Now, I think that's beautiful poetry, now I know where he was coming from when he wrote those words, I still ache that it is some people's existence. But it doesn't have to become me. And that is great. That was great art, but lousy life philosophy. It takes a while to get past that adolescent angst of having to have your life imitate art, fitting into some goth, punk, emo, preppy, popular kind of category. I missed one of the finer points of art, letting it beautify and paint your world a little better than you'd decorated it yourself. I tried to move into the gallery.

There is more to say, but real life is calling me...

"Yes, little man?"

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Simply because I've had so much fun here lately...

I thought I'd add a few quotes... drop a comment and let me know you're here. Love to hear from you and meet you if we don't know each other.

Annie Dillard
We are here on the planet only once, and might as well get a feel for the place.
• Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you.
• There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.
• You can't test courage cautiously.
• The dedicated life is the life worth living. You must give with your whole heart.
• No; we have been as usual asking the wrong question. It does not matter a hoot what the mockingbird on the chimney is singing. The real and proper question is: Why is it beautiful?
• I would like to learn, or remember, how to live. I come to Hollins Pond not so much to learn how to live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don't think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in particular...but I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical senses and the dignity of living without bias or motive.
• The extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down aeons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire since the word go!
• If we were to judge nature by common sense or likelihood, we wouldn't believe the world existed.
• Trees have a curious relationship to the subject of the present moment. There are many created things in the universe that outlive us, that outlive the sun, even, but I can't think about them. I live with trees.
• A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
• Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
• Why are we watching the news, reading the news keeping up with the news? Only to enforce our fancy -- possibly a necessary lie -- that these are crucial times, and we are in on them.
• As soon as beauty is sought not from religion and love, but for pleasure, it degrades the seeker.
• It is ironic that the one thing that all religions recognize as separating us from our creator -- our very self-consciousness -- is also the one thing that divides us from our fellow creatures. It was a bitter birthday present from evolution.
• I have never read any theologian who claims God is particularly interested in religion, anyway.
• Starlings are notoriously difficult to "control." The story is told of a man who was bothered by starlings roosting in a large sycamore near his house. He said he tried everything to get rid of them and finally took a shotgun to three of them and killed them. When asked if that discouraged the birds, he reflected a minute, leaned forward, and said confidentially, "Those three it did."

"If it seems a childish thing to do, do it in remembrance that you are a child."
"In his holy flirtation with the world, God occasionally drops a handkerchief. These handkerchiefs are called saints."
"Religion points to that area of human experience where in one way or another man comes upon mystery as a summons to pilgrimage."
"It is as impossible for man to demonstrate the existence of God as it would be for even Sherlock Holmes to demonstrate the existence of Arthur Conan Doyle."
"The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you. There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too."
"Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. To see reality--not as we expect it to be but as it is--is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love."

GK Chesterton (because there are just too many to include, I’m simply cutting and pasting in a few and you can read all you like here… http://www.chesterton.org/acs/quotes.htm)
"Misers get up early in the morning; and burglars, I am informed, get up the night before." - Tremendous Trifles
"A change of opinions is almost unknown in an elderly military man." - A Utopia of Usurers, CW, V, p396
"The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice." - A Defense of Humilities, The Defendant, 1901
"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it." - Everlasting Man, 1925
"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions." - ILN, 4/19/30
"Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference, which is an elegant name for ignorance." - The Speaker, 12/15/00
"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." - On Running After Ones Hat, All Things Considered, 1908
"What embitters the world is not excess of criticism, but an absence of self-criticism." - Sidelights on New London and Newer New York
"He is a [sane] man who can have tragedy in his heart and comedy in his head." - Tremendous Trifles, 1909
"Among the rich you will never find a really generous man even by accident. They may give their money away, but they will never give themselves away; they are egotistic, secretive, dry as old bones. To be smart enough to get all that money you must be dull enough to want it." - A Miscellany of Men
"Moderate strength is shown in violence, supreme strength is shown in levity." - The Man Who was Thursday, 1908
"The simplification of anything is always sensational." - Varied Types
"Complaint always comes back in an echo from the ends of the world; but silence strengthens us." - The Father Brown Omnibus
"Customs are generally unselfish. Habits are nearly always selfish." - ILN 1-11-08
"I believe what really happens in history is this: the old man is always wrong; and the young people are always wrong about what is wrong with him. The practical form it takes is this: that, while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid." - ILN 6-3-22
"The center of every man's existence is a dream. Death, disease, insanity, are merely material accidents, like a toothache or a twisted ankle. That these brutal forces always besiege and often capture the citadel does not prove that they are the citadel." - "Sir Walter Scott," Twelve Types
"The person who is really in revolt is the optimist, who generally lives and dies in a desperate and suicidal effort to persuade other people how good they are." - Introduction to The Defendant
"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it." - A Short History of England, Ch.10
"All the exaggerations are right, if they exaggerate the right thing." - "On Gargoyles." Alarms and Discursions
"The comedy of man survives the tragedy of man." - ILN 2-10-06
"We have had no good comic operas of late, because the real world has been more comic than any possible opera." - The Quotable Chesterton
"When learned men begin to use their reason, then I generally discover that they haven't got any." - ILN 11-7-08
"The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog."

Friday, January 05, 2007

troisieme fois

Well the last blog has me thinking about other books I've read that have influenced me. ... In case you are wondering, there is no plan with this whole sequence of events here, no one should be offended because they have not yet been mentioned. There is no subliminal order of significance or any such thing!
I must say that much of my most recent reading, the past 10 years lets say, has been influenced by two things, one being music... the other being a need to take a break and read something disconnected from where I am at.
So in light of that, the first category...
Terry Taylor, who will surely take the whole subject of one of these blogs some day, has introduced me to literary music lyrics. Those have made me head for the source of his creative writings, the original books themselves. For that matter, Philip Yancey does the same thing for me, he too quotes so many interesting other authors that it makes me pursue them. The most shocking thing to me is the extreme overlap between Yancey's sources and Taylor's inspirations. They either think alike ( and I like them) or there is something to these writers worth pursuing... or both, or some other option I don't care to consider right now.
Yancey's book Soul Survivor introduces us to some of that overlap. There he goes into the lives and writings of a few of my personal favourites. In no particular order here they are.

Frederich Buechner. A Presbyterian minister from Vermont, he looks for and finds God in extraordinary places. He looks at life and the Scripture from a very human perspective, honest to a fault you might say. And refreshing.

Annie Dillard. No one writes like Annie Dillard. No one I've ever read anyway. I wish her books would never end, even if she had nothing to say, just seeing how she says it makes it worth the time. She laces in black humour and a unique perspective as a Christian on the fringes of mainstream Christianity. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is her most famous book and affected my thinking like no other written by mere mortals.

Fyodor Dostoevsky. Russian novelist of the 1800's. Writes the dark human heart and the struggle for redemption like no one else. Crime and Punishment is likely one of my favourite books, certainly as far as novels go.

GK Chesterton. A British newspaper guy and I believe Catholic. Humour and theological depth intermingled. Writes novels and non fiction, he reminds me of CS Lewis with a lot more earth thrown in than Lewis who is a little more mystical.

I think that's enough for this post,
more to come... for what its worth.