Archive for the ‘faith’ Category

JRR Tolkien on sermons >

Saturday, July 25th, 2015
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But as for sermons! They are bad, aren’t they! Most of them from any point of view. The answer to the mystery is prob. not simple; but part of it is that ‘rhetoric’ (of which preaching is a dept.) is an art, which requires (a) some native talent and (b) learning and practice. The instrument used is v. much more complex than a piano, yet most performers are in the position of a man who sits down to a piano and expects to move his audience without any knowledge of the notes at all.
The art can be learned (granted some modicum of aptitude) and can then be effective, in a way, when wholly unconnected with sincerity, sanctity etc. But preaching is complicated by the fact that we expect in it not only a performance, but truth and sincerity, and also at least no word, tone, or note that suggests the possession of vices (such as hypocrisy, vanity) or defects (such as folly, ignorance) in the preacher. Good sermons require some art, some virtue, some knowledge. Real sermons require some special grace which does not transcend art but arrives at it by instinct or ‘inspiration'; indeed the Holy Spirit seems sometimes to speak through a human mouth providing art, virtue and insight he does not himself possess: but the occasions are rare. In other times I don’t think an educated person is required to suppress the critical faculty, but it should be kept in order by a constant endeavor to apply the truth (if any), even in cliche form, to oneself exclusively! A difficult exercise. ….

on being an artist >

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
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when I take a look at the etymology of the word “artist” I get something like this:
artist (n.)
1580s, “one who cultivates one of the fine arts,” from Middle French artiste (14c.), from Italian artista, from Medieval Latin artista, from Latin ars (see art (n.)).

Originally used especially of the arts presided over by the Muses (history, poetry, comedy, tragedy, music, dancing, astronomy), but also used 17c. for “one skilled in any art or craft” (including professors, surgeons, craftsmen, cooks). Now especially of “one who practices the arts of design or visual arts” (a sense first attested 1747).

Part of what got me thinking about this was a quote by John Lennon “I’m an artist, and if you give me a tuba, I’ll bring you something out of it.” The context for this quote was he was kind of knocking his own guitar playing (compared to someone like B.B. King), and kind of saying his strength is in getting his instrument to speak, or songwriting. I found it intriguing, as John obviously was not too keen on his guitar playing “chops” but he said in no uncertain terms : “I’m really very embarrassed about my guitar playing, in one way, because it’s very poor, I can never move, but I can make a guitar speak. I think there’s a guy called Richie Valens, no, Richie Havens, does he play very strange guitar? He’s a black guy that was on a concert and sang “Strawberry Fields” or something. He plays like one chord all the time. He plays a pretty funky guitar. But he doesn’t seem to be able to play in the real terms at all. I’m like that.” (more…)

a very good sermon on the Obergefell decision

Saturday, July 18th, 2015
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inspirational and true!

thinking >

Friday, April 17th, 2015
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Don’t shut up any avenue of your nature, let God come into every avenue, every relationship, and you will find the nightmare curse of “secular and sacred” will go.

With regard to other men’s minds, take all you can get, whether those minds are in flesh-and-blood editions or in books, but remember, the best you get from another mind is not the mind’s verdict, but its standpoint. Note the writers that provoke you to do the best mentally.

We have no business to limit God’s revelations to the bias of the human mind.

Truth is discerned by moral obedience. There are points in our thinking which remain obscure until a crisis arises in personal life where we ought to obey, immediately we obey the intellectual difficulty alters. Whenever we have to obey it is always in something immensely practical.

The first thing to go when you begin to think is your theology. If you stick too long to a theological point of view you become stagnant, without vitality.

Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong, it may be a sign he is thinking.

A logical position is satisfying to the intellect, but it can never be true to life. Logic is simply the method man’s intellect follows in making things definable to himself, but you can’t define what is greater than yourself.

Don’t run away with the idea that everything that runs contrary to your complacent scheme of things is of the devil.

Obedience is the basis of Christian thinking. Never be surprised if there are whole areas of thinking that are not clear, they never will be until you obey.

It takes a long time to get rid of atheism in thinking.

OC

thoughts on study >

Friday, April 10th, 2015
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Study to begin with can never be easy; the determination to form systematic mental habits is the only secret. Don’t begin anything with reluctance.

Beware of any cleverness that keeps you from working. No one is born a worker; men are born poets and artists, but we have to make ourselves “laborers”.

The discipline of our mind is the one domain God has put in our keeping. It is impossible to be of any use to God if we are lazy. God won’t cure laziness, we have to cure it.

More danger arises from physical laziness than almost any other thing.

Inspiration won’t come irrespective of study, but only because of it. Don’t trust to inspiration, use your own “axe” (Psalm 74:5). Work! Think! Don’t luxuriate on the mount!

The demand for inspiration is the measure of our laziness. Do the things that don’t come by inspiration.

It is difficult to get yourself under control to do work you are not used to, the time spent seems wasted at first, but get at it again. The thing that hinders control is impulse.

Your mind can never be under your control unless you bring it there; there is no gift for control. You may pray till Doomsday but your brain will never concentrate if you don’t make it concentrate.

In the most superficial matters put yourself under control, your own control. Be as scrupulously punctual in your private habits as you would be in Government office.

Don’t insult God by telling Him He forgot to give you any brains when you were born. We all have brains, what we need is work.

OC

Jan Van Eyck Crucifixion and Last Judgement

Friday, April 3rd, 2015
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The two panels may have been the wings of a triptych, but there is no certainty about that. In the 19th century the paintings were transferred from panel to canvas.

Three parts can be distinguished in the Crucifixion. The foreground shows weeping women. Under the crosses Van Eyck created a vivid scene with soldiers and others. In the top part the three crucified men are shown, with Jesus Christ in the center.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the Crucifixion is the astonishing depth of the landscape behind the crosses. Van Eyck applied a splendid spatial perspective.

A vertical axis is the key to the composition of the Last Judgment: Christ as judge at the top, and archangel Michael controlling the underworld.

Next to Jesus are the virgin Mary and John the Baptist. They seem to float above the chosen, the dead that were allowed into Heaven.

No daylight enters the underworld where the doomed dwell for ever. It looks as if the dead enter Hell through the skeleton of Death. (copyright Art & Bible)

note: As we celebrate Christs triumph over death, I find the underworld reminder a somber reality often overlooked, but edifying nonetheless. Please click on the image to enlarge
Jan_van_Eyck_-_Diptych_left_panelJan_van_Eyck_right_panel

thoughts on psalm 23

Sunday, February 8th, 2015
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[A Psalm of David.]

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

“Millions of people have memorized this psalm, even those who have learned few other Scripture portions. Ministers have used it to comfort people who are going through severe personal trials, suffering illness, or dying. For some, the words of this psalm have been the last they have ever uttered in life.” (Boice) (more…)

The Gospel to me is simply irresistible.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014
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Being the man I am, being full of lust and pride and envy and malice and hatred and false good, and all accumulated and exaggerated misery – to me the Gospel of the grace of God, and the Redemption of Christ, and the regeneration and sanctification of the Holy Ghost, that Gospel is to me simply irresistible, and I cannot understand why it is not equally irresistible to every mortal man born of woman.

 

Pascal

Work, for the Day is coming!

Thursday, December 18th, 2014
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Made for the saints of light;
Off with the garments dreary,
On with the armor bright:
Soon will the strife be ended,
Soon all our toils below;
Not to the dark we’re tending,
But to the Day we go.

Work, then, the Day is coming!
No time for the sighing now!
Harps for the hands once drooping,
Wreaths for the victor’s brow,
Now morning Light is breaking,
Soon will the Day appear;
Night shades appal no longer,
Jesus, or Lord, is near!

There’s not a craving in the mind

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014
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Thou dost not meet and still;
There’s not a wish the heart can have
Which Thou dost not fulfill.

All things that have been, all that are,
All things that can be dreamed,
All possible creations made,
Kept faithful, or redeemed;-

All these may draw upon Thy power,
Thy mercy may command,
And still outflows Thy silent sea
Immutable and grand

O little heart of mine shall pain
Or sorrow make thee moan,
When all this God is all for thee,
A Father all thine own?

Faber