Tuesday, March 31, 2009

contentment:

Found in a gratefullness in everything, not a gratefullness for everything.

Monday, March 30, 2009

bitterness:

When on the palate, it furrows the brow, eyes wince;
in the soul, it is the heart that furrows, nerves wince.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

RUMINATE: Faith in Literature and Art #10



4 stars
RUMINATE is a quarterly magazine of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art with a nod to the Christian faith. This issue proved to be a pleasant read with three 5 star take-aways:

1) "Afternoon Poem" by Catherine Fiorello - a reminder to wake each day ready to live with the knowledge that in the living life happens...for the day goes on and with it so do we

2) "Ascension" by Marcy Campbell - a masterfully written piece on the hope that finds a hopeless man - it drew my attention to the ways we are rescued from the trial of our days, sometimes in unexpected ways

3) the write-up on the life and art of Paula Peacock - it wasn't so much her art, although I found it worthy rumination, but rather the story that led her to art that really grabbed me...a reminder that it is about the journey and its mix of confusion and conviction, inspiration and intuition

Check out RUMINATE

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Christian Wiman

"The effort is to make ourselves more real to ourselves, and to feel that we have selves, though the deepest moments of creation tell us that, in some fundamental way, we don't. (What could be more desperate, more anxiously vain, than the ever-increasing tendency to Google oneself?) So long as your ambition is to stamp your existence upon existence, your nature on nature, then your ambition is corrupt and you are pursuing a ghost."

---

"Life is always a question of intensity, and intensity is always a matter of focus."

---

"Human imagination is not simply our means of reaching out to God but God's means of manifesting himself to us."

---

"Contemporary physicists talk about something called "quantum weirdness," which refers to the fact that an observed particle passed through a screen will always go through one hole. A particle that is unobserved but mechanically monitored will pass through multiple holes at the same time. What this suggests, of course, is that what we call reality is utterly conditioned by the limitations of our senses, and that there is some other reality much larger and more complex than we are able to perceive."


from IMAGE Journal #60, in the essay, "God's Truth Is Life"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Iris Murdoch

"Simple-minded faith in science, together with the assumption we are all rational and totally free, engenders a dangerous lack of curiosity about the real world, a failure to appreciate the difficulties of knowing it."

from Existentialists and Mystics

Monday, March 23, 2009

IMAGE Journal #60



5 stars
It is with great delight that I come to my mailbox four times a year and find my copy of IMAGE ready to read. It has never disappointed and with this twentieth anniversary issue and its expanded content I was all the more excited. The journal is a must for any who have an interest in fiction, poetry, essays, and the visual arts as viewed through the lenses of art, faith and mystery. Each journal is an invitation to pay attention and be human. I always put it down inspired. Click here to learn more about IMAGE or visit their daily blog: Good Letters.

Subscribe now to the print journal and you will get this issue for free!

Allso, check out the conversations taking place on IMAGE Forum.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"On Fairy Stories" by J.R.R. Tolkien



4 stars
First given as a lecture in 1939, it was first published in 1947 and then appeared again in 1966 as one of two essays in Tree and Leaf. It reads as an academic essay whereas Tolkien sets out to defend the fairy story. An important read for any one interested in this genre and the thoughts of one who mastered it. His reflection includes wrestling with definitions, a consideration toward the origins of the genre, the audience as child or adult, how we ought to think of fantasy and the role of fairy-stories with regard to recovery, escape and consolation.

Here was some of my take away:

"The definition of fairy story--what it is, or what it should be--does not, then, depend on any definition or historical account of elf or fairy, but upon the nature of Faerie, the Perilous Realm itself, and the air that blows in that country. I will not attempt to define that, nor to describe it directly. It cannot be done. Faerie cannot be caught in a net of words, for it is one of its qualities to be indescribable, though not imperceptible. It has many ingredients, but analysis will not necessarily discover the secret of the whole...a 'fairy-story' is one which touches on or uses Faerie, whatever its own main purpose may be: satire, adventures, morality, fantasy...if there is any satire present in the tale, one thing must not be made fun of, the magic itself. That must in that story, be taken seriously, neither laughed at nor explained away...The magic of Faerie is not an end in itself, its virtue is in its operations: among these are satisfaction of certain primordial human desires. One of these desires is to survey the depths of space and time. Another is (as will be seen) to hold communion with other living things."

"Even fairy-stories as a whole have three faces: the Mystical towards the Supernatural, the Magical towards Nature, and the Mirror of scorn and pity towards Man. The essential face of Faerie is the middle one, the Magical. But the degree in which the others appear (if at all) is variable, and may be decided by the individual story-teller."

"What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful 'sub-creator.' He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is 'true', it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken, the magic, or rather art, has failed."

"Fairy-stories were plainly not primarily concerned with possibility, but with desirability. If they awakened desire, satisfying it while often whetting it unbearably, they succeeded."

"If fairy-story as a kind is worth reading at all it is worthy to be written for and read by adults."

"Fantasy can, of course, be carried to excess. It can be ill done. It can be put to evil uses. It may even delude the minds out of which it came. But of what human thing in this fallen world is that not true?"

"Fantasy remains a human right, we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made, and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker."

"The analytic study of fairy-stories is as bad a preparation for the enjoying or the writing of them as would be the historical study of the drama of all lands and times for the enjoyment or writing of stage-plays."

"From the wildness of my heart I cannot exclude the question whether railway-engineers, if they had been brought up on more fantasy, might not have done better with all their abundant means than they commonly do."

read the essay here

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Theodore L. Prescott

"All of creation has inherent dignity and value simply by having been brought into existence by a creator."

from IMAGE Journal #60, in the essay, "Desire and Longing: Image Artists after Twenty Years"

Friday, March 20, 2009

George MacDonald

"Her heart failed her, and turning from the stair, she rushed along to the hall, whence, finding the front-door open, she darted into the court, pursued - at least she thought so - by the creature. No one happening to see her, on she ran, unable to think for fear, and ready to run anywhere to elude the aweful creature with the stilt-legs. Not daring to look behind her, she rushed straight out of the gate, and up the mountain. It was foolish indeed - thus to run farther and farther from all who could help her, as if she had been seeking a fit spot for the goblin-creature to eat her in at his leisure; but that is the way fear serves us: it always sides with the thing we are afraid of."

from The Princess and The Goblin

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Out Of The Silent Planet, C.S. Lewis



5 stars
This first book in Lewis' Space Trilogy is an adventure. Simply put, it is a fun and yet profound telling of human ways within the backdrop of another world. He has taken the sci-fi genre and woven a tale of intrigue. I'm ready to pick up the next in the series.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Henri J. M. Nouwen

"During our short lives the question that guides much of our behavior is: 'Who are we?' Although we may seldom pose that question in a formal way, we live it very concretely in our day-to-day decisions.

The three answers that we generally live--not necessarily give--are: 'We are what we do, we are what others say about us and we are what we have,' or in other words: 'We are our success, we are our popularity, we are our power.'

Jesus came to announce to us that an identity based on success, popularity and power is a false identity---an illusion. Loudly and clearly he says: 'You are not what the world makes you; but you are children of God.'"

from Here and Now: Living in the Spirit

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

C.S. Lewis

"Bent creatures are full of fears."

~ Ransom in Out of the Silent Planet

Monday, March 16, 2009

alive:

I find myself in a valley, but I stand in the shadow of a breathtaking mountain.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vigen Guroian

"While fear may sweep us into nothingness, it is also the condition under which a finite and sinful human being finds the faith and courage to yield herself up entirely to God."

from Tending the Heart of Virtue, 158-159

Friday, March 13, 2009

book:

If it's good, it is a bound cloister where one, like a monk, is able to enter.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

J.R.R. Tolkien

"As all things come to an end, even this story, a day came at last when they were in sight of the country where Bilbo had been born and bred, where the shapes of the land and of the trees were as well known to him as his hands and toes. Coming to a rise he could see his own Hill in the distance, and he stopped suddenly and said:

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.


Gandalf looked at him, "My dear Bilbo!" he said. "Something is the matter with you! You are not the hobbit that you were.""

from The Hobbit or
There And Back Again

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Christian Wiman

"To every age Christ dies anew and is resurrected within the imagination of man."

from "My Bright Abyss" in The American Scholar

see his brief essay here:
"I never felt the pain of unbelief until I believed. But belief itself is hardly painless."

Wiman is an editor for POETRY Magazine

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"The Imagination: Its Function and Culture" by George MacDonald



5 stars
This essay, first published in 1867 in A Dish of Orts, was a breath of fresh air. In a culture that has taken possession of our imagination, MacDonald's critique of and invitation to its proper function is lifting. It was an inspirational read and a call to think correctly about the role of the imagination and how to rightly engage it.

read the essay here

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz, L. Frank Baum



5 stars
Baum did it again with his fourth installment in the Oz series. Makes one ready to go and pick up the next tale. In this one, Dorothy and the humbug Wizard again re-unite after Dorothy and Zeb (her cousin) and Eurika (her cat) and Jim (the horse) are caught in an earthquake and therein the Land of the Mangaboos. More magic and logical nonsense ensues along with visits of past Oz friends, some new creatures and a reunion with Ozma in the Emerald City. There were some laugh-out-loud scenes as I read this to my boys. A great story all around.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Evelyn Underhill

"Mystics, trying to tell us of their condition, often say that they feel ’sunk in God like a fish in the sea.’ We pass over these phrases very easily, and forget that they are the final result of a long struggle to find the best image for an admittedly imageless truth. Yet prayer is above all the act in which we give ourselves to our soul’s true Patria [founder; stronghold]; enter again that Ocean of God which is at once our origin and our inheritance, and there find ourselves mysteriously at home."

from The Golden Sequence

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Art of Art for Children's Books: A Contemporary Model, Diana Klemin



3 stars
A fun book that reconnected me with many of the pictures I was drawn to as a child. The book was published in the 60's and so lacks the color that would make it that much more enjoyable. As a survey of books out at the time, it serves its purpose and is an inspiring read for those who think about the pictures that a story calls forth.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jean Pierre de Caussade

"If we wish to quench our thirst, we must lay aside books which explain thirst and take a drink."

from Abandonment to Divine Providence

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Unstrung Harp: or, Mr. Earbrass Writes a Novel, Edward Gorey



4 stars
Gorey is interesting and hard to define. Known for his illustrations as well as his nonsense writing he reminds me of someone you would find drawing cartoons in The New Yorker. This book is for those who have ever thought about or began writing a book. It is a quick read - probably 20-30 minutes. Short paragraphs with corresponding drawings make up this small masterpiece. A creative reflection that would be a worthy read for anyone stuck in a writing rut...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Charles Malik

"There is truth, and there is falsehood. There is good, and there is evil. There is happiness, and there is misery. There is that which ennobles, and there is that which demeans. There is that which puts you in harmony with yourself, with others, with the universe, and with God, and there is that which alienates you from yourself, and from the world, and from God. These things are different and separate and totally distinguishable from one another."

from C.S. Lewis for the Third Millennium by Peter Kreeft

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination, Vigen Guroian



4 stars
An inspiring read and one for anyone who loves good stories and the greater truth within them. Guroian traces the themes of the moral imagination, love and immorality, friends and mentors, evil and redemption, and faith and courage. Complete with a concluding bibliographic essay that would grow any reading list. Guroian explores these themes by turing our attention to: Pinocchio, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte's Web, Bambi, The Snow Queen, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Princess and the Goblin, and Prince Caspian.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gregory Wolfe

"In theory, goodness, truth, and beauty—traditionally known as the "transcendentals," because they are the three qualities that God has in infinite abundance—are equal in dignity and worth…The thinker who has helped me most along these lines is the twentieth-century theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar. His argument—and it is a rather unsettling one—is that of the three transcendentals, beauty is the one that is least troubled by our fallen condition. In a world plagued by sin and error, he says, truth and goodness are always hotly contested. How do you live righteously? What is the truth? As we debate these matters, we have axes to grind…Beauty must serve some other end; it is not an end in itself. But the transcendentals were always understood as infinitely valuable, as ends in themselves. When it comes to beauty, however, we are afraid to assert that much. We feel the need to harness it, because beauty is unpredictable, wild. Here's how I have tried to comprehend these deep matters. If you think about these three transcendentals in relationship to our human capacities, what are the faculties that correspond to these three transcendentals? Goodness, I would say, has to do with faith, the desire for holiness. Truth is pursued by reason. We are familiar with that pairing: faith and reason. That's standard-issue language in western tradition. But what about the third element? What faculty does beauty correspond to? I would suggest that it is the imagination. The imagination is the faculty honed to apprehend beauty and unfold its meaning. How often do we say the Judeo-Christian tradition is a tradition of faith, reason, and imagination?...Beauty allows us to penetrate reality through the imagination, through the capacity of the imagination to perceive the world intuitively…The intuitive perception of meaning that art provides helps us to see that imagination is akin to reason: both seek truth through the apprehension of order and pattern. Art employs beautiful forms to generate objects that penetrate reality…A work of art doesn't invent truth, but it does make it accessible to us in ways that are not normally available because words and images have been tarnished by overuse or neglect. Art fails when it merely tells us what we already know in the ways that we already know it. That is why art is so deeply related to the prophetic dimension and the place where it connects to truth. That prophetic shock, that challenge to complacency, that revelatory reconfiguration of the way things are, gives us a truer picture of the way that the world is…Thus goodness without beauty is moralism, holier than thou. At the same time, it is only fair to say that beauty without truth is a lie."

from "The Wound of Beauty" in Image: Art, Faith, Mystery (Winter 2007-08, #56), 3-6