All posts by missannita

An Inexpiable Offence

Partisan politics is not new.  This comes from Undaunted Courage, Stephen Ambrose’s book about President Jefferson and Meriweather Lewis (of Lewis and Clark).   Remarking on the public reaction to the Louisiana Purchase in 1903 he says:

Angry partisanship was the order of the day.  Senator John Quincy Adams complained in his diary, “The country is so totally given up to the spirit of party, that not to follow blindfold the one or the other is an inexpiable offence.

 

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Faith in What?

“I have faith in prayer.”
“Prayer changes things.”
“If you pray in absolute faith you always have your request granted.”
Statements like these are common, especially in Christian circles.  I always want to rebut the first two with “No, faith in God; God changes things (sometimes in response to prayer).”
 “The power is in God.  The vehicle for approach is prayer.” (Alistair Begg)
Believing in prayer, trusting prayer takes us subtly away from reliance on God and makes prayer dependent on what we do, and makes it easier to accept all sorts of spiritual wishing activity.  I often hear “sending good thoughts.”  It sounds so nice, but it is not what I want to hear from my Christian friends and family.
I found Pastor Begg helpful and very practical on the subject of prayer: what it means to pray; what it means to “pray in faith”; how to pray about “everything”.
Here is the link if you are interested.  It is just short of an hour long. I’ve listened to it twice now.

 

https://www.truthforlife.org/resources/sermon/praying-properly/

Politics as religion

 

“In a garish instance of the Procrustean bed, we cut our religion to suit our preferences instead of working to conform ourselves to the teachings of our faith traditions, a problem equally evident in mainline and evangelical denominations. As a result, the Church has become corrupted by politics. In 1960, only 5 percent of Americans said they would be uncomfortable with their child marrying someone from the opposite political party. By 2010, the number was up to 40 percent, even as interfaith marriages continued to rise. Commenting on this trend, the Institute for Family Studies suggested that politics has “taken the place of religion as a way of expressing our most basic values.” Of course it has. In each individual life, religion must either rule or serve. As a ruler, it can challenge ideas on every side of the spectrum and defend us against becoming blindly ideological. As a servant, it quickly becomes a mewling, conniving sycophant, eager to please its ideological masters.”

Woke Progressivism’s Glaring Religion Gap

 

Beauty is There

 

Beauty

What does it mean?  Tired, angry, and ill at ease,
No man, woman, or child alive could please
Me now.  And yet I almost dare to laugh
Because I sit and frame an epitaph —
‘Here lies all that no one loved of him
And that loved no one.’  Then in a trice that whim
Has wearied.  But, though I am like a river
At fall of evening while it seems that never
Has the sun lighted it or warmed it, while
Cross breezes cut the surface to a file,
This heart, some fraction of me, happily
Floats through the window even now to a tree
Down in the misting, dim-lit, quiet vale,
Not like a pewit that returns to wail
For something it has lost, but like a dove
That slants unswerving to its home and love.
There I find my rest, and through the dusk air
Flies what yet lives in me.  Beauty is there.

Edward Thomas, The Annotated Collected Poems (edited by Edna Longley) (Bloodaxe Books 2008).

Today I found this poem on a blog I frequent.  The writer talks about not just beauty, but also how the meaning has changed over the years.  He says:

 ….but there was a time when “beauty” was a philosophical or a metaphysical concept, not merely an empty word from the worlds of advertising, movies, television, and music.  For example, early in his life, before he began his political career, Edmund Burke wrote A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful.  (“Sublime”: another word that has lost all meaning in our time.)

He comment about this Edward Thomas poem:

In “Beauty,” Thomas is unsparing in disclosing the despair and misery (melancholy is not a strong enough word) that dogged him throughout his life.  But he makes clear that the despair and misery are not the whole story.  We know this from the beautiful particulars of the World that appear in his poems.

I enjoyed it all, although I’m not sure I understood it all.  You can read it in its entirety  here.

There is Mercy with You

The ESV:

A Song of Ascents.

130 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

Solzhenitsyn: A World Split Apart

For a long time I have admired Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.  Years ago I even thought about going to where he lived in Vermont in the hopes of meeting him.  Of course he eventually returned to his homeland, and now is gone.

The June 25 National Review has printed his own critique of the Harvard speech he gave in 1978 (reprinted from his memoir Between Two Millstones: Sketches of Exile).  He says that “what was mainly expected of me (they later wrote) was the gratitude of the exile to the great Atlantic fortress of Liberty, singing praises to its might and its virtues, which were lacking in the USSR.”  That was not what they got.  Solzhenitsyn:

I had given my speech the title “A World Split Apart,” and it was with this idea that I had opened the speech,that mankind is separated into original and distinct worlds, distinct independent cultures that are often far removed from one another and frequently unfamiliar with one another (I had then listed some of them).  One has to renounce the arrogant blindness of evaluating these different worlds merely within the context of their development toward the Western model.  Such a benchmark is the result of a misunderstanding of the essence of those different worlds.  Also, one has to stand back and look soberly at one’s own system.

Western society in principle is based on a legal level that is far lower than the true moral yardstick, and besides, this legal way of thinking has a tendency to ossify.  In principle, moral imperatives are not adhered to in politics, and often not in public life either.  The notion of freedom has been diverted to unbridled passion, in other words, in the direction of the forces of evil (so that nobody’s “freedom” would be limited!).  A sense of responsibility before God and society has fallen away.  “Human rights” have been so exalted that the rights of society are being oppressed and destroyed. And above all, the press, not elected by anyone, acts high-handedly and has amassed more power than the legislative, executive, or judicial power.  And in this free press itself, it is not true freedom of opinion that dominates, but the dictates of the political fashion of the moment, which lead to a surprising uniformity of opinion. (It was on this point that I had irritated them most.)

There is more which is worth reading!  This particular chapter was written shortly after his speech in 1978.

Baroness Orczy’s “Scarlet Pimpernel”

 

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A few years ago my friend enticed me to see the 1934 movie, The Scarlet Pimpernel.  I loved it and have seen it at least twice since.  This week I found a used copy of Baroness Orczy’s book of the same title, from which the movie was adapted.  This particular edition includes an introduction and notes by Sarah Juliette Sasson, which, alone was worth buying the book.  From the jacket:

Sarah Juliette Sasson earned a PhD in French and comparative literature from Columbia University, and is a lecturer there in the Department of French and Romance Philology.  She is the managing editor of the Romantic Review, a journal dedicated to Romance literatures.
Prior to Sasson’s introduction is a three page section titled “The World of Baroness Orczy and The Scarlet Pimpernel.”  It begins:
1865  Baroness Emmuska Magdalena Rosalia Maria Josefa Barbara Orczy is born in Tarna-Ors, Hungary, on September 23 to a noble family.  Her father, Baron Felix Orczy, is an accomplished conductor and composer.  Rudyard Kipling is born.  U.S. president Abraham Lincoln is assassinated.
1867  Francis Joseph I is crowned king of Hungary in Budapest, following the creation of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy.  Romeo et Juliette, an opera by Charles Gounod, debuts in Paris.
1868  During a party celebrating the fifth birthday of Emma’s sister, Madeleine, peasants set fire to the family estate, protesting the introduction of mechanized farming equipment.  The family moves to Budapest, where Baron Orczy, at the urging and recommendation of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt, accepts a post as administrator of the National Theater.  Das Rheingold, an opera by family friend Richard Wagner, debuts in Munich.
1871  Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass is published.
Among other notable people mentioned in this timetable are: Thomas Edison, Franz Kafka, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack the Ripper, Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, T.S. Eliot, and the Wright brothers.
Baronness Orczy wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel in five weeks in 1901.  Two years later she and her husband collaborated on a stage version which was produced at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England.  She went on to write several stories and books that featured the Scarlet Pimpernel.  She also wrote a couple of series of detective stories.  One, Lady Molly of Scotland Yard featured the first female crime solver.
The timeline ends:
1947  Baroness Orczy publishes her autobiography, Links in the Chain of Life. She dies on November 12 in London.
I’d like to read that book too.