Sometimes I am amazed when I repeatedly stumble upon similar profound thoughts in unexpected places. One recent example is my stumbling yesterday upon the song “Hatred (A Duet)” by the Kinks, and then today something that Frederick Buechner wrote in his novel “On the Road With the Archangel.” Continue reading
At the conclusion of Mark Twain’s book “Joan of Arc” he writes,
I have finished my story of Joan of Arc, that wonderful child, that sublime personality, that spirit which in one regard has had no peer and will have none—this: its purity from all alloy of self-seeking, self-interest, personal ambition. In it no trace of these motives can be found, search as you may, and this cannot be said of any other person whose name appears in profane history.
In his book about four literary luminaries, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Mark Twain, G.K. Chesterton, and William Shakespeare, Frederick Buechner write this about Mark Twain’s view of humanity: Continue reading
“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.” (A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket)
Many people, at least since the time of Freud, have held that belief in God (and by extension the “Happy Ending”) is nothing more than the phenomena of wish-fulfillment. An interesting treatment of an answer to Freud by C. S. Lewis can be found here where the PBS documentary “The Question of God” was reviewed.
I was recently reading the book “Beyond Words” by Frederick Buechner, who writes the following which to my mind also sheds some light on the question of faith as wish-fulfillment. Buechner points out that children, who are more apt to demonstrate the natural response of humans to the mystery of life, do not take the “happy ending” for granted. Continue reading
Here is another inspirational passage from “Godric” by Frederick Buechner that is about “misery” and “minstrelsy.”
“All those years ago Tom Ball blessed my ears to hear the poor cry out for help, and I still hear them right enough. Continue reading
“This life of ours is like a street that passes many doors,” Ball said, “nor think you all doors I mean are wood. Every day’s a door and every night. When a man throws wide his arms to you in friendship, it’s a door he opens same as when a woman opens hers in wantonness. The street forks out, and there’s two doors to choose between. The meadow that tempts you rest your bones and dream a while. The rackribbed child that begs for scraps the dogs have left. The sea that calls a man to travel far. They all are doors, some God’s and some the Fiend’s. So choose with care which one’s you take, my son, and one day – who can say – you’ll reach the holy door itself.”
Godric, p. 24
I find these medieval views of life to be quite refreshing in their “black and white” morality versus the “grey areas” relativism of our postmodern age, and in their sheer meaningfulness. Have we postmoderns relativized our lives into practical meaninglessness? And are we requiring our children to make bricks with their lives without giving them any straw to make them with?
Comments, questions, critiques, likes, are always welcome.
BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013
Godric tells of the blessing he received from Tom Ball when he was about to leave home. Would that we all had received such a blessing as we ventured forth into the wide world.
“Tom Ball came by to bless me. Ball was a heavy, slow-paced man who had one eye that veered off on a starboard tack so you never knew for sure which way he looked. He entered our house splashed high with mud, for our yard was always a bog through spring. He sweated like a horse.
He laid his hands on me and blessed my eyes to see God’s image deep in every man. He blessed my ears to hear the cry especially of the poor. He blessed my lips to speak no word but Gospel truth. He warned against the Devil and his snares with always that one eye of his skewed off as if to watch for snares himself.”
“Godric”, pp. 23-4.
Some may think of this as merely superstition from “the dark ages” – but what is wrong with seeing the dignity of every person, hearing the cry of all and especially the poor, and speaking only truth and no falsehood? I think the Devil very much enjoys our “enlightened” age.
Likes, questions, comments, critiques are always welcome – thank you.
Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
“What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”
(Godric, Frederich Buechner, page 96)
“Everything that rises afterward falls… But all that dies has first to live.”
(Joy Will Find A Way Bruce Cockburn, 1974)
BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013