October 18th, 2014

"As he that is fallen into the king’s hand for debt to him, is safe from all other creditors, so is he, that fears the Lord, from other fears. He that loves the Lord, loves him with all his love; he that fears the Lord, loves him with all his fear too; God takes no half affections."

—John Donne, in a sermon on ‘the fear of the Lord’

October 10th, 2014

Tony Anderson, ‘Sonic Architect’

October 9th, 2014
He saw clearly how plain and simple — how narrow, even — it all was; but clearly, too, how much it all meant to him, and the special value of some such anchorage in one’s existence. He did not at all want to abandon the new life and its splendid spaces, to turn his back on sun and air and all they offered him and creep home and stay there; the upper world was all too strong, it called to him still, even down there, and he knew he must return to the larger stage. But it was good to think he had this to come back to, this place which was all his own, these things which were so glad to see him again and could always be counted upon for the same simple welcome.
The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
October 8th, 2014
October 1st, 2014
September 26th, 2014

Gary A. Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Old Testament at the University of Notre Dame, “I Give, Therefore, I Am: The Meaning of Charity in Jewish and Christian Thought”

September 25th, 2014

Before her 1983 death, Corrie was honored by the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations,” for her role in saving Jews from the Holocaust. She planted a tree at Yad Vashem in honor of her sister Betsie, who died in Ravensbruck for her “crime” of saving Jews. According to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum:

In resisting Nazi persecution, ten Boom acted in concert with her religious beliefs, her family experience, and the Dutch resistance. Her defiance led to imprisonment, internment in a concentration camp, and loss of family members who died from maltreatment while in German custody.

The ten Boom family were members of the Dutch Reformed Church, which protested Nazi persecution of Jews as an injustice to fellow human beings and an affront to divine authority. In her autobiography, ten Boom repeatedly cited religious motivations for hiding Jews, particularly her family’s strong belief in a basic tenet of their religion: the equality of all human beings before God. Their religious activities had also brought the family a history of personal connections to the Jewish community. Corrie’s grandfather had supported efforts to improve Christian-Jewish relations in the nineteenth century. Her brother Willem, a Dutch Reformed minister assigned to convert Jews, studied antisemitism and ran a nursing home for elderly of all faiths. In the late 1930s that nursing home became a refuge for Jews fleeing from Germany.

The Holocaust Museum understands that Corrie and her family did what they did because of their Christian faith. You cannot understand why the ten Booms did what they did without understanding that they did it out of faith conviction. Yet these small-minded California bigots with their mindless laïcité find Corrie’s Christian faith intolerable. They deny schoolchildren the opportunity to learn about one of the great acts of moral heroism of the 20th century.

The nation of Israel, in the name of the Jewish people, bestowed upon this Dutch Calvinist woman the highest honor the Jewish state can give to Gentiles, in grateful recognition of her service. Yet this secular charter school in California finds her story too offensive to tell to American schoolchildren.

—Rod Dreher. Read the whole thing in The American Conservative at Corrie ten Boom Deported Again. Hat tip to Joe Corrie.

September 15th, 2014
Joseph, Family, and Forgiveness
Genesis 45: 1 – 15
September 9th, 2014

The book describes how a kimono is made from exactly one bolt of fabric. The way the pattern of a kimono is constructed, not one scrap of fabric remains after the garment is completed. Once the kimono showed signs of wear, it began a long line of transformations — from Sunday best to an everyday item of clothing. When it was further worn, the kimono would be used as a sleeping gown or shortened to make an outdoor jacket. When further worn, the jacket would be turned into a bag or an apron. Finally, layers of scraps were sashiko quilted together into dust cloths. But sashiko was also used to strengthen fabric and in the north, it was used to secure layers of fabric together for protection against the elements. What began as utilitarian stitching began to be used as a decorative element as well and patterns evolved from the daily lives of the quilters.

Sashiko by Cortney Heimerl

September 8th, 2014

The pressure on girls to take sexy selfies today comes out of a culture that routinely equates modesty with shame, instead of recognizing it for what it really is: an impulse that protects what is precious and intimate. Teenage girls need to know that when boys ask them for naked pictures, they can—and should—say no. It’s not merely that “sexted” pictures can find their way onto social media (even without the aid of hackers, they seem to have a way of slipping their iPhone collars and circulating with astonishing ease). A better reason to say no is that, having set a higher standard, maybe someone will write a love song for you instead.

And if he doesn’t, who cares? Modesty is, at its essence, having an internal sense of self, not needing others’ approval of how you look (naked or otherwise) to know that you have a unique purpose in this world, and certainly not needing all your friends to “like” your Facebook post in order to know that you’re great….

And yet, social media is filled with videos of parents scaring their toddlers or filming their tearful reactions when told that mommy ate all their Halloween candy. I seem to be nearly the only person who doesn’t find these videos funny, nor do I think that the appropriate reaction to a child’s tantrum is to film it and commiserate on Facebook about how hilarious it was. To me, these parents have fallen off a different cliff, albeit an imperceptible one; they’re breaking a private trust in order to feed the public’s appetite.

I can’t prove it, but I feel that the collapse of the public/private distinction has dialed down our capacity for empathy. Real empathy requires a private, intimate space, and of course, a time when you’re not on Facebook. Last Saturday, my 3-year-old daughter fell asleep in her Sabbath finery after a spirited trip to the park, and it was one of those perfect moments. I gazed at her sweet slumber on the couch, and I sighed to my husband, “The Shabbos photos you can’t take are always the best ones.” (As Jews who observe the restrictions of the Sabbath, we don’t take photos on this day.) Then I realized, maybe it’s not that Sabbath photos are better in any objective way, but since I couldn’t immediately reach for my phone and capture the picture, I had no alternative than to be in the moment and drink it all in: her little chest rising and falling, her fancy dress artfully decorated with grass stains and crumb cake. What was she dreaming about? I was able to notice things and really throw myself into the moment in a way I never would have, had I rushed for my camera as usual.

From a technical standpoint, the scene was mundane, but private, unmediated moments have a special quality. Let’s try to enjoy more of them.

—Wendy Shalit, The Private Self(ie) in Time Magazine

The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the “happy ending.” The Christian has still to work, with mind as well as body, to suffer, hope, and die; but he may now perceive that all his bents and faculties have a purpose, which can be redeemed.
— J. R. R. Tolkien