Sunday, January 31, 2016

Prayers for the People (45)

At the 45th prayer, the subject matter of The Book of Common Prayer turns to prayers for "family and personal life." 

I loved the prayer for today, to look inward in my own heart and pray for the Lord to enkindle warm kindness and affection -- "fervent charity" -- within me and among my family members. It's easy to love people I see once or twice a week, or less. Those with whom I live day in and day out are the iron God uses to sharpen me, and that means the closest relationships receive the most regular wear and tear. 

The daily chafing between us of our human sins, foibles, and limitations challenges us to submit our thoughts and habits to Christ's commands: love, humility, respect, and self-control -- to give whether or not we receive -- daily. 

As the old saying goes, "Charity begins at home." 

45. For Families

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who settest the solitary
in families: We commend to thy continual care the homes in
which thy people dwell. Put far from them, we beseech thee,

every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride
of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance,
patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those
who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh. Turn the
hearts of the parents to the children, and the hearts of the
children to the parents; and so enkindle fervent charity among
us all, that we may evermore be kindly affectioned one
to another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- Online Book of Common Prayer,

The Art of the Spiel

Donald Trump, in spite of his millions and billions and top people and fabulous business instincts and golden coffee tables and many affairs with married ladies and own personal business bible, fails to close the deal three times in the last few weeks:

The New YorkerDonald Trump: The Art of Losing the Deal

The Weekly StandardDebate without Trump Gets Better Ratings Than Last Debate with Trump

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Royal We

"We know that we are not showing up where we were supposed to be, but we still expect you to show up to where you are supposed to be."

D. Wilson pens a speech for D. Trump:

"We Are Most Seriously Displeased

We are not going to appear at the Fox News debate, for we are most seriously displeased. Once the royal majesty of the deal-maker is insulted, how can Ailes still expects the deals to happen? Makes no sense.

We have been in a long campaign. Thus far I have said what I think and I think I have thought what I have said, although to be totally honest it has kind of been a stream of consciousness thing. That being the case, why not live stream the consciousness?

Trumptastic displeasure . . .
Trumptastic displeasure . . .

This is a totally new approach. Never been done in presidential politics before. I have top people on it. Listen up, America. Top people. These top people do exactly what I say, which is how we found out they were top people. Top people who try to boss us are really pretend top people. Total losers.
Have you seen the polls? Totally ahead in the polls. Totally ahead in every poll that isn’t one of those stupid loser polls.
There was a kid named Eddie in eighth grade who used to make fun of us. You know where he is now? He owns a laundromat in Queens. We had our people look him up. His wife looks like a pear. Our research people said they invited them in and offered them some lemonade. They seemed like real happy folks, they said. Top wives should make you think of cantaloupes.
Megyn Kelly! With flashing eyes, floating hair, and weaving round me thrice . . . we don’t have a background that can keep up with that kind of thing. Totally unfair, and completely biased. We even had to look Coleridge up.
And we would say this to all our loyal supporters, except for that one guy I shot on 5th Avenue. We are withdrawing from the Fox News debate, which is not the same thing as withdrawing from the race. Two completely different things. We know that we are not showing up where we were supposed to be, but we still expect you to show up to where you are supposed to be. We need you to turn out next Monday for the caucuses, regardless of any challenges or obstacles in your way. Except for Megyn Kelly. If you see Megyn Kelly there, you can beat it.
We are vacuous, fatuous, and fabulous. We are vain and petulant, and we expect you to keep up with our whims however they may come out. It is not our job to keep up with us. It is your job to keep up with us. If you want an autocrat narcissist for president — excuse us, if you want another autocrat narcissist for president — then you have to watch closely. You have to be vacuous and fatuous also. And if you want to be that way, you must vote that way.
But you can’t be fabulous. That space is reserved. We spent our own money on it.

On "slipping the surly bonds of earth"

In memory of the Challenger disaster, here is the Text of Reagan's beautiful speech,  posted by The American Presidency Project, and originally penned by Peggy Noonan (if you want a good political read, try What I Saw at the Revolution).

Here is a Washington Post article about the speech: Exactly the Right Words

Here is the text of the poem which inspired the quote used at the end of the speech, posted at Arlington Cemetery's website: High Flight by John Gillespie Magee.

Corrie ten Boom: Spinster, Watchmaker, and Contra-Nazi Subversive

Corrie ten Boom was an old, Dutch spinster, a watchmaker with her family business.

She was also a dangerous contra-Nazi subversive, hiding Jews in her own house, serving as a central link in the communications of the Dutch resistance, and stealing meal tickets from the Nazis to make sure Jewish people were fed.

She and her sister and father were eventually captured and sent to a series of prisons, where they were stripped naked, beaten, and starved with Jewish and other political prisoners. In the barracks at Ravensbruck she secretly led prayer and Bible study, and administered vitamin drops to prisoners with materials she and her brave sister had miraculously secreted in.

If you haven't read her own rather short and gripping account of her resistance to the Nazis, may I commend to you her book, The Hiding Place.

In honor of the liberation of the Jews at Auschwitz, here are some of her quotes, (presented at goodreads website), she who faced extreme hatred and fear -- and responded in courage and love.

"In darkness God's truth shines most clear."

"Some knowledge is too heavy... you cannot bear it...your Father will carry it until you are able."

"Whenever we cannot love in the old human way, God can give us the perfect way."

"This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see." 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mark Twain and the bars and shackles of civilization

Yea, verily, the Cotillion season has begun.

From Tom Sawyer:

"Huck Finn's wealth and the fact that he was under the Widow Douglas's protection introduced him into society -- no, dragged him into it, hurled him into it -- and his sufferings were almost more than he could bear. The widow's servants kept him clean and neat, combed and brushed, and they bedded him nightly in unsympathetic sheets that had not one little spot or stain which he could press to his heart and know for a friend. He had to eat with a knife and a fork; he had to use napkin, cup and plate; he had to learn his book; he had to go to church; he had to talk so properly that speech was becoming insipid in his mouth; whithersoever he turned, the bars and shackles of civilization shut him in and bound him hand and foot."

Friday, January 15, 2016

Prayers for the People, 44

44. For the Future of the Human Race

O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us
dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before
the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes
for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in
making provision for its future in accordance with your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-- from the online Book of Common Prayer,

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Prayers for the People, 42 and 43

42. For the Harvest of Lands and Waters

O gracious Father, who openest thine hand and fillest all
things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters,
and multiply the harvests of the world; let thy Spirit go
forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show thy
loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and
save us from selfish use of what thou givest, that men and
women everywhere may give thee thanks; through Christ 
our Lord. Amen.

43. For Rain

O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ
hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom and its
righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send
us, we entreat thee, in this time of need, such moderate rain
and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to
our comfort and to thy honor; through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.

-- from The Book of Common Prayer,

Friday, January 8, 2016

Conspiracy Revisited

I removed my last post and I am reposting this with new commentary.

I do still find the implied alarm over evangelicals putting together a Bible museum to smack of paranoia and prejudice. (If this were a museum of ancient Korans, I suspect the tone would be different.)

However, in pointing that out, I didn't mean to discount the author's real concerns over the provenance of the antiquities.

Addressing the article's uncritical acceptance of the inauthenticity of the gospel accounts and the diversity of early Christian experience, a biblical scholar (and PhD) friend has recommended to me the following book: The Question of Canon by Michael Kruger. And here is a blog of Kruger's briefly addressing accusations of radically diverse beliefs in the Christian community in the 2nd century and before.

Can Hobby Lobby Buy the Bible?

Let's Move to Finland

"The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids," in The Atlantic Monthly

The Descent of the Decent

Two interesting, true tales of personal and corporate descent into fraud -- and how regular people make that moral journey:

"What Was Volkswagon Thinking?" in The Atlantic Monthly

"Just Desserts" in Texas Monthly

Fishing for Seagulls

And other amusing drawings from The Washington Post

What People in 1900 Thought the Year 2000 Would Look Like

How People a Century Ago Imagined We'd Dress Today