Thursday morning, for Wildwood’s young mom’s group, The Well, Candace presented a partly autobiographical talk on the nature of hope: “Dancing in the Minefields: Life Lessons on Learning to Hope.”
Two songs by Andrew Peterson anchored the presentation: Dancing in the Minefields, near the beginning; and You’ll Find Your Way, at the end. Powerful songs, for which her remarks provide an extended meditation.
Thanks to Kelly Skrapka for organizing the program and inviting Candace to speak. Tammy, Barbara and I came as guests. I’m so glad I was able to make it, and was profoundly moved. What an amazing woman I am married to! And in many ways, the story of her journey is the story of our journey together. And a love letter to our daughters. And a thank you to our parents and families.
Last night Brent Purkaple and I were honored to present the final talk in the 2019 series sponsored by the Medieval Fair and the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Despite the rain, there was a full turnout, and the West Norman Pioneer Library opened the coffeeshop for the event.
We took the opportunity to introduce our digital scholarship project, The Sky Tonight (skytonight.org). Special thanks to Candace for reading the literary quotes. The Sky Tonight will open next fall; we’re shooting for the September equinox. We did not record the talk, but here are the slides (PDF, 35MB).
In previous posts I’ve described how much I appreciate Accordance. The accessible and immensely enjoyable “Lighting the Lamp” video podcast series by Dr. J. has recently featured two brief videos that make a very helpful introduction for anyone contemplating whether to dive in and make Accordance their primary platform for biblical studies.
While I use Logos for reading digital titles that publishers license exclusively to them (e.g., Barth and Torrance), Accordance is my go-to platform for textual study. If a particular title is available on both platforms, I purchase it for Accordance every time. These two videos will give you a birds-eye view of Accordance, and convey something of why Accordance users like me are so loyal to their favorite Bible study software.
“The night hath been to me a more familiar face than that of man,
and in her starry shade of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learned the language of another world.” (Byron)
“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how men would adore them; and preserve for generations the remembrance of the City of God which had been shown. But every night come out these envoys of beauty…” (Emerson)
As we celebrate the Incarnation, what does it mean that God became one flesh with us?
“I had a dream much later, maybe ten years ago, where I was looking for directions in a town I didn’t know, and I had taken a shortcut through an alleyway. The alleyway led to a courtyard, and the courtyard was full of beautiful young people milling around in the moonlight, having some sort of event. An older guy came up to me and asked, “Can I help you?” And while we were talking a strikingly beautiful young woman, kind of punkish and tall, walked by me, and when she turned, one side of her face looked like those World War I trench victims with half their faces blown away. It was shocking, but then I realized that everybody in the place was like that in one way or another. They were all damaged and trashed and beautiful, and I can’t remember whether the older man said this to me or whether I just understood it, but somehow I came to understand that it’s the scars that bind us. This is what binds us to the people in ISIS, to our enemies, to everything. It’s what every human has in common, regardless of ideology or lifestyle or clothing style or anything else. We’ve all got these wounds. I suppose the wounds of Christ are archetypes for these wounds. It’s in our woundedness that we have our connection point.”
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is frequently taken as a warning about censorship, yet Bradbury’s chief concern was far more profound than the banning of books. On his own account, Bradbury set out to protest a culture in which people prefer television and other distractions and so choose not to read at all. Today, to awaken us from the self-imposed soft-censorship of our digital screens, we are more in need of Fahrenheit 451 than ever. Take up and read.
“In pessimistic moments (usually after watching television), I wonder if Western civilization has moved into a new Dark Age in which we sit around all day in recliner chairs listening to rap music, watching game shows and Survivor reruns, and eating fast food. Perhaps the church will be called on again, as it was in the original Dark Ages, to preserve literature and learning.” Philip Yancey, in the foreword to Scott Larsen, Indelible Ink: 22 Prominent Christian Leaders Discuss the Books That Shape Their Faith (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003).
“In [Benedict’s] Rule we can distinguish the two elements we have seen in the life of St. Benedict: the knowledge of letters and the search for God. The fundamental fact that stands out in this domain is that one of the principal occupations of the monk is the lectio divina, which includes meditation: meditari art lagere. Consequently, one must, in the monastery, possess books, know how to write them and read them, and, therefore, if it be necessary, learn how to read… the word bibliotheca, which he uses in referring to books read in Lent, can mean, for him, the Bible. But St. Benedict evidently takes for granted the existence of a library, and a fairly extensive one at that, since each monk is supposed to receive a codex in Lent…” Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture (Fordham, 1961).
“Books! They keep me up late. They sometimes wake me up, summoning me from my bed in the middle of the night. My best friends. My worst enemies… Because every book I see says ‘come hither and I will make you wise.’ I have now read so many of them they cannot live up to their allurements. Yet all librophiliacs (book lovers, and I did not make this one up) are on the make for that one scintillating paragraph that hides in the deep interior of some book yet to be read. To put it more simply, I’m a sucker for a great read! I always feel the next book I pick up will be the one great book I dare not miss.” Calvin Miller, in Indelible Ink (p. 82).
“One does not live by bread alone…” Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 4:4)
Around 2000 B.C. an Egyptian priest counseled his son:
“Behold, nothing surpasses books. Would that I might make you love books more than your mother. Would that I might make their beauty enter before your face, for it is greater than any office. You are to set your heart on books.” (translation of a hieroglyphic papyrus in the British Museum)
But consider also the words of Qoheleth, the Teacher, from a millennium later:
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Ecclesiastes 12:12
“The familiar faces of my books welcomed me. I threw myself into my reading chair and gazed around me with pleasure. All my old friends present—there in spirit, ready to talk with me any moment when I was in the mood, making no claim upon my attention when I was not.” George MacDonald