Pithy quotes from our current reading which give us pause to reflect

Oh, wow, Mark. Thanks for this and for reading and processing and responding.
“I wonder if it squares with your life experience?”
I think so. However, I’m pretty sure we are having different conversations with Berry’s text, which will make a difference in what we receive from it.
I particularly appreciate the description of Jesus’ terrible prayer. Well-meaning people so often pulverize the broken, implying that “unanswered prayer” is a sign of a lack of faith.
My experience was not carried out through prayerful expressions of deep faith but a great deal of fear, stress, avoidance and doubt. God answered my unuttered, unutterable prayers with people: nurse after doctor after child-life-therapist after Kim-The-Tech-of-All-Trades after breathing specialists after physical therapist after occupational therapist after speech therapist after neuro-ophthalmologist after cleaning staff after med students after the endless stream of family and friends who helped at home or at the hospital … day after day propping my husband and me up all under the guise of taking care of the needs of our kid. And on the days I felt like Job’s wife, silent, imperceptible direction sternly warned, “No. That is not for you.” Coming out of this with ANY faith seemed an answer to somebody’s prayer.

Regarding the abyss, yes. All of what you quoted. The howls and groans that comprised my best effort at prayer for a very long time combined with a crawl through the abyss changed each of us in my family. Some abstractions are impossible to maintain after you’ve lived with the concretes in the abyss. We have hooks we never wanted to acquire. We didn’t have a choice to figure out beforehand, if God would help us. We would never have chosen this.

I’ll close with a section of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which comes from a longer passage dealing, in part, with suffering. I have always been grateful for this text and have come to rely on for survival in the faith:
Romans 8: 18-27
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and to obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit [of God, i.e. the Holy Spirit] helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.


? :slightly_smiling_face:

Curse God and die!

This is the independent clause:

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Just finished Makoto Fujimura’s book Art and Faith. I particularly appreciate all of his work over many years that is intent on subverting the culture wars and its damage to the Church in the U.S.
These are from near the end of the book (my copy is epub). I thought the pulled together some of the more important points of the book (really of all of his books and blog posts and newsletters that I’ve read).


Christian community can be, and should be, the most integrated community in the world; the institutions that bear Christ’s name should be an oasis of tears; like Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, we each should be, as T. S. Eliot wrote, a “still point of the turning world.” Christians can dare to rush into the storms and plagues of life because we have already seen the resurrection, and our intuition to anoint the King has been commended by the King himself. Christians therefore should move with unbridled compassion, gratuitous empathy, and abiding care to collaborate with each other to move into the world, even to the extent of loving our enemies. Christians should have the same impulsiveness and freedom that Mary had. But we have yet to exhibit these qualities and instead may be become fear-filled automatons of utilitarian pragmatism. We can lose our cultural souls if we continue to make bottom-line survival our main concern. (Pg. 141)

and this:

For Christians, the narrative of the Good News, a narrative that begins in Creation and ends in the New Creation, is not a tool to manipulate others or a checklist of good behaviors. The Good News is that we are freed from our perpetual struggle to be gods ourselves. Creating false gods with every effort, and trying to attain goodness by our willpower, we constantly try to prove our worthiness and that we are needed. Once we understand that God does not need us, but despite all of our shortcomings God chooses to love us nevertheless, we are free. We are free to love; we are free to choose ourselves to spend time, or “waste” time, with those who may be outside of our utilitarian, survival values.8 We must realize that all that we are, and all that we see, is created in genuine and gratuitous love, and therefore we can love extravagantly and create beauty. Beauty and mercy are extravagant because God simply created an overflowing abundance in the universe and put us in a place of stewardship.(pp. 143-144)


Said of Regine Schlegel:

“She had a simple youthful longing to see her Fritz again, and yet she repeated with sincere conviction Kierkegaard’s words to her: ‘You see, Regine, in eternity there is no marriage; there, both Schlegel and I will happily be together with you.’”

Stephen Backhouse’s 3 hour audio lectures are absolutely delightful as an introduction to Soren Kierkegaard. The lectures deal with his life and calling more than with his philosophy. This wasn’t what I expected, but it was handled so well by the scholar, that it was effortless and intimate.


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Unthinking faith is a curious offering to be made to the creator of the human mind.
—John A. Hutchinson


Given the interest in his book Jayber Crow, I thought this article concerning Wendall Berry might be of interest. I have not read the NYT article it referenced, as I am not a subscriber, but would like to do so. Anyway: making a difference – Snakes and Ladders

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Thanks for the article. I’m about to return that one in. I thought it wondered around like a dog that had lost the scent toward the end. There were more good quotes but I didn’t want to pluck all the best fruit. I’ve started in on another one on that list you shared, Annie Dillard’s The Maytrees before. But I’ve been falling asleep so fast that I’ve stretched the first teeny chapter out for days. Meanwhile after breezing through the thread again I finally put a hold on Khalid Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed. I picked that up yesterday and bonus: it’s in large type! If it turns out to be as good as The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns it will be a joy.


Here ya go: Opinion | You Are Now Remotely Controlled - The New York Times

(Non-subscribers have access to 10 articles per month before being asked to pay. The gifted article can be viewed an unlimited number of times during the 14 day period before the link expires. – if anyone wants it after that, give me a yell and I can “regift” it. ; - )


I saw this quote in a book I was working with today at the library. It reminded me of @Paraleptopecten, but I’m sure there are other “amateur naturalists” hanging out here. It’s for all of you. What you do is valuable.

From The Boletes of Michigan by Alexander H. Smith and Harry D. Thiers

This work is dedicated to Victor Clare Potter, of Ithaca, Michigan; born May 14, 1920, died January 11, 1964. Victor Potter was a victim of arthritis, but this did not dampen his enthusiasm for natural history. He had special crutches made so that he could carry a collecting basket on one of them, and, so equipped, he made, in the short period of less than fifteen years, a collection of fleshy fungi of appoximately 20,000 specimens, which is the most significant collection in existence from the center part of the Lower Peninsula. Many of them were boletes, including one of the most peculiar species of Leccinum yet described, which now bears his name.
   He clearly showed by his own efforts that the amateur naturalist can still make significant contributions to biology. Indeed, the project on the boletes of Michigan has profited significantly from the activities of a number of amateurs in the state.


Occasionally, a dear friend texts or mails me a pithy quote from her studies. This one came from her the other day. I think we could all use it now and again:

Always add, always walk, always proceed;

Neither stand still, nor go back, nor deviate;

He that standeth still proceedeth not;

He goeth back that continueth not;

He deviateth that revolteth;

He goeth better that creepeth in his way than he that moveth out of his way.

[Attributed to Augustine]

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Nice. Somewhere there is a snippet from ee cummings about an artist’s purpose being to proceed. Couldn’t find that but here is another that wants to be shared.

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

― E.E. Cummings


The heart of parenting and teaching, any form of mentorship or loving relatinship.
Isn’t it huge to find out an artist, whose work one so admires, thinks in such a nurturing way? And one can wonder, if by engaging with that artist’s work, one is receiving from that artist exactly what was intended in the statement you quoted.


This artical starts off with one of my favorite Cummings poems. He goes on to discuss Cummings’ equal involvement in painting and his religiosity in discussing the first poem he says.

Birth is a major theme in this poem. “i who have died am alive again,” writes Cummings as himself. He experiences a spiritual awakening, “the birth / day of life and of love and wings.” To me, this line is the most evocative one in the poem. I read into it my own experience of awakening—that is, my conversion to Christianity, my being raised with Christ into new life. This isn’t the same kind of awakening that Cummings is talking about, who, being Unitarian, rejected the divinity of Christ and the literalness of the Resurrection.5 His born-again experience seems to refer more generally to a sudden, sweeping awareness of the glory of God, a wonder that lifts him up out of either ignorance or depression, as if on wings

That is a favorite poem of mine as well as is this one. From same collection titled Xaipe.

life is more true than reason will deceive
(more secret or than madness did reveal)
deeper is life than lose:higher than have
–but beauty is more each than living’s all

multiplied with infinity sans if
the mightiest meditations of mankind
canceled are by one merely opening leaf
(beyond whose nearness there is no beyond)

or does some littler bird than eyes can learn
look up to silence and completely sing?
futures are obsolete:pasts are unborn
(here less than nothing’s more than everything)

death,as men call him, ends what they call men
-but beauty is more now than dying’s when.

My favorite line in this one is:

“deeper is life than lose:higher than have“

… which says to me there is more to life than what we can (and will) lose, but what that is is something much higher than what we can hang on to as a possession.


Thank you, Mark. My head is just swimming with the poems, the paintings, the SONG (Did you listen to the song?!). Anything else I could say right now would ruin it.
Thank you.

Thank you for alerting me to the song. I found the article while looking for the that second poem to share and liked it and the paintings too. But it was pre dawn so I didn’t get as far as the song. The author - she, not he- put it together nicely. I’ve got to confess though that I have a hard time hearing the words sung in that way. We have a friend who came to the party in our garden today who sings in a chorus that goes by “Sacred and Profane” whose concerts we usually attend. I can usually make out the words live.

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I hope your party was at least as wonderful as your post. With such an fun and fascinating group of people, I’m sure it was.
I’m glad I mentioned the song. Like you, I can nearly never understand the words ( sacred or profane) of music sung on stage. I have had to learn to accept the sound of the lyrics as part of the sound of the instrument, rather than something that carries meaning in itself. To really prepare for hearing a concert or opera requires real study on my part. So it’s rare that I understand more than a few words.
I know I have heard this sung version before. It’s absolutely exquisit. And since I had just read the poem and had it in front of me, the words were accessible…if I opened my eyes. Afterward.
I have encountered this type of contemporary polyphonic music a few times before, and find it amazing. Like cummings overlapping use of visual layout (including the physical arrangement of words and punctuation) and the sound of the poem, the musical interpretation uses choral music very differently, not relying on meter or traditional harmonies, but on different ways of blending voices and shifting tones for effects. It seems an appropriate musical form for cumming’s work.
Like cummings’ use of language and form, These composers are using physics differently. They sometimes seem to be deliberately exploiting the math of sound waves, allowing the different frequencies to interact (rub) and create the effect of rhythm, and other times allowing the voices to. There are different types of pulsing going on. I don’t have the vocabulary to describe what I recognize here, but if you’ve ever tuned a guitar using harmonics, you have experienced the same thing.

Sadly no guitars in my background except in my collected music. I used to say the p ly mysic I can play is on my iPod (now it is in clouds, apparently). Campfire songs is my only real brush with producing any music.

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It’s been decades since I played anything. It’s a shock I can still tune the thing. I felt enormous success last week, when I managed to plunk out a “new” hymn we sang at church that I really liked. I also played string bass in school and really loved it. Nostalgic Kendel keeps thinking, “sure, I’ll play it again.” Reality Kendel is quite certain the bass needs a better home. I do imagine playing guitar again. It’s a really versatile instrument. But I’ll be starting nearly at 0.
My dad was awesome at radio, too. ; )

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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