How the birds must puzzle as they fly above the Midwest, the Northwest; When they fly over the Great Plains, the Great Mountains. I flew over the Great Plains. There I saw the grid of man Laid out in straight lines marking plots and straight roads making access a higher priority than aesthetic. To like graph paper we have turned these plains, Upon which to chart yield production and calculate field efficiency; Upon which
For anyone who grew up with a religious background similar to mine (Southern Baptist with a Reformed bent), art was considered as either dangerous or irrelevant to one’s spiritual life. Imagination and experience and creativity were little regarded, while discipline and right-belief were considered the important things for spiritual thriving. But somewhere along the way someone suggested to me that truth, goodness, and beauty all go hand in hand. How, exactly, the three relate I
Snow Every year, Ryan O’Neal, better known as Sleeping at Last, releases a Christmas song for his free Christmas collection. This year it was “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” from White Christmas, a dearly loved classic. However, my favourite offering is further down the list, a song simply titled “Snow.” The branches have traded Their leaves for white sleeves All warm-blooded creatures make ghosts as they breathe Scarves are wrapped tightly like
Whether we’re talking about churches, universities, or office buildings, in almost every case I’m a staunch defender of architectural classicism. To my mind, the built environment should be more beautiful than dated “modernist” rectangles, grungy Brutalist monstrosities, or deranged postmodern creations: it’s not hard to intuit that there are certain forms that comport with our deepest aesthetic convictions (as traced by Nikos Salingaros in his magisterial Twelve Lectures on Architecture: Algorithmic Sustainable Design). Give me
I will admit that I am late to the party. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton has been a cultural craze since its debut in early 2015. At the time, I was still a poor graduate student. Only recently were my wife and I able to see the show in Chicago. As we entered, my wife was more excited to see the show than I, but as we left, I was the one charged with energy. From reviews,
What is the artistic spirit within us that arises, unannounced, to haunt our homes? Today I saw my daughter pounding furiously with pencils upon paper. Brow furrowed, she inordinately assembled a haphazard diaspora of points by means of pummeling. Unsatisfied with one color, she expanded the oeuvre to encompass black, green and grey. The shimmering graphite reflects blindingly into my eyes as I gaze now upon the paper, turning it in my hands and observing
“The sands have shifted! The sands have shifted!” Walid shouted as he hurriedly drew back the curtain of the buryuut hajar. “It will be well to change our course, Alim, everything looks different. What I once knew, I know no more. We cannot know where we are; we cannot know where we are going. The storms, the harmattan winds; the landscape is utterly different. How are we to navigate?” Abdul-Alim followed Walid out to survey.
Why is it absolutely essential that you read two books about Jesuits encountering aliens? I will begin to answer that question in part one of this (largely) spoiler-free review. Deus Vult? A Review of Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow The Sparrow’s opening pages describe a Jesuit mission to an alien world gone horribly wrong. We hear the story from Emilio Sandoz—the book’s protagonist and the sole survivor of a small group who first visited the
There was once a wealthy banker who was so intrigued by what he heard about Jesus of Nazareth that he decided to go hear him preach. The banker listened intently to Jesus’ teachings. Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd who leaves 99 sheep just to save one. He told a parable about an important, honorable man who nonetheless lavishly celebrated the return of his disgraceful, disreputable son. And Jesus responded to questions with
Or, Reflections on the Gospel of John in Response to Leonard Cohen I hunger. Bread fills me. I hunger again. I thirst. Wine makes the heart glad. My thirst is not quenched. I question. I have seen all done under the sun. Truth eludes me. I love As the wonder of a man with a virgin. Yet the unity is cracked. I live, Tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing, feeling all these mundane joys, Yet I die.
It is possible to ring with crystalline purity like a wineglass traced by fingertips. Each of us bearing Fingerprints, evidence in clay. Whether we be muddiest earth or turned perfectly transparent, Our heart of hearts remains Hidden even to us. Whether it be holy of holies or den of demons….Well, How does it resonate? Do its walls reverberate with that lone immutable Note? Consume the Word and hear His name sung on your palate. Taste
God of the margins, We encounter you in the ostracized, in the liminal, on the outskirts of town. We encounter you in the pariah, the reject, the apostate. Sometimes we are the pariah, plagued by the ghosts of failed expectations. Of merciless accusations. With no consolation but your deafening silence. Sometimes we find you again. In a fellow outcast whose words spark hope. Whose vulnerability is magnetic. Whose inspiration is contagious. Their voice reverberates with
On April 15th, the world watched in sadness—and sometimes in quiet song—as vast portions of Notre Dame Cathedral came down in a blaze. Many mourned the loss of a place of such history and culture. But still more mourned the loss of a great bastion of beauty in the world. Tears were shed by some who had never even visited the Cathedral (my crying-averse self hesitantly admits that I was one of them), because we
The sky is the colour of ashes— White and grey; The eaves drip icicle tears falling away My life is filled with ashes, my mood is fey; Death upon death finds my heart falling away Across my forehead a cross —charcoal dust— Reminds me that my frame will soon rust Over the shadow of death a Cross Reminds me that life can flame from loss The kernel of wheat must die,
April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. T. S. Eliot “We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men,” Eliot begins his 1925 poem, “The Hollow Men.” Not the most positive of notes on which to start. But perhaps therein is its haunting power. Reality has a way of pressing beyond our rather feeble attempts at distracting ourselves.
If I read as many books as most men do, I would be as dull-witted as they are… -Thomas Hobbes Since the English translation of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in 2014, she has become an international superstar. The book has sold over two million copies and has now been translated into more than thirty languages. She even has her own Netflix
On December 28th, Netflix dropped Charlie Brooker’s latest Black Mirror offering: Bandersnatch; an interactive choose-your-own-adventure style film focused on the “choices” of Stefan; a young up-and-coming videogame developer. Depending on how one navigates the film, different events will occur, but with every choice, Stefan runs into obstacles [Spoilers ahead]. How does Stefan navigate these obstacles? He doesn’t. You do. In doing so, you, the viewer, are escorted behind the proverbial curtain and given the power
If I may approach the subject of sacred music without diving into the worship wars, a recent time of personal devotion reminded me of one of the aspects of worship music I particularly appreciate. That is, songs which tickle my brain, allowing me to continue pondering God’s nature after the music has stopped, the service is over, and I am back into the grind of the everyday week. One such song is the hymn Immortal
In the gloaming across the sere grass I see a shadow roaming up the hill, across the loam I see the dark shape pass. Golden evening light has given way to misty twilight, the shadow’s flight (or was it descent?) lost in grey. Who was it walked that hill? Who was it passed by without seeing— the porch, the cat sleeping still? And who, indeed, let their shade-self walk across the bare
The beautiful is that which is pleasing when seen… —Thomas Aquinas As I indicated in my last post, I’ve been thinking about the topic of an apologetic for the Christian faith in light of our time and culture of ugliness (both inside and outside the Church). I suggested that theologians and leaders would do well to place a special emphasis on living beautifully. In this post, I would like to continue that line of thought,