Monday, January 31, 2011


Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?

See that black hole in the floor there?  Any idea what that might be?  Back in the day, we called that a laundry chute.  You know, a little space carved out of the 2nd story floor which leads directly to the basement laundry room?  We actually thought of it as rather a kept us from having to descend 2 flights of stairs to deliver our laundry to mom.  Seriously now, folks.  Could I make it any easier for the children?  This hole lies almost directly between their 2 bedrooms, so they've actually taken the time to carry the clothes TO the hole...but apparently that final act of scooting them INTO the hole requires just a bit too much effort!  

ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!  Oi-vay. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Remember

I remember the launch of the very first space shuttle, Columbia.  I had a unique view that day.  Our family was living in Venice, Florida, at the time and  was told that the launch from Cape Canaveral, on Florida's eastern coast could be seen from the western gulf coast where we were.  

At the appointed hour on April 12, 1981, we gathered in our yard...full of excitement at such a new adventure...full of pride that "our" people had accomplished this...full of adrenaline at the possibility of seeing this first journey of its kind LIVE!  It lived up to the hype and we could indeed see it from our front lawn.  From that day on, our family followed the program closely.  We never missed a launch or a re-entry.

Which means that, of course, when the The Challenger took flight on January 28, 1986, we were watching.  By then the shuttle launches were somewhat routine...this was #25...but we were die hard fans, gathered around the TV in my parents' living room.  This was the first time a non-astronaut citizen was part of the crew, adding to the excitement.

It's strange now to watch and listen to the video.  I distinctly remember bursting into tears after seeing it explode, but the TV commentators were relatively non-reactive...uncertain what had happened and what to say.  It  was hard to believe what we had just seen.  Surely this couldn't happen after all this time!  We know what we're doing!  How can this be?  What a sad day.  And what a humbling day.  Man, even in his most glorious accomplishments, is fallible and frail.

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing? 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Faces on a Sunday Morning

The first in a series...I think.

Tightly-pursed lips in vain conceal
What supercilious brow and
Heav'n-raised promontory
Willingly flaunt.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday

It's a tradition we call Shakespeare In A Week.  It's happening right now at Grant's school as they prepare for this year's performance: Romeo & Juliet.  (Grant is case you're wondering!)  The students and parents devote a full week to preparation: set construction, costumes, hair & makeup, blocking, etc. is done during this week.  Lines are distributed at Christmas break and ideally are memorized ahead of time, but the majority of the work takes place during this one week of concentrated effort.  It's fun...and a wee bit stressful for those in charge...but a tradition I don't think anyone is ready to forego. 

I love Shakespeare's humor, his insight into life and people, his poetic ability, but I also love his sheer brilliance and playfulness with words.  The man possessed a dynamic vocabulary and even made up a few words of his own along the way...words which have made their way into the English vernacular!  Here are a few to remember from Romeo & Juliet:

addle (adj) - muddled; confused 

Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat; and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as an egg for quarrelling.

prolixity (n) - longwindedness; verbosity

The date is out of such prolixity.

doff (v) - to take off; put aside; discard 

Romeo, doff thy name; And for that name, which is no part of thee, Take all myself.

sententious (adj) - pithy; trite; moralizing 

R is for the- No; I know it begins with some other letter; and she hath the prettiest sententious of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good to hear it.

jocund (adj) - pleasant; cheerful 

Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

paramour (n) - lover 

Shall I believe That unsubstantial Death is amorous, And that the lean abhorred monster keeps Thee here in dark to be his paramour?

gossamer (n) - a filmy cobweb floating in the air or spread on bushes or grass 

A lover may bestride the gossamer That idles in the wanton summer air, And yet not fall; so light is vanity.

penury (n) - scarcity; lack of necessities 

Noting this penury, to myself I said, 'An if a man did need a poison now Whose sale is present death in Mantua, Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.'

bandy (v) - to toss back and forth 

Had she affections and warm youthful blood, She would be as swift in motion as a ball; My words would bandy her to my sweet love, And his to me...


culling (v) - to pick out; select; gather 

I do remember an apothecary, And hereabouts 'a dwells, which late I noted In tatt'red weeds, with overwhelming brows, Culling of simples.

abate (v) - to deduct; terminate; diminish 

And this shall free thee from this present shame, If no inconstant toy nor womanish fear Abate thy valour in the acting it.

troth (n) - faithfulness; promise 

By my troth, it is well said.

sallow (adj) - a sickly pale yellow 

What a deal of brine Hath wash'd thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!

descry (v) - to discern; discover; detect 

We see the ground whereon these woes do lie, But the true ground of all these piteous woes We cannot without circumstance descry.

supple (adj) - easily bent or twisted; flexible 

Take thou this vial, being then in bed, And this distilled liquor drink thou off...Each part, depriv'd of supple government, Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death...

antic (adj) - fantastic; odd; grotesque 

What, dares the slave Come hither, cover'd with an antic face, To fleer and scorn at our solemnity?

inexorable (adj) - not able to be persuaded  

The time and my intents are savage-wild, More fierce and more inexorable far Than empty tigers or the roaring sea.

pernicious (adj) - fatal; deadly; wicked 

What, ho! you men, you beasts, That quench the fire of your pernicious rage With purple fountains issuing from your veins!

feign (v) - to invent; fabricate; pretend 

But old folks, many feign as they were dead- Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Because my first couple of gratitude posts have been rather serious, this one may seem I'm grasping for an idea or making fun of being thankful.  But that's not the case.  For me, one of the ideas behind intentionally giving thanks is to pay attention to the seemingly simple things in life...things easily overlooked, not only because I take them for granted but because they are "small."

Today, as I sat with an elderly friend eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with caramel and chocolate, I had to chuckle at our conversation.  We sat there with big grins, both of us verbally effusive about how absolutely delicious it was and how much we LOVE ice cream...and it occurred to me: this is one of those simple gifts that I never stop and give thanks for.  It's just ice cream, afterall! 

BUT...several "someones" in history took the time to figure out the right combination of cream, sugar and eggs to make the perfect frozen concoction!  And then they shared the result with the rest of us!  Not life-changing...not world-altering...but a gift nonetheless for which I return thanks!

Monday, January 24, 2011


I generally avoid talking politics.  But you all already know that.  It's not so much that I find the topic irrelevant, as it is that I find it exacerbating beyond belief!  The falsification of facts, the vitriolic rhetoric, the hypocrisy and inconsistency, the finger-pointing, the lack of common sense and decent discourse...on and on it goes.  I become overly emotional and emphatic if I think on it too long, so I generally avoid it altogether. 

HOWEVER...Thomas Woods came along and wrote a book too intriguing for me to avoid.  The concept made perfect sense to me and I wanted to learn more about it.  That concept is: NULLIFICATION.

Woods makes a well-reasoned, historically-based argument for states to employ this practice in the face of federal tyranny.  Simply put, nullification is the legal means by which a state can declare null and void any law established by the federal government which is outside of the carefully prescribed, constitutional boundaries which they have been specifically assigned.  Which is pretty much about 98 percent of legislation since the early 20th century!  See, there I go getting all emotional and opinionated!

Woods provides excellent commentary on the need for nullification, but his best decision was to include a number of primary source documents which present extensive, hotly-debated, highly sophisticated, arguments about the role of the federal vs. the state government.  

The subject has been elevated to the forefront in our day because we are FINALLY beginning to recognize that the states have acquiesced for much too long, making ourselves subservient to the point of virtual irrelevance.  

Whether or not you are politically inclined, I encourage you to explore the concept...and Woods' book is an excellent place to start. 

Miniatures & Morals

Apparently, someone forgot to tell Mr. Leithart that literary criticism must, by its very nature, be dry and tedious!  His critique of Austen's novels is both enlightening and surprisingly engaging.

If you already love Jane, read this critique, then revisit the stories again with his insight.

If for some inexplicable reason you have avoided Ms. Austen ("that's girl stuff," or "I don't DO romance"), perhaps his evaluation (specifically the first chapter: Real Men Read Austen) might persuade you to dive in, head-first, with enthusiasm! 

My First E-Novel

I was in the living room one evening when it hit me suddenly.  The lamp, I mean.

I had just replaced a burned-out light bulb.  The hideous Victorian gold-fringed lampshade looked even worse illuminated.  As I took a step back, wondering whether I should replace the lamp instead of the bulb, my leg bumped the side table.  I made a grab for my coffee mug as it began to topple over, not realizing that my shoe had snapped the lamp's cord.  Down came the lamp with a crash.  Shards of light bulb scattered in every direction.  The mug was knocked out of my hand and fell with a thud onto the wood floor, leaving a trail of hot coffee as it rolled under the couch. 

So begin the adventures of writer and notorious klutz, Vivian, in My Life Behind the Brick Wall

In her first full-length published novel, Ms. Angie Brennan has skillfully woven a comic tale about the serious business of everyday life.  Her characters - the meddling mother, the narcissistic neighbor, the hopelessly romantic sister, the pessimistic grandmother, the benevolent aunt - are instantly familiar because they are characters we have encountered in real life.  

Ms. Brennan's humorous portrayal of the ordinary events of life and relationships - irritating co-workers at a less-than-fulfilling job, Thanksgiving dinner with extended family, both unwanted and desperately desired romantic overtures - left me laughing out loud and drove me to finish the book within 24 hours.  

While "moral lessons" could easily be extrapolated, I don't believe that was Ms. Brennan's point (correct me if I'm wrong, Angie!).  For me, the point was quite simply the delight of a good story well told.  And that alone made it worth my time.

Order your e-copy today...relax...and enjoy!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Let Evening Come

Let Evening Come
by: Jane Kenyon

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Today I give thanks to God for the men in the Missouri Presbytery who sacrificed their time to thoroughly investigate the accusations against my pastor, Jeff Meyers. I am especially thankful for their conclusion that he remains within the bounds of orthodoxy in his teaching and ministry.  Several men worked tirelessly to ferret out the truth and the Lord heard and answered our prayers in bringing about his exoneration.

I also give thanks for Pastor Meyers, who endured close scrutiny, answering very tedious points of theology with precision and detail.  This too required an additional sacrifice of time and energy on top of his routine pastoral duties.  I thank God for the endurance, patience and maturity granted to him throughout this process. 

ADDENDUM:  Almost as soon as I posted this, I became aware that the Presbytery's rule is being challenged.  Nevertheless, I am STILL thankful for their work and pray that God will confirm their faithfulness by granting them the same vindication they granted Pastor Meyers. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Quit...AGAIN

Every single week I think, "I am going to stop blogging."  The reasons vary, but the idea continues to crop up...Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. 

Why am I doing this anyway?

I have nothing left to say.

Nobody (OK...hardly anyone) reads it.  It's not like I'm impacting the world or anything.

I could be doing such better things with my time.

This is really a self-indulgent, narcissistic venture!   Just STOP IT, Lori! I am.  Another Monday morning...another blog post.  And Tuesday's and Wednesday's are already percolating in the brain.  Perhaps I'm addicted to writing.  Or narcissism.  I don't know.

But thanks to those who take the time to stop by every now and then and enter into the crazy world that is my mind.  I hope you're not as bored with me as I am.  And I hope that occasionally you are entertained, or enlightened, or convicted, or encouraged...or maybe even dumbfounded by my Want of Wit.

And I hope that whenever I do actually quit, you might be just a little bit sorry I did. :-)   

Friday, January 14, 2011

Edna's Sonnet 9

One of my intentions this year is to expand my knowledge of poetry: John Donne, William Shakepeare, John Milton and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are 4 of my favorites and some of the few whose entire body of work is familiar to me.  I am seeking to branch out in terms of style and form (I am unintentionally partial to sonnets!) and era (3 of my 4 are early 17th century contemporaries), and I hope to do a bit of formal study on interpretation and form in modern poetry.  We'll see how far that actually goes!  (notice the very non-committal language of "intention" and "hope"...which allows this NOT to qualify as a NYResolution...which means I can do it or not as I feel led.  Right?  Right.)

In the meantime, I have spent the last few days reading a large portion of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poems.  She was a 20th century, controversial, feminist figure who had no qualms about rebelling openly against the mores of her her poetry, in her plays, in her rhetoric and in her lifestyle. 

But as is so often (perhaps always?)  the case, even though she actively suppressed the image of God in herself, His reflection is still evident in her work.  Not in her expressions of rebellion, of course, but in the conveyance of relationship, beauty, nature and humanity.  I will probably share a number of her poems throughout the year.  (Btw, I will continue to promote poems of my Fabulous Four as well!  I can't resist...)

Sonnet 9
by: Edna St. Vincent Millay

Here is a wound that never will heal, I know,
Being wrought not of a dearness and a death,
But of a love turned ashes and the breath
Gone out of beauty; never again will grow
The grass on that scarred acre, though I sow
Young seed there yearly and the sky bequeath
Its friendly weathers down, far underneath
Shall be such bitterness of an old woe.
That April should be shattered by a gust,
That August should be levelled by a rain,
I can endure, and that the lifted dust
Of man should settle to the earth again;
But that a dream can die, will be a thrust
Between my ribs forever of hot pain.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Unique Breed

Wrestlers are a unique breed.   I admit, I was not exactly thrilled when my youngest declared this his sport of choice.  Gross, I thought.  Why in the world would you want to roll around on the mat with another sweaty, smelly guy?  Seriously.  That was my opinion of the sport.

My attitude has changed more than a little over the past several months as I've watched my boy, on his own initiative, develop self-discipline in the areas of eating and working out...self-discipline which has spilled over into his school work.  Through wrestling, he is building a mindset of doing the hard things even when he doesn't feel like it.  That's a pretty important life lesson.  (Am I too old to start wrestling?)

I shouldn't be surprised.  This is a child who, underneath his pleasant disposition, has always had the heart of a soldier, a fighter, a protector, a hero.  This serves him well on the mat.  Yes, winning a match has much to do with physical strength and strategy, but it also has very much to do with strength of will.

As I watch these young men wrestle, and see the ways in which they attempt to subdue one another, I recognize the extreme self-control required.  I could never do it.  If someone wrenched my arm behind my back that way, legal or not, I'm afraid I'd reach around and slug 'em in the jaw!  But a wrestler learns to suppress that anger and channel it in a productive direction.  That has to be good for the character!

The other surprising revelation for me is that there seems to be a greater sense of comradery and team spirit among these guys - in what is considered an individual sport - than I've ever seen on my boys' football, basketball or baseball teams.  Seems these other athletes were often vying for personal recognition more than for one another as a team.  The wrestlers, at least at my son's school, have developed a real brotherhood.  They look out for, help, and encourage one another and it is common for the older ones to take the younger under their wings and mentor them.

I no longer see wrestling as just a bunch of sweaty guys rolling around on a mat, but as a legitmate avenue of building character and friendship.  I can now say without shame, "My son is a wrestler!" 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

10 Items Or Less it "10 items or Fewer"?  I have actually seen it both ways in the same Target store adjacent lanes.  One is grammatically correct and the other is not!  And the one that is NOT, is the one that is found most frequently on these checkout lane signs!

The use of "less & fewer" "much & many" and "amount & number" are regularly confused and seem to be freely interchanged by the masses.  But they are not interchangeable and one simple rule nearly always applies to all of them. (I have to qualify "nearly always" because the only accurate ALWAYS is that there are ALWAYS exceptions!  Aaaannnd...I do have readers who find great delight in pointing out the exceptions to the rule!  You are now officially loosed from that compulsion!) 

Here's the rule: when referring to things that can be counted individually (i.e. can be made plural), the correct word choices are FEWER, MANY and NUMBER.  When referring to a thing that cannot be counted (i.e. a single mass/quantity), choose LESS, MUCH and AMOUNT.

Adults almost always instinctively make the right choice with much and many, but children often exchange the two.  Time and experience seem to naturally correct this one in most cases.  It comes to "sound" right or wrong.

However, the same amount of time and experience seems to have little effect on the other two.  

How much food did you eat? (can't count food or make it plural)
How many wings did you eat? (can count wings)

How much water did you drink? (can't count water or make it plural)
How many glasses of water did you drink? (can count glasses)

Did you buy 2 or fewer gallons of milk? (can count gallons)
Did you buy less milk than I did? (can't count milk or make it plural)

I saw fewer than 3 deer on my walk. (can count deer)
I saw less wildlife than I usally do on my walk. (can't count wildlife or make it plural)

She donated a greater number of hours to the cause than you did. (can count hours)
He donated a greater amount of time to the cause than I did. (can't count time or make it plural - at least not when referring to a block of can when referring to a number of incidents, i.e. how many times...but those )

I can count on one hand the number of times he damaged property. (can count times as incidents)
I can't tell you the amount of damage he caused to the property.  (can't count damage)

You get the idea, right?  So, here's your test.  It's a rather simple test, really, so the prize is simple: a batch of homemade peppermint hot chocolate mix.  Sounds pretty good about now, doesn't it?

1.  I am having fewer/less problems with my English now than I was before I read this post.

2.  How many/much M&M's are left?

3.  The number/amount of mistakes you made on this test is unacceptable.

4.  Less/fewer people participated in this test than I had hoped.

5.  How many/much guests are you expecting?

6.  The sheer number/amount of snowflakes is mind-boggling.

7.  What number/amount of snow fell yesterday? :-)

8. We rode less/fewer miles than expected today because of the heat.
9.  The students brought in a greater number/amount of donations than the parents.

10. How many/much friends may I have over on Friday?

11.  Did you seriously think I would miss a greater number/amount of answers than you?

12.  This test has less/fewer questions than most.

See...told you it was super easy.  And really, the most common mistakes are made when we fail to make the simple distinction between rain and raindrops, people and persons, beer and glasses of beer.  (And quite honestly, educated adults usually only muck these up in relation to people and groups of persons.)  If you're one of the guilty ones, go ahead and reform'll be one of the easiest changes you've ever made!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


At age 23, I returned to St. Louis from Chattanooga for a year to help out one of my sisters.  I decided not to attend my parents' church while I was here but to strike out on my own.  I was particularly interested in finding a Presbyterian church, so I did what everyone did back in those technologically prehistoric times.  I opened that bulky PRINTED-ON-PAPER volume we once knew as The Yellow Pages.  

My fingers did the walking and for the subsequent month of Sundays, I landed myself in a different flavor of Presbyterianism, looking for the one that best suited my tastebuds.  I can't reconstruct exactly what I was seeking back then, but I knew I would recognize it when I found it.  I do know that it included a combination of theology, congregational size, music, and other distinctives that comprise the "personality" of a church.  Whether or not that was the best approach, God knew the desires of my heart and was faithful in leading me to the place He wanted me to be.  

On the fourth Sunday, I walked into the Masonic Lodge at the intersection of Eddie & Park and Sappington Roads.  Let me tell you, there was nothing appealing about the building!  It was small, without windows, and the "sanctuary" set-up was more than a little odd.  In spite of that, this place struck a chord in my heart.  I can't even say why, but I knew I belonged here.  It wasn't a feeling...back then I never allowed myself it must have been a rational evaluation of...well, everything.  

22 years later, I am blessed to be in this same place.  Much has changed.  We have our very own church building...with windows to boot.  We lost our beloved founding pastor to a tragic climbing accident and had to find someone to fill his shoes.  Children who were just being born are in college or married.   Several pillars of maturity have gone to be with the Lord.  We have sent-out dozens of seminarians to minister around the world, and we've "lost" nearly a hundred of our own dear ones to 2 church plants.

But through all the changes, God has been faithful, and His people have continually blessed my life in ways innumerable and immeasurable.  I have learned a vital lesson: the church belongs to Jesus Christ and He loves and guards her through many dangers, rough waters, unsettling changes, unexpected loss and grief.  He will make His bride beautiful and He will keep her till the end.

I have been blessed by faithful teaching, by the perseverance of my sisters and brothers, by steady and faithful friendships, by wise leadership, by an abundance of physical, intellectual and Spiritual blessings that have been mine through this fallible and fallen gathering of saints. 

Today I return thanks to God for His faithfulness as demonstrated to and through this local body of believers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sonnet 19

Sonnet 19
by Edna St. Vincent Millay 

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts to-night, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

We Musn't Forget

Throughout the years I have observed, under a variety of circumstances and in full action, that decimator known as Alzheimers.

I'm not sure if there is any experience more capable of inducing sadness than watching an intelligent, rational human being become entirely confused and dysfunctional with common daily routines.  Something as seemingly simple as putting on a pair of pants, which most of us have done on our own since the age of 4, becomes a foreign and incomprehensible task.

On a deeper level, it is profoundly sad to see these folks not recognize the people they have loved most.  Children whom they have nurtured and fed and taught are strangers one moment and beloved the next.  Spouses are sometimes treasured, sometimes feared.   Parents long-deceased are sought out.  I have seen a patient fret and grieve as if learning for the first time that her father, who died decades earlier, is no longer here.  Each time she forgets and hears it again, her grieving starts afresh.  And because the faculties can no longer assimilate rational thoughts, there is little to no help available to her.

I never realized before what a rational process comfort is.  It is largely a capacity of the mind to make sense of death and tragedy.  When that ability has vanished, comfort becomes elusive.  Physical touch and the tone of soothing words can momentarily ease the sharp edge of grief, but these fail to penetrate in a lasting way and lose their power as soon as they are over.

We must remember to pray for our brothers and sisters who are victims of this disease, as well as those who have undertaken the tedious task of caring for them day in and day out.

We should also pray regularly and fervently that The Divine Comforter would calm and quiet their restless souls when our human efforts are of no avail.

And we should seek to serve them the way we hope to be served if God's providence sets our own feet on that path someday.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Notes From the Other Side

Notes From the Other Side
by: Jane Kenyon

I divested myself of despair
and fear when I came here.

Now there is no more catching
one's own eye in the mirror,

there are no bad books, no plastic,
no insurance premiums, and of course

no illness. Contrition
does not exist, nor gnashing

of teeth. No one howls as the first
clod of earth hits the casket.

The poor we no longer have with us.
Our calm hearts strike only the hour,

and God, as promised, proves
to be mercy clothed in light.

Friday, January 7, 2011

East of Eden

One thing I am rarely without is a strong opinion.  I may be right or I may be wrong, but I am seldom indifferent.  

Typically, after reading a novel, I come away with definitive views about its literary value, its universal themes, and its worldview.  I can generally identify nuggets of wisdom that can be harvested from the folly or prudence of its characters.

Not so with East of Eden.  I have contradictory interpretations battling for ascendency and which I don't think I can resolve without a second reading.  But I'll have to save that for later.  Much later.  In the meantime, I can say a couple of things definitively.

The first several chapters (at least) were reminiscent of Russian literature I have read.  Not stylistically, but emotionally.  The plot, characters and setting are all dark and brooding, creating a palpable sense of oppression. 

It also seems clear to me that that's the point.  Life east of Eden, that is, cast away from the life-giving presence of God, is a wilderness full of sin, darkness, death and corruption.  Fratricide.  Suicide.  Prostitution.  Envy.  This struggle with sin manifests itself in man's relationships with one another.  He is continually seeking but is never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Beyond that, I'm uncertain.  I see that just as Cain killed Abel because he was jealous for his father's love, so Caleb is responsible for Aron's death as a result of the same jealous anger.  But the parallels aren't always so tidy as that.

I see Lee and Samuel Hamilton as light-bearers in the dark world, yet theirs doesn't seem to be the true light that brings deliverance.

In the end, if Caleb himself were pleading with his father, Adam, to bless him, I could read repentance and restoration into it.  As it is, with Lee pleading on Caleb's behalf, I don't know what to do with that.

I also found that I kept hoping beyond all hope that somehow, someway, Kate would find redemption.  Of all the characters, I most wanted her to be redeemed.  Ultimately, I couldn't find the redemptions, the restorations, the resurrections I was looking for.  Perhaps that's also Steinbeck's point?  OR perhaps...and I think this is more likely...I just missed something.  Maybe in my anticipation of what was to come, I failed to understand what actually came.

I welcome feedback and alternative interpretations from those of you who have read it.  I suppose next time I will learn about Steinbeck first and then proceed through the second reading with a literary guide in-hand. 

I will say this:  I'm not the least bit sorry I read the book.  In spite of the fact that its deeper meanings may have eluded me, the characters are vivid...desperately so...and the story is highly complex and beautifully written. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Christ: The Light of the World

I thought that this day of Epiphany - the day we celebrate the coming of the light of Christ to the Gentiles - would be a suitable day to consider and enjoy this 19th century painting by William Hunt, who envisioned this scene while meditating on Revelation 3:20: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." 

To express his vision, Hunt used objects with profound meaning and symbolism. He painted a night scene of an orchard, an analogy of the sleeping soul. The orchard represented the nourishment available to the soul. Ripened apples ready for harvest, are depicted in the lower right side of the picture. A bat flitting around in the darkness symbolizes ignorance.

As a model for Christ's face, Hunt chose a woman for gravity and sweetness of expression. But for the figure of Christ, he used a male model. Christ's jeweled robe and breastplate depicted his royal and priestly role and his reign over the body and soul that give allegiance to him. Hunt searched for a suitable material from a local linen draper for Christ's robe, but finally used a tablecloth altered by a tailor. It was white, symbolizing the Holy Spirit within.

A metalworker formed the heptagonal, domed lantern that served as a model for Hunt. Truth, symbolized by the lamp, shines despite obstacles. A closed rusty-hinged door represents the obstinately shut mind; the weeds suggest that the person inside has failed to look for truth. Christ is the bearer of light to the sinner behind the door. There is no handle on the door, because the human heart must be opened by the person inside.

In 1853, Hunt finished the painting he had envisioned and it was displayed in the Royal Academy in London. At first, religious viewers disliked the painting because they thought it reprehensive that Christ would be shown carrying a lantern. Christ IS The Truth, not merely the bearer of the truth, some thought. But they misinterpreted what Hunt had attempted to communicate. Art critics of the day also objected to the painting, particularly because its color scheme was heavy and opaque.

It wasn't until John Ruskin, an influential art critic, wrote to the London Times, that the painting gained acceptance. He defended and explained the painting -- "I believe there are a few persons on whom the picture, justly understood, will not produce a deep impression. For my own part, I think it is one of the noblest works of sacred art ever produced in this or any age."

for the historical information about and interpretation of this painting.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wordsmith Wednesday

Today's word was used by a friend in a conversation earlier this week and it was a word I did not recognize.  It's the 'day-new-moh' my friend said with an exquisite French accent.  The what?

I had never heard the word.  Upon investigation, I discovered that I had encountered it in print, but never knew how it was pronounced!  I do now.  And now I know what it means too.

denouement - fr. Fr de = from, out of + nouer = to tie; fr. L nodare = to knot

Basically, the term means to untie; to unravel.  It is used most often in a literary context to reference the plot's resolution, and is used secondarily to refer to any final revelation or outcome. 

Thank you, Terri S., for enlightening me and providing this Wednesday's word!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I am thankful for this group of Christian sisters whom I came to know during my 10 years at Providence Classical Christian Academy:

The accumulation of grit and stubborn will of the 12 women gathered around this table probably exceeds that of The Dirty Dozen!  And what an incredibly diverse group of ladies!

Some are married, some divorced and remarried, some widowed.

Our ages span 4 decades.

Between the 12 of us, we cover every digit from 0-6 in the # of children we have.  These children range in age from 1 year to 40+ years, and a couple of us even have grandchildren!

Our level of education ranges from High School diplomas to Masters degrees.

We attend churches from nearly every tradition: Non-denominational, Charismatic, Reformed Baptist, Free Church of Scotland Continuing (really!), Evangelical Free, and Presbyterian. 

Our personalities are even more varied than our churches!  Some are sweet, some harsh.  Some docile, some confrontational.  Some subtle, some not-so-subtle.  Some soft-spoken, some loud.  Some peacemakers, some troublemakers.  Every one of us, though, is opinionated.

The roles we filled at PCCA ran the gamut: moms of students; directors of development; headmasters; fundraisers; Adminstrative assitants;, teachers of music, Kindergarten, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, Latin, History, Composition; curriculum writers; auction chairmen, etc.

And right now, only 3 of us remain employed at PCCA, while the other 9 are involved elsewhere.  So what is it that brought together and has held together such an unlikely sisterhood?

Quite simply, it is our common bond in Christ and our love for our own and one another's children.  Each of these women loves the Lord, His Word and His people.  Each one desires to serve and build up the Body of Christ.  Each one pours herself out for the sake of others. 

So, in spite of our vast differences, we recognize in one another a kindred spirit that transcends those things that could have (and sometimes nearly did!) tear us apart.  We have, at times, hurt one another.  We have arrogantly dismissed one another's opinions.  But we have also smoothed each other's rough edges.  We have built one another up in love and good works.  We have refined and strengthened each other's strong points and we have covered for each other's weaknesses.   We have challenged one another.  And we are all better for having known one another and having lived side by side, sharing a passion for Christian education and for the glory of Christ.

So, on this first Grati-Tuesday of the year, I give thanks to God for enriching my life through the faithful lives of these 11 women.


We receive so many gifts in life that are easy to overlook or take for granted, so I am setting aside Tuesdays this year as a day to intentionally focus on concrete blessings for which I can return thanks to God.