Monday, April 30, 2012

Musical Monday: Pokey & the South City Three

Here's how one fan describes Pokey:

"...his slight frame is packed with Southern charm the relentless drive of a Wall Street tycoon, the mischievous spirit of every class clown you've ever known, and what seems like, one very old soul."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seven Stanzas At Easter

Seven Stanzas At Easter
byJohn Updike

Make no mistake: if He rose at all 
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules
reknit, the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as the flowers,
each soft Spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled
eyes of the eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that--pierced--died, withered, paused, and then
regathered out of enduring Might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the
faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow
grinding of time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair,
opaque in the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Better Resurrection

I have no wit, no words, no tears;
         My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
         Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
         No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
         O Jesus, quicken me.

My life is like a faded leaf,
         My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
         And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
         No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
         O Jesus, rise in me.

My life is like a broken bowl,
         A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
         Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
         Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
         O Jesus, drink of me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

O Most Villainous Villain!

I just read Shakespeare's Othello for the first time.  Perhaps I never would have read it, but   the Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis is performing it this summer at Forest Park and I wanted to be familiar with the storyline.  Wow.

I may have just been introduced to Shakespeare's most villainous villain!  Iago is a wicked man. When passed over for a promotion, he begins plotting the destruction of friend and foe alike...and if you know Shakespeare, you know how that's bound to turn out!

MacBeth's tragedy unfolds through a desperate grasp for power, Hamlet's through a driving desire for revenge, but the tragedy in Othello comes through the outworking of overwhelming jealousies: both Iago's, as well as false snares of jealousy which he lays out for others.

I was excited to learn that Bruce Longworth, who directed Hamlet a couple years ago, is filling that role again.  Though the cast is missing the talents of Jim Butz, I expect Mr. Longworth will do great things once again.  

Join me?  

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Triumph of Easter

The Triumph of Easter 
(an excerpt)
by: Dorothy Sayers

When Judas sinned, Jesus paid; He brought good out of evil, He led out triumph from the gates of hell and brought all mankind out with Him; but the suffering of Jesus and the sin of Judas remain a reality. God did not abolish the fact of evil: He transformed it. He did not stop the crucifixion: He rose from the dead. 

"Then Judas, which had betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned,... cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself." And thereby Judas committed the final, the fatal, the most pitiful error of all; for he despaired of God and himself and never waited to see the Resurrection. Had he done so, there would have been an encounter, and an opportunity, to leave invention bankrupt; but unhappily for himself, he did not. In this world, at any rate, he never saw the triumph of Christ fulfilled upon him, and through him, and despite of him. He saw the dreadful payment made, and never knew what victory had been purchased with the price.

All of us, perhaps, are too ready, when our behaviour turns out to have appalling consequences, to rush out and hang ourselves. Sometimes we do worse, and show an inclination to go and hang other people. Judas, at least, seems to have blamed nobody but himself, and St. Peter, who had a minor betrayal of his own to weep for, made his act of contrition and waited to see what came next. What came next for St. Peter and the other disciples was the sudden assurance of what God was, and with it the answer to all the riddles.

If Christ could take evil and suffering and do that sort of thing with them, then of course it was all worth while, and the triumph of Easter linked up with that strange, triumphant prayer in the Upper Room, which the events of Good Friday had seemed to make so puzzling. As for their own parts in the drama, nothing could now alter the fact that they had been stupid, cowardly, faithless, and in many ways singularly unhelpful; but they did not allow any morbid and egotistical remorse to inhibit their joyful activities in the future.

Now, indeed, they could go out and "do something" about the problem of sin and suffering. They had seen the strong hands of God twist the crown of thorns into a crown of glory, and in hands as strong as that they knew themselves safe. They had misunderstood practically everything Christ had ever said to them, but no matter: the thing made sense at last, and the meaning was far beyond anything they had dreamed. They had expected a walk-over, and they beheld a victory; they had expected an earthly Messiah, and they beheld the Soul of Eternity.

It had been said to them of old time, "No man shall look upon My face and live"; but for them a means had been found. They had seen the face of the living God turned upon them; and it was the face of a suffering and rejoicing Man.

Friday, April 6, 2012

From St. John's Passion

From the bonds of my sins to unbind me, my Salvation is bound. To heal me fully from all boils of vice He lets Himself be wounded.

O my senses, where have you finally gone!  Where shall I restore myself?  Shall I stay here, or do I wish mountains and hills to fall upon my back?  With the world there is no counsel at all, while in my heart persist the agonies of my misdeed, for the servant has denied his lord.

Give thought, my soul, with anguished pleasure, with bitter delight and half-anxious heart, to thy highest good in Jesus' sorrows, how from the thorns that pierce him heavenly flowers bloom for thee.  Thou canst pluck much sweet fruit from the bitter wormwood, therefore look unceasingly upon him.

Consider how his blood-tinged back in all its parts is just like the sky, where, after the floodwaves of our sins' deluge have passed by, the most exceedingly beautiful rainbow stands as a sign of God's grace.

Through your captivity, Son of God, freedom must come to us.  Your prison cell is the throne of grace, the refuge of all the devout.  For if you had not entered into servitude, our servitude would have had no end.

Hasten, you tormented souls, leave your dens of misery.  Hasten!  Where to?  To Golgotha!  Take the wings of faith and fly!  Where to?  To the hill of the cross!  That is where your powers will be revived.

At the bottom of my heart your name and cross alone shine forth every minute of every day, for which I can be joyful.  Show me in my mind's eye - for consolation in my distress - how you, Christ, so abundantly bled to death!

My precious Savior, let me ask you: Since you were nailed to the cross and have yourself said, "It is accomplished," have I been made free from death?  Can I, through your pain and death, inherit the kingdom of heaven?  Is the redemption of the world here?  You can, in agony, it is true, say nothing, but you bow your head and say in silence, "Yea."

O help, Christ, Son of God, through your bitter suffering that we, ever submissive to you, may shun all wrongdoing.  May consider, to our benefit, your death and its cause for which we, though poor and weak, may bring you thank-offerings.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Punctuation Matters

From my friend, Randy Stone:

An English professor wrote the words, "Woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed his students to punctuate it correctly.

The men wrote: 
"Woman, without her man, is nothing."

The women wrote: 
"Woman: Without her, man is nothing."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Poem

Soldier Sacrifice
By Eric Shaffer
If you have the strength of a thousand men
And the courage of a lion;
If you can handle the unpredictable seas
And have an iron fortress of a stomach;
If you have the honor to fight 
And the will power to leave the ones you love;
If you have the agility of a cheetah 
And the intelligence of a computer;
If you have the dedication to keep on when all others have failed
And the discipline to go the extra mile; 
If you have the love to leave no man behind
And the kindness to protect the innocent;
If you have all of these admirable traits
Then you could be one of the few…. a Marine.