Friday, January 30, 2015

Gender & Grace

I finally finished VanLeeuwen's book.  She asks all of the questions I have been asking for years regarding Christian assumptions  and conclusions about gender and sexuality, and she attempts to answer them according to her knowledge of science and consistent hermeneutical principles applied to Scripture.   I believe she succeeds, offering Christians a solid biblical approach to a host of questions that plague us.  For those of you who panic at the very thought of placing our gender views under the microscope, perhaps (*perhaps*) the closing paragraph of the book might put you at ease:

"When all is said and done, the struggle for Christian freedom is not between men and women, nor even between feminists and traditionalists.  The struggle is within each one of us, male and female, between the old person and the new person, between the flesh and the Spirit, between the impulse to be first among all and the call to become the servant of many.  Debates about sex and gender will be around for a long time to come, both in the community of the church and the community of social science.  But long after our current questions have been settled or forgotten, the radical words of Jesus to his followers, both women and men, will ring down through history from the Gospel of John: 'Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit.'  And this is a saying which will rightly continue to offend us all." 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

STL: The Best Baseball Town

I know many unknowingly accuse St. Louis of naming THEMSELVES as the Best Fans in Baseball, but I can assure you that isn't the case.  St. Louis is a relatively humble town.  We LOVE our baseball team and are proud of their history and proven performance year after year, and we enjoy some of the names that have been applied to us, but trust me when I say, they are NOT self-assignations!   Imported players and TV commentators are the primary source for the "high-praise" that comes to Cardinals' fans, and now we can officially add The Commissioner to that list of those who recognize something special about the relationship between St. Louis and baseball.  

Maybe one day I'll write about that connection, but for now, I'll leave you with Mr. Selig's contribution to the conversation: 

"With world championships, perennial contention, a pipeline of homegrown players, [a] beautiful ballpark [and] continuity on and off the field, the Redbirds embody the blueprint for every team, not only in baseball, but in sports. I commend [owner Bill DeWitt Jr.] and his entire organization for building an era of Cardinal baseball that is a fair reward for the St. Louis fans, whose unwavering support continues to amaze. I really -- I wanna say this. I go to all 30 cities, obviously there’s supposed to be a neutrality, but I’ve said this many times and I’ll say it again: You are the best baseball town in America, and there is no doubt about it."  

--Bud Selig, January 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

When We Two Parted

by: George Gordon (Lord) Byron (1788-1824)

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow--
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame:
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shudder comes o'er me--
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee too well:
Long, long shall I rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met--
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive.
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?
With silence and tears.

I'm Fine -- How Are You?

At the end of recent visit with my Grandma Waggoner, she gave me this piece of paper and had me read it out loud to her.  She gave me the copy, which I treasure because it is in her handwriting!

I'm Fine -- How Are You?

There's nothing the matter with me,

I'm just as healthy as can be.
I have arthritis in both knees,
and when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,
but I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

My memory's failing, my head's in a spin,
But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.
Old age is golden -- I've heard it said,
But I sometimes wonder as I go to bed.  
With my ears in a  drawer, my teeth in a cup,
and my glasses on a shelf until I get up.
And when sleep dims my eyes, I say to myself,
Is there anything else I should lay on the shelf?

The reason I know my youth has been spent,
Is my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-went!
But really I don't mind, when I think with a grin,
Of all the places my get-up has been.

The moral of this as the tale unfolds,
Is that for you and me who are growing old,
It is better to say, "I"m fine" with a grin,
Than to let people know the shape we are in!

From the Sea

From the Sea
by Sara Teasdale

All beauty calls you to me, and you seem,

Past twice a thousand miles of shifting sea
To reach me.  You are as the wind I breathe
Here on the ship's sun-smitten topmost deck,
With only light between the heavens and me.
I feel your spirit and I close my eyes,
Knowing the bright hair blowing in the sun,
The eager whisper and the searching eyes.

Listen, I love you.  Do not turn your face

Nor touch me.  Only stand and watch a while 
The blue unbroken circle of the sea.
Look far away and let me ease my heart
Of words that beat in it with broken wing.
Look far away, and if I say too much,
Forget that I am speaking.  Only watch,
how like a gull that sparkling sinks to rest,
The foam-crest drifts along a happy wave
Toward the bright verge, the boundary of the world.

I am so weak a thing, praise me for this,

That in some strange way I was strong enough
To keep my love unuttered and to stand
Altho' I longed to kneel to you that night
You looked at me with ever-calling eyes.
Was I not calm?  And if you guessed my love
You thought it something delicate and free,
Soft as the sound of fir-trees in the wind
Fleeting as the phosphorescent stars in foam.
Yet in my heart there was a beating storm
Bending my thoughts before it, and I strove
To say too little lest I say too much,
And from my eyes to drive love's happy shame.
It seemed like other names to me, and I
Was all unconscious, as a dreaming river
That nears at last its long predestined sea;
And when you spoke to me, I did not know
That to my life's high altar came its priest.
But now I know between my God and me 
You stand forever, nearer God than I,
And in your hand with faith and utter joy
I would that I could lay my woman's soul.

Oh, my love

To whom I cannot come with any gift 
Of body or of soul, I pass and go.
But sometimes when you hear blown back to you
My wistful, far-off singing touched with tears,
Know that I sang for you alone to hear,
And that I wondered if the wind would bring
To him who tuned my heart its distant song.
So might a woman who in loneliness
Had borne a child, dreaming of days to come,
Wonder if it would please its father's eyes.
But long before I ever heard your name,
Always the undertone's unchanging note
In all my singing had prefigured you,
Foretold you as a spark foretells a flame.
Yet I was free as an untethered cloud
In the great space between the sky and sea,
And might have blown before the wind of joy
Like a bright banner woven by the sun.
I did not know the longing in the night--
You who have waked me cannot give me sleep.
All things in the world can rest, but I,
Even the smooth brief respite of a wave
When it gives up its broken crown of foam,
Even that little rest I may not have.
And yet all quiet loves of friends, all joy
In all the piercing beauty of the world
I would give up--go blind forevermore,
Rather than have God blot out from my soul
Remembrance of your voice that said my name.

For us no starlight stilled the April fields,

No birds awoke in darkling trees for us,
Yet where we walked the city's street that night
Felt in our feet the singing fire of spring,
And in our path we left a trail of light
Soft as the phosphorescence of the sea
When night submerges in the vessel's wake
A heaven of unborn evanescent stars.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year Y'all

A grand celebratory performance from the usually thoughtful and artistic Mumford & Sons, the rowdy bluegrass crew from Old Crow Medicine Show, and the absolutely out-of-their-minds band Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros: