Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Some more blinks on temperament

Four Lies About Introverts. This has been all over facebook, so you have probably seen it. I think a lot of people who read this blog are introverts, so I will link this here. Extraverts should perhaps exit and go and read blogs by extraverts. :)

Simone has been linking personality tests on facebook. Fun. The Personality Desk and 16 Personalities.

Only if you are new reader will you not know that I am an INFJ. (I do recommend doing a more professional or comprehensive test if you really want to diagnose yourself, eg Keirsey, as I have known of people to get very dubious results from short online freebies.) I am the rarest type apparently, according to one of these sites, with an "unusual set of traits" according to the other. Brilliant. I certainly sense this at times (little wonder I occasionally feel like I freak). I also think I detect fairly swiftly at least whether someone else is in the N category or not (the "intuitive connection"), or when I have reached that point with someone beyond which I know the conversation is going to fall over. Supposedly one of my bigger difficulties could be using objective logic in decision-making. Interesting. I actually HD'd Pure Maths at University and my specialty was “proofs” so my objective logic processes aren't at fault, I just don’t always apply them to decisions, which has been known to lead me into trouble (I know that I don’t value logic above all else, but I have found often enough that the truth of a situation doesn’t actually lie in the logic either). Apparently I can also fly off into imagination and idealism and neglect reality, or "overheat" in zeal and determination. Hmmm. Oh, and then there is my Achilles heel of vulnerability to personal conflict.

One thing that is fairly obvious when folks do personality tests is that most people seem rather fond of their own type (and it seems to depend a little on who wrote the descriptions as to whether you get a more positive or negative description), which I guess only makes sense. So I have been reading up on some of the other types (something of an antidote to the naval-gazing), particularly of people who occasionally puzzle me, which is quite enlightening. For example, when I read things like how another type can have difficulty noticing the emotional experience of others that is helpful information (we INFJs are the emotions people, so it can be useful to know when you’re dealing with someone who isn’t).


I felt inclined to repost this poem, an old favourite from George MacDonald that I can recite from having written it so many places many years ago.

Picture from here.


Lord, I have laid my heart upon thy altar
But cannot get the wood to burn;
It hardly flares ere it begins to falter
And to the dark return.

Old sap, or night-fallen dew, makes damp the fuel;
In vain my breath would flame provoke;
Yet see — at every poor attempt's renewal
To thee ascends the smoke!

'Tis all I have — smoke, failure, foiled endeavour,
Coldness and doubt and palsied lack:
Such as I have I send thee! — perfect Giver,
Send thou thy lightning back.

George MacDonald

Shakespeare, 30th April

              The grace of heaven,
Before, behind thee and on every hand,
Enwheel the round!

Othello, Act ii., Sc. I.

          All that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

Hamlet, Act i., Sc. 2.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What some of us owe to books

Here, for a little warm-up, are a couple of links to posts featuring books.

If you could actually thank CS Lewis. H/T Cath. I'd like to thanks CS Lewis mostly (at present anyway) for his use of the word Sehnsucht, his autobiography Surprised by Joy and his poem As the Ruin Falls.

And this beautiful post on Inspirations and Ambitions from Lanier's Books. I was actually something of a late bloomer with reading I think, not getting too engrossed until my teens (prior to that I spent a lot of time messing about outside).

And here's photo I took of a novel (hah!) shelf I spied in a local bookstore, for those who have trouble not judging a book by it's cover.

Missing in action

So it seems I have gone missing in action for a few days here, and I don’t have much to say for myself. I will try to get back to posting soon.

Shakespeare, 29th April

'Tis not enough that through the cloud thou break,
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face,
For no man well of such a salve can speak
That heals the wound and cures not the disgrace.

Sonnet XXXIV

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Shakespeare, 28th April

We must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Julius Caesar, Act iv., Sc. 3.

Exceeding wise, fair-spoken, and persuading.

King Henry VIII., Act iv., Sc. 2.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shakespeare, 27th April

Experience is by industry achieved
And perfected by the swift course of time.

Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act i., Sc. 3.

                    He reads much;
He is a great observer and he looks
Quiet through the deeds of men.

Julius Caesar, Act i., Sc. 2.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shakespeare, 26th April

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.

Macbeth, Act iv., Sc. 3.

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to Heaven.

All's Well that Ends Well, Act i., Sc. I.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Shakespeare, 25th April

Death lies on her like an untimely frost
Upon the sweetest flower of all the field.

Romeo and Juliet, Act iv., Sc. 5.

He is no hypocrite, but prays from his heart.

Much Ado about Nothing, Act i., Sc. I.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Shakespeare, 24th April

No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.

Sonnet XXXV

There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.

Hamlet, Act v., Sc. 2.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shakespeare, 23rd April

In common worldly things, 'tis call'd ungrateful,
With dull unwillingness to repay a debt
Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent.

King Richard III., Act ii., Sc. 2.

Monday, April 22, 2013

One about knocking on doors

I know that door-knocking and its merits and difficulties, for either letting people know about an event or telling people about Jesus, is often a highly contested means amongst Christians. So I was entertained when I read this little anecdotal description in Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. No doubt it could be used in your reasoning whether in favour or against, as it speaks of the possibilities, as well as the perils.

Picture from Wikihow.
There is nothing like a doorbell to precipitate the potential into the kinetic. When you stand outside a door and push the button, something has to happen. Someone must respond; whatever is inside must be revealed. Questions will be answered, uncertainties or mysteries dispelled. A situation will be started on its way through unknown complications to an unpredictable conclusion. The answer to your summons may be a rush of tearful welcome, a suspicious eye at the crack of the door, a shot through the hardwood, anything. Any pushing of any doorbell button is as rich in dramatic possibility as that scene in Chekhov when, just as the Zemstvo doctor’s only child dies of diphtheria and the doctor’s wife drops to her knees beside the bed and the doctor, smelling of carbolic, takes an uncertain step backward, the bell sounds sharply in the hall.
~Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner

Shakespeare, 22nd April

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgment.

Hamlet, Act i., Sc. 3.

Happy are they that hear their detractions and can put them to mending.

Much Ado about Nothing, Act ii., Sc. 3.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shakespeare, 21st April

The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Hamlet, Act ii., Sc. 2.

He is well paid that is well satisfied.

Merchant of Venice, Act iv., Sc. I.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shakespeare, 20th April

Wisdom and goodness to the vile seem vile;
Filths savour but themselves.

King Lear, Act iv., Sc. 2.

The apprehension of the good
Gives but the greater feeling to the worse.

King Richard II., Act i., Sc. 3.

Friday, April 19, 2013

A day in modern life

Last night I was strolling up King St, Newtown, on my way to the Centre for Christian Living lecture on Christians and Politics, when I was unexpectedly stopped by two men in drag, who wanted to ask me ‘if you were a lesbian, which of us would you think was hotter?’. I was faced with an interesting and difficult dilemma on so many levels, some of which were:

 a) My inbred social etiquette would tell me that at the least it is impolite to discuss who is better looking of two people, in front of said two people
b) I am not attracted to women
c) The two people who halted me, despite their efforts, were clearly not women either

I actually think they were two blokes larking around, who were waiting for a bus and obviously off to a party somewhere, rather than real drag people (what am I supposed to call those people? – I am at a loss). Strange to say, but I have lived in these parts long enough to tell the difference between real drag people and dress-up drag people. The real drags are usually impressively made-up, styled and groomed. These guys wigs’ were sloppily stuck on their heads, and, well, we just won’t discuss their dodgy outfits.

At first I sort of joked around and voiced dilemma a) and said something like ‘you can’t ask me that in front of you both’, but one of them kept insisting, ‘no which do you prefer, the blonde or the brunette?’, so then, born out of desperation I gave an answer that probably messed up in relation to b) and c) and said to the blonde, ‘well, you are taller than me, so probably you’. The tall blonde cheered and the shorter brunette pummeled him. See as a woman, and faced with a superficial choice based purely on physicality, between two men, I can't help that the first and most obvious thing is that I am more attracted to men who are my size or bigger than men who are smaller, so that is what I said. Only this wasn't the scenario I was supposed to be evaluating, and I probably should have picked the shorter brunette, because the taller blonde was doing all the talking and clearly had more confidence.

I walked off to shouts of 'thank you' from the blonde, feeling momentarily crazed from the suspension of reality that had been required of me.

Shakespeare, 19th April

Wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss,
But cheerly seek how to redress their harms.

Third part of King Henry VI., Act v., Sc. 4.

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself
And falls on the other.

Macbeth, Act i., Sc. 7.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shakespeare, 18th April

             O Lord, that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!

Second Part of King Henry VI., Act i., Sc. I.

A good heart  .   .   .   .  never changes, but keeps his
    course truly.

King Henry V., Act v., Sc. 2.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

From a mother to her son in the wake of Steubenville and Gosnell

I don't write often about current affairs or the latest theological or church hot topic here in the fog, simply because that is not the little piece of the internet I have carved out for myself, and because there are other blogs aplenty who do that and do it well (of which I do read many, even though you'd never know).

But I thought this post, a letter Ann Voskamp wrote to her son in the wake of Gosnell and Steubenville, was something beautiful. It really is worth reading the whole article.

Poetry Day - I could give all to Time except ...

On a page at the beginning of Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner is a stanza of a poem by Robert Frost. Being me I had to find the rest of this poem, and it is the final stanza of this poem below.

I Could Give All To Time

To Time it never seems that he is brave
To set himself against the peaks of snow
To lay them level with the running wave,
Nor is he overjoyed when they lie low,
But only grave, contemplative and grave.

What now is inland shall be ocean isle,
Then eddies playing round a sunken reef
Like the curl at the corner of a smile;
And I could share Time’s lack of joy or grief
At such a planetary change of style.

I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept.

Robert Frost

Shakespeare, 17th April

Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain,
For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain.

King Richard II., Act ii., Sc. I.

God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.

Hamlet, Act iii., Sc. I.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One on the basis for friendship

I have begun Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. The hat tip for this book goes to Karen, who posted a review of it, which prompted Meredith to read it, and Meredith then told me to “run, don’t walk” to get myself a copy. So I did.

What happened was I texted a friend on Saturday to see if she wanted to catch up, which led to a Saturday evening dinner rendezvous. She was coming across the Harbour by ferry, so we arranged to meet at Circular Quay, which meant me taking a bus, which required a book to read. (And can I just say, the city on a Saturday night is never all that you might hope for. We ended up in the Australian Hotel, because we couldn’t find where else to go, sharing a “Coat of Arms” emu and kangaroo pizza, then we walked through the Opera Bar and the noise was so deafening I couldn’t have tolerated any sort of “drink” other than a very stiff one in it. But we had a pleasant enough evening strolling about the Rocks and the water. I tried to take a self portrait by the Harbour. I said ‘let’s put our cheeks together and pull fish faces like the young folks of today’ but this is what I actually got (when I turn my new phone around I can't then find where on the screen to push the shutter and it all goes ridiculous). I "cinnamoned" it, because a flash that close to your face is unkind.) But, back to the book, I picked up Crossing to Safety because it was smaller than Peace Like a River, by Leif Enger, for my hand bag, and because both of them are a lot smaller than Dostoevsky’s epic. Thus far am I absorbed. I think this is indeed shaping up to be my kind of book.

Here is a little portion on friendship, which I keep a category for here in the fog. It made me stop and think about how it is I come to consider some people friends, or to respond to them.
Is that the basis of friendship? Is it as reactive as that? Do we really respond only to people who seem to find us interesting? Was our friendship for the Langs born out of simple gratitude to this woman who had the kindness to call on a strange young wife stuck in a basement without occupation or friends? Was I that avid for praise, to feel so warm toward them both because they professed to like my story? Do we all buzz or ring or light up when people press our vanity buttons, and only then? Can I think of anyone in my whole life whom I have liked without his first showing signs of liking me? Or did I (I hope I did) like Charity Lang on sight because she was what she was, open, friendly, frank, a little ribald as it turned out, energetic, interested, as full of vitality as her smile was full of light?
The truth is, I do think I hold some reasonably objective criteria for who I hold in esteem, but perhaps we are all suckers for enjoying the company of those who make it obvious that they appreciate us.

When God surprises us

Speaking of surprises, I appreciated this post. H/T Georgianne.

Shakespeare, 6th April

The eagle suffers little birds to sing,
And is not careful what they mean thereby.

Titus Adronicus, Act v., Sc. 4.

            All the water in the ocean
Can never turn the swan's black legs to white.

Titus Adronicus, Act iv., Sc. 2.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Family news!

I have some rather astonishing news to share.

If you have been reading this blog for some time you might remember the year that my older sister had three heart attacks within a week, which was a conundrum in itself, and seemingly connected to the fact that she has a kidney disease, with which she was surprisingly diagnosed in her twenties. Then you might remember the year that we were told that she had Stage 4 ovarian cancer, which is essentially terminal. But we all started praying after that diagnosis and within two weeks her tumour blood count had dropped significantly, and the ultrasound looked different, and when they went in and removed the “tumour” and one ovary, they discovered nothing more sinister than a cyst bleeding in on itself (whether it was a medical misdiagnosis in the first place, or a miracle, we don’t really care - Praise the Lord either way!).

Well, wonder of all wonders, this is the year that she is pregnant!

Obviously there are some concerns with her health conditions, and it’s fourteen years after the last baby, so I will just leave you to work that out, but I think it’s very exciting (as do they) and that God must be about something! We don’t write our own stories ...

I was sitting here on the couch one evening weaving in the ends on this baby’s oldest sister’s rug, thinking to myself that it was the last rug I would crochet for a niece or nephew, and then not ten minutes later the phone rings and my sister says to me ‘you might not have finished making those rugs Ali’. I was amazed.

She has been to see an obstetrician who specialises in high-risk pregnancies, and in the course of discussion my sister said ‘well we wouldn't terminate it anyway’, explaining that the reason is because they are Christians, and so found out that the obstetrician is also a Christian. So that is a great blessing.

If you would like to say any prayers on their behalf, those would be appreciated.

P.S. For those of you who are also single, I did let out a small sigh of my own in the wake of this news, because the having and raising of children is an experience I would love to share with my sisters, and my friends, but I know I need to keep on accepting that unless a fellow asks me out soon, and properly (you know, with intention, and a yes/no question), that is not so likely, and keep on trusting that that is how God would have it.

Shakespeare, 15th April

He jests at scars that never felt a wound.

Romeo and Juliet, Act ii., Sc. 2.

   He than stands upon a slippery place
Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up.

King John., Act iii., Sc 4.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shakespeare, 14th April

                 To some kind of men
Their graces serve them but as enemies.

As You Like It, Act ii., Sc. 3.

                             Anger is like
A full-hot horse, who being allow'd his way,
Self-mettle tires him.

King Henry VIII., Act i., Sc. I.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A bird cage and a pair of ruby shoes

I just had to share this necklace I bought this morning for my nieces upcoming birthday. It's from the Literary Emporium, and I could have bought one of each of their necklaces in the store purely for myself (go see!). This quote might seem a little "more girl power to you" taken out of context from Jane Eyre, but perhaps it shall inspire my niece to read it, which would be a good thing. (Her older sister appears to have navigated the teens well thus far, with a nice group of studious and creative friends, but the younger one, while much more extraverted and people-oriented, has had more trouble finding friends of good influence, and seems in more danger of being led astray by her wish to belong. And so we pray.)

I also finished two pairs of these little ruby shoes during the week, ready to be shipped off to baby girls near and far. (Strange people out there might think them racist, but I actually like these little golliwogs.)

Saturday musings

So apparently I also share a personality type with CS Lewis and Dorothy Sayers (though I can’t vouch for how these things are worked out posthumously). I read that article because I saw that it was quoting Dorothy Sayers, but it’s a weird sort of article really, and I don’t actually align with what it does quote from Dorothy Sayers.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson is being written as poetry as part of the Pulitzer Remix Project. This is fabulous, except I think I need to read the book again because some of the poems seem to be at something I don’t recall. (You need to click on each book cover, starting from the bottom, then on the search symbol to see each poem.)

ND Wilson has written a new book, Death by Living, to be released in July, which already makes me feel like a waste of space, just from the Amazon blurb. But I think I want to read it. "A poetic portrait of faith, futility, and the joy of this mortal life" has got me.

And the latest Frankie Magazine, which was delivered to my door this week, has an article in it on The Tallest Man on Earth, and on Jack and Holman Wang who are making the Cozy Classics. Nice.

Shakespeare, 13th April

How green you are, and fresh, in this old world!

King John, Act iii., Sc. 4.

Heaven is above all yet; there sits a Judge
That no king can corrupt.

King Henry VIII., Act iii., Sc. I.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Shakespeare, 12th April

               When our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.

Macbeth, Act iv., Sc. 2.

Deep malice makes too deep incision;
Forget, forgive; conclude and be agreed.

King Richard II., Act i., Sc. I.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let us tune our instruments - George Herbert

My new-found bookish and poetic friend has just posted this on facebook, so I am sharing. It is from Isaak Walton's The Life of George Herbert. I am quite the fan of George Herbert's poetry, and this little story reminded me also of a verse of John Donne's which I shall post below:
'On another walk to Salisbury, he saw a poor man with a poorer horse, that was fallen under his load: they were both in distress, and needed present help; which Mr. Herbert perceiving, put off his canonical coat, and helped the poor man to unload, and after to load, his horse. The poor man blessed him for it, and he blessed the poor man; and was so like the Good Samaritan, that he gave him money to refresh both himself and his horse; and told him, "That if he loved himself he should be merciful to his beast." Thus he left the poor man; and at his coming to his musical friends at Salisbury, they began to wonder that Mr. George Herbert, which used to be so trim and clean, came into that company so soiled and discomposed: but he told them the occasion. And when one of the company told him, "He had disparaged himself by so dirty an employment," his answer was, "That the thought of what he had done would prove music to him at midnight; and that the omission of it would have upbraided and made discord in his conscience, whensoever he should pass by that place: for if I be bound to pray for all that be in distress, I am sure that I am bound, so far as it is in my power, to practice what I pray for. And though I do not wish for the like occasion every day, yet let me tell you, I wou1d not willingly pass one day of my life without comforting a sad soul, or shewing mercy; and I praise God for this occasion. And now let’s tune our instruments."'
Picture from here.

And here is the John Donne poetry it called to mind. This is from Hymne to GOD my GOD, in my sicknesse:

SINCE I am comming to that Holy roome,
   Where, with thy Quire of Saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy Musique; As I come
   I tune the Instrument here at the dore,
   And what I must doe then, thinke here before.

John Donne

The post that got away

Do you know, I thought I had mastered blogger, but I am quite mystified by what happened yesterday. I thought I posted that last post about 4 pm ish yesterday, which obviously I did because it went to Google reader, but then when I got home from bible study last night, my blogger screen was still up, and I noticed it said “draft”, and I thought 'that’s funny, didn’t I post that?', so I published it again. But then this morning I discovered that in hitting publish on that draft, I had published some earlier version, complete with unfinished sentences. So, I don’t know what went on. Apologies if you read the scrappy version with unfinished sentences.

(And yes, I am still using Google reader. I have set up Feedly, but why change technology before I have to, I say.)

Shakespeare, 11th April

               There is no English soul
More stronger to direct you than yourself.

King Henry VIII., Act i., Sc. I.

Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?

Hamlet, Act ii., Sc. 2.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Some wisps of fog

A few things from around the internet:

Cath at The Picket Fence is blogging some of the things she has learnt from Edith Schaeffer and her books. The posts so far are here and here.

Cath also wrote a post about a little historic jaunt we took on Easter Monday (you can see me taking refreshments in the Lord Nelson Pub over there, looking a little sheepish).

Jean linked this post on singleness on Facebook. I found some of these points interesting. With regards Point 1, I accept the point, and do agree with it – you can certainly think/feel, 'well if I am going to be single, perhaps I should go to deepest darkest Africa', but I am not entirely convinced that is the right way round (and that it shouldn’t rather be, perhaps I am meant to go to deepest darkest Africa and therefore I should be single). Maybe in the end it is not so important which way you end up in deepest darkest Africa. Point 3 is also interesting, and as a hopeless romantic who is single, perhaps that is why I like stirring poetry, music and nature (though I have a feeling getting married wouldn’t dim those loves).

Don Miller writes a post on introverts. I have never considered that I need special consideration as an introvert, and the reality is that the way my life is at the moment, no-one has any obligation to “care” for how I like to conduct my daily life, and I largely run it how it pleases me. The first point Don mentions is the big one for me. I always ask people to catch up one-on-one, because that's the way I feel like I can have a real conversation with them. (And I do think being an introverted Christian is one of the main reasons I am still single, given the churches propensity to do things in large groups (and if everyone takes Joshua Harris’s advice and hangs around in groups, then all the extraverts are going to have a great time and get married soonest), which is not my preferred means of getting to know people, or for others to get to know me.) When an introvert wants to do something one-on-one they aren't being intense and threatening, it's just how they do things.

And finally, a picture from Karen, for book lovers everywhere.

Shakespeare, 10th April

The fire that mounts the liquor till't run o'er,
In seeming to augment it wastes it.

King Henry VIII., Act i., Sc. I.

              In the reproof of chance
Lies the true proof of men.

Troilus and Cressida, Act i., Sc. 3.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

This evening

Not much to say. A cousin and a dear old friend have both just brought little girls into the world, so I have been making some more wee ruby shoes. I've not finished the fourth, but I am now going to retire to a book.

Shakespeare, 9th April

Oaths are straws, men's faiths are wafer cakes,
Therefore, Caveto be thy counsellor.

King Henry V., Act ii., Sc. 3.

                    Things done well,
And with a care, exempt themselves from fear.

King Henry VIII., Act i., Sc. 2.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Shakespeare, 8th April

                         I do know,
When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul
Lends the tongue vows.
                                    Hamlet, Act i., Sc. 3.

        Hope is a lover's staff;
Walk hence with that and manage it against
        despairing thoughts.
                        Two Gentleman of Verona, Act iii., Sc. I.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Shakespeare, 7th April

      The noblest mind he carries
That ever govern'd man.
Long may he live in fortunes!

Timon of Athens, Act i., Sc. I.

Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
But the plain single vow that is vowed true.

All's Well that Ends Well, Act iv., Sc. 2.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

New books!

These came in the mail this week. They landed on my desk in a ridiculously large blue French Mail postal sack, of the sort you'd empty a whole post box into, tied up with cables, even though I ordered them through ebay from a company in England. I said to the Bruce, the work mailman, 'what on earth is that?' and he said 'I don't know, but it's got your name on it'.

But aren't they lovely? I am loving their vintage look. They are reprints of the original first edition releases, illustrated by Pauline Baynes.

I realised recently that it had been so long since I read these stories that I couldn't remember them, and thought it would be nice to revisit them all. Then I realised that I didn't actually own them all, so I have now amended that, with apologies to CS Lewis and my book collection.

The covers are lovely. You can see them all here.

I may seem to have been indulgent of late. Even though the company and the publishing industry as a whole is struggling, they did give us a small bonus, as usual, at work in March. So I got myself those solar umbrellas, a few books of my 'wish list', bought some new running shoes that I needed anyway, and aimed to be sensible with what was left (and shelved the idea of an iPad, a coffee machine or a stereo system for now!). Below are two other novels I have been wanting to read for some time. I'm looking forward to beginning them when I have finished a few other books.

Shakespeare, 6th April

How poor are they that have not patience!
What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

Othello, Act ii., Sc. 3.

God's benison go with you; and with those
That would make good of bad, and friends of foes!

Macbeth, Act ii., Sc. 4.

Friday, April 05, 2013

One about social media

I thought this was a good article on the relevant magazine about social media, and it's dangers. I liked the point she makes about the times when we check into social media not being the times of our own peak experiences, but those peak experiences are what we usually see of others' lives when we look. (And even when we say we are 'keeping it real' it's usually a selective "realness".) And the point that's it about public vs private. 
But seeing the best possible, often-unrealistic, half-truth version of other peoples’ lives isn’t the only danger of the Internet. Our envy buttons also get pushed because we rarely check Facebook when we’re having our own peak experiences. We check it when we’re bored and when we’re lonely, and it intensifies that boredom and loneliness.
It’s not about technology or not. I’m not suggesting you get all old-school-pen-and-paper about it (unless that’s your thing.) It’s about connecting instead of comparing. Instead of using the computer to watch someone else’s perfectly crafted life, enter into someone’s less-than-perfect life. You can use Facebook if you want, but you might find email, Skype and phone calls work better.

Using technology to build community instead of building carefully-curated images of ourselves is an option, and a worthwhile one. The distinction I’m making is public vs. private, not in person vs. long distance. I have very close, very honest friendships that depend on phone calls and Skype dates and long wandering emails, and I’m thankful that technology allows for those connections. But I don’t think you can build transforming friendships that take place only in a public sphere like Facebook or Instagram.

Shakespeare, 5th April

         The hearts of old gave hands;
But now new heraldry is hands, not hearts.

Othello, Act iii., Sc. 4.

He's truly valiant that can wisely suffer
The worst that man can breathe.

Timon of Athens, Act iii., Sc. 5.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Shakespeare, 4th April

Allow not nature more than nature needs.

King Lear, Act ii., Sc. 4.

                  It never did yet hurt
To lay down likelihoods and forms of hope.

Second Part of King Henry IV., Act i., Sc. 3.

Imaging the Artist

Here is a little snippet from Edith Schaeffer that was posted over at Christianity Today. I like this. In Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, ND Wilson comments that Christians should have a philosophy of artists and art-appreciators (and it is quite fascinating how he sees much abstract art as an outworking on an atheist worldview eg Jackson Pollock, who tried to remove the artist from the art, or the created from the creator - Pollock himself may have denied "the accident" but it is interesting that one critic describes Pollock's works as “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless”, from Wikipedia). Then from the talk I linked yesterday I gleaned the fact that John Calvin apparently believed that the creative capacity of human beings is proof of the existence of the soul (does anyone know where this comes from?).

A Christian, above all people, should live artistically, aesthetically, and creatively. We are supposed to be representing the Creator who is there, and whom we acknowledge to be there. It is true that all people are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation.
Edith Schaeffer in The Art of Life.

Shakespeare forgotten

Apologies, I realised this morning, that for the first time in over six months, I completely forgot Shakespeare, and I didn't have time to stop and do it before work. But the Bard shall be up tonight. I'm a bit tired of this daily Shakespeare business I must confess, but I am going to see if I can keep on till I have seen out the year.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Marilynne Robinson on truth claims and fiction

I have been listening this morning to an interview with Marilynne Robinson on "the resurrection of the ordinary". It is long, but I have been chained to my desk doing a dull thing, so it carried me through. I found one section particularly interesting, which is perhaps apt in the wake of Easter, and aligns with some thoughts that rattle around in my head about the power of "story".

She’s discussing her beautiful book Gilead and responding to a comment that “truth claims” seem to be more palatable in fiction than in essays (because a lot of us wonder how she got away with so much "truth" in a Pulitzer winning novel), and that maybe the edge is blunted in fiction to the fact that truth claims are actually being made until readers are well into the story, and she responds along the lines of saying that if you can’t embody the terms that are repeated in religious thought, it just sounds like cant and something doctrinal that other people have no way of imagining a meaning for (this is from about 52 minutes onwards). The she goes on to say this:
There’s truth in truth, which is one of the problems with the way that the conversation about religion has gone in the last century or so, less than that perhaps. There’s the truth of the fact that experience is beautiful, that love is profound and that we are vulnerable and small in the order of things, and perhaps very grand in the transcendent order. I think people have that intuition, whether they are religious or not. An amazing number of people have said I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in the soul, which is interesting. But in any case, people hang religion on, you know, a six day creation or the circumstances of the birth of Jesus or something like that, but I think that there’s a much deeper truth that speaks over that whole catalogue of particulars that has to do with the fact that the great drama of God was enacted among human beings, that raises the meaning of truth to another level of persuasion in way, a palpable presence. And I think that religious people tend to get hung up on making whatever they consider to be the crucial argument of truth, by which they tend to mean fact, and they forget that the whole beautiful life of the religion occurs at another level that has to do with a father releasing his son into the world to bear its burdens, which is one way in which that narrative is articulated.
Marilynne Robinson is more liberal than I am on many points, but perhaps this splendid portion near the close of Gilead illustrates what she means here.

Shakespeare, 3rd April

Beauty doth varnish age, as if new-born,
And gives the crutch the cradle's infancy.

Love's Labour's Lost, Act iv., Sc. 3.

                 No mind that's honest
But in it shares some woe.

Macbeth, Act iv., Sc. 3.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Some thoughts from Growing Yourself Up

I’m nearly finished reading Growing Yourself Up, by Jenny Brown. It has been very beneficial. It reads very simply, but I think that is part of the genius of it. (As John Dickson says in his review “One of the marks of a truly brilliant idea is that once you hear it — especially from an expert — it sounds perfectly obvious”.)

There is a useful chapter on singleness and learning how to relate wisely to yourself. But I actually learnt more at this time in my life from the chapter on marriage. That is because she writes about the two big childish myths that people bring to relationships, which I think can have wider application. These are:

The mind-reading delusion
This the myth that if someone really loved you or cared about you they should know what you need or want, without you having to articulate it. When you think about it, it really is a left over from childhood. As my sister says to her small children when they are having one of those childish tantrums where they jump up and down or throw themselves on the floor and whinge and carry on “use your words and tell me what you want” (and it would seem this can be more of an issue in adult relationships if you had one parent who was always tuned in to your emotional states so you got away without communicating). Apparently expecting another person to be a mind-reader is a sign of fusion or loss of individuality in a relationship. But I have realised (perhaps at least partly because of my personality type or maybe as a left over from learning to be on high alert to my Mum's emotional state as a kid), that I have at times put a lot of energy into trying to read other people’s minds, and that really I just need to stop that, and leave it to them to use real communication.

The ‘changing the other person’ fantasy
This is the myth that we can change the parts of the other person that don’t fit our ideal. That might sound basic, but this is often about projecting what we want the other person to be to bolster our own insecurities (and a redirection of our anxieties). And these efforts are counterproductive and contribute to frustration and insecurity in relationships.

She then discussed how what you do is focus on and work on what is in your control (which backs up some of what is said in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey) and others will make their own adjustments to the changes in the emotional environment.

As I said, maybe these sound completely obvious, but it is worth being reminded.

Edith Schaeffer

I read in a newsletter over the weekend that Edith Schaeffer died on Saturday, aged 98. It feels like the end of something quite special to me. She and Francis were a remarkable team. I loved my time at L’Abri in 2001 and I loved reading her book there The Life of Prayer. Tim Challies has posted an article on her life here.

Shakespeare, 2nd April

Thou art thy mother's glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime:
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see
Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.

Sonnet III

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter Monday by Christina Rossetti

But wait, there is more. Christina Rossetti also wrote a poem for Easter Monday. (This morning I went on a walking tour of some of Sydney's historic colonial sites, with the lovely Cath and another of her friends, and this is a photo of something we found on a statue in Macquarie place. If you click it it should get bigger.)

Easter Monday

Out in the rain a world is growing green,
   On half the trees quick buds are seen
       Where glued-up buds have been.
Out in the rain God's Acre stretches green,
   Its harvest quick tho' still unseen:
       For there the Life hath been.

If Christ hath died His brethren well may die,
   Sing in the gate of death, lay by
       This life without a sigh:
For Christ hath died and good it is to die;
   To sleep whenso He lays us by,
       Then wake without a sigh.

Yea, Christ hath died, yea, Christ is risen again:
   Wherefore both life and death grow plain
       To us who wax and wane;
For Christ Who rose shall die no more again:
   Amen: till He makes all things plain
       Let us wax on and wane.

~Christina Rossetti

Shakespeare, 1st April

And make a fool of him.

Twelfth Night, Act ii., Sc. 3.

He cannot be a perfect man,
Not being tried and tutored in the world.

Two Gentleman of Verona, Act i., Sc. 3.