Saturday, August 30, 2014

With beauty and goodness

I heard a little anecdote just today that Leon Morris, who I believe is Australia’s most published theological author, and a very highly regarded one, regularly bought roses to plant on the grounds at Ridley Melbourne, and was known to say “truth is alive with beauty and goodness”.

I like that.

(I heard it as an oral quote so can’t verify it.)

At times I think I am becoming such a Nanna (so that little anecdote was rather reassuring!), but I have been excited of late to see this happening on my St Saviour’s rose bushes (I admit, when I was given these sticks in plastic bags I had my doubts, but something must be going right so far).

Friday, August 29, 2014

Peace and quiet

Into the noise of the internet, I offer you this.

(This young Icelandic composer started out as a drummer in hardcore/metal bands. Now he makes albums with titles such as And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness and Now I am Winter.)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A poem - The Other Half

A lovely friend, whom I actually first met through this blog, gave me a copy of Judith Wright's Collected Poems 1942-1985 recently for my birthday. I have been enjoying reading through them and discovering new poems. One that I have been moved by thus far is called The Other Half. It is reminiscent in content of Dietrich Bonhoeffers Who am I? and Sigfried Sassoon’s Alone (though I don't know whether she is being rather Freudian in reference to dreams).

Picture from here.


The self that night undrowns when I’m asleep
travels beneath the dumb days that I give,
within the limits set that I may live,
and beats in anger on the things I love.
I am the cross it bears, and it the tears I weep.

Under the eyes of light my work is brief.
Day sets on me the burdens that I carry.
I face the light, the dark of me I bury.
My silent answer and my other half,
we meet at midnight and by music only.

Yet there’s a word that I would give to you:
the truth you tell in your dumb images
my daylight self goes stumbling after too.
So we may meet at last, and meeting bless,
and turn into one truth in singleness.

Judith Wright

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday - The symbol of hope

I saw and bought this Michael Leunig card today. I might even frame it.

(I don't know if this is some kind of breach of copyright, so I've taken the photo in such a way that I don't think anyone could reproduce it.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thomas Cranmer and the vulning pelican

I haven’t yet given up altogether with my “research” on this vulning pelican. See, I heard a rumour that Thomas Cranmer had something to do with the whole business, but I haven’t yet been able to find any direct or precise connection between Cranmer and our Diocesan Crest. However, a work colleague, who found out my fascination with this pelican, showed me this:
... very soon after he became Archbishop, Cranmer decided to alter his personal arms, apparently wanting something which was distinctively his own. The birds (apparently cranes, in a typical heraldic pun on the family name) were changed to pelicans, to give the symbolism of that bird’s legendary willingness to feed its young with its own blood; this typology of Christ’s blood-shedding for humanity on the cross appealed to the evangelicalism which the Nottinghamshire squire’s son had now embraced ...
Thomas Cranmer - A Life, by Diarmaid MacCulloch

Thomas Greenwood, who was president of Corpus Christi College in Oxford shortly after Cranmer became one of the Oxford Martyrs, had in his possession two volumes of Luther’s work, with a presentation inscription to Cranmer, which may or may not hint at how the pelican came to be at Corpus Christi (I read this in a book on the internet, but I now can't find where, sorry), but that is all I know for now.

So, that is just another piece in the vulning (all the autocorrects want to make it "vaulting") pelican story.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

We cannot ultimately mess up our lives

The sovereignty of God is mysterious but not contradictory. It means that we have great incentive to use our wisdom and our will to the best effect, knowing God holds us to it and knowing we will suffer consequences from foolishness and wickedness. On the other hand, there is an absolute promise that we cannot ultimately mess up our lives. Even our failures and troubles will be used for God's glory and our benefit. I don't know a more comforting assurance than that.

A simple but encouraging little snippet from Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, by Tim Keller.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Aristotle on friendship

The desire for friendship comes quickly. Friendship does not.
This is both discouraging and encouraging. Aristotle wrote a lot more about friendship, which I would like to read sometime.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mr Keating on poetry

After today's sad news, this movie was my favourite Robin Williams ... and I shall just say nanoo, nanoo.

The white rose - Sophie Scholl

After ordering my St Saviour's roses in Bishop's purple, I was also rather inclined to get myself a white rose bush. I was going to write that white roses are the symbol of friendship, but I just looked that up and it would seem I have been misled and that apparently they are the symbol of purity and virtue and sincere love and marriage ... and I wouldn't want to write untrue things on the internet. However, the white rose also does represent "opposition to tyranny" among many Germans.

I've no other way to say it than that I am a fan of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but there were others, and one of those was Sophie Scholl, who lost her head in 1943 for her participation in an anti-Nazi resistance group called The White Rose. This is what she said before her execution:
How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause.
I read this below on the Mighty Girl page on Facebook, which I only saw because another friend "liked it" so it appeared in my feed. I have done more reading since, but for a succinct bio, here is the Mighty Girl Page.

I can hardly stand to read the reports of current happenings in Iraq, and this world is indeed in The Long Defeat, with evil rising again and yet again, but righteousness will prevail in the end.

Today [10 May], one of Germany’s most famous anti-Nazi heroes, Sophie Scholl, was born in 1921. As a university student in Munich, Scholl, along with her brother, Hans, and several friends, formed a non-violent, anti-Nazi resistance group called the White Rose. The group ran a leaflet and graffiti campaign calling on their fellow Germans to resist Hilter's regime. Scholl became involved in resistance organizing after learning of the mass killings of Jews and reading an anti-Nazi sermon by Clemens August Graf von Galen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of M√ľnster. She was deeply moved by the "theology of conscience" and declared, "Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did."

In 1943, Scholl and the other members of the White Rose were arrested by the Gestapo for distributing leaflets at the University of Munich and taken to Stadelheim Prison. After a short trial on February 22, 1943, Scholl, her brother Hans and their friend Christop Probst, all pictured here, were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.

At her execution only a few hours later, Scholl made this final statement: "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"

Following the deaths of the White Rose's leaders, their final leaflet was smuggled to England. In mid-1943, Allied Forces dropped millions of copies of the "Manifesto of the Students of Munich" over Germany. Scholl is now honored as one of the great German heroes who actively opposed the Nazi regime.

George Herbert on Beauty

True beauty dwells on high: ours is a flame but borrowed thence to light us thither.
The Forerunners
George Herbert

Sunday, August 10, 2014

That relationship will not 'complete you'

It’s been a while since I posted about singleness here also, but I thought this article called That relationship will not ‘complete you’ over at TGC was worth reading. I don’t know who said it first, it’s now the proverbial “they”, but as they say “expectations kill relationships” (truer words were never spoke), which applies at a number of levels. To quote:
Only when we’re made whole in Christ can we enjoy truly healthy relationships with others, because only then will we desire to give love as much as we desire to receive it since we’ve already been satisfied by the God who created love.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Saturday - a poem

There has not been enough poetry here of late, and so ... I read this one yesterday by John Piper and thought it beautiful, and it's not remote from red birds in winter and roses blooming when half spent was the light. Do read his whole post about poetry, and listen to John Piper read it himself, but for now, the poem. I do like stanzas four and five.

Picture also taken from the Desiring God post.

Swimming in Winter

It is vacation time, and we
     must play.
No, this is not a must. We will,
     we may!

It is the season for this play,
     this fun,
And season follows season, when
     it’s done.

A time to fast. Then time to feast
     with spice.
Spring flowers follow winter snow
     and ice.

Or is this sequence really so
Does life come like the roll of waves,
     Or dice?

Does winter never flinch? Refuse
     to go?
I’ve seen the tulips buried in
     the snow.

Yet, it is time to play. The sun
So I will swim, and none will see
     my tears.

John Piper

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Lo, a rose here growing

This will be my last post about my sentimental possessions I promise – for a little while at least! But I have also recently acquired what you see below. They might not look like much at present, but they are called St Saviour’s Rose, a rose bred specifically for the 150th birthday of the Anglican Diocese here. I have been slowly gathering a few pot plants for my courtyard, and I thought these might be a rather special addition.

If you have read here for some time, you will remember some significance in roses (mainly from this post last December). And the name St Saviour’s Rose seems particularly apt (though I don't know the why of the "St"). These are a few bible verses that tie the ideas together.
The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them;
and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. 
Isaiah 35:1
And this is the verse on which the 15th century hymn, Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming (lyrics below) is based.
There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious. 
Isaiah 11:10

Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

The roses begin life as Bishop's purple or amethyst colour, which is a fine colour for roses, if a questionable choice for men's shirts, and fade out to a softer purply-pink, so I am told. And they have a saturated scent and camellia-like form (technical details for any gardeners out there). I followed the instructions very carefully in potting them, as apparently these things need to be done just so, and from here on I need to "drown them" in water to get them going (and I have left them in under the roof out of the descending frost in the photos above, because it's been like -7 and -6 degrees each morning this week). So, I shall see how my first rose-growing experience goes.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Red birds in winter

I thought I’d show you something else I bought myself as a birthday treat. Who am I kidding that my life is not just one great internal accumulation of symbolism, or metaphor on metaphor, because if you have been reading here for a time you might recall me referring to red birds, and particularly cardinals, in winter.

It all started with Mary Oliver’s poem Red Bird (below), which reminded me of a Thomas Hardy poem I can still recite called The Darkling Thrush. Then Sara Groves sang a song called From This One Place (video below) which starts with reference to a cardinal singing outside her window. And when my Mum was getting rid of a Christmas decoration featuring cardinals, I snatched it. Then the other day I was actually looking around online for a clock for my kitchen, and I came across this cushion on sale at The Pottery Barn. I know it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I couldn't resist buying it (I have been looking for a cushion for some time), and when it arrived in the mail I thought it was so beautiful. It’s bigger than I thought it was going to be at the size of a standard pillow, but that is quite alright. My "living room" is cherry red and sage green, and this cushion is perfect (you can't really see in the photo but it has a tiny bit of beading on the pine cones, which is enough, and it's nicely made). I've never even seen a cardinal, but they come in winter in North America, and sound like this.

The other morning I was riding to work, feeling a little blue, when a crimson rosella, which is one of my favourite Australian birds whose song I love, landed on a branch over my path.

I now have red birds in winter on my couch.

Red Bird

Red bird came all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else could.

Of course I love the sparrows,
those dun-colored darlings,
so hungry and so many.

I am a God-fearing feeder of birds.
I know He has many children,
not all of them bold in spirit.

Still, for whatever reason –
perhaps because the winter is so long
and the sky so black-blue,

or perhaps because the heart narrows
as often as it opens –
I am grateful

that red bird comes all winter
firing up the landscape
as nothing else can do.

Mary Oliver