Category Archives: literature

“O Pine, The Evergreen”, a poem

“O Pine, The Evergreen”


Wind has a friend in the evergreen,

Though, with its combs to prickle,

And it’s relief humanly unseen,

Sighs like a brook do trickle.

 

One need only stand in the midst

Of these ever breathing giants,

To feel the rest being lift

With the escort of wind.

 

Not like their noisy brothers,

Who clap and shudder and sap

The oak, the maple, and others

Don’t exhale the breath of nap.

 

No, no as these trees go go

Their needles tossed to and fro,

Their cones left to embed the floor,

To receive the breath and live for more.

 

Wind has a friend in the evergreen,

Lost in its arms, task and time

Ticking and wasting it may seem,

But to sweeten the sigh is the pine!

 

Luke Olson

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An excerpt from CS Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce

 

In this chapter from the book “The Great Divorce”, by CS Lewis, people who have died can volunteer to visit Hell and Heaven as a tour by way of a grand bus, and decide if you want to stay.  A brilliant book, with a piercing look into the heart and personality of people, and how one would even be able to deny such a beautiful thing as heaven.  This book fits into the genre of fantasy so is it in no way a look into the theological position that CS Lewis holds over heaven and hell.

The context is Big Man, called the “ghost”, finds his employee/murderer who has found a place in heaven, and this friend has been sent to persuade his Big Ghost friend to come to the kingdom of heaven, which they can see in the background.  The angelical being just got done chiding his friend on how poorly the Big Man had treated people while on earth, in an effort to show him that really, he was a man not all played up like he proclaimed himself to be.  That’s where we dive in….

“You mind your own business, young man, said the Ghost, “None of your lip see, Because Im not taking any impudence from you about my private affairs.”

“There are no private affairs”, said the other.

“And I’ll tell you another thing,” said the ghost, “You can clear off see?  You’re not wanted.  I may be only a poor man but I’m not making pals with a murderer, let alone taking lessons from him.  Made it hard for you and your like, did I?  If I had you back there I’d show you what work is.”

“Come and show me now”, said the other with laughter in his voice.  “It will be joy going to the mountains, but there will be plenty of work.”

“You dont suppose I’d go with you?”

“Don’t refuse.  You will never get there alone.  And I am the one who was sent to you.”

“So thats the trick is it?” Shouted the ghost, outwardly bitter and yet I thought there was a kind of triumph in its voice.  It had been entreated: it could make a refusal: and this seemed to it a kind of advantage. “I thought there’d be some damned nonsense.  It’s all a clique, all a bloody clique.  Tell them Im not coming, see?  I”d rather be damned than go along with you.  I came here to get my rights, see?  Not to go snivelling along on charity tied onto your apron-strings.  If they’re too fine to have me without you, I’ll go home.”  It was almost happy now that it could, in a sense, threaten. “That’s what I’ll do’, it repeated, “I’ll go home.  I didn’t come here to be treated like a dog.  I’ll go home.  That’s what I’ll do.  Damn and blast the whole pack of you…”  In the end still grumbling, but whimpering also a little as it picked its way over the sharp grasses, it made off.”

The untold story of “The Stolen Pennies”

You’ve heard the fairy-tales of Hansel and Gretel meeting that mean ol’ witch who lived out in the woods, and the classic story of little Red Riding Hood and her encounter with the wolf.  All written by brothers, being philologists, who wrote down these stories as told by German villagers around the 18th century.  Superstition, beliefs with the dead, and a morbid sense of detail actually don’t make most of these stories good for children, but were used as bed time stories nevertheless, perhaps to scare children into listening to their parents.  “Look at what happened to Hansel and Gretel, that’s why you shouldn’t wander into the forest without us.”  But some of them are just downright tormenting to young minds.

Consider a story written by the Brothers Grimm about a little girl who’s mistake to withhold pennies from a poor man reaped grave consequences for her, even after she died, in the harrowing story of the “The Stolen Pennies.”  You may not want to read this….alone!

—————

by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, sometime in 1812

The Stolen Pennies

A FATHER was one day sitting at dinner with his wife and his children, and a good friend who had come on a visit was with them. And as they thus sat, and it was striking twelve o’clock, the stranger saw the door open, and a very pale child dressed in snow white clothes came in. It did not look around, and it did not speak,but went straight into the next room. Soon afterwards it came back,and went out at the door again in the same quiet manner. On the second and on the third day, it came also exactly in the same way.At last the stranger asked the father to whom the beautiful child that went into the next room every day at noon belonged? “I have never seen it,” said he, neither did he know to whom it could belong. The next day when it again came, the stranger pointed it out to the father, who however did not see it, and the mother and the children also all saw nothing. At this the stranger got up, went to the room door, opened it a little, and peeped in. Then he saw the child sitting on the ground,and digging and seeking about industriously among the crevices between the boards of the floor, but when it saw the stranger, it disappeared. He now told what he had seen and described the child exactly, and the mother recognized it, and said, “Ah, it is my dear child who died a month ago.” They took up the boards and found two pennies which the child had once received from its mother that it might give them to a poor man. It, however, had thought, “I can buy myself a biscuit for that,” and had kept the pennies, and hidden them in the openings between the boards. Therefore it had had no rest in its grave, and had come every day at noon to seek for these pennies. The parents gave the money at once to a poor man, and after that the child was never seen again.

THE END

……sweet dreams!

The Wood-Pile, by Robert Frost

As you might have guessed by now, I’m a big fan of Robert Frost.  Well here is another wintry poem for you…enjoy.

The Wood-Pile
Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day
I paused and said, ‘I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther- and we shall see’.
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tail slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather-
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled- and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year’s snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year’s cutting,
Or even last year’s or the year’s before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself the labour of his axe,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
· To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

-Robert Frost, 1915

A Wintry Poem for an awfully Wintry Evening

It is February 1st, 2011, and Chicago is being hit by a major blizzard.  The city sits tonight, waiting for this weatherly chaos to pass.  As it passes, what to do?  How about some poetry from my favorite poet of all time!  Robert Frost!  A rather befitting poem.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

– Robert Frost

DaVinci Code vs Early Manuscripts pt 2: Three ways the church killed heresies!

Words, as some of you know, are my obsession.  To put them eloquently in beautifully composed poetry brings strength to the bone.  The color and flavor words bring into a story can be as integral as the plot itself.  When someone uses choice words in a personal letter, you are in a sense learning more about that author, and his affections toward you (how much does he care for you, is he sympathetic, or instructional), his intentions for the relationship (to end a friendship, or encourage them in a hard time), etc.  So the Bible, the greatest letter on earth, a letter written from God to man, carries on its words the very sentiments, the intentions, the will of God himself.  The incredible thing about this letter, is that he so trusted his followers (those prophets or followers of Christ who listened to the Spirit and wrote what was impressed on them), that he gave finite and mortal human beings the privilege to hear and write down what God wanted to say to humanity (more on spiritual inspiration at the bottom).

For the last month or so, I’ve been going through the book “Who wrote the Gospels?”  by Dr. Hill.  It is a book that seeks to combat mis-conceptions about early Christianity, it seeks to bring light to the process by which we have the Gospels, and seeks to further encourage our believers by empowering us with the knowledge of the history of this great book.

In this article, I want to address probably the most prevalent mis-conception of the Bible we have today.  People may ask, Why just the four gospels?  Why was the church so exclusive? It is a very legitimate question, to which there is a very interesting answer.

True, there were other gospels circulating at the time, but the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were the most prevalent, to the extent at which we can say the church at large did NOT consider the other non-canonical gospels to be inspired by the Spirit of God.  There were some who branched off, and we have testimonies of church leaders who call them heretics, those who believe the canon of scripture was more than four gospels.  One very simple argument is that the number of Greek manuscripts found to this day, by far eclipse in number those manuscripts of non-canonical types (i.e. Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mary, those not found in the Christian bible today).  (At this point it may seem that I’m trying to say, the group with the big numbers win….that simply is not true.  That is not logical from a spiritual perspective and historical perspective….you must understand, I’m showing you one piece of the pie in supporting the fact that the Gospels were inspired by God, and the non-canonical gospels were not)

The gold rush of Alaska and the rushes that occured in California, serve as a good analogy for me today.  When miners sought to find gold, they were forced to learn by various ways to determine the difference between fools-gold (fake gold, a look-a-like) and the real thing.  The thing is, you will invest much in something you think you will benefit much from.  Same thing goes with the Bible, and Bible study.  You study the Bible because you know its true, and you want to benefit from it more, by studying it.  If you were to chose between a book that had eyewitnesses to testify to the events of that book one generation ago, and a book that had clearly inaccurate sayings (sometimes the non-canonical gospels are quite blatantly contradicting gospel testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).

Three study tools came onto the scene around 180 AD, showing to which books they invested the science of study.

1) Harmonies – scribes went through the Bible and compiled all four gospels to make a read-through version of the Gospels.  This is called A Harmony of the Gospels. For example, when a story is told, lets say about the birth of Christ, it compiles all accounts of that narrative to make a single voice.  This is helpful if you wanted to get a very detailed feel for how all the narratives combined would be.

An example: “The mother of the sons of Zebedee (Matt 27:56) and Salome (Mark 15:40) and the wives of those who had followed him from Gallilee to see the crucified (Luke 23:4-9), And the day was Preparation: The Sabbath was dawning (Luke 23:54)……etc.

2) Synopses – This was a tool similar to that of the Harmonies, except it laid out each Gospels narrative in four separate columns, instead re-written as a novel-like story with Gospel references interwoven in the text.

3) Use of codices – We quickly learn in “papyrology” (the study of texts written on papyrus…gotta be smaaart!) that the church quickly evolved from using scrolls to document the gospels (few scrolls in existence) to using a slight variation of book form, similar to what we use today called codices.  This was because using scrolls in early church services were not as useful, and could not contain four gospels worth of scroll in one set.  Because the Gospels were bigger they were forced to use a larger convention, the codices.  This caught on as the staple way to make ANYTHING gospel related.  Scribes would even make pocket-sized books of the Bible for people to study with.  The larger ones were used in church services, as they would make the fonts bigger, more organized into columns, and had read-aids to assist the reader when he would read in front of the community.

Here’s the thing!  If the early church considered the “other” gospels to be God inspired, you would think they might consider them valuable….valuable enough like gold to invest to learn what they’re about.  The thing is, NONE of the study tools EVER mentioned or included ANY of the other heretical non-canonical gospels.

To give those lonely outsider gospels a little love, scholars do say they were used by Pastors and teachers.  Iraneaus, one of our early church fathers had some things to say about learning the heresies of the day.  He even blamed one communities falling back into pagan ways because their eyes weren’t really open as to what the heretics were teaching, and so they were lulled back into old ways.  So many pastors in that day had “heretical” gospels in their libraries so they were up-to-date on their heresies, BUT they were never in the book form, which was how scribes wrote holy books, like the four gospels.  The heretical gospels were usually written on single sheets of papyrus or in scrolls, almost automatically putting them in the category of unholy.

So from the beginning, the church has practically considered all the non-canonical gospels as NOT God inspired.  Now as to how they discovered and established principles of inspiration, that is entirely a different can of worms, and we’ll get there.  Stay tuned!

What I’m writing about is something that you can go to a museum and touch.  There are old fragments you can see.  We can be scientific about all of this.  The area where this gets spiritual is the gap between God’s mind and the writers pen, as they wrote the Bible.  The doctrine that deals with this issue is called “Inspiration”.  Wayne Grudem in his “Systematic Theology” gives great light on this matter if you want to study this further.  For now I leave with you this amazing verse in 2 Peter, which shows yet another way in which God considers man trustworthy and honors us with the reception of his divine message!  Incredible he would chose us!!!

“…no prophecy of Scripture comes from someones own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

– 2 Peter 1:20-21

Wow!  What do you think about all of this?