Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Growth Haiku


Building skyscrapers
stand firm where once only birds
or storm clouds could go

Tunnel through mountains
traveling where once was stone
dark place filled with light

Bridges traverse space
arches over the abyss
obstacles below

Moving faster now
running seems to cyclist slow
all surpassed by flight

Changing the landscape
make straight paths and overcome
not bound by nature

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Heart of the Creator

I've found my medium. There is something really positive about being able to know that there is one thing that you are tolerably good at and love doing. It's a high that doesn't go away. Then, just in case I get used to that high, I can think about ways that I can use my voice for God's purposes and it comes right back.

I'm convinced that everyone has a medium, some way that they can best express themselves. Some medium that is as natural as breathing that puts it all out there. You almost always know when someone has found it. I know a few guys who can write their souls into a song. I've seen a laugh made from yarn. I have seen doodles that would bleed if you cut them. When we find this medium we create things that no one else can create. When we see these creations do what they are created to do, we watch like proud parents knowing that our kids are going to be alright after all, despite all our shortfalls.

I am also convinced that this is the heart of God in us. He created us and his joy is made complete when he sees us live out what he created us for (to love Him and each other). The mini-creator in us does the same. We breath life into our poems, our songs, and our art and send them out into the world with their wobbly knees and trembling hands, and whether we smile or wince at each stumble we can't help but glow with pride when they take their first confident step into the world. I see a spike on the blog stats, and I know someone out there is reading. I hear the brief silence after my speech and I know that I've just touched the hearts of my listeners.

It's taken no small amount of courage to let these fledgling works out into the open, but the encouragement I've gotten from all of you out there has given me the confidence to keep after it, and not be afraid of failure.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lessons from Les Misérables (Part 5)

This is the final post in this series, a word in closing at the bottom, but here, more quotes!

"There is incomplete immensity in nature" -22399
This quote echos an idea C.S. Lewis wrote in the 4 loves when speaking of the "nature lover." When man takes nature as a teacher, he will learn whatever he came to learn. In Hugo's words, man's desire for knowledge fills in the incompleteness of nature, and the lessons he learns there will take on nature's immensity, like a magnifying lens turned on the object of man's curiosity.

"No sword is simple. Every blade has two edges; he who wounds with one is wounded by the other"-22723
A well written reprise of the old adage.

"... It depends on society to save itself, it is to its' own good will that we make our appeal. No violent remedy is necessary. To study evil amiably, to prove it's existence, then to cure it. It is to this that we invite it."-22737
Another poignant call for non-violence in the midst of the revolution. I believe that this is the truest form of revolution. Prove to a men that there is an evil in their midst, and I am convinced that they will act to remove it, to cure it. To study evil is easy enough, the most harmful of them are often omnipresent, easily observed to the eye that is not calloused. Proving, and persuading is the difficult task. Influence is needed, and respect, to prove the existence of an evil to those who are blinded by it.

"Only a civilizing people should be a manly people. ... He must be neither a delittante nor a virtuoso: but he must be artistic. In the matter of civilization, he must not refine, but he must sublime. On this condition, one gives to the human race the pattern of the ideal." -22776
This is something like the call for masculinity that I have made in the past. It is interesting to consider this, now that France and the French have become something of a byword for the effeminate and the connoisseur. I have much more respect now for the France of the 19th century, and the leadership they brought to Europe as a democratizing force.
"Matter exists, the minute exists, interest exists, the stomach exists; but the stomach must not be the sole wisdom. The life of the moment has it's rights, but the permanent life has its' rights also." -22800
A call for moderation for the sake of the eternal. The one addition I would make is that when one has properly assessed the weight of the moment and the permanent, the moment becomes subservient to the permanent. Reverie in the eternal leads to neglect, reverie in the moment is hedonism. The truth is found by placing the moment not simply below, but laying it as a foundation which supports and serves the eternal, that each moment might be exalted by its' light.

"The pupil dilates in the dark, and the soul dilates in misfortune and ends by finding God there." -23440
Simply, the path to God is through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Without the quiet of misfortune, we cannot hear the still small voice of God.
And Finally, I will allow the author to speak for his own book, that you might be encouraged to read it:
"The book which the reader has under his eye at this moment is, from one end to the other, as a whole and in detail, whatever may be its' intermittences, exceptions and faults, the march from evil to good, from the unjust to the just, from night to day, from appetite to conscience, from rottenness to life, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God. Point of departure: matter, point of arrival soul. The hydra at the beginning, the angel at the end." -22811

I hope that this has been as encouraging to you as it has been to me. I hope everyone will put this book on their reading list. It has enlightened me to many of the intricacies of the human heart, and has lit a fire in my soul to fight for freedom, justice, and truth wherever there is darkness.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Lessons from Les Misérables (Part 4)

Getting Close to the end! I think part 5 or 6 may be the final installment. For now, there is yet more to be seen!

"Intellectual and moral growth are no less indispensable than material improvement." -18475
In improving the plight of the poor, it is clear that welfare, on it's own, is no help at all. It is a half step in the right direction. Half steps, as we know, avail nothing. Education of the mind and soul must be paired with material improvement if we are to genuinely aid the poor, and we must aid the poor.
"If there is anything more heartbreaking than a body perishing for lack of bread, it is a soul dying from hunger for light." - 18477

"One of woman's magnanimities is to yield." -18539
An interesting expression of the female gender role, a topic I have made it a point to tread carefully around (See my post on the role of Men)  I will not comment other than to say that I have experienced this magnanimity myself, and know it to be one of the best expressions of love in a romantic relationship.

"Of all the things which God has made, the Human heart is the one which sheds the most light, Alas! and the most darkness."- 18544
That which has the highest capacity for good, by necessity has the greatest capacity for evil and corruption. Brilliance is found at the heights of human achievement and love, and in the depths of humanity's darkest hours. Great influence may pull men from the mire, even to the clouds, or it may drive them down to suffocate in the darkness. We, of all God's creation, hold this power over the hearts around us.

"It is a strange claim on mans part that love should lead to something."-18661
It is a lie that our culture has sold to us that love need be anything more than simply love. That somehow agapé and phileo are crippled where eros soars. It is like saying that trees were made for building houses. A house is a wonderful thing. A house built from immature trees; however, from sticks and branches, cannot last or keep out the elements. Trees make an admirable abode for the woodsman and adventurer, and are beautiful in their own right.

"Assasination is more of a crime here than elsewhere; we are under the eyes of the Revolution, we are the priests of the Republic, we are victims of duty, and must not be possible to slander our combat." -20564
Spoken by Enjolras after one of the men at the barricade has killed a bystander. This seems to be parallel to the idea that disciples are under the eyes of the world. What might be acceptable for any man is a shortfall for the disciple, and each of the wrongs of the disciple become abominable in that he becomes the "Priest of the revolution" when he takes up the call. As it is said during the Eagle ceremony in Boy Scouts "Your actions have become a little more conspicuous."

A final note on (the now far more seasonal) springtime weather

"Nothing is so worthy of admiration as foliage washed by the rain and wiped by rays of sunlight; it is warm freshness. The gardens and meadows, having water at their roots, and sun in their flowers, become perfuming-pans of incense, and smoke with all their odors at once. Everything smiles, sings and offers itself. One feels gently intoxicated." -22375