Random Thoughts for the Weekend

Celebrated Irish poet Seamus Heaney pictured in the green room at the Guardian Hay Festival 2006. Picture by Justin Griffiths-Williams. 29/5//06 All rights ©2006 Justin Griffiths-Williams Tel:02085339882 Mob:07850053473

1. I’m reading For Whom the Bell Tolls right now but I’ve been thinking a lot about The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway insisted it was just a story. By that he meant there was no metaphor, no deeper meaning to be mined by those who push their glasses up their nose after saying something they assume everyone will be impressed by. It was just a story about an old fisherman and a fish. I think when we are always looking for metaphors and deeper meanings in something we miss what is actually there. We can write impressive, smart sounding thinkpieces. But sometimes it’s just a fish. You can kill something by making it an object lesson.

2. I bought the newest Jason Isbell album on vinyl. It’s a double album and was far more expensive than the CD. This has forced me to do two things. It’s only 11 songs split between four sides, so listening to the album straight through is a physical activity. You have to turn the album over at the most after three songs and after the second side, you have to put it back in the sleeve and then remove the second album from the sleeve, etc. If I’m not sitting or laying on the floor right beside the record player, I’m getting up from my chair every 10 minutes at the most. That’s one. But also, the expense has forced me to say “no” to other albums. I talked about this the other night with some friends. Remember back when you were young and you saved up your money to go buy an album and you had no idea if any of the songs were any good outside of the one or two you had heard on the radio? It was a real investment. It could be a month before you would be able to afford another album. So you listened to every song over and over and gave it a chance. Nothing was delete-able.

3. Repentance and apology that engender applause should always be suspect. Have I pointed this out before? This kind of repentance is a public relations move. And it will never be enough. And just like every other PR move, it will need to be repeated again and again, world without end.

4. Just minutes before Seamus Heaney died, he sent a text to his wife, “Noli temere.”

5. My favorite part of getting a new job is the excitement of my wife.

6. And Five Guys to celebrate.

7. The evangelical church cares so little for the poets it is no wonder the prophetic voice has given way to the stratagems of the CEO. Look at the prophets of the Old Testament. What do you see? Poets.

8. I’ve read none of the recent spate of dystopian novels. But it would be hard for me to imagine one with a storyline as disturbing as what is being revealed about Planned Parenthood. Why do you read those novels, but to watch those with power abusing it in disturbing fashion, fall at the hands of those who see things as they are?

9. Maybe it’s old age, but my enthusiasm for new technology is disappearing. It over promises and under-delivers. Almost all of it is glitchy. Even my apple products seem to have become so complicated and full of features that I can no longer do the simple things without something going wrong. There is no substitute for a dusty book and some Van Morrison on vinyl.

10. This morning (Saturday) I ran in the gift of an Autumn-like morning. The air was crisp, almost cool. Not like the blues, but cool like a stream for a weary traveler. Even the ducks and geese seemed to enjoy themselves in the reflection of the cobalt blue sky on the lake’s shining surface. All of us runners greeted even the walkers in the joy of breathable air. Even the blues I listened to had the glint of unbounded smiles for the day ahead.

Random Thoughts at the Beginning of the Week


1. Being a parent is hard. There is always some issue. Something to make you worry. Something requiring a brand of faith you cannot afford without some serious assistance. Something pushing you into bigger arms as you are pushed to be those limbs so another small life can rest in them. The world is big and full of trouble. Blessed is the home who can worry about the troubles in the wider world.

2. My wife is better than me at all the things that matter.

3. Far too many christians are worried about their freedoms in this country and not enough are concerned about restricting other’s freedom in Christ.

4. The new Wilco album is fantastic. And totally free. Just like grace. Until I buy it on vinyl and then it costs money and thats more like law and I’m not really sure where I’m going with this.

5. Those who know me best never ask if I’m hungry.

6. Seamus Heaney’s poetry.

7. Speaking of Wilco, am I the only one who thinks Sky Blue Sky sounds like Abbey Road?

8. Speaking of being a parent, I love my kids but does anyone want one of them?

9. You’re probably a slave to the news cycle. As soon as the media outlets quit talking about whatever they want to get you outraged over so they can get more advertising dollars, you will probably quit caring about it. Repeat.

10. From the far reaches of your front yard
Breaks the moon’s playful beams,
For which we’d pay full fortunes
Were they shut off from us in the dark

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. I wish I wasn’t so encouraged by the random encouragements on my running apps. Sad.

2. You know that person that says complaining doesn’t do any good? I can’t stand that person because so much of the Psalms and the Prophets are the blues.

3. When people ask for help on writing, I tell them to read Hemingway. If they aren’t willing to read Hemingway, it is hard for me to believe they could ever be a good writer.

4. I heart pizza.

5. I have an interview tomorrow. So if you’re the praying kind…

6. I was told that if I became good at my job, I’d like my job. That has not happened.

7. I artery pizza too.

8. It is painful to say “Stay gold, Ponyboy” to someone and they don’t know what you mean. 

9. I would never be able to take seriously the opinion of a person who does not at the very least think Planned Parenthood should be investigated because of that video. And before you tell me it was edited, there is an unedited version also.

10. There is so much joy to be had. This is why the debris field of our broken-hearted moments is so hard to walk over. We see in those shards things as they ought to have been. Could have been. But things are not as they were created to be. And so a dream unfulfilled here, a failure there, and life cut short at your feet. You’d kick at the pieces in anger but something inside sees a beauty when the light turns just right on the jagged edges. You remember, it’s not over yet. If there can be dancing in a valley of dry bones, then all these can too be made new.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts


1. The most punk-rock event in all of history was the Son of God hanging bloody on a cross and saying, “It is finished.” Sid and Nancy got nothing on the homeless Nazarene.

2. I took a spiritual gift test and it conclusively said mine was putting leftovers from dinner in a tupperware seven times larger than is needed.

3. I normally wish I was at home all day with Bethany and the kids but I’m really feeling it today. I can’t imagine the difficulty for those who are miserable at work and at home.

4. I’m not sure guys like Ken Rosenthal understand that the All Star Game is about what players are doing in the present and not what they’ve done in previous seasons. That’s why it’s an – wait for it – *annual* game. By every metric, Carlos Martinez deserves to be in the contest over Kershaw, even though we all have a mancrush on the 3 time Cy Young Award winner.

5. Why did I wait so stupid long to buy The Gaslight Anthem’s Get Hurt? Because God knew how great it would be to have it on vinyl.

6. The most counter-cultural thing you can do in our day and age is stay married to someone of the opposite sex.

7. One of the unexpected joys of writing a book is hearing from people and getting to sit down with them and hear their story. But there is some fear too. Will they like me? That question buzzs in the background. I assume this is just a fraction of what goes on in the head and the heart of the truly famous. It’s probably terrifying. Can you imagine what it’s like for stars who have lost their luster? They were so well-liked and then forgotten. And they realized it wasn’t them so well-liked actually. Gotta be hard for them.

8. Is there no accountability among those who package bacon? The reckless disregard for those of us who just want the package opening experience to be reasonable continues unabated across brand lines. Which presidential candidate will stop this madness?

9. Tomorrow we will be home-owners again. Much thanks to my in-laws and my parents, who are still providing for us after they have gone on ahead.

10. Remember those summer nights when you were young and dusk hung in the air like heavenly kisses and the fireflies lit the yard of freshly cut grass and your dreams were bigger and brighter than the mirror-ball moon hanging among stars you pretended to throw into the night sky? One day. One day, my friends. It will come with no end. And our parents in all their strength will lay down their newspapers and their dish rags and join you in the joy as the screen door slams shut behind them. The ice cream churn will hum and the smell of the community pool will shine thick upon your sunned skin and it will crave the breeze traveling like the trains you hear down in the valley. It will come with no end. And the tears of cancer and the tears of Alzheimers and divorce and all the broken hearted moments will end and give way to an unending string of those moments that taste like that memory of dusk unending.


Through the Glass Darkly


This morning I woke early. I’ve had nightmares all this week. None have been the kind you laugh off later in the day. Each has been the kind of nightmare only a parent who has watched their child hooked up to machines can understand. You wake up and know there is no more sleep to be had.

An early run, I thought. But rain was falling in sheets. And there was more thunder than I thought was tolerable. So I waited till the rain slowed. I figured if I couldn’t run between the raindrops, I could run between the storms.

Yesterday I read that a young mom from our church is now in hospice care. She will go on ahead of her young husband and young daughters. Into what we only see through a glass so darkly.

The nightmares and that reality were in the passenger seat on the way down to Star lake where I run. And this morning, in a cruel rain.

On the way down the mountain I heard what I could only call a hymn. I’ve listened to this song by Bill Mallonee a hundred times but this morning the words snuck in through the broken parts.


Well, I think we’ve got time for just one more
Before that bartender counts his tray
There’s a million reasons to walk out that door
But only one to stay

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where we’re all made new
When it’s all over and through

Are you listened to when you call in the night?
Are you held inside your dreams?
Is it something like an anchor in the raging storm?
When the world turns cruel and mean?

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where we’re all made new
When it’s all over and through

One more round for the round of confusion
Its always dogging our steps
One loud hosanna and a victory cry
Shouted while you wept

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where it’s all made new
When it’s all over and through

Through the glass darkly
I’m just hoping to make it to
To that place where we’re all made new
When it’s all over and through

A Prayer for Where We Find Ourselves

lord's prayer

The world may feel like things are out of control. But that is not so. And sometimes it just takes a reminder through familiar terrain that The King still reigns. Sometimes we forget because of what is happening in the news. Sometimes we forget because of the work-week. Sometimes it’s a rebellious child. The death of a loved one. Maybe our toys are broken and have left us unfulfilled. But he still reigns with undiminished power, honor, and glory. So we can pray as children:

Hello Daddy!

We want to know you.

And be close to you.

Please show us how.

Make everything in the world right again.

And in our hearts, too.

Do what is best—just like you do in heaven,

And please do it down here, too.

Please give us everything we need today.

Forgive us for doing wrong, for hurting you.

Forgive us just as we forgive other people

when they hurt us.

Rescue us! We need you.

We don’t want to keep running away

and hiding from you.

Keep us safe from our enemies.

You’re strong, God.

You can do whatever you want.

You are in charge.

Now and forever and for always!

We think you’re great!


Yes we do!

– from the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Random thoughts for the Weekend


Just a few though…

1. So basically I’m a bigot if I think ridding the world of the “Confederate Flag” is a bad idea. And I’m also a bigot if I wholeheartedly disagree with what is now the law of the land on same-sex marriage.

Got it.

2. It is amazing to me that so many “Christian artists” are veiling their faith in obscure lyrics that could be about anything. But Leon Bridges, the young soul artist is singing explicitly about his faith.

3. I am not afraid of the law of the land. But I am even less afraid of being associated with the “religious right.” That will happen anyway. There are worse fates.

4. Every time someone complains about Calvin’s Geneva, I reflexively want to pick up The Institutes.

5. Redefining words affords no one any dignity.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts


1. Have you registered your outrage yet? What about your disapproval?

2. My wife…man, how the he…wha…I mean…so glad, though.

3. There is no end to Progress. It will insist on more.

4. Hear me now, believe me later – Leon Bridges’ debut album will be the album of the year.

5. I learned early on, you cannot love pizza and still be a supermodel.

6. The cross is the end of our illusions of the need for progress.

7. I’ve thought about going back to school but how does one afford it? I’d sell my soul, but well, how much can you get for a crushed one?

8. What do you think next week’s outrage du jour will be?

9. I thought I could not love Billie Holiday’s music more than I did. But I just read the newest biography of her and now so much more. So much more of that voice.

10. If you didn’t give a damn about something last week and now this week you are calling for it to be banned and arguing about it on social media, you may need to quietly deal with something inside you. You’re like the Calvinist who had never read Calvin and then after a Packer book, you now question everyone’s salvation who has not rededicated their life to the Genevan reformer.


On the First Anniversary of My Mother’s Life


A year ago today my mom swung from star to star silently into secrets unknown. Yesterday, I thought about calling her for about a half a second. A half second of forgetfulness. Habit. Another family lives in the house to which I would call. The number going nowhere anyway.

The thing I remember the most from that night was my white knuckles on the drive home from the hospital.  I guess I was hanging on to that steering wheel for dear life after spending a few hours in an ER room with the lifeless form of my mother.

On my drive home from work today after one of those days when you wonder if the spirit once crushed can repair, I thought about her death. She died and none of us were with her. We had been with her throughout the day, but we did not expect her to go on ahead so soon. So we were all at home, my brothers and I. And then my oldest brother called me and I knew this was the beginning of feeling like an orphan and picking up the phone and no one to call like before.

Of course, she was not alone. The truth that can seem trite when the sadness is thick like fog, is still true. She was taking holding of Life. And she was moving toward life more than those of us standing there watching her lie more still than she ever had since she first drew breath.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

1. It is no easy thing to have a skill for which people will praise you to no end and yet not pay you for. There are harder things, but still.

2. The church is not afraid of wealth like it ought to be. It is an enterprise of capitalism in that all it sees is opportunity to progression forward. The warning of the King go unheard.

3. The framing of a story is important. Follow the money and where the power can be had by the narrative, when listening to the story. When you cannot follow the money, listen a little closer.

4. There is so little mystery anymore.

5. People are always looking for heroic saints. Jesus looked for weak weak sinners.

6. My wife has been reading and enjoying Hannah Coulter which means I have watched a beautiful person hold a beautiful thing often over the past week.

7. Social media is starting to become a place of advertisements and marketing as much as it is anything else. There is good there but the good is being crowded out by increments.

8. The disappointment of going to someone and asking for help and not getting help is deflatingly unique. I suppose there is grace enough for that too.

9. We have it in our head all the big pronouncements and events will make the difference for others and ourselves for good and else wise. This is an error of imagination.

10. I am no feeling entirely well right, fighting something off, which or may not be affecting the tone, if not the content of these posts. But possibly not.


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