Random Thoughts for the Weekend

wendall-berry

1. Chaos is not real. It is a perspective skewed by ignoring the highest reality of God and his love. Chaos is looking through the glasses of those who trust only their own perspective. If the light within by which we see is darkness, then how deep is that darkness.

2. Let Spring be wisdom. Or maybe even sermon. A letter would do.

3. We have a chance to “educate” our children during this time. We have a chance to teach them our first world problems are a vapor. Our plans are often born of arrogance. Our perspective is often dictated by the fleeting whims of pop culture. That we have a King and a kingdom. Within that kingdom we are perfectly safe. We know…know that all things are working out for good – the good of those who follow the crucified King. That we carry a cross because we have already died and our lives are hid with Christ. And when he appears we also will appear with him in glory. We can tell them these things, sure. But only if we proceed with kindness and joy will they learn it.

4. The Avett Brothers sold Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise to be used in a financial planning commercial.

5. Willard said we should ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. I think this has now been done for us.

6. I hate living in a world where COVID – 19 is a marketing opportunity for businesses and churches, of which it is often hard to tell the difference these days.

7. Wendell Berry is far easier to hear during this time. His poems are like prophecy – not so much foretelling as much as forth-telling. He sees more than we do. And in a way they remind me of Dylan’s songs. There is something else out there we are not seeing. Indeed, we don’t even know how to see them. If only because they do not seem beholden to them times, they are worth our time. I have found more than a little comfort in both.

8. One of the things I was teaching my 7th grade OT students was how to approach the Scriptures. I used five lenses. One of those lenses was “Sin is our biggest problem.” This was just another way to say, “Our circumstances are not our biggest problem.” The goal was joy. Each and every circumstance is to be colored with the knowledge that our biggest problem has been defeated. It was true in the stories of the Bible. And it’s true when you find yourself in the middle of a story that includes a pandemic.

9. Are you alive in a world dying to binge-watch?

10. Everyday Poem #11, “Doing Nothing”

I am pretty sure I was in Mrs. Grissett’s room at W.J. Christian Elementary when I learned about the Haiku. I could be wrong about that but I have very fond memories of learning poems and writing metaphors and similes and enjoying the difference in that room. There was never a day I could say I enjoyed school but I do remember enjoying learning those things. There seemed to be a power in that knowledge.

I only remember learning the 5–7–5 line scheme but it is possible we were told more was required. Matsuo Basho, the great writer of Haiku, said that words pointing to the seasons and nature were required also.

“How I long to see
among dawn flowers,
the face of God.”
– Basho

I forget this often and transgress. But I love Haiku. And when I sit and read some Basho, I feel like I have often taken in more volume than those three lines. A good Haiku says more than those seventeen syllables. There is compact power.  Because there are so few words each word can be mined and then held up to the light and seen for what it is and what it can be.


 

The Sabbath shows us
doing nothing is sometimes
better than something.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

frodo

1. My recommendation is that you quit your devotions. Quit reading a verse in the morning and then a short piece of writing about that verse, so you can just move on to the next one tomorrow. My recommendation is – choose a big passage like Matthew 6:19-34, Colossians 1:9-20, Psalm 23, Colossians 3:1-17, or Philippians 2:3-16 and then memorize that passage and recite it from memory every morning till it is part of the furniture of your mind. Then add another long passage. Then when you go through hard times, those words will have formed how you think already, so that going forward the voice of the King of the Universe will remind you of what is real reality.

2. Our local library is closed for the foreseeable future. But I think they should let me check something out from the poetry section because I am pretty sure my germs are the only ones in that area, seeing as how I’ve never seen another soul there.

3. I do worry about how all the video streaming will affect churches. Will it affect attendance in a culture that already chooses baseball practice over corporate worship? I almost hope it won’t be successful and that people will not enjoy it to the point of craving corporate worship and the sacraments.

4. I am just going to go ahead and assume that Wendell Berry has not even noticed what is happening.

5. If everything is filtered through a conservative or liberal political lens, then that is mostly likely the religion you actually follow and place your trust in.

6. Wallace Stevens said poets are priests of the invisible.

7. Maybe this will show us the value of slowing down and drinking in a simpler life. Maybe this experience will be a sermon we all need to heed. You don’t need to fill your life or your kid’s life with activities. Boredom is good. You do not always have to be entertained. A simple dinner made with what you have on hand is good.

8. For those who think this is a hoax, I am not saying you are wrong, but it is hard for me to believe you are right. Think about how many people would have to be in on it. Think about all the nurses and doctors. Is the hoax about the danger? Is the hoax about whether it exists? What kind of proof would you need to believe it to be real and not a hoax?

9. Not ashamed to be reading LOTR again.

10. I love to sit in my front yard during the day and during the night. Because of this we will sometimes meet people and they will recognize us as the ones who sit in our front yard at wave at everyone. I want to be known as “the waving neighbor.” Well, one night about seven years ago, I thought long and hard about the value of what you can see up in the sky with the naked eye on a clear night.

Another concern I have in the midst of this pandemic with it’s need for social isolation is that we will become more addicted to being entertained by a screen. I hope I am wrong and the glories of books and music and the woods and our front yards will become new again.

The moon, when available, is free, by the way.


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.

Wendell Berry, Immigration and Not Being Mean

On Monday night, I went to hear Wendell Berry speak. The great majority of our time was spent listening to him read one of his stories. After he finished, he answered a few questions and the last was regarding immigration law and the controversy which is very tender here in Alabama. He said some things about the matter and made sure no one walked away justifiably smug. Though I’m sure some did.

But the last thing he said is what got the applause and has stuck with me. He said with all the deliberateness of a man his age, with so many years of life saved up, something like – “Let’s stop being mean to people.”

Now granted, Berry could say, “look at that cat” and everyone would clap and cheer. But it’s good advice. So I wanted to say a few things about not being mean when we talk about this issue.

1. The more conservative among can be kind by assuming the best of those who have problems with the law. One way to not be mean is to assume they are feeling and thinking and acting from a desire to be merciful. Even if you cannot agree with them, this is fair. We should be moved by the desire for mercy among us, even when we would not agree with the means or opinions. By not doing this, we may betray our own lack of mercy.

2. The more liberal among us should not caricature the argument as a mere immigration issue. The issue is not just flat immigration but for the great majority of people, illegal immigration. When we leave off the word “illegal” we move the ball and make people out to have convictions they have not espoused. By doing this we may betray our own lack concern for any kind of law we simply don’t like. Added to this is the assumption of lack of mercy for immigrants of any kind for those who want laws on the books. Mercy does not always have to look the same

3. Also, we should not make what is a complex issue, simple. Conservatives want to make the issue simple by only pointing to the law and saying they are breaking the law. Liberals wants to point to the law and say the laws are unjust and leave it at that. One thing I appreciated about Berry’s words were his insistence that this a complex issue which has to do with everything from economics to language to the land we live on and off of.

Listen, I fail at this so often, I can feel it in my gut. But as those who have been given so much grace, we need to be eager to leave off being mean about the issue. Maybe we should focus our passions in the direction of not being mean regardless of where we land on the issue. maybe that’s where our unity should be as those found in Christ.