CXII

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Wordsworth thought Nature could teach us positive wisdom.  “One impulse from a vernal wood” could teach us more of “moral evil and of good” than all the sages.  I’ve never been able to derive that kind of positive propositional content from her (see entries XXIX and XLVI), but our observations of Nature can at times lead us to questions that are better perhaps than answers themselves.

Forest edge in summer. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA.

Forest edge in summer. Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota, USA.

A Question for Modern Men

Sonnet XXXIX

Every year the forest rains its leaves

And sleeps, and then starts over on a new

Springtime wardrobe.  Every day the dew

Catches sunlight, cufflinks on the sleeves

Of green along the arms that hold the eaves

Of the wood aloft.  Every hour the hue,

Leaf green, brown trunk, or shadowed depths of blue,

Reblends and shifts with light that each receives.

ForestEdge2

And whence is all this growth and all this change

Within such stubborn permanence of place?

Where every seed and leaf alights by chance,

What Virtue has the potence to arrange

The whole with such inevitable grace

And cadence Chaos into such a dance?

ForestEdge3

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Stars Through the Clouds

THREE MOVEMENTS WE NEED AGAIN

I have said this here before.  It needs saying again.  Someday I may repeat it yet a third time.  It is that important.

As I look at the current scene, I see a church in desperate need of three great movements of God:

  • Renaissance:
    A recovery of the life of the mind. An increasingly illiterate generation is harder to reach with a faith founded on the message of a Book; an increasingly illiterate church is incapable of experiencing full-orbed Christianity based on the whole counsel of God revealed in the Text of that Book. Electronic inundation keeps us perpetually distracted.  From a cultural (rather than a technical) standpoint, we may well be entering a new Dark Ages.  The original rebirth of learning and culture that we call the Renaissance started with a recovery of interest in reading classical literature in the original languages using grammatico-historical exegesis to recover its original message to its original audience.  God used that movement with its motto of ad fontes, “back to the sources,” to make the Reformation, the recovery of the pristine Gospel of the New Testament, possible.  Martin Luther recognized this:  “Whenever God wants to break forth truth anew out of His holy Word, he prepares the way by the rise of languages and letters, as if they were John the Baptists.”  The renewal of languages and letters: That was the Renaissance!  If history repeats itself, a new Renaissance just might lead to a new . .
Gutenberg bible.  The printing press was one contribution of the Renaissance.

Gutenberg bible. The printing press was one contribution of the Renaissance.

  • Reformation:
    A recovery of sound doctrine. When the new learning of the Renaissance, the ad fontes tradition, was applied to Scripture, the original documents were enabled to speak again with their own voice.  This led to a recovery of sound doctrine in five areas:  Sola Scriptura, Scripture alone, interpreted in context in the original language by grammatico-historical exegesis, is the only infallible and inerrant authority and final court of appeal; Sola Gratia, salvation is by grace, God’s unmerited favor, alone, apart from works; Sola Fide, salvation is received by the empty hands of faith alone; Solus Christus, Christ alone is the only Mediator between God and men; Soli Deo Gloria, God’s glory alone is the end of salvation and the purpose of all of life.  All these truths are in danger of being lost again.  We therefore need a new Renaissance leading to a new Reformation.   Otherwise, we will continue to gorge ourselves on spiritual junk food while the great truths of the faith slip through our fingers.  But if God would grant us Renaissance and Reformation again, they just might lead to . . .
John Calvin, Scholar of both the Renaissance and the Reformation

John Calvin, Scholar of both the Renaissance and the Reformation

  • Revival:
    A recovery of vital spirituality. The great error of our generation is to believe that this recovery is possible apart from the first two. Biblically and historically, it is not. We have seen that Martin Luther recognized the debt the Reformation owed to the Renaissance, and his words are worth repeating:  “Whenever God wants to break forth truth anew out of His Word, he prepares the way by the rise of languages and letters, as if they were John the Baptists.”  And the leaders of the First Great Awakening, the great Revival of the Eighteenth Century in England and America, saw themselves as continuing the work of the Reformation.  If Christianity is true, then only the faithful preaching of the pure Gospel of the New Testament (Reformation) can give us the genuine spirituality and real Christian lives that Revival is all about.  Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone! Without Renaissance and Reformation, all our zeal for Revival is vanity and striving after wind.
John Wesley, a leader of the First Great Awakening

John Wesley, a leader of the First Great Awakening

  • Do not stop praying and working for Revival.  But do start praying and working for the Renaissance and Reformation without which no true revival with lasting impact is possible.

Donald T. Williams, PhD, is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College.  For more of his writings, go to the Lantern Hollow estore and purchase his books, Inklings of Reality (a Christian approach to reading), Stars Through the Clouds (his poetry), and Reflections from Plato’s Cave (Evangelical essays in pursuit of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty).

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

 

CXXI

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

As I said, any excuse will do for a pun.  This time you have to wait for it to the last line.

Autumn1

Reds

Sonnet XXXVIII

 

Red: flash of cardinal, barely seen;

Red: leaves of Maple, flecked with flame;

Red: Dogwood berries (leaves still green);

Red: other leaves without a name.

Red:  mountain apples, cheap to buy;

Red: candy apples at the fair;

Red: clouds across the evening sky;

Red: children’s cheeks in frosty air.

Autumn3

Red: Sumac’s many-fingered hand;

Red:  as always, by the road, the clay;

Red: flannel pajamas, sooner than planned;

Red: flames on hearth at close of day.

Red: different shades and hues, but all

Read: glory of a Georgia fall.

Autumn2

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

InklingsofReality5c

CXX

Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

Any excuse will do for a pun, as you will see from the title.  This Common Flicker, a large, ground-feeding woodpecker that looks like an overgrown Brown Thrasher with a chevron of bright red on the back of his neck, was remembered from the back yard of the house in Athens, actually.  In a way to make Wordsworth proud, he was “recollected in tranquility” two years after his actual appearance.

Flicker1

A Flicker of Hope

The world was thick, gray fog and shiny, black

Uplifted limbs of trees, and falling rain,

And mud and water running in the track

And dripping from the twigs.  My window pane

Could scarcely shut it out; into my brain

It came without resistance, wet and cold,

And drumming endlessly its dull refrain

Of all things growing, slowly growing old.

For weeks, thus.  Once more into bed I rolled

And woke to find the rain had turned to dew

And all the dew the sun had turned to gold.

Colaptes Auratus, the Common Flicker, flew

Into my garden.  Nothing was less true

About him than the “common” in his name.

Flicker3

A more uncommon creature never drew

The sunlight with such concentrated aim

To fan his chevroned shoulders into flame:

Sharp red amidst the gold upon the brown-

Piled rug of pinestraw into which he came

To look for bugs to eat.  I hope he found

Some juicy ones; I know that he brought down

With him the wind that drove the clouds away

And scattered all that gold upon the ground.

And I would give much more than bugs for pay,

After such a damp and dark dismay,

To see again the long-lost light of day.

Flicker2

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Stars Through the Clouds

WHY IS MARRIAGE DIFFERENT?

Why is marriage treated differently from all other relationships that people are free to enter into?  That is a question that has to be answered if we are to understand what is at stake in the current debates over Same-Sex Marriage.  Yet few seem to be asking it.

Wedding2

Marriage is in fact treated very differently from other relationships. You don’t need the government’s permission or a license or its recognition to become best friends or even roommates with anyone you like, and you can change those arrangements at will and it’s nobody else’s business. (What those roommates do in private is also, from a secular standpoint, nobody else’s business–and this is the basis from which we are arguing here. SSM makes no sense even on a secular basis!)  So why do you need a license to get married?  Why is your spouse’s name registered with yours in the county courthouse but your BFF’s is not?

Wedding1

Historically, marriage has been treated differently from other relationships for one reason and one reason supremely: It naturally tends to the creation of children and is normally the best context in which they can be reared to become productive citizens.  (While homosexual couples are now allowed to adopt children, their relationship has no natural tendency to produce children, while that of traditionally married couples does.  Traditionally married couples must normally go out of their way if they want to avoid having children.  Same-sex couples must go out of their way in order to have them.)  Because of this natural and biological connection between traditional marriage and the next generation, the state has a legitimate and compelling interest in supporting and promoting marriage, so understood, as an institution.  This is why it rightly defines parameters of eligibility and gives those who meet them and formally enter into that arrangement certain rights which people in other relationships do not have.

Courtroom

The fact that marriage serves other purposes too and the fact that all marriages are not fruitful in childbearing do nothing to change the state’s legitimate interest in marriage.  The facts that many marriages end in divorce and that many children are conceived out of wedlock are also irrelevant.  The fact that some people do something badly is no reason for the state not to support and encourage that thing done well.  Otherwise, the fact that some people with driver’s licenses drive while intoxicated or drive dangerously would mean that we should therefore give licenses to everyone whether they qualify or not or just get rid of driver’s licenses altogether.  The absurdity of that conclusion shows the absurdity of the arguments from  abuses of traditional marriage.

Family1

Now, if we divorce (ahem) marriage from this historic family-oriented understanding, there no longer remains any reason to treat it differently from other relationships. Therefore, expanding it to include SSM does in fact change the definition of marriage and tends toward making marriage itself as an institution irrelevant.  Once its biological rootedness in childrearing is severed completely, then it is hard to see why other forms of relationships might not also be called “marriages”—polygamy, incest, bestiality.  Where will it end?  Anyone who says, “Oh, that will never happen” just has not been paying attention to recent history.

Family2

Traditional marriage is under lots of pressures in the modern world, and the reconceptualization it is now suffering is not its only problem. But the state has no business adding to those pressures by changing the basic nature of the institution in a way that goes against the state’s own compelling interests. Note that this argument has nothing to do with religion or with the morality of homosexual acts in themselves. The reason we have given is why marriage is treated differently from other relationships in non-Christian countries as well as Christian ones. Faithful Christians agree with this case, as do Jews and Muslims, and they have additional reasons for opposing the change. But the case is not driven by their support alone.  So even secular people need to ask themselves why we ever had such an institution as marriage in the first place, and whether the answer to that question is really something they can afford to ignore in their passion for tolerance and “equality.”

HilburnWedding

Donald T. Williams, PhD, is R. A. Forrest Scholar at Toccoa Falls College.  For more of his writing, check out his books at Lantern Hollow Press:  Reflections from Plato’s Cave (on philosophy and apologetics), Stars Through the Clouds (his poetry), and Inklings of Reality (on a Christian philosophy of reading). Order at http://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.