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THANKSGIVING

With Christmas Carols and Christmas decorations taking over the stores when Halloween is barely past, and Black Friday looming right after it, Thanksgiving is a holiday that has a hard time maintaining its position in American life.  And what that position is can be hard to determine, beyond an excuse to consume obscene amounts of Turkey and doze through a football game under the influence of all the Tryptophan flooding one’s system.  I will probably consume a little more Turkey than is ideal for my diet and  watch some football myself.  But I hope I don’t forget what the Pilgrims were thankful for: not prosperity but survival, and a survival which meant a chance to have a new life in which they could worship God according to Scripture as they understood it, without interference from prying magistrate or prelate.  I hope I don’t forget that they thought such freedom something worth risking their survival over.  And I hope I will not be the only one pondering the question whether they might have been right about that after all.

Thanksgiving is a time to remember our Forefathers and what they struggled for.  It is also a time to ponder the virtues of thankfulness in itself.  I remember once at a picnic a rather gaudy, elaborately articulated, and heraldically colored bug flew by and landed on one of us.  We spent a few minutes oohing and ahing over its surreal beauty, and then my friend David Stott Gordon made a profound observation on the moPilgrims2ment.  “It must be rather depressing to be an atheist,” he mused, “because they don’t have anyone to thank.”

 

We are made to give thanks and praise for the thousand little wonders that the world constantly showers upon us.  Think about that football game: When a receiver makes a particularly acrobatic, even balletic catch as the consummation of the incredible timing between him and the quarterback, combining power and grace in the way that only American football allows for, some response is required of us.  We don’t just raise a Spockian eybrow; we pump our fist and shout if it was for our side, and exclaim that it was a great play even if it wasn’t.  The enjoyment of the moment is not complete without the expression of praise.  And if all such wonders are merely chance occurrences due only to the random motion of atoms and ultimately mean nothing–if indeed there is no One to thank–then our enjoyment of the world must of necessity be truncated and incomplete at best.  The holiday can serve as a reminder of the virtue of receptiveness to the blessings with which life showers us, as blessings–as gifts from the hand of God.  The thing we should be thankful for most of all is the fact that as Christians, as people who know the Creator as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have some One to thank.

Pilgrims1

Thanks be to God.

For more of Dr. Williams’ writing, go to the Lantern Hollow estore and order his books, Stars Through the Clouds, Reflections from Plato’s Cave, and Inklings of Reality.

https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

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Merry Christmas!

 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.”

Painting-Annunciation-FraAngelico

Oh Sight beyond all Seeing

(Christmas, 1980)

Oh Sight beyond all seeing,

Light in the dark of the sun,

Fact behind the face of Being,

Second of Three in the One:

What motive could have moved you hither thus?

The Life that was ever begotten, never begun,

Began to be born, to mourn.  For us

The daring deed was done.

BethlehemStar2

Burned by angel-light,

The shepherds’ eyes were blind

To everything except the sight

That they went forth to find.

It was a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes,

Laid in a manger: such had been the sign.

The sign they saw by then still shows

The perilous paths that wind

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity

Between the Tree and the Tree

This much the sign makes clear:

The Light invisible we see,

The silent Word we hear.

What motive could have moved Him hither thus?

We hear pegs pounded, see the thrusted spear,

We hear, “Forgive them!”  Now for us

The day of doom draws near.

Crucifixion-Glass

Merry Christmas!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

For more poetry like this, go to the Lantern Hollow Press estore and order Stars Through The Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011).  And check our Dr. Williams’s latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology Behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016)–order from the publisher or Amazon.

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

THANKSGIVING

turkey1

With Christmas Carols and Christmas decorations taking over the stores when Halloween is barely past, and Black Friday looming right after it, Thanksgiving is a holiday that has a hard time maintaining its position in American life.  And what that position is can be hard to determine, beyond an excuse to consume obscene amounts of Turkey and doze through a football game under the influence of all the Tryptophan flooding one’s system.  I will probably consume a little more Turkey than is ideal for my diet and  watch some football myself.  But I hope I don’t forget what the Pilgrims were thankful for: not prosperity but survival, and a survival which meant a chance to have a new life in which they could worship God according to Scripture as they understood it, without interference from prying magistrate or prelate.  I hope I don’t forget that they thought such freedom something worth risking their survival over.  And I hope I will not be the only one pondering the question whether they might have been right about that after all.

Pilgrims2

Thanksgiving is a time to remember our Forefathers and what they struggled for.  It is also a time to ponder the virtues of thankfulness in itself.  I remember once at a picnic a rather gaudy, elaborately articulated, and heraldically colored bug flew by and landed on one of us.  We spent a few minutes oohing and ahing over its surreal beauty, and then my friend David Stott Gordon made a profound observation on the moment.  “It must be rather depressing to be an atheist,” he mused, “because they don’t have anyone to thank.”

turkey2

We are made to give thanks and praise for the thousand little wonders that the world constantly showers upon us.  Think about that football game: When a receiver makes a particularly acrobatic, even balletic catch as the consummation of the incredible timing between him and the quarterback, combining power and grace in the way that only American football allows for, some response is required of us.  We don’t just raise a Spockian eyebrow; we pump our fist and shout if it was for our side, and exclaim that it was a great play even if it wasn’t.  The enjoyment of the moment is not complete without the expression of praise.  And if all such wonders are merely chance occurrences due only to the random motion of atoms and ultimately mean nothing–if indeed there is no One to thank–then our enjoyment of the world must of necessity be truncated and incomplete at best.  The holiday can serve as a reminder of the virtue of receptiveness to the blessings with which life showers us, as blessings–as gifts from the hand of God.  The thing we should be thankful for most of all is the fact that as Christians, as people who know the Creator as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have some One to thank.

Pilgrims1

Thanks be to God.

For more of Dr. Williams’ writing, go to the Lantern Hollow estore and order his books, Stars Through the Clouds, Reflections from Plato’s Cave, and Inklings of Reality.

https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

Also, check out his newest work from Square Halo Books: Deeper Magic: The theological Framework behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis!

Book-CSLTheology-Cover

The Time Being

The frenzy of the Christmas Rush is mercifully over.  The felt joy of Christmas Day itself, while real and memorable, was already fading by Boxing Day, and now we begin to remember where we are: facing the long weeks of Seasonal Affective Disorder until the light begins to return, interrupted by the forced celebration of New Year’s Day.  And the culture we inhabit seems in the doldrums of winter itself, poised between forced celebration and despair.  The words of the poet ring true:  “The time being is the hardest time of all.”  What are we to do in such a moment?

There is no hope to be gained by looking to society or to the state.  The irrational hatred of everything good and wholesome by Islamic Terrorists is matched only by the sad inability of the West to find a reason to preserve itself.  Multiculturalism has blinded us to the stubborn fact that not all cultures are created equal after all.  There is a difference between barbarism and civilization.  Civilization is to be preferred, but it cannot be preserved or defended if it refuses to believe in an objective difference between itself and the barbarians.  There is a difference between health and decadence within that civilization, even when it is not threatened from without.  Health is to be preferred, but it cannot be preserved if we refuse to believe that there is an objective difference between good and evil, if we are unable to use a word like “wholesome” without irony.  We have met the enemy, and he is us.

pogo enemy is us

There is no hope to be gained by looking to the church.  The most popular and fastest growing form of Christianity in the world is the so-called “Prosperity Gospel,” the health-and-wealth or “name it and claim it” (more accurately, “blab it and grab it”) movement.  If ever we wanted a theology scientifically designed to confirm the suspicions of our secular neighbors that ministers are just in it for the money, boy, have we got one!  More faithful followers of the Savior who sacrificed Himself, not for self but for others, seem more marginalized than ever.  They have not adjusted well to the loss of the position of cultural privilege they once enjoyed, and half of the adjustments they propose to the new situation they have finally come to recognize sound more like strategies for retreat than for a better and more effective engagement.  Scandal, compromise, and accommodation where there is not actually false teaching–no, if you are looking for encouragement, do not look to the church.

How then is the faithful remnant to sustain itself in this moment of cultural Seasonal Affective Disorder?  As it has always done, when it faced even worse times like the fall of Rome: by staying focused on the things that do not change; by remembering that while Seasonal Affective Disorder may seem permanent while you are in its grasp, it is, by definition, seasonal;  by staying faithful to its Lord as something worth doing for its own sake whatever the outcome and leaving the consequences in His hand.  It will do so more effectively if it remembers the wisdom of Gerard Manley Hopkins:

space-sunrise

For though the last lights off the black West went,

Oh, morning at the brown brink Eastward springs

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast, and with, Ah! bright wings.

For more of Dr. Williams’s writing, check out his books on the Lantern Hollow estore:  To order ($15.00 each + shipping), go to  https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness.

A book that fights back against the encroaching darkness!

Merry Christmas!

Oh Sight beyond all Seeing

BethlehemStar2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Sight beyond all seeing,

Light in the dark of the sun,

Fact behind the face of Being,

Second of Three in the One:

What motive could have moved you hither thus?

The Life that was ever begotten, never begun,

Began to be born, to mourn.  For us

The daring deed was done.

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

Traditional Site of the Manger, marked by a Star in Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burned by angel-light,

The shepherds’ eyes were blind

To everything except the sight

That they went forth to find.

It was a Baby wrapped in swaddling clothes,

Laid in a manger: such had been the sign.

The sign they saw by then still shows

The perilous paths that wind

 

Between the Tree and the Tree

This much the sign makes clear:

The Light invisible we see,

The silent Word we hear.

What motive could have moved Him hither thus?

We hear pegs pounded, see the thrusted spear,

We hear, “Forgive them!”  Now for us

The day of doom draws near.

Crucifixion-Glass

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://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

Cartoon-BethStar