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Wednesday, December 25, A.D. 2013
Eddi’s Service

Merry Christmas to everyone who follows the new calendar! A blessed feast of Saints Spyridon and Herman to the O.C.‘s out there.

For the day, I offer you “Eddi’s Service” by Kipling:

Eddi, priest of St. Wilfrid
  In his chapel at Manhood End,
Ordered a midnight service
  For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,
  And the night was stormy as well.
Nobody came to service,
  Though Eddi rang the bell.

“‘Wicked weather for walking,”
  Said Eddi of Manhood End.
“But I must go on with the service
  For such as care to attend.”

The altar-lamps were lighted,—
  An old marsh-donkey came,
Bold as a guest invited,
  And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,
  The water splashed on the floor,
And a wet, yoke-weary bullock
  Pushed in through the open door.

“How do I know what is greatest,
  How do I know what is least?
That is My Father’s business,”
  Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

“But—three are gathered together—
  Listen to me and attend.
I bring good news, my brethren!”
  Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger
  And a Stall in Bethlehem,
And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,
  That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,
  They listened and never stirred,
While, just as though they were Bishops,
  Eddi preached them The World,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes
  And the windows showed the day,
And the Ox and the Ass together
  Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,
  Said Eddi of Manhood End,
“I dare not shut His chapel
  On such as care to attend.”

May the feast enlighten the darkness.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, December 25, Anno Domini 2013
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Friday, November 22, A.D. 2013
Giving Thanks for C.S. Lewis

Last year, Joel Miller posted a charming encomium of C.S. Lewis on the occasion of his death in “Giving thanks for C.S. Lewis.” Here is a wonderful story from the article:

My father, an English teacher, once told me a story that might illustrate just how good natured Lewis was. Another teacher he heard at a conference recounted how she once assigned her college prep students a book review. They could pick any book, and one of the boys in the class chose something by Lewis.

The teacher was excited when the student filed his report. She was a big Lewis fan and had read everything he’d written to that point. But the problem was that Lewis certainly hadn’t written this book. She was convinced the kid made up the report. So–much to the boy’s horror–she sent the report to Lewis.

Six weeks later, the teacher received a response. Lewis was famously serious about answering his correspondence. Inside the letter was a sealed note to the student. She gave the boy the note.

With more than a little fear, he opened it to find words to these effect: “I want to thank you for the review of a book I may someday write.” Lewis went on to say that if the imaginative boy should ever write a book of his own, to please send him a copy.

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Lewis’ leave-taking. To celebrate this wonderful man, let us read some of his work over the weekend. Memory eternal!

Posted by Joseph on Friday, November 22, Anno Domini 2013
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Wednesday, June 19, A.D. 2013
Brobdingnagian

The late, great Lawrence Auster would often remark on the synchronicity that he frequently experienced. I thought of him last month when I encountered the word Brobdingnagian. I had recently downloaded a hangman game application on my Blackberry and was playing it in the morning before I started the day. During the game, the hangman word was Brobdingnagian. My little digital man went swinging. I looked up the word. I have never read Gulliver’s Travels, and I do not remember ever seeing the word before.

About twelve hours later, I came upon the word in Middlemarch. What are the chances?

Now, I recognize that we seem to make note of a new word once we learn it. It seems to pop up everywhere, and it is possible that we just never noticed it before when we were ignorant of it. Yet, Brobdingnagian is such a queer word that I am sure that I would have remembered it. I live for years without encountering the word and then learn about it, and then it shows up in the novel that I am reading just hours later. Weird.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, June 19, Anno Domini 2013
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Thursday, February 21, A.D. 2013
Beautiful Libraries

I recently discovered Beautiful-Libraries.com, which showcases, unsurprisingly, beautiful libraries in various categories. I recommend a visit. The site also reminds me why I love the internet. Why not create a compilation of the world’s loveliest libraries?

Posted by Joseph on Thursday, February 21, Anno Domini 2013
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Friday, November 23, A.D. 2012
The Bells

In the land of mammon, the Christmas season has now begun. May you be protected from useless gadgets and overpriced perfume!

Somewhat suitable for the season is a poem that Lawrence Auster mentioned a few months ago—“The Bells” by Poe:

I

Hear the sledges with the bells -
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

II

Hear the mellow wedding bells -
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight! -
From the molten - golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle - dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! - how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells -
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

III

Hear the loud alarum bells -
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now - now to sit, or never,
By the side of the pale - faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear, it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells -
Of the bells -
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells -
In the clamor and the clanging of the bells!

IV

Hear the tolling of the bells -
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people - ah, the people -
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone -
They are neither man nor woman -
They are neither brute nor human -
They are Ghouls: -
And their king it is who tolls: -
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
Rolls
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells: -
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells -
Of the bells, bells, bells: -
To the sobbing of the bells: -
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells -
Of the bells, bells, bells -
To the tolling of the bells -
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells, -
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, November 23, Anno Domini 2012
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Wednesday, October 3, A.D. 2012
Nature and Poets

A few days ago, Auster posted a short but classic bit on a well spent autumn day: “Fall in New York.”

Today was New York City at its best—sparkling, clear, alive. After a very satisfactory mid-afternoon lunch at a neighborhood restaurant, a female friend and I walked down the east side of Broadway to get the sun, then over to the Fireman’s Monument on upper Riverside Drive and 100th Street, then down to the west side of lower Riverside Drive where we sat on a bench looking at the elms and sycamores and the grassy slope across from us lit up with the late afternoon sun. There was a big elm, its trunk spotted with shadows from the tree’s own leaves. I said, “Except that there’s no melody, this reminds me of, ‘in some melodious plot / Of beechen green, and shadows numberless’” (from Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale”). My friend, who is a literary critic, replied, “It was good when poets were closer to nature, then they had something to write about other than themselves.”

I think that such is very true of philosophers, as well—both those who focus on nature and those who focus on man. Nature may love to hide, but having an acquaintance with her is useful for protecting oneself from stupid ideas.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, October 3, Anno Domini 2012
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Friday, August 3, A.D. 2012
The Gardener

This will likely be my last post before Arimathea’s August recess. Enjoy the summer and stay cool.

Tomorrow will be the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene on the old calendar, and to commemorate the day, I would like to offer a short story by Rudyard Kipling titled “The Gardener.”

The linked text has some typos owing, I assume, to a faulty transfer from scanned text. For instance, “and” ends up as “end” at times. It is easy to correct, however, and I recommend that you read the story twice.

Rudyard Kipling, memory eternal! John Kipling, who died at the Battle of Loos at the age of eighteen, memory eternal!

Saint Mary, please pray for the souls of young men lost in war, who were never given time to learn wisdom or to accept salvation.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, August 3, Anno Domini 2012
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Friday, January 6, A.D. 2012
Thus Saith Yeats

I would like to wish everyone who follows the old calendar a lovely Christmas Eve today and a very merry Christmas tomorrow.

For those on the new calendar, may you have a blessed Epiphany today.

It is fitting to offer something mirthful on the feast, but I give you rather something sadly humorous. Last week, I found Eric Metaxas’ “Does Anyone in the Media Ever Read the Bible?” on Fox News. Metaxas recounts various episodes of shocking biblical illiteracy, including a remarkable example from George Whitman’s obituary in The New York Times:

“[George] welcomed visitors with large-print messages on the walls. ‘Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise,’ was one, quoting Yeats.”

Yeats!? Did you catch that? I choked on my toast. Did the Times actually just say that “Be not inhospitable to strangers, lest they be angels in disguise” was from Yeats? Unless I had fallen down a rabbit hole, that quote was from the Bible. It’s from Hebrews 13:2 and it’s quite famous. If you didn’t catch it, don’t feel too badly, because you are probably not The New York Times. You are probably not America’s “paper of record”, proud owner of 106 Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism—more than any other newspaper. You probably don’t have squadrons of fact-checkers on your payroll.

I still couldn’t believe what I’d just read, so I kept reading, looking for some explanation. There was none. I then shook the paper to make sure I was reading an actual newspaper, and not, say, an email forward from an aged friend. Nope. This really was the New York Times, the Old Grey Lady, whose motto was “All the News that’s Fit to Print.” And let’s face it, if W.B. Yeats was the real author of the Bible’s “Book of Hebrews,” that really would be big news!

I often express to family and friends how surprised I am by widespread scriptural ignorance, especially in the young. Even Protestant youngsters are clueless. It is no wonder that apostasy is so rampant. Christian parents are failing miserably to raise their children in the faith.

The world is going to hell in a handbasket, but let me rescue this post from too much despair—or at least philistine despair. To tie together the feasts celebrated today, East and West, with the hallowed inspiration of the Irish Bard, here is “The Magi”:

Now as at all times I can see in the mind’s eye,
In their stiff, painted clothes, the pale unsatisfied ones
Appear and disappear in the blue depth of the sky
With all their ancient faces like rain-beaten stones,
And all their helms of silver hovering side by side,
And all their eyes still fixed, hoping to find once more,
Being by Calvary’s turbulence unsatisfied,
The uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor.

To mix further the sacred and the profane, I wonder if Yeats’ poem was one of the inspirations for U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

In any case, merry Christmas! Christ is born!

Posted by Joseph on Friday, January 6, Anno Domini 2012
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Friday, September 9, A.D. 2011
Norman and Saxon

To end the fortnight of Anglophile celebration, enjoy Kipling’s homage to some of the ancestral nations of England, “Norman and Saxon”:

My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for my share
When we conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:—

“The Saxon is not like us Normans, His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, “This isn’t fair dealings,” my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears,
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

“But first you must master their language, their dialect, proverbs and songs.
Don’t trust any clerk to interpret when they come with the tale of their wrongs.
Let them know that you know what they’re saying; let them feel that you know what to say.
Yes, even when you want to go hunting, hear ‘em out if it takes you all day.

“They’ll drink every hour of the daylight and poach every hour of the dark,
It’s the sport not the rabbits they ‘re after (we ‘ve plenty of game in the park).
Don’t hang them or cut off their fingers. That’s wasteful as well as unkind,
For a hard-bitten, South-country poacher makes the best man-at-arms you can find.

“Appear with your wife and the children at their weddings and funerals and feasts.
Be polite but not friendly to Bishops; be good to all poor parish priests.
Say ‘we,’ ‘us’ and ‘ours’ when you’re talking instead of ‘you fellows’ and ‘I.’
Don’t ride over seeds; keep your temper; and never you tell ‘em a lie!”

Britain and India should be very proud to have such a son.

Posted by Joseph on Friday, September 9, Anno Domini 2011
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Tuesday, June 21, A.D. 2011
Hoffnung

I wish you a merry summer solstice. Gather up some Saint John’s Wort to don as you celebrate the longest day of the year—fourteen hours, fifty-five minutes, and thirty-six seconds in Cincinnati, fourteen hours, fifty-three minutes, and forty-eight seconds in Washington, and eighteen hours, fifty minutes, and nine seconds in Saint Petersburg. Those white nights in June!

On a less joyous note, Lawrence Auster posted mixed news yesterday. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last June and has been undergoing treatment since. The disease is typically unrelenting, but Auster has experienced an uncommon recovery. I hope that my posts have encouraged this site’s readers to visit Auster’s View from the Right; his relatively obscure, one man blog has more insight and honesty in it than most all journals and media outfits. Please keep him in your prayers. May he have many more years to continue his work.

Given the solstice and the news about Auster, I offer a poem today from Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller, “Die Hoffnung.”

Es reden und träumen die Menschen viel
Von bessern künftigen Tagen,
Nach einem glücklichen goldenen Ziel
Sieht man sie rennen und jagen.
Die Welt wird alt und wird wieder jung,
Doch der Mensch hofft immer Verbesserung!

Die Hoffnung führt ihn ins Leben ein,
Sie umflattert den fröhlichen Knaben,
Den Jüngling begeistert ihr Zauberschein,
Sie wird mit dem Greis nicht begraben,
Denn beschließt er im Grabe den müden Lauf,
Noch am Grabe pflanzt er - die Hoffnung auf.

Es ist kein leerer schmeichelnder Wahn,
Erzeugt im Gehirne des Toren;
Im Herzen kündet es laut sich an,
Zu was Besserm sind wir geboren!
Und was die innere Stimme spricht,
Das täuscht die hoffende Seele nicht.

George MacDonald translated it into English for you Deutschensprachefürchtigen.

Men talk with their lips and dream with their soul
Of better days hitherward pacing;
To a happy, a glorious, golden goal
See them go running and chasing!
The world grows old and to youth returns,
But still for the Better man’s bosom burns.

It is Hope leads him into life and its light;
She haunts the little one merry;
The youth is inspired by her magic might;
Her the graybeard cannot bury:
When he finds at the grave his ended scope,
On the grave itself he planteth Hope.

She was never begotten in Folly’s brain,
An empty illusion, to flatter;
In the Heart she cries, aloud and plain:
We are born to something better!
And that which the inner voice doth say
The hoping spirit will not betray.

It is a happy summer day to read a pious Jock translate an impious Kraut.

Posted by Joseph on Tuesday, June 21, Anno Domini 2011
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