Saturday, May 31, 2008

Goin' Home

(adapted from a Black Spiritual)

Goin' home, goin' home;
I'm a-goin' home.
Quiet-like, some still day:
I'm just goin' home.

It's not far, just close by,
Through an open door;
Work's all done, care laid by:
Going to fear no more.

Nothing's lost, all gain;
No more fret nor pain.
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day:
Going to roam no more.

Morning star* lights the way;
Restless dream all done.
Shadows gone, break of day:
Real life just begun.

Goin' home, goin' home;
I'm just goin' home:
It's not far, just close by,
Through an open door.
I'm just going home.

* Jesus is called the "Morning Star" in Revelations 22:16 & elsewhere

(used by Anton Dvorak as the basis for the "Largo" in his New World Symphony)

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Starlight Night

Look at the stars! look. look up at the skies!
O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!
The bright boroughs*, the circle-citadels* there!
Down in the dim woods the diamond delves**! the elves' eyes!
The grey lawns cold where gold, where quickgold*** lies!...
Ah, well! it is all a purchase, all is a prize.****
---from Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1877

*city images, as if the constellations were fortified cities
**the diamond-like stars dive down to the "land of elves"; (Hopkins nor I really believe in elves--it's just a fanciful & joyful flight of poetic symbolism)
***the light of the heavenly bodies is like "free gold" to anyone who takes the trouble to take it in, but it's gold in motion---it won't be there forever
****the prize comes from the purchase made by Jesus Christ; He died for your sins so all this, too, can be yours, along with the forgiveness and life you have in Him

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Luther Quote?

In the late '80's, I first saw a nature-scene poster with a quote attributed to Martin Luther, "God writes His gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars." Now it's all over the Internet. But I cannot find the exact source within Luther's works, nor an attribution of source when it's quoted. One longer extraction placed it in the context that when you know Christ, know the incarnation, know His salvation for you, then you can see the gospel written in all things. This would make more sense from Luther. Is it possibly from the Weimar edition of "Table Talk", in some section not fully translated into English?

Some Lutheran theologians discount any talk of nature as: (1) an excuse not to go to church (2) a seeking after only a glorious, powerful God, not the God who had to die in weakness and shame upon the cross to save us from our sins, or (3) not having anything important to teach us in religious matters. These opinions are fair neither to Luther nor to the Bible, both of which extensively use object lessons & metaphors from the Bible to make their point. (Even if the quote above is not authentically Lutheran, Luther's thinking is so replete with mentions of nature---far more than music, beer, women, or many other things attributed to Luther.) If you're a Christian, you have the Bible (or portions of it) embedded within yourself when you're out in nature. So you will be able to learn these lessons. Nature now dimly reflects great glories of Eden which were lost when sin broke the created world and also what we can expect in the new creation, heaven. The latter half of Romans 8 which speaks of "all creation groaning" due to humanity's sin. There are Lutherans who really take that angle seriously, too, while taking in nature; that's another aspect of taking sin seriously!!!
If you're more of a "concrete" as opposed to "abstract" person, the frequent references to nature are faith-building because they are within God's word.
(For more, see earlier post, "The Dirty Floor")

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Vapory Mists

[HEH-vell heh-vah-LEEM; Hah-KOHL HAH-vell.]
Vapor of Vapor*; all is (vanishing) vapor
[Mah--yith-ROHK lah-ah-DAHM**]
What profit is it for a man
[B'kohl--eh-mah-LOH sh-yah'-ah-MOHL]
In all his labor which he does
[TACH-ath ha-SHEMM-esh.]
Under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1: 2a-3)

*Often translated as "vanity of vanities"; the Hebrew really says "vapor" because, no matter how much you clutch at vapor, you cannot hold it
**"Adam", a man

Kind of "bleak" taken on its own! But the 12th chapter of Ecclesiastes reminds us we get all of our meaning by remembering our Creator in the days of our youth. And we know that in Jesus, we shall have begun and shall more perfectly live that life in heaven which knows of no vanity or uselessness or futility.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What a Waste!

Our Solid Waste Problem

Already in the 1980s, National Geographic alerted readers that so-called bio-degradables don't really break down in landfills. They studied lettuce, for instance, that was nearly 20 years old and still not broken down. And there is much more in the way of thrown-out foodstuffs and yard waste. More recently, William L. Rathje of University of Arizona wrote in his book, Rubbish! the Archeology of Garbage,
"They [landfills] are not vast composters; rather, they are vast mummifiers." He went on to write, "Well-designed and well-mamaged landfills, in particular, seem to be far more apt to preserve their contents for posterity than to transform them into humus or mulch."

Solutions? Compost at home. If you can't create a compost heap, try mini-composting: place food waste on the ground right near plants & partially hidden by the foliage or between plants & slightly spaded into the soil. Use a mulching lawn mower. So far, the U.S. has been blessed with enough space not to worry about this, but the time will come.
Plus, coupling people's desire to become more "green" with the current recession means that maybe we can look at some jobs & technology in green fields. Maybe we could invent giant "rakes" to go in and occasionally turn over detritus in existing landfills so that the bio-degradables will compost. We Americans with our so-called "Yankee ingenuity" have been falling down on the job, so to speak, for some decades now. And we Christians have not followed our first pre-sin injunction to take care of this earth.