Archive for the 'culture' Category


J.R.R. Tolkien on Christmas

“This story begins and ends in joy” by J.R.R. Tolkien

“The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. It has pre-eminently the ‘inner consistency of reality.’

There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true, and none which so many skeptical men have accepted as true on its own merits. For the Art of it has the supremely convincing tone of Primary Art, that is, of Creation. To JRR Tolkienreject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.

It is not difficult to imagine the peculiar excitement and joy that one would feel, if any specially beautiful fairy-story were found to be ‘primarily’ true, its narrative to be history, without thereby necessarily losing the mythical or allegorical significance that it had possessed.

It is not difficult, for one is not called upon to try and conceive anything of a quality unknown. The joy would have exactly the same quality, if not the same degree, as the joy which the ‘turn’ in a fairy-story gives: such joy has the very taste of primary truth…

This story is supreme; and it is true. Art has been verified. God is the Lord, of angels, and of men—and of elves. Legend and History have met and fused. But in God’s kingdom the presence of the greatest does not depress the small. Redeemed Man is still man.

Story, fantasy, still go on, and should go on. The Evangelium has not abrogated legends; it has hallowed them, especially the ‘happy ending.’”

–J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories,” ed. C.S. Lewis, Essays Presented to Charles Williams (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1947), 83-84.


The End of the world

If you’re reading this entry then obviously the Mayans were wrong. It’s December 21, 2012 and we’re all still here. But in honor of our ancient calendar making central american friends, here’s a tune that’s stuck in my head today!  According to my calendar, Life is good! 


Truth is stranger than fiction

Aleppo_Codex_Joshua_1_1The Aleppo codex is the oldest extant Old Testament manuscript currently known to us. Copied by Jewish scholars in the 10th century A.D., it is an authoritative and precise ancient biblical text complete with the system of vocalization, the cantillation marks [serving as punctuation] – making it the most highly prized Hebrew bible manuscript in existence. The most intriguing story of the manuscript is how it made it’s way from Egypt to Aleppo Syria in 1375A.D. and eventually smuggled into Israel in 1958 where it is kept today. Investigative journalist Matti Friedman does a great job relating it’s incredible journey in a style that reads more like a mystery/detective novel than a non-fiction. However, don’t be fooled – it is the true account of an amazing and divinely inspired text that helps  validate the accuracy of the Old Testament text many of us regularly read.the-aleppo-codex 2


True poetry

At the devil’s booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
Bubbles we buy with a whole soul’s tasking:
‘Tis heaven alone that is given away,
‘Tis only God may be had for the asking.

James Russell Lowell

19th century American Romantic Poet


ode to confection

I think that I shall never see
A treat so wonderful as thee.
A cake whose utter sweetness brought,
Straight to my mouth without much thought.
God’s gift to us, divine and tasty
Pulled from our grasp abrupt and hasty.
My heart is heavy, my taste buds sad,
My mind confused, emotions mad.
Can I recover from such a prick
Against my soul that’s made me sick?
I think that I shall long time burn
For measured justice and your return.
But fools like me who love you so
Must say goodbye to you Ho Ho.


The Avett Bros

Sadly, with the per capita murder rate in Chicago the highest in the country, I was wondering if the Avett Brothers are planning to move here?  If so, their song makes a lot of sense. “Murdered in the City”


a musical bias

For those of you who enjoy jazz and even those who don’t – here is one of my new favorite artists. Ok, so I’m a bit biased since Ann Alee is part of our Parkview family and is singing this upcoming Sunday. But with that being said, she’s a wonderful person and gifted artist. Judge for yourself….


controlling politics

In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render the most potent…Let us not be deceived by phrases about ‘Man taking charge of his own destiny.’ All that can really happen is that some men will take charge of the destiny of others. . . . The more completely we are planned the more powerful they will be. 

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. Their very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.


Good science

This may surprise some but not those of us who tote a smooth cranium.  New research done by the University of Pennsylvania finds men who choose full-on baldness by shaving their heads are perceived as being more masculine and dominant than other men, as well as taller, stronger and more powerful as leaders.   The   proof is published in the journal Social Psychology and Personality Science.  The study shows that bald men have an edge as long as they are completely shorn… tonsures or comb-overs are out of luck.  Unfortunately, the study also indicates bald may not be perceived as beautiful and in fact less attractive.  My guess is that  will soon change!  I say –“go bald or go home.”



Ok, so it’s 17 days late but oh well. WH Auden’s, September 1.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In the euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism’s face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages;
May I, compose like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

WH Auden

re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
October 2020

Thoughts gone by

"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire