Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Poem for Holy Saturday

The God-Man sleeps today:
The Son of Adam in the earth, adamah,
of which he was taken through His mother,
nourished on the wheat, the oil, the wine,
the milk and honey of His people's land.
The Son of God in the depths, sheol,
to which he was abandoned by His own,
who mocked his thirst with vinegar and spite,
the cursing and the tree-curse of His law.
But though consigned to death,
and giving up His spirit yesterday,
today He takes up Adam from the grave.
Today He breaks the chains of death and hell,
and chains the tyrant with the second death.
Today He calls the dead to follow Him,
ascending with the captives in His train.
Patriarchs and prophets,
Kings and Men of Old,
arrive and see the wise thief in His joy.
And this unseen upheaval of all things,
this shaking-out of sheol and the dead
spills out into the tombs of righteous men
who rise to greet the Lord upon the morn.
And we, the scattered sheep of God,
wait upon our Lord.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Poem for Holy Friday

God is dead
and I am buying apples at the store.
I turn in my hand each
Granny Smith and inspect it
for bruises,
and some I put in the plastic bag
to take home and eat.
Each is dead.
Each is cut off from the tree.
But each has, too, within itself,
the seeds.
Each seed a world of apples that may be,
If the seed but accepts that it must die,
be buried in the earth,
and rise again,
into a life-giving tree.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

There and Back Again

There were a number of reasons why my blogging disappeared from here, hosting did move (and the interface there was terrible, so I didn't blog much), LinkedIn has been a forum for posting that gets read by more people (but I feel a bit cramped by the business focus), The Prytaneum took some of the bandwidth (but is ostensibly a group blog aimed at paidea, so also not exactly what this blog is), and my conversion to Orthodoxy has been a major source of caution, setting a guard over my lips that I may not sin rashly (having done that plenty in many fora, here included).

But I think I am in a place to begin to think and poetize and discuss here again, Lord have mercy.

So if you are still reading, thank you for your patience. I hope you may enjoy the occasional fruits of my contemplation.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Hosting Moved

This blog is now maintained on , and now redirects there.

Thank you!

Two Songs

I cannot sing the modern world -
the world unmade by man
and dragged through philosophy and deceit
behind the iron horse,
drawn and quarterly dividended,
bull and bears**t smeared across the face
of the made-up deep-throat media man
seeking ratings and euphoria at the
expense of truth and the legitimate uses of a
hypodermic needle.
Manself unmade is mute and none will mourn.

I can sing the only world made by my God,
and brother sun and sister moon, made rulers
with me therein, and friends, companions, all
unsuitable, the beats and fish and fowl, and
that one companion meet for me,
not any other than her whose belly is a heap of wheat
smoothed down with weight and love and child,
and Christ the elder brother and the Spirit,
that life that deepdown things believe
and all true poets sing back the only king.
That I can sing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Two Years Ago

Two years and three quarters of  a day ago today
the world was seven-hundred and thirty revolutions unwound
and had seen four fewer transits each
of aphelion and perihelion.

Two years and one half of a day ago today
I was a young man
with a reasonably new
house, job, degree,
a very pregnant wife,
a nearly-two son,
a brother and family in Carolina,
and in Tucson,
a mother,
and a father,
sleeping soundly in bed.

Two years and one quarter of a day ago today
the September sky was beginning to wake,
almost to wingshooting light,
and the still morning was tangled
by phone calls and knocks on the door
and a hasty breakfast,
which made no dent in the
sick hollow of my stomach
(and my wife could not eat).

Two years ago today
we were gathered around
my mother, a widow,
fielding phone calls and questions
because somehow the news had not
been telegraphed around the world
that my father was dead, so we had to
and explain,
and (worst) explain carefully
to a nearly-two-year-old
that Grandpa was with Jesus.

Two years less a half a day ago today
we were going to bed
in the house I grew up in
(that my father built)
and were variously processing
the whiplash of a sudden death,
dropped down from heaven,
an unexpected anvil,
two years ago today.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pensee 396

Consider our end and the chief end of man.

Any and all relationships must be held subservient to these great facts.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Spanking Verses

Not my turn of phrase, but a good one.  In question are:

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
Prov. 22:15

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
Prov. 23:13

The rod and reproof give wisdom,
but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Prov. 29:15

and finally, 

Discipline your son, for there is hope;
do not set your heart on putting him to death.
Prov. 19:18

The overriding practical question is whether to use hitting as a means of discipline. I am deliberate in that word choice, because it is physically descriptive, and has fewer connotations than some of the other options (on either side of the question).

History seems firmly on the side of disciplinary hitting, and it is often risky to part ways with the ancients.  Couple this with the seemingly straightforward reading of the above verses, and the question seems open and shut.  The only remaining issue is a question of tactics and timing, right?

The conservative Christian camp is also fairly unanimous in the employment of hitting, and is spurred on by the resistance to the practice from a sick and secular world that is always pushing to weaken and usurp the rightful role of the family. And this is often true enough.

So what is the issue? What do I think the discussion has omitted?

"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.' Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear." Deut. 21:18-21

I do not think that the foregoing discussion adequately considers the gravity of the laws of ancient Israel.  The death penalty was an available option for parents to employ against an intractable child.  We today like to read the spanking verses through the foggy glasses of metaphor, thinking about not condemning our children to lives of dissipation or something. This does no justice to the texts imploring against putting the child to death by stoning.

A related line of reasoning begs for a reconsideration of the notion of "the rod".  For those blissfully unaware of it, there exists a hitting tool so named, marketed to parents as a discreet, flexible, and effective whacking strop.  We are all very familiar with the twenty-third psalm, and I hope the incongruity of those images is not lost on you.  Does the shepherd carry a rod to whap the sheep when they get out of line?  David is very clear to Saul that his rod was turned against lion and bear and Philistine. Jesus is very clear about what the shepherd does with the stray sheep, carrying it back on his shoulder and rejoicing.

Are there circumstances that call for a physical intervention? Yes, plainly. Are there circumstances that call for hitting? I have not found any yet.  That is not to say that I have never used hitting for discipline, because I am an impatient sinner, but those times were not successful.  Sin lives in the heart, and hitting the body is not clearly addressing the issue. 

Ah, but it may be levied that I was inconsistent. Had I hit the same every time, there would be obedience.  This is true.  There is no argument - hitting is good coercion. But I assert that it is bad discipline. The consistency that would help is consistency in my voice, my disposition, my prayer for my children, and the consistency to point my children to Christ when they sin.

Compliance is a woefully inadequate and dangerous goal for our children. It may make us feel good, and it may get us praise for our well-ordered family and home, but compliance is skin-deep.  As soon as restraint falls away, so, often, do the children. I have witnessed this too frequently, typically correlated with the first year of college.  

If children know that they can think from an early age, they may let us help them explore the difficult parts of life.  They will know that we want their good. They will know that we point them to Jesus. If all we ever asked for was compliance, and all we ever pointed to was our "parental prerogative", we have no reason to expect our children to suddenly mature, love Jesus, and love us when they move out.

So let us act in love, if Christ has first loved us. And let us begin showing that love in our home, to our family.  That is our great parental prerogative. Let's use it.