He is Risen

Yellow, the color of sunshine, hope, and happiness, and, as this is Easter Sunday, a sign that He is Risen.

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If I think I am, am I?

The subject came up this morning when Oz’s daughter tried to quote scripture. ” ‘You are as you thinketh,’ Jesus said,” she said.

Looking it up, Oz found this:

Jesus says in Mark 7:15-16, “There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” Jesus is explaining that we are what we think. Proverbs 23:7 backs Him up: “For as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he.”

This is a good shout out for the theory of positive thinking. So, get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’.

You gotta believe.

 

 

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Are you curious?

My one-day-to-be-famous TV reporter daughter sent me a link to Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with Brian Grazer.

The most important piece of advice Brian Grazer gave in his interview with Oprah Winfrey came when he retold about meeting Lew Wasserman, legendary talent agent and studio executive.

“Kid,” Wasserman told the annoyingly brash and young Brian Grazer, “you know nothing now.” Then, he said, “Get a legal pad,” which Grazer did. Wasserman gave Grazer a number 2 pencil.

“Now, put pencil to paper.” And with that Wasserman left.

An uncomprehending Grazer stood there perplexed until he remembered what his tiny Jewish grandmother told him as a child.

“Brian, you are curious. You will figure it out.”

Did you?

pencil and paper

 

Flying to Atlanta with Martin Luther

Tuesday, I am leaving Oz and flying to Atlanta with Martin Luther.

Flying time is just over two hours, which gives me little time learn about this fascinating man of faith and letters. While in Atlanta for three days, I will find snippets of time in the early morning and late evening to read Eric Metaxas’ Martin Luther: the man who rediscovered God….

This is unfair to a holy man of God, but work creates its limitations on pleasure. And Martin Luther was a man who worked much and suffered for it.

Never talk politics or religion, my mother advised me, and never speak of both. Martin Luther spoke of religion, and tried to avoid politics, but one is always forced to choose. Erasmus did, though he would have preferred to stay on the side lines observing and commenting, but not committing himself.

Martin Luther

Martin Luther had no qualms about where he stood on religion and famously said in April of 1521:

“Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me, Amen!”

“My conscience is captive to the word of God,” Luther explained. “To go against conscience is neither right nor safe.” His remarks to the so-called theologians and politicians at the Diet of Worms put forth the idea of man’s own ability to read and interpret the Bible.

This earth rattling idea made Martin Luther the first existentialist of the modern era.
I say modern era because Gutenberg printing press had thrust Europe and the world into the information age, the precursor to our own digital age. I say Luther was the first existentialist because he had the temerity to challenge the pope and state on matters of belief.

Every Man a Priest

Every man a priest he said.

He would walk back this idea in time as he realized the many “false” interpretations of scripture that man was capable of. He also chose to become an instrument of state and recognize the value of submission to authority. Anarchy was the only other choice.

Amazingly, his idea took hold. Not without centuries of religious conflict, not without heretical burnings, wars, and murders, all fought in the name of God, an irony he recognized. An irony that we still live with and perhaps always will.

Sorry, John Lennon.

Luther’s idea of personal responsibility would in time become the bedrock of the American political experience, expressed eloquently by Thomas Jefferson, All men are created equal and endowed by the Creator with inalienable rights, those being life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom of thought is liberating, it is daunting, it is challenging. It is the existentialist’s mantra.

It is your choice.

Which is why I find it ironic that Martin Luther came down on the “wrong” side of the question about Free Will. We have none, he said. It is all a matter of faith and love, and nothing else.

Paradoxical, yes, so too is life. We are such imperfect creatures, made in God’s image, but poorly.

I have, you will noticed, used quotation marks around certain statements of fact. This is because very little in life is certain. We may be certain of in-certainty, but that is it.

And…

Death, as Luther observed, and our ultimate destiny to meet with God, alone.

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martin luther, lucas cranach the elder painting

 

Today, of course, is Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Eric Metaxas points out the historical trivia that after a visit to Germany, a certain Michael King changed his name to Martin Luther King, and his son became Martin Luther King Jr.

In April of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

 

What will the New Year bring?

What will the New Year bring?
Hopefully boundless joy, loving family and friends, few cares and an abundance of God’s blessings, then it helps to have a nut or two to tide you through the winter days, an adventure that lets you venture somewhere you’ve never gone before, and, at the end of the day, a thought to keep you warm in bed, may there be peace on earth.

 

For goodness sake!

For goodness sake!

Do not wake me yet

Let me sit and dream

For it seems

The world has gone quite mad

And the fighting never ceases

And for that I am sad, but for this I am glad

Oh Lord, let me rest

Oh Lord, let me dream of a world at peace

Full of goodness!

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My candle burns at both ends

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
Edna St. Vincent MIllay

edna st. vincent millay eyes

Friday already, and I haven’t done half of what I need to do. That is life in the digital age.

Time out!

Edna St. Vincent Millay died at the age of 58, the result of a heart attack after a coronary occlusion. She was dressed in a nightgown and slippers when her body was found by James Pinnie, a caretaker, (who cares?) who had arrived to light a fire for the evening. “Miss Millay,” as the New York Times called her, had lived alone in her home in the Berkshire hills of New York, close to those same hills that James Taylor sang of (he lives there), since her husband died ten months earlier.

The Times continues to say: “Miss Millay was born in Rockland, Me., on Feb. 22, 1892, in an old house ‘between the mountains and the sea’ where baskets of apples and drying herbs on the porch mingled their scents with those of the neighboring pine woods.”

She had friends, she had foes, she acted, she wrote, she lived in The Village, she escaped to Florida, the Riviera, Spain, and finally, she escaped to Maine.

She was, the Times continued, “a frivolous young woman, with a brand-new pair of dancing slippers and a mouth like a valentine,” young, red-haired and unquestionably pretty.

What we remember is what we choose, ’tis the pity, she was much more.

My choice…

Figs from Thistles: First Fig
By Edna St. Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

For this and other poems, Millay won the the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.

Friday already, and I haven’t done half of what I need to do.

millay-poster

Tolkien Variations

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
Hands that touch warm the heart
Such is the nature of love.

Tolkien Variations

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The wind and the waves

He who has never gone to a lonely stretch of ocean, to stand before the waves and hear the wind whisper, to feel the salty breeze against one’s cheeks, to know the simple things – that life and living need not be so hard – has never lived.

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There is an ancient story, one of King Canute, tall and strong, the handsomest of men, King of England, Norway, and Denmark, son of Sweyn Forkbeard, father to Harthacnut, step-father to Edward the Confessor.

Told his subjects believed him to be almighty, King Canute commanded that a chair should be set on the shore and when the tide began to rise, he spoke to the rising sea saying,

“You are part of my dominion, the ground that I am seated upon is mine, nor has anyone disobeyed my orders with impunity. Therefore, I order you not to rise onto my land, nor to wet the clothes or body of your Lord”.

But the sea carried on as if it heard nothing, rising without any reverence to his person, and soaked his feet and legs.

Canute, moving away said:

“All the the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, that none is worthy the name of king but He who commands the heavens, earth and sea by His eternal laws”.

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beach dunes propac images home furnishers
beach dunes

 

Ephesus

Heraclitus of Ephesus

Ephesus is where Oz wants to go. It is on the Ionian coast in modern day Turkey. St. John was there in the first century. So too was St. Paul, but Oz would go back another 500 years.

He wants to stand before the Temple of Artemus, to gaze at the Library of Celsus. He wants to meander along the banks of the Kaystros River and put his foot in the ever-flowing water, as did Heraclitus of Ephesus in the 5th century before the Christian era.

Knowing there is no answer, he wants to ask:

To Heraclitus who knows,
Everything flows
To Heraclitus who says,
All things pass and nothing stays.
Could I not run ahead?
And stepping in the river,
Find the shoe I lost.

Heraclitus of Ephesus was really not so old, 60 years old to be precise when he died. Unless, one considers the average life expectancy in ancient Greece was 25, and that Heraclitus was wise beyond his years, having written on topics diverse as nature, logic, learning, and human affairs.

Then we may conclude that he lived to a ripe old age, having learned that all things pass and nothing stays.

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