Friday, January 27, 2012

sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

doing Christianity

others' thoughts about the doing-ness of virtue, even when it doesn't come "naturally."

"Virtue is a habitual way of acting -- not an emotion or a capacity." [a paraphrase]

    O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
    O, throw away the worser part of it,
    And live the purer with the other half.
    Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
    That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
    Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
    That to the use of actions fair and good
    He likewise gives a frock or livery,
    That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night,
    And that shall lend a kind of easiness
    To the next abstinence: the next more easy;
    For use almost can change the stamp of nature,
    And either [ ] the devil, or throw him out
    With wondrous potency.

Modern translation:

     Oh Hamlet, you have cut my heart in two!
     Then throw away the worse part of it, and live all the purer with the half that's left. [...]
     Practice decency, even if you haven't got any. That monster, custom, which eats away
     one's sense of evil, has this good quality: it also makes the practice of good deeds a
     habit that becomes natural. Stay away tonight, and that will make the next abstinence 
     somewhat easier; the next more easy still. Repetition can change one's normal nature
     and either accommodate the devil or throw him out quite effectively.

C.S. Lewis
Do not waste time bothering whether you 'love' your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.

N.T. Wright
We are hamstrung by the long legacy of the Romantic movement on the one hand, and Existentialism on the other, producing the idea that things are authentic only if they come spontaneously, unbidden, from the depths of our hearts. Frankly, as Jesus pointed out, there's a lot that comes from the depths of our hearts which may be authentic but isn't very pretty. One good breath of fresh air  from the down-to-earth world of first-century Judaism is enough to blow away the smog of the self-  absorbed (and ultimately proud) quest for "authenticity" of that kind. 

Dr. Wright (my pastor)
I don't want your mind; I want your body!

Monday, January 2, 2012

in 2011, I

second-guessed my stance on miracles when, on my way to work only an hour after learning of my grandmother's death, I saw a rainbow over my office

spent my 25th birthday on catalina island riding bikes with my brother

ran my second marathon in 3:27:54 with a 7:56 average pace

visited 4 states back east and two states in the northwest

broke my cousin's nose on a river-rafting trip

flew in a helicopter for the first time

hiked (6,400' ascent, 22 miles RT, and 19.5 hours on the trail)  to the top of mt. whitney (14,505 ft)

hiked to the top of cowles mountain (1,593 ft) the night after mt. whitney and proceeded to fall off a rock, landing on my face, scraping my forehead and mangling my hands and knees. finished the hike while stanching blood with some borrowed kleenexes.

enjoyed three amazing concerts with friends (one that found me in the 5th row at the hollywood bowl)

listened to so much new, great music

dyed may hair dark brown and black for most of the year

completed 8 units of college german

kept up weekly volunteering and church attendance

jogged ≈ 730 miles

became an official member of the Church of the Nazarene

abandoned plans for missions and seminary