Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat


"Pass us by and forgive us our happiness."
The Idiot, Dostoevsky

There are times when I grow terribly upset at myself in particular and the way the church in America conducts itself in general. There is nothing so utterly stupid as myself complaining about some ill lot that's leveled against me- me, a rich {incredibly wealthy!} upper middle class American, with a comfortable home, belongings, means, and opportunities. And yet I have the nerve to complain- to God even!- of my poor lot, because some whim of mine is not filled! It is such foolishness I am ashamed to think of it. Yet I commit it continually! And I- one who has been given life in Christ, and blessed with possessions and means beyond measure- trade life for dull and stupid possessions and comfort. I trade glorious truth for dull and grunging falsehood, because it's comfortable and easy.

Which is leading up to say, what right have we Americans to ask God's blessing? We should be asking for His righteous wrath and scouring, to rid us of our parasitic selves! What right have we to complain of insult or filthy culture- as if the country where out to get us- when we know- or should know right well- that millions of our brothers and sisters struggle and cry out beneath real persecution? It is remarkable how insulated and self-starved Americans- and I include myself heartily in that sweeping statement!- can be. And what people care at all about the outside world only want to inflict more misery with their miserable socialism and inane marxist tortures- and they do it but to satisfy a troubled conscience, or because it is the progressive thing to do. What of the Church here? What do we care of the trials and sufferings of our brothers? From the way things appear, absolutely nothing! Please, my fellow brothers and sisters, let us not sit and sleep any longer- let us call to mind the words of James 2:15-17: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?" I would note that James uses this an illustration- so basic should it seem to us! Furthermore, I John 3:17-18 speaks to us: "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." These are strong words! Let us heed them!

If you want to start reaching out to your fellow believers, this site will help to get you started.


A particular governor of a particular state is considering appointing a "regular citizen" to fill the vacant post of a certain senator, due to a certain outrageous funeral of the said senator. How curious- the Napoleon of Notting Hill by GK Chesterton lays out a situation rather like this. The King of England is picked by the random, unbiased selection of names from a census list. Somehow, one can't help but think this might well be the best way to do things...

Though a situation like this might arise {and is it a bad thing? hmm...}:

"No sir," said the officer, with a slight cough and a glance towards Auberon, who was at that moment putting his head between his legs and making a noise like a cow. "The gentleman whom we have to congratulate seems at the moment -- er -- er -- occupied."

Dia liom a laighe
Dia liom ag eirigh,
Dia liom anns gach rath soluis,
Is gun mi rath son as aonais,
Gun aon rath as aonais.
Criosda liom a cadal,
Criosda liom a dusgadh,
Criosda liom a caithris,
Gach la agus oidhche,
Gach aon la is oidhche.
Dia liom a comhnadh
Domhnach liom a riaghladh,
Spiorad liom a treoradh,
Gu soir agus siorruidh,
Soir agus siorruidh, Amen.
Triath nan triath, Amen.

{God with me lying down
God with me rising up,
God with me in each ray of light,
Nor I a ray of joy without Him,
Nor one ray without Him.
Christ with me sleeping,
Christ with me waking,
Christ with me watching,
Every day and night,
Each day and night.
God with me protecting,
The Lord with me directing,
The Spirit with me strengthening,
For ever and for evermore,
Ever and evermore, Amen.
Chief of chiefs, Amen

This beautiful prayer- in Scot's Gaelic {Ghaidhlig proper}- comes from the Western Isles of Scotland.

Reformed Folk Celebrate All Hallow's Eve:

{The scene is a dimmly lit neighborhood. A large van pulls up to the curb. Three rather largish children- perhaps they are not children at all- slink out. One wears a monk's habit and carries a large roll of parchment under his arm. The second is dressed in a somber black outfit and hat and has a scraggly beard. The third is dressed rather like a nineteenth century chap and puffs at a cigar. They approach a house.}

Martin: Hurry up there boys! Here, here, boys, this house!

{They stumble up the steps, and Martin bangs on the door}

Knox: Why couldn't I be Calvin?

Martin: Be quiet! {Door opens} Ahem, ahem, good day sir.

Knox: {Shouting} REPENT OR PERISH!


Spurgeon: I say chaps, do you have-

Martin: We've come to burn your indulgences!

Knox: REPENT OR PERISH! Oh, and bring out your Left Behind books- burn, burn, burn!

Spurgeon: Old boy, that's quite enough-

{Door slams}

Martin: Knox, go tear down those popish symbols- I'll bang up the thesis-

Spurgeon: Thesis?

Knox: Right! {He runs off and bangs about, tearing down some rather vulgar decorations. Martin bangs up another parchment on the door. They all run off and hop into the van.}

I dwaddled down to the University of Southern Mississippi library this morning with my father, who was off to see someone in the hospital and attend a short class {he currently pursuing the worthy pursuit of history study}. I picked up several wonderful {or at least I'm assuming as much} books: Muir's Nature Writings, a biography of Gerald Manley Hopkins, Case Studies in Plant Taxonomy, English Mystics of the Fourteenth Century, Collected Works of Chesterton Volume I, Manalive, The Poet and the Lunatics,Tales of the Long Bow, All Things Considered, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, and two books- recently aquired by the slightly odd medieval history proffesor-whose-name-I-can't-spell-properly- Medieval Scotland and a biography sort of book about Robert the Bruce. She noted that USM has in its possesion few books on Scottish history- I concur- and she has begun to solve the problem.


How I Saw

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

As I type, only a few moments have passed since the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in all my waking- perhaps the grandest, most beautiful thing I have seen- sunsets and all else. The western horizion was half-open, with lenses and whisps of cloud left- and the whole rim of sky ablaze in the purest golden fire I have ever seen. To the north and south and overhead of me were long, scudding cloudbanks whose ceilings were riffled with what one might call waves. These clouds were bluish-gray and lit up with the gold fire. Behind them- for they were rapidly breaking up, even as they rolled across the sky- was the deep blue of the sky. Against the clouds in the east was a bright, blazing light red glow, and in the open sky to the north a shimmering golden hue. The whole sky seemed utterly alive with living fire. How one can view something like this and not be struck with the greatness and beauty and glory of God is beyond me- I certainly can't!

{Observations From Beneath My Hat Brim}

{How To Chase One's Hat}: One must find a fine, open field, preferably with lots of rolling thick grass over a hillside. There should be a breeze blowing up, and the sky is best when rain-washed and gray clouds are sculling by. The which I chase is a wonderful old blck, wide brimmed hat, reminding one of the sorts worn back during the late nineteenth century and into the first half of the twentieth. It was a gift of my grandfather, who had aquired it back during his days as a highway trooper, long ago, before, I suppose, they adopted the artless brown stiff things they wear now. Anyway, this is a simply lovely hat to toss up into the air and catch- that being the precise means of Chasing One's Hat. The yobbish fellow goes every where and way, blowing along with the wind and against it and up through it. On occasion a tree will catch it, but most of the time the hat tumbles down to the ground. Now, I suppose one should stay away from delicate sorts of hats- good, solid sorts are what one needs. Oh, the original expositer's explanation of this delightful (it truly is, one must simply try it to understand fully) idea can be found here: On Running After One's Hat

{On The Sublime}: Is there anything more stunning and wonderous than a rank of faerie-coloured orange mushrooms and gentle-hued acorns perched up high above an orange-tinted bubbling creek? No! Except, perhaps, the thrilling ecstacy of staring, with one's neck craned back, up into the rain-burnished boughs of a big-leaf magnolia- the leaves take one's breath away, so grand and lovely are they, and at this time of year they are festooned with smaller leaves- the crisp stars of sweetgums, and the branching, winding leaves of white-oaks. And it might be added that each and every sapling longleafpine is a work of pure brilliance and whimsy tossed together. When one comes upon a longleaf sapling, the first impression is that you have found a clump of grass blown quite out (and up) of proportion. The needles of young longleaf, beside being well over a foot in length, shoot out in an orbof shining, sheening green needles, their sharp orts glistening. It is simply remarkable, and one of the finest things- out of several thousand- to be seen here at the fringe of the Gulf. Now, all these things are remarkable, and I came across all of them this afternoon- but the grandest thing is to know the One who brought them all intp being, and sustains this whole lovely sweep of life. Imagine- as I stroll in the greatest gallery of art- pure, increidble art- in existence, I am continualy with the One who painted it all with His breath! Here is Life, Life in all its glorious sharp sheerness and glory. Here is Life all about, creation being restored through Him. O praise Him!

{On Faerie Woods}: There lies, not terribly afar off from my house, a spot where modernity and all our stinking progress has ground off and crept away to the fringes. I strayed through to-day. Part of it {the bit above comes from there also} stradles out over a sand-ridge, and is covered over in a weald of what I shall call, for want of better words, a faerie wood. Here the trees are short and stunted, which makes them all the more delightful. The wood is strewn through with longleafpine, slash pine, turkey oaks, and scores upon scores of sparkleberry, a close cousin of the blueberry. These little trees- for some do indeed grow rather tall- are the sorts that, like dogwoods and sourwoods, seem as if they are always uncertain which portion of the sky they wish to look at, and their twound-up trunks show it. They have all the appearance of being ancient- though I imagine most are hardly thirty years old- and faerie, for their leaves are tiny and sheen-cast. Of particular interest to those who rove about on foot or wing are the deep blue berries produced in late fall- right now, to be precise. I have found that their quality varies considerably from place to place. In the faerie wood they are small, but sweet, with just a tinge of the tartness characteristic of sparkleberries elsewhere I have sampled. I spent some time to-day gathering them, and it was whilst gathering these delightful little berries, a though struck me- I haven't given thanks for this gift {very much so a gift, as I did nothing at all to cultivate them!}. So I pulled down my hat and bowed my head and gave thanks to my Father then and there- not just for the sparkleberries, but for life, and for some things I had not thought to give thanks for before. Which is really quite sad- He has blessed me with so much, and I am horribly ungratefull, if one can judge from my prayers of thanks. I should hope that I can put this unadmirable pattern behind.

{A Stray Observation or Two}: The witch hazel is in bloom now, rather early. This marvelous little tree has blooms of tassely yellow strands that smell of lemon somewhat (like most such smells, it is impossible to describe them other than saying they smell like what they are), and these blooms are remarkable for, among other things, blooming in winter. There are also a number of small trees and shrubs changing colours now, particularly the paw-paws. But I could devote a whole day to the description of the remarkable paw-paw tree, so I'd best leave it at that.

{A Concluding Thought}: So then, that's a few of the things from my afternoon. I can quite honestly say that for a little while at least, to-day, I stepped over from sanity and into life {which, curiously enough, only comes when one throughs off himself and accepts Christ} and grand exuberance. All of which is practically impossible to describe with words- but folks like myself have an irresitable urge to try at least to scribble it out in words anyway.

To-day is the sort of day in which one feels quite drowsy- but in a fine way. I have no schedule to-day, no appointments to keep, and the sky is gray and rain-washed, and the air cold- quite a development, I might say, as it has been warm and muggy lately about here. I suppose a cold front has swept through, and swept the mugginess with it.

This morning my Scripture reading passed over the first chapter of I Timothy, which is a delightful book to me- it seems to be addressed particularly towards me, what with its exhortations in the keeping of strong doctrine and faith. Timothy, I understand, was a young man (though young in his society was probably a bit older than we would have it), and had the rather singular distinction among New Testament folk of having been brought up in Christianity from a fairly young age. Paul's encouragement to Timothy in the keeping of good doctrine and not backing away from the truth has come recently as a strong encouragement to me, as I am not the sort who relishes fiery confrontation. I have a tendecy to avoid difficult confrontation, not out of a fear of not being able to hold my ground- I'm apt enough at that- but more of not offending others, or slipping into sinful derision for derision's sake. That, and I can rarely bring myself to say anything harsh to someone whose face I have staring at me {I can chew you out well enough via correspondence though}. However, when one has the Truth, one should not be worried about offending- if the Truth is brought in love {which, if one truly has the Truth, one can't help but bring it in love}. The Truth is a glorious thing- actually, Truth is a Man, and is living: for in Christ is Truth embodied, and His Word is embodied to us through Scriptural form. It is through Him- Truth incarnate through Himself, His Word, His Spirit- that men are set free.

      Stars of the Grass-Bents

A shawl-net was spun and cast last night
Over nodding grass and sedge on wold-bent
To catch earth-flung jeweled stars yare-sent
Scintillating now in earthen-brow strands
Dipping dropping groundwards
A clear translucent burden of shining unburning fire
Stars wrung by God from the gray skies
Wrought in secret heights and earth-flung
In pale gray rain dropping quick and stinging
Under pale gray skies and pale gray light.
But now the storm is faded and
A quiet shifting living glow is settled
Along the earth-hems of the sky
And the earth-flung stars in nets of
Finest weave and form
Hold of light light glaiking bright
Light twice reflected and shining still clear
Hung upon a firmament of silver and soil.


"Why this," cried Lucifer, smiting the ball again, "here is the only symbol, my boy. So fat. So satisfied. Not like that scraggy individual, stretching his arms in stark weariness." And he pointed up to the cross, his face dark with a grin. "I was telling you just now, Michael, that I can prove the best part of the rationalist case and the Christian humbug from any symbol you liked to give me, from any instance I came across. Here is an instance with a vengeance. What could possibly express your philosophy and my philosophy better than the shape of that cross and the shape of this ball? This globe is reasonable; that cross is unreasonable. It is a four-legged animal, with one leg longer than the others. The globe is inevitable. The cross is arbitrary. Above all the globe is at unity with itself; the cross is primarily and above all things at enmity with itself. The cross is the conflict of two hostile lines, of irreconcilable direction. That silent thing up there is essentially a collision, a crash, a struggle in stone. Pah! that sacred symbol of yours has actually given its name to a description of desperation and muddle. When we speak of men at once ignorant of each other and frustrated by each other, we say they are at cross-purposes. Away with the thing! The very shape of it is a contradiction in terms."

"What you say is perfectly true," said Michael, with serenity. "But we like contradictions in terms. Man is a contradiction in terms; he is a beast whose superiority to other beasts consists in having fallen. That cross is, as you say, an eternal collision; so am I. That is a struggle in stone. Every form of life is a struggle in flesh. The shape of the cross is irrational, just as the shape of the human animal is irrational. You say the cross is a quadruped with one limb longer than the rest. I say man is a quadruped who only uses two of his legs."

The Professor frowned thoughtfully for an instant, and said: "Of course everything is relative, and I would not deny that the element of struggle and self-contradiction, represented by that cross, has a necessary place at a certain evolutionary stage. But surely the cross is the lower development and the sphere the higher. After all it is easy enough to see what is really wrong with Wren's architectural arrangement."

"And what is that, pray?" inquired Michael, meekly.

"The cross is on top of the ball," said Professor Lucifer, simply. "That is surely wrong. The ball should be on top of the cross. The cross is a mere barbaric prop; the ball is perfection. The cross at its best is but the bitter tree of man's history; the ball is the rounded, the ripe and final fruit. And the fruit should be at the top of the tree, not at the bottom of it."

"Oh!" said the monk, a wrinkle coming into his forehead, "so you think that in a rationalistic scheme of symbolism the ball should be on top of the cross?"

"It sums up my whole allegory," said the professor.

"Well, that is really very interesting," resumed Michael slowly, "because I think in that case you would see a most singular effect, an effect that has generally been achieved by all those able and powerful systems which rationalism, or the religion of the ball, has produced to lead or teach mankind. You would see, I think, that thing happen which is always the ultimate embodiment and logical outcome of your logical scheme."

"What are you talking about?" asked Lucifer. "What would happen?"

"I mean it would fall down," said the monk, looking wistfully into the void.

The Ball and the Cross G.K. Chesterton

This is a fine book, for those who have never read it {find it here online:}. Like many Chesterton works, this book has escaped being lumped into a specific genre- one might call it a work of mystery, theology, and fantasy thrown together.

"An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered." -G.K. Chesterton, On Running After Ones Hat, All Things Considered, 1908

I set off for the local art museum- believe it or not, there is a fine, respectable art museum in southern Mississippi: but it is apparently not open on Mondays. O. I expended a fair deal of gasoline on what was almost a fruitless trip from wee little Ellisville (the museum being in Laurel twelve miles distant)- however, I somewhat salvaged things by stopping in at the local public library, where I perused some magazines and Augustine's City of God. The mags were mostly liberal green rags, er, mags, which, while containing stunning photography, are simply full of ridiculous liberal mantra. These folks- bless 'em- seem to be mostly upper middle class or college students, with intellectuals sprinkled in, who enjoy running about in wilderness areas from time to time. Apparently, this gives them the right to impose their "progressive" ideas on everyone else, especially the people who actually make a living off the land (yes, yes, evil parasites all, I know). Now, don't get me wrong- I enjoy wild lands as much as the next fellow who reads these magazines, but one cannot let his love of wild lands supersede his love of men. Folks before animals. That, and their rants against development and whatnot, materialistic culture, et cetera, are well founded enough, but lack a good foundation upon which to build alternatives. Nature is fine, but one is severely limited if he does not know "nature's God". This is, I think, one of the primary roots of green extremism- there is nothing at all wrong in greater appreciation of nature, but to truly appreciate nature one must know God, the God who made it. One must have a definite viewpoint from which to view things, and most greens have a vague, shifting viewpoint filled with uncertainty and skepticism. Orthodox Christianity is viewed with repugnance, and fairly soundly rejected. But then, these sorts of trends can be seen the world over in ideas on thought-modes- and they're hardly new, for that matter. {For some more on nature and a perspective from a Christian point, look up my article on it Chasing Hats).

Anyway, I think I was discussing a library being closed. It's a real shame, as the Lauren Roger's Museum and Library is simply wonderful. I was hoping to settle in amongst the shelves of aged volumes and write a bit- maybe later in the week.

Battlefield Band's new cd, Time and Tide, arrived at my doorstep this afternoon- a fine, fine compilation from the latest incarnation of Battlefield Band. I shall have a review up on Chasing Hats in the next week or so {}. Battlefield's site is at:

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade;
bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black
West went Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

G.M. Hopkins

Tri-incarnate Hymn

Life- O You are Life, life incarnate!
Though You drank our air
Your breath and being all being sustains
And holds together all that is-
Life now, and for ever more
Life and Light and Word incarnate
In the being of a man shod with bone
Sustainer- Holy One O Son of God!
Sustainer of life and light and word
You are incorrupt and pure ever holy-
O praise forever be O Son of Man!

This Morning's Meditation
C. H. Spurgeon

"I have chosen you out of the world."—John 15:19.

Here is distinguishing grace and discriminating regard; for some are made the special objects of divine affection. Do not be afraid to dwell upon this high doctrine of election. When your mind is most heavy and depressed, you will find it to be a bottle of richest cordial. Those who doubt the doctrines of grace, or who cast them into the shade, miss the richest clusters of Eshcol; they lose the wines on the lees well refined, the fat things full of marrow. There is no balm in Gilead comparable to it. If the honey in Jonathan's wood when but touched enlightened the eyes, this is honey which will enlighten your heart to love and learn the mysteries of the kingdom of God. Eat, and fear not a surfeit; live upon this choice dainty, and fear not that it will be too delicate a diet. Meat from the King's table will hurt none of His courtiers. Desire to have your mind enlarged, that you may comprehend more and more the eternal, everlasting, discriminating love of God. When you have mounted as high as election, tarry on its sister mount, the covenant of grace. Covenant engagements are the munitions of stupendous rock behind which we lie entrenched; covenant engagements with the surety, Christ Jesus, are the quiet resting-places of trembling spirits.

"His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the raging flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
This still is all my strength and stay."

If Jesus undertook to bring me to glory, and if the Father promised that He would give me to the Son to be a part of the infinite reward of the travail of His soul; then, my soul, till God Himself shall be unfaithful, till Jesus shall cease to be the truth, thou art safe. When David danced before the ark, he told Michal that election made him do so. Come, my soul, exult before the God of grace and leap for joy of heart.


It has been raining here for days now, and the weathermen tell us it is going to rain for days more. I can't say that I love dreary weather, for it's only enjoyable to me if I'm out in it. Mere overcast is not enough, either, as there must be a light mist falling and fogs wrapping up about the trees.

             An De Fluich

O! the world wears a Gaelic mood-
A deep mood, a gray-blued mood
All throughout and within her life
Thriving- here Gaelic corseted curve is rife
Of rained-tree wrought with water
Thrown up and under the dim rain-halter
Fog staved and fog blurnished
And all is swept, swept and burnished
With Gaelic rain and with Gaelic shroud
Here yaupon whispers not over-loud
Weighed down with life and watered-brow
Here the soft leaows are now
Softer yet, yet set quick-yare
And birds call forth from rain-holt lair
Of brushed leaf borne with fog-
All is kegged and embowered, shunted over and shaughed
Neath Gaelic mood, over the world- brief yet- broods.

An De Fluich is Gaelic for "the wet day", if I'm recalling correctly. Fluich- flook- sounds lovely anyway.

I would quite concur with Micheal. Sanity is general considered incurable, and many in our world who seek to find its curemerely end up in a deranged state of sanity, worse off than when they started. What is it with sanity? The idea that one must simply concur with the drudgery of the world, to conform oneself to what is called sanity (though, perhaps, in this day and age, many odd things pass for sanity)- but is life sane? No! Does man crave logical, reasonable answers to everything? Does he crave logical, reasoned existence, uninterupted by life? Perhaps some do- but I think most men desire something beyond their sanity, beyond what we wrongly call life. Man rests in paradoxes! Or some men do- some realize the grand paradoxial scope of the universe and deny it, or hate it, and seek logical conclusions to things. But one finds- repeatedly- that paradox fulfills our questions. It rarely answers why , but then, that is hardly for us to know, even if we could comprehend.

My faith is a paradox, for God is paradoxial- it is not that He contradicts Himself, no, far be it from me to suggest such a thing, but as we view reason and common sense, God is a paradox. The very idea of the Trinity boggles one's mind, no matter how hard one looks at it. But then, my belief in the Trinity is hardly founded upon any strict evidence or logic. I am thankful that it is not! I ask why- and I am given an answer, but it is not pertaining to why. But I find contentment in that- mystery is not a bad thing, and having something well beyond your present grasp is wonderful! I do not desire to climb the corkscew to heaven and empty the bottle into a chemist's vial, no, I would rather drink deep of heaven and not question particulars I cannot comprehend. Does this imply locking one's mind into a glass jar? Nonsense! One drinks with the soul, which includes the mind, and one wonders and marvels with the mind. But the mind is not all, and recognizing it's limits keeps one humble- and it is from humility that true wonder and delight come.

O, sanity is curable, for those who were wondering. Very much curable!

   Cowled Beauty

Hillside haiming of raised
Smells seen- colours tasted tasseled
Degged over with colour
Splotched and streeled-
Sent gently quavering-
Quook in colouring col’s breath:
O praise Him!

" Quite so," assented Dr. Warner stolidly; "insanity is generally incurable."

"So is sanity," said the Irishman, and studied him with a dreary eye.

"Symptoms?" asked the doctor. "What was this telegram?"
"It's a shame to joke about such things," said Inglewood, in his honest, embarrassed way; "the telegram was Smith's illness, not Smith. The actual words were, `Man found alive with two legs.'"

"Alive with two legs," repeated Michael, frowning. "Perhaps a version of alive and kicking? I don't know much about people out of their senses; but I suppose they ought to be kicking."

"And people in their senses?" asked Warner, smiling.

"Oh, they ought to be kicked," said Michael with sudden heartiness.

G.K Chesterton Manalive

Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.