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

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


Here! look, leamed-laund is golded quick
And degged down in dewsilver all, dusklight sheening
Silversoft, grass-speckled stars, strewn, greensheath cloisters:
Lowered down, cloud-weaving- here falls, here! see!

Gold and silver given: grace’s gift, from God’s hand
His glory, briefly bidded down, now speaks soft:
Undying flame and undimmed splendour: here soul
Take heed, kneel to knee, give praise: this glory is greater!

From Martin Luther's wonderful little treatise, "A Simple Way to Pray":

A Simple Exercise for Contemplating the Creed

If you have more time, or the inclination, you may treat the Creed in the same manner and make it into a garland of four strands. The Creed, however, consists of three main parts or articles, corresponding to the three Persons of the Divine Majesty, as it has been so divided in the Catechism and elsewhere.

The First Article of Creation
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth."

Here, first of all, a great light shines into your heart if you permit it to and teaches you in a few words what all the languages of the world and a multitude of books cannot describe or fathom in words, namely, who you are, whence you came, whence came heaven and earth. You are God's creation, his handiwork, his workmanship. That is, of yourself and in yourself you are nothing, can do nothing, know nothing, are capable of nothing. What were you a thousand years ago? What were heaven and earth six thousand years ago? Nothing, just as that which will never be created is nothing. But what you are, know, can do, and can achieve is God's creation, as you confess [in the Creed] by word of mouth. Therefore you have nothing to boast of before God except that you are nothing and he is your Creator who can annihilate you at any moment. Reason knows nothing of such a light. Many great people have sought to know what heaven and earth, man and creatures are and have found no answer. But here it is declared and faith affirms that God has created everything out of nothing. Here is the soul's garden of pleasure, along whose paths we enjoy the works of God-but it would take too long to describe all that.

Furthermore, we should give thanks to God that in his kindness he has created us out of nothing and provides for our daily needs out of nothing-has made us to be such excellent beings with body and soul, intelligence, five senses, and has ordained us to be masters of earth, of fish, bird, and beast, etc. Here consider Genesis, chapters one to three. Third, we should confess and lament our lack of faith and gratitude in failing to take this to heart, or to believe, ponder, and acknowledge it, and having been
more stupid than unthinking beasts. Fourth, we pray for a true and confident faith that sincerely esteems and trusts God
to be our Creator, as this article declares.

The Second Article of Redemption
"And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord," etc.

Again a great light shines forth and teaches us how Christ, God's Son, has redeemed us from death which, after the creation, had become our lot through Adam's fall and in which we would have perished eternally. Now think: just as in the first article you were to consider yourself one of God's creatures and not doubt it, now you must think of yourself as one of the redeemed and never doubt that.
Emphasize one word above all others, for instance, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Likewise, suffered for us, died for us, arose for us. All this is ours and pertains to us; that us includes yourself, as the word of God declares. Second, you must be sincerely grateful for such grace and rejoice in your salvation. Third, you must sorrowfully lament and confess your wicked unbelief and mistrust of such a gift. Oh, what thoughts will come to mind-the idolatry you have practiced repeatedly, how much you have made of praying to the saints and of innumerable good works of yours which have opposed such salvation. Fourth, pray now that God will preserve you from this time forward to the end in true and pure faith in Christ our Lord.

The Third Article of Sanctification
"I believe in the Holy Spirit," etc.

This is the third great light which teaches us where such a Creator and Redeemer may be found and plainly encountered in this world, and what this will all come to in the end. Much could be said about this, but here is a summary: Where the holy Christian church exists, there we can find God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Holy Spirit, that is, him who daily sanctifies us through the forgiveness of sins, etc. The church exists where the word of God concerning such faith is rightly
preached and confessed.

Again you have occasion here to ponder long about everything that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the church every day, etc. Therefore be thankful that you have been called and have come into such a church. Confess and lament your lack of faith and gratitude, that you have neglected all this, and pray for a true and steadfast faith that will remain and endure until you come to that place where all endures forever, that is, beyond the resurrection from the dead, in life eternal. Amen.


The State of the Union: As of today, I give the Union at least until next year. Attempts at the South's Rising Again have so far proved unsuccesful; the rather numerous other secession movements that exist have not yet produced fruit. I thus declare the Union safe from disunion for now- though only for now. Vermont could start something at any time....


Yesterday's class went quite well: my intentions were to talk about God as Creator (that seeming to be a logical place to start), and while I actually kept myself to the outline, we discussed subjects with no bearing at all on the topic at hand. Good subjects, if not precisely relevant at the moment. Among other things I don't think my students have a particularly good grasp on the nature of the Trinity: not their fault, really, but rather that of the churches they have been in, in failing to instruct them in such a basic thing. I am not terribly surprised, and to be quite honest, I get discouraged by my denomination quite often, and wonder greatly at the things we do (or don't do). Why do I not leave?

I admit I have been tempted to leave the Baptist denomination out of disgust, not at doctrine really, but at practice: though, I suppose, our problems in not emphasising important things is general throughout Christiandom. Our problems, in my opinion, are not so much great looming things but subtleties and matters of emphasis and practice. And my dad is also my pastor, and a fine one at that (which I do not say merely because he is my dad; while we have some disagreement over some points of doctrine, his preaching is sound and he strives to rightly lead our church), which has obvious bearings. That, and I love my local congregation too much to simply up and walk off. I do not see our problems as insurmountalbe, but rather solvable through godly understanding and love. Like any church body, we are in need of reform. Teaching the nature of the Trinity to students is a small step I suppose.


I have the wonderful privilige and burden, beginning this Sunday evening, to teach a disclipleship course (as we call them in the SBC), for guys in high school and college. That I am myself in that category is not, apparently, a problem with my appointees. I'm friends with all the guys whom I will be instructing, and they know me all ready for my sometime eccentric doctrinal ramblings. They are all quite firm in their faith and desire to learn. However, and I do not think I am speaking a falsehood, most of these guys have simply not been taught like they should. I don't plan to solve that problem in Ten Easy Steps (though that seems to be the Church's favorite solution to things), nor do I imagine myself capable of solving it, or even denting it, save through God's grace. But I do intend to follow our Lord's command and feed His sheep with the most precious food He has given: Himself. In this case, it is through the teaching of His Word.

We will be going through the basic doctrines of orthodox Christian faith, using the Apostle's Creed as a framework. I have the task to fit the essentials of Christian doctrine into fourty-five minutes on a Sunday evening, without compromising their richness and wonder. I would appreciate y'all's prayer that I may not be wise in my own wisdom, but rather faithfully teach the Word of truth, in all soundness of doctrine, through Christ and not myself. And of course any wise counsel is always appreciated.


What would Charles Spurgeon have thought about the Prayer of Jabez?


When, off the last west gloam goes leaming
Of day to gold-gild worned night,
Heart thrills- here falls mortal glimpse. Gleaming
Chambers rise to carry undimmed light:

On to night! on to dusklight! The Son is risen!


While I've never associated the Puritans with Christian mysticism, I was recently exposed to the poetry of Edward Taylor and learned to think otherwise. Beautiful poetry, remarkably reminiscent of previous writers of his mode. There is a lot of great depth in his poetry, though it must be read carefully and some times before fully understood and appreciated. Here is a taste:

Meditation No.1

What Love is this of thine, that Cannot bee
In thine Infinity, O Lord, Confinde,
Unless it in thy very Person see,
Infinity, and Finity Conjoyn'd?
What hath thy Godhead, as not satisfide
Marri'de our Manhood, making it its Bride?

Oh, Matchless Love! filling Heaven to the brim!
O're running it: all running o're beside
This World! Nay Overflowing Hell; wherein
For thine Elect, there rose a mighty Tide!
That there our Veans might through thy Person bleed,
To quench those flames, that else would on us feed.

Oh! that thy Love might overflow my Heart!
To fire the same with Love: for Love I would.
But oh! my streight'ned Breast! my Lifeless Sparke!
My Fireless Flame! What Chilly Love, and Cold?
In measure small! In Manner Chilly! See.
Lord blow the Coal: Thy Love Enflame in mee.

A portion of Meditation No. 35:

Oh, that the Sweets of all these Windings, spouse
Might, and these Influences streight, and Cross,
Upon my Soule, to make thy Shine breake out
That Grace might in get and get out my dross!
My Soule up locks then in this Clod of Dust
Would lock up in't all Heavenly Joyes most just.

But oh! thy Wisdom, Lord! thy Grace! thy Praise!
Open mine Eyes to see the same aright.
Take off their film, my Sins, and let the Rayes
Of thy bright Glory on my peepholes light.
I fain would love and better love thee should,
If 'fore me thou thy Loveliness unfold.

Lord, Cleare my Sight, thy Glory then out dart.
And let thy Rayes beame Glory in mine eye
And stick thy Loveliness upon my heart,
Make me the Couch on which thy Love doth ly.
Lord make my heart thy bed, thy heart make mine.
Thy Love bed in my heart, bed mine in thine.

From the Martyrdom of Polycarp:

Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, "Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ; "Polycarp declared, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? "

There was great faith among the saints of the early Church- though they held only parts of the New Testament and oral traditions, and were beset by persecutors and the subtler dangers of deadly heresy. Yet they held fast to Christ and hope in Him, even to the point of death by fire and sword and beast. The same is true in many lands to-day, where martyrs still live and die. The Church is still washed in the blood of its martyrs, though we in the West are unscathed and too often go at unawares.


An Observation Upon Observing the Stars:

I have found that I scarcely pay any attention to the 'starry host' that so faithfully marches and gracefully reels outside my window at night, along with the bright, ethery light of the Moon. It seems that the stars become dim points of light through a glass-pain in need of cleaning. They are lost in the lights of my lamps and the artificial glow of my neighbour's porch lights across the hedge and field. To-night, however, after my evening Scripture and prayer, I walked barefoot out over the grass of our lawn (living in the deepness of the South affords one such a luxury!) and stared up at the stars. Such a thing causes one's heart thrill with joy- knowing Whom cast the jeweled host over their course, and knowing Him in His grandeur and His merciful love, and knowing His Son Whom sustains and holds the great weaving of the night sky together. How grand is that expanse! It is a humbling thing, to look up at the night sky- but it also a joyous thing, and fills one with hope and peace: for the stars are vast and beautiful, and unmarred by sinful hands.- commanded and marshalled only by their Maker.

'Can you loose the Huntsman's bow? Can you unbind the Seven Stars? Can you lead forth the Bear?' Of course I cannot- I can only gape upwards in wonder and adoration towards the One Who commands this great host, and calls each by its name. And that is privlige enough, and more so- it is a privilege I am eternally unworthy of. Praise be to His name, for His mercies endure forever!


My top ten denomination results from some survey:

#1 Presbyterian Church in America/Orthodox Presbyterian Church

#2 Reformed Baptist

#3 Reformed Churches

#4 Assemblies of God

#5 Free Will Baptist

#6 Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

#7 Methodist/Weslyian Church

#8 Presbyterian Church USA

#9 Southern Baptist

#10 Church of Christ


Caedmon's Hymn, the first piece of English writing with a name attached:

Nu sculon herigean heofonrices weard,
meotodes meahte and his modgeþanc
weorc wuldorfæder, swa he wundra gehwæs,
ece drihten, or onstealde.
He ærest sceop eorthan bearnum
heofon to hrofe, halig scyppend;
Þa middangeard moncynnes weard,
ece drihten, æfter teode
firum foldan, frea ælmihtig.

The Northumbrian version:

Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard,
metudæs maecti end his modgidanc,
uerc uuldurfadur, sue he uundra gihuaes,
eci dryctin, or astelidæ.
He aerist scop aelda barnum
heben til hrofe, haleg scepen;
tha middungeard moncynnæs uard,
eci dryctin, æfter tiadæ
firum foldu, frea allmectig.

And in Modern English:

Now we must praise the kingdom of heaven's guardian
The might of the Creator and his purpose,
The work of the Father of Glory as he of each miracle,
Eternal Lord, established the beginning.
He first created for the sons of the earth
Heaven as a roof, holy Creator.
The middle earth, mankind's guardian,
Eternal Lord, afterwards adorned
The earth with people, the Lord Almighty.

I would like to wish all a most merry {Orthodox} Christmas!


Christ Is Risen!

Fr. Alexander Schmemann

My belief in Christ does not come from the opportunity given to me to participate since earliest childhood in the paschal celebration. Rather, Pascha is made possible, that unique night fills with light and joy and such victorious power in the greeting "Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!" because my faith itself was born from experience of the living Christ. How and when was it born? I don’t know, I don’t remember. I only know that every time I open the gospel and read about Christ, read his words, read his teaching, I consciously repeat, with all my heart and being, what was said by those who were sent to arrest Christ but who returned to the Pharisees without him: "No man ever spoke like this man" (Jn. 7:46). Therefore what I know first of all is that Christ’s teaching is alive, and that nothing on earth can be compared with it. And this teaching is about him, about eternal life, about victory over death, about a love that conquers and overcomes death. I know as well that in a life where everything seems so difficult and tiresome, the one constant that never changes and never leaves is this inner awareness that Christ is with me. "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to You" (Jn. 14:18). And he does come and give the feeling of his presence through prayer, through a thrill of soul, through a joy so incomprehensible, yet so very alive, through his mysterious, but again so certain, presence in church during services and in sacraments. This living experience is always growing, this knowledge, this awareness which becomes so obvious that Christ is here and that his word has been fulfilled: whoever loves Me, "I will love him and manifest myself to him Jn. 14:21). And whether I am in a crowd or alone, this certitude of his presence, this power of his word, this joy of faith in him remains with me. This is the only answer and the only proof.

"Why do you seek the living among the dead? Why do you mourn the incorrupt amid corruption?" All Christianity, therefore, is the experience of faith repeated again and again as if for the first time, through its incarnation in rites, words, music, and colors. To the unbeliever, it may indeed seem like a mirage; he hears only words, he sees only incomprehensible ceremonies, and he understands them only outwardly. But for believers, all of this radiates from within, and not as proof of his faith, but as its result, as its life in the world, in the soul, in history. Therefore the darkness and sadness of Holy Friday is for us something real, alive, contemporary; we can cry at the cross and experience everything that took place in that triumph of evil, treachery, cowardice, and betrayal; we can contemplate the life-bearing tomb on Holy Saturday with excitement and hope. And therefore, every year we can celebrate Easter, Pascha, the Resurrection. For Easter is not the remembrance of an event in the past. It is the real encounter in happiness and joy, with him whom our hearts long ago knew and encountered as the life and light of all light. Easter night testifies that Christ is alive and with us, and that we are alive with him. The entire celebration is an invitation to look at the world and life, and to behold the dawning of the mystical day of the Kingdom of light. "Today the scent of Spring begins," sings the church, "and the new creation exults..." It exults in faith, in love and in hope.

This is the day of resurrection,

Let us be illumined by the feast,

Let us embrace each other,

Let its call "brothers" even those that hate us,

And forgive all by the resurrection,

And so let us cry: Christ is risen from the dead,

Trampling down death by death,

And upon those in the tombs bestowing life.

Christ is risen!

A friend of mine requested that I compose for him a monologue with Frodo Baggins as the speaker, in order to use it for a coming performance in view of an acting scholarship. Below is what I have come up with- please share your thoughts, suggestions.

{Scene is in Baggend, some years after the War of the Ring}

Frodo: The end of all things, Sam- that’s what I said to him, up there on the mountain.
The mountain, the mountain- O! how it still haunts my mind.
What did Gandalf say- what did he say, would I find solace then? No.
He did not say, he gave me no words of comfort.
No peace, no peace shall come- not as long as I tarry here.
Can any ship now carry me to peace? Can any land give me refuge and quiet?
O Elbereth! Can her fair land give me rest and healing?

{Frodo holds his shoulder}

It is now five days past October the Eighth: O! O! Do not dwell there!
The blade, the face- how hideous! what curse brought the wrath
Of wraiths upon me? What fate cast their cries over my path?
I have been pierced, and the bite pains still and cuts cold.
I will never be rid of it. None can give me healing.
And Her sting is still scarred upon me- and blackness, borne in my mind
Does not fade, does not fade: it is a weaving dark and deep.
Why was I chosen? What was the reason of my calling?
O Gandalf, did you know what fate lay before me?
But you did not know many things.
And now both our times are ending.
Our time is ended.
What lies before me now? A ship will come and bear me away
But will it any comfort bring?
To the Sea, to the Havens- but the wounds are carried with me.
The Sea-spray will bring no solace.

No- perhaps, perhaps, the Undying Lands will bring healing.
Will they? Gandalf did not say.
I must in sadness leave- and I do not think I shall ever return
Unless it be in ages beyond reckoning.
Yes, I will linger, in a living tomb, lingering in light but weighted with darkness.
Sting and bite I will bear though I be within all the beauty and grace of the Elves.
Perhaps I will return, but all will be changed.
There will be no comfort in my coming, no fondness in this place.
So I will linger, and grow weary, but linger still, a shadow.

All was changed- changed utterly.
Sam, O Sam! great-heart of hobbits and brave beyond measure
You had hope to return, to return from doom’s despair.
But you could return. You were not wrought to this ending.
It was the end of all things, all things at their end.
It is the end of the age, it was the end of all things that we have known.
Now all must be ended, changed, and much must depart utterly.

O! I feel the remembrance: it is heavy, so heavy! O that I be rid of it!
Sting, bite, so deep and cold- O! I cannot- I cannot bear it-
Such pain, and sight so fell- leave me be!
O rest, O peace- so far, so far from me.
Night, night, all is fading, and I am a shadow.
O the bite, the sting, the black pall over my mind-
O the chill of the wound! I- I know nothing now-
Shadow, shadow-

{Frodo clutches the Vial of Galadrial}

But here, but here, is Light: The Light given by the Lady
Here within and without. It is stronger than darkness.
Light, O Light- unchanged, living, gift to our darkness-
Let me hold it- but see, it shines forth and cannot be constrained!
But a vial of a sliver from the Silmarillion- star yon, yet pure and clear and filling.
There is hope yet. There is Light.
It fills shadow and drives darkness- fairest gift, sweet Light.
There is hope yet, there is hope
For Light lingers strong and lives, and gives life yet.


Found this story linked from Razormouth. My grandmother is very much caught up in the wiles of Hinn and his ilk- we've tried to warn her, but she doesn't believe us I don't think. I'm pretty sure she has sent TBN money, and perhaps Hinn. And he needs no money, even if he wasn't a greedy coniving heretic- according to the report, the man has an income of some 100 million dollars per year: all of which is, incredibly, tax free. And yet so many Christians are taken in by him: and I must admit, he plays his game well, better than many "faith-healers". These false-teachers do much harm to the truth: not only do they decieve and offer false hope, they project a horrible image to non-believers.