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

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


I shall have a review of Gods and Generals at Speakeasy in the next few days.


Well folks, I must now throw out my faith and become an atheist: Scruffy Little Weed Shows Darwin Was Right As Evolution Moves On. I quote: "The discovery of the York groundsel shows that species are created as well as made extinct, and that Charles Darwin was right and the Creationists are wrong."

Granted, it is perhaps a wee bit unlogical to construct a sweeping destruction of an entire system of thought with the discovery of one plant, but let's not let that constrain us...

Actually, such a discovery comes as no surprise to me- holding to a relatively young earth (as per the clearest interpretation of Scripture) I have always (that is, since I began thinking of such things of course) held to the idea the species should be able to arise quite rapidly. I would imagine that large climatic changes would accelerate species development at a rate we do not see to-day. The ecological maelstrums caused by such changes would provide ample breeding grounds: highly isolated ecosystems (such as the cedar glades of Alabama, Tennessee, and Kentucky), widespread disturbance, etc. I am willing to postulate that a speciation time of fifty years is not so rare as we may think- especially considering the great mass of species, only recently discovered, that exist in tropical regions.

So, in my opinion, this discovery proves Darwin correct only in a way that has been observed before, and is rarely contested- that speciation is a very real and common thing in our world. In fact, it rather lends credit to my own, fairly rabidly conservative Scriptural view that speciation can be a very rapid thing. Whether a sequoia can become a primula is still very much a question to be debated, and this discovery, nice as it is, can not be used to lend credit to such great leaps. But saying something of that sort is simply not as catchy as, "The discovery of the York groundsel shows that species are created as well as made extinct, and that Charles Darwin was right and the Creationists are wrong."


Rood Poem

I saw the best of visions, on a lent-tide day
While wind over wold hearkened heaven’s
Rain and grace: good-grace and gifted gray
But loft’s lorn now and kens no more

My eyes beheld, were bid to see-
A tree, a rough-rood lifted, lain to earth
To world’s weather-gleamed grass-lea.
And here I held halt in broken-cedar holm.

Deep-delved lay the wounds, dark and woven
Broken, unwrought down, bleeding out
Lich-tree, lorn of life, left to death, chosen
To a fate most strange- but now, hearken!

Love is lain, grace given and grown full-
What mercy is this, O licht-tree? What merit
Undeserving? What grace to a heart so dull?
But see- blood, so pure, so precious-

Heart, O heart, heed! You deserve not, are due
Not, no not a drop! Earth, O take care! O lich-tree
Bear up, bend not! Thy task do not rue!
Though night fall, though none light for look

This no dusk light is, no, but dawn, deep
Drunk, of love and loosened bonds, of men
Gifted in grace, O! Knee, bend, eye do not sleep
And have mercy O Lord, let fall Thy love-

From the broken-rood, from Thy Body borne
On a tree, for my sin slain, pierced with my shame
O have mercy Lord, through Thy sacred form
May all my love be Thine, forever more!


There was a gathering of anti-war protestors in Hattiesburg to-day- mostly college students with nothing better to do than wave signs such as "Viva la France" and "War is terrorism" at guys in pick-up trucks with Rebel flag bumperstickers and gun-racks...


I'm listening to Kate Rusby's newest album- been listening to it quite often since it arrived in the mail last week, and am absolutely enamoured. I shall be writing a review some time soon for Chasing Hats.

I wonder what it is that awakened a love for traditional music in me? Or for that matter, tradition, and the old way of doing things? I can recall my dad forcing, if that is the proper word (we were in the truck together, he driving, and me with little say) my brother and I to listen to bluegrass on the radio several years back. I did not like it, and remember making rather vicious fun of it. Not that I was particularly thrilled about modern music, though, mind you- for whatever reasons, at the time I had little interest in music. However, at a very early age my parents - and probably my surrondings, my earliest years having been spent in the prairie country of Mississippi (where they never got past the fifities- nineteen or eighteen really) and then in the backwoods of Alabama- instilled a deep interest in histroy and the natural world. We moved to a much less insular community a few months after I began school. Now, Crossville, TN, is not particularly urban or Northern, but compared to Ralph, AL, it is, and is a whole world from Shuqualak, MS. It is a much less traditional area, and I lost much of my folksy Southern-ness and backwoods bearing there. When we moved back to rural Mississippi one would scarcely imagine I was originally from one of the poorest counties in Mississippi. I strongly disliked Mississippi. But after a year or so I began to grow accustomed to it, and have begun to love traditional things- not necessarily Mississipian, as I have reached back along my roots further than this continent.

Which is to get off the subject of music a rather long ways. Anyway, I began listening to bluegrass and Celtic music on the radio a few years ago now, and was utterly captivated. I suppose that began my ease into more and more manners and means of tradition, of historicity, in my personal life. I have always had a deep sense of appreciation for the deeds and lives of my forefathers- most Southern lads have that, though it is often vague-ish- and it has, I suppose, begun to extend further and deeper. In a sense I suppose I am almost rebeling- few of my friends of my age care a great deal for history, and could care little for the old ways of doing things. I daresay I am reactionary- I have seen the modern- or postmodern as it is now- and been repulsed. In matters of the Faith, I care little a whit for ireverent silliness cloaked under fancy names and wonderful justifications. And I have begun to drift back quite a ways to ideas and modes no one in my family has held for several generations. Of course, none of that is to say I'm off on some sort of wild desire to re-create some favoured era now long past. That would be madness of course. But I have a strange- I doubt whether anyone now-a-days would call it precisely normal or healthy- desire to be more, traditional , to have my feet grounded in solid things.


The temperature outside is up in the sixties, the yellow jessamine are budding in earnest (though I saw one bloom- lying on the forest floor- back on the first of the month) , the wild blueberries are in bloom, the trees are swelling with buds, and the fields and meadows are turning green again. Up North they say February is still winter-time. Poor yankees...


The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

O LORD, we beseech thee to keep thy Church and household continually in thy true religion; that they who do lean only upon the hope of thy heavenly grace may evermore be defended by thy mighty power; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


He motioned to the pastor, who leaned to listen to him. Then, upon the man’s bidding, the pastor sat down. Wills sat down as well and stared at the floor, no longer desiring to look at the old man. He was indeed old, old perhaps beyond a normal man’s years, or normal reckoning. And yet, upon his face there burned an unquenching vigour, as of fire, or the unbearable glow of the sun in the evening-gloam. It pierced through the gray shadows of the audience and caused them to stir uncomfortably. Murmurs went up in the cold mists. The man spoke, and remarkably, his words were perfectly understandable. Wills trembled.

Read the rest here: The Dream of Pastor Wills


Boromir, the Wreck of Pride, and the Undoing of the High:

When one reads The Lord of the Rings, one finds many fine characters and qualities which to emulate: the true-hearted Sam and his humble hobbit-sense, the rather grim determination of Frodo, the self-sacrifice of Gandalf. In Boromir, the tragic eldest son of Denethor (a sad, mad old man himself whom one is best advised not to emulate as well) there is a great deal not to emulate. One of these qualities is Boromir's postmodern attitude concerning the Ring {actually, postmodern is merely a term to describe ideas that have long been around, and can hardly be called postmodern, as if our generation were the first to espouse their folly}. Note this quote from Boromir, as he is with Frodo below Amon Hen:

"So you go on! Gandalf, Elrond- all these folks have taught you to say so. For themselves they may be right. These elves and half-elves and wizards, they would come to grief perhaps. Yet often I doubt if they are wise and not merely timid. But each to his own kind."

Boromir admits that, yes, there are some who are incapable of bearing the Ring. But perhaps, he says, some might bear it, and make use of it. In other words, what is wrong for one group or individual need not be wrong for another. Of course, the someone for whom the use of the Ring might not be wrong is him, Boromir. He imagines himself possessing power of self-control to wield the Ring: but in reality he has little, and the Ring drives him to madness before his short episode with Frodo and the Ring is over. In calm reason I imagine he would realize the folly of his words, but he is not being driven to his statement on the Ring by any sort of reason of his; rather, it is his own pride that drives him, and prideful lust for the Ring. Indeed, it is pride that wrecks Boromir. His foolishness is driven by a deep-seated pride in himself and his high standing. Yes, he is driven to an extent by nobler things- a desire to defend his city and people, to bring honor to his father- but we see that his motivator to his madness is pride. He cannot understand why the Counsel should have given a lowly hobbit the keeping of Ring, when he, a mighty man, high in the world, of noble birth, could have taken it- should have taken it he says. To him the wisdom of the Counsel is utter foolishness.

That mode of thought is not new. Is not the thought of God passing by those who are strong and wise and powerful often repulsive to us? It is certainly taken as foolishness by those who are perishing. Why? Why are we uncomfortable with God's choosing of the lowly? I imagine that it is because of our pride. Grace is nice, yes, but grace is an affront to our pride. For God to use the lowly and not our wise selves offends us. And perhaps we doubt whether these lowly instruments, these foolish things, can truly accomplish the monumental tasks laid before them. Truly, though, they, the lowly, cannot. It is Grace, God's power, that works through them. When Frodo comes to Mount Doom, he fails. It is Grace, through Gollum, that saves the Quest, and again Grace uses a strange and foolish means. The "wise " are fooled, the "strong" collapse, and the "powerful" fail. But the grace of God conquers, and works mighty things.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31Therefore, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

I Corinthians 1:18-31


I smell like a skunk: one of the charming fellows infiltrated part of our church (fortunately not the main sanctuary but an auxillary building) and left his odorous calling card. Not horribly strong, and I got used to it- but alas, upon arriving home the nasty smell re-emerged. What is this world coming to when even skunks have gotten militantly antireligious?

Variations of an Air

by G.K. Chesterton

after Lord Tennyson

Cole, that unwearied prince of Colchester,
Growing more gay with age and with long days
Deeper in laughter and desire of life
As that Virginian climber on our walls
Flames scarlet with the fading of the year;
Called for his wassail and that other weed
Virginian also, from the western woods
Where English Raleigh checked the boast of Spain,
And lighting joy with joy, and piling up
Pleasure as crown for pleasure, bade me bring
Those three, the minstrels whose emblazoned coats
Shone with the oyster-shells of Colchester;
And these three played, and playing grew more fain
Of mirth and music; till the heathen came
And the King slept beside the northern sea.

after W.B. Yeats

Of an old King in a story
From the grey sea-folk I have heard
Whose heart was no more broken
Than the wings of a bird.

As soon as the moon was silver
And the thin stars began,
He took his pipe and his tankard,
Like an old peasant man.

And three tall shadows were with him
And came at his command;
And played before him for ever
The fiddles of fairyland.

And he died in the young summer
Of the world's desire;
Before our hearts were broken
Like sticks in a fire.

after Walt Whitman

Me clairvoyant,
Me conscious of you, old camarado,
Needing no telescope, lorgnette, field-glass, opera-glass, myopic pince-nez,
Me piercing two thousand years with eye naked and not ashamed;
The crown cannot hide you from me,
Musty old feudal-heraldic trappings cannot hide you from me,
I perceive that you drink.
(I am drinking with you. I am as drunk as you are.)
I see you are inhaling tobacco, puffing, smoking, spitting
(I do not object to your spitting),
You prophetic of American largeness,
You anticipating the broad masculine manners of these States;
I see in you also there are movements, tremors, tears, desire for the melodious,
I salute your three violinists, endlessly making vibrations,
Rigid, relentless, capable of going on for ever;
They play my accompaniment; but I shall take no notice of any accompaniment;
I myself am a complete orchestra.
So long.


IV. Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; to-day I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; to-day I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us-you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

V. Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God's for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich; He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.

Gregory of Nanzianzus, First Oritation, On Easter and His Reluctance

Thanks to Wayne Olson for posting this wonderful piece on his Church Fathers weblog.