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Decades later, someone who was once just a dumb kid at a party sent back the rings he stole. Perhaps he never knew that the daughter of the house was turned in to the cops by her parents over the out-of-control-party and missing items.
The thief remains anonymous, understandably ashamed and embarrassed. But his message was contrite, and the action of returning the rings speaks even louder than the words. Follow the link for the whole story of how much this meant to the family.
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There's a premise for a kid's book if I ever saw one. A serendipitous spill for scientists, who have been following the progress of the duckies around the globe for years now. Doesn't it just make you smile? Read the whole story at the Mail.uk
Update: I might have known-- the picture book has already been done by Eric Carle of The Very Hungry Caterpillarfame. Further, there is another book about the true story, delightfully titled Moby Duck. Read more in this article.
Unless you are one of those people who really don't mind knowing the story before they see the movie.
You have been warned. If you want to continue, then scroll down.
And in addition to spoiler alert, warning-- this might not be a movie you would expect to see categorized as 'spiritually refreshing'. I've stated before that some of the stories I look at in this blog are sometimes dark and violent. So while Looper is one that I feel offers goodness at its core, it's strong stuff and not for everyone.
It is however much more than a futuristic action flick. I won't get into crazy speculations about time travel, and nit pick the various ways it doesn't make sense-- Huffington Post for one has already had some fun with this, if that interests you. Or check out this infographic
Time travel stories always have these problems. I prefer to just suspend disbelief and get on with the point of the story. Looper may be a time travel story, but it isn't -about- time travel. Like many other time travel stories, of course, it is inevitably about choices and their consequences. The strength of the performances from all the actors lifts it above the gimmickry and melodrama that is sometimes inherent in time travel scenarios.
It's certainly not a chick flick-- but nevertheless, everything in the story hinges on the love of mothers.
do you remember in Hook when Peter's little daughter Maggie rebukes the villainous pirate captain?
She says: "You need a mother very very badly!"
That is the underlying theme of Looper: that without the love and guidance of a good mother, men destroy themselves and others.
The movie is Joe's story, and that's why Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Joe) and Bruce Willis (Joe's older future self) get top billing. Joe is a looper, a hired killer who puts down victims sent from the future and disposes of their bodies. The catch for every looper is, one day the victim who appears, head covered, will be that looper's future self. Killing the future self 'closes the loop'-- a bit of a metaphor for self-destructive choices made at what you didn't know was the point of no return. You knew there -would- be such a point, of course-- but didn't know this was it until too late.
But Joe's older self contrives to come back without the concealing bag on his head, is recognized by his younger self, and old Joe escapes. The chase ensues. So it's Joe's story, old Joe and young Joe together.
Yet third-billed Emily Blunt's character Sara, the mother of the telekinetic child Cid, is no token mommy, but the pivotal character in the narrative.
The film introduces her relatively late, in a surprisingly leisurely scene that shows her as a hard-working farm mom who struggles to educate and care for a little boy who is sometimes angry and stubborn and even declares she is -not- his mother, calling her by her first name. We learn later of the boy's frightening and uncontrollable abilities, and see Sara's guts in dealing with the possible threat to his safety from Joe when he stumbles onto her property, fugitive and in withdrawal. Sara talks tough and aims the gun, but has too much empathy to pull the trigger. She gets him through withdrawal. We learn that Sara too was once a junkie, and gave up her child to be raised by her sister-- who died a couple of years later, killed by Cid's uncontrolled TK. That was the incentive for Sara to clean herself up and become Cid's mother in reality-- possibly risking the same fate as her sister.
Joe's own mother was lost to him at an early age, yet her influence on him remains palpable. As a lonely street kid he was recruited by Abe, the man from the future sent to run the looper operation. But even though Joe kills, takes his pay, and parties with his fellows, he has a certain groundedness the others do not-- he carefully saves half his pay-- and a compassion he struggles with. He is only reluctantly persuaded to turn over a fellow looper to the gang, and then only on the assurance that his friend will not be killed for the crime of failing to 'close his loop'. Joe has a favorite prostitute at the local night club, and when he is with her he talks of how his mother used to stroke his hair. He offers half his saved money to her to get out of her life in the city and raise her child in a better environment but she refuses.
Old Joe, 25 years in the future, falls in love at last after a wasted life, and this woman, mother-like, nurses him through drug withdrawal-- just as Sara does with young Joe. Old Joe marries the woman, and they want a child but are not able to have one before the day comes when he is snatched to be sent to the past for execution by his younger self. It is seeing his wife killed in the process that makes him determined to escape and change the past.
At first there seems to be a chance Joe and old Joe will become allies as the gang hunts them both, but then Joe discovers what his future self is up to-- targeting three young boys for execution because one of them is to become in the future "The Rainmaker", a man who took over the mob singlehanded and started ordering all the loops closed, and who therefore was also the cause of old Joe's wife being killed.
Assassinating an evil leader before he starts to do harm is not a new SF idea-- I'm sure I once read a story about someone going into the past to assassinate Hitler as a child. And of course Minority Report is about arresting people for crimes they have not yet committed. Old Joe is set on his course, but he is conscience-wracked after killing the first two children. But not enough to desist his course. In a climactic scene in the cane fields, young Joe has an epiphany. He sees the endless loop, as Sara stands between Old Joe and Cid-- sees that here is the death of the mother of the child who becomes the Rainmaker, that Old Joe will ironically become the cause of what he sought to prevent when the child escapes, orphaned, to grow up much like Joe himself did-- but with uncontrolled super powers. Joe sees the loop 'the mother willing to die to save her child, the man (his older self) willing to kill to save his wife' -- and he stops it. He does not close the loop by killing his future self-- instead he sacrifices himself with a shot to the chest, so that the future self never exists, and Old Joe vanishes.
Sara remains to mother the gifted child into what we now have to believe will be heroism instead of villainy. After putting her boy to bed, she goes back to Joe's body, tenderly runs her fingers through his hair in the way we know he remembered from his own childhood.
Though Sara appears, as I said, relatively late in the film, there are numerous touches pointing up the importance of mothers throughout. Early in the film, when Joe's friend is about to shoot his older self, he recognizes him because his older self begins to hum a tune his mother sang him as a lullaby. On Sara's farm, when the gang comes looking for Joe, he and perhaps for Cid, Joe and the boy hide in an underground storm shelter, and they talk about mothers together.When Old Joe kills the first child on his list, we see a mother come around the corner with a stroller, blissfully unaware, and go on her way. In a 'fuzzy memory' that Old Joe gets, we hear a baby's cry and know it is possible he will in fact succeed in changing the future such that his wife does not die, but becomes the mother she wanted to be.
I don't doubt I've missed other little notes in this score about mothers in time, and look forward to picking them up next time I see it....Writer/director Rian Johnson says there will possibly be 45 minutes worth of deleted scenes on the disc when it comes out!
Having read the entire Hunger Games trilogy last year, I was ever so eager to see the film. It came out in Lent so we were saving it for our Bright Week treat. But when we got there, the theatre had technical difficulties, so we had to find another time in our over-full schedule to view it, and at long last we got there last night. It was everything I hoped, one of the best movie adaptations of a book I've ever seen-- and of a book that was exceptionally good to begin with.
We were discussing it around the fire afterward and enthusing about the character of Peeta.
I've written in this blog about several literary characters who are heroic and even chivalrous-- Reepicheep is perhaps the best of all-- but I am really thrilled with author Suzanne Collins for giving us Peeta, the boy with the bread as a-- dare I say it-- role model for young men today. A role model who shows us that chivalry is not dead yet.
When Katniss is suffering severe hunger, collapsed in the rain behind the bakery owned by Peeta's family, he comes out to give some burnt bread to the pigs, and seeing her there he throws one of the loaves her way. The book expands on this incident, and we know that not only did he give her the bread; in order to help Katniss, he deliberately burned the bread in the first place so his mother would make him throw it out. He did this even though he knew very well she would beat and scold him for burning the loaves.
Katniss herself is certainly no spoiled princess-- and she too shows her sterling character from the start of the story, first risking herself regularly to hunt and provide for her family, then stepping forward to take her little sister's place in the arena.
At the end of the movie, of course, the rules of the horrific Survivor-like Hunger Games are switched on them, and the promise that two might be victors together is snatched away from them. Of course Peeta instantly offers himself up so Katniss may survive. And Katniss of course finds a way out, forcing the gamemakers to to allow them both to live.
Amid all this heroism there is one small detail in the film version that to me particularly spells 'chivalry'. Peeta lies in danger of death, and starts talking to Katniss about the incident with the bread. "I should have just given it to you!" he laments. The boy with the bread took a beating to help her, but now as he looks back on what is likely his rather short life, he can only think he should have done what he did in a better way. Chivalry is never just satisfied with a right thing. It strives to do the rightest thing that can be done, in the rightest way it can find to do it.
Here on A Spell for Refreshment, I try to focus largely on the positive side of things, the side of light and refreshment, though I have talked in some posts about how this doesn't mean spiritually refreshing stories shy away from the darkness and ugliness in the world. But the cliche about lighting one candle rather than cursing the darkness certainly applies. So when I was reading some articles about how a depressing percentage of young people in our society are "more confident, assertive, entitled-- and more miserable than ever", it threw Peeta
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A family favorite, Galaxy Questis a good-hearted homage to, of course, the original Star Trek TV show. But hilarious as it is, Galaxy Quest is much more than a spoof-- it is all about becoming what you pretend to be.
"the brain is constantly rewiring itself based on daily life. In the end, what we pay the most attention to defines us. How you choose to spend the irreplaceable hours of your life literally transforms you." (emphasis mine)
That is part of why we Orthodox spend so very much time in church. We are there to become what we pretend to be. This is the opposite of hypocrisy--the Pharisee, the hypocrite puts up a front of piety, particularly preaching what others ought to do-- but it is not really what he spends the hours of his life doing. He tells people they should keep the rules in all their minutiae, then breaks them big himself. The person in the process of transformation keeps on performing-- but eventually, when a test comes, he discovers that the performance has become internalized, and his brain and spirit have been 'rewired'. This is what happens to the characters in Galaxy Quest-- the washed-up stars of a now-defunct TV space adventure show, still beloved of the fans, find themselves whisked into a real galactic adventure with unimaginably high stakes. They are called upon to become the
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"In 2007, Vladimir Denshchikov suffered a stroke, right before a theatrical premiere, which led to his taking a teaching job at the Simferopol Institute of Culture. While recuperating from this terrible condition, the artist continued working on an icon for the church of Malorechenskoye village, and as he struggled to weave little knots, he felt his partially paralyzed hand moving ever more freely, as if God was guiding it Himself. The artist made a miraculous recovery and continues to create wonderful macrame artworks."
I do want to note that this particular artform is not correctly an icon according to traditional Orthodox iconography. Instead, the artist is here reproducing in macrame what used to be done in precious metal as a not only an adornment but also protection of the painted icon against wear and tear caused by veneration in the form of kissing. Here is an example in metal:
With the acceptance of the icon as a religious tool well established, the icons’ religious use was further dictated and refined by Church doctrine. The form of the religious icon as it is recognized today, both by art history and the Church, is still easily traceable to these doctrines, the most famous of them being the Byzantine aesthetic rules of “clarity and recognizability,” which limited both the scope of the images which were reproducible and the form these reproductions could take. Functionally, this increased the images’ ability to be recognized as of the church and increased their circulation. First adopted from the Byzantines by the Greek Orthodox church, the images soon after became a central part of
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Have you ever come back as an adult to a book you thought was wonderful as a child but hadn't re-read since then?
I can remember one such book that shall remain nameless, which I came across and excitedly purchased to share with my girls when they were young, only to discover it was poorly written and the characters annoying.
Not so with The Borrowers by Mary Norton, thank goodness! Deservedly the winner of the 1952 Carnegie medal for children's literature.
I'm quite excited to see the new animated adaptation, The Secret World of Arrietty, but I gather that like other film versions it departs quite a bit from the original. I wanted to renew my acquaintance with the book first, so I ordered it up from my local library, and it came in this lovely edition illustrated by Michael Hague. What a treat!
Borrowers of course are 'little people' who live in the various behind-the-scenes nooks and crannies of houses, 'borrowing' small items from the big people for their own uses, such as blotting paper for carpets and matchboxes for dresser drawers. Such uses are a familiar conceit in children's picture books featuring anthropomorphic mice and the like, but they are only part of the charm of Norton's book. Her portrayal of the world from a viewpoint a few inches high is masterful, as in this passage where the adventurous young Arrietty visits the out-of-doors for the first time:
"Cautiously she moved toward the bank and climbed a little nervously in amongst the green blades. As she parted them gently with her bare hands, drops of water plopped on her skirt and she felt the red shoes become damp. But on she went, pulling herself up now and again by rooty stems into this jungle of moss and wood-violet and creeping leaves of clover. The sharp-seeming grass blades, waist high, were tender to the touch and sprang back lightly behind her as she passed..."
But one of the most interesting aspects of the book to me was the way the characters interacted. It is almost a truism in children's literature that parents, of course, stop adventures from happening. That's been so from long before the Grimms and Perreault, and you'll find it these days in any Disney movie too-- usually the mother is dead, Dad is tiny and absent-minded or just plain absent, or the family gets separated by some disaster.
"The Emperor and the Nightingale" is my nomination for the most-nearly-perfect short story everwritten.
Jenny Lind-- wikimedia commons
Hans Christian Andersen is one of my favorite authors,as I mention elsewhere. This tale is in part a tribute to the Swedish singer Jenny Lind and her unaffected performances in a musical world that valued a lot of frippery.
This story is spiritually refreshing in many ways—the cleverbut gentle satire, the sheer beauty of the imagery, but most of all because inthe end, Death is defeated.
A while ago I acquired the complete DVD set of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre. The Nightingale is one of the best episodes of this brilliant series, and but for some unnecessary but harmless embellishments is faithful to the original. Mick Jagger as the world-weary Emperor hits just the right note, if you’ll pardon that pun….
After a while the silence was broken by a sweet, intoxicating voice singing and praising the Creator. I looked. I couldn’t discern anything. Eventually, on a branch opposite me I saw a tiny bird. It was a nightingale. I listened as the nightingale trilled unstintingly, its throat puffed out to bursting in sustained song. The microscopic little bird was stretching back its wings in order to find power to emit those sweetest of tones, and puffing out its throat to produce that exquisite voice. If only I had a cup of water to give it to drink and quench its thirst!
Tears came to my eyes—the same tears of grace that flowed so effortlessly and that I had acquired from Old Dimas [an old Rus
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This is a 'me too' book-- one that my oldest and closest friendauthor Linda Finlaysonand I both tagged as 'favorite' when we were in I think about grade seven. We've been sharing our favorite books, including our own, ever since.
Wrinkle clearly owes a little something to the Narnia books but it is a book for a newer generation with a twist all its own. The young heroes travel to a strange world, aided by powerful supernatural beings, where they must help overcome the rule of an evil being. In the end, it all comes down to love....
Let's not bother about the TV movie based on the book--Madeleine L'Engle herself said "I expected it to be bad, and it is." I will however say that some years ago I saw a wonderful stage adaptation by Vancouver's own Pacific Theatre.
I am so excited to hear that there is a graphic novel version of the book due out later in 2012. Here's a page from it. It is being done by Hope Larson. I guess it is time to start my wish list for next Christmas already!
"The anti-hero is the prototype of despair. The hero flings aloft the banner of hope.....If we thought that there was nothing but misery, degradation and darkness and above all perpetual defeat, what would be the use of trying to feed or clothe ourselves, raise children, and put a penny by to purchase a book to refresh one's spirit* and fortify one's hopes?"-- Paul Gallico, "Aim for the Heart"
*Emphasis added by me.
Paul Gallicois one of those writers I am going to read more of someday...but meanwhile, his Thomasina (aka in movie form as The Three Lives of Thomasina) is a family favorite. He is also the author of such diverse tales as The Poseidon Adventure,The Snow Goose, and Flowers for Mrs. Harris, among others.
Some find Gallico overly sentimental. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am personally the opposite of that. Opposites attracting as they do, of course, I picked an arch-sentimentalist for a husband. He goes 'awww'! when the characters in our favorite TV shows finally get together romantically, and wishes they would take his advice ("Dad! They AREN'T real!" And if they were, well, too often people ask his advice and then don't take it after all. Ask any clergyman, it's a common phenomenon.) Anyway, Gallico in the article quoted above talks about how he writes a story. In three short pages he does get to the heart of it, which is pretty simple-- think up human and likeable characters, and then "try them almost beyond endurance."
You can see that trial in this still from the movie Thomasina. Mary Ruadh and her friends are holding a funeral for her beloved cat Thomasina-- who has been 'put to sleep' by Mary Ruadh's own father, the vet, because he is too busy with another injured creature and thinks it is not worth trying to save her.
Gallico concludes his essay with the title, "Aim for the heart." This may be sentiment, but it is not sentimentalism for its own sake. As he says, it is all about hope. If your spirit needs refreshing, let me recommend a reading of Thomasina or its very faithful film adaptation (with the bonus that it stars the wonderful Patrick McGoohan as the frozen-hearted vet who only thaws when he nearly loses his daughter.)
"A person's story is the most personal thing about them, and paying attention to it is just about the most important thing you can do. Our stories are what make us human, and listening to someone else's stories--entering into their feelings, validating their experiences--is the highest way of acknowledging their humanity."
Serendipitously, I just happened on a post that dovetails nicely with this, from the Children's Book Quotes BlogCheck it out, one of my favorite blogs.
And now excuse me, I am off to my public library's website to request Mr. Deresiewicz's book, A Jane Austen Education :
3 Comments on Refreshing Life Lessons from Jane Austen, last added: 12/12/2011
t was a sad day for the faithful of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Buffalo NY when an intruder forcibly entered their holy house and escaped with a parish treasure: a silver encased Holy Gospel book dating back to 1933. The parish had recently experienced the revitalizing efforts of OPERATION BUFFALO (a diocesan-wide project to revive the 114 year-old parish), the assignment of Father Vlad Zablotskyy as rector, and -- in an expression of gratitude for blessings received -- offered a $250 contribution to support OPERATION ONEONTA. In the midst of such joy and thanksgiving, the theft was the cause of sadness and sorrow. That is, until something ... “a miracle on Ideal Street” ... changed everything.
During the week of Thanksgiving Day, faithful parishioner Steve Camp spotted an appealing sales coupon in the newspaper. It looked like a good deal, so he clipped the coupon. Although not in a particularly good mood, Steve decided to take a short walk to the corner store where the coupon could be “redeemed” (a word that would prove to have profound meaning). It was not a place he would have gone that day; in fact, it is located in the direction opposite of the way he would normally walk. Holding the coupon in his hand, Steve decided the “good deal” was worth a journey into that area “on the other side” of his world.
On his journey he was approached by a young man. "Do you belong to that church on Ideal?" Steve didn’t recognize the young man and was not expecting a conversation at that moment.“What?” The young man repeated, “Do you belong to that church on Ideal?" “Yes,” Steve replied,“I do.” The two men stood face-to-face for a few moments, gazing into one another’s eyes. The young man seemed very sad. It looked to Steve as if the young man’s eyes were about to cry. Tears began to fall from those sorrowful eyes as he began to speak. “I can’t live with what I did,” he said, “and I don’t want any reward.” The young m
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More than all things love silence: it brings you a fruit that tongue cannot describe. In the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent. But then there is born something that draws us to silence. May God give you an experience of this 'something' that is born of silence. If you only practice this, untold light will dawn on you in consequence...after a while a certain sweetness is born in the heart of this exercise and the body is drawn almost by force to remain in silence. - St. Isaac of Syria
Last Lent I posted a Facebook note beginning with this quote from St. Isaac of Syria. Just recently I got around to watching this wonderful film about the life of the monks of the Great Abbey of Chartreuse, Into Great Silence.
When St. Isaac says "in the beginning we have to force ourselves to be silent', he could have been talking about what it is like to view this film. More than ever in our constantly connect, cacophonous world, we seldom know anything like a real silence. And so it is no surprise that we ourselves have a hard time remaining silent.
As it's almost St. George's Day, I've been posting links to my medieval fantasy story, Light One Candle. In that story I have an intervention by this very popular martial Saint of the middle ages. His own story has collected many embellishments over the centuries, and the best known details are the romanticized ones about the rescue of the princess. His historical roots are briefly summarized here.
Whatever the factual origin of what later became the dragonslaying legend of St. George, in the Eastern Church we are often taught that the spiritual truth about dragon-slaying has to do with what we call 'the passions'-- by which we do not mean simply strong feelings, but rather the inflamed sinful impulses of us fallen folk that lead us astray and enslave us. George, who was in fact an early Christian martyr, is a great exemplar of heroic conquest of these impulses.
While writing my medieval fantasy, a particular aspect of the iconography of St. George really struck me: the dragon just wasn't that big. Look at the 15th C. bas-relief to the left, and the Russian icon below. These are just two examples of George-and-dragon art. Nearly all the images I could find had similar relative sizes of the figures. And I pondered on this as I had my fictional main character observe this fact about a stone statue of St. George in a mysterious woodland chapter. "Where's the great feat in slaying a dragon of that size?" he mocks.
Don't forget, as often with this blog, HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!!!!
Most underappreciated Christmas movie I know! I suppose because it's British and not Hollywood...the quirky tale of a little boy who talks to saints and who suddenly has a giant cache of cash literally dropped on him.......
I could talk about it, but maybe you should just read what the critics say as quoted by Wikipedia (emphasis added by me) :
The film received very positive reviews, earning an 88% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes.
Roger Ebert awarded it a rating of four out of four stars and declared it "one of the best films of the year." He went on to write, ". . . althoughMillions uses special effects and materializing saints, it's a film about real ideas, real issues and real kids. It's not sanitized brainless eye candy. Like all great family movies, it plays equally well for adults—maybe better, since we know how unusual it is." It was on his Top 10 movies of 2005 placing at number 10.
Everyone is talking about civility today. I'm not American, so before the tragic shooting recently I hadn't been closely following the ever-deepening political divide south of the border. However, for a long time I have noticed the same deterioration of civility in our society in general.
Today’s articles have reminded me of a refreshing story I have been meaning to post about for some time. It’s Blast from the Past, the 1999 film starring Brendan Fraser as a young man who is raised in isolation in a bomb shelter with 1950’s values and emerges into a rougher, ruder 1990s world at age 30.
Wacky fun ensues, and of course romance (since the young man’s name is Adam, and the woman he meets is named Eve….)But beneath the humour and levity are some fairly profound points. Adam may seem rather naïve to the other characters, but they end up admiring his honourable and respectful behaviour, and find their own attitudes changed by him. Here is an excerpt:
Eve: Now hold on, hold on just a minute! In the first place I do not fall in love with weirdos who ……have perfect table manners!
Troy: You know, I asked him about that. He said, good manners are just a way of showing other people we have respect for them. See, I didn't know that, I thought it was just a way of acting all superior. Oh and you know what else he told me?He thinks I'm a gentleman and you're a lady…I mean, I thought a "gentleman" was somebody that owned horses. But it turns out, his short and simple definition of a lady or a gentleman is, someone who always tries to make sure the people around him or her are as comfortable as possible.
Those lines alone make it one of my favorite films.
The story is told of a new priest who is assigned to a parish that has a history of bickering and discord. His first homily is on the topic “Love one another”(John 13:34).It sounds good to them. As they get his blessing on the way out ofchurch they say, “Lovely homily, Father.”But next Tuesday the same people are at each other’s throats at the parish council meeting. Father says nothing.
The following Sunday, he gives the same sermon, word for word. Some of the people were asleep last week, so they don’t really notice. A few of them blink and wonder if this new priest is quite all right in the head. But they get his blessing and thank him for the homily anyway as before. During the week, Father is invited to the Sisterhood meeting. They conduct their business, ask Father to pronounce the blessing, and break up for tea. Father is such a quiet sort that some of them forget he’s there and start gossiping about their neighbours. Father says nothing but, you guessed it, he trots out that same sermon at Sunday liturgy, “Love one another.”
This goes on for several more weeks until at last the parish council calls an emergency meeting, with just one item on the agenda. They confront their pastor: “When are we going to get a new sermon, Father?”
Father smiles. “Just as soon as you’ve learned to put this one into practice!”
This same lesson seems to be echoed in the cycle of the Church year. We come to the Church’s New Year every September, and I for one have sometimes wondered—how can anything be “new” when we do it over and over again?
As I post this, I am just getting over a stomach bug which has hit my extended family. A number of other indicators suggest a rough Lent ahead.....so as an antidote I am going to do my best to make posts on this blog weekly or more frequently. Hope you will find that they refresh your Lent as well.
If, like me, you think you might be wanting some Lenten refreshment this year, let’s share some ideas!
I’m looking for suggestions for topics, books and films to review, links to refreshing websites.
Tell me what you think of when you hear the phrase “spiritual refreshment”.
If I use your suggestions, I’ll give credit, and link back to your blog or site if you provide the link.
Comment on this thread on Facebook, e-mail me at matdonna at shaw dot ca, or leave a comment on the guestbook tab here at my blog, A Spell for the Refreshment of Spirit. Check out some of the posts below and you’ll see what kind of things I’m looking for.
Here's an excerpt from just the sort of post I would have written about Keats, if I knew Keats the way my daughter knows Keats:
Keats was instrumental in my switch from Theatre to English Literature as a post-secondary focus. At first his tragic life story merely aroused a sort of longing and pity of the sort that can only be manifested in the hormonal tempest of a 16 year-old female, and encourages infatuation. But when that settled, and I was able to take a more sober and educated approach to his poetry, it was his relative innocence and optimism, and most importantly hisgenuinenesswhich held lasting appeal. His "philosophy" was unpolished and his verse somewhat immature (and occasionally just plain cheesy). But I liked this better than the appalling self-importance and sophistication of the other Romantic poets. Here was a man laying himself open completely to you in all his imperfection and asking you to love him.
Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. ~William Temple
There's a lot to like about this year's big Oscar-winner, The King's Speech. Lots of better-informed people than I have said many things about such aspects as the outstanding performances by Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth, so I won't just repeat those kinds of things. To me, one spiritually-refreshing thing about the story really stands out, and that is the great combination of humility and daring.
Lionel Logue, the speech therapist who helps "Bertie" (George VI) overcome his speech difficulties, is from the first encounter respectful but firm with his royal client. He insists on first names only-- not only for himself, but also for everyone he helps, whether they are children or the man who is forced by circumstances to ascend the throne. At first glance, this radically egalitarian custom might appear anything but humble, but Logue's self-effacing manner make it clear-- he has a willingness to serve, to help others that dates from his time helping shell-shocked Australian soldiers recover after the First World War. And his respect and compassion for those he can help is universal. He has a quiet self-confidence, and no need to tear down anyone else in order to elevate himself.
Still, in that still very class-conscious era, it is daring to insist that a royal meet a lowly Australian in a grimy-looking basement office, and communicate on a first-name basis with the therapist. But Logue holds his position without ever forcing it, and eventually Bertie comes around.
Bertie too has a certain humility-- indeed he has suffered humili-ation all his life, a lefthander forced to write with his right and developing a crippling stammer under his autocratic and unsympathetic father. But unlike his elder brother, heir apparent David (Edward VIII) Bertie too has a servant's heart, and a willingness to undertake the heavy burden of the kingship, even handicapped as he is by his speech difficulties. He too steps forth in daring, to comfort and inspire his people in the time of great testing.
But I think the scene that illustrates the combination of humility and daring most vividly is the one where Logue insists he and the king-elect be left alone in Westminster Abbey to rehearse the coronation speech. At one point Bertie turns around to find his speech therapist comfortably draped across the throne. Cheeky? A little. But Logue never makes it about himself. His daring to take such a liberty is all to get Bertie motivated. The act is, on the surface, disrespectful to tradition, but Logue's manner is never disrespectful. As the William Temple quote above has it, Humility is freedom from thinking about oneself at all.
I'm still pondering how to apply the message of this one! This guy recreates classic works of art in the dirt on cars.
There is a lot of dirt around the internet, as well as in offline life. People who somehow stand out because of their position, or because they dare to stand up against something wrong, are prime targets for mudslinging. How exactly do you make art out of that?
I've never been one to deliberately put any of the mud I've encountered in my life into my fiction. Some writers and artists like to work out their troubles in their art, finding it cathartic. I just find that the deep involvement needed for a creative endeavour fixes any pain and unpleasantness deeper in my soul. Besides, as a clergy wife, I need to err on the side of being circumspect. So, while I share any novelist's amusement with this slogan,
I wouldn't really go there...however tempted! :-)
It still remains to be seen how to turn dirt into art, or lead into gold......But meanwhile I do find this artist's approach refreshing!
I didn't think anything could make me love Narnia more than I already do, and have done for probably (ULP!) almost fifty years....but this book did!
Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis, does for the Chronicles of Narnia what John Granger'sHidden Key to Harry Potter did for the Harry Potter books, and more.
Can you imagine that there is a deeper dimension, a more intricately-woven structure than we ever supposed to the Chronicles of Narnia?
I don't blame you if you are skeptical. But author and Lewis scholar Michael Ward deals with the objections very thoroughly. The real trouble we have is, we just do not live in the same thought universe that medieval people did...but which Lewis moved and worked in like a native.
I have a couple of very small quibbles with the book, but honestly I don't want to bother putting them in this post-- it would be unfair to do that without going into properly proportionate detail about all the many things I think are wonderful about the book, and I haven't the time to do that just now. And the quibbles I have are not with the author's thesis.
Please note, this is serious work of scholarly criticism, meant for the academic audience. I found it very well and clearly written (clarity of expression is one of Lewis's own greatest virtues) but it is thick with footnotes, references to medieval and classical authors, quotes and asides in various languages dead and living. So if you find the prospect of such a bit daunting, fear not-- the author has also written a book called The Narnia Code which advances the same basic argument but without all the academic bells and whistles.
I've been wanting Planet Narnia since I first heard about it; finally got it this past Christmas and have just read it in the past few weeks. I'm eager to go back and read the Chronicles again with this new appreciation for their structure, and also to re-read the Display CommentsAdd a Comment