Tag Archives: Literature

Intimations of Mortality

Originally published August 13, 2010.

William Wordsworth’s most famous work is Ode: Intimations of Immortality From Reflections of Early Childhood.” It is one of my favorite poems, exploring the lost pleasures of childhood that Wordsworth believes are hints of the immortality we left behind:

It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

And again,

Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Setting aside theological mysteries and controversies for another day, what has preoccupied me for that last month and a half has not been immortality, past or future, but increasing intimations of mortality:  My own,as I have experienced an unusual and thought provoking spell of genuine illness, something unusual for me; but also increasing intimations of mortality in the world in which we live, highlighted by the Gulf oil spill but buttressed by a host of other events. Continue reading

Not-so-old Literature: Wendell Berry and the Pleasure of God

Originally published June 9, 2009.

Wendell Berry [courtesy Wikipedia Images]
Wendell Berry (courtesy David Aaron Marshall)
“Wendell Berry (born August 5, 1934, Henry County, Kentucky) is an American man of letters, academic, cultural and economic critic, and farmer. He is a prolific author of novels, short stories, poems, and essays. He is also an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.” – thus Wikipedia introduces one of my favorite authors.  Among his many achievements, however, he is not listed as a theologian.

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Reviving a Sense of Wonder

The first of Andrea Ebley’s monthly posts on the blog.  

IMG_3877wonder n : rapt attention or astonishment at something awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience

Children embody the definition of wonder, a sense that inspires curiosity and investigation, and fosters delight. How often do you see a child running to catch falling leaves or jumping from curb to puddle, completely absorbed in his actions and oblivious to all else? How often do you see a full-grown adult doing those same things? Continue reading

Repost: Old Literature: Cry the Beloved Country

I am currently in Kenya, being reminded once again of the enormous human toll caused by environmental degradation.  This post is four years old, but perhaps even more relevant than when first published:

Alan Paton wrote his novel in 1946, published in 1948.  It is set in South Africa.  What is startling about the book is that the first two pages could have been written about Kenya – and could have been written yesterday.

The lessons from today’s reading are painfully clear:  1)Environmental degradation is not a new problem.  Abuse of God’s creation is, apologies to Paton, as old as the hills.   As ancient as human nature.  If you’ll allow me to quote myself in Our Father’s World, ‘environmental problems are sin problems.’

And, 2)Why don’t we learn?  If it was obvious that people were destroying the very land they needed to live on more than 60 years ago, why do we keep acting surprised?  Why do we think we can solve this with more fertilizer or another loan from the World Bank?

Here’s the reading.  (Pick up the book here)

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Farewell, sisters and brothers…

John Stott’s going-home-to-glory was announced yesterday.  I wrote the piece below last September, but the thoughts are just as valid if not more so now.  If you haven’t read Uncle John’s farewell message to all of us, please do so.  There’s a link at the bottom of the post.

There are few leaders in the Christian world greater than John Stott.  I first heard him preach at Urbana 1970 – forty years ago, when I was a senior in high school.  [You can read the actual talks here – I don’t think the recordings are available on-line.]  I’ve followed his ministry career ever since, though almost always from a distance – we shook hands perhaps twice or three times, but my memory fades a bit at this point.  John is now at the end of his life, though he has not yet ended his service to the church and her Lord.  He has written one last book that is intended to be his farewell to those of us still here – and you need to read it.  Continue reading

A most interesting and subversive Christmas Carol

This post is the Christmas letter my wife and I have just sent out to our friends and financial partners in our ministry.  Suspecting that a few of the regular visitors to Our Father’s World might not be on our distribution list, here are our thoughts this Christmas season.  Note that the first half is a devotional – we’ve been doing this in our letters for at least 15 years – and the second contains brief news about our family.  You are welcome to read both – we’d love to have you meet our family in this way, if not in person!  And feel free to contact me directly if you’d like to be added to the direct distribution list or click here if you would like to partner with us by donating to our ministry.  Our work is mostly provided for my small-ish gifts from ordinary people. –End of Commercial– !


Dear Friends,

Of all the common Christmas carols echoing in shopping malls, elevators and on the radio – not to mention in churches and on our music players – surely the most interesting and subversive is “Joy to the World.” Continue reading