Sunday, June 30, 2013

Beauty of the Day...

...listening to the Allegri Miserere while a thunderstorm rages outside. When the Miserere ended the sun came out briefly. After running around outside in the pouring rain I'm now sitting here with wet hair listening to this:

Friday, June 28, 2013

Insomniac Ramblings

It is at about this time of night (2:46 am) that, particularly during the summer, my brain starts doing this:

"Hullo! What's this? Is that a deep thought about something of importance? I say, let's think of deep, important things then, shall we? Yes, what a lovely idea! Simply marvelous how eternity drags on, isn't it? And the Trinity! What mystery! Ah, but what shall it be tonight? The state of the world and how so many problems are caused by misunderstandings? The curiousness of time and distance? Hm, death is interesting. Or what about..."

It is at this point when the thought "no, no, I'm supposed to wake up in the morning without feeling like I'm half dead" interjects before the previous jabber continues and starts delving into a topic. This repeats itself a few times until somehow I end up falling into happy little dreamland. (By the way, I've just been watching the 1981 television series of Brideshead Revisited so everything sounds British to me or as if Jeremy Irons is speaking...which is very odd in this case, I suppose, if he's narrating my thoughts.)

This likes to happen chronically and cause an annoyingly intellectual insomnia. I file the thoughts accordingly: 1) they are either something worth a quick blog post about now that I have this, 2) worth writing down on paper with a pen (my preferred means of sorting through things), or 3) something I just mull over in my head while tossing and turning in bed. At some mysterious point just before sleep takes over it's funny how our minds start to numb a bit and then suddenly sink into unconsciousness. The profound thoughts melt into the distance and we're free of them for a while. They become something along the lines of what P.G. Wodehouse says as we strain to remember our mental track: "One of the Georges - I forget which - once said that a certain number of hours' sleep each night - I cannot recall at the moment how many - made a man something which for the time being has slipped my memory." And if we haven't reached that point where we give up on the details it will still be a long time until sleep.

In a sort of awesome but potentially cruel way I'm going to leave you with one of my favourite things to ponder at odd hours...part of Book I of St. Augustine's Confessions.

"Do heaven and earth contain you because you have filled them? Or do You fill them and overflow them because they do not contain You? Where do You put the overflow of yourself after heaven and earth are filled? Or have You, who contain all things, no need to be contained by anything because what You will You fill by containing it? We cannot think You are given coherence by vessels full of You, because even if they were to be broken, You would not be spilt. When You are poured out upon us, You are not wasted on the ground. You raise us upright. You are not scattered but reassemble us. In filling all things, you fill them all with the whole of yourself."

"Is it that because all things cannot contain the whole of You, they contain part of You, and that all things contain the same part of You simultaneously? Or does each part contain a different part of You, the larger containing the greater parts, the lesser parts the smaller? Does that imply that there is some part of You which is greater, another part smaller? Or is the whole of You everywhere, yet without anything that contains You entire?"

Earth looks like a mighty nice footstool.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Helplessness Blues

If you take something seriously you're more likely to get hurt much worse when something goes wrong. If you take morality seriously you're more likely to get frustrated at the state of the world. To really live the Christian life, to see and feel beyond yourself constantly, to really, truly love even one person, especially in a society that tells you to focus on yourself it seems like it takes supernatural strength.

And that's precisely what it does.

That's why "the beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair". Grace is our supernatural strength and lucky for us God is willing to give it. But one of the most curious things is that not only do we say we trust in God but He trusts in us. "Do not hide your face from me; in you I put my trust." is easily something that either one of us could be saying to the other. If we're really worth putting that much effort and confidence into then I should say we aren't actually the slightest bit aware of our potential. 

(Btw, yes, the title is a Fleet Foxes reference.)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Simple is Good

"Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next."

Sometimes the simplest answer is best. It may sound stupid but dwell on each of those words and it's profound. The Baltimore Catechism* is inseparable from my childhood and boy, do we all need to remember how we were children.

*Funny story...when I was little I thought we used the Baltimore Catechism because we went to church in Baltimore. Later in life I realized it's used in many other states and cities.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An Introduction to Avett

If you are at all a close friend of mine you will surely know that I am a big fan of The Avett Brothers. The two brothers (Scott and Seth) who hail from North Carolina plus Bob Crawford and Joe Kwon comprise this fantastic folksy band. It is rare that a band can pull off having great music and great lyrics consistently but when I say they do it consistently I mean all.the.time. And it's not just that they have good songs with lyrics that aren't completely lame, it's that their music is relatable, effective, emotional, and just plain awesome. They are almost uncomfortably honest about their lives and equally hopeful. They express the human condition at least as well as actual folk songs and great folk singers. It's no wonder they've been able to share a stage with Bob Dylan.

When I went to see them for the first time as I was waiting for them to take the stage I overheard a fan saying it was their fourth or fifth time coming to one of their shows. I was a little surprised by that because it seems that not many people see a band that much. After the first show I understood why they would buy tickets that many times. After my second time seeing them live I really understood. Some bands are just bad when they play live. This is not the case with the Avetts. They are much better live than on the records. They are also willing to change things up on stage and make each show truly unique.

Scott and Seth also have a nice balance between the silly and sentimentally serious. They have pretty much any type of emotion packed into their 7 albums and 4 EPs. There are so many beautiful quotes I could pull out from their songs I would hardly know where to begin. Scott once said in an interview that they treat the lyrics and the actual music as equally important and I believe it.

So, having said all that if you've never heard any of their lovely songs before try this one out for starters:

Then I recommend "I and Love and You"...and everything else.