30 December 2008

Banishing the Holy

"The bane of modern and current religion is [the] loss of the idea so closely identified with Love's might, majesty, judgment, and glory: the idea of the holy. Either it is lost, or there is substituted for the moral meaning of it the aesthetic, and for the ethical the seemly; so that the response is but reverence instead of real worship, attrition instead of repentance, an extreme regard to religious decorum and good form . . . but no equal regard for the type of life."
-P.T. Forsyth in The Justification of God

We don't like the idea of a holy God. It's so inconvenient. And so we substitute a more pleasant deity, institute a moral code with plenty of wiggle room, and dress the whole mess in saccharine tolerance.

But what does God say about His own holiness?

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire . . . and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years."
-Malachi 3:1-4

26 December 2008

Thankful EVERY Day: A Saviour Has Come

For love of His rebellious children and for His own glory, the Father sent His son to a rebellious world. The Son obediently humbled Himself, and the omnipotent Word of God entered His own creation as a weak, wordless, squalling baby boy. He died in our place, he rose in total victory, and the Spirit moved in the hearts of those He had chosen to receive Him . . .

. . . so here we are, two thousand years later, marvelling at the condescension of our suffering Saviour. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests. That's us.

Here's an interesting post from the Stand to Reason blog, on how we tend to misquote the angels and thus overlook God's particular grace to His people, something even evident at Christmastime.

24 December 2008

Talk About Revisionists...

What would Dr. Johnson say? Well, the author of our language's first real dictionary (a book full of witty and precise definitions) is probably rolling over in his grave. Just take a look at the latest atrocity perpetrated by Oxford University Press: a children's dictionary shorn of its "antiquated" words. These supposedly irrelevant words include goblin, kingfisher, monastery, radish, canter, and monarch. What?! Yes, and what's worse, the editors at OUP have replaced these lovely, meaningful portions of the English language with terms such as broadband, tolerant, celebrity, and cautionary tale.

No wonder we have ignorant, unimaginative children. No one teaches them about nature, or mythology, or history, or tradition anymore . . . goodbye, beauty and truth . . .

(HT: Reformation21 Blog)

22 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: The Wonder of Incarnation

"Gloria in Profundis" by G.K. Chesterton

There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

16 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays...er...Tuesdays

It's SNOWING! And it's beautiful, if slippery. I have two exams tomorrow (Spanish and English), so I will have fun skidding around in the drifts on my way there. Hopefully, the roads will be relatively clear by the time we leave for the airport early Thursday morning. Please pray for good weather and safe travels.

from "London Snow" by Robert Bridges

When men were all asleep the snow came flying,
In large white flakes falling on the city brown,
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying,
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town;
Deadening, muffling, stifling its murmurs failing;
Lazily and incessantly floating down and down:
Silentily sifting and veiling road, roof and railing;
Hiding difference, making unevenness even,
Into angles and crevices softly drifting and sailing.

...now doors open, and war is waged with the snow,
And trains of sombre men, past tale of number,
Tread long brown paths, as toward their toil they go:
But even for them awhile no cares encumber
Their minds diverted; the daily word is unspoken,
The daily thoughts of labour and sorrow slumber
At the sight of the beauty that greets them, for the charm they have broken.

12 December 2008

Rolling the Cinnamon

The sponge. No really, that's what it's called when you let yeast and its food play around together and make happy bubbles...

En route to the pan, we pause for a little cinnamon-sprinkling action.

Tasty. Oh yes.

With a quick buttercream frosting (powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and water to get it to the right consistency).

Cinnamon Rolls

In large bowl combine:
2 c. warm water
2 Tbs. instant "rapid rise" yeast
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. honey
4 eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla
3 c. unbleached flour

Cover with towel and let sponge for 10 min. Add 1 Tbs. salt and more flour, until soft dough forms (until you can touch it without having it stick to your finger). I like to use at least 3 cups of whole wheat flour here, plus several more cups of unbleached. Knead on lightly floured surface for 5-6 min.

Now for the fun part. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a large rectangle, about 14x18 inches. Over each rectangle, spread:
1/4 c. softened butter
Plenty of brown sugar
A liberal sprinkling of cinnamon
Raisins, currants, dried cherries, craisins, walnuts, pecans, almonds . . .

Roll dough
tightly, starting from long edge. With sharp knife or dental floss, slice into 12 rolls. Place in greased 9X13 pan. Let rise in a warm oven (not on, just slightly warmed and draft-free) for half an hour. Remove pans from oven and preheat to 375; bake rolls for 15-20 minutes.

Once cooled slightly in pan, run knife around edges and invert onto wire rack. Invert again onto a platter and separate rolls with a fork. Frost generously with cream cheese frosting. For frosting, beat together till smooth:
2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 T. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar, plus more to taste

11 December 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Presents

Brooke, dear sister that she is, gave me a LOVELY Christmas present this week. It's Lenox china with the most adorable painted butterflies and crickets and ladybugs...reminds me of Beatrix Potter-style art.

08 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Wallace Stevens

"Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock" (1915). This seems to me like a poem written against the smug, unimaginative paralysis of suburbia. No one wants to learn; no one wants to travel; no one has anything interesting to say. In Stevens' opinion, even a drunk old sailor has a better life than the wearers of "white night-gowns."

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange.
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

06 December 2008

"Excessively Diverting": Austenbook

Thanks to my brother Luke for giving me this link. Austenbook is an extremely clever version of Pride and Prejudice . . . Facebook style. (Example: "Fitzwilliam Darcy became a fan of Fine Eyes.") You've got to check it out. I laughed a lot and you will too.

03 December 2008

Thankful Thursdays: Packages

I love snail mail. Everyone knows this. And if you didn't, take that as a hint to send me some. :) Anyway, I've received two packages in the past week, which has made me a very happy person.

First came a box full of love from the girls at CrossWay. Wow, that was amazing. Fuzzy socks! Truffles! Numi tea! Stationary! Gee whiz. Could it get any better? Then today, I got something less sentimental but equally valuable: an external hard drive big enough to back up my entire laptop. Mind you, this puchase is not merely practical . . . few things I do ARE merely practical . . . you see, it's slick, shiny, and a "sexy red color" (to quote my cynical father) and thus has some serious style. Good times all around.

So today I'm thankful for the postal service, for thoughtful friends, and for technology that works!

01 December 2008

Mellifluous Mondays: Isaac Watts

"Man Frail and Eternal" (1719)

Our God, our Help in Ages past,
Our Hope for Years to come,
Our Shelter from the Stormy Blast,
And our eternal Home.

Under the Shadow of thy Throne,
They Saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine Arm alone,
And our Defence is sure.

Before the Hills in order stood,
Or Earth receiv'd her Frame,
From everlasting Thou art Good,
To endless Years the same. . .

A thousand Ages in thy Sight
Are like an Evening gone;
Short as the Watch that ends the Night
Before the rising Sun.

The busy Tribes of Flesh and Blood
With all their Lives and Cares
Are carried downwards by thy Flood,
And lost in following Years.

Time like an ever-rolling Stream
Bears all its Sons away;
They fly forgotten as a Dream
Dies at the opening Day. . .

Our God, our Help in Ages past,
Our Hope for Years to come,
Be thou our Guard while Troubles last
And our eternal Home.