Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Monday, January 09, 2012
Oh but Lyndsey Farel, she was Sandra's pal. People wanted to f**l off her too but she did not let them. I was down at the shops and saw her. She was looking at me. I thought she was. Another boy was there and we were smoking a fag. She had black hair coming down both sides of her eyes, and her skirt and her legs just like the way she walked and then how she turned round and just how her skirt stuck out, and just swinging. Some lasses' skirts just done that and it looked good just how it went, I thought it was good.
A bench was there and I sat on it. It was funny how it was just me and I was at the Sunday School and nobody else was. Out of everybody that was all my age only it was me. How come? It was just a thing and I was thinking about it. Then all other stuff. And a secret wee thing how really if I was a Pape. That was a wee thing I used to think. If I was one and did not know it so I was not going to Chapel but just to Church. I should have been going to Chapel but was not. Because I did not know. Because nobody told me. If I did not know. So I could not do it.
Saturday, January 07, 2012
In civilization men are taken at their own valuation because there are so many ways of concealment, and there is so little time, perhaps even so little understanding. Not so down South. These two men went through the Winter Journey and lived: later they went through the Polar Journey and died. They were gold, pure, shining, unalloyed. Words cannot express how good their companionship was.Through all these days, and those which were to follow, the worst I suppose in their dark severity that men have ever come through alive, no single hasty or angry word passed their lips. When, later, we were sure, so far as we can be sure of anything, that we must die, they were cheerful, and so far as I can judge their songs and cheery words were quite unforced. Nor were they ever flurried, though always as quick as the conditions would allow in moments of emergency. It is hard that often such men must go first when others far less worthy remain. [...]I am not going to pretend that this was anything but a ghastly journey, made bearable and even pleasant to look back upon by the qualities of my two companions who have gone.
Which are you? Are you a Captain Scott, tense, anxious, man-hauling your way through the snow by main force yet describing it brilliantly afterwards, relying for your authority on military rank and charm? Are you a Shackleton, with exactly the same prejudice against dog-sledging as Scott, having learned it with him on the same disastrous journey in 1902, but allied to a wonderfully supple gift for managing people, maternally kind when you could be, unhesitatingly ruthless when you had to be? Are you Amundsen, driven, impeccably self-educated in polar technique, yet far more of a polar performance artist than a word man, and so best appreciated ever after by skiers, mountaineers, ice athletes who can dance through the same moves he made, on his way to the Pole in 1912? Are you, far more obscurely, a Shirase, scarcely noticed by the main contenders for the Pole when he turned up in the Ross Sea in 1912, yet determined to be there, to make a start?
Friday, January 06, 2012
EpiphanyA momentary rupture to the vision:the wavering limbs of a birch fashionthe fluttering hem of the deity’s garment,the cooling cup of coffee the ocean the deitywaltzes across. This is enough—but sometimesthe deity’s heady ta-da coaxes the cherriesin our mental slot machine to line up, andour brains summon flickering silver likesalmon spawning a river; the jury decidesin our favor, and we’re free to see, for now.A flaw swells from the facets of a day, increasingthe day’s value; a freakish postage stamp mailsour envelope outside time; hairy, claw-likemagnolia buds bloom from bare branches;and the deity pops up again like a girl froma giant cake. O deity: you transfixing transgressor,translating back and forth on the borderwithout a passport. Fleeing revolutionsof same-old simultaneous boredom andboredom, we hoard epiphanies under the bed,stuff them in jars and bury them in the backyard;we cram our closet with sunrise; prop up our feetand drink gallons of wow!; we visit the doctorbecause all this is raising the blood’s levels ofc6H3(OH)2CHOHCH2NHCH3, the heart caughtin the deity’s hem and haw, the oh unfurlingfrom our chest like a bee from our cup of coffee,an autochthonous greeting: there. Who saw it?
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Do me a favor: Promise me you'll read this post with The National's "Conversation 16" video playing in the background. Don't try to exegete the lyrics, just let it rattle and hum a couple of times through. If you're looking for a more adventuresome video version, try this (advanced warning: zombie ahead!).
The kids are not all right. That is the evidence-based, data-driven picture that is emerging from sociologist Christian Smith's National Study of Youth and Religion. His account of the paucity of moral reasoning among twentysomethings can't be chalked up as mere grumpy-old-man harumphing about "those damn kids" or a reactionary conservative harangue about godless "secular" America. Smith's longitudinal study provides a deeply worrisome snapshot of the state of spiritual maturity and moral reflection among millenials. Indded, I found the first chapter of his latest book, Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood, to be positively harrowing in its account of how these young people are "morally adrift." But as Smith is at pains to emphasize: the point isn't to demonize twentysomethings; the point is for the rest of us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves how we produced this generation.
Earlier volumes (Soul Searching and Souls in Transition) did the same with respect to religious understanding and spiritual maturity. While the study considers young people from various religions and those without any, the implications for Christian ministry were especially challenging (explored with verve and wisdom by Kenda Creasy Dean in Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teens is Telling the Church). The "faith" that young Christians were learning (often from age-segmented youth ministries) was not trinitarian Christian faith but rather "moralistic therapuetic deism": a strange deity who embraces antimonies and paradox, who is both a legalist and a great big bubble gum machine in the sky--the perfect god for American civil religion, who judges premarital sex but is enough of a big teddy bear to also let it slide, because really, he just wants you to be happy. The god of moralistic therapeutic deism is a lot like Oprah, it turns out.
And if that's the god that our young people worship, we need to ask ourselves: What have we done? As Dean puts it, this is an indictment of the church, not teenagers.
This is why I think Bert Polman's upcoming seminar (June 18-22, 2012), "Singing What We Believe: Theology & Hymn Texts," is such an excellent, timely opportunity for a blend of scholars and practitioners to spend some time together thinking about these issues. For maybe it's at least partly the case that young people have been sung into the moralistic therapeutic deistic faith. Here's a description of the seminar:
Congregational songs have often been called the lay persons’ “handbook of theology” as “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” have a unique mix of doxa (worship) and logia (teaching) which shape and express the life of Christians. This seminar will explore initially the theology of hymn texts, based on an analysis of some 250 classic hymn lyrics and a similar number of contemporary Praise-Worship texts. Then the seminar participants will discuss the relationship between the theological themes of such texts and the prevalence of what sociologists of religion (Christian Smith, et al) have termed “moralistic therapeutic deism.” In other words, this interdisciplinary seminar will focus not only on doxa and logia but also onpraxis, and is expected to raise issues about current religious convictions and practices of Christians.
Do consider applying (by February 1)!
Monday, January 02, 2012
The shock of it. He, Ravitch, who had always thought his mind inviolable, had naively conceived of depression as merely a state of being very sad. The trembling of his hands and the motor roaring in the back of his skull had enlightened him. Clinical depression, a succession of doctors had explained gravely, patiently, defining his suffering. Not uncommon under the circumstances. Not severe enough for hospitalization. A cocktail of various pills, taken over three months, had rid him of the worst symptoms. Time and new habits would undoubtedly assuage his nocturnal agitation. What was left was simply the feeling of being scooped out, hollow. No other words for it. But what did it portend?