dual personalities

Month: March, 2016

Good night, everyone*

I’m sure you’ve heard that Patty Duke has died. She was 69 and had lived one of those up-and-down Hollywood lives that have become stereotypical. She won an Academy Award as a teenager and three Emmys later in her career. And she starred in a sitcom.

Well, I was one of those kids who loved her TV show in the mid-1960s.

Don't you love that font?

Don’t you love that font?

Her family on the show seemed very normal to me and like people I knew. Remember her annoying brother Ross (with the glasses)? She wore headbands.

THE PATTY DUKE SHOW, (l-r): Jean Byron, Paul O''Keefe, William Schallert, Patty Duke, Eddie Applegate, 1963-66

Well, it just seems sad to bid her adieu, you know?

Earl Hamner, Jr. also died recently. He was the writer who created The Waltons back in 1971.

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This was a show which I was too cool to watch as a teenager when it was first on, but which I enjoyed later in syndication, especially the first two seasons. It was a well done show.

This television show was based on a movie written by Hamner, Spencer’s Mountain (1963) which starred Henry Fonda and Maureen O’Hara as the parents of the same red-headed brood. I saw this movie as a child and was deeply effected by it, especially the part where a huge tree falls on the grandfather, breaking every bone in his body.  That was a terrible scene for my small self. The movie, like the TV show, emphasized the importance of a good education and the lengths to which some people have gone to get one. This seems to be a plot that is no longer popular.

Anyway, I suppose this has reminded me once again that I am no longer a kid. Thankfully these guys are still around.

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And ageless.

*John-Boy on The Waltons

Mid-week pep talk

“Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” –Exodus 14:13

These words contain God’s command to the believer when he is reduced to great straits and brought into extraordinary difficulties. He cannot retreat; he cannot go forward; he is shut up on the right hand and on the left; what is he now to do? The Master’s word to him is, “Stand still.” It will be well for him if at such times he listens only to his Master’s word, for other and evil advisers come with their suggestions. Despair whispers, “Lie down and die; give it all up.” But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in his love and faithfulness. Cowardice says, “Retreat; go back to the worldling’s way of action; you cannot play the Christian’s part, it is too difficult. Relinquish your principles.” But, however much Satan may urge this course upon you, you cannot follow it if you are a child of God. His divine fiat has bid thee go from strength to strength, and so thou shalt, and neither death nor hell shall turn thee from thy course. What, if for a while thou art called to stand still, yet this is but to renew thy strength for some greater advance in due time. Precipitancy cries, “do something. Stir yourself; to stand still and wait, is sheer idleness.” We must be doing something at once–we must do it so we think–instead of looking to the Lord, who will not only do something but will do everything. Presumption boasts, “If the sea be before you, march into it and expect a miracle.” But Faith listens neither to Presumption, nor to Despair, nor to Cowardice, nor to Precipitancy, but it hears God say, “Stand still”, and immovable as a rock it stands. “Stand still;”–keep the posture of an upright man, ready for action, expecting further orders, cheerfully and patiently awaiting the directing voice; and it will not be long ere God shall say to you, as distinctly as Moses said it to the people of Israel, “Go forward.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon (June 19, 1834 – January 31, 1892) was a British Baptist minister, known as the “Prince of Preachers”

The painting is Pine forest in the Tyrol, Bertha Wegmann, Danish artist (1847 – 1926).

Hey, guys

I just have to say that I get such a kick out of seeing these pictures of the Cardinals’ Skipper sent by my spy down in Jupiter.

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The Cardinals have not exactly been burning it up in spring training, but I’m not worried. We’ll be awesome when the time comes.

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The Cardinals regular season starts on April 4th with a game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The home opener in St. Louis is on April 11th with a game against the Brewers. Since there isn’t much else to be excited about, I think I’ll be excited about this.

“Risen Lord, Risen Lord, give us a heart for simple things”*

Saturday was a beautiful spring day and so the OM and I ventured downtown to see the progress being made on the addition to the historic Field House.

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Since we were in the same general vicinity, we stopped in at Ted Drewes. Duh.

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We watched Ben Hur that evening and so were spiritually ready for Easter. The OM accompanied me to church (his biannual visit) and it was a lovely service complete with a brass quartet. I can remember the days when we were happy to have the first chair trumpet from Kirkwood High School on Easter Sunday, so this was a definite step up for us.

The boy and daughter #3 came over for Episcopal soufflé afterwards and I was happy to have our small family group together for a casual meal.

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Indeed, the weekend was low-key and slow-paced, which was just fine with me.

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I finished putting books on my new built-in bookshelves in the living room.

Living Room

I have more books to move around, but this is work that makes me happy. So onward and upward!

It’s Monday: this is the day which the Lord has made;  let us rejoice and be glad.

*Barry Rose (b. 1934) OBE

Consider this

After a particularly draining work week left me with an inability to concentrate and a tendency to grumpiness, I spent yesterday puttering around the house and clearing out drawers. I threw away a lot of stuff, but I also rediscovered a few things, including this photo of my great-grandfather, Daniel H. Cameron, at work in Burlington, Vermont.

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Here’s his business card — made back when they kept those things simple and modest (the actual card is quite small).

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Lest you are unsure how I feel about great-grandfathers (and grandmothers too), I give you these insightful comments by John Beresford from his introduction to The Diary of a Country Parson: The Reverend James Woodforde, 1758-1781 (Oxford, 1924), a book my DH (who discovered the passage) happens to be reading.

I confess to an old-fashioned belief in the profound importance of great-grandfathers; but not in any snobbish sense. Whether a man’s great-grandfathers were Dukes or Dustmen is a matter of relatively minor interest; the interest consists in finding out what manner of men the great-grandfathers were, and to what extent their qualities have re-emerged in their descendants. I do not understand a certain modern school of thought which steadfastly ignores the past and, with child-like simplicity, believes it can instantly create something in art, literature, or politics which shall be completely new. It is an impossible theory, for the plain fact is that we cannot escape from the past, and progress consists but in a slow and gradual engrafting. Moreover, a disregard of great-grandfathers is peculiarly inopportune in an age when Science has demonstrated, even in Sweet Peas, the immense importance of pedigree.

Which of my ancestors’ qualities, I wonder, have re-emerged in my children, nieces and nephews? Food for thought.

Have a very Happy Easter and don’t leave your great-grandfathers out of your holiday contemplation.

“The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.”

“I think there is no suffering greater than what is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe. I know what torment this is, but I can only see it, in myself anyway, as the process by which faith is deepened. A faith that just accepts is a child’s faith and all right for children, but eventually you have to grow religiously as every other way, though some never do.

What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. It is much harder to believe than not to believe. If you feel you can’t believe, you must at least do this: keep an open mind. Keep it open toward faith, keep wanting it, keep asking for it, and leave the rest to God. ”

―Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

Easter is really early this year as you know, catching many of us semi-unawares. Where did Lent go? I have no excuses. But I “watched” for an hour last night in the darkened chapel as I do every year, keeping the vigil as the disciples did with our Lord in the garden. It is a meaningful exercise for me.

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The OM went with me so I wouldn’t be alone. (He didn’t fall asleep, but he looked at his phone like a good disciple.)

Today is Good Friday.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, College Station, PA

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, State College, PA

This has been a busy week at work and I have been distracted and inattentive to my spiritual routine. But the only path to the hope of Easter is through the struggle of Holy Week. We need to pay attention! Today I am hoping to leave work early and attend the Good Friday service at Noon. I frequently have good intentions of doing this, but then don’t. You know how that is.

Side note: daughter #2 was born on Easter Saturday and I remember sitting in the Good Friday service feeling weird and thinking something was going on. Sure enough, I went to the hospital that night and she was born the next morning.

Anyway, tonight we watch Ben Hur (1959) up to the intermission.

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We’ll watch the rest, starting with the chariot race, on Saturday night. On Sunday we’ll have a quiet brunch with the boy and daughter # 3 after church. What do you have planned?

“And now brothers, I will ask you a terrible question, and God knows I ask it also of myself. Is the truth beyond all truths, beyond the stars, just this: that to live without him is the real death, that to die with him the only life?”

–Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat

What are you reading?

reading

Having finished my second Jussi Adler-Olsen detective novel, I looked around my shelves for something to read. I settled on The Nautical Chart (La carta esférica) by Spanish author Arturo Pérez-Reverte. He is best known for his El capitán Alatriste books. I have read The Adventures of Captain Alatriste about a Spanish soldier of fortune in the 17th century, and enjoyed it very much, so I thought I’d try this other book which I had picked up at an estate sale.

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Coy is a sailor without a ship. Tánger Soto is a woman with an obsession to find the Dei Gloria, a ship sunk during the seventeenth century, and El Piloto is an old man with the sailboat on which all three set out to seek their fortune together. Or do they? (Amazon.com)

Chapter one begins with a quote from Moby Dick (“I have swum through oceans and sailed through libraries.”) so I knew I was on to something good. In short order the author invokes literary references ranging from Lord Jim to Tintin.

“I saved every cent so I could go to the bookstore and come out with one of these [a Tintin book] in my hands, holding my breath, loving the feel of the hard covers, the colors of the splendid illustrations. And then, all by myself, I would open the pages and smell the paper and the ink before I dived into the story. So I collected all twenty-three, one by one. A lot of time has gone by since then, but to this day, when I open a Tintin I can smell the smell that I have associated with adventure and life ever since. Along with the movies of John Ford and John Huston, Richmal Compton’s [Crompton] Adventures of William, and a few other books, these shaped my childhood.”

Well. A fictional character after my own heart!

I have to admit that I only know about Tintin because the boy was a big fan growing up.

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And I am not acquainted with these Adventures of William books. Apparently they were very popular in England.

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This just goes to show, there is always so much more out there to read!

Anyway, I am really enjoying The Nautical Chart. I’ll let you know how it goes. What are you reading?

P.S. My spy in Jupiter sent me this picture of the Cardinal dugout. The Skipper is on the bench on the left.Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 2.31.42 PM

Mid-week pep talk

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“Once, during the Siege of Boston, when almost nothing was going right and General Schuyler had written from Albany to bemoan his troubles, Washington had replied that he understood but that ‘we must bear up against them, and make the best of mankind as they are, since we cannot have them as we wish.’ It was such resolve and an acceptance of mankind and circumstances as they were, not as he wished them to be, that continued to carry Washington through. ‘I will not however despair,’ he now wrote to Governor William Livingston.”

―David McCullough, 1776   

Old George Washington certainly was the Man. And check out that leopard skin saddle blanket. Do you think he really had one like that? Here’s another look.

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Well, he certainly looked great on a horse. Thomas Jefferson called Washington “the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure to ever be seen on horseback.”

Equestrian statue of Gen. Washington in Washington D.C., executed by sculptor Clark Mills, and dedicated on February 22, 1860 by President Buchanan.

Statue of Gen. Washington on horseback in Washington D.C., executed by sculptor Clark Mills, and dedicated on February 22, 1860 by President Buchanan.

Who doesn’t love a good equestrian statue?

 

Working out my own salvation with fear and trembling

Last week it was announced that Mother Teresa was to be declared a saint in September. Well, great. I’m not going to go into a long thing about how I think this is silly, but I thought this explanation of why Protestants have no need of saints is apt:

How do we, as Protestants, think well about all of this? So much could be said and the more we say the deeper we would need to dig into the intricacies and errors of Roman Catholic doctrine and practice, especially as it relates to justification, sanctification, and glorification. But perhaps we can at least say this: We are saints who have no need of saints. All who have believed in the gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone have already been declared saints by God (see Romans 1:1-7, 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, 2 Corinthians 1:1-2, and Ephesians 2:19-21). We are God’s holy people, called by him and to him. Jesus Christ is the full and final mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5) who invites us to confidently approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16) believing that his Spirit is already interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27). We are the saints of God who have no need for the intercession of saints who have gone before.

–Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer

Discuss among yourselves.

BTW, internet problems at home are wrecking havoc with blogging, so please be patient.

“What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest friend…*

…for this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?”

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And so we enter Holy Week. We started it off with a bang on Sunday with a snow storm in the early hours of the morning (it looked liked soap flakes in a bad movie!)

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(This photo does not quite do justice to the enormous fluffy snowflakes that were, indeed, falling.)

and with a two-hour Palm Sunday service, complete with Passion reading by the lay reader A team. I was the narrator and I felt very blessed to do it. My friend Chris was Jesus, and as his wife said during the passing of the peace, “It’s going to go to his head.” I will try to remain humble.

The snow was all gone by the time I went home after church. This is par for the course in flyover country, where every year the magnolias and the pear trees burst forth and then turn brown when the temperature drops.

Kirkwood is Blooming

I, of course, had just moved all my plants out to the Florida room–hopefully they will survive this cold snap, because I am not moving them back!

I did a lot of work in the house (including the aforementioned Florida room overhaul) in preparation for some work that is being done today. Also the boy and daughter #3 came over for dinner on Sunday night and then I watched The Robe (1953).

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Marcellus and Demetrius in ancient Rome

This launched my plan to watch religious movies intently this week leading up to my yearly viewing of Ben Hur (1959) on Good Friday. I have been very slack in regards to appropriate movie watching this Lent, so I have a lot of catching up to do.

Mea culpa.

Have a good Monday. Mine will be very busy as will my week.

(The OM took the photo of the pear trees in bloom.)

*O sacred head now wounded, Herzlich tut michverlangen