Friday, October 28, 2016

Honesty, Sanity, and Self-Restraint

Honesty, Sanity, and Self-Restraint @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Levi is studying American Documents this year through the Classical Conversations Challenge program. This essay, The Man with the Muck Rake, written in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt was assigned for this week. I ditched the school schedule and the teen and I had a deep and invigorating 2.5 hour discussion on politics, social media, and virtue. Today I dropped off our ballots with a sense of peace.

Just a few quotes, though much more of the essay is quote-worthy:

"At the risk of repetition let me say again that my plea is not for immunity to, but for the most unsparing exposure of, the politician who betrays his trust, of the big business man who makes or spends his fortune in illegitimate or corrupt ways. There should be a resolute effort to hunt every such man out of the position he has disgraced. Expose the crime, and hunt down the criminal; but remember that even in the case of crime, if it is attacked in sensational, lurid, and untruthful fashion, the attack may do more damage to the public mind than the crime itself."

"It is a prime necessity that if the present unrest is to result in permanent good the emotion shall be translated into action, and that the action shall be marked by honesty, sanity, and self-restraint."

"The first requisite in the public servants who are to deal in this shape with corporations, whether as legislators or as executives, is honesty. This honesty can be no respecter of persons. There can be no such thing as unilateral honesty."

"But in addition to honesty, we need sanity. No honesty will make a public man useful if that man is timid or foolish, if he is a hot-headed zealot or an impracticable visionary."

"More important than aught else is the development of the broadest sympathy of man for man."

"The foundation stone of national life is, and ever must be, the high individual character of the average citizen."


Honesty, sanity, self-restraint. High individual character.

I could vote for that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mercy and the Brontës

Connections @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We read the ‘Who's That Writer?’ section in our vocab book during Symposium. Emily Brontë! That's the author of the poem we've been memorizing! I mentioned that I 'strongly dislike' Wuthering Heights. Levi said, “Hey, that's the book that a character in High House quotes constantly” (and then found the book and quoted the quotes). I mentioned that I much prefer Jane Eyre by Charlotte. But of course, we have a book about that. “We should read more about the Brontës today...”

This was my "keep your eye on the low branches and look for kingfishers" of the day, filled with arguments and frustration.

:: Watching for Kingfishers: Moments of Mercy on the Odyssey of a School Year by Heidi White @ CiRCE

"I thought about school years, and watching for mercy. Anybody can passively wait for goodness, as I was waiting for our vacation to transform itself into a refreshing experience. But watching is different than waiting. Watching is active. It implies concentration. To watch means to pay attention."

This reminds me of the tiny glimpses of mercy in the stories of Flannery O'Connor. Barely perceptible, unless you're watching, unless you're paying attention.

Mary Oliver gives us “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

You cannot be astonished if you are not paying attention.

And if you are astonished, share the wonder.

It’s that simple.

[Clearly we were having trouble keeping a straight face for this serious autumn poem…]

Friday, October 7, 2016

World Weary?

Nature Art @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I know I am.

Every day, every minute, I have to remind myself that this humble work of loving, nurturing, learning, teaching, home-making, celebrating is my calling.

I am not called to be a majority.

I am not called to win.

I am called to be faithful—faithful to the work set before me.

And God will be there.

In the midst of supper, of walking along a road, of real questions and real life.

In the midst of laundry and “woman’s work.”

As I grow, partake, observe, and worship…
In the garden, at the table, in the museum, and with the church.


It was a rough week. And a rough day.

I allowed outside cares to weigh on me. I argued with invisible people. I fought with the children. I forgot the important things.

While writing this post, I started to shoo away a child who was hurting and disappointed. Even while writing this post. How do I forget so quickly?

But I caught myself, and stopped. We snuggled on the couch and talked.

Now we are going to clean the house and make it lovely (because the house right now reflects the ugliness of the day).

We’ll light some candles. We’ll put on some music.

When Dad arrives home from his week-long business trip in an hour, we’ll greet him with hugs and smiles instead of mess and bickering.

We’ll play a family board game and ignore the to-do list.

We’ll feast as an act of war.

Will you join us?

:: Feasting as an Act of War by Andrew Peterson @ The Rabbit Room

"Sit down with your children and listen to them. Eat with them. Hug them. Teach them to tend a garden, placing your hands in the wounded yet life-giving earth. Stop doubting and believe. Look your daughter in the eye and tell her she is more beautiful than she could possibly imagine. Muster the courage to show up at church on Sunday. Make your home lovely. Commit to the slow work of shaping the world around you so that it looks like your best guess at what the Kingdom looks like."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Thunder of His Power Who Can Understand?

The Thunder of His Power @ Mt. Hope Chronicles


We have been saying the Lord’s Prayer/Pater Noster in English and Latin during our morning symposium.

During my quiet time this past week I read the following:

In the Episcopal order of worship, the priest sometimes introduces the Lord’s Prayer with the words, “Now, as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we are bold to say…” The word bold is worth thinking about. We do well not to pray the prayer lightly. It takes guts to pray it at all. We can pray it in the unthinking and perfunctory way we usually do only by disregarding what we are saying.

“Thy will be done” is what we are saying. That is the climax of the first half of the prayer. We are asking God to be God. We are asking God to do not what we want but what God wants. We are asking God to make manifest the holiness that is now mostly hidden, to set free in all its terrible splendor the devastating power that is now mostly under restraint. “Thy kingdom come… on earth” is what we are saying. And if that were suddenly to happen, what then? What would stand and what would fall? Who would be welcomed in and who would be thrown the Hell out? Which if any of our most precious visions of what God is and of what human beings are would prove to be more or less on the mark and which would turn out to be phony as three-dollar bills? Boldness indeed. To speak those words is to invite the tiger out of the cage, to unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze.

You need to be bold in another way to speak the second half. Give us. Forgive us. Don’t test us. Deliver us. If it takes guts to face the omnipotence that is God’s, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that is ours. We can do nothing without God. We can have nothing without God. Without God we are nothing.

It is only the words “Our Father” that can make the prayer bearable. If God is indeed something like a father, then as something like children maybe we can risk approaching him anyway.

~Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life


Later in the week I read this passage in Job during my quiet time:

Job 26:7-14 (NKJV)

7 He stretches out the north over empty space;
He hangs the earth on nothing.
8 He binds up the water in His thick clouds,
Yet the clouds are not broken under it.
9 He covers the face of His throne,
And spreads His cloud over it.
10 He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters,
At the boundary of light and darkness.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble,
And are astonished at His rebuke.
12 He stirs up the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He breaks up the storm.
13 By His Spirit He adorned the heavens;
His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.
14 Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways,
And how small a whisper we hear of Him!
But the thunder of His power who can understand?

Later again, while still reading Job during my morning quiet time, I read G.K. Chesterton’s essay The Book of Job from In Defense of Sanity. Much of this essay is underlined in my book, but we’ll start with this quote:

“The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”

And Chesterton on the boldness (he calls it optimism) of Job:

Job is an optimist; he is an outraged and insulted optimist. He wishes the universe to justify itself, not because he wishes it to be caught out, but because he really wishes it to be justified.

…He shakes the pillars of the world and strikes insanely at the heaves; he lashes the stars, but it is not to silence them; it is to make them speak.

Thinking of Job, I was reminded of this article by Adam Andrews, The Lesson of Job: Literature's Luckiest Protagonist.

He ends by repenting of his idolatry and spurning his previous attempts to usurp God’s place in the universe. He has learned the most important lesson of all: there is a God in heaven, and I am not He.

Missy and I count ourselves lucky in that the calamity that was necessary in Job’s case has not been visited on us. And yet, it is fair to call Job lucky, too – for his troubles produced repentance and humility, which are the best goals of a good education.

This brings me full circle to the opening quote by Frederick Buechner:

“If it takes guts to face the omnipotence that is God’s, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that is ours.”



[above photo]