THANKSGIVING

With Christmas Carols and Christmas decorations taking over the stores when Halloween is barely past, and Black Friday looming right after it, Thanksgiving is a holiday that has a hard time maintaining its position in American life.  And what that position is can be hard to determine, beyond an excuse to consume obscene amounts of Turkey and doze through a football game under the influence of all the Tryptophan flooding one’s system.  I will probably consume a little more Turkey than is ideal for my diet and  watch some football myself.  But I hope I don’t forget what the Pilgrims were thankful for: not prosperity but survival, and a survival which meant a chance to have a new life in which they could worship God according to Scripture as they understood it, without interference from prying magistrate or prelate.  I hope I don’t forget that they thought such freedom something worth risking their survival over.  And I hope I will not be the only one pondering the question whether they might have been right about that after all.

Thanksgiving is a time to remember our Forefathers and what they struggled for.  It is also a time to ponder the virtues of thankfulness in itself.  I remember once at a picnic a rather gaudy, elaborately articulated, and heraldically colored bug flew by and landed on one of us.  We spent a few minutes oohing and ahing over its surreal beauty, and then my friend David Stott Gordon made a profound observation on the moPilgrims2ment.  “It must be rather depressing to be an atheist,” he mused, “because they don’t have anyone to thank.”

We are made to give thanks and praise for the thousand little wonders that the world constantly showers upon us.  Think about that football game: When a receiver makes a particularly acrobatic, even balletic catch as the consummation of the incredible timing between him and the quarterback, combining power and grace in the way that only American football allows for, some response is required of us.  We don’t just raise a Spockian eybrow; we pump our fist and shout if it was for our side, and exclaim that it was a great play even if it wasn’t.  The enjoyment of the moment is not complete without the expression of praise.  And if all such wonders are merely chance occurrences due only to the random motion of atoms and ultimately mean nothing–if indeed there is no One to thank–then our enjoyment of the world must of necessity be truncated and incomplete at best.  The holiday can serve as a reminder of the virtue of receptiveness to the blessings with which life showers us, as blessings–as gifts from the hand of God.  The thing we should be thankful for most of all is the fact that as Christians, as people who know the Creator as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have some One to thank.

Pilgrims1

Thanks be to God.

For more of Dr. Williams’ writing, go to the Lantern Hollow estore and order his books, Stars Through the Clouds, Reflections from Plato’s Cave, and Inklings of Reality.

https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/.

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

When we think of the Arthurian legend, we are reminded that a love affair can go horribly wrong: Lancelot and Guinnevere.  But it also shows us what it looks like when one goes very right.

CLIGES TO PHENICE

Beloved, gaze in thine own cloistered heart.

A secret Garden has been planted there

Of Nature’s growth refined by subtle Art

Where nothing thrives but what is sweet and fair.

 

And yet the sweetest and most wondrous places

Are buried deep.  Thick hedges and high walls

Protect them from the coarse, intruding faces,

Far from the mocking laughter that appalls.

 

Yet once a lonely knight came wandering there,

Let in by some mysterious Grace, to roam

The most secluded paths.  And in its air,

He breathed the long forgotten scent of Home.

 

So, Lady, seek in thine own cloistered heart

The secret Garden thou hast tended.  There

Now dwells the Knight who lives to take thy part,

Who never more will leave that land most fair.

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016), An Encouraging Thought: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018), and The Young Christian’s Survival Guide: Common Questions Young Christians Are Asked about God, the Bible, and the Christian Faith Answered (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2019)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

What happened to magical places like Loth Lorien after The Lord of the Rings was over and the Fourth Age was well under way and the Elves had departed?  This poem is in the same form as Tennyson’s “Lady of Shalott.”

LOTH LORIEN

From silver trunk the golden leaf

Blows through the old abandoned fief,

For Time, the robber and the thief,

Has brought the hidden realm to grief;

The wonder is withdrawn.

Now far beyond the Western Sea

The merry folk have gone to be

Naught but a fading memory

In Caras Galadon.

 

For untold years Galadriel

Did weave her magic and her spell.

Nor warg nor orc nor dragon fell

Could enter the enchanted veil

Until it was withdrawn.

Now in the once protected Wood

The Evil mingles with the Good—

Foul things that never could have stood

In Caras Galadon.

Now through the hushed and chilling air

There rings no voice of minstrel fair,

No melody of sweetness rare,

No magic words beyond compare;

The music is withdrawn.

The happy sound of harper’s glee

Sounds only far beyond the Sea.

The rasping raven’s symphony

Fills Caras Galadon.

 

In Cerin Amroth, Arwen’s tomb

Lies hidden in the gathering gloom.

The niphredil no longer bloom.

She sleeps within that narrow room,

All memory withdrawn.

The sons to Aragorn she bore:

They come to mourn her there no more.

They sleep beneath the marble floor

Of cold and deep Rath Dinen, far

From Caras Galadon.

A lonely wanderer passes by;

He sees there is no shelter nigh.

The stars are twinkling in the sky.

He groans, and on the ground doth lie

Within his cloak withdrawn.

The leaves are rustling on high.

It seems to him they softly sigh

A sad lament—he know not why—

In Caras Galadon.

Donald T. Williams, PhD

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!  Order from the publisher or Amazon.

 

 

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 Why is the modern church so spiritually impotent?  Maybe it should pay attention to the biblical idea of what it should be about, and how.

PRACTICAL ECCLESIOLOGY

Commentary, 1 Cor. 14:26, Col. 3:16

Each member has a place; each one belongs,

As seen when, gathered as a congregation

They sing their psalms and hymns and holy songs.

Whether two or three or mighty throngs,

The Lord is in their midst.  A priestly nation,

Each member has a place; each one belongs.

The Lord himself with love eternal longs

For them; each one by special invitation

Is singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

A pincer movement, ministry:  the prongs?

A verse, a prayer, a word of exhortation.

Each member has a place; each one belongs.

How beautiful the feet, the sandal thongs

Which go to every tongue and tribe and nation

Singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

Spectators passive in their pew?  It wrongs

The vision, suffocates the celebration.

Each member has a place; each one belongs,

Singing psalms and hymns and holy songs.

House church in India

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD

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Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.”  I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”

 The church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford is the chapel of Oxford University.  Its long history witnessed many significant events: the heresy trial of the Oxford Martyrs, with one column still bearing a gash from the erection of the platform on which they stood, for example.  A cross of bricks embedded in the asphalt of Broad Street marks the spot where the stake was driven for their execution.  Latimer asked Ridley to play the man when they were burned together, for God would see to it that their fire would light a candle that would never be put out.  Thomas Cranmer at first recanted, but then he recovered his courage, recanted his recantation, and was burned holding first into the fire the hand that had signed that dastardly recantation. The saints were made of stern stuff in those days.

Hugh Latimer

THE OXFORD MARTYRS

St. Mary the Virgin has a pillar defaced,

A ledge chipped in the stone on which to rest

The beam that held the platform where they placed

The men they meant to martyr.  Who’d have guessed

The way the Faith they stubbornly confessed

Would rise up like a Phoenix from the flames?

(A few blocks down, a cross still marks its nest.)

And when those stalwarts stood to hear their names

Read out as heretics, their mortal frames

Consigned to fiery death, could they have known?

Did they by faith then hear the Lord proclaim

Their place among the martyrs ‘round His throne?

Latimer and Ridley played the man,

And Cranmer clasped the fire by the hand.

Thomas Cranmer

Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.  And look for Williams’ very latest books: Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis (Baltimore: Square Halo Books, 2016) and “An Encouraging Thought”: The Christian Worldview in the Writings of L. R. R. Tolkien (Cambridge, OH: Christian Publishing House, 2018)!

Donald T. Williams, PhD