“Therapeutic theology raises expectations, and it raises self-regard. It isn’t surprising that people taught to be constantly enamored with their own godlike qualities would have difficulty forging relationships with ordinary human beings.”Ross Douthat
I discovered Elizabeth Prentiss a couple of years ago. I acquired a copy of Stepping Heavenward after my grandmother died. Grandma Maude said it was her favorite book.
Reading a fictional, girl’s diary was not something I was initially drawn to, but after picking up the book and reading it, I was struck by the sweetness of the story and the reality and honesty of the main character. I ended up reading it the day I started it. I’ve often thought of juxtaposing Stepping Heavenward with Bridget Jones’s Diary.
I was taken with Mrs. Prentiss’ and later discovered that she had wrote hymns. A couple of years ago, I retuned this one for the congregation I pastor. Here is a recording I did for some friends.
Lewis’ good friend, J.R.R. Tokein as well understood the jovial king.
“And then wonder took him, and a great joy; and he cast his sword up in the sunlight and sang as he caught it. And all eyes followed his gaze, and behold! upon the foremost ship a great standard broke, and the wind displayed it as she turned towards the Harlond. There flowered a White Tree, and that was for Gondor; but Seven Stars were about it, and a high crown above it, the signs of Elendil that no lord had borne for years beyond count. And the stars flamed in the sunlight, for they were wrought of gems by Arwen daughter of Elrond; and the crown was bright in the morning, for it was wrought of mithril and gold. Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur’s heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor; and the mirth of the Rohirrim was a torrent of laughter and a flashing of swords, and the joy and wonder of the City was a music of trumpets and a ringing of bells…”
J.R.R. Tolkein, The Return of the King
My wife wrote the following poem after our family visited the NC Shakespeare Festival’s A Christmas Carol. She also drew the sketch to the right. She blogs and posts here work on her own blog drawn2life. You can see more of her work here.
A Dickens Eve
A gentle waterfall
spilled up and o’er the rim
finding age old crevices
to follow towards my chin.
‘Twere just a play!
a staged apparition…
Well, actually there were three
nay four! after intermission.
What magic did befall me
as costumed sorcerers did brew
with lilting incantations
and music lovely too.
Had I not sat here
a couple times before?
Yet a fortnight of years
since last I heard this score.
A fortnight of years
is enough to deepen
the heart crevices
touched here by Dickens.
As Past waves her hand
for Scrooge to view his childhood,
My own leaps up before me
memories dancing, ill and good.
Then Present laughs hearty
as I sit here with my Three-
I know the richness I’ve been given
I can scarce contain it merrily.
For that dearest family Cratchit
‘tis my own sweet family too!
The crevices are deeper now
‘tis why I see this anew.
My senior girl beside me
is poised to leave the nest
Four years at college
and then who knows the rest?
My middle boy full of life
and a heart that breaks for all
His character becomes a man
How did he get so tall?
My youngest also sweetest thing
a deadly disease has hold…
Were it not for money and medicine,
her future could not be told.
All three have known less at table
though nothing like the meager here.
Fewer clothes are in their closets
Yet the Cratchits are wearing theirs.
Though my life is abundance
in comparison with these…
Do I still hoard and miser
all I have, to live in ease?
The jocund, piercing work of actors
has undone my heart this night.
The waterfall I cannot stop
melts what I’ve held tight.
Live freely with hands held open
Give money, joy and love!
And ring throughout each blessed moment:
God Bless Us Everyone!!
“Well, these are sobering thoughts, indeed, and we should take them seriously—as seriously as we can take any thoughts. The immensely difficult trick is to do so without taking ourselves seriously, because one could argue that at or near the very heart of our bent wills is a determination to uphold our own dignity. Milton tells us that Satan decided to rebel against the Almighty because of his sense of ‘injured merit’: he was the one who deserved to be named Messiah, not God’s Son who surely was chosen not because of his ‘merit’ but on account of some divine nepotism. Looked at in the proper way, this idea of Satan’s is simply laughable, which is what G.K. Chesterton was indicating in one of his wisest aphorisms: ‘Satan fell by force of gravity.’”Alan Jacobs, Original Sin
“Comedy … is not only possible within a Christian society, but capable of a much greater breadth and depth than classical comedy. Greater in breadth because classical comedy is based upon a division of mankind into two classes, those who have arete and those who do not, and only the second class, fools, shameless rascals, slaves, are fit subjects for comedy. But Christian comedy is based upon the belief that all men are sinners; no one, therefore, whatever his rank or talents, can claim immunity from the comic exposure and, indeed, the more virtuous, in the Greek sense, a man is, the more he realizes that he deserves to be exposed. Greater in depth because, while classical comedy believes that rascals should get the drubbing they deserve, Christian comedy believes that we are forbidden to judge others and that it is our duty to forgive each other. In classical comedy the characters are exposed and punished: when the curtain falls, the audience is laughing and those on stage are in tears. In Christian comedy the characters are exposed and forgiven: when the curtain falls, the audience and the characters are laughing together.”W. H. Auden
And, after Christmas, I will celebrate Twelfth Night by watching a play entitled the same. In Twelfth Night one finds one of the gravest of Shakespeare’s characters, Malvolio who is the virtuous rascal classified by Auden.
(HT: Alan Jacobs)