Quote #138

"There are in this world blessed souls, whose sorrows all spring up into joys for others [...]"
— Harriet Beecher Stowe


Full disclosure:  I don't have a land-line, and haven't for quite some time.   Cell phones come with a variety of conveniences, but they have not yet matched the audio quality of old-style copper.   That's one thing I miss.   I often tell people that my phone does everything very well, except make calls.    In junior high school, during the summer, my friends and I would call each other and watch TV together - if something interesting was on - sharing commentary over the phone.   I can't imagine making long calls like that on a cell.     That kind of long-duration, reliable telepresence just isn't possible given the kind of call quality I usually have to work with.

Virginia Heffernan:
Sound signals, so unfaithful to the original they hardly seem to count as reproductions, come through shallow. You can hardly recognize voices. Fragile, fleeting connections shatter in the wind. You don’t know when to talk and when to pause; voices overlap unpleasantly. You no longer have the luxury to listen for over- and undertones; you listen only for content. Calls have become transactional, not expressive.
Full article...

Cartoons as Commentary

Guy Somerset:
What does it say about a nation’s mental capacity that the delivery of well-crafted fiction and shrewd observations can only be injected into the body politic through the most innocuous form imaginable? What sort of satiric societal madhouse can gratify adults’ intellectual needs only through masquerading as children’s programming?
The whole thing...

SQF Radio #1

The first installment of SQF radio, the esteemed soundtrack of the blog.   From now on, all of the music clips posted to the blog will be collected on this Youtube playlist.   Check back to see what gets added.   This week:

  1. Blitzen Trapper - Heaven and Earth.   One of the finest songs I have met in a while.  It had me from the "O" in "Over the Western world...".

  2. The Dubliners - The Little Beggarman.   The tune jumps around so much, you'd think it was drunk.  And it may be.

  3. Ozark Mountain Daredevils - Standin' on the Rock.   Take y'a sip a' this.

  4. Owl City - Air Traffic.   This song tastes like eating clouds while asleep.   Smooth...

That's it.   I'll try to post some more next week.

Russell Brand on Celebrity

It's jarring to see Russell Brand talking seriously for a bit, but some of what he has to say is very interesting (note: some profanity and "thematic elements" in this clip):

An Argument with God

David Plotz, at Slate:
The Bible has brought me no closer to God, if that means either believing in a deity acting in the world or experiencing the transcendent. But perhaps I'm closer to God in the sense that the Bible has put me on high alert. I came to the Bible hoping to be inspired and awed. I have been, sometimes. But mostly I've ended up in a yearlong argument with God.
Full article...

"Where I Learned to Read"

Salvatore Scibona on St. John's College:

In retrospect, I was a sad little boy and a standard-issue, shiftless, egotistical, dejected teen-ager. Everything was going to hell, and then these strangers let me come to their school and showed me how to read. All things considered, every year since has been a more intense and enigmatic joy.

Full article...

Quote #137

"There are more options than compromise or carping."

— Douglas Wilson

The Moth Joke

Norm Macdonald.  That's how it's done:

ht: Mockingbird

Quote #136

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."

— from Zechariah, chapter 4

The real Francis of Assisi

Mark Galli at CT:
"This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.
The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age."

Full article...

Zac Brown Band: Gas Station Jam

ht: a Facebook friend

Talking with people who are suffering

Bruce Feiler tells, from his experience, what a sick person wants to hear, and what they don't:
[...] here are Six Things You Should Never Say to a Friend (or Relative or Colleague) Who’s Sick. And Four Things You Can Always Say.  First, the Nevers.
1. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? Most patients I know grow to hate this ubiquitous, if heartfelt question because it puts the burden back on them. [...]
Full article...

ht: Mockingbird

Getting Old

Daniel Wilson writes at The Wall Street Journal:
At some point, you probably stopped to wonder where all the pay phones had gone. You've been heard to say, "May I speak to a human, please?" Perhaps you've even contemplated the deeper questions, like just what in the hell does Twitter do? We think we're afraid of the technology. But we're really afraid of getting old.
Full article...

ht: Mockingbird

Food & Thankfulness

Jason Peters has different tastes in food and drink than I do, but I enjoyed his enthusiasm in this piece, and I appreciate his discussion of appreciation.
But you're not alone, are you. Didn't Jesus say, "Lo! I am with thee always"? You, my friend, are in good company. And you're nobody's fool. You know the uses of careful exegesis. And if irony got the best of you and prevented you from pronouncing a blessing, raise your glass to your companion. That will suffice tonight.
Link to the whole thing...

ht: FPR

Quote #135

"[...] they acted under a strong impression of the ignorance and fallibility of mankind. He that had made them thus fallible, rewarded them for having in their conduct attended to their nature. Let us imitate their caution, if we wish to deserve their fortune [...]"

— Edmund Burke

Quote #134

"The idea of the teacher and scholar as one called upon to preserve and pass on a common cultural and natural birthright has been almost entirely replaced by the idea of the teacher and scholar as a developer of 'human capital' and a bestower of economic advantage."

— Wendell Berry

Adjusting Your Perception

Paul Zahl (Rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Chevy Chase, MD) preaches on the Bronze Serpent, and adjusting our understanding of difficult circumstances.   This subject goes pretty deep the more you think about it.

"Praise Him"

An excellent poem by Brad Davis.   The conclusion:
Idols cannot save, nor theologies.
Only God, and that is no great comfort.
Link to full poem @ Mockingbird blog...

Fort Morgan, 1864

Fort Morgan, one of two forts guarding Mobile Bay, shortly after its surrender in 1864.

Link to page with high-resolution version...

Top 5 Regrets

A woman who spent years working around dying people lists their top 5 regrets.

The list...

Review: The Book of Mormon

DZ from Mockingbird reviews the musical, The Book of Mormon:
The Book of Mormon perfectly captures our cultural moment, especially with regard to religion. The Mormon setting is a brilliant device, but ultimately just that: a device. Sure, the Latter Days Saints are the butt of more than a few gags here – and I certainly wouldn’t deny that Mormonism itself is targeted – but when the creators and their critics claim that The Book of Mormon is only aimed at religion in general, rather than a few very specific expressions of it, they’re not being entirely honest. Mormonism is largely a red herring (that would be far too easy) and Islam is portrayed as so brutal as to be feared rather than engaged. The Book of Mormon is primarily about Evangelical Protestantism, with perhaps a little Roman Catholicism mixed in for good measure.
Full review...

James Spann on Tornado Lessons

James Spann has written a post on the lessons he takes from the April 27 tornado event.   Roughly, his points are:

  • Stop issuing so many false-alarm warnings.
  • Scrap the siren system.
  • Weather radio needs to be location-aware.
  • TV is being watched on many different devices.
  • Social media is key.
  • Weathermen need to be on-screen.

Read the full article to see his reasons for each.

Conan O'Brien at Dartmouth

Profanity, vulgarity, and tomfoolery, but towards the end:  something to think about.

Fabius & American Leadership

Lee Wishing at World:
Now close your eyes and think about American leadership today. What do you see? Your vision may be less than inspiring if you’ve been watching the news lately. Do you see a Fabius Maximus, a George Washington (known as the "American Fabius"), or some other leader worthy of the title "father"? If not, don’t despair. 
Full article...

"Questioning Evangelism"

Randy Newman (not that Randy Newman) discusses rethinking how to tell other people about the Gospel.

Link to audio...

The Work of the Spirit

Mark Driscoll (Pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle) on the work of the Holy Spirit.

Link to audio...

How to talk to Muslims about the Gospel

Thabiti Anyabwile (the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman) presents a very old, but interesting method that many people would never think to use.

Link to audio...


When from the terrors of Nature a people have
      fashion'd and worship a Spirit of Evil,
Blest be the Voice of the Teacher who calls to
'Set yourselves free!'

— from "Kapiolani", by A.L. Tennyson

Hidden Cost of Bailouts

David Skeel, in The Wall Street Journal:
[...] None of this suggests that we should be unhappy with the recent success of General Motors and Chrysler. Their revival is a very encouraging development. But to claim that the car companies would have collapsed if the government hadn't intervened in the way it did, and to suggest that the intervention came at very little cost, is a dangerous misreading of our recent history.
Full article...

Decline and Fall

The Guardian:
So, it may be that the US is about to emerge stronger than ever from the long nightmare of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The strong financial position of American companies could unleash a wave of new investment over the next couple of years.
Let me put an alternative hypothesis. America in 2011 is Rome in 200AD or Britain on the eve of the first world war: an empire at the zenith of its power but with cracks beginning to show.

"Ballade of Building"

Aelswith who built to the praise of Her
    Whose glory is most plain,
Walkelyn who founded Winchester
    To all men's after gain,
    Builders of Sarum, of Romsey fane,
Princes and priests long gone,
    Knew all that more than this was vain, —
'One stone on another stone.'

Bishop or queen, each labourer
    Builded in half disdain;
'What good', they said, 'though our word make stir
    Trowel and hod and crane?
    For this at best shall the work remain,
To teach one thing alone, —
    The marvel and might that sets with strain
One stone on another stone.'

It is told of the days when great deeds were
    That there was a king in Spain
Planned a church for his sepulchre;
    'Mid pomp of his whole demesne
    The second brick to the first was ta'en:
Then he ceased and from his throne
    Cried: 'Lo, be this the word of a reign,
One stone on another stone.'


Prince, dig and build and set in train
    Works, that thy name be known:
But only, at ending, of this be fain,
    One stone on another stone!

— Charles Williams, from Poems of Conformity.

Hello, World.

"Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first
Wast present..."

(The farm is now underway...)