Saturday, May 2, 2015

Middle School English Class. . .

8M, a 7th-grader about to turn 13, is having a lot of fun in his English class, just lately.  They're doing a unit on Poetry; his English teacher is a young woman who looks like she might not be much older than Middle School herself.  She's wonderfully creative, and puts across real joy and love for her subject, of which 8M, at least, seems to have caught a most virulent case.

She had them memorize two poems of their own choice.  8M asked Jenn and me what our favorite poems were; I told him Lewis Carroll's 'Jabberwocky' and Poe's 'The Bells' (inveterate lover of wordplay that I am; I thought about giving him 'I Am the Walrus', but wasn't sure if that would count as an actual poem).  Jenn gave him Rudyard Kipling's 'If'.  So the three of us spent a couple weeks memorizing all three poems, and had great fun doing so.

The class held a 'tournament' of everyone's favorite poems.  The teacher paired off the poems, and the class voted on which one of each pair they liked, one round every day.  Alas, 8M's poems were eliminated fairly early (evidently, our predilection for whimsical wordplay is not widely shared; pity).  The ultimate winner was a limerick by Ogden Nash (which seems about right for a middle school class):

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
     Said the fly, "Let us flee!"
     "Let us fly!" said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

I love limericks. . .

Another recent assignment asked 8M to write a statement describing himself in three words.  He wrote, "I am a rebel," and showed if to 6F, who was standing nearby.  She looked at it and said, "But that's four words."  8M just looked at her, grinning. . .

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Seven Stanzas at Easter by John Updike
(yes, that John Updike) (really)


Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell's dissolution did not reverse,
          the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.


It was not as the flowers,
Each soft spring recurrent;
It was not as His Spirit in the mouths
          and fuddled eyes of the
Eleven apostles;
It was as His flesh; ours.


The same hinged thumbs and toes
The same valved heart
That - pierced - died, withered,
          paused and then regathered
Out of enduring Might
New strength to enclose.


Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable,
          a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages;
Let us walk through the door.


The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality
          that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.


And if we have an angel at the tomb,
Make it a real angel,
Weighty with Max Planck's quanta,
          vivid with hair, opaque in
The dawn light, robed in real linen
Spun on a definite loom.


Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour,
          we are embarrassed
By the miracle,
And crushed by remonstrance.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Did Not See This Coming. . .

I almost hate to break into Holy Week with something so mundane as my sporting interests, but. . .

My Spartans are back in the Final Four, for the seventh time in Coach Izzo's 20-year tenure.  This has got to be the most improbable of all his Final Fours, or any of the others in the history of my alma mater (both of 'em).  We graduated a decorated group of players from last year's team, and this had all the earmarks of a rebuilding season.  We just didn't have the kind of players that make deep tournament runs (I mean, heck, we lost to Texas Southern in December - at home!).  Even as late as February, there were serious questions as to whether our string of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances (this is our 18th) would be coming to an end this year.  But things came together in the waning weeks of the season, and we made a solid showing in the conference tournament.

We got a 7th seed in the NCAAs, which seemed a tad low, by the time we got there (but only a tad; I thought we deserved a 6th seed, or maybe a 5th).  We duly won our first round game, and then threw a complete defensive blanket over Virginia, a highly-ranked team who won the regular-season championship of the vaunted ACC.  In the next two rounds, we came from behind in both games to pull out gritty, hard-fought victories.

And now we are in the Final Four.  Again.  We play Duke this Saturday, and we don't exactly have a long track record of success against them (Coach Izzo's teams have beaten Duke exactly once in nine tries); and they hung a ten-point loss on us back in November, just to reinforce the point.  But, you know, that was then, and this is now.  And even if we should somehow beat the Dookies, Kentucky is looming, and the conventional wisdom says that nobody can beat Kentucky this year.  But, you know, once you get to the rarefied air of the Final Four, you never know what might happen.  And no matter what happens, it's been a heckuva ride already.  So, we shall see what we shall see. . .

GO GREEN!

And, just for fun, there's this. . .

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lest There Be Any Illusions. . .


This is what the Mediterranean Sea looked like in the aftermath of the 21 Coptic Martyrs.

"With their minds fixed on Christ, they despised the tortures of this world and purchased eternal life at the cost of one hour". . . (from The Martyrdom of Polycarp, 2nd century AD)

"Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.  Rather, fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell."  (The Gospel According to St. Matthew; chapter 10, verse 28)

Or, as Tertullian might have said, way back in the 3rd century - seed for the gospel, right there. . .

And I am still a Nazarene. . .

Sunday, March 22, 2015

As the Ruin Falls

This poem by CS Lewis has long been one of my favorites.  It is a very 'Lenten' poem, and I offer it to you all, apropos of the season. . .

-------------------------

As the Ruin Falls by CS Lewis

All this is flashy rhetoric about loving you.
I never had a selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self-seeking through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Peace, reassurance, pleasure are the goals I seek,
I cannot crawl one inch outside my proper skin;
I talk of love - a scholar's parrot may talk Greek -
But, self-imprisoned, always end where I begin.

Only that now you have taught me (but how late) my lack,
I see the chasm.  And everything you are was making
My heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man.  And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls.  The pains
You give me are more precious than all other gains.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Taking It to the Most Basic Level. . .

"How do I know pornography depraves and corrupts? It depraves and corrupts me."
      ~ Malcolm Muggerridge

Me too, man. . . me too. . .

And then there's this. . .


Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Wisdom of Einstein. . .

I really don't intend to turn this into a Xavierian clearing-house of humorous pictures and sayings, but this stuff is too good to pass up. . .



(Hat tip to The TOF Spot)

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Often, when I leave a comment on another blog that I particularly like, I'll just save it, and turn it into its own post at a later date.  This seems to happen particularly often with comments I leave at Suldog's place; his mind and mine seem to resonate in some very, um, fertile ways.  Just recently, I left some particularly, shall we say colorful comments to a post of his, which I probably won't be posting here; a man's got his standards (and his wife reads this sometimes).  So, if you really wanna read 'em, you can find 'em here (scroll down to read the comments) (or, you know, read Suldog's post, and then, there you'll be). . .  You can thank me later.