Tuesday, October 31, 2017

C.S. Lewis's Ghost Story

We've had Padre Pio and a ghost, St. John Bosco and a ghost. For Halloween itself, let's get one where the famous person is himself the ghost!
At the time, J. B. Phillips was in a deep depression that threatened his life. He refused to leave his chambers, refused proper food or exercise, and seriously questioned the love and election of God [in his life]. It was in this state of detachment and depression, leading to his early death…that suddenly, a ruddy and glowing C. S. Lewis stood before him, entering his room through closed doors -- a “healthy Lewis, hearty and glowing” as Phillips was later to record.

In this vision, Lewis only spoke only one sentence to Phillips: ‘J.B., it’s not as hard as you think.’ One solitary sentence, the meaning of which is debated! But what is not debated is the effect of that sentence. It snapped Phillips out of his depression, and set him again following God. After Lewis spoke that cryptic sentence, he disappeared.

Phillips came out of his chambers only to find that Lewis had died moments before the appearance, miles away. He pondered this in his heart, with wonder, and never returned to his depression. Now, was this a case of God giving a detour of a soul on the way to heaven to a special friend, to save him? Who knows? But again, it is recorded evidence of the highest order, by persons of the highest order: Lewis and Phillips. It is a ghost story, a benevolent one, to all appearances – actually, not only benevolent, but redemptive [which I would take as an element of authenticity].
This story is found in a lot of places but I like this retelling which is from Thoughts of Loy.

The Real Estate Agent and the Haunted House

Perfect for Halloween ... no jump scenes, just humor.

Thank you, Mellie!

I don't have a way to do it through Amazon, but your kind gift made my day ... as well as the note you enclosed. Many, many thanks!

After a few harvest ales, Julie chased a headless horseman and Scott danced in a manner pleasing to St. Vitus himself.


Join them for a flagon of Rip Van Winkle and a hearty mug of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Episode 170 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Happy Halloween!

Jack O Lanterns
From morganglines at Flickr, some rights reserved

"Hallowe'en in a Suburb" by H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)

The steeples are white in the wild moonlight,
And the trees have a silver glare;
Past the chimneys high see the vampires fly,
And the harpies of upper air,
That flutter and laugh and stare.

For the village dead to the moon outspread
Never shone in the sunset's gleam,
But grew out of the deep that the dead years keep
Where the rivers of madness stream
Down the gulfs to a pit of dream.

A chill wind weaves through the rows of sheaves
In the meadows that shimmer pale,
And comes to twine where the headstones shine
And the ghouls of the churchyard wail
For harvests that fly and fail.

Not a breath of the strange grey gods of change
That tore from the past its own
Can quicken this hour, when a spectral power
Spreads sleep o'er the cosmic throne,
And looses the vast unknown.

So here again stretch the vale and plain
That moons long-forgotten saw,
And the dead leap gay in the pallid ray,
Sprung out of the tomb's black maw
To shake all the world with awe.

And all that the morn shall greet forlorn,
The ugliness and the pest
Of rows where thick rise the stones and brick,
Shall some day be with the rest,
And brood with the shades unblest.

Then wild in the dark let the lemurs bark,
And the leprous spires ascend;
For new and old alike in the fold
Of horror and death are penned,
For the hounds of Time to rend.

Monday, October 30, 2017

St. John Bosco's Ghost Story

This is a little reminder that All Saints' Day is in two days (formerly known as All Hallow's Day), without which we would not have Hallowe'en (formerly known as All Hallow's Eve).

Nothing like a saint telling a ghost story to both celebrate spookiness and also ... saintliness!
While a young man, St. John Bosco (1815-1888) and his friend, Comollo, agreed that whoever died first would return and give a sign about the state of their soul. Comollo died on April 2, 1839. The evening following the funeral, Bosco sat sleepless on his bed in the room he shared with twenty seminarians.

“Midnight struck and I then heard a dull rolling sound from the end of the passage, which grew ever more clear, loud and deep, the nearer it came. It sounded as though a heavy dray were being drawn by many horses, like a railway train, almost like the discharge of a cannon…While the noise came nearer the dormitory, the walls, ceiling and floor of the passage re-echoed and trembled behind it…

Then the door opened violently of its own accord without anybody seeing anything except a dim light of changing colour that seemed to control the sound…Then a voice was clearly heard, ‘Bosco, Bosco, Bosco, I am saved.’… The seminarists leapt out of bed and fled without knowing where to go. … for a long time there was no other subject of conversation in the seminary.”

Worth a Thousand Words: Isle of the Dead

Arnold Böcklin, Isle of the Dead: "Basel" version, 1880
This was so popular that the artist did several different versions of it. Read all about it at Wikipedia. Here's a bit.
All versions of Isle of the Dead depict a desolate and rocky islet seen across an expanse of dark water. A small rowboat is just arriving at a water gate and seawall on shore.[2] An oarsman maneuvers the boat from the stern. In the bow, facing the gate, is a standing figure clad entirely in white. Just behind the figure is a white, festooned object commonly interpreted as a coffin. The tiny islet is dominated by a dense grove of tall, dark cypress trees—associated by long-standing tradition with cemeteries and mourning—which is closely hemmed in by precipitous cliffs. Furthering the funerary theme are what appear to be sepulchral portals and windows penetrating the rock faces.

Halloween Lagniappe: Lovecraftian School Board Member Wants Madness Added To Curriculum

"Our schools are orderly, sanitary places where students dwell in blissful ignorance of the chaos that awaits," West said. "Should our facilities be repaired? No, they must be razed to the ground and rebuilt in the image of the Cyclopean dwellings of the Elder Gods, the very geometry of which will drive them to be possessed by visions of the realms beyond." ...

"Charles sure likes to bang on that madness drum," fellow school board member Danielle Kolker said. "I'm not totally sold on his plan to let gibbering, half-formed creatures dripping with ichor feed off the flesh and fear of our students. But he is always on time to help set up for our spaghetti suppers, and his bake sale goods are among the most popular."

"I must admit, he's very convincing," Kolker added.
This excerpt is from one of my favorite of The Onion's pieces. Do go read it all.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Halloween Lagniappe: No live organism...

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
The opening paragraph from the book I consider to be the best ghost story ever written. A bold claim but true.

Worth a Thousand Words: A Lane

John Atkinson Grimshaw, A Lane
John Atkinson Grimshaw's work all seems wonderfully gloomy, which is perfect for this time of year. Who is that figure in the moonlight, dwarfed by the trees and sky? An innocent traveler out late? Someone sinister? Someone in need? We are left to wonder.

More is More - Prom Night

Hannah & Rose discuss prom dresses, wardrobes, and everything not to do when trying to catch crazed stalkers as they celebrate Prom Night (2008).

Are we ready to both laugh and scream? Of course - because we want more!

Episode 3 of More is More - a bad movie podcast.

Padre Pio's Ghost Story

Speaking of ghosts, since Halloween is upon us ...
Padre Pio told the story of being in the choir alone one evening to pray. He heard rustling and looked up to see a young monk dusting and straightening up the altar. When he asked who the monk was, he was told: “I am a brother of yours that made the novitiate here. I was ordered to clean the altar during the year of the noviciate. Unfortunately many times I didn’t reverence Jesus while passing in front of the altar, thus causing the Holy Sacrament that was preserved in the tabernacle to be disrespected. For this serious carelessness, I am still in Purgatory. Now, God, with his endless goodness, sent me here so that you may quicken the time I will enjoy Paradise. Take care of me.”
Portrait of Padre Pio by Solomenco Bogdan
via Wikipedia

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Halloween Lagniappe: H.P. Lovecraft

Through all this horror my cat stalked unperturbed. Once I saw him monstrously perched atop a mountain of bones, and wondered at the secrets that might lie behind his yellow eyes.
H.P. Lovecraft, The Rats in the Walls
Another of my favorite horror authors chimes in for Halloween from one of my favorite of his stories. A lesser tale, but still a good 'un.

Worth a Thousand Words: El Gato Negro


Sometimes foreign movie posters capture the essence of the thing so much better than the American ones. That cat looks like a panther, ready to strike!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Halloween

Halloween, Grandma Moses

Halloween Lagniappe: The Ghosts' High-Noon!

From Ruddigore by Gilbert and Sullivan.
When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls, and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight skies –
When the footpads quail at the night-bird's wail, and black dogs bay at the moon,
Then is the spectres' holiday – then is the ghosts' high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees, and the mists lie low on the fen,
From grey tomb-stones are gathered the bones that once were women and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow, to the revel that ends too soon,
For cockcrow limits our holiday – the dead of the night's high-noon!

Ha! ha!
For then is the ghosts' high-noon!

And then each ghost with his ladye-toast to their churchyard beds takes flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps, and a grisly grim "good-night";
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell rings forth its jolliest tune,
And ushers in our next high holiday – the dead of the night's high-noon!

Genesis Notes: Responding to the Test

GENESIS 42
What have Joseph's brothers learned in the time that they were parted from him? A lot more than I thought on a first reading. Digging beneath the surface shows how changed and repentant they are.

Benjamin being returned to Egypt">Add caption
A guilty conscience is worth little if it does not lead to change. A comparison of the two homecomings reveals that Joseph's brothers are not the proud, selfish, jealous brutes they were when they sold Joseph.

The first thing to notice is the increased sense of family. The brothers seem to see themselves as all in this together, no longer every man for himself. ... whereas before throwing Joseph in the pit they called him "this dreamer" and to Jacob they called
him "your son," now they call Joseph "our brother" and "the lad" and say to Joseph "we are 12 brothers." Even though Joseph is thought dead, they consider him part of the family.

Second is the lack of jealousy or anger at Jacob's favoritism. Even though Jacob obviously prefers Benjamin now that Joseph is gone, there is no sign of resentment among the brothers about this or that Jacob kept him behind or that his absence endangers them.

Perhaps most telling is the sons' honesty with Jacob. When they "lost" Joseph, they were heartless liars; now they are honest. ...

Finally, there is a genuine effort to make good. When Jacob accuses them of bereaving him of his children, Reuben doesn't just try to offer comfort, he offers his own sons if he fails to bring Benjamin back. His solution may not move Jacob, but he is at least trying to make things right. 
All quotes from Genesis, Part II: God and His Family. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: St. James Church Cemetery

St. James Church Or Goose Creek Church And Cemetery, 1872 Engraving
Deliciously spooky!

Halloween Lagniappe: The Autumn People

For some, autumn comes early, stays late through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ's birth, there is no Bethlehem star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring, or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the ever normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No: the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks from their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles -- breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.
Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Proof that horror fantasy can also be poetic.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Halloween: O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

The Flicks That Church Forgot podcast is by Peter Laws, a Baptist minister in England who loves horror movies and also loves Jesus Christ. As he puts it, "If God really does exist everywhere why can't we find his fingerprints in the scary places?" Each episode is usually a look at a horror film which Peter then follows up with a thoughtful look at something about Christianity or living a Christian life. It is really well done and always respectful to both Christians and nonbelievers.

I especially love three episodes he did a while ago about Halloween and Christians: origins, common Christian objections to Halloween, and a response to the top five typical Christian negative takes on Halloween. Again, he is careful to say that he understands the reasons some Christians don't like Halloween, but I think his beautifully put consideration is worth listening to, no matter which side you're on. (We all know around here that I'm a Halloween-lover, so moving on ...)

Here's the money quote which I share to both entice you into listening and also for those who will not be interested in hearing a podcast. I, of course, advise listen to all three Halloween episodes at The Flicks That Church Forgot (one, two, three).
... we can give the supernatural world of evil too much power. I guess it's a case of either the devil isn't real or the devil is on every street corner hiding inside a pumpkin. Surely there is a middle ground where we acknowledge supernatural evil but we recognize its limited power in the face of the power of Christ.

Ironically I wonder if this might have been what home of the Christians were doing when they celebrated All Hallow's Eve and All Saints Day in the past. Those festivities were opportunities to laugh in the face of evil spirits, to dress up as them and sort of mock them, saying, "Hey check this out. These big, scary demons, they're just empty masks. When you compare them with the power of the risen Jesus Christ, they're not up to much."

I wonder if Halloween offers us a chance to affirm our eternal life while looking into the face of death which has actually lost its sting ... For Christians the scariness of death is not scary. Not really. Because we've got eternal life.

Well Said: Duties toward parents

I remember when I first read the book of Sirach. I really love the practicality of the advice to fathers never to have a lattice going past their daughter's second floor bedroom. You're just begging for trouble!

I've also never forgotten the advice below, especially the part about honoring your father even if his mind fails in old age ... it shows that humans are the same then as now and we all need those reminders as we go through life. And it spells out just what that the commandment to honor your father and mother really means.

I remember when I realized that commandment actually comes before "thou shalt not kill" which tells you just how important honoring your father and mother is in God's eyes. Kind of blew my mind and helped keep my priorities straight.
Listen to me, your father, O children;
act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety.

For the Lord honors a father above his children,
and he confirms a mother’s right over her children.

Those who honor their father atone for sins,
and those who respect their mother are like those who lay up treasure.

Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,
and when they pray they will be heard.
...
The glory of one’s father is one’s own glory,
and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.

My child, help your father in his old age,
and do not grieve him as long as he lives;

even if his mind fails, be patient with him;
because you have all your faculties do not despise him.

For kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
and will be credited to you against your sins;

in the day of your distress it will be remembered in your favor;
like frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away.

Whoever forsakes a father is like a blasphemer,
and whoever angers a mother is cursed by the Lord.
Sirach, 3:1-5, 11-16

Worth a Thousand Words: Snap-Apple Night

Snap-Apple Night, Daniel Maclise, 1833, shows people feasting and playing divination games on Halloween in Ireland

Friday, October 20, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Corner of the Church of San Stae

Corner of the Church of San Stae, Venice; John Singer Sargent

Well Said: Horror, Monster, and Monstrance

Next week we'll begin counting down to Halloween with some of my favorite spooky quotes and images. But let's put it in perspective first ... Catholic perspective that is!
By Toby Ord
Most people don't think of horror as a genre of literature or film that is particularly agreeable to Christian sensibilities. However, two of the great practitioners of horror on both page and screen consider their work to be an extension of the gospel. Stephen King, author of many a scary tale, says that he considers himself the spiritual heir of the great Puritan preacher, Jonathan Edwards (who preached the famous sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"). William Peter Blatty, who penned "The Exorcist" wrote the story precisely in order to show both the depths of demonic evil and to remind the world of the reality of Christ-like self-sacrifice.

By Broederhugo
It is the depth of the darkness of the Enemy that paradoxically highlights the brilliance of the light of Heaven. Indeed, the word "monster" comes from the same root as the word "demonstrate" and "monstrance." A "monster" demonstrates what we can and will be apart from Christ. A monstrance shows forth the saving eucharistic, and self-sacrificial power of him who underwent the worst horror the world has ever known to save us from the terrors of Hell. He has prepared a eucharistic table for us in the presence of Satan himself--and deprived him of his prey.

This Halloween, be not afraid.
Catholic Exchange, Word of Encouragement, Oct. 31, 2005

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Well Said: Poverty and Freedom

He who is not capable of enduring poverty is not capable of being free.
Victor Hugo

Worth a Thousand Words: Vase of Chrysanthemums

Armaud Guillaumin, Vase of Chrysanthemums
via Arts Everyday Living

The Three Godfathers by Peter B. Kyne

“What’s a godfather, Bill?” The Youngest Bad Man inquired. “What job does he hold down?”

“You’re an awful ignorant young man, Bob,” replied The Wounded Bad Man reproachfully. “A godfather is a sort of reserve parent who promises to renounce the devil with all his works an’ pomps.”

The Youngest Bad Man smiled wanly. “Well, Bill, all I got to say is that us three’re a lovely bunch o’ godfathers.”
This little novella has inspired at least five movies, two of them from the silent film era. The most famous is 3 Godfathers starring John Wayne and directed by John Ford, which inspired one of my favorite movies, Tokyo Godfathers. So the story has staying power even in modern culture and other lands.

This little story is the backbone of all those films. This is not the story of the Wise Men, it is the story of Bad Men, we are told on the title page. The three Bad Men are on the lam after a bank heist. Searching for water, they come upon a pioneer woman in labor and dying. Her husband is dead and the newborn baby is given into the care of the "three godfathers" who providentially showed up to help it be born. Their journey to get the baby to his relatives is the story of their struggles with their past and their possible redemption. It is heartfelt but also shows flashes of humor which I enjoyed a lot.

It is interesting to see how the films embellished the basics to give their own take and layers of complexity, which are all, nevertheless, still commenting on the basic story. You can get the book free at Project Gutenberg. I'm lucky because my library had it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Girl at a Sewing Machine

Girl at a Sewing Machine, Edward Hopper

Genesis Notes: Jacob Meets His Brothers Again

GENESIS 42
If my brothers had hated me enough to sell me to traders I am pretty sure I wouldn't have welcomed them with open arms. At first that seems to be Joseph's reaction as he pretends not to know them and questions them. But we then can see there is a reason besides hurt feelings or revenge for Joseph's methods.

Joseph and His Brothers, Gustav Dore
So why does he pretend to be a stranger and question them harshly, if not to punish them? It is clear from his questions that before telling them who he is, Joseph wants to learn more about them and test them. ...

All Joseph's testing aims to bring them to repentance and reconciliation. Three days in prison gave the men real time to worry about their predicament. They were being asked to bring their youngest brother to Egypt, and if they had never sold Joseph, Benjamin would be with them now. They were confined in prison, which may have reminded them that they held Joseph in a pit regardless of his pleas and sold him into the prison of slavery. Their consciences began to accuse them. They realized that they did wrong against Joseph and deserve this punishment, which they see as coming from God. They have acknowledged their sin, which is the first step toward repentance. Evidence of true sorrow and a changed character remain to be seen.

As much as Joseph must have longed to see Benjamin, sending his brothers to get him posed a further test as much as it would bring about a reunion. Were the brothers still jealous, divided against their father's favorite? Had their relationship with their father improved? Would he trust them with Benjamin? These questions remain to be answered.
All quotes from Genesis, Part II: God and His Family. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Well Said: Carnival

Everything being a carnival, there is no carnival left.
Victor Hugo

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Persian Calligraphy

Persian calligraphy, Mir Ali Tabrizi

Well Said: Forgiveness or Excuses?

I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says "Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology; I will never hold it agains you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before." But excusing says "I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it; you weren't really to blame." If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgiven. In that sense forgiveness and excusing are almost opposites. ...
C.S. Lewis, "On Forgiveness," The Weight of Glory

Thank You for A History of the World in 100 Objects! Updated!

A very kind person plucked this off my Amazon wish list and it was a wonderful surprise when it appeared on my doorstep. Thank you!

The history of the Church didn't take place shrouded in the mists of time. It actually happened and continues to happen through things that we can see and sometimes hold in our hand.

The Christian answer to Neil MacGregor's New York Times bestseller A History of the World in 100 Objects, Mike and Grace Aquilina's A History of the Church in 100 Objects introduces you to:
  • The Cave of the Nativity (the importance of history, memory, and all things tangible)
  • Catacomb niches (the importance of Rome, bones, and relics of the faith)
  • Ancient Map of the World (the undoing of myths about medieval science)
  • Stained Glass (representative of Gothic cathedrals)
  • The Holy Grail (Romance literature and the emergence of writing for the laity)
  • Loaves and fish (a link from Jesus to the sacrament of the Eucharist)
  • The Wittenberg Door (Martin Luther and the onset of the Reformation)
UPDATE
My take as of Oct. 20:

I'm about halfway through and wanted to encourage anyone who might be on the fence about this book. It is a brief history of the Church, complete with pictures of the items which serve as touchstones for bringing up important historical events. The items include the Christian things you might expect but also range into seemingly non-Christian things like Islamic coins, an Egyptian boy's math notebook, and a medieval science beaker. 

Two or three pages of brief yet comprehensive commentary accompany each item. It is easy to read and even-handed, yet never dumbs it down. I am really loving it.

Julie and Scott are thinking about cleaning up and opening the unused back room of the Good Story Studios. ...



... It's decorated in an 80s Disco motif.

And we discuss Colossal, starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, directed by Nacho Vigalondo. A perfect monster movie for Halloween. Join us for episode 169 of A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Well Said: I have noticed something that is really, really cool.

You may also have noticed a lack of critical detachment. I am talking about books because I love books. I'm not standing on a mountain peak holding them at arm's length and issuing Olympian pronouncements about them. I'm reading them in the bath and shouting with excitement because I have noticed something really, really cool.
Jo Walton, What Makes This Book So Great
I can relate.

As you may have noticed here from time to time.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Eye Contact

Eye Contact, Remo Savisaar

Well Said: Developing from within

Our being is not constructed from without like a clay mode; it develops from within, as a tree grows and blossoms with the rising of the sap. In us, the sap is the Spirit of Christ. Prayer stimulates its rise.
A. Sertillanges
And just this morning, reading the Gospel of John I read this which, of course, could not fail to call the above quote to mind.
Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches.
John 15:4-5

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Chronological Bible Reading - Update

But how shall I speak of the glories I have since discovered in the Bible? For years I have read it with an ever-broadening sense of joy and inspiration; and I love it as I love no other book. Still there is much in the Bible against which every instinct of my being rebels, so much that I regret the necessity which has compelled me to read it through from beginning to end.
Helen Keller
I'd never have thought this in my younger days, but Helen Keller's words resonate with me: "I love it as I love no other book." Reading the Bible daily — sometimes eagerly, sometimes grudgingly, but always reading it — has made me love it. The Word speaks to me through it and provides riches, consolation, inspiration, and surprise.

As I mentioned a while back, I have been reading the Bible in chronological order. This really has given me more of a sense of how God's relationship with his people has progressed, to how history has had a hand in bringing about our salvation.

And it has increased my love for this incomparable book. I'm not quite done but I'm within five books of the end — at which point I'll start over again.

I eventually came up with my own chronological list because the one I began with was set up to get you through in a year. (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture's plan.) To that end and, as they explained, to alleviate possible boredom, they'd jiggered things a little. Things like moving Chronicles to way after Kings. This confused me no end, by the way, when I was reading along in their order and suddenly thought, "What is David doing this far into the timeline? He died long ago."

Boredom is not my problem as much as wanting to feel the flow of history. I loved the way their timeline placed prophets in the timeline so you could feel history and prophecy together. So I used their order as a timeline template and started putting the out-of-order elements back where they belonged. The result is below as a jpg that you can download or straight text that you can copy or print.

The Old Testament is in the order in which it happened (as nearly as one can ascertain). Job is the most problematic, probably, but once I saw some people placing it during the Genesis timeline it made the book fall into place for me better because of Job's relationship to God. (Knowing it is a fictional examination of Truth, and so forth.)

The New Testament is in the order in which it was written. That is because I was interested in seeing what order the Church experienced these things being written down and distributed. Kind of a "being there" experience because we know the oral stories were circulating from the beginning.

NOTE: The first time through I've been reading without notes or commentary. When I begin again I'll probably be supplementing my reading with a few of those.


OLD TESTAMENT
(Order in which happened)
  • Genesis
  • Job
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Psalms
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • Song of Songs
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings: 1-17
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles: 1-28
  • Amos
  • Jonah
  • Hosea
  • Micah
  • Isaiah: 1-39
  • Tobit
  • Nahum
  • Zephaniah
  • Habakkuk
  • Judith
  • 2 Kings: 18-25
  • 2 Chronicles: 29-36
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations
  • Baruch
  • Ezekiel
  • Obadiah
  • Daniel: 1-12 (minus prayer in 3:24–90)
  • Isaiah: 40-55
  • Joel
  • Ezra: 1-6
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Esther
  • Ezra: 7-10
  • Nehemiah
  • Isaiah: 56-66
  • Malachi
  • Daniel: 13
  • Sirach
  • Daniel: 14
  • Daniel: 3:24–90
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
  • Wisdom

NEW TESTAMENT
(Order in which written)
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessssalonians
  • Galatians
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Romans
  • Mark
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • Philemon
  • Ephesians
  • Matthew
  • 1 Timothy
  • Titus
  • 2 Timothy
  • Luke
  • Acts
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
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Well Said: So What?

The more you say, "I must not worry," the more you will. I think it better simply to offer the worrying to God. ...

I have the temperament which just has to face the worst possibility, and I think, when one does, one realizes that the very worst can be accepted. My way is to say in every emergency, "Now what is the worst that can happen?" and then, "So what?" That works with me.
Caryll Houselander
This has become my habit so I was surprised to see this quote from Caryll Houselander. When faced with imaginings of the worst things I finally had to face the fact that I have almost no control over a lot of my life.

If I have no control, I know who does and to whom I must turn — Jesus. And so I imagine the worst, turn it over to Jesus to help me if it should happen and then can say, "So what?"

Worth a Thousand Words: Women Preparing Silk

Women preparing silk, Emperor Huizong

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Girl Reading

Girl Reading, Georgios Jakobides

October Lagniappe: The Bells

Because it's October! When better for bells and Poe! Read it aloud for best effect.

The Bells

by Edgar Allen Poe


I
Hear the sledges with the bells-
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

II

Hear the mellow wedding bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And an in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

III

Hear the loud alarum bells-
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now- now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows:
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells-
Of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells,bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

IV

Hear the tolling of the bells-
Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people- ah, the people-
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All Alone
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone-
They are neither man nor woman-
They are neither brute nor human-
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
Rolls
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells-
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells-
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells-
Of the bells, bells, bells:
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells-
Bells, bells, bells-
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

Genesis Notes: Pharaoh's Dreams and Layers of Meaning

GENESIS 41
One of the things that I love so much about the Catholic approach to Scripture is the acceptance that there are layers upon layers of meaning to be found. This is very well illustrated when Joseph is needed to interpret Pharaoh's dreams. Until I read this I never would have connected the famine in Pharaoh's dreams with man's condition waiting for Jesus, the "Living Bread" but it makes a definite connection.

James Tissot, Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream
Pharaoh's dreams are given in great detail and repeated several times in chapter 41. The net effect of the repetition is to focus our attention on them. "Notice the details!" it fairly shouts.

But why? What is there to notice, other than the fact that the dreams warned Pharaoh of an economic downturn that would wipe out all memory of prosperity and potentially wipe out the population? Wasn't it just a setup, so Joseph could be brought into power?

This is a good time to remember that there are layers of meaning in Scripture, and that understanding the literal meaning can be a springboard to illuminating a deeper spiritual sense. In this case, Pharaoh's dreams and the state of Egypt they represent gain significance when we realize that they are in microcosm a picture of the condition of mankind after the fall. We gain profound insight into the way Joseph saves Egypt by seeing it as sign of the way Christ will come to change that condition.

[...]

Returning to Pharaoh's dreams, it is significant that other than the account of the flood, which signifies baptism, all the major pictures of man's condition and the solution to come (the fruit in the Garden; the famine and grain; and later manna in the wilderness, bread from heaven, the feeding of the 5,000; etc.) are couched in terms of food. For what is it that gives us life but the food that Jesus provides, His Body and Blood? As we read in St. John's gospel: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." (John 6:51). As Catholics we take in this new life every time we eat the host at Mass. As the Catechism so aptly says,
"... when the faithful receive the Body of the Son, they proclaim to one another the Good News that the first fruits of life have been given.' Now too are life and resurrection conferred on whoever receives Christ." What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh -- given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit, "preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism." (1391-2)
All quotes from Genesis, Part II: God and His Family. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Fairytale of the Tsar Saltan

Illustration for Alexander Pushkin's 'Fairytale of the Tsar Saltan,' Ivan Bilibin

October Lagniappe: The Ghost House

A melancholy and evocative poem by Robert Frost.

I dwell in a lonely house I know
That vanished many a summer ago,
And left no trace but the cellar walls,
And a cellar in which the daylight falls,
And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow.

O’er ruined fences the grape-vines shield
The woods come back to the mowing field;
The orchard tree has grown one copse
Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops;
The footpath down to the well is healed.

I dwell with a strangely aching heart
In that vanished abode there far apart
On that disused and forgotten road
That has no dust-bath now for the toad.
Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart;

The whippoorwill is coming to shout
And hush and cluck and flutter about:
I hear him begin far enough away
Full many a time to say his say
Before he arrives to say it out.

It is under the small, dim, summer star.
I know not who these mute folk are
Who share the unlit place with me—
Those stones out under the low-limbed tree
Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar.

They are tireless folk, but slow and sad,
Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,—
With none among them that ever sings,
And yet, in view of how many things,
As sweet companions as might be had.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Well Said: Adversity and prosperity

Adversity makes men and prosperity makes monsters.
Victor Hugo

Worth a Thousand Words: Winter Geraniums

Winter Geraniums, Belinda Del Pesco

Chai-Spiced Pound Cake

I've never liked chai-spiced drinks but then I saw this recipe in the King Arthur Flour catalog which looked so enticing that I bought their chai spice so I could make it. Of course, I don't love to drink chai but I might like to eat it in a dessert.

The cake was straight-up fantastic. I've got it at at Meanwhile, Back in the Kitchen.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Listen Up — Halloween Haunt, Spooked, The Moonlit Road

Something to remind us that Halloween is coming at the end of the month!


A short audio program celebrating our creepiest holiday. Hosted by the Halloween Haunter. History, customs, traditions, as well as spooky stories and poems.
I've been listening to this for years and it is always entertaining. It has a great blend of material and usually isn't much longer than 7 or 8 minutes.


Spooked features true-life supernatural stories, told firsthand by people who can barely believe it happened themselves. Be afraid. Created in the dark of night, by Snap Judgment and WNYC Studios.
This is new, although I did discover Snap Judgment has featured spooky shows since the beginning. Here they are broken out into half-hour segments, usually with a couple of stories in each episode. I think they are releasing a couple each week leading up to Halloween.

The Moonlit Road features Southern ghost stories, folktales, myths, legends and other strange tales from the dark backroads of the American South, told by the region's best storytellers.
Classic ghost stories, with a few original ones mixed in, that are usually around 10 minutes long and well told. Another one I've listened to for years.

Well Said: The advantage of front and back views

Mrs. Glegg had both a front and a back parlour in her excellent house of St. Ogg's, so that she had two points of view from which she could observe the weakness of her fellow beings and reinforce her thankfulness for her own exceptional strength of mind.
George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss
She's got a way with words, you've gotta admit it.

Worth a Thousand Words: Double Date

Double Date, Karin Jurick

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Movie You Might Have Missed #68: Colossal

All she could do was save the world.


Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City, and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon.
Impossible to describe without spoiling, this is one of my favorite movies this year. Halfway through it suddenly becomes something different than you signed on for in a way that is disturbing, revelatory, and — by the end — ultimately completely satisfying.

Well Said: Intolerance in support of tolerance

I have seen gross intolerance shown in support of tolerance.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
So there really is nothing new under the sun. I feel he would find our times very familiar.

Worth a Thousand Words: Lutter & Wegner

Lutter & Wegner, Edward B. Gordon

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Well Said: St. Francis and converting Christians

It is an old story that, while we may need somebody like Dominic to convert the heathen to Christianity, we are in even greater need of somebody like Francis, to convert the Christians to Christianity.
G.K. Chesterton, The Dumb Ox

Genesis Notes: A Few Facts About Egypt

GENESIS 39
I found this information about Egypt in Joseph's time interesting.

Workers plowing, harvesting crops, and threshing grain under the direction of an overseer,
painting in the tomb of Nakht.
WHEN DID JOSEPH ARRIVE?
The date of Joseph's arrival in Egypt is debatable. Many believe he arrived during the period of the Hysksos rulers, foreigners who came from the region of Canaan. They invaded Egypt and controlled the land for almost 150 years. If Joseph arrived during their rule, it is easy to see why he was rapidly promoted up the royal ladder. Because the Hysksos were foreigners themselves, they would not hold this brilliant young foreigner's ancestry against him.

PHARAOH
Pharaoh was the general name for all the kings of Egypt. It was a title like "King" or "President" used to address the country's leader. The Pharaohs in Genesis and Exodus were different men.

THE GOOD LIFE IN EGYPT
Ancient Egypt was a land of great contrasts. People were either rich beyond measure or poverty stricken. There wasn't much middle ground. Joseph found himself serving Potiphar, an extremely rich officer in Pharaoh's service. Rich families like Potiphar's had elaborate homes two or three stories tall with beautiful gardens and balconies. They enjoyed live entertainment at home as they chose delicious fruit from expensive bowls. They surrounded themselves with alabaster vases, paintings, beautiful rugs, and hand-carved chair. Dinner was served on golden tableware, and the rooms were lighted with gold lampstands. Servants, like Joseph, worked on the first floor, while the family occupied the upper stories.
All quotes from Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Worth a Thousand Words: Good Company

Good Company, taken by Remo Savisaar

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

SFFaudio - The Uninvited


We ain't afraid of no ghosts. Or are we? Jesse, Maissa, and Julie talk about The Uninvited at SFFaudio, episode 441.

(Get the audiobook here, my recording of The Uninvited originally done for Forgotten Classics.)

Well Said: What is the question?

I don't think the question is, "Is the customer always right?" but rather, "Do you want to make your customer happy?"
Chef Thomas Keller

Worth a Thousand Words: Ludgate, Evening

John O'Connor, Ludgate, Evening, 1887
via Lines and Colors

Julie and Scott have been warned away from a business meeting with Dracula at his castle.

They won't shirk their duty no matter how many rosaries the locals give them. And man... this pasta has a LOT of garlic in it.

Join us for Episode 168 where we discuss Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Well Said: What we get to worship

In the day to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.
David Foster Wallace

Worth a Thousand Words: Bookplate of Helen Taylor

Taylor, Helen M. A., artist.

Prayers for Victims in Las Vegas

I don't really keep up with current news and everyone in the household knows it. So when someone carefully says, "I don't know if you've heard the current news ..." then I know they are preparing me for something horrific. This morning was another such moment.

After hearing about the carnage in Las Vegas, once again I am left shocked and thinking, "what is wrong with the world?"

I am inadequate to come up with a prayer but The Anchoress has helped out there. The city's patrons are the Holy Family, St. Peter, and St. Paul, which is why they are included in her prayer.

Together, let us pray:
O Lord, by whose design the sands of our lives run fast or slow,
be with us in this time of terror;
send your Holy Spirit to help us grow in wisdom
in the face of such a senseless act.

Holy Family — Jesus, Mary and Joseph — be the consolation of families impacted
by this violence and mayhem.
Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of the city,
Saint Michael the Archangel, patron of First Responders, pray for Las Vegas.

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison
Kyrie Eleison

For the sake of Christ’s sorrowful passion, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.

Amen.