From the monthly archives:

September 2010

My friend and colleague Stephen Wigley has his second book about von Balthasar coming out soon, and the least I can do is mention it here. You can buy it on Amazon, of course. But there’s a bigger discount to be had by using this order form.
Balthasar’s Trilogy will be published later this month. [...]


Without Love - Nothing!

by Kim on September 30, 2010

On September 29th, 2005, I preached at the Swansea University Welcome Service which begins the academic year. Richard approached me afterwards and said, “Look, I know you’re not into visiting websites – not even mine, you bastard! – but would you mind if I posted that sermon at Connexions?” “Sure,” I said. [...]


Weaving a bit more of the web

by Richard on September 30, 2010

I haven’t blogged much lately. There are all sorts of reasons for this, and I needn’t detain you with most of them. One thing I’ve been doing is setting up a social networking site to support EDEV and other learning within the Methodist Church. It isn’t launched yet, but if you wanted a peek you [...]


All week I’ve been testing
prayers as I hear them coming
from my mouth, judging the slant and
roominess of their pockets, how deep.
How well measured, and
do I take enough time with them.
What about the closeness of their weave,
the hang of fabric, and do they clothe
my gratitude or love or anguish
without bagging or crease.
But never, quite. Nor [...]


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the [...]


Hymn of the day

by Richard on September 26, 2010

Let us, with a gladsome mind,
Praise the Lord, for He is kind.
For His mercies aye endure, Ever faithful, ever sure.
Let us blaze His Name abroad,
For of gods He is the God.
He with all commanding might
Filled the new made world with light.
He hath, with a piteous eye,
Looked upon our misery.
He the golden tressèd sun
Caused all day [...]


The stripling posturing
before the hero;
the mature man
posturing before
God. Circularity
is endless, yet
one prayer, slipping
the reason, speeds out
into the cornerless
universe so close to God
as to open a crater
in his composure.
R.S. Thomas, Residues (Tarset, Northumberland: Bloodaxe Books, 2002), p. 61.


Death penalty

by Richard on September 24, 2010

It won’t be a surprise to anyone that I’m an opponent of the death penalty. Judicial murder is wrong.
But even if you believe that capital punishment can be justified, how can a woman of limited intelligence be deemed deserving of execution because she arranged a killing, when those ho actually did the deed were not?
Something [...]


Joy is the most important Christian emotion. Duty calls only when gratitude fails to prompt.
True, we have to hate evil; else we’re sentimental. But if we hate evil more than we love the good, we become damn good haters, and of those the world already has too many.
Diversity may be both the [...]

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If you come this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is [...]


Prayer is the little instrument
Through which Men reach
Where Presence - is denied them.
They fling their Speech
By means of it - in God’s Ear -
If then He hear -
This sums the Apparartus
Comprised in Prayer -
Of Course - I prayed -
And did God Care?
He cared as much as on the Air
A Bird - had stamped her foot [...]


Lord, Thou art mine, and I am Thine,
If mine I am; and Thine much more
Than I or ought or can be mine.
Yet to be Thine doth me restore,
So that again I now am mine,
And with advantage mine the more,
Since this being mine brings with it Thine,
And Thou with me dost Thee restore:
If I without Thee [...]

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O come, in any way you want,
In morning sunlight fooling in the leaves
Or in thick bouts of rain that soak my head
Because of what the darkness said
Or come, though far too slowly for my eye to see,
Like a dark hair that fades to gray
Come with the wind that wraps my house
Or winter light that slants [...]


Clerihew(s) for the Cardinal

by Kim on September 19, 2010

Pace the pope, here is Auden, the master:
Cardinal Newman
Was being only human
When he dreamed of panning
The latest tract by Cardinal Manning.
And here is my poor quasi-clerihewical update.
Cardinal Newman
Wasn’t at his own exhuming,
Nor does his miracle,
For all the panegyricals,
Pass muster as empirical,
So a saint
He ain’t.


at the foot of the universe
I ask
from this body
in confusion
and pain (a condition
which You
may recall)
Clothed now in light
clothed in abyss, at the prow
of the desert
into everywhereness -
have mercy
Mercy on us all
Franz Wright, God’s Silence (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), p. 65.


Hymn of the day

by Richard on September 19, 2010

Light of the world, thy beams I bless;
On thee, bright Sun of Righteousness,
My faith has fixed its eye;
Guided by thee, through all I go,
Nor fear the ruin spread below,
For thou art always nigh.
Not all the powers of hell can fright
A soul that walks with Christ in light;
He walks, and cannot fall:
Clearly he sees, and wins [...]


(a debt to Van Gogh’s “Crooked Church”)
Maybe a mad fit made you set it there
Askew, bent to the wind, the blue-print gone
Awry, or did it? Isn’t every prayer
We say oblique, unsure, seldom a simple one,
Shaken as your stone tightening in the air?
Decorum smiles a little. Columns, domes
Are sights, are aspirations. We can’t [...]


You ask me how to pray to someone who is not.
All I know is that prayer constructs a velvet bridge
And walking it we are aloft, as on a springboard,
Above landscapes the color of ripe gold
Transformed by a magic stopping of the sun.
That bridge leads to the shore of Reversal
Where everything is just the opposite and [...]


One of the tendencies of our age is to use the suffering of children to discredit the goodness of God, and once you have discredited his goodness, you are done with him…. Ivan Karamazov cannot believe, as long as one child is in torment; Camus’ hero [Rieux] cannot accept the divinity of Christ, because of [...]


From “September 11, 2001″ by Godfrey Rust

by Kim on September 13, 2010

After the accounting of the dead,
when the insurance claims are settled,
and the markets are back to their normal jittery selves,
we have all seen what Hell looks like. In future
we will avoid tall buildings, slowly move away
from cities, fly less often, view
our fellow passengers with circumspection,
seek refuge in more virtual reality and trade
within the safer evils [...]