Monday, January 24, 2011

More word-loving

I really like that McEntyre loves grammar.  We are a small and lonely club, we grammar-lovers.  Or maybe not so small, but quiet, and a little fearful of being ostracized if people knew we love grammar!  I love that she wanted to "pause and celebrate, individually, the invaluable work that is accomplished in their decent and orderly way by particular parts of speech."

I like the "prepositional theology embedded" in the hymn"
Christ be with me, Christ within me
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
"Each of those prepositions - with, within, behind, before, beside, beneath, above, and in - opens an avenue of reflection on the mysterious and manifold nature of relationship to Christ."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Love words

Continuing to read Caring for Words. . .
We gather these gifts of language as we go along - lines from poems, verses from Scripture, quips, turns of phrase, or simply words that delight us.  We use them in moments of need.  We share them with friends, and we reach for them in our own dark nights.
 And another quote:
The dumbing-down, oversimplification, or flattened character of public speech may make our declamations and documents more accessible, but it deprives us all of a measure of beauty and clarity that could enrich our lives together.  In more and more venues where speech and writing are required, adequate is adequate.
"When a person has a poor ear for music, he will flat and sharp right along without knowing it.  He keeps near the tune, but it is not the tune.  When a person has a poor ear for words, the result is a literary flatting and sharping; you perceive what he is intending to say, but you also perceive that he doesn't say it.  This is Cooper.  He was not a word-musician.  His ear was satisfied with the approximate word."  (quote from Mark Twain)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Everybody had colds.  Some said it was the flu, but whatever it was it had decimated the population.  Half of Darrowby seemed to be in bed and the other half sneezing at each other.
I myself was on a knife edge, crouching over the fire, sucking an antiseptic lozenge and wincing every time I had to swallow.  My throat felt raw and there was an ominous tickling at the back of my nose. . .
 later. . .
"Hhrraaagh!" replied Mr. Snowden.  Coughs come in various forms but this one was tremendous and fundamental, starting at the soles of his hob-nailed boots and exploding right in my face.  I hadn't realized how vulnerable I was, with the farmer leaning over the calf's neck, his head a few inches from mine.  "Hhrraaagh!" he repeated, and a second shower of virus-laden moisture struck me.  Apparently Mr. Snowden didn't know or didn't care about droplet infection, but with my hands inside my patient, there was nothing I could do about it.
 Instinctively I turned my face a little in the other direction.
"Whoosh!" went George. It was a sneeze rather than a cough, but it sent a similar deadly spray against my other cheek.  I realized there was no escape.  I was hopelessly trapped between the two of them.
from All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot

Sunday, January 9, 2011

From "Fearless Faith" by AP

This is an excerpt from something Andrew Peterson posted on the Rabbit Room last year at Christmas. I've read it so many times I could probably have it memorized without too much effort. It's a great example of something that is both said well and worth saying. Read the whole thing here.

"Those walking in darkness have seen a great light, said the prophet Isaiah of Jesus’ triumphant arrival. Here is a great mystery: that very light lives in us. In the streets of our Bethlehem, a child has been born. On the hill of our sin a man has been crucified. In the garden tomb of our hearts that man has risen and proved that he was also God all along. What have we to fear? Nothing. Yea, though I walk through the grief of my loss, through the confusion of my suffering, through the powerful sadness of getting out of bed when all seems lost, I will not fear, for he is with me. As I walk through the city, as I struggle to follow, as I pay my bills, as I fill my tank and feed my children, I will not fear. Though enemies plot, though the bombs are tested, though the nations rage, though all Hell break loose–I will not fear. He is with me."

Thanks, AP.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reuben and the horse

. . . I had hold of Laurie's bridle, and she was stepping sideways, dragging me around.

"Will she run?" Though I tried to ask this as if a running horse were my preference, August saw it for the chickeny question that it was.

"Let's just walk 'em down the pasture. She'll behave. . . "

Laurie champed and shook her head. She wanted to run, she was shivering with it, and abruptly, I understood that I was scared of horses. My hands cramped on the reins. How had I not comprehended this before?  Why, I could barely see the ground!

From Peace Like a River
Doesn't it make you feel like you're there with Reuben and August?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why worry about words?

McEntyre wants us to be "good stewards of language" and to "retrieve words. . . and to reinvigorate them for use as bearers of truth and as instruments of love."

In order to do this, she says we must do three things:
  1. deepen and sharpen our reading skills
  2. cultivate habits of speaking and listening that foster precision and clarity
  3. practice poesis - to be makers and doers of the word
(I don't even really know what poesis is, though I suppose it has something to do with poetry!)

Each chapter is about a way we can be good stewards of language. 

This book is about language, which is not the same as reading a good story.  So I'll have two books going at the same time for a while.  It's not the first time. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

A new book

I got a new book for Christmas, Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn McEntyre.  I'm anxious to read it, but I have been advised not to read it too quickly, but to take my time.  This I will try to do.

Today, I read the intro to my new book.  I'm looking forward to finding "new ways to enjoy words and to reclaim them as instruments of love, healing, and peace" and "to foster the kinds of community that come from shared stories and surprising sentences."

I hope this blog becomes a little collection of words, phrases, and paragraphs.  I'd like to come back and browse for tasty tidbits.  You know what I mean.  The kind of passages that you want to read over and over because they are just so delicious.  Occasionally, such writing flows from my fingers, and I wonder where it came from because it seldom seems related to effort.  I cannot always write that way, but I know it when I read it.  And I like to read it again and again.