The very first email I read this morning in my fourth Monday of sheltering at home and work from home contain this call to fast and prayer this Friday (which also happens to be Good Friday):
This Friday, April 10, I invite you to join with me and many others from around the world in fasting and prayer that the COVID-19 pandemic “may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.” The principle of fasting transcends denominational and doctrinal differences and is practiced by many world religions including Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Taoists.
A Husch Blackwell Partner, Kansas City, MO
I’ve added this as a reminder to my calendar as an all day event this Friday. It’s been ages since I purposely fasted and prayed so I will probably do a juice fast. I will also research some appropriate verses to study and prepare appropriate meditations and prayers from.
37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper, if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 38 whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart, and spreading his hands toward this house; 39 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men,that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.
1 Kings 8: 37-40
Join me this Friday for a day of fasting and prayer for all.
This morning I received an email from our local Managing Director of the law firm I work for. We’ve all been working from home officially since last Wednesday (I have been since the afternoon of March 16th). She shared the following information about her nephew’s company, Sandlot Goods.
In this time of uncertainty many of us are asking is there anything we can do to help those that are on the front line fighting the coronavirus. I wanted to make you aware of a local company, Sandlot Goods, that received a grant from the Kauffman Foundation to begin producing masks. Sandlot Goods is a locally owned KC company that typically produces handsewn leather goods that are really cool, but in response to the crisis is converting their production lines. Their goal is to produce 12,000 masks in week 1.
You can help in three ways:
Share this message and the link below on social media;
Today would have been the 121st birthday of C.S. Lewis. A week ago today marked the 56th anniversary of his death, which was, at the time, overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy.
To celebrate his birthday, I decided to read the second essay found in the 1969 edition of Selected Literary Essays by C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper. Interestingly, the copy I checked out from the Kansas City Public Library may be a first edition. If not, it’s been in circulation for fifty years, as evidenced by date stamps through early 1996, after which, I assume, the Library moved from analog to digital (card catalog to barcodes):
I originally checked out this volume specifically to read the 21st essay entitled “Psycho-Analysis and Literary Criticism” which was referenced in a footnote in an essay I read recently in A Tolkien Compass. For today, though, I wanted to celebrate the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, so I read, instead, the second essay entitled “The Alliterative Metre.”
The essay covers many of the rules governing alliterative verse, including these definitions:
The half-line consists of Lifts and Dips. Every half-line must contain neither more nor less than two Lifts.
A Lift is either (1) one syllable both long and accented (as the first syllable of ogre or mountain); or (b) two syllables whereof the first is short but accented, and the second unaccented (as the first two syllables of merrily, vigorous, melancholy, evident).
A Dip is any reasonable number of unaccented syllables whether long or short.
Despite my best efforts, I quickly got sidetracked by yet another footnote. It all began with a short example alliterative verse, composed (I’m assuming) by Lewis.
We were TALKing of DRAGONS, | TOLkien and I In a BERKshire BAR. | The BIG WORKman Who had SAT SILent | and SUCKED his PIPE ALL the EVEning, | from his EMPTy MUG With GLEAMing EYE | GLANCED toWARDS us; "I SEEN 'em mySELF', | he SAID FIERCEly
Note: Syllables printed above in capitals are Lifts, the rest are Dips.
The first and most distracting footnote followed the word ‘fiercely’ and read:
I was a bit shocked last week when I returned to work from a normal weekend to see traditional Christmas decorations in the elevator lobby, including Christmas trees and presents. The relief was palpable. If you read my last post, you’ll understand what nine years of PC purgatory looked like. The vote is still out on the winner of the worst decoration (I’m leaving the poll open until after Thanksgiving).
I’ve been sick the last couple of day, and so has my furnace. It’s having surgery right now in my basement. All of this meant we had to cancel our annual trip to visit my son, daughter-in-law and grandson for Thanksgiving. I don’t want them to get sick with whatever I’ve got and I can’t leave my house unattended with an unreliable furnace. I guess I’ll get caught up on my early winter reading.
I wish all of you a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. Spend quality time with your family and friends. I’ll have to substitute a video call with my far-flung offspring.
On any given Sunday, you’ll find me awake before sunrise. Old, very old, habits die-hard. I embrace being a morning person. Only causes an issue when I want to toast in the new year since I generally turn into a pumpkin around nine o’clock. Today was no different from any other weekend.
Yesterday was Twelfth Night, the official end to the Christmas season. When Dickens was a youth, Twelfth Night was ‘THE’ biggest day of the winter holiday in England. Between his Christmas Carol and Prince Albert’s importation of German Christmas traditions (namely the Christmas tree), Twelfth Night began to fade out of fashion during Dickens and Queen Victoria’s lifetimes.
I did not stay up late celebrating or hosting a Twelfth Night party. I had servers to upgrade and test bright and early on January 6th, also known as Epiphany.
I woke up before my alarm (I almost always do this; my alarm only woke me up once in the last six months) and got logged in and ready to upgrade a server. It went much smoother than the last time I tried, right before Christmas, and I was done within 20 minutes (leaving an hour forty minutes of my maintenance window unused). Server patch testing took another fifteen minutes so I was done ‘working’ before seven o’clock, still before sunrise.
I once aspired to be a poet. During my teens, I filled journals and notebooks with clumsy rhymes, attempting to paint with words and emotions. But by twenty, all my misty dreams of meter and rhyme faded before the rush of life’s dawn. I can’t remember the last time I wrote something creative. Even this blog is just a non-fiction autobiographical day-in-the-life outpouring, for the most part.
My poetic wellspring may have run dry or perhaps my muse is MIA; regardless, I still appreciate a well written verse or stanza. I was reminded of this when I joined the local chapter of the Tolkien Society. We have read Unfinished Tales in the last year as well as The Story of Kullervo and The Children of Húrin, which I listened to the audiobook narrated by the late Christopher Lee (highly recommended). I scoured local second-hand book stores and found paperback editions for the History of Middle-Earth (it is not currently available in ebook editions) including The Lays of Beleriand. I listened to podcasts and learned about alliterative verse, which is best appreciated when read aloud (as is true of most poetry).
In roughly chronological order, starting with Thanksgiving weekend decorating the exterior of our home.
Followed by a drive by on Grand Avenue past one of the tallest Christmas trees in the country in the heart of Crown Center two days later:
I started off December right by stopping just before dawn on Broadway to snap this photo of the annual decorations hung at the Kansas City Life Insurance building:
A week later I made it to work very early, with the sun still below the horizon with the help of some cloud cover and took several photos of the Country Club Plaza Christmas lights from the top floor of my building (despite the reflections of interior lights on the window glass):
Another week passed by and on the ides of December the angel appeared in my landscaping. Due to unexpected altercations with local deer population, our lighted reindeer will be decidedly absent from our yard display:
And finally, and surely not least, as I returned home last night from work, I stopped at Union Station to marvel at their internal decoration bonanza:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip around town, at least the parts of it I frequent on a daily and regular basis.
May all your Christmases be Bright and May God Bless Us, Everyone!
Goodreads Synopsis: An instructive and entertaining book that addresses basic life questions. Relating numerous personal anecdotes, incorporating, intriguing material from the films of Woody Allen and the journals of Leo Tolstoy, and using the writings of the seventeenth-century genius Blaise Pascal as a central guide, Morris explores the nature of faith, reason, and the meaning of life. His lucid reflections provide fresh, fertile insights and perspectives for any thoughtful person journeying through life.
Read the week of May 7, 2017 by the grace of one of the wonders of the modern world: Interlibrary Loan
Morris did an excellent job of pulling together Pascal’s Thoughts and presenting powerful arguments in support of his famous Wager. For me, it ended up being a reaffirmation of my personal faith, a honing of my reasoning and renewed focus on my life’s purpose and direction. This is the first of many tangential reads I’ll be undertaking as a direct result of my Brain Upgrade Project, the first phase of which wrapped up last week when I took my final in Philosophy.
Brief Plot Synopsis (via IMdb): In 33 AD, a Roman Tribune in Judea is tasked to find the missing body of an executed Jew rumored to have risen from the dead.
I normally detest police procedurals (there are way too many of those in a myriad of permutations in prime-time television), but this one intrigued me. Excellent sets, costumes, locations and above average acting gave me hope that this faith-based film would overcome it’s predecessors shortcomings. And for the most part, I was not disappointed. I had minor historical quibbles which I confirmed at IMdb’s Goofs page ( I caught them all without checking the internet).
Synopsis (from IMdb): The chief mercenary for the British East India Company, being double crossed by his former employer, has made his way to the American Colonies. Working to redeem his name, William Reynolds (Andrew Cheney) now hides behind a different mask in hopes of thwarting his former employer. As his past life closes in on him, Will must somehow gain the trust and the help of his beloved Charlotte, a woman he has been lying to, as well as a colonial intellectual by the name of Ben Franklin. All the while he races against time to defuse a plot that could have devastating effect on the birth of a new nation.
The story was intriguing and I’m always a sucker for a Revolutionary tale. The actors performed well (I laughed, I almost cried). Yet, I remained unconvinced in the sincerity of Will’s conversion, but his actions and convictions spoke louder than his words throughout. Charlotte’s constant protestations of confusion made me doubt her intelligence, but she redeemed herself admirably before the credits. I spotted the telegraphed clues to the mystery early on, so the plotting was almost as heavy-handed as the special effects, which I thought were a bit over-played.
I liked the score, except perhaps for the repeated use of Pachelbel’s Canon, which really wasn’t popular until the 1970s, not the 1776 (in fact it was pretty much lost to history until the early 20th century).
Christian film-making is improving. I continue to hold out hope and with each passing year my prayers are answered for an improved storytelling experience.
Give Beyond the Mask a try. You might find a spark of redemption waiting for you.