Thursday, April 28
‘Twas the twenty-third of July, in the sixteen thirty-seven,
On the Sabbath morn from high St. Giles the solemn peal was given;
King Charles had sworn that Scottish men should pray by printed rule;
He sent a book, but never dreamt of danger from a stool.
The Council and the Judges, with ermined pomp elate,
The Provost and the Bailies in gold and crimson state,
Fair silken-vested ladies, grave doctors of the school,
Were there to please the King, and learn the virtues of a stool.
The Bishop and the Dean came in wi’ muckle gravity,
Right smooth and sleek, but lordly pride was lurking in their e’e;
Their full lawn sleeves were blown and big, like seals in briny pool;
They bore a book, but little thought they soon should feel a stool.
The Dean he to the alter went, and, with a solemn look,
He cast his eyes to heaven, and read the curious-printed book:
In Jenny’s heart the blood upwelled with bitter anguish full;
Sudden she started to her legs, and stoutly grasped the stool!
As when a mountain wildcat springs upon a rabbit small,
So Jenny on the Dean springs, with gush of holy gall;
Wilt thou say mass at my lugs, thou popish-puling fool?
No! No! She said, and at his head she flung the three-legged stool.
A bump, a thump! A smash, a crash! Now gentle folks beware!
Stool after stool, like rattling hail, came twirling through the air,
With, well done, Jenny! Bravo, Jenny! That’s the proper tool!
When the Devil will out, and shows his snout, just meet him with a stool!
The Council and the Judges were smitten with strange fear,
The ladies and the Bailies their seats did deftly clear,
The Bishop and the Dean went in sorrow and in dool,
And all the Popish flummery fled when Jenny showed the stool!
And thus a mighty deed was done by Jenny’s valiant hand,
Black Prelacy and Popery she drove from Scottish land;
King Charles he was a shuffling knave, priest Laud a meddling fool,
But Jenny was a woman wise, who beat them with a stool!
Wednesday, April 27
Tuesday, April 26
Friday, April 22
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital will be prominently featured in the May 9 episode of The WB Network series 7th Heaven, in which two sisters from the the church--which is always the backdrop for the show--are battling sickle cell disease.
The treatments for the girls are draining the mother's budget as well as her spirit, when she is presented the opportunity to take her daughters to St. Jude in Memphis, Tennessee. She is surprised to learn that St. Jude was the first hospital to cure sickle cell disease with a bone marrow transplant, as well as to use other cutting-edge treatments that are available at no cost to the family.
St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay. Never. Ever.
The episode, titled "Leaps of Faith," is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Eastern time May 9 on The WB Network (check local listings).
Of course, that is a little more than a week after I will have (hopefully) completed my fundraising 26.2 mile run on behalf of St. Jude's work. Won't you join me in supporting this remarkable work? You can pledge online at my St. Jude sponsor site. I'd be honored to know that you're standing with me as I trudge along in the Country Music Marathon this next Saturday here in Nashville.
Wednesday, April 20
The treatment of children and the onging research at St. Jude includes work in bone marrow transplantation, chemotherapy, the biochemistry of normal and cancerous cells, radiation treatment, blood diseases, resistance to therapy, viruses, hereditary diseases, infectious diseases, and psychological effects of catastrophic illnesses. Vital work, indeed. And again, always made available to families regardless of their financial means.
Obviously, this kind of care is very expensive. Won't you help me support the remarkable ministry of St. Jude to children and families battling cancer? Please donate now and come back to visit my St. Jude sponsor site often. Tell others about what I'm trying to do. Learn how my effort to help find cures and save lives is going. Oh yes, and do pray for my weary old knees and ankles to hold up!
Tuesday, April 12
I'd heard it all before, of course. Get permalinks for the blog. Start a podcast of sermons and lectures. Have an RSS feed so that folks can subscribe, get announcements of any updates, and receive auto-mailings. In other words, actually leave the twentieth century behind and enter into the brave new world of the twenty-first.
Enough, enough already! Yesterday we began work on upgrading the site. Please be patient while we roll out the new features. It will likely take a couple of weeks to get everything online. But keep watching this space for the tranformation--Fred is going to morph into George! At long last!
Tuesday, April 5
The American Heritage Dictionary defines integrity as “completeness, unity.” For human beings, living with integrity means living consistently with all of the aspects of our humanity. It implies exercising our personal freedoms while at the same time owning the limits within us and those rightly set upon us; practicing appropriate autonomy while concurrently embracing our role in community; expressing our independence while simultaneously living interdependently with others.
Why did Terri Schiavo’s story so capture the interest of Americans in recent weeks? It was, in part, because we all struggle with the tension between these aspects of our humanity. In the last century we saw the harvest of bitterness reaped in communist countries where all decisions were made in the name of the supposed collective good of society, while crushing the human spirit’s need for expression and freedom. At the same time, there is a growing uneasiness with the American mindset that the fullest expression of the human spirit consists exclusively in personal freedom, personal fulfillment, and personal autonomy. When we lose the tensions between freedom and responsibility, between individuality and community we begin to lose our identity—and our way.
Many arguments made in support of removing Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube were based on the underlying assumption that the preservation of personal autonomy was the highest moral good in this case. An editorial in last week’s paper stated that “the only justifiable debate, therefore, is what Terri’s wishes would be in this situation.” But is it? Is that an integrated view of the human person? When a person struggles with severe depression and attempts to end their life, we intervene if at all possible. Is that disrespecting their autonomy, or embracing our role as a community? At the time—knowing what they know about their current state in life—the suicidal individual chooses to no longer live. We intervene, not because we can guarantee improvement to their condition, but because we value them as human beings and are committed to their care. We intervene as it is humane to do so—which is to say that it is kind, merciful and compassionate.
Kindness, mercy and compassion are costly acts of community and interdependence. They require something of us. They make us more than we would be otherwise—more than we would be if left alone, self-absorbed in our private world of autonomy. Twenty-first century American society is a culture that glorifies the exercise of personal choice. But we seem to have forgotten that one can also make a choice to be committed to others. We need to recover a commitment to a different kind of choice, the choice to live connected lives that are characterized by mercy. St. Gregory of Nyssa once defined mercy as “a voluntary sorrow which enjoins itself to the suffering of another.” Sorrow and suffering are two of the common threads of the human experience that bind us across generations, income brackets, races and ability levels.
Whose life will you choose to enter into today? If we each make a choice to live with integrity—to embrace all aspects of our humanity—we will begin to find ourselves again and, perhaps, our way in the process.
Never will I sit motionless while directly or indirectly apology is made for the murder of the helpless. In securing any kind of peace, the first essential is to guarantee to every man the most elementary of rights: the right to his own life. Murder is not debatable.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in Mankind;
And therefore never send to know
For whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
John Donne (1571-1630)
Do unto others as if you were the others.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
All the starry hosts of heaven and of earth declare with one voice the glory bestowed on these sublime creatures of the Living God, these creatures made just a little lower than himself. We can do no better than to acknowledge our acceptance of Him by our acceptance of them.
Dympna of Gheel (c. 770-795)
If I can stop one heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life in the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Emily Dickenson (1830-1886)
The accursed everyday life of the modernist is instinct with the four sins crying to heaven for vengeance, and there is no humanity in it, and no simplicity, and no recollection.
Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)
The Modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; but their truth is pitiless. And thus some humanitarians care only for pity; but their pity--I am sorry to say--is often untruthful.
G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)