Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Forget not Fairy Tales

Today, while I was in the library, I set down St. Anselm's Cur Deus Homo, and went to the children's literature section- a tiny portion of a small division of a single bookshelf. I was contemplating whether I wanted to check out The Hobbit or look into The Tale of Despereaux, when a girl walked up to the same section with a copy of The Hobbit to return the bookshelf.

We were both embarrassed to be discovered among the fairy tales.

"Oh... excuse me."

"No worries... I'm glad someone else uses this part of the library"

"Yeah! I love children's books... I mean... not that The Hobbit's a children's book"

"Oh, yeah, I love The Hobbit"

"Yeah, I need to put it away, otherwise I wont get any homework done..."

I relate this chance encounter to you, reader, because I think that in the rush of our lives, we ought not forget fairy tales. Infinitely greater minds and far more poetic souls have argued for the relevance and importance of myths and fairy tales, so I will not burden you with my attempts to replicate them.

I feel like, at least for my generation, returning to children's books is fairly normal, so that understanding their importance is not the pressing need- the pressing thing is to be reminded of the wonder and goodness that fills the best fairy tales.

Too often, I am tempted to read my weathered copy of A Farewell to Arms because it looks like the type of book a mature, artistic English major would read; when truth be told, I would rather be reading a Narnian chronicle. This is not to belittle Hemingway; quite the opposite. It is to belittle my selfish motives for reading him, the same selfish motives that prevent me from reading him as he ought to be read. I will never read Hemingway well if I cannot read Rowling well.

So this week, forget ambition, and forget the appearance of intellectual maturity, but forget not fairy tales: literary insight cannot be divorced from the prior delight of stories.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Memoriam

May God have mercy on our souls.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Praise be to God

Terry Jones has cancelled his plans to burn a Koran on September 11.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Our Daily Bread

When I woke up this morning, Roy was in our room, giving Gabriel money with which to purchase a loaf of sourdough. Seeing I was awake, Gabriel asked me if I waned to go with him to Panera bread. I told him I would go to the caf. Then I started thinking about Broccoli Cheddar soup. So I told him I would meet him there.

I went through Biola’s back gate and traipsed about the slight inclines and valleys of the La Mirada neighborhoods to the La Mirada town center. It was already 12:30- I had slept in, given that the night before had been prolonged by discussion of theology and film.

When I got to Panera, Gabriel was sitting right next to the door. I set down my satchel and went to order. When I returned, I noticed that Gabriel’s plate and bowl of soup were empty and pushed aside, and he was munching a piece of sourdough bread.

“I paid for a third of it.” He said, by way of explanation. I nodded. Son enough, I was preoccupied with half a Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich and a bowl of Broccoli Cheddar soup.

After a few hours of studying, Gabriel suggested we migrate to Dr. Yeh’s house, where there was an open invitation for the day to come and study, with coffee and tea provided by the great Allen Yeh himself.

Shortly, we arrived there, and after a cursory tour of Dr. Yeh’s very smart new residence, we settled in at the kitchen table with books in hand, cookies on a plate, and a pot of coffee bubbling nearby. Somehow, the loaf of bread had made it’s way out of Gabriel’s backpack and onto the table. I reached for a slice. Panera makes good bread.

I spent some time reading Romans for class- I listened to some lectures this summer by Dr. Knox Chamblin of the Reformed Theological Seminary- he referred to Saint Paul as “a Christ-intoxicated person”. Indeed he is. I used to think I didn’t like Paul. I can only assume this was a grievous consequence of a willingness to be told about Paul without an equal willingness to read him. I love Paul’s epistles. I shall be glad to spend more time in them in the coming semester. Already, Thessalonians has changed my view of Eschatology from a vague, discontented negation of “Left-Behind-esque thought” into a joyful affirmation of the hope we have in awaiting Christ’s return- even if I still feel uncomfortable attempting to solidify any details other than what is explicit in scripture.

When we left Dr. Yeh’s house, we realized that we had successfully eaten most of Roy’s bread. Gabriel needed to get to his parents’ house, so I just had him drop me off at Panera to get another loaf for Roy and simply walk back to Biola.

When I went to purchase the bread, however, the cashier informed me that there was no more sourdough. I decided to get Roy a thin loaf of Asiago cheese bread. When I got back to the room, I gave the loaf to Roy.

Several hours later, Roy walked into the room with a large loaf of Tomato Basil bread and a small block of cheddar cheese. Gabriel had just returned from his parents’, and Sam had been studying in the room. Roy offered us bread, and we partook together. It was very good.

I think the Church is beautiful; even in this fumbling of college students buying bread, there is an echo of the love of the apostles, sharing among themselves. Today, our comical failure to fetch bread for Roy turned into a running demonstration of Christian charity and generosity, taking joy in the benefit of others. Today, I partook of the communion of saints.

It was a good day.