Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Top Ten Books of 2009

Despite my efforts to read 30 books this year, I have only achieved 26. Maybe next year I will reach my goal. Anyway, below is my list of the top ten books I've read this past year:

#1 - Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

This is, without a doubt, the best theological book I have ever read. Chesterton dives into pools of miraculous thought that had never even crossed my mind. You'll feel like you should read every chapter about ten times if you want to fully grasp the meaning of what he's writing. It is an amazing book, and a must read for everyone.


#2 - The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have no doubt that The Silmarillion is one of the most beautiful books ever written. It goes through the history of Middle Earth in gorgeous depth and detail. Most people complain that it is slow, and that they had a hard time not losing interest. I couldn't disagree more. The beautiful descriptions and stories that make up this historical fiction are profound and breathtaking. The book is studded throughout with gems of melancholy beauty and cool, pure grief. It is stunning, and worth many hours of your time.


#3 - Bleak House by Charles Dickens

The mood, feeling, and underlying current of suspense in this book is perfectly wound up in it's name, Bleak House. I believe that Dickens was at his height when he wrote this one. It is every bit as good as David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. If you don't read it you are missing out on a rare, thrilling treat. And don't see the movie before you read the book!


#4 - Knowing Christ Today by Dallas Willard

This book is brilliant. Willard argues against the current day trend of disregarding knowledge, and writes about how our relationship with God has to be thoroughly based in it. It is very much worth reading.


#5 - Four Faultless Felons by G.K. Chesterton

This is the most fun, fast-paced book I've read this year. It makes me thirst for more Chesterton. He winsome light and laughter has won my book-worm heart, and thus he is by far my favorite author. The wonderful thing is that I have only read four books by him thus far, and have an entire Chestertonian world just waiting for me.


#6 - Watership Down by Richard Adams

This is not the first time I've read Watership Down, and it just gets better and better. Richard Adams is a masterful writer, and this book has one of the best climaxes of all time. Who would have thought that one of the greatest books ever written would be about rabbits? That is just a tribute to Adams' incredible ability to bring vague worlds to vivid life.


#7 - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I had known the story of Jane Eyre for a long time before reading the book. I tend to dislike reading books that I've already seen a movie adaptation of, but do not let your knowledge of the book's twist keep you from reading it. Jane Eyre is wonderfully thrilling, and the romance is second to none. The movie versions have not done it justice. It is Bronte's best book. (Do not read Villette)


#8 - Middlemarch by George Elliot

Middlemarch is a wonderful read. The love story is masterful, the characters are original; it is altogether brilliant.


#9 - The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

This book is amazing and beautiful. It is about a man in Hell who takes a train ride to Heaven, and other than that I will not try and tell you what it's about. Lewis has a soft touch in his books that sets you longing for paradise. But this one puts your longing a bit deeper, and closer to the heart.


#10 - The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper

This book is just fabulous. The movie doesn't do it justice by half. It turned everything around to where there was not a tenth of the depth and underlying feeling and moral that make the book so moving and wonderful. It's an excellent work of classic literature, and every bit worth your time.


Here is the full list of the books I've read in 2009 -

Watership Down by Richard Adams
Christus Victor by Gustaf Aulen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
Four Faultless Felons by G.K. Chesterton
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Middlemarch by George Elliot
Adam Bede by George Elliot
Howards' End by E.M. Forster
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Tess of the D'Uberveilles by Thomas Hardy
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
The Wise Woman by George Macdonald
The Golden Key by George Macdonald
The Quest of the Fair Unknown by Gerald Morris
Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
The Land by Mildred D. Taylor
Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor
The Road to Memphis by Mildred D. Taylor
Leaf By Niggle by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Knowing Christ Today by Dallas Willard
The Calling of Dan Matthews by Harold Bell Wright









Saturday, October 3, 2009

Victory!

     It seems that the contest that began only about a week ago, has now ended. On the day that I wrote and posted my last blog, 'The Nazarene From Bethlehem', Benjamin failed to post his own. And thus, I have won the vicious, bloody cyber-space duel that started with so much gusto. 
     It's too bad that there is no reward for the winner of this mind tasking contest. A gift card to Barnes and Noble, or a Snickers bar, or an apple........... or a pencil........ or some fabric softener.......... Oh well, the very joy of beating my sibling in writing endurance is enough!

Gretchen

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Nazarene from Bethlehem




     While reading through the passages in John chapter 7 where the people question how the Messiah could come from Galilee, and not from Bethlehem as the Prophets said he would, a thought struck me - why did Jesus not clarify the whole question by telling the people plainly the story of his birth? Was it because they wouldn't believe him? That very well could be the reason. We know from the Gospels that the Disciples knew the story, but whether Jesus himself told them, or whether it was Mary, His Mother, after the Son's Ascent, is a mystery. My own guess would be that Mary told them, since the narratives in the Gospels are very much from her perspective. But the question still stands: Why did Jesus let a great number of the people's unbelief continue, when the simple understanding that he was actually born in Bethlehem might have been enough to clear their minds, and cause some of them to believe? 

     I pondered the question after I read this -

     John 7:25-27 - Meanwhile some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, "Isn't this the man they want to kill? And here he is, speaking freely, and they have nothing to say to him! Can it be true that the authorities have made up their minds that he is the Christ? Yet we all know where he comes from, but when the Christ appears no one will know where he comes from."

But, as I read on, the matter began to clarify. 

John 7:28-29 - Then, as Jesus taught in the Temple, he cried out: "Yes, you know me and you know where I came from. Yet I have not come of myself: no, there is one who sent me and I really come from him, and you do not know him, but I know him because I have come from him and it was he who sent me."
It's amazing how some of the most mind-boggling questions that Jesus posed had answers that made complete sense, but were totally surprising. In the answer to the question concerning his birthplace, Jesus doesn't say, "Oh no, you've got it all wrong. I was actually conceived of the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin in a stable in the town of Bethlehem! You see, it all makes sense when you know the facts." Instead he replies by revealing that the Prophet was not speaking of his birthplace or town when he said that no one would know where the Messiah came from, but of where he came from, namely, the Father - making it clear that they didn't know the Father anymore than they knew the story of his birth.
Over and over again in the Scriptures you find questions that have answers like this. The people didn't have enough faith to simply believe that even though they didn't know the ins and outs of the answers to the questions, they would trust that God knew, and that he would reveal it in his good time. This thought first came to me when I was reading the passage where Jesus states that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we have no life in us. A great many of his disciples left him when he said that because they didn't have enough faith to trust that Jesus wasn't telling them that to have eternal life they must become cannibals, but that there was an entire mysterious spiritual meaning behind his words, which he would reveal to them in time. The Twelve stayed because they did have that faith. (I should probably say the Eleven, since Judas most likely stayed just because he had his hands in the money bag.)
     I think that is why Jesus didn't clarify some of his most confusing statements to the people. He wanted the type of follower that would look beyond the confusion that some of his words would create, to the knowledge they had of him, and to the trust and love that his deeds and words had built in their souls. 

Gretchen   




  

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The 116 Sonnet of Shakespeare


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds, 
Or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark, 
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Monday, September 28, 2009

May God Bring Peace to Jerusalem

Thank God that someone is willing to speak truth! If only we had a Netanyahu for our President. Everyone should watch this -

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zaharako's Ice Cream Parlor and Museum - Since 1990


We are in Indiana today for a concert. It's been refreshing to be out here where the weather isn't continually overcast. I don't remember if we've actually had a sunny day in Nashville all through September. It's been awful.
After Church this morning we were taken to 'the spot' in Columbus, IN - Zaharako's Ice Cream Parlor and Museum. I'm telling you, I don't think I've been anywhere more idealistic. The Parlor opened in 1900, and they've kept all of the original decorations in tact. I was totally unprepared for the marble counters and authentic soda and ice cream dispensers, the high gilded ceiling, and the lights that lined the edges of the ceiling. In the back of the parlor there was an organ that held several different instruments, among them a drum and violin. The machine plays all of these instruments at one time to create a one of a kind sound.
On the other side of the parlor there is a gift shop and museum. In the gift shop there are replica toys and old newspaper articles. My brother Jeremiah bought a wooden yo-yo - we still have to see whether or not it will end up in the floor of the car with the twine tangled into an unmanageable knot. Next to the toys there stood several antique ice cream and soda dispensers. It's hard to describe just how ornate and beautiful they were. One in particular was shaped into a marble two story house, with golden handles at the bottom, and a great big glass globe at the top of it. I'm still trying to figure out how that was made.
The whole experience was quite wonderful. It made me wish that our stores and restaurants today cherished beauty and uniqueness as much as they did back then. I hope you get to go to Zaharako's someday, because last, but not least - their ice cream was amazing!

Gretchen

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Beginning of the End

     
     Earlier today (it was actually yesterday) my brother Benjamin challenged me to a cyber-space duel. The weapons are a computer keyboard, and our imaginations. We are to see who can write a blog a day, and for how long. I will lay down in writing his exact rules, so that he can't spontaneously change his mind concerning them: "You can post poems, quotes, thoughts, or even pictures that you like. We just have to see who can keep it up the longest." And so, I will be posting a blog a day for................... 


Thursday, September 24, 2009

hi 'asa


Earlier today I started to think about why I don't do the things that I really want to do. That might sound weird, but I find that it's true (at least with me). When I know that what I really want to do is draw - I dispose of the thought and get on the computer. Sometimes I feel lazy and don't want to do my math, and even though I know that my math isn't very hard, and I can be finished with it in less than an hour if I set my mind to it, I just don't. I know that I really want to do my math, because finishing it will make me happy, but there's a little voice in my head that says, "That will take forever!" and, "You can skip out on math one day and get by. Anyway, you're exhausted."
Now, why is it that, more often than not, I listen to that little voice rather than my own reason? When my conscience pops up and says, "You should draw, Gretchen! You haven't in an age, and whenever you actually do it you re-realize that you love it. So go be creative and use your mind you lazy bum!" this little voice blocks it out and says, "Drawing is tedious, and it takes mental energy. Don't do that today." And why do I listen to one over the other? especially when I know that the first is the more truthful of the two? It's ridiculous. I've noticed that this usually happens when I'm trying to get myself to do something artistic. Now why is that? I love being artistic and creating things!
So, guess what? I'm going to rebel against that little voice.

Gretchen

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Horatius


Since I can't seem to make myself keep a consistent blog going, I've decided to make it fresh by posting a poem a month. I suppose you could say that this one is the poem for June - war poems and bright summer sunshine go so well together, don't you think? Unfortunately these poems will not be written by me, they're just some of my very favorites. This one is especially brilliant. Enjoy!


Horatius
By Thomas Babbington Macaulay


Lars Porsena of Closium
By the Nine Gods he swore
That the great house of Tarquin
Should suffer wrong no more.
By the Nine Gods he swore it,
And named a trysting day,
And bade his messengers ride forth,
East and west and south and north,
To summon his array.


East and west and south and north
The messengers ride fast,
And tower and town and cottage
Have heard the trumpet's blast.
The horsemen and the footmen
Are pouring in amain
From many a stately market place,
From many a fruitful plain;


And now hath every city
Sent up her tale of men;
The foot are fourscore thousand,
The horse are thousands ten.
Before the gates of Sutrium
Is met the great array.
A proud man was Lars Porsena
Upon the trysting day.


But by the yellow Tiber
Was tumult and affright:
From all the spacious champaign
To Rome men took their flight.
A mile around the city,
The throng stopped up the ways;
A fearful sight it was to see
Through two long nights and days.


Then outspake brave Horatius.
The captain of the gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds?
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods?


"Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
I, with two more to help me,
Will hold the foe in play.
In yon strait path a thousand
May well be stopped by three.
Now who will stand on either hand,
And keep the bridge with me?"


Then out spake Spurius Lartius;
A Ramnian proud was he:
"Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
And keep the bridge with thee."
And out spake strong Herminius;
Of Titian blood was he:
"I will abide on thy left side,
And keep the bridge with thee."


"Horatius," quoth the Consul,
"As thou sayest, so let it be."
And straight against that great array
Forth went the dauntless Three.
Now, while the Three were tightening
Their harness on their backs,
The Consul was the foremost one
To take in hand an axe;
And Fathers mixed with Commons
Seized hatchet, bar, and crow,
And smote upon the planks above,
And loosed the props below.


Meanwhile the Tuscan army,
Right glorious to behold,
Come flashing back the noonday light,
Rank behind rank, like surges bright
Of a broad sea of gold.
Four hundred trumpets sounded
A peal of warlike glee,
As that great host, with measured tread,
And spears advanced, and ensigns spread,
Rolled slowly towards the bridge's head,
Where stood the dauntless Three.


The Three stood calm and silent,
And looked upon the foes,
And a great shout of laughter
From all the vanguard rose:
And forth three chiefs came spurring
Before that mighty mass;
To earth they sprang, their swords they drew,
And lifted high their shields, and flew
To win the narrow pass;


Aunus from green Tifernum,
Lord of the Hill of Vines;
And Seius, whose eight hundred slaves
Sicken in Ilva's mines;
And Picus, long to Clusium
Vassal in peace and war,
Who led to fight his Umbrian powers
From that gray crag where, girt with towers,
The fortress of Nequinum lowers
O'er the pale waves of Nar.


Stout Lartius hurled down Aunus
Into the stream beneath;
Herminius struck at Seius,
And clove him to the teeth;
At Picus brave Horatius
Darted one fiery thrust;
And the proud Umbrian's gilded arms
Clashed in the bloody dust.


But now no sound of laughter
Was heard among the foes.
A wild and wrathful clamor
From all the vanguard rose.
Six spears' lengths from the entrance
Halted that mighty mass,
And for a space no man came forth
To win the narrow pass.


But hark! the cry is Astur:
And lo! the ranks divide;
And the great Lord of Luna
Comes with his stately stride.
Upon his ample shoulders
Clangs loud the fourfold shield,
And in his hand he shakes the brand
Which none but he can wield.


He smiled on those bold Romans
A smile serene and high;
He eyed the flinching Tuscans,
And scorn was in his eye.
Quoth he, "The she-wolf's litter
Stand savagely at bay:
But will ye dare to follow,
If Astur clears the way?"


Then, whirling up his broadsword
With both hands to the height,
He rushed against Horatius,
And smote with all his might.
With shield and blade Horatius
Right deftly turned the blow.
The blow, though turned, came yet too nigh;
It missed his helm, but gashed his thigh:
The Tuscans raised a joyful cry
To see the red blood flow.


He reeled, and on Herminius
He leaned one breathing-space;
Then, like a wild cat mad with wounds,
Sprang right at Astur's face.
Through teeth, and skull, and helmet
So fierce a thrust he sped,
The good sword stood a hand-breadth out
Behind the Tuscan's head.


And the great Lord of Luna
Fell at that deadly stroke,
As falls on Mount Avernus
A thunder smitten oak:
Far o'er the crashing forest
The giant arms lie spread;
And the pale augurs, muttering low,
Gaze on the blasted head.


On Astur's throat Horatius
Right firmly pressed his heel,
And thrice and four times tugged amain,
Ere he wrenched out the steel.
"And see," he cried, "the welcome,
Fair guests, that waits you here!
What noble Lucomo comes next
To taste our Roman cheer?"


But meanwhile axe and lever
Have manfully been plied;
And now the bridge hangs tottering
Above the boiling tide.
"Come back, come back, Horatius!"
Loud cried the Fathers all.
"Back, Lartius! back, Herminius!
Back, ere the ruin fall!"


Back darted Spurius Lartius;
Herminius darted back:
And, as they passed, beneath their feet
They felt the timbers crack.
But when they turned their faces,
And on the farther shore
Saw brave Horatius stand alone,
They would have crossed once more.


But with a crash like thunder
Fell every loosened beam,
And, like a dam, the mighty wreck
Lay right athwart the stream:
And a long shout of triumph
Rose from the walls of Rome,
As to the highest turret-tops
Was splashed the yellow foam.


Alone stood brave Horatius,
But constant still in mind;
Thrice thirty thousand foes before,
And the broad flood behind.
"Down with him!" cried false Sextus,
With a smile on his pale face.
"Now yield thee," cried Lars Porsena,
"Now yield thee to our grace."


Round turned he, as not deigning
Those craven ranks to see;
Nought spake he to Lars Porsena,
To Sextus naught spake he;
But he saw on Palatinus
The white porch of his home;
And he spake to the noble river
That rolls by the towers of Rome.


"Oh, Tiber! Father Tiber!
To whom the Romans pray,
A Roman's life, a Roman's arms,
Take thou in charge this day!"
So he spake, and speaking sheathed
The good sword by his side,
And with his harness on his back,
Plunged headlong in the tide.


No sound of joy or sorrow
Was heard from either bank;
But friends and foes in dumb surprise,
With parted lips and straining eyes,
Stood gazing where he sank;
And when above the surges,
They saw his crest appear,
All Rome sent forth a rapturous cry,
And even the ranks of Tuscany
Could scarce forbear to cheer.


But fiercely ran the current,
Swollen high by months of rain:
And fast his blood was flowing;
And he was sore in pain,
And heavy with his armor,
And spent with changing blows:
And oft they thought him sinking,
But still again he rose.


And now he feels the bottom;
Now on dry earth he stands;
Now round him throng the Fathers;
To press his gory hands;
And now, with shouts and clapping,
And noise of weeping loud,
He enters through the River-Gate
Borne by the joyous crowd.


Friday, February 13, 2009

The Joy of the World


I have always loved painting, drawing, and photography, and I was thrilled when I discovered the phenomenal photographer, Anne Geddes. She makes her living by doing portraits of babies. You might have heard of her (as I did) through Celine Dion's lullaby album, Miracle, that was released in (I think this is correct) '05. Geddes did all of the artwork for the album, as well as a coffee table book that went with it, which was filled with images of babies nestled in flowers. It's some of the most breathtakingly beautiful art I've ever seen, and that's saying the least. 


Mama got a new coffee table book of Gedde's the other day. It's actually her autobiography, but there are pictures that she's taken during her career all throughout it. Reading and looking through the book has inspired me to post some of her pictures on my blog, just for all of you who have never seen any of her work. It perfectly represents the innocence and beauty of God's greatest creation.





These two are from Miracle. What beauty.










Flawlessly poetic.







There's so much peace and gentle strength in this picture.




It's so colorful.





These next three are so cute!













A little flower angel.

I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do.  What miracles of joy!

Gretchen



Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Eternal Goodness


 
O friends! with whom my feet have trod
  The quiet aisles of prayer,
Glad witness to your zeal for God
  And love of man I bear.
 
I trace your lines of argument;        
  Your logic linked and strong
I weigh as one who dreads dissent,
  And fears a doubt as wrong.
 
But still my human hands are weak
  To hold your iron creeds:        
Against the words ye bid me speak
  My heart within me pleads.
 
Who fathoms the Eternal Thought?
  Who talks of scheme and plan?
The Lord is God! He needeth not        
  The poor device of man.
 
I walk with bare, hushed feet the ground
  Ye tread with boldness shod;
I dare not fix with mete and bound
  The love and power of God.        
 
Ye praise His justice; even such
  His pitying love I deem:
Ye seek a king; I fain would touch
  The robe that hath no seam.
 
Ye see the curse which overbroods        
  A world of pain and loss;
I hear our Lord’s beatitudes
  And prayer upon the cross.
 
More than your schoolmen teach, within
  Myself, alas! I know:        
Too dark ye cannot paint the sin,
  Too small the merit show.
 
I bow my forehead to the dust,
  I veil mine eyes for shame,
And urge, in trembling self-distrust,        
  A prayer without a claim.
 
I see the wrong that round me lies,
  I feel the guilt within;
I hear, with groan and travail-cries,
  The world confess its sin.        
 
Yet, in the maddening maze of things,
  And tossed by storm and flood,
To one fixed trust my spirit clings;
  I know that God is good!
 
Not mine to look where cherubim        
  And seraphs may not see,
But nothing can be good in Him
  Which evil is in me.
 
The wrong that pains my soul below
  I dare not throne above,        
I know not of His hate,—I know
  His goodness and His love.
 
I dimly guess from blessings known
  Of greater out of sight,
And, with the chastened Psalmist, own        
  His judgments too are right.
 
I long for household voices gone,
  For vanished smiles I long,
But God hath led my dear ones on,
  And He can do no wrong.        
 
I know not what the future hath
  Of marvel or surprise,
Assured alone that life and death
  His mercy underlies.
 
And if my heart and flesh are weak        
  To bear an untried pain,
The bruis√ęd reed He will not break,
  But strengthen and sustain.
 
No offering of my own I have,
  Nor works my faith to prove;        
I can but give the gifts He gave,
  And plead His love for love.
 
And so beside the Silent Sea
  I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him can come to me        
  On ocean or on shore.
 
I know not where His islands lift
  Their fronded palms in air;
I only know I cannot drift
  Beyond His love and care.        
 
O brothers! if my faith is vain,
  If hopes like these betray,
Pray for me that my feet may gain
  The sure and safer way.
 
And Thou, O Lord! by whom are seen        
  Thy creatures as they be,
Forgive me if too close I lean
  My human heart on Thee!

by John Greenleaf Whittier

Friday, February 6, 2009

Staining in the Sunshine


For the past several days we have had really wonderfully beautiful weather. It was bitingly cold for a few months, and then all of a sudden it feels like April. It's one of the reasons I love Nashville, the weather is never always cold, and never always hot in the seasons.

I have been extremely thankful for the weather, not only because it's just plain pleasant, but also because I've had cause to be outside a lot lately. My family is in the (very long) process of remaking two rooms of our house into a studio. It's been a month and a half or so project, full of sawdust and tearing out of ceilings - and other very pleasant things. My part in this whole affair can be summed up in two words, staining wood. I've never stained before in my whole life, but am now a pro (not really, i just like to think that, keeps my self esteem up =). I think I've stained around thirty to forty planks of wood within the last three days - and still have more to go. And so you see, there is great cause for rejoicing in the lovely weather.

My brother Benjamin informed me that Mr. Groundhog (I forgot the little fellow's name, it's really ugly and long) has predicted a four month long winter. I was very glad to scoff at the idea, considering the sunshine and mild breeze - but.... I was told not long after that we're expecting ice storms here in Nashville not long from now. Very pleasant prospect. Oh well, I suppose you have to take the bad along with the good. It's also supposed to rain tomorrow. And so saying, I'd better go hit the planks once again.

Gretchen

The Origin of Origins


In studying the book of Genesis, and reading 'The Genesis Record' by Henry M. Morris as a study guide along with it, a new thought has been brought to my attention that fits like a puzzle piece with my earlier post, God and the gods. Morris talks on the subject below in his book, but since not everyone who reads this post will read the book, I thought I would put it down here. 

The first sentence of the Bible, "In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth." is undoubtedly the most read paragraph in all of history. The Bible is the oldest book that we have, and the most printed. Everyone who picks up the Bible reads at least that first line, whether or not they go any further. And so, we can safely say that that sentence has been read more than any other in any book. It never struck me until reading The Genesis Record that the Bible doesn't open with proving God, but opens with that simple phrase, taking it for granted that God exists. God was so close to the writer, (so close in fact that it could have been God Himself) that the he wrote the account of the Creation with an overwhelming sense of God and His, if you will, realness. 

I believe that Genesis (besides the Gospels) is the richest book in the Bible. It lays down in stone (literally) the Creation and Beginning of the Universe; and in doing that completely disproves every other kind of disbelief: Atheism, Pantheism, Dualism, etc. And furthermore, it is the only book that has a believable answer for the question, "Where have we come from?" No Scientology nonsense about martians from outer space and the process of evolution, taken from a space novel. The very fact that Genesis is the oldest book that we have, and the fact that it is so plainspoken and records the Beginning without the least hesitation, should be enough for us to believe too. It's certainly easier to believe in than martians and spaceships, and an evolutionary cycle that we have no proof of. If we could just shed our chokingly skeptical mindset and worldview, and return to the child's simple trust and faith in things unseen, than maybe we could understand more fully the things of God, and what his purpose is for us.

Gretchen

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Lark Ascending


If you've never heard of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, I pity you. He lived from 1872 to 1958, making his living by writing symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He has written pieces such as, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, and The Lark Ascending. For some reason every time I hear either of these pieces, I want to cry. There's a welling up of emotion in my soul that is so hard to describe, but it overflows my heart and makes me feel like I'm going to burst. Why does it make me feel like that? It could be the combination of a heart-wrenchingly gorgeous melody and performance, or it could just be that I'm a terribly romantic and emotional person (which I kind of am), or it could be both of those things - and something else. What is that something else? You tell me. But it's something that touches the very root of my soul, a something that reaches deep down and touches a place that no other art can. I believe that this feeling cannot be brought  by any kind of music but Classical, and that is why I believe it is superior to all other genres. It evokes feelings that Popular music never can, and never will. 

Gretchen 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God and the gods


In reading through the Old Testament it has struck me how everyone in that time period believed in God, or a god. They even believed in a god that they didn't serve. The Babylonians worshiped Baal and others, and yet when they talk about Israel they always speak of the God of Israel as a god just as real and worshipful as theirs. There is such a gigantic difference between their way of thinking, and todays way, where most people don't believe in any god, true or false.

In Bible times people were much more open to mysterious thoughts and ways of thinking than we are today. Take the Greeks for example, they had hundreds of gods and demigods, and didn't think twice about it; of course all of their gods were false, and it can be argued whether or not they were actually demons, but still they believed in them wholeheartedly. Today's world is so full of steel and metal and science that it has choked out most of the healthy amount of belief in things unseen. The more knowledgeable we become in the arts of science and architecture, the more we become illiterate and idiotic in the spiritual things - and then when someone thinks that they've found the answer to the spiritual questions it's always some babble about Buddha and finding the perfect spirit within yourself. Humanity has even become so spiritually blind and dumb as to think that this magnificent Creation was made by a fluke of a chemical reaction. Here's a question - where did those chemicals come from? Answer that for starters.

Every day I wake up and am overwhelmed by the splendor of God and the magnificence of what He's made. He is the Beginning and the End, and He has made all things.

Gretchen

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cardinals vs. Steelers - Cardinals Win


It might come as a shock... prepare yourself... but despite the fact that I'm from Tennessee, and really truly love my state, I think the Titans stink! Now hold on... you may think that I'm unpatriotic, (that's what a few of my friends think) but I can testify whole-heartedly that that isn't so. They're like a racehorse who when he puts his mind to it can outrun every other horse in the race, but at the very end just starts to slow down for no explainable reason. I mean, they lost the game against the Ravens for no apparent reason! I think that they must have some psychological problem that doesn't allow them to win. Oh well, the Colts are my team, and always will be. For the Super Bowl I'm rooting for the Cardinals, partly because I like their quarterback, and mainly because I hate the Steelers. I mean, the Steelers are like the evil team in the football movie who are huge, ferocious, and unbeatable - that is until the underdog team comes and beats them in the last fifty seconds with a breathtaking touchdown!! And so, on February 1st I'm going to sit back with a bowl of chips and a soda, and cheer on the birds!!

Gretchen

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Room With A View


Last year I read 'A Room With A View' by E.M. Forster and it immediately joined the list of my favorite books. Not only is it deep, romantic, well written, and over all just plain wonderful, but the characters themselves are so original and fresh that the combination of Forster's intriguing writing style and his creations make a book full of vitality and color.  A few days ago me and Camille (my sister) came across a movie adaption of the book starring Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy Honeychurch, the heroine. I don't exactly remember what year the movie was made in, but Carter was very young, and it had a handful of famous actors in it that were all significantly younger than today, so it must have been made several years ago. I really loved the movie - the script is practically taken word for word from the book, which is always nice (it's one of the things I love about the ABC adaptions of Jane Austen's novels). I must confess that I was rather dismayed when I learned that Carter was playing Lucy Honeychurch, but when I watched the movie I was sweetly surprised by her wonderful portrayal of the character. The movie caught the nuance of character and story arc that is what's so endearing about the book, and for that I'll give it a definite five stars. But, take care that you know to read the book before watching the movie. I have yet to see a movie adaption of a book that is better than the book, and that rule certainly applies in this case. 

Gretchen

NYC, Twilight, and a Really Weird Mannikin


Despite the fact that it's been at least two months since I last wrote a blog, many things have happened, and I've decided to forget whether or not I have something brilliant or clever to write and to just write something
The past month has been an incredibly busy one for my family, full of traveling all over the country.  There's been many beautiful and intriguing sights that we have passed, among them being the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, and a lady mannikin sitting in a tub in a bathroom that seems to stare at you when you are doing your business. This last phenomenon was found in a small diner in the highlands of Montana, and we all had a good laugh to discover that she screamed and talked if you pushed a button on the outside wall. I've often wondered who thought that up.
Right now we're getting ready for a trip to Florida, where we're playing on a cruise that's going to Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. It will be the first trip I've ever taken out of the States, and the whole thing is very exciting. It's especially good to know that we'll be away from the ice and snow throughout the rest of January. Terrible month!

Among other things that have happened since I last wrote, my family and I have made a trip up to NYC for a gig. I must say that I was rather looking forward to seeing the place again, since I haven't been there since I was nine. But I was sorely disappointed when I found that the whole place was a stink pit of metal, noise, dirty advertisements, and rude people. Nashville seemed like the most quiet, country city that you could possibly dream of compared to it. I came to the conclusion while I was there that I would always highly prefer the country to the city, quiet to noise, and peace to bustle. I mean, who wouldn't? I really can't fathom who could possibly stand to live there. It's like Mama said, "Just imagine what this country would be like if NYC, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Sacramento weren't there?" I think I would like this country better if that were the case. 

Well, that's about all I have to say for right now. The creative writing wheels have begun to turn around in my brain once again, and there might be some poem or short story that I'll post in a little while; but we'll see how that goes. In closing I'll say that I am looking for ten girls my age who can honestly say that they think this new Twilight craze is the stupidest thing that's come around the pike for a long time. But we'll see how that goes too.

Gretchen