Autumnal-Halloween Edition

I do not know if the colors are just more lovely/intense this year or that my perception of them is heightened. I suspect it is the former. Thank you, Lord, who Hallows souls of women and men, to be free from decay and death.
Here are more beautifully dying leaves and some toadstools for Halloween.

Help Still Desperately Needed for the Pakistan Earthquake Survivors

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
Here is another article from the BBC that illustrates the desperate need and totally inadequate response to this disaster. In comparison to responses to disasters in our own country, our contribution is but a very small drop in the bucket, further illustrating just how highly elevated our standard of living is and just how much it costs to maintain it when others in other countries struggle on with just the bare minimum and very often not even that. I do not mean to ignore the suffering of people in America, but simply ask for help for those in even greater need also. In addition, aid distributed though a Christian organization is a great witness to the Muslim world, which rightly or wrongly feels so often on the wrong end of the stick.
There are links to donate in the article and at the top right of this site.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27

Imagism and a Beautiful, Sad Reflection from Over the Rhine

In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
-Ezra Pound
Pound said that this piece began as poem of over thirty lines. Half a year later he cut it in half. This was the final product. A distillation of the image experienced down to its very essence and, hence, a classic example of Imagism.
I am not a huge devotee of Imagism, being rather verbose myself, put I can see its power as a sort of extreme poetry to convey one image with intensity which can work to create all sort of conotations and connections in readers. The second line of this poem works for me because I like the dark, almost pensive, trunks of trees after a rain. And while that association for me is largely positive, I can see how bright, windblown leaves against that background can be used to describe the alienation of people in a subway station.
I told you I tend to verbosity.
I bring up Imagism at all simply to introduce an Imagistic experiment of sorts with one of my latest photos. If my pixilation was more dense I might have taken it further.
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Here is a lovely bit of writing form Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine about their farm in the Autumn and the death of a beloved pet and time with friends and time with friends at Christmas.

Tracks in the Player-Two That Speak Straight to Me, One That Could Start Speaking Anytime the Good Lord Is Willing

I was a big fan of Eden Burning’s first CD, Vinegar and Brown Paper, with its jigs and reels and meaningful reflections on human frailty, God’s faithfulness, poverty, community. I then got Mirth and Matter, which did not seem to do too much for me. Last year I downloaded a best of CD for a small, voluntarydonation..
…which you should do right now if you like Celtic-inflected, thoughtful, Christian folk-pop. Could I have had any more adjectives. Here is the link.
At any rate the CD languished in my car until the last two weeks, since when it has been in almost constant rotation. The two songs speaking most powerfully to me just now have their lyrics reprinted below. The one I am waiting on the good Lord for is here. Brilliant.

Continue reading

Your Help is Needed-Kashmir Quake More Devastating than Initially Thought

quake tents.jpg
This story from the BBC details how the logistics getting aid to the quake zone is worse than last year’s Tsunami. 50,000+ people have died and that total is expected to rise. Moreover, the harsh himalayan winter is on the way.
Please help. Far fewer countries are sending aid to this disaster. In addition to my links at the top of my blog, there are some additional ones in BBC article.

“…and just the tiniest bit burnt”

I am beginning to suspect that the greater part of my aesthetic framework is constructed from images and scenes in the Chronicles of Narnia, which were read to me when I was a wee lad away off in Pakistan. My brother Adrian says that because of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, he longed for snow long before he had ever seen it. Lewis, I think, would be pleased, as he often articulated that there is as much joy, and perhaps more, in the anticipation of the arrival of a thing as in the having of it. Moreover, I think such longings and his ability to convey them so viscerally is one reason why his writings on heaven are so effective.
My ideals of food and fellowship come from the Chronicles. In fact, there are things, such as sardines, that I have more or less willed myself to like because they are delightly presented in a book. Sardines are on the menu when Tumnus invites Lucy to tea. As an adolescent, I provided repeated amusement for my family when I would order some manner of seafood on our, relative to now, few trips to restaurants, almost always finding that I did not like it.
But now, when the weather is dreary and blustery and cold, I stop by the store on the way home and pick up sardines and clam chowder (which is even more fantastic with a pad of butter and a bit or garlic and pepper) and go home to tea, which really just serves as the British word for supper. But tea is generally involved too, which for me comes in the form of a lovely large mug and consists of strong tea, evaporated milk, and sugar. If am feeling swanky, I substitute kippers for the sardines, which I wanted to like from reading the Scottish comics Oor Wullie and The Broons.
oor wullie.jpg
No, but Narnia is the source for my elemental longings. When Jill and Eustace and Puddleglum and Rilian come out of their long sojourn in darkness, they come out into the delightful winter night’s festival of the Great Snow Dance of Narnia, with Fauns and Dryads dancing in a circle, which Dwarfs carefully punctuate with snowballs. When the weary travellers are noticed, they are taken to a dry cave and…
“She had vague impression of Dwarfs crowding round the fire with frying-pans rather bigger than themselves, and the hissing, and delicious smell of sausages, and more, and more sausages. And not the wretched sausages half full of bread and soya bean either, but real meaty, spicy ones, fat and piping hot and burst and just the tiniest bit burnt. And great mugs of frothy chocolate, and roast potatoes and roast chestnuts, and baked apples with raisins stuck in where the cores had been, and then ices just to freshen you up after all the hot things.”
And that description is just how I like my Bratwurst.
And when Shasta is guided into Narnia by the Unwelcome Fellow Traveller, the greatest drink he gets is the cool Water from the paw print of the great lion Aslan, but then he eventually falls in with some Dwarfs and his body is also fed:
“Hey brothers! A visitor for breakfast.”
And immediately, mixed with a sizzling sound, there came to Shasta a simply delightful smell. It was one he had never smelled in his life before, but I hope you have. It was, in fact, the smell of bacon and eggs and mushrooms all frying in a pan.”
These they eat with butter and toast and coffee. As a tip on the mushrooms, by the way, use the white button ones, slice them long ways and not too thin, use lots of butter, a bit of garlic and take your time to cook them, adding a little water and covering them, then more butter as necessary (and it is), and then finally uncovering them and sauting them till they are just ever so slightly crisp. Mm, mm. A good recipe for mushrooms even if you don’t fancy them much, but then I am persuaded that even shoe-leather would be good with butter and garlic.
It is not simply the food that is so delightful about these experiences, though. It is the sharing of food together. One can have marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers and apples and cocoa at home rather more conveniently, but these are never so lovely as in the deep dark after a cold, autumn hay ride complete with tomfoolery and singing and, if one is so blessed, perhaps a bit of a cuddle.
I eat the type of breakest food mentioned above a fair bit, but it isn’t so good as when roommate Lloyd whips up a mess of eggs and sausages and toast and coffee and invites the rest of us to partake in a late Satrurday morning breakfast. It isn’t as lovely as it is when you eat similar fare in a smoky Denny’s after a college Bible study or as Tanya and Heidi and I did after a movie a few weeks ago, reliving our college years, which one of us had to work a lot harder at to remember what those were like than the other two did.

Pakistan Earthquake-Please Help

This earthquake occurred in the land of my birth and half my blood, less than a hundred miles from cousins in Rawalpindi and my school in Murree. I am thankful that neither any of my relatives nor anyone at the school was injured. However, many, many have died and are homeless.
An earthquake anywhere is hard to imagine; the earth, our frame of reference and security being shaken like a sheet. It is hard to imagine that mountains of this size could be so shaken, and then to imagine the results. The villages in the northern areas are generally very poor. They cling to the edges of spectacular hillsides or nestle in deep valleys with the mountains looming over them. Moreover, the houses are just built with mountain rocks with little or no concrete and not even the simplest reinforcement.
Below is a link for you to become acquainted with the scope of the disaster and then some links for donations. Please help yet once again.
If you are a Christian, pray for the suffering of the people and for their quick relief on a physical level. Pray that this may be an opportunity for people to come to know Christ; for their to be greater peace between India and Pakistan. Pray for President Musharraf. It is nice to see India offering Pakistan aid, and Pakistan, after initially balking, accepting. It is nice to see US helicopters and soldiers helping. It is good we are giving aid and I hope more is forthcoming from all quarters.
*In depth coverage from BBC News.
*Donation link from Mercy Corps a Christian relief agency supported by Christian singer John Michael Talbot whose heart and integrity I trust.
*Donation link for the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
I really don’t know who is on the ground doing what. I may add more agencies, including mission agencies, as become aware of them. And perhaps there may be individualized needs that may come to my attention too.
Once again prayers and support are needed.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Pray for comfort, peace and rest from fear.