The Good Apocalypse

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When doomsday literature goes highbrow, you might expect real-life survivalists to cheer. My favorite criticism of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, however, comes from a popular survivalist forum, where the book and film were taken to task for presenting an apocalypse with “no hope for the future.”

But wait––Isn’t hopelessness the whole point of the apocalypse? Doesn’t the popularity of end-of-the-world stories (whether the end is brought about by zombies, nukes, aliens, or melting ice caps) draw back the curtain on a bleak cultural death wish? If you’re one of those cultural critics always looking to trace our pleasures back to our pathologies, the answer is probably yes. Threatened by the pace of change, powerless to adapt, we find solace in fantasies of apocalypse, misanthropy writ large.

Building Barns and Bridges

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They should never have built a barn there, at all – Edward Thomas

In “The Revolt of Mother” New England wife Sarah Penn learns that husband Adoniram plans to build a barn on a piece of land set aside for a new house. Sarah speaks directly to her husband later that same day, imploring him to build the new house instead of another barn. Adoniram is unmoved by her eloquent and reasonable argument, and says several times: “I ain’t got nothin’ to say.” The issue is unresolved, and the construction of the barn takes place without further discussion.

Will There Be Stories in Heaven?

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The question, “Will there be stories in heaven?” became an issue for me only when my son was two or three and we started letting him watch a limited amount of TV. Now, this isn’t a post about why we let our kid watch TV, even though that would likely get a lot of hits. This is about all these nonviolent alternatives to G.I. Joe and Transformers that are, frankly, dreadfully dull.

L’Abri Fellowship: A Vulnerable but Secure Shelter

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Perhaps more than anything, L’Abri Fellowship provides a space that invites, encourages, even fosters vulnerability. It is almost impossible to explain what L’Abri is in one word—or even one succinct phrase. Its name means “shelter” in French—and the word has a rich, multilayered meaning. Francis and Edith Schaeffer began the work of L’Abri in 1955 in Huémoz, Switzerland as their home became an open space for dialogue and honest questions for the locals and friends of their children. Word spread quickly, and L’Abri was born as a communal study center, a home open to any who want to come and seek answers to life’s big questions.

Chiasmus

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Watch what happens in this lovely poem by Karen An-Hwei Lee:

Dream of Ink Brush Calligraphy

In prayer:

quiet opening,

my artery is a thin

shadow on paper—

margin of long grass,

ruderal hair, sister to this

not yet part of our bodies

your lyric corpus of seed

in rough drafts of pine ash,

chaogao or grass calligraphy

in rough drafts of pine ash—

your lyric corpus of seed

not yet part of our bodies:

ruderal hair, sister to this

margin of long grass,

shadow on paper,

my artery is a thin

quiet opening

in prayer.