What did you do today?

October 15th, 2007

Oh, not much. I looked into 400 envelopes and peeled out the contents.

Local Wildlife

August 23rd, 2007

This morning I saw a dark shape on the porch and thought it was surely a cat again. I came forward to chase it off, and it turned out to be a sort of anteater creature. He was not at all shy: he stood up against the screen, and then turned around. I raced for the camera, and as I came back he was back out through the bars that enclose the porch. I got a couple of very close pictures, but since I had to hold the camera out through the bars I couldn’t see that a leaf from a potted plant was obscuring his face. He didn’t seem to mind me at all, but eventually ambled back into the jungle that lines the back yard. I did get a pretty decent picture of him in profile.


Tonight, driving to church, I couldn’t stare at the beauty all around as much as normal because there was a lot of traffic. Some of it was due to the police doing a spot check to make sure everyone driving had a license. I was told that I am too “new” to be “bearded”. In spite of that, I still feel that if any police force could give me confidence it is the police of Panama. They are in general polite, helpful and deferential. More than once I have accidentally driven right up to a restricted area, and have always gotten cheerful and helpful directions with no awkward questions. Tonight a simple flash of my Arizona license and a quick justification of my beard as personal preference got me through the blockade.

But wildlife and policemen are as nothing compared to the sheer staggering beauty of Panama. On the merits of the sky alone with its impossible clouds and its vividly gentle colours it is the most wildly lovely place I have ever been; and when you add the ocean, the mountains, and the endless variety of green in all the vegetation, it is hard to know even how to finish the sentence. I think that not even Katherine Mansfield could give a sufficiently compelling description.
In short, I like Panama. Precious stones must have a setting in the world of jewelry: and in the world of God’s masterpiece of creative art, Panama seems like the jewel at the heart of it all: as Simón Bolívar said, if you wanted a capital for the world, the isthmus of Panama is where you would look. But I’m glad it hasn’t become the capital of the world: the relatively low index of pollution must be a part of what makes every shade of blue in the sky a memory of a perfectly beautiful Creator.

Arizona Lectionary

July 27th, 2007

Since we’re in the process of leaving Arizona, I post here for the wide world to rebuke me, a list of the books I have read while in Arizona. I would say, “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair” but it seems inapt. And no, I did not forget to include Order of the Phoenix –it was not to be had at the library.

Paul Helm, Calvin and the Calvinists

W.M. Thackeray, The Rose and the Ring

Chekhov, Early Stories and Magazine Pieces

Cicero, The Nature of the Gods

Annie Dillard, An American Childhood

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Stephen R. Donaldson, The Real Story

Forbidden Knowledge

A Dark and Hungry God Arises

Chaos and Order

This Day All Gods Die

Ursula K. LeGuin, I forget the title

Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

William Guthrie, The Christian’s Great Interest

C.S. Lewis, Present Concerns

The Abolition of Man


The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses

Christian Reflections

Pearl, Sir Orfeo, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (translated by J.R.R. Tolkien)

J.R. Beeke and Randall Pedersen, Meet the Puritans

Doreen Moore, Good Christians, Good Husbands

Billy Graham, Just As I Am

Virginia Garrard-Burnett, Protestantism in Guatemala

Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church

The Nine Tailors

The Five Red Herrings

Lord Peter

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harrry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Richard Sibbes, Sermons, Memoir (from v.1 of the Works)

John Dryden, Religio Laici, MacFlecknoe, The Medal, Annus Mirabilis

Alexander Pope, The Rape of the Lock

Samuel Johnson, Six Principal Lives (Milton, Dryden, Swift, Addison, Pope, Gray with Macaulay’s Life of Johnson)

William Shakespeare, Cymbeline

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The Two Towers

Owen Barfield, Owen Barfield on C.S. Lewis

Umberto Eco, How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays

On Literature

G.K. Chesterton, Fifteen Detectives

H.S. Bennet, Chaucer and the Fifteenth Century (v.3 of OHEL)

Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte D’Arthur

Robert Spinney, Are You Legalistic? (bklt)

James E. Adams, War Psalms of the Prince of Peace

You’re It

July 5th, 2007

Bugblaster has tagged me, in a rather cryptic way, and for motives unknown. I will take it that he is assisting me to achieve the coveted goal of winning virtual popularity. Of course, since he tagged me in the time of my least access to the Internet, I just found out about it yesterday, and am woefully late in responding.

Furthermore, as I have collected what I am supposed to do rather by induction than by explanation, and as we all know that induction is necessarily fallacious, the end results may diverge rather wildly from what Bugblaster intended.

From his title I gather that one is supposed to state 100 random things. Now apart from objecting to this on theological grounds, that everything should be done decently and in order, I object to this also on literary grounds. So there is one thing.

I am glad to notice that Bugblaster has limited this number to seven, and has also followed a pre-established pattern. Clearly, he shares my objections. However, I will not slavishly follow him: variations within a pattern produce the rhythm of the years. So that is a second thing.

I had liefer talk about my nieces than my siblings. That is a third thing.

I have hung by my fingertips from the parapet on both sides of the top of our three story house (at separate times, naturally), with air under my feet all the way to the ground. This establishes my athletic credentials, and is a fourth thing.

When it comes to farming my experience is not extensive. I once was entrusted with turning over a plot of ground in order for the laying of some grass. Being disinclined to this endeavour, I decided it would be easier if the ground were wet. But as so often happens, a tragic miscalculation prevented the completion of the project. I got the ground so wet that it was two days before anything could be done with it, and by that time my gardening privileges had been revoked. That is a fifth thing.

Numbers: they go on in infinite sequence, and have odd harmonies among themselves. Hugh Martin was quite a mathematician, in addition to being quite a good theologian. That is a sixth thing.

Two mormons who came to my door left clutching some CDs of Ian Paisley preaching. They never came back. I anticipate making an acerbic statement about mormons pretty soon on my blog. That is a seventh thing.

With regard to desks, it is one of my ambitions to get a desk where I can wheel my beautifully comfortable chair up with the arms under the desk, without compromising on the ideal elevation of my chair: so far, this has never happened. That is an eighth thing, and having exceeded Bugblaster in quantity of things, should balance out the fact that I am not going to tag anyone. The buck stops here, as my dad was fond of quoting Harry Truman saying (which constitutes a ninth thing).

Educationally my greatest achievement has been discovering that the homeschool program I was using would have me finishing 12th grade with far more than the required amount of credits to take an ACT: therefore I only acquired the necessary number of credits (which meant skipping most of 12th grade), and dropped the whole farce. Of course, it was actually my mother who discovered this, so it is misleading to list this among my achievements. This is a tenth thing.