Friday, July 30, 2010

Our God is a consuming fire.--HEBREWS xii. 29

Katy's comment in response to my Citius, Altius, Fortius post jogged the ol' grey cells and got me to thinking about George MacDonald. (So y'all keep the comments coming, it helps me think!) It was her phrase "the Refiner's fire" that put me in mind of his sermon The Consuming Fire. C.S. Lewis once wrote about MacDonald, I know hardly any other writer who seems to be closer, or more continually close, to the Spirit of Christ Himself. Here are some snippets from The Consuming Fire.

Nothing is inexorable but love...Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love's kind, must be destroyed. And our God is a consuming fire.

If this be hard to understand, it is as the simple, absolute truth is hard to understand. It may be centuries of ages before a man comes to see a truth--ages of strife, of effort, of aspiration. But when once he does see it, it is so plain that he wonders he could have lived without seeing it. That he did not understand it sooner was simply and only that he did not see it. To see a truth, to know what it is, to understand it, and to love it, are all one.

Let us look at the utterance of the apostle which is crowned with this lovely terror: "Our God is a consuming fire."

"Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire."--We have received a kingdom that cannot be moved--whose nature is immovable: let us have grace to serve the Consuming Fire, our God, with divine fear; not with the fear that cringes and craves, but with the bowing down of all thoughts, all delights, all loves before him who is the life of them all, and will have them all pure. The kingdom he has given us cannot be moved, because it has nothing weak in it: it is of the eternal world, the world of being, of truth. We, therefore, must worship him with a fear pure as the kingdom is unshakable. He will shake heaven and earth, that only the unshakable may remain, (verse 27): he is a consuming fire, that only that which cannot be consumed may stand forth eternal. It is the nature of God, so terribly pure that it destroys all that is not pure as fire, which demands like purity in our worship. He will have purity. It is not that the fire will burn us if we do not worship thus; but that the fire will burn us until we worship thus; yea, will go on burning within us after all that is foreign to it has yielded to its force, no longer with pain and consuming, but as the highest consciousness of life, the presence of God.

But we shall find that this very revelation of fire is itself, in a higher sense, true to the mind of the rejoicing saint as to the mind of the trembling sinner. For the former sees farther into the meaning of the fire, and knows better what it will do to him. It is a symbol which needed not to be superseded, only unfolded. While men take part with their sins, while they feel as if, separated from their sins, they would be no longer themselves, how can they understand that the lightning word is a Saviour--that word which pierces to the dividing between the man and the evil, which will slay the sin and give life to the sinner? Can it be any comfort to them to be told that God loves them so that he will burn them clean. Can the cleansing of the fire appear to them anything beyond what it must always, more or less, be--a process of torture? They do not want to be clean, and they cannot bear to be tortured. Can they then do other, or can we desire that they should do other, than fear God, even with the fear of the wicked, until they learn to love him with the love of the holy. To them Mount Sinai is crowned with the signs of vengeance. And is not God ready to do unto them even as they fear, though with another feeling and a different end from any which they are capable of supposing? He is against sin: in so far as, and while, they and sin are one, he is against them--against their desires, their aims, their fears, and their hopes; and thus he is altogether and always for them.

For, when we say that God is Love, do we teach men that their fear of him is groundless? No. As much as they fear will come upon them, possibly far more. But there is something beyond their fear,--a divine fate which they cannot withstand, because it works along with the human individuality which the divine individuality has created in them. The wrath will consume what they call themselves; so that the selves God made shall appear, coming out with tenfold consciousness of being, and bringing with them all that made the blessedness of the life the men tried to lead without God. The death that is in them shall be consumed.

The man who loves God, and is not yet pure, courts the burning of God. Nor is it always torture. The fire shows itself sometimes only as light--still it will be fire of purifying. The consuming fire is just the original, the active form of Purity,--that which makes pure, that which is indeed Love, the creative energy of God. Without purity there can be as no creation so no persistence. That which is not pure is corruptible, and corruption cannot inherit incorruption.

The man whose deeds are evil, fears the burning. But the burning will not come the less that he fears it or denies it. Escape is hopeless. For Love is inexorable. Our God is a consuming fire. He shall not come out till he has paid the uttermost farthing.

As for us, now will we come to thee, our Consuming Fire. And thou wilt not burn us more than we can bear. But thou wilt burn us. And although thou seem to slay us, yet will we trust in thee even for that which thou hast not spoken, if by any means at length we may attain unto the blessedness of those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Read the whole sermon here


If you are lucky enough to live down South and you were a good little gardener and planted your herbs, chances are you have TONS of basil right now. Well, here's what you're going to do with it. This is just the thing for using up great big quantities. I always double this recipe.

2c. fresh basil leaves (1 large bunch)
1/4c. chopped walnuts
1/4c. olive oil
2t. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/4t. salt
1/4c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2T. freshly grated Romano cheese (if you have it)
Process first 6 ingredients in a food processor or blender 2 min. or until smooth. (Scrape down sides, if necessary.) Stir in cheese.
You can toss this with pasta, eat with toasted French bread or crackers, or place in ice cube trays and freeze up to 3 months. Replacing the basil with half Italian parsley and half fresh mint leaves is equally delish- just leave out the cheese.

And speaking of mint! If you have tons of mint, use it to make mint syrup.

Mint Syrup
3c. coarsely chopped fresh mint
2c. sugar
2c. water
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and cool completely. Pour mixture through a wire mesh strainer. Use to make Mint Juleps (2-4T. bourbon to 1T. mint syrup) or to sweeten tea or give away to a friend. With your used mint leaves place them on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Place in a slightly warmed oven. When the leaves are dry (a few hours?) you have candied mint!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Matthew made this delicious drink for us. You simply must try it!


1/2 litre water
4 spoons powdered coffee (no instant)
80 ml brown rum
200g whipped cream
Boil water and brew a strong coffee. Place 2t. sugar into 4 mugs (2t. each mug). Warm rum, pour 20ml into each mug. Pour hot coffee into each mug. Top with lots of whipped cream.

Learn more about this national drink of Nordstrand.

The Pharisäer got its name, according to legend, like this:
A peasant by the name of Peter Georg Johannsen celebrated the baptism of his seventh child in 1872. Amongst the guests was the reverend Bleyer, who had strictly forbidden that his fold should imbibe alcohol. No true baptism was complete without some alcohol to celebrate the baptised, however, so the cheeky farmer had an idea: he mixed rum with sugar, poured hot coffee on the mixture and put whipped cream on top, thus preventing the rum from evaporating and giving this neat trick away through its aromatic smell. The reverend just got plain coffee with the whipped cream on top. The guests got merrier and merrier by the minute, and a good deal noisier, too. Fate took its due course, and eventually the reverend got hold of a 'wrong' cup. On realising what had been going on, he exclaimed:

Oh ihr Pharisäer!

Neighbors (1920)

This is a short film by Buster Keaton. It is quite hilarious! Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

today's quote

"The idea of the free development of personality seems excellent, as long as one does not meet someone whose personality has developed freely." ~Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Monday, July 26, 2010

JA laughing

Katy's Jane Austen quotes have inspired me to post some of my favorites taken from JA's letters. In his essay, Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, W. Somerset Maugham said, "Jane Austen hardly ever wrote a letter that had not a smile or a laugh in it."

"Only think of Mrs. Holder being dead! Poor woman, she has done the only thing in the world she could possibly do to make one cease to abuse her."

"Mrs. Hall, of Sherborne, was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she expected, owing to a fright. I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband."

"The death of Mrs. W.K. we had seen. I had no idea that anybody liked her, and therefore felt nothing for any survivor, but I am now feeling away on her husband's account, and think he had better marry Miss Sharpe."

"I respect Mrs. Chamberlayne for doing her hair well, but cannot feel a more tender sentiment. Miss Langley is like any other short girl with a broad nose and wide mouth, fashionable dress and exposed bosom. Admiral Stanhope is a gentlemanlike man, but then his legs are too short and his tail too long."

"There were few beauties, (at the ball) and such as there were, were not very handsome. Miss Iremonger did not look well and Mrs. Blunt was the only one much admired. She appeared exactly as she did in September, with the same broad face, diamond bandeau, white shoes, pink husband, and fat neck."

"Mrs. Richard Harvey is going to be married, but as it is a great secret, and only known to half the neighborhood, you must not mention it."

"Dr. Hall is in such deep mourning that either his mother, his wife, or himself must be dead."

"Wednesday. Another stupid party last night; perhaps if larger they might be less intolerable, but here there were only just enough to make one card table,with six people to look on and talk nonsense to each other..."

"There were two women (at the ball) standing without partners and each of them with two ugly naked shoulders!"

"We found only Mrs. Lance at home, and whether she boasts of any offspring besides a grand pianoforte did not appear...They live in a handsome style and are rich, and she seems to like to be rich; we gave her to understand that we were far from being so; she will soon feel therefore that we are not worth her acquaintance."

Her family, when comparing Jane to her sister, Cassandra, said that Cassandra had the merit of always having her temper under command, but Jane had the happiness of a temper that never required to be commanded.

There have been some complaints among readers of her letters that there wasn't more seriousness or more of the "Jane Austen, authoress" that we have come to admire. That she seemed unfeeling towards others or that she just spoke of things that we may find trivial.
In his essay, Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, W. Somerset Maugham says,

They (JA's letters) are very natural. Jane Austen never imagined that anyone but Cassandra would read them, and she told her exactly the sort of things she knew would interest her. She told her what people were wearing and how much she had paid for the flowered muslin she had bought, what acquaintances she had made, what old friends she had met and the gossip she had heard...People were more patient in those days; still one would've thought it a disappointment to receive a letter from a friend who gave you word pictures of mountains and monuments when you wanted to know whether he had come across anyone interesting, what parties he had been to and whether he had been able to get you the books or ties or handkerchiefs you had asked him to bring back.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Art is...

I read N.D. Wilson's Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl for a book club. No one had a word against the book that appeared in the least harsh. It gave general satisfaction. Which was funny because we had read quite an array of books, including some classics. Henry James for instance would've had a little burst of temper over this state of affairs ( a quote from Lionel Trilling) had he felt the comparison. But there was something I was still thirsting for. Maybe if I read the bit about art over again? Nope.
He says,
What is art?
You are. And the mayfly. And every wasp novel ever lived.
And the hard Winter overthrown by Spring. Motherhood. Grass. Juniper. Your annoying neighbor.
Art is.
And this,
What is the world? What is it for?
It is art.
Which is all very interesting, and all. And, of course, I do realize that he is referring to God as the Creator of this art. Maybe it's because I'm not an expert on the modern long poem, but this is what quenched the ol' thirst.
Art is making, or if good art is meant, right making. The word poetry derives from the Greek for to make. Law, medicine, bricklaying, teaching are arts. Art (a making) is distinct from science (a knowing), although it presupposes science in the maker (artist).
And this-
Art is right making. Morality (prudence) is right doing. Morality consists in doing good; art, in doing well. Art aims at the good of the thing made; morality aims at the good of the maker (and user).

A murder might be well committed, and thus be a true work of art. Whether it should have been committed at all is a question of morality. The moral question is both prior and posterior, but it is not a formal question of art. The moral question takes precedence; no murder is ever justifiable, no matter how fine an art it requires or displays.

These latter quotes are harvested from Arvid Shulenberger's The Orthodox Poetic: A Literary Catechism. And, my goodness, this guy know how to put things well.
Knowledge of nature and of art can be acquired only by experience plus thought plus study. A knowledge-by-description of these entities is not sufficient.
Check out the whole essay at
Or perhaps you would prefer buying Notes From the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

only six

"My mother taught me to stand straight, sit erect, use discipline with wine and sweets and to smoke only six cigarettes a day." ~Audrey Hepburn

Friday, July 23, 2010

Citius, Altius, Fortius

So often it seems that we view the things that go "wrong" in our live as God punishing us, or at best "teaching us a lesson!" But we say lesson as if we've just been told to take our medicine and its not the type that can be taken orally.
Moving right along...I should start this by pointing out that my son loves playing catch w/ his dad now, but there was a time when, after being called out to play catch, he was sure my husband was trying to torture state secrets out of him. He hated catch. It was so hard. "Why is dad punishing me?
I think we view God bringing us along like that, but it's not a punishment or even a lesson so much as it's an exercise. Citius, Altius, Fortius. Perhaps it is because we have to learn this, right here, right now before we can move forward. Perhaps if we went on ahead without it, we would not be able to deal with what comes next. God is being gracious in keeping us here until we can get it, and that will bring us great joy and success. "Be still and know that I am God."
Keep the old eyeball on the ball, and pay attention to the Great Teacher. And when you ask for a quarter and He gives you 24 cents, He knows you can handle finding the other penny. Don't let it get you down. Faster, Higher, Stronger.

Jane Austen reviews Twilight

I would like to give credit where credit is due, but I can't remember where I found this. It's quite amusing.

Nature had given young Edward his share of good looks and yet he was so very pale and wasted-looking as to suggest a chronic infirmity. Moreover, he was of a reserved and melancholy disposition, keeping entirely to his family circle, and addressing no one else.
Their acquaintance might not have progressed had not Edward occasion to save Bella from certain disaster when a Chariot, coursing at great speed, raced in her direction. Though uninjured, it was thought necessary for Bella to be attended by a Physician, which gave her opportunity to meet Doctor Cullen, a kindly gentleman, but one whose pallor was so extreme that it was difficult to imagine, looking so ill himself, that he could coax anyone else into health and vigor.
In the community of Forks, the point at which a young lady might be said to be ‘out’ was in her seventeenth year or thereabouts, whereupon they were brought into Society all together at a Great Promenade, which the young people referred to as The Prom. At The Prom, young ladies and their escorts dress in their finest attire and attend a Great Ball, where they have their likenesses done, and partake of refreshments and then there is Dancing.

Edward, wishing to unburden himself, confessed to Bella that he and all his family were long afflicted with an incurable Malady, and to make her better understand it, he carried her above the crest of the wood to the point where the sun broke through the clouds. The sunlight raised great radiant blisters upon Edward’s skin, and from this and his strange fits of passion and dyspepsia and sleeplessness, I inferred that his Malady was the same which was said to have beset His Majesty, our beloved King George, though Bella called it by a peculiar name. Her expressions of tenderness and compassion reassured him that his affection for her – despite his declaration that he had killed a great number of People, and, in fact, had wished to kill Miss Swan herself upon their first introduction – was enthusiastically reciprocated. An invitation to know his family better, to dine with them (though their chronic dyspepsia kept them from eating scarcely anything at all) and to join them in a family game of Cricket was offered. The Cullens all displayed a superior agility and speed at the game of Cricket, which gave Bella the hope that, despite their dyspepsia and pallor and chronic infirmity, they might one day rally against the ravages of their Affliction.

Despite her injuries, Bella was able to attend The Prom with Edward though obliged to wear a great splint upon her injured limb, which, while cumbersome, could not render her unfit for Dancing. When they were able to draw away from the company and enjoy a few minutes of uninterrupted discourse, Bella expressed a genuine dismay that Edward had been so skillful in extracting the Poison from her that she had not suffered any Infection, and thereby been deprived of sharing in his Affliction. She pressed him to inflict his Malady upon her, but Edward firmly refused, insisting that he could not consign her with so grave and irreversible a state and still be thought a gentleman. It was upon this note that the Playlet ended, and when I remarked upon the abruptness of it, Mr Plumptre informed me that it was only the First Part of the Playlet and that in the coming months there will be subsequent new performances that are called Sequels which will continue on with further episodes of Bella, the Cullens, etc etc

For my own part, I can see no advantage to irritate an audience by giving them only a portion of the Work or suspend their interest and pleasure. I am certain that no one could like P&P half so much if they got to the end only to find that they had put down their money and only got half a tale!

Yours very affec.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

kids' books

I thought this article was really interesting on books for kids. Check it out. (This magazine puts out some good stuff.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


We really get a kick out of the Marx bros. This photo is from their movie At the Circus.

One movie that we all agree is tops in the funny dept. is Duck Soup. Here are some of my favorite quotes.

Lady-I welcome you with open arms.
Groucho-Is that so? How late do you stay open?

Groucho- That covers a lot of ground. Say, you cover a lot of ground. You better beat it. I hear they’re gonna tear you down and put up an office building where you stand. You can leave in a taxi. If you can’t get a taxi, you can leave in a huff, if that’s too soon you can leave in a minute and a huff.

Groucho- You know you haven’t stopped talking since I came here? You must've been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

Lady-Promise me you’ll follow in the footsteps of my late husband.

Groucho-How do you like that? I haven’t been on the job 5 minutes and already she’s making advances to me.

Groucho-Where is your husband?

Lady-He’s dead.

Groucho-I bet he’s just using that as an excuse.

Lady-I was with him till the very end.

Groucho-Hum, no wonder he passed away.

Lady-I held him in my arms and kissed him.

Groucho- Oh, then it was murder. Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.

Lady-Oh, Your Excellency.

Groucho-Your not so bad yourself.

Lady-Having him with us is a very great pleasure.

Visitor-Thank you, but I can’t stay very long.

Groucho-That’s an even greater pleasure.

Visitor-Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?

Groucho-I don’t think so. I’m not sure I’m seeing you now. It must’ve been something I ate.

Groucho- Don’t look now but there’s one man too many in the room and I think it’s you.

Groucho- The Secretary of War is out of order! Which reminds me, so is our plumbing.

Man-The workers are demanding shorter hours.

Groucho-Very well. We’ll give them shorter hours. We’ll start by cutting their lunch hour to 20 minutes.

Lady-I wash my hands of the whole business.

Groucho-Good idea. You can wash your neck too.

Groucho- I’ve got a good idea to join a club and beat you over the head with it.

Groucho-I’ve got an important job for you but first I’ve got to ask you a couple of important questions. Now, what is it that has four pair of pants, lives in Philadelphia, and it never rains but it pours?

Chico-That’s a good one. I give you three guesses.

Zeppo-The man is trying to undermine you! Now, what are you going to do about it?

Groucho-I’ve got a good idea to ring his doorbell and run.

Groucho- Maybe you could suggest something. In fact, you do suggest something- a baboon. I’m sorry I said that. It’s not fair to the other baboons.

Groucho-I can see you right now in the kitchen bending over a hot stove, but I can’t see the stove.

Lady-What are you thinking of?

Groucho-Oh, I was just thinking about all the years I’ve wasted collecting stamps.

Lady-He’s had a change of heart.

Groucho- A lot of good that’ll do him, he’s still got the same face.

Lady-Oh, Your Excellency, isn’t there something I can do?

Groucho-Yeah, but we’ll talk about that later.

Groucho(after being locked in the bathroom)- Hey, let me out! Let me out! Let me out of here or throw me a magazine.

Groucho- I got rid of habius corpus, but I should’ve gotten rid of you.

Groucho- He may look like an idiot, and talk like an idiot. But don’t let him fool you, he really is an idiot.

Groucho-Remember, you're fighting for this woman’s honor. Which is probably more than she ever did.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Here are my children's favorite going-to-bed songs. (Old Abner's Shoes was the only way I could get Ahlana to sleep, back in the day.) And they are (drum roll please)...

Down in the River to Pray

Gallowa Hills

Old Abner's Shoes


Down in the River to Pray

Gallowa Hills

Old Abner's Shoes

salted caramel ice cream

This recipe is delish! It was almost worth the horrid burn I got on my finger from the cooked sugar which decided just to sit there and not shake off!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
2c heavy cream
1c whole milk
3/4-1c sugar
1 egg plus 2 yolks
11/2t vanilla
1/2t kosher salt
Combine the eggs and 1/4c sugar in a small bowl. Place the remaining sugar in a med. saucepan and cook it until it becomes mahogany-colored. Add salt. Deglaze the caramel with the milk and cream being careful as the sugar is very hot. (Just a note here: it will seem like it is never going to incorporate. The sugar gets hard as a rock when the liquid is first poured in, but just be patient.) Once the sugar and milk are combined and hot, add a small amount of the liquid to the egg mixture while whisking vigorously. Add another small amount of liquid while whisking until the eggs have warmed. Add the egg mixture to the cream mixture in the pot. Replace the pot over med heat, and cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. (When you run your finger down the back of the spoon, it should leave a trail.) Don't overcook. Place in an ice bath and chill thoroughly. It's now ready for your ice cream maker!:)
(This recipe was printed in the 4 States Living Mag. It is from Brandon Thrash.)


Her Spirits were naturally good, and not easily depressed, and she possessed such a fund of vivacity and good humour as could only be damped by some very serious vexation.- Besides these antidotes against every disappointment, and consolations under them, she had another, which afforded her constant relief in all her misfortunes, and that was a fine shady Bower, the work of her own infantine Labours..."
~from Jane Austen's Catherine, or the Bower

Jane Austen filled 3 notebooks with her writings when she was a girl and very young lady that are quite enjoyable. I would have to say my favorite so far is her History of England which she wrote when she was 16. It is funny, and rather better written than she would've ever fessed up to. I've also enjoyed reading some of her letters. Her correspondence with James Stanier Clarke has left us with some real gems. Notably her Plan of a Novel.
It is also interesting and highly gratifying to hear how she felt about what she wrote. (Here is an excerpt from one of her letters to Clarke.)

You are very kind in your hints as to the sort of composition which might recommend me at present, and I am fully sensible that an historical romance, founded on the House of Saxe-Cobourg, might be much more to the purpose of profit or popularity than such pictures of domestic life in country villages as I deal in. But I could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or at other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other.

I remain, my dear Sir,
Your very much obliged, and sincere friend,

So many feminists today badly want her to feel how they feel, basically how Maria Bertram felt in Mansfield Park,
In all the important preparations of the kind she was complete; being prepared for matrimony by a hatred of home, restraint, and tranquility; by the misery of disappointed affection, and contempt of the man she was to marry.
In Margaret Doody's Oxford World's Classics introduction of Catherine and Other Writings, she used words like pretend, accommodated, necessity of pattern, and cultural lies when referring to JA's novels written when she was grown, that JA couldn't possibly have been content and happy. Calling G.K. Chesterton's thought that she "was happy with her domestic role", "the usual twaddle". (And as my sister pointed out, you ought not call Chesterton's thoughts twaddle when you've never so much as even had a cup of tea with the man!) But the lady that wrote these 6 novels and all these other stories, poems, letters, and prayers, was not a discontented little vixen! She has what her best heroines have, what Catherine had: Spirits naturally good, and not easily depressed, and she possessed such a fund of vivacity and good humour ...