Romanian Grace

The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon. -- St. Cyril of Jerusalem

13 March, 2007

The Preciousness of Prayer

Here is an excerpt (long but worth it) from a piece that I keep coming back to. I often take an apathetic stance towards prayer. I just have trouble believeing that it works. Anyway, this is from Octavious Winslow's "The Preciousness of Prayer." You can find the whole thing on the site

If there be an argument which establishes beyond all dispute the doctrine of the fall, and the necessity of a restored and regenerated nature, it is the fact, that from it nothing that is holy, spiritual, or good emanates. The moral soil is so utterly degenerate, that even the flowers which adorn it—the natural virtues still clinging to our humanity—are, in the sight of a holy God, but as noxious weeds, destined finally and utterly to perish. Such was the complete wreck, such the entire paralysis of our nature. "In my flesh," says the apostle, dwells no good thing." If, then, in the midst of this utter and universal corruption, there should be found springing any bud, or blossom, or fruit of real holiness—anything truly gracious, spiritual, heavenly—it must be the product of a divine principle, of a new nature implanted within us by God the Holy Spirit. A striking proof and illustration of this is presented in the subject of this chapter. There exists not a more undoubted evidence of a renewed nature than—PRAYER. The absence of it is the unmistakable evidence of—death; its existence a palpable and positive evidence of—life. Prayer is the most vital, spiritual, and pure emanation of the indwelling of the Spirit in the soul. If, in a case of suspended animation, we marked the slightest symptom of life—the gentlest heaving of the heart—the faintest moisture breathed upon the surface of a mirror—we should certainly hail it as proof of the existence of the vital principle. We should not ask for strong spasmodic action, and postpone all efforts to rouse the dormant pulse, before we pronounced the individual alive. We should be satisfied that the spark still glowed, and this would reassure our hope, and animate our labor. Prayer is the spiritual life of the renewed soul. There may be the absence of profound religious knowledge, great depth of Christian experience, fiery zeal and gigantic energy—nevertheless, if of one thus apparently dormant it is said, "Behold he prays!"—if, in the secret walk, all deeply veiled from human eye, there is fellowship with God, communion with the Invisible,—there is life—life divine, life spiritual, life eternal. To change the figure—here is a plant of righteousness growing in a corrupt soil, here is a flower of holiness blooming and exhaling amid sin, corruption, and death! Surely this cannot be indigenous to our fallen humanity, but must be a seedling, a germ, a graft from the paradise of God. Among the most precious things of God is this—the principle and spirit, the power and sweetness of—PRAYER.

06 March, 2007

not to dwell too much on things future...

The ballots are in. We have decided on the literature and history curriculum for next year. All I can say is we have some very lucky students at Kingstone Academy. Get a load of this.

9th Grade book list

Song of Roland
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Confessions of St. Augustine
The Rule of St. Benedict
Canterbury Tales
The Bondage of the Will
The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings
Robin Hood
Saga of the Volsungs

I think we are in for a treat. Not that I have read about half of these and certainly not mastered any, but that will be about half the fun. We all get to read our little hineys off. What the heck is the Saga of the Volsungs? Whatever it is, at least one can sound smart if he casually throws out in conversation, "Yeah, I was reading the Saga of the Volsungs and...." This is going to be another dream year if the curriculum has anything to do with it.

And it only gets better when we turn our gaze to the 12th grade list:

Henry V
Richard II
Taming of the Shrew
Much Ado About Nothing

...and then 2nd semester...

War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells
The Awakening - Kate Chopin
A Light in August - William Faulkner
Wise Blood - Flannery O'Connor
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Teaching a Stone to Talk - Annie Dillard
Bird By Bird - Anne Lamott
The Magnificent Defeat - Frederick Buechner
On Writing Well - William Zinsser
bunch of poems by T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Langston Hughes, Frost, some other guys
short stories by Eudora Welty, Faulkner, O'Connor, Vonnegut

Incidentally, if someone asked me to give a list of my favorite books, many off the above list would qualify.

Wise Blood would be at the top, though it is one of the strangest novels I have read and I don't think I really get it. Flannery entrances me. She is the most real Christian author in the last 100 years, and I doubt a Christian has really written anything good since.

I like The Awakening, even though it is touted as a victory for feminism and dabbles in existentialism (I also like tossing out the word "existentialism" in casual conversation).

I think it is some kind of sin for a teacher to let a student through high school without reading a Faulkner novel. I have never read this one, so I am looking forward to it.

The Grapes of Wrath is one of those books that I always try to look astonished when someone says he hasn't read it. Even when I had not read it, if someone said he had not read it I would say, "You haven't read "The Grapes of Wrath"? They would usually look pretty sheepish, and they seldom returned the question, thankfully.

Maybe I will continue making myself sound smarter than I really am on another post, but for now I will have to go and so this semester's work.