Archives For So That the World May Believe

In When Breath Becomes Air, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi tells the story of a patient who insisted on having a brain tumor removed against the advice of his surgeons.

The tumor was situated in a critical speech center in the brain. Excising it was likely to render the patient speechless for life.

Kalanithi was about to ask the attending physician why the surgery was proceeding when he received his answer. He met the patient.

The man dished out a “litany of profanity and exhortation” demanding that the doctors get “this thing out of my [expletive deleted] brain” (111).

At the operation’s conclusion, Kalanithi had a new question:”How was he still talking?”

He surmised that profanity “supposedly ran on a slightly different circuit from the rest of language. Perhaps the tumor had caused his brain to rewire somehow” (112). Continue Reading…

Time: The Giver of Choices

January 16, 2017 — 1 Comment

Some of us get more of it than others. None of us knows exactly when it will end for us. We complain that there is not enough of it. Or that there is too much between where we are and what we want.

Some smart people even say it’s an illusion. But illusory or real, it binds us all.

Time never seems to do what we want it to do. But how to use it is up to us–even in the worst of circumstances.

Natan Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prisons and camps. He endured many days in a punishment cell–with little food or warmth. He endured hunger strikes that weakened his heart.

He endured. Continue Reading…

He was one of my first teachers in college. The class was Philosophy 004. He would teach me Plato’s Theory of Ideas and Aristotle’s Golden Mean. There were side journeys through Nietzsche and Heidegger, but Plato and Aristotle are the ones who stuck best.

I was not a traditional student. I was 32 years old, newly divorced. Juggling five children, a part-time job, and a full-time class schedule.

He had come to our small campus via the larger university and, before that, received an ivy league undergrad degree. He had been a prodigy.

He taught me Aristotle’s understanding of the three kinds of life people can lead. How we can get caught up in the vulgar or entangled in the political. But that the happiest life to lead is a contemplative one. Continue Reading…

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself,” Josh Billings.

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Wonder in Sick Days

January 3, 2017 — 3 Comments

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

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Cookies as threads of memory

December 22, 2016 — 4 Comments

I’ve been making them for five decades. I began when I was ten. And I’ve probably eaten more than my own weight in raw dough. Ever since my mother let me loose in the kitchen.

It’s what she did when I was young. It’s what I did as a tween, then teen. What I did when my children were young. What I still do now.

My repertoire has expanded over the years to include peanut butter blossoms (chocolate kiss cookies), anise pizzelles and nut puffs (a harkening back to my children’s Italian heritage), buckeyes, haystacks, cocoa cookies with peanut butter chips, and just added last year, a gingerbread cookie with peanut butter and butterscotch chips (a personal invention).

Primarily, though, there is the chocolate chip cookie. It is the one where I began. It is my mainstay recipe. Continue Reading…

The Parasite of Peace

December 19, 2016 — 1 Comment

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased,” Luke 2:14.

There’s a battle between peace and war. It seems unnecessary to say so. But this season is when peace is to prevail and war is to fade away–at least for a time.

That worked once, at least, but only briefly. In 1914, French, English, and German soldiers called a Christmas truce and even sang in unison. It was a “Silent Night” with harmony in multiple languages.

I remember my mother telling me the story.  For a night, Christmas night, there was peace. “And then the next day, they were out there killing each other again,” she said. Continue Reading…

Emerging from the Cave

December 15, 2016 — 1 Comment

Humans, history says, emerged from a cave. We drew pictures of animals on the walls around us.

A great thinker, Plato, told a story about a man in a cave. This man is bound. Unable to see anything except the shadows cast upon the wall in front of him. He perceives these shadows to be the sum total of reality.

As Plato’s story goes, the man one day escapes his bonds, leaves his cave, and goes out in broad daylight for the first time in his memory. The bright sunlight blinds him. He needs a guide to discern this place, this reality. Continue Reading…

The Ugly Time

December 13, 2016 — 1 Comment

I’ve already heard people complain about the weather. Here’s a new way of looking at the barren winterland.

Mitch Teemley

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I used to consider

late autumn

with its leafless trees

and sullen skies

the ugly time

But then I grew up

and came to understand

its barren beauty

how it saw the loss and longing in me

and sent its moons

to make tunnels through the clouds

and its shivering breezes

to whisper, Yes, we know

but Christmas is coming

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“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being,” Gen 2:7. 

God took dust and made a man. We are the descendants of dust. Eternal souls housed in soil.

But the world sees something else. Easily wiped away, forgotten, replaced. Wiped away again next week. That is how some in the world see our human race. But we are more than these houses. Continue Reading…