Monday, March 29, 2004

New Agrarian websites

I'm enjoying reading through the entries at two sites I found via Path to Freedom's diary page: The New Agrarian by David Walbert and his blog, The Halfway Homestead. He and his wife raise ducks, grow mushrooms and other produce on their one and a half acres, and cook from scratch. Walbert's philosophy of agrarian life in the twenty-first century is well thought out and practical. I also appreciated his ruminations on "The Halfway Homestead."
The halfway homestead is our answer to the question What can we do right here, right now? It's about putting down roots where we are, rather than holding back until we're where we think we'd like to be. It's about taking the scenic route, enjoying the ride, and holding open the possibility that we might find a better destination than the one we had in mind.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Notes on Hopkins

Inscape is "often used of the characteristic shape of a thing or species. . . . More importantly on other occasions it is used of the crucial features that form or communicate the inner character, essence, or 'personality' of something."¹ Inscape is "the result of mental analysis and perception."¹ Inscape is "the distinctive design [pattern] that constitutes individual identity. . . . not static but dynamic."²

Instress is "the identifying impression a thing can communicate to a careful and perceptive observer."¹ It is "often, though not always, associated with feeling."¹ "'The stress within', the force which binds something or a person into a unit."¹ Instress is "the apprehension of an object in an intense thrust of energy toward it that enables one to realize its specific distinctiveness."²

"[Poetry] is instress, and it realizes the inscape of its subject in its own distinctive design. . . . In order to create inscape, Hopkins seeks to give each poem a unique design that captures the initial inspiration when he is 'caught' by his subject. Many of the characteristics of Hopkins's style. . . can be understood as ways of representing the stress and action of the brain in moments of inspiration."²

¹From the Introduction by Catherine Phillips to Gerard Manley Hopkins: The Major Works (Oxford World Classics), p. xx.

²From the introduction to the selection of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems in The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Major Authors, 5th ed., p. 2185.

But the definition that captures what's been tumbling in my brain is from the program notes to "Out of Inscape" for Basso and Orchestra by Robert Morris (gotta love Google!):
"Inscape" was Gerard Manley Hopkins's term for a special connection between the world of natural events and processes and one's internal landscape--a frame of mind conveyed in his radical and singular poetry.
"There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;" Hopkins.

"It's quiet down deep." Pai, hero of Whale Rider, as she dives down underwater searching for her grandfather's whale tooth. "He just wanted to go down and down." Pai's grandmother's explanation of Koro's refusal to talk after none of the boys retrieved the tooth.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Happy chickens

This picture is to be accompanied by a longer entry at some point. But I finally got the picture scanned and wanted to post it right away. Time: Late 1960s during the dry season. Place: NW Zambia. Who: JBB.

Monday, March 22, 2004

The deep down things

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things [....]
From "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins. The complete poem may be read at

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Volf on religion and violence

I just found out I missed hearing theologian Miroslav Volf speak on Christianity and Violence on the public radio show Speaking of Faith. As I wrote here shortly after September 11, I believe Volf is one of the most significant contemporary theologians.

I haven't had a chance to listen to the program yet (I can't get Real Audio to install correctly), but from the detailed notes on the website, I think the program will be well worth hearing.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Benedictine everyday life

Currently, the readings from Sister Joan Chittister's commentary on the Rule of St Benedict discuss household management. The reading and commentary for March 10 are as follows:
The goods of the monastery, that is, its tools, clothing or anything else, should be entrusted to members whom the prioress or abbot appoints and in whose manner of life they have confidence. The abbot or prioress will, as they see fit, issue to them the various articles to be cared for and collected after use. The prioress and abbot will maintain a list of these, so that when the members succeed one another in their assigned tasks, they may be aware of what they hand out and what they receive back.

Whoever fails to keep the things belonging to the monastery clean or treats them carelessly should be reproved. If they do not amend, let them be subjected to the discipline of the rule.

To those who think for a moment that the spiritual life is an excuse to ignore the things of the world, to go through time suspended above the mundane, to lurch from place to place with a balmy head and a saccharine smile on the face, let this chapter be fair warning. Benedictine spirituality is as much about good order, wise management and housecleaning as it is about the meditative and the immaterial dimensions of life. Benedictine spirituality sees the care of the earth, and the integration of prayer and work, body and soul, as essential parts of the journey to wholeness that answers the emptiness in each of us.
These words are so easy to write—even easier to cut-and-paste!—yet so difficult for me to live out.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Almanac entry

At 3:00 PM today, it was 90 degrees F / 32 degrees C.

Non-leaded regular gas: USD 2.17 / gal.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Lenten reflections

From a sermon by Rev. Dr. Peg Schultz-Akerson, preached Ash Wednesday 2004:
The biggest tragedy they say isn't that we're going to die. The bigger tragedy is that of never fully living. Fully living in the midst of a broken world isn't possible unless we get beyond fear of the brokenness. If we're afraid the brokenness has the final word we'll be afraid to fully live. To trust that God, who raised Jesus from the dead, will keep such surprises coming is to live by faith rather than by fear.