Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lake Michigan this morning before work

Lake Michigan this morning before work


“Our Gaze Is Submarine”

I just bought a book of villanelles. I think it’s a fun form, and as I was reading a few I remembered that once, a long time ago, I tried writing one myself.  Here it is  The main image is shamelessly borrowed from T. S. Eliot, but then Eliot said that poets ought to steal, so he shouldn’t object.  It isn’t a finished poem, but I think it’s a good beginning.  

I stopped writing poetry when I came to teach at Calvin.  Make of that what you will.  One of my goals for the next few years is to start writing it again.  Sharing a few efforts here might help me do that.   



“Our gaze is submarine, our eyes look upward

And see the light that fractures through unquiet water.

We see the light but see not whence it comes.

O Light Invisible, we glorify Thee!

T. S. Eliot, Choruses from “The Rock”


Our gaze is submarine.  Our eyes look up

And see the fractured paths of blue and green.

We see the light but see not whence it comes.


We live immersed in evidence of what

Exists beyond this underlit demesne

In which our gaze is submarine.  Look up!


No one has seen the Father but the Son,

Our holy periscope to the unseen.

We see the light but see not whence it comes.


Light is reflected through all Light has done.

We are distracted by reflections’ sheen.

Our gaze is submarine.  Our eyes look up,


As do a puppy’s, hoping for some crumbs

Beneath the table.  We can’t see the feast.

We feed on light but see not whence it comes.


We kindle little lights to offer Love

And place them on an altar newly clean.

Our gaze still submarine, our eyes look up

And see the light, though still not whence it comes.



Malala Yousafzai – Evidence of Grace

My transcript from Jon Stewart’s interview with Malala Yousafzai on October 8:

JS: “Where did your love for education come from?”
MY: “We are human beings, and this is part of our human nature, that we don’t learn the importance of anything until it’s snatched from our hands. And when in Pakistan, when we were stopped from going to school, at that time I realized that education is very important. And education is the power for women. And that’s why the terrorists are afraid of education. They do not want women to get education because then women would become more powerful.” . . . .

JS: “You spoke out publicly. What gave you the courage?”
MY: “You know, my father was a great encouragement for me, because he spoke out for women’s rights, he spoke out for girls’ education. And at that time I said that, why should I wait for someone else? Why should I be looking to the government, the army, that they would help us? Why don’t I raise my voice? Why don’t we speak up for our rights? The girls of Swat, they spoke up for their rights. . . . I raised my voice on every platform that I could. And I said I need to tell the world what is happening in Swat. And I need to tell the world that Swaat is suffering from terrorism, and we need to fight against terrorism.”

JS: “When did you realize the Taliban had made you a target?”
MY: “I just could not believe it. . . . I was not worried about myself that much; I was worried about my father. Because we thought that the Taliban are not that much cruel that they would kill a child, because I was 14 at that time. But then later on I started thinking about that, and I used to think that a Talib would come and he would just kill me. But then I said, If he comes, what would you do, Malala? Then I would reply myself that, Malala, just take a shoe and hit him. But then I said, If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others that much with cruelty and that much harshly. You must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education. Then I said, I’ll tell him how important education is, and that I even want education for your children as well. And I’ll tell him, That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

The video of the extended interview should soon be posted at

And here’s Malala addressing the United Nations:

Aesthetics Chez Glinda

I’ve always been fascinated and appalled by this moment. And yet I do believe that Beauty is a mark of both the True and the Good. So why is this so obviously wrong?
Perhaps because the sort of beauty on offer is so shallow, so unrelated to the ontological beauty of allowing one’s truth and goodness to be perceptible.
Yet I’m afraid that what Glinda means by beauty is what most people mean by beauty. We all know what’s meant by the “beauty department” in a store or a “beauty magazine.” Does this mean that Glinda’s equation is what most people think when they’re told there’s a connection between the Beautiful, the True, and the Good? Scary, if true.

God’s “Homelike Loving”

Today in my intro theology class, we looked at this passage from Julian of Norwich:

“And at this same time that I saw this bodily sight, our Lord showed me a spiritual sight of his homelike loving.  I saw that he is all things good and comfortable to us for our help.  He is our clothing, for love wraps us and winds around us, hugs us and teaches everything, hangs about us — for tender love — so that he may never leave us .  . . . 

And in this he showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hozelnut, lying in the palm of my had, and to my understanding it was round as any ball.  I looked upon it and thought: What may this be?  And I was answered generally this way: It is all that is made.  I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might fall into nothing because of its littleness.  And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always shall, for God loves it; and so all things have being through the love of God.” 


Entering into Sabbath Rest: Not an Eternal Nap

Entering into Sabbath Rest: Not an Eternal Nap

I spoke in chapel this past Monday as part of a series on the Ten Commandments.  The video is now up on our chapel website.  The first 6 or 7 minutes are of the chapel filling and people gathering; fast forwarding is recommended!