Are You Too Deeply Occupied?

We have countless opportunities to nurture genius, but we must look in unexpected places.  Genius often hides behind the shy eyes of a child, too reclusive to leave her familiar surroundings.  In 1862 Thomas Wentworth Higginson wrote a piece in the Atlantic Monthly entitled “Letter to a Young Contributor”.  The response he received, written in a peculiar bird-scrawl began, “Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive?” It appeared to be unsigned until he discovered a small sub-envelope within that contained a card with the shyly penciled name “Emily Dickinson.” Enclosed also were four poems, and his curious and encouraging response led to a three-decade correspondence with Dickinson, she playing a coy “Scholar” and he bewildered and moved by the flights of her mind.

Emily Dickinson (born on this day, December 10th in 1830) could not have imagined the towering height of the fame which was to come.

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Is The Mind Its Own Place?

It’s hard to imagine deaf Beethoven, producing symphonic masterpieces composed in the chambers of his mind, but equally staggering is John Milton (born this day in 1608), completely blind by his fifties, yet dictating his epic poem Paradise Lost with its ten thousand verses. The work is so ubiquitous to the canon of literature its lines are often confused with scripture. His genius, however did not preclude struggle, and much of his angst was directed at God.

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Unadorned Power

Willa Cather (born this day, December 7th in 1873) was an uncharacteristically quiet voice of the roaring twenties.  Unlike many of her contemporaries who delighted in inventions of wordplay, her prose was unadorned and straightforward.  The power of her stories was found in the lives of her characters who were unvarnished and transparent in their exposure to the reader.  A pristine example of her clean, powerful voice can be heard in her novel Death Comes for the Archbishop.

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Philology by James Turner

The term philology is derived from the Greek terms “philos”, meaning“brotherly love” and “logos” meaning “word” and describes a love of learning, of literature as well as of argument and reasoning. By the time it morphed through Latin and Old English, it came to mean generally the“love of literature”. That’s a disservice because it is much more. It is the study and love of words and most specifically, how they came to meaning.

Words are tricky, as everyone knows.

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Learning About Grace The Hard Way

32192791Parents of college students occasionally despair, thinking that child of theirs will never grow up. They would be encouraged to read about Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He might now be known as a tower of wisdom, but when he was a college student, his choices were undoubtedly foolish. Coleridge squandered his money and went home significantly in debt. From there he received more money from his family but spent it before returning to school. He despaired of life to the consideration of suicide and ultimately joined the army using an alias on this day, December 2nd, in 1793.

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Today marks the beginning of Advent. For many, the occasion has been lost to the commercialization of Christmas, but in essence, it is foremost a time of fulfilled expectancy.  In Jesus, we have the convergence of man’s collective longing with God’s eternal love.  During His ministry, He often said He came to seek and to save that which was lost.  As bearers of the imago Dei, the very image of God, man intrinsically understood his connection to the eternal, but his soul was darkened by the sin in which he sequestered himself.

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