To Love Her Was His Disease

To love her was his disease —
It'd kill him if he could not please.

And love serves to perfect its wooed,
Not merely please its object's mood.

Posted on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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Slow Growth

Seeds in dark ground
reach
for light unseen,
for downward-pressing warmth
reach.

MacDonald's "The Cruel Painter"

"The Cruel Painter", set during the early Habsburg era in sixteenth-century Prague, perfectly fits the Halloween theme of this time of year, but—as always—MacDonald hasn't left us with a story that won't inspire us and make us think! It's interesting to me to find in this tale another nineteenth-century interpretation of the "vampire" legend. Whether this take on vampire lore is particularly German, Scottish, or uniquely his own, I don't know, but it is fascinating to read a pre-Dracula vampire story—especially one that isn't intended for horror.

A Love Letter

Hey love, how are you doing? I know I'll see you today, but I wanted to express my thoughts to you in writing. Do you remember the last time we took a walk? I really enjoyed that and hope we can do it again soon, especially now that the leaves are turning. I have a hard time choosing my favorite season. Right now it's definitely Autumn, but when Spring comes, I'm likely to change my mind again. ;)

MacDonald's "Smoke"

Lord, I have laid my heart upon thy altar
But cannot get the wood to burn;
It hardly flares ere it begins to falter
And to the dark return.
Old sap, or night-fallen dew, makes damp the fuel;
In vain my breath would flame provoke;
Yet see—at every poor attempt's renewal
To thee ascends the smoke!
'Tis all I have—smoke, failure, foiled endeavour,
Coldness and doubt and palsied lack:
Such as I have I send thee!—perfect Giver,
Send thou thy lightning back.

Posted on Sunday, August 09, 2009 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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"Finding an Unseen God: Reflections of a Former Atheist" by Alicia Britt Chole

"There is only one reasonable response when a God—whose reality you have denied—pursues you."
You could have guessed that someone could write a book with a subtitle like "Reflections of a Former Atheist" any number of ways. One way might be sappy and clich├ęd. A second might be polemic and combative. Another might be condescending, or glib, or sardonic. But you might not have guessed that, instead, this book would be refreshing, gripping, and original. Or how about artful and intelligent? Whether she knows it or not, Alicia Britt Chole has given us a glimpse at what a masterful writer can do with a difficult subject and a dichotomous audience. Reasonable Theists and Atheists alike can appreciate this little book's big presence.

What's in a Name?

I am not my name. I am not my face. I am not my thoughts, my feelings, or my physical body. Those are all things I have, but none of those things I am. So, who am I?

Identity is famously difficult to define. I can answer, "I am David Gregg," but do you know who I am because you know my name? I am not my name. It's a great deception to think you know a person when you know little more than a name and a face. At parties you can say, "Oh, yeah, I know David," because we have been introduced, but in the naked meaning of the phrase "I know him," just how true is it? When you ask me, "Who are you?", the best and most truthful thing I can do is shrug and say, "I am who I am." I cannot tell you who I am — I cannot describe my identity to you in words — but if you take the time to get to know me, you will learn who I am, by experience, in relationship.

Posted on Saturday, July 18, 2009 by David Gregg | 1 comments | Links to this post
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Fairness Is the Line

Fairness is metallic. It is joyless. It is good only by default — only because it is not evil. It is the line that delineates what is good to do and what is not, but it is just the line — not the path. It says, "Beyond this point are higher things, better things. Beyond this point is love." Fairness is the line — the closest thing to doing evil we can still call "doing good."

MacDonald's "Lycabas"

I only just discovered this poem. But already it is a favorite. I believe MacDonald here is writing from his experience as a father of eleven children—four of whom preceded him in death, along with some of his earlier grandchildren. This man knew suffering. But he also knew hope.
Read, and learn from a man, embattled by the continual march of time, who grew the more wise for it.

Posted on Saturday, April 18, 2009 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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Love, Not Law, as a Standard for Conduct

Before reading this, I strongly encourage you to read the last post, "Cliff Notes on Galatians," an abridged version of the theological substance of the Galatian Epistle.

Posted on Sunday, March 22, 2009 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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Cliff Notes on Galatians

What follows is an abbreviated version of Paul's open letter to the Believers in the province of Galatia. It does look rather lengthy, but it is quite shorter than the entire letter. If you want to get the gist of it quickly, this does the job well. It is portions of the actual text from the New Living Translation, without reference numbers or commentary. I would have left out the ellipses, to help keep the thought intact, but I wanted you to see where there is a larger development of the discussion — hopefully, awaking your desire to read more, the whole thing. Galatians is amazing, and my desire is that this briefer snapshot will give you a greater appreciation for what I consider to be one of the most pivotal and succinct pieces of theological discussion in the New Testament.

Light and the Pursuit of Truth

While reading1 "Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood" by George MacDonald, I was struck by his description of seeking the truth as living in the light — the sunlight — in the twenty-fourth chapter, "Failure." MacDonald can always be found embedding nuggets of nonfiction-like discussions in the midst of a good fictional story. It's one of the reasons I enjoy his fiction so much.

What follows is the relevant quote from "Ranald Bannerman's Boyhood," as well as a related quote from a nonfiction essay, "Light," from his "Unspoken Sermons, Third Series."

Posted on Saturday, March 21, 2009 by David Gregg | 1 comments | Links to this post
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The Crowded Middle: Addendum

A reader, Ron, who commented on "The Crowded Middle" at SimpleChurch.com, brought up an important issue:

I think I know where you're going with this but I'm not sure what a "good man" is seeing as how the Lord has pointed out that there is no "good" in men.
After reviewing the rest of his comments (which were very good, check them out), I decided I had better clarify.

Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2009 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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The Crowded Middle

An evil man who does not care for people's judgments of him is the worst kind of evil man. He cannot even contain his lower nature for the selfish benefit of his reputation. If that is true, then it is also true that a good man who does not care for people's judgments of him is the best kind of good man. He will not even placate his lower nature for the benefit of his reputation. Each of these two men is capable of doing anything he can imagine after his own kind: one to evil, one to good. Each of these two men is freed to live like his heart would have him live: one twisted, one right. Each lives in intellectual honesty, because he allows his actions to reflect the real state of his conscience.

Posted on Sunday, March 15, 2009 by David Gregg | 0 comments | Links to this post
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God Doesn't Love You for a Reason

God never loved you for a reason. God loves you.
Wayne Jacobsen
There is great truth in Jacobsen's off-the-cuff words from an episode of The GOD Journey podcast. He speaks about our impulse for merit—our striving to be worth loving. And he is right. There is absolutely no way we can make ourselves either more or less worth loving.

Posted on Monday, March 09, 2009 by David Gregg | 2 comments | Links to this post
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Why I Don't Like Church Names

Some of my friends already know I don't like church "names." They're so odd to me. (Not my friends, the names.) It's like naming your group of friends: "We are 'Awesome'—'Awesome Group of Friends, Springfield'—and we believe that you too can be awesome! Because that's what we're all about! Welcome to Awesome."

Posted on Monday, March 02, 2009 by David Gregg | 1 comments | Links to this post
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God, as Truth and Mystery

Moses receives three successive visions of God: first he sees God in a vision of light at the burning bush (Ex. 3:2); next God is revealed to him through mingled light and darkness, in the "pillar of cloud and fire" which accompanies the people of Israel through the desert (Ex. 13:21); and then finally he meets God in a "non-vision", when he speaks with him in the "thick darkness" at the summit of Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:21).
Kallistos Ware, in the chapter "God as Mystery" from "The Orthodox Way", St Vladimir's Seminary Press: 1979. 13
First, He shows me that I can know Him. Then, He shows me that I cannot define Him. First, He shows me that He is. Then, He shows me that He is more. First, He shows me that He is Truth. Then, He shows me that He is Mystery.

Posted on Thursday, February 19, 2009 by David Gregg | 1 comments | Links to this post
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Not a Wound and Not a Weight

I don't know about others, but I have a confession to make. When I say it, let it sink in: I used to walk away from hearing (or remembering) the story of the Cross with a distinct feeling of heaviness, not a distinct feeling of overwhelming love. I would feel shackled to a mysterious burden, a darkness, and it never occurred to me to question it.

Now, I don't want to say that the actual events of the Day of the Cross should be a pleasant "memory" for us, but the Cross should very definitely unlock us from our weights and our shame. The Cross should be our freedom. And true freedom is meant to be felt, like when a cool wind lifts from us a veil of oppressive humidity. True freedom is deep and fresh and is known by those who have it by it's stark contrast to anything that is not freedom.

Posted on Tuesday, January 06, 2009 by David Gregg | 2 comments | Links to this post
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Favorite Deviants