Thursday, September 30

"Autumn" by T. E. Hulme

A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

Wednesday, September 29

Robert Frost's "After Apple Picking"

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

"Autumn" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
So long beneath the heaven's o'er-hanging eaves;
Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

Tuesday, September 28

John Donne's "The Autumnal"

No spring nor summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnall face.
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape,
This doth but counsel, yet you cannot 'scape.
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame,
Affection here takes Reverence's name.
Were her first years the Golden Age; that's true,
But now she's gold oft tried, and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time,
This is her tolerable Tropique clime.
Fair eyes, who asks more heat than comes from hence,
He in a fever wishes pestilence.
Call not these wrinkles, graves; if graves they were,
They were Love's graves; for else he is no where.
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit
Vowed to this trench, like an Anachorit.

And here, till hers, which must be his death, come,
He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb.
Here dwells he, though he sojourn ev'ry where,
In progress, yet his standing house is here.
Here, where still evening is; not noon, nor night;
Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
You may at revels, you at counsel, sit.
This is Love's timber, youth his under-wood;
There he, as wine in June enrages blood,
Which then comes seasonabliest, when our taste
And appetite to other things is past.
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the Platane tree,
Was loved for age, none being so large as she,
Or else because, being young, nature did bless
Her youth with age's glory, Barrenness.
If we love things long sought, Age is a thing
Which we are fifty years in compassing;
If transitory things, which soon decay,
Age must be loveliest at the latest day.
But name not winter-faces, whose skin's slack;
Lank, as an unthrift's purse; but a soul's sack;
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade;
Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out than made;
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone,
To vex their souls at Resurrection;
Name not these living deaths-heads unto me,
For these, not ancient, but antique be.
I hate extremes; yet I had rather stay
With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day.
Since such love's natural lation is, may still
My love descend, and journey down the hill,
Not panting after growing beauties so,
I shall ebb out with them, who homeward go.

Sum Ergo Zoom

What we are called to do and what we are called to be ought not be hampered by financial limitations. Thus, the Chalmers Fund of the King's Meadow Study Center has been established to support substantive Christian discipleship and education though endowments, scholarships, and resource development from Franklin to the uttermost parts of the earth.

The Ragnar Relay is a 200-mile, 30-hour, run across Tennessee from Chattanooga to Nashville. Our twelve team members will be running in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the worthy and needy recipients of Chalmers Fund scholarships--particularly at Franklin Classical School and New College Franklin.

Really! 200 miles, 30 hours, 11 friends, in 2 vans, all to raise scholarships for worthy, needy students: surely that warrants your support! Visit our Sum Ergo Zoom project site to donate or help fundraise today!

Monday, September 27

Henry Van Dyke's "Autumn in the Garden"

When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark
Makes its mark
On the flowers, and the misty morning grieves
Over fallen leaves;
Then my olden garden, where the golden soil
Through the toil
Of a hundred years is mellow, rich, and deep,
Whispers in its sleep.

'Mid the crumpled beds of marigold and phlox,
Where the box
Borders with its glossy green the ancient walks,
There's a voice that talks
Of the human hopes that bloomed and withered here
Year by year,
Dreams of joy, that brightened all the labouring hours,
Fading as the flowers.

Yet the whispered story does not deepen grief;
But relief
For the loneliness of sorrow seems to flow
From the Long-Ago,
When I think of other lives that learned, like mine,
To resign,
And remember that the sadness of the fall
Comes alike to all.

What regrets, what longings for the lost were theirs!
And what prayers
For the silent strength that nerves us to endure
Things we cannot cure!
Pacing up and down the garden where they paced,
I have traced
All their well-worn paths of patience, till I find
Comfort in my mind.

Faint and far away their ancient griefs appear:
Yet how near
Is the tender voice, the careworn, kindly face,
Of the human race!
Let us walk together in the garden, dearest heart,
Not apart!
They who know the sorrows other lives have known
Never walk alone.

Friday, September 24

Everyman's Library

On this day in 1904, after several years of experience publishing quality books at popular prices, Joseph Malaby Dent (1849-1926) began to flesh out an ambitious vision for a series of reprints he would call the Everyman’s Library. It was to be a massive and diverse selection of one thousand classics—practically the whole canon of Western Civilization’s great books—sold at affordable prices.

Though the experts had decreed that the classics were dry, uninspiring, and hardly suited for the fast-paced industrial world of the twentieth century, Dent believed that properly presented, the great books would prove to be as appealing as ever. He was convinced this was due to the fact that while the classics exhibit distinguished style, fine artistry, and keen intellect, they also create a whole universe of imagination and thought. In addition, unlike the simplistic nursery tales manifest in the literature of modernity, he believed the classics portrayed life as complex and multifaceted, depicting both negative and positive aspects of human character in the process of discovering and testing enduring virtues. He also believed that the classics had an inevitable transforming effect on the reader’s self-understanding—stretching, shaping, and confronting him. He thought they invited and rewarded frequent rereadings—they were ever new. They had the uncanny ability to adapt themselves to various times and places and thus provided a sense of the shared life of humanity over the course of space and time. And finally, he held that their mere endurance across all the varied times and seasons of human experience demonstrated an interminable permanence amidst modern temporality that was simultaneously comforting and challenging.

Though the venture was obviously a commercial risk, Dent was confident that the very thing that made the classics classic would ensure success for the series. He was right. Public demand for books in Everyman's Library exceeded every expectation. Production began in 1906 and more than a hundred and fifty titles were issued by the end of that first year.

Wartime inflation and shortages of supplies more than doubled the price of each volume during the First World War. After the conflict, inflation and shortages actually worsened. Dent responded to the setbacks by expanding book sales to international markets. He expanded distribution to North America by setting up a Canadian subsidiary and by allowing E. P. Dutton to distribute Everyman titles throughout the United States. In addition, Dent hired agents to sell Everyman titles in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and most of continental Europe.

The Everyman's Library finally reached the millennial volume with the publication of Aristotle’s Metaphysics in 1956. In just fifty years total sales of the Everyman’s series had exceeded sixty million copies of the classics. Though his company was finally sold by his heirs in 1988, almost exactly a century after he founded it, the impact of the little publisher that dared stand against the tide of the modern conventions of uniformity, conformity, and efficiency is still felt. Joseph Dent’s literary habits reintroduced the pertinence, puissance, and propriety of the classics to a world all too desperate for permanent things.

Thursday, September 23

Alas, Harvard

Harvard College graduated its first students on this day in 1642. It had been founded some six years earlier, in 1636, as New College Cambridge for the training of Puritan ministers and leaders for the new Massachusetts Bay colony. In 1639 it was re-named in honor of John Harvard, a local Puritan minister, who gave the college the bulk of his library and a small sum of money, equal to just a bit more than half his estate.

The founders probably had in mind something along the lines of a faithful version of Oxford or Cambridge--perhaps eventually growing into a collection of Puritan colleges, some for ministerial training and others for the sundy professional trades.

Its first professor was Nathaniel Eaton, brother to Theophilus Eaton, who was the founder and first Governor of New Haven as well as Francis Eaton, who sailed on the Mayflower. In 1639 however, he was ousted by the board of directors, because of his overly strict discipline of the students.

The first real theological crisis at Harvard erupted when one of Eaton’s successors, Henry Dunster, abandoned the Reformed faith of the Puritans in favor Baptist antinomianism in 1653. Dunster's conflict with the colony's magistrates and the college’s board began when he refused to have his infant son baptized. Every effort to restore the brilliant and popular Dunster to the Puritan fold failed, and he eventually decided to move to the nearby Plymouth Colony, where he died in 1658.

Despite this early strife, the college was able to maintain stability and some measure of orthodoxy until 1805 when a concerted effort was made to take over the board of trustees by Boston's influential Unitarians. By 1850 Harvard was known as the "Unitarian Vatican."

The theological liberals at the school allied themselves with high Federalists and began to create a set of private societies and institutions meant to shore up their cultural and political authority--a movement that prefigured the emergence of the Boston Brahmin class. On the other hand, theological conservatives allied themselves with the more populist Whigs and attempted to restore Harvard to something akin to its original vision--mounting a print media campaign in an effort to expose the grave threat to Congregationalist tradition and republican political principles that the Unitarian oligarchy posed--but all to no avail.

Charles William Eliot, Harvard's president from 1869-1909, finally officially eliminated the favored position of Christianity from the curriculum. While Eliot was, by many accounts, the most notable figure in the secularization of American higher education, he was actually not motivated by a desire to marginalize faith, but rather by his heart-felt commitment to Transcendentalist Unitarianism. The effect was the same, regardless.

Alas, the college was lost, not to be recovered to this day.

Tuesday, September 7

The Past as Future Orientation

"People will not look forward to posterity who will not look backward to their ancestors." Edmund Burke

Samuel Rutherford

Samuel Rutherford was born in 1600 near Nisbet, Scotland. Though little is known of his early life, it is clear that he was raised in a pious home that put great emphasis on education. In 1627 he completed his academic work at the University of Edinburgh, where he was appointed Professor of Humanities. That same year he became the pastor of the little parish church in Anwoth.

Anwoth was a rural community, and the people were scattered in farms over the hills. Rutherford apparently had a true pastor's heart, and he was ceaseless in his labors for his flock. Men often said of him, "He was always praying, always preaching, always visiting the sick, always catechising, always writing, and always studying." Even so, his first years in Anwoth were marked by great sadness. His wife was ill for a year and a month, before she died in their new home. Two children also died shortly afterward. Nevertheless, his faith never wavered.

Though it was said that he was not a particularly good speaker, his preaching drew great attention. An English merchant said of him, "I came to Irvine, and heard a well-favored, proper old man with a long beard, and that man showed me all my heart. Then I went to St. Andrews, where I heard a sweet, majestic-looking man, and he showed me the majesty of God. After him I heard this little, fair man Rutherford, and he showed me the loveliness of Christ."

In 1636 Rutherford published a book defending the Reformed doctrines of grace against the legalistic strictures of Armininism. This put him in conflict with the Church authorities, which were dominated by the English Anglo-Catholic Episcopacy. He was called before the High Court, deprived of his ministerial office, and exiled to Aberdeen. While in exile he wrote a series of remarkable letters which were later collected into a classic volume by Andrew Bonar (a tiny sampling of that remarkable work has recently been republished in a beautiful pocket devotion by Banner of Truth as The Loveliness of Christ and it has become the volume I give away more than any other in my ministry).

On this day in 1638, the struggles between Parliament and King in England enabled Rutherford to slip out of Aberdeen and return to Anwoth—but he was not allowed to stay there as long as he might have wished. The Westminster Assembly began their famous meetings in 1643, and Rutherford was appointed to be one of the five Scottish commissioners invited to attend the proceedings. Although the Scots were not allowed to vote, they had an influence far exceeding their number. Rutherford is thought to have been a major influence on the Shorter Catechism.

It was during this period in England, that Rutherford wrote his best-known work, Lex Rex, which argued for limited government, and a refutation of the idea of the Divine Right of Kings. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, it was clear that the author of Lex Rex would could expect trouble. When the summons came in 1661, charging him with treason, and demanding his appearance on a certain day, Rutherford refused to go. From his deathbed, he answered, "I must answer my first summons; and before your day arrives, I will be where few kings and great folks come." He died a few days later.

Saturday, September 4


"You can never dictate the future by the past--you may however, ameliorate its illest effects and heighten its greatest delights by its remembrance." Edmund Burke

Friday, September 3

Coeur de Lion

Richard the Lionhearted, son of Henry II and Eleanor of Acquataine, was crowned as King Richard I of England at Westminster Abbey on this day in 1189. After he was anointed on the head, breast and shoulders, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the officers of his royal army invested him with the cap, tunic, swords, spurs, and mantle of a Crusading Knight of Christ--an office he tried to live up to for the rest of his life.