Friday, July 31, 2015

Blogging



Blogging is work.  It is a good work though.  Some writer wrote that he writes to discover “…what he thinks about things.”

I write mostly to try to remember what I thought about things. We have so many good memories and such a limited mental storage capacity.  Sad, but happy that we can write these things down.  We can record our thoughts, our travels, our experiences.  It just takes a little work.

As I have written before, and repeat here, I have very few readers, so thanks for reading. I need a few to read these, but mostly I need to write, to record.  I have two book manuscripts, mostly finished, but no publisher.  These aren’t novels but rather non-fiction, prospective trade books.  But I have no publisher.

But the joy of the WWW is that I can write, I can publish these myself.  So I can record the things I most want to recall.

Thanks for your help.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

CS Lewis and the Kilns





Brenda and I had a great opportunity this AM. We had the chance to visit CS Lewis’s and his brother Warren’s home just outside of Oxford.  We are about 3 miles from Oxford Uni, where CS Lewis tutored.  One of the first surprises for me was to discover that CS Lewis was never promoted to Professor at Oxford, he was lured with a professor’s chair to move to Cambridge, where he spent only 2 or 3 years.

Our guide for this visit is Dave from Tennessee.  He tells us that the house had been sold after Warren died, but one of the several C.S. Lewis Foundations, this one in CA, had purchased it and preserved it.  We are in the new garage, now converted to a living room-like welcoming center.  He tells us that Warren, a retired Army officer, lived in a small apartment the Lewis’s added to the original home.  We walk through that “apartment” and we are surprised at how small it is.  Most of the house was used by A Ms. Morrow and her daughter Charlotte. Later they were joined by Lewis’s future wife, Joy.  It is not a big house, and most of the rooms are quite small by today’s standards.

Lewis entered his second-floor bedroom, originally only by crossing through Ms. Moore's.  Creative guy he was, he turned a window into a door and added a small fire-escape style staircase.


I was most surprised to learn that Lewis really wanted to live in the “country”, and it is easy to see the rural nature, even though we are only 3 miles from Oxford.  Second, I am surprised for Clive and Warren’s strong attachment to the house.  After Clive’s death, Warren made a series of ill-advised financial moves, simply motivated by a fear of losing The Kilns.

The original views from the house must have been stunning.


Most stunning is that a mere college professor could so substantially impact the world for Christ. Perhaps more stunning- so can we, in the power of the Holy Spirit.



Monday, July 27, 2015

Old Churches




As I wrote last year, Italy is littered with old, old churches.  England is similar.  We saw numerous old churches this trip.  One of my favorites was on the grounds of Windsor Castle, known as St. George’s.

As we entered we were greeted by an organ recital already in progress.  As we listened, I paused to kneel and pray for a few moments.  A few feet away was one of the greatest marble carvings Brenda and I had ever seen. It depicted a woman who had died in childbirth, and though the scene was heart-rending, the carving was breathtaking.

Further along we saw a beautiful ornate ceiling and a long vestibule leading to my very favorite part, the choir area.  The Choir area was unique in that the upper structure was marked with symbology of the 24 knights of the Order of the Garter.  Each knight’s helmet, half-drawn sword, and shield marked his place.  A few women were represented with less war-like d├ęcor.  Each of these had been appointed by the Queen herself.  The combination of military service in the religious setting amidst the beauty of the church brought me to tears.  I felt compelled to again kneel for a few moments of prayer for those who have given their lives in service to others.

That was becoming my newest habit.  This pausing to pray where, no doubt, hundreds of kindred spirits had prayed over the centuries.  We were separated by time, but united in our Faith. In the midst of strong reminders of our Unity in the Body of Christ with fellow Believers across the globe, we are likewise united by our faith across time.

Take a moment and think about the vast number of Believers who have preceded you.

Pray a prayer in unity with those who have prayed before, in the Name of Christ.  Amen.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Chastleton House





Chastleton House is a great villa that arose from the ashes of the conspiracy to assassinate King James.  The conspirators borrowed about a thousand pounds from 4 different men.  When the conspiracy was found out, the men were promptly executed, leaving no one to pay the debt.  One of the funders of this ill-advised conspiracy agreed to take the estate of one of the conspirators and pay off the other 3 thousand in debt.  This man, a lawyer, torn down the house that was there and in its place erected a mansion in honor of… himself.


And a grand mansion it was indeed.  Constructed, like much of this part of England, of light brown local stone, it rose over three stories.  The grand dining hall was located to impress, being the first room to the right of the main entrance and separated from it only by an ornately carved wooden screen rising some 12-13 feet.  Lots of the structure and flooring and some of the furnishing originally from the early 17th century still adorned the mansion.

There are plenty of mysteries about the mansion which fell into a state of disrepair even before the demise of the original owner.  Up above the third floor, we could see some of the beams original to the house.  Whilst I marveled at the engineering required to lift these heavy, heavy building stones to such a height, I was equally surprised to seen nicely hewn beams joined in ways that robbed them of much of their structural strength.  Go figure.


The English National Trust had chosen to preserve the old mansion in a state of disrepair and dishevelment.  Perhaps that is most apropos for a mansion with such dastardly origins… most apropos.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where do you Bury a Veteran?




That question carries a new significance when your US ARMY veteran brother dies.  I have another post about my brother Danny, and he was a vet, you'll see that later, but today we buried him.

Today under a bright blue sky, we buried a US Army tank turret mechanic, in a quiet, quiet place near a river.

Where do you bury a veteran? We buried this vet in the rolling hills of North Georgia, in an area surrounded by the woods in which he grew up. It is a peaceful place not too far from the river that Danny floated so often as a young man, shooting ducks or catching fish. We buried him alongside a few hundred of his fellow veterans in the Veteran’s cemetery.

When our small motorcade bore his body to the funeral site, the two older men who run the place stood at attention with their hats over their hearts in salute.  I cried.

When we arrived at “Committal Site #1” two young Army Reservists in class A uniform stood at attention.  I wept again.

Taps were played, the flag covering the coffin was carefully folded, so very carefully folded. Then it was presented to my youngest brother, also an Army veteran.  Again, tears came.

Then the Army veteran was laid to rest, beneath the soil he had served, alongside his brothers in arms, under those tall trees and near to those native hydrangeas whose blooms were now brown.  Danny was a hero, not in the “special” sense, but in the sense that all who have served in our US armed forces are heroes.  Most volunteered, some were drafted, but all served their fellow man.

I don’t know where to bury a veteran, but I know where to bury a hero:  Section 2, site number 2825, along with a host of other heroes, under those big trees, near that river.

I cry for them, in honor of their sacrifice.