Christmas Poems

The kind folks at Fathom Magazine have published a series of Christmas poems I’ve written over the years. Click through the links to read them, but please stick around and browse their magazine.

Anno Domini
In the year of our Lord was a great hush;
400 years since He’d spoken a word.
No man or woman had felt the great rush
of His wind, fire, quake, nor still-small voice heard…

Word Become Flesh: A Nativity
Herald the child: meek,
mild. Herald him on trumpets
ambatured for war…

Sing
Mary sang Magnificat passing protests in the street
Mary sang Magnificat
while Herod made sacrifices at the temple…

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Reading Dr. King: Part 1

In signing [the Voting Rights Bill of 1965], the President announced that “Today is a triumph for freedom as huge as any victory that’s ever been won on any battlefield… today we strike away the last major shackle of…fierce and ancient bonds.”

One year later, some of the people who had been brutalized in Selma and who were present at the Capitol ceremonies were leading marchers in the suburbs of Chicago amid a rain of rocks and bottles, among burning automobiles, to the thunder of jeering thousands, many of them waving Nazi flags.

A year later, some of the Negro leaders who had been present in Selma and at the Capitol ceremonies no longer held office in their organizations. They ha been discarded to symbolize a radical change of tactics.

A year later, the white backlash  had become an emotional electoral issue in California, Maryland and elsewhere. In several Southern states men long regarded as political clowns had become governors or only narrowly missed election, their magic achieved with a “witches’” brew of bigotry, prejudice, half-truths and whole lies.

– Dr. Martin Luther King. Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community. “Where Do We Go From Here?” Pg. 2. Emphasis mine.

//One brief thought: This was published in 1967. We won’t progress out of racism. The subtitle of Dr. King’s book is “Chaos or Community.” Those are always the options.

The questions of language and war are often intertwined: a language is just a dialect with an army, as the saying goes

William T. Cavanaugh. “Killing for the Telephone Company.” Migrations of the Holy: God, State, and the Political Meaning of the Church. (34). Eerdman’s.

And I realized then that the answer to “why write? Why talk? Why read? Why publish?” is that we are not primarily writing and reading and publishing to “fix” the City of Man. I mean, maybe things will in the future “swing our way,” and maybe our words will have had something to do with the restoration of social conservatism in America. But maybe not.

But the thing is, that was never—it never should have been—our major vision for writing anyway.  Why write, in the first place? The answer is the same answer you’ve got to give to “Why garden?” “Why have babies?” “Why build a house?” The answer is, because we are called to, we are called to be makers, because we are made in the image of a creator, and this is part of what it means to be fruitful, to have dominion, to be humanity, restored in Christ, as God intended us to be. It is by being the best humans we can be, the best makers we can be, that we will do the best for the culture at large.

If we’re writers, then we write because it’s our part of the human task to do this, to write essays and publish them, the way we might bottle peaches, or crochet granny squares, or install insulation. When we are in Christ, and being in Him, offer him our work, it lasts into eternity; I think it ends up as part of what we’ll be able to get from the libraries and bookshops in the New Jerusalem. It’s not about “turning America around;” it’s about living in the Kingdom now, being ambassadors from another city, being a light in a dark world. Living the cultural life of eternity, starting now.

the always wonderful Susannah Black, “On Writing in Dark Times” (via settledthingsstrange)

In some quarters of American life, evangelical Christians are viewed as fearful and xenophobic—afraid of “the other.” Perhaps in a few cases, which happen to make the news. But in fact, US evangelical churches are refugees’ best friend. If anyone looks fearful and xenophobic, it is the federal government and its broken immigration policies.   

This is not to deny the real political, social, and economic challenges of welcoming more sojourners. This is not to suggest that we open our borders without any security checks. It is to refuse to let the gods of fear and security dictate how we respond.  

Nor do we mean to suggest our churches are doing all they can for the sojourner. Our resettlement agencies, here and abroad, need more money, more volunteers—more sponsorship from local churches—to face the burgeoning refugee crisis.  

This is an unparalleled opportunity to love neighbors here and abroad, and to showcase the beauty of the gospel that proclaims good news to the poor, liberty for those stuck in refugee camps, and a new life for those fleeing from oppression, so that those “yearning to breathe free” can breathe easily.

This ease of access is in itself a blessing, but its misuse can make it a curse. We are all of us tempted to read more poetry and fiction, look at more pictures, listen to more music than we can possibly respond to properly, and the consequence of such over-indulgence is not a cultured mind but a consuming one; what it reads, looks at, listens to, is immediately forgotten, leaving no more traces than yesterday’s newspaper.

Auden, W.H. “Culture and Leisure.” Lecture delivered in 1966!

This comes from a review of the recently completed collection of Auden’s prose: https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/the-complete-works-of-auden-showcases-writings-beyond-the-poetry/2015/09/09/596e1362-5626-11e5-abe9-27d53f250b11_story.html?mc_cid=9d43685789&mc_eid=968c129113