Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Lion, the Ass and Coffin

In the past year, a friend of mine gave me a copy of the book, Credo by William Sloane Coffin.

My friend met Coffin at Yale in the late 60's when Coffin was Chaplain there. And this friend, having discovered that he and I share a few of the same theological and political views, thought I'd appreciate Coffin.

And he was right. 

I've just finished Credo, and my copy is now full of dog-ears, notes, highlights and underlined text. Among them, this sober critique of the Religious Right, offered with a touch of humor:
I want to urge ... the leaders of the so-called moral majority to "work out their salvation" with a little more "fear and trembling." I agree that the Bible contains all the answers, at least all the significant ones. But I would insist that no one understands the Bible until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents. Like any book, the Bible is something of a mirror: if an ass peers in, you can't expect an apostle to peer out!
Though surely not his specific intent, Coffin's ass reference reminds me of C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle, in which a lion pelt is thrown over an unwitting donkey in an effort to fool folks into thinking Aslan has returned. This fake "Aslan" is the deliverer of many false teachings and instructions - and causes quite a bit of trouble in Lewis' depiction of the End Times in Narnia.

Maybe this connection is freudian for me: a moral majority of unwitting asses presenting themselves to the public disguised as apostles. Fodder for a future post, I think.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Scottish Wildcat

I'd never heard of this wildcat of Scotland until some random surfing through Wikipedia yesterday. This particular strain of wild feline predates today's domesticated cats. There are only 400 left in the wild, according to estimates.

The one pictured here looks quite a bit like my Maine Coon who passed away a year or so ago. But these wildcats are said to be untamable.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Seeing The Bright Side Of Four-Dollar Gas

In his autobiography, Surprised By Joy, C.S. Lewis writes:

I number it among my blessings that my father had no car, while yet most of my friends had, and sometimes took me for a drive. This meant that all these distant objects could be visited just enough to clothe them with memories and not impossible desires, while yet they remained ordinarily as inaccessible as the Moon. The deadly power of rushing about wherever I pleased had not been given me. I measured distance by the standard of man, man walking on his two feet, not by the standard of the internal combustion engine. I had not been allowed to deflower the very idea of distance; in return I possessed "infinite riches" in what would have been to motorists "a little room." The truest and most horrible claim made for modern transport is that it "annihilates space." It does. It annihilates one of the most glorious gifts we have been given. It is a vile inflation which lowers the value of distance, so that a modern boy travels a hundred miles with less sense of liberation and pilgrimage and adventure than his grandfather got from traveling ten. Of course if a man hates space and wants it to be annihilated, that is another matter. Why not creep into his coffin at once? There is little enough space there.

Published in 1955, and from a northern latitude.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Winter Daydream

Living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, where the temperature reached 90 degrees a couple of days ago (before a cold front -- thankfully -- blew through later in the day), I'm in no hurry to say goodbye to the cooler weather of winter.

But when I come across
a story like this in The New York Times, I can't deny there's a part of me ready to fast forward to the outdoor swimming season. And, as a lover of natural pools, like Barton Springs in Austin, I'm not surprised that surfing pics of the saltwater rock pools of Sidney, Australia, has been my choice of time-waste in the last 48 hours.

My favs? How about:
The Ross Jones Memorial Pool. The Newcastle Bogey Hole. And... the Whale Beach Rock Pool. (Make sure to click on the pics for larger versions...!)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Amazon History

Via the latest Wilson Quarterly, a mention of an interesting piece in Conservation magazine. In it Fred Pearce wonders how much of the Amazon rainforest is virgin. Today's Amazon explorers are finding evidence that pre-European civilizations had done some serious forest clearing of their own. Euro diseases probably led to the collapse of those civilizations, and, in the hundreds of years since, the forest has re-grown. But what percentage of today's forest is virgin?

Surely in the Amazon, the greatest rainforest on the planet, virginity can be discovered—nature red in tooth and claw? That's what everyone thought until an American oil prospector named Kenneth Lee first climbed aboard a beach buggy and bounced across the grassy lowlands of Baures in the Bolivian Amazon in the early 1980s. After a while, Lee began to wonder why he was bouncing so much in the grass.

On closer inspection, the landscape appeared to be corrugated. It was composed of a remarkably symmetrical series ofridges and trenches stretching as far as the eye could see. From time to time, he came across higher ridges that looked like roads, and wider depressions that seemed as if they might once have been canals. (Subscription required)