Saturday, May 21, 2011

jeanne murray walker | flight

The angel speeding down the runway pulls up
her wing flaps, and, wouldn't you know it, wobbles,
then dribbles to a stop. She stands on the windy
tarmac, embarrassed, brushing her blond hair
from her eyes, trying to remember how to elevate
herself, wishing she'd worn jeans instead of
the girly skirt that looks good when she's flying.
It's gravity's old malice, showing up in the strangest
places, now at the corner, where the fortune cookie truck
forgets how to turn, tipping gracefully, sliding on
its side as cookies spill into the summer night.
Then mercy stalls in every precinct of the city

and we're just bodies, only protoplasm for a wasp
to sting. Even love is a sad mechanical business then,
and prayer an accumulation of words I would kill
to believe in. There's no happy end to a poem
that lacks faith, no way to get out. I could go on,
mentioning that doubt, no doubt, is a testing. But
meanwhile the bedraggled angel glances towards
the higher power, wondering how much help she'll get,
not a manual, for sure, but a pause in entropy perhaps,
until she can get her wings scissoring. Call it cooperation
that helps a fledgling rise to build, sustain itself, and
lift her past the tree line. And then she knows she won't
fall, oh holy night, can't fall. Anything but.

first published in Cresset | photo by Jeff Gritchen

Saturday, May 14, 2011

alan jacobs | the language of stories

Words in defense of Christianity miss the mark: they are a translation into the dispassionate language of argument of something that resides far deeper in the caverns of volition, of commitment. Perhaps this is why Saint Francis, so the story goes, instructed his followers to “preach the Gospel always, using words if necessary.” It is not simply and straight-forwardly wrong to make arguments in defense of the Christian faith, but it is a relatively superficial activity: it fails to address the core issues. A Christian who participates in a Socratic debate about Christianity could be said to be falsifying the spiritual situation, or allowing it to be falsified. After all, an apologist for Christianity, to some degree at least, commits himself or herself to answering questions that Jesus himself consistently refused to answer.

But strange to say, there is a kind of language that, if it does not avoid such superficiality, nevertheless shows an awareness of that danger and in a sense can point beyond itself. I refer to the language of stories.

“I am not quite sure,” Lewis wrote in 1952, when most of the Narnia books were done, “what made me, in a particular year of my life, feel that not only a fairy tale, but a fairy tale addressed to children, was what I must write. ... Partly, I think that this form permits, or compels you to leave out things I wanted to leave out. It compels you to throw all the force of a book into what was done and said. It checks what a kind, but discerning critic called ‘the expository demon’ in me.”

“Everything began with images: a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t even anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.” There was not, he says over and over again, an evangelistic plan in the making of Narnia, no apologetic scheme. ...

What he has to do instead is to trust the images that come into his mind – or, more accurately, trust that he is being formed as a Christian in such a way that the images that come to his mind are authentic ones, ones that lie at, or at least near, the center of his soul.

He can only do this if he rejects not only the market-driven questions of modern authors and publishers (“What do children want?”) but even the more morally sound question of the Christian apologist (“What do children need?”): “It is better not to ask the questions at all. Let the pictures tell you their own moral. For the moral inherent in them will rise from whatever spiritual roots you have succeeded in striking during the whole course of your life.”

by Alan Jacobs,
"The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis"
(pages 242-244)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

ron reed, pitcher

Ron Reed (born November 2, 1942 in LaPorte, Indiana) is a retired American starting/relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Atlanta Braves (1966-75), St. Louis Cardinals (1975), Philadelphia Phillies (1976-83) and Chicago White Sox (1984). He batted and threw right-handed. Reed was a basketball standout at the University of Notre Dame and later played in NBA for the Detroit Pistons (1965-67)

In a 19-season career, Reed posted a 146-140 record with a 3.46 ERA, 103 saves, 1481 strikeouts, eight shutouts, 55 complete games, and 2477-23 innings in 751 appearances (236 as a starter).
He is one of only five pitchers in MLB history to have 100 wins, 100 saves and 50 complete games. The other four are Ellis Kinder, Firpo Marberry, Dennis Eckersley, and John Smoltz[1]

1968 National League All-Star team

Two World Series (1980, 1983)

Eight National League Championship Series (1969, 1976-78, 1980-81, 1983)
Won a career-high 18 games to help the Atlanta Braves to its first NL division title

Led MLB with 13 relief wins in 1979

Is one of only eight pitchers in history (with John Smoltz, Elroy Face, Dennis Eckersley, Bob Stanley, Rich Gossage, Dave Giusti and Hoyt Wilhelm) to have at least 100 wins and 100 saves

Was the winning pitcher the night Hank Aaron hit his record breaking 715th home run

Reed was an athletic superstar in high school in LaPorte, Indiana, earning a basketball scholarship to nearby Notre Dame, where he was good enough to be selected, in 2004, to the university’s All-Century Men’s Basketball Team. He played professional basketball for two years, averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Detroit Pistons, then switched to baseball, where he had a productive 19-year career that included selection to an all-star team, a World Series championship, and the tying of the modern-day record for fewest home runs allowed in a season (250 innings or more).

According to Ron Reed’s enshrinement page on the Indiana Baseball Hall of Fame, this last accomplishment is the one that gives Reed the most pride. It is mentioned on the back of this card, in a marginal cartoon that features a smiling, generic baseball player reading about the mark in a newspaper.

Reed was born in LaPorte, Indiana, a town recently featured in a book of found photographs. The book LaPorte, Indiana presents a series of black and white portraits taken by long-time LaPorte studio photographer Frank Pease, displaying not only (as John Mellencamp blurbs on the book’s website) "real people . . . [whose] grace and dignity . . . should be a source of hope for us all" but also a kind of nostalgic, idealized American dreamland."

Josh Wilker, Cardboard Gods

Career stats

This is peculiar. Looking for a baseball card showing my alter ego as a Brave, I found it posted on a blog dedicated to the 1975 Topps series of cards. The date of the post: my birthday.Mine and Amada Peet's.