Category Archives: Thoughts & Reading

Grounded encouragement from Horatius Bonar

I am nine pages from finishing God’s Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious, by Horatius Bonar (1808-1889), and found this passage particularly compelling. I believe the book’s title is absolutely appropriate and the book itself encouraging and important for all Christians.

“You have been expecting faith to descend, like an angel from heaven, into your soul, and hope to be lighted up like a new star in your firmament. It is not so. Whilst the Spirit’s work is beyond nature, it is not against nature. He displaces no faculty; he disturbs no mental process; he does violence to no part of our moral framework; he creates no new organ of thought or feeling. His office is to set all to rights within you; so that you never feel so calm, so true, so real, so perfectly natural, so much yourself, – as when he has taken possession of you in every part; and filled your whole man with his heavenly joy. Never do you feel so perfectly free, – less constrained and less mechanical, – in every faculty, as when he has ‘brought every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.’ The heavenly life imparted is liberty, and truth, and peace; it is the removal of bondage, and pain.” Horatius Bonar: God’s Way of Peace: A Book for the Anxious

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Puritan Wisdom from John Flavel

John Flavel (1627?-1691) was a 17th-century Puritan Presbyterian minister. He accepted a call to a church in Dartmouth, England in 1656. I am currently reading The Method of Grace, a book of 34 of his (long!) sermons, and I find their content substantive and compelling. I am reprinting this brief excerpt because I find it especially so.

First, One that is truly burdened with sin, will not allow himself to live in the secret practice of sin; either your trouble will put an end to your course of sinning, or your sinning will put an end to your troubles. Consult 2 Corinthians 7:11 –John Flavel: The Method of Grace, Sermon No. 9

John Flavel

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Mlle. Moutardier: Heroine with humility

I hope most of my readers recall with admiration and gratitude Mlle. Hermis Moutardier. Mlle. Moutardier, a senior flight attendant, led crew and passengers in disarming Richard Reid, aka the Shoe Bomber, on an American Airlines Paris-Miami flight in 2001.

I have admired Mlle. Moutardier for the past 16 years since the incident. The hapless, thankfully thwarted Reid is serving 10 consecutive life sentences plus 110 years (the rationale of Federal corrections formulas gets a little arcane for me).

I wrote a post in 2015 celebrating once again the admirable Mlle. Moutardier’s actions. Yesterday, Mlle. Moutardier herself submitted a comment to my two-year-old post! I was teary that she would thank me for honoring her; I felt she was honoring me, for which there was no reason at all. She was the hero; I was a mere reporter, years after the fact.

I have always thought of Hermis Moutardier as an inspiration. This is the crew member who led the capture of The Shoe Bomber! She poured a pitcher of ice water on his head and backup arrived from all over the plane. I believe one of the three captains in the cockpit even came out to help secure the inept Reid.

Hermis Moutardier’s comment is posted on my 2015 article at the above link. It is very brief. Her humility is stunning. I believe she must have simply been doing a search for her own name, as many people do, and come upon my blog. And wow! She thanked me for writing about her. How many people thank people they don’t know for anything?

Hermis Moutardier remains a heroine to me, as well as an example of humility. I am  grateful our paths have crossed  in space.

It seems sometimes that space is where real people are.

Related imageHermis Moutardier
Image is from Time.com

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A small county murder’s nexus with a Puritan

My husband was  counsel to the defendant in a murder trial this week. The trial ran from Tuesday morning through today (Friday) around noon. The jury convicted the defendant of second-degree murder after deliberating an hour and a half. The slaying occurred a little more than two years ago.

The defendant, who has Parkinson’s Disease, testified that he feared the victim, with whom he was friends, because, he claimed, the victim had walked into his house, and because, he alleged, the victim had once shoved him (“threw me down”) on the stairs. The defendant also testified that the victim had robbed him at various times.

Things evidently didn’t improve, so when friend victim walked in, friend defendant shot him.  The .45 caliber bullet took quite a tour through the victim’s chest, heart, aorta, and arm. A medical autopsy expert testified and showed grizzly slides showing a very great deal of blood. I attended only Thursday morning; my chief interest in the trial was hearing the expert’s testimony.

Sentencing negotiations are underway. The defendant told me yesterday that he looks forward to prison.

I was reading The Bruised Reed by Puritan Richard Sibbes (1577–1635) today, recovering from the rare occasion of sitting in on a trial, even just one day, for just a few hours. I was there because I like the defendant. He thanked me very graciously for a roll I served him at the jail’s Thanksgiving dinner last year. My husband and I were among several people who helped serve the dinner. It was my favorite Thanksgiving of all time. But Sibbes had something serious to say that seemed connected to friend defendant:

“All light that is not spiritual, because it lacks the strength of sanctifying grace, yields to every little temptation, especially when it is fitted and suited to personal inclinations.” (Richard Sibbes: The Bruised Reed)

“Personal inclinations.” They should probably be treated like flashing signs at railroad crossings. Ignore them at terrible, bloody peril.

 

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With love, Victor Hugo

I finished reading Victor Hugo’s novel, The History of a Crime: The Testimony of an Eye Witness this afternoon. It’s comprehensive. The French Revolution was horrific, but it doesn’t make America’s War Between the States look exactly humanitarian either. It was a tense read for me. Hugo, however, does articulate some mollifying humanitarian principles.

The star possesses no anger; the dawn bears no malice. Light is satisfied in being light. Light is everything; the human race has no other love.

France knows herself beloved because she is good, and the greatest of all powers is to be loved. (italics mine)

The French Revolution is for all the world. It is a battle perpetually waged for Right, and perpetually gained for Truth. Right is the innermost part of man; Truth is the innermost part of God.

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Hanging out together

Effie naps while I read; I’m happy she actually prefers to share the bed. Perhaps she realizes we can’t share her window perch. . . .I can’t know what she dreams much better than she can read Victor Hugo’s novel, The History of a Crime: The Testimony of an Eye Witness.  I suspect the French Revolution is an unlikely candidate for her cup of tea anyway.

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Anticipating a sunflower

For the several years my husband has planted sunflower seeds in the spring, they have come up tall and strong by the onset of summer in all their Sunflower Yellow glory. Ours are now forming flowers in their still-green stage. Their stalks are straight, tall, strong, and prickly.

I was trying to recall who wrote a poem with a refrain, “And I am waiting for the rebirth of wonder,” and came up with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, in whose poetry I lost interest while I was still in high school. I Googled the quote anyway, and it seems lots of people have used it, and it wasn’t expressly clear whether Ferlinghetti was the first.

Whoever wrote this line, it enters my mind when I await the bloom of sunflowers, and other wondrous and beautiful bounties with which our Creator blesses us, for nothing we have done.

A sunflower begins its complex process of blooming: it will undergo   metamorphoses from verdant to gold, and prickles to petals.
“I am waiting for the rebirth of wonder.”

Another fitting line: “Death is the mother of beauty.” (from Wallace Stevens’s poem, Sunday Morning).

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