The Great Joke

G. K. Chesterton in his study. (public domain)

G.K. Chesterton has intrigued me since my youth minister first introduced me to the big man’s writing in ninth grade. I tend toward melancholy, and there is a powerful current of joy running through all of Chesterton’s work that has since mystified and captivated me, even as I’ve struggled to believe in it at all. A recurring concept in Chesterton’s writings is that only those who take something very seriously can really take it lightly. Chesterton is known as the Prince of Paradox, and this one has stumped me for many years. I might say it has haunted me. It didn’t make any sense, but still I sensed it to be true.

Joy has been elusive to me. At one point, I called myself a ‘detrimentalist’, and wondered why, since I seemed to take everything so seriously, I wasn’t able to break through to Chesterton’s way of taking things lightly. The only kind of lightness I really knew how to do was, in reality, flippancy, which is a fear-filled unwillingness to take a serious look at anything. Joy was hidden from me. I would arrive as the thread of smoke straggled from a just-extinguished candle, or feel the lingering warmth of the brass door knob as I entered the room, coldness billowing through the open window where some fiery angel had only just vacated the place. There was some Presence I simply couldn’t find my way to.

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Awakening to Beauty

Balthasar van der Ast Stilleven met schelpen en herfststijloos 1593-1657

It’s that time of year when our senses awaken again to beauty. Though winter has its own beauty, there is just something about spring. New life, new growth and warmth, all come together to somehow make us feel alive again after the long, dark and cold days of winter. Every time I see redbuds coming out in the spring, I cannot help but think of my mother.
She adored redbuds and every spring her enthusiasm never waned for their bright beauty and the vernal hope of spring. That woman loved beauty. Her entire life, she loved beauty. Even when she was in the middle of her battle with Alzheimer’s, she was still awake to the beauty around her. Whether it was singing a hymn, or filling her home with little trinkets that she found lovely even in her confused state… she was constantly surrounding herself with beauty even at the end.

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Figures of Christ – Echoes of the Divine in Literature and Film

The Bible can be understood, in part, as the great overarching narrative of humanity’s relationship with God. It is a story in four acts: Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. Woven throughout the testaments is the figure of Christ.

The figure of Christ, regardless of our understanding or knowledge of the biblical narrative, has permeated the worldview of mankind since well before recorded history. Somehow, deep in the very essence of our being we long for Messiah. We look for Him in nature and in human relationships. We see there merely echoes and fingerprints. Most of all we look for Him in our own narratives, the stories we tell ourselves and each other that help us make sense of the world, and in the stories we create to merely entertain. Joseph Campbell reduces these echoes to single idea, a hero with a thousand faces.

The Foundling House has asked a few of our readers and contributors to share their own favorite Christ figures, or Christ images from literature, film and comics. Here are some of our picks.

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Finding Wonder Every Day

As I was going through a sort of hard time in my life a little while back, I looked at the world around me, and wondered how people could be smiling and laughing and enjoying life, when my future looked so bleak. I had worked so hard to get to my job and the place where I was. But it turned out I didn’t like that place I was in, and the only way I saw to deal with it was to do just that: deal with it. Get through the days, feeling as little as possible, and trying not to think about my disappointment in the life I was living.

Working in such a secular environment, it puzzled me even further that if I was the one who was a Christian and had the light of Christ inside me, why was it that these people who didn’t know Christ had this ability to enjoy their lives so much more than I felt I was capable of? Well maybe they liked where they were. Or maybe they didn’t. But it is more probable that I was ignoring everything the Bible has ever told me about embracing life for the short time I am in this world.

You see, the Bible calls us to so much more than just getting through every day, like I was doing. We are called by the spirit to live in the moment and participate in life, because we never know what will be coming next, and we have no hope to truly control what does.

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Miracles and Monuments

Have you ever had one of those moments where you felt like you finally got what life was all about? Not just life in general, but your own specific life. Have you ever seen, just for a minute, what might be going on behind that miraculous curtain of purpose, and afterward, you knew exactly what to do next, and why? Maybe it sounds too good to be true, but I think I’ve had a few of these revelations in my life. Thing is, I don’t always recognize them while they’re happening. Like those winding mazes we used to solve on the back of a kids’ menu, sometimes the path is easier to see once we’ve made it to the end.

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An Interview with Wild Harbors

Chris and Jenna Badeker are calling it quits. Kind of.

The husband and wife duo have been playing shows as Chris & Jenna for years in addition to other facets of their careers. Jenna has been a leading lady in a venerable big band outfit. It’s hard to tell, but there might be a picture of her meeting a president at a show. Chris maintains an inspired art and design gig. There’s certainly a picture of him with a penguin, which is nearly as cool, depending on how you feel about presidents. The running thread through all of it has been their folk-pop pairing. Now though, Chris and Jenna say Chris & Jenna are done. They’re stepping up their game with a new album under the moniker Wild Harbors, produced by Andrew Osenga.

Now entering the make-or-break week of an exciting Kickstarter campaign, the pair were kind enough to sit down and answer a number of my questions.

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A Serendipitous Meeting

Sprawled on a multi-colored quilt on a grassy hillside in Wilmore, Kentucky, my three kids and I were rocking out to the Lost Dogs in concert. We came with our church youth group, which had traveled to Ichthus Festival at Asbury College near Lexington. It was a trip they took every spring, to camp out, hear national youth speakers, and enjoy Christian rock music. As one of the adult sponsors, I enjoyed the music as much as the kids did.

The Lost Dogs were one of the bands Id been looking forward to seeing that year. The group was comprised of musicians from other bands that were their main vehicles; and Lost Dogs was a side project. The lead guitarist was Mike Roe, of the 77s—a band I had followed for several years. I enjoyed the 77s eclectic style of hard-edged, bluesy, even acoustic and folk music. I had seen both the 77s and Lost Dogs several times.

I felt a connection with Mike Roe’s songs. He wrote honestly about his Christian journey, with both its failures and its graces. One time when I was struggling with a particular sin in my life, I heard Mike’s confessional song, “The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes, and the Pride of Life,” in which he sang the words “drain the life right out of me.” The message pierced me, and I soon reached a point where that sin repulsed me and I released it to God. That was a turning point in my faith journey.

After the concert, I went to the merchandise tent and chose an olive green Lost Dogs t-shirt. I walked back to our blanket, sat down, and pulled the t-shirt on, but, in the process I knocked off my glasses and broke the frames. I examined the frames and it looked like they could be fixed, but I would need some glue. The small canteen on the grounds had none, so I had to leave the festival grounds and look for a store. I told my kids I was leaving and walked out to the parking lot about a half mile away. I found my car and drove out past the exit booth and through the little town of Asbury, looking for a drugstore or department store. I didn’t find one on the main drive and decided to go a little further. I soon found myself on the expressway and drove till I was near Lexington. I don’t remember all the turns I made or how I wound up there, but I finally spotted a Walgreen’s.

I found the glue to fix my glasses and got in the long line to pay. Unexpectedly, I heard a voice behind me exclaim, “Nice shirt!” I turned around and let out an involuntary gasp. The speaker was Mike Roe.

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