Empathy and the Devil

It’s apropos that I’ve been rereading C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters with a friend now. Weekly, we pore over a couple of chapters and broach free-range discussions launched by the demon Wormwood and his “affectionate uncle,” Screwtape. Our culture, like many biblically-tinged cultures before it, is saturated with talk of Satan in his various literature-based iterations. Merely over the course of American history, we’ve developed perhaps as twisted a view of the fallen archangel Lucifer as we often have of Jesus. Everyone from Washington Irving to The Grateful Dead has had a go, with widely varying degrees of accuracy. Yet, as with Jesus (who, let us not forget, made Lucifer and all his fellow angels), we can’t altogether divest Old Scratch of his scriptural identity by means of either broad-brush cartoonism or utter disregard. Thanks be to God.

[Editor’s note: As C. S. Lewis himself said in the preface to The Screwtape Letters, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” Therefore, if you have an unhealthy interest in things diabolical, this post may or may not be for you. Feel free to read or disregard as wisdom dictates.]

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Word + Song preview: Drew Miller

Tonight is the night! WORD + SONG is here!

In celebration, we’re giving you another little preview of what’s going down this evening in Loudon, Tennessee. Here’s Drew Miller, playing a song from his two-part project, Desolation & Consolation. The first half of the record can now be found at The Rabbit Room Store, and you should go download it!

OCTOBER 30, 2019 6:15pm
First Baptist Church, Tellico Village
Loudon, TN

You can find more about Drew Miller and his excellent and ongoing work at DrewMillerSongs.com. We hope to see you this evening! Join us at First Baptist Church of Tellico Village.

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bleeding in, bleeding out

Orchid – Josie Koznarek

All the time I knew
you carried weight upon your back
in every tremor when you spoke,
in each “I could never…” disbelief;
as if the sin that you held close
was when you reached out to receive.

All the ways I knew
you bought such shame for taking time
in every conversation held,
how all the grasping proved the need
within a hungry heart undone,
that, reaching out, still could not feed.

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Word + Song preview: Matthew Clark

It’s a great time to give you a preview of things to come! Matthew Clark, one of the three featured artists headlining Foundling House’s WORD + SONG storytelling concert, October 30, at First Baptist Church Tellico Village in Loudon, Tennessee, shares a bit here about the title track to his most recent release, Beautiful Secret Life.

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Lamentations for Today

This is a collection of laments I wrote for a worship service I led with a friend in my church. Modern worship is a bit too positive sometimes, but biblical worship makes room for disappointment, frustration, and mourning. Modern worship usually praises the singer as much as the Sung To, while these laments—written topically for those things that get us down —remind us that He’s God, we’re not, and that’s okay. Really, it’s okay. Even when it totally is not okay, it’s still okay. Or it’s going to be. The ship may totally go down with all of us on it, but it will still be okay. Okay?

ABUSE OF POWER
When those enthroned usurp
Sanctity from those in their care
And when the lowly seek status
In yet more enthroning –
Lord, have mercy on us.

THE AGE OF DISTRACTION
When deep-rooted wisdom is pruned by short-cutted data,
When the senses are dulled by the sensual,
When Creation is blurred by the created
And the created grow bored with Creation –
Lord, have mercy on us.

UNRESOLVED HOPE / UNANSWERED PRAYER
When we listen in chambers of silence,
When we search through tunnels that grow,
When we hope against nature, believe against science,
And stand firm in the face of a daunting approach –
Lord, have mercy on us.

BREVITY OF LIFE
When we count our days like apples
Dropping from the brittle branches of drought,
When a child goes with more unrealized tomorrows
Than remembered yesterdays,
When our bodies no longer carry or recall
Or agree to nourish our weight –
Lord, have mercy on us.

LACK OF PROVISION
When the cupboards we maintenance
Are as bare as brand new,
When the fields we tend
Yield nothing or less,
When a paycheck is the substance
Of things hoped and unheld –
Lord, have mercy on us.

APATHY
When I simply cannot be asked,
When tragedy holds harmony with gossip,
When I prefer screens to windows, sleek skin to whole hearts,
Pabst Blue Ribbon and pumpkin spice
To pouring out spirit or providing sanctuary,
When the nation, the state, the city, my people
Can all go blank-verb themselves –
Lord, have mercy on us.

IN ANXIETY / DESPAIR / DEPRESSION
When sleep beyond rest,
When obscurity be my bed,
When the locust devours my ties to the truth
And when I open the window for his return –
Lord, have mercy on us.

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A Castle On a Hill: an Interview with Jacob Stock

For several years now, Jacob and Melissa Stock have been running a delightful, slightly otherworldly retreat center in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. The architectural centerpiece of this place is the Stocks’ house, which is a castle. No, really. They also have a love for the Oxford Inklings, creative community in general, and for the Church at large. Jacob was kind enough to sit down and answer a few of our questions. We’re excited to introduce you to the work of Castle Ministries.

Foundling House: It’s obvious that, somewhere along the way, you discovered this need to get away from the busy-ness of daily life for a season. What’s the story behind that?

Jacob Stock: My wife and I discussed TV when we first got married and decided to watch one show a week. We eventually gave up on even that, because of content really. So after a year with no TV and maybe four to six movies, we just experienced such a relief and peace from not being inundated by the world. It was through this—and maybe a trip to Canada—that we stumbled into an experience that we wanted to try to encourage, even if for a week or a weekend. It is hard to step away from what I now call the “noise”—noise being all things that grab for our attention and rush at us.

FH: At the heart of Castle Ministries, it should be noted: there is a castle. Tell us about this place.

JS: It is really a house with stone siding and a tower. The hope was to have an icon or marketing tool, but also to mimic more of a monastery with simple beauty. It would just be harder to convince folks to go away to the monastery with all the connotations that involves. We have simply used the building to express a desire to be different, to come away from the normal.  And kids love it, so I do gain campers as a result of its slick market appeal. We are not a very high end venue, so it is humble and all that we do is geared to be accessible to most demographic and economic levels. Beauty and Goodness are high values we place on space and quite a lost art in my opinion. Art and Architecture had such an effect on past generations of the church, and this is in some way a connection can be made to that old tradition.

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