- Tony Reinke reviews a brand new English translation of a Dutch survey called Sweet Communion: Trajectories of Spirituality from the Middle Ages through the Further Reformation, which highlights the contribution of the Dutch puritans.
- The May edition of Lara Eakins's TudorCast is available for download. She makes mention of a 'micro-sculpture' by Willard Wigan (above), of Henry VIII and his six wives, that fits within the eye of a needle. She also promotes a very interesting website called FindAGrave.com, the purpose of which you can probably guess yourself. As always, some great Tudor 'bumper music' adorns the podcast.
- Nathan Eschelman provides a short review of a new compilation of Jonathan Edwards's letters by Michael Haykin, entitled A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Blake claimed to have had visions of angels and other spirits from an early age, and to have received creative inspiration from the spirit world on a regular basis. His contemporary, William Wordsworth, quipped, "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott." (What is it about madmen that makes some of them brilliant poets?; cf. W. B. Yeats and the origin of his amazing but creepy poem, "The Second Coming".)
His poem "Jerusalem" is another case in point. It's based on the legend that Jesus actually visited the island of Britain early in his life – an apocryphal notion Blake seems to have believed was true. Despite its dubious historical basis, "Jerusalem" communicates a number of powerful themes in the abstract. In 1916, C. Hubert H. Parry wrote a stirring score to accompany Blake's poem, and a now-famous hymn and British anthem was born. Make of Blake what you will, but definitely handle him with care and caution!
- And did those feet in ancient time
- Walk upon England’s mountains green?
- And was the Holy Lamb of God
- On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
- And did the Countenance Divine
- Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
- And was Jerusalem builded here
- Among these dark satanic mills?
- Bring me my bow of burning gold;
- Bring me my arrows of desire;
- Bring me my spear; O clouds unfold!
- Bring me my chariot of fire!
- I will not cease from mental fight
- Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
- Till we have built Jerusalem
- In England’s green and pleasant land.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The most famous personage at rest there is probably the great preacher and author, John Bunyan (1628-1688).
Here's a passage from my favorite section of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. It describes the arrival of the main character, Christian, and his companion Hopeful, at the Celestial City:
"Now when they were come up to the gate, there was written over it, in letters of gold,
- "BLESSED ARE THEY THAT DO HIS COMMANDMENTS, THAT THEY MAY HAVE RIGHT TO THE TREE OF LIFE, AND MAY ENTER IN THROUGH THE GATES INTO THE CITY."
Then I saw in my dream, that the shining men bid them call at the gate: the which when they did, some from above looked over the gate, to wit, Enoch, Moses, and Elijah, etc., to whom it was said, These pilgrims are come from the City of Destruction, for the love that they bear to the King of this place; and then the pilgrims gave in unto them each man his certificate, which they had received in the beginning: those therefore were carried in unto the King, who, when he had read them, said, Where are the men? To whom it was answered, They are standing without the gate. The King then commanded to open the gate, "That the righteous nation (said he) that keepeth the truth may enter in." [Isa. 26:2.]
Now I saw in my dream, that these two men went in at the gate; and lo, as they entered, they were transfigured; and they had raiment put on that shone like gold. There were also that met them with harps and crowns, and gave them to them; the harps to praise withal, and the crowns in token of honor. Then I heard in my dream, that all the bells in the city rang again for joy, and that it was said unto them,
I also heard the men themselves, that they sang with a loud voice, saying,
- "BLESSING, AND HONOR, AND GLORY, AND POWER, BE UNTO HIM THAT SITTETH UPON THE THRONE, AND UNTO THE LAMB, FOR EVER AND EVER."
Now, just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold the city shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold; and in them walked many men, with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps, to sing praises withal. There were also of them that had wings, and they answered one another without intermission, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord. And after that they shut up the gates; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them."
- Bunyan Ministries
- Bunyan works at Christian Classics
- John Bunyan Online - The largest online archive of everything Bunyan
- Acacia John Bunyan Online Library - A good-looking site with lots of resources
- Another collection of Bunyan works
- The John Bunyan Museum, Bedford, UK
- Free audio recording of The Pilgrim's Progress here.