When a Book Transforms and Becomes a New Creation

The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke
The ESV Bible, a Moleskine Journal, and a Diet Coke

This week the Weekly Writing Challenge at WordPress was called A Few of My Favorite Things, and while I enjoyed reading everyone’s interpretation of this post, I found this one quite difficult to put into words, especially since I don’t collect anything. The challenge was this:

tell us about your most meaningful possession… let us know about the heirloom item, what’s important are the memories and people that these objects symbolize, not what they’re actually used for. Transport us into the past by telling us about your favorite “thing.” What is it? What does it look like? What memories of people or things or events does it conjure?

My problem is I purposely don’t college anything, at all, and the fact that WordPress specified my computer/device didn’t count, I had to nix my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, which I hate to say are very high on my list. It is a point of my existence to follow the concept of laying treasures for yourself up in Heaven, where moth do not destroy and thieves do not come in and steal. I started thinking about it in terms of what would I grab if there was a fire in my house and I only had time to take two things. These may seem cliché, but the two physical items that mean the most to me are a personal favorite book, my Bible, and my Moleskine journals, and a Diet Coke.

Both of these items have a grand history of being passed down from generation to generation. Not necessarily in my family, or my wife’s family, but Bibles have been heirlooms to survive the centuries, and so have journals going all the way back to Saint Augustine in Confessions. The combination of these two items makes a reader into a writer, one feeding off the other.

How a Book Transforms and Becomes a New Creation

Sample Page from My Bible in Psalm 104-105
Sample Page from My Bible in Psalm 104-105

I think it could very well be impossible to describe what this particular book has meant to me, and it is one of my most favorite physical “things” I own. One of the most interesting explanations of how we cleave to our very personal copy of God’s word comes to me from John Steinbeck in East of Eden when he said, “In that one book she had her history and her poetry, her knowledge of peoples and things, her ethics, her morals, and her salvation. She never studied the Bible or inspected it; she just read it. The many places where it seems to refute itself did not confuse her in the least. And finally she came to a point where she knew it so well that she went right on reading it without listening.”

There is a point at which a book transforms into more than ink and paper, more than just something that was created by a Johannes Gutenberg protégé. Once a reader makes an investment of time and mental energy there is a point at which the book becomes a new creation, something that becomes a combination of both author and reader.

The transformation isn’t something that takes place at the time of purchase, or after the first completed reading. It’s a slow, gradual process. Something that takes place over an extended period of time as the reader devours each word, and ultimately comes to acknowledge the true meaning the author intended to communicate. It’s at this point the book becomes alive with life, and subsequently changes the life of the reader from that point on.

This physical “thing” is something that has transformed me, and is one of my most prized possessions, but like so many possessions we cherish, it’s not the physical object that has meaning, but what it represents. We can even literally throw the Bible in the trash if it (1) becomes the ultimate object of our affection, or (2) sits on the shelf closed to our mind.

The Thick Cotton Pages of a Moleskine Journal

Writing Sample of Moleskine Journals
Writing Sample of My Moleskine Journals

The other, slightly less poetic item I like, are my Moleskine journals (and of course a cold Diet Coke). The Moleskine philosophy has a rich history of famous writers and artists like Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway (ok, well maybe that’s not totally correct, but it’s great marketing). For some reason their reinvigoration of this brand in 1997 spawned a great desire to create and write on paper when the rest of the world went digital.

You can find some incredible examples of Moleskine creativity on Flickr and elsewhere on the Internet, of people who are far more creative than I am when it comes to transforming a Moleskine journal into a work of art.

This transformation process I described in the section above is completely reversed now when you first crack open the clean pages of a Moleskine journal. The new owner is immediately presented with unlimited possibilities in empty pages, pages which will be created by the experiences of life. You are now the author instead of the reader, and the blank pages become testimonies of the hours and days you spend in the process of life.

As the years have gone by since I started writing in these journals I can now look back at days I have long forgotten, details I would never have been able to remember, and people who have been called home. These pages have become markers in time for me, something I can go back and read with wonder even though I lived through the days myself.

So there you have it. Two physical objects or things that mean something to me personally, and although I hope to some day pass these on to someone else, their meaning is truly symbolic only.


[On a side note, I’m aware these “challenge” posts from WordPress (they do a photo and writing challenge post each week over on Daily Post Blog) are basically pointless when it comes to my normal content, but I have found they serve their purpose… to challenge… to open up the mind and cause one to think, and that is a good thing. In my years in seminary since 2009, each week I found myself writing these seemingly “pointless” posts, called Discussion Board posts. Even though I might have known the material, I always learned something else by forcing myself to complete the task. So that’s why I continue to post on these DP topics, just in case you were wondering.]

Related Posts to Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things

  1. It’s more than a picture, it’s life « free penny press
  2. How to optimize your site like WordPress.com | Open Knowledge
  3. My Desk « Misky
  4. Weekly Writing Challenge: Meaningful Possessions | Aurora La Petite
  5. A Few of My Favourite Things « Aw Diddums

Ode To My Wife the Quilter :: Poem

Project 365 [Day 218] Deborah Finishes the 144th Quilt Block
Project 365 [Day 218] Deborah Finishes the 144th Quilt Block
You may or may not know, but my wife Deborah, has been quilting for over 25 years now. She use to teach people how to quilt all around the country, she invented and designed several new quilting products, and has completed countless projects, many of which she gave away. She doesn’t quilt much for herself anymore but back during the millennium she did a quilt swap with people all around the world, and here a mere 12 years later she finally got around to putting the blocks together, 144 blocks to be exact, and the last block, by Carol Smith from Colonia NJ was the very last block of the 144.

This box of blocks from back in 2000 came from cleaning out our attic, something we have been trying to do for the past 6 years. Along with the blocks we found this poem, Ode To My Wife the Quilter, by an Unknown Author.

Ode To My Wife the Quilter

She learned to quilt on Monday
Her stitches all were very fine.
She forgot to thaw out dinner,
So we went out to dine.

She quilted miniatures on Tuesday,
She says they are a must.
They were really quite lovely,
But she forgot to dust.

On Wednesday it was a sampler,
She says stripling’s fun.
What highlights! What shadows!
But the laundry wasn’t done.

Her patches were on Thursday-
Green, yellow, blue and red.
I guess she was really engrossed
She never made the bed.

It was wall hanging on Friday,
In colors, she adores.
It never bothered her at all,
The crumbs on the floors.

I found a maid on Saturday,
My week is now complete.
My wife can quilt the hours away,
The house will still be neat.

Well it’s already Sunday,
I think I’m about to wilt.
I cursed, I raved, I ranted,
The MAID has learned to QUILT!

What's More Useful to the Glory of God Than 95% of All We Do?

Amos 9:5-6

I’m guessing you didn’t think poetry was the answer to the question in the title, but it is. Poetic language and the language of prose put together in a sentence is sort of a misnomer, since they basically mean the opposite, but such is my relationship with metric and non-metrical language. Over the years I have tried to study poetry here and there, written some, read some, and every once in a while, appreciated some. I seem to have this back and forth argument with myself on the importance of poetry. In one respect, I find it useless, confusing, hard to understand, and not worth the time to learn. On the other, I do find it speaks to all aspects of life, and could be more important in affecting change than much of what we do in our every day lives. A post on Desiring God called Piper and the Role of Poetry in the Christian Life says it like this:

Poetry is not the answer, but it is a greater part of the answer than 95% of what we do with our time. Woe to me if I think souls are saved by me or them becoming poetic. But few are damned by it. And of the thousand things we fill our days with, this could be more useful to the glory of God than what we do most of the time.

So according to Piper, and some may disagree, poetry is more useful to the glory of God (the very purpose of our existence says 1 Peter 4:11), than of large majority of our other endeavors in life, or put differently how we spend our time. This is actually a pretty bold statement if taken at face value with no context. To understand this statement, it’s important to look at what else we do with our time, and how if at all, those things are more or less useful to the glory of God than poetry. I suspect many would say that statement is absurd, and dismiss it altogether, but God himself doesn’t do that.

Of course a great deal of Scripture is poetry. So that tells me right there that God finds poetry important, regardless of what I think. Some of the greatest poets in history were writers of Scripture. Of course being inspired I would say they had a little help, otherwise how in the world could any individual mind come up with and make Psalm 119 work other than God? If you have never attempted to create a perfectly metered acrostic (forget one the size of Psalm 119), try it, you will quickly see it isn’t all that easy.

To answer the question I posed in the title I think can only be answered by someone who has a great deal of knowledge about poetry, and can define its worth. For many of us, we just don’t have a strong enough understanding to say one way or another. Our time isn’t readily filled with words on a page in metric meter, it’s more filled with screens presenting video and media. This all got started from a quick read through Amos 9.5-6, which is an incredible short piece of inspired poetry.

Please Welcome My Nephew to the World of Photo Blogging

Jacob Marchio Working on His Blog

I’m so excited to see my nephew, Jacob, starting his first blog, so everyone please jump over to his newly created blog at www.JacobMarchio.com and add it to your reader or leave him a nice comment on his first post. After saving up and getting his first Digital SLR camera, a Nikon D3100 (see the post here where we went to pick up his camera), he quickly realized that he wanted a place to post his photos other than his Flickr account page where it is sometimes hard to write in a whole lot of detail.

At this point I have helped a lot of people setup a new blog, but I am not sure I have ever had someone this excited about getting started. His blog will generally be posts about his photography and his interest in astronomy, and for his age, he is quite a talented photographer and astronomer. I am really looking forward to seeing how his blog develops over time, I hope you will check it out from time to time as well and give him some nice encouragement along the way.

The Friday Night Lights Live Album Recording :: Friday Feet

Today’s Friday Feet comes from a live album recording here at Cornerstone Church in Auburn. I will probably post a few more photos of the shoot tomorrow but for now, here is a smattering of feet and music from the night. The live recording took place over two nights, last night and tonight, and was the first live worship recording for an album our band has completed.

I love the privilege of getting to worship throughout the week and not just on Sunday, or at least in the manner we do on Sunday. This was a special night in many respects, and I enjoyed the unique experience of getting to shoot and worship at the same time. The shot of the guitar 3 images down serves today as my Project 365 [Day 3] image (see the rest of P365.me :2012 here). Have a great weekend all.

Sunday with The World State by G K Chesterton :: Poem

I think it has literally taken me a few years to adjust to Sunday being a work day, and I have grown to absolutely love late Sunday afternoons after all the services and meetings are over. It’s one of those few times during the week I get (usually) a few quiet uninterrupted hours to spend with Deborah watching a game or to read. A while back on the recommendation from Piper on the Role of Poetry in the Christian Life I picked up the book A Sacrifice of Praise, An Anthology of Christian Poetry in English from Caedmon to the Mid-Twentieth Century (yes, I seem to just find books with long titles). I came across this poem by Chesterton, with a short title, called The World State I thought I would share below.

The World State

Oh, how I love Humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!

The International Idea,
The largest and the clearest,
Is welding all the nations now,
Except the one that’s nearest.

The compromise has long been known,
This scheme of partial pardons,
In ethical societies
And small suburban gardens—

The villas and the chapels where
I learned with little labour
The way to love my fellow-man
And hate my next-door neighbour.

I love the subtle in your face presentation of the “second greatest commandment” here found in Matthew 22. There is just something about the Brits and the French that make me laugh and I can hear this poem being read aloud in a British pub somewhere like The Eagle and the Child in that awesome British accent. Chesterton was a poet, writer, and literary critic in the very early 1900’s and was friends with H.G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, and others. He also wrote, among many other things, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Photographic Week in Review of Outtakes :: Saturday Summary

I started thinking about all the photos I take during the week that never see the light of day. They could be photos on my phone or when I haul around my DSLR (which is most places right now until I find a suitable replacement for everyday stuff like the x100), but most get archived and are never seen from again. This odd collection of photos has nothing in common with the other except they all took place within the last 7 days. I’m calling this gallery a “Saturday Summary” and just including a hodge-podge of 5-10 photos from the previous week. These in this post are from July 2nd to July 9th, which included a weird set of images from stuff like the one rain we actually got in Auburn to the Cow Appreciation Day photos for Chick-fil-a my sister wanted of my nephews (which could be the cutest photo ever even if I do say so).

Call me strange but I love looking at the week in photos. It’s just a narrow frozen piece of time in the normal routine of daily life, something photographers rarely covered years ago, but something we now have the ability to document quickly, easily, and in great high quality. It may be the product of our age or culture, and it also may be just too much in general, but I would love to have seen photos of everyday life from my grandfather’s house, or great-grandfather.

Baby Luke and the Mother To-Be Maternity Shoot

Yes my son and daughter-in-law are expecting, this coming September (so is my sister Sarah for that matter, and within about a week of each other, and yes, they are both Sara(s)’ssssesss…). While they were down here for their Disney vacation we got a very quick, and very hot and humid, photo shoot with the whole family. William, our grandson, is really looking forward to his new baby brother Luke and he was very patient to stand there and get his photo taken over and over again. I would really liked to have done some photos with the Graflex 4×5 but it was just too hot for anyone to stand outside for more than 5 minutes at a time. Everyone is back up in Colorado where the air is thin and the humidity doesn’t go above single digits but we were so glad we got to see everyone while they were on vacation.

Last Few Instrumental Photos from the National Polka Festival

Here are two more instrumental shots from last weekend’s 2011 National Polka Festival from Ennis Texas. You can also see the NPF gallery on Flickr. These are two of my favorite shots of the weekend, one being the corner edge of a steel guitar. These were both taken handheld from about 20 feet away from both instruments, while they were being played. If you are interested in the EXIF data on the images just head over to the Flickr gallery.

Happy Birthday Deborah and Another Year to Celebrate

Saturday was Deborah’s birthday, and yes, she was born on Saturday the 14th (she has enjoyed pointing out to me this year it is the same exact day as it was 45 years ago). This was a special birthday for her, since she loves markers in years, 45 years was a small milestone for her, not to mention everything that happened health wise last year and early this year, we all felt blessed to be able to celebrate this birthday with her. We went out to eat and watched The King’s Speech but in general had a nice quiet day at the house. My mom made Deborah a quilt of her very own. I am pretty sure this is the only quilt anyone has ever made for her. Since she makes quilts, and all things knitted, I guess everyone just thought she could just make her own. I know Deborah can’t wait until it’s done so she can use it.

I love the shot of Deb walking home from my parents house to our house around sunset. It was abnormally cold and windy outside and even though the sun looks warm, it’s freezing for May. The lamp is just because I love taking photos of lamps (or light… it’s a my lamp is the light of the world thing).