Tag Archives: poetry

Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

The quote “Nature red in tooth and claw” comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s very long series of poems “In Memoriam A.H.H,” completed in 1849. Many evolutionists quote this phrase in support of their ideas of natural selection. When he began to write this poem, Tennyson questioned God’s love and sovereignty over nature because of the death of a beloved friend. Parts of the poem comment on the pre-Darwinian writers who were beginning to promote man’s reason and to shove God out of the Life Sciences. Tennyson might not be the best person to quote on the subject of crowding God out of Science, however, and here’s why, from the appendix of our e-Book Antidisestablishmentarianism. The phrase “Nature red in tooth and claw” comes from In Memoriam, A.H.H., a long group of poems written over many years by Alfred, Lord Tennyson completed in 1849. In it Tennyson struggled with his grief over Arthur Henry Hallam, a dear friend who was engaged to Tennyson’s sister but died at age 22. The section containing the often-quoted phrase appears below. The complete work is many pages in length and can be viewed in various literature textbooks or online.

 

LVI
So careful of the type? but no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, `A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing, all shall go.

Thou makest thine appeal to me:
I bring to life, I bring to death:
The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more.And he, shall he,

Man, her last work, who seem’d so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll’d the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law;
Tho Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed;

Who loved, who suffer’d countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,
Be blown about the desert dust,
Or seal’d within the iron hills?

No more? A monster then, a dream,
A discord. Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match’d with him.

O life as futile, then, as frail!
O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.

For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness:
let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before, But vaster.

We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

 

These poems chronicle Tennyson’s struggle to understand how death fit in with the God of life. In them he also tried to deal with philosophical questions in areas including the newly-named science of Biology. Darwin had not yet made a name for himself, but other writers were beginning to put together theories of evolution. These were based on ideas like inheritance of acquired characteristics, spontaneous generation, and vital fluids flowing through living things that forced them to undergo evolutionary changes. All of these ideas were disturbing to thinking men like Tennyson, trying to embrace Rationalism and rely on man’s reason to solve life’s great questions. They also wondered how the so-called “discoveries” of randomness and chance could co-exist with the orderly Creator and loving Sustainer of the Bible. The theories listed above have all since been discredited but more have sprung up to replace them. Tennyson’s final conclusion in the same set of poems, finished in 1849, includes the section above. It is usually placed first in the published versions but was probably written last. The emphasis is added to show what Tennyson thought of his earlier doubts about how “Natural Law” fit in with a loving creator God. The text comes from http://www.online-literature.com/tennyson/718/).

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Principles of Teaching Handwriting

The illustration shows ancient forms of writing in the Middle East. It is taken from the Curriculum Introduction included with our Biblical Studies books.

A difficult subject made more difficult by computers. What should be handwritten and what should be typed? Some colleges and companies require a handwritten essay for admission/employment to ensure that it is not plagiarized and to make sure the applicant is capable of writing legibly by hand. The skill is still necessary. No matter how much fun it is, or how much easier it is, to write on the computer, the student needs to learn to write well by hand. The only real question is how to do it?

We recommend traditional handwriting drills used probably for centuries, emphasis on legibility, neatness and consistency. Rough drafts of every assignment should be written by hand, up through senior level in high school. Once again, the skill can be verified, and plagiarism is far less likely.

Handwriting will be more useful and more enjoyable if it is combined with interesting assignments. While beginning writers will need to practice correct pencil and pen holding and formation of individual letters, do all you can to make the activity less dull with entertaining or colorful illustrations they can identify, word games, and perhaps interesting backgrounds for their writing papers. Simple stickers or correlated craft projects, different media in which to practice (chalk slates, wax tablets, clay, sewing cards) , even cutting letters out of paper and gluing them onto cards can help reinforce correct shapes and neatness.)

Older students can correlate handwriting with poetry or essay assignments, emphasizing making the words look attractive on the paper with illustrations and different colors or textures of papers. You might even want them to learn calligraphy or handwriting for mechanical drafting. Though these skills have largely been replaced by computer design programs, they still teach discipline, neatness and beauty in handwriting that can carry over into life.

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Philosophy of Bible Teaching


We take the historical-grammatical interpretation. “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studies in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise. God in revealing His Word neither intends nor permits the reader to be confused. He wants His children to understand.” Dr. D. A. Waite, in Ephesians.

We have examined the evidence and conclude that the facts teach that the Bible should be treated like any other literature in its proper historical and grammatical context. When it claims to be the Word of God it cannot be interpreted to mean something else and must be accepted or rejected. There are literally thousands of available Bible curricula. The question is, how thoroughly do you want to treat the subject? Also, different curricula emphasize different aspects of Bible study. Some focus on devotional aspects. These tend to include a great deal of commentary and less real study of the Scriptures themselves. Many focus on application, trying to make the Scriptures “relevant” to modern life or “age-appropriate.” These also neglect areas of historical, doctrinal or the strict interpretation of a passage. We teach a unity of Science, History, Literature and the Scriptures. Divorcing the Bible from other subjects allows secularists to put it in a separate category from the “Academic” studies.

The Bible is Scientifically and Historically accurate. It also uses literary devices. Other ancient literature contains similar poetic devices and figures of speech which can aid in understanding the Scriptures. The Bible can be studied doctrinally, chronologically, historically, biographically, by doing word studies, or topically. Many good books on all these approaches are available. If your emphasis is on doctrinal study, Evans Great Doctrines is an excellent resource. We follow Baptist belief that the church is not a continuation of Israel. While the true church is made up only of believers, the visible church may have unbelievers in it because it is not possible for us to know men’s hearts with certainty. While it would be difficult for a student to memorize the entire Bible, Elementary instruction should begin with a strong emphasis on Scripture memorization, with a focus on teaching doctrine. Some good Bible memory programs include Bible Memory Association (BMA only works through a church), Awana and Navigators.

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Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

The quote “Nature red in tooth and claw” comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s very long series of poems “In Memoriam A.H.H,” completed in 1849. Many evolutionists quote this phrase in support of their ideas of natural selection. When he began to write this poem, Tennyson questioned God’s love and sovereignty over nature because of the death of a beloved friend. Parts of the poem comment on the pre-Darwinian writers who were beginning to promote man’s reason and to shove God out of the Life Sciences. Tennyson might not be the best person to quote on the subject of crowding God out of Science, however, and here’s why, from the appendix of our e-Book Antidisestablishmentarianism.

The phrase “Nature red in tooth and claw” comes from In Memoriam, A.H.H., a long group of poems written over many years by Alfred, Lord Tennyson completed in 1849. In it Tennyson struggled with his grief over Arthur Henry Hallam, a dear friend who was engaged to Tennyson’s sister but died at age 22. The section containing the often-quoted phrase appears below. The complete work is many pages in length and can be viewed in various literature textbooks or online.

LVI

So careful of the type? but no.
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries, `A thousand types are gone:
I care for nothing, all shall go.


Thou makest thine appeal to me:
I bring to life, I bring to death:
The spirit does but mean the breath:
I know no more.And he, shall he,


Man, her last work, who seem’d so fair,
Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
Who roll’d the psalm to wintry skies,
Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,


Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation’s final law;
Tho Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek’d against his creed;


Who loved, who suffer’d countless ills,
Who battled for the True, the Just,

Be blown about the desert dust,
Or seal’d within the iron hills?


No more? A monster then, a dream,
A discord. Dragons of the prime,
That tare each other in their slime,
Were mellow music match’d with him.


O life as futile, then, as frail!
O for thy voice to soothe and bless!
What hope of answer, or redress?
Behind the veil, behind the veil.

These poems chronicle Tennyson’s struggle to understand how death fit in with the God of life. In them he also tried to deal with philosophical questions in areas including the newly-named science of Biology.

Darwin had not yet made a name for himself, but other writers were beginning to put together theories of evolution. These were based on ideas like inheritance of acquired characteristics, spontaneous generation, and vital fluids flowing through living things that forced them to undergo evolutionary changes.

All of these ideas were disturbing to thinking men like Tennyson, trying to embrace Rationalism and rely on man’s reason to solve life’s great questions. They also wondered how the so-called “discoveries” of randomness and chance could co-exist with the orderly Creator and loving Sustainer of the Bible. The theories listed above have all since been discredited but more have sprung up to replace them.

Tennyson’s final conclusion in the same set of poems, finished in 1849, includes the section below. It is usually placed first in the published versions but was probably written last. The emphasis is added to show what Tennyson thought of his earlier doubts about how “Natural Law” fit in with a loving creator God. The text comes from http://www.online-literature.com/tennyson/718/).

For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness:
let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before, But vaster.

We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem’d my sin in me;
What seem’d my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

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Book Review of The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr

Men’s minds and thinking are getting shallower all the time, but it’s wrong to blame that on the Internet. Many things are just as powerful as the Internet in changing our lives and our thought patterns. Rock music, television, video games and addiction (alcoholism) still play a greater role in “shallowing” the mind than the Internet. The human brain works the same way it has since Adam. The Internet is a minor cultural change compared to the Civil War in the American South, Concentration Camps for Jews, the ten plagues in Egypt and the decimation of Native American culture by Europeans.

(Note that all quotes below are from Carr’s book unless otherwise stated.)

Sabrina’s “workaholic” Linus Larrabee shouts, “My life makes your life possible!” “And I resent that!” playboy younger brother David shouts back. “So do I!” Linus retorts. This popped into my head as I read the repeated descriptions of the deep readers and contemplative thinkers. Nathaniel Hawthorne lay back and experienced nature for hours. Trains and busy working people disturbed him. The “shallow thinkers” Carr brings up are productive people, people with jobs. They have always paid for the lives of these deep thinkers.

Deep thinkers may not be playboys. They still need to be supported to lie in the grass listening to the breeze. Artists and writers from ancient times had patrons or they starved to death. Today their support still comes from those who can handle the world’s distractions. I say this as an artist and writer forced into the distraction of working or helping my husband work to pay bills and buy books like The Shallows.

Carr’s concept of “deep reading” sounds like Eastern Mysticism, opening the mind to everything, rather than reading as the Scriptures teach, “to know wisdom and understanding,” “comparing Scripture with Scripture.” If you can’t lose yourself in a long book you don’t learn properly? Then why does he reduce the Nathaniel Hawthorne tale of his Sleepy Hollow reverie to “snippets?”

Carr quotes wicked men as praiseworthy examples. Emerson, Freud, Nietszche and Marx are just a few of his favorite secularists. Studies are automatically authoritative. In our book Antidisestablishmentarianism we include this: “Dennis Prager, anthropologist and historian, laments the unthinking reliance on pseudo-science in today’s society. ‘In much of the West, the well-educated have been taught to believe they can know nothing and they can draw no independent conclusions about truth, unless they cite a study and “experts” have affirmed it. “Studies show” is to the modern secular college graduate what “Scripture says” is to the religious fundamentalist.'” (Prager quote from “Breastfeeding as a Religion,” World Net Daily, wnd.com, posted November 11, 2003 1:00 am Eastern.)

Carr’s “facts” are lies or skewed into lies. Plato’s Phaedrus strongly supports oral tradition. Theuth and Thamus illustrate oral versus written traditions. “Unlike the orator Socrates, Plato was a writer, and while we can assume that he shared Socrates’ worry that reading might substitute for remembering, leading to a loss of inner depth, it’s also clear that he recognized the advantages that the written word had over the spoken one.” Carr twists it to say Plato is supporting writing over oral tradition.

Plato knew of the honored Spartan tradition that their laws had to be memorized. “Plutarch, in his discourse on the life of Lycurgus and his rule in ancient Greece, expresses the belief that oral tradition is a way of making the law more firmly fixed in the mind.

“None of his laws were put into writing by Lycurgus, indeed, one of the so-called ‘rhetras’ forbids it. For he thought that if the most important and binding principles which conduce to the prosperity and virtue of a city were implanted in the habits and training of its citizens, they would remain unchanged and secure, having a stronger bond than compulsion in the fixed purposes imparted to the young by education, which performs the office of a law-giver for every one of them.”

Carr says Plato’s Republic opposes the oral tradition. “In a famous and revealing passage at the end of the Republic, … Plato has Socrates go out of his way to attack ‘poetry,’ declaring that he would ban poets from his perfect state.” Book Ten of Plato’s Republic starts off by saying that he wanted to banish the type of poetry that did not support his state. His goal was to rewrite the religious and imitative literature. Plato wanted absolute regulation of content, not the banishment of the oral tradition, as stated in Book II. “Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction (which includes the Poets) …and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only.”

The book relies on the shallowness of gleaning opinions from others without testing them by researching in the work itself. Carr didn’t seek out the real meaning of the discussions in the Republic and Phaedrus for himself. This would be almost comical if it weren’t for his repeated emphasis on deep thinking and reading.

Carr talks about the cool serenity of library stacks, but we went to a college where the stacks were closed and the frustrations of getting the right books were endless. Open stacks are still time consuming if the book in the card catalog isn’t on the shelf. Leisure reading and research reading are very different. Long novels like War and Peace and Bleak House and technically difficult works like Einstein and Infield’s The Evolution of Physics are worth the time to read cover to cover. But the library is confining and the Internet is liberating when there is time pressure.

Carr loses the struggle to define determinism because he is thoroughly deterministic in his approach to the studies, the experiments, and the use of what he condemns (superficial research and study) to prove his point. He mentions a couple of histories of societies making technology choices, but, “Although individuals and communities may make very different decisions about which tools they use, that doesn’t mean that as a species we’ve had much control over the path or pace of technological progress.”

How dare he say the brains of London cabbies won’t be as interesting if they start using GPS? That thinking isn’t much different from withholding medicine and clothing from jungle tribes. They’ll be “less interesting” for anthropologists to study. “Anthropologists are often faced with situations where members of the tribe they are studying die on a regular basis from easily curable diseases. But administering medicine may be the first step toward the loss of a culture. Many tribes actually express desire to become more technological. Anthropologists usually pressure them not to do so. One Brazilian indigenous tribal chief, after hearing such a recommendation, is quoted saying, ‘Do they think we like not having any clothes? It may be the way of our ancestors, but the bugs bother us…’ Should tribes like these be exposed to the modern world? There are no easy answers.” (Quoted from BBC online, updated April 10, 2002, in our book Antidisestablishmentarianism.)

E-books already outsell paper books on Amazon.com, and have for over a year. The Kindle is easy to read, keeps your place, allows written comments and highlighting. It’s a “real book.” Many small and medium conventional publishers are out of business. Only publishing giants and specialty “boutique” publishers can sustain the costs of producing paper books. The minimal costs of e-books will force this trend to continue.

Carr even quotes Psalm 115:3-8, a description of the deadness and powerlessness of idols, and warps it to fit his thesis about “technology’s numbing effect. It’s an ancient idea, one that was given perhaps its most eloquent and ominous expression by the Old Testament psalmist.” The creation of idols didn’t just “amplify and in turn numb the most intimate, the most human, of our natural capacities — those for reason, perception, memory, and emotion.” This is blasphemy. How can he equate the deadly sin of idolatry with the mere loss of “natural capacities”? He does this because he’s a secularist. (The passage is included here) “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not. They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” ( KJV)

Placing of scientific journals online does not narrow the scope of research and scholarship, which has always built on past scholarship. An article from 2005 need not cite one from 1945. That research was incorporated into, for example, a 1960 article. Further study, experimentation and research would occur by 1960, or more recently.

At one time many libraries had that 1945 issue, interlibrary loan privileges or microfilm. Libraries today rely on online research, which requires membership fees, payment by the article or both. Some of these charges are prohibitive to keep paying and paying for every article an author wishes he could study and reference. Newer articles are more readily available, often free or cheap, and easier to find.

We have been bombarded with distractions and choices and sensory overloads for centuries. It was happening before the Internet, before Gutenberg, before Plato. It’s up to us to filter.

Nicholas Carr pays tribute to the Scriptures by calling Psalm 115:3-8 a “most eloquent and ominous expression.” Hear then, more of the Scriptures and judge whether Carr has any conception of how eloquent the Word of God can be, and how little he understands about how it should shape our thinking. (The following quotes are from the King James Version)

Ecclesiastes 1:8-11: “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.”

Ecclesiastes 12:11-14: “The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.  And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

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Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

A message to parents and students:

Never, ever, ever read a book, watch a movie, or see or hear a play or story or poem performed without answering these questions:(Don’t read a book to your child or let anyone read a book to you without doing this, either.)

Do “wise” and “good” people in the story believe that spirits inside everything can guide people?

Do they follow a religion that is supposed to be older than Christianity or the Bible and therefore “better”?

Do they live “close to the earth” in simple lives without technology and don’t believe in any kind of killing, even for food or to punish great evil?

Do they believe that tribal people and animals are smarter and nobler than civilized people?

Does the work say to “listen to your heart” or “trust your feelings” because that’s how you’ll know what the right thing to do is?

Does it emphasize separating children from adults and forcing them to trust themselves to make extremely important decisions? (An exception to this is if a child is separated from parents but can rely on the biblical training he received from them, not just his own emotions, abilities and reason.)

Do children go through much of the work relying on other children?

Do children distrust adults in conventional authority positions (parents, teachers, police, community leader)? Is this presented as “the only choice” and at the end of the book “the right thing to do”?

Do children rely on very unconventional people who live outside accepted systems of moral values and mature practices? (Some examples are the uneducated or dropouts, street people, former criminals who are “streetwise” young, inexperienced persons in lower authority positions (like a “cool” teacher in a very strict school)?

Does it say that things are going to happen for reasons that nobody can control (not even God’s overall plan)?Does it imply that whether what someone does is right and wrong is just a matter of opinion?

Does it encourage strong expressions of anger, grief and depression when things don’t go the way a character wants? Does it say having an adventure, joining a secret club, or helping friends can be more important than being with your family or doing what you’ve been told?

Are the men (dads or male principals or bosses) bad, stupid or weak?

Are the women strong and smart and good?

Are any good men unable to help, dead or far away?

Does it make fun of traditional hard work and self-discipline?

Is training for a job or learning to play an instrument boring, stupid or pointless?

Are young people encouraged to cut classes or skip work for something more important?

By contrast, does it glorify martial arts and Eastern religious practices as superior to any western or Christian-based discipline? (This is not to say that unarmed self-defense and fighting skills are wrong or evil in themselves, but they are frequently taught along with Yoga, meditation and eastern religious practices in opposition to Christianity.)

Are people who have a lot of education boring?

Are military people excessively strict, bad-tempered or stupid?

Are people who quote from the Bible or classic Christian-origin works treated as odd or foolish?

Are strong emotions emphasized and encouraged, no matter how extreme or out-of control they may be?

Is self-control de-emphasized and made to seem wrong or unnecessary?

Are manners old-fashioned and respect for adults non-existent?

Is concern for and service to others not as important as “making time for yourself”?

Does it have a good, strong story, or is it just a bunch of exciting, scary, mysterious or funny things with no real purpose or ending?

Does it seem to leave out anything to do with faith or praise people who don’t believe in anything?

If you have to answer yes to more than a couple of these questions, ask yourself if you should have anything to do with this work. It may have won all kinds of awards. The best educational authorities may recommend it. But it may be very wrong and get you thinking wrong.

Everyone seems to know that four things are obvious to avoid: violence, sex, drug abuse and bad language. But examine each of these points and consider whether our perspective on these is even correct.

What about displays of affection and a degree of intimacy between husband and wife? These are almost non-existent but should be common. In most cultures of the world girls marry very young, and marrying an older man is considered normal and desirable. We consider it practically incest. Husbands and wives seek comfort, understanding and fulfillment with friends instead of each other. Husbands are plain, rather stupid, and have no clue about how to treat their wives. They want sex all the time and ask for it boorishly. They are at least mildly incompetent at their jobs. Wives are attractive, smart, make jokes at their husbands’ expense, and keep everything running smoothly, from finances, housework and careers to discipline and child-psychology. These anti-marriage concepts fill the pages and the screens of what we accept as desirable family fare. Movie insiders say actors who are married in real life cannot play a creditable husband and wife in a movie. There is no “chemistry” unless there is an adulterous flavor to the screen romance. These works do everything they can to justify adultery. A person is trapped in a terrible marriage with an abuser or an insane or terminally ill spouse and must seek consolation with a lover. Parents who restrict or forbid dating and young romance are always unreasonably strict, have no good reason for forbidding this young love, and punish supposedly far out of proportion to the action.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable; if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things” Philippians 4:8

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