Heidi and its messages of God’s love

The original (1881) book of Heidi by Johanna Spyri is fascinating and charming and did not leave my eyes dry reading it.  It was written during a time when there was great concern about children leaving the healthy country air for the dankness and blandness of the cities.

Much like Pollyanna, it contains the peculiar frankness of tone that older children’s literature had.  If you’ve read the original Grimm’s Tales in their 1880s form, the language is very similar.

But what I didn’t know from watching random pieces of the several film versions through the years was that it provided the young reader with two different messages of God’s love regarding physical health.  Heidi loves people very much and wants to help them.  The book provides two instances of her being able to help people with love (and good food).  They are messages of God’s love because Heidi is taught why in one case that though she has done good and the person’s life is better and their joy in Christ is the greater the physical healing she hopes for will not happen in this world.  In the other case the physical healing happens, but it is not due to the love and good food, but rather to an opening of the person’s heart more fully to God and the manifestation was physical healing.

The first person was open to God already and was the means by which Heidi could learn more about God.  It was the other way around in the second case.

I can’t wait until my girls are old enough to read it for themselves.


Whatever happened to respectable poverty?

One of the weirdnesses of American conservative life is the way in which everyone tries to label themselves middle class or even upper middle class no matter how low their actual station and income.  Conservatives, even the very devout Christian sort, really do seem to buy into the “temporarily embarrassed millionaire” self-image.  So the idea that poverty is sometimes a thing that can happen even to people who work hard and live clean is lost, even though as recently as the 1970s in America it was still a whisper here and there (mostly of course in the context of black Americans, but not exclusively).  Living among the poor sincerely and functionally, not on a temporary basis where you go back to your high-income zip code a year later (there are easily half a dozen pastors I can think of who have done that kind of thing and dozens of non-pastors who think it’s “missional living” to do it for a few months), is something worth more than getting into a good school district via scrimping.

Americans have always recoiled from respectable poverty and only grudgingly accepted its existence, but in post-America, it’s worth remembering that poverty is always going to be with us until the Lord returns, so having it be respectable is better than having it be unrespectable.

This is the very model of a bagatelle.

1599 Geneva Bible Prayers, Morning Prayer part two


Part two…

And because thou hast commanded us to pray one for another, we do not only make request (O Lord) for our selves, and for them that thou hast already called to the true understanding of thy heavenly will, but for all people and nations of the world, who as they know by thy wonderful works, that thou art God over all, so they may be instructed by thy holy spirit, to believe in thee, their only Savior and Redeemer, but forasmuch as they cannot believe, except they hear, nor cannot hear but by preaching, and none can preach, except he be sent: therefore (O Lord) raise up faithful distributers of thy mysteries, who setting apart all worldly respects, may both in their life and doctrine only seek thy glory. Continually confound Satan, Antichrist, with all hirelings, whom thou hast already cast off into a reprobate sense, that they may not by sects, schisms, heresies, and errors, disquiet thy little flock. And because, O Lord, we be fallen into the latter days and dangerous times, wherein ignorance hath gotten the upper hand, and Satan by his Ministers seeks by all means to quench the light of thy Gospel: we beseech thee to maintain thy cause against those ravening Wolves and strengthen all thy servants, whom they keep in prison and bondage. Let not thy long suffering be an occasion, either to increase their tyranny, or to discourage thy children: neither yet let our sins and wickedness, be an hindrance to thy mercies, but with speed (O Lord) consider their great misery. For thy people Israel many times by their sin provoked thine anger and thou punishedst them by thy just judgement, yet though their sins were never so grievous, if thy once returned from their iniquity, thou receivedst them to mercy. We therefore most wretched sinners bewail our manifold sins, and earnestly repent us of our former wickedness, and ungodly behavior towards thee: and whereas we cannot of our selves purchase thy pardon, yet we humbly beseech thee for Jesus Christs’ sake, to shew thy mercy upon us, and receive us again to thy favor: Grant us dear Father these our requests, and all other things necessary for us, and thy whole Church, according to thy promise in Jesus Christ our Lord. In whose name we beseech thee, as he hath taught us, saying: Our Father which art in heaven, etc.


1599 Geneva Bible Prayers, Morning Prayer part one

A long time ago T.W.O. wanted to type or write up the prayers in the 1599 facsimile of the Geneva Bible that he brought into the marriage, can’t recall which.  In any case, that is a small thing I can use this blog for.  The script is difficult to read, and the texts aren’t online as far as I’ve found.  So I think this can be a nice occasional thing to post.

Something to remember is that Geneva Bibles were very DIY.  You went to the printer and received specifically what you requested.  So you could have a “Bible” that was only the Old Testament and a Psalter, as an example.  This lack of standardization is an interesting and curiously modern feature.  It also means what I copy in modern English is not necessarily from every 1599 facsimile available.

After the Sternhold-Hopkins Psalter in the facsimile we own, there follows a short list of prayers with this title: “A form of prayer to be said in private houses every Morning and Evening.”

This is part of the first one (asterisks are my best guess, the text is not always sharp enough to make out easily):

Morning Prayer

Almighty God and most merciful father, we do not present our selves here before thy Majesty, trusting in our own merits or worthiness, but in thy, manifold mercies, which [hath promised]* to hear our prayers and grant our requests, which we shall make to thee in the name of thy beloved Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who also hath commanded us to assemble our selves together in his name, with full assurance, that he will not only be amongst us, but also be our mediator and adjudicate to thy Majesty, that we may obtain all things which shall seem expedient to thy blessed will, for our necessities. Therefore we beseech thee sweet Father, to turn thy loving countenance towards us, and impute not unto us our manifold sins and offenses, whereby we most justly deserve thy wrath and sharp punishment, but rather receive us to thy mercy, for Jesus Christ’s sake, accepting his death and passion as a just recompense for all our offenses, in whom only thou art pleased, and through whom thou canst not be offended with us. And seeing that of thy great mercy we have quietly passed this night: Grant (O heavenly Father) that we may bestow this day wholly in thy service, so that all our thoughts, words, and deeds, may redound to the glory of thy name and good example of all men, who seeing our good works, may glorify thee our heavenly Father. And for as much as of thy mere favor and love, thou hast not only created us to thine own similitude and likeness, but also hast chosen us to be heirs with thy dear son Jesus Christ, of that immortal kingdom, which thou preparedst for us before the beginning of the world: we beseech thee to increase our faith and knowledge, and to lighten our hearts with thy holy spirit, that we may in the meantime live in godly conversation and integrity of life, knowing that Idolaters, adulterers, covetous men, contentious persons, drunkards, gluttons and suchlike, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Part Two of this prayer another day, translating on the fly into modern English is hard!

(Proper) Catechesis is love

What it says on the tin.

Proper catechesis is missing from most Christian practice, and it’s one of the reasons well-off Western Christians seem so hypocritical and awful to non-Christians looking in.  There are many ways to properly catechize people smart and stupid alike, but mostly they aren’t done or even considered important by all too many Christians, but it is important for Christians to receive proper catechesis and it is, simply, love.