Early summer potpourri

Summer Camps
For two extended periods in my personal history, Christian camping played a very important role in my spiritual and social life.  I began my summer Christian camp experience as an eight-year-old at Camp Hunt, a fairly small camp in upstate New York.  I was stomach-sick that week and had a bad time, transferring the next summer to a much closer camp with burgeoning loyalty.

Camp Manatawny in Southeast PA always offered something to look forward to.  From age 9 through 17, I annually spent a week there as a camper, and I also served a few weeks of my later years as a staff member (dish washer and counselor).  In 1998-2001, I returned as an adult and counseled and led hymn sings and devotionals, forming some lasting relationships.  My memories include cabin devotionals, hymn sings, campfires with equally rich silly and spiritual sides, and girlfriends.  It was an athletic experience, too, actually:  I have a few athletic awards to my credit, notably including placing in the softball accuracy throw and winning the push-ups event at least one year.  I don’t think I ever placed higher than 4th in a track event.  Manatawny and I parted ways (arguably its choice, not mine), but I still have many fond memories.

I was pleased last year to learn a little of my nieces’ Christian camp experiences.  They are growing similarly at other camps.  Last year, my son Jedd went to a day camp at Camp Wyldewood and enjoyed himself.  This year, baseball and a theater camp are filling the first half of the summer for him.  At some point within the next year or two, I want to find a good camp at which he can grow relationally with God and with others.  I want to start him fairly early, not waiting until the pre-teen or teen years for this important part of summer.

Naming Rights
Academic buildings, dorms, and fields, etc., are often named with the largest donor’s name.  This practice has always bothered me a bit, feeling that the “money talks” principle could end up compromising academics.  The problem becomes more acute when it’s a church room or building that’s named for an individual.  I’m such a purist about this that I don’t even think church facilities should be named for one of the twelve apostles.  Of course, this problem doesn’t occur when a Christian group owns no real estate.  Keeping it simple is better.  And living rooms are more homey and comfortable, too.

Time was when more pro baseball stadiums were named for their teams (Dodger Stadium, Astrodome, Yankee Stadium, Tiger Stadium).  A couple 1970s-built parks were named for their settings near rivers.  These days (see complete list here), only three stadiums use their teams’ names, and the rest appear to have large corporate sponsors that presumably paid for naming rights.  The ballparks now sport such names as Comerica, Miller, Citizens Bank, Minutemaid, and Target.  Having some knowledge of the Kauffman Foundation’s work in the Kansas City area, I don’t mind that the Royals stadium is named Kauffman, but I end up doubting the philanthropy of major insurance companies and banking conglomerates.  Incidentally, we’ve enjoyed one Royals game already and look forward to another.  Kauffman is my second favorite stadium experience, just behind Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, but Kauffman is easier to get to.

Kids’ baseball teams also have sponsors, and this scene is good for the community and for the kids.  Personally, I’m glad that my son Jedd’s team is sponsored by the River Cities Credit Union and not by a denomination or para-church organization like one of the other teams is.  I wouldn’t prefer to play a role in advertising for churchy business concerns.

Mulberries Revisited
The mulberries have just about stopped attracting the birds, which probably spend half their time now nesting in diabetic comas.  It is almost safe to park our cars in the driveway again.  See Mrs. Shuck and the mulberry tree for the backstory.  I’ve since learned that Mrs. Shuck did indeed have quite a Christian legacy, and that she passed from this life a year or two ago.

Summer Sounds
Time was when a friend and I attended a few Philly Orchestra concerts at the Mann Music Center.  One could often get cheap or free tickets to sit on the lawn.  Good times.

This year, I’ll again be missing the summer Concerts Under the Stars at the Garden Theater at UNC.   There is really only one UNC, by the way, and it’s in Greeley, Colorado, not in North Carolina.  Since I was a UNC grad student and was able to participate in one or two of said outdoor concerts, I’ve only been able to attend one or two other concerts there.  It’s always a nice time.  For some reason, I feel more loyalty to UNC than I ever did to my high school or to two other universities I had attended prior to my last degree.  I’ve never been a rah-rah type, but hey, “Once a Bear, always a Bear.”

Summer sounds in eastern Kansas have so far involved raucous, sporadically nocturnal neighbors who don’t handle the clock or their booze very well.  On the plus side, Jedd and I heard the Kansas City Symphony a few weeks ago, and I look forward to hearing a local jazz group and a children’s folk singer in July.

Bonus:  the Android “Gumdrop” ringtone sound
And now for a cool sound that has nothing to do with hot summer.  At some point while listening to this “Gumdrop” ringtone on my phone, I realized it included asymmetric meter.¹  I couldn’t resist writing it out.  For us rhythm geeks, the fun is built into the 7/8 bar, which makes it seem like the repeat comes an eighth-note too early.

Here is a recording, too.

¹ Since none of the first six WWW sources I found had a very good definition of “asymmetric meter,” here is my simple one:  a unit or measure of music in which not all pulses (beats) have the same duration.  

In the above case, the 7/8 bar

  1. contains one eighth note less than the 4/4 bars
  2. theoretically has a final, or fourth, pulse that’s only half the length of the others (one eighth vs. one quarter . . . or one quaver vs. one crochet, for the two Brits or British-trained musicians who might be reading this), but it
  3. would be conducted with three pulses (beats one and two are “simple,” containing an evenly spaced two eighth notes each; whereas the final pulse is “compound,” comprising three eighth notes, and requiring 50% more time than each of the first two pulses

A birthday of sorts

I’m not much on birthdays (or any holidays, for that matter).  I do remember the birthdays of all those in my family of origin, of three of my grandparents, and of my own, little nuclear family.  That’s about where it ends.  I only know birthdays for one niece, one nephew, one aunt, so I probably ought to be embarrassed that I do remember the birthday of my childhood baseball hero every year.  That guy is a year younger than my father, but let’s just say Dad’s character and life patterns are infinitely more admirable than the former Major Leaguer’s.  I have once again not mentioned the baseball player’s name on his birthday, because I don’t want to call any more attention to him.

April 30, though, is a birthday anniversary of something I will call attention to:  the initial invitation for Eugene Peterson to write The Message. 

Portions of The Message were published serially for a period of about ten years, starting in 1993, and I intentionally purchased each new volume until the whole was at last published in 2002.  It was difficult for me to divest myself of the separate volumes such as The Pentateuch and The Prophets, but it didn’t make sense to keep them all.  I now have only a complete hardback edition, a separate hardback copy of The Wisdom Books, a paperback Psalms, and a full electronic, versified edition.

Speaking of “versification,” one helpful-yet-annoying feature of the original work is that it does not contain traditional “verses.”  I say “helpful” because not having those little numbers can guard against the breaking up of thoughts as one reads longer passages.  I say “annoying” because the lack of verse numbers makes it difficult to find a particular spot and to compare with other versions.  There is a place for both, so I’m glad to have non-versified editions in print but also glad that my Logos software contains a versified version for easier pinpoint access.

I could not presume to add what so many others have said in praise of the translation, and I don’t care to expend effort refuting or responding to its judgmental detractors.  (No translation is above criticism, and I’d rather be more granular in my approach to this one and all others.)  Rather, I just want to recognize this milestone.  Here, I’ll allow Peterson’s own introductory words to speak for themselves.  He tells of the time in which the seed of The Message took root:

     I lived in two language worlds, the world of the Bible in the world of Today.  I had always assumed they were the same world.  But these people didn’t see it that way.  So out of necessity I became a “translator,” . . . daily standing on the border between two worlds, getting the language of the Bible that God uses to create and save us, heal and bless us, judge and rule over us, into the language of Today that we use to gossip and tell stories, give directions and do business, sings songs and talk to our children.
     And all the time those old Biblical languages, those powerful and vivid Hebrew and Greek originals, kept working their way underground in my speech, giving energy and sharpness to words and phrases, expanding the imagination of the people with whom I was working to hear the language of the Bible in the language of Today and the language of Today in the language of the Bible. . . .
     The Message is a reading Bible.  It is not intended to replace the excellent study Bibles that are available.  My intent here . . . is simply to get people reading who don’t know that the Bible is read-able at all, at least by them, and to get people who long ago lost interest in the Bible to read it again. . .  So at some point along the way, soon or late, it will be important to get a standard study Bible to facilitate further study.  Meanwhile, read in order to live, praying as you read, “God, let it be with me just as you say.”

– Eugene Peterson, Preface to The Message, 2002, © Eugene Peterson, published by NavPress

Now, especially if you have never read from The Message, you might try it once in a while.  Try it for a change.  Try it for a perk.  Try it for a comparison.  Try reading long passages.  You might be surprised at how quickly one of Paul’s letters goes, or how marvelously new one of the gospels or the books of Hebrew history sounds.  Whether or not you get into The Message, read, consider, and study the message by any helpful means.

Happy creative birthday to Eugene Peterson for his distinctive accomplishment in The Message, with thanks to the editor who wrote the invitation letter received more than a quarter-century ago on April 30, 1990.  No translation is perfect, but this one went a long way in making scripture come alive for readers.

For more Bible Anniversary reading . . . another translation of note, now more than four hundred years old, celebrated a birthday in 2011.  The KJV was a massive achievement in its time and was deserving of celebration and praise for 200-300 hundred years, I figure.  Read my anniversary farewell wishes to the Authorized Version (KJV) here.

In this time of year (4)

Worship words for Messiah Jesus on Sunday morning . . .

Jesus, Son of the Father

Verse 1:
We have been with Jesus, believing in His name,
And we have known His saving blood.  We refuse to be the same.

Verse 2:
Ancient words of kingdom spread—confirmed in wonders true.
Life’s Prince was raised Who once was dead—God’s Messiah, giv’n for you.

Verse 3:
Gathered here, devoting all at table, pray’r, and song.
We pledge to heed His loving call; to our LORD they’ll know we belong.

Jesus, Son of the Father—risen, ascended, reigning at His right—
We are compelled in worshipping You, Lord.
You’re present both here and in eternal light.

Words and Music by Brian Casey
© 2011 Encounter Music

Lord of All

Lord of All, we come to You with our hearts and our voices.
Now we sing with one accord to the Lord of All.
Alleluia!  Alleluia!
Oh, sing to the Lord of All.

Words and Music by Brian Casey
© 2004 Encounter Music

In this time of year (3)

A meditation for Saturday:  on unfinished responsiveness to finished work . . .

Verse 1

It is finished.  It is complete—

The work of Jesus, Lord of history.

He gave in once and for all—

The Lord on Skull Hill.

Now His Spirit calls,

And I thank You for Your grace.
I would have been nothing without You in my place!

Verse 2

My Jesus waits for me

With the Father in heaven—God of all that breathes.

Great is Your love, eclipsing my sin.

Your hand invites me,
And I enter in.

There’s no greater love than this,
And I in return lavish my love with a kiss.¹


It is finished.  This I believe.
Regeneration I would receive. . . .

Words and Music by Brian and Karly Casey
© 2004-2011 Encounter Music

¹ The reference is to Luke 7:37-50—and particularly to the apparently spontaneous gesture of the woman.  The notion of a kiss as a worship gesture is seriously limited, but the woman of Luke 7 and the etymology of προσκυνέω | proskuneo (although not used in Luke 7) suggest that it is not entirely inappropriate to make the connection.

Opening post from this seasonal series: https://blcasey.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/in-this-time-of-year-1/

In this time of year (1)

Seasons and Times   Seasons come and go.  I tend to like spring and fall better than summer or winter, although the best summer and winter days can be great, too.   For many, the spring season is associated with Easter.  I don’t get into bunnies or pastel colors or egg hunts; most years, I haven’t done much more with Easter than with any other Sunday.  I do think that it makes a lot more sense for Christian believers to pay spiritually based attention to both Passover and Easter than to Christmas, but there’s no requirement.  “Holy Week” as a whole merits some attention as a time of remembrance and observance—especially for those with high church background and/or present-day liturgical inclinations.  Palm Sunday festivities¹ are of moderate interest to me; they have their place, especially for children.

Terms and Traditions   Words such as “ash” and “Maundy” go right over my head.  I’m not drawn in by invented labels such as “Maundy Thursday” and “Holy Communion” that seem to draw significance based on notions of sacrament, tradition, and trappings.  If you have a “communal meal during which we’ll memorialize the Lord’s death in a focused way,” invite me, and I’ll likely be there.  On the other hand, if you call it a “Maundy Thursday Service of Holy Communion,” I’ll probably pass.

I don’t suppose it matters much whether Jesus was crucified in (what we now think of as the year) 27 or 29 or 30 or 33.  What matters is that it was a very real event, at approximately that point in the world’s history.  The historical and symbolic connections to the Passover are important, too.

Good Friday   This Easter season, I was glad to be asked to be one of seven readers at a local church’s Good Friday event.²  The plan is thoroughly conceived and very well laid out, with exceptionally nicely put instructions for all who will be involved.  I am looking forward to participating in this way, because I really enjoy public reading, and because I am of the strong opinion that such reading should be intentional and as well executed as possible.  I don’t even mind ignoring the (10%? 40%?) chance that Jesus was crucified on a Thursday, not a Friday.

At any rate, my assigned readings are relatively lengthy ones from John 19 (“woman, behold your son . . . behold your mother”) and Ephesians 2 (bringing together Jew and non-Jew the through the cross).  I’m working on a hybrid rendering that will communicate in the best possible way.  I might even translate a little on my own, but I want to be careful not to get too far off the beaten path.  To call attention to history and theology through public reading is good, but it would be unwise to use words so unusual that they distract from the message.

During the next few days, I will share some additional Easter-ish ponderings.  At the moment, my spring thinking has sprung from songs, so those lyrics might be springboards.  (Also, I rarely turn down the opportunity for wordplay.  Jesus seems to have done that on occasion, too.  I imagine He would smile at my efforts.  Or perhaps not.)

In the meantime, this “Easter songs” post from two years ago might provide some devotional opportunity for those so minded and spirited.

¹ Exploring the word “Hosanna” can be interesting.  I’d suggest that in many places, it’s a word that has changed in meaning.

²  I can’t make myself call it a “Good Friday service,” because I find that use of the word “service” neither scripturally based nor helpful.  The Good Friday program involves a well-thought-out sequence, so it is admittedly more appropriate to call this a “service” than a regular Sunday gathering in my ideal world.

Behind a wall of clouds

Maybe I could have been a photographer . . . if I had had some training and equipment and patience, that is.

I went on a quick ride this evening.  As I was starting out, I caught this in my field of vision, so I went to a high spot and took a quick phonecam shot.  Depending on your screen resolution and your ability to see beyond the photographer’s limitations, you might have to use some imagination here.  Look between the lowest two power lines.  Believe me:  it was impressive in real life.

Ignore the lines and the soccer goals.  It’s not the budding trees or the meadow or the typically nice western sky at this time of evening that struck me.   The fiery, floating clouds at the top are nice, but, specifically, I was awed by the sharp line that reveals some mostly hidden but seriously potent light behind a wall of clouds.

Often that’s the way God seems to me.

The glorious Psalm 19 records a burst out of David’s soul:  “The heavens declare the glory of God. . . .”  Or, as Eugene Peterson has it,

1-2 God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
    God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.

Yet the exhibited glory is not always visible or even satisfying.

“Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire!” asked the prophet Isaiah.  Is it possible that we should be grateful for God’s hiddenness, rather than disappointed?

Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God, © 1988, p. 75

– B. Casey, 4/5/17

A lady and her songs

400.  It’s not a magic number, but when it refers to a collection of songs by a single person, it might just elicit a “wow.”

Almost four years ago, an acquaintance had been in touch with a mutually respected undergraduate music professor.  My parents regularly see the same man at church meetings, and the subject of the prior dialogue came up in conversation with him.  Within a couple of weeks I was in contact with Carole, a dear lady, and we began work on her musical creations together.

The backstory:  Carole Obrecht, born in 1935 in rural Indiana, now lives in Nebraska.  Now a widow, a few years ago, she was taken to the hospital with a serious illness (MRSA), and her children were told she had about two weeks to live.  She spent 43 days in the hospital, recovered, and was referred to as “a miracle patient.”  With a new lease on life, about a month later, she experienced a fountain of gratitude in her soul and began composing words and melodies—most of them in the broad category of congregational gospel songs.  Many times she has looked back in amazement at this burst of creativity.  For each song, Carole would eventually

  • type a lyrics sheet (in Word)
  • sing the melody into her computer’s microphone
  • (initially) use her keyboard to devise rudimentary harmony

By the time I got to know her, Carole had created more than 100 songs.  She needed someone to edit and notate them properly for potential church use and for posterity.  That’s where I came in.  It takes a certain complement of proficiency and experience to do this type of work.  I happen to be agile with music notation/engraving, I have some good software, and I know fairly well the kind of music Carole creates.  In the spring of 2013, I also had some extra time available, so Carole sent me a handful of songs, and I began work.  It soon became clear that I would not be able to use her keyboard work as a basis, so I would work out new harmony in all-vocal arrangements.

Carole and I worked with each other patiently (she, all of the time; and me, most of the time) in the early phases, trying to figure each other out.  Almost always by e-mail but periodically by phone, we would discuss this issue or that.  We worked through a standard template (the style, typeface, size of musical staffs, how to show her name, the copyright, my name, etc.).  I believe she still overestimates the limited value of filing her materials with the U.S. Copyright Office, but one of her goals is to make things easy to navigate for her children, should any issue arise, so it’s understandable that she would spend time and money on copyright filing.  Carole has been a perpetual model of consideration and grace in responding and thinking out loud with me, even when she doesn’t quite agree.

Behind the backstory:  When Carole and I began our partnership, I was deep into what I might call a disadvantaged phase of vocational life.  My musical creativity had begun to be squelched and constrained.  I have written more than 100 songs myself and have arranged many more than that, not to mention a sizable catalog of instrumental works, but I’ve had little inspiration to produce music in the last decade.  When one is discouraged, he needs something to do in order to feel useful, and a little extra money would be good, too, but how to negotiate. . . .  Although I had arranged for hire before, I had not engaged in any sort of ongoing relationship.  Carole and I easily reached an agreement under which I would be paid on a per-song basis.  Now that that was out of the way, we moved ahead with the substance.

The process:  I receive a dozen songs at a time, each song consisting in a .docx lyrics file and a .wma audio file.  These are the three phases of work on each creation:

  1. Melodic dictation—listening to Carole’s recorded voice and notating the melody (perhaps 20% of the time spent here)
  2. Harmonic arrangement—writing three underlying voice parts, arranging each song for congregational use (perhaps 50% of the time)
  3. Lyrics insertion—either retyping or reformatting and importing (30%)

carole-listWhen a sheet music draft is complete, I e-mail it to Carole, in the form of a .pdf file with an accompanying .mid sound file for her to listen to.  She will often note words or phrases she wants to change; seeing music and words on a page together can give her new eyes.  (At times, the changes can be extensive, and it’s back to the drawing board, but this is relatively rare.)  A typical song might require 75-90 minutes of initial work on my end, 2-3 e-mail exchanges, and 15-20 more minutes of editing work.  The final steps for each song are (1) my sending edited files (to the left is a group of the .pdf files) and (2) Carole e-mailing to confirm the files are received and saved on her end.

Carole had piano instruction as a young girl and also remembers vocalizing with her mother at the piano.  After childhood, Carole was not trained as a musician.  She hasn’t studied, for instance, any principles of melodic contour or the important balance between unity and variety (so, for example, some melodies are relatively predictable), but she produces some pretty good songs!  Most of them are tuneful and accessible to the average person.  During the process of notation, if I find a measure or two almost like the melody from two lines above, but not quite, I adjust the notes, and Carole is fine with this.  When a melody has too great a range or suggests a nonstandard harmonic progression, I often recommend a change, and most of the time, we move in that direction.  The style of many of the songs tends to reflect the generation in which Carole grew up and perhaps a halcyon sense of congregational singing that is on the decline, but the music is an expression of her genuine faith, and she trusts that the Lord will use the songs according to His pleasure.

A few challenges:  Carole’s voice is remarkably strong, so it’s rarely difficult to take melodic dictation on her tunes.  She has a wide range, but she sometimes starts a song too low for congregational soprano lines.  This doesn’t typically present much difficulty—I just transpose it up two or three steps—unless the melody ranges high as well.  Once in a while, she seems to meander a little, and I suspect such instability is attributable to her having had a cold at the time, or perhaps she was less focused than usual because the next song was on her mind, too.  Sometimes, apparently feeling some out-of-genre expressive impulse, she changes keys midstream; on a few occasions, we have decided to leave the key changes intact in the final product.  (Changing keys is difficult for an a cappella group to navigate.)  Her sense of rhythm is fine but sometimes presents challenges, as do a few other technicalities that require adjustments.

If I can’t figure out how to notate one aspect or another, I just say so, and Carole suggests something else or sometimes goes back to the drawing board herself to record another version of the melody.  My Sibelius music software has some bugs in the way it handles lyrics as they are being imported, matching syllables to notes:  it thinks “trials” has one syllable and “Savior,” three, so I have to manually divide those words and a few other frequently used ones.  The software also has no idea what to do with the word “reigns,” so I have to trick it and correct after the fact.

A few characteristics:  Carole loves words and phrases such as “thrill in His glory” and “our Savior has conquered sin.”  Even more, she loves faith- and hope-filled expressions that look toward Heaven.  In her catalog may be found strong notes of gratitude to a loving God, and of evangelistic concern for others, that they might share in what she has found.

Carole loves choruses and codas, and I have sometimes picked up that her others-conscious heart just can’t bear to let a song rest with the last word in the final stanza.  She is compelled to say just one more thing—in the hope that, eventually, some soul will be a bit more inspired to faith in God . . . and so she adds a chorus or a coda to say that one more thing.

Sometimes, in our e-mail exchanges, one or the other of us will refer to a song as though it is a “child” of hers:  “this one seems a little unruly and needs some parental love” or “you must feel this is a special child.”

My feelings:  We have been working together for nearly four years now, and I remain grateful for this working relationship.  My available time for “Carole songs” ebbs and flows, and Carole understands this and works with it beautifully.  She has become a friend.  We surprised her once by dropping in on her at church while we were traveling.  Carole is also my elder sister, sort of a “great aunt” in faith.  She prays for me and my family with great empathy, even as she cares for many others, including her own family.

Carole, thank you for your constancy and your example of faith.  They are treasures, as are the poetic expressions of your sincere heart—a heart so very thankful to God.  At times, you and your songs have amounted to a spiritual rope to hold onto—a constant in a sea of uncertainty and negative circumstances.

Our respective loose-lwp-1485716870438.jpgeaf binders full of songs grow by the month.  A couple of days ago, we reached song number 400.  As we celebrate this milestone, and as we move into what may be the last hundred, Carole, I pause in gratitude for you.

B. Casey, 1/29/17

A program of remembrance (9/11/11)

On the 1st anniversary of 9/11, a few Highland Community College students and I presented an outdoor program for the campus.  On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, a more elaborate program was presented by the Houghton College Symphonic Winds and Friends (a few faculty and staff members from other areas, an area singer, and others).  Below is the program from that occasion:


Unique features of this program included poetry readings and an impassioned presentation of Psalm 27 accompanied by harp, with interludes.  Those aware of my lack of typical patriotism might be surprised to see that I planned this program, but my heart was all in the planning and the execution of it.  I believe it was a meaningful evening.

On this anniversary, now fifteen years after that day, I pause to remember again.  I remember the disbelief.  I remember the fear.  I remember a vague sense of hopelessness.  Yet I recognize that God is above even horrific evil, terror, and unimaginable human pain.  God has provided for eternal living.

P.S.  Another blog of mine deals with my book Subjects of the Kingdom That book aims to point all Christians to the surpassing allegiance due to the King of All, while questioning allegiance pledged to the U.S.A. and most forms of service offered to any nation-state.  The book’s overall thrust is toward the Kingdom of God.  In that course, it deals in some depth with the history of so-called “pacifist” thought and practice.  I invite all readers of this blog to click over to the other blog and follow it, as well.  It is a book blog—a very different type of blog—and is far less active than this one.

The ride (after the reviving)

The following is an excerpt from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, from the Chronicles of Narnia series by CS Lewis.  I have never read this classic before and have been enjoying becoming familiar with it this summer while reading it aloud to our son.

Here, two of the Narnia children are lamenting the dead lion Aslan.

“Oh, it’s too bad,” sobbed Lucy; “they might’ve left the body alone.”

“Who’s done it?” cried Susan.  “What does it mean?  Is it magic?”

“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs.  “It is more magic.”   They looked round.  There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as frightened as they were glad.

“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” replied Lucy.

“Not now,” said Aslan.

[ . . . ]

“And now,” said Aslan presently, “to business.   I feel I am going to roar.  You had better put your fingers in your ears.”

And they did.  And Aslan stood up and when he opened his mouth to roar his face became so terrible that they did not dare to look at it.  And they saw all the trees in front of him bend before the blast of his roaring as grass bends in a meadow before the wind.  Then he said,

“We have a long journey to go.  You must ride on me.”  And he crouched down and the children climbed onto this warm, golden back, and Susan sat first, holding on tightly to his mane and Lucy sat behind holding on tightly to Susan.


P.S.  Here is another LW&W excerpt (posted on my other blog) in which Lewis, seeming to follow the apostle Peter, tells of Aslan’s nonresistance.

Spirit, breath, air, wind

When you drive a car all the time, never walking or locomoting in any other way, you notice certain things, but you miss others.  On the other hand, riding on two wheels permits one to notice a different set of things, or at least to notice things differently.  When riding a bicycle or motorcycle, I have sometimes been struck with various differences in terms of sights and sounds.

Air is one of the reasons one rides a motorcycle.  I say things like “I love feeling the air” and “I just wanna catch some air.”  (One riding acquaintance called me a “fellow bug-toothed rebel,” but that’s another story.)  The air may be muggy and stultifying, refreshing, or varied.  On motorcycle rides through rural areas in which various types and extents of vegetation have grown, one notices cool-air spots.

I first noticed the difference in the air back in 2003 while heading out of Atchison, Kansas on 6th Street on my Yamaha 600 Radian.  The southward route becomes Old Rt. 73, also called Sheridan Road, as it works its way toward Leavenworth.  In spots along this road, the air may suddenly drop 10 or 15 degrees. Sheridan-Sherman RdYou look around, and you notice a small farm with a horse or two, a grove, or a meadow through which the prairie wind has rolled and cooled things down for the past few hours.  You might for a short time feel ensconced by trees that have banned the afternoon sun.  The air quality and temperature can vary, and you notice it as it rushes past your face.  (You wouldn’t likely have noticed these things if you were driving a car.)

Air.  Wind.  And breath and spirit.

Typically, when one encounters the English word “spirit” in a New Testament document, the Koiné Greek antecedent is pneuma.  (The Hebrew antecedent for an Old Testament instance is likely ruach.)  This Wikipedia page may mislead (it’s not really airheady but is complicated) at the beginning, but it shows some noun connections.  Not that all these terms are exact synonyms—such precise inter-language relationships rarely if ever exist), mind you—but the words have a high correlation, so the possibility does exist, depending on the context, that several English words—e.g., breath or air or spirit—could be substituted.  It intrigues me that the life-giving air around me could be conceptually related to the very breath that the Spirit of God breathed into the first human.  Maybe I’m too far out on a weak limb here.

[Thinking of limbs reminds me of central Arkansas, where the combination of storms and tree types results in more downed tree branches in people’s yards than anywhere else I’ve lived.  And then I go back to air and wind.  Arkansas air is often the stagnant, hot, horrifically humid kind that doesn’t say “motorcycle ride” to me.  Which is one reason I’m glad to be returning to the rolling hills of eastern Kansas, where those cool-air spots are.  Looking forward to breathing and catching some wind again—maybe, just maybe on another motorcycle.]