It’s already lent and time for me to think about how I’ll make this a meaningful time of reflection and wise change. I like to find a good spiritual book to read and to commit to some changes in behavior. My friend Jennifer, who’s Protestant, actually taught me a lot about why we give things up for lent. For her, it’s not just to make life harder, but more about giving up those treats and comforts we reach for when we’ve had a tough day or are going through a crisis. These items tend to be cheap substitutes for God.

With that in mind I’ve chose two Bible devotions to do from YouVersion, a Bible app and I’d like to get a book, any book, by Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk. I also will observe not having meat on Fridays or Ash Wednesday. I plan to write 5 days a week at least as God’s pleased when we use the talents he gave us. Also, I plan to give up sweets, they’re what I grab when I get nervous or worry.

Finally, I’m taking a break from Twitter and Facebook for Lent. We’ll see how this works.

Here’s a poem by T.S. Eliot called Ash Wednesday.

WPC: Out of this World




Harbin 2014 005

St. Sophia Russian Orthodox Church, Harbin, China


1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Wednesday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.

3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.

Just a few wonderful posts:

Poem of the Week

A Thanksgiving to God, for his House

Lord, Thou hast given me a cell
Wherein to dwell,
A little house, whose humble roof
Is weather-proof:
Under the spars of which I lie
Both soft, and dry;
Where Thou my chamber for to ward
Hast set a guard
Of harmless thoughts, to watch and keep
Me, while I sleep.
Low is my porch, as is my fate,
Both void of state;
And yet the threshold of my door
Is worn by th’ poor,
Who thither come and freely get
Good words, or meat.
Like as my parlour, so my hall
And kitchen’s small;
A little buttery, and therein
A little bin,
Which keeps my little loaf of bread
Unchipp’d, unflead;
Some brittle sticks of thorn or briar
Make me a fire,
Close by whose living coal I sit,
And glow like it.
Lord, I confess too, when I dine,
The pulse is Thine,
And all those other bits, that be
There plac’d by Thee;
The worts, the purslain, and the mess
Of water-cress,
Which of Thy kindness Thou hast sent;
And my content
Makes those, and my beloved beet,
To be more sweet.
‘Tis Thou that crown’st my glittering hearth
With guiltless mirth;
And giv’st me wassail-bowls to drink,
Spic’d to the brink.
Lord, ’tis Thy plenty-dropping hand
That soils my land;
And giv’st me, for my bushel sown,
Twice ten for one;
Thou mak’st my teeming hen to lay
Her egg each day;
Besides my healthful ewes to bear
Me twins each year;
The while the conduits of my kine
Run cream, for wine.
All these, and better, Thou dost send
Me, to this end,
That I should render, for my part,
A thankful heart,
Which, fir’d with incense, I resign,
As wholly Thine;
But the acceptance, that must be,
My Christ, by Thee.

(I think this house has a lot of hygge.)

Taiwan’s Confucian Temple


Taipei has a beautiful Confucian temple, which is free to visit. Located a short walk from the Yuan Shan MRT station (Red Line), the temple is free to visit and offers a free film in English, which explains the basics of Confucianism. If you visit when there isn’t a tour, the brochure

The temple’s architecture is based on Qufu religious architecture and southern Fu Jianese architecture. Since I’ve seen a lot of Chinese temples this one didn’t wow me, but I always enjoy the art and symmetry of these temples. It’s a serene sight.

Free admission.

Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 8:30 am to 9:00 pm
Sunday and Mondays 8:30 to 5:00pm. Closed on Sunday




If you’re looking for something to watch as penance, perhaps Ordet will satisfy. I saw this listed in the bulletin at the Northwestern University Catholic center and thought for sure they’d have chosen a good film to discuss.

While I’m joking, Ordet is a a heck of a serious film. As Roger Ebert wrote it’s hard to get into, but once you’re in, you’re in. Perhaps.

Set in Denmark in 1925, Ordet’s the story of a family headed by Morten Borgen, a dour pastor in a stark rural town where religious denominations carry serious weight. If you’re not in the “right” one, you’re considered beyond the pale. Borgen’s got three sons, the oldest is married with two daughters. He’s an unbeliever, while his wife is sincere and devout. She’s also pregnant. The middle son is looney and thinks he’s Jesus, which gets on most people’s nerves. The youngest son wants to marry the tailor’s daughter, but her family goes to another church, one known for particularly dour worship services. Her father rejects marriage to a man from another denomination.

I doubt any character cracked a smile in the whole film. Yet after awhile the film does pull you in. It’s rather eerie. The daughter-in-law experiences complications when she goes into labor and this brings the story to a climax. I’m still not sure what to think of the film. I’m curious how the Northwestern discussion went. It’s a well crafted film, but certainly not for everyone. You have to be patient and interested in puzzling out meaning.

If you find the meaning, let me know.