Saturday, January 12, 2019

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My mother's little project

I've asked my mother, who refuses to engage in social media and warns me not to post indiscriminately about her, to take random photos every day. I installed a Flickr app on her phone and iPad, and configured them to automatically upload all photos taken when she is connected to the internet. She has retired from her private practice but occasionally sees old patients for some minor dental work. Otherwise, she refers her patients to Sean and spends time indoors, with her huge flat screen TV perpetually connected to Netflix. Our conversation revolves on the series she has watched; she calls them "season-season," having learned that some items there require more than one week to finish. She sometimes prefers watching films and has sampled all sorts of them, with languages as varied as the French, Spanish, Turkish (her favorite), and now, she tells me, Korean. She also does a lot of gardening, which involves her telling Auntie Nanic, her cousin who lives with her, to transfer her potted plants from one corner to another. She has finished all the books I've asked her to read. This she can do because she has all the time in the world. I warned her that her lifestyle is sedentary. Save for her daily walks in the neighborhood, her home visits to the sick and dying, and her Bible study classes in church, she is mostly at home.

I've asked her to begin a photo project, in the hopes of getting her out of her room and into the world. I don't have permission yet to post some photos she has taken, but I did not know she is taking our little hobby seriously. Here she is, taking a photo of "ferns attached to the coconut tree," marveling the serenity of the gardens of her long-time friends the Figueroas. Many thanks to Auntie Liza Dayot--who also owns a beautiful farm place in Banga, South Cotabato--for sharing this photo of Nanay.

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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All our good is in God

Jonathan_Edwards

When midnight struck, I had a meal with my brothers, walked out to St. Paul Street to find some neighbors watching the fireworks, and returned to the bedroom with my Kindle at hand. The book was Selected Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, edited by H. Norman Gardiner. It was printed in 1904 by the MacMillan Company, but I downloaded mine from Project Gutenberg.

A theologian in New England and considered as America's foremost intellectual and spiritual thinker (a shame that we don't year a lot about him as often), he considered himself primarily a preacher. In the book's foreword is a description of his work.

Even in his most terrific sermons he never appeals to mere hope and fear, nor to mere authority; in them, as in his theological treatises, he is bent on demonstrating, within the limits prescribed by the underlying assumptions, the reasonableness of his doctrine, its agreement with the facts of life and the constitution of things, as well as with the inspired teachings of the Word.

I can only imagine hearing him preach. YouTube hadn't been discovered then. But his pupil, Hopkins, offers us a glimpse of the manner of Jonathan Edwards's preaching.

His appearance in the desk was with a good grace, and his delivery easy, natural and very solemn. He had not a strong voice, but appeared with such gravity and solemnity, and spake with such distinctness, clearness and precision, his words were so full of ideas, set in such a plain and striking light, that few speakers have been able to demand the attention of an audience as he . . . He made but little motion of his head or hands in the desk, but spake as to discover the motion of his own heart, which tended in the most natural and effectual manner to move and affect others. . . He carried his notes into the desk with him, and read the most that he wrote; yet he was not so confined to his notes, when he wrote at large, but that, if some thoughts were suggested, while he was speaking, which did not occur when writing, and appeared to him pertinent and striking, he would deliver them; and that with as great propriety, and oftener with greater pathos, and attended with a more sensible good effect on his hearers, than all he had wrote.

The first sermon, God Glorified in Man's Dependence (1731), moved me as Jonathan Edwards's sermons generally would.

How many times this year did I find myself at the end of my strength, and in such moments, how often did God carry me through?

I write this now, with the comforts of personal restropection, because 2018 was the hardest year of my life to date: my grandmother passed away in January, my uncle Papa Eddie in March, and my father in May. Jonathan Edwards, preaching from 1 Corinthians 1:29–31, said to his congregation, and is saying to me now, hundreds of years later, by way of a timeless reminder that only books are able to accomplish:

The redeemed have all their good in God. We not only have it of him, and through him, but it consists in him; he is all our good.
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