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Tag: History

Sonnets to Psalms

Now that I have written a sonnet, I don’t even have to ponder what my next project will be. I have been sitting on pages of notes and internet bookmarks about scapegoats, the outcasts, the misfits. (I hear the word misfits and Rudolph’s Island of Misfit Toys comes to mind.)

Since I have so many pages of information, maybe it would be better written as a long essay. But I think a longer psalm, like Psalms 119, maybe in order. As I was reading the long note in my NASB Study Bible and found the psalmist was himself a “target of their ridicule, hostility, and slander.”

One poem that I wrote could be repurposed for this psalm. (My tip: unless your drafts are doggerel, and even then, keep them for repurposing.)

Reading through the notes, magazine clips, and bible notes for psalm writing tips, I found some interesting trivia:

  • What is one meaning of a maskil? A skillful psalm. Psalms 47:7 “For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with a skillful song.”
  • What American poet used biblical free verse? Walt Whitman.
  • What is a psalter? The book of Psalms, or a book of psalms to use in devotions.
  • What is one benefit of writing a psalm? It is easily translatable to other languages.

Like a long essay, Psalms 119 meanders but sticks to the central theme of the Word of God as a way of life. Before, I advoided reading it. But now when I read it, I find it full of life.

Sounds like a good starting point.

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Poetry

A Sonnet Odyssey

For the last few years, I said I was going to write a sonnet, so I could check this item off my list. Yet, I kept putting if off, because it is not as easy as writing a 30 minute haiku.

A Bit of History

Sonnets were invented in the 13th century in Italy. The word sonnet derives from the Italian word sonetto, which translated means “little song.” Michelangelo wrote them as well as the sculptures he created. Shakespeare popularized them in English during the turn into the 17th century. Plutarchian and Shakespearian are the two most popular forms of sonnets.

A Bit of Form

Sonnets have a musical quality to them with a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables called feet. An iamb is an unstressed then a stressed syllable equaling one foot. Pentameter is five feet, so there are ten syllables for each of the fourteen lines. Sounds like dancing with a partner who has two left feet! But just as in dancing, practice makes if not perfect, then easier.

Words at the end of the lines have a rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg – same letters rhyme. Lastly, the first twelve lines set up a story, and the last two bring it to a resolution. Shakespearean and Plutarchian sonnets are mostly alike, but do have different rhyme schemes and story approaches.

My Process

Iambic pentameter closely mimics human speech. I dug up this tidbit in my research, making a difference in being able to write one or not. I had stressed over words I chose fitting the pattern by looking them up in the dictionary. The light bulb went off when I realized all I had to do was read it aloud listening for the rhythm and anything sticking out needed correction. I also researched it being a perfect fit, and found out there can be a very small amount of variations to still qualify as a sonnet. I used one slant rhyme, and some variations in the iambic pentameter.

My steps:

  • Wrote a list outline for subject matter,
  • Drafted the fourteen lines close to ten syllables,
  • Picked the end rhymes for each stanza, and
  • Worked on the iambic pentameter.

I decided I could work on it forever, or get somewhat close and chose the latter route. Walt Whitman kept revising his self-published work Leaves of Grass from 1855 to the end of his days. I don’t want to be Walt Whitman. Without further ado –

Arrest

 Her land was robbed in virginal attire:
 A fossil bed in fashion lined hued sand,
 The coastal pines intoned the ocean choir,
 Majestic mountains stood by His own hand.
 The scissor cut directed forest fires,
 Her swatches shorn in blackened forest floor.
 Bound by the gods of Delilah’s hellfire,
 She fought against entrance into her soul.
 The smoke burning darkened the sky by day,
 Air slipped through cracks of doors into twilight.
 Her cloak and dress and her lands were repayed.
 Delilah’s deceits ravished His birthright.  
 The heavens poured rain in His fierce backlash;  
 He washed away the floor plan's lifeless ash. 
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FaithMy poemsPoetryWriting

Martin Lurther Or How to Treat Your Enemies

I listen to many radio sermons throughout the day and night, and it is not uncommon to hear a preacher state just how divided this nation is. Many offer biblical solutions. The ultimate biblical solution is to read and follow the four gospels of Jesus. Not only did He teach us how to treat our enemies through His example, but He was and is the standard.

Many know Martin Luther as the priest and scholar who nailed the 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Castle Church door in 1517. What is not as commonly known is a pastor who hounded him until the day Thomas Münzer was executed in 1525.

A Little Backstory

After the exasperation and intervention of Luther’s spiritual advisor, Johannes von Staupitz, Luther learned the hard way of legalism over grace – Luther would confess every single thought and action that he thought was a sin to Staupitz.

After he overcame this obstacle, Luther believed in sola scriptura, or the supremacy of the Bible over the Church. He was considered a mystic: he prized inward religious experience over ritual. However, over his life he did return to both church and scripture, drawing the ire of Münzer.

Back To The Present

Münzer read the 95 Theses and considered Luther as his spiritual mentor. Luther recommended him for a pastoral position at St. Mary’s at Zwickau, where he immediately and increasingly criticized the Franciscans until he was dismissed. He, along with two other men, shunned book learning and preached that God spoke to men directly. And most damning, they deemed themselves the only ones qualified to interpret the Bible.

After this, he bounced from church to church, stirring up the peasants – the miners, corn threshers, and farmers – saying they could teach better than Luther. He wanted the learned slaughtered, particularly pointing out Luther. His Utopian vision consisted of bringing a godly Kingdom type of equality to the earth.

In a letter written to his elector Frederick (nobles who ruled territories), he asked for toleration for Münzer and his other enemies. “Let us leave in His hands the combat and free encounter of minds.”

Thomas Münzer was tortured into a confession of his crimes, but still unrepentant towards his current congregation in a letter, not taking responsiblity. He was beheaded and impaled, rotting there as a warning to others.

Luther never advocated execution on his enemies, advocating for exile instead. Romans 12:19 states, “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Closing Thoughts

The Reformation was not what it could have been because of the constant hounding of others, not only Münzer’s enemies but the peasants he used to foment his ideals.

I more fear what is within me than what comes from without.

Martin Luther

Faith

She Flies With Her Own Wings

Several years ago, I ventured to David’s Tent in Salem to pray for Oregon. I went inside the white tent staked in the parking lot across from the state capital building to pray. Before I left, David’s Tent placed an invitation to write the name of the town that you came from (I think it was a small piece of wood) and I did. I wrote the name of my town and said a prayer over it too.

Inside the state capital building is a small gift shop. I bought a few things, among them a plague that had the state motto written in Latin and English: Alis Volat Propiis or She Flies With Her Own Wings.

Oregon territory seal

The motto has not always been so. In 1854, Supreme Court Judge Jessie Quinn Thornton translated the Latin phrase and added it to the Oregon territory provisional government seal. It symbolized the independent spirit of the Oregon settlers outside both the British and United States government.

In 1957, it was changed to The Union, showing that Oregon was no longer divided by the issues of slavery from the Civil War. Finally, the motto She Flies With Her Own Wings returned home in 1987.

Oregon has been avant-garde in national legislation. Some laws include the recall of public officials, state-wide voter registration, and one dear to me, public access to the beaches.

Though I have lived in the Midwest most of my life, I have found a kinship with the spirit of Oregon – the beautiful vistas, the potential of her independent spirit.

Five Oregon counties are, for a second attempt, trying to join with Idaho since Salem does not represent conservative interests, and has a statewide super majority in all branches of government. I am torn. I desperately want Oregon to stay Oregon, but with draconian bills possibly being passed, living here would be miserable, to say the least.

Not only did I pray in Salem that day, I have walked the local beaches praying for my local area and beyond. I believe my prayers, and the prayers of other Oregonians, are stored in Heaven waiting for the right time to be answered.

Faith

What Is Public Domain?

Surprisingly, some of my most liked posts are public domain poems. I’ll admit, I post them to keep myself from infringing copyright, but I also believe it is important to read from an historical standpoint. And I try to pick ones that have bearing on current events. Poetry is truly timeless.

So what exactly is the public domain? According to Copyright.laws.com, “they are works that are considered to be in the public domain are not protected by copyright. To be in the public domain means that the works can be used, copied, and distributed without any particular authorization from the copyright holder. This situation occurs when a copyright term expires or the rights themselves have been forfeited.”

In United States copyright law – each country and jurisdiction has its own – it is not a cut and dry date for all conditions of how and when a work is produced. Anonymous works can even be copyrighted. Cornell University hosts a downloadable PDF to explain conditions and dates. (Make sure to figure correct dates, based on the date of the PDF.)

Public Domain Day starts on January 1 of every year for all countries/jurisdictions depending on their own laws, and determines what goes into the public domain. Oregon has its own special case regarding unpublished works.

At the beginning of every year, you can surf the internet and usually find a list of works that enter the public domain. For 2021, The Mary Sue entertains us with its list, along with the basics of when a work enters the public domain.

Creative Commons explains two different ways artists can choose to release their works into the public.

Copyright law protects an artist’s ability to receive recognition and financial reward from work that is created. But at some time in the future, they are released into the public for everyone’s benefit.

ReadingWriting

Feeds for a New Era

My blog post today may be old-hat to some, but because of the censorship issues today, I am revisiting it.

The technology of RSS feeds some consider to be old-hat, and they have been since the rise of social media. But they have been under the radar, not obsolete like others have proclaimed over the years. Twitter had a feed many years ago.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Netscape created it in 1999 under the different name of RDF Site Summary, and through the years it morphed into the current name.

The format is in XML language, which is a plain text file. Another file associated with RSS is OPML, which is XML’s outline format for exporting the feeds you have created in a feed reader for backup.

Feed readers consolidate feeds from websites that use this form of syndication. Blogs, podcasts, emails, websites, and news sites (this is not an exhaustive list) publish the XML files to their sites so that feed readers can pull in articles that are newly published. Most feed readers are free. Another file form of aggregating websites is called Atom. Most feed readers support both.

I will use mine to illustrate. I use the Linux program named QuiteRSS. It allows you to add folders to organize subject matter. For example, I have folders called Oregon, News, Church, Writing, and Personal. I can update all at once, only certain folders, or certain sites. There is a rudimentary browser so that you can read the feeds on their home website. Or you can open an external browser to read articles. Filters are available to further help sort information. And the articles can be labeled or deleted as needed. I clean mine daily so I am not overwhelmed.

The fall of popularity of RSS, a decentralized form of gathering data for the user, instead traveled to companies centralizing data on us users, was planned? If so, it is time to stake our claims on the World Wide Web and raise the flag of our RSS mailboxes.

ReadingWriting

History Repeats?

Out of the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, the Communards were born. As the name suggests, Karl Marx agreed with the political form of government, although he disagreed with the methodology. They followed the socialist philosophy of the 1790’s French Revolutionaries.

In a nutshell, Germany provoked France in a war with Prussia as a ruse to unite German peoples as nation-states. France invaded Germany and Germany then invaded France. They marched onward into Paris. At the time, it was one of the most heavily fortified cities.

When Germany invaded France all of the government officials and upper to middle classes fled Paris, leaving only the poor working class behind. The national guardsmen from this class wanted to form a new government called communes. Elections were held and they won.

After the win, they seized Catholic property, arrested Catholic clergy, and executed the Arch Bishop of Paris. National monuments were defaced.

Germany released French prisoners to counter, since a peace treaty had been signed. In what was called “bloody week,” many Parisians died. Some escaped, some were lined up and shot, and others faced war councils.

Though you can not fit what is happening now neatly into what I have written here, similarities do exist and lessons are to be learned. Betrayals abound, and fortifications are not foolproof. Sow violence, and you reap violence.

Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,
As on the day of Massah in the wilderness,
“When your fathers put Me to the test,
They tested Me, though they had seen My work.
For forty years I was disgusted with that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
Therefore I swore in My anger,
They certainly shall not enter My rest.”

Psalms 95:8-11 NASB

Faith

Modern Day Revolution

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” is the opening line of Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. Setting the stage of the book is the French Revolution, both before and during, in Paris and London.

Roughly 230 years ago, a European country had a revolution.

Today another revolution is touching all areas on the globe, and with few exceptions, no one is exempt from the blazing news cycle of events.

On a personal scale, moving to Oregon taught me the true meaning of the A Tale of Two Cities quote. Clarity (and a bit of anger) replaced pain and confusion, with beauty driving the day to day wheels. I did not chose the consequences of moving here, but here I believe I was sent for such a time as this. How that plays out in the weeks ahead is my guess, but I know Who holds my future.

As Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

And as the Bible would say,On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days So that we won’t take anything for granted.

Faith

Once Upon A Time It Was Now Review

Once Upon A Time It Was Now, 2nd edition, written by James Alexander Thom, is a wonderful book on the art of writing historical fiction. His ultimate goal is to write books that inspire others, regardless of whether the endings are happy or sad.

He does not dwell much on the craft of writing itself, but his focus is how to write historically. In this regard he does bring up life experiences that need to be considered that most would not think of, especially since in the past they thought and did differently than we do today. No glossing over either, he brings up the grittiness of life that most of us would prefer not to think about.

A chapter on technology discusses the use of paper vs. computers from a few of his fellow historians and historical writers. And a few ideas for research organization, which if done right will produce reams.

His book was written in response to Stephen Ambrose’s quip, “A novelist doesn’t have to have facts.” Most of this book goes into detail on how and why historical novels should be as factually accurate as possible. One of the best reasons I read was that they are read when history books would not be. I count myself one of these people, loving to read novels about historical figures.

His wife, Dark Rain, wrote most of the chapter on genealogy, and if you are writing a book dealing with Indian history, she has some very valuable tips.

My favorite quote: “The climax of a novel often is a moment that seems impossible to endure. If you can force yourself to exhume and record some personal horror you wanted to leave buried, then you will have trained yourself to write powerfully about anything the protagonist of your novel has to do.”

I will probably never write a historical novel, but I learned much from his book. His advice can be used for other genres as well. The humor had me laughing quite a bit. And he was in the USMC, another thumbs up from me. A hearty recommended read.

Writing

Ministers and Tyrants

“In America, as we have indicated, resistance to oppression had been a favorite topic in Yankee pulpits for more than a century. Indeed a quarter of a century before Paul Revere’s ride, one of its most articulate (albeit increasingly liberal) proponents, Jonathan Mayhew of Boston, preached:

It is blasphemy to call tyrants and oppressors God’s ministers…When [magistrates] rob and ruin the public, instead of being guardians of its peace and welfare, they immediately cease to be the ordinance and ministers of God, and no more deserve that glorious character than common pirates and highwaymen.”

The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel

I had the fortune to meet Peter Marshall at a book signing. He is the son of Catherine Marshall, who wrote some of the best books on Christianity that I have ever read. His father was chaplain of the Senate in 1946.

Faith

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