Lately, I’ve been re-reading the Greek Bible (a.k.a. “The New Testament”) while listening to Prof. Luke Timothy Johnson’s lecture course, Jesus and the Gospels. Johnson is a believer, unlike Bart Ehrman. But he’s a scholarly, thinking Roman Catholic — not a knee-jerk Biblical literalist. So I’m enjoying the course far more than expected.

When William Stoddard recommended the poem “The Disciple” by Rudyard Kipling on another comment thread, I was intrigued! Better yet, I was not disappointed on reading the poem.

The Disciple
Rudyard Kipling

He that hath a Gospel
To loose upon Mankind,
Though he serve it utterly–
Body, soul and mind–
Though he go to Calvary
Daily for its gain–
It is His Disciple
Shall make his labour vain.

He that hath a Gospel
For all earth to own–
Though he etch it on the steel,
Or carve it on the stone–
Not to be misdoubted
Through the after-days–
It is His Disciple
Shall read it many ways.

It is His Disciple
(Ere Those Bones are dust )
Who shall change the Charter,
Who shall split the Trust–
Amplify distinctions,
Rationalize the Claim;
Preaching that the Master
Would have done the same.

It is His Disciple
Who shall tell us how
Much the Master would have scrapped
Had he lived till now–
What he would have modified
Of what he said before.
It is His Disciple
Shall do this and more….

He that hath a Gospel
Whereby Heaven is won
( Carpenter, or cameleer,
Or Maya’s dreaming son ),
Many swords shell pierce Him,
Mingling blood with gall;
But His Own Disciple
Shall wound Him worst of all!

In the years that I’ve been studying the history and texts of early Christianity, I’ve grown to love and appreciate the Gospels as literature. They’re rich, complex, and philosophical. I’ve also developed some sympathy for Jesus — as much as I disagree with every bit of his preaching — because his message was so quickly and wildly distorted by his followers. To use Bart Ehrman’s language, there’s a gap between the religion proclaimed by Jesus and the religion about Jesus. And it’s huge.

BATLCon: Art and Poetry in Southern California

Oct 072011

I’m delighted to pass on this announcement for Luc Travers and Lisa VanDamme about their upcoming “Bringing the Arts to Life” Conference! Don’t miss the free live webcast preview next Tuesday!

“Bringing the Arts to Life” Conference in Southern California, Nov. 18th-20th.

FREE live webcast previewing BATLCon on Tuesday, Oct. 11th, at 7pm PST. More info at

Lisa VanDamme and Luc Travers will be describing what makes a VanDamme Academy arts education uniquely valuable and demonstrate how powerful it can be for you!

About BATLCon:

For many years, passionate art educators Lisa VanDamme and Luc Travers have been teaching children and adults alike how to thoroughly understand, deeply appreciate and personally connect with great works of visual and literary art. They are now pleased to announce that they will be hosting their first ever weekend arts conference, with the goal of “Bringing the Arts to Life”—to your life.

In their classes, Miss VanDamme and Mr. Travers will introduce you to gems of poetry and painting, and will teach you a method of appreciation that will reveal how deeply moving, startlingly illuminating, and profoundly personal experiencing a classic work of art can be.

They will host a visit to the Getty Center, where you will have the opportunity to apply your new skill to some of the world’s most beautiful works of art in one of the world’s most beautiful settings for art, followed by a cocktail party full of animated discussion of your discoveries.

And as a bonus, you will have the opportunity to observe a VanDamme Academy art and literature class, witnessing art education as it might and ought to be.

We hope you will join us for this soul-satisfying weekend of learning, discussing, exploring, socializing—and of enjoying great art.

Dates: Nov. 18th-20th
Location: VanDamme Academy and the Getty Center, Southern California

Register today at

Space is limited!

I’m sure that the conference will be excellent, so if you can attend, don’t miss the opportunity!

Also, I can’t resist noting that BATLCon is probably the most awesomest name for an Objectivist conference ever! I just wish that sword fighting was somehow involved!

No Enemies

Jul 172009

The fabulous Rory Hodgson (aka @Tenure) recently sent me the following poem by the Scottish poet Charles Mackay (1814 – 1889). It suits me well.

“No Enemies” – Charles Mackay

You have no enemies, you say?
Alas, my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You’ve hit no traitor on the hip,
You’ve dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You’ve never turned the wrong to right,
You’ve been a coward in the fight.

Berton Braley on the Bailout

Oct 022008

Berton Braley was a very popular early 20th century poet; his writings often extolled the virtues of capitalism, industry, success, and the like. Here’s a particularly apt poem, sent to me by Boaz Arad:

The Profits and Loss
By Berton Braley

From New Deal Ditties: or, Running in the Red with Roosevelt, 1936

When “planned economy” first began
It looked like a swell “idea” –
Until we learned it had no plan
And wasn’t economee.

For the taxes rise and the budget’s shot
And the New Deal costs are met
By spending money we haven’t got
For things that we never get.

The Billions roll in mighty stream,
A regular tidal flood,
With the net result that each spending scheme
Bogs down in a sea of mud.

When plans and programs go all to pot
Do the New Deal planners fret?
Why no, they think up a brand new lot
Of schemes to spend what we haven’t got
For things we will never get!

The House is scheduled to vote on this new bailout plan on Friday. It might well pass this time, in part due to all the special-interest pork added to the bill. (UGH!) Please tell your representative that you still oppose the bailout. You might wish to mention that your vote in November will be influenced by their vote tomorrow.

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