Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Well done, thou good and faithful servant!

Professor Harold O. J. Brown fell asleep on Sunday night and woke up in glory. He'd been on a slow decline from terminal cancer. When a former student asked him how he was a few weeks ago, he said: "In view of my swallowing and speaking difficulties, my short-term prognosis is unknown but the long-term prognosis is good."

Dr. Brown influenced me indirectly through my friendship with several of his former students. His book on the history and function of heresy in the church (originally titled Heresies: The Image of Christ in the Mirror of Heresy and Orthodoxy) changed the way I view the nature of orthodoxy and heresy. And his ardor in the fight for the Right to Life kindled a flame that has been burning ever more brightly in the past decade. He was a scholar of the highest caliber, holding his BA, BD, ThM, and PhD from Harvard. He was imminently sensible, cautious, and informed in his writings. He was unashamed of being a Christian and a part of Western Civilization.

Above all, his students tell me, he was a pastor. He shepherded his family, students, and two fledgling seminaries into maturity. And now, having himself put away childish things, he sees face to face and knows as he is known.

Almighty and everliving God,
whose goodness it is ever to raise up pastors and teachers for your church,
receive, we beseech thee, the soul of Joe Brown.
Before ever he was an undershepherd to thee, O Christ,
he was a lost sheep which you found.
As he enters the company of the saints triumphant,
grant him rest from his burdens,
reward for his labors,
and the full measure of thy good pleasure,
Thou in whom he didst glory and worship,
in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Put that in yer pipe and....well

I was inspired by Toby's recent ruminations to revisit the bane of my wife, pipe-smoking.

Here's a poem by R. F. Murray, taken from The Scarlet Gown: being verses by a St. Andrews Man on the subject:


In vain you fervently extol,
In vain you puff, your cutty clay.
A twelvemonth smoked and black as coal,
’Tis redolent of rank decay
And bones of monks long passed away—
A fragrance I do not admire;
And so I hold my nose and say,
Give me a finely seasoned briar.

Macleod, whose judgment on the whole
Is faultless, has been led astray
To nurse a high-born meerschaum bowl,
For which he sweetly had to pay.
Ah, let him nurse it as he may,
Before the colour mounts much higher,
The grate shall be its fate one day.
Give me a finely seasoned briar.

The heathen Turk of Istamboul,
In oriental turban gay,
Delights his unbelieving soul
With hookahs, bubbling in a way
To fill a Christian with dismay
And wake the old Crusading fire.
May no such pipe be mine, I pray;
Give me a finely seasoned briar.

Clay, meerschaum, hookah, what are they
That I should view them with desire?
Both now, and when my hair is grey,
Give me a finely seasoned briar.

Monday, July 09, 2007