Monday, June 25, 2012

Spiritual Tanning

I told one of my friends that this trip has been a lot like tanning. When you go to the beach you can never tell how much you have actually tanned unless you go back inside. That's what this is. I have no idea how much I'm learning, how much I'm growing and changing. Maybe I'll be able to see my tan when I get back in the states. metaphorically.
I'm going to wimbledon this afternoon with a couple from the church in London, I've been working with Sarah Katherine at the church all morning. It's been nice, in a quiet way. Everything here works at such a different pace than Oxford. I mean, for one thing I'm not living in a flat, I'm staying with a family that doesn't eat standing up and I'm eating food besides soup and yogurt and pasties. So that's a nice change. It's also totally different working with a church instead of doing schoolwork.

On a side note- I'm having to break down and buy a second suitcase because I bought so many books in Oxford. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Headed to London

I'm spending the week with friends in London doing mission work at an international church in West Ealing.
Saying goodbye to Oxford is hard. I love it so much. And of course, like anything, the second you settle in is the second you have to leave.

Going on a walk with Sarah Katherine, I'll catch up writing very soon.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A thank you of sorts

To my friends at St. Aldates church and my stanford friends.

It is so amazing to find that wherever I am in the world- if I am with the body of Christ I am home. I have been blessed and overwhelmed by the love I've experienced with the people of St. Aldates. It has been my absolute favorite part of Oxford.

thank you

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Ashmolean. (sp?)

in this episode, i will drink tea and convince myself to walk to the museum by myself. I like museums, but art is so much fun with friends.
If I go by myself, I can feel really sophisticated, like an art student. Maybe I can bring a notepad and stare thoughtfully at paintings, acting like I'm preparing to draw something brilliant.
I like art. I took Councilman's Art Appreciation class this past semester. Since that class, I have become a profuse appreciator. I can appreciate art anytime, anywhere. I even know who Manet is.   But if I go to the museum by myself, no one will notice how appreciative I'm being.
This is my dilemma.

oh, I went punting today. Actually, I sat in the punting boat while my friends figured out how to navigate in the current and i read wordsworth. I'm great at punting. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Now I don't have homework and i'm still waking up before everyone else to write. I'm sure my roommates will think I've lost my mind.

I never do a good job of describing England, but a lot has been written on the subject before me, so it's probably alright. I live 3 floors up, above a bicycle shop and across the street from a pub. the Thames is a couple streets over on one side, the Eagle and Child a few streets the opposite direction. Yesterday I bought The Allegory of Love by Lewis for  3.50 pounds.
This morning we have lectures at New College, then i'm meeting friends for lunch at Brasenose college, then going to the Kilns. (The Kilns is C. S. Lewis' house) and then after the Kilns, probably something amazing. :)

Here' some Tolkien-

In Paradise perchance the eye may stray
from gazing upon everlasting Day
to see the Day-illumined and renew
from mirrored truth the likeness of the True.
Then looking on the Blessed Land 'twill see
that all is as it is, and yet may be free:
Salvation changes not, nor yet destroys,
garden not gardener, children not their toys.

To be an Inkling

Today, after walking around Magdalen College and the Thames river, Claire, Brooke, Matt and I all decided to have an informal Inklings meeting. Currently reading each other our work and writing and editing, drinking loads of tea.
I read my poem I posted earlier today- since it was fresh on my mind. I just thought i'd stop here for a moment to document tonight.
Intellect is not intellect without communitas; without the marriage of true minds.  It is comforting to find that in all the world there are, in fact, true minds.

in the words of Sleeping At Last-
"unconditionally cared for by those who share our broken hearts."


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

a bit of poetry

This is in honor of Mrs. Rose, i wrote it in class.

My little griefs I give
To the overwhelming rivertide
of love: which I do not understand.
That like a thousand dewdrops
My metaphors drop
into the absentmindedness: of loss.

Only in the depth of pain are we made.
Like a hand finally relaxed
Against the tensions of time.
And even the deepest joys are my sufferings-
Crystalized by love.
Born again in the death of life.

And grief of wild despair
Is the hope
That I feel death, because
love has born fruit on this earth.

A time to study.

Believe it or not, the best time for me to study happens at about 6 am. Because my days have been packed between the formal dinner monday night and Stratford yesterday, my only time to read the thousands of pages of Roosevelt/Churchill letters due this week has been from about 6-8:30 am on my couch. It's very still and quiet at this hour- but not like it is if you stay up too late. No, it's an alive quiet. as if you have something that only you and the sky are experiencing.
Being so much further north, the sun sets at ten pm and comes up at around 4am.

I saw Julius Caesar with the Royal Shakespeare Company last night. Really good, but it's funny because i'm studying WWII and Lewis and then now Caesar and everything seems to go back to things about war, about nations rising and falling. Sometimes it's overwhelming to think about- but i don't think I'd really understand this country if i didn't attempt to understand its battles.

snow- sleeping at last. one of the best songs i've ever heard.

Well, it's officially 6:30, time to letter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Why was Churchill so mistrusted before 1940? My tutorial essay. Dr. Lemay liked it!!

It is not in question that Winston Churchill was a great man- but insofar as greatness is concerned, I believe those same traits that raised him above ordinary men can also be attributed to all of his failures. During the course of his political career until 1940, he moved from failure to failure, outspoken, extreme, and disliked and mistrusted by many. He was always acknowledged as brilliant and eloquent, but he was not liked. This change from mistrusted politician to one of the greatest men of the 20th century, I propose, was not a change in the man himself, but rather due to a change on the face of Europe.
           Mistrust is not always evoked by poor decisions, although Churchill made some poor decisions. Mistrust is a feeling rather than a logical, proven judgment of someone’s character. The peoples’ mistrust of Churchill had less to do with his policies (although they did pave the way for some poor decisions) and more to do with his lack of commitment to a party, and his self-assurance against all others and quite frankly, his attitude. Churchill never doubted himself, and consequently jumped from party to party depending on which most fell in line with what he had personally decided was the right choice. He felt no loyalty to his aristocratic heritage, his party, or any set of beliefs widely held by politicians or the public. Instead, he pursued what his own brilliant intellect predicted would happen.  In cases where he was in error, this made him seem bold, ridiculous, and extreme. His speeches, which matched the needs of the people in WWII, felt out of place on issues in which people did not strongly agree. Still he spoke on, bold denouncing and insulting anyone who stood in the way of what he believed.
In the case of the rise of Nazism, his outspokenness made him fiercely diligent to distrust Hitler and declare that another war would come. The people of Briton were feeling the effects of depression and still very much remembered the first world war, and most refused to see the implications of Hitler’s Germany until it would have been far too late for action. Churchill’s defiant trust in his own keen insight was his demolition on issues such as the Dardanelles defeat during WWI, and of Indian home rule, and yet allowed him unprecedented authority in 1940.
In order to adequately understand why the British people mistrusted Churchill, it is worth examining why they trusted him - and trusted him immensely during the course of World War II. The characteristic of defiant self-appreciation, which made party lines, bloodlines, and most men below his gaze, was precisely the kind of thing that could lead Briton to victory. Brilliant as he was, he was remarkably unquestioning of himself- and so, when men listened to him they did not question.
I was once told that great men see what other men do not see. I find no better example of this than the life of Winston Churchill. The man was brilliant, and the fact was not in question. However, great political leaders are required to posses more than sight - they are required to possess strength. Churchill is not a man who it can be said did everything with accuracy, but he did everything with the belief that he was accurate, and that is what marks him. Churchill’s belief in himself dominated all other personal characteristics throughout his life. His authoritativeness superseded commitment to the position of aristocracy he was born into, political parties and the ties of any current thought. It is a remarkable human spirit that can navigate the waters of his own society. There is nothing more untrustworthy to a people than a politician who will not settle- who constantly changes his party depending on who best sides with his view, who constantly stirs up trouble with bold and offensively direct speeches and ideas. In not all situations was he correct, but he possessed keen insight into history, which enabled him, often, to accurately assess the future of Europe. Churchill was undoubtedly in the right place at the right time in 1940. When England was forced to face a war more horrible than seemed possible, Churchill stepped in. He spoke boldly and confidently of success, he was born for times of war and expected to have complete authority, which gave the average man listening to his words courage to hope.  It is a special kind of genius that fears no man in speaking a truth no man wants to hear, but it is no little thing that even the Israelites stoned their prophets.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sir Winston and I: thoughts on the tutorial system

I am studying Winston Churchill for my tutorial. For those of you unfamiliar with the Oxford system, let me do a bit of explaining. Instead of attending lectures, the Oxford student attends tutorials. Tutorials are one-on-one's with Oxford Dons for an hour a week. Mine is at my Don's house and his wife serves us tea.  A typical tutorial goes something like this: you defend your essay from the previous week for an hour, at the end of which the Don gives you a list of books to read and a new essay topic, which you prepare for the next week.

Needless to say, this system is absolutely brilliant for a former homeschooler. This is how I learn.

Winston and I have been fighting it out. I'm on my third cup of tea and I haven't moved for around 2 hours.
I'm working on the idea of leadership, exemplified in Winston Churchill's life. One of our speakers said "great men see what other men do not see." but i'm beginning to think that great leaders also act when other men do not act. Winston had brilliant perception, but more than that, he was fearless. He felt no ties to any party, any belief system other than his own head. While this created a great mistrust for him in the British people before 1940, it allowed him the unique ability to grasp hope and to act against the tyrannous storm gathering in Germany when many men felt helpless.

soup time.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

windsor castle and WWI

I'm overwhelmed by the amount of beauty around me. It is perfected by the books that I have to come home and read every night. consequently stayed up for two hours reading Winston Churchill last night. When I read his description of the start of WWI i stood at my window and cried. It could be the jetlag, because i'm usually not that sentimental. But I don't think we Americans know the meaning of war. 
The beauty and history of Windsor Castle, of the streets of Oxford, are matched just as equally by the great words I am reading. 
I would very much like to go to school here.

Friday, June 1, 2012


I have been in Oxford since tuesday night but it feels like a lifetime. Today was our first real day of classes. The other two days before were nonstop orientation lectures, tours, sightseeing and general overwhelming. I met with G. H. L. Lemay, my tutorial professor, for the first time today. It was really wonderful. He's let me BORROW one of his books to read for the week. I'm studying Winston Churchill with him, and I'm attending C. S. Lewis lectures every day.

I just had soup and tea and crumpets with the girls I'm living with. really wonderful girls who are also in the C. S. Lewis programme. I would write more but at the moment everything seems wonderful and I don't know if I'm up to the challenge of describing the beauty and the history all around me. Oxford is everything I ever wanted in school. It's already going to be hard to leave.

ps- when I told Lemay about how much of Oxford I've been shown in a few days he said "Oh that's no good. Oxford has to be nibbled, you know."