Posted by: Jim E | May 17, 2013

Creativity And Confidence…Language And John Muir…And America…

When the Bible was translated into the common tongue of the English people, many Bible words, phrases, expressions and references quickly became assimilated into the English language and are still used today…many of them are used by people who have no idea where they came from…

Some examples: “the apple of my eye” Psalms 17:8…”the salt of the earth” Matthew 5:13…”a Plumb Line Amos 7little bird told me” Ecclesiastes 10:20…”old wives’ tales” I Timothy 4:7…”to escape by the skin of your teeth” Job 19:19-20…”the writing’s on the wall” Daniel 5:5-6…”a plumb line” Amos 7:7-8…and many, many more…Shakespeare is full of references and so are speeches all the way from Churchill to most of our presidents…

These few examples do not scratch the surface of how many words and parts of speech have been incorporated into our everyday language…I know our kids grew up memorizing scripture…and though we tried to let them know how important it was to know the Bible…they may not have thought about at the time how they would be able to recognize and use the Bible throughout the written and spoken language…

Lincoln, AbrahamCreativity is so important in our lives…writers and artists of all kinds were weened on the Bible and Shakespeare…I have used this before in talking about Lincoln…“Knowing the Bible chapter and verse, the entire text, knowing Shakespeare, these sort of classic literary roots that are as fundamental to the way so many literary Americans were educated in the 19th Century…he had that language, this rapturous, religious, rhetorical set of images that he has at his fingertips.”…and you can look at authors trained in the 1800’s and into the 1900’s…all trained in this way…and I believe that it promotes creativity and confidence in living life itself…

Judie is reading for book club, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith, written in 1943…a very popular American novel…in it the main character talks about the basis of her education…the Bible and Shakespeare…it’s what most refer to as part of a classical education…and that is what I am talking about in this post…whether it was Lincoln, Muir or Betty Smith…all had this base in their education and it is wonderful how they spoke and how they wrote…“this rapturous, religious, rhetorical set of images that he has at his fingertips.”…

Not long ago, our National Parks were spotlighted on PBS…and John Muir was covered extensively…he also came from the same background…growing up he memorized all or most of the New Muir, JohnTestament…now whether that was good in all ways I am not here to say…but he was educated in much the same way as I described above…one of his quotes: “The mountains are fountains of men, as well as of rivers, of glaciers, of fertile soil. The great poets, philosophers, prophets, able men whose thoughts and deeds have moved the world, have come down from the mountains, mountain dwellers who have grown strong there with the forest trees in Nature’s workshops.”…creative language drawn from his education and background…

I was reading just yesterday a conservation magazine and John Muir was mentioned…a story he told many times but then wrote it down…using the training and language he learned from the Bible and Shakespeare, he wrote about hiking on a glacier and coming to a crevasse…the story is called “Stickeen”…that was the dog’s name that traveled with him…it’s a great story and you can read it online if you wish…but as they came to the crevasse, Muir decided to cross in a dangerous way…across a thin ice bridge over a “dismal, merciless abyss,”...he urged the dog to follow…finally, “after running back and forth in vain search for a way of escape…moaning and wailing as if in the bitterness of death,” the dog crossed…and I will copy/paste the scene after he crossed…what a story…

stickeen-john-muir-paperback-cover-artAnd now came a scene! “Well done, well done, little boy! Brave boy!” I cried, trying to catch and caress him; but he would not be caught. Never before or since have I seen anything like so passionate a revulsion from the depths of despair to exultant, triumphant, uncontrollable joy. He flashed and darted hither and thither as if fairly demented, screaming and shouting, swirling round and round in giddy loops and circles like a leaf in a whirlwind, lying down, and rolling over and over, sidewise and heels over head, and pouring forth a tumultuous flood of hysterical cries and sobs and gasping mutterings. When I ran up to him to shake him, fearing he might die of joy, he flashed off two or three hundred yards, his feet in a mist of motion; then, turning suddenly, came back in a wild rush and launched himself at my face, almost knocking me down. all the while screeching and screaming and shouting as if saying, “Saved! saved! saved!” Then away again, dropping suddenly at times with his feet in the air, trembling and fairly sobbing. Such passionate emotion was enough to kill him. Moses’ stately song of triumph after escaping the Egyptians and the Red Sea was nothing to it. Who could have guessed the capacity of the dull, enduring little fellow for all that most stirs this mortal frame? Nobody could have helped crying with him!

Well, you get the picture…such language…descriptive, enduring, heartfelt…there is more to the story…more about “Stickeen” the small dog, worthless in the beginning of the trip…but unforgettable in the end…

And because of writing like that…I always have encouraged creativity because it almost alwaysCreativity develops confidence…music, reading, memorizing, love of art, color, nature…all these things help us to develop confidence…but always with creativity must come diligence…discipline of the mind so we can remember what we have read, seen and experienced…and I have found that Bible memory is an important part of that…knowing where it is and what it means and how it applies…is a large part of Confidencememorization…

But  in the end…creativity and confidence sprout from this kind of education…Susie, in a story I just heard will illustrate my point: The teacher told the class, “I want you all to draw a picture.”…the teacher walked around the classroom and stopped at Susie’s desk…”What are you drawing?”, she asked. Susie replied, “I’m drawing a picture of God.”…”Susie,” the teacher said, “No body knows what God looks like.”…Susie said, “They will in a minute!”….

Now that is creativity and confidence…

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Responses

  1. Great history, great stories, great teaching, great encouragement, great example. Thanks Pops…for your discipline…especially of mind.

    • Jared…yup, language, words and education…all wrapped up in how we view life itself…Lincoln and Muir are two of many great examples of how a classical education can help you through life itself…and within that life, produce great things…but underneath, still, is that education that keeps coming through…reference after reference…this morning in church they sang “Before the Throne of God Above”…written by Charities Lees Smith in 1863…called “The Advocate” when she wrote it…but we know it with probably a different style and different tune…but same words…and this morning the words “my name is graven on His Hands” hit me…I know that verse…in the Old Testament, I thought, one of the major prophets…so I came home and found it…Isaiah 49:16…then looked up online…found Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening”, November 7th morning…and he gave a little different twist…“Behold” is a word intended to excite admiration. Here, indeed, we have a theme for marveling. Heaven and earth may well be astonished that rebels should obtain so great a nearness to the heart of infinite love as to be written upon the palms of His hands. “I have graven thee.”

      It does not say, “Thy name.” The name is there, but that is not all: “I have graven thee.” See the fullness of this! I have graven your person, your image, your case, your circumstances, your sins, your temptations, your weaknesses, your wants, your works; “I have graven thee,” everything about you, all that concerns you; I have put you altogether there. Will you ever say again that your God has forsaken you when He has graven you upon His own palms?”

      What difference to look at it that way…not just our name, but us…all that we are or ever will be…just thought I would share a process of reference this morning…and how it allows us to educate ourselves more and more…Thanks…Dad…


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