hymns work better than sermons — 9/16/15

Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer

Author: Scott H. Hendrix
Publisher: Yale University Press
Copyright 2015 Yale University
Pages 198-199

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Steve Martin Tries to Write

Today’s encore selection – from Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. A young Steve Martin, still struggling for even modest success and confronted by the striking originality of contemporary comedians Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Lenny Bruce and Tom Lehrer realizes that he will have to try to write original material to succeed:
“In logic class, I opened my textbook — the last place I was expecting to find comic inspiration — and was startled to find that Lewis Carroll, the supremely witty author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was also a logician. He wrote logic textbooks and included argument forms based on the syllogism, normally presented in logic books this way:
All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.
Lewis Carroll self portrait

“But Carroll’s were more convoluted and they struck me as funny in a new way:

1) Babies are illogical.
2) Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile.
3) Illogical persons are despised.
Therefore, babies cannot manage crocodiles.
“And:
1) No interesting poems are unpopular among people of real taste.
2) No modern poetry is free from affectation.
3) All your poems are on the subject of soap bubbles.
4) No affected poetry is popular among people of taste.
5) Only a modern poem would be on the subject of soap bubbles.
Therefore, all your poems are uninteresting.
“These word games bothered and intrigued me. Appearing to be silly nonsense, on examination they were absolutely logical — yet they were still funny. The comedy doors opened wide, and Lewis Carroll’s clever fancies from the nineteenth century expanded my notion of what comedy could be. I began closing my show by announcing, ‘I’m not going home tonight; I’m going to Bananaland, a place where only two things are true, only two things: One, all chairs are green; and two, no chairs are green.’ Not at Lewis Carroll’s level, but the line worked for my contemporaries and I loved implying that the one thing I believed in was contradiction.”
Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life

Author: Steve Martin
Published: Scribner a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Copyright 2007 by 40 Share Productions, Inc.
Pages: 74-75

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All delanceyplace profits are donated to charity and support children’s literacy projects.

Later Never Comes

O when the tables turn

As a meal is served

It is proclaimed

The earth a stage

That later never cometh

To be given peace and promise

And hope for another day

Night doth fall upon it

And none shall see at all

Keep thy words short

For a siren’s spell is certain

Calling from the rocks

Even those built by man

O heaven! O earth!

Hear my cry and see me

Late shall never be

It is as always hath been, they sayeth

But, lo, this is false

Time shalt heal

Even as it strips away

Ever silent; forever speaking

Later never cometh

For the lowest slave

Nor the highest king

Speaketh again, do I

Her voice beckons

And she giveth no answer

Trainwreck

You fascinate me

Who do you think you are?

You’re sick. You’re beautiful.

You were the light at the end of my tunnel

I condemn that!

That train derailed and killed a thousand souls

I was each aboard

You were the engineer of my destruction

You switched tracks

You fool! You traitor!

Too weak to try, you tried so hard

So hard to hammer the nail

Thor and John Henry still speak of it

I hear they kept on talking until last May

You know, you hear them all the time

Some ghost on the road

Some hobo with a cardboard sign

The poor shall always be with you!

The wretched knock on your door

What else can I say?

Who in the depths of the underworld would know?

To the heights of heaven, no answer came to me

I am another prophet without honor

Let me take notes

These will be read a thousand years or more from now

Each line another recitation

Of another soul waiting for its triumph

Facsimile

O, how the mighty fall to rise again.

Tell me a story of the greatest man

And I will speak of him no more

Testify to those less fortunate

That all men stain the battlefield

Even from abroad having not taken arms

Deny! They say, and none the wiser.

Old and grey, pathetic miser

With a bald head, now for seven years.

Laugh if you must, at this sage

We all will likewise become with age.

Or perhaps we live forever still

Hill over hill

Filling up my mind and memory

Maiming my magnificent mental masterpiece.

Oh, no, I cannot be certain

When mortal coil burns out

Or time to open the curtain

On stages not yet spoken about.

Untitled

Where did I go wrong?
And yet so much else is right
On faith alone I took a step
And nothing but love has followed
It has shown me pains
That which make past mistakes
Almost seem joyous
But still I feel guilt
That I don’t do more
That I can’t do more
Or if I ever will do more
What then can I say?
I love deeply and it is returned
No luxury in the world is worth more