Art · carry on · Identity

Keep Calm, Carry On

This is a fascinating video about the origin of the iconic poster that has had such an impact on the 21st century. One of the questions in the video is, “Why has a slogan, from a bygone era, captured our imaginations so?”

I was thinking about this after watching the video: Why does it?  “Keep calm and carry on” reminds us to keep going. As Robert Frost says, “The best way out is always through.” This simple phrase reminds us this is not the way it will always be, don’t overreact; live life and take what comes. Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes that,

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV)

“Keep calm and carry on” seems, in some ways, to be a reminder of this great truth.  Makes me think of something that has often been attributed to Solomon as well, “This too shall pass.”

All of this calm thinking got me ruminating about life and how it is always changing. In all that change there is so much that happens that we just don’t understand or is tough to slog through. Many times we are left struggling and striving in a million different directions and just wanting to pull our hair out. C.S. Lewis says this in Mere Christianity about God and his plans for our life:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course we never wanted, and never asked, to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture. How should we know what He means us to be like?…We may be content to remain what we call “ordinary people”: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility; it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or megalomania; it is obedience.

Here is another way of putting the two sides of the truth. On the one hand we must never imagine that our own unaided efforts can be relied on to carry us even through the next twenty-four hours as “decent” people. If He does not support us, not one of us is safe from some gross sin. On the other hand, no possible degree of holiness or heroism which has ever been recorded of the greatest saints is beyond what He is determined to produce in every one of us in the end. The job will not be completed in this life: but He means to get us as far as possible before death.

That is why we must not be surprised if we are in for a rough time. When a man turns to Christ and seems to be getting on pretty well (in the sense that some of his bad habits are now corrected), he often feels that it would now be natural if things went fairly smoothly. When troubles come along—illnesses, money troubles, new kinds of temptation—he is disappointed. These things, he feels, might have been necessary to rouse him and make him repent in his bad old days; but why now? Because God is forcing him on, or up, to a higher level: putting him into situations where he will have to be very much braver, or more patient, or more loving, than he ever dreamed of being before. It seems to us all unnecessary: but that is because we have not yet had the slightest notion of the tremendous thing He means to make of us…

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Remember Paul’s words in Romans, “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, keep calm and carry on as God continues to create you into something beautiful. 

Art · Books · Cormac McCarthy · Drew McWeeny · Film Nerd 2.0 · Green · Jesus · Komen · Mad Men · Marilynne Robinson · Motion/Captured · Planned Parenthood · Star Wars

Owl Post 2-17-12

Why Jesus Wants You to Lose Hope:

“In Mark 10, a young rich man eagerly comes to Jesus. He is a winner who does not want to give up trying to win. The good thing about him is that he has a desire for something more, something beyond worldly winning. He asks, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Link

Film Nerd 2.0 looks at Star Wars on Blu-Ray:

“This day has been a long time coming.
We all have landmarks by which we measure our lives and our accomplishments, goals you’ve set for yourself that you’ve either accomplished or not, and I’m certainly someone who holds film experiences very dear. The moment I knew I’d spend the rest of my life somehow involved in movies took place in a dark movie theater when I was seven years old, and it was one of those lightning bolt occasions. I felt pinned to the back of my chair as I watched a tiny blockade runner fleeing from a seemingly endless Star Destroyer that just kept coming out and over, more real than anything I had ever seen, and I’ve never wavered in my determination to be involved in storytelling somewhere, somehow.” Each one of these entries is a priceless look at sharing the things that we grew up with, with our children. Very much worth reading the read. I, II, III, IV, V, VI

Bad Art Doesn’t Exist Apart from the Good:

”I’m not trying to draw badly. I’m just trying to draw without any consideration of craft,” says David Shrigley, whose “unsteady freehand” drawings were recently featured in The New York Times Magazine. I could hear Tom Wolfe whisper in my ear, “That’s the sound of a man who wants you to think he’s unconscious of his own brilliance.” Link

The Problem With Going Green:

“A favorite trick of people who consider themselves friends of the environment is reframing luxury consumption preferences as gifts to humanity. A new car, a solar-powered swimming-pool heater, a 200-mile-an-hour train that makes intercity travel more pleasant and less expensive, better-tasting tomatoes—these are the sacrifices we’re prepared to make for the future of the planet.” Link

Cormac McCarthy: Judges in the American Canon:

David Powlison, Russell Moore, and Eugene Peterson are just a few church leaders who have recognized how literature helps us understand relationships, stories, and language. Reading opens us to worlds, experiences, and perspectives that simply can’t be explored any other way. Link

Forgiving Don Draper: 

“A laudably contrarian view of Mad Men appeared in the recent issue of The New York Review of Books by Daniel Mendelsohn, “The Mad Men Account,” raising a number of important questions before making a remarkable and even rather touching conclusion, namely, that the real subtext of the show is an attempt by boomer children to come to terms with, and maybe even forgive, their parents.” Be sure to check out the article they linked from the The New York Review of Books. Link

Komen, Planned Parenthood and You: 

“The uproar over the Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood debacle from a few weeks ago has led to a lot of dialogue about abortion, women’s health, and conscience. Few have provided better or more thoughtful analysis than Russell Moore or Ross Douthat.” Link

Marilynne Robinson, The Art of Fiction No. 198:

“When Marilynne Robinson published her first novel, Housekeeping, in 1980, she was unknown in the literary world. But an early review in The New York Times ensured that the book would be noticed. “It’s as if, in writing it, she broke through the ordinary human condition with all its dissatisfactions, and achieved a kind of transfiguration,” wrote Anatole Broyard, with an enthusiasm and awe that was shared by many critics and readers. The book became a classic, and Robinson was hailed as one of the defining American writers of our time. Yet it would be more than twenty years before she wrote another novel.” Just an amazing interview with one of America’s premiere authors. Link

Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books:

“I ended by liking Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books. I came to the conclusion, well before the final chapters, that this book has something helpful in it for all kinds of people.” I have not read this book yet, but I hope too. It does seem to promote all the things that I believe about Christians and literature. Link