“We would all appear to have speed lines trailing behind us as we rush along the road of the world”

In the club car that morning I had my notebook
open on my lap and my pen uncapped,
looking every inch the writer
right down to the little writer’s frown on my face,

but there was nothing to write
about except life and death
and the low warning sound of the train whistle.

I did not want to write about the scenery
that was flashing past, cows spread over a pasture,
hay rolled up meticulously—
things you see once and will never see again.

But I kept my pen moving by drawing
over and over again
the face of a motorcyclist in profile—

for no reason I can think of—
a biker with sunglasses and a weak chin,
leaning forward, helmetless,
his long thin hair trailing behind him in the wind.

I also drew many lines to indicate speed,
to show the air becoming visible
as it broke over the biker’s face

the way it was breaking over the face
of the locomotive that was pulling me
toward Omaha and whatever lay beyond Omaha
for me and all the other stops to make

before the time would arrive to stop for good.
We must always look at things
from the point of view of eternity,

the college theologians used to insist,
from which, I imagine, we would all
appear to have speed lines trailing behind us
as we rush along the road of the world,

as we rush down the long tunnel of time—
the biker, of course, drunk on the wind,
but also the man reading by a fire,

speed lines coming off his shoulders and his book,
and the woman standing on a beach
studying the curve of horizon,
even the child asleep on a summer night,

speed lines flying from the posters of her bed,
from the white tips of the pillowcases,
and from the edges of her perfectly motionless body.

“Velocity,” by Billy Collins

Sundry Dinner for April 19

Devout hero: Might Southwest pilot Tammie Jo Shults’ ‘nerves of steel’ be related to her strong faith?


Could artificial intelligence get depressed and have hallucinations? Of course. Haven’t they ever been exposed to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe?


Can We Please Stop Talking About Generations as if They Are a Thing? (David Costanza for Slate) I’ve studied generations for years. So, the complaints against the whole concept of “generations” is well founded. Still, I believe that an age cohort is influenced by their common experiences, especially experiences that happened in the formative years of late teens to early twenties.


WSJ: How to Raise More Grateful Children. A sense of entitlement is a big problem among young people today, but it’s possible to teach gratitude.


Creepy Chick-fil-A and New York(er) Values: The Shock (and Slander) are Getting Old,” a CT piece by Ed Stetzer. IMO, until the New Yorker also excoriates the city’s halal food trucks, owned and operated by people who have the same untoward traditional values, I can’t see their piece as anything other than a snooty rejection of that which is seen as Southern suburban evangelicalism.


Mind Games: The Tortured Lives of ‘Targeted Individuals’. Fascinating and sad, an article about highly intelligent people convinced they are the targets of experiments in mind control.


“While white evangelicals tend to be older, fully half of evangelicals under the age of 30 are nonwhite, and 18 percent are Latino….And these nonwhite evangelicals see politics differently than white evangelicals. While the largest plurality of white evangelicals identify as Republicans, most black evangelicals are Democrats. A plurality of evangelical Latinos, in contrast, identify as political independents — and they’re less supportive of the Democratic Party than Latinos overall — but they are still more likely to consider themselves Democrats than Republicans.” FiveThirtyEight


“Why would a Catholic Republican [Jeffrey Bell] back a Democrat [Bob Casey]? In a 1995 interview, Bell told me that he was worried many religious voters – especially evangelicals and Catholics – had already decided they had no choice but to support GOP nominees….As for evangelicals and traditional Catholics, Republican leaders “pat them on the head,” and “buy them off easy,” because cultural conservatives have few political alternatives. ‘Someday, this is going to cause BIG problems for evangelicals and conservative Catholics.’” Terry Mattingly, writing about the late Jeffrey Bell.


“That God is using Trump not as an agent of his good work but as a kind of ongoing test of everyone else’s moral character seems like a not-unreasonable inference to draw. That God would offer religious conservatives in danger of selling their souls a chance not just to step back from the brink but to literally replace Donald Trump with a fellow religious conservative — well, that seems like just the kind of opportunity that a beneficent deity would grant to erring members of his flock. And for those same religious conservatives to pass up the chance…would be a sad confirmation of the point that a beloved Christian author made many years ago: The doors of hell are locked on the inside.” Ross Douthat’s column, “Why Not Mike Pence?

Sundry Dinner for April 12


“The very places that made Austin so hip are being demolished to make room for the hotels and office spaces needed to accommodate the flood of tourists and newcomers who have come to enjoy what no longer exists.” From “God Save Austin,” an excerpt from Pulitzer Prize winner Lawrence Wright’s new book, God Save Texas.


“I’ve noticed, in my life as a doctor, that the truism is true: People die the way they’ve lived—even the demented and even, somehow, the brain-dead. The brave die bravely; the curious, with curiosity; the optimistic, optimistically. Those who are by nature accepters, accept; those who by nature fight for control die fighting for control.” Interesting quote from an interesting review of an interesting new book.


125 Conversation Starters For Virtually Any Situation. As an introvert, I like to review conversation starters like this from time to time.


Great read: Esquire’s Home. In February 2003, after the explosion of the shuttle two American astronauts aboard the International Space Station suddenly found themselves with no ride home. And things got worse from there.


American-style Buddhism is very different than what it has been historically (and what it is for millions in the rest of the world today). For example: “It’s wrong to say “Buddhism has no gods”….The religion believes in an elaborate pantheon of celestial beings [which] exercise powers beyond those of mere humans, are beseeched for favors, and ‘respond to the prayers of the devout.'” Good article.


George F. Will: Crisis Pregnancy Centers Have the Right to Remain Silent


White evangelicals are not the (only) problem: “We are told again (and again and again) that ‘80 percent of white evangelicals’ voted for Trump. But it’s also over 70 percent of Orthodox Jews, 61 percent of white Mormons, 51 percent of white Catholics, 48 percent of white mainliners.” Mark Silk


When a Survey Using Poor Methodologies Doesn’t Match Actual Experience: That Viral Study Claiming Most Young Gay Men Want Monogamy Shouldn’t Be Trusted

“Let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring”

Aragorn laid down on the long bed that had been prepared for him….Arwen…stood alone by his bed. And for all her wisdom and lineage she could not forbear to plead with him to stay yet for a while….

“Lady Undomiel,” said Aragorn, “the hour is indeed hard….I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world….”

She said, “I say to you, King of the Numenoreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.”

“So it seems,” he said. “But let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair. Behold! We are not bound for ever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory.”

(On the death of Aragorn, in the Appendix to The Lord of the Rings. The photo is of JRR Tolkien and his wife, Edith, the inspiration for his fictional characters Lúthien Tinúviel and Arwen Evenstar.)

It’s March 25: Happy New Year!

“In Gondor the New Year will always now begin upon the twenty-fifth of March when Sauron fell, and when you were brought out of the fire to the King.”

Gandalf, The Return of the King


“For centuries theologians and leaders of the church had affirmed that the key date in human history was March 25, on which date occurred the Fall itself; the angel Gabriel’s Annunciation to Mary, which heralded the birth of the One who would undo the effects of the Fall; and the Crucifixion, which defeated the forces of evil, which had been unleashed on this world by Adam’s sin. It was with these events that Dionysus Exiguus, the sixth-century monk and calendar-maker, determined that the year itself should begin on March 25, which it did throughout Europe for a very long time. It was England’s official New Year’s Day until 1752, though by that time January 1 had been celebrated by most English people for hundreds of years.”

Alan Jacobs, Original Sin, p 43.

About Tom

ANCHOR COURSE LOGO Tom Goodman is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, and he holds a doctorate from New Orleans Seminary. He has served as pastor in Louisiana, north Texas, and overseas in Grand Cayman before becoming the pastor of Hillcrest Church in Austin, Texas. Diane and Tom have been married since their days at Baylor University, and they have two sons, Michael and Stephen. Tom enjoys scuba diving, watching the latest Netflix DVD with Diane, and chasing mis-hit golf balls.