Friday, January 31, 2014

Getting in Character for Christ

I am on a blogging hiatus for the time being.  So I will feature a few repeats, as we tend to do in show biz.

Here's an article from last spring about Lying, Acting, and Getting in Character for Christ.

***

Here I am stranded at a Super 8 in Western Connecticut, having driven for nine hours with the wipers on full-speed, as Maria Romine and I make our way to the Portsmouth Institute Conference through the torrential downpour of Tropical Storm Andrea - the mountain highways of Pennsylvania and New York covered with water, the huge semi's spraying us at every moment.

My prudence kicking in, I decided we'd bail out (I-84 Eastbound is a parking lot at this point anyway) and finish the trip in the morning before my 1:00 pm show.



One of the things we do to pass the time in the car is listen to the radio, and yesterday we caught a couple hours of Catholic Answers Live.

And something struck me - not a passing semi, but almost.

***

I love the work they do at Catholic Answers, but they don't always get things right, and even when they do, there's something potentially wrong about the whole mindset - as necessary as their apostolate is.

You see, it's tempting to think this is all about knowing what's on the list and checking the items off; but on the contrary, it's not about that at all.  It's about inner transformation expressing itself outwardly.  The list isn't a list, it's an indication of who Christ is and how He lives.

In other words, we're supposed to get in character, and if we don't, it doesn't work.  I've written about this before, and it makes more sense to an actor than to a normal person, so let me explain.

***

When you're an actor and you're struggling with your role, not every line you say will fit what you think your character would say.  Rehearsals become a challenge and you start blaming yourself and fretting, until suddenly - bam!  You get the character from the inside, and everything makes sense.  You then no longer have to fret about blocking or pacing, or anything else - the "read" you give all of your lines has a consistency and you actually begin to enjoy yourself on stage because you can abandon trying to work the details from the outside; the details take care of themselves and flow organically from the character you've created.

Let me show how this works - or doesn't work - in Catholic circles.

***

Scott P. Richert (of catholicism.about.com) yesterday wrote a solid piece in Crisis Magazine about Lying, in which he comes down on the side of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism of Trent, the Modern Catechism, Mark Shea, Abby Johnson, Yours Truly and
others in assenting to Church Teaching that Lying is always and everywhere wrong, and may never be done, not even for a good cause (for a comprehensive explanation on this subject, see my sticky post about Lying).

In his article, Richert notes an odd fact.  Those who are affirming Church Teaching are arguing from principle.  Those who are apologizing for Lying are arguing from anecdotes and hypotheticals.

Part of the problem is that the debate has largely been carried on at the level of anecdote and hypotheticals.  If lying is always wrong, the defenders of Live Action cry, what about the story of Rahab?  What about the Egyptian midwives?  Are you saying you would have handed Anne Frank over to the Nazis?  Do you really believe it’s wrong to tell your wife that the dress she loves doesn’t make her look fat?
Anecdotes—even ones drawn from Scripture—are material against which moral arguments can be tested, but they are not a substitute for moral theology.  And—it cannot be stressed enough—no single anecdote, or even a series of anecdotes, even ones drawn from Scripture, is sufficient to prove a moral argument false.  When Augustine and Thomas Aquinas fleshed out their cases for why lying is always wrong, they had to deal with the stories of Rahab and the Egyptian midwives, and they did.  (Both, Aquinas argues, were rewarded for their faithfulness to God, not for their deception.)  But their arguments against lying (and the Catholic argument in general) start, not with anecdotes or hypotheticals, but with first principles: You cannot do evil that good may come of it (cf. Romans 3:8); the Devil is the Father of Lies (cf. John 8:44); you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free (cf. John 8:32).

And so one of the most confounding elements of the debate on Lying is how even when we argue from first principles revealed by God and taught infallibly by the Catholic Church, our opponents respond with an endless stream of examples that side-step the proofs we've provided.

***

But what does this have to do with Catholic Answers?  Is it simply that Catholic Answers tends to err on the side of the Lying Apologists, or that their staff fails to provide the caveat that the theological answers they give are potentially fallible, being but the opinions of theologians and commentators - who, although admittedly orthodox (more or less), are sometimes speculating on certain issues; for, speculate they must, given the variety of  questions they receive?

And what does this have to do with Acting and getting in character?

I'll answer both questions with this: YOU'RE A PHARISEE!

That's the most common accusation we receive from the Defenders of Lying.

But it's really exactly the opposite.  My fellow defenders of Church Teaching and I are attempting to think with the mind of the Church, to "get in character" with Christ.  This doesn't mean we're holy or that we're better Christians than the Lying Apologists (in areas that don't involve defending Lying); what it means is there's an approach to Christian Life that apparently most Catholics don't get.

You see, it's not about checking items off a list.  It's not about, "What may I do and what may I not do if I'm a Christian?  What may I believe and what may I not believe?"  That question is certainly important - which is why Catholic Answers provides such a vital service - but if that's you're whole approach as a Christian, you're coming about it from the wrong end.

It's when you nitpick about what does and does not constitute "lying", or about (for instance) what is and is not crossing the line with lust or pornography, or about what is and is not an act of torture - it's when you do such things that you're being a Pharisee (cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside is filthy) - and you're opening yourself up to Christian Minimalism.  Thus (for example), the whole approach of trying to defend Cardinal Dolan's hypocrisy by making sure we understand it's not technically a sin is beside the point.  Christians are called to so much more than merely avoiding sin - and if that's the level we aim for, we won't even hit that.  The irony for a Christian Minimalist is that if you deliberately set the bar low, you'll find you'll always be below it, always striving even for the bare minimum, which will always be beyond your reach.  "Christian Minimalism? I aspire to reach it!"

When I was an atheist teenager, boys wanted to date the girls from the Catholic high school in town because that was exactly the attitude of some Catholic girls - if something wasn't technically a sin, they would do it - and they were able to rationalize anything shy of "going all the way" as being technically a chaste act of virginity.

This is what comes from seeing life in Christ as hitting marks on a checklist.  Faith becomes external; morality becomes lax; the standards are lowered; and we find we have no interior transformation, for we are not cooperating with God's grace to "get in character".

***

Let me leave you with this (for the Chinese delivery Maria ordered is almost here at the Super 8) - when Abby Johnson, who has been through so much transformation in her life - from Planned Parenthood Director to Pro-life advocate - from adamantly pro-abortion zealot to faithful Catholic - when Abby yesterday publicly announced that she does not personally support Lying or any other sin that might advance the pro-life cause, she said she did so after months of prayer on this very issue.

Ask yourself this - why the prayer?  Why the desire to pray?  Why the transformation?

This is not about hitting the mark or aiming for the bare minimum.  It's about getting in character.

And the character is Christ.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Lying about Chesterton

Deacon Jim Russell is trolling the internet claiming that G. K. Chesterton supported lying for a good cause.

He bases this on a Chesterton quotation taken entirely out of context which I addressed three years ago, and the points I made then Deacon Russell continues to ignore now.

In brief ...

The entire point of Chesterton’s quote and of the English tradition since the execution of the Jesuit martyrs is that equivocation is wrong because it is lying about lying; it is a double lie. Equivocation is not wrong because lying is right; equivocation is wrong because lying is wrong, and to play games with words is to lie twice.

Read what Chesterton actually said about lying here.

And please pray for people who get sucked in to the irrationality that rules most of the internet.

Personally, I need a break.

***

And, by the way, something else that Deacon Russell and the "We Like Lying" crowd have ignored for years is the mass of evidence that the Ordinary Magisterium has settled this issue - the vast case against Lying and for Honesty that you can read here. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Character in our next Murder Mystery

The show is Pretty Woman of Death, which premieres Feb. 1.  For our online calendar of performances click here.

Me as Robin.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Friday, January 10, 2014

Shut Up and Love?

Kevin wearing Dale's hat; Dale wearing Kevin's hat.

Today I had Dale Ahlquist in my kitchen at 8:00 in the morning, so I decided to talk theology.

Over toast and tea (Dale) and soggy Raisin Bran (me), I said ...

Dale, how are we to love?  What should our response be if our love is rejected?  Our Lord tells us to shake the dust off our feet if the message we give is not received.  And we are called to be detached from the world, but what is the meaning of the longing in our hearts and what is the meaning of the pain that a lack of a just response engenders?  I asked a friend this question and her answer was, in effect, "Shut up and love" - love without worrying about being loved back.  But that sounds a bit stoic to me - a kind of grin and bear it.  It sounds like an ideal, but like something other than the Christian ideal.

"Kevin," Dale answered, "All of the virtues fit together.  Love is not just a feeling or an attitude you give without prudence or temperance or fortitude being in the mix.  It's a question of the stewardship of love."

***

This rich interplay of virtue, this complex and mature thing that grace builds, is what the Protestant Revolt dismantled.  And so even in our Catholic parishes we hear all about love, but nothing about how love operates among adults in the real world, about how all of the virtues support one another in a hierarchy that serves to build up love.

And so we get love divorced from prudence or temperance or even common sense, and we end up with a sham, a hollow parody of love.

***

Dale spoke at St. Louis Marian Conference tonight, and will speak more tomorrow (Sat. Jan. 11), when he tells his conversion story at 1:00 pm.  If you're near St. Louis, be sure to come!



Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Vacuum at the Heart of the Vortex

"Professional Catholic" Mark Shea rightly condemns Professional Demagogue Michael Voris for promoting the work of antisemites and geocentrists.

Let me explain what this is all about.  I'll use shorter words.
Michael Voris.  The bad hair doesn't bother me;
what bothers me is what's underneath.

Michael Voris is not content (as Shea points out) with

denouncing the errors and gutless cowardice of such menaces as Fr. Father Robert Barron and such dangerous men as Karl Keating, Jimmy Akin, Al Kresta and similar wolves in sheep’s clothing

... he now gives exposure to folks who believe that modern science is all wrong and who believe that the Jews are a menace to society.

***

Let us learn a few things here.

As I point out in Mark's comment box ...

The fact is that Voris has been fueling the fires of schism, fanning the flames of the irrational, and feeding the furnace of wrath for years now. His engine keeps chugging along, but the track leads nowhere.

But that can be hard to see, even now when Voris goes all in to play to the small but intense demographic of extremists who support him.  Even something as insane and unbalanced as geocentrism and antisemitism can be made to "go down smooth."

You see, in the internet age, it's very easy for crackpots to sound normal.

For instance, the first comment on Voris' video of the interview in question is from some yokel who ignores the evidence and flatly asserts that the Big Bang is an anti-Christian Pagan myth grafted onto science.  This appears in black and white right along side everything else.  It's on the internet so it must be true.  It's an example of an uninformed mind waving the banner of his ignorance.  (But then, so is Michael Voris.)

A generation ago, such a comment would have been filtered out from the Letters to the Editor section of your local paper, to spare the writer embarrassment if nothing else.  But now such things gain a kind of currency.  When the same machine (your laptop) tells you with the same electronic glow that Christ died for our sins and that the universe physically revolves around the Earth; that science is right about the winter storm approaching but wrong about the evidence that indicates the Big Bang (a theory first suggested by a Jesuit priest, incidentally); that your friends are all on Facebook and that male enhancement pills really work - it's difficult to stay sane.  Even television feeds us mostly lies.  The internet is worse because the internet has no filter.  Truth and falsehood come at us from all directions - the simple and the mundane get mixed in with the bizarre, the insane and the horribly angry and dangerous.

***

Voris' whole technique is indeed a dead end, a one way track.  The Vortex creates a low pressure system that sucks everything into its vacant and vapid path.  An irrational anger that responds even to legitimate grievances, if indulged and cultivated, is toxic.  It leads to geocentrism, Jew hating and paranoia.  It leads to hell on earth.

(NB: Voris and his followers will issue the denial, "This is just an exposure of ideas, not an endorsement!"  Don't buy that for a second.  This vortex is simply a death spiral.)



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Having No Faith in Our Faith

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed (ἐπίστευσαν) in his name.
But Jesus did not trust (ἐπίστευεν) himself unto them because he knew all men  (John 2:23-24)

The same root word in Greek is used to signify both the faith professed by the people in Jerusalem who are impressed by the signs performed by Jesus, and the thing Jesus will not offer in return.

They offer some sort of faith in His name, but He has no faith in this faith, as it were.

John explains why in the next verse ...

and [Jesus] didn't need anyone to tell him about human nature. He knew what people were really like. (John 2:25)

Knowing their hearts  - even without being told - Jesus knows that their faith is not such that He could entrust Himself to them.  Indeed, neither could Jesus count on the faith of His closest disciples, who all abandoned Him in His hour of need.

So He keeps a wise reserve.

Jesus, you see, is not a publicity hound.

He is not like us actors who think that applause = love.

He knows man better than that.

(Here Roxie Hart explains the psychology of show business - kid.  There's a bit of profanity if you watch it to the end.)


Fifty Shades of Selfish

Let's call him "Chad Withers", the Sensitive Actor

I once hired an actor.  Let's call him Chad Withers.  That's not his real name.

He did a fairly decent job for Upstage Productions, but one Christmas season, he got very angry at us for not giving him the number of shows to perform that he thought he was entitled to.  So he quit.  He quit after he had already agreed to perform some gigs - leaving me to clean up his mess, re-cast the shows he had agreed to do, and cover for him.

About a year later, he called and apologized.

This was a first for me.  I mean, who calls and apologizes for something they once did?  When is the last time that's happened to you?  People just aren't sorry for the bad things they've done, and if they are, they're embarrassed about them, so they keep their mouths shut.

Of course, Chad wanted something from me.  The apology had a point to it.  He wanted me to hire him back.

***

Now here's where it gets tricky.  We, as Christians, are required to forgive.  And at the very least that means that we are obligated to give up thoughts of revenge or of getting even.  We are called to let it go.  But does it mean we must restore a person who's harmed us to a place of trust where he or she will have the opportunity to harm us again?  Well, that becomes a question of prudence - which means it's a judgment call.

In this case, I decided to err on the side of indulgence, so I hired him back.

And you can almost guess the rest of the story.

He not only screwed us again, he did so big time.

I told him I was going to cast him in the spring season of Theater of the Word shows.  He told me that would work for him, for he was hoping to get bookings in the fall for a one-man show he had put together on his own, and he needed work in the meantime.  I made him promise me that he would commit to the spring season of Theater of the Word shows no matter what - that once he had accepted these gigs he would stick to them, and that after the season ended we would discuss future bookings, depending on whether or not his one-man show took off.

***

So a week before our long tour began to the Great Plains, he left me a voice message.  In a kind of smug and self-righteous tone he told me that he had gotten some last minute bookings for his one-man show that would conflict with the Theater of the Word tour that was a week away, and so he was backing out.  He thanked me for my time and hung up.

I was furious.

I had to cancel some local gigs that had been scheduled for that same week which Chad had agreed to do, but Kaiser Johnson agreed to step in from Hollywood and bail me out, taking the two-dozen or so shows that made up the Great Plains Tour and the Ohio tour that immediately followed that - and learning all of his lines and blocking at the last minute - saving our skin.

From the basement where we run the businesses, I called our other cast members and told them what had happened.  "I feel like somebody walked into this basement with a bomb strapped to his body and blew himself up," I said.

***

Now this is a pretty awful thing for an actor to do.

But friends have done worse.  Even family has done worse.

Most relationships are like this.  Most people are interested in us because we're useful.  Chad apologized to me and wormed his way back into my good graces not because he was legitimately sorry, but because he wanted something from me.

He was particularly selfish, particularly heedless of the consequences of his actions.  Most people would have more compunction than he did.  It didn't bother him a bit that he was making a selfish decision that effected the lives of three other actors, dozens of clients, and hundreds of potential audience members.  He didn't care that the bomb he had strapped to himself was going off around other living human beings.

Chad was at the far end of the spectrum, but if sacrificial love is white and use and abuse of others is black, most friends and acquaintances are fifty shades of gray.

***

So it's naive of me to think that by giving an actor a break, he'll respond with gratitude and good will.  It's naive of us actors to think that by being entertaining or funny we'll not only be useful to people, but that people will like us.  It's naive of us humans to think that any relationship - business or personal - moves much beyond the stroking of mutual self-interest.

That's the way the world works.

But we are not of this world.  We are called to something greater than the mutual masturbation of using one another to address our selfish needs.

We are called to love - and that's an entirely different thing.








Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Shaw on Youth

Timon of Athens Speaks

Some days it's all Herod and almost no Jesus.

A sad and ugly truth: if you have two or three loyal friends in a life of eighty years, you are blessed beyond measure.  If one of them is your wife, you have nothing to complain about.

Otherwise, people will like you only when you are useful to them.

If we could stop expecting love from the world, we would be so much happier - we would be free and able to serve God; we would embrace betrayal like a warm and loving friend, for we would see that betrayal is the face of man, it is our neighbor at his most genuine: it is, in fact, as King Lear learned, our very sons and daughters.  And we would be free to love him as he is - our neighbor, the ugliest of creatures.  In loving our neighbor, we would be loving one who would never pay us back; indeed in loving our neighbor we would be loving our enemy, our enemy who would turn on us the moment we became inconvenient to him - and who eventually will.  For our usefulness to him is of the world and won't last that long.

We may give our legs in a war to keep Ruby free, she won't stick around for some gimp in a wheelchair who can't get it up, once we get out of the VA hospital and wind up at home.  Ruby has her needs, you know.  She'll take her love to town.  The way of the world.

Let God be true though every man a liar - Rom. 3:4

Well, let us, then, be true to God and stand as a sign of contradiction to the liars who encircle us.   The world is the child of the Lie, and we are not of the world.

But it sometimes takes the loss of the value of your portfolio for you to see that.  Fair weather friends fly as soon as the barometer plummets.  Before that happens we are investing in the wrong things - and we are fooling ourselves.

Timon has lots of friends when he is rich.
But they desert him when his portfolio crashes, and he ends up like this - cynical but wiser.



Ready to Change

Fellow Sinner, are you struggling with sins that you just can't give up?  Force of habit is a strong thing, but you yourself know that habit is not the whole story, that you enjoy sinning.  Of course you do.  We all do.  Why else would we sin if it weren't somehow fun or rewarding to us?  You may realize intellectually that your sin harms you in the long run, but you calculate that the immediate pay off is better than the long term pay out.  That sounds a bit harsh, but it's really true.  There is a kind of calculation going on here.

Alice Boyes writes ...

Change Happens When You're Ready? We often hear "Change will happen when you're ready". In my more than 20 years of experience [as a psychologist], I've come to understand that "ready"--or the tipping point of change--often means 'when the consequences of our behavior outweigh the value of that behavior to us'. In other words, when the pay out (consequence) becomes greater than the pay back (value) we are prompted by circumstance to change what we are doing. This perspective can apply to anything from self-care, to relationship, to addiction. Of course, we then confront the question, "Are we willing to change?"

There's a benefit, then, from being miserable.  If you are suffering some painful consequence of your own sin, realize that this is a great grace, and that this judgment is maybe the only thing that will ever lead you to repentance.



You Too can be "Shameful without Shame"!

Kevin Tierney at Catholic Exchange has written his best post yet on the Theology of the Body, correcting the sex-saturated pop-Catholic misinterpretations of it.

Kevin's article is about shame.

The Westians want us all to be "naked without shame" - as if that were a good thing.

It is a shame that Tierney has to instruct us on shame.  It is a shame that shame is presented as a thing that is entirely negative by Catholics who should know better.  It is a shame that these same Catholics are so ignorant not only of human nature but also of holy Scripture that they don't recognize how shameful we fallen men actually are.

Tierney alludes to Sirach 4:21

There is a sense of shame laden with guilt, and a shame that merits honor and respect.

or, in another translation

for there is a shame that leads to sin and a shame that is honourable and gracious. 

... which reminds me of 2 Cor. 7:10

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.

And in so far as the Westians are addressing the kind of shame laden with self-loathing that brings us to the sin of despair, they are right in counseling against it.  But their program is not that; they want us to be "naked without shame" - in other words to overcome the shame that "is honorable and gracious".

The Greek word for shame that appears in Sirach 4:21 is the same word for shame that Christ uses in rebuking the Laodecians in Rev. 3:18, instructing them to put on the white garments of a Christian "so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen".

Is Our Lord a Puritan, a repressive Manichean?  Hasn't He read Christopher West?

Apparently not.  The remedy for shame, according to Jesus Christ, is not to remain naked, but to be clothed.  Yes, this clothing is symbolic, but Our Lord does not say, "Laodecians, be naked without shame!" but "Laodecians, let me clothe you!"

Nakedness, in Scripture, from the Fall of Man on, is always shameful or at least embarrassing.  If we don't feel that shame, there's something wrong with us, for shame is not merely a subjective thing, but an objective reality.  When we feel shame for shameful things, our reason is in accord with reality.  

But for modern man, it's not enough to be ashamed regarding the shameful; we insist on being proud of shameful things. "Gay pride" is one example ("Perverted without shame!"), the "Prosperity Gospel" that encourages us to look to worldly rewards is another ("Greedy without shame!").  All of these programs are simply elaborate exercises in placating that nagging thing that causes a sense of shame, the voice of God within us, our conscience.

But St. Paul talked about this long ago - using the same Greek word for shame that appears in Sirach and Revelations.

Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (Phil. 3:19)

***

Images of nakedness abound in Scripture.  After the Fall, nakedness is always a thing to be remedied, because it is an image of the essential vulnerability and ridiculousness of man.

Perhaps the most memorable image of nakedness occurs on the most horrible night in history.  When Our Lord is arrested in the Garden, one of his disciples, wearing only a linen cloth, is seized by the thugs, but slips away ...

he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. (Mark 14:52)

And when Jesus is crucified, He is first stripped of His garments (one of the most heart-wrenching
Stations of the Cross).

And so behold the man - naked and pursued by a bloodthirsty mob (Mark 15:52), exposed and crucified for the sins of humanity (Mat. 27:35).

To deny the shame - indeed the ignominy - of our nakedness (which is to say of our essential sinfulness and vulnerability) is to glory in the very thing that should lead us to humility.




Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Greatest Shaw on Earth

Here I am as George Bernard Shaw promoting Blackbird Theater's upcoming production of Man and Superman.  If you're anywhere near Nashville, Tennessee - go and see this show!



Friday, January 3, 2014

Poems for Grunky Book Club

Click here for information on the Grunky Book Club.

We will be discussing these poems at our first meeting.



Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.
Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the A gaean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


The House of Christmas

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home. 

A Ballad of Theatricals


Though all the critics' canons grow-
Far seedier than the actors' own-
Although the cottage-door's too low-
Although the fairy's twenty stone-
Although, just like the telephone,
She comes by wire and not by wings,
Though all the mechanism's known-
Believe me, there are real things.

Yes, real people-even so-
Even in a theatre, truth is known,
Though the agnostic will not know,
And though the gnostic will not own,
There is a thing called skin and bone,
And many a man that struts and sings
Has been as stony-broke as stone . . .
Believe me, there are real things

There is an hour when all men go;
An hour when man is all alone.
When idle minstrels in a row
Went down with all the bugles blown-
When brass and hymn and drum went down,
Down in death's throat with thunderings-
Ah, though the unreal things have grown,
Believe me, there are real things.

ENVOY.

Prince, though your hair is not your own
And half your face held on by strings,
And if you sat, you'd smash your throne-
-Believe me, there are real things.