Thursday, November 30, 2017


I've long been a fan of good illustration and this exhibit is just down the street from my home.
Strange new worlds, life forms and civilizations have arrived at the Chazen Museum of Art. There are also strange old worlds, old friends and fairytales.

Fantastic Illustration from the Korshak Collection, on display through Feb. 4, includes original art from classic storybooks as well as disposable science fiction and fantasy. ....

The works are drawn from the extensive collection of Chicago native Stephen Korshak, an author, developer and attorney whose lively 94-year-old father, Erle Korshak, was a pioneering science fiction publisher. ....

Fantastic Illustration is two exhibits in one, American and European. The old world is represented by art created for lavish “gift books,” with elaborate covers and lush interior illustration. Many of the artists will be familiar to fans of children’s books: Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham and the brilliant British cartoonist William Heath Robinson.

Contemporary artist Brian Froud is perhaps best known for his Faeries book, created with Alan Lee in 1978. Gustav Doré is included, as is Disney-trained Gustag Tenggren, a Swedish-born animator who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Pinocchio. ....

American artists are best represented by magazine illustrations whose titles are less ingenious than the illustrations themselves: Marvel Science Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Fantastic Adventures, Astounding Science Fiction, Other Worlds Science Fiction. The works of James Allen St. John, Frank Frazetta and N.C. Wyeth are among the highlights, which include original cover art for Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. ....
Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee is in my library. The creature above is one of their illustations of leprechauns.

Imaginary realms - Isthmus | Madison, Wisconsin

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Don't bother to tell me how you feel about a topic

Once in an elective political science class I asked a student to defend a statement. She responded that she had a right to her opinion. I agreed but added that if she expressed her opinion aloud she should be prepared to defend it. She was offended and I had been too abrupt. Thenceforward I delivered that speech at the beginning of the semester rather than challenging an individual. I was reminded of that experience when I read this lecture by law professor Adam J. MacLeod, delivered to a class before a unit on legal reasoning. It is wonderful. From MacLeod:
Before I can teach you how to reason, I must first teach you how to rid yourself of unreason. For many of you have not yet been educated. You have been dis-educated. To put it bluntly, you have been indoctrinated. Before you learn how to think you must first learn how to stop unthinking.

Reasoning requires you to understand truth claims, even truth claims that you think are false or bad or just icky. Most of you have been taught to label things with various “isms” which prevent you from understanding claims you find uncomfortable or difficult. ....

...[E]xcept when describing an ideology, you are not to use a word that ends in “ism.” Communism, socialism, Nazism, and capitalism are established concepts in history and the social sciences, and those terms can often be used fruitfully to gain knowledge and promote understanding. “Classism,” “sexism,” “materialism,” “cisgenderism,” and (yes) even racism are generally not used as meaningful or productive terms, at least as you have been taught to use them. Most of the time, they do not promote understanding.

In fact, “isms” prevent you from learning. You have been taught to slap an “ism” on things that you do not understand, or that make you feel uncomfortable, or that make you uncomfortable because you do not understand them. But slapping a label on the box without first opening the box and examining its contents is a form of cheating. Worse, it prevents you from discovering the treasures hidden inside the box. For example, when we discussed the Code of Hammurabi, some of you wanted to slap labels on what you read which enabled you to convince yourself that you had nothing to learn from ancient Babylonians. But when we peeled off the labels and looked carefully inside the box, we discovered several surprising truths. In fact, we discovered that Hammurabi still has a lot to teach us today.

One of the falsehoods that has been stuffed into your brain and pounded into place is that moral knowledge progresses inevitably, such that later generations are morally and intellectually superior to earlier generations, and that the older the source the more morally suspect that source is. There is a term for that. It is called chronological snobbery. Or, to use a term that you might understand more easily, “ageism.” ....

...[Y]ou should not bother to tell us how you feel about a topic. Tell us what you think about it. If you can’t think yet, that’s O.K.. Tell us what Aristotle thinks, or Hammurabi thinks, or H.L.A. Hart thinks. Borrow opinions from those whose opinions are worth considering. As Aristotle teaches us in the reading for today, men and women who are enslaved to the passions, who never rise above their animal natures by practicing the virtues, do not have worthwhile opinions. Only the person who exercises practical reason and attains practical wisdom knows how first to live his life, then to order his household, and finally, when he is sufficiently wise and mature, to venture opinions on how to bring order to the political community. ....

Disagreement is not expressing one’s disapproval of something or expressing that something makes you feel bad or icky. To really disagree with someone’s idea or opinion, you must first understand that idea or opinion. When Socrates tells you that a good life is better than a life in exile you can neither agree nor disagree with that claim without first understanding what he means by “good life” and why he thinks running away from Athens would be unjust. Similarly, if someone expresses a view about abortion, and you do not first take the time to understand what the view is and why the person thinks the view is true, then you cannot disagree with the view, much less reason with that person. You might take offense. You might feel bad that someone holds that view. But you are not reasoning unless you are engaging the merits of the argument, just as Socrates engaged with Crito’s argument that he should flee from Athens. ....
It is all worth reading, perhaps especially if you are a teacher.

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Men without chests"

This is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the publication of C.S. Lewis's Abolition of Man and a collection of essays has been published in appreciation. From a review of the latter:
In Abolition of Man, Lewis takes the pseudonymous The Green Book to task for dangerous ideas which he believes will have a catastrophic cultural impact, and which will create “men without chests.” The Green Book is a primary school textbook that teaches subjectivism. Lewis’ chief concern is that children will be taught to use their heads, but not have the character to make good choices as a result of the teaching its authors put forth. In this, Lewis was on point. In fact, Lewis’ cautions are even more needed today, as his warnings 75 years ago went largely unheeded. Now we find ourselves in the situation Lewis foresaw—men afraid of making moral judgments; people who will say “this is wrong/right for me, but who am I to say it is so for someone else?” When objective truth is rejected, all foundation for virtue disappears. ....

Sunday, November 26, 2017

After you've read Tolkien...

Bradley Birzer considers "Life Beyond Tolkien" regarding what other books readers who enjoyed Tolkien might find worthwhile. Before he makes any suggestions he writes "I must make two caveats. First, almost no one has reached the literary quality of Tolkien’s writings, whether in his clever children’s stories, such as The Hobbit, or in his high fantasy, such as in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. And, second, no one has reached the imaginative quality of Tolkien’s writings, either." Quoting from Birzer, first what to avoid, and then two of his recommendations:
It should be noted that there is a lot of mediocre literature.... Indeed, there exists far more mediocre than there is the diabolic or the good. For this piece, I’ll avoid the mediocre completely. Be hot or cold, but “lukewarm, get away from me!” As to the diabolic, there are three authors that series lovers of Romantic literature should avoid: Philip Pullman, Michael Moorcock, and Stephen Donaldson, each of whom has intentionally set out to undermine, subvert, and pervert the Christian elements of Tolkienian fantasy. They are, to put it mildly, not only anti-Christian and anti-romantic, but painfully so. They’re, to be sure, quite talented, but they use their talents in ways that undermine the very gifts of truth, beauty, and goodness. ....

Of all 20th century fabulists, Ray Bradbury comes closest to equaling Tolkien’s literary and imaginative powers. Unlike his English counterpart, however, Bradbury excelled in the direct, sharp, and well-defined story. .... One of Bradbury’s best as well as his most neglected novel is his story of good and evil as represented and manifested in two young boys, Something Wicked This Way Comes. It might very well be the best Christian book written by a non-Christian in the 20th century. ....

...Russell Kirk produced some of the most powerful fiction of the last century. In terms of his short stories, one might very well imagine the power of a Bradbury with the morality of a Flannery O’Connor. These, too, deal with good and evil, though Kirk is at his best when describing noble sacrifices. His best book, however, is a dark but powerfully Christian fantasy called The Lord of The Hollow Dark. In it, Kirk places all of the major figures from the plays and poems of T.S. Eliot at a Scottish castle dedicated to Satanism and the performance of a black mass. Not surprisingly, the dialogue is intellectually rigorous while the plot remains riveting. It is a rare achievement of high philosophy, fantasy, and theology and deserves a much wider audience than it has thus far received. ....
edited to remove reference to an author I haven't read.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

"We give our thanks..."

For food that stays our hunger,
For rest that brings us ease,
For homes where memories linger,
We give our thanks for these.


MOST heartily do we thank Thee, O Lord, for all Thy mercies of every kind, and for Thy loving care over all Thy creatures. We bless Thee for the gift of life, for Thy protection round about us, for Thy guiding hand upon us, and for the many tokens of Thy love within us; especially for the saving knowledge of Thy dear Son, our Redeemer; and for the living presence of Thy Spirit, our Comforter. We thank Thee for friendship and duty, for good hopes and precious memories, for the joys that cheer us and for the trials that teach us to trust in Thee. In all these things, our heavenly Father, make us wise unto a right use of Thy great benefits; and so direct us that In word and deed we may render an acceptable thanksgiving unto Thee, in Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
The Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1906.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

"The gracious gifts of the Most High God"

From the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1863:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God. ....

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans. mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

"Conceived in Liberty"

From an essay about Lincoln's Gettysburg address, new to me. The whole is very much worth reading.
The first paragraph of the Gettysburg Address consists of only one sentence, but it's a doozy. It describes the past, the nation's beginnings. .... The past that Lincoln refers to is a past that stretches back before living memory. "Four score and seven years ago" exceeds the individual's allotment of "three score and ten," the Biblical phrase for the natural span of a human life. Lincoln's decision to formulate the date in this way accentuates the fact that the founding is now beyond anyone's direct experience. ....

Our own time is like Lincoln's in this sense, as we daily experience the loss of the living history of the 20th century: The last surviving American veteran of World War I, Frank Buckles, died in 2011, and our "forest of giant oaks" — the World War II vets — will soon follow. In keeping with this insight into impermanence, Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address does not try to conjure up the drama of the revolution. Instead, he substitutes more peaceful, natural imagery: What happened in 1776 was that "our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation." As the date indicates, it was a document, the Declaration of Independence, that announced our nativity. A document, unlike historical memory, is permanent — there to be read and fully understood by each successive generation. While Lincoln is the greatest of constitutionalists, he considers the Declaration our foundational text. ....

November 19, 1863

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The modern world

Re-posted because it is "very wicked indeed" to deprive the young of historical perspective. From the very end of Evelyn Waugh's Scott-King's Modern Europe:
Later the headmaster sent for Scott-King.
"You know," he said, "we are starting this year with fifteen fewer classical specialists than we had last term?"
"I thought that would be about the number."
"As you know I'm an old Greats man myself. I deplore it as much as you do. But what are we to do? Parents are not interested in producing the 'complete man' any more. They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?"
"Oh yes," said Scott-King. "I can and do." ....

"What I was going to suggest was — I wonder if you will consider taking some other subject as well as the classics? History, for example, preferably economic history?"
"No, headmaster."
"But, you know, there may be something of a crisis ahead."
"Yes, headmaster."
"Then what do you intend to do?"
"If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world."
"It's a short-sighted view, Scott-King."
"There, headmaster, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly. I think it the most long-sighted view it is possible to take."
Evelyn Waugh, Scott-King's Modern Europe, Boston, 1949, pp. 88-89.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Among the Dead"

Via Anecdotal Evidence:
MY days among the Dead are past;
Around me I behold,
Where'er these casual eyes are cast,
The mighty minds of old:
My never-failing friends are they,
With whom I converse day by day.

With them I take delight in weal
And seek relief in woe;
And while I understand and feel
How much to them I owe,
My cheeks have often been bedew'd
With tears of thoughtful gratitude.

My thoughts are with the Dead; with them
I live in long-past years,
Their virtues love, their faults condemn,
Partake their hopes and fears;
And from their lessons seek and find
Instruction with an humble mind.

My hopes are with the Dead; anon
My place with them will be,
And I with them shall travel on
Through all Futurity;
Yet leaving here a name, I trust,
That will not perish in the dust.

"His Books," Robert Southey (1774-1843)

Patrick Kurp notes that the title gives it away.

Monday, November 13, 2017

"They who live under its protection..."

Washington's letter to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island (1790):

While I receive with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of affection and esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport from all classes of Citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have the wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy, a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while everyone shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the Father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.

G. Washington

Coram Deo

From R.C. Sproul's response when asked “What’s the big idea of the Christian life?”:
I said, “The big idea of the Christian life is coram Deo. Coram Deo captures the essence of the Christian life.”

This phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God.

To live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze. ....

The Christian who compartmentalizes his or her life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. To divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege. ....

Sunday, November 12, 2017


The necessary prerequisite for liberty is self-control:
Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, — in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity, — in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, — in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Lest we forget

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 an armistice took effect between the armed forces of the Allied Powers and Imperial Germany. The day is observed variously as Armistice Day, Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day. It is a day to honor all veterans, alive or dead.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

LOTR again?

The Times of London reports that another film iteration of The Lord of the Rings may come to cable:
In 1969 JRR Tolkien sold the film rights to his Lord of the Rings fantasy novel for £100,000 to help settle a tax bill.

It meant his family never fully benefited from the astonishing success of Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, which generated more than £2 billion at the global box office. ....

Now, however, they [are in] negotiations with Amazon and Netflix for a television version of Lord of the Rings which — if it sees the light of day — would be one of the most expensive productions of all time. Likely beneficiaries include Tolkien’s two surviving children: a son, 92, and daughter, 88.

Reports in the US suggest that the Tolkien estate is quoting the streaming companies between $200 million and $250 million for the rights to bring Middle-earth to the small screen. This sum would not include the production costs or actors’ fees, which are likely to top $100 million per series, according to industry insiders.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, has taken the highly unusual step of becoming personally involved in the negotiations, according to Variety, the Hollywood trade paper. Bezos is a fan of fantasy fiction and is said to have instructed his Amazon Studios executives to find a Game of Thrones-style blockbuster. ....
This could be very good. The time that could be devoted to the story would allow for more character development and also could include more of the story. With luck they might avoid some of Jackson's more cartoonish errors — especially his portrayal of dwarves.  If produced like Thrones it would involve several seasons of multiple episodes each.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

"The only Christian work is good work well done."

Dorothy L. Sayers:
The Church's approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly—but what use is all that if in the very centre of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table-legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenter's shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made heaven and earth. No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself; for any work that is untrue to its own technique is a living lie. Yet in her own buildings, in her own ecclesiastical art and music, in her hymns and prayers, in her sermons and in her little books of devotion, the Church will tolerate, or permit a pious intention to excuse, work so ugly, so pretentious, so tawdry and twaddling, so insincere and insipid, so bad as to shock and horrify any decent craftsman. And why? Simply because she has lost all sense of the fact that the living and eternal truth is expressed in work only so far as that work is true in itself, to itself, to the standards of its own technique. She has forgotten that the secular vocation is sacred. Forgotten that a building must be good architecture before it can be a good church: that a painting must be well painted before it can be a good sacred picture: that work must be good work before it can call itself God's work. ....
The official Church wastes time and energy, and, moreover, commits sacrilege, in demanding that secular workers should neglect their proper vocation in order to do Christian work—by which she means ecclesiastical work. The only Christian work is good work well done.
Dorothy L. Sayers, "Why Work?" in Creed or Chaos (1949)

Monday, November 6, 2017

A resting place

The music in the version above is Ralph Vaughan Williams's. The words both above and below were by Horatio Bonar (1808-1889). Tim Challies on the hymn:
.... In Bonar’s day the Scottish church had no substantial library of hymns since they sang metrical Psalms almost exclusively. Bonar had begun to write hymns before his ordination when he was serving as superintendent of a Sunday school. He found that the youth had little love for either the words or the tunes they were singing, so he set out to write a few hymns with simpler lyrics and already familiar tunes. These hymns were received wonderfully.

It wasn’t long after this that Bonar, apparently having a gift and an interest in writing verse, took to writing adult hymns. This continued as a habit while he served as pastor, and in the course of his ministry he published a number of hymn compilations.

“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” perhaps his most famous song, having found good reception not only in Scotland but also in the wider English-speaking world.

What makes the hymn so widely appealing may well be its focus on the gospel call of Christ to come to him, look to him, drink, and rest, and the simple call to obey and to find in him all that he has promised. It is simple, sweet and encouraging. ....
Another version. This one for a male chorus, from Towner's Male Choir (1894):

Saturday, November 4, 2017

"Freedom was not an escape from obligations, but a call to obey them"

Via Anecdotal Evidence, Roger Scruton on Samuel Johnson:
Johnson’s eccentric habits...made his defence of orthodoxy all the more impressive. The search for the right opinion, the correct response, the sensible emotion was also, in Johnson’s world, an expression of the highest freedom. He could be haughty and compassionate, indignant and remorseful by turns, but in everything he responded to the world with an exalted sense of responsibility for his own existence. Freedom, for Johnson, was not an escape from obligations, but a call to obey them, whether or not they have been consciously chosen.

Friday, November 3, 2017

"The Christian characters talk like human beings, not tracts"

Lars Walker has discovered a mystery author he believes he is going to like: Sally Wright
.... I am delighted to report that author Wright has sailed past my critical misogyny to make me an immediate fan. She writes a pretty good male hero....

In Publish and Perish, first novel in a series, Ben Reese, World War II intelligence veteran, is an archivist at a private college in Ohio. The year is 1960. He is in England doing research when he gets news that his dearest friend has died of a sudden heart attack. Ben (who is his friend’s executor) rushes home to deal with the aftermath. He is disturbed by certain puzzling circumstances surrounding the death, and the local police chief agrees with him. Ben starts asking questions, and someone else dies, and then Ben himself becomes the target of a murder attempt.

We often complain about the poor quality of Christian literature. Sally Wright’s work is a shining example of the sort of thing we’ve been pleading for. The writing is superior, the characterizations and dialogue polished and entertaining, the mystery satisfying. .... The Christian characters talk like human beings, not tracts, and the values are unashamedly old-fashioned. ....
That sounded promising enough that I bought the Kindle edition of the book and also discovered that, if I like this book, there are more (and the Kindles are only $2.99).

Philippians 3:14

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"Far too easily pleased"

I don't pray nearly enough or, when I do pray, nearly well enough. From the introduction to Ben Patterson's God's Prayer Book: The Power and Pleasure of Praying the Psalms:
Prayer is more than a tool for self-expression, a means to get God to give us what we want. It is a means he uses to give us what he wants, and to teach us to want what he wants. Holy Scripture in general, and the Psalms in particular, teach us who God is and what he wants to give.

When the members of his synagogue complained that the words of the liturgy did not express what they felt, Abraham Heschel, the great philosopher of religion, replied wisely and very biblically. He told them that the liturgy wasn't supposed to express what they felt; they were supposed to feel what the liturgy expressed. To be taught by the Bible to pray is to learn to want and feel what the Bible expresses—to say what it means and mean what it says.

Those who have practiced this kind of prayer over time make a surprising discovery: As they learn to feel what the Psalms express, their hearts and desires are enlarged. They find that what they once regarded as strong desires were really weak, puerile little wishes, debased inklings of what is good. Of course! Would not the God who made us in his own image understand better than we ever could what we really need? And shouldn't we ask him for it? As C.S. Lewis put it,
Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
The best part of prayer is who you pray to. Answers to prayer are wonderful, but the Answerer is better. Spend enough time with Jesus, and you'll start to look and think and act like Jesus. Seeing is becoming. The church father Irenaeus said, "The glory of God is man fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God." It's true: God is never more glorified than when we come alive to the vision of God. Prayer is anticipation and preparation for the great day promised in Scripture when we will see Christ fully and "will be like him, for we will see him as he really is."

For all the saints...

Wikipedia notes "Protestants generally regard all true Christian believers as saints and if they observe All Saints Day at all they use it to remember all Christians both past and present"

For all the saints,
who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith
before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus,
be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
The golden evening
brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors
comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of
paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou wast their Rock,
their Fortress and their might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain
in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness,
their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
But lo! there breaks a
yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant
rise in bright array;
The King of glory
passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion,
fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle,
they in glory shine;
Yet all are one in Thee,
for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
From earth’s wide bounds,
from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl
streams in the countless host,
Singing to God,
the Son, and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!