So in many ways, being a friend is much easier than trying to save the world. And yet, it’s also much harder. Your life will get messier. You’ll have to struggle with how best to help your friend and those decisions can be heart-breaking at times. Volunteering a few hours at the food pantry or sponsoring a child in Africa is a whole lot easier and cleaner than making friends and opening up your life to the needs, demands and sin of others. To say nothing of how your needs, wants and sins will affect them.

Jesus Shot Me in the Head
Hiss Golden Messenger
Poor Moon

I don’t know, man. This song is too good.


Thus says Yahweh:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”

Thus says Yahweh:

“Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says Yahweh,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope in your future, says Yahweh,
That your children shall come back to their own border.


For Adam and Cat, and Toby and Jenny. The peace of the Lord be with you. 


"One thing have I desired of Yahweh," sings David, “That I may dwell in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Yahweh, and to inquire in his temple.”

Sounds like three things to me. Then again, this is the Bible we’re talking about, and it has a way of doing things with ones and threes.

David wants to dwell in the house of Yahweh; houses are built by fathers for sons.

David wants to behold the beauty of Yahweh; John later writes to us of what we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon.

David wants to inquire in his temple; the Spirit searches all things, the deep things of God.

One thing, and three things, David wants of Yahweh, all of which are God himself.


It happened one day when we was coming on to some holy feast or other. I was in the kitchen yard helping cut up a pig they’d slaughtered for it the day before. I’d been there for the slaughtering as well, catching the blood in a pail for black pudding when they shoved a knife in its throat and helping drag it over to the pile of straw where they got twists for singeing off the bristle. We poured water on the carcase and scraped it and singed it again and finally with a gambrel between the hind legs hoisted it up to a crossbeam. Then a monk with yellow braids sliced open its belly and groping around up to his elbows delivered it of a steaming tubful of pink slippery insides I carted off to the kitchen in my two arms. They left it hanging overnight to cool with a sack wrapped around its long snout to keep the cats from it and the next day after matins the yellow-braid monk and I set to cutting it up, Ita being at her quern across the yard from us. Hams, trotters, eyepieces, ears for making brawn with, brains, chops—we was laying it all out in the straw when Ita come over and drew me aside to where we kept a black stone on the wall for whetting. She told me with Jarlath’s leave she wanted me to go with Brendan though she didn’t so much as know my name then.
“It’s a smirchy sort of business you’re at with that pig, some would say,” she said. “There’s many a monkish boy either he’d beg out of it or turn green as a toad doing it. But it’s neither of those with you, I see. You could be laying the holy table for mass the way you set those cuttings out. That’s the deep truth of things no matter or not if you know it.”
Ita’s eyes disappeared entirely when she smiled.
“Smirchy and holy is all one, my dear,” she said. “I doubt Jarlath has taught you that. Monks think holiness is monkishness only. But somewheres you’ve learned the truth anyhow. You can squeeze into Heaven reeking of pig blood as well as clad in the whitest fair linen in the land.”

From Frederick Buechner, Brendan, pages 34-35.

Smirchy and holy is all one, my dear.



I think that industrial livestock processing is, like all technology, a kind of magic. Peasant meatsmiths, on the other hand, worked miracles, not sleight of hand. Rather than turn pigs into pork at an astonishing rate and in unfathomable quantity, they multiplied fishes and loaves and this feeds more people with less and more deeply.
Brandon Sheard, the Farmstead Meatsmith, putting into words a thought I’ve had banging around my head for some time. The Bible speaks of magic and sorcery as a kind of counterfeit miracle: the appearance of something arriving ex nihilo that disguises a considerable material and spiritual cost. Modern industrialism, agricultural and otherwise, is a kind of sorcery. But miracles take that same material and spiritual burden and make something new and good out of that raw material. That butchering your own pig fits that definition of miraculous will take more defending than I have time for here, but I will say that when I butchered my hog last October, we took up twelve large baskets full of fragments and scarcely had the space to store it all.