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Unweeded Garden

            As the days begin to lengthen and shades of green are added to the dull browns of winter, an excitement annually kindles in my spirit. From my earliest days, spring has always pricked my green thumb and inspired attempts to raise assortments of vegetables. When I was a young boy, I would race to my older brother’s garden and implore them to allow my miniature hands to assist them in their endeavors. I especially enjoyed the planting process; I would till the small portion of the garden assigned to me, and enthusiastically place the seeds within the dark soil. The hope and anticipation was tangible in the twinkle of my eyes and the spring in my step.

            Unfortunately, the excitement of planting was soon replaced by the monotony of maintaining the vegetable sprouts. I remember showing an impressive aptitude of neither being seen or heard when my brothers wanted to weed or water the garden. While my disappearing act proved quite useful when my brothers were overseeing the garden, it became a real problem when I became the primary caretaker of the family garden. I remember the compliments from my father and brothers upon my preparations and planting of the garden; these were soon contrasted by the displeasure and disappointment they communicated upon my lack of diligence in maintaining the rows of vegetables.

            After enduring a short reprimand from my father, I remember vividly plodding to the garden, dragging my hoe pathetically behind me. Upon arriving, my disdain morphed into despair. Where rows of sweet corn, beans, tomatoes, and other vegetables had once lined the garden, a convoluted tangle of vegetation lay before my little feet. As I slowly advanced through the foliage, I occasionally glimpsed a vegetable plant among the leaves and stalks of the weeds. After muttering under my breath and looking longingly toward my bike, I began to tackles the arduous task of reclaiming the soil from the army of invading weeds. Soon, I realized how difficult distinguishing between the vegetable plants and weeds could be. Various types of plants reflecting numerous shades of green muddled my mind, and I found myself occasionally destroying stalks of sweet corn or vines of cucumbers. Differentiating the nutritious vegetation from the multitude of botanic imposters was painstaking; it was a lengthy, scorching afternoon.

             As I reflect back on my childhood gardening escapades, I cannot help but notice similar principles in my adult life. Life is very much like an unweeded garden as Shakespeare says through his most famous character, Hamlet. Weeding my personal garden on a regular basis is vital for nutritious vegetation to thrive in my life. The rank weeds of falsehood slither up and entangle with one another between the rows of my marriage, career, and faith. Left unabated, they begin to blur my sense of what is wholesome and good, muddling my mind as the tangle of weeds once did to me as a child. As I unwittingly struck down the stalks of sweet corn concealed within the woven weeds, so also do I unknowingly attack the stalk of morality and the vine of truth in the garden of life.

             After being reprimanded by my father, I painstakingly had to remove the weeds from the garden without damaging the vegetable plants; likewise, weeding my life garden can be incredibly meticulous and frustrating. In order to make progress I must first obtain the ability to determine the identity of nourishing botany from water sucking vegetation. Failing to become knowledgeable of the truth will ultimately cause damage to the very morals and values Christians attempt to safeguard. Simply plowing into the problem blindly is a recipe for pain and disappointment.

            Eventually, I reclaimed the garden as a boy and continued to maintain its many rows of vegetables until harvest. Upon removing the weeds, I learned that weeding was much easier when the vegetable plants were easily identified. Never again did I allow the weeds to overrun the garden; never again did I have such a difficult time of removing the weeds. Life can be an unweeded garden, but we must continually maintain the truths of God’s Word by removing the falsehoods that tangle their way into our lives.   


Stuart Busenitz
At a Palatial Country Estate
February 17, 2013 

"A Country Garden"
Oil on Canvas, 1892
Thomas James Lloyd 


Battle of Bands

There was a time, at The Ink Society, when we wanted to declare a specific website the rival/antagonist to our protagonism (not a real word) if, for no other reason, to make things lively. We even sent a letter through the postal service to their stoop in notification of our intentions and to fire a shot across the bow.

However, when it comes to actual protagonists and antagonists in the public square they stop, like our innocent societal website rivaly, at very surfacy (not a real word) cultural issues like taxes, sporting events, group exclusivity, public transport, weather trends, and mobile device dominance. It has become quite difficult to track down any meaningful discourse and exchange of thoughts on the true inner issues of individual life (and death). These personal topics are little revered in lecture halls or the office canteen (almost anathema). However, they are debated on Spotify!

Bands and artists, through the songs that they sing, seem to be one of the last publicly acceptable outlets for introspection without sarcasm and irony (In this ironic era). While most of the lyrics are ignored in the main, acceptable themes range from spiritual searching to relational struggles to the face of death ("What Sarah Said" by DCFC comes to mind) to just honest questions of meaning (Jack Johnson's "On and On" album comes to mind) to whatever rhymes with "beach" that was used in the first line of the chorus. In spite of the general public understanding that we all should be moderate and accepting of the scientific description of the foundation of things in naturalism, the heart in solitude rebels (it also rebels when it discovers another heart). It is just in this need for actually living the everyday life that truth is not lost to the "acceptable public moderation of discourse." It finds its voice in the lyrical, in the lilt and waver. In the headphones.

If this be true, the battles that really must be won are nowhere near a military base, a conference room, or a classroom. No, the victors in those arena's will prove meaningless, a chasing after the wind, but the place that a meaningful victory could occur would be under the neon theatre sign announcing a battle of the bands.

For this reason, I feel, it is time to bring back the old tradition. If no one else is going to talk outside of platitudes, let's let the bands paint kingdoms using the best tools they know (soaring choruses, or what-have-you, sharpening the lyrics) and go to battle.

Is it not songs that often fly in, capturing the pathos in those who live on after all meaning has been stripped from before their eyes? The writers and composers continue to reveal the longings, pains, motivations, worries, fears, perspectives, and experiences of the heart. They seem unabashed (except when speaking in public) through lyrics (however misguided) in the true fight for the heart which will not die despite postmodernism's naturalists, simply because the soul doesn't go away.

Now one must understand, the public image of these artists will have no part in the battle. For, as soon as the public asks for an interview, the artist becomes calm, collected, funny, rational, non-opinionated, settled, accepting, successful, and not bothered by the desperations of the soul in their songs. This facade has no part in the battle. For, while the "public image" accepts the Grammy, the people who identify with the vision or the personal cry the artist so passionately relates over and over again in albums are paying the musician's hotel bill.

Sure, there are styles, rhythms, genres, genre-breaking-genres and so forth, but that certainly does not exclude anyone from battle. Regardless of style, the songs are being written about something even if only to demonstrate non-conformist randomization. About something! Not usually what happened last week, who is playing ball tonight, which car would be best for a family of five, or "did you hear about that video?". Even if the song is about reaching the pinnacle of success which turns out to be through the pursuit of sexuality, so be it! At least it is espousing a kingdom in which one sees one's self and is supported by a soundtrack. The songs give an actual glimpse of what one really desires or questions.

Formal debates in this realm of meaning are problematic because no one can give a whole picture without some piece being pulled out and attacked while the rest is ignored in the rebuttal. Therefore, an entire album would be the ultimate kind of debate. One gets to make a complete statement of what he feels true and then another gets to say how he sees it (probably using a completely different type of music and even theme). The whole vision could then be judged.

This is not a war that is motivated by hate or disdain but rather, I suppose like all growing kingdoms, it is motivated by victory and being shown to be the better country; proving the knights are of more noble character, the princesses are more worth the saving, the mountains and rivers more worth the poetic turn. In short, a necessary battle of bands must ensue!

While, of course, there are more than a Catan's worth of competitors, one could suggest two to get the battle off to a demonstrative start. The first two proposed here would be The Oh Hello's and Mumford and Sons' latest works.

Therefore, let us sit on the slopes and listen to the roar as they meet in the valley. May the best band win (and sell the most albums, I suppose).

Phillip Tippin
Three floors above the street
Kansas City, MO

"At the Tavern" by Gustavo Simoni


The Word

Lately, as I read, I have been writing down words I come across that fall into one of two categories:
1. I do not know the word's defintion.
2. I have heard the word and have an ethereal, contextual, indistinct impression of its meaning but am uncomfortable using it in writing or conversation.

I thought I would list some of these words, so you could test your vocabulary against mine and defeat me soundly. I'll not give definitions. Look up! You have a google search bar. Here they are:

  • ·      Martinet
  • ·      Frenetic
  • ·      Meretricious
  • ·      Atavistic
  • ·      Apotheosis
  • ·      Truculent
  • ·      Punitive
  • ·      Recondite
  • ·      Protean
  • ·      Subaltern
  • ·      Diurnal
  • ·      Anachronism
  • ·      Contumely
  • ·      Ostentatious
  • ·      Suzerainty
  • ·      Rickshaw
  • ·      Skullduggery
  • ·      Bivouacking
  • ·      Donnish
  • ·      Troglodytes
  • ·      Fossicker
  • ·      Fen
  • ·      Ensigns
  • ·      Callow
  • ·      Patrician
  • ·      Quiescent
  • ·      Punitive
  • ·      Antipodean  
  • ·      Hendiatus  
  • ·      Lithe
  • ·      Levantine
  • ·      Ostentatious
  • ·      Tellurian
  • ·      Desultory
  • ·      Assiduity
  • ·      Carbuncle
  • ·      Scullion
  • ·      Palladian
  • ·      Unpropitious
  • ·      Inviolable
  • ·      Lubricity
  • ·      Prurience
  • ·      Astrachan
  • ·      Castellated
  • ·      Discursive
  • ·      Ennui
  • ·      Jejune
  • ·      Oleaginous
  • ·      Provenance
  • ·      Vituperative
  • ·      Salubrious
  • ·      Styptic
  • ·      Orisons
  • ·      Epitome
  • ·      Deleterious
  • ·      Magniloquence
  • ·      Surcease
  • ·      Epicure 


R. Eric Tippin

"The Word"
Oil on Canvas, 1898
Edward Bundy 


Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such, as wand'ring near her secret bow'r,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn,
The swallow twitt'ring from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bow'd the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Mem'ry o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where thro' the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway'd,
Or wak'd to ecstasy the living lyre.

But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page
Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repress'd their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear,
Full many a flow'r is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood;
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood.

Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,

Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib'd alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin'd;
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck'd,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by th' unletter'd muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resign'd,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing, ling'ring look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who mindful of th' unhonour'd Dead
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate,

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies he would rove,
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
Or craz'd with care, or cross'd in hopeless love.

"One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd hill,
Along the heath and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he;

"The next with dirges due in sad array
Slow thro' the church-way path we saw him borne.
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay,
Grav'd on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."


Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth

A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown.

Fair Science frown'd not on his humble birth,

And Melancholy mark'd him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,

Heav'n did a recompense as largely send:

He gave to Mis'ry all he had, a tear,

He gain'd from Heav'n ('twas all he wish'd) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,

Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,

(There they alike in trembling hope repose)

The bosom of his Father and his God.

--Thomas Gray, 1751


Walking in Christ

Have you ever had a pen run out of ink under important circumstances? I remember taking a high school English test and panicking when my only pen spilled its final drops upon the page. Several questions remained with no means by which to reproduce my answers. The desire and knowledge to answer was present, but the means to produce the answer was removed. How positively frustrating. I could have scratched the words vigorously with the lifeless pen, but nothing intelligible would have been produced.

When reading Colossians 2:6, I could not help but think of this panic stricken, high school experience. Paul, after identifying his audience as those who had received Christ, then says, “so walk in Him.” The idea of walking is a common metaphor in the Bible referring to the daily spiritual progression of a follower of God, but as I read, I took special notice of the word in. Paul commands believers to walk but the prepositional phrase adding to the verb walk is extremely important when understanding the metaphoric meaning of walking.

Most the definitions attributed to in have to do with inclusion which sounds quite delightful when speaking Colossians 2:6’s interpretation. To read the verse, “so walk including Christ” sounds very biblical. The image of God walking by a believer’s side, draping His arm over his/her shoulder, and providing advice is a comforting image, but I do not believe this quite encompasses what God was communicating in Colossians. To include Christ in one’s life sounds wonderful and nice, but it falls far short of how the Bible calls believers to respond to Christ. When speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus attributes far more than mere inclusion when He reiterated the most important commandment from the Old Testament which was to love the Lord your God with all your hearts, soul, mind, and strength.

With this in mind I read further in the dictionary and found a definition that sparked the memory of my horrifying English test. The dictionary also defined in as “used to indicate means,” as in “sketched in ink.” Upon reading this, I instantly relived the perilous moment of using an inkless pen on my English exam. Ink was the means by which I wrote and when this was removed, I simply accomplished nothing. I possessed the knowledge, the capability, and the will to complete the test, but I did not possess the means. Without ink, a written test is physically impossible to complete. The same is strikingly true in the Christian life; walking, or living out the Christian life, is impossible without Christ. A believer may possess the knowledge of God’s truth, possess an aptitude for carrying out aspects of God’s truth, and possess a desire to enact God’s truth, but walking as God calls a believer to walk is impossible without the means of Christ Himself. Just as completing a test is impossible without ink, so is daily advancement in the Christian faith impossible without Christ as the means.

Though the principle of Christ-centered living is familiar, the definition of a simple preposition provides a clearer understanding of how this is manifested in a believer’s life. Within interactions at work, church, the grocery store, home, etc. believers must not only possess the knowledge, capability, and desire to further God’s kingdom, but they must additionally understand that Christ is the expedient allowing their awareness, talent, and longings to materialize; Christ is the ink in our pen, the gas in our car, the thread in our sowing machine. He is not a guide speaking over our shoulder but the most important component by which we are able to accomplish anything for God’s Kingdom. Christ is not a mere friend who walks beside us as modern perceptions claim; He is the powerful means by which we are able to walk at all.

My high school English teacher was a wonderful inspiration to me, but no amount of words of advice, encouragement, or instruction would have assisted me in finishing my test once the ink was exhausted. She could have patted me reassuringly on the back or even given guided me toward the correct answer on the test, but without a pen full of ink, I would not be able to finish my test. Thankfully Grandma Z (as we all lovingly called her) graciously provided me with a pen with adequate ink. With the means available, I was able to complete the test and utilize my knowledge, capability, and desire to do well. Each of us has knowledge, ability, and hopefully desire to further God’s Kingdom; may we all utilize the means of Christ and walk in Him, not beside Him, along life’s journey.

Stuart Busenitz
In a country villa
January 27, 2013

"Trompe l'oeil with Writing Materials"
Oil on Canvas - Unknown Year
Edward Colyer (1640-1707)