Perfectly and Completely Rotten


O lovely apple!
beautifully and completely
hardly a contour marred–

                 perhaps a little
shrivelled at the top but that
                 aside perfect
in every detail! O lovely

                 apple! what a
deep and suffusing brown
                 mantles that
unspoiled surface! No one

                 has moved you
since I placed you on the porch
                 rail a month ago
to ripen.

                 No one. No one!
~William Carlos Williams “Perfection”


“When a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ the Catholic thinker G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response:

‘Dear Sirs:
I am.
Sincerely Yours,
G. K. Chesterton.’

That is the attitude of someone who has grasped the message of Jesus.”
~Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God (New York: Dutton, 2008)



No one of us escapes the rottenness that lies not-so-deep beneath our shiny surface.  We are full of wormholes allowing the world inside to eat us alive.

We are the problem and the problem is us. That is why we need rescue by a Savior who is the one good apple among a barrel of contagiously bad apples. We are so tainted, it takes Someone who truly is Perfect to transform us from the inside out.

We’ve elected someone who is emphatically a reflection of who we are — bad and rotten and more than willing to spoil the barrel with his history of immoral and unethical behavior, his contentious and profane words, his complete lack of humility and his unwillingness to admit his flaws.

May we hang on to hope that our dis-united states will once again survive an imperfect leader, just as we’ve survived the other rotten apples we’ve placed over us.

We get exactly what we deserve in a President and no one should be celebrating that today.

May we fall to our knees, weeping and grateful, that Christ, who is the Leader of all in His Kingdom, will grant us a grace and sanctuary we emphatically don’t deserve.

Now that would be reason to celebrate.


North Brooklin, Maine
30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
[Signed, ‘E. B. White’] from Letters of Note

10 thoughts on “Perfectly and Completely Rotten

  1. Emily, early on in this election season, you said you didn’t have a candidate this time around. I didn’t either–and that’s why I’m with Susie in my disappointment with today’s post, while still loving and appreciating your commitment to blessing us with your daily gentle wisdom. God is not only still on His throne, but He also makes no mistakes. I think our country is reaping what we have sown, and it may be time for us to face up to it. I’m trusting HIM for the outcome.


  2. This is an addendum to my previous response. I just finished reading the introduction to the biblical book of Judges in Eugene Peterson’s The Message bible. It relates extremely well to how many of us are feeling today, and I found it very encouraging. I recommend it, to any who are able to lay their hands on this book.


  3. bottom line …. we do not have much control over anything, but our great GOD has control of EVERYTHING!!!!!! He will prevail, and we are fools to fuss about things we cannot change. we are to be instruments of LOVE and PEACE. finger-pointing? perhaps, but only one is in your direction…the others are pointing back at me. our personal leanings should be just that…personal.
    the prayers of the righteous accomplish much…let’s try that tack and leave the control to our Lord.


  4. Oh my, I have to respectfully disagree. I respect Christians who want to keep their personal leanings private. But while God is in control, that doesn’t mean we have no control and can only pray for the best and leave every bad thing that happens in God’s hands. Christ left us “to be the hands and feet of Christ,” as a great saint said. Christ came and initiated the kingdom of God on Earth–giving us a foretaste of the heavenly kingdom to come–and left us to ADVANCE the kingdom not just by our prayers but by our actions–by also being “doers” of the word, as it says in James. We just celebrated MLK Jr., who was told at every turn he should just pray and hope for the best and leave civil rights in God’s hands, that people would come around to his beliefs in time. His “Letter From Birmingham Jail” was his eloquent, grace-filled but tough-minded theological response to that. And he’s named for a 16th century man named Luther, who dared not go along just to get along and remain silent on the premise that God is in control and we have almost no control. I think we do. Grace and peace.


  5. Emily, I have not had an opportunity yet today to comment appropriately upon this posting.
    Rev. McKay has already pointed out many of the points that I had intended to make and has done so in a gracious pastoral manner. I especially agree with his pertinent reference to the Letter of James, Chapter 2, re faith and good works. In my view this referenced scripture statement coincides perfectly with what I understand from your words re “The new president’s cabinet picks revealing his underlying philosophy – austerity for the poor and the planet….’ among many other promises that will adversely and cruelly affect the poor, the suffering, the homeless, and those seeking refuge and safety from the genocide and carnage in their native countries.

    Trump’s dire campaign promises are not new to us. We have heard them for over a year and have been shocked and disturbed by them and the possibility of their becoming a legislative reality in our nation. Especially disturbing is the suggested possibility that privatizing federal assistance/grant programs and other necessary services will ‘save taxpayers money.’ And we are expected to believe that callous misleading lie? To the contrary. The money will instead line the pockets of the super wealthy venal persons that Trump has chosen for his cabinet, administrative staff, and other financial entities. Without help for those who, through no fault of their own, are unable to exist without basic economic aid and medical care and the affirmation of human, social existence required of every human being. As a Christian, I interpret that concept as part of the mandate that was specific to Jesus’ teaching: that we are our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper.

    We have reason to fear for the future of our nation if this incoming administration’s and the current makeup of the Republican Congressional agenda truly represent what Trump, et a,l plan to accomplish during his tenure as President of the United States.

    In my e-mail to you last night, Emily, I expressed hope that my words to you would help to ease the hurt that you must be feeling from a few of the posted comments. I was horrified and in disbelief. The comments in question seemed to miss the mark – not only by what you said with such courage and righteous conviction but by not understanding your deep concern for people – for what we have allowed to happen to us. And they have hurt me personally because they have wounded you in the way that they totally have misunderstood your integrity, your gifted wisdom, and your message.
    You are not alone, my sister in Christ. You will be vindicated.

    I pray that the Holy Spirit (your mentor) fills your heart and soul with His peace.
    With thanks, admiration, and sincerity,


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