The story centers on tank commander Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Pitt) and his embattled crew. They are in the final days of World War II, deep in German territory, in a Sherman tank that is far inferior to the ones they’re up against. They have just lost a long-time brother-in-arms and discover that his replacement is a young typist with no battlefield experience. ....
Introducing a rookie into a group of grizzled, been-everywhere-seen-everything veterans is a common war-film setup, but it’s still gripping to watch the green, erudite Norman (Logan Lerman) learn what service and honor are really about. ....
Throughout the film Collier and his men joke that being a soldier is “the best job I ever had.” .... Though they will bear the physical and psychological scars of their time in the fight for the rest of their lives, the fight is worthy. This is especially evidenced by the character of Boyd “Bible” Swan (played by a phenomenal Shia LaBeouf).
This may go down hard with some readers, but I actually like that the evangelical Boyd drinks, smokes, and swears with the rest of the crew, though he does not join them in soliciting sex or stealing. He is a real, flesh-and-blood proselytizer who sometimes makes light of his Christian persona but never makes light of his Christianity. Yes, at times Boyd’s fleshly fear and grief win out over his reborn spirit (as it would with anyone in his situation), yet his faith is deeper than superficial rule-keeping. When other soldiers are stripping dying German combatants of their valuables, Boyd holds their hands and whispers into their ears, urging them in their last moments to call on the name of Christ and be saved. He offers an affecting image of an unconflicted heart carrying out the duties of country and Creator simultaneously. .... [more]
Friday, October 17, 2014
There are fine films that I have no need to watch more than once. They are films like Schindler's List that are well made and convey something real, even admirable, but also realistically terrible. Films that I'm glad were made but that are hard to sit through precisely because they are so well made. The reviews are making Fury sound like one very good war movie, comparing it favorably to films like Saving Private Ryan and Blackhawk Down, but few of them discern the message that the reviewer at World magazine finds admirable. I hope I do. I will see this film sooner or later and although I may like it chances are it will fall into the "watch once" category. From the World review:
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:
and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Romans 13:1-2, KJV
Thomas Kidd considers a question every serious American Christian had to consider in Revolutionary times: "Does the Bible Prohibit Revolution?" The issue doesn't disappear in non-revolutionary times. When may a Christian disobey government?
My graduate students and I recently read James Byrd’s terrific Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution. This book is a treasure trove of information about how the Patriots and Loyalists actually used the Bible during the Revolution. The most surprising fact I learned from the book is that Romans 13 – in which Paul commands submission to the “higher powers” – was the most commonly cited biblical text in Revolutionary America. This passage, alongside a similar passage in I Peter 2, are precisely the texts I might have imagined that Patriots would have avoided. How does one “honor the king” while engaging in revolution?
These passages would seem, on a plain reading, to have prohibited Christians from participating in the American Revolution. Indeed, some former Patriot leaders such as Savannah pastor John Zubly withdrew when they realized that the protests against British taxes were likely to morph into violent revolution, which Zubly believed was not an option for Christians.
But instead of avoiding Romans 13 and I Peter 2, Patriot pastors (to their credit) took them on frequently and directly. They usually replied to Loyalist critics that the command to submit was never unconditional – just as it is not unconditional in marriage, in church, or in any other social setting. The Bible was replete with stories of resistance against unjust rulers. Even Peter and Paul routinely confronted and flouted the authority of Jewish and Roman officials, saying that they must obey God rather than man. .... [more]
Professor Kidd refers to a sermon preached by New England clergyman Jonathan Mayhew, Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers (1750), a sermon described by John Adams as having “great influence in the commencement of the Revolution.”
Seventh Day Baptists must have been engaged in this debate since individual members served in the Revolution and one was prominently involved in the Continental Congress.
“What God says is best, is best,
though all the men in the world are against it.”
Does the Bible Prohibit Revolution?
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Colleges used to be expected to act in loco parentis, that is "in place of the parent" with respect to the students on that campus, most of them away from direct parental supervision for the first time. Most of that went away in the '60s at about the same time the age of majority came down (along with the drinking age). In "Neo-Victorianism on Campus" Heather MacDonald contends that similar adult supervision is returning in the form of elaborate codes of sexual behavior. And, she argues, that is not a bad thing.
.... To be sure, the new campus sex regime puts boys in danger of trumped-up assault charges heard before kangaroo courts. But the solution is not more complex procedural protections cobbled over a sordid culture, the solution is to reject that culture entirely. Just as girls can avoid the risk of what the feminists call “rape” by not getting drunk and getting into bed with a guy whom they barely know, boys, too, can radically reduce the risk of a rape accusation by themselves not getting drunk and having sex with a girl whom they barely know. Mothers worried that their college-bound sons will be hauled before a biased campus sex tribunal by a vindictive female should tell them: “Wait. Find a girlfriend and smother her with affection and respect. Write her love letters in the middle of the night. Escort her home after a date and then go home yourself.” If one-sided litigation risk results in boys taking a vow of celibacy until graduation, there is simply no loss whatsoever to society and only gain to individual character. Such efforts at self-control were made before, and can be made again.
Unlike the overregulation of natural gas production, say, which results in less of a valuable commodity, there is no cost to an overregulation-induced decrease in campus sex. Society has no interest in preserving the collegiate bacchanal. .... [more]
Monday, October 13, 2014
.... I do not particularly sympathize with the demonization of Columbus Day by the politically correct, although I do not think the injustices suffered by our Siberian-American fellow immigrants should be glossed over. However, I think Columbus Day should be reconsidered as a U.S. holiday for a different reason. I am fundamentally in agreement with the Hispanosphere nationalists on one point: Columbus's voyage was very specifically the initiation of the contact between Spain and Spanish America. .....
Although Cabot's voyage to Newfoundland was undoubtedly spurred by news of Columbus's voyages, the expanding English maritime enterprise would sooner or later have recapitulated the Viking achievements in the North Atlantic. ....
Whatever the realities of these theories, it is the expansion of the cultures and traditions that form the template on which today's societies in the U.S. and English Canada that we should commemorate. Columbus, whatever his merits and demerits may be, is in this regard beside the point. If Americans of Italian descent wish to point with pride to a predecessor in discovery, perhaps we should look at Giovanni Caboto, another Italian navigator. Moving to England, he adopted the English style of his name and became known to history as the discoverer ... John Cabot.
Not only did Cabot's discoveries spark the great stream of human migration that became the English-speaking New World, he was himself a precursor of the millions of Italians who crossed the Atlantic to North America and became part of the English-speaking world, to its and their own enrichment. ....
Sunday, October 12, 2014
The assumption that "the science is settled" has often been shown wrong. (e.g. Think of Galileo's experience contra the scientific consensus of his day). Describing current thinking about neuroscience, Andrew Ferguson raises doubt about some of the orthodoxies educators of my generation came to take for granted:
There is no persuasive evidence...for the popular, and allegedly scientific, belief that “right brain learning” is somehow different from “left brain learning.” “We use both sides of our brain for most tasks,” Astle said. Nor has any experimental basis been found for the theory of the three learning styles—auditory, visual, and tactile—that many educators now accept as dogma. “Everybody pretty much learns the same way,” Astle said. The idea of learning styles, pounded into children from an early age, can even impede learning. If you convince a child over years of schooling that he’s an auditory learner, he won’t learn as well if he thinks you’re teaching him visually—even though the teaching style is the same.
MRIs are commonly brought out when fads like this are questioned. But MRIs, as Astle noted, measure only blood flow: Any activity not associated with blood flow won’t be captured by the image of the brain. In “reading” an MRI, we can only infer brain activity, not observe it. .... [more]
Friday, October 10, 2014
In the current Weekly Standard, Andrew Ferguson on a phenomenon that not only affected "corporate and academic culture" but also Christian institutions. Much that I was happiest to escape when I retired from teaching:
Kingsley Amis, the British novelist, once explained that everything that had gone wrong with his country in the second half of the last century could be summarized in the word “workshop.” His point is sound. No two syllables better conjure up the mandatory “sharing,” the regimented bonhomie and bogus cheerfulness, the mincing and posturing, the smiley-faced Maoism that descended upon corporate and academic culture a generation ago and show no signs of abating. The word alone suggests a string of horrifying cognates: “team work,” “role playing,” “brainstorming,” “trust building,” “leadership” ... Brrrr.
Weekly Standard, Oct. 20, 2014, p. 13
Last weekend the North Central Association of Seventh Day Baptists annual sessions were held at the Albion Seventh Day Baptist Church in Albion, Wisconsin. The theme was "Abide in His Love" (John 15:10) and centered about the relationship between Christ and the Church that St. Paul described in Ephesians 5:25-27: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." I've been thinking about that subject this week.
This morning Kevin DeYoung posts about what the Church has always taught concerning the meaning of marriage and quotes the introductory section of "The Form of the Solemnization of Matrimony" from The Book of Common Prayer as exemplifying that:
Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprized, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Most of the churches in my denomination are small. No doubt it can be very discouraging for the pastor of a church small in numbers that doesn't grow. Brian Croft asks "Should a pastor be discouraged about his small church?" and quotes:
I know the vanity of your heart, and that you will feel mortified that your congregation is very small, in comparison with those of your brethren around you; but assure yourself on the word of an old man, that when you come to give an account of them to the Lord Christ at his judgment seat, you will think you have had enough.Pastors, regardless the pressures you face in your congregation to “produce the numbers,” focus on caring for souls. Be faithful to evangelize, preach the gospel every week, pray for conversions, but make sure your primary focus is on caring for souls. When we stand before God to give an account for the souls of our flock, God will not be concerned with our increased numbers, as much as how faithfully we cared for the souls of those that make up that number.
I'm not a fan of Lecrae's music but that doesn't mean I disapprove of it. I've never been able to enjoy rap. I do very much approve of the way he thinks about his work as described in "Lecrae: 'Christians Have Prostituted Art to Give Answers'," from which:
"My music is not Christian—Lecrae is," he said. "And you hear evidence of my faith in my music." ....
"We’ve limited Christianity to salvation and sanctification," he said. "Christianity is the truth about everything. If you say you have a Christian worldview, that means you see the world through that lens—not just how people get saved and what to stay away from." ....
"The exploitation of believers just to turn a profit—so you care less about making a quality product, you just want to keep telling the same stories and repackaging them over and over just to exploit people—I have a problem with that," he said. ....
...He doesn't see music as a vocation or calling, so to speak, but that "everyone’s job, everyone’s vocation, is an extension of their faith and how they see the world. Every job is an act of service," he said. "If I was working at a call center collecting debts from people who have credits calls, I would call and try to help them, and try to serve them." .... [more]
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Dwight Longenecker on Thomas Traherne (c.1636-1674):
.... A simple country parson and chaplain to a nobleman, Traherne was never known in his lifetime, and his work was discovered in dusty family archives, rescued from smoldering trash heaps, uncovered in archbishop’s libraries and winkled out by curious bibliophiles from second-hand books stalls just before burning. ....
His work glories in the revelation of God within his creation. Traherne sees within the natural world the glory of God burning in every mystical moment. Traherne’s vision is shared by Hopkins who cries out that “the world is charged with the glory of God”....
.... His work is overflowing with a joyful immanence. God’s joy presses in on us here and now in this world, and he wants us to be happy, child like, free and abundantly alive. So he writes, “Your enjoyment of the world is never right, till every morning you awake in Heaven: see yourself in your Father’s palace; and look upon the skies, the earth, and the air as celestial joys: having such a reverend esteem of all, as if you were among the angels.”
In his philosophical musings Traherne deals with the question of desire, turning away from negative notions that desire brings unhappiness and claiming instead that human desire good at heart and is always a longing for what is beautiful, good and true. .... Rather than being that which drags us down, desire is that which lifts us up, and it is that desire reaching and knowing the beauty of the created order that brings us to a genuine experience of God in and through, and knowable in his creation. .... [more]
Centuries can be purchased at Amazon.
In that collection, one of Traherne's meditations that, it seems to me, anticipates C.S. Lewis' experience as he approached his conversion:
Being swallowed up therefore in the miserable gulf of idle talk and worthless vanities, thenceforth I lived among dreams and shadows, like a prodigal son feeding upon husks with swine. A comfortless wilderness full of thorns and troubles the world was, or worse: a waste place covered with idleness and play, and shops, and markets, and taverns. As for Churches they were things I did not understand, and schools were a burden: so that there was nothing in the world worth the having, or enjoying, but my game and sport, which also was a dream, and being passed wholly forgotten. So that I had utterly forgotten all goodness, bounty, comfort, and glory: which things are the very brightness of the Glory of God: for lack of which therefore He was unknown.
Yet sometimes in the midst of these dreams, I should come a little to myself, so far as to feel I wanted something, secretly to expostulate with God for not giving me riches, to long after an unknown happiness, to grieve that the World was so empty....
Friday, October 3, 2014
The UK Parliament is considering a proposal to legalize euthanasia. Consequently there is great interest in the experience of those places that have already done so, including our state of Oregon.
The number of mentally-ill patients killed by euthanasia in Holland has trebled in the space of a year, new figures have revealed.
In 2013, a total of 42 people with ‘severe psychiatric problems’ were killed by lethal injection compared to 14 in 2012 and 13 in 2011.
The latest official figures also revealed a 15 per cent surge in the number of euthanasia deaths from 4,188 cases in 2012 to 4,829 cases last year.
The incremental rise is consistent with a 13 per cent increase in 2012, an 18 per cent rise in 2011, 19 per cent in 2010 and 13 per cent in 2009.
The rise is also likely to confirm the fears of Dutch regulator Theo Boer who told the Daily Mail that he expected to see euthanasia cases smash the 6,000 barrier in 2014.
Overall, deaths by euthanasia, which officially account for three per cent of all deaths in the Netherlands, have increased by 151 per cent in just seven years. ....
Professor Boer, who has reviewed 4,000 cases of euthanasia in his role as a regulator, told Parliament in the summer: ‘Don’t go there.’
Once a firm advocate of euthanasia, he said that he now [believes] the Dutch were ‘terribly wrong’ to think they could control it. ....
He was also gravely concerned at the extension of killing to new classes of people, including the demented and the depressed. ‘Some slopes truly are slippery,’ he said.
Doctors in neighbouring Belgium, which this year legalised euthanasia for children, are now killing an average of five people every day by euthanasia, according to latest figures, with a 27 per cent surge in the number of euthanasia deaths in the last year alone.
In one of the most shocking cases, a Brussels man last week described how he arranged the double euthanasia of his octogenarian parents who wanted to die because they were afraid of loneliness.
It has also emerged that a Dutch woman in her 80s was killed by her doctors just because she did not want to live in a care home. ....
Thursday, October 2, 2014
I expect — and very much hope — to be "left behind."
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away ("took them all away" KJV), so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 28:36-42)
Those taken in the days of Noah were not the fortunate ones.
The headquarters of the Freedom From Religion is only a couple of blocks from where I live. Some years ago, being interviewed by a reporter for a local paper, I wondered why atheists were so angry about something they don't believe exists. Actually I think most non-believers aren't particularly exercised about religion. But this from Chesterton's The Everlasting Man may explain the attitude. Chesterton via Kevin DeYoung:
.... They cannot get out of the penumbra of Christian controversy. They cannot be Christians and they cannot leave off being Anti-Christians. Their whole atmosphere is the atmosphere of a reaction: sulks, perversity, petty criticism. They still live in the shadow of the faith and have lost the light of the faith.
Now the best relation to our spiritual home is to be near enough to love it. But the next best is to be far enough away not to hate it. It is the contention of these pages that while the best judge of Christianity is a Christian, the next best judge would be something more like a Confucian. The worst judge of all is the man now most ready with his judgments; the ill-educated Christian turning gradually into the ill-tempered agnostic, entangled in the end of a feud of which he never understood the beginning, blighted with a sort of hereditary boredom with he knows not what, and already weary of hearing what he has never heard.... It would be better to walk past a church as if it were a pagoda than to stand permanently in the porch, impotent either to go inside and help or to go outside and forget. ....
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Timothy George "remember(s) Polycarp and all of the martyrs" for just as then "Christians...are still called to be faithful amidst persecution and harassment, faithful even unto death."
To proclaim the God of the Bible in Polycarp’s world was to invite conflict with the dominant power structures of the day. And so the persecutions came. ....
It is not as though the Christians were violent revolutionaries bent on the overthrow of the state. No, they wanted to be good citizens. As they repeatedly told those in authority, we willingly pay our taxes, and we gladly pray for those in authority, including the emperor. It is our duty to pray for the emperor, but we cannot pray to him. For we are also citizens of another realm. We belong to the ecclesia, the church, and we worship another King who sits on a different throne. ....
This was not revolutionary in the usual sense of that word, but it was subversive. For it was a way of saying that Caesar is not everything. There is a divinely appointed distance between church and empire. Because the Christians had embraced the Hebrew Scriptures, they knew the Ten Commandments, especially the first one: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery: you shall have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:2–3). The state is ordained by God, as Paul taught, but it is not God. It is not sacred in itself. ....
...[I]n the afternoon, with the sun high in the sky, it was time for the execution of criminals. They were slaves, war captives, arsonists, murderers, and those, like Polycarp, who had committed sacrilege by refusing to honor the godhead of Caesar and who would not take the easy way out.
The proconsul said to Polycarp: “Take the oath, and I will let you go. Revile Christ.” But Polycarp said: “For eighty and six years have I been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I now blaspheme my king who saved me?” Polycarp offered a prayer in the name of the triune God, and then he was bound. The faggots were lit. Like Jesus, who was crucified naked, Polycarp entered the flames without his clothes, but when they saw that his body could not be consumed by fire the executioner was ordered to stab him with a dagger. And so the ground of Smyrna was made holy by the blood of the martyr. .... [more]
Monday, September 22, 2014
Randall Hardman would prefer that you not promote the new Left Behind movie with Nicolas Cage because he believes its theology is bad. In Why “Left Behind” should be... left behind" he explains the origins of dispensationalist theology and why it not only wrongly interprets scripture but poorly prepares Christians for what will come:
.... Christians have always affirmed the second coming of Christ, but only in the system which Darby, Scofield, and later dispensationalists developed were there three comings. This was a brand new take on the end, and while Christians throughout the centuries have always wondered whether their day was the last day (including Paul), with some interpreting contemporary events in such a way, the establishment of a system and a timetable was entirely new, as was the presupposition that Jesus would exorcise his Church from the last days.
When Paul refers to some being “caught up” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) he's not referring to a rapture which will precede a time of tribulation in the modern world: He is giving his audience hope in the midst of persecution and death and reminding them of the hope that all Christians share, that Christ will come again (just not again and then again!) When Jesus speaks of “one being taken” (Matthew 24:40) he is not referencing how Christians all across the world will escape from a period of trial; rather, he is referencing the Genesis flood story (vv 37-40) and, as the context makes clear, being “taken away” is actually unfortunate, as it is the one who is “taken away” that faces judgment.
I could go on with a verse by verse analysis of all the “rapture verses” but there exists an underlying problem with rapture theology, one which has the ability to affect so many aspects of how Christians interact with the problems of this world: It embraces escapism as a solution. Rapture-based theology teaches us to think and hope for an escape from this world, not endurance to persevere in it. In this view, Jesus loves his Bride too much to let it go through the intense suffering and judgment the world will face (very similar to the popular notion that suffering doesn't happen to godly people). But that is not the message of Scripture, nor is it the message of Revelation in particular. Sometimes terrible things do happen to good people and Scripture doesn't promise us an “out.” It promises us a “how.” ....
Jesus did not, though he certainly could have, escape from the cross. Likewise, the message of hope is not that we won't face our cross — many of us will — but that God stands alongside of us as we take it up and gives us the strength and the hope to die with him. “Fleeing to the mountains” or “flying to the clouds” is not redemption; it's escape and it's a belief that God won't let us endure tribulation. Revelation, however, calls us to the opposite: It encourages us to remain faithful even when we feel like it must be the end of the world. [more]
Friday, September 19, 2014
Federal Appeals Judge Richard Posner responded to some of the argument in favor of Wisconsin's law prohibiting same-sex marriage by saying "Can tradition be a reason for anything?" That inspired this response at Ricochet:
.... Tradition is the foundation of rational conduct, and the means through which mankind passes on the social capital which has accumulated through the experience of thousands of generations that have already confronted the vicissitudes of life. As T.S. Eliot noted in the context of poetry: “he is not likely to know what is to be done unless he lives in what is not merely present, but the present moment of the past… not of what is dead, but what is already living.” (emphasis added). ....
There can be no doubt that the loss of essential legal traditions would destroy the courts. The doctrine of stare decisis, for example, requires courts to abide by prior decisions and the rulings of higher courts. The doctrine emerged from centuries of common law jurisprudence, a legal framework steeped in respect for tradition.
It’s nearly impossible to define tradition in rationalist language. Burke explained that traditions — though he used the word “prejudice” synonymously — are “cherished because they are prejudices and the longer they have lasted, and the more generally they prevail, the more we cherish them.”
We are afraid to put men to live and trade each on his own private stock of reason: because we suspect that the stock in each man is small, and that individuals would do better to avail themselves of the general bank and capital of nations and of ages.Critics of tradition insist, of course, that those who adhere to past wisdom are cranky old know-nothings. In a sense they’re right. A traditionalist will agree that he knows only a little: that is his greatest virtue. Traditionalists are pessimistic by nature, and cautious out of prudence. Adam Smith said “it is acquired wisdom and experience that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough.” For this reason, a traditionalist is humble because he knows that unrestrained novelty invites disaster. .... [more]
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”
This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. (The Thing)
Tradition may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. (Orthodoxy)
From Ray Ortland today, "The Second Coming of Christ is not a peripheral doctrine." The painting Ortland uses is one of Doré's 19th century illustrations for the English Bible:
The Second Coming of Christ is not a peripheral doctrineChrist did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at the last day.Article IV, The Thirty-Nine Articles
Daniel Ross Goodman, "a writer, lawyer, and rabbinical student" notes the passing of S. Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, perhaps the only fast food chain that observes a "Sabbath" — albeit on Sunday. From Goodman's essay about the value of a Sabbath:
The Greeks said that leisure was necessary for the soul. Similarly, Judaism and Christianity, by imploring their adherents to observe a Sabbath once a week and to observe a Sabbatical year once every seven years, mandated leisure as a religious precept. Mussar (Jewish ethical-devotional literature) advocated freedom of the mind as an ethical and religious imperative by equating mental drudgery with the Jewish slavery in Egypt and by associating mental freedom with the Exodus from Egypt.
This precept of “necessary leisure” (theologian Rabbi Irving Greenberg’s term) is embedded in the institution of the Sabbath and in the biblical concept of the sabbatical:
Shabbat (the Sabbath) [provides] the necessary leisure to be one’s self and to enter into deeper relationships.A society in which the ethic of necessary leisure—or, in the terminology of the siddur [prayer-book], “holy serenity”—is not respected is a society that degrades the human being and, consequently, depreciates the image of God. This is why the Torah and the ba’alei mussar [authors of ethical-devotional literature (lit., “masters of ethics”)] fiercely advocate the absolute, inviolable necessity for periods of leisure—Sabbath days and Sabbatical years—during which we can be self-reflective and thereby rejuvenate our inner image of God. .... [more]
Rest is more than leisure from work, it is a state of inner discovery, tranquility, and unfolding.... The Sabbath commandment is not just to stop working, it is actively to achieve menuchah (rest) through self-expression, transformation, and renewal. On this day humans are freed to explore themselves and their relationships until they attain the fullness of being.
[The Shabbat’s] focus remains the enrichment of personal life. In passing over from weekday to Shabbat, the individual enters a different world. The burdens of the world roll off one’s back. In the phrase of the zemirah (Sabbath table song): “Anxiety and sighing flee.” In the absence of business and work pressure, parents suddenly can listen better to children. In the absence of school and extra-curricular pressures, children can hear their parents. Being is itself transformed. The state of inner well-being expands. As the Sabbath eve service text states: “The Lord...blesses the seventh day and [thereby] bestows holy serenity on a people satiated with delight.” The ability to reflect is set free. Creative thoughts long forgotten come back to mind. One’s patience with life increases. The individual’s capacity to cope is renewed.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Dwight Longenecker takes us on "An Imaginative Literary Tour of Oxford," including:
If we wander down cobbled Merton Street we will avoid the traffic on the High Street and find ourselves almost at the entrance to C.S. Lewis’ Magdalen College. First we will stop at the botanic gardens—a hidden secret in Oxford. Not only did the fictional Sebastian Flyte stroll through the gardens, but Lewis Caroll loved spending time there, and until recently an ancient Black Pine grew here which was the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s ent, Treebeard.
Watch your step as you cross the busy high street to enter Lewis land. You can visit the chapel at Madgalen where he worshipped daily and as you pass through the quad to the left through an archway you will see the “New Buildings” where C.S. Lewis kept the rooms where he would tutor his students and where the Inklings would head after the pubs closed to continue their rowdy meetings. Did you know the poet John Betjeman was a student of both C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot? Lewis at Magdalen and Eliot when Betjeman was a boy at Highgate School where Eliot taught for one unhappy year.
Turning to the right you will see a gate opening into what looks like woodland. It is the semi-wild park that runs beside the River Cherwell. There is Addison’s Walk named after the eighteenth century essayist. Lewis, Tolkien and Hugo Dyson walked this circular walk that frosty night when they had the important conversation about myth that helped bring Lewis to the point of his conversion to Christianity. ....
Nipping back across the High Street, we will watch out for red double decker buses, black cabs and students on battered bicycles with gowns a flapping. Jostling with crowds of tourists, we have to visit the church of St. Mary the Virgin—the University Church. This is where Blessed John Henry Newman was vicar from 1828-1843. In that pulpit not only stood John Henry Newman, but C.S. Lewis preached his famous sermon, The Weight of Glory, here. John Wesley preached here and Thomas Cranmer—author of The Book of Common Prayer along with the Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley were tried in this church for heresy before being burnt at the stake in the Broad Street just a few hundred yards away. ....
Turl St. and "The Mitre"
If we go up the High Street a bit further and turn right we will come into the delightful little street called “The Turl,” which links the High Street to the Broad. .... As we go up the Turl we will peep into Lincoln College on the right. That is where John Wesley was a fellow and where Methodism got started. .... A bit further down the Turl is Exeter—Tolkien’s college. We will stop in to see the bust commemorating him in the chapel.
The Turl opens out into the Broad where more of literary Oxford awaits. Around the corner beyond the Bodleian Library is Hertford College where Charles Ryder and his creator Evelyn Waugh were students. Tucked in behind that is the Turf Tavern where Oxford sleuth Inspector Morse downs a pint, and a bit further on, if you know how to find St. Cross churchyard we could look for the grave of Charles Williams. .... [there is more]
Challies calls attention to Kindle bargains today on three C.S. Lewis titles:
- Mere Christianity ($4.27), perhaps the most influential work of Christian apologetic in the 20th century, never out of print.
- The Great Divorce ($4.27), Lewis speculates about what might happen if individuals in Hell were given an opportunity to visit Heaven, and stay if they choose.
- A Grief Observed ($2.99), written by Lewis pseudonymously after the death of his wife, Joy Davidman, in the form of a journal.