Monday, December 11, 2017

Joyful seriousness

I always enjoy reading Andrew Ferguson. Two years ago: "Jingle Hell: The debasement of Christmas Songs."
.... In the early church, Christmas replaced the baptism of Jesus as the preeminent celebration of the season because it stood as a happy rebuke to the Manicheans. Believing as they did in the absolute division of spirit and matter, no group of heretics has ever been gloomier. The celebration of Christmas was a way of telling the world: This really happened, to a real mother and a real child, made in flesh and blood, the coming together of God and man. And music itself is the natural expression of the union of spirit and matter, the physical act of plucking strings or hammering keys or thrumming vocal cords to produce something that points beyond the physical. ....

The idea of Christmas as a musical celebration finally took hold when peasants and other lowly folk began adapting local dance tunes to the purpose. The origin of Christmas music in dance music is worth remembering. The tunes, outfitted with words of praise and the appropriate narratives of Jesus and Mary and Joseph, of the Three Kings and the shepherds, were an effusion of popular piety—and a rebellion against the grim impositions of church hierarchy throughout Germany and, later, England. A good carol, said the great musicologist Percy Deamer, “was witness to the spirit of a more spontaneous and undoubting faith.” The effusions were organic, growing from the bottom up, and like the Gospels themselves, filled with metaphors taken from field and hearth:
The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.
Deamer traced the word “carol” back through old French to the Greek word for “an encircling dance.” Movement and dynamism and joy were the essential attributes, inseparable from the religious meaning. The message of Christmas was the Christian message, too: the Light coming into the world and the darkness proving powerless against it. What’s not to celebrate? Why not dance?

“To take life”—and hence Christmas—“with real seriousness is to take it joyfully,” Deamer went on. “For seriousness is only sad when it is superficial: the carol is thus nearer to the truth because it is jolly.” ....

In the past that lesson has often been lost, at times even more thoroughly than in our own day—a reminder that should cheer us up, if you’ll forgive the expression. The serious joy, or the joyful seriousness, of Christmas is offensive to the grim Christian. When Oliver Cromwell’s Puritans seized power from a pious English king, one of their first official acts was to ban Christmas observances of any kind. ....

“Yule tide is fool tide,” went the Puritans’ dismissive slogan.... And once in a while, at Christmas, buried in tinsel and credit card receipts, a practicing Christian might be tempted to agree. It’s a familiar human paradox that the phony good cheer of secular Christmas increases even as the genuine joy of Christmas recedes....
Jingle Hell | The Weekly Standard

Sunday, December 10, 2017

"Come all you worthy..."

The Oxford Book of Carols (1928) contains 197 carols. Many are for the Christmas season, but there are some for every season of the Christian year. Percy Dearmer edited the words and Martin Shaw and Ralph Vaughan Williams the music. From Percy Dearmer's Preface:
Carols are songs with a religious impulse that are simple, hilarious, popular, and modern. They are generally spontaneous and direct in expression, and their simplicity of form causes them sometimes to ramble on like a ballad. Carol literature and music are rich in true folk-poetry and remain fresh and buoyant even when the subject is a grave one....
I got my copy sometime in the 1970s. The book is still in print. This is a carol called "Job."

Come all you worthy Christian men,
That dwell upon this land,
Don't spend your time in rioting:
Remember you are but man.
Be watchful for your latter end;
Be ready for your call.
There are many changes in this world;
Some rise while others fall.
Come all you worthy Christian men,
That are so very poor,
Remember how poor Lazarus
Lay at the rich man's door,
While begging of the crumbs of bread
That from his table fell.
The Scriptures do inform us all
That in heaven he doth dwell.
Now Job he was a patient man,
The richest in the East;
When he was brought to poverty,
His sorrows soon increased.
He bore them all most patiently;
From sin he did refrain;
He always trusted in the Lord;
He soon got rich again.
The time, alas, it soon will come
When parted we shall be;
But all the difference it will make
Is in joy and misery.
And we must give a strict account
Of great as well as small:
Believe me now, dear Christian friends
That God will judge us all

Illustration again

Re: Illustration (I haven't been to the exhibit yet). My favorite illustrator by far is N.C. Wyeth. This is the endpaper he did for Scribner's edition of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island:
Treasure Hunt

Saturday, December 9, 2017

"We shall never surrender"

I intend to see Darkest Hour. There seems to be general agreement among the critics that Gary Oldman as Churchill is probably up for an Oscar. The film is getting criticism from those who know something about the historical Churchill.

Darkest Hour is a movie about the first three weeks of Winston Churchill’s premiership in May 1940, and it is balderdash. In a razor-sharp National Review critique, Kyle Smith takes out after the movie for shrinking Churchill “down to a more manageable size” by portraying him as undergoing an emotional crisis due to the political maneuverings against him and the enormousness of the challenge he faced as the Nazis bore down on Britain’s army in France. Smith is right. Nothing in the historical record supports the idea that Churchill faltered internally in his determination to face down the Nazi menace and achieve victory against Hitler.

But screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Joe Wright are up to something interesting here that only becomes fully clear at the end. Their use of Churchill, as essayed by Gary Oldman in one of the juiciest performances you will ever be privileged to watch, isn’t biographical. It’s metaphorical. ....
.... Now it’s Churchill’s turn to be shrunken down to a more manageable size. In Darkest Hour, which is set across May and June of 1940, the English director Joe Wright and his star Gary Oldman conspire to create a somewhat comical, quavering, and very human prime minister. In dramatic terms it’s an engaging picture, and Oldman is terrifically appealing, but if you’re looking for indecision and angst, the person of Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill is a curious place to declare you’ve found it. ....
From the Power Line blog:
We went to see Darkest Hour last night. The film portrays Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) in May 1940. When Neville Chamberlain stepped down, Churchill became Prime Minister on May 10 and became the Great Britain’s war leader. In Five Days in London: May 1940 (1999), John Lukacs focused on these events and took us into the cabinet meetings portrayed in the film. Stick with Lukacs.

The film reduces Churchill to a quivering jellyfish with remarkable oratorical gifts. ....
Robert Hardy owned the role of Churchill in the great series Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years 1929-1939 which, I find, has become a rather expensive DVD set (and the DVDs aren't very good).

My favorite book about that period is the one I've pictured above.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

"Trophies rather than testimonies"

From Alan Jacobs "the politics of long joy" which considers some lessons from Milton:
Near the middle of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the archangel Raphael describes for Adam — who has not yet fallen, not yet disobeyed — the War in Heaven between Satan’s rebellious angels and those who have remained faithful to God. Throughout this portion of the poem a major figure is a loyal angel named Abdiel. It is his task, or privilege, to cast the first blow against Satan himself: his “noble stroke” causes Satan to stagger backwards and fall to one knee, which terrifies and enrages the great rebel’s followers. This happens as Abdiel expected; he’s not afraid of Satan, and knows that even the king of the rebels cannot match his strength, since rebellion has already sapped some of the greatness and power of the one once known as Lucifer.

But what if the combat hadn’t gone as expected? What if Satan had been unhurt by Abdiel’s blow, or had himself wounded the faithful angel? In that case, says one Milton scholar, John Rumrich, “God would by rights have some explaining to do.” What right would God have to send Abdiel into a struggle where he could be wounded or destroyed? To Rumrich’s claim that most eminent of Miltonists, Stanley Fish, replies: Every right. God’s actions are not subject to our judgment, because he’s God — a point which, Fish often reminds us, modern literary critics seem unable to grasp. ....

Obedience is the creature’s calling; the ultimate outcome and disposition of events belongs to God, and only to God. God does not need to adjust events to meet our expectations, nor must he offer us an explanation when our expectations are thwarted. And if we focus on our own obedience we will not ask such things of God. ....

It seems to me that this politics of long joy is the one thing needful for the Christian cultural critic, as for a warring angel like Abdiel or a poetic polemicist like Milton. Perhaps the chief problem with the “culture wars” paradigm that governs so much Christian action and reflection, in the North American context anyway, is that it encourages us to think in terms of trophies rather than testimonies. It tempts us to think too much about whether we’re winning or losing, and too little about the only thing we ultimately control, which is the firmness of our own resolve. If the culture warrior would prefer not to be governed by Stanley Fish, or even by John Milton, maybe Koheleth provides an acceptable model: “In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good” (Ecclesiastes 11:6).

It seems to me that the careful dance, the difficult balance, of Christian cultural criticism is to be endlessly attentive to the form and the details of the world around us, while simultaneously practicing the “politics of long joy”—and in this way avoiding an unhealthy obsession with “trophies,” and avoiding also being conformed to the ways of this world. It’s a tough walk to walk, because one of the peculiarities of fallen human nature is that we find it difficult, over the long haul anyway, to remember that there is a world of difference between “I have no control over this” and “this isn’t very important.” We tend, against all reason, to diminish the importance of everything we cannot shape or direct. But our joy will be short if it is grounded in circumstances and events, because circumstances and events always change: if they please us now, they will displease us later. And then what will we do? ....  (emphases added) 

Monday, December 4, 2017


Doré The Last Judgement
Almighty God, give us grace, that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, (in the which Thy son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility;) that in the last day when He shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost now and ever. Amen. (Thomas Cranmer)

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.