Thursday, December 31, 2009

Once In A Blue Moon

This is the last day of the year and it will end with a blue moon. Blue moons used to be known as the third of four full moons in a season, but now describe the second full moon in a month, a phenomena that occurs every 33 months. The next one will take place in August 2012.

Here is a fun poem from the perspective of the moon and her annoyance with how poets describe her. I just love the word,'botheration' and how Coleridge doesn't let himself off the hook!

A Soliloquy Of The Full Moon, She Being In A Mad Passion

by Samuel Coleridge
Now as Heaven is my Lot, they're the Pests of the Nation!
Wherever they can come
With clankum and blankum
'Tis all Botheration, & Hell & Damnation,
With fun, jeering
Conjuring
Sky-staring,
Loungering,
And still to the tune of Transmogrification--
Those muttering
Spluttering
Ventriloquogusty
Poets
With no Hats
Or Hats that are rusty.
They're my Torment and Curse
And harass me worse
And bait me and bay me, far sorer I vow
Than the Screech of the Owl
Or the witch-wolf's long howl,
Or sheep-killing Butcher-dog's inward Bow wow
For me they all spite--an unfortunate Wight.
And the very first moment that I came to Light
A Rascal call'd Voss the more to his scandal,
Turn'd me into a sickle with never a handle.
A Night or two after a worse Rogue there came,
The head of the Gang, one Wordsworth by name--
`Ho! What's in the wind?' 'Tis the voice of a Wizzard!
I saw him look at me most terribly blue !
He was hunting for witch-rhymes from great A to Izzard,
And soon as he'd found them made no more ado
But chang'd me at once to a little Canoe.
From this strange Enchantment uncharm'd by degrees
I began to take courage & hop'd for some Ease,
When one Coleridge, a Raff of the self-same Banditti
Past by--& intending no doubt to be witty,
Because I'd th' ill-fortune his taste to displease,
He turn'd up his nose,
And in pitiful Prose
Made me into the half of a small Cheshire Cheese.
Well, a night or two past--it was wind, rain & hail--
And I ventur'd abroad in a thick Cloak & veil--
But the very first Evening he saw me again
The last mentioned Ruffian popp'd out of his Den--
I was resting a moment on the bare edge of Naddle
I fancy the sight of me turn'd his Brains addle--
For what was I now?
A complete Barley-mow
And when I climb'd higher he made a long leg,
And chang'd me at once to an Ostrich's Egg--
But now Heaven be praised in contempt of the Loon,
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.
Yet my heart is still fluttering--
For I heard the Rogue muttering--
He was hulking and skulking at the skirt of a Wood
When lightly & brightly on tip-toe I stood
On the long level Line of a motionless Cloud
And ho! what a Skittle-ground! quoth he aloud
And wish'd from his heart nine Nine-pins to see
In brightness & size just proportion'd to me.
So I fear'd from my soul,
That he'd make me a Bowl,
But in spite of his spite
This was more than his might
And still Heaven be prais'd! in contempt of the Loon
I am I myself I, the jolly full Moon.

And here's a sweet, sad song from Nanci Griffith about a lost love.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Truth At Any Price

In today's Wall Street Journal opinion page, Shelby Steele has an insightful article on both President Obama and the result of political correctness in our society. I've been following Steele's writngs and thoughts for a while now, having bought his book, The Content of Our Character in the early ninety's. Ironically, his most recent book is titled, A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win.

The point of the article is that the President has rejected any firm principles in order to maintain his bargaining position. Unlike Ronald Reagan who throughout his life made choices that put his popularity at risk and grew a core set of beliefs that in the end made him a decisive and overall beloved leader, President Obama has cultivated a politically correct core which leaves it empty in order to maintain popularity. This in turn has led him to be a weak leader because he has no core principles. Steele's criticism is aimed at our society as much as it is aimed toward our President. We, in our desire to be seen as politically correct, never demanded any explanations from this man when he was a candidate.

We are left with a rudderless leader, because we would not face any inconvenient truths about him. C.S. Lewis wrote of his wife, Joy Davidman, that she wanted "Truth at any price". I am in complete sympathy with her desire. When we will not face up to truth for whatever reason, to seem sophisticated, to avoid conflict, or simply to take the easier path, we end up with more problems and pain than can usually be imagined. As painful as it may be, it is at truth where real love, forgiveness and good will must begin. Otherwise, our personal relationships and our society are based on a sham and cannot continue in any healthy functional way.

Friday, December 25, 2009

An Ambivalent Christmas

Though I love Christmas, it always holds a bit of ambivalence for me. Jesus is born and worshiped, yet the prophecies even before his birth tell of wretched, horrible things to come, that he will be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

This Christmas the ambivalence is even greater. I am to be celebrating the Christ child while still mourning the death of my own. I'm afraid there isn't much room in my heart for the celebrating this year. My Christmas wish list changed from nursing dresses and diaper covers to that new book by Scot McKnight and maybe some paint for the bathroom. This just isn't how it was supposed to be, and yet, it is.

So here we are at Christmas, twelve days of it in fact. A child is born to die so that others might live, even those who who never had to chance to take a breath. It is deserving of both joy and sorrow. I wonder if these paradoxes are obvious those in the heavenlies, or only to those of us on this side of the veil.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Dear Santa

We've been visiting this Santa for eleven years, since Emma was two. He's become a dear old friend who always remembers the girls.




Gotta love a Santa that explains to the children that it takes becoming a Saint and going to Heaven to have the power to deliver all those gifts to all the children. How different our Christmases would be without Saint Nicholas!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Magnificat

Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent. The Gospel reading is from Luke 1:46-55.

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Note: This song was written by Hildegard of Bingen.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Welcome

Quiddity readers. I hope you find something on this blog either helpful, interesting, or both. A big thank you to Andrew for the hat tip!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stones To Bread


The Sunday school class which I attend has been studying the book of Matthew. In reading the book as a whole, rather than in snippets and pieces, I noticed something which I hadn't seen before. In chapter three, John the Baptizer warns the Pharisees that they cannot entrust their salvation to the fact that they are children of Abraham, for God can raise up children of Abraham from stones. He was basically telling them that they aren't necessary for God's work to be fulfilled, and if they wanted salvation they'd better stop thinking that they are.

Then, in chapter four, Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting to be tempted by the Devil. The first temptation as recorded by Matthew and Luke is the temptation to turn the stones into bread. Is there a connection between John's reference to stones and the Devil's? Not being a believer in coincidence, I think there must be.

In all three of Satan's temptations, there is the enticement to take the easier way, which was not God's way. There is also the temptation of Jesus to prove he is God. So, in these temptations the virtues of courage and faith are attacked and the vice of pride is appealed to. A return to Eden in a way.

Returning to the first temptation. "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." On the surface, it seems innocuous. What could it hurt to make some bread, after all the hunger was great, and Jesus had the power. But giving into this temptation would have circumvented God's plan and also made Jesus weaker to resist the following temptations. I can just hear the taunting, behind the command. "Come on Jesus, If God can raise up sons of Abraham and if you are God, surely this can't be too hard for you. Why continue suffering as you are? In fact why should anyone suffer from hunger if in fact you are God and can do such miraculous feats?"

In all the temptations is the temptation to avoid the cross and suffering. Christ is the bread broken for us. He is the son of Abraham and of God. Those in Christ are also his body, children of Abraham and of God, to be broken for others. In a very real way, Christ's temptations are ours.

There is a song I remember singing in various Christian youth settings. The lyrics go:

Would you be poured out like wine upon the altar for Me?
Would you be broken like bread to feed the hungry?
Would you be so one with Me that you would do just as I will?
Would you be light and life and love My Word fulfilled?

Yes, I’ll be poured out like wine upon the altar for You.
Yes, I’ll be broken like bread to feed the hungry.
Yes, I’ll be so one with You that I would do just as You will.
Yes, I’ll be light and life and love Your Word fulfilled.

I don't think any of us had a clue what those words really meant. I think I'm just starting to grasp the meaning in part.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gaudete Sunday 2009

Today is Gaudete Sunday, when in the middle of the traditional Advent season of repentance and reflection, this day is set aside for rejoicing. The rose candle on the Advent wreath is lit as we look forward to the Saviour's coming. So it is reflective of our lives. A time of mourning is interrupted by a moment of joy and yet in the joyous season to come, which we know as Christmas, we are reminded of mourning and sorrow as Simeon prophecies of the infant Jesus and his mother, then later as the infants in Bethlehem are slaughtered on King Herod's orders.

Nothing is simple. The birth of a child is bloody and painful and begins the road to death which often is also bloody and painful. Yet, we are called to rejoice because ultimately death has been defeated, though in our eyes and experience we won't see this until Christ's return. So it is by faith that we say both, "How long?" and "I praise you.".



Gaudete, gaudete
Christus est natus
Ex Maria virginae, gaudete.
Tempus ad est gratiae hoc quod optabamus
Carmina laetitiae devote redamus.
Deus homo factus est natarum erante,
Mundus renovatus est a Christo regnante.
Ezecheelis porta clausa per transitor
Unde lux est orta sallus invenitor.
Ergo nostra contio psallat jam in lustro,
Benedict domino sallus regi nostro.

Update: I previously had a video embedded which is no longer available. I hope you enjoy the new one. 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow



Loreena McKennitt Snow lyrics

White are the far-off fields,
And white the fading forests grow;
The wind dies out along the height
And denser still the snow,
A gathering weight on roof and tree
Falls down scarce audibly.
The meadows and far-sheeted streams
Lie still without a sound;
Like some soft minister of dreams
The snowfall hoods me around;
In wood and water, earth and air,
A silence is everywhere.
Save when at lonely spells
Some farmer's sleigh is urged on,
With rustling runner and sharp bells,
Swings by me and is gone;
Or from the empty waste I hear
A sound remote and clear;
The barking of a dog,
To cattle, is sharply pealed,
Borne, echoing from some wayside stall
Or barnyard far afield;
Then all is silent and the snow
Falls settling soft and slow
The evening deepens and the grey
Folds closer Earth to sky
The world seems shrouded, so far away.
Its noises sleep, and I
As secret as yon buried stream
Plod dumbly on and dream.
I dream
I dream
I dream
I dream

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

A very odd symptom of anemia is insomnia. One might say it is ironic.

Anyway, thought I'd put my sleeplessness to some use and post some songs and articles for Thanksgiving. I hope they are a blessing to you.





I can particularly relate to the first part of John Mark Reynolds' article.

Read here of the economics behind the Plymouth colony.

Update: Here's an article which debunks many modern day myths regarding the Pilgrims.

O Lord that lends me life,
Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.
~William Shakespeare

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Can God Be Trusted?

That in the end was the question David and I were asking ourselves as I lie in the hospital the day after my miscarriage. We had been told a couple of days before that our baby had probably died, but there was still a sliver of hope, and now the hope had vanished.

The miscarriage itself had not gone well, if one can say a miscarriage ever goes well. After five hours of struggling through it at home, I was still hemorrhaging and could hardly stand so we went to the emergency room where I was immediately attended to. After many pokes and sticks it was discovered that I was also in septic shock and had surgery late in the evening.

It is an odd thing, grief. It keeps getting interrupted, whether by hope or illness or just the mundane issues of life, though it's always in the background, taking a bit of the color,energy and taste out of things, but in the quiet it comes on in full force with all it's pain and emptiness. How much I wanted and loved this child. How much I feel cheated to not hold it in my arms and nurse it, to not know the color of it's eyes, or to not inhale that sweet smell from our newborn's head.

I am assured by scripture that I will one day meet our child, and I firmly believe that I will. I believe in the resurrection. Like Job, though, I want to know why. Why did our baby die? I realize I probably will never know the answer this side of the veil. As to the question, "Can God be trusted?". I think I am a bit like Peter when he said, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Monday, November 9, 2009

Twenty Years Ago Today

the Berlin Wall was brought down. I think the time that has passed has caused us forget the horror that occurred behind that wall. Here is a video of some trying to keep the memory.


It might me a good time to make a purchase from Amazon or rental from Netflix, so that we don't forget.

I Am David

Night Crossing

The Lives of Others

Both Night Crossing and The Lives of Others are based on true stories.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Free T.V.

Is the internet not wasting all of your time yet? Here's a new website where you can watch television channels from around the world, absolutely free. It's called TV Free 4U. Try the link, especially if you've been dying to know what Sri Lankan's t.v. culture is like.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our Massive Debt

My friend Jim posted this link on Facebook. It is a cold dose of reality.

U.S. Debt Clock

Be sure to check out the last figure. It calculates the debt per citizen, what each of us owe some part of the world, probably China, which purchases our debt. This is why we will probably have escalating inflation in the future and why there are rumors of the world financiers wanting to no longer tie the dollar to oil.

This from U.S.A Today article in June, 2009.
The government's plan is to fight the sour economy now by spending money, and worry about the debt problem later. "If that's the price to keep from having the second Great Depression, it's a bargain," say Ken Goldstein, economist at The Conference Board.

Even ardent supporters of the government's plan, however, worry that massive U.S. debt could be inflationary. Every day, for example, the U.S. needs to borrow $15 billion to fund the deficit, says Axel Merk, portfolio manager of the Merk Hard Currency fund. "Someone has to buy all that," he says. More important, the U.S. has to repay it.

Inflation is a tempting choice to pay the nation's staggering debt, especially because the alternatives are to raise taxes or cut spending. Already, some economists are suggesting letting inflation take some of the bite out of government spending.

Kenneth Rogoff, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, gently told Bloomberg News that a bit of inflation might be a good thing. "I'm advocating 6% inflation for at least a couple of years," said Rogoff, now a professor at Harvard University. "It would ameliorate the debt bomb and help us work through the deleveraging process."

The effects of inflation are cumulative. After five years of 6% inflation, $1 trillion would be worth $734 billion, a 27% drop. Even a 2% inflation rate would be a cumulative devaluation of 81% over 30 years.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Unexpected Blessings

I apologize for the dismally light posting recently. Fact is, I've been tired! Homeschooling has started up, I've been busy with serving on the church council and various other activities which explains part of it, but really, I've been extraordinarily tired, and have in fact found the reason for the fatigue.

Last month before our family made a trip to Busch Gardens and a visit with David's brother and sister in law, Mark and Patti, I thought I ought to take a pregnancy test, just to rule out the possibility. Well, the results of the test did anything but! I jumped on the internet and scared myself with statistics of pregnancies in older women. My biggest concern was the greater possibility of miscarrying, but other concerns weighed heavily, particularly where we were going to add another family member in our cozy little house.

David came home and I shared the news. I was quite concerned about miscarrying, so we decided not to tell the girls yet, and we sat on the news for about two more weeks, just sure someone would figure it out by my not having anything to drink or my not riding much at Busch Gardens. The person who come closest to figuring it out was Berkley, our waitress at Annie Moore's who was stunned that I didn't order an Original Sin, which is my drink of choice at that establishment.

I finally couldn't stand it any longer. I just had to tell the girls, so David and I sat down with them on a Sunday morning before church. It was priceless to see their looks of surprise and delight. The news has been spreading ever since. Thankfully, almost everyone has been encouraging and supportive, and I can't adequately express how much that has meant to David and me.

We've had a few bumps. The day we told the girls, I had some bleeding. I spent most of the next several days pleading with God to save and protect this baby. I am a mama, you know....and he knows. The bleeding has subsided and I have had an ultrasound and seen and heard the heartbeat. How very reassuring! Also reassuring is my midwife who informs me that at age 42 and in good health, I should have a normal pregnancy.

I promise not all my postings will be about the new little one or the pregnancy, but I will write about them here and there, because this is big.

A new life.

We are so blessed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Into The Wardrobe


Tomorrow, we'll begin a new school year. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, we will take the next several months to focus on The Chronicles of Narnia and use these books as a jumping off point for other literature, history, theology and philosophy. We will begin with, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while also focusing on Norse myths, The Gospel of Luke, the Blitz and Aesop's Fables. If you've read LWW, you'll see how these fit in.

I'll post more of what we're reading and of our discoveries as we progress.

Emma will continue to study Latin, math, Greek, writing, art, logic, classical astronomy, and ballet.

Olivia will study English, nature studies, math, Latin, basic astronomy, art, piano, and horseback riding.

In all of this, setting before us, the good, the true and the beautiful in order to cultivate wisdom and virtue.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Illusions Of Technology

In The Abolition of Man Lewis states,
There is something that unites magic and applied science (technology) while separating both from the "wisdom" of earlier ages. For the ancients, the cardinal problem of human life had been how to conform the human soul to objective reality; and the means were knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of the soul; and the solution is a technique.

Peter Kreeft in his lecture, Lost in the Cosmos, points out that if we were to categorize these four things; technology, science, magic and religion, into two groups, that a quite proper grouping would be magic and technology in one group and religion and science in another. The reason being, as he gains from Lewis, is that science and religion are about conforming one's will to reality and technology and magic are about bending reality or nature to our will.

So, where does that leave our society, which Neil Postman branded a technopoly? We have become so enamored with technology that an optimistic pragmatism, where whatever "works" is what is deemed true, has become the spirit of the age. The appeal to reason, truth,natural law, religion or ethics seems passe, whether in matters of education, farming, family life, civic life, commerce, etc.. Instead what is appealed to is efficiency, convenience, entertainment and a sense of control. It is ironic that technologies which are often presented as increasing one's control, (not of ourselves of course, but of nature or other people), are most likely what one will forfeit one's control to. It is indeed a Faustian bargain.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Know Your Farmer

Continuing on the same theme of aschewing pragmatism, there's a new video out, taken undercover showing male chicks being ground alive. Apparently, male chickens aren't useful enough.
According to Mercy for Animals, male chicks are of no use to the industry because they can't lay eggs and don't grow large or quickly enough to be raised profitably for meat. That results in the killing of 200 million male chicks a year.

Now, that's pragmatism. Notice, it's not that they are of no use, it's just that they are of no use quickly enough. I guess another month or two of feed is simply out of the question.

So, what is the purpose of a chick? Is it only to meet our needs. Is there not something of intrinsic value in this life? If it's value does not supercede a human's life, and as a Christian I don't believe it does, for it is not made in the image of God, mustn't it have value beyond it's utility to us, because we are not it's creator? In Genesis, humans are given the mandate to be stewards of creation. Here's another case where we are falling short.

If this disturbs you at all, I suggest getting to know a local farmer and start buying eggs from him, or from your local coop. (No pun intended)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just Thinking


I didn't sleep well last night, so it may not be a good idea to write having so little rest, but here I go anyway.

What would life be like if we stopped concerning ourselves with what is practical, pragmatic or utilitarian, but rather concerned ourselves with what was true, good and beautiful? What would our lives look like? What would our relationships be like?

As I prepare the curriculum for my children this year, I find myself asking this question more and more. While homeschooling is wonderful, particularly in the choices and freedom it gives, there are limits - limits of time and resources. It is so easy to think too practically if the focus is on the limits, so I have to keep reminding myself to take the long view, and the ultimate goal, which is to help develop in my children a deep love and attraction for what is good and true and beautiful. In other words, a deep love for God, for after all, these are his attributes.

More thoughts later.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Robert Novak, R.I.P.



Today, reporter and columnist, Robert Novak died after suffering from brain cancer. I always enjoyed his newspaper columns and his television punditry. What I remember most vividly, though, is this story of his conversion to Christianity.
Novak started to go to Mass regularly, but it wasn't until a few years later that he decided to convert to Catholicism. The turning point, as he recounts in his book, happened when he went to Syracuse University in New York to give a lecture. Before he spoke, he was seated at a dinner table near a young woman who was wearing a necklace with a cross. Novak asked her if she was Catholic, and she posed the same question to him.

Novak replied that he had been going to Mass each Sunday for the last four years, but that he had not converted.

Her response – "Mr. Novak, life is short, but eternity is forever" – motivated him to start the process of becoming a Catholic through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. He was baptized at St. Patrick's Church in 1998. His wife was also baptized a Catholic.

Novak said he believed the Holy Spirit led him to Catholicism. He told an audience at the Heritage Foundation in Washington Aug. 2 that when he was interviewed by The New York Times about his book the interviewer scoffed at his story about his source turned priest.

But Novak said he told her he believed the Holy Spirit was behind the coincidences.

Of course, there are no coincidences.
Read more about his life here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Lunch, Anyone?

Here is fun food art over at Funky Lunch.

The pig reminds me of a poor man's Boar's Head, appropriately made with ham, but I think I'd rather eat Nessie.

H/T The Scriptorium Daily

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lo, I Am With You Always

How very moving that the first food that was consumed on the moon was the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. How interesting also that this information was blacked out for twenty years because the government was afraid.

Here is a portion of what happened.
Buzz Aldrin had with him the Reserved Sacrament. He radioed: “Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, whoever or wherever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the last few hours, and to give thanks in his own individual way.”

Later he wrote: “In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which contained the bread and the wine. I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whosoever abides in me will bring forth much fruit.’ I had intended to read my communion passage back to earth, but at the last minute Deke Slayton had requested that I not do this. NASA was already embroiled in a legal battle with Madelyn Murray O’Hare, the celebrated opponent of religion, over the Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis while orbiting the moon at Christmas. I agreed reluctantly…Eagle’s metal body creaked. I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were the communion elements.”

H/T The Scriptorium Daily

Icons and Idols

In today's Wall Street Journal, Joe Queenan writes on the journalistic watering down of the word "icon".

This is actually something that has bothered me for a while. The word icon comes from the Greek, eikon. It refers to something that is an image or representation of something that is more real or greater than itself. The Bible uses this word to describe humans, being made in the image of God and of Christ being the perfect image of God, the perfect icon. In the biblical sense each human is an icon, though flawed to various degrees, all could be spoken of in terms of being an icon of the living God.

Works of religious art, images on a coin or even images on a computer screen can be properly called an icon because they point to something greater and more real.

This isn't how journalists and commentators use the word when describing celebrities, however. What happens when we start using this word for popular people in culture? When we say that Michael Jackson was an icon, what are we saying? What does he represent, and is what he represents worth imitating or looking toward? It abuses the word so badly that it no longer contains its proper meaning. Perhaps the creators of American Idol have a more proper terminology for celebrities of this kind. According to The Free Dictionary, the term idol means:

1.a. An image used as an object of worship.
b. A false god.
2. One that is adored, often blindly or excessively.
3. Something visible but without substance.

Is this not a more proper term for the role of many celebrities?

Rickrolling

Rod Dreher first introduced me to Rickrolling, an occurrence when one opens a link or post only to find one's opened a portal to a Rick Astley video. He's found another way to be Rickrolled. Try not to cry, all you die hard Nirvana fans - this is fun stuff.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Real Thing

Update:
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon has issued and apology and says that the company handled the matter with the Orwell books poorly. He says similar situations will be handled differently in the future, but he doesn't explain how they will be handled differently. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

In PC World, Melissa J. Perenson writes,
Today, Amazon removed George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from its Kindle e-book store. The company also went ahead and removed any digital trace of the books, too-striking them from both users' digital lockers and from Kindle devices. This disturbing, Orwellian move underscores how, in spite of comments otherwise, a purchase in the digital realm can't be compared to physical ownership of content.

Oh, the irony! So, the gist of the article is this: If you receive information electronically, such as music, books, movies, etc...consider it a rental. The idea of not having to store cds is appealing to me, but I've always loved having books around. In fact, I kind of wonder about people who don't.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Books Behind Harry Potter


Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince opens at midnight, so in honor of the occasion, I'm posting a link to John Granger's, (aka The Hogwart's Professor), new book. n">

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Happy 13th, Emma

Today, my daughter Emma turns 13. She is a very responsible, funny, lovely and energetic young lady.
Here she is hanging out in the dressing room during The Sleeping Beauty rehearsals.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

fails.

Here's its creed as understood by Smith and Denton and reported in their book, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
.
1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth.

2. God wants people to be good, nice and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.

3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.

4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.

5. Good people go to heaven when they die.


In the end, this is nothing but wishful thinking. It does not answer the perennial human problems of evil, sin and despair. It leads one to have no faith at all, because this is a weak, thin, vague kind of faith, that in the end means nothing. God's love is a costly love - a real love - as one can see from Christ's suffering on the cross. If the point of life is being happy, this is not the kind of happiness Jesus taught. He taught a self-sacrificing life that leads to happiness - to daily take up our cross. This Moralistic therapeutic deism has nothing to say to The Beatitudes, which describes those who have a true and lasting happiness.

1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Are we ready for that kind of happiness? Are we ready to let go of our 'Five steps to a more fulfilling prayer life?' or 'Ten steps to a happier marriage.' Are we willing to say to God, "Be it done to me according to your will?" I say we, not to soften the question, but because as a gen Xer, I have fallen under MTD's sway too often and since it is so much a part of the church culture at large, it is easy for it to seep into my thinking.

Here is a video with short interviews that address the MTD's type of belief in the church.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Scripture of the Week- Matthew 6:22-23

22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"

The mystery contained within these 2 sentences has captured my imagination for years. At different times, I have found different meanings in the words. What I think the true meaning, the meaning intended by the Holy Spirit, is- is this... We control the use of our eyes. For the most part, we decide what to focus on and what to ignore. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. When we focus on Him, with not only our eyes but with every fiber of our being, our being becomes full of His light.

This light is the glorious and beautiful light of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. This light is the light that struck Paul blind on the Road to Damascus. It was the subsequent healing that he received from God that enabled him to focus on the light of Christ and his whole being was filled with light from that point on.

This is the uncreated light that emanates from the Godhead Himself. This is the light, the simple presence of God, that will provide light for God's children in heaven billions of years after the sun has been extinguished.

This is the light that burns and refines the deepest recesses of our souls. This is the light by which we may catch a glimpse of our own hearts and become devastated by the darkness therein.

Most of the world does not know this light. Most of the world walks in darkness for the bible says that Jesus came into the darkness and the darkness could not recognize Him. How incapacitating and awful that darkness is when it infuses a person's soul.

The Psalmist cries out in Psalm 13, "Give light to my eyes Lord, or I will sleep in death". This has been my deepest hearts cry for a very long time. If we turn our eyes from the Lord, our souls become consumed by darkness. Like Peter walking on the surface of the dark and storm ravaged waters, we begin to sink beneath the waves and drown. "If the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" The darkness can consume us, for all eternity, if we allow our eyes to go bad.

Janine

Friday, June 5, 2009

Scripture of the Week- Genesis 4:7

"If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."

I have recently been devoting much time and energy to deeply considering what this means. This was God's most intimate advice to Cain upon the most disappointing failure of his life. Cain was presented with a clear choice. Either he could allow bitterness and resentment to become a full blown, murderous impulse, or, he could choose to "rule over" the sin that was threatening to overtake him.

I think that sin is most easy to rule over when the inclination has just begun, before it begins to grow. If we can manage to simply control our thoughts and impulses at that initial stage, sin can be vanquished. It is when we entertain those thoughts that we begin to loose control of ourselves and give into sin. And small sins, when surrendered to, almost always blossom into very large sins.

What began in Cain as profound disappointment and jealousy blossomed into murder. And yet, God said that it was possible for him to rule over it.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons that God allows us to experience failure in the midst of life. He already knows whether or not we will surrender to sin. We need the opportunity to be tested and to come to know this about ourselves. It is of critical importance that we learn to rule over our own sin. If not, it will rule over us.

Janine

Friday, May 22, 2009

An Appeal To Authority


My daughters were having a debate. Olivia insisted that yummy chocolaty goodness with crunchy peanuts is much superior to Emma's white chocolate creaminess with crunchy cookies mixed in. I, of course, always having an opinion in all matters of chocolate, sided with Olivia. This led Olivia to rejoice at her good fortune that she is right because she is in the majority, not knowing of course that this statement is a logical fallacy, known as argumentum ad numerum. Emma then argued that simply because more people may agree on the matter, it does not make it true. Olivia blurts out, "And I've got a Mama!"...Ah, the appeal to authority, argumentum ad verecundium.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Scripture of the Week- 1 John 4:9-18

9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[c] our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Eastern Orthodox theology teaches that, on each Christian soul's way to God, there is a middle way and the way of perfection. Some never reach the way of perfection. Perfection is this, that perfect love drives out all fear and only love remains.

I am far from perfect. My deepest fear is that God is going to turn His back on me and that I will be separated from Him for all eternity. Sometimes, in moments of despair, this fear becomes all consuming.

During such times, I become incapable of loving other people, or God. I become so focused on myself, and on my fear, that only my consciousness of myself and the fear exists. That is a horrible place to be. I think that it is a state very close to hell.

Most days, I am stuck soundly within the middle way-- loving God passionately and fearing His judgement and punishment. This scripture states that we can know and rely upon the love that God has for us. This scripture states that our salvation depends upon what God has done for us. This scripture states that we can have confidence on the day of judgement if we exist within the key to that confidence--- that we must live in love and, in doing so, live in God. In this way, God will also live within us.

There are few things that intrigue me more about scripture than the idea that "perfect love drives out fear.... and.... The one who fears is not made perfect in love." Ironically, these verses fill me with both fear and hope.... Fear that I am still far from perfect and hopeful that the very real possibility exists that I can one day be perfect in love and exist without fear.

I think that the key must be the cultivation of a deeper trust in God and a consistent reliance upon what He has done for us. It is very challenging to abide in God, always, when you do not fully trust Him. Paradoxically, it is also very challenging to learn to trust God completely without abiding in Him consistently.

I once heard it said that true courage is not the absence of fear but taking action in the presence of fear. I think that abiding in God, from a human perspective, must necessarily be like this. We grow deeper in the Lord, and closer to perfection in love, when we do not allow ourselves to be defeated by fear.

As in all things with God, much depends upon our free will and much depends upon the grace and help of God. If we not try though, our fear will consume us and, ultimately, fear has the potential to extinguish love.

Janine

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What Happened In Roanoke Today

Some performance artists decided to go out on the market and watch fixatedly, old unplugged televisions. The goal of the group seems nebulous, but anything that may promote turning off the television gets a thumbs up from me.

From what I understand, they were abiding by the law as far as how many were standing together, though from the police officer's perspective, if there were many gathered around this particular performer it may have been a violation of some code. It seems that it would have just been easier for the officer to ask the people to move along. Question; What are the responsibilities of a citizen/artist in such situations?

In the long run, it probably has worked in favor of the performance group, because now it may be seen around the world.



An explanation of the project from Beth Deel.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Piano Lessons in Roanoke

For any of you in the Roanoke area, Olivia's piano teacher has a website here.
Olivia has really enjoyed her lessons, so if you've been wanting to give the piano a try, check it out.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monica


Today is the Feast day of St. Monica, faithful mother of Augustine of Hippo. This is a portion of how Augustine remembered her to God.
For in your hidden providence your hands, my God, did not forsake my soul. By my mother's tears night and day sacrifice was being offered to you from the blood of her heart, and you dealt with me in wonderful ways.

A reminder that God listens to a mother's prayers. How appropriate that this Sunday is Mother's day.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

St. Clive's Academy


I've been thinking of taking some time off of our history rotation to spend a few months doing a unit study of the Chronicles of Narnia, adding extra reading for Emma. Lewis' books are so rich in literary and historical references, there would be plenty to study and I think the change would do us great good.
Well, I guess I'd better get busy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Scripture of the Week- Ezekiel 3:16-21

16 And at the end of seven days, the word of the LORD came to me: 17 "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul."

This scripture has always inspired great fear of the Lord within me. It is so deeply mysterious, yet at the same time very straightforward. This is one of those golden threads that weaves thru all of the bible and is consistently present in all of the tapestry of God’s Word. Namely, it is not good enough to be hearers of God’s Word…. We must also be doers of God’s Word in order to be saved.
How fearful of a thing it is to know that, when we ignore or disobey the Lord’s instructions to us, “the blood” of others will be “required at our hands”. There are a great many scholars who would say that these words were meant specifically for Ezekiel, but I believe that they are words for all of God’s children. What does it mean for us that, even when we commit a sin of omission- of negligence, that the consequences for ourselves and for others will be severe?

Yes, by all means, we are washed by the blood of Jesus and when we confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts that Jesus is Lord, the promise is that we will inherit the Kingdom of God. This act of divine grace is purely God’s great work of mercy towards all who would receive Him.

Revelation speaks about those who will pass thru the fire of God’s judgement naked and those who will pass thru, along with their works which were done to the glory of God and are of eternal value in God’s Kingdom. I think about this so often…..
As I have mentioned in this blog before, I have become captivated by the Eastern Orthodox theological concept of synergy. That is that the process of salvation and sanctification is a dance between divine grace and the human free will. Yes, there must always be that initial surrender to God and to all that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. There must always be that initial surrender when we come to the ends of ourselves and realize that we can never reach God thru our own efforts. There must always be that initial, God given, awareness that we are literally drowning in our sins and that only God can save us. And yet, even then, there are those who choose to walk away from Jesus and those who choose to love Him for the rest of their lives.

Synergy is a dance that begins between 2 partners. Yes, God invites and initiates but it is we who must accept and join Him. It is we who choose to continue with Him or stop dancing. As long as we continue to dance, He makes us more perfectly into the image of His Son. This is the Glory of God, revealed by God in the lives of His children.

And Jesus said in Matthew 7:21 21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. “

Once again, how fearful an echo of Ezekiel...

And in John 14 Jesus says, 21 "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." 23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

How fearful a thing... To know that we are responsible to the living God to live lives of holiness and to continue to walk with Him all of the days of our lives. And yet, He gives us the strength and the grace to do this, if we ask Him.

Even the demons confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. They know who He is. That is not sufficient for their salvation.

I think that all of the literature that has been written on assurance of salvation, without sanctification and holiness, is a very dangerous thing. It is literally eternity that hangs in the balance. What an accomplishment for satan when he is able to convince those who come to knowledge of and surrender to the Lord that no further effort is required on their part. And yet, God promises to bring the good works that He has begun to completion.

I guess, in summary, what I am trying to say is that this is a deeply mysterious issue. God is all powerful and only He could have ever accomplished what was necessary for our salvation. However, I also think that salvation and sanctification require constant effort, in blood, sweat and tears, on our part. I think that salvation and sanctification is a dance between divine grace and the human free will. I think that this dance must continue for all eternity, once a person comes to believe in Jesus Christ and accepts His invitation to the dance. This dance is no easy thing. Yet, it is wonderful beyond anything else in the cosmos.

Janine

Why Balance?

Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon, who was to be awarded the Laetare Medal, wrote a letter to Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University, declining the honour. She writes that she did this in part for the fact that the university decided to go against the request of the bishops to not honour those whose views are antithetical to the church's beliefs, she doesn't want to see Notre Dame's decision influence other schools, but also to not be used as a pawn to assuage the conscience of those attending. She writes:

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Why does an institution whose foundation is based on faith need to "balance" the speakers at the commencement? Shouldn't all the speakers uphold the fundamental values and faith of the school?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More On Investing In Real Things

In a recent Mark Steyn article, he analyzes the problems with the recent G-20 summit, noting that they were looking for scapegoats while refusing to do what would really be necessary to really grow the GDP of the western nations. There was one particular gem of a paragraph in which he touches on our country's growth of "investments". Bold is mine.

Let it be said that in recent years in America, the United Kingdom and certain other countries the "financial sector" grew too big. In The Atlantic, Simon Johnson points out that, from 1973-85, it was responsible for about 16 percent of U.S. corporate profits. By this decade, it was up to 41 percent. That's higher than healthy, but it wouldn't have got anywhere near that high if government didn't annex so much of your wealth – through everything from income tax to small-business regulation – that it's become increasingly difficult to improve your lot by working hard, making stuff, selling it. Instead, in order to fund a more comfortable retirement and much else, large numbers of people became "investors" – albeit not as the term is traditionally understood: Instead, you work for some company, and it puts some money on your behalf in some sort of account that somebody on the 12th floor pools together with all the others and gives to somebody else in New York to disperse among various corporations hither and yon. You've no idea what you're "investing" in, but it keeps going up, so why do you care? That's not like a 19th century chappie saying he's starting a rubber plantation in Malaya and, since the faster shipping routes out of Singapore, it may be worth your while owning 25 percent of it. Or a guy in 1929 barking "Buy this!" and "Sell that!" at his broker every morning. Instead, an exaggerated return on mediocre assets became accepted as a permanent feature of life.

This is interesting to me, as the more I have been reading about our banking and investment systems, I've wondered about the ethics of mutual funds and the like. As we become further removed from those with whom we invest our money, we lose the ability to hold them accountable, all in the name of reducing risk and gaining larger returns. It seems that if we invest, we are morally responsible for the actions taken by the businesses in which we invest, but our thinking has become muddled on this point because we have wanted to remove all risk, which in turn removes any sense of responsibility. All the more reason, I think, to invest in real things and perhaps businesses closer to home.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Mass" Marketing Has Gone Too Far!



I can't think of anything to make something so sacred appear so irrelevant to children as this seems to. This is not like children reenacting the ceremony with saltines and grape juice, which would be normal for children to do as they mimic important activities. To me this seems to be a way for someone to make money. At least when children mimic with saltines, the host will not end up in the bottom of a toy box.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dying Easter Eggs, Naturally

Here's a video tutorial on how to use natural materials to dye Easter eggs. I've done this before, and I don't know if it is a matter of the video quality, but my eggs had much more vibrant colors, especially the blue from the red cabbage. Mine were a beautiful bright blue. At the end the host makes a "crack" about happy dying. It is more apropos for Holy week than I think he realizes. Pax.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rescue Me!

Another funny. It's said that a joke is only funny if there is an element of truth to it. Did you laugh?


The dig is toward government workers, but I think it might be made toward society in general.

H/T Matthew Redard

Monday, March 30, 2009

Investing In Real Things

James Rogers gives an interview for the U.K.'s Channel 4, and the poor interviewer can't believe what he is hearing, as Rogers presents to him the reality of the economy and what it will take to avoid a depression. One of the most important things, other than giving a basic economics lesson, that comes out of this interview is the importance of investing in real things, farming, mining, etc... So, time to expand your gardens folks, and learn a necessary skill. This is what will last and be of worth in the coming years. Enough of the efforts to create desire for extras, if what Rogers, Austin Fitz, Roubini and Celente are saying is true, the yeoman will be the one prospering.

This reminds me of my public school education. Many times I remember the history texts, in a deriding way, taught of how Thomas Jefferson wanted the U.S. to be the food supplier to the world, with farming being the main occupation of our population. Somehow, that doesn't seem so absurd now.

Here's the Rogers interview.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scripture of the Week- John 12: 24-26

24 Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also.

Jesus spoke these words as the hour of his death, the hour of his "glorification" was approaching. These words are so clear and yet so deeply mysterious and paradoxical. It seems that our God, who's thoughts are not our thoughts and who's ways are not our ways, can best communicate His infinite depth to our finite minds through paradox and mystery. Yet there is a piercing clarity and truth couched in the midst of these beautiful words.... And this is God's bottom line for us, if we want to live we must die.

This truth flies in the face of every human instinct and inclination. Surely God created us with desires that He intended to fulfill in this life... Surely, as our provider, He will give us health, food, shelter, clothing, money, a loving spouse and the love of family.... Didn't he promise each of His children "an abundant life", after all?

And yet here, His will clashes with all of our intentions at the very deepest level possible. We want to live and to be comfortable and happy. We want lives full of realized dreams, material blessings, and significant relationships. Modern psychology tells us that this is our birthright--- self actualization, the deepest purpose of human life. But God demands the impossible, that we willingly abandon our desires and deepest human inclinations in order to embrace death.... Death.... How empty Jesus must have been, empty of all of His hopes, dreams and intentions... And our Father said that He was "perfect" in His obedience and asks us to be perfect in the same way. We are invited to share in Jesus's sufferings that we might also share in His glory. We are told that we must hate our life in this world and that, then, we will have eternal life. And our dear, precious Lord Himself speaks these words that are almost to impossible to contemplate--- that if we love Him and desire to serve Him, we must follow Him. Yet all things are possible with God.

Truly this is the ultimate choice of every human being who has ever lived. Do we follow Adam and Eve as they determine good and evil for themselves and disobey God in the pursuit of their own desires, or, do we follow Jesus who emptied Himself of His own desires and became perfect in His obedience to the Father as He embraced incomprehensible agony and death on our behalf?

Personally, I return to this question over and over again. This is a war of epic proportions within me and I vacillate between these 2 polarities, knowing all the while that God does more than frown on those who are double minded. I often wonder why God has not given me the things that I believe that I need in order to survive and thrive in this world. I want to be happy and love my life. Again and again though, God keeps bringing me to the realization that I hate my life in this world and that the only thing worth having is Him. Yes, there are tremendous blessings, comforts and consolations-- dear friendships and material provisions-- Perhaps this is God's deepest provision for me though, that He does not let me have the things that would cause me to love this life dearly. In so doing, He keeps me willing to follow Him and keeps me willing to continue to die to myself.

I always remind myself that this life is only a vapor. Yes Lord, please keep me willing, all of the days of my life, to follow you and to embrace the cross.

Janine

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Fun

I don't watch Letterman, so I missed this when it first aired. It's good fun!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scripture of the Week- John 3:14-21

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God."

The light of God, Jesus Himself….. Uncreated God, uncreated light…. He existed with the Father and the Spirit, in radiant splendor, before the foundations of the cosmos. Scripture promises that, when the Sun is long dead and extinct, God’s children will walk in the New Jerusalem which will be illuminated by God Himself. What an extraordinary thought! How beautiful that light will be, beautiful beyond our ability to imagine….. But then we will be His pure and spotless bride, without sin. How awesome it will be, when we are holy, like Jesus, formed perfectly into His image. Now to say that we are simply blemished is an extreme understatement. We are consumed by sin, body, mind and soul…. We are comprised of darkness and shadows. It is on our skin, in our eyes, in our bones…. It is enmeshed in our souls… Our hearts are desperately wicked and hideously deformed. The fall has shattered the image of God within us. We are not as God intended for us to be.

How very painful it is to walk into the light of Christ in this condition…. Even God’s children keep to the bushes, like Adam & Eve, desperately trying to hide from the light that reveals our darkness and shame. Yet the light draws us out and beckons to us, just as the voice of the Father called to Adam & Eve in the garden. We were created to walk in that beautiful light that reveals just how infused with death and decay we are.

There was only one possible cure for our desperate circumstances, only one chance to walk once again with the Living God… The light of the world, Jesus Christ, descended into our darkness. In another garden, thousands of years after Adam and Eve, our beautiful light surrendered with His whole heart and soul to the darkness of the world. He emptied Himself and surrendered to wicked men and the demonic forces empowering them. He became darkness on the cross as He took all of our sins upon Himself, so hideous and deformed and black with death that the Father turned His face away. No human being has ever endured darkness so black and such desperate despair. Even in the thickest darkness of the world, there is always some light of God, yet Jesus entered into a perfect darkness on our behalf. And then, the sun’s light failed and Jesus died. He was so empty of Himself, devoid of the light, that satan thought that he had won.

And we can only imagine the deeper darkness that Jesus descended to, after the sun’s light failed and He died on the cross, for He journeyed into hell. God’s love and light even pierced that profound and impenetrable darkness. And there, just like in the world, those who belonged to the light recognized Him and were set free from the darkness as they rushed into His embrace.

And this is the judgment, the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. This is truly the point of judgment and eternal decision for every human being. Do we love the light and allow ourselves to be drawn to it, like a moth to the flame, knowing that we will burn in its brightness and die a thousand deaths, or, do we turn from the light and embrace the darkness and our sin?

On Easter morning, the Son of Man was lifted up in radiant brightness and light. He was restored fully to His divine position in the Godhead. Brighter than the sun, He blazed a victorious trail for every human being to follow in His footsteps from deepest darkness into eternal light. And people still love the darkness rather than the light. The agony that He suffered as He opened Himself fully to the darkness of the world and hell must be a small pain compared to the agony that He continues to suffer in watching those that He bought with so dear a price walk away from Him for all eternity. How He must grieve, even in the perfect light and fellowship of the trinity, as He watches people turn away from Him and immerse themselves in eternal darkness.

Janine

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Too Funny

Apparently, someone with a great sense of humor has personified President Obama's teleprompter, communicating through a blog and a twitter account.
Check it out for some lighthearted and sometimes pointed humor.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How To Bore A Church

Over at Quiddity, Andrew Kern writes,

"How to bore a child: Try to entertain him.".

I would say the same applies to the church.

How to bore a congregation with God's word: Try to entertain them.

From my childhood I've heard many sermons, from Sunday mornings and evenings, to special speakers brought into the church for special evangelistic efforts. I've also spent most of my years attending Sunday School. What I've invariably found is that those who try to be funny throughout the sermon, or to make Sunday School "fun", end up being remembered as being entertaining, but not for the message from God's word they are trying to convey. Humor can be a tool to convey a point or put an audience at ease, but a constant stream of cleverness often just puts the focus on the speaker or teacher rather than on God.

Really, the Bible is truly fascinating enough if its message is clear and not clouded. Preached in love, intelligence, good will and good humor it will result in something real to hold onto - and a congregation engaged in real, exciting thought and action.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Morally Unserious

Do you remember when candidate Obama was asked by Rick Warren when life begins? His answer was that it was "above his pay grade". That was indeed a morally unserious answer and a foreshadowing of what was to follow. Charles Krauthammer writes about his continued unseriousness in today's Washington Post article.

He says:

President Bush had restricted federal funding for embryonic stem cell research to cells derived from embryos that had already been destroyed (as of his speech of Aug. 9, 2001). While I favor moving that moral line to additionally permit the use of spare fertility clinic embryos, President Obama replaced it with no line at all. He pointedly left open the creation of cloned -- and noncloned sperm-and-egg-derived -- human embryos solely for the purpose of dismemberment and use for parts.

And:

Moreover, given the protean power of embryonic manipulation, the temptation it presents to science and the well-recorded human propensity for evil even in the pursuit of good, lines must be drawn. I suggested the bright line prohibiting the deliberate creation of human embryos solely for the instrumental purpose of research -- a clear violation of the categorical imperative not to make a human life (even if only a potential human life) a means rather than an end.

On this, Obama has nothing to say. He leaves it entirely to the scientists. This is more than moral abdication. It is acquiescence to the mystique of "science" and its inherent moral benevolence. How anyone as sophisticated as Obama can believe this within living memory of Mengele and Tuskegee and the fake (and coercive) South Korean stem cell research is hard to fathom.

And:

Obama's address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men. Such as his admonition that we must resist the "false choice between sound science and moral values." Yet, exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds later he went on to declare that he would never open the door to the "use of cloning for human reproduction."

Does he not think that a cloned human would be of extraordinary scientific interest? And yet he banned it.

Is he so obtuse as not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.

This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological while he is guided exclusively by pragmatism (in economics, social policy, foreign policy) and science in medical ethics.


Pragmatism is a dangerous philosophy. With it we move from general principles of truth to only what we can experience. So, it's okay to create human embryos only to destroy them, because it may one day cure this disease or solve this problem. We won't really be bothered with the question of the sanctity of human life, when it deserves protection, or does it have a soul. That just wouldn't be practical.

The good is often impractical and requires sacrifice - otherwise more people would do it. Right now we need leadership that is humble, good and grounded in reason.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Should McCotter Do Standup?

Really great and funny interview with Congressman McCotter.



H/T Andrew Breitbart

An Explanation of the Current Economy

Randall Hoven has as concise an explanation for what has and is happening to the economy as I have seen, over at The American Thinker. He stays away from conspiracy theories and he stays away from the question of the run on the markets in September, but over all he puts the information on the surface together pretty well. See what you think.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fragmented Evangelicalism

Alan Jacobs in First Things illustrates how fragmented Evangelicalism is in his article, Do-It-Yourself Tradition. He focuses on how one branch finds doctrine not to be enough, (Remember Thomas Howard's, Evangelicalism Is Not Enough?), and refers mainly to four authors, Halter, Smay, McLaren and Wilson-Hartgrove. What he finds is a desire to pick and choose traditions and disciplines. He even has a little fun with McLaren and Wilson-Hartgrove in their affinity for a sort of monastic life with out the authority of the Catholic Church. These authors are very different from others who have embraced tradition while embracing Catholic authority, such as Kreeft, Howard, Hahn, and more recently, Francis Beckwith, in this way.

I find it interesting that there are other traditional churches, Anglo-Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran, yet these are not embraced by the authors Jacob points out. Perhaps it is part of our post-modern world that we want to pick and choose. I would think this would make it more difficult to live in community, which these authors desire, rather than easier.

Back to Jacobs, he ends by agreeing that we must change and proposing two models. The first is Kierkegaard's Knight of Faith, whose life is so devoted to Christ that what those around him can detect is that he becomes more solid. He adds that this is much harder than it appears because of having to live it out in the world and then points to the monastic life for those who are too weak to be devoted to Christ in the world. Finally, he calls us to truly look to the ancients to give us guidance for the times we are facing.

All this is interesting to me for a number of reasons. Mainly because I find tradition almost irresistible. There have been times when I so wished I could honestly embrace the doctrines of the Roman Catholic or the Orthodox Church. Alas, I'd have to set aside my true beliefs and understanding which I could not do with integrity. So, I understand the appeal of picking and choosing that McLaren and others advocate, but I see a real danger in this, and that is wanting to have everything ones own way.

What Will the Holy Spirit Do Next?

The end of evangelicalism.... Intriguing, but unlikely...

Perhaps the author of this prediction is correct and evangelicalism is on it's last legs in the United States. That thought grieves me deeply. However, it also causes me to wonder what the Holy Spirit will do next-- and where.

With St. Patrick's Day coming up, my thoughts have been drifting to Ireland. The ancient faith of St. Patrick and St. Brigid and how the Lord overcame a violently pagan and cultic culture with love, light and truth has always captured my imagination.

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is like a wind and that He blows where He will according to the will of the Father. Only Our Father has the perspective to understand the movements of the Spirit.

When the wind dies down in one place, we can rely upon the fact that it will turn up elsewhere. We can trust that the wind will not die down completely until the end of days.

Janine

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Death or Change?

Michael Spencer has an article in the Christian Science Monitor, The Coming Evangelical Collapse. He says:

We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.


Part of the reason this will happen is because there is no longer a strict definition of what evangelicalism means. Some of that is because it has been caricatured in the media, (not always without reason), but also because the barriers between denominations are breaking down. This started many years ago after Vatican II, (Remember Charismatic Catholic churches?), and is continuing to blossom. We see this displayed in a return to traditionalism or a rejection of almost any tradition i.e. seeker services.

This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.


Has this not been occurring for a while? Whether it be the absurd Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution's rejection of a state sponsored church, the taxpayer funding of abortions and now funding for embryonic stem cell research? Or how about how Christians are portrayed in television and movies and the latest anti-theist screeds published in the last few years. Public policy and popular culture have been hostile to Christianity for a while.

Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.


I will largely abbreviate why he thinks this will happen. Do go read the whole article when you have time.

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. ....massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.

2. Evangelicals have spent more time entertaining youth than teaching an orthodox form of faith that will take root and survive the secular onslaught they will face.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching.

6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.

7. The money will dry up.


Spencer goes on from there to explain what will be left and the good and the bad of that. It is well worth a longer look.

The one thing I always have trouble with in these types of prognostications is that they take God completely out of the mix. If it were up to the church alone to survive, it would have been over a long time ago. As it is, God is with us. He has sent the Paraklete to guide, convict and protect.

If we take his predictions as a warning and a well intentioned chastisement, then I think we would do well. I hope we do not take it with a sense of doom, because Christ is our hope.