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Archive for May, 2009

One of my All-Time Favorite Quotes

Posted by Remy on May 30, 2009

“It is generally wise to seek to be separate, to be in the world but not of it, to be no more engaged with modernity than were the ancient Christians with the culture of pagan antiquity; and wise also to cultivate in our hearts a generous hatred toward the secular order, and a charitable contempt. Probably the most subversive and effective strategy we might undertake would be one of militant fecundity: abundant, relentless, exuberant, and defiant childbearing. Given the reluctance of modern men and women to be fruitful and multiply, it would not be difficult, surely, for the devout to accomplish—in no more than a generation or two—a demographic revolution. Such a course is quite radical, admittedly, and contrary to the spirit of the age, but that is rather the point, after all. It would mean often forgoing certain material advantages, and forfeiting a great deal of our leisure; it would often prove difficult to sustain a two-career family or to be certain of a lavish retirement. But if it is a war we want, we should not recoil from sacrifice.”

-David Bentley Hart.

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On the Early Church

Posted by Remy on May 29, 2009

I love the church fathers. St. Augustine is my number one favorite, but I love reading about St. Athanasius, St. Gregory the Great, St. Ambrose and many others. I love reading about these crazy guys God has used to shape and mature the church. These are the guys that ran from the church and were dragged kicking and screaming into the ministry, because in the early centuries to be a leader in the church was a deathwish. You had to be crazy to take on a life-threatening slave’s role.  

These men were brilliant, though often petty, insightful, though (like us all) blinded by the times they lived in. Teaching through the period I have come to appreciate how God worked in the world through Platonism, Aristotleanism, and other harmful -isms, using them for good, as a corrective (like postmodernism has been a good corrective of modernism, and how whatever-ism will be a good corrective of postmodernism). To see the hand of the Spirit working in the church over hundreds of years is a great comfort. I’m sure there is much to learn in seeing His method, what questions are dealt with first, how they’re dealt with, how the Lord leads His people in the way they should go.

Studying the history of the church shows many starts and stops, many dead ends, many retreadings. This is important to keep in mind as we look over the history of the church. One example was Asceticism; it wasn’t the right way to go. One of the most unsung heroes of the church was St. Benedict who transformed the eremitic movement and saved civilization. So though we look to the past, we are not cemented to it, though we honor the past, we are not locked in their ways.

For this reason an appeal to the early church alone is not enough. This is because -unless you are a premillenialist- we are still in the early church. In a thousand years people will forget who came first Doug Wilson or Chrysostom, Pope John Paul II or Pope Leo X, modernism or chivalry. Go back a seventeen hundred years ago and you couldn’t convince anyone that in the future an emperor would not be the head of the church. There are many other things that went on in the church, that were widespread that have been totally abandoned today.

This is what we should expect, God working slowly, like leaven through the loaf. Leo Tolstoy wrote a short story with the title “God Sees Truth But Waits”. That has become a great comfort of mine. Knowing that the Lord is working, even though at times things look bleak, even though petty squabble distract us from the unity we have in Christ Jesus, the Lord rises each day and unfolds His new creation a little more and pronounces it good. Then rising again the next day to do it again.

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Dead Heroes and Weeping Martyrs : a Review of “Beowulf”

Posted by Remy on May 27, 2009

[2008]

The movie Beowulf is a failed pagan epic, too Christian to be of any heretical weight. It begins in gold humanistic grandeur, yet it ends in a tarnished tin Christianity, a weak and inglorious metal. George Bernard Shaw gives a solemn “huzzah” when Unfirth mocks the eternal life doctrine. Julian the Apostate nods in approval of the low treatment of women, passed like possessions from man to man, but de Sade tsk-tsks his disapproval of the offscreen rape, good old Kubrick would’ve had it front and center. When hoary-headed Beowulf complains that “the time of heroes is dead…the Christ god has killed it, leaving humankind with nothing but weeping martyrs” Nietzsche gives a sharp clap of the hands, but then proceeds to grit his teeth at the weakness of Beowulf in showing regret, he pulls his hair as Beowulf plays to the sympathies of the audience (an unbecoming act for an uber-mensch), and storms out with bitter tears at the moralism of the ending. “You have conquered, O Galilean.”

The screenwriters have acknowledged that Christ has stolen this story and they try to take it back, but unfortunately the god they pay tribute to has his name butchered the entire time (“Odin” is not how you pronounce his name). Robert Zemeckis embeds the cross throughout the film, toppling it and setting it afire, but for all the impotency he wants it to have, we all know how this story is made immortal. Christianity for all its weakness and humility sure is a pesky thing to get rid of, to avoid, and to trump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Theotokos : Points for Discussion

Posted by Remy on May 26, 2009

  • Theotokos means “God bearer” and was applied to Mary in the Christological controversies.
  • In the ensuing centuries this temporary role was made eternal.
  • “Therefore a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.”
  • If she isn’t part of the bride she’s been left behind.
  • In John 19:26 Mary was shifted from mother to sister and to bride.
  • The perpetual virginity of Mary serves no theological purpose.
  • The perpetual virginity of Mary was invented by a bunch of virgins with sexual hang-ups because the early church had a low view of the body.
  • Virginity is something to be lost within marriage, not something to treasure.
  • It is not dishonorable to say that Mary had sex and bore children (as Matt. 12.46 says), rather it is to further honor her.

The next step for Romanists is to name Mary coredemptrix, a petition that garnered over six million signatures including Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Posted in Newness | 110 Comments »

10 Bad Assumptions in Raising Children : Assumption Number 4

Posted by Remy on May 25, 2009

There are several assumptions parents make that are detrimental to their children. As a parent who teaches I am afforded the opportunity to spend time thinking of ways to train children. This is not to say that I’ve figured anything out, I have three rascally boys all under the age of five, so what do I know, right? But because it is my job to train children, both as parent and teacher, I know that good thoughts only follow thoughts and I have thoughts. What follows is a few thoughts that strike me as important, but are also not emphasized enough. These are not meant to detract from any other fine advice, but to compliment it.

 10. Churchtime is Time to Sit Still and Quiet

9. Words are Bad

8. God is Always Watching 

7. Obedience is Most Important

6. Bad Examples are Bad

5. Sex is a Secret

4. Sin is Always Punished

The purpose of punishment is not to teach kids what they deserve (unless you want to execute them, but even then if punishment does not reflect the true God then to hell with it). The purpose of punishment is to teach them happiness and reveal the nature of God. To punish all sin (or all sins you know about) is not to accurately portray the living God.

I always think of Yahweh’s treatment of Israel in the Book of Samuel. Back in Deuteronomy Moses warns them that if they disobey they would be judged and sent into exile. They sin and God sends Himself into exile. The Philistines take the ark of the Covenant, Yahweh sends them plagues and exoduses Himself. Even after this Israel continues to live idolatrously, but instead of wiping them off the map God places them in Babylon where they gain prestige and power. Even in the judgment God is merciful and blesses Israel.

This and many other delays of God’s judgment reveal what is repeated again and again in His word that He is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy. Even when judgment comes it is blunted and sometimes outright blessing.

What this means for parents is that in every judgment we should seek to reveal God’s mercy, sometimes this means a complete commuting of the sentence for the sake of Jesus, other times it might mean a reminder that even in judgment the Lord is good. Conveying anger is easy, but mercy is a difficult and -on the face of things- a reckless response to sin, but one that must be used to reveal the true God.

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To End All Wars

Posted by Remy on May 22, 2009

“During the twentieth century, the United States was at war 15 percent of the time. In the second half of the twentieth century, it was at war 22 percent of the time. And since the beginning of the twenty-first century, in 2000, the United States has been constantly at war.”

-George Friedman, The Next 100 Years

To Christians, as pacifists, the above quote is disturbing.

Perhaps even that sentence above is disturbing.

But only Christians worship the Prince of Peace, peace is our goal, and therefore we are pacifists. The only question for us is how we labor for peace.

I haven’t done the leg work to verify this, but the numbers I’ve seen indicate that though wars have increased, the deathtoll has not. Both foreign and domestic deaths have decreased. If we view America’s involvement in other areas as preemptive strikes to avoid more destructive wars does this change our view of our foreign policy?  Are we truly for peace or just for the avoidance of war?

Posted in Life | 7 Comments »

If You Only Listen to One Sermon This Year…

Posted by Remy on May 22, 2009

then you probably need to reevaluate your priorities.

But if you only listen to one extra sermon this year, it should probably be this one.

Other sermons from AAPC can be found here.

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My New Favorite Simile

Posted by Remy on May 21, 2009

“as ardent and measured as a thoughtful husband’s annual trips to the lingerie shop.”

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You Must Read Poetry

Posted by Remy on May 21, 2009

“Grampa”

 
Look him.  As quiet as a July river-
bed, asleep, an trim’ down like a tree.
Jesus! I never know the Lord could
squeeze so dry.  When I was four
foot small I used to say
Grampa, how come you t’in so?
an him tell me, is so I stay
me chile, is so I stay
laughing, an fine
emptying on me —
 
laughing?  It running from him
like a flood, that old molasses
man.  Lord, how I never see?
I never know a man could sweet so, cool
as rain; same way him laugh,
 
I cry now.  Wash him.  Lay him out.

I know the earth going burn
all him limb dem
as smooth as bone,
clean as a tree under the river
skin, an gather us
beside that distant Shore
bright as a river stone.
 
— Dennis Scott

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On Humor

Posted by Remy on May 20, 2009

Humor is a dangerous, yet valuable thing, indispensable really. Valuable because it teaches submission and humility and dangerous because even foolish laughter feels good. If you do not train yourself to laugh wisely you must either live as a pessimist in the face of all jokes or be blown about by every wind of comedy.

The problem of treating all jokes skeptically before laughing, doing the moral calculus after each delivery, is that it treats humor as a pathogen rather than good for you. Humor is healthy. The Christian life should be characterized by joy and not a “pietistic” frown. We’ve been designed to be happy, something we can clearly see in how our memories work. Nobody breaks into tears upon remembering pain, but we still laugh when we remember the funny things, we sometimes laugh when remembering certain injuries.

All jokes come embedded in a particular view of the world that must be embraced before one can enjoy the joke. My constant example is the Prayer of Bart Simpson: “Dear Lord, we paid for this food ourselves so thanks for nothing.” You might not think this is very funny, but only Christians can laugh at this joke because it assumes a Christian world, it assumes that there is a God, that He provides you with all things and that you owe Him gratitude for it. To laugh at this acknowledges that this isn’t the right response to God. 

Humor is communal and, if properly understood, humor is good practice in humility. This is because the Christian hope is to laugh with people and not at people. We are called to see ourselves in the absurdities of caricatures, to identify with the deficiencies of others, and to think of ourselves lightly.  

As the joyful people we should be quick to laugh and slow to sombreness, fast to smile and slow to scowl.

Posted in Festival | 2 Comments »