Monday, October 27, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

How about a break from the political?

Some thoughts from Vanhoozer on how we are to approach the Scriptures, and how our failure to do so appropriately results in a failure to participate rightly in the Christian life. What he calls for is not more "application questions" at the end of a bible study, but rather an approach to the Scriptures that recognizes how the wisdom of God is embodied therein and that is prompted by, as well as feeds, a desire to deeply engage in the drama of God.

Doctrines solicit not simply our intellectual assent but our integral participation in the drama they describe and serve . . . The biblical script asks not to be admired but performed . . .

The ancient practice of baptismal catechesis was a kind of 'dramatic journey' that sought to train new believers to participate fittingly in the Christian life. The instruction that early catechumens received involved learning Scripture and 'educating desire': "The homilies and other instruction in Scripture were designed to entice people into the dramatic narrative of God with God's people." The process of instruction typically culminated in the catechumen's baptism, a dramatic entry into the theo-drama-into the very life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The contrast with the contemporary church, at least in North America, could hardly be more striking. We may here recall Alan Wolfe's thesis that doctrinal instruction has largely disappeared from the church in North America, both mainstream and evangelical. The tragic irony is that more people profess Christian doctrine than know how to practice it. The result: a church that replaces the religious affections with religious affectation . . .

The "mind of Christ" refers not merely to Jesus' intellectual quotient or his stock of knowledge but to his habitus: the distinctive pattern of all his intentional acts--desires, hopes, beliefs, volitions, emotions, as well as thoughts. The mind of Christ, refers, in a word, to the characteristic pattern of Jesus' judgments--to the way that Jesus processes information and to the product of that process: the embodied wisdom of God. The mind of Christ is the set of moral, intellectual, and spiritual habits or virtues that serve as the mainspring for all the particular things that Jesus does and says.

-Vanhoozer, The Drama of Doctrine, p.252-256

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Powell endorses Obama

In case you hadn't heard this on the news yet: former secretary of state Colin Powell endorsed Senator Obama yesterday.

Very interesting. Then again, perhaps Colin Powell is also a closet Muslim Communist intent on bringing Armageddon to American shores . . .

My 47 year old self speaks again

. . . and points to the attraction as well as the reason for my unwillingness to abide by irrational character attacks.

Brooks on Obama

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friedman and Seidman: How matters

"I have a friend who regularly reminds me that if you jump off the top of an 80-story building, for 79 stories you can actually think you're flying. It's the sudden stop at the end that always gets you.

When I think of the financial-services boom, bubble and bust that America has just gone through, I often think about that image. We thought we were flying. Well, we just met the sudden stop at the end. The laws of gravity, it turns out, still apply. You cannot tell tens of thousands of people that they can have the American dream - a home, for no money down and nothing to pay for two years - without that eventually catching up to you. The Puritan ethic of hard work and saving still matters. I just hate the idea that such an ethic is more alive today in China than in America . . .

The bank writing the mortgage got away from how because it was just passing you along to a bundler. And the investment bank bundling these mortgages got away from how because it didn't know you, but it knew it was lucrative to bundle your mortgage with others. And the credit-rating agency got away from "how" because there was just so much money to be made in giving good ratings to these bonds, why delve too deeply? And the bank in Iceland got away from how because, hey, everyone else was buying the stuff and returns were great - so why not?"

-excerpt from IHT article

Friday, October 10, 2008

STAY HOME!

It is your civic duty to stay home ya ignoramus!

I hold to my earlier positions even more strongly now. Democracy works best when the right people vote for the right candidate. There's nothing virtuous about uninformed people voting for whichever candidate strikes their fancy.

If you don't know how many senators we have per state, please, do us a favor and stay home this election year.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

An excerpt from Just Courage

"The fact is, when people choose to be brave instead of smart, their courage is generally so threatening to those who are smart rather than brave that they end up being maligned, not congratulated. This is what the Bible says we can expect.

But that is what it takes to show the love of Christ to [those] held as slaves. So sometimes we have to decide: Are we going to love, or are we going to look smart? Because loving the needy doesn't look smart. And, sadly, in much of our culture this is one of our deepest fears: looking like a fool, naive, unsophisticated, a little too earnest, a loser."

-Gary Haugen, Just Courage

Nothing atypical about these kinds of calls being made in Christian literature--many Christian pastors and writers have been trying to figure out how to awaken the Western church from their affluence induced stupor. The difference lies in the specificity of what Haugen is calling Christians to and the credibility he has gained by involving himself in the work of bringing justice and redemption to those who are being oppressed, enslaved, raped, etc.

Friday, October 3, 2008

sad things are being made untrue

That line comes from a brief introduction to the Red Mountain Church album that came out some time this past year. The band musically translates, and often revives, old hymns allowing the great truths written in those songs to be heard today with fresh ears. We cannot recommend them highly enough. Here are the lyrics to a song from the above mentioned album that I'm listening to right now as I try to finish up grading.

We need to have truths penetrate us, wash over our minds, and renew us constantly. Give them a listen, buy their stuff on iTunes and while you're there, check out Matthew Smith as well.

This Breaks My Heart of Stone
Taken from the Gadsby Hymnal # 390
Words – Charles Wesley, 1749
Music – Benj Pocta, 2006.

Jesus let thy pitying eye
Call back a wandering sheep.
False to Thee like Peter, I
Would fain, like Peter, weep.
Let me be by grace restored;
On me be all it’s freeness shown
Turn and look upon me Lord;

And break my heart of stone
And break my heart of stone.

Savior, Prince, enthroned above,
Repentance to impart,
Give me, through Thy dying love,
The humble, contrite heart;
Give what I have long implored,
A portion of Thy love unknown;
Turn, and look upon me, Lord,

And break my heart of stone.
And break my heart of stone.

Look, as when Thy pitying eye
Was closed that we might live;
“Father,” at the point to die
My Savior cried, “forgive!”
Surely, with that dying word,
He turns, and looks, and cries, “’Tis done!”
O my bleeding, loving Lord,
This breaks my heart of stone!
This breaks my heart of stone!

© 2007 Red Mountain Music
www.redmountainmusic.com

Truly it is done. Truly our hearts of stone may be broken. Truly, truly, we are being renewed in Him by the power of his gracious love. Truly, truly, He will come for us one day soon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A little clarification

In reading Will's comment on my last post, I feel it necessary to make sure something is clear. I do not consider American prosperity as an equivalent factor to the abortion debate in determining the qualification of a candidate. But I DO consider the candidate's methodology for promoting American protection and prosperity to be of vital importance.

In other words, if the job of the President of the United States is to govern in such a way as to secure, maintain, and promote American interests, then the question must be asked: how will a particular candidate do that job? How do they understand their role in that undertaking? As they seek American prosperity (the only natural pursuit of elected leaders who do not fear the Lord), what are the means that they will employ in that endeavor?

Practically speaking, it is fair to speak of the number of deaths that come from war versus the deaths that come from abortion. It is still unfair, in my opinion, to act as if the number of civilian deaths in a war (not speaking about the deaths of soldiers who sign up to kill and be killed) are essentially insignificant in comparison to the abortion statistics, even if the number of the latter is monstrously larger.

The point in a democratic society should be higher than a mere pragmatic decision between two men who will be responsible for the deaths of many. If we are to participate in the democratic process then I think that our standards should be much higher than that. We cannot simply say, "well this candidate will be responsible for fewer innocent deaths than the other, therefore I'll vote for him/her." If that is the only choice we are left with democratically, then I will choose to abstain from being involved. If however we choose to be involved, then we are assuming a responsibility to not be content with a mere pledge of support for the unborn. We are assuming a responsibility to ensure that the pledge is acted upon, and further, that other acts of injustices are not being committed by our elected leader. We must call our elected officials to account for all injustices. We cannot content ourselves with partial measures if we are to be engaged in the democratic process as globally minded Christians.

American prosperity is not my first priority, nor my second, nor my third. I do not know exactly where it falls in my list, but since American prosperity affects me, I cannot pretend as if it does not matter. So, if it appears that my previous post assumed an equal footing between the death of the unborn and the prosperity of America, then I did not communicate my thoughts clearly enough.

My priority is to see that the man we hand the presidential office is worthy of that post in the way that he promises to act while there. A candidate who will not fight for the protection of the unborn does not deserve the post. At the same time, a candidate who will take America into wars too quickly or easily shows a lack of judgment that may be imperiling for an unknown number of people and therefore, I would argue, also does not deserve the post.

Conversely, a candidate that will not fight for the protection of the unborn, but will work to reduce the number of women who are in a position to get an abortion seems like a very pragmatic choice when the current administration has been in power for eight years and has not been able to eliminate the reality of abortion.

So, if we are going to be merely pragmatic in our approach to the topic of a presidential leader, I suppose we should ask each candidate how they see their administration taking practical steps to reduce the number of abortions in our country (since both have said that this is something that they would like to see happen). In this way, we will be utilizing the power of our democratic choice to seek results instead of mere pledges. That strikes me as the truly practical, democratic, and Christian direction. Do you not agree?

If our goal is to be practical and realistic (which is what I hear from every Christian that finds it foolish to not vote for the pro-life candidate), then it seems that we should be concerned with making sure that at least the number is reduced while working for the ruling to be struck down. It is clearly not an issue of electing a pro-life candidate and then watching abortions cease over night. Therefore, if we are going to be practical we need to look at what McCain proposes versus what Obama proposes regarding the fact of the Supreme Court protected "right" of women to kill their children.

At the same time, I contend we need to evaluate their decision making process and how it will affect all other areas of their job responsibilities to see what kind of effects will occur under their watch. For even though soldiers sign up to kill and be killed, it is still a tragic thing to lose a son, a brother, a father, a husband, and I want to make sure that the whole thing is avoided if possible. We are not living as Israel in the Old Covenant with the assurance of God's direction as a nation, and therefore I do not feel that the precedent of the conquest of Canaan applies to America. Canaan was judged by God via His chosen people. America is not God's chosen people and therefore we cannot assume that He is on our side against nations such as Iran.

Here concludes my somewhat rambling monologue . . . for now.