Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Essentially, Capon dares to take grace for exactly what it is, straight, no chaser - as you will read in the scond quote. It's bracing and it makes my head swim, and I fear that he is right. That may seem an odd thing to say. So what does that mean? More later, but now a tidbit.
"The gospel of grace is the end of religion, the final posting of the CLOSED sign on the sweatshop of the human race's perpetual struggle to think well of itself. For that, at bottom, is what religion is: man's well-meant but dim-witted attempt to approve of his unapprovable condition by doing odd jobs he thinks some important Something will thank him for. Religion, therefore, is a loser, a strictly fallen activity. It has a failed past and a bankrupt future. There was no religion in Eden and there won't be any in heaven; and in the meantime Jesus has died and risen to persuade us to knock it all off right now."
The reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two hundred proof grace -- of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the gospel -- after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps -- suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started...Grace has to be drunk straight boys: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, nor the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.
(Between Noon and Three: A Parable of Romance, Law, and the Outrage of Grace )
Thursday, September 25, 2008
All of the above is just as true, if not more so regarding news about the national economy.
What ARE the fundamentals of our economy? Something tells me that securitized mortgage equities are not fundamental. Something tells me that the equities market in general is not fundamental. Influential certainly. But not fundamental. Could economic fundamentals have more to do with things like taking raw materials, adding value to them and selling them at a profit? Like manufacturing for instance. Aside from not being able to borrow money to run their businesses (which is admittedly no small thing) how are the makers of real goods faring these days? Fundamentally sound? The PTPED wants to know.
GWB has got to be pretty discouraged. This whole debacle is what he will be remembered for.
Many formerly Free market ideologues seem to have turned into lifeboat socialists. Suddenly why do all these once rabid free market people look like Christian Scientist parents praying over their dying child. Imagine a CS practitioner of many years suddenly standing up and shouting "Give the kid some antibiotics, for crying out loud!"
If these fair weather free marketeers were true to their ideals, they would admit that this is a natural market correction and must be allowed to run it’s course. Of course, it might kill the child, but that’s natural and that’s how free markets operate. I’m sure there are people out there like that, but I don’t hear them. I'm probably not looking hard enough. Probably because if they are out there, I don't really care. I'm not a total free market freak myself.
On the other hand, I’m not sure that all those people who believe that the only way to go is a heart/lung/liver/kidney transplant, with a complete resection of the intestines, have too much going for them either.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader.
The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).
This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free. More than 200 talks from our archive are now available, with more added each week. These videos are released under a Creative Commons license, so they can be freely shared and reposted.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Okay, having said that I’m not a HUGE fan of HD Thoreau, allow me to quote him yet one more time. I think I shall have to actually READ Walden soon. I will admit that my earlier complaint about HDT is because most of what I have read of his is merely quotes. I have some suspicion that if I actually engaged him in toto of his major works, I might be otherwise disposed toward him.
I once dabbled in Civil Disobedience, and was nonplussed. I did read the entire volume of his Maine Woods and found it interesting as an historical account of the Maine what was, but not particularly significant beyond that.
But here, I find Thoreau using words that speak powerfully to me. I read this, and I think, “I could get along just fine with Henry. Just fine.”
It is remarkable what a value is still put upon wood even in this age and in this new country, a value more permanent and universal than that of gold. After all our discoveries and inventions no man will go by a pile of wood. It is as precious to us as it was to our Saxon and Norman ancestors. Every man looks at his wood-pile with a kind of affection. I love to have mine before my window, and the more chips the better to remind me of my pleasing work. I had an old axe which nobody claimed, with which by spells in winter days, on the sunny side of the house, I played about the stumps which I had got out of my bean-field. As my driver prophesied when I was plowing, they warmed me twice- once while I was splitting them, and again when they were on the fire, so that no fuel could give out more heat.*
I actually went searching for this particular passage, which I knew to be one of his, because I have lately noted that his sense of a man’s feeling toward his woodpile correspond closely with mind. I can’t explain it really, but I find great satisfaction and contentment in the act of merely standing to gaze upon my growing wood pile. This is not to mention that pleasure of actually making it grow by cutting, splitting and stacking the wood, nor the delight of planning how to obtain more of it, and determining how best to store it and manage it.
I hope that you note that the pile has grown some since I last posted a photo of it. Please note that. It will make me feel good, like when you say nice things about my kids.
Yes. I do indeed feel affection for my woodpile. The more chips, the better.
*From Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Not a HUGE fan of Thoreau. A few quotes, too often repeated, and usually in a manner that suggests that they must contain such wisdom as will answer all questions. Nevertheless, every once in a while I come across something surprising and revealing.
If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life...There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root, and it may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce that misery which he strives in vain to relieve. ... Do not ... be an overseer of the poor, but endeavor to become one of the worthies of the world.
From Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Friday, September 12, 2008
In answer to T #10, for me it is not so much that I find particular parts of the liturgy attractive (although I do), it is the actual structure of the service, which is determined by tradition. The serivce is meant to build anticipation toward the focal point of the service which is the Eucharist and it will always be the Eucharist, not whatever worship leaders wish to highlight. I also like the idea that Anglicans around the world are reading those same scriptures, saying the same prayers, exploring the same themes and that I am tied into that larger body of Christ. I like the way the service is centred on Christ, rather than on the “worship leaders”. I like the fact that the set selection of scripture determines what the speaker will speak on, rather than the speaker determining what scripture he/she will used to prove his/her point. In that vein, I like the way we move through the whole bible rather than concentrating on certain parts and that each service has something from the OT, the NT, the Psalms and the Gospels, in which preeminence, signalled through a variety of rites, is given to the Gospels. The message is that Jesus is the lens through which we view scripture. I like the fact that the sermon is short (and in my experience so far, offered with humility) so that the thought is centred on prayer and scripture, rather than the notions of the rector. I like the hymns which are drawn from 1,000 years of music. I like that each week we say the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. I like how the prayers of the people are part of a cycle so that our intercessions are broadened beyond our own needs, our own community, our own church. I like the fact that a couple of times a year we pray in our cycle for each of the local evangelical churches even though they seem to view us as not really Christian. I like the way we think individually about our errors in a period of silence but then pray communally for forgiveness. I like the way all of this directs our focus to the Eucharist. So that having contemplated Jesus’ words, prayed for forgiveness, extended the hand of love and friendship to our fellows we quietly wait in line, like lost, weary traveller’s glimsping the lights of home, anticipating our turn at the Lord’s table where the celebrant will place a piece of bread in our palm, touch us and say quietly, “Christ’s body, broken for you” and bring the cup to our lips and say, “Christ’s blood, shed for you.”
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Whatever I think of Sarah Palin, the reactions on all sides have been most entertaining. Reporters, pundits, commentators, bloggers and blabbers have been just buzzing. Me too now. It’s so much fun because she turns over so many expectations. She is so many things that she SHOULD not be. But…she is.
And this is why I think McCain has shown himself to be extraordinarily shrewd and bold politician. In selecting her, from what I understand somewhat against his inclinations, he has earned his maverick moniker.
Personally, I like her. I’m not sure how she will actually fare in office. I suspect she will do just fine. I suspect that she has a lot of work to do before her debate with Biden, and I suspect that she will do it. Biden better watch out. If he wins, then he gets the rap for beating up a girl. If he loses, then he just got beat up by a girl. I suspect that she is a girl with a very large baseball bat tucked behind her back and she knows how to use it. I guess we will see.
And then there is the whole feminist vs. at-home mom angle. Conservatives are just as stymied by this one as the liberals are. It’s great that she doesn’t kill her children before they are born, but shouldn’t she stay at home with them until they grow up? It’s great that she is a powerful role model of successful female leadership, but does she have to keep having babies like that? It’s really fun to watch everyone going around scratching their heads.
Here’s some of the things I’ve been picking up on about her.
Bill Whittle ( eject!eject!eject!)
Hat tip to Assistant Village Idiot for pointing me to this. An excellent explication about why conservatives can actually get excited about the Republican presidential ticket. One of the more cogent political analyses I have read.
Many conservatives were arguing that it would be better to sit this one out, and let the country go to hell, so that we could send the Republican party a message and re-emerge from the ashes in 2012 with “the next Reagan.” I pointed out that there were two problems with this theory:
First, you may not like the fact that Grandma smokes in bed, and you may indeed want to get her attention. But if that message consists of letting her set the bed, the house and the grandchildren on fire, perhaps there was a better way to “send a message.” Second, it pained me to point out that there was no “next Reagan.” Ronald Reagan was on the political scene for almost two decades before he became President. Who was waiting in the wings to magically fill this role? No one.
James Fallow (jamesfallows.TheAtlantic.com)
I generally like Fallows writing, although he comes across here as a little nasal, if not exactly whiny. Even so, he does make one pretty good observation about the way the Palin family was presented during the speech. I remember thinking, as I watched, that they are really putting a strong spotlight on those kids. Fallows points out with greater clarity what I only felt in my gut.
Barack Obama has used his family as a prop from time to time -- most recently, bringing the charming girls onto the stage at the end of his convention speech. That's life in politics; everybody does it to some degree.Very few politicians do it as all-out as Sarah Palin just did, from citing the disabilities of her youngest child as part of her resume to including the shotgun groom of her elder daughter. I can't recall any spectacle comparable to Baby Trig being passed from Cindy McCain, to Trig's 7-year-old sister, to Palin herself when she ended the speech. Her husband looks charming, I have to say. From this point on it will be hard for her to declare anything about her personal or family life out-of-bounds.
Doug Wilson (Blog and Mablog)
Wilson despises McCain, and he is very much of the sit this one out crowd that Whittle talked about. As a great proponent of the Federal Vision in Christian Theology, he has very strong opinions about the roles of men and women in society. His blog has many many items this month about Palin, but his pro/con posting is probably the most complete and compelling. This quote is one of the best parts, from Pro point number 6.
6. File this next one under the heading of "husbands of accomplished babes." I speak as an expert here. Feminism is not the only heterodox gender-idea we have to deal with. There is a significant stream within conservative Christian circles that is more Muslim than Christian. In my writing on family, I have called this error masculinism, the counterpart to feminism. This selection of Sarah Palin enables us to address that problem. The Bible does not teach that a woman's place is in the home. It teaches that a woman's priority is the home. If a woman accomplishes a great deal outside the home without surrendering the priority of the home, there is nothing whatever unbiblical about it. Many people have assumed that Nancy and I are homers simply because we don't apologize for the apostle Paul's teaching on headship and submission in marriagae. But while we believe and practice and teach everything the apostle ever wrote on this subject, my wife has taught outside the home, written a textbook, taught at conferences, written other books, and all while managing the home in a spectacular fashion. My daughters are both very accomplished women, as is my daughter-in-law, and I welcome the opportunity for genuine conservatives to reject the ditch on both sides of this gender road.Read the whole thing here.
Gail Collins (NYTimes.com)
This column is humorous for Gail’s pitiful attempts to whine about McCain and Palin. She is grasping at straws and probably swiping a more than a few straw men.
John McCain is not actually running for president. He’s running for Senate majority leader. All his passion is directed at defects in the legislative process. He’s been a military man or a senator for virtually all of his adult life, and listening to him talk, you get the definite impression that the two great threats of the 21st century are Islamic extremism and the appropriations committee.
“When I’m president, the first earmark, pork-barrel bill that comes across my desk — I will veto it!” he announced right off the bat. “You will know their names!”
McCain hates, hates, hates earmarking — the Congressional habit of sticking appropriations for special back-home projects in the budget without going through the normal priority-setting process. He talks about it with an enthusiasm that he never manages to summon for the economy, health care or education.
Earmarks are indeed a bad thing. If you ever become a U.S. senator, please dedicate yourself to getting rid of them. But for the chief executive of the country, they’re about as critical a problem as the overlong Christmas shopping season.
There’s more out there and more to come. McCain was pretty foxy to make this selection. We’ll see where it leads.