Sunday, August 27, 2006

Be Of Good Cheer

I found this old drawing I had done over twenty years ago and scanned it and colorized it.
I didn't just want to inscribe "Grim Reaper Comix" across the top so simple threatening poem would have to do.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Off Mycale Peninsula

Gliding on forgiving green deeps,
Oars dipping in silent tattoo,
The warship to battle, it leaps
From seven to eleven knots. Crew,
Captain, and pace drum are urging—
The oarmen thunder with groaning—
Eleven knots tightens the turning—
Eleven knots from the sea foaming.
Rowers nigh dead lick salt from their lips,
The sweat and the lash lend life to their grips.
Calluses break driving water behind,
Mouths mutter curses on captain and kind.
Faster by far than death should arrive.
“Faster lads! Ramming speed! Drive!”

by Evan Wilson

The Heights

You have read of the calamity that fell on the saints of Big Haus!
Though from these Olympian heights (above my chamber door) Scotland fell, one Ginny Metzler, having read of my dirt, offered to share some of hers.
Praise be!
Here you see what was given, rubbing cheek to jowl with the survivors of the Beast.
1. dirt from the deserts east of Jericho
2. the Coliseum in Rome
3. salt crystals from the Dead Sea
and most importantly in our travails,
4. Scotland
On the far right sits a little jar with a clod in it picked from the wreckage of glass shards and dust swept into a trash can. It is now labelled "The Ruin of Scotland"

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Them Changes

Aeons pass. Stuff happens.
A bird flew into my library the other day. Its delicate sensibilites could not seem to find the door which, as some of you know, is eight feet wide. The tussle that ensued involved two adults, a sheet, a broom, and a dustpan.
In the Annals of Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord, it is said that the Oracle, wielding his dustpan (that he had named Landwaster), smote the beast until it fell from the heights and assumed room temperature. The wounded were then counted ere the trophies could be set up. The sheet in its efforts to entangle the beast had swept the dirt collection from its place on high. Down plummeted the flasks at 32 feet per second squared and Scotland the Brave smacked the glass on my desktop a ripe and juicy one. Scotland and its glass-walled home were smashed to atoms and the glass top to the desk went similarly but in larger pieces.
What you see before you is the desk awaiting its new transparent protection and it is being shared with you this day as, with the changing of the seasons, new stuff and old have been arranged thereon.
Of these articles, feel free to ask.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Till As Angels Be

We wouldn’t chase our souls apart unless
We died and wander’d up to Heaven’s height
Where should and shall that death make meaningless
These vows made only sacred in this life.

My mind walks o’er the years of you gone by,
Slows my step toward our passing’s parting,
Though I would run if in thy lap I die
In heaven, to Heaven’s apt arriving.

A poem to my wife
on our anniversary
28 years
August 12, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sin: Excuse or Escape

A creation subject to futility and sin since the Fall has made up our minds for us. We face the travails of the calamitous in our lives and the task is to arrange it better. The guilt of sin is one such pain and man has either to brainwash himself into thinking it doesn't affect him that much or to flee from it outright. Of course the Christian view ought to be flight, escape, resistence through the grace of our Saviour but hidden in our philosophies are basic life defining principles that tempt us to excuse rather than escape.

The positions of determinism and free will each carry that virus. Determinism has the excuse ready made. While those that claim the view affirm that they alone are guilty of sin they have, hanging behind the scenes the strong affirmation that they are not the cause of anything. All excuses attempt to remove causality from the self because cause, to the degree causal, is responsibility. Even within that theology there is the admission that this principle is true. Just look at the means that are used to claim that we can not take credit for our faith. We all "seem" to exercise faith unto Life. The determinist says that those within the free will camp are trusting in a faith that, to their mind, is their own and hence a work. And, they say, we know we are not saved by works lest any man should boast. How do they make this "seeming" self originated faith not your own? God causes it and therefore only God should be credited. So you see, the determinist agrees that the truly causal (regardless of "Seeming") is responsible. The question naturally arises that, if God causes faith and sin (and He is 100% causal to both according to the determinist), why am I credited for sin and denied it for faith?

As an aside, if faith is freed from being a work by the causality of God, how then can even a bona fide work, claimed as a work by the individual performing it, be a work?

The free will position, while not in an of itself an excuse for sin holds temptations as well. It acknowledges the individual's autonomy. For the sinful agent, their sin was their autonomous wanting brought to life. The lordship of the self is easily seduced into being the only lord. God can be put at a distance from which the penalty of sin is less likely to occur. This can be a physical distance (like deism), a strength distance (like paganism), an informational distance (like process theology) , or an emotional distance (like agnosticism). Freedom of the will bears its own guilt but if the adherent of the position wants to dwell in the comfort of arranging his own conscience with more local justification, he just needs to cease seeing the God of the Bible as close, personal, concerned, involved, opinionated, and, without a doubt, powerful.

The oracle: Let us measure our lives less by the benefits of our philosophies for in them can hide excuses, our hiding places. Let us give ourselve more to the benefits of God's grace, for in it is our escape from the guilt of sin and the power of sin.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Define Sovereign

When someone says that God is Sovereign, any Christian worthy of the name finds himself agreeing but at the same time feels that the speaker is using code for something else. It is largely because the idea of YHWH, maker of Heaven and Earth, being sovereign is too obvious to be that speaker's only motivation. He who intones that "God is sovereign" is "up to" something. The word "sovereign" means "rule" and, of course, God does... all things. But the person that was belaboring the obvious was not saying that God rules, he was saying that God exercised a certain kind of rule, that of exhaustive sovereignty. He is saying that God is an Autocrat (all decision falls to Him) versus a Monarch (the highest and ultimate judge of all decisions).

The foregoing is an example of the infamous "boa constrictor" argument. This a form of argument is one in which a concept is uttered in terms with which everyone in the audience will agree (the loose loops of the snake) and once everyone assents to it, applying it narrowly, presuming on the agreement of the audience (constricting the coils). It will either be that the loose or the tight use is being misdefined. In this case, the tight is the erroneous usage.
They say, "God rules."
We say, "yeah, you betcha."
They say "So you agree that God is in exhaustive control and has decreed all things."
We say "Nope."

The question before Christians regarding the Sovereign of the Universe is His method or kind or extent of rule. And the debate is narrower than we think. The nature of rule is that there be two (minimum) participants, that which rules and that which is ruled. They don't have to be outside an individual as in the mind ruling the body but they must be discrete. The discreteness is present only if there is a real potential of regard and disregard of the ruler. The ruled may not merely be the extension of the will of the ruler or there is no other will for the ruler to rule. If God's governance is presumed to be an exhaustive autocracy (in which nothing occurs but the will of the ruler) there is no actuality to the existence of the party called "the ruled". We know that in ourselves, that the closer we get to an absolute submission to our wills, the more closely we are able to define that which is our self. If there is an absolute and exhaustive submission to the will of God, nothing exists but Himself. The apparent diversity of creation would be merely the presence of God. It is pantheism ( "God is everything and everything is God … the world is either identical with God or in some way a self-expression of his nature"). Consequently, exhaustive divine sovereignty is not sovereignty at all. Only that which grants (by whatever method) an encounter with possible obedience and disobedience can claim to rule. God rules like all rulers rule. He has not exhaustive decision but exhaustive imperium, the unquestionable ability to reward and punish all things. His absolute ability to punish and reward all that is in His creation is the arena of sovereignty. The question before Christians is between, and the ratio between, that which He causes and that which He rules.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Define Justice

Justice is when an action occurs in an arena over which an agent has an established hierarchic governance and, regarding which action, the ruling agent has previously expressed its will to the citizens of that arena, said agent awards benefit or applies detriment to the actor discovered to be responsible in a measure proportioned to that actor's contribution and intention of cause.

Is it justice if an action measured is only possible?
Is it justice if the less measures the greater?
Is it justice if an agent not governing that arena executes a decision?
Is it justice if the actors are unaware of the ruler's will?
Is it justice if the ruler does not consider responsibility?
Is it justice if causality is not the measure of responsibility?
Is it justice if measure of responsible cause does not include degree of intention?

If I am wrong and one hundred percent causal for the above statement, by what definition of justice could I be blamed?

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Glory of Desk Drawers

Desk drawers are a sanctuary. Things which had meaning and lost it need a place to hide until they can regain their meaning. What are they hiding from? Some woman, probably a wife or mother, scouring a house looking for things to sell in a yard sale. Yard sales are the liturgy and sacrament offered up to the Great Ancient Anatolian Goddess "Shopping" who has said repeatedly through her foul, eunuch priesthood that someday, somewhere everything you can possibly buy, you can buy for 25 cents. Think of these women as the Saturday Morning Maenads. But I digress. Desk drawers are partially designed to be outside a woman's sight. They blend. When shut, they look tidy and neat. All the while, inside their shallow deep and dark recesses, a gathering of the important stuff that will be the joy of many grandchildren after your death. This is because stuff cannot speak for itself. Men know that stuff in drawers has lost, if only temporarily, its meaning and cannot lay about in the open. The religious fervor of Woman would ignore your entreaties, look upon its pointlessness, and consign it to a bin, a bag, or box labeled "yard sale". There is no appeal. If she finds something wandering about after it has been consigned, she may choose to serve the commands of this G.A.A.G.S. rather then St. Paul's teaching regarding the withholding of connubial bliss (he was against it). Rather than risk this destructive force in a marriage, a man should set up these "drawers of refuge" in strategic spots around his domicile.
If any of my readers are women and are suppliants of G.A.A.G.S. , today you will be exposed to a telling victory in the Oracle's application of his "drawers of refuge". I was rummaging in one (no other word is allowed for this practice) and, lo and behold, I came up with those two thingies pictured above. Defenseless stuff at its finest. You women are probably thinking, "Where were they hiding?" On the left (grid is at .25 inch) is a bronze coin from Judea circa 103-76 B.C. issued by the Hasmonean king Alexander Jannaeus while on the right is a bronze coin from Judea issued at the time of Festus, the Roman governor before whom St. Paul gave his defense. There you go. Antiquity in a drawer in North Idaho, hidden, because women walk the Earth.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

If You Seek, You Find

Your saving and living faith is not merely about the sum and truth of that which you believe. It is also about how you got there.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him.
For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists
and that he rewards those who seek him." Hebrews 11:6

One of the key elements of faith, in fact its very beginning, is to believe that God is there and He is benevolent to those who seek Him. No one but one's self can accomplish this. No ecclesiastical institution nor historic compendium of truth can replace the absence of it for an individual. God wants to be sought. He rewards those that do.
His purpose was clear as early as the dividing of the nations as He says through Saint Paul at Athens,
"And he made from one every nation of men
to live on all the face of the earth,
having determined allotted periods
and the boundaries of their habitation,
that they should seek God, in the hope
that they might feel after him and find him."

There is a Club Christianity which you can join with the half-faith mentioned at the first. You can become a member in good standing by mere regularity of attendance at services and assenting to certain facts about God. If surrounded by a culture that applauds this as conversion, God (and I mean this) help you. Half of your faith is still missing. When did you first devote yourself to knowing Him? When did your upbringing, if it were in a Christian home, stop being the end of your faith and start being a signpost. Do you revel in all the revelation of God, from Nature to Scripture? Do your words tell a tale, by prayer, praise, and testimony, of your pursuit of God. Do you seek?

If you do not seek Him one wonders if you actually believe He exists and is gracious. Without having asked and answered the questions about God, sin, and salvation how could your faith ever expect to be "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen"?

"Seek first the kingdom of God."
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Maduro Dance

The off white lines wear grey in early twilight
And dance the measure played. They swing in wreathes
Down the floor of Brahman with moves polite
Scenting all the Atman that I can breathe.
Warm pirouettes come kiss my lips and leap
To warm my soul; tone my eye with amber.
Golden hearts are thus refined. Drawing deep
On the heat of slow consuming, cambered
Coals while hands untouched by the warmth of such
Ecstatic calm, damn contentment and damn
This art, this joy. They say,‘You dance too much!’
But dignity is out of reach to them.
The step, the pace has certain height and grace,
A hint of Spanish with Virginia laced.

by Evan Wilson

Monday, August 07, 2006

Christendom versus Christianity

No, it is not a very original title but the subject has been on my mind. Many would agree with these two categories but they would probably draw the line at a different place than I. I draw it between personal darkness and personal light. There is a sizeable majority of active, sincere (meaning not nominal) Christians who do not seem to be changed by the Holy Spirit. Worse, there are ministries which, seeing where the demographics of "size success" abide, cater their doctrines and their words to attract and keep that majority. That majority becomes the history of the Church. That population sends its generations to seminary. There is more of practical unregenerating belief in the Church than regenerating belief.

Of course, that majority does not know the Lord Jesus Christ and has not been set free from sin. These ministries that speak to them can be liberal and say there is no sin (except racism or believing in sin) but they are generally not successful because they give insufficient religious perks and are hard to distinguish from the secular. The successful church or ministry will be conservative. They try, with the law and church culture, to tidy up these church-going, creed-believers so that a vague similarity to the ethics of Jesus might appear, at least in their brochures. It is whitewash for the "visible church". As an example see any Christian college's PR glossy and then visit the lives of the smiling students, let alone the homes of the teachers. I consider this Christendom infidel, not because it doesn't have faith but because it believes in its belief, like the Seven Sons of the High Priest Sceva in "Jesus whom Paul preaches." My years of observation has convinced me, with no residual doubt, of Our Lord's words, "Narrow is the way that leads to life and those that find it are few."

Christendom plays at being Christian unsuccessfully but quite successfully relives the foibles of Israel. Israel was an unregenerate nation which the Living God had chosen and had controlled through the Law. They trusted these deceptive words "This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord". That is exactly what the Christian culture mongers are seeking (be they the "keep my kids innocent" neo-agrarians or moralizing, political "prayer in public schools" activists or the Oxbridge medieval protestants engaged in heavy petting with Apostacy). Like Israel, they trust in their history, their liturgy, their buildings, their priesthood, their superstitious sacramental magic, and their social affectations. Yes, it is a "sign and a wonder", an empire which very busy men have built. It must be large, complete, and compelling. It has to make people think of themselves as Christians without personally "calling on the name of the Lord. It has to replace the Gift of God.

The Old Covenant was a needful means of running an unregenerate people with a modicum of external order. The New Covenant is making a different sort of person, ordered internally by the Holy Spirit. If you get handed a "Christian" culture by the leaders of your particular movement, you are joining the Old as Israel not the New in Christ, a shadow not a substance, a playtime of childish ways not maturity, law not grace, Christendom not the Kingdom of Our Lord and Christ. The Old Covenant was just that shallow. But the unredeemed want the shallow because they can touch it. They like their covenant reality to be a large and bumpy objectivity. The blind need it thus that they might feel their way along. They can believe that the church believes the right things because being blind, they have to trust someone else to post braille signposts along the way. They want the church to stand between them and God much like Moses stood between God and the people. But the writer of Hebrews says, "For you have not come to what may be touched." True Christianity is lived out by those for whom the Holy Spirit has written His culture on their hearts. Christianity is the subjectivity of a covenant and the covenant is the promise of a wonderous miracle of subjective change.

There can be splendor in a man made culture. It fills our aesthetic needs and desire for order but it is no guide to successful Christian living. If righteousness were through the law or any outside social manipulation we would have no need for grace. Some things must be your own, personally, as in the phrase "every one who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Are you one of these? Or do you have more than one "degree of separation" between you and God? There is a difference in metaphysical condition between the man or woman who believes that others believe correctly and those men and women who have believed. The first group wishes to have and needs to have the church they believe, believe correctly and to tell them what is good and how to live. The second have looked into the face of God, unveiled, and were changed. Are you someone who has found the narrow door or are you marching lockstep down a very broad highway to Destruction, with the comforting presence of the rest of Christendom.

The oracle: Christianity and the New Covenant is individual with the church as its collateral effect. It is not the Church with its collateral dictates to the individual.

On the temptation of Christendom, or any part of it, to dictate a culture, C.S. Lewis in Lilies That Fester:
"Anything transcendental or spiritual, or even anything very strongly ethical, in its pretensions is dangerous and encourages it to meddle with our private lives."

"The higher the pretensions of our rulers are, the more meddlesome and impertinent their rule is likely to be and the more the thing in whose name they rule will be defiled. The highest things have the most precarious foothold in our nature. By making sanctity or culture a moyen de parvenir you help to drive them out of the world."

And if you were always suspicious of Lewis, here is St. Paul.
II Corinthians 3
5 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness, fading as this was, 8 will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? 9 For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation, the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. 11 For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not see the end of the fading splendor. 14 But their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when a man turns to the Lord the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Lifeless bodies lying, lay with living
Men, torn and suff’ring still. A battle done
But the dying beat back Black Death, hov’ring
In his sorties for the slain. Patience won
More warriors in the slow embrace of pain
Than the reaping instant of the pitched war.
On the field limbs are moving not. They’ve lain,
A tangled knot and mass of meat, no more
A memory of the thundering host. Red
Armour, bent before the killing blows, seeps
Into the mud and knights, with those they led,
Sink rusting into Hell, to dust, to sleep.
But cries, weak cries, above the gore and dirt
That was a proud and standing man at arms,
Lift pleas, Dear God!, to aid or end the hurt.
The different words in different tongue charms
With partial pity an indifferent knight
Who passed. The dagger in his hand had left
The coup de grace till now. His sword and fight
Was why such dying harvest was bereft
Of most of life. A cruel sight to leave.
Quiet parts the pleading lips as breast bends
To feel the steel of Death. The Fates must weave,
Alas, but thus make mercy and amends.

by Evan Wilson

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

An Illustration

Body odor is hard to discern when it is your own. You are happy with your choices of hygiene and you will not notice your pungency without shoving your face in your armpit. You are at peace. Others are not so lucky. It is your odor and their nose. They don't need to put their face in your armpit. They merely need to walk by or step into an enclosed place with you. Soon they are dreading the "fellowship" you offer after church. "Someone," they say gossiping like the Philistine, "must tell you." They certainly should be braver but they are not. They should, in a manly way, walk up to you and declare to the ears that which the nose lacks. "Sir, you are offensive to all that breathes. Without breath we die, but sir, with it we are sore wounded until death may be preferred." Such would the brave man say to his, now, ex-friend. Instead, less brave, he leaves an unsigned note in the pages of the odiferous friend's KJV (the stinky are often sticklers).
Once this note is found and read, the comfort of the pungent is disturbed. The borders of his life have been breached. The proverbial rock with a note has been bunged through his window. Is it a psyops attack of enemies? "You stink" when you don't can be viewed as an attempted misdirection of your efforts in ruling your fief. Is it the fearful admonition of friends who wish you to remedy something that affects them? Both are likely stories as stories go. The choice between them will tell another story, that of self assessment. Most of us, I think, are insecure about our attempts to be physically pleasing and would naturally understand that our self-comfort has misled us again. We may quickly develop into a three-shower-a-day obsessive compulsive. It takes a mighty proud man to be so confident of his hygiene that he feels free to consider the note-writer an enemy whose efforts were an obviously flawed attempt on the citadel of a kingdom wonderfully run.
Do they not know that this is how all men should smell?

There is an irritation ratio that could be discerned. In both stories it is a negative act to lob a unsigned missive into another's life commenting on a failing and it is a negative condition to stink. How annoyed we are with which, is the ratio we find defining our souls. Does my annoyance with the unknown writer predominate? Or my failure to clean myself sufficiently?
Sometimes, when the planets align, the stink is real and the enemies are real. This ratchets up the confusion in dealing. The foul one easily sees the animus of the commentary and is tempted to consign the whole proceeding to motives unconnected with his stench. Others, friends, see that an enemy spoke the needful first and was rejected so they hurriedly scratch out a note and file it in the KJV . "No really, I mean this, you do stink. This is not from the previous anonymous writer." "Sure its not," says the offensive to himself and others who have grown comfortable with a certain level of greenish miasma in the places they gather. This is not a circumstance which will get the stinking to stop anytime soon. Some give up and avoid. Some try to find new ways to speak to the stink. They try directly, as the brave should have done but it is too late. The stinkers have developed a view. They have addressed the concept of stinking thoroughly because they defended against enemies. As for the enemies, damn them. For the olfactorily offended, they need to realize that noses are merely the evolutionary residue (like the appendix) of radical anabaptist pietism. And our friends, we will make and sell a bacterial cocktail that will, when applied to your sweaty areas, grow into a New Wave of Wafting Greatness that Will Sweep the Infidel Nosiness Down to the Pit. And we will also need to develop something for our watering eyes.