Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Father's Good on Christmas Day


Here lie, in the sanctum sanctorum of Big Haus (where the Oracle receives his supplicants), the offspring of greatness. Cradled by leathern couch, feet draped on leathern hassock, sit the four who will carry Clan MacEvan into a dark future.

In that dark tomorrow:
One is to be a lawyer.
One is to be a jazz singer.
One is to be soldier.
One is to be a philosopher.

All are Christians with faithful effect for the Kingdom of Heaven. What better Christmas gift could I be given?

A Mother's Good Example on Christmas Day


There are six of us in Clan MacEvan. In past years the Christmas table was always enjoyed by a wider array of folk than our mere six. The Amazing Missus, in those past years, always put on a spread that set new standards for the Northwest Regional Hostette AAA Division.

But something different happened this year. We decided, what with 3 of our 6 returning from points elsewhere, we would just have MacEvans at table. A simpler circumstance with that MacEvan futilitarian ease and comfortable, non competitive dining.

We found out that it never had been competitive for the Amazing Missus. It is who she is. Her family will be served at the level of guests.
Just look at that table.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Keeping it Simple

This last Sunday I preached on why some unbelievers, in spite of being intelligent, hearing, and even understanding, don't turn to God and cry out for salvation, while others in the same state do.
Simple question.
Some theological persuasions make it more difficult and raise new questions (about the goodness of God) by their handling of such a simplicity. I forgive them as they are trapped by an anthropology that forces them into complexity.

I said it was a simple question.
It has a simple answer.
Why don't they repent?
They don't want to.
My anthropology has been mentioned on this blog before. The central task of man is to resolve the nature of feeling. He must govern it into some satisfactory semblance of peace. He chases after his lusts, moderates them and minimizes his pains. He develops his understanding and justifies his action. He knows that he has been given the first draft in the task of governance. He soon finds that he must allow others to share in the governance for he, alone, could not arrange life well enough. He collects into cities and solves thereby some of his needs. They together develop economics and armies and laws. We all know what we are about in this regard. Everything we do is answering the question of who is "lord" over "what".
Enter the God, the God who made Heaven and Earth.
He says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
He is asking for everyman to make a crucial grant of lordship and man guards that privilege very closely. In addressing the unbelief of the Jews in Romans 6, St. Paul quotes Isaiah 65.
I spread out my hands all the day
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3 a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and burning incense upon bricks;
4 who sit in tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine's flesh,
and broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
5 who say, "Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am set apart from you."

Note the last line of verse 2.
It is their own devices they follow. They want to arrange their lives their way for what they perceive will be an adequate peace.
And verse 5 is their conclusion.
Their every hope is to have a life following the oft remarked key of conservative politics.
"The government that governs least governs best."
Man's own passion, their own feeling, their own way is the single explanation for the wide variety of sin in this world.
As Christ quotes Isaiah 6 in Matthew 13:15
"For this people's heart has grown dull,
and their ears are heavy of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
and turn for me to heal them.'"
They choose to be blind. They do not honor God as God or give Him thanks.
They would like to be healed (it is our primary need) but they don't want God to do it.
They would be the "master of their own fate, the captain of their own soul" no longer if they bowed the knee. They are no different from the wingnut that refuses to get a social security card, lives in a single wide in Montana and doesn't pay his taxes. He thinks he is man enough to command that difficult task called the human life.
He isn't that smart and neither are we.
While we may be more sensible in our willingness to absorb a loss of individual governance because more power than we have is necessary to fight a war, print legal tender, and maintain sewer lines. We allowed for it and became citizens of it because we knew we needed something we could not individually access and that this fraternity or overlord provided.
God has asked for something more directly about and within us than a city's infrastructure can offer. He has asked to rule our passions directly. This is the seat and motivation of all our pursuits. It is what we feel, both painful and pleasurable. He will have nothing less from us than authority over the arrangement of our feeling. Others, like cult leaders or megalomaniacs and even Satan of Christ, have asked for this control but only a God can provide a moral governance validly. It is a big submission and it must be made and must be made correctly. Heaven knows we need it. He who refuses to submit to God thinks he can make a "good" that is good enough.

The Heavens and the Earth are a monarchy.
Jesus Christ is King and Lord.
The peasants are, well, peasants.
They look on the claim of Christ and sound like the mud farmer in Monty Python.

Man: Come and see the violence inherent in the system! HELP, HELP, I'M BEING REPRESSED!
Arthur: Bloody PEASANT!
Man: Oh, what a giveaway! Did'j'hear that, did'j'hear that, eh? That's what I'm all about! Did you see 'im repressing me? You saw it, didn't you?!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Parishioners, Congregants, Occasionals, & the Curious

This Sunday, December 9, 2007
All Souls Christian Church
will meet at its new building
(217 E. 6th, Moscow, Idaho
and it looks like the church pictured below)

Regular time: 9:30 A.M.

Tell everyone that you know who might accidentally go to the American Legion Cabin and think that despite my views on the Rapture, it happened anyway.

Come ready to be Very Thankful!
signed, The Bish

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Blessings!

Thanksgiving Prayer

Rendered words will to Thee, on knees before,
Call blessings down on us from blessedness
On all the temptings, Thine, we do adore
But hold as bliss in brief possessedness.
O, Giving One, Thy name on high be praised,
Thou, us, hast given surfeit, rich with wine
Not want. Here satisfacted hands are raised
To call this Annum’s bountied harvest Thine.
And families all, beneath thy heaven sing
Of faithfulness to such as mortal clay.
Your eyes and ears patrol the earth to bring
Our humbly proffered plea to thee today.
Before Thy throne we lift the goodly year
May Thy great goodness bless today with cheer.


by Evan Wilson

Monday, November 19, 2007

I Got Me A Hat!

I have been in many arguments involving the compelling wonders of Open Theism and its Promethean carriage of light to the tired darkness of determinism. I have left the half dead khaki clad forms of many a young turk crying for mercy on my library floor.

But then, on the wings of the U.S. Mail came a sign, a portent. I sat there stunned. All my human pride gathered in puddles doubly wet with my tears of shocked clarity about deterministic..um... stuff. The postal service winged thing claimed to be a demonstration, obviously, of decree.

What's the picture for? Hold on, hold on! I'm getting to that.

St. Joe of Mikler camest to town some years gone. Since he had known and been taught by an old friend of mine (who had recommended and warned St. Joe of me), it necessitated that we meet. Meet we did at Bucers one night. Short swords were drawn, blood was spilt, and the emblematic khakis were ruined. After Joe got out of hospital a friendliness to those of heterodox opinion had grown. In due course this monk of Miklerburg, this anchorite of Orlando graduated and moved back to the spiritual and moral wilderness that is Florida. One day he walked into a skate shop and there, the decrees insisted, was a hat. Not just any hat but a hat that could turn the Oracle from his free willin' ways. I know you can't read it but emblazoned thereon, for all the world as unanswerable as Gideon's fleece, it says "First Church of Evans". If this is from the hands of Providence may I suggest that they should cast their graphics department into the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing. St. Joe sent it unto me with a warning to mend my ways. I have submitted (in insincere external gesture without any true repentance) since Floridian decrees are hard to resist. I wore it to church.

May I say this is the best argument I have ever heard from a Calvinist?

Yes, that is as good as it gets.

And I got a hat.

One up for the Open Theists!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Are You a Compelling Argument?

In two conversations recently a certain thought has crossed my mind. That thought involves what passes as an compelling apologia for the Faith.
For some, the authority of the Church, with its various levels of priestcraft and tradition, whether it be ancient or new-fangled, is the proof offered. It is the proof of an insistent, bigger voice which, while not God Himself, makes the hearer feel sufficiently dependent and small.
For others it is the philosophic/historic/debate driven proof that evolution is wrong, God exists, the Flood happened, etc. etc.. This is the most popular apologia and where, if you buy a book on apologetics, you will find yourself immersed.
Some find that the Fake is sufficient to prove the Faith to themselves and to others. This involves stories easily checked on Snopes.com which everyone (everyone with a modicum of smarts) knows are a fraud, but the desire to believe that Life is this way, creates the offering of a lie in exchange for a "willful suspension of disbelief". It is an apologia of "I really want this kind of thing to be true and you told me it was". I have been in embarrassing conversations with college educated Christians sharing tales where only my breeding as a gentleman kept me from informing them in front of their wife and offspring that they, yes they, had managed to make the word "retard" a necessary and helpful part of my vocabulary.
Rarely, and this is my thought in these recent conversations, are the apologies of the Authority of the Church, the Debate on Facts and Ideas, or the Born Fools Believing Abject Lies any match for the Grand Battle between Sin and Righteousness. Catechize your kid, wrap their reading up in Philip Johnson and Josh McDowell, and send them off to Creation concerts where they can hear the latest of Christian mythologies and when they go off to college, what do you know?, they tube it. Sin seems fully capable to trump everything but actual Righteousness. Why not prove the Faith by proving in your life what the Faith was supposed to do? That a lot of people have believed it, or that it is true, or that it even excites rumours is no replacement for it working. I guess it is easier for most (thinking their doing Our God a favor) to read Michael Behe or C.S. Lewis and spout a regurgitated argument than it is to be holy and point your child (ah, there's the rub) or the nonbeliever that knows you well, at your life. Wouldn't it be nice if the Grand Victory of Christ over Sin at the Cross had some practical evidence?
Of course its true, look at what it has done for me!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Graeme Stanford Wilson

I am duly proud of my children. Number 3, Graeme, is almost done with boot camp at Ft. Leonard Wood. He has done very well and is currently first in his platoon in physical training.
After this he is on to Advanced Infantry Training (home for Christmas, thankfully) and then finally home to attend the University of Idaho in the U.S. Army ROTC.

Pray for him. You can be proud too as he serves us all.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Way of a Man with a Maid

I was asked the other day by a man who needed to know, "What areas of doctrinal agreement make for a spiritually happy marriage?"
A couple of things need to be cleared up first.
One: I don't expect a wife to agree doctrinally with her husband. They usually do agree but I don't think it helps a man already too pleased with himself to have another soul, who loves him romantically, adding her voice by default to the cheers. That she does agree and knows that she need not is a great freedom and greater confidence within her own thoughts that she has processed, not merely 'slept with' her husband's views. Plus, he will be able to trust that if he can't convince her, he might still be right but he will know that the transferring argument needs work.
Two: It is not the 'agreement' that makes for the spiritual happiness. If the two agree and are wrong in their view they have team happiness. They have just what two advocates of, or members in, a particular sporting franchise have. The weight of spiritual happiness in a marriage is that degree of agreement on that which is sufficiently correct that the Powers of Heaven conspire to aid and comfort.
Primarily I am thinking of a man with a maid though I imagine a young lady of mental means might find this helpful as well.
The Preacher saith "Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life which he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun."

Three conclusions or opinions must have been reached by a young lady if you hope to be happy with her in daily tests and maturings with which this futile life is encumbered.
They are, The Gospel, the Primary Desire to Please God, and a Knowledge of where Truth comes from.
The first is obvious. Without regeneration by a belief in and a calling out to God through His Son Jesus Christ, the hottest for you, most infatuated in you, sinner on the planet will be Hell on wheels. In the lightest and heaviest way, God Help You.
The second is about her opinion of her Christianity relational to all else in her life. The Powers wish to aid and comfort. Does Christ not merely save her from sin but buy her attention as Lord? Just like a man would not like to discover that she married him for an occasional romp and as a day laborer, so also would that man want to have someone as committed to pleasing the Lord as is he. Remember this is about agreement. They, the two of them, must have met the Gospel with effect. They, the two of them, must take the position that Christ is Lord.
In looking for a wife it is a reversal of Christ and the centurion. Christ is impressed with the Roman soldier's understanding of authority and comments about such a one that, "no greater faith is found in Israel". I say 'reversal' for a man wants to find a wife that understands (before she becomes his wife) that God rules the world of men and as such she is more ready to be what God commanded for a wife.
"Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands."
Ephesians 5:22-24
Let us recap. Evangelical faith unto salvation and an abiding desire to please God. Sounds like a great gal. Without getting into a systematic agreement on your particular creed, what more could be needed? The third thing, that I mentioned above, is the thing that puts legs on the spiritual relationship between man and wife.
"If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home."
I Corinthians 14:35

What I said above was "that they know where truth comes from" and then just now I quote a little more Pauline misogyny. No, I am not saying that truth comes from the husband. I think you would have figured that out by my first aside, that a wife need not agree with her husband on doctrine. The husband needs to know that he is Biblically mandated to be a teacher for his wife and like Christ and the Church "wash her with the water of the word". So what quality in her should he be looking for. Many women are saved. Many want to please God. And tragically, many of these many make up their minds by what their pastor says, what their father says, what their husband says, what friends, commercials, traditions, superstitions, passions, and emotions say.
If she ends up in a correct opinion about anything, she was lucky.
Above all else pick a wife from a set that knows whence truth comes. You have to guide her and answer the questions. Watch for these evaluators.
When she holds a position which is revealed to be opposite from what she sees in Scripture, run like Hades.
When she, on encountering a rational proof against what she thinks, makes her defense in the tall grass of passion and/or what people important to her said, resign yourself to a longer search for love.
If what is apparent on the grounds of a shared phenomenal reality is set aside for vain imaginings, faeries, conspiracy or worse, conveniently forget her phone number.
You cannot lead, and you cannot spiritually enjoy a woman who doesn't know where truth resides. You cannot hope to have a wider range of agreement in doctrinal nuance with some babe for whom the Scriptures, logic and empiricism are just 'guy think' and against which she decides and lives because of the oatmeal she calls gray matter bubbled up at the sight of a puppy.
"Like a gold ring in a swine's snout
is a beautiful woman without discretion."
Proverbs 11:22

Monday, October 15, 2007

Respecting Fathers

The writer of Hebrews suggests this:
"Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them."
Of course it could go without saying that the parent who does not discipline gets no respect, either in the upper crust liberal whose enlightened approach to child rearing has rewarded him with children who hate him or the perennial example of the harried mom in WalMart threatening to count as little Cletus goes ballistic on the floor. We can write off the foolish who think they can do better than what ages of human experience has taught us. The can look forward to a future with an emo kid cutting herself at thirteen because of reasons she knows not or an absent wife working so the family can stay affluent AND afford the Ritalin for the boy . Odd, I said "it goes without saying" and then I proceeded to say it. I'd better let them be. They have sufficient crisis without me.

But what about the devout Christian family that lovingly disciplined and still got handed the adolescent from Hell? They did discipline (and we are talking spanking here) and yet no respect.
Look at the signals your child is getting. What is it about a larger person hitting them that will make the smaller respect the larger? Fear perhaps? Why would they resent such an action? And why, just about the time they get big enough to resist the discipline, their resistance increases like they were waiting for the advent of physical equalization?
If you are just bigger physically you are a tyrant and a bully. You get your way in the house because you are larger. The child is taught only one thing, that size matters because it is only size that defines the right of rule. But might does make right (not moral right but allowance). Why should a family be any different. It won't be. If a population conceives that they are being ruled by their equals, great force and consequently greater tyranny is need to maintain government. If successful in quashing all rebellion the citizens turn out to be servile. So it will be with your family. You will have to become more tyrannical and hope to crush the spirits of your children until they flinch fearfully at the possibilities of the broader world. If you fail to crush them, and with boys it is harder, prepare for a civil war about the time they can look you in the eye. All this unless you and they perceive that the rule comes down to them from their better. They are children, and by good and necessary consequent, idiots. You are adults, a powerful race of demigods wearing the wedding rings of Doom.

When law and discipline comes down on you from above, the ruled know that the betters are supposed to govern them. Equals are not "supposed" to do so. When equals try, all Hades breaks loose.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Brazenly Citified


Wes and I can't help ourselves. As candidate Obama says, it is the "audacity of hope". We cobble together a body of irrelevant knowledge, wrap a day around it, offer victuals, and ask them (who are "they"?) to pay $50 for the privilege of hearing us.

Four Cities: Wes will be doing Byzantium and Alexandria while I dodge the obvious of Athens or Rome and pick up Pergamum and Antioch of Syria.

This is what anyone with a soul will be doing on November 10. It will be a comfortable Autumn day and the humane attendees will be scribbling notes that will map a future sophistication. After supper we will once again gather in comfy chairs and read of things the pedestrian ignore.

Be there.
Contact me at ewilson@turbonet.com if you are interested in joining us. If you are from out of town, The Big Haus has 3 guest rooms at no extra cost.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It sounds like you mean something to someone else

"He was my mentor."
"We are living in community."
These are phrases that give me that searing pain running from my jaw to my right eye which I usually only get while looking at certain small children.
"He is my lover," doesn't bother me at all. But it is a kind of relationship like "mentor".
"I'm from Idaho," equally gets a pass. But it is a locational belonging like "community".
What is the deal? It could be merely the place those words hold in trend-speak. Having a mentor became as necessary as having an iPod and the hobbits buying their dirt cookies at the whole foods store could not imagine being so pedestrian (though they recommend the practice for planetary good) that they merely would live in a "city" and be "citizens". There is wrath in plenty for any whose vocabulary follows the trends. But what is it that the trend violates in us? Mentors exist. Communities exist. Lovers exist. Idaho exists.

I think that part of the crime is that they "name and claim". These are measuring words. The ears that hear need help defining us so it is good for them to hear these words of measurement, words that say a "good" thing without concrete claim of the good it actually bore. No one claims to be someones lover without wanting people to conclude that the two of them are having sex, consensually and regularly. The good claim it makes is specific. Living in Idaho allows even the hill apes back east to realize, with certain specificity, the shape and range of borders inside which I sit.
Mentoring is soft, fuzzy, indistinct and pointless except in the use of the word. The use of the word suggests Socrates and Plato. It is suppose to make you feel that, like lovers in the sack, the mentor and menti are out striding the moor, pipes clenched twixt teeth, with a constant barrage of questions and returning fire of answer ennobling and shaping the man that was into the man with whom he walks. The hearer wants to become, with almost cult member fervor, like his mentor. Now it is actually the guy who shows you where the coffee room is and which middle management poseur you need to avoid. But now you have a "mentor". My objection is that it means more than what they are gaining but they want you to hear the "more". It is like a girl claiming to be someone's lover after having been on date ending in a chaste embrace.
People want the words "mentor" and "community" to still carry the weight of their claim without the needs of performing that which they claimed. It can be beneficial to be guided by someone else's wisdom and it is good to live harmoniously in a social construct. Within the trend all conversations with a more advanced agent are mentoring and every social existence is "in community".
A young lady had expressed recently the interest in living at Big Haus so she could live in community. I told her that we are not interested in living in community, we are a community. The titles are their own delicacy, and their sweetness to our spoken reputation is that of saccharine not sugar. Artificial sweeteners are a sweet without the cost of calories but they are also a life not even half lived.
Many hope the spoken word calls things into existence which are not yet but many have learned to like the "taste" of the fake flavor. The more they say "community" the more it feels to them that they have one. I say if you find a mentor, be then mentored but never say it, even in your dreams.

Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.
I John 3:18

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Semi-Pelagian Self

I have to admit that I like Pelagius. Hey, he was a Briton. I differ with the man on a number of fronts as well. Like the rest of his generation he held to baptism as a passage of grace. He was ascetic in his personal spiritual exercises but probably accepted those that weren't. He believed that pieties could be lived that were not required. But I agree with Pelagius where most disagree with him.
His popular reputation as a heretic is primarily on two fronts, (1) his denial of original sin (which I, with him, deny) producing a lack of necessity for infant baptism and (2) his belief in the possibility of holiness (which I also aver). He did support infant baptism but for very different reasons.

Why would I suggest that the arch heretic of Augustine's wrath should be considered on those very points that give the orthodox fits? I grew up in a home that centered itself on the Word of God and on the practical handling of that Word. My parents did not hold anything because the historic church told them it was decided thus. My father has taught for many years that Romans 7 was St. Paul recounting his life as an unbeliever. This challenged a proof text of those who wished to have it describe the necessary sinfulness of the believer. Interestingly, if you read Jacob Arminius on Romans 7, he says the same. More to our topic, if you read Pelagius' commentary of Romans (Oxford University Press) he also makes the same suggestion. For you followers of tradition, it is the faith of my fathers and I come by my Pelagianism tribally. Actually, I too find this an irresistible force in the Scriptures. Reading Pelagius one finds a mind traveling along rational paths with the Word of God as his guide while with Augustine you feel like you are in a vortex of allegory and still tainted by his rejected Manichee gnosis. Pelagius is more modern.

The notion that Pelagius believed that man could be sinless without conversion (which I don't hold) stemmed from his view of the distinction of ability, volition, and actuality. Summed up it is more like man could but wouldn't and didn't. Pelegius' disciples like Coelestius ramped up that claim to the extent that Pelagius denied that teaching explicitly at the Synod of Lydda (415)
" I say again, that these opinions, even according to their own testimony, are not mine; nor for them, as I have already said, ought I to be held responsible. The opinions which I have confessed to be my own, I maintain are sound; those, however, which I have said are not my own, I reject according to the judgment of this holy synod, pronouncing anathema on every man who opposes and gainsays the doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church."

Pelagius states his position to the same Synod with these words.
"But we never said that any man could be found who at no time whatever, from infancy to old age, had committed sin: but that if any person were converted from his sins, he could by his own labour and God's grace be without sin; and yet not even thus would he be incapable of change ever afterwards. As for the other statements which they have made against us, they are not to be found in our books, nor have we at any time said such things."

Those Christians who desire holiness and see such promise in the Holy Scriptures find a common thread in Pelagius.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

On My Father's 80th Birthday


THE PATRIARCH'S LAMENT

A father once spoke to himself in his age
"My kids are too smart for their good,"
thought the sage.
"But my sons married swell,
And the daughter as well,
So my sorrows will grandkids assuage."


by Evan

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Nimbus of Tweed About My Head

Tomorrow, today online, appears an article by a young lady of considerable mental stature named Molly Worthen. It is about New St. Andrews College here in Moscow. It is pretty fair article. "Big Whoop" says the casual observer. Here is where the whoop comes in. The article appears in The New York Times Magazine. The second whoop arrives on our lips when we realize that the Oracle of Evantine Abbey has been quoted 3-4 times by name. Sure, I say somewhat unremarkable things but the mere mention has caused Fred Banks of the Drones Club (an avid reader of The Times) to pay up on his offer to agree with me for two weeks running (beginning tomorrow). The rest of you might wish to try it. Consider it a fasting from incorrectitude.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Thought Following after Davis' Thought

When a person wants to do and does that which he knows is evil, he is being not just darkly evil but a dim bulb rationally. His internal admission that good and evil exists (handy to have in blaming everyone else for their sins) is an admission that an authority exists greater than man with the power and intention to reward or punish those actions respectively. The effort of evil action is preceded or followed by the wicked judging his own actions by his own feelings on the matter. "It wasn't that bad," or "It was deserved," or "But I love her," is said only by someone who believes that this ethical lapse is vindicated in the court of final appeal, the Self. Self-justification for a moralist is idiotic. Morals can only be justified by the governor of that realm (a decision rendered above man may only be rendered by a god) and I may only call on that god for justification. So you are either the god or you are not. You can't have it both ways. If I revisit what I knew was evil with my own authority I am saying that there is no oughtness, no morality.
I am speaking of the man who has acted against what he knows is good. He is a man who believes that this moral realm is like the American Constitution. He is counting on a balance of power between the president (his god) and a representative legislature (his own voice). He errs. God is a monarchist and has not called for a Senate. Our cacophony of self serving legislative voices rise up to override His veto and He will not, for morality's sake, be overridden. As we persist, we speak treason against the morality and its judge. We will be tried and we will be punished.
Isaiah 5:20-24
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
and shrewd in their own sight!
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine,
and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
who acquit the guilty for a bribe,
and deprive the innocent of his right!
Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble,
and as dry grass sinks down in the flame,
so their root will be as rottenness,
and their blossom go up like dust;
for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

As an aside: One may have feelings of justification by an internal conscience (rightly or wrongly) and not be inconsistent. When questioned, that one would say that their conscience, which all men share from the god's design, carried the correct measure of the deed. He, the conscience follower, thought it good from the outset and was not trying to overturn a decision already made. He will agree with the above, that what makes it known as good is that God has spoken of it thusly to him. This just absolves the man of the charge of inconsistency but does not make him good.
Romans 2:15-16
They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Report from the Shadow Side of Aging

The Amazing Missus is Old.
She plummeted into the Dark Realms surrounded by the graces of good friends and family with the ministrations of a Walla Wallaean tour of wineries capped off with fine meal in the lap of ostentation. Seven wineries, a box lunch in a spectacular park, the surprise of her eldest son popping out of his sister's car trunk having been smuggled in from Manhattan, a splendid dinner, singing with her daughter in the Marcus Whitman lobby, and cigars on the patio combined to keep her smiling. Scenes of such seen below.


Friday, August 31, 2007

Bad Manners

Pease porridge hot,
Pease gettin' cold.
Please pass the porridge pot
Of pease afore I'm old.


be Evan Wilson

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Woden's Day Apocalypse

The Big Haus fall Bible study began last evening on the perennially ignored (by me in schedule not in assessment) Revelation of John. As you who have read this blog regularly know, I am not eschatologically riveted. The views expressed at this Bible study are those never heard dropping from any other lips in Christendom. The word Apocalypse means "a lifting of the curtain or veil" and that is precisely what I hope to do.
Last night the faithful were told of the need to resolve certain issues in their minds in order to approach the Revelation.
First: Is the Future actual or conceptual? In other words was John's vision a transport through time to look upon the events and describe them OR does God provide a symbolic image of what He will bring to pass.
Second: Are we willing to hope patiently in that which we discover is still to come rather than fictionalize a fulfillment so we can believe it better? Romans 8 reminds you that hope which is seen is not hope. Future stories are fiction. Do not write them. Instead read real stories for the Glory of God's prophetic will is only to be seen in the histories of the past. Did it happen? How will you know about it unless you read the histories. When Tacitus mentions the host of armies in the clouds over Jerusalem prior to the fall in 70 A.D., God is potentially glorified for seeming to fulfill His promise to show those who pierced him his coming in the clouds.
Third: Can we recognize the distance in the relationship that each symbolic item has to the symbolized? For instance, the 7 heads of the sea beast measure three distances. 7 heads= literally 7 hills and 7 kings. The first distance is the number seven's symbolic distance from the number seven is zero. The second distance is the heads representing kings, which is not 1:1 but is a natural poetic distance. At the same time, in the third distance, the heads are hills which, without that being told to us, the distance of head to hill is so great we would never have figured it out. The heads are not hills like the 7 are 7. A greater distance, perhaps an recognizable distance once pointed out, exists between the realities of the 7 hills of Rome and the 7 heads of the beast. Christ is in the same book one like the son of man, a wounded lamb and a small child. Each has varying distance from the thing symbolized.
Fourth: Let the clear passage define the unclear. If the book tells you something means something, set that point as an anchor and chart the more vague portions from its vantage.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Costly Virtue of Politeness

It began here.
Yup, here on the Evantine Abbey blog.
And the project of saving Western Civilization from itself is done.
The Amazing Missus has both written four short chapters on basic manners and has added all the requisite commas to that which the Oracle wrote.

You are saying to yourself, "Self, how can I get a hold of 1 or 50 of these puppies?"
That is a problem. I can print them out myself complete with color card cover. I took the first one to FedEx/Kinkos for cutting and coil binding and they charged me $5 for a 8" plastic coil (which I like the best cuz it can lay flat). Heavens! The work is extremely valuable but add the $5 to the other costs of toner and paper and the "extreme value" registers as "excessive cost" to the man on the street. How would you possibly afford the fifty copies you want?
I would like to offer this contribution to Western Civilization for sale but I don't know how to keep the costs down to a reasonable level. Comments with "helpful" ideas (not involving becoming a Calvinist) are encouraged. I have already looked into buying the dang machine that will do this magical binding but they run between $400-600. A lot of you would have to order your 50 copies lickety split. I figure the final cost should look like $5 retail. No ones face would turn ashen when looking at a 5.5"x8.5" spiral bound, 60 page, color covered booklet and hearing me say "That'll be $5, please".

Afterthought:
Some of you who are new to the meanderings of the Oracle are wondering what the above "actually is". It is 30 one page observations/arguments/philosophies following the 30 Rules for a Gentleman and a Lady (15 each). The seminars I hold at the Big Haus called The Mojo Oracles (for men) and The Tao of Eve (for women) ended up producing certain observations based on my study of Lord Chesterfield and Balthazar Castiglione. I wrote the Rules a few years back to help the observations of a "gentled condition" fit the seminar format. As requests for explanations continued, I, in the last couple of years, wrote one page defenses for each.
Also, having run a boarding house for college students for 27 years my wife and I were acutely aware of the bad manners that were the norm in the middle class. We added chapters at the end on attire, conversation, public behavior and dining to address the most basic, foundational manners. We even included pictures to distinguish between how a lower primate holds a spoon and how a human being would do the same.
I gave a talk at the Society for Classical Learning conference last year in Greensboro to great response and a year later (at this year's conference) people were asking me for materials. I knew a single affordable volume was needed and something schools or individuals could use or give away. Today we have a product but we are working on "affordable".

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Last Sunday was My 29th Anniversary

Where I Would Rest

Some holies say the Sabbath is the day
Where rest for six is found for all the saints.
Some claim that “rest” by fiat stray’d and pray’d
The church to Sunday them to death. This ain’t
My mind to thus esteem either or each,
To keep my goodly soul in cosmic trim.
While no “new moons, sabbaths, or feasts” I preach
(The week is named for other gods than Him.)
I certain do more blessed days revere.
Mine own nativity I toast and love,
And accidental Sundays in a year,
Though not for church or rite or perks above.
This Sunday is above all days in life.
This rest I took when you became my wife.

the husband

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Boogie, Children

The Amazing Missus and I went to see Jonny Lang in Sandpoint with Jay and Noelle Zmuda. The setting was marvelous, the weather beyond compare, and, as fans of Mr. Lang lo, these many years, we smiled the smile of the blessed.

That boy can play the geetar.

An Abstruse Remark for the Emotionally Vulnerable

I wonder.



That's pretty much it.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Bestminister Confession

If you claim the authority of tradition but redact certain parts it has the same effect as claiming Reason and Holy Writ with exceptions. If St. Paul is incorrect on the role of women, how do you know he is correct on the Resurrection? You like one and don't like the other? This is a not very well hidden egoism. What you mean is that YOU are the authority.
If not, YOU must always ask yourself, "On what basis did I judge the tradition I rejected?" That is where your authority truly rests. You cannot appeal to an authority as a obligatory guide to others if you don't want them examining your "authority" via the higher source you used yourself. If it is just your likes and dislikes, all authority in your life rests on the claim that YOU are anointed and inspired. If only we, who also disagree with tradition but just not where you do, could be YOU. I guess we will just have to trust you.

If you don't redact any part of tradition, that tradition you choose to submit to entirely you have raised to the anointed and inspired rank. The Roman Catholics understand this obligation in their elevation of the magisterial teaching of the church to an equal place with Scripture.

In Vatican II the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation reads:
"…both sacred tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of devotion and reverence."
and
"Sacred tradition and sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God"

The Roman Catholics are consistent. Are you?

The Oracle: If you want me to believe something, first make a truth claim about your source of knowing it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

On Attire

I will to dress my public day and dine
In selfish mess or thoughtful service fine
And by it stress just how I place the line
Where I will bless the rest with what is mine.

by Evan Wilson

Sunday, July 22, 2007















One day, as the Oracle sat upon his rock contemplating stuff, tourists (the daughters of the Duc du Barry) came and asked him questions, you know, about stuff. He answered wisely. They had their picture taken with the Amazing Missus too.
















They are (l. to r.) Anna, Emily, The A.M.W., and Kate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Confession

With such a title the The Society Devoted to the Ending of Evantine Thought sits up and takes notice. Could it be that the Oracle became a Calvinist? Maybe he can say St. Francis' name without the addendum of "the Sissy". It is nothing so dark. Calvinism is still stupid where it stands. And Francis, I can only quote the classics here, "Lighten up Francis."

No, this is more real and more burdensome. My confession? Pets seem to like me. Small children and youth seem to as well. I have built a life out of having no pets. They don't interest me other then that, unlike rocks, they move about. I like rocks more than pets. Small children give me a jabbing pain running from my jaw to the top of my head. You can understand a certain Pavlovian antipathy the Oracle would nurse in his bosom. And youth, I didn't even like myself as a youth. And anyone who attempts to "relate" to the young produces a definite need to update Dante by adding another ring midway or further down in the Inferno. I am not supposed to relate to the youth. They are suppose to relate to reality.

But pets seek me out. Small children smile up at me, with silly cherubic grins festooned across their jowls, and seem to beg for that special Oracle/baby moment. And the last person who ought to have a Bible study for high school students, pulls in 30 of these hormone cripples a week. I push them away. They draw closer. Maybe they sense fear and wickedly hunt me down. Perhaps I have taken on, regardless of my held positions, a certain image of comfort, developing, as I have, into a mattress-like slab. With the pets it is probably the comfort or, because I don't care, they feel they have found a kindred spirit, another animal with animal disinterest. Regarding babies, (dare we think it?) I might be what they want. The saccharine cooing of adult women freebasing baby-bliss while unwrapping shower gifts maybe an actual Hell which none of us remember. Dressed by these maternal madwomen in the silliest clothes (which the children never suggested they like nor would we ever see on another human being other than a clown) babies might look out of innocent, tormented eyes for the semblance of the sane. The Oracle might seem an hopeful anchor. The Amazing Missus commented last night on a commercial advertising a children's show, that they always seem to draw retarded drawings for children. Same idea. The average baby fan draws a picture or procures clothes they wish to see the child with or in, and assume then that babies like badly drawn pictures and going out in public dressed like Paris Hilton's Pomeranian. I know I sound like I'm justifying and your temptation is to run into the streets singing "Pets and babies like Evan! Pets and babies like Evan!" I'll wait until you get back to explain the youth vote.

.... dum-de-dum-dum....

The youth are idiots. Youth leaders treat them as sages-of-the-ages and labor to be just like them. But the youth value "cool" above all things and somewhere in their slightly developed brain stem they know that any youth that thinks he or she is such a sage is at the bottom of the cool pool. ("Cool" has been authoritatively defined by the Oracle as "the perception of knowing in the area valued by the set".) The youth seem to know that they are in a play and their role is "the know-it-all". It is more cool to know you are playing a role then believing you know it all. Average high school students know that it is all a temporary farce which only the "thoughtful" teen and the youth leader seem to believe. Instead of merely "suspending disbelief"in order to play a part, the prigs believe.
The Oracle doesn't believe it and so he tells them. They laugh because they knew it already.
The Oracle has become an object of wonder and contentment and cool to pets, babies, and teenagers.
I am sorry.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

News to Some but Why is it News to Some?

This quote taken from the Vatican website.


Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.


It is not that we don't have the ability to have faith. We just don't have the magicians who perform the trick.


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Celebrating the Unsupportable


The Fourth of July became the occasion for Jay and Noelle Zmuda to call their friends from the four winds of heaven for a commemoration of their singular friendship at a lake side cabin in Sandpoint, Idaho. My eldest flew in from Manhattan ("The City" as he calls it) and my daughter flew in from the village of Portland bypassing their parents who stood savoring the bitter dregs of rejection a mere three hours south. If we wanted to see them we would have to coax an invitation for ourselves to bask, be it so briefly, in their youthful vigor. We just got back from three days in this resplendent company of careers and minds on the ascendant.

In between wake boarding and fireworks (or during since I did not leave the cabin deck) discussions with these alert minds covered the grand topics. Themes such as the hierarchies, can humans be "better" than others, open theism, allegorical silliness, political trends, political oughtness, and St. Paul or friend in the third heaven, fought side by side with the trenchant claims of Metallica. These young adults have better minds and rhetorical abilities and ask better questions than I have heard in much of Christian America.

(first pic is of The Amazing Missus with the hostess Noelle and her sister Loni)










(pirate Tim with lovely Helen and her son Levi)










(Davis of the City, Gunn, and Andy of Los Angeles, soon to be of The City)









(My three sons, Graeme, Davis, Gunn then Andy, Brian of Portland soon of Japan, and Jason, father of Levi and defender of Metallica)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Back in the Saddle

The SCL conference went well. My talks were well received in general. A couple of folks walked out of my last lecture when I inadvertently let it slip that Christianity was post-pagan and not, as we Protestants tend to think, post-Catholic. I think I then used "post-apostasy" as a synonym. Otherwise good times were had by all. The cigar and drink evenings in the cooling mugginess were great. I was threatened with bodily harm by a New York Times reporterette. The exact quote (leaving the newspaper of record an example) was "Sometimes, Evan, I just want to smack you." I assured her that the line was long for those who shared similar intentions.
Had another invigorating debate with an old friend whose shares the nonsensical notions of the allegorical interpretation of Holy Writ. If this is serving as powerful interpretation in the pulpits of the land, God help us all. As I have said before, it is an epistemology based only on the hubris of the speaker and the near infantile credulity of the hearer. All I had to ask to send its advocate into spiral of unsupportable claims was the simple, "How am I supposed to know that what you claim is true?"
My text did not get much attention but people, without prompting, came up to me to ask for copies of something I spoke on last year. That was The Word of a Gentleman and the Way of a Lady. So eager were these expressions that I have returned to the Abbey inspired to finish the new, combined edition which will also include a simple preface to mannered conduct which might be beneficial in most American social moments. I'll let you all know when it is done.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mind Fried over Easy

Sorry for the absence of postings but I have been preparing to speak at the Society for Classical Learning conference in Raleigh. I leave tomorrow and will be back in Moscow later on Saturday. I will be giving four talks .
They are:
1) From Dusk to Dark: The Fall of Rome
2) The Discarded Image: Lewis on the medieval model of the universe
3) The High and Lifted Up: Hierarchy and Egalitarianism
4) Education to Order the Soul

Pray for my audience. I will be saying the unthinkable.
Pray for me. The unthinkable needs to be well thought and well spoken.

I will also be taking copies of my new edition of A Biblical Antiquity to see if schools might be interested in using it. If you are interested in using it, I have posted a minicatalog at the Big Haus website with an order form.
GO HERE.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are You Annoyed Yet?

Annoyance bugs the heck out of me.
You too?
The annoyed are an unpleasant lot.
Let us dissect their importune contribution to our social life.

This is a low level emotion that seems less controllable for that lowness.
Let us define what, in the Oracle's world, emotions are all about. Emotion is the directional, axis specific valuation of the impact Reality has on your view of it. The intensity of said emotion varies in the distance which your "view of reality" discovers itself to be relative to Reality and the inevitable insult that discovery is.
Now back to the annoyed.
Someone did something wrong, incorrectly, without consulting the handbook you mentally published on the topic.
You are annoyed.
Is it because you hold ultimately true opinions and your love for truth automatically measures those that failed?
Is your heart, both pitying and seeking justice, wrestling with their failure and the needed correction?
Are you only seeking to bring Reality into conformance with your "view of reality"?

I think I see what you see as the problem. You say it is an "Is and Oughtness" problem. Reality is, and your intentions for Reality is described as the Ought.
Where do I place the problem? Naturally the annoyed are a greater problem in my world. It may be because I annoy so many and am annoyed by so few. Forgive me this one time.
The annoyed have posited that those that failed are the failure that bothers them. I think that what annoys the annoyed is their own failure. The unwillingness, the incompetence, the outright rebellion of those that messed up the assigned task, is due to the unwillingness, incompetence and outright uppityness of those that claim governance over the tasked region.
The suggestion I make regarding the annoyed's annoyance at the failure of task efficiency, quality, and correctness is easy to spot when the task is not ultimate or moral. To not sweep the sidewalk "correctly" is not a violation of cosmic standards. It is felt like it is when the annoyed look on from the side. Annoyed people treat it like a slap in the face. Why? Because it is like a slap in the face. It is an insult to their will. Will is the center of all that a person is and this annoyance grabs them like some stranger had bossed their wife or child.

So it is, O Oracle, but now what?
The place annoyance holds on the sliding scale of negative emotions is due to the distance the annoyed's "view of reality" had to the impertinence of Reality. If this is you, you are actually annoyed ( in a way that those of us who watch do not enjoy) because you have discovered that you are not the god of sidewalk sweepage. You thought you had such great views on sweeping that the universe and all opinions therein, should seek out your abiding wisdom and conform to it. You would rather have your standard examined in your annoyance than your claim of governance. Reality did not tell you were wrong in the standards, it told you were not in charge. The offended majesty of kings is a noble thing. The offense your majesty endured is petulant and above itself.
You would not be annoyed so much? Accept Reality's suggestion. They, the task idiots, just told you that you were not able to govern or it wasn't yours to govern. Find out if you really are the lord of all sweeping. If you are not, shut the heck up and be about your own business. If you are, find out how to govern that laudable arena. That responsibility steps past the pettishness of your discovery that you, not they, were doing it all wrong.

Friday, June 08, 2007

You Want A Peace of Me?

There is a lot of Evil in the world. We see it all round and we see it in ourselves. Since there is Evil and must be a God (or nothing would exist), we have two choices about who He is.

Either God’s omnipotence is irresistably necessary to the existence of all phenomena, evil included.
or
God’s potency (whether omni or just poly) functions monarchically and relationally with an Other and is, because of the presence of such Other wills, phenomenally resistible (if only temporarily), hence evil.

So you have, in the most subjective of wordings, an omnipotent demon or a thwartable benevolence.
I am less interested (in this post) in the selection between the two positions with reference to the arguments, subjective or otherwise. I was thinking about something else today. I consider that the chief end of man in a futile world is the pursuit of peace. I was wondering which kind of peace was offered by each.

It would seem that he who realized he worshiped an omnipotent demon (aside from the knowledge that his knowledge regarding this omnipotent demon was suspect, since that thought was itself the result of some irresistible external power) would realize that the best, nay only, rational response is impotent resignation (which of course you could only feel if the demon decided it was in his best interests to so design). The Stoics (whom I admire) took this tact. You weren’t gonna dodge the bullets that Fate shot at you, so step into them like a man. If peace is the emotional condition of being in order, the impotence of man steps into a peace by letting, without cavil, the god to do his whatever and agree with it. Order (crafting pattern) could not be divined (no pun intended) if any nonacceptance of event is kept. All that is, is the expression of the omnipotent will, all that is, is His pattern. We see Evil and Chaos because His will is unreachable by the human participant. But our chief end is not Peace conceptually gained in the heavens by some other agent, we want Peace felt in ourselves because we feel things, dang it. In the pantheism of the exhaustive omnipotence, the only felt peace for the man is in fatalistic acceptance. The order/pattern is found by matching one's own will with the obvious Over-Will known by what happens.

I know some folks who have found that degree of peace. Sometimes it is academically peace-giving (if God’s greater glory is impugned in an argument that theorizes a spouse running off with the neighbor) or circumstantially peace-giving (should your spouse actually do it). “Who can make straight what God has made crooked” but you can at least align your opinions with His.

The peace potential of the Polypotent (potent in many ways) or the Omnipotent (if He created an Other) is different. Since it is a relational power of the God, (potential thwarting is necessary for Other to exist), His benevolence is possible to acknowledge discreetly since all that happens is not necessarily His doing. Since He can be averred to be good and one who desires peace for me, (acknowledging a commonly understood good that we both desire), his great power is an aid and a lordship to mine own potency. I can have a potent hope in crafting a peace unintended by the Nature of things or the evil will of others. If God’s power can be thwarted (in the phenomenal moment), most certainly, so can all other powers.

This is certainly incomplete. It was a morning coffee thing which ended up on scratch paper. Correct away! Spare not my feelings! I think that "polypotent" may be a new word.

If you comment, discuss what I have missed in the pursuit of Peace aspect of each theory, not which theory is true about God.

postscript,
As C.S. Lewis said, “The doctrine of Total Depravity — when the consequence is drawn that, since we are totally depraved, our idea of good is worth simply nothing — may thus turn Christianity into a form of devil-worship.”
and “I am going to submit that not even Omnipotence could create a society of free souls without at the same time creating a relatively independent and “inexorable” Nature.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

An Oracle: On the Effect of your Company

Now or tomorrow
Lift or descend
Broaden or narrow
Light or dark
Touch or shun
Immortal or moment
Deep or shallow
Language or lingo
Venture or hide
Conquer or bow
Fit or divide
Find or lose
Better or worse



Monday, June 04, 2007

Vanity on Top of Vanity

In the publishing world, the self published go to vanity presses which gouge their customers for copious amounts of money because these under appreciated artistes so want to see their efforts (Collected Songs of Kansas in the Quiet Solitude of Love by Eleanor Spasm) in print.

Here is mine.

Feeding off rejection like it were the Breakfast of Champeens, I have rewritten, edited, combined into one volume, what Logos Materials used to publish as two.

A Biblical Antiquity
Ancient History in Context with the Bible
190 pp.
Coil bound
Covers antiquity from Egypt and Mesopotamia through First Century Rome and illuminating where it interfaces with the Biblical record.

The Amazing Missus is doing the final edit for comma abuse and insensible sense.
If you want one (or twelve) badly, it'll cost you $25 each plus $3 shipping.

Write for more info or to demand your fair share of my vanity.
My email should be at the top of this page.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Groove

I spoke to the graduates of Montrose Academy this year. I centered my speech on the Groove.
The note below sums it up.

The Groove is a good place to be. You are “on” and everything goes well. People like you and are willing to consider and even agree with your positions. People thrust jobs and accolades on you when you find yourself in the Groove. Eligible young women stand slack jawed at your approach. Or conversely, valiant young men nervously stand, with hat in hand, and consider calling your father. It is the result when, out of your piety and education, a moment happens when the theories of correct loves and of ordinate placement becomes an effective, lived action matching a moment perfectly. You get it right and you are on the beat, in harmony, and you know the words of the song that’s playing.
A brief and cursory examination of the phenomena gives us immediate things to consider
Here are four parts I’ve recognized from when it happens.
“The Groove” has...
Modesty, which is not busiest declaring oneself.

Peace has ordered, successfully and wisely, the life you have thus far.

Morale involves losing well because losing tells the wise needed realities about themselves.

A Light heart is the emotional sum of meeting Futility with Modesty, Peace and Morale. How could you not be rejoicing? You have pleased God not merely by having a good quality or an educated mind but by arranging it all with Life. “God has made everything beautiful in its time.” Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, shortly after he had said there was “a time for every matter under heaven.”. Do not be anxious for tomorrow. Today has enough trouble but God's grace is for today. These are the lyrics of the Kingdom. These are virtues of the Kingdom. Make them metrical.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Cry for Help




Now we're talkin'.

I am an Unimportant Man

This is a gift to those my thoughts annoy. Proof of my singular unimportance. The photograph is a record of my key chain. If someone were to say "Let me borrow the car keys," I would have to correct them. "It is the car "key" you wish to borrow" I have access to a 1996 Ford Windstar. I don't have a key to the other car. I don't have a key to my own house. Even the doodad attached doesn't open bottles very well.
Now you can disregard the potency of my views.
Smile to yourself and gossip it around the nation.
"This man, he has only one key."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

For Christ's Sake!

What is Faith?
Its important.
Hebrews 11:6 "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."
That seeking of faith leads to what Romans 10 teaches ("the word of faith we preach") the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His resurrection. It is truth concluded by an unbeliever through the "preachers" of the good news for "Faith comes from what is heard and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ."
The conclusion the person of faith reaches is clear and definite.
Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
We know from James that faith must have its effect
"Faith without works is dead." and "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith."

So faith, made up of those parts, is through which grace is imparted and we are saved.
You remember this, don't you? It is called Christianity.

A number of you are nodding in approval.
Some might not.
Some who claim Christ, baptize infants.
Infants haven't got a clue, let alone faith.
But some claim that "faith" is somehow present in the baby's life?
They must have stopped recognizing the faith described above. Such a faith described is impossible to the 10 lb. sack of enzymes that is a newborn baby. They are barely cognizant of the quantities of poop they have evacuated into a diaper. "Assurance?" "Conviction?" "Seeking?" It is to laugh.

Those who choose to religiously sprinkle or dip an infant are doing, it seems, one of (or a combination of) three things.
1) A rite representing things not yet present
2) A rite accomplishing things by the magical value of the rite and its wielders
3) Or a rite accomplishing things according to the baby's condition.
Number 1 is just damp dedication, a parental prayer for the child's future salvation.
Number 2 is apostasy, being a "gospel" not that preached by the apostles. It is not just salvation by works but it is necessarily someone else's works. (This is not the argument over baptism conferring any grace to the believer. That is a separate discussion. With infants it is whether grace is imparted without belief or repentance. )
Number 3 is trying to be Christian regarding faith with any slack created by such an unconvincing claim picked up by the magic of the rite and the wielders.

So how have these last managed, given that faith is necessary to salvation, to claim "faith" in the baby?
First, they soften the use of the word "faith". They let it mean, not the individual decision to pursue and find Christ as a remedy for sin, but they mean the sum of Christendom's Faith, the creedal claims, not "MY faith" but "THE faith". They do so dogmatically for that will help distract from Scriptural objections and they become the rhetorical attendants of the conservative and orthodox. It also gives standing to those who practice the rite as representatives of THE faith.
Second, they massage the imprecision of the remaining term until, like a marshmallow, it goes from softened to taffy like stickiness that will cover any pious burp your child can be patted into releasing. Whatever assent deemed possibly personal in the baby must be vague, and that is tacitly admitting that the demanding concepts like sin and the resurrection and God are not to be expected from the young'un.
Third, knowing that they have redefined "faith" so broadly and loosely that a man glancing sideways at any steepled edifice will find himself transported by grace into the Kingdom, they try to shore it up, narrow it by developing a theology that offers to transport the sum of faith of the closely related. It is an easy belief to sell to concerned parents. In other realms parents help their child's lack and credit the child. We have all completed a late night project the overly demanding second grade teacher assigned, for we knew that our little sack of witlessness would never completely build a scale model of the Arc de Triomphe to the satisfaction of the instructor.
Our little beloved must get a passing grade! If the church tells me that I can improve my child's chances by "standing on my head and playing cymbals with my feet" then I, if I don't know what Christianity is about, will do it.

Why this self deception?
1) You love your children and you're ready to believe anything.
"Believe anything" It sounds like a parent whose child was kidnapped. Usually we resort to such desperate measures and excessive redefinitions when we feel massively threatened. Why do you think that your children need it?
Why not just preach the Gospel to them when they can understand sin, righteousness and judgment and when they can have faith as is described in the Bible?
2) Parents are unsaved themselves and/or are acting unsaved and they know if they wait until their child needs God's grace, that the Gospel from their lips ("Johnny, if you repent and believe in Jesus the Christ for the remission of sins and Life Eternal, you will receive the peace so evident in your parent's lives") is horrifically uncompelling.
3) Because of the doctrine of Original Sin. If they died as infants they would go to Limbo or some such nonsense.

This is your lucky day! These are your new marching orders.
Keep loving your child.
Quit believing every promise the "authorities" offer in defense of your children. It sounds so Hillary to say "Its for the children!" or "Vote Yes for Kids!"
Become a Christian yourself. You can experience God's grace in such a way that the Gospel would be compelling to your child.
And lastly (with fanfare and a drum roll), there is no Original Sin. They are under no threat until they sin before God and die the spiritual death.
Romans 7:9
"I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died"
No need in the infant, therefore, no need to bastardize the language of Faith.

You can thank me later.

"Gave the Last Full Measure of Devotion"

Memorial Day in a time of war. Ceremony and stirring military tributes on the television and radio. And always, as if there is no other way to speak of the death of our soldiers, newscasters, politicians and high ranking officers announce to our softened American brains the phrase that titled this piece.
Now the Gettysburg Address (from which this phrase comes) is a tidy little bit of speech making. The phrase above nicely dodges the harsher personal realities of a loved one lying much too early beneath the sod. It is also dodging the reality of what it means. "Gave", "Full", and "Devotion" all play positivities as our eyes well up with tears to the sound of Taps played by a lone bugler standing faithful but barely seen in the mist that fell on the manicured fields of white headstones. You get the picture. It is a good thing, that picture. But it is the civic undertakers efforts to make a good restoration of the body for which there must be an accounting, even if it be a Nazi, or Islamic Insurgent, or Confederate or American soldier's body. All of them offered, unto death their devotion. It makes us feel good without us actually able to feel moral. It is as true for the immoral cause as it is for the moral, for the Assyrian and the Israelite.
The good we feel is the good of glory. In battle the highest desire of man (the submission to our wills) is expressed at the highest level on this earth (that of nations) with the price exacted and paid being the highest possible (death). For all the horrors, for all the loss, this devotion to mankind's greatest urge is always measured to we who stand and wait as a glory, which the mere mention of, can move us. It is not the sadness of a man dying, known to us or no, it is a man dying for the will of his people being maintained this side of the battle line that claimed him.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Thought I wrote on my hand Last Night while my Father was speaking

You may have gathered that I am not a huge fan of worldly religion. Here is another shot across its bow. Have you noticed how their standards for personal morality are relative and function along a gradient compared to both the standards and to others attempting the same moral construct? There is lots of room in worldly religion for folks to be considered devout without moral precision. Oddly, you might also noticed, these same sloppy moralists are complete autocrats about religious merits. These, O faithful one, are absolute! Pilgrimage to Mecca. Bathe in the dang Ganges. Fulfill the sacraments. You can be grading on a curve that would embarrass a state university in your morals but not be able to budge on your absolute necessities in religious function.
"God can't expect that I would rejoice all the time!"
"Nobody's perfect"
"Everyone fights with their husbands."
Such will come out of the devout mouths clogging the pews of the nation.
Now try to change the wine of the Eucharist for orange juice.
Or suggest that it need not be taken for some or any reason.
Why are relative moralities and absolute religion the combination?
Because the world's religion can't fix the soul and the heart. It can get obedience on ritual.
Matthew 15 "And he said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and so passes on? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man."

It is easier to involve the broken world in attempts to fix itself with mere moral posturing and wishful thinking while giving the followers duties to accomplish which make them feel like they are successfully religious. And they wonder why, as they look around their lives, wives,and children at the end of a few decades and find it has the surprising likeness to the bottom of a ditch.

Earlier an Matthew 15 "And he called the people to him and said to them, "Hear and understand: not what goes into the mouth defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." Then the disciples came and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" He answered, "Every plant which my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

The Christian version of worldly religion makes what goes into your mouth a necessary (for salvation and orthodoxy) while what comes out is measured without any necessity and much mercy without repentance and relative allowance. If that is Christianity, I'm a Hottentot.


"Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?"

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nominalism

I am not introducing a discussion of nominalism as a philosophic claim, or the variety of usages in scientific fields, but only as it attaches itself to valued realities which occur in groups. These valued realities have names but often the value is claimed by having the name only.
In political circles, a RINO ("Republican In Name Only") is a negative description. (Could there be a positive nominalism anywhere?)
How would one create nominalism?
It quite easy in fact. You become convinced or convince another that certain acts or claims attain to an actuality so named when, in fact, they do not. You or they, (and the more "they" the better for that helps convince all that the life of the fake is the life of the real) live and insist that you enjoy the complete claims of the real. Those who are the real are told they are not being sufficiently ecumenical (Christians) and are dividing the party (Republicans).
A question:
How, if one wanted to, would you go about creating a nominal Republican/Christian?
I mean if you intended to do it.
1] Get them to register as a member, going through whatever rites are normative.
2] Have them go to the expected meetings.
3] Encourage them to speak in the the special terms current in the party.
4] Invoke the past heroes of said party.
5] Express shock and offense if any suggest the above is insufficient.

Would such a nefarious plot be any different than what you are doing now?
Republicans tolerate the RINOs because they want the gains a broader party will bring. In a sense this is the "positive" nominalism that I wondered if possible earlier. But an actual, ideological Republican feels so dirty when someone calls Senator Arlen Specter a Republican.

When you think that a real Christian is one who has passed from death to life at the end of a repentant road by giving their will up on the altar of Christ's great sacrifice, don't you feel just as dirty when you look at the local Christian school or youth group or congregation of evangelicals and call the whole motley crew Christians? Walk the aisle, baptize the baby, sign the card, and even attend a concert or go on a youth mission trip. Everybody will start calling you a Christian regardless of how dark your life is. We so desperately want to count these patent unbelievers as on our team, we shore up the great magics of nominalization. We think that nominal is the Christian marijuana. It is the entry drug. The entry from fake to real, some believe, is a seamless transition, like taking more of the drug. Will it be because they have such fun faking the Christian life that they will want to have the greater fun of a real Christian life? With drugs, a little bit of the real thing is the real thing. The marijuana gets you stoned and heroin gets you more stoned. Nominalism has none of the real but the name.

I remember in high school some dopers trying to sell (successfully) chopped up maple leaves in a baggie into which they had blown marijuana smoke. It was no entry drug. No one got stoned. But what if the deceived thought he had as good as it got? His claims of how ripped he became would be the laugh of the true doping contingent. And the dopers would make easy money off the abundance of maple trees hereabouts. Pretty soon, most of the dopers would be nominal "dopers", and the real experience of being high would be lost in the social cult of maple leaf smoking dorks.

The transition from this nominalism, this Christianity for dorks, this unimpressive fake, is not seamless nor is it merely an enjoyed step deeper. A fake Christian must come to know the damnable state of the fake Christian, the blasphemy of its claims, the apostasy of a Gospel which brought them "in" without belief in the work of Jesus Christ for their sins? He must say "I've been smoking maple leaves because someone who looked like they knew what was going on told me that the smell of the real made it real." Will they become a real Christian at last, like all who are real Christians became them, by repenting, believing, and calling on the name of the Lord?

Romans 2:17-28
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law, and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth -- you then who teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For, as it is written, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical. He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Queen

The suspicion present that I speak to the qualities of the band Queen notwithstanding, I must turn instead to Her Majesty's presence in our country, at our White House, this very day. Or rather Ann Coulter's comment regarding Her Majesty on Fox News this morning. Ann, (and I believe we are on a first name basis since the Amazing Missus, as another steely eyed article of female intensity, has read all her books) commented with a tone that presumed (and probably got) agreement from even the most leftist sack of atrophied gray matter in the country. She said that as an American she had no use or respect for the royals. Her lean, blond, leggyship has ceased to hold me in thrall. Some of you reading this have said to yourself that although you never agree with Ann Coulter, on this one point you do, and here it is that the Oracle abandons her. What is up?
It tells us in the Book of Jude that certain false teachers (of Jude's concern) were those who "reject authority" and live that out by reviling the "Glorious Ones". As an example he gives the Archangel Michael and his treatment of Satan in the Pseudepigraphal work, (no longer extant) "The Assumption of Moses". It would seem that respect for a position is irrespective of ones necessity of submission. We are to honor Satan's kind whether or not we agree or needs submit. The same is true of a young lady who marries. Under the different headship of her husband only the most pretentious of abandoned patriarchs would insist that the command to obey ones parents was still in place. It is a matter of citizenship in a given fiefdom that would require obedience. I am no longer a citizen of Satan's kingdom, nor is my wife a citizen of her parent's arena of rule and the lovely Ann and I are not in England but in America. Ann's and my geographic and historic definitions still agree. But Michael honored Satan. A wife will honor her father. Ann Coulter should honor Her Majesty Elizabeth II, the Queen of England. Miss Coulter, while she is not your queen, she is yet a queen. A father-in-law is still a father. And Satan, a Glorious One.