Tuesday, November 25, 2008

She did what????

Some like horror films. I do not but some do. These are unlike more positive films such as adventures and comedies where we envy the heroism or the wit of the characters. A horror film has much of its pleasure tied up in the fact that it is "Not You" going through this. There is a comfort in knowing that at any moment, when the terror becomes to much, you can get up to go to the bathroom (if you didn't inadvertently do so already). Gossip gets it perversity in that particular arena.

Our self interest is very pronounced. We are constantly measuring and wishing and working to make our Self the very best, the Nonesuch. We are ever conscious of what could be a failure in us. And here, the side sin of, and the pleasure of gossip is in the telling of failures. But there are many times when the telling of failure is good and godly; this is where it is not. If the telling of failure gets its currency from the fact that it is "not you" than it is gossip. It will never be a failure about you. Notice that it is impossible, self evidently impossible, to gossip about yourself. So if comparing notes over the failure of someone (be it folly or sin or just poor work by a business) that has none of its satisfaction in the "not you" category, then it will not be gossip. The failures considered and discussed, you may or may not take to the failing, and you may or may not share it with others whose interests are somehow invested. (The reason you only tell the invested of the failure is that without being invested, the only point of the information becomes how it was "not them".) You may even rejoice in the fall of the wicked or foolish but if you take no pleasure in it being "not you", you have not gossiped.

Now those of whom the stories of failure are told would like to have a much broader definition then I have given. Of course they would. A sinner, a foolish man, or a poorly handled business would like to control the bad press. They call that which is not, "gossip" to lower the damage by preaching a code that they might guilt their righteousness examiners into buying. These are of The Anointed Never Failing Clan and, although gossip does exist and is a sin, I would not determine its presence by the definitions they may give. I believe that the Obama campaign is and was a member in good standing of this set. If Obama said something socialist, you looked up a definition for socialism and subsequently referred to the president-elect as a socialist, they immediately called you a racist. The basic tack is to broaden definitions so that all that accuse would be instantaneously guilty of something horrifying.

Of course, when any of these failures arise in others, some tale bearing vultures do cluster around the dead to feed on something other than the measurement of evil, folly and error. This is a risk the wise must take for there would be no possibility of wisdom without the examination and measurement of evil, folly and error. Even when a church announces a righteous excommunication, someone in the pew will be feeling the pleasure of gossip. They will pass the information on with sincere tones of righteousness offended but their joy will be in that it was "not me".

The pleasure of gossip can thus be enjoyed all alone without ever telling anyone anything. That the news came to you did not make it gossip (because it could come to you in all innocence) but the song your heart began to sing on the hearing did.

Gossip traditionally is a chain of communication (sometimes vast) with guilt potentially at every step. That you gossip with others who are obviously "not you" does not pose a falsification of my claim. Those we tell are, at least for the current moment, less "not you" than the subject of the gossip. We embrace them with the "news" and an intimacy arises. Notice the feeling of the shared moment. Is there not a camaraderie? In a sense a club is formed called "Let us look together on this calamity of which the chief good is that it is not we" and we go about seeking new members.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Don't Like to Post Quotes but....

The master of any claim I might have to heterosexuality has a post up here.
Go there and read, weep, point and laugh, or sit in stupefied disbelief.
When you are done, return and read these few quotes from C.S. Lewis' essay Lilies that Fester.
I don't think that I would ever have said this.... but Jason shares a solid insight with St. Clive.

"The loftier the pretensions of the power, the more meddlesome, inhuman, and oppressive it will be. Theocracy is the worst of all possible governments."

"Anything transcendental or spiritual, or even anything very strongly ethical, in its pretensions is dangerous and encourages it to meddle with our private lives."

"There are, as in piety, so in culture, states which, if less culpable, are no less disastrous. In the one we have the “Goody-goody”; the docile youth who has neither revolted against nor risen above the routine pietisms and respectabilities of his home. His conformity has won the approval of his parents, his influential neighbours, and his own conscience. He does not know that he has missed anything and is content. In the other, we have the adaptable youth to whom poetry has always been something” Set” for” evaluation”. Success in this exercise has given him pleasure and let him into the ruling class. He does not know what he has missed, does not know that poetry ever had any other purpose, and is content.
Both types are much to be pitied: but both can sometimes be very nasty. Both may exhibit spiritual pride, but each in its proper form, since the one has succeeded by acquiescence and repression, but the other by repeated victory in competitive performances. To the pride of the one, sly, simpering, and demure, we might apply Mr. Allen’s word” smug” (especially if we let in a little of its older sense). My epithet for the other would, I think, be “swaggering”. It tends in my experience to be raw, truculent, eager to give pain, insatiable in its demands for submission, resentful and suspicious of disagreement. Where the goody-goody slinks and sidles and purrs (and sometimes scratches) like a cat, his opposite number in the ranks of the cultured gobbles like an enraged turkey. And perhaps both types are less curable than the hypocrite proper. A hypocrite might (conceivably) repent and mend; or he might be unmasked and rendered innocuous. But who could bring to repentance, and who can unmask, those who were attempting no deception? who don’t know that they are not the real thing because they don’t know that there ever was a real thing?
Lastly I reach the point where my objections to Theocracy and to Charientocracy are almost identical. “Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.” 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 [means of arriving, ed.] you help to drive them out of the world. Let our masters leave these two, at least, alone; leave us some region where the spontaneous, the unmarketable, the utterly private, can still exist."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Be Still My Beatin' Heart!

At last!
Big Haus embroidery made available at Federal Bailout Prices!
Check out the Amazing Missus as she models this stylish bit of hauswifery. Think of how your reputation will be benefited, O chefs and chefettes. Others will look upon you (as you slave over the hot stove or grill) and note that you cast the ominous shadow of a thinky sort of cook.

Yes, you can buy one (or twelve) here.
They come in black, red and stone.

Do your part in making Big Haus a haushold name.
(There is also a briefcase for those types who need to carry the various bookish things they also purchased from BigHausLoot.com.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Futilitarian Thought for the Day

Not only will you age and die but you will age and die for a reason. And when you are older, it becomes easier to sicken and harder to shake. Cancers spring up. Guess you should not have drunk that carcinogenic Kool Aid that all the cool people were drinking. Once you realize the short distance between "cool" and "fool", you can fight it and, bless God, live to die another day of a more benign disease or just the wear and tear of age.

You know, like Great Britain.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Very Superstitious

The superstitious are an odd lot. They have fallen into post hoc ergo propter hoc in extremis and can't get up. For them, all things that precede are potentially causal to any thing that may follow. In fact, the selection of which cause on which they depend is more intensely valued for an absence of any degree on demonstrable causality. The nature of an epistemological truth bearing connection is a mystery to them but that mystery leaves them believing the least supportable.
If an intelligent person is one who can apply the information learned in the way which they were taught to apply it (in other words, a linear way) and an intellect is one who can validly connect information learned in ways not taught (a lateral way) then the superstitious, while they might be intelligent, are faux-intellects. They make unsupportable lateral connections. They claim causes and point to relationships for which there is no epistemological defense.
For the unbeliever in Christianity (who is "without hope or God in the world") and who is ignorant of where truth comes from, there is a desperate need to fill their world with explanatory notes. So superstition becomes a fake metaphysic and a fake intellection.

Within the Faith there is a similar camp ("who base their faith on visions and are puffed up without reason by their sensuous mind"). They are the "rocky ground" on whom the Word of God is sown and whose acceptance of the Gospel lacks root and depth. And just like the superstitious, they cast about for any proffered myth (as replacement filler) with Christian terms to also build a fake metaphysic and fake intellection.
II Timothy 3:6-7 For among them are those who make their way into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and swayed by various impulses, who will listen to anybody and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

If they ever hold the truth, it is only by accident. It is never because they need the truth but because they need to believe and since they lack the guidance of truth bearing commodities they "listen to anybody" and fill their devotional library with the ridiculous.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Long Version: The Song of the Futilitarian

De Futilitate

This life of yours, it has an end.
You’re being slowly torn apart
In gears of vast and broke machine,
And in each honest story told
Since Man began to lose his life,
Decay and Death, and Death again.

You can’t ignore for long this noise,
Once heard gives ample time to hate
This end to all you do on earth,
And screams won’t even slow it down.

In passing goods and seeming gains
We find a path of beauty still,
For Times arrive for eye and ear,
To get, enjoy, (but never fill),
With Good and Wise and Known and Joy.
But even Joy is now and gone.
As is “embrace”, or “war”, or “wife”,
Or artful “stones” we put in piles.

Until arrives the death which comes,
Those passing goods and seeming gains
Presume to answer “Bigger Barns”.
But God replies, “Tonight, you fool,
This night, your soul must die.
Moths will dine on what you saved,
And fools will spend what else remains,
With worms to tidy up the grave.”

Say it aloud that we have sinned.
Then God remade the good world bent,
That none of us can make it straight,
And, with it, we are bound and dead.

You can’t ignore for long this noise,
Once heard gives ample time to hate
This end to all you do on earth,
And rage won’t even slow it down.

Will you take Hate of pointlessness
o’er Joy in all the passing good?
Both cry of crushing vanity,
But hatred is, for you, a sad
Belief this world was something else.
This choice you make, do choose it wise.
There’s more and much that Hatred miss’d,
The Beauty of those certain Times,
That leaves in fatal Vanity
A chaos uglied unto death.

But who can know the time of things,
Their time of beauty understood?
It’s he who serves the Living God,
The God who made all heav’ns and earth.
For in such fear is wisdom deep,
And in this terror knowledge fine,
And Joy to seek the sought and found.
So in futility enjoy!

‘Tis all a great calamity
Of chaos, close and personal,
For all things made and suff’ring it.
Ask them if dying has a hope,
A hope God carved into Death.

Not that they hope to die or not.
And though they pray without a voice,
Unspoken groans we share alike,
(for where our treasure is, our heart).
We do not fear a killing will
That which, after it did us dead,
Can nothing more to any do.

For we, and all of Nature here,
Have feared, enjoyed, and wait for Him.
He who, after He has us killed,
The soul He can destroy in Hell.
Yes, Him we fear in single faith.
And having feared the Living God,
Find His good servants faithful still
With Joy and Wisdom, Known and Lov’d
Within the bright Futility,
Welcomes to Death, with each “Well Done!”
And enter they the Master’s Joy
Hereafter and Forevermore.

by Evan Wilson

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Short Version

That you will die is certain.
All that you do is dust.
Enjoy it as it passes by,
In fear of God the Just.
For after death is judgment,
To punish or reward
If that day goes well for you,
Again enjoy,
Enjoy the Lord.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Of Governing

"the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient," I Timothy 1:9

I was thinking about how governments differ in effecting an obedient citizenry. Civil magistrates rely on the promulgation of laws with the threat of pain for the violator. Parents do this for a time but as age and maturity (and the wisdom of earlier laws) have their effect, the children are rightly granted a different relationship to their erstwhile rulers. Wives actually begin in that different than law and order relationship when they marry their husbands. We are told from the outset to not be harsh with them. And yet there is still a governance between husband and wife. The church shares that kind of rule in that elders are told not to be domineering.
It is with the church we get a sense of this shift in governing type. The government which has the legitimate expectation of, or actual existence of a shared desire, (the virtue of the ruler's desired ends for his fief), the task before the ruler is to shape his imperium to express, not with commands and their attendant punishments, but with a pattern of example. Example is what desire needs to grow into a more obedient citizen. In this case the citizen truly wants what the ruler wants and needs but the guidance of the exemplar. Even in a political society, an advanced civilization enjoys many benefits from a citizenry which desires the same peace (say regarding traffic proprieties) and that desire lays a foundation of an example based obedience which a third world traffic situation fails to even recognize.
Where the desire of the citizen is not engaged then various other forms of adjustment into obedience are necessary. The completely resistant criminal class faces pain. The slightly more understanding citizen, while still perhaps disagreeable, adjusts behavior with the threat of said pain. Those that understand the benefits promised to the obedient, obey, not for desire of the ruling virtue, but for a reward arbitrarily connected to the act.

I speak generally and I am sure it might raise numerous questions but for these purposes, enough has been said regarding my schematic. The problem of the criminal, threatened, or promised classes is not that they exist, for they always will. God has appointed magistrates attending to this very thing. The problem is that some, which ought to be moved by desire for the shared virtues of the ruler, are not. They remain perniciously in the lower forms of governance. I speak of older children (teenager and up), wives, and Christian parishioners. Justice says that the causal agent is responsible to the degree causal. Insubordinate children, uppity wives, and unresponsive pew dwellers should certainly carry all the fault, oughtn't they? An order was given, and (horrors!) it was not obeyed. But the peace of a fiefdom is the measure of its ruler. Can or can not the ruler correctly and capably police the confines of his assigned borders and bring about peace? All too often the ruler believes that a failed obedience (acting like the lower class of citizen) on the part of one of these close type of citizen, requires the application of doggie biscuit promise, or increasingly voluble threats and punishments. He descends to the level they chose to occupy. The aroma of the home or ecclesia becomes an odor.

What the ruler should realize is that these citizens are in desperate need of his example. And the example is pointless if the ruling virtue (that which he designed his fief upon) is not desired. What "kind of peace" the father, the husband or the pastor wants obeyed in his fief is the primary villain in theis post. His designs are the culprit, the actual disobedience and crime against his attempt at peaceful rule. If the natural virtue of a child's admiration or a wife's love, or a congregation's indwelling of the Holy Spirit is turned away because the proper task to be desired is not promulgated by the ruler, that ruler will have to fall back on domineering or violent tactics to crush the rebellion he asked for.

Might the Apostles recommend a few simple things?
Fathers, do not provoke your children, husbands, honor your wives, and pastors, set an example of Christian conduct.
and with due humility, the Oracle would like it if you would perhaps check on something as well.

If your children, wives, or congregants don't desire to be just like you wish, is it because you are no example of what you ask or is it because what you ask is "world-without-end" silly?

Friday, October 17, 2008

On the Scots

J. Buchan (peace be upon him) described the Scots as a people of "fevered beliefs and unprofitable loyalties". Besides the poetic brilliance of such an observation of his and my people, it came to mind that it also described a certain type of American citizen. They can be very bright. They can even be good looking. What they lack is that "fey" charm of standing about in mists tootling on some contraption which, by all reports, must have a dying cat of irritable sentiments sewn up in its bag. What I mean is these Americans of fever and unprofit are not charming nor are they historic or attractive to tourists.
Politically it would be the Greens or Ron Paul supporters. Religiously, the fundementalist or atheist. Culturally, the neo-agrarians or comic books aficianados.
Perhaps you know or are such a person.

There is no medicine for your fever better than being chased through the damp heather alone and forgotten.
Your loyalty can be perhaps enjoyed, as the Scots learned, as a lost cause.
The Oracle suggests those two remedies. Take daily for two to five centuries and you too might finally find that you have gained respite from what about you annoys the heck out of everyone else.
You will be, with the Bonnie Prince, charming. (no pun intended)

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Search of Fools

The “praise” of Folly, faint and damn’d thereby,
Gives op’ning vents to tongues that wag with wit
And writings pen’d with acid, drunk with lye,
Which wake we wise to serve it up with spit.

As prizes go, they wallow slow and low,
Galleons of Spain aload with stolen gold.
Then we, the Raleighs, Drakes, on sight, below
Our decks, broadside what sixty pounders told.

Or big game shot like buffalo these days,
No longer Injun style in race of man
And thund’ring horse and herd. He hunts who pays
For pastured beast, to shoot them where they stand.

Are we made wits by stolid prey? Are we
In piracy engaged, excused by Queen?
Are we those hunting that which cannot flee,
And in such ease become those fools we’ve seen?

by Evan Wilson

Friday, October 03, 2008

Take the Red Pill

St. Paul found himself at the end of his life with martyrdom staring him in the face. His ministry was slipping in its support as "all in Asia have turned away". At this point Timothy, in the second letter of, received a very encouraging reminder of what the Christian life is all about.

When the haze of your excitement in getting followers and creating movements fades, you are left with whatever remnant of spiritual reality your sorry soul actually has.
It is an imperative in chapter 1:13 that strikes me poignantly: "Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me".
Without a movement around you, without your Christian rap album being successful, without whatever adolescent wish fulfillment fantasy in which you engage in the name of Jesus Christ (and call the resulting whimper "faith"), with what are you left to "follow?"
A "pattern" is when things, in time or place, sit in repeated reference to each other.
To be "sound" a claim has to have an demonstrable integrity.
And "from me" is a presumption of authority.

Timothy's responsibility, and I hope yours as well, is to follow the guide of these things. In more modern terms, there is a "systematic" which exists for your discovery and submission. For the more modern yet, a "matrix" exists objectively along side many fantasies.
The pattern that St. Paul confers on Timothy is one that Timothy can actually experience, and "see". The pattern will show how the parts of it sit in reference to the other parts. It is an empirically enjoyed pattern, one that we follow while standing in the midst of it in wonder.

Paul has wrapped this invitation to patterned living in two more epistemological claims. He seems to think that it is important that his teaching of the pattern and the pattern itself be rational. Without reason the "soundness" is unexaminable. Teaching "patterns" often involves specious claims and fallacious arguments. Many rituals in life (and for life) have no visible means of support. The purveyors of these hope that no one examines them for a while so that soundness is now measured, not by reason, but by magisterium, movement loyalties, and loud hollerin' about orthodoxy. One of the benefits of that which is "sound," is that its rational integrity can always be revisited. Along side that rational defense of the pattern he offers, St. Paul offers his own bona fides. "From me" matters. I cannot say the same. The authority I report to others of the pattern is no different that of the Apostle's. It is not a difference which separates St. Paul and The Oracle. It is distance.
I, too, offer that which must exist in pattern to be both followed and enjoyed, experienced empirically by the saints so taught.
I, too, must appeal to reason to sustain the testing of my pattern and celebrate the triumph of "soundness".
I, too, will refer to authority. But those to whom God spoke have a relationship with revelatory authority that is decisive. It is an epistemological authority regarding which I stand (in using) both at a distance of person and time. I can offer only the revelations of the Apostles and Prophets that have been communicated to me. If I support a pattern to be followed, other than what Reason and Apostolic Revelation say, I must claim to be inspired. I will not. Others have. It is suspected that such fall into another category of Christian teacher.
"and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. " Acts 20:30
This prophesy came true. It was given to the Ephesian elders. The next few verses of II Timothy 1 let us know that Ephesus of Asia is central to the desertion of St. Paul.

The Oracle suggests that you, yourself, find the pattern declared by Reason and the Apostle. Live by it. If you run into the Orthodox, smile, be sweet, and know they took the Blue Pill.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Play That Funky Music White Boy!

Its a music week in Oracularstan. I survey my fief and find that they, the citizens, have burst into song.
First, my lovely daughter Michalangela, is releasing her first album with Blue Whisper Records and is coming to town to have a CD release gig at Bucers this Friday, September 19.

Second, the heir apparent laid down a track in a recording studio with Jason the Rad (whose authority I respect). It is mind numbing rock.

To listen go here.

Lastly, the Amazing Missus (and her band which includes Graeme) performs this Saturday, September 13 at the fair, main stage 4:30

This does not even include Bella Jazz Ensemble which started practicing this week and Gunn playing piano and singing Ben Folds and White Stripes stuff at The NuArt Open Mike Night.

I, whom you trust implicitly for guidance in things not musical, I listen. Hope you do too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This or That Side of the Line

I John 3:4 Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
That was simple. It would also follow that the "sin" done was done against the purveyor of the law. Sins exist in a hierarchy parallel to the governments which issue the laws. Whatever the case, sin is evidently law dependent. It can't even exist without a law. A line has to exist before I might cross it.
Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 5:13 .... sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.

So sin is not a force. Sin is rebellion. And law is not the answer but the necessary cause. But the law is good. What sort of good? It is (in whatever realm of law) the measure of that realm's authority as to what is the wise extent of its citizens' freedom. This very rarely would align with the citizen's desires for his freedom. It is why the lawgiver has to say something and attach punishments to any violation. The law is only a measure of wisdom not a method.
Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.

Christians the world over and through many centuries have had a dim view of sin. They naturally, when seeing sin, see the law that made it such and also see "this side of the line drawn" as holiness and the other as transgression. Correct thus far. We have erred in our definition of the problem and consequently we err in our attempts to stave off evil. We see ourselves traveling across the line into sin and so we attempt make the line a speed bump, then a fence, and then a wall and the a DMZ complete with concertina wire and land mines. The problem is not that the law and its punishments are not loud or vigorous enough but is the disconnect between our desires and the lawgiver's which brought the law into being.

We, in Christ, are being changed into His likeness. As the Holy Spirit works in us we are remade into His desires. The Christian is one who has found, like Christ, that God's design of His world is our new desire and His wisdom is becoming our wisdom.
Galatians 5:16 -18 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you would. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.

The Oracle is, to quote a prophet, one of your own (Outback Steakhouse commercials), "No rules, just right."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Actual and Its Decoration

At a wedding, we used to decorate a woman's virginity with a white dress. Such is no longer the case. Women who have lived with their boyfriend for years opt for a white dress because it has become the traditional women's wear for the occasion. It is often the case that that which we valued enough to decorate is replaced by the decoration itself. At least the decoration become as important and folks need to do hard thinking to merely see the thing and its decoration discretely and separately. Do we need a Christmas tree to value the Incarnation? So it is with the Gospel. What is the message that saves and what is its decoration?

"What must I do to be saved?" asked the jailer in Philippi. What would you answer? St. Paul suggested that the jailer "believe in the Lord Jesus". That is the sufficient and necessary condition for salvation but what does this "belief" contain? Does it contain baptism? Does it contain repentance from sin? Does it contain calling on God? Does it contain church membership? The list goes on and many brands of Christian adherents would be happy to suggest additions to that list. Some decorate with the patina of age, some with art, some with new ideas hatched by evangelicals.

Saint Paul in Romans 10 makes it clear:
4 For Christ is the end of the law, that every one who has faith may be justified. 5 Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on the law shall live by it. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 or "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); 9 because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. 13 For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." 14 But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? 15 And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" 17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.

The Oracle sez: A propositional agreement to the claims of Christ's person and atonement with the response of turning from your sins and calling on God for forgiveness will bring to you the grace of God unto eternal life. Nothing less will work and nothing more is needful. All the rest is decoration. In some cases we decorate as authoritatively instructed and in some our decoration is ripe with our own artistic developments, now or in the past. Don't confuse the decorations with Faith Alone or it will not be Faith Alone for long.

Monday, August 18, 2008

If Pride is Wrong, Ought we Honor?

"Outdo one another in showing honor" (Romans 12:10). Honor is an odd thing. Most Christians would think that any thought of joy in your achievements would be the immoral Pride of Life. Honor then seems, in their minds, like showing up at church in a short skirt and plunging neckline. If Honor is a pleasurable gift we give to those we honor at the recognition of their dignity or accomplishment, are we not tempting them to pride? Why, in heaven's name, are we are told by the Apostle to do it? Maybe the pleasure serves a purpose for which it is worth risking pride.

We all agree, of course, that flattery is wrong, but why? The Scripture tells us to honor and not to flatter. In this distinction people need, before God, to know who they are, and honest honor is "another lips praising you and not your own" (Proverbs 27:2). This helps them know, confidently and with pleasure, the reach of humanity that they have arrived at being. They need to know, for God has delegated to them this Self, and that Self will one day be judged by God. They need to know accurately (risking, but not necessitating pride) or they, with conceit, would be pleased at the false. "For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him." Romans 12:3. Why is it Christians have, over the years, suspected that any pleasure for self was evil? Why did God make sex feel so good? And art so sublime? And honor about an achievement so satisfying? Those pleasures were made by God, and God, it says, "tempts no one". These things draw us as much to the good that God intended in their creation as to the bad.

All these gifts of God have a service which God desired and to which we must make payments. Husbands and wives must give each other conjugal rights. That there is, in fact, an erotically charged book in the Bible intimates that God wishes His good gifts to be pursued. Praise is an obligation, just like sex in marriage. And just like sex in marriage, it is the other which we serve with our action. The Lover, the Artist and the Praise-giver have their own share in the pleasure, but their task is clearly the communication of pleasures to the Loved, the Audience, and the Honored.

So as we honor, honestly and persistently, we announce the gains a man or woman has made to the ears of that man or woman. We tell them that their efforts have born fruit. Yes, they really do deserve that trophy. Just as when we praise God and we declare His great deeds, so it is with praising others. We announce to them that they are truly becoming that which a man is or can be. Since he is defined by the extent and success of his will, your honor to him is a scale, measuring what he willed and how he succeeded.

A world that markets Fear, be it in the News, the commercials, the worrying mothers, or the wusses we used to call "fathers" or "men", is playing a part in this game as well. While flattery is the usually insincere and certainly inflated measurement of the standing of he whom we honor, Fear is the measure of what still stands outside threatening the success of our will. In the purveying of Fear is the constant suggestion that defeat and loss are its currency. It says "you are not man enough to withstand this...". Fear announces, sometimes truly, that other things, Accident, Luck, Providence, the governments, or God Himself are real agents who rule an area outside our will. Flattery is dangerous because it tells us to go where angels fear to tread. And it is natural that we should fear going where we have not the chops to successfully rule. But where is fear bad? Fear is bad when it makes of us cowards. Fear is bad when your very humanity is jeopardized by an incorrect belief that you could not do what you certainly could and should. You become "safer" and your world becomes a zoo, where you can look "wild at heart" but never wander past unnatural confines. The fences are high, all the rocks are rounded, and they offer a diet and medicines promising to abate all futility— all this because you are too afraid to run your own life at the measure which God assigned. And that fear made you back up from and give up key elements of your humanity. You are left, not with rule by reason and wisdom, but with a packaged and plastic play area in which your most ignoble urges can play.... with a helmet. Perhaps if we honored others like we were told, we could hinder this culture of the terrified.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Well of Fear

The well of Fear is deep, perhaps bottomless. It will never run dry. We as a nation used to run on Hope, hope in our abilities and hope in our future, and for some hope in God. But now in commercials, news broadcasts, pulpits, and homes the key to most of our choices is fear. Death and calamity lies like a screen before all our eyes and promises to have at us. BREAKING NEWS! We run around in panicked circles, encouraged by the constant cries of alarm, slapping helmets on our children, increasing our chances by 8% against heart attack with Garlique, and finding our stomachs churning at the death of any soldiers in Iraq. The percentage of women in our nation has risen from 50-51% to almost 85%. Timorous wusses.
The smell of our own terrors washes through our homes. The mothers of the land have the support of all communication and product. Little Johnny, just as his Self starts to consciously commune with the Other, finds, (instead of the natural balance of Hope and Fear), finds Fear alone. The parents believe they are protecting him with his helmet and his homeschool but they have merely moved the threat level to High and he has a greater possible likelihood of pulling back. Mother doesn't like him to go very far into the Other anyway. Let us just put up another barrier. Lets not talk to the Other at all. Let us shut the door behind us and have it be the kind that neither we or they can unlock.
No, it is not a mature choice. And no they can't explain it. Yes, someone else's little Johnny got hurt badly on his bicycle. This Fear is inordinate.
So it does not surprise me that more and more children are choosing autism. Safety first.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Now About Your Salvation....

Many years ago I was in a discussion with a gentleman whose view of the Gospel was such that it was designed to help his theological team "win". You know, the denomination or systematic which arrives at the Last Day with the most adherents wins something, not sure what. He saw the failure to include a key point of his theology as trafficking in a "false gospel" (the damnable kind) instead of a saving message which once believed transferred a soul from death to life. I informed him that neither he nor the inventor of his systematic distinctive had been hoisted onto a cross for my moral and eternal benefit.

I wanted to write up a statement of the Gospel for which he, I, and any other regenerated person would bless God and say "Amen!" This image is a graphical display of that effort. No, it is not clear on everything it addresses but it is clear enough for the sinner.

Feel free to send it on to whomever and wherever. I have an 11x17 vector file PDF if anyone wants a printable version.

For all the detritus that comes through my email with star bursts, rainbows, and puppies, perhaps the message of Jesus Christ would land in the unbelievers mailbox and convict of sin, righteousness and judgment. Or perhaps some believer, who like my friend, can't and hasn't distinguished the forest from the trees and mixes that which saves with all the wisdom or folly of his church, that he would know what he needed to say if he were to faithfully preach Christ and Him Crucified.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Of Arcadia: What Sports Mean to Me

It was the sound of cleats on pavement. That and the artificial mass of shoulder pads claiming more grandiose things for the pleasuring of woman than the scrawny teenager within could compass. For heaven’s sake, we looked like a herd of bison, big helmeted heads lolling before the massive humps, with our equally artificial flanks tightly shoving us across the parking lot to the showers. If only any desirable girl, (and the standards were pretty low as to what made one of those), happened to be standing for unknown reasons somewhere proximous after school for a couple of hours, if that desirable one lifted her head, shook her auburn hair and smelt the testosterone on the breeze, she would look, with a meaning that her nubile frame could not decipher, our way. The herd would announce their seriousness regarding football on the echo chamber that was the faculty parking lot of our notable, Michigan high school. The grass of the practice field had barely acknowledged that these were the glory days of metal cleats. There, in wind sprint after wind sprint, grass and spike only met to give us a foothold, but the asphalt, it gave us standing. It said to all that the herd was advancing from the prairie to its pen and would be available for the lusty stare, which my get up and make up assumed, of one desirable woman. She would scan the lumbering mass of a 160 spent frames and would single out a certain jersey, mine, with huge purple digits naming me for her.
I have no idea what my number was. This is not because I have a bad memory, (which I do) but because I am not entirely sure I new what it was then. The number was unimportant. It was unlikely that that number would be called upon to do anything on the field of play. The number was a shape, a graphic whose effects, on which I counted along with the lusts the cleats evoked and the shoulder pads broad seduction, would be incomplete without that number. She would know me in the herd because I was the one spinning her fortunes out on loom of Spalding Athletic gear. I can only assume that all the rest of the team enjoyed the game. Perhaps these teammates, more the bison than they realized, hoped to be made heroes on the gridiron and thereby elevated to a good college or just to the bed of one of the cheerleaders. They obviously couldn’t write a story to save their lives. I stepped along side of them as a creature of myth, using their sincerity as a prop for a greater tale. She, the desirable babe, would see me alone among them because my soul, an artist, a man with sight, had donned the uniform and served humbly in the trenches along side fellows who wouldn’t know beauty if it slapped them on the fanny. How could she want anyone else?
The lot was crossed without even successfully spotting the she creature that had picked me for breeding. Suddenly the secret bliss of being deservedly desired fell away and the locker room erupted with smell of sock, jockstrap, and exertion. The only memory of the field behind us was the salty sweet taste of homemade Gatorade and a grass stain where Maurice Reese had applied 245 black pounds of first string Newtonian physics to my 145 pounds of white-assed, third string, “red squad” body at only temporary rest. I was lucky to get away with a stain. She certainly would not have watched the practice itself and could not have witnessed my downfall. She was there late in the afternoon for entirely different reasons and was probably somewhat antagonistic to the sporting life. Hence her eye should fall on me, a dichotomy she knew from some art class, who was not like the other jock brains but one who merely had strapped on the pads to cause a tingling in her resistant temper. Just enough male for her female and more than enough insight for her soul. Surely she had not watched practice for any length of time, at least not the time where my body found itself wrapped about the foreparts of Mr. Reese as he expressed his antagonism for whitey.
A shower later and with the realization that my second string brother was waiting in the parking lot because he had the car keys and the driving duty, brought me to my exit, last out of the school and into the late summer light. She would have seen all the supporting cast come out. She would look up with faux casualness from a book by Herman Hesse at those who were devoted to the sport, the game, the competition but, sadly, not the narrative. She was probably sitting on the hood of her car, no, someone else’s car, for it was written that she would need a ride which I would compel my brother to give. Yes, and the ride to her home, surely in our part of town, would be replete with tired footballed wisdom laced with an exciting undertone of future conversations which would be on subjects which she could only imagine me expressing myself on. My brother would say nothing and would operate as an object who operated the other necessary object of our parent’s station wagon.
My showered, fresh and ready self was being called on stage. I strode down the hall , and in the empty school quiet I planned to be looking right to the horizon so my brother would call out to me by name. A duffle bag swung in nonchalance and my hand hit the door handle with a memory of the sound of cleats still singing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

And We'll Have Fun, Fun, Fun....

Fun. What is this annoying invasion of our peace? I have never been an advocate of fun or a close friend of those who encourage it. While at sports academy in Connecticut I would hide in the mountain caves to avoid those grinning counselors who waded in the junior high sea arranging the next bit of fun. Most of the children liked it. I presume that they did as I was alone in my cave.
"Such stories," you say, "explain far more of you than they do fun."
I must nod and agree.
But fun is something is it not? Why do you call some things fun and others boring?

Fun is the slightly(the more slight the more fun) controlled disarray which measures successfully the borders of the overarching controls in place about you. Why do I say "measures succesfully"? Why did your mother (she who overarched most of your early fun) remind you that if you keep doing "x" you will put your eye out, it'll freeze like that, or you'll regret it all when someone gets hurt? She is measuring just how close you and your friends are to letting the disarray throw you face down in the gravel. After which, she was right, no fun.

In other words, fun is the casting off of the governance which fabricates your very humanity and descends into the gratifying abyss of unreasonable urge, after jotting a quick note to those who remain on watch to keep an eye out. We have so measured fun as a Constitutionally protected right that the great moral action regarding drunkenness is not refraining from getting plowed but the having of a designated driver. The out of control protected by the controlled.

We climb down that ladder to various rungs of fun. A game creates an arena of wild responses within its own close confine of rules. Screaming, gesticulating, falling out of your chair is all allowed but you have to do a certain thing. Games are fun because we know these 'mothers" of our moment are intending that we have fun, run amuck, work up a sweat pantomiming some word for our teammates.
Some fun lovers go further down and find that they can't have fun unless the throbbing music, dim but flashing lights, copious amounts of adult beverage all conspire to give them an event in which nothing of import, wit, or sense is uttered. These clubs are not as good a government as your mother or the game board.
We wish to savor an animal license within the wise confines of a humane liberty. I think such can be a valid grant. Pleasure can be rightly pursued when having a solid wall about you. There is a place for the passions but the degree of passion needs be met by the degree of government which protects it from exposure and vulnerability. Most will want those two things divided into 1) their abandonment to the fun and 2) someone entirely else granting the protection of the fief in which it occurs. Such is naturally expected with children who couldn't govern their own bowel movements or cook their own meals. When older it should be different. The wise man, in his fun, should never allow that it require a second agent to drive him home.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Been a Long Time, Been a Long Time...

The last blog reader was slowly leaving the room. His/her hand had reached tentatively for the light switch as the persistent quiet could only be matched in future by darkness. His/her eye scanned the room looking for he/she knew not what. Was that a scratching noise? From under his/her feet it seemed to rise. Unseen heretofore was a richly aged, lichen encrusted, and dirt obscured handle and latch of which Tolkien had failed to write a complete history. A male or female hand reached down, and with knuckles whitening with the strain and shaking in fear, pulled. The gaping, black hole of the Pit hearkened to either the Crack of Doom or perhaps (he/she hoped) The Narrow Way. The smell of wormwood and souls baking in sweaty, humid, and chaffing torment rose to the nostril of the last acolyte. A damp form crawled out like a majestic sea lion and threw itself on the floor of a dryer Idaho.
"I've been to Charleston." said the heaving mass.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Das Capital

A short word, if I may. Most of the time I write and design for the pleasure of it. The Amazing Missus sees boxes of textbooks, and thought, and posters, and coffee mugs not as the residue of my joy but another task crying out for completion. So sell it I must. You now can worm your way into a greater degree of affection with the Oracle (and certainly his wife) by going to the place we store our Loot and buying stuff like there were no tomorrow. I have added a link to this Mall of Oracular Stuff (bringing my approved sites up to 4) in the sidebar. The site takes PayPal, which, I assume, means I can gain American dollars from you at a distance.

Check back at that site with regularity as I hope to get more stuff produced. I hope that things like The Pitney Canon or a novel, The Book of Knights and Days might reach self publication status ere long. Maybe some bookmarks. Big Haus aprons. Feel free to clamor in the comments section for something I may have forgotten. My great futilitarian work on the sum of all human desire is a ways off (working title "Benediction: a good word on the way it is") so no clamoring for that. You may note in the comments that you await it with patience.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


You betcha!

What you see in this picture is my family. They are perhaps the greatest set of friends a father has had in the history of Western Civ. Other fathers may feel free to think it of their own overweening storge but I, he who has post-Enlightenment Rationalism as his middle name, I have checked.

Let me introduce you to the moment. We, last weekend, had flown to the East to pay homage to my eldest child's (Lincoln Davis, second from left) success at Seton Hall Law School. We, of course, spent our days wandering Manhattan and this shot is in the graveyard of a church next to Ground Zero. It has become a shrine, not for the death and resurrection of Christ, but a shrine for the rescuers of 9/11. Nifty old church but "next to Ground Zero" is uniquely apt.

To Lincoln Davis' right (the furthest left as you look at this picture) is Graeme Stanford. He is my gift to the expansion of The Empire and serves in the U.S. Army. To Davis' left, that good looking honey is Michalangela, jazz singer of Portland, Oregon. Marching further right down the ranks we have Evan Gunn, a senior in high school who could order a beer anywhere in the United States and not get carded. In fact, Friday night we dined at Del Frisco's Rockefeller Center and the uber-confident staff offered him wine. In keeping with the theme we next meet she who will continue to be carded though aged to five decades. The wife, Leslie Ann, the Amazing Missus, fit in easily to Neuva York. I had a flare up of a heel problem and so as we marched Manhattan, I shuffled along as the grey bearded gimp to the rear of the party, head down and muttering. The Missus consequently was mistaken for my daughter.

What's not to be proud of? They are a good lookin' batch of humanity. I was proud to have shuffled along after them.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I Don't Make the Rules, I Just Apply Them.

Back in my youth it was always said, "Just because you were born in a garage, it don't make you a Volkswagen." The truth bearing nature of aphorisms notwithstanding I always took that to mean (in the creedal sophistication of the Jesus Freaks) that being born in a Christian home did not make you a Christian. In fact the term "Christian home" itself is slightly silly, like those that think they feel a spirit of oppression when they drive into Utah. An institution has actual regeneracy? The mind fogs. Back to the point.
As the Baby Boom reaches past its midlife crisis and into a heightened religious sense and they pull up heaving at the near side of the Tiber or the Golden Horn, more credit is given by them to the contrary of this "saying". The adjustment of the residual evangelical faith they once held has them amend the saying thus, "Unless of course you always believed that you were a Volkswagen and committed yourself to the Chilton's manual of Volkswagen repair and subscribed rather strictly to all things relevant in the storied history of VW" Of course we cannot allow the illustration to get away from us by suggesting that this claimant to VW-ness had a Beetle and Jetta for parents at which the "please-save-my-kid-by-church-magic" set says validly, "Aha!" I pause before I say "Aha!" back at them. Don't want this to turn into a shoving match.
"Aha! Not only did I refrain from pushing the metaphor further then it could communicate but never, I repeat, never has a single Volkswagen in the history of the Cosmos been brought into being by a Beetle sharing a night of passion with a Jetta (I don't care how smokin' hot she was). So it is with Christians. The genetics and the period of incarceration make nothing of a man except perhaps peer status with the demons. But you have always believed and ..and...sola fide, faith alone.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder.
James 2:19
The catechism of the First Church of Pandemonium is solid on the doctrine of God. Not only does the creed of that institution affirm it, they individually claim the belief. How long have they believed? They can't remember a time when they did not know that this was true.
Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?
James 2:20
James has been on this topic a bit by the time he gets to verses 19 & 20. He seems to think that belief that matters to God (not a dead faith) is that which has promoted an action. And what form would the action take in those that believe the claims the Jesus died for sinners?
Romans 10:8-14 has an idea.
The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved. The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him. For, "every one who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved." But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?

The verbal confession includes more than saying the great creedal truths. It involves calling on the Name of the Lord. How can they call without belief? The demons believe and don't call. Is their faith not true? The Bible says that their faith is true about these things but it is silent about another belief which genetic "Christians" with them might not affirm at a level which would bring about a saving faith. They don't believe that they need to. Not sinners or not sinful enough. Regenerate from the womb, always a Christian, never unconverted. Only the sinner cries out to God, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"

I John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

This is the upshot. St. Paul lets us know in Romans 7 that, yes he was born alive spiritually but as the law entered his life, sin came to life and he died. This is the death from which the work of Christ on the cross came to redeem us. The child of Christian parents is certainly benefited by the presence of the truth surrounding them but the truth is this: by the time a mind is capable of even understanding the articles of the Faith (which they will naturally believe as some naturally believe in Santa Claus) they will have fallen to the sins that come to life as they encounter the moral law. They must believe that Christ died to save sinners but they must come to also believe that they are precisely that, sinners. Those two beliefs, the need and the answer, bring about the the work of a real faith, calling on the name of the Lord to be saved. God's grace is to sinners and those who think they can just grow up knowing the truth and learning to be obedient are denying that grace.
I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law,
then Christ died to no purpose.
Galatians 2:21

Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Galatians 4:16

This persuasion is not from him who calls you.
Galatians 5:8

Monday, May 05, 2008


Do you want to understand The Big Haus Society?
Go here.
Do you want to help offer The Big Haus to others?
Go here.
Do you want to visit The Big Haus to gain what it is we offer?
Go here.

At the Big Haus,
It's the Thought That Counts.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Pastoral Bestiary

I ran across this old cartoon today cleaning out my files.

Friday, April 25, 2008

All the Best People Will be There

All things are full of weariness;
a man cannot utter it;
the eye is not satisfied with seeing,
nor the ear filled with hearing.
Ecclesiastes 1:8

That said, The Male Box is throwing an arts extravaganza tonight and tomorrow. I will have some unsatisfying visuals hung in their gallery and the Amazing Missus will be belting out sounds that fill not thine ears mid-Friday nite.

I will be moving the keyboard later this afternoon.
Full of weariness? You betcher!
Utter it? Watch my dust.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

"God Willing"

The pious are those who take serious measure of the gods and place themselves accurately in that measure. In other words the theism of the righteous is both referential and reverential. What is your reference for the Living God? Remember that the rest of us can tell the quality of your reference by the pronounced quality of your reverence. "The God Who Made Heaven and Earth" is either just a verbal reference with equivalent verbal (and verbal only) reverence or it is how your categories and personal governmental theory has found Him placed.

The squishy melodies affirming "My God is an awesome God" sees impiety from many of the lives of the voices who sing it. The need is not only that the reference be true (He is Awesome) and that the reference be where His name appears in the index of Christian thought (God, one each, triune, awe inspiring) but where He appears as highest in the List of Lords each man recognizes and wills to govern himself. Again, piety is a personal thing and impiety is as well. It is the government of circumstantial passion that makes some bozo sing the word "awesome" juxtaposed with the Name of God fervently in one place, and in another, find that the Name is companion to "dammit".

"My brethren, it ought not be so."

The Oracle: Quit relying on the church for your reference to God. When it is distant and "endlessly repeated" you will feel that level of piety (in other words, none, or what passes for piety but is really some gaseous aesthetic brought on by Handel and Gothic architecture). Bow the knee when you are not shielded behind the force field of Christendom.

Bow your knee.

You are certainly

not bright enough

to run your own morality.

You need a god.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Insult that is Sin

Hmmm.... Let me see.....stuff that is important.
If man is created for the potential of autonomously chosen pursuit, obedience, and worship of He who created him, then the quality we call sin is perhaps not best argued at the level of "don't do that or this". Sin (capitalized not just because it begins the sentence) is all about your personal theory of governance. The question "who is in charge here?" asked of just about everyone is easily answered by the casual tapping of their own chest. Another question comes charging up. "How is that working out for you?" Admit it, you are lousy at Life. You are not smart enough and neither is Dr. Phil. Oh yeah... and then you die. Dumb as a stump and worm feed ere long. God has given you feelings and perceptions and hopes and fears punctuated by mortal and immortal death. With that lineup He expects you would consider taking His resume, looking over His qualities for running the job to which you promoted yourself. Allowing that God is the wisest guide, Righteousness is the wisest governance of all pains and pleasures. Sin will actually be the governance that follows, not wisdom, but the folly of urge. Run to pleasure (be it drink, sex, etc.), retreat from pain (fear, cowardice, dishonesty, etc.) and nothing has governed, nothing has ruled but passion, wanting what promotes itself in Desire. To want without will is not just evil but bestial as well. The Christian, living in the light of God's governance is not just holy but humane.

Let me give you some help.

Sin is not a pattern of icky crimes but shallow ones. It is not the biology of sex that makes it bad in various circumstances but the variety of the circumstance. In fact folks are pleased with being taboo or seamy or sordid about their sin. Only a grade schooler will fall for the "icky" spit swapping barrier to kissing. Who shall I blame for this error in assessment? The church will do just fine. Augustine held that sex was even sinful in marriage. John Paul II suggested that lust was wrong even within marriage. They and their ilk built and sustained the Manichean Icky School of Sin and the sinner is oddly happy to graduate from it. Pleasure can trump icky in a heartbeat, in fact icky makes sin more pleasing still. But Sin is not the icky. Sin is the white trash level of confidence that you are capable to rule the monstrous joy of sex. A man looks a woman not his wife, or the teens park the car at the scenic overlook, or the pederast cruises the chat rooms, and each will say (to maintain the metaphor of how trashy are your choices) "Here, hold my beer and watch this."

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Chronicles of the Oracle

My abject apologies for failing to even post the mundanities of my life. You ought understand that local oracular duties take precedence over the far flung of more hyper spaces. Big thoughts were thunk, you can be sure. Vortices of conversational epiphany lay scattered like jetsam cross the hardwood floors of Big Haus. Young men tug at their forelock as they passed the manse and they murmur a slight but fervent prayer that they would grow up big and strong of mind.

Coming out of Easter things have gone from busy to bustin' loose. Davis was here for the holiday which has its own soul cleansing bout of rigorous thought. We had a church breakfast that day, then church itself, after which we invited everyone over (totaling 45 persons) for luncheon at the Haus. We then had a couple from California visit for a few days as they spied out the land. I spent that week whipping up interest and materials for The Mojo Oracles. It had a good turnout on Saturday (17 male minds awash in futility and food). The three days before the Mojo we added to the family by entertaining and welcoming cousins (1 real, 2 step) from Canada that I did not know that I had. Nice people. Add to the general hoorah Leslie's Bella "Let's look at the score from the Jazz Festival" meeting and her band practicing and that brings us to this week. Starting Monday I have been laboring to create a notebook for a conference I am doing tomorrow in Colorado (Leslie and I leave at 3;30 tomorrow a.m.). We get back Sunday night late and have to be ready Monday morning first period to teach the philosophy of Manners (The Word of a Gentleman and the Way of a Lady) at Montrose Academy. That goes all week winding up with a banquet at the Big Haus on Saturday with Leslie Wilson and Heartless performing an evening concert at the Nuart Theater after. That means I had to fabricate the textbooks for that week this week along with the other prep. My brain has started to effervesce. All I can manage for the fans of Clan MacEvan is this recounting. That and ask for your prayers that we might survive. I am trying also to get out a fundraising brochure for the ministry here. It is done but needs to be printed and mailed. Some of you will see it. If you think you might not be on our mailing list and would like to be sure that a Big Haus shakedown for support reaches you, put a comment to that effect and I will let you know how to safely get us your address.

We think we might have a free weekend in a couple of weeks. I suppose that could change. Dang free will.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

An Oracle for Wednesday

Peace is not a thing but a reaction to Order. The kind of Peace gained by Order is related to the arena; if emotional, domestic, military, or spiritual.
Order the realm and gain the Peace. If you cannot master the realms of life, find a master who can.

The degree to which you successfully govern your Self and Circumstance defines your Dignity and what Honors are requisite to it.
We are Humane to the degree we govern ourselves, Civilized to the degree we are governed in an ordered society, and Noble to the degree we are of governing service to it.
We are Pious to the degree we are governed from On High.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Went Down to the River (DaDaan da Duh)

So we went down to see my baby, Michal Angela, as she has labored to become a working singer in the Portland, Oregon jazz scene. We wanted to go out on the town with her in this professional moment.

First pic: Mike getting her performance groove on.

Second: Pick out the 50 year old.

Third: Mike and the Blessed, (our "second daughter").

Fourth pic: Jake and Bethany Calene came out for the gig (which was out in McMinnville, Oregon at the NW Wine Bar.)

Next few: Mike singing with her pianist, and recording studio owner, Jonathan Swanson (he is dang good). The bass player is some old guy who sat in but Michal has played with his son and grandson who are also bass players.

Art Shot at the end (meaning by that it was out of focus and was run through some PhotoShop filters): Leslie got to sing a couple of numbers at the end of the evening.

Monday, March 03, 2008

All Souls Update

We have closed on the new home for All Souls.
This is a great blessing that our fellowship only has because our God is greater than our financial ability.

Pray for us as we learn the joys and sorrows of property.

photo: Tim Tate

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yes, Yes, Yes, Oh Yes!

Are you a Christian man?
When it come to understanding women and your emotions regarding women are you as dumb as a stump?
When it comes to being a man do you default to "behaving badly"?
Did you read "Wild at Heart" and like it?
You need help.

... after two years...
...and a tour of the subcontinent...
March 29, 2008

Seminar Schedule: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Are there basic reasons for everything every man does? The first session explores the claim that we are all after something simply obvious. It is the underpinning of a rationally sound pursuit of being a man.
Sandwich lunch — Noon
As the prerequisite to honour and dignity, a philosophy of position has been lost in modern America. Regaining that mode of thought is essential to becoming the gentleman.
15 minute break
The more masculine virtues of Honour, Dignity, Integrity, and Gravity are the oft ignored virtues, and are not friendly to the modern egalitarian outlook.
15 minute break
Fourth Session: THE MOJO
The Biblical understanding of the Attraction called “Woman” and the benefits of that understanding in resisting temptation and winning a wife.
15 minute break
Fifth Session: The Word of A GENTLEMAN
Gathered from the teachings of that penultimate gentleman, Philip Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield,
and the Book of the Courtier by Count Balthazar Castiglione.
1 hour break

Roast Beast Dinner— 7:00
Attire: Casual
with after dinner

FIN — 10 p.m.

It costs $50.

If you would like to attend click here to reach a PDF of the brochure and registration.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For the Philistine

A couple of posts back I put up a picture of the house across the corner from ours, to which Philistine asked if the Big Haus had mutated into something he did not remember. His memory had to stretch over two decades into the humbler times when he and I spread polyurethane on the oaken floors of the dining room...

...in this,...
(thunder and numinous light blinds us momentarily)

...the Big Haus.

The Conscience of Art

With such a title one would half expect some gasbag arranging an event o'erwhelmed with artistes, while standing under, around, between articles and banners with the word "Darfur" emblazoned thereon. There is something about the claimants to art, who, facing doubts and questions rightly posed about their actual gifts, must prove that they have the soul of an artist. A car mechanic would never think of traveling to some sandy place to walk their artificially tanned arse through starving crowds while mentally composing their U.N. testimony. Yep, mechanics can't do that. And, nope, I am not talking about this conscience posing as an artistic soul leaking out of fleshly finite containers due to over filling (but I did enjoy describing it).
Each part of any art betrays that it is art by this function of conscience. Like the conscience that bothers you when you lie to you friends, this conscience is "with (con) knowledge (science). When any portion (a tone, a color, a shape, a placement, a timing) shows that its participation is with knowledge of the other participants, art's conscience has been expressed.
I used to say the parts of arts functioned "in agreement" but, though that explains a lot of successful works (if not most) I think that parts in disagreement can be valid if that disagreement shows knowledge of the other (rather than mere chaos). Art has a conscience. It wrestles across a medium in or on which the artist shows that the various parts can nod politely, rudely, or amorously at the others,... but they will nod.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Credit where Credit is Due

It is apparent that the faith of a man (his coming to a belief regarding the Gospel) is the thing which God asks to see and subsequently graces the man of faith unto salvation. Some would say that if a man's faith is of himself it is a work and as a work cannot save. But what would keep it from being his work? The answer comes that God gives him the faith as well as the grace.
I ask (as a humble seeker after truth) on what basis was that removal of credit? I answer (because this is a blog and not a forum) that the appeal of the credit removal is our fully functional common sense. It is based on the fundamental nature of justice stated thusly: The agent responsible (and thereby credited) is the agent causal to the degree causal. If God is 100% causal to a man's faith, God is 100% to be credited and man can claim 0%. I believe that is fair, don't you?

But hold on! But wait a dang minute!

Those that claim such a "who do believe, me or your own lyin' eyes" explanation for the source of faith are doing so to protect a broader system in which God is exhaustively sovereign. In such a view, all things, from monad to mood to movements of the heavens, are decreed by God and His will is 100% and no other thing contributes an iota of autonomous causality.
If that is so, and for the sake of taking from a man his own faith, supporters of this broader view have assented to the definition of justice, how is it that any works (denied as a source of salvation) can be works at all? How is it man receives 100% credit for his sins although he is 0% causal? If a man is credited for one, why not the other? If sins are credited because they look like they are done in the here and now by the man willing them and doing them, why not his faith which looked like he had done actually within himself?

I don't ask that that my brothers in Christ who hold such a notion abandon their system of sovereignty but that they admit to proposing a sophistry regarding faith. Its strength as an argument is based on an idea of justice to which they do not subscribe.

Monday, February 04, 2008

On Story

In any narrative laid out before us, we are drawn to inhabit varying degrees of audience-ness. On one pole, that of entirely audience, are those which watch, read or listen to the story from without. They do not identify with any aspect of the story. That is extremely disconnected to what stories involve and reflects on the story (if it managed to represent nothing that is "true" to us) or on the audience (who lives as a practical solipsist). One the other pole is the complete identification with the story. This characteristic in ourselves finds us taking a role in the story like some plain, intellectually self gratifying female of perpetual singleness finding that she breathes the very atman of Elizabeth Bennett. Again this reflects either on the quality of the story or its audience.
The first pole mentioned is pointless to story as stories seek to convey and nothing was conveyed. It was just some thing, an article, like a rock, but a rock has no intention of communication. The second or other pole matters a great deal. The actualness of the story, its truth regarding objective truth, calls to everyone to align themselves truly to the parts they ought. There are women just like Elizabeth Bennett and they should see themselves in her. Tragically there are more Mr. Collins than those who recognize it and equally tragic, fewer Mr Darcys than the actual Elizabeths would like.
But for all this I think about the Gospel. The narrative told us by God is that we are sinners, every man jack of us, and as sinners damned eternally. Now the above description of audience applies. Within Christendom (not Christianity) there are many who see the narrative of God's salvific purpose without seeing their participation in the story. They may advance the story. They may say the story is true. Certainly they, in this advocacy of the story (remember they inhabit Christendom), are not at the first polar extreme. They have heard the story with the attendance and enjoyment of a Stars Wars fan. They have willfully suspended their disbelief and they pretend that the story is true and the equally pretend (for the serious fans) that they are like one or more of the characters. While at a Christian church or conference or concert they participate in the story with the back or nature of their mind ready to realize, on leaving the "theater", that they are not Han Solo. Christianity asks for something more. It tells a story that we are not supposed to enjoy temporarily as if only meeting it with story and audience clearly distinct. It tells a story that is about us. We don't just find that we are "like" a character in it, we "are" a character in it. Those sinners it speaks of are all of us who hear it. To fail in this identification is to fail to have a faith that will beseech God for forgiveness of Our Sins.

The great thing, if we wish to visit our Jane Austen motif again, is that once we discover that we are, actually are, Elizabeth Bennett we know that the story has promised Mr Darcy. We are the sinners in the story of the Gospel and Jesus Christ has died for us.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Can I Get A Witness?

As we know from countless Christian weddings Love is defined in I Corinthians 13. Our souls recoil in horror and our moral rectitude becomes questionable, since desiring to choke the life out of any minister who allows it is probably questionable. Our eyes bug out as the right reverend doesn't even bother reconciling the idea that while agape love is not jealous, there is a natural jealousy of erotic love. But wedding tradition will have its way with us,so let's make do.
In that passage we find a lot of what love is not but two words describing what Love is.
“Love is patient and kind.”
Now, please be patient with me for a bit.

It is not just that agape love and romantic love are not the same thing. In a wedding we are bound to find, not one or the other, but four kinds of Love. Saint Clive gave his remarkable Four Talks on them and the book version is worthy of your time. I had my future wife listen to his talk on Eros back in 1976 and we have now been married over 29 years. This is magical stuff. Pay attention.

At a wedding Eros or Romantic love is a bit obvious. The bride is ramped up to an unusual state of hotness. The music swells. The flowers run riot and smiles bedeck whomever with a faint whiff of sexuality. The ritual is festooned with unnatural aristocratic decorations and people move in paths they will never move again, because they are middle class. It is the honor that Eros receives from us. All of the peripheral universe disappears and the couple becomes the conclusion of the "most important romantic novel ever written".
The presence of friendship or Philia is probably more modern and it is a gift for which modernity should be blessed. In courtship/patriarchal societies of the past, the wise guidance of a certain number of goats struck a chord with the Fathers and, TA DA, a marriage! We allow friendships to develop and we like it more when a friendship has developed before vows are taken, just as we prefer that Eros develop before vows. At least Jacob wished it with Leah.
Moving on to Storge or Family love, a wedding is almost primarily this love. If nothing else, two families are joined, one family is made and "all their worldly goods" are cross given and endowed.
Much more can be made of this list of loves but let it suffice to say that these three are not, by Pauline definition, that which is "patient and kind".
What he defined, is Agape or Charity. We must now apply our way to some meaning.
What we see at a wedding, and as a congregation we witness, are the vows taken to so love in this fourfold way. "I swear," you say, "to be lover, family, friend, and neighbor regardless of our fate."
Now this is a pretty big deal. Possibly bigger than you think.
As many of you know, all Christian ethics derive from Love. Those that don't, give me a call.
Romans 12:8-10
Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
If four loves are being vowed at a wedding, our witness of those vows, in varying ways, involves us too.
A bridal couple is a picture of us all and so we don’t just witness, we participate.
While many Christian weddings misapply the I Corinthians 13 passage, as many, gladly and correctly apply the Ephesians 5 idea that they are a metaphor of Christian charity, the patient and kind love. They are to be seen ultimately as Christ and his church and Christ giving himself up for her as the penguin-suited groom is to give himself up for the waxed and buffed bride. You, sitting in pew twelve, are called to witness both the mundane and the transcendent wedding. The "patience and kindness" that the couple vow to start giving each other is that which you all must witness, value and enjoy. You sat there and witnessed a monumental metaphor and it wasn't about them but about you and between you all and each.
Witnessing wedding agape is to witness where you stand morally, because you witnessed a picture of Christ and His redemption. Lots of portent there, my friend.

But the Romantic Love and Friendship Love that they have is private. Yes, private but objectively there or not and witnessed as there or not. The congregation does not participate actually or metaphorically but witnesses them as those who want its best expressed in them, and by its lessons, in you.

The Family Love is also all around on the wedding day. Each family is donating parts of themselves for this new family unit. The metaphor in Ephesians 5 is so dynamic and Christ-centered that the demonstration of it in the couple's attachment, service, and obedience is hard to move past. But the family they primarily but collaterally make, it too is a metaphor, and an important one.
Matthew 12:46-50
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother."
If the couple exchanging vows have both passed from Death to Life, their creation of family calls out to the congregation to value the real family of the kingdom of Heaven and not just the new "Mr. and Mrs." in their home.

Weddings are not like another floor show, which for the cover charge of acquaintance and a gift, we can attend. They speak to and of us. What we witness is a set of grand loves which all touch us with some necessity. What we see we only see at perhaps 20-30 weddings in our lifetimes and, (this is of some moment), only for you lifetime.
The vows show us that this lesson is before our eyes only temporarily.
“till death do us part”
Christ agrees.
In Matthew 22:29-30
But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

This message is for both you and and any besotted, charming couple standing before the vicar.
The wedding is the beginning of a lesson from God, witnessed by you all and vowed by the celebrants.
It is a lesson that best be learned for it ends for us all one day.
Matthew 22:36-39
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The life of complete holiness is preached at every wedding across the land.
The love on display on any wedding day seeks not its own but seeks its God above and seeks, in the believers, its family, and in all, its neighbor.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Who Are You?

Definitions, as I have pointed out before, are different than Circumstances. For the sinner, it is of some moment and relief that Christianity changes the definition of a man rather than his circumstance. The rest of the world's religions (and much of Christendom) stress the religious circumstances of the life they recommend. The New Covenant has made a man's nature different. He is redefined. Whatever his circumstance, Jew or Gentile, male or female, slave or free, his definition has shifted and he is now filled with the Holy Spirit. This is necessary to even call yourself a Christian for "you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." Romans 8:9

Many churches give a list of circumstances (from wet the baby to walk the aisle) perhaps because the circumstances of a Christian's life do change. You can't change the definition of something without it changing the world the new being inhabits. This will be so much that, as St. James says "I, by my works, will show you my faith." He didn't say "I will create my faith."

The worldly mind takes this continuum between who you are and what you do and switches where the definition resides. "I'll make a faith," says he, " from my ritual to moral to cultural deeds and it will be the biggest, grandest Christian faith you ever did see." He thinks that the definition is made by the circumstances not vice versa. He looks at the change described by the apostles and falls into the same slavery that he came out of.

If a man is defined as a featherless biped and believes wholeheartedly that that circumstance is what makes him a man, two errors are eventual. One, a plucked chicken is a man and, two, if he loses a leg, he lost his humanity.
Applied, we see that someone who insists that a Christian will be defined by x-ritual observance and by x-cultural condition, the church will soon (and has been) cumbered with those who meet the external definition who have not Christ and some who have Christ will be left wondering, should they lose access to x-ritual, if they are Christians.

The Christ says, "You must be born again."
Let Christ make a new man of you.
"whereas the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and sincere faith." I Timothy 1:5