Monday, December 24, 2007

A Review of our Christmas Traditions by George Grant

George Grant has an excellent post on the great martyr, Boniface of Crediton, and the Christmas season. Here is the link:

and here is the post:

Boniface of Crediton spent the first forty years of his life in quiet service to the church near his home in Exeter. He discipled young converts, cared for the sick, and administered relief for the poor. He was a competent scholar as well, expounding Bible doctrine for a small theological center and compiling the first Latin grammar written in England. But in 718, Boniface left the comfort and security of this life to become a missionary to the savage Teutonic tribes of Germany. For thirty years he not only proclaimed to them the Gospel of Light, he portrayed to them the Gospel of Life.

Stories of his courageous intervention on behalf of the innocent abound. He was constantly jeopardizing his own life for the sake of the young, the vulnerable, the weak, the helpless, the aged, the sick, and the poor—often imposing his body between the victims and their oppressors. Indeed, it was during one of his famed rescues that his name was forever linked to the celebration of Advent during Yuletide.

Wherever he went among the fierce Norsemen who had settled along the Danish and German coast, he was forced to face the awful specter of their brutal pagan practices—which included human mutilations and vestal sacrifices. When he arrived in the region of Hesse, Boniface decided to strike at the root of such superstitions. He publicly announced that he would destroy their gods. He then marched toward their great sacred grove. The awestruck crowd at Geismar followed along and then watched as he cut down the sacred Oak of Thor, an ancient object of pagan worship standing atop the summit of Mount Gudenberg near Fritzlar. The pagans, who had expected immediate judgment against such sacrilege, were forced to acknowledge that their gods were powerless to protect their own sanctuaries. Together, they professed faith in Christ.

A young boy from a neighboring village, hearing of such boldness, rushed into the missionary camp of Boniface three evenings later. It was just about twilight on the first Sunday in Advent. He breathlessly told of a sacrifice that was to be offered that very evening—his sister was to serve as the vestal virgin.

Hurrying through the snowy woods and across the rough terrain, Boniface and the boy arrived at the dense sacred grove just in time to see the Druid priest raise his knife into the darkened air. But as the blade plunged downward Boniface hurtled toward the horrid scene. He had nothing in his hands save a small wooden cross. Lunging forward, he reached the girl just in time to see the blade of the knife pierce the cross—thus, saving her life.

The priest toppled back. The huddle of worshipers were astonished. Their was a brief moment of complete silence. Boniface seized upon it. He proclaimed the Gospel to them then and there, declaring that the ultimate sacrifice had already been made by Christ on the cross at Golgotha—there was no need for others.

Captivated by the bizarre scene before them, the small crowd listened intently to his words. After explaining to them the once and for all provision of the Gospel, he turned toward the sacred grove. With the sacrificial knife in hand, he began hacking off low hanging branches. Passing them around the circle, he told each family to take to the small fir boughs home as a reminder of the completeness of Christ’s work on the tree of Calvary. They were to adorn their hearths with the tokens of His grace. They might even chop great logs from the grove as fuel for their home fires, he suggested—not so much to herald the destruction of their pagan ways but rather to memorialize the provision of Christ’s coming. Upon these things they were contemplate over the course of the next four weeks, until the great celebration of Christmas.

Such exploits inspired a number of Advent traditions. The Advent wreath—a fir garland set with five candles, one for each Sunday in Advent and one for Christmas Day—was quickly established as a means of reenacting the Gospel lesson of Boniface. In addition, the Christmas tree, decorated with candles and tinsel, strings of lights and garlands under the eaves and across the mantles, and the Yule log burning in the fireplace were favorite reminders of the season’s essential message.

In time, Boniface established a number of thriving parishes. He eventually became a mentor and support to the Carolingians, and he reformed the Frankish church, which Charles Martel had plundered. Ultimately, he discipled Pipin the Short, the father of Charlemagne the Great.

Then, when he was over 70, Boniface resigned his pastoral responsibilities, in order to spend his last years working among the fierce Frieslanders. With a small company, he successfully reached large numbers in the previously unevangelized area in the northeastern Germanies. On Whitsun Eve Boniface and Eoban were preparing for the baptism of some of the new converts at Dokkum, along the frontier of the Netherlands. Boniface had been quietly reading in his tent while awaiting the arrival of his new converts, when a hostile band of pagan warriors descended on the camp. He would not allow his companions to defend him. As he was exhorting them to trust in God and to welcome the prospect of dying for the faith, they were attacked—Boniface was one of the first to fall.

Though his voice was stilled that day, his testimony only grew louder, surer, and bolder. And thus, to this day, his message lives on—in the traditions of Advent.

Wilson, Piper and Wright

Don't know how many of my readers are keeping up with the whole controversy re the New Persective on Paul, but Piper has written a book interacting with Wright, and Wilson is reviewing the reviewer's (Piper's) review. Here is the link, for those interested:

The new ones are posted on his blog as often as he writes them.

Jesse Broussard

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Rhetoric Paper: No Idea How Much of the Grade


A Man of Peace?

Jesse Broussard, Nicea Term Rhetoric, 1015 Words

EXORDIUM: Islam’s founder has been slandered as a bloody and violent man. Many terrorists have claimed to be carrying out his will (to the horror of many Muslims). Muhammad is hailed by many as the greatest moral example to ever walk the earth, a tremendous and peaceful prophet. So why the slander? Why call the peaceful Muhammad a man that engenders violence? Well, accusations are only slander if they’re false, so the real question is, are they true?

NARRATIO: Islamic law (based on the revelations of Muhammad) “rejects all attempts on human life,” according to perhaps the leading Shiite theologian,Grand Ayatollah Ali-Muhammad Sistani. Other Muslims state that“The Prophet Muhammad was assigned the Mission of peace in the world by Allah. The fundamental purpose (of Muhammad) was to attain peace with the lord, peace with the universe and peace with the people.” The Quran is cited as promoting peace: “Our Apostle has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book…Light has come to you from Allah and a book which guides to the truth, whereby Allah leads to ways of peace those who seek His pleasure.” Also, “The more we emulate the Prophet, the more at peace we are with our Creator, other people, and ourselves.”

On the other side of the debate the general consensus is that Muhammad “was a thief, liar, assassin, mass murderer, terrorist, warmonger, and an unrestrained sexual pervert engaged in pedophilia, incest, and rape. He authorized deception, assassinations, torture, slavery, and genocide. He was a pirate, not a prophet.” And, oddly enough, there seems to be no neutrality—if any believe that he was a well intentioned but perhaps misguided man, and there must be some, they “open not their mouths.” Ironically, a statement from G. K. Chesterton, a great Christian theologian, is remarkably apt here. He says that if Jesus was not the Christ, he was the antichrist. Well, it seems that if Muhammad was not from heaven, he was straight from hell.

PARTITIO: The evidence, however, is all on one side and only on one side. PROPOSITIO: Despite the Muslim claims to the contrary, Muhammad’s life is a bloody life of sanctioned murders and mandated violence, not of peace with men.

CONFIRMATIO: The Quran recounts the assassinations of some poets that had criticized Muhammad, one of which is particularly striking in its detail.

Muhammad said, ‘Will no one rid me of this woman?' Umayr, a zealous Muslim, decided to execute the Prophet's wishes. That very night he crept into the writer's home while she lay sleeping surrounded by her young children. There was one at her breast. Umayr removed the suckling babe and then plunged his sword into the poet. The next morning in the mosque, Muhammad, who was aware of the assassination, said, ‘You have helped Allah and His Apostle.' Umayr said. ‘She had five sons; should I feel guilty?' ‘No,' the Prophet answered. ‘Killing her was as meaningless as two goats butting heads.'

And what of the commands of the great Prophet himself regarding warfare? "It is not fitting for any prophet to have prisoners until he has made a great slaughter in the land," "Truly, if the Hypocrites stir up sedition, if the agitators in the City do not desist, We shall urge you to go against them and set you over them…Whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain without mercy—a fierce slaughter—a horrible murdering," “A single endeavor of fighting in Allah's Cause is better than the world and whatever is in it,” and finally, “A man came to Allah's Apostle (Muhammad) and said, ‘Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad in reward.' He replied, ‘I do not find such a deed.’ ”

The Quran contains a footnote to clarify exactly who should participate in Jihad, and exactly what Jihad is.

Jihad is holy fighting in Allah's Cause with full force of numbers and weaponry. It is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars. By Jihad Islam is established, … and Islam is propagated. …Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim. He who tries to escape from this duty, or does not fulfill this duty, dies as a hypocrite.

It was revealed to Muhammad by Allah that if a Muslim does not commit Jihad, that Muslim will burn in hell. So, if you are a Muslim and you want your virgins and your thousand-year climax of love (seriously: these are the rewards from Allah), if you prefer paradise to hell, then you’d better grab a gun.

REFUTATIO: Muslims state that “We are now seeing a continuous barrage of sordid insults being hurled at the Prophet (peace be upon him)…(who) taught humanity mercy and justice, even during war…He brought laws of justice that were to be applied during all times both in war and peace…”

Our “sordid insults” are derived from direct quotes from the only surviving information on the life of Muhammad, which happens to be Islamic holy texts. To claim that we slant these quotes is absurd—they already are slanted. And it was his followers, who knew him far better than we do, who unapologetically wrote them—blame them.

Muslims also state that the greater definition of Jihad is “the spiritual struggle of each man, against vice, passion and ignorance,” and that is probably how many Muslims today interpret it. Unfortunately, this definition of Jihad came a bit too late for Muslims living less than 150 years after Muhammad to realize that they weren’t supposed to take over the known world—which they were doing, until the battle of Tours in 732. This is the classical rendition of the word Jihad: holy war, and that upon the infidels, not your own vices.

PERORATIO: Muhammad was a brute. The sooner that this is realized, the sooner we can move beyond our politically correct chains and suggest that maybe, just maybe, the creation reflects the creator, and a religion created by so vile a man may be in itself a vile religion.


B. A. Robins, “When does Islam permit the killing of Muslim non-combatants?The principle of Tattarrus,” [accessed December 1, 2007]

Dr. Ali Zohery, “Prophet Muhammad: Leadership, Communication and Ethics,” [accessed November 30, 2007]

“Celebrating the Prophet,” [accessed November 30, 2007]


Dr. `Abd al-Wahhâb al-Turayrî , “For the Sake of Allah's Messenger,” [accessed December 1, 2007]

Encyclopaedia of the Orient, “Jihad,” [accessed December 2, 2007]


A flick'ring flame, a dancing view:
Lamb-white skin laced with midnight dew;
Labyrinthine veins of marbled blue;

Long lashes closed, a haze of hair
As flamed curls toy with coy night's air,
And apple blossoms jewels she wears.

A languid lid unveils an eye:
Moss and clay evoke, imply...
A cat-like stretch; we watch light die.

A murm'ring smile, no word is said,
Enfolding arms, hand under head:
We'll drown in dreams where time is dead.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My Rhetoric Teacher: Old Credenda

On Joy:

Joy is the priest of the emotions. The mediator, the mitigator, the inciter of chocolate riots. What is joy? Joy is looking to the laughably cloud-disheveled heavens with a prayer of thanksgiving on your lips, thanking the sovereign God that He saw fit to place you here, to bring your footsteps to the appropriate place so that you might see the pretty girl walking away and the man on the bike watching her and not the curb. Joy is the look you give him when he sees that you are the only witness, and you see that he has sprained his wrist.

On Weather:

Everywhere I look, I see a world of images that could end up abused on Christian posters and cards, tagged with verses in a juxtaposition that makes God seem merely quaint. But God does revel in a whitened world cross-lit by a pink sunset. If He didn't, I assume He would stop doing it. But what the Christian card won't show you is the other side of rime frost, the cost of white-wrapped bushes, and that's what the freezing fog can do to your sidewalk. You can see the spiked ice ornaments left on each pine needle, but the sheet of ice left beneath your feet is invisible.

If I am a consistent Christian, a connoisseur of the divine personality, then I should be able to enjoy the pink light on the frosted trees when I am warm and cocoa-filled beside my own cheaply lit indoor version, or while I lie on the frigid ground with a broken hip, unable to reach my cell phone. Unless I've slid all the way beneath my car, and can't see anything.

On Remodeling a Roof:

Rain on an old roof slick with grit and malicious thoughts. Boom-flown death sentences. It's my roof. I would not risk my life for it, but that is what I am doing. It is a game now. I cannot go inside and make life stop, or lie on my back and watch my ceiling slowly collapse beneath bursting tarps. It is no longer so much a game of points. Now we are playing dodge-ball, or buck-buck. We're riding bulls. It is about surviving. It is about not collapsing. It is about laughing. When I stop laughing, then I have stopped standing back up. I would rather ride one of the forty foot girders off the roof than fold now. God wants me on the angry bull. It pleases Him, and I can find no greater pleasure than that. No joy greater than sliding down a roof in the rain, trying to catch a truss. I will not become that kid on the playground who can't win and so squeals, "Stop it," and something about his mother. It is better to be beaten. I hate that kid—the kid who never could never appreciate a nosebleed—and my mother's the one who turned on the sink.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chalcedon Term Lordship: 40% of our grade. I'm praying.

In the Name of the Father…

A comparison of Karl Barth and Leonard Vander Zee on Baptism

Jesse Broussard
Lordship, Nicea Term

Karl Barth was a genius. He published over six million—yes, six million words in his magnum opus Church Dogmatics alone. His commentary on Romans is considered to be one of the most important theological treatises since Friedrich Schleiermacher's On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers. And, he was an absolute bastion of Orthodoxy—once asked if he could sum up his life’s work in a single sentence, he paused for a moment before responding with a smile: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” So, when Barth takes a position, we should give that position a great deal of respect, and not reject it lightly.

Leonard J. Vander Zee is the author of several books and multiple magazine articles, as well as being the pastor of South Bend (Ind.) Christian Reformed Church. He is highly respected throughout most of the reformed world, and our own Peter Leithart praises his Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as “the most satisfying introduction to sacramental theology that I've come across.”

So, we have a highly respected pastor who disagrees with a nearly legendary theologian. Not surprisingly, it is over baptism.

In any debate, the parameters are paramount—when debating an issue, you must have defined terms. This is the most exigent point for clarity, without which we cannot hope to make real progress in any type of dispute. So, in this debate on baptism, let us look at the debater’s actual definitions of baptism, for this is where the disagreement occurs: what is baptism, and what does it do?

Karl Barth says that baptism is

"The representation* of a man’s renewal through his participation by means of the power of the Holy Spirit in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and therewith the representation* of man’s association with Christ, with the covenant of grace which is concluded and realized in Him and with the fellowship of His Church."

This is quite clear. Baptism is a physical representation of a spiritual reality, and that is the reality of a man’s regeneration. As it is a representation, it should not be expected to do anything—it points to what has already been done, or what is being done, it re-presents, perhaps in a symbolic and more clear fashion, what has elsewhere occurred.

However, Vander Zee does not agree, to put it mildly. He states that “In the sacraments we acknowledge in faith that whatever happens to Christ also happens to us,” and “Baptism plunges us into the waters of His vicarious human life, uniting us and identifying us with this new humanity.” Their disagreement continues, as Barth states “That it (baptism) is only* a picture is evident…” while Vander Zee says “(baptism is) truly a means of grace…”

Their fundamental opposition should now be quite clear, andit truly is a tremendous difference. Baptism to Barth is a representation of our union to Christ, but to Vander Zee, it seems to accomplish our union. To Barth, baptism is a symbol pointing to a reality as a statue points to a man; to Vander Zee, baptism is in and of itself the actuality, the brass tacks if you will. This is the heart, soul, and extent of their disagreement: baptism as a symbol of our union with Christ verses baptism as an agent of our union with Christ. Put another way, Barth says that webaptize to symbolize our union with God, while what Vander Zee says is more along the lines of God baptizing us into a union with Him.

So with their differnces now clear, we must ask the question: who is right? Or, more properly, which one represents Scripture more accurately?For this, we must turn to the Bible, which is far from silent and entirely “other than neutral.” 1 Peter 3 states that “There is an antitype (of Noah’s salvation through the flood) which now saves us*—baptism…” In Colossians, Paul is no less explicit, declaring in chapter two that baptism itself unites us to Christ’s death and resurrection. Romans 6 declares that “as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death…Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Galatians 3 blithely states that it is via baptism that we “put on Christ.” And, throughout Scripture, the symbolism of baptism is pervasive, and almost never used to symbolize a small or simple event, but usually cataclysmic and earth-shattering events. Indeed, usually creations or decreations—the Holy Spirit upon the surface of the waters in creation, the flood, the birth of Israel through the Red Sea, and again through the Jordan River. Elijah and Elisha part and pass through rivers in their ministries, Moses and Jonah are both given unique baptisms which result in the salvation of a nation and a great city, respectively. We have so many more that I do not have time to list them, but again, they are almost universally tremendous, glacial events—the ministry of the “greatest man of woman born” was baptism, and he declared that the ministry of the Messiah would be a greater baptism, and then the ministry of this Messiah, our Lord the Christ Himself was initiated at His own baptism.

What we are never given in Scripture—and I speak with great respect of a man whose stature I cannot even comprehend, let alone aspire to—but what we are never, never—not even once—given in Scripture is the picture of baptism that Barth gives us: a representation of a greater event. No, baptism throughout Scripture is without exception presented as Vander Zee has portrayed it—a mysterious, momentous event that raises nations and casts them down, that changes the course of history time and time again—a great, epochal and monumental event.

Someone will ask—someone always asks—“Why does this even matter?” The question is fair, and to an extent I agree. No one should decide not to fellowship with another Christian because of their baptistic theology, as this is an area upon which great orthodox men of faith disagree. But when the fruits of the varying beliefs upon “what baptism is” are seen, we end up with a spectrum of lifestyles ranging from paedobaptists to Anabaptists; we have infants raised in the “paidea” of God, and we have godly teenagers who are still estranged from the table of Christ’s body and blood, and are raised outside of the covenant community to which they are heirs. In the words of the Apostle: My brethren, these things should not be so.


Barth, Karl. The Teaching of the Church Regarding Baptism (Eugene: Wipf and Stock
Publishers, 2006).

Vander Zee, Leonard J. Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the
Sacraments for Evangelical Worship (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2004).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oddities of my friends and neighbors...

Here's a Dr. Seuss Declamation:

"I Feel Pretty" in a very intriguing Latin rendition:

Achilles verse Paris, in a rather typical display of our Muscovitishness:

It's actually quite amusing to just browse through our rather imposing selection of videos. There's a Princess Bride in Latin, as well as a bunch of other things. There should soon be me verse Swanson in a rugby video; I'll let you know.

Jesse Broussard

Christ as Priest

Comparing Leviticus 10:9 with Matthew 27, we are given yet another angle from which to view the work of Christ.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ahh, Rhetoric...

A few more intriguing statements from the King of Commonplaces.

"Just because Mr. Grieser and I both think you suck doesn't mean we don't like you."

" 'Cause Darwin has a big, scary beard, like a prophet."

"Every time I come into Moscow from Pullman, I see the sign that says 'Welcome to Moscow, Heart of the Arts.' On my left is an enormous Wall-Mart, and on my right is the sewage treatment plant. It makes me warm inside."

This is a small sampling of a few of his worse ones, but I'll have to get my Commonplace book to give you better ones.



My Apologies

Sorry that it's been so long since I've posted. Life has been unusually insane, but appears to be slowing down somewhat.

I will be coming home at the end of this week, probably pulling an all-nighter to arrive Saturday morning, or, should I be more tired, Saturday afternoon or evening.

School is going all right, but not as well as last term. My Latin grade is very low--failing low--but I am actually starting to somewhat recover. I found that a mix of pain meds and the NSA course load is not exactly a great mix. I would end up trying to read the two-hundred pages or whatever we happened to have due, and falling asleep on page ten. I was proud of myself for catching up--no easy feat--but my streak of being always current in everything was broken in Lordship, and almost all of my Latin quizzes were M's.

Much beyond this there is little to say. I have a computer now, thanks to Duane's tireless labor in selling my house.

Blessings, and I'll see you all soon.

Jesse Broussard

Monday, October 29, 2007

"Fearless" is just another way of saying "Stupid"

I am fairly certain that I am somewhere in the range of five feet, six inches tall. I also weigh one hundred and eighty pounds, and am fairly athletic. So, when the call went out for a game of pumpkin rugby, I was delighted.

For those of you who are not in the loop, rugby is kind of like soccer with tackling and no forward passing (and you carry the ball), or like football without the full suits of body armor or thirty-second breaks every ten seconds.

It is, in short, death. And a lot of fun at that.

We were playing with thirteen people per team (usually fifteen), and it is called pumpkin rugby because you use pumpkins instead of rugby balls.

The twenty-six people form some rough semblance of two lines facing each other, just like in football, and then the game starts.

Well, our "team" was playing the actual rugby team (motto: "many deaths, one life"), so we were slaughtered before we started. I had more rugby experience than most people on our team, so I was a starter, and I am both decently fast and decently strong, so I was put on the far right wing.

Trouble started immediately, when ten of our thirteen people began rushing the ball carrier. This happened a few times, and possessions were going back and forth, when it happened. Patrick Swanson. He literally has fourteen inches and about a hundred pounds on me, and generally just carries those who try to tackle him as far as he feels like. He lined up right in front of me, and I have one other person within twenty feet.

So, they passed him the ball.

My whole team now begins to run this direction, but it's a bit late for me: I have two options. One, I can just get out of his way, or two, I can attempt to tackle him the way a bowling pin tackles the ball.

I chose the latter, figuring I could at least slow him down enough to prevent their team from getting a try (goal).

I did. I hit him low, just below the waist, and as hard as I could. I was literally thrown backwards, landed on my head and then on my feet, and by the time I had re-oriented myself, he had been tackled by the loyal (if belated) rat-pack of ten teammates, and there was thunderous (or at least somewhat loudish) cheering, I presume for my suicidal charge or for his Kevorkianesque assist.

I figured, due to rather severe nausea, that something was wrong, so I subbed out. By that time, I realized that it wasn't my knee, but rather my shoulder that was hurting. I had full sensation and motion and all of that jazz from the elbow down, but I had no ability to move my arm from the shoulder to the elbow.

So, Gretchen Rice (using my shears, I might add) cut my shirt off, and I literally saw that my shoulder was quite dislocated (qua: forcefully ripped from its socket and less than pleasantly relocated in the vicinity of my armpit). A friend offered to put it back in the socket. I had just landed on my head at an uncomfortably rapid rate of transit, so I agreed. When I woke up, I was seated in a chair and about to vomit from the pain (did I mention that this hurt?).

So, I went to the hospital, where I was given four mg's IV dilaudid by a staggeringly beautiful nurse, and was then shown the location of the head of the ball of the ball and socket joint, which I could feel just between the deltoid and the pectoral. The doctor said that it was a "rather horrific" dislocation, and the nurse placed me at a ten on the pain scale, though I would have done Holly proud and never went above a six.

So, they put me under a general anesthesia, and put the shoulder back in. I woke up quoting John Donne and asking Holly if she wanted a tingle touch. I'm still trying to get some more of whatever drug they used.

So, here I am, typing with my left arm on a swivel sling (I undid the body-strap), and in retrospect I have to say, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Rowling is slightly queer...

J. K. Rowling, authorette of the famous Harry Potter series, just held some type of press conference in Carnegie Hall, announcing that yes, Dumbledore should have been played by Ian McKellan. He is gay.

This is what lay behind the deep angst at overthrowing whomever that evil wizard was (not Voldemort, the one who had the wand): they were lovers.

Deeply touched as I am at this new depth of feeling and complexity within one of the greatest characters of this story, I cannot restrain an odd sense of glee at how much I disliked the last book when it finally came out. As well as being disappointed that I'm still going to go see the movies when they come out, and will probably enjoy them.

Oh well. C'est la vie.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jerusalem Term Grades

Grading system (low to high): M, MCS, CS, SCS, MCH, CH, SCH, CL, SCL.

Latin: MCS
Rhetoric: CH
Math: SCH
Lordship: SCH

MCS is the lowest passing grade offered, which did not surprise me in the least, but I am slowly improving, and hope for an SCS to a CH this term.

CH is roughly a "B", and SCH is a high "B".

In our Rhetoric class (Nate Wilson's), we had one SCL, which is a high "A", no CL's, six from MCH to SCH, and twenty-seven M's. The other's (maybe twenty?) were in the CS range. At the fall banquet (where we received our grades), the upperclassmen put on a news-style presentation of the various absurdities of the year: "In other news, Nate Wilson flunked yet another class of Freshman Rhetoric Papers, stating that: 'They smelled funny.'" A couple Freshman laughed, but never will again.

In Lordship, I almost got a CL, but I missed one of three oral questions (ten minutes for each question, so you are expected to know City of God, Confessions, On the Incarnation, The Institutes, and all class discussions inside out.).

Math, there is really nothing to report. I aced the midterm (about one hundred and six percent) and got a high "C" on the final.

So, Latin is the great enemy to be conquered this term.

Jesse Broussard

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Christ and Abram

Genesis 12 contains the story of Abram visiting Egypt and claiming that his wife was his sister. I don't want to get involved in the morality of his half-lie (for which/in spite of which he was blessed), but rather to look at the reversal of this in the life of Christ.

Abram had a beautiful wife and he claimed that she was his sister so that he would not be killed. Christ had a hideous bride, and she, pining for slavery, claimed that He was her brother (human), not her groom (God). When He would not go along with her lie, she killed him so that she could run off with the Egyptians.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Bloodless Covenant of Marriage?

O. Palmer Robertson has a book (that we are reading) called The Christ of the Covenants. In it, he defines a covenant as "an oath in blood sovereignly administered", the blood referring both to the gravity of the covenant and to the fact that it is usually accompanied, usually initiated, by a sacrifice.

The point that I want to get to is the covenant of marriage, as it is one of the few "bloodless" covenants in Scripture, or so it is labeled.

In my opinion, this nomenclature is absurd.

One of the points that Robertson raises in this book is that the phrase "to make a covenant" would more appropriately be rendered "to cut a covenant". The first marriage covenant was accomplished by God (the sovereign administration) cutting open the side of Adam and creating the necessary (don't tell the Episcopals) component for marriage. The archetypal marriage--that of Christ and the church--is the same thing: the side is opened, and out flow the two sacraments, the two signs of the church, blood and water. And we refer to marriages as bloodless?

"The life of the flesh is in the blood", and the life of the one flesh union is in the one blood that is shared. If there is no one blood, the union is death and merely joins rotting flesh.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Suicidal Love and a Proper Response

There is an absolute and glorious security (yes, it's a Calvinistic doctrine) in the fact that we cannot fail God: before He laid the foundation of the world, He knew, indeed, He ordained every sin and flaw within us. He could have made us otherwise, but He did not. Not only did He not make us otherwise; He died for us as we were so that we might one day be as He is.

There is an element of truly suicidal fearlessness in this Love. It is a Love that not only looks at the hammer poised to drive the nail into its hand, but also designed the hammer, the nail, the one who wields them, and in such a way that there could be no doubt as to the end of the story.

Why? For His own Glory, Love has done this.

So, when we again raise the hammer, let us repent in proper awe. Let us realize that God knew an eternity before we did that we would raise the hammer and that we would lower it as well, and, far from reconsidering creating us, decided to honor us by glorifying Himself through our sins as well as our sanctification. Let us glorify Him as God, and let us give Him thanks.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Incomplete Raw Emotion

'Tis but one voice I long to hear, and it alone can speak
Of hospitals and ice chips, or home, a cup of tea;
Tingle touches, sleepless nights, chapstick and the beach,
Looney Tunes and Tortoise Shell, my hands upon her feet:
is dead.

Were you not told? Go home. It's over, All has died.
God's tomb we cannot find, for out of reach of mortal man,
Beyond earth, sky and sea it lies.

Oh foolish earth! Why do you turn? Did you not hear?
She's dead.
Do you think it matters now, the moonlight and the green?
Her eyes are shut, the moss and clay eclipsed forever be;
Why do you turn?

Accursed sun! I saw you die; are you blind that you don't see?
I held her hand at world's end,
So stop! It's done, complete.

No more her flaming hair to light; why shine you still?
Her eyes you will not find, her smile you cannot see.
Her cat-scarred hands and dappled face we buried on a hill,
Bared feet facing you each morn, midst rivers, sky and sea.
Did you not hear?
She's dead.

Yet, should you hear, should you go black, yet still you would not see;
For God has died, but is not dead: so Holly too shall be.
Have you not heard?
Two voices still I long to hear, that soon, to me, shall speak.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Christ as David

All of this is stolen from Leithart (you can use my link to browse his site).

The genealology in Matthew is vastly different from the somewhat more literal one in Luke, and and one of the reasons is that it is showing Christ as the new David: the name "David" in Hebrew has three letters, daleth, vav, and daleth again, which adds up to a total numerical value of fourteen (Jews didn't use our Hindu-Arabic numeral system, or Roman numerals. To them, Alef was one, Bet was two, Gimmel was three, Daleth four, and so on, so any word was also a string of numbers). The genealogy has three sections (the three letters) of fourteen generations each (the numerical value of the name): fourteen generations from Abraham to David, from David to the captivity, and from the captivity to Christ (note that it is a genealogy of kings, and that the entire family of Ahab is missing, to the third generation).

Friday, October 5, 2007

Kline and Zechariah

In his highly anticipated (by the NSA oppressed among me) book Glory in our Midst (a commentary-ish thingamabobber on Zechariah), Kline, after a series of brilliant points, missed the one central point that I have ever gathered from that particular book.

When the rider (Christ) is mentioned as being among or between the trees, there is a ton of symbolism. Yes, the trees represent the people of God in front of the sea of their enemies, and no, I didn't see it. Yes, the trees (Myrtles are evergreens) represent the verse in Revelation speaking of the trees of life. Don't recall seeing that one either. Yes, the menorahs, yes the olive trees, and no, I didn't see any of these either.

However, the central theme of God between trees in all of Scripture is when He Is on a tree, and that is a symbol that Kline inexplicably (and almost inexcusably) misses in this vision.

We Long for Life but Cling to Death

The people of God tend to grow in a very set and formulaic pattern (this is obviously vastly simplified): a shadow of life, its death, and life born out of that death. The problems come when we attach ourselves to the shadow of life, and after its death constantly return to it, seeking its resurrection, instead of accepting the loss (however devastating) as a gift of God, bestowed upon us to make way for something new and better.

No intelligent farmer digs his seeds up daily to reminisce with them: they exist for death, and that death exists for life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I am finished with all of my finals: two rhetoric, two math, two Latin, and two and a half Lordship. I believe that I passed all of them, but only time will tell.

I head home tomorrow morning, and will see you all very soon.

I can hardly wait.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Just waiting for the oral...

Passed the Latin written final. Not well, but I passed it, which is (currently) all that matters. Studying for math, gotta go.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I will be heading home with another NSA freshman, Stephen Sproul (not rhyming with "roll", but pronounced, as Nate Wilson will never let him forget, "Sprowl"), on Thursday morning, leaving around 5:00 A.M.

I should arrive home that night, and will be available for fish tacos and beer, wine and poetry, movie nights and church that weekend and the following week, but will most likely leave Saturday to return to NSA.

That is my most recent set of plans, as they change, I will know, and may inform someone else should I feel so inclined.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


We had a nice discussion on the origin, nature, and end of evil today (Declamation in Lordship), and I have come to slightly modify my view.

The end of evil is nothingness, which I have held for a long time. The nature of evil is always progressing towards its end, the only variation being the rate: amble downhill or swan dive off a cliff?

The origin is somewhat new. I hadn't considered it until I hit the later portions of City of God, in which Augustin(e) discusses it to some rather considerable length. He was still obfuscating "round about a meaning" a hundred pages after my attention span had begun dwelling upon exactly what our carpet might taste like (rather dry; needs vacuuming).

It's somewhat of a chicken or the egg quandary, so let me try out a few axioms, a la Euclid, though it will probably work as well as a la Descartes: "cogito, ergo sum. Cogito? Cogito cogito, cogito? Ita. Cogito, ergo cogito. Cogito. Cogito? Sed..." This is why Descartes started using heroin.

1). God freely and unalterably ordained whatsoever comes to pass.
2). Evil came to pass.
3). "aardvark" is one of the great words of the English language.
4). Creation was "all very good".

And here is one that I would propose, but may or may not fly with all of you. If you can disprove it, I'll think of something amusing to do when I feel like it.

5). All that exists is for the glory of God.

So, we know that God is responsible for evil, and we know that He is not the author of it.

We also know that it came to pass sometime between the initial creatio ex nihilo of Genesis 1:2 and the 2nd chapter of Genesis.

If we accept axim #5, and we go by Isaiah 14, then this is what we can say so far as Satan is concerned: He was created to glorify the infinite God, and chose, in the perfect plan and will of God, to glorify his finite self.

He failed.

The chicken or the egg (obviously the chicken) is here: God created Satan, and all of God's creation was all very good. Evil comes from evil desires (namely pride), but where do the evil desires come from? A shift of focus from God to self. Is that not evil in itself? Then where did it come from? Evil desires. And so on and on it goes. At this point, I'd like to mention that my brain is full, and Satan sinned, so tace, and we'll move on.

The movement of evil from infinite good to the absolute negation that it ends up with is not surprising, considering what the first movement of evil is: a decision to glorify the finite self over the infinite God.

This is all I feel like writing at the moment; interesting things to dwell upon are the distinctions between different types of evil: "natural" disasters, evil objects, evil actions, and evil desires.



I have my final exams scheduled, and my last one appears to be over at 9:00 am on Wednesday. It is my hope to make it to church on Sunday at the Pierce's, and it looks quite feasible.

All other things are going well, save choir and Latin, which are going--well, which are going. I should be caught up in Latin by Monday, but, I shouldn't have ever gotten behind. If only learning didn't take work, I, well, even if it didn't take work I probably still wouldn't bother with it, but I need something to complain about. Gotta have a scapegoat. I learned that one from Girard, but it wasn't on purpose, so it doesn't count.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sublimely Blessed

I would not have thought it possible, but I currently appear to be holding between an SCH and a CL in all of my classes, though Latin will take a great deal of work to maintain.

The readings I have not found to be too difficult; this week was the hardest yet with just under 500 pages in the City of God (now finished), along with 250 in rhetoric and another 100 or so in math, all within the same week, most within the same two days, one of which was an unpleasant day regardless.

I will be posting my rough draft on Augustine's view of Genesis 1:1-2 pretty soon.

All in all, I am delighted. I have rarely had as purely glorious a time as I have been having as of late. The one complaint is that I am here without all of you, instead of here with all of you. This can be easily solved, however. Just move.

Please continue to keep me in your prayers, and I thank you that you have done so thus far. My desire is to glorify God in my life, and He is Gracious and Compassionate in giving me this desire. Pray that I learn to be faithful and disciplined, so that I may be a better reflection of His Son. Also join my roommates in praying that I learn how to cook.

What more to say? This culture is a different world, one that glorifies life, joy and wisdom. It is very much like the church family in Ferndale, just a lot more people, all of whom slaughter me in basketball.

I love and miss you all more than I can say. I hope to be returning about Friday of finals week; I'm done a bit earlier than most. Four more weeks, and I hope to see my church again.

Thank you all again.

In Him,
Jesse Broussard

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One for Brooke

This is a sample of my Rhetoric Professor's words of wisdom. Just pray that he never finds them...

(Speaking of some girls) They seem to think: "I don't really have to do well in my classes. I'm just here to find a mate".

and: "If you watch stupid movies, listen to stupid music, write a stupid blog, congratulations, you are stupid."

The last time I laughed in class as hard as I do in rhetoric class every week, I was bodily escorted from the room.

More from my commonplace book

If you haven't read "The Importance of Being Earnest" in the past week or so, your life is truly being wasted. Live a little. The movie is great too, save the momentary glimpse of the female nether regions being tattooed.

Here are a few snippets from the book. Enjoy!

I believe it (marriage) is a very pleasant state, sir. I have had very little experience of it myself up to the present. I have only been married once. That was in consequence of a misunderstanding between myself and a young person.

I don't really see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. The excitement is then over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If I ever get married, I'll certainly try to forget the fact.

To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

For Heaven's sake, don't try to be cynical. It's perfectly easy to be cynical.

"Your brother Ernest is dead?"
"Quite dead."
"What a lesson for him! I trust he will profit by it."

A couple from Augustin(e)

You stir us up to take delight in your praise; for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless till it finds its rest in you.

...seeking to gain nothing through my disgrace but disgrace alone.

Through my desires I suffered the most bitter struggles, and you looked mercifully upon me--all the more so in that you did not allow me to find sweetness in anything that was not you.

Woe to my reckless soul, which hoped, if it departed from you, to gain something better! It tossed and turned on to its back, its sides, its stomach, but the bed was hard throughout, and you alone are rest.

Free will (is) the reason why we commit evil, and your righteous judgment the reason why we suffer it.

Let no man say to him, "What is this?" or "Why is this?" Let him not say it. Let him not say it. He is a man.

All that is, then, is good. As for evil, whose origin I was seeking, it is not a substance, since if it were a substance, it would be good.

Virtue and vice are not the same, even if they undergo the same torment. The fire which makes the gold shine makes the chaff smoke; the same flail breaks up the straw, and clears the grain; and oil is not mistaken for lees because both are forced out by the same press...the wicked, under pressure of affliction, execrate God and blaspheme; the good, in the same affliction, offer up prayers and praises.

I am certain of this, that no one has died who was not going to die at some time, and the end of life reduces the longest life to the same condition as the shortest...The only thing that makes death an evil is what comes after death. Those who must inevitably die ought not to worry overmuch about what accident will cause their death, but about their destination after dying.

Thus you refuse to be held responsible for the evil that you do, while you hold the Christian era responsible for the evil which you suffer!...Prosperity depraved you, and adversity could not reform have become the most wretched, and you have remained the most worthless, of mankind.

Stupidity glories in never yielding to the force of truth.

"Grant me chastity and continence", I had said, "but please, not yet."

How sweet it suddenly was to me to be deprived of all the sweets of frivolity, and what a joy to throw away what I had feared to lose.

And woe even to men who live a praiseworthy life, if you should sift them without mercy! But as you do not enquire relentlessly into our sins, we hope and trust to have some place in you. Bit if one should enumerate before you his true good deeds, what is he enumerating but your gifts to him? Would that men would learn that they are men, and that "he who boasts would boast in the Lord!"

We may pass over the speculations about the nature and origin of the human race that have been put forward by men who do not know what they are talking about.

No one therefore must try to get to know from me what I know that I do not know, unless, it may be, in order to learn not to know what must be known to be incapable of being known.

Couple racist jokes

Please forward these to Jonathan Ashbach. They are from the Foucachon family here at NSA.

"You've never heard of a French Army Knife? It has a dinner fork, a dessert fork, a cheese knife, and a napkin that doubles as a really small white flag."
--David Foucachon (he's 1st gen. French, so complain to him)

And a comment to the aforementioned Frenchman:

"You can't give blood. What if they gave it to a person who caught a cold? Every cell in their body would give up and die as soon as your blood touched them."

Abstractish thingy.

Jesse Broussard
Jerusalem Term
Augustine Gen. 1:1, 2 Abstract

Augustine’s doctrine of the first two verses of Genesis seems to be as follows: for verse 1, he believes that God (Father, Son, and Spirit) eternally existed, and created all that is ("creatio ex nihilo" was coined by him). He holds the “heaven” in v.1 to be the spiritual heaven while holding the “earth” to be the earth of Gen. 1:2a (which he refers to as “raw matter”), and he states that the Son is the medium of the Father’s creation.

Regarding verse 2b, he is very cautious and fears to cause division, confessing the difficulty of the text, but seems to hold to the literal truth of the text while not dwelling on it extensively, but rather focusing on the analogous work of the Holy Spirit in the human life: brooding over that which is formless and dark (the LXX “skotos” also has a connotation of evil or sin which the Hebrew equivalent does not seem to have) in preparation for its transformation into that which is beautiful and wholly good.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Within one week, I will have read Augustin's "Confessions", Cicero's "Ad Herennium", Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death", someone's response to it called "Everything Bad is Good For You", a book on the history of math called "Math through the Ages", the intro and beginning to another book on math about its effects on American culture, Athanasius "On the Incarnation" (Lewis's intro, of course), the First ten books of "City of God" (also Augustin); I will have written 75 entries (acceptable to Nate Wilson entries) in my commonplace book, read some other book on the techniques of writing, some book on how to read a book (followed by one called "How to Read a Book Slowly", which should take about three hours...), as well as doing Latin, choir, rugby (huzzah! Oh wait...I'm not British), and writing a four page paper (30% of my Lordship grade) on Augustin's interpretation of the first two verses of Genesis.

So why am I writing to all (two) of you?

I am waiting for my homework binder to be returned.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Take as Bear

An interesting note that I will not attempt to defend or anything productive like that; I'll just be blithely asserting for a good bit of time, take it or leave it.

It seems to me that "take" in Ex. 20 is not to be interpreted as we generally interpret it, rather, it is to be interpreted as "bear".

Nothing more for the moment; I should be reading Latin.

J. Broussard


Well, I have yet newer news. I am in a duplex (604 East "E" St, Moscow, ID, 83843) with as of yet one roommate, a 26 year old named Travis, also a beginning NSA student.

Things have been very fun so far, and my first assignment is tomorrow night. I am almost all done with bureaucratic paperwork, and am having a jolly good time with Latin (Marcus ridet Julii. Marcus is a jerk, etc.).

Have no idea when I will next be entering an entry.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

NSA update

Well, I have a place to live.

I will (most likely) be sharing a five-bedroom house with seven other masochistic, bibliophilic freaks who pay money to let people make us read lots of books in rapid succesion and start spouting Latin and Greek while inserting phrases along the lines of "the infralapsarian worldview is clearly inconsistent with the Van Tillian Transcendentalistic argumentative methods which have demonstrated that Toyota is superior to Nissan, so no, I won't take a ride, thank you", or some such rot. There are six juniors and one senior, and all are roughly my age. They have promised me enough wall space for my books. We shall see...

Apparently all are musicians, save one, who is in the process of repenting. We'll start him on an electric accordian as punishment. With headphones, of course...we only want to punish him.

I will be leaving this upcoming Monday, crashing with my brothers in Oregon, and hopefully arriving in Moscow on Tuesday night. I will be returning in nine years, give or take six hours, forty-three minutes and a bathroom break, by which time girls will have excuses to be in love with me beyond my ruggedly masculine good looks, chiseled features, staggering breath, and suave debonaire spirit, such as even cooler handwriting and being so abstract that no one can tell what I'm talking about, or if I'm actually talking at all. That will be difficult to deal with. It's already hard enough, what with all the feminine attention I've been getting as of late (except today, as Becky has a birth to go to, Brooke is at school or something, and the wee pink ones are not to be found underfoot). God will give me strength. If not, a reality check should do it.

I'm actually not yet sure about the nine year program, but the four year one is pretty definite. I do have lots of breaks, though, and should be able to inflict my presence upon some of you fairly often.

I believe that there is some sort of going-awayish thing for me at some point in the vaguely near, Aslanian soon ("I call all times soon...) time frame. It might also be this upcoming Saturday at Caleb and Missie's house, potluck style, bring your own cigars, pipes and beer, starting roughly at 6:00.

That is about it. My posting will be drastically slowing down, but I plan on posting some of my papers along with a note saying whether or not I'm dead, etc.

God Bless!

Book Review: James Jordan

Jordan has a book out called "Primeval Saints: Studies in the Patriarchs of Genesis".

It is, as might be expected, quite good. It is a small book, and portions of it are covered in his "Through New Eyes", but it is still a very worthwhile read. Took two days, but I am lazy and took several Kettle Chips breaks, as well as an Ashbach movie night. Probably would be three or four days if one was gainfully employed.

Yet More: 2001


After all is said and done,
Our battle fought, our race been run,
Each deed in life, each fear of death,
Fulfilled? Anulled? By one last breath.
Fear God.

More Old Poems: 2002


The black of night
may cause great fright,
Though night itself is not the foe,
But what the light of day would surely show.

And suns may rise
on tear-filled eyes,
But through the day, pain’s pushed inside,
As shadows from the sun will always hide.

Poor Poetry: Mine, for H, 2004

Seductive wisps of lethal fog reach out, caress with lies—
The moonlit white belies the night, veils whisp’ring Siren sighs

And songs to the Sirens, sung by the damned, who, hopeless, still would hope
For death as sweet as mortals meet: with dreamless sleeps, elope.

Now languid eternities, elaborate symphonies, a moaning, delirious moon
Chanting over, above our winter, of falling; fall—and swoon.

More Jordan: Nimrodian Spawn

"As we begin the story of the Tower of Babel we read, "Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words"...the word translated 'language' in this verse actually means 'lip'. The phrase 'same words' refers to language, but the phrase 'same lip'--literally 'one lip'--refers to religion"...

"What happened at the Tower of Babel was not first and foremost a division of languages, but rather a division of religious belief..."

Jordan makes some other excellent points in this section, equating the bricks cemented with tar with the unified rebellion of the wicked men with Nimrod (man is made of earth, as are the bricks) as well as referring to the protevangelium (religious belief is the head, the ruler, of every person, and here you have the shattering of the formerly unified "head" of the seed of the serpent), as well as a few other simply great points, but the book is only about ten bucks and takes two days (if you're lazy or gainfully employed) to read, whereas I'm supposed to be moving in a week, so I'm going to leave you to read the book.

Revamping Noah: Give Ham the Bronx Cheer

James Jordan's "Primeval Saints" has a few great points on the topic Gen. 9's account of naked Noah and Ham.

"(Ham's sin) consisted of something far more fundamental: rebellion against authority. This can be seen from the actions of Shem and Japheth. What they did was disigned to undo what Ham had done, and all they did was refuse to look upon their father's nakedness while upholding his office by robing him..."

He makes the point that Noah's robe is almost indubitably his robe of office, his mantle, his symbol of authority. Whether this is or no, clothing does represent one's vocational authority (a woman shall not wear that which pertaineth to a man, Elijah's mantle, David cutting the hem of Saul's robe, etc), and Shem and Japheth did cover their father with a robe in response to Ham, so his point is valid, regardless of which particular robe was used.

Jordan continues: "Ham 'saw the nakedness of his father'. How could he? His father was inside a tent--not just some little tee-pee but a real, house-sized tent. Ham had to invade Noah's privacy without permission. Ham was seeking to uncover a fault in his superior so that he could tear down his authority..."

A bit later: "Back in the garden, Satan had said to Adam and Eve, 'You can make yourselves gods by taking the forbidden fruit.' Satan now said to the heart of Ham, who repeated it to his brothers, 'You can make yourselves kings by stealing the robe of office'."

This point is dependent entirely upon the robe being the robe of office, which must be imported into the text. It is a sober importation, but not a necessary one, so I am rather hesitant to sell the house. It is an interesting point that I would hesitate to base anything on but would unhesitatingly publicize.

He makes a further comment: "Nor did they (Shem and Japheth) have to go to the trouble of putting the garment on their shoulders and walking backward. They did this for a symbolic reason. The shoulders are associated with pillars of support, and by putting the garment on their shoulders (instead of carrying it in their hands), they were symbolically upholding Noah's office. Since nakedness is associated with shame in fallen men (Gen. 2:25; 3:7), they refused to look at their father. They refused to shame or embarrass him in any way..."

All in all, pretty fascinating.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Recentish Poetry: Yet More Jack

As the Ruin Falls
--on the death of his wife

All this is flashy rhetoric about me loving you;
I never had one selfless thought since I was born.
I am mercenary and self seeking, through and through:
I want God, you, all friends, merely to serve my turn.

Only that now you have shown me (but how late!)
My lack, I see the chasm. And everything you are
Was making my heart into a bridge by which I might get back
From exile, and grow man. And now the bridge is breaking.

For this I bless you as the ruin falls:
The pains you give me are greater than all other gains.

Recentish Poetry: C. S. Lewis

Joys That Sting
--on the death of his wife

"Oh doe not die", says Donne, "for I shall hate all women so". How false the sentence rings.
Women? But in a life made desolate, it is the joys once shared that have the stings.

To take the old walks alone, or not at all, to order one pint where I ordered two;
To think of, and not to make, the small, time honoured joke, senseless to all but you.

To laugh (oh, one'll laugh), to talk upon themes that we talked upon when you were there,
To make some small pretense of going on: be kind to one's old friends, or seem to care

While no one (O God) through all the years will say
The simplest common word in just your way.

Symbolism of the Curse: Trees and Thorns

"...Remember that man himself is made of the ground. We are told this in Genesis 2:7 and again in Genesis 3:19, in the very context of the curse. Under the influence of the Spirit of God, the ground 'gave birth' to man. The first man was made a 'tree', but now, after the Fall, the ground would bring up 'thorns'...Man is made of the ground, so the offspring of men are either trees or thorns...

"In terms of this symbolism we can understand why Genesis 4 is written as it is. We aren't shown Adam laboring to pull up weeds from his field by the sweat of his brow, which is what we might expect to be shown as the fulfillment of the curse. Rather, we see a thorn (Cain) murder a tree (Abel)."

--James Jordan, Primeval Saints, Pg. 45

Recent Poetry: T. S. Elliot: Four Quartets

Excerpt from The Four Quartets:

The dove, descending, breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error;
The only hope, or else despair,
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre:
To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the Hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire,
Consumed by either fire or fire.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ancient Poetry: 1503-1542: Thomas Wyatt

"The Lover Laments the Death of His Love"

The pillar perished is wherto I lent,
The strongest stay of mine unquiet mind:

The like of it no man again can finde:

From east to west still seeking though he went.

To mine unhappe for happe away hath rent,

Of all my joy the very bark and rind:

And I (alas) by chance am thus assigned

Daily to mourn till death do it relent.

But since that thus it is my destiny,

What can I more but have a woeful heart,

My pen, in plaint, my voice in carefull cry:

My mind in woe, my body full of smart.

And I my self, my self always to hate,

Till dreadful death do ease my doleful state.

Eve as Church

Please note: I approach all Scripture typologically. I also approach it as literal when the narrative calls for it, as it often does, as it definitely does here in Genesis.

Adam is a representation of Christ, so Eve is a representation of the bride of Christ, of the church. What lessons can we derive from this?

First, Eve was not created ex nihilo, but rather built out of Adam. Her existence is therefore derived from him and dependent upon him. This is a fairly obvious lesson to apply to the church; only Pelagians (who are heretics anyway: go Augustine!) would disagree.

Secondly, and somewhat speculatively, Adam was fully created before Eve was built from him. The argument could easily be made and defended (though not easily defended from this section of verses) that Eve is created in the image of Adam, and therefore in the image of God. We know that she is created in the image of God, but how dependent this is upon her husband being so created, we are not told.

Allow me to explain a bit more: had Adam been created with one leg, would the same have been true of Eve? She was, after all, taken from him, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, was she not? Would she not therefore reflect him?

The relevance of this is as follows: we are called to imitate Christ. We will inescapably imitate our perception of Him. We will be built in the image of our Adam. So, are we softening the gospel to make it more palatable? Then we have a skewed view of Christ. Are we harsh in defending orthodoxy? We have a skewed view of Christ. Whatever our view of Christ, we will imitate it. Practical application? Read the gospels repeatedly.

This also has a rather uncomfortable application to husbands. You are the image of Christ that your wife is being built into: her flaws reflect yours.

If this is not painful, you either have a sharp learning curve ahead or a wife that should most definitely not have settled for you (maybe she didn't get out much--that was the case with mine). Look at the mistakes that your wife has made (or is making), and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. They are not necessarily your fault, though that is not a far-fetched explanation, but they are necessarily your responsibility--Christ died for our sins, and we are called to imitate Him. As the head, your entire family will reflect your flaws with brutal clarity. You are the spring; do not complain about the dirty water.

The final application that I will make is the one that has nearly become trite by its many trite repetitions: Eve was taken from Adam's rib so that she would be an equal--not from the foot or the head, but the side. But let us return to our original application: Eve is the Church. We are called to be an equal of Christ.

This is the future of the church, and this needs a whole lot more sermons than it has been given.

To conclude, just note the parallels between the creation of Eve and the creation of the Church:

1. Deep sleep / Death.
2. Opened side / opened side.
3. Presented to Adam by God / will be presented faultless on the last day.

From these we can see that we are in the state of our ongoing creation.

Let us then look to Christ and search out His Nature, and apply it to our lives. Then let us TEACH IT TO OUR CHILDREN. This is always the order: Learn, apply, teach. May God give us the grace to become a fitting bride for His Son.

NSA update

All that I currently need in Idaho is a place to live.

So, since it's only a minor detail (my truck has a camper shell; strong deodorant works wonders), I plan on leaving by Tuesday the seventh.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Ashbach Jokes

If you are not fortunate enough to be acquainted with the Ashbach family, kill yourself. Or repent of your sins and ask God to be gracious enough to you to let you meet them.

Jonathan Ashbach (17) writes for the Eureka Reporter on a pretty regular basis. His are the articles with humor and logic; those responding to him tend to have a plethora of the former due to a complete absence of the latter. Here are a few of the jokes I've obtained from him at church:

Racist Beer Joke:

A Frenchman, a Brit and a Scot are all sitting together in a pub (yes, suspend disbelief. Assume that they don't know each other's respective nationalities), waiting for a round of the bane of all faithful Seventh Day Adventists .

Their pints arrive, and, as it is a Brit pub, there happens to be a fly in each of their mugs.

The Frenchman, revolted, asks for a new pint in a different mug, while the Brit just spoons the fly out. The Scot, on the other hand, reaches into the mug and grabs the fly. He then starts shaking it upside down, cursing and yelling "All right you, spit it out! Give it back, I said!"

Racist Comment:

News Report: "Meanwhile, tragedy has struck France, as a factory south of Marseilles that had previously supplied the country with white flags burned to the ground just this morning, completely destroying the nations martial capabilities".

Religious Joke:

A Catholic policeman in northern Ireland came upon a traffic jam. He hopped out of his car and made his way up to see what was causing the delay, and found that a man was threatening to jump off of a building. He radioed in a brief report, and was told that help was on the way; please keep the man talking about any reasons that he might have not to jump.

So, he grabbed out his bullhorn and started talking to the man.

"Don't jump! Think of your mother!"

"She's dead."

"For your father's sake, don't jump!"

"He died of grief six months later."

"For the sake of your siblings!"

"Haven't got any."

"For the sake of your friends!"

"I only had one, and he died this morning."

"For the sake of the Virgin Mary!"

"Who's she?"

"Jump, you bloody Protestant; you're holding up traffic!"

Harry Potter is Dead!?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Finally.

Yes, I spent money on this book. Yes, even more unbelievably, I took a day-and-a-half-break from the Confessions (Augustine's, of course) to read it. there a stronger word for "anticlimactic?" I thought people were going to, well, have things happen to them. Rowling has already robbed death of the fear that it should invoke, of the rage that is proper to feel when facing it, and here she proceeds to rob life of any hope of meaning. And who on earth is Ginny? I figured that we'd get some kind of glimpse of personality or something, after all, she ends up being the main character's wife (oopsie).

Here's a hint: bad people-ish thingy's die, good people-ish thingies (save Mad-Eye and Dobby and probably a couple others that I can't be bothered to remember) live. Now you don't have to read it. Oh, and the racist house elf Kreacher is actually just misunderstood and maltreated, because we're not responsible for how we respond to our environment, remember? I'm sorry, must have missed the last twenty years of narcissistic, emotionally masturbatory self-esteem tripe necessary to make these books "truly worthwhile". And Voldemort forgot to take into account the fact that magical creatures other than wizards exist. Rowling must have missed the memo--"He's supposed have IQ greater than that of your average squid; he's supposed to be the scary bad-guy". Surprised she didn't try to make him misunderstood and maltreated--oh, that's right, SHE ALREADY DID. Isaiah 14, NIV: "And Satan rebelled, 'cause God was really mean to him, and didn't let him watch TV, or play on the computer after dinner, and Satan wanted to be God, but God was really mean, and didn't share, and..." What is this absolute crap?

Her ending (kind of a "Nineteen Years After") has all the friends happily together forever. Great. Really. But they haven't changed at all, probably still can't quite grow facial hair. This will be a very believable part of the movie--stick a couple short red-heads into the picture and don't bother changing Ron, Harry and Hermiony's clothing from the previous scene. Truly pathetic. I actually waited for this book to come out?

When the movies are gone, give it a decade or two and no one will even remember. I will re-read the Chronicles of Narnia in a vain attempt to expunge the nothingness of such an inane and passively sentamentalistic worldview from my mind before I return to the Confessions.

Other than that, though, I thought it was pretty good.

Shamelessly Pilfered Spurgeon

"Abscond: to move in a mysterious way, particularly with the posessions of another." --Ambrose Bierce, Devil's Dictionary

Here is a link to an excellent article of Wilson's on Spurgeon:

Topic title is "Spurgeon the Great"

As I do not have a sense of humor, I have to make do with the humors sensed in others. Here are a few quotes (of Spurgeon's) that seemed appropriate.

"The Christian minister should also be very cheerful. I don’t believe in going about like certain monks whom I saw in Rome, who salute each other in sepulchral tones, and convey the pleasant information, 'Brother, we must die:' to which lively salutation each lively brother of the order replies, 'Yes, brother, we must die.' I was glad to be assured upon such good authority that all these lazy fellows are about to die; upon the whole, it is about the best thing they can do; but till that event occurs, they might use some more comfortable form of salutation."

"Moreover, brethren, avoid the use of the nose as an organ of speech, for the best authorities are agreed that it is intended to smell with."

"The next best thing to the grace of God for a preacher is oxygen. Pray that the windows of heaven may be opened, but begin by opening the windows of your meeting-house."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Random Musings: On the Existence of Evil

Evil, in a very fundamental way, does not exist, because existence is an attribute of God.

Please do not misinterpret this in any way: I am fully aware of the evil in the world, I am simply attempting to redefine the nature of existence.

God declares Himself to be the "I AM", the Eternally existent God. He Is Infinite, and He created all that is "ex nihilo", out of nothing, so "In Him all things consist". That includes evil, which is merely a perversion of some good thing. So, evil exists Only in ultimate and fundamental submission to God (see Job).

To put another way: God is ultimate Good, and ultimate Being. All that deviates from one of these (and all deviations from God, the ultimate standard, are devolutions) necessarily deviates from the other. Why? Because 1). If God is good, and 2). God exists, then 3). Existence is good, and good exists. Existence and Goodness are inseparably entwined: you cannot have one without the other (this is a paraphrase of Augustine with a dash of Athanasius).

The ramifications of this are two-fold.

First is an abstract note: when we complain that we cannot "feel" God or some such rot (which occurs daily in my life; the rot is that we pay it any mind), we have to understand that it is not because He Is ethereal, but rather because we are. He Is the mountain, and we are infinitely less than the mist that breaks upon it. Only In Him do we have hope ever to leave these "shadowlands" and grow into His Image. Apart from Him we drift back into the nothingness "from whence we sprung", to paraphrase Scott.

Second, and more practically relevant (blehh! Practical is so boring...) is the weight that this lends to the Sovereignty of God: all that is (as He Is), is In Him. All that exists exists by His express permission (Amos 3:6). All that we receive, we receive from the Hand of God, and we have no right to be angry about it or even to view it as aught else than a great gift for which we must give thanks (Rom. 1).

Yes, I understand that this is a point upon which I tend to harp, but only because it is essential; it is the foundation of any joy or understanding in the Christian life. Take joy in His Glory, for it is the reason that all things exist. If we take joy in this, we will ever be joyful.

Has it happened to you? Then thank Him for it, trusting that it is another way in which He may be glorified. And yes, that is all that matters.

Sampson and Protevangelium

A very common theme throughout Scripture is the antithesis: the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. A key symbol that should instantly flag such an overarching literary theme to us is found in the conclusion of the protevangelium, the original messianic promise / prophecy: "you shall bruise his heel, but he shall bruise your head".

I recently (about ten minutes ago, eating rice and beans and attempting to convince small children of my insanity, while succeeding beyond my wildest dreams with their violent and burly parents) noticed another of these situations in the death of Sampson.

Sampson managed to destroy the majority, we are given to understand, of the ruling class, of the figurative "heads" of Philistia by pulling a temple down on their not quite so figurative "heads".

Just another weird factoid to inflict upon my weekly reader.

Musings from a Fevered Mind: Apostles as Women

It is very interesting to note the similarities, indeed, the typology existing between 1: Eli (and sons) against Hannah and her line (Samuel as the "father" of David is more than a bit of liberality with the text, but he did annoint David), and 2: the Pharisees responsible for the crucifixion (and sons: "his blood be on us and our children") against the apostles (and their line) at Pentecost.

1. Both Pharisees and Eli accused the "favored" (see Heb. for "Hannah") of the Lord of drunkenness.
2. In both circumstances, the accused were those that God had raised up to replace the accusers.
3. In both circumstances, the glory gradually was transferred from a bloodline to an annointed line.
4. Both Pharisaical line and Eli's family were fully destroyed in the climax of the removal of the symbol of the Presence of God.

I'm sure that it goes much further than this--note the transition from priest to king and from high priest to Christ / Christian, etc, but this post should briefly outline another interesting connection.

And to think: the Inspiration of this book is questioned? The two most self-evident doctrines of Christianity are those of the Ultimacy and Inspiration of Scripture, and Original Sin.

In Praise of Leithart

If you are looking for a single, great, semi-recent, typological commentary on 1st and 2nd Kings with a cool black dust jacket published by Brazos (a position in which I often find myself), I would highly advise reading Leithart's 1 & 2 Kings.

A Return to Augustine

Augustine has a great definition of spirit in his "Confessions". He is renouncing his Manichaean gnostic tendencies, and off-handedly comments that spirit is something that is "everywhere (every physical location) the whole".

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007


for H.

I know not why, why lovers, lovers die:
The priests and gods, with downcast eyes
Fail simpler men, who, shattered, lie
While heretics, they curse, we curse the skies.

And since she truly meant so much to me--
Truly light, sky, earth and sea--
From whose end to mine I'd flee,
Then what and who and Why must I now be?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Defense of the Abstract: on catechisms

Abstraction is often disparagingly dismissed as being "impractical" or "removed from reality". It is, by definition, both of these and more. It is detached, cold and emotionless, and very often imbibed with a Spok-like inhumanity.

And it is one of the most neglected aspects of the modern evangelical Christian life.

Abstraction is how we are to prepare for life. Abstraction is the multiplication table, the knowledge that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, and that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Each of these are abstract principles, and in and of themselves have no bearing on life: they are the frame of the house, and as they stand they do nothing to keep the rain off--not until we add story, life and symbol to these "dry principles" are they of any use.

But they are the frame, and houses generally (depending on the contractor) have frames. They are good. Frame=good. Abstract=frame. Therefore, Abstract=good.

What is my purpose in writing this? Not surprising, should you be even slightly acquainted with me. PARENTS, TEACH YOUR KIDS THE CATECHISM. Yes, brainwash the little brats--if you don't, someone or thing other than you will. We all have principles by which we live, and many, many of these are left over from our childhood. What are we leaving our children with? Will they start where we started? Or will they start where we are now, and far supercede us?

We condemn the world, and rightly so, for the judicial abomination of abortion; may God cast those who uphold it into everlasting hell where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. But we all too often condemn them without recognizing that all of the sins that we see in the world around us are merely a consistent outworking of the church's beliefs and practices. Abortion reflects our practice of spiritually aborting our own children, and homosexuality reflects the fact that many of our Christian unions are about as spiritually fruitful as Adam and Steve when they're wearing condoms.

To put none too fine a point on it, I'm not running for any damned office here; I am hoping, working and praying that I give offence. This should sting a little; if it doesn't, the needle has not yet penetrated your thick head. You are not "letting your children find their own path to God", you are letting your children find a path to their own god. It is the abstract principles of the Christian faith that will guide them in the path of righteousness.

So, get off of your overdeveloped posterior regions, quit whining and read a catechism. Is it Scriptural? Then TEACH IT TO YOUR KIDS (he said, speaking in capital letters so he wouldn't be misunderstood).

The Lord's Day prayer: 7/22/07

Great God, we ask you to be merciful to us now that we might approach You, not because we deserve it, but because You delight in being merciful, and because without your mercy to veil us, we would surely die in Your Presence.

We confess to you that we have rebelled against you, and that we have delighted in our sins. We confess to you that we love our rebellion more than we love You. We know that we will rebel again, and that as a dog returns to its vomit, we also will return to the sins that we so love.

We confess our individual sins to you now. Selah.

We ask You that You would be merciful to us: do not to treat us as we deserve, but remember that we are dust. Cleanse us of our sins for the glory of Your Great Name, that we may again delight in You, and lift our faces in joy and freedom.

We ask these things in confidence, knowing that You delight in forgiving our sins; indeed, You sent Your Son to die that You might be Just and the One Who Justifies; the innocent One Who makes us innocent. It is in the Name of Your Son that we pray, the Great and Gracious Name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.

“I remember my affliction and my wandering; the bitterness and the gall I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfullness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait on Him.’ ”

It is my privelege to tell you that your strivings are useless, and your good works are to no avail. We have broken covenant, and the penalty is death. But hear the gospel: the penalty is paid. And it is on behalf of the One Who both required and paid it that I declare to you that your sins are forgiven through Christ.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Revelation 21 & 22

These two chapters of Scripture, in my limited experience, have been futuristically applied. I cannot count the number of well-intentioned people (for whom I am infinitely grateful) who used verses from this section of the Bible to comfort me after the death of Holly.

I think that to apply these verses to heaven is a severe mutilation of the context.

The context of Revelation quite simply is the first-century church: it is stated in no unclear terms throughout the book. Should you be interested in pursuing a study on its context further, simply start reading it. Read it through several times, then read Ezekiel. Then go back to Revelation with a sober commentary: I would advise Kenneth Gentry, Gary North, James Jordan, and--somewhat hesitantly--David Chilton (he reaches a bit more than is perhaps advisable).

But that is something that can be argued for many repetitions of a time, two times and half a time without any fruit. So, let me turn to a much narrower topic: the text in two of the most hopeful chapters of Scripture.

This is my question: What does the raw text of these two chapters say? Is it speaking of a new heaven and earth after the second coming of Christ; is it speaking of heaven after we die, or is it speaking of the here and now?

Let us now go to the text and note things that will eliminate some of these options.

1. There is no temple: "for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple". Yes, this can go either way; this could be earth now or it could be heaven after death. What it cannot be is before 70 AD, and this book (despite liberal "commentators") was written slightly before Anno Domini 70. So the time frame is some time after 70 AD, and the location is heaven or earth. Let us narrow down the time frame.

2. A few verses from chapter 22: "...the things which must shortly take place", "the time is at hand", "I am coming quickly", and "Surely I am coming quickly. If these verses are to be taken at their face value, then the only question left is where these things take place: heaven or earth? "Some time" after AD 70 just became "soon" after AD 70. Let us now address the location, which is more difficult.

3a. The city (which is the church) is itself a temple. Where do we find promises of God's people being His temple? Heaven? Or was it rather true of the first century church on earth? " are a temple of the Holy Spirit..."?

3b. "The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations". This is something that will be unnecessary after the great Judgment. This cannot be heaven.

3c. Evangelism is still taking place. Look at 22:17: "And the Spirit and the bride (that's us) say 'Come!'...And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely". This cannot be speaking of heaven.

To sum up: these verses are speaking of earth shortly after AD 70. We live on earth, and yes, it is after AD 70. This should be obvious to any person or even a reasonably intellignet trout. Do we need a calendar? A map? The text interprets itself without any difficulty--the only difficulty comes when we apply a wooden and literalistic hermeneutic to the Scriptures across the board, regardless of the nature of the text, as though we had no brains. Yes, that has been known to cause problems.

To briefly address objections: it is obvious that not all of this has been fulfilled. Keep in mind, however, that this is, as has been brilliantly stated, an "already not-yet" type of thing. Are you saved? Yes. Are you justified? Yes. Are you sanctified? Yes and no. This last is a process, not an event. So it is with the church, and so it is with the church's filling and purifying the world.

Let us then live in such a way that the process is sped. Let us love one another, and let us remember: "He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk even as He walked".

Eh, beau?

Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until they start to talk.

Always remember: on the other hand, you have different fingers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Now we see through a glass of dark beer

Jesus as Temple: James Jordan

In His book "Through New Eyes", Jordan addresses a massive amount of symbolism in Scripture, including a blindsiding piece on the gospel of John presenting Christ as the New Temple. Most of what follows is taken from his book, pages 267-269, compressed brutally.

He starts with the laver, so the first five chapters speak of water: baptism of John the Forerunner, water into wine, the "cleansing" of the Temple, the new birth (water and spirit), John's baptism, the Samaritan woman at the well, the resurrection of the dead boy (at Cana, where water into wine took place, as well as the washings that were necessary when being cleansed from death: third and seventh day), and the pool of Bethesda in John 5 ends this section.

He then turns to the Table of Showbread: John 6 has Jesus feeding the five thousand, calling Himself the Bread of Life, declaring that if we will not eat of His Flesh and drink of His Blood we can have no part in Him; in John 7 He presents Himself as the drink of life (remember the libations that went with the showbread and meal offerings).

Then we are at the Lampstand. In John 8 we find that Christ is the Light of the world, in chapter 9 He heals a blind man, and in chapter 10 He is the Good Shepherd (connected to David, who is repeatedly referred to as a light, as well as the connection between the shepherd's voice calling to his sheep and the light in a dark place). 11 moves on to Lazarus, and we are told that Christ had to call him out of darkness and sleep into light and day. In John 12 Christ says that those who would not believe in Him were blind, but those who did believe would become sons of light.

Then we repeat, but go further. He washes the disciple's feet, breaks bread with them, and speaks of the Holy Spirit (the archetype for the seven lamps in the Tabernacle) in chapters 13-16.

Then comes the High Priest's prayer at the altar of incense in chapter 17.

Now we travel yet "further up and further in": His death is the sacrifice as well as the ultimate Yom Kippur, and He Is the High Priest who takes the blood into the Most Holy. His resurrection is the High Priest returning from the Most Holy place alive, which means that God had accepted the sacrifice. Also, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest wore a simple linen garment. This is the garment Peter encounters in the tomb in chapter 20, as Christ has returned to His glorified state. The two angels in verse 12 speak, as Pink brilliantly comments, of the mercy-seat in Exodus 25: two cherubim, one at either end of God's throne; two angels, one at the head and one at the feet.

We now turn to Eden, the original Temple where the first sacrifice took place: outside the tomb was a garden, reminiscent of the garden symbolism so prevalent in the Temple, and Christ is the New Gardener, the New Adam Who kept His garden safe and died on a tree, was placed in the dust, traveled to the domain where "the worm (serpent) does not die", and returned, reversing the curse by taking the entirety of it upon Himself. We remain in Eden and find Gen. 2:7 in John 20:22, and the naked Adam hiding in the garden is found in the naked Peter hiding in the sea; Adam named the animals, the apostles are to feed Christ's sheep. Christ wore the Old Covenant in His death, and His resurrection has created a new heavens and a new earth, "in which righteousness dwells" (see Second Peter and Isaiah 65).

The randomness emerges: On Judging

Dave Barrry once described his role in a musical group in the following manner: "I am also--and I am not bragging here--the only person who actually knows when the song has started and ended". In a like manner, I shall begin to wax shamelessly abstract, as I am not only the only person who will have the faintest clue as to what I am talking about, but probably one of maybe three who will know that I am talking at all.

God is, by definition, Absolute. Therefore, He is the only standard by which anything can consistently be judged, and all that judgments can do with any integrity is to merely judge how far removed from God something is.

But this is very dangerous. To judge how far removed from the standard something is, you must know where the standard is, which is something that we are by definition incapable of knowing: God is infinite, we are finite. There is therefore an infinite gap between us and the standard, and perhaps a two or three inch gap between us and Hitler (or, if you use the metrical system, none at all. I'm going to college!).

The implications of this are crushing. You see that drug addict? You have no authority with which to despise him. That prostitute? Judge yourself first, hypocrite. You want to point and condemn? The only one that you can end up condemning is yourself, and that right speedily.

The only difference between you and the ones you pity was Grace; the only difference between you and the ones you despise was a Choice, and but for the Grace of God you would have had no choice, and but for the Choice of God, you would have had no Grace.

To quote Lewis: "What will all that chatter and hearsay count? Will you even be able to remember it, when this anaesthetic fog which we call 'nature' or 'the real world' fades away, and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?"

Let us live coram Deo, not coram homo.

Darkness and light: from Genesis to John

To go to a baby of mine, let's look at the first chapter of Genesis. "Now the earth was without form and void ('tohu', used only one other time in the pentateuch); and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters....And God said 'Let there be light.' "

First off, this is the primal theophany. I will simply leave it at that, as I don't want to get sidetracked.

Secondly, and this is where I'm headed, this section is alluded to by (you could even say "interpreted by") John several times, most notably in John 1: "In the beginning was the Word (logos)...He is the true light which lightens every man which cometh into the world..." and in First John 1: "That which was from the beginning...This is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you: that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all..."

An interesting theory is put forward by Peter Leithart: "John uses the word "darkness" seven times in his first epistle. Assuming that he uses the imagery in the same way he does in the gospel, I surmise that the light/dark language of 1 John is about the conflicts of Judaism/Judaizers and the church."--

Assuming Leithart to be correct (generally a safe assumption) gives more weight to the interpretation in John "And the light shines into the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not...".

Also, without going into the Hebrew, I'm going to descend from the abstract and touch on the practical implications (which are very interesting) of the creation in light of this typological reading of John.

First, God did not destroy the darkness, but rather divided it from the light. In the same way, He does not destroy His enemies as we might expect, but calls us to be separate from them. But this is not universalism by any means: "And there shall be no night there..." --John in Rev. 22:5.

Second, as there is no cosmic battle between light and darkness, there is no great battle between God and the enemies of the church. Light is, dark is merely its absence. There is God, Who Is, and there is lack of God; God and God-less. The sun rises and the darkness is no more. God speaks, and His Words come to pass. Why do we view God as though He were an impotent version of His creation?

Finally, what does darkness do for us aesthetically? I would hold that it makes us appreciate the light. And what does Scripture say? "...the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining..."

There was evening (then the Morning Star) and morning, then the first day.

Random Quotes: on grief

"There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting..."
--C. S. Lewis: "A Grief Observed"

"With a rod of iron..."

"Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.
Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron,
Tthou shalt shatter them like earthenware." --Psalm 2:8-9

Where this is quoted in Revelation (Rev. 19:15) the word "rule" is "poimaino", from Strong's #4165: to tend as a shepherd, feed (cattle), rule.

It is derived from 4166: poimen: a shepherd (lit or fig): shepherd, pastor. Both of these are derived from "poema", which simply means plan.

David Chilton's book "Days of Vengeance" asserts that the Hebrew verb can be read either as "break" or "rule", depending on the vowel points used, and that the LXX rendered it as "rule", so that this was the use adopted by the NT writers (Days of Vengeance, Dominion Press, #486 #21).

This seems logical, but I am not nearly familiar enough with the Hebrew to swear to it. Maybe next week...

In any case, "poimaino" reads much more consistently in the Revelation text (two-edged sword being the gospel, etc), but I really do want to look at the Hebrew before subscribing to it fully. If however, it is correct, the rod of iron takes on an entirely new meaning, as it is meant for those that would harm the nations, not for the nations themselves.

Take off your shoes...

"In fact, the primary feature of clean animals is their feet, in one sense or another. To understand this, we must bear in mind that the ground was cursed under the Old Covenant (Genesis 3:17). Men normally wore shoes, and it was ceremonially important to wash the cursed soil off one's feet before entering a house...Holy ground, where the curse was removed, required men to go barefoot..."
--James Jordan, "Through New Eyes", Wipf and Stock, #101-102

Jordan then goes on to comment that chewing the cud (meditating on God's Word? Kind of reaching...) and wearing "shoes" (cloven hooves) are the distinctions of a clean land animal, that fish, to be clean, must also be shod: "in their case it means having scales. Scales are like armor that keeps th fish from contact with his environment..."--ibid, and that clean birds are picky about where they put their feet.

Wodehousian Fun