Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ontological Suicide

"In the New Testament field, some critics have made a great song and dance about the fact that the details of Jesus' life, or the fact of his resurrection, cannot be proved 'scientifically'; philosophical rigour should compel them to admit that the same problem pertains to the vast range of ordinary human knowledge, including the implicit claim that knowledge requires empirical verification."

--N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God, page 34.

Always enjoyable to watch an opponent fall on his own sword.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pining for Mount Doom

Craig, James and I are currently sitting in James' and Sproul's room. Why? Because it is toasty warm, and all of the other rooms are so cold. Outside, it is four degrees (with a wind chill), and it got up to sixteen degrees in town today, though at our house, only up to twelve. My goatee has frozen on five different occasions. Our water pipes froze (despite being insulated), and will not be thawed till tomorrow. To top it all off, our furnace has broken. How warm is it in our toasty-warm little cave? With our mighty space heater on full blast, it just crested freezing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NSA Choir Christmas Concert

This is the NSA choir (not the entire school--two seniors are missing), and our first big performance. It actually turned out rather well, and there should be a higher quality video coming out before too long.

Finals

I have two presentations and one paper to write this week, and then next week is finals. For History, I need to know all of Thucydides as well as the tours of Alexander the Great and all of the dates and stuff. For theology, I need to be able to outline and summarize (orally and in prose) every book of the Old Testament, as well as all of our lectures and I have to be painfully detailed on the magnificent book of Song of Solomon. For Latin, I need to memorize all five declensions, all verb forms and everything from ablativus temporis et accusativus cum infinitivus to adjectival forms and whether it is masculinum, femininum or neutrum, as well as the Pater Noster et Credo. For Music, I need to know all lecture and reading material, and be able to sing all solfege patterns (major and minor 2nds, 3rds, 4ths, 5ths, 6ths, 7ths and octaves, ascending and descending. When I am given any note and told to make it Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti or Do, then told to sing a Re Fa La off of the Sol, etc, as well as reading music cold), a couple of Psalms that Dr. Erb (who is magnificent) put to music, and the songs from last term.

Then, on Friday morning I drive home for two weeks before heading to Spokane to do sales for the last part of my break. There are four books due the first week of classes, so the break will be rather full, but I hope to get to relax somewhat before next term.

I cannot wait to be home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Opinions on Obama?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081208/pl_politico/16292

Wilson

When Mercy Is Cruel

Topic: Foundations of Mercy



Abraham Lincoln once asked how many legs a sheep would have if we called the tail a leg. "Five," came the answer. No, Lincoln replied, it doesn't matter what we call it, a sheep will have four legs regardless of what we say.

The Bible gives us the categories of mercy and cruelty. Both of them are defined by God, and not by what we want to call them. These are objective categories, over which Jesus is Lord, and not subjective realities where each one of us gets to roll our own.

For a stark example, a father who refuses to chastize his son physically is a man, Scripture says, who hates his son (Prov. 13:24). But he could, especially in these times, say that striking your son is a fine example of physical abuse, and that he refrains from disciplining him this way because he loves his son. If a man went down to social services for a bit of advice on controlling an unruly son, do you think that man would be told by the social worker there that there was nothing wrong at home that a good whipping wouldn't fix (Prov. 23:13)?

This is the core battle in all temptation, the battle for control of the definitions. The first instance of it happened in the Garden when our parents fell. Who was going to define the tree of knowledge of good and evil? On their account, Adam and Eve were not eating ruination; they thought they were becoming as God, which was a good thing they thought. In Romans 1, Paul says of the idolaters that they were professing to become wise while they were becoming fools. As they were becoming stupider and stupider, they persisted in giving honorary doctorates to each other.

Now this principle applies to mercy as God defines it, and mercy as man apart from Christ defines it. When man in rebellion against Christ defines mercy, what they are talking about is cruelty. A godly man's tender mercies extend down to life in his barn, and in a similar way, the cruelties of the wicked extend into everything. Even the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov. 12:10). A young man may believe all that he was told about sexual liberation, and how important it was not to deny that which was so obviously "natural" to him, and so he pursues the way of fornication, obviously a good and pleasant choice, he believes. What has he done, but give his honor away, and his "years unto the cruel" (Prov. 5:9)?

Why listen to these people at all? Why listen to what they have to say on love, justice, sexual ethics, redistribution, politics, mercy, or economics? "Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps" (Dt. 32:33). They hate God, and they do not love what He loves. The devil, remember, is the father of liars. He does not come to us, tell us the unvarnished truth, in order to allow us to make an informed choice. He lies. And so his cruelties are decked out with noble sounding phrases.

And evangelical Christians go for it. I read just yesterday that the chief lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals, a man named Richard Cizik, voted for Obama in the primary (at least), is now in favor of civil unions for homos, and thinks that "character issues" trump disagreement over things like the slaughter of the unborn. There is no other way to describe this than to acknowledge that God has struck our leaders with a judicial stupor. Cizik talks as though character issues are one thing over here, and support for genocidal mayhem is over there. Having a sweet character is here, and approval of sodomy is there. God was clearly in the wrong for His judgment of Sodom's sexual immorality (Jude 7). He should have come down and judged them for their character issues instead.

No doubt, listening to a talk by Cizik would be an experience in listening to sentimentalist bromides all wrapped up in cotton batting. But at the end of the day, he doesn't care about the unborn -- his tender mercies are cruel.

"The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh" (Prov. 11:17).

You can tell if the rot has set in pretty easily. What might the principal mercy opportunity in the United States be? Think about it. A million or more little babies are being chopped into littler pieces. And as soon as someone starts saying, well, yes, "but that's a political issue. I am more interested in broader issues of mercy and social justice," the rot has set in. And it is called a good thing -- progressive. But as Joe Sobran recently put it, if termites could talk, they would call what they do to a house "progress." And of course, it doesn't matter what we call it. The house will still collapse.

Posted by Douglas Wilson - 12/8/2008 10:01:45 AM | Print this post

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Limerick

Courtesy of Jeff Moss

There was an old fellow from Lyme,
Who married three wives at a time.
When asked, 'Why the third?' he said, 'Haven't you heard?
Bigamy, sir, is a crime.'

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Can Live With That

Sorry about the delay in posting. I am currently on a sheetly denuded bed (on my sleeping bag) in Spokane, mooching off of our neighbor "linksys" while avoiding "GetOff." Today, I had a twelve hour day in which I made between $165 and $225. How? By being my (apparently schmoozing) self.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bread for Strength, Wine for Joy

Bread for Strength, Wine for Joy
Topic: The Lord's Table
In Psalm 104: 14-15, we are told that God feeds the world. As part of this, the psalmist mentions wine and bread as part of God’s great gift. He tells us that bread is given to strengthen the heart of man, and that wine is given to gladden the heart of man.

As we gather at the Lord’s Table, these are two things we must remember. It is true of food generally, and it is certainly true of this sacramental food. When God gives you something to strengthen you, this means that you need to be strengthened. If you didn’t need, God would not be piling superfluous gifts on you. And in the same way, when God gives you wine to gladden your heart, this means that your heart needs to be gladdened.

Christians are too often weak, and they are too often sorrowful. Because of this, God brings you what is most needful. He brings you strength in the form of bread, and He brings you joy in a cup, the joy of the new covenant.

The bread, of course, is the body of the Lord, which means that you commune with His body, and you commune with one another—for you are His body. If you want to know where a great deal of the strength is, look around you. God has given you strength in the bread He has given you. And He has done the same thing with joy. For this, just listen. Listen to the psalms, and to the harmonies, and to the words of joy. So come—bread for strength, and wine for joy.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Theology Paper, Stage One

For theology, we are required to study and provide a structural analysis on a book of the Old Testament. Stage One, due Friday the 14th, is an overview of the major sections of the book and your defense for breaking the book up into those sections.

Blessings,
Jesse Broussard




Solomon’s Song of Songs





Unmarried Courtship
1:1-3:11




Wedding and Consummation
4:1-5:1




Married Courtship
5:2-8:14









J. A. Broussard
Nicea Term Theology; Stage 1 of Paper
11/13/08



The central “Wedding and Consummation” division that I have made is set off by the occurrence of the wedding (declared in 3:11 and instigating a narrative taking the entirety of the fourth chapter and culminating in the consummation of 5:1). The biggest problem with this division is that several very suggestive references in the first section imply that the wedding has already taken place, a full three chapters before the section in which I posit it. For example: 1:4: “The king has brought me into his chambers;” 1:14: “Our bed is green” (another translation gives the more explicit ‘verdant’), and 1:13: “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts.”

However, the book is stylistically written and the (presumed) wedding narrative is quite centrally placed. Also, the first time that a clear declaration of consummation takes place is in 5:1, following rapid, numerous repetitions of “my sister, my spouse” (4:8,9,10,11,12), which is the first (and, debatably, the only) time that a marital appellation is attached, and the only time that “my sister, my spouse” is used in the book (the last time being in 5:1, the declaration of the consummation). This shows beyond doubt that marriage was at least very much on the mind of the lover, and the fact that his calling the beloved his wife occurs between her mentioning his marriage and his mentioning its consummation, and that this is the only time in the book that anything marriage-like is mentioned is more than merely suggestive of a wedding.

There are seven repetitions of “Daughters of Jerusalem,” all of which curiously lie outside of this very lengthy section: it is actually the longest space within the book that omits this phrase, the narratives immediately on either side contain it. There are also three repetitions of “I charge you…do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases,” all of which are outside of this. Finally, several of the suggestive texts are not all that clear, and, due to the responsorial and somewhat dazedly disjointed nature of this book, it generally does no violence to import an equally varied chronology, though the divisions of it would admittedly require careful study.

The first and third divisions are far easier to defend. They mirror each other with very explicit parallelism, being a pre-wedding courtship and a post-wedding courtship. The sections use many of the same phrases; I have already mentioned the seven repetitions of “Daughters of Jerusalem,” and “I charge you…do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases,” but also “His left hand is under my head and his right hand embraces me,” and, “Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices,” as well as the references to an apple tree, feeding flocks, grapes and vines, wine, constant repetitions of myrrh and spices (often spikenard), and two very curious narratives involving the beloved estranged from her lover, arising from bed, seeking the Lover, and encountering watchmen, and these are by no means all of them. Were repetitions or allusions to previously mentioned texts cut out, the only section to be relatively unchanged would be the wedding narrative, while the first and third sections would be cut in half.

A Defense of Not Sleeping

I just checked out Doug Wilson's writings. Wow.

Author

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (ISBN 978-0891075837)
Persuasions (ISBN 978-1885767295)
Finding the Faith
Fruit of the Cross
Ephesians, With Notes
Easy Chairs/Hard Words (ISBN 978-1885767301)
Reforming Marriage (ISBN 978-1885767455)
Contours of Postmaturity (ISBN 978-1885767202)
To A Thousand Generations (ISBN 978-1885767240)
Standing on the Promises (ISBN 978-1885767257)
Her Hand in Marriage (ISBN 978-1885767264)
Joy at the End of the Tether (ISBN 978-1885767509)
Federal Husband (ISBN 978-1885767516)
The Paideia of God (ISBN 978-1885767592)
Fidelity (ISBN 978-1885767646)
For Kirk and Covenant (ISBN 978-1581820584)
Exhortations (ISBN 0967760313)
Untune the Sky (ISBN 978-1930710696)
Mother Kirk (ISBN 978-1885767721)
Future Men (ISBN 978-1885767837)
Excused Absence (ISBN 978-0970224514)
Beyond Stateliest Marble (ISBN 978-1581821642)
Greyfriars Covenant
A Serrated Edge (ISBN 978-1591280101)
The Case for Classical Christian Education (ISBN 978-1581343847)
Blackthorn Winter (ISBN 978-1932168105)
"Reformed" is Not Enough (ISBN 978-1591280057)
My Life for Yours (ISBN 978-1885767905)
Black & Tan (ISBN 978-1591280323)
For a Glory and a Covering (ISBN 978-1591280415)
Letter from a Christian Citizen (ISBN 978-0915815661)
God Is. How Christianity Explains Everything (ISBN 978-0915815869)
The Deluded Atheist (ISBN 978-0915815593)

Co-author

Introductory Logic (with James B. Nance) (ISBN 978-1591280330)
Latin Grammar (with Karen Craig) (ISBN 978-1885767370)
Beyond Promises (with David Hagopian and John Armstrong) (ISBN 978-1885767129)
Southern Slavery As It Was (with Steve Wilkins) (ISBN 978-1885767172)
Angels in the Architecture (with Douglas Jones) (ISBN 978-1885767400)
Is Christianity Good for the World? (with Christopher Hitchens) (ISBN 978-1591280538)

Editor and contributor

No Stone Unturned
The Forgotten Heavens
Repairing the Ruins (ISBN 978-1885767141)
Bound Only Once (ISBN 978-1885767844)
Omnibus I: Biblical and Classical Civilizations (ISBN 978-1932168426)

Contributor

Back to Basics (ISBN 978-0875522166)
Whatever Happened to the Reformation? (ISBN 978-0875521831)
The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism (ISBN 978-0875525549)
When Shall These Things Be? (ISBN 978-0875525525)
The Federal Vision (ISBN 978-0975391402)
The Case for Covenant Communion (ISBN 978-0975391433)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Declamation: Letter to Grandma

Dear Grandma, how’s the weather down there in California? I hope it’s better than it is up here, because it’s really cold and rainy. I guess for you guys cold and rainy means sixty degrees and partly cloudy. But we actually have to wear coats now. Dad really hates the cold. He says he gets really cold because he has bad circulation. He says he has bad circulation because his pipes are clogged. I’m not sure he knows exactly what that means, but it sounds pretty unhealthy. He wants to come down and spend the winters with you guys but he says that’ll only happen when his ship comes in. He also says he thinks his ship sunk. But he still keeps his eyes peeled.

School’s good. I really like my teachers and my classes and my teachers and my classmates and my teachers. Right now I’m taking a history class and a Bible class, and a music class, and a sort of kinda of speech class, and a kind of like a Spanish class but a little different. My grades are fine…I think…well, I actually don’t really know. You know how back in elementary it was fun to joke about getting a Z or a Z minus. Well, my school actually does that here, but only down to M. At the end of the week the whole student body and faculty gets together and we pray and then sing and then everybody takes naps. Usually one or two people come up and tell I guess you’d call them bedtime stories so everybody can go to sleep easier. Once, I had slept through my early morning class that day so I wasn’t very tired and the story was kinda interesting so I stayed awake the whole time. Life’s pretty good though, I was able to buy a new pencil and some paper. Christmas is coming up though so that’ll help. By the time my birthday rolls around I’ll probably be broke again. Oh how quickly that day will be here, that oh so ominous
February 28th . Big day, mkay, gotta run to class. Love, Ben.

Pledge of Allegiance

Douglas Wilson, www.dougwils.com

Just click the title

The Creed and the Pledge
Topic: Politics

Many thanks for the good discussion on the previous post. Obviously more is needed. In fact, when I consider the shape we're in, more is desperately needed.

I say the Apostles' Creed far more often than I say the Pledge. And when I say the Pledge of Allegiance, as noted already, it is not without qualification or reserve. It is not right for any creature to give unqualified loyalty to any fallen creature. At the same time, it is necessary -- because of my own fallenness -- to give that allegiance. To sort this out, we need to get back to basics on the matter of government.

The ultimate lord over all things in heaven and on earth is the Lord Jesus Christ. The God of this world is not the devil, not since the cross, and the God of this world is the Lord Jesus. So all authority is His, and all subordinate forms of authority have to be calibrated to His. Ideally, they will be calibrated both by those who wield the authority and by those who submit to it. But frequently, the calculations for that calibration have to be made by the one under authority alone because the one in authority has idolatrous pretensions for himself.

Because of this, the foundational form of government among men is self-government. Unless men are converted, and become as little children, and find the fruit of the Spirit flourishing within them -- and remember that fruit includes self-control or self-government -- every other form of human government will be dislocated and out of joint. Apart from self-government, every form of human governance will necessarily be some form of slavery. But if Christ sets men free from their sins, then other forms of liberty will follow.

The three larger forms of human government that God has established, all of them dependent on Spirit-given self-government, are these: Church, Family, and Nation. The Church is the ministry of grace. The family is the ministry of health, education and welfare. The nation is the ministry of justice.

Now the question before the house is this -- is it possible for a faithful Christian, self-governed in his personal life, to render allegiance to these lesser governments under Christ, especially when these governments are in gross sin, without sinning himself? And the answer is yes, of course.

We are covenantally bound to one another in all our relations because life is covenantal. Church membership is covenantal, marriage is covenantal, and citizenship is covenantal. Now because of sin, no covenant bond in this life is absolute. When I take any vows in this life, which I must always take in some form or other, every faithful Christian attaches a rider to that vow. If we ever took absolute vows to another sinner, we are violating the word of God where He tells us not to be unequally yoked. So every vow is qualified -- I pledge my fealty to the degree that this allegiance does not compromise my prior and higher allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.

When my kids were little, and first learning to talk, I remember carrying them around in my arms and asking them two basic catechism questions. The first was, "Who's the boss?" Their answer would be to point to me. Then the second question went something like this, "Who's the real boss?" And they would point heavenward. The message I wanted them to internalize is that Dad was as much under authority as they were. And judging from the debates we get into as Christians, I think we need to do a lot more of this kind of sorting out.

So is there anything wrong in principle with an oath of loyalty to one or all of the three entities that God has established? Certainly not. We even get our word sacrament from the enlistment oath that ancient soldiers had to take. This is simply part of human life. There is nothing new about any of this. Now obviously, the content of the oath matters to us, as it mattered to the early Christians. They would not burn incense to the genius of the emperor and the spirit of Rome, because such an action was self-consciously religious worship. And when the Pledge becomes that, then Christians will have to stop saying it.

In the meantime, they should take care with two words -- indivisible should not be taken to mean "ontologically incapable of division." If it is simply the hyperbole of a charitable wish, then fine. It is like saying "may the king live forever" when everybody assembled there can see how bad the king's cough is. Still, even though "may the king live forever" can be justfied (Dan. 6:21), I still much prefer a more sober and reasonable wish -- "long live the king," which is actually a possibility in the real world. The other word is God -- the phrase under God was added in the Eisenhower years, and the whole thing hinges upon which God is meant. Just substitute the word Christ, and you will be good.

What about the problem of Mr. Bellamy, the radical who composed the Pledge after the War Between the States in order to shape the schoolchildren into docile worker bees for the new society? The origins of the Pledge are certainly corrupt, but so are the origins of Yuletide, Easter, and tomorrow, which is Thor's Day. The question for us is what it means here and now.

And last, what about the frequency with which people want everybody to say the Pledge of Allegiance? I don't have a problem with frequent recitation necessarily, especially with young schoolchildren who are being liturgically shaped by it. The problem here is not the repetition. The problem is what we don't repeat in addition to the Pledge. The problem is not the expressed loyalty to the republic, the problem is that we have no layered structure of loyalties in what we have them recite. Because we don't have them repeat something like the Apostles Creed, along with a clear statement of which is senior, we are training the kids to answer the question "who's the boss?" with "the state," and then we provide no follow up question -- "who's the real boss?" It is idolatry by omission.

Take another example. If I were running a Christian school with three flagpoles outside, one for the American flag, one for the state flag, and one for the Christian flag, I would have a real problem with having the flag that represents Christendom flapping right alongside Delaware's, and the American flag above them both. Better to have no Christian flag at all than to have Christ bowing symbolically to His servants. We really need to think through all this. We live in a time when flag burning is protected speech. So why not move in the opposite direction? Why would it not be protected speech to have the American flag defer symbolically before Christendom?

But even with such problems of patriotism in our midst (and they are very real, let me assure you), let me offer one thought experiment. When our accelerating idolatries in the civil realm finally catch up with us, and the time comes for Christians to take a stand that might actually result in actual civic confrontation and conflict that would involve making real sacrifices (in the uproar that followed canceled presidential elections, say), who do you think will be manning the ranks of the real resistance? Folks who used to say the Pledge routinely or those who would not?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Indispensable Lewis

"Have you no idea of progress? Or development?"

"I have seen both in an egg. In Narnia, we call it going bad."

History Paper

Rough draft number one.


Philip of Macedon
And His Army: Heir to the World


J. A. Broussard
Nicea Term History Paper, 2200 Words


Alexander began his inexorable campaign in 333 B.C. Ten years later, he died of a high fever on June 11, 323 B.C, in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. In these ten years, he overran Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Gaza, Egypt, Bactria and Mesopotamia, remaining (we presume) undefeated in battle: we know of not even a single loss. He was 32 years old when he died, and his empire became the foundation for the Roman Empire, the largest and longest standing empire that has yet been on the earth. And he began all of this the when he was as old as an average college graduate today.

How is this even possible? The nations that he fought were not weak: many of his battles were fought tooth and nail, and he himself was seriously wounded on several occasions. His army was by no means the largest; his very first battles in foreign territory are battles in which he was severely outnumbered, despite drawing on the resources of the League of Corinth (essentially all of Greece, notably excluding the Spartans ). Yet he never lost a single battle. There is no denying that Alexander was one of the greatest military minds that ever existed, but still: to not once be overmatched to the point of defeat?

The key to Alexander’s success, outside of his own unmatched military genius, lies in the changes that his father, Philip II of Macedon began. The greatest changes were the emphasis upon training, speed, reliance upon non-hoplite troops, and devastatingly, the introduction of the sarissa (see illustration).

To emphasize these changes, you have to see the contrast between the Pre-Philip Macedonian army and the Post-Philip Macedonian army. Before Philip, the primary, almost exclusive force of the Greek world was the Hoplite (see illustration): well protected by a shield of one meter in diameter (just over three feet) called an aspis (which was primarily for the protection of the right side of the man to their left), a helmet, breastplate, and shin greaves. They were armed with a dora (a spear of between seven and nine feet in length), which had a leaf shaped blade on one end and a weighted point on the other (most likely used for planting into the ground or killing wounded enemies as the hoplites advanced over them) as well as a short sword with a concave curve (which greatly increased its efficacy for severing spear shafts and limbs alike). All told, the hoplite’s weapons and armor would combine to a hefty sixty plus pounds, not including the supplies.

The hoplites were a slow moving unit, the first three rows of which could engage an enemy, but there is great debate on how exactly a battle would be fought. Probably the leading opinion is that the strength of hoplites was in shock combat. The two phalanxes would smash into each other to break or encircle the enemy force's line. Failing that, a battle degenerated into a pushing match, with the men in the rear trying to force their front lines through those of the enemy (the othismos), battles rarely lasting more than an hour with very few casualties. Once one of the lines broke, the troops would generally flee from the field, sometimes chased by peltasts or light cavalry.

More probably, there seems to have been a greater element of individual warfare among the front ranks before the supporting ranks (usually seven supporting ranks in the typical eight-rank deep formation) would end up lending much weight to the combat, each side supported by the peltasts the entire time, with each battle lasting on average from two to four hours. Otherwise, with the “othismos” pushing match, the greater force would inevitably win, which history vehemently refutes.
Then, Philip of Macedon decided to take over Greece, and, to increase the strength of his army, he developed the phalanx, with its famous sarissa.Thesarissa wasa spear reaching a length of up to eighteen to twenty-four feet, depending upon the account. In any case, it was a great deal longer than the seven to nine foot dora, and allowed the first five rows of spears to be in contact with the enemies front line before the enemy was within four feet of reaching you, causing a five-one ratio of weapons to targets on one side, and a zero-one on the other. These spears were held with both hands, so a much smaller shield strapped to the left arm (to free their left hand to support the spear) replaced the usual “aspis.” Philip also removed the heavy breastplates to increase mobility and speed. The increased vulnerability to projectiles was somewhat compensated for by the spears of the lines behind the fifth rank deep, who would hold their spears above the first five rows, creating a literal shield of spear heads that, from all accounts, was surprisingly effective. The twenty-foot tall spears of the back rows served also to hide any ongoing activity behind the phalanx (see illustration two).

The flanks of this force would generally be supported by cavalry to prevent any attack upon the unprotected sides, and the most experienced soldiers as well as generals would as a rule take the far right file, which was least protected by the shield upon their left arm. Some accounts hold that the first several ranks wore armor, but, while this seems easily plausible, there appears to be no decisive evidence one way or the other. We do not, of course, know exactly how the sarissa was used, but it seems quite probable that they were not simply held extended as the phalanx marched upon an enemy, but that they were constantly jabbing and slashing, a wall of incessantly moving blades inexorably advancing. Hence, at the battle of Pydna, Roman shields and breastplates were transfixed, and the commander later recalled exactly how terrifying the spectacle of an advancing phalanx was.

The amount of cavalry used was itself somewhat of an innovation, though how they were armed is uncertain (we know that they carried a spear of some type and a short, heavy sword). The appellation “sarissa-bearing” is applied to them, but the sarissa is a very unsuitable weapon for a mounted person, as it needs two hands to be used effectively. It could be that they used it by bracing it against the horse (possibly lain across the neck), but this seems likely to unseat them if they strike with any impact, as stirrups were unknown. Another possibility was that they bore the sarissa in case they needed to be of use when dismounted. More probably, they carried a somewhat shorter sarissa (still longer than the seven or nine foot dora of the other hoplites, and far longer than the swords used by some other nations) for running down fleeing soldiers and breaking through shield walls (again, they also had a stout, heavy sword). They were divided into units called ilai, and became the main striking arm of the Macedonian army. The leading Macedonians primarily supplied the cavalry, and one squadron in particular was used to fight beside Alexander in Asia, reputedly saving his life at one point.

Prior to Philip, cavalry were primarily used to protect the flanks and chase fleeing troops, as they were far less stable than the heavily armed, tank-like hoplite force, however, Philip began using them more and more in the battle itself, both to protect the flanks of the phalanx and to charge the enemy in formation at the precise moment when the line was stretched too thinly or the flank exposed. Alexander perfected this tactic to a devastating extreme, and his cavalry became the most powerful portion of his army, partly due to the great levels of training that were imposed upon them, and partly due to the fact that the horses were most likely developed from Persian stock that was superior to the usual Greek stock. He also preferred to use the Persian “V” shaped formation as opposed to the rectangular Greek formation, which may or may not have made a large difference, but was used to deeply penetrate the front line, which led to the phalanx simply decimating the shield wall that was now presenting its flank to them.

Along with the cavalry, Philip began relying more and more on the “lightly armed” peltasts (some accounts say that he actually used them in the phalanx, behind the shields of the hoplites). The peltasts were lightly armed and not armored. They would have one shield, a short sword, and would generally carry several smaller javelins, which may have been equipped with a sling-like cord to increase their throwing power. They were used to cause confusion and general mayhem. Philip used them to a very great effect upon the other Greeks, who generally held them in an attitude of disdain. In fact, the Spartans would only use their slaves as peltasts, holding it to be an unfit position for a free-born Spartan. Thucydides records of peltasts in the battle of Anapus that “they put each other to flight as you would expect with lightarmed.” Philip had no such qualms. Due to the fact that his phalanx had such an increased range, any disarray in the enemies shield wall would rapidly be exploited to the utter decimation of the impotent hoplites, which were unable to retaliate against either the rapid peltasts or the out-of-reach phalanx.

Also, the level of professionalism within Philip’s army was far superior to that of most of the other Greek city-states, excepting, of course, Sparta. Spartan slaves, “helots,” supported the Spartans so that the free-born Spartan men could practice arms full-time (which was quite necessary, as the helots outnumbered them ten to one, and frequently revolted). Most hoplites were amateurs, which is one of the reasons that the Spartans were as feared as they were: warfare was mandatory up until the age of sixty. Philip saw this, exempted his military from all other vocations at the expense of the state, and began their training full-time, constantly parading them and giving them forced marches and exercises. He saw from this that their speed and mobility was hampered by the amount of equipment that needed to be carried by other, non-military units. So, he removed some of their equipment and compensated (perhaps more than compensated) by having each man carry his own rations: thirty days of rations. As a result of this, they had a vast advantage over all of their enemies in speed and mobility; they became professionals among amateurs.

The greater number of cavalry and lightly armed forces, the smaller shields and the loss of the breastplate for the phalanx (along with each person being required to carry thirty days of rations on his person) removed the need for a baggage train. This, combined with the constant training, drilling and forced marches increased the speed and mobility of the phalanx (along with the rest of the army) to unheard of rates: this was the army that Philip used to conquer nearly all of Greece, and this was the army that Alexander inherited from Philip. It was trained to beat all other Greek armies, who had already demonstrated their superiority to the Persian army, which had conquered all of the cultures surrounding it. It was, therefore, the greatest known army on the earth.

It is in the foreign campaigns of Alexander that the changes to the military become most apparently decisive. His lightning advances in Asia became the stuff of legends. In the battle of the river Granicus, it was his phalanx force that simply annihilated the Greek hoplites and Persian cavalry combined. In the battles of Issus, Pamphylia and Gordium, his cavalry was the deciding force. And in the entirety of his campaign, for ten years, it was his ability to throw his opponent’s forces into chaos while maintaining the order and formation of his own that decided battle after battle, a feat accomplished by vastly superior experience and the application of the ever Dionysian peltasts and cavalry that liberally sowed unbounded chaos.
Without his father’s innovations, Alexander would still have been great. But he would never have been able to do what he did: Philip is the one that united most of Greece into an empire that Alexander drew from; Philip is the one that created an army so fast that when Alexander appeared, armies would surrender on the spot, not having expected him for another week. Philip is the one that created the nearly indestructible phalanx (which has almost never been beaten in a head-on conflict) that Alexander swept Persia with; Philip is the one that introduced cavalry and peltasts that became so essential to Alexander’s army. Were it not for Philip II of Macedon, the great Alexander could not have made deistic claims, would not have inspired a Caesar to become a grave-robber; the great Alexandria would not have been, nor Bucephalus, the city he named after his horse. Were it not for Philip II of Macedon, Greek culture would not have swept the world and enticed, even infected Rome. Were it not for Philip II of Macedon, we would have a different world.

Bavink on Depravity

From Leithart:

Bavinck makes the interesting, Augustinian, and important point that sin can never become our essence because it is not a substance: “it does indeed inhabit and infect all of us, but it is not and cannot be the essence of our humanity. Also, after the fall, we human beings remain humans. We have retained our reason, conscience, and will, can therefore control our lower sensual drives and inclinations, and thus force them in the direction of virtue.”

Talking of “sinful nature” is thus ambiguous. Sinners have depraved, rebellious, infected, dead, but still human nature.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hilarious

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3_95F5e-Ac

Wilson Link

A rather appropriate poem in light of the election.

Tension

You lift up kings and throw them down.

At Your Word, congresses and parliaments are tumbled into confusion and the babble of tongues, pundits, and 24 hour news coverage.

You throw the ocean against the shore,

And sometimes that shore is inhabited.

Mothers cry and children are lost.

Their surviving men curse the God in whom they will not believe.

Your hand touches the tops of mountains

And deep within the earth

Rocks melt and vault toward the sky.

The planets circle, and their harmonic anthems fill the desolate places.

In a gift not anticipated, You give pets to children—in this case, a large, soft, floppy-eared rabbit, a rabbit with deep, brown, emotional eyes.

And your prophets have promised that one day the children will play with the cobras.

Nice Link

Redistribution of wealth


Today on my way to lunch I passed a homeless guy with a sign the read “Vote Obama, I need the money.” I laughed.

Once in the restaurant my server had on a “Obama 08" tie, again I laughed–just imagine the coincidence.

Suddenly, it hit me. An experiment is in order.

I asked the server, did he really believe that Obama's platform was a good one? Yes, he did.

When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was exploring the Obama redistribution of wealth concept.

He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need – the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight.

I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10, and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful.

At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn, even though the actual recipient needed the money more.

I guess redistribution of wealth is an easier thing to swallow in concept than in practical application - at least if it is your wealth that is being redistributed.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Part 1

On the Road with Atheism

Christopher Hitchens squares off with Douglas Wilson.
Nate Wilson | posted 10/31/2008 09:43AM

Related articles and links | 1 of 1

ADVERTISEMENT

Day 1, October 29, 2008

Last year, Christianity Today hosted a lively online debate between pastor and author Douglas Wilson (my father), and Christopher Hitchens, popular author and leading atheist. Both authors have a flair for the humorous and the literary, and the popularity of their debate led to its publication as a book (from a Christian publishing house). Is Christianity Good for the World? was released last month, and now both authors are on the road, debating and discussing the topic in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Because of the uniqueness and value of their exchanges, a documentary film crew is following them, led by MTV music video director Darren Doane.

As for me? I'm tagging along. Day one was remarkable. The two men met in the morning over coffee, debated in a town hall-style encounter at the King's College in the Empire State Building, signed copies of the book in the Union Square Barnes & Noble, and then divided for different events of different flavors in the evening. Hitchens debated Rabbi Wolpe in Temple Emanu-El — said to be the largest Jewish house of worship in the world — while my father addressed the atheist clubs of Columbia and NYU in an event called "Stump the Preacher Man."

But to be honest, the most interesting moments have all been outside the formal events — discussions over meals, in cabs and elevators. Both men share a love of poetry (over lunch, they gave an antiphonal recitation of "Jabberwocky"), a love of the English language and the well-turned phrase, and have spent a good ten minutes spouting favorite lines from the British writer P. G. Wodehouse to mutual laughter. And both men have a respect for each other — though clearly not for their conflicting opinions of God and the nature of the world.

At the King's College debate, Hitchens professed disdain for the biblical admonition to "love your enemies," calling it total nonsense. And yet, as he appears in Christian forums, wrangling with a Christian man, that is exactly what he is experiencing firsthand. The exchanges are heated. No punches have been pulled, and no one is pretending like the gulf between atheism and Christianity is anything but dark and profound. Yet underlying it all, there is an affection shown to him that is just as profound.

Hitchens said he wanted all his enemies destroyed. Wilson countered with qualified agreement, saying that God destroys all his enemies, but doesn't only destroy them in the traditional way, as understood by man, but also destroys his enemies by making them friends.

Last night, the two will debate "Beauty and the Existence of God" at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
And you will be hearing more from me.

Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.

Part 2

On the Road with Atheism II

Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, together again.
Nate Wilson | posted 11/03/2008 10:03AM

Related articles and links | 1 of 1

ADVERTISEMENT

Day 1, October 29, 2008
Day 2, October 30, 2008

The morning began with New York City heaving its traffic in the normal way. With cameras tagging along, Hitchens and Wilson found themselves a coffee shop and settled into conversation. But before long, they were shuffled into a cab, and were off grid-locking their way to a heliport, a chopper to Philadelphia, and a debate at Westminster Theological Seminary.

The Phillies had won the World Series the day before, and it was evident everywhere in the city—even in Van Till Hall, the venue for the debate. Phillies jerseys, tees, and caps were crowded in beyond the room's capacity. Both men were given Phillies hats beforehand and Wilson produced his early on, promising the audience that he would put it on if he began to lose the debate (as a sure-fire way to win back the crowd).

After two days of travel and laughter, agreement and disagreement, meals and missed meals (in plenty and in want), the men began their debate with a stronger mutual rapport than the previous day. They both drew laughter from the audience throughout the discussion, but also regular laughter and acknowledgement from each other.

Substantively, Wilson began by claiming that if you deny the existence of God, you banish any standard of beauty or aesthetic criticism from the world. Nothing is more beautiful than anything else. In response (and ironically) Hitchens waxed eloquent about the marvels of reality. He became positively poetic as he paid tribute to stars and black holes and what he believes to be the inevitable destruction of our planet (at the hands of the Andromeda Galaxy).

But he didn't stop at poetry. When describing the Event Horizon of a black hole, he ceased to sound like a rationalist and began to sound more and more like a mystic—referring to the transcendent majesty of the thing itself (as it is imagined by some modern scientists) and reveling in the sci-fi idea of being able to simultaneously see both the past and the present, standing and ceasing to exist at that brink where space and time and light descend into darkness. It was odd, coming from the empirical rationalist, and he seemed unable to believe that in Christians, such thoughts (or visions) would stir up the desire to worship and obey the Artist behind such astonishing art.

Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson both marvel at the same creation, and they turn to the same words and poetry to describe that creation and its effect on them. The difference, and never so stark as in this debate, is that one man reacts into extreme gratitude and thankfulness for the marvels of reality, while the other struggles to prevent that reaction, but is unable to even check his use of religious language and vocabulary in doing so.

Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.

Wilson and Hitchens Courtesy of CT

To see the article in its original context, click on my title.

On the Road with Atheism III
Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson walk into a bar ...
posted 11/04/2008 11:34AM

Related articles and links | 1 of 1

ADVERTISEMENT

Day 1, October 29, 2008
Day 2, October 30, 2008
Day 3, October 31, 2008
Washington D.C.

On the final day of their frenzied tour (handing out copies of Is Christianity Good for the World? at every stop), tired of being prodded and wired and filmed and helicoptered, Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson were trundled into a train in Philadelphia and headed south for the District and their final climactic event. The organizers of this tour (and accompanying film) had not wanted to end with a formal debate. All too often, formal debates are the rhetorical equivalent of two fighters shadow-boxing in opposite corners struggling to impress the crowd with their respective bobs and weaves, but never actually meeting anywhere in the middle—anywhere where noses might end up bleeding. While this had not been true of the tour up to this point a different tone was needed for the finale.

Martin's Tavern in Georgetown was selected for the venue. This would not be an event involving blue blazers standing behind podiums beneath spastic fluorescent lighting. Nor would there be a moderator. The two men sat on stools at one end of the restaurant, the bar at their backs, and they faced off in front of a packed (and eating and drinking) house.

The guest list was necessarily tight, and the room was a blend of theologians and journalists, skeptics and believers, students and authors, as well as friends of both men and roaming cameramen.

The discussion was meant to focus on morality and (this being the final event), it was clear that Wilson would not be content unless Hitchens left with the truth wrapped around his neck. For his part, Hitchens attempted to maintain that morality is innate in humans, an evolved feature in a higher primate.

Wilson challenged the authority of any such morality, saying that it could evolve along and morph along with any other biological feature, simultaneously pushing Hitchens on his admission that the desires to rape, pillage, and murder was equally "innate" in the species. He insisted that Hitchens explain how he (or any man) could determine the difference between a moral and immoral act if both were simply byproducts of evolution.

Hitchens slipped and shifted and evaded, but he was never let off the hook, and he could never successfully answer the question. The atheists in the audience grew antsy, chomping for their own shots at Wilson, and soon enough the floor was opened for questions. One after one, they attempted to do what Hitchens could not—show an authority for their morality, or show that they did not need no such authority—and one by one they failed.

The collegiality between the men continued, though both exchanged barbs more pointed and meaningful than humorous.
Hitchens is an intelligent man. But an intelligent man without the truth is no better than, well … a higher primate.

Copyright © 2008 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Evangellyfish

The entire book, epilogue et al, is now up. Very worth reading, in an O'Connoresque way. It is a satire of the modern Christian church in America, and is painfully and gloriously accurate.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Just Hilariously Amazing

This is a teaser trailer for the documentary of Hitchens Verse Wilson: A Collision of Lives, which is coming out in March of 2009. The music is amazing.

More Wilson verse Hitchens

Click on the title.

History Summary

J. Broussard
History Summary
10/31/08

Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great


Premise 1: In creating the phalanx, lengthening the sarissa (so that the hoplites as far back as five rows could still reach their enemies) and simultaneously increasing the armor and mobility of the hoplites, Philip of Macedon made his army a far more effective force.
Premise 2: In uniting most of Greece beneath him, Philip bequeathed to Alexander the resources of an empire to draw upon.
Premise 3: In placing Alexander under the tutelage of Aristotle (among others), Philip gave him the advantage of a brilliantly honed logical mind.
Premise 4: In his Imperialistic mentality and ruthless dealings with his enemies, Philip set the example for Alexander to follow.
Conclusion: Were it not for Philip of Macedon?s influence and the changes that he implemented, Alexander could not have swept the known world in the way that he did.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Adams as Priests

Something that has been on my mind over the last few weeks: the parallel between Adam and Christ as Priests.


INTRODUCTION

The priestly office, it is generally agreed, involves guarding the relationship between God and His people from external enemies and internal pollution. A priest must first keep himself and his own pure, then must protect the temple so that there is no hindrance to God's people meeting with God. As such, it is an office that is concerned with guarding the life of the people of God (John 17:3).


PART ONE

Now, look at the way, particularly the order in which Adam (who was placed in the garden as a priest, to guard and tend it) failed:

1. He failed to protect the garden from external enemies--he allowed the dragon to enter;
2. He failed to protect his own--he allowed Eve to be deceived by the dragon;
3. He failed to protect himself--he was not deceived, but simply, high-handedly rebelled by obeying the dragon.

A brief aside: it was not until his ultimate rebellion that he was expelled from his position as priest and given the task of attaining the position that he had just rejected. We can see then, that God is not a legalistic God--He allowed Adam to fail two times without judging or condemning him for them.

PART TWO

Now we can look at Christ, Who fulfills Adam chiastically:

3'. He protected Himself through His threefold temptation by the dragon (part of which included refusing to take food for Himself);
2'. He protected His own--He ministered to Israel for three years, casting out the dragon (demons) and correcting the deceptions that Israel was under;
3'. He took the garden back from the dragon by replacing the fruit that was taken off of the tree (He was the fruit that was placed on the tree, fulfilling the principle of "eye for an eye"), and by doing so, expelled the dragon from the garden forever, restoring in Himself and then in us the temple that we had failed to protect.

A parallel aside: it was not until His death on the cross, His refusal to refuse the position given Him as priest that Christ succeeded in regaining what we had given away.

PART THREE

A few miscellaneous notes:

Adam was not simply assigned to protect and guard the garden, but to extend its boundaries to the four corners of the earth. Our assignment from the Second Adam mirrors this: we are to disciple the nations and populate the earth by declaring the victory of Christ.

There are three offices given to men, and in hierarchical order they are Priest, King and Prophet. In the new covenant, all Christians are Priests by definition (1 Peter 2:9), all are Kings in Christ, and all are Prophets in Christ. These latter two I will explore as the urge takes me, but to very briefly and inadequately define: Kings have the same assignment that priests do, but it is extended, and includes many more grey areas. If you have a family, you are a Priest and a King in that family, either well or poorly. The Prophet is one who has access to the very counsel of God Himself, and is called to rebuke Kings that are out of line. Draw your own conclusions; I leave you here.

CONCLUSION

The theme of Priest, King, Prophet is continued through Genesis, culminating in Joseph, who was the best picture of Christ that Genesis offers us. Look for it. It also extends to the people of Christ corporately, though it has not yet been fulfilled there.

Blessings,
Jesse Broussard

The Gauntlet is Accepted

Each year, the house that won the pumpkin rugby game challenges the house that lost the pumpkin rugby game to a game of, not surprisingly, pumpkin rugby. This is done, I am afraid to confess, in a public setting, and this was this years response to the challenge, read by Ryan Handermann and Nate Douglas.



Ryan: Woe! Woe! Woe! Weeping and wailing arises from Blaine Street and all Israel can hear her lamentations. How Anna Street stomped upon our faces and beat our precious pumpkins into the ground! How they have sneered at our rucks and pranced about in our Trizone! They have strewn our mutilated bodies over the whole earth, vultures have come and eaten our flesh. They buried the remains deep in the earth, where no light could penetrate. And there was nothing to mark our death-graves only seven small pieces of broken pumpkin. Death be not proud! Oh Israel! The night is darkest, just before the dawn.

Nate: Dawn. She shone with her rose-red fingers, slowly creeping across the sky, like blood spilt over the floor. The sky was red. Today, blood would be spilt at the hands of Blaine St.
But then, the earth began to shake, lightning ripped through the sky, as the headstones of the graves split like the temple veil. Hades rejected the men of Blaine, who then arose from the coffins, battered, bruised, and muddied. The sun sprang up, leaving the brilliant waters in its wake, climbing the bronze sky to shower light on the on the men now clad in white. The men approached, clad in white, and the names that set on them were death, and hell followed with them.

Ryan: Then hell broke loose upon a third of the field which views the mountain. Horses flew forward urged on by their shining riders. And then, just before the clash of battle sounded, all looked up and upon the cliff overseeing the battle stood a man. Frozen in time, they waited. Then the prophet of old who had been lying on his side, right hand lifted up before the sunrise, spoke these words: “Behold, I have looked with my eyes, and I have seen a vision from the pumpkin colored-heavens.

Nate: A man, like Hector, burst through in glory, his face dark as the sudden rushing night, but he blazed on in white and terrible fire broke from the bright garments that wrapped his body, two pumpkins clutched in his fists. No one could fight him, no one could stop him, none but the gods as the man rushed through their masses and his eyes flashed fire. And whirling around he cried to his brave men of white, shouting through the ruck, “The line! Storm the line!”

Look, Breath, Both: We, on behalf of blaine st and all men it doth represent, do accept this challenge.

N: For redemption.

R: McCain.

N: For freedom.

R: For a random faculty or student.

N: For Plato

R: And Aristotle

N: For women’s suffrage

R: For the Gourd Goddess

Both: Don’t ruck until you see the whites of their thighs.

More N. D. Wilson

I know I’m not capable of ladling out silver-bullet profundity that will automatically anoint the furrowed brows of hopeful writers with the warm shininess of success. [Sidenote: I apologize for the previous sentence. But it still make me smile.]

Click on title

N. D. Wilson

Sidenote: Stealing ideas from contemporaries is rude and tasteless. Stealing from the long dead is considered literary and admirable. The same is true of grave-robbing. Loot your local cemetery and find yourself mired in social awkwardness. But unearth the tomb of an ancient king and you can feel free to pop off his toe rings. You’ll probably end up on a book tour, or bagging an honorary degree or two.

http://ndwilson.com/blog

Monday, October 27, 2008

Bavink

"People take their hearts with them when they enter a monastery, and from the heart arise all sorts of sins and iniquities."

Bavink, Reformed Dogmatics vol. 3, 54.

Bavink on Hegel

"However much he (Hegel) regarded nature as a product of reason, he could not deny that it was powerless to fully realize the Idea; he therefore stated that the Idea, in giving existence to such a world, had become unfaithful to itself, had in fact apostatized from itself. Thus he paved the way for the pessimism that, in the manner of Buddhism, considers existence itself the greatest sin, a sin committed by the blind irrational will, which is the ultimate guilty party."

Bavink, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 3, 53.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Evangellyfish

Doug Wilson's Evangellyfish is now all up, save the epilogue (which is up on Monday). It is 16 chapters that are brutally honest and very entertaining, in a stick your hand in a meat grinder sort of way. Not that graphic or anything, just, well, read it and tell me.

Ton of the Chester

"Only a man who knows nothing of motors talks of motoring without petrol; only a man who knows nothing of reason talks of reasoning without strong, undisputed first principles."
~G. K. Chesterton, The Blue Cross

Bible Tool

Just a great site; very useful.

http://www.blueletterbible.org/

Trovato: Aquinas on Zombies

Whether there are such thing as zombies?

Objection 1: That’s weird and dumb.
Objection 2: You’re an idiot.
Objection 3: To assert that zombies are nomologically possible would be to assert that in some world that shares all of its laws with the actual world there is a being identical to some actual or genuinely possible human being who is utterly lacking in consciousness. Of course, the existence of a real zombie would entail that zombies are nomologically as well as logically possible, but the reverse entailments do not hold. The idea of qualia and related phenomenal notions of the mind are not coherent concepts, and the zombie scenario is therefore incoherent.

On the contrary: The Bible.


2 Kings 19:35: And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they [were] all dead corpses.

I answer that: Um…well, nomologically speaking the related phenomenal notions inherent in the generic state of consciousness in the human mind and to certain qualia related platitudes…um, the Bible?

Reply to objections 1 & 2: Don’t you feel stupid now?
Reply to objection 3: Psh. Science. They don’t even know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Declamation: Aquinas on Beards

The assignment was to write in a structure imitative of Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae, so here is mine; others are forthcoming.

Blessings.

J. Broussard
Declamation:
Aquinas Summa imitation (in form)
10/22/08

1. Whether it can be demonstrated that facial hair is good?

Objection 1. It seems that the benefit of facial hair cannot be demonstrated, as it would be a matter of preference—a benefit to some, but a detriment to others.

Objection 2. Further, facial hair is not available to all manner of men, so if it is beneficial, it is a benefit that slanders the justice of God: that He would give it to some and not to others.


On the contrary: It is written that God made all things that are, and that He declared everything that He had made to be “all very good.”

I answer that: Demonstration can be made in two ways: through the state of man at creation, and through the state of man following the resurrection. Hence the benefit of facial hair, which cannot be easily ascertained from our current fallen state, can be made plain through the eternal counsel of God.


Reply to Objection 1: The Gospel clearly states that the beard of Christ was plucked out, and that this was done to shame Him. How is it then merely a matter of preference for us to daily imitate the vile heathen that crucified our Lord by severing with dull razors the beard from the Imago Dei in us (be you a man with one blade or a coward with five)? This is indeed our shame.

Reply to Objection 2: It is true that all men cannot grow facial hair; indeed, it is also true that most women cannot either. But this does not appear to have always been the case, for it is written in Leviticus, the thirteenth chapter and the twenty ninth verse, that “if a man or woman have a plague upon the head or the beard…”
Now it may be easily assumed, that if women used to be able to grow beards, so too could all manner of men, and if we are asked why this is not the case today, we may easily respond, “why do men not live past their hundredth year today?” God has changed things for His own pleasure, and it is our delight that some men, and (indeed, our great delight) that most women cannot grow beards, and this does not impute partiality to God.
However, we may all look forward to the day when there shall be neither slave nor free, male nor female, Jew nor Greek, American nor Dutch, bearded nor side-burned.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Commonplaces on Play vs. Work

"Play is anything you enjoy and aren't held accountable for." --Jordan (Juhr-duhn) Leithart

"Play starts when the umpire says 'Play ball' and ends when the last out is made. Everything else, like lifting weights and taking steroids, is just work." --Ben Saunders

"Dr. Stokes learned me all about letters last year. “They simply refer us,” he said, “to real world stuff.” Problem solved! What childhood activity could be more “real world” than packaging 10 dead flies into envelopes, sorted according to their kinds, and selling them to my other brothers?" --Timothy van den Broek

Sunday, September 14, 2008

N. D. Wilson

Just a quick note: first edition signed copies of Nathan Wilson's 100 Cupboards are selling for $70.00 at the moment, and it is soon to be followed by its sequel. If you are looking for an excellent, up and coming author, you would be hard pressed to do better.

The Politics of Blood

"If you are a Christian and you deny that the unborn are created in the image of God, then you need to start taking better care of your soul -- because you are losing it."

"The paper-thin objection that pro-lifers are inconsistent in opposing abortion because they generally support the death penalty is risible. We oppose killing innocents who have not had their day in court, and support killing guilty people who have had their day in court, and you want to make that into an inconsistency? Better luck next time."

These are excerpts from an excellent post by Wilson on the topic of abortion and war. Quick read, and worth reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

History Presentation

I did my history presentation on Book III of Herodotus, and received an SCL. I'm more than just a wee bit happy.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris can believe it's not butter.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Conservativism

"If the Democrats wanted to burn down the Capitol building, the Republicans would counter with a proposal to do it over the course of three years."

R.L. Dabney described a certain kind of conservatism as the shadow that follows radicalism to perdition.

Doug Wilson is embarking on a tour of the reprehensible Senator McCain's anomalous choice of VP, which has so far been quite interesting. Click on my title to jump in mid-stride.

Redneck

You may be a redneck if:

1. you mow your lawn and find a car, or

2. to lose twenty pounds, you don't go on a diet; you take off a belt-buckle.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Nice Latin phrase

"Vir qui surget in latrino, altus est in caccabo."

A man standing on a toilet is high on pot.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Yes, He's Serious

Our Latin teacher, in the course of a class, commented that his daughter's first word was "Ecce."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

कोम्मोंप्लासस

"Cocaine is God's way of saying you have too much money."

"Happiness is like wetting your pants: everyone can see it, but you're the only one who can feel it."

"What do you call a musician without a girlfriend? Homeless."
--Mark Driscoll

On the excessive use of makeup:
"If the house needs painting, bring out the brushes."
"If it needs that much paint, remodel."

"Love conquers all, so tace et osculate."

To Mr. Collins: "The only time you open your mouth is to switch feet: I thought men like you shot themselves. Your mother should have thrown you out and kept the stork."

"I could become one with Nature to figure out where the heck Nature is and then kill it."
--Craig Lynn

"Mothers, persistent as Rambo sequels..."


Most of these aren't cited; about half are mine and the rest are either unnamed classmates or were anonymously cited by unnamed classmates. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Story

The vast majority of Scripture is comprised of stories. In our imitation of God, we should learn to tell stories. Jokes are a good place to start.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Evangellyfish

Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho has written a novel called Evangellyfish. So far, he has posted the first two chapters (click on my title), and they are brutally well worth reading.

Enjoy.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Spurgeon: preach with fire

"A lukewarm sermon sickens every healthy mind . . . Fire has never yet learned moderation . . . A live coal from off the altar is our need . . . Everything gives way before fire . . . Like the priests at the altar, we can do nothing without fire . . . Let it be carefully remembered that our flame must be kindled from on high. Nothing is more to be despised than a mere painted fire, the simulation of earnestness. Sooner let us have an honest death than a counterfeit life" (Charles Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry, pp. 173-177).

Monday, June 2, 2008

Commonplaces

And I want you to know the truth: that you are far worse than you think, and God is far better than you think, and the distance between you and God is far greater than you think.

--Mark Driscoll, God Dies



Puritanism: the haunting fear that somehow, somewhere, someone is happy.

--H. L. Menken (who greatly hated God and honored J. Gresham Machen, the last of the old-school Puritans)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hell

Yet more random mutterings and protestations on the ever controversial topic of hell.

The first point to be made is quite simple: hell is not an elaborately designed torture chamber planned by a malicious genius who is always looking for more victims. It is a place infinitely removed from the Grace of God, to which He consigns those who spend their entire lives spurning Him. This is just even as far as our limited minds can conceive: if men spend their entire lives rebelling against their rightful Sovereign, does it not inevitably follow that they will at some point be cast out of His Kingdom and the protection that it entails?

My second point is even simpler: hell is eternal, and those that are sent there are punished eternally. To those who say that they are punished only until the measure of their sins is expiated (annihilationism), I completely agree. The only problem is that for all of eternity, they are still sinning against God, still raging that their punishment is unjust, still cursing the mercy that they spurned for all of their lives, and, thusly, their sins are never expiated. All mercy and restraint is removed from them, and they continue, unleashed as it were, eternally in their previous rebellion and eternally in their current punishment.

My final point is the simplest of all: hell is desired by those who go there. The world follows a design, and that design is not complicated: God Is, and He Is Good. All that exists exists in Him, supported either in submission or in rebellion, and all that exists was created by Him for His Purposes, and will give an account for every word and deed, by which reckoning we are all righteously damned, and to His Glory. Yet, He took that damnation upon Himself, again for His Glory. Those who fall upon this mercy are saved, and those who still hate God are given (to) what they desire: an eternity apart from Him. What was not counted upon ties into the first point: when He removes His Holy Presence, the blessings that accompany Him are removed as well.

"I finally have everything my heart desires, and with finality find myself in hell."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prince Caspian: Movie Review

I can think of no person alive on this earth who has heard me cuss. Prince Caspian was absolute shit.

I raged, I fumed, I cried, I begged, and all to no avail.

There was no reason to make High King Peter the Magnificent into a sniveling little angst filled twit; there was no reason to make Queen Susan into Xena, Warrior Princess; there was no reason to remove God from the story until the very end (nice little deists, aren't we?); there was no reason to make Caspian twenty instead of twelve; there was no reason to attack Miraz' castle; there was no reason to skip the school and town scenes; there was absolutely no reason to make Susan and Caspian fall in love--that made me feel ill; give Glory to God, there was no reason to make this abomination of a movie.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book Review: The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell, surprised me. Firstly, I was surprised that I read it--NY Times bestseller with the subtitle "How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" just doesn't sound like me. I hate people, and if enough of them like something, I generally won't. But, I put aside my arrogant elitism (just kidding--I don't know how) and read it. Secondly, I was surprised that I loved it. It was a very good book, and worthy of however many hours you put into it.

Gladwell traces social movements that, at some point, take off, "tip," and explode. He then tries to pin down what (and who) makes them do so. It is quite fascinating--The mavens, connectors and salesmen, the law of the few, how Blues' Clues surpassed Sesame Street, how people behave when some of them are made prison guards and the others prisoners (near torture and a riot within one week), and many, many more things from smoking to why a suited white male pulls a gun and shoots four black gangster-like teens on a subway. It really is fascinating, and will be a very valuable reference book for years to come.

There was, however, one problem of considerable importance (at least to someone like me), and that was his view on the importance of parenting.

Now, someone like Gladwell is hard to refute, as he simply states facts that he (and others) have assimilated, and though being unbiased is impossible, he is what we would consider unbiased. The problem I found was not in what he said, but what he failed to say. Here is the situation.

Gladwell says:

"...our environment plays as big--if not bigger--a role as heredity in shaping personality and intelligence..." and, "whatever that environmental influence is, it doesn't have a lot to do with parents." This opinion is based off of several tests that seem quite incontrovertible, and indeed, upon closer review, are quite correct. He elaborates by stating "the environmental influence that helps children become who they are--that shapes their character and personality--is their peer group." So, he holds that the peer group itself supercedes parents in the influence wielded upon the members of the group. This is, astonishingly, entirely correct. We find it (if vaguely) in the Scripture: "a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife:" the "peer group" is what man is designed for, and it affects him tremendously, even more than his parents.

But this in no way takes away from the affect that the parents have--they are the screening process that his peers have to pass, and this is the fundamental point that Gladwell misses. And why does he miss it? Because all to often, it is invisible. All in all, his assessment of the importance of peers is quite correct, and should serve as a rather striking warning to us: no matter what you say and do to your kids, who you let them spend their time with away from you will define them more than you ever will. Ouch.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Last and Greatest (or at least most awkward) Declamation

Oh Sweet Smell

The first week of NSA was awkward. There was a barrier within our class, and this barrier was the sexes. No one knew how to act or what to say.

The first time I met Sean, it smelled right. In my nose every nostril hair was swaying back and forth singing the Hallelujah Chorus. If Capon wrote a book on smells, Sean would be Capon’s onion, only it would take more than ten pages to unpeel all the mysteries of Sean’s smelliness. Sean smells so good, and I told him this. “Sean, you smell soooooo good.”

I do not think that this was necessarily the greatest thing to tell a guy, especially one that you just met, but I don’t regret it. Anyone so odiferous deserves a prize: a plastic cookie, a statue of a naked Greek god, coupons…anything.

Needles to say this made Sean extremely uncomfortable, which was only a small part of the joy it gave me. He stepped back, and in his eyes I could see a picture of the Antichrist. He shifted his little mouse eyes, and anxiously moved his little mouse hands in distress. Trying to help him understand, I said: “Sean, really, you are the best smelling person I know. You smell like home.” This just made things worse…

Now when I see Sean it is like the story of Abelard and Eloise. Anytime I came within a three-foot radius I say, “Abelard, I don’t want to use Herbal Essence anymore, I just want to smell like you.” And Abelard says back, “Eloise, Eloise, Eloise, live for God.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Touch of Humor (or Humour for the Brits)

1). What do you call an attractive man walking down the street with a blonde?

A hostage.



2). The Top 10 Reasons why it's better to be an NSA student than a Jedi:

10. Gas money to Spokane is cheaper than passage on the Millennium Falcon.

9. You don't need midi-chlorians to appreciate truth, beauty, and goodness.

8. Jedi probably have to study *modern* languages.

7. None of the NSA faculty are 900 years old, short and green with pointy ears.

6. Some of the Padawan learners might have gone to public school.

5. NSA students have cooler robes.

4. Dr. Stokes.

3. In Latin, you can put a sentence in any order you want!

2. Doug Wilson is more powerful than the Jedi Council AND Emperor Palpatine.

And the #1 reason why it's better to be an NSA student than a Jedi:

1. Jedi are prohibited from forming attachments. NSA students, on the other hand...




3). Painful Yiddish Joke

Back in the days of the Wild West, a westbound wagon train was lost and running out of food. No other humans had been seen for days. Then, finally, the pioneers saw an old Rabbi sitting beneath a tree and reading the Torah.

“Is there some place ahead where we can get food?” they asked him.

“Vell, I tink so,” the old man said, “but I vouldn’t go up dat hill over dere und down de udder side. Somevun tole me you’d run into a big bacon tree.”

“A bacon tree?” asked the wagon train leader.

“Yah, an bacon tree. Vould I lie? Trust me. I vouldn’t go dere.”

The leader goes back and tells his people what the Rabbi said. “So why did he say not to go there?” a person asked. Other pioneers said, “Oh, you know those Jewish people - they don’t eat bacon.”

So the wagon train goes up the hill and down the other side. Suddenly, Indians attack them from everywhere and massacre all except the leader, who manages to escape and drag himself back to the old Rabbi.

Near dead, the man groans, “You fool! You sent us to our deaths! We followed your route but there was no bacon tree, just hundreds of Indians who killed everyone but me!”

The old Jewish man holds up his hand and says, “Oy, vait a minute.” He quickly picks up a Yiddish-English dictionary and begins thumbing through it. “Oy Gevalt, I made myself such ah big mishtake! It vuzn’t a bacon tree... it vuz a ham-bush!”

Westminster Rhetoric Paper

In the Spirit of the Day

A Proposed Retranslation of Genesis 3:8

Jesse Broussard, Westminster Term Rhetoric, 2003 words.





Exordium: Spirit, wind and breath. In three different languages, each of these shares a single word. In Latin,anima, in Greek, pnuemos, and in Hebrew, ruah. Usually, this presents no problems; we are not often speaking Latin, Greek or Hebrew, and context will generally eliminate one or more options. But, when we come to Scripture, all of our authoritative texts are in Hebrew, Greek or Latin; the context is often less than helpful, and that is when having three possible meanings for the same word in every original copy of every authoritative text becomes a problem.

Narratio: Generally, those of us who are Orthodox Christians don’t like to mess around too much with Scripture, and that’s a good thing. There are always exceptions, such as wild exegesis—“St. John saw many strange monsters, but none so strange as one of his own commentators”—but even wild exegesis is exegetical (or isogetical, my point is that there is a longsuffering text to bleed beneath our benevolently bumbling scalpels). But what do we do when the text itself is under dispute? Should we preach off of that little section at the end of Mark? Should we try to go over it in our familial devotions? And what do we do when respected theologians are disputing different interpretations—how do we know which one to go with?

Meredith Kline’sImages of the Spirit proposes a retranslation of Genesis 3:8: “they heard the sound of Yahweh God traversing the garden as the Spirit of the day,” particularly retranslating “l’rwh hyywm” as “Spirit of the day” instead of the traditional “wind of the day,” which we changed (for the sake of clarity) to “cool of the day.” Kline states that judgment is inherent and essential to the narrative, and that the “day” (ywm) is the “day of the Lord,” the day of judgment.

Everett Fox translates this verse in his Shocken Bible in the more traditional mean: “Now they heard the sound of YHWH, God, (who was) walking about in the garden at the breezy-time of the day. And the human and his wife hid themselves from the face of YHWH, God, amid the trees of the garden.” In his footnote he clarifies: "breezy-time: Evening."

Partitio: These two translations are obviously different approaches to the text, and they offer different perspectives from which we would view the judgment of the fall of mankind. The traditional translation (Fox’s), however, does not seem to adequately capture the importance of the narrative—the comment that “it was evening” seems entirely superfluous, where reading the text in light of judgment seems to clothe the overall narrative with a far more suitable and consistent theme. Propositio: While we traditionally translate the Hebrew phrase "l'rwh hyywm” as "cool of the day," we should probably translate it as "spirit of the day."

Confirmatio: One of the reasons to translate this phrase as “spirit of the day” is that while evening is mentioned numerous times in the Old Testament, the particular phrase l’rwh hyywm is never used to indicate “evening”—in fact, through all of Scripture, that phrase is found onlyhere, in Genesis 3:8. It would seem that such an unusual phrase would bespeaka similarly unusual occurrence (such as the fall of mankind), not merely evening (which is most often denoted “le’et’ereb” ). As ruah means spirit, wind, or breath, these are our options for its translation. Since “wind of the day” leads to a very odd way of saying “evening,” and “breath of the day” makes no contextual sense whatsoever, we are left with the phrase “spirit of the day.” But what does that mean? The spirit of what day?

In his Images of the Spirit, Meredith Kline comments that the “spirit of the day” would almost undoubtedly be the spirit of the day of the Lord—the Day of Judgment. Defending this, Kline shows that the “day of the Lord” is always a day of judgment, and that judgment is the entire effect of God’s visit to man in this narrative.

To support this theory, he studied the common factors in all of the more explicit theophanies of Scripture, and narrowed them down to a foundational three: light or day, dark or obscuring, and “qol,” sound. Since all elements of the day of the Lord are present, Kline states that this Parousia “corresponds fully…to the awesome approach of the Glory met with elsewhere in Scripture, the approach with which a thunderous voice of Yahweh is regularly associated.” The qol is a great and thundering noise, and is what Adam and Eve hear traversing the garden toward them in l’rwh hyywm (spirit of the day), and it is this that causes them to hide (obscure) themselves. It is not the sound of “footsteps,” or of twigs cracking, but the sound of a great thunder, of a crushing waterfall, of earthquakes and armies and trumpets—it is the sound of approaching judgment. This day is a day of the Lord—He comes in power to judge his faithless people and those who have led them astray, and then to promise a future deliverance from these curses. He truly was coming in the Spirit of the Day—in judgment.

Because this is such a momentous event, one that bestows upon us the first Messianic prophecy, the protoevangelium, because this isthe reason for our sehnsucht, because this is the origin of all that is evil in the world, we expect the prose of the narrative to reflect that gravity and severity of judgment. But, should “ruah” mean wind, we do not find even a hint of it—the segue from Adam to God gracefully leaps from the high dive, only to encounter a dry pool floor in verse nine, where God is catching on to what has just happened, like a dad opening his daughter’s bedroom door and finding her boyfriend, “dressed” only in the loosest sense of the word. However, ifruah means “spirit,” then judgment pervades the narrative, covers it as the sky covers earth, or as skin covers muscle and bone. This seems to be the primary and crucial difference between the two viable interpretations of ruah: judgment is incidental to the “evening,” and central to the “spirit.” And which of these would we expect?

But the most definitive point, the point that converted me, is quite simple. According to the traditional translation, why is the phrase even there? What is the significance of mentioning that God was walking in the evening? It is definitely an evocative description, so if it were a peaceful scene in poetry, it would make perfect sense. But in this? In this horror and empty, desolate bereavement, this stark prose recitation of the pathetically futile, damning and abortive rebellion of mankind against severe sovereign holiness and beauty, this origin of all that is painful, evil and ugly? The sun was darkened, moon bloodied, earth undone; the stars were hurled from heaven, a seraph cursed; forgive me, butGod damned Himself: an idyllic stroll seems a touch out of place.

Refutatio:The only argument that I have yet heard that makes any sense of the jarring insertion of “evening” appeals to the poetry of the situation: a heaven on earth, where God walks in His garden with the human caretaker each eve, and then this utopia becomes literal utopia: not here, as it is laid waste by man’s sin.

But the problem with this exegesis is the same as before—why the obscure wording? Were the Author wanting us to read “evening,” why did He not simply write it? He does not hesitate to do so elsewhere. Why use a phrase so unusual that we find it nowhere else in Scripture? If it is to flag the one and only time that mankind’s innocence is utterly destroyed and the death of God Himself is, in that moment, necessitated, then I understand the use of such a singularly rare phrase. If it is to show the time of day, it’s absurd.

The single greatest argument against re-translating this passage is the weight of all of Church history. Who indeed are we to correct the mistakes of so many (and such great) men? And yes, this is a huge step—if we are retranslating a Scripture because it makes more sense to us, what is to prevent us from editing it to please ourselves? Already liberals are headed down this track with the TNIV, Episcopals can no longer play chess (is it a bishop or a queen?) and our names for God, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” are being judged by many as inferior to “Rock, Redeemer and Friend” (which will hopefully stop before it becomes “Rock, paper and scissors”). We have resisted this abominable trend to retranslate the Words of God as we see fit, and rightly so.

But for us to struggle with the translation of a verse is not anything new—the Church has defined the bounds of Orthodoxy over less: “For there are three that bear witness in heaven…and these three are one (1 John 5:7).” According to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, these three are one in their will, one in their actions. According to Christians, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretics, because they deny the divinity of Christ, and their translation of this verse is one of the ways in which they do so. Here, the translation of the word “one” in a highly disputed passage of Scripture divides orthodox from heterodox, possibly heaven from hell.

Nor does stating something about Scripture place us above it in any way—we are testifying to something in it, not changing it at all. John the Baptist declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God, but his declaration did not make Jesus the Lamb of God any more than my statement “it’s a hamburger” changes anything about the nature of my hamburger. Indeed, the only problem comes in when I say, “It’s a hamburger,” and it is in fact, not a hamburger. To use an absurd analogy, if I claim that it’s a hamburger when it is actually an aardvark, this will cause awkwardness for those that believe me (as well as the aardvark). If we claim that this Scripture says something that it does not say, then we are guilty of leading people astray as well as corrupting the text, which is why we should take great caution when translating Scripture. If we translate “ruah” as wind, and then have to make it “cool,” all so that it can use the most obscure way possible of saying something that is an irrelevant side note to an otherwise continuous and tremendous narrative, all while there is a perfectly cogent, meaningful, and contextual translation that could be made with no violence to the text whatsoever, then we are guilty of handling the text with great frivolity, if not plain stupidity. The sooner we correct that, the better.

Peroratio: “L’rwh hyywm” should be rendered Spirit of the day, and we should keep this in mind as this new typology further links this day in Genesis 3:8 with all other days of the Lord, including—especially including—the judgment of Christ as the second Adam. For that is the day when God darkened the sun, crushed the head of the serpent, lifted the curse from the ground, and welcomed man into His new garden-cemetery (from which man in Christ will never be expelled) to walk with the dead man, who is the living God, in the new spirit of the new day, which shall never end.


And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time…
And all shall be well, and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.















Bibliography:


Kline, Meredith, Images of the Spirit (Eugene, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1999), 106.

Fox, Everett:Vol. I of The Schocken Bible: The Five Books of Moses (New York: Schocken Books, 1995), 22.

Free Republic, Culture and Society, “Presbyterians Consider Renaming the Trinity (“Mother, Child, Womb,” “Rock, Redeemer, Friend”), http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1652271/posts, (Accessed April 18, 2008).

Peter Leithart, Leithart.com, New Testament, 1 John, http://www.leithart.com/2007/01/29/sermon-notes-fifth-sunday-after-epiphany/#more-2735, (Accessed May 1, 2008).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

More Declamations

There is one more coming, and it is the best of them all. But, as it has not yet been sent to me, I cannot yet give it to you.
Enjoy.

Sean Johnson
-----------------------------------------
HIGH NOON FOR THE HIGH-BROW EYEBROW

There is a great and terrible power that dwells on Mr. Appel’s forehead. His left eyebrow, though small and hairy, proved a fearsome foe. Originally I knew it only as a friend. Like Balaam’s ass, it would turn freshman fools from the anger of the Lord—quivering suspiciously whenever our answers were leading us out onto the skinny branches of believability, as if to say “why don’t you stop while you’re ahead?” or “actually, that’s a heresy.” But I remember the day I finally provoked that awful eyebrow to wrath.
For several weeks I had passed Lordship lectures submissively, quickly lowering my eyes when, in the course of his pacing, Mr. Appel’s domineering gaze would meet mine. However, familiarity breeds stupidity, as they say, and I soon found the courage to hold my head up. The next time our eyes met, mine stayed put, and his widened in interest; what was this, a challenger? Then we battled. Across rows of tables and unknowing students we battled, grappled silently, unmoving, unflinching.
By some strange trickery my eyes were instantly parched and itching; I could feel them shriveling like little grapes in their sockets, but I was already committed to this fight and not about to blink. Sensing my resistance, his gaze narrowed—the way a cottonmouth coils and condenses before it strikes. Then, whip-crack! went the eyebrow as it leapt to the middle of his forehead, delivering the fortieth lash to the fleshy backside of my soul. My spirit utterly undone, I cowered in defeat, and the wrath of the eyebrow was satisfied.


Laura Wilson
Rhetoric/Westminster
Word Count: 254
April 22, 2008


Well Done, Sister Suffragettes!
Or
Against the Offensive Notion that Men Own Everything Simply By Existing

It was war: full-out, cross-that-line complete annihilation on the church lawn. The boys started it by transgressing the ancient boundaries. Their sticky-fingered adolescent selves insisted on taking over the giant fir tree that was, coincidentally, the girls’ fort. We, being the superior of the species had snagged that prime real estate long before their sordid clan had learned intelligent speech. Our tree had a lore all its own, its blood-red trunk boasting tales of murderous carpenter ants infesting its cavernous interior. The boys were relegated to the only remaining land of any strategic value: a giant divot in the lawn, a stone’s throw from our tree. Their pitiful little hollow that was woefully unprotected. Our tree, by contrast, was a bastion of female security. It was far superior and their primitive eyes burned with desire and cast scheming glances at our branched fortress. One Sunday afternoon, as we skipped in daisy dresses across the lawn, we were met quite unexpectedly by the sight of their smug, smeared male faces peeking out from behind the maternal boughs of our fort. Well, we had squatters’ rights on that tree and no amount of masculine invasion was going to change that. Nose to nose with the snot-faced Neanderthals, we demanded our rights, but brandishing their rudimentary weapons, they only threatened us with grunts and sticks of fury. Our shrill voices raked the silence on that breezy afternoon in the daisy field between the divot and the tree and there was a line drawn and it meant war.


Andrew Givler
Rhetoric/Westminster Term
Word Count: 261

Dreams are Truer than You Think

Behold, in my dream the red brick walls of New Saint Andrew’s College, my new institution of learning, towered before me. Its walls seemed to be as thick and tall as the mightiest of fortresses. The ominous sky behind it bubbled like lead, full of malice and hatred. It seemed as if the entire principalities and powers assembled against NSA prepared to vent their rage.
Suddenly I looked, and behold! I saw Dr. Atwood standing atop the school, and over his head he held the giant leather-bound book with the name of all the students there were and who were to come. And he spoke with a voice like thunder; “Come!” and Behold a teacher with a white tie sprang forth from the fortresses’ walls. In his left hand he held a Latin textbook and in the other a projector’s remote, and he said, “Latinam aut mortem!”
Again Dr. Atwood’s voice shook the foundations, “Come!” and behold a second teacher sprang forth with a tie the color of crimson. The wearer was permitted to take happiness from the Liberal Arts students by making them take all of the quadrivium.
Again “Come!” summoned a teacher; this one wore a tie of blackest night, with a pen of deepest red in his hands. “Augustine, Calvin, and tales of food and wine right before lunch are in what I delight!” was his cry.
For a final time Dr. Atwood cried “Come!” And Behold! A teacher with a tie the color of a corpse, and to him was given authority to crush freshmen’s spirits and ridicule them; and his name was Nate Wilson.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rhetoric: Westminster Final Written Exam

Well, this week felt like I volunteered as a crash test dummy for the new Geo-Metro. I found out at ten-thirty last night (don't ask me how I missed it before) that the Rhetoric written final was today. So, I went to bed about one, got up at five, went to the Atwood's prayer breakfast, came home and studied for nine hours.

Usually I like to study over at least a two day period, otherwise I have to wear earplugs to keep everything from dribbling out, but oh well. Somehow, I believe that I did very well, all glory to God and my roommate.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Angels In the Architecture

On Beauty:

"Instinctively we do know that true beauty proceeds only from Deity. Our problem is that we have deified ourselves and have assumed, contrary to the visible results, that whatever proceeds from us must be beautiful."

"Sound theology always leads to the love of beauty. When there is no love of beauty, we may say, reasoning modus tollens, that there is no sound theology."


This book is worth reading the way that eyes are worth opening.

My Declamation; Written By Dunnett

Jesse Broussard
Westminster Term Rhetoric
250 Words

Excerpt From Dorothy Dunnett’s Queens Play: Wolfhound (Luadhas) Verses Cheetah

She was a noble bitch, high in heart and honest after her calling. She could overthrow a wolf, but the alien, wicked beauty slipping through the grasses ahead was of an element she had never known. She raced uphill, tail streaming, rough hair blown and parted with her speed, loping high on her long legs; and fast as the gap was closing between cheetah and hare, the gap between dog and cat began to close faster still…

There was never a doubt as to its end…the dog had no chance. Hound and cheetah rolled over and over, compacted silk hair and rough, mean, triangular head and long-nosed Byzantine; then Luadhas, lips bared, would seek a grip on the spotted spine and the sinuous snakelike fur would unroll and untwine; the heavy soft paw would flash, and on the skull of the dog the brindled hair sank, wet and dark, as the deep lifeblood welled.

She was a brave dog. As she bled she bit, her strong teeth sunk again and again in the dirty yellow-white plush. She shook her head and the cat, blood-spotted and scarred, wrenched free and staggered a pace: a dancer tripped, inelegant and baleful. There was a pause. Then, his haunches tightened, the cheetah called on the great muscles of thigh and hock and with all his power sprang quiet, curved and deadly into the sunlit air. The soft body fell and its great paws, needle-sharp and fatal, sank into the great cords and vessels of Luadhas’s neck and spine. The bitch screamed, rolling over; and on the squeaking, flattened grass her great body opened and shut, the soft fur like a woman’s twined about it, the cat’s claws deep in her back.

Wodehousian Fun