Saturday, April 5, 2008

Capon Paragraph

Man's real work is to look at the things of the world and to love them for what they are...If an hour can be spent on one onion, think how much regarding it took on the part of that old Russian who looked at onions and church spires long enough to come up with St. Basil's Cathedral.  Or how much curious and loving attention was expended by the first man who looked hard enough at the insides of trees, the entrails of cats, the hind ends of horses and the juice of pine trees to realize he could turn them all into the first fiddle.  No doubt his wife urged him to get up and do something useful.  I am sure that he was a stalwart enough lover of things to pay no attention at all to her nagging; but how wonderful it would have been if he had known what we know now about his dawdling.  He could have silenced her with the greatest riposte of all time:  Don't bother me; I am creating the possibility of the Bach unaccompanied sonatas.

That was Capon in a magnificent section on loving things for what they are, not what we would have them mean to us.

And yet we kill the bird to dissect it--do we not know it better on the branch than under the knife?

"Even in your world, little one, that is not what a star is, but only what it is made of."

The Chesterton of the Keith Gilbert

I have seen a man by shouting
Seek to orphan all the stars.

--from Fish


The Sproul stayeth.

Against Christianity: review

Peter Leithart has written more books than I have read (if you count all series that I have read as one book, this is coming dangerously close to being true), and they vary in terms of prose and quality.  Most of them are somewhere around average on the former count while being well above on the latter.  Against Christianity is different: the prose is very good, and the content shattering.  It is a delight to read, and yet I feel almost sacrilegious turning each page, as I know that I could spend a lifetime attempting to apply the one I just read, and that I will forget what it was about when I'm flattened by the next one.  

Against Christianity is amazing.  The book is a collection of short essays, parables, and even simple phrases marshaled into a massive assault of "Christianity," which Leithart describes as "biblical religion disemboweled and emasculated by (voluntary) intellectualization and/or privatization," and "worldliness that has become so much our second nature that we call it piety."  The primary objection that Leithart appears to have with what we call Christianity is the lack of effect that it has on the world around us.  In one of his parables, a religious consultant is approached by John, Peter and Paul, who desire to "start a new religion," and it ends with the consultant saying the following:  

Gentlemen, I'm very sorry.  I can't help you.  You have completely misunderstood what we're doing here.  I don't think you're starting another religion; you're doing something else entirely.  I am a religious consultant, not a political revolutionary...

Yet Leithart would not define Christianity as a political ideology; that is actually one of the opinions that this book was written to critique.  The mentality that views Christianity as a fundamentally political thing still makes the lethal and heretical mistake of calling the New Creation a subset or facet of the old.  Christianity is a New World competing in the land of the old world, it is, oddly enough, more like a virus or parasite than anything else; it's job is to methodically transform the host into itself, until it is all that is remains.  

Christ will gladly take His place in the temple of Dagon--it is, after all, His--but Dagon will not like it.  No god may remain in the presence of Christianity, as it defines not just how we worship, but how we eat, how we tie our shoes, and how we view all other things.  All that exists is a subset of Christianity, not the other way around.

And this book makes that explicitly clear.  It revives the all too often dying antithesis, spurns cowardly compromises, and embodies the words of God to Isaiah:

Do not call for a treaty every time that these people call for a treaty; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it.  The LORD All Mighty is the one you are to fear, He you shall dread, and He you shall call Holy...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Creations, First and Second

Understand: I am not a prophet nor the son of a prophet; closest my dad's come to "being in the Spirit" is when he used to get so full of spirits that he'd black out, and the closest I've come to prophesying is when I correctly called a coin toss ten tosses in advance.  Useful for gambling income, but not quite Elijah material.  So nothing that I say is inspired or even necessarily correct--I believe that it is, or I wouldn't say it, but I also believe that HIV and AIDS are two entirely different things, and that William Shakespeare wasn't the author of all those plays and poems, so keep one eye on me and one on the text.

The three persons of God were involved in the creation of the world: the Father planned and spoke it, the Son did it (as the Word, see John 1), and the Spirit was the Agent, the one actually guiding the bees and holding the electrons and planets in orbit.  Adam was placed in the garden and charged with dominion of it, then Eden, then the surrounding lands, then all the earth.  To help him in this task, he was put into a coma, his side was opened, and from his side a helpmeet was built.  The two of them were to grow and fill the earth, transforming all of it into a garden, Adam ruling as he submitted to Christ.

The three persons of God were involved--past tense--in the re-creation of the world: the Father planned and commanded it, the Son did it (incarnation), and the Spirit is the Agent, still guiding bees, but now, not only bees, but also the Church.  The second Adam (Christ) was placed in the garden (where He prayed and was raised) and charged with dominion--first to Jerusalem, then Judea, then Samaria and the surrounding regions, then the nations.  To help Him in this task, He was put to death, his side was opened, and from his side a helpmeet was built--the blood of the Eucharist and the water of Baptism.  He bestowed this task of dominion upon us in the Great Commission, and in Pentecost, He gave us the Agent by which it is to be done.  We are now to grow and fill the earth, transforming all of it into the garden city of the New Jerusalem, while Christ is seated and rules, submitting at the right hand of His Father, Who, through us and the Spirit in us, puts all of Christ's enemies underneath His feet.  The last enemy to be conquered is death, which will be done when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead, but all other enemies will be under His feet by that time.

We are in the new heavens and the new earth: we are the new Eve.  Let us therefore make Eden.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Logic, Nature, and the illogical Nature of God.

Reason is a useful tool, but we in Reformed circles tend to idealize or even idolize it (this coming from one who aced his Logic term while forgetting what Alexander the Great did).  Reason is not our saviour, and the reality is that we cannot, however we may try, even use reason to demonstrate the existence of God.  Moreover, it does not appear to be something that we should attempt to do--if God wanted it to be done, He would have made it possible.

Allow me to quickly (logically) prove what I just asserted.  If you agree already, feel free to skip this next paragraph.  

In logic, it is a fallacy (circular reasoning) to assume what you are attempting to prove, and to use it in the argument.  For example: Scripture is infallible, because Scripture says that it is.  Likewise, we cannot logically prove the validity of logic.  We cannot give reasons for believing in reason, and if we illogically prove logic, then we have just falsified it.

Why is this?  Why did God make the world in such a fashion that every belief must rest firmly on air?  If we are questioned enough as to why we believe anything, we will end up in a corner where we can only say "Cause I want to."  Every belief rests upon a foundation of assumptions: The Triune God of Scripture lives (Why?  Cause He says so).  The world reflects His Nature (Why?  Cause He says so).  He is a logical God (Why?  Shut up and quit whining), therefore, logic is valid (to an extent--apply it to the Trinity or dual Nature of Christ, or even the death of immortality, and everything goes boom--you have a zero in the denominator, and "i" doesn't exist).

Well, if it is this way, and it is, it must be because God wants it to be this way.  But why?

Because He hates formulaic, stainless steel, small minded people who stare studiously at the ground as they trod on towards sanctification.  Look at His response to Job: He made bugs.  Where is the logic in a centipede that hangs upside-down on cave roofs and eats bats?  How is that rational?  There are butterflies that, as grubs, emit a chemical making them smell identical to ant larvae.  They are then collected and raised by the ants.  However, there is a wasp that has the ability to tell the difference between ant and caterpillar larvae (though the ants can't), and lays its eggs inside the caterpillar larvae by invading the anthill and releasing a pheromone that causes the ants to attack each other, instead of the wasp.  The wasp's young are then studiously raised by their mortal enemy, the ants, until they hatch, and the entire process repeats.  

How, in any contortion of the mind, is this formulaic?  How is this neat and clean?  This makes no sense at all.  Look at the duck-billed platypus, at narwhals, and learn the nature of our God--it is logically absurd.  Where is the efficiency, the cleanliness?  How many cockroach young are laid, and how many survive (thank God that the ratio is that low; why does the cockroach even exist?)?  We serve a God, Who--without being disrespectful at all--wears white socks and Dockers with His tux.  He makes no sense to our little reformed logical minds, which we all too often forget.  We somehow manage to--God forgive us--grow bored with His predictability, as He is meticulously planting flowers (of an astonishing complexity and a staggering beauty), and then happily making bugs eat them before they bloom.  Then something else eats the bugs.  And He does this on purpose.  He creates one of the most brilliant composers the world has ever seen, and makes him go deaf.  He creates one of the most patently evil, demonic dictators that the world has ever seen, then, laughing like an irreverent schoolboy, pencils in that mustache that simply cannot be taken seriously.

So forget logic.  Go lie on your lawn and watch bugs.  Let a cow suck on your fingers, and explore the nature of this world.  Logic does have some small part in our lives, but it is not the part that we give it.  Let us delight in the absurdity of God--let us appreciate Him for Who He Is, not who we would have Him be.  "He is not, after all, a tame lion."

Matthew 20

Matthew 20 tells the story of a landowner hiring workers for his vineyard.  He hires them in five different groups, and none but the first group had an agreed upon wage.  Each of the different groups end up being paid the same amount, despite the fact that they all worked different amounts of time.

This appears to be a picture of the Jews and Gentiles, as the Jews had the initial covenant (the Abrahamic), which is then inherited by the late-coming Gentiles.  Also, the vineyard is a common picture of the people of God (faithful or not).

Wodehousian Fun