Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blog and Mablog (yet again)

Senator Edward Kennedy
Topic: Exhortation

As you all know, this last week, Senator Edward Kennedy passed from this life. This drew national attention, and in the media virtually everyone—right, left and middle—paid their respects. Some considered him as the exemplar of what is needed, while others praised him personally while reserving to themselves the right to differ with him "on policy matters." And at his funeral, praises were sung to the triune God of Scripture.

When it comes to speaking beside an open grave, or speaking about those who have departed this life, the pressure to be disingenuous is enormous. To speak honestly on the occasion of someone’s death is taken as the ultimate sign of churlishness. But honesty in these matters is not churlish, if you have an true and hearty desire for all men to find mercy in Jesus Christ. At the same time, grace is what it is, and cannot be redefined by sinful man into anything else. The grace of God in Christ saves us from our sins.

Death does not erase all sin—the only death that does that is the death of Jesus. The fact that we all die is a sign that we are of a race that deserves to die, and this death of the body (even for believers) is because of sin. If we want mercy at the time of death, something needs to have been done about the death we carry around in our hearts.

The life of Senator Kennedy, lived very much in public view, was a life that was badly lived. He was responsible for much public evil, including his responsibility for the continuing carnage of abortion in our land. In the judgment, Edward Kennedy, no longer a senator, will stand before God. When the sky has fled, and the oceans have receded, how can any man stand apart from Christ? How will he?

We are permitted to hope that Sen. Kennedy repented before God at the eleventh hour. We may wish his family well, as we do. But the Scriptures teach us to live our lives with the last day in view, and to do so out loud. The final judgment will not be conducted in private. Paul prayed that Onesiphorus would find mercy in the last day (2 Tim. 1:18). He desired that God would requite Alexander the coppersmith according to his works (2 Tim. 4:14). Leaving everything in the hands of God, where it belongs, we still recognize that public enormities will be met with perfect justice.

The thief on the cross repented at the very last, but as a wise Puritan put it, God gave us one last minute conversion in Scripture so that no one would despair, but only one so that no one would presume.

Posted by Douglas Wilson - 8/29/2009 5:11:43 PM

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I finally caved. My humerus once again threatened to abandon its arranged marriage to my pristine scapula, largely due to the interference of the rather grizzled clavicle. This would leave my glenoid fossa desolately bereaved, along with causing considerable pain which would not, Miss Martens, be limited to my heart-like-thingy. The infatuation my humerus formed with my rib (they were much thrown together during rugby) is rather disconcerting.

So, I decided to start (very slowly) working on capoeira.

And by working on, I of course mean "looking at pictures and movies of (click on my title)". Actually, I'm starting a capoeira based workout (as in exercise) program. It includes a ridiculous amount of squats, jenga, handstand push-ups, bridge walk-arounds, and a bunch of other stuff. For the first couple weeks I'm just working on squats and handstand push-ups. The suggested amount is 5 sets of each, for 250 and 50. At the moment, it's two sets of each for 50 and 5. At least I'm working in multiples, right?

The upside? I've had "Bana na wey, bana na wey, bana na" going through my head all day. The downside? That's all I remember, and I don't even know what it means.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Biblical Hebrew

One of the world's coolest web sites. Worth wasting hours upon, as I shall attempt to amply demonstrate.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Book, Two Books and Half a Book

In reverse order...

The Epic of Gilgamesh is quite worth the read. Some awkward moments (that are generally hilarious), but as a whole, it demonstrates how little human society has changed in the past three millennia. It is enjoyable, though some parts are aggravating, as there are many missing sections. I've already found about six allusions that I'd heard in other places and will assume Gilgamesh to be the origin of (take it, Lady Astor: "this is the sort of nonsense with which we shall not put up.").

Foucault's Pendulum is good, if you have a mind that likes lots of details. Lots of details. Lots and lots of names that are completely irrelevant to anything you'll ever encounter (save a doctoral thesis on Umberto Eco's education), and he's not nearly so character driven as is someone like Dunnett, so the classical allusions work as a pleasant distraction, rather than an insight. It's the difference between a bunny-trail to an Italian gent out for a stroll (Eco) and a bunny trail to a Gaelic rabbit-hunter (Dunnett). But it's good, at least so far.

Lemony Snicket's okay. It works for what it is, but isn't all that good even at that. I read all three of them in about two hours, and have to say that the movie improved upon the book in several essential ways, the chief of them being the just ending. Not worth much more of a review: prose was alright (not a single commonplace in any of them), so, ah well. That's why I like libraries.

The American Libraries' Ezra Pound is staggering. Worth just about any price. Pound is amazing: along with Eliot, he's probably the best of the modernist poets: according to Eliot, he is "il miglor fabrio," which may be true, but I'm not yet willing to grant, as I've read Murder in the Cathedral, Four Quartets and Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in the past month, and am still a novice to Pound. He, like Eliot, is chalk full of classical allusions, and, if possible, is at times even less accessible, though when he is intelligible, he is heartbreaking. I'll include a few samples below.

Grace Before Song

Lord God of heaven that with mercy dight
Th' alternate prayer wheel of the night and light
Eternal hath to thee, and in whose sight
Our days as rain drops in the sea surge fall,

As bright white drops upon a leaden sea
Grant so my songs to this grey folk may be:

As drops that dream and gleam and falling catch the sun,
Evan'scent mirrors every opal one
Of such his splendor as their compass is,
So, bold My Songs, seek ye such a death as this.

Thu Ides Til

O thou of Maydes all most wonder sweet
That art my comfort eke and my solace
Whan thee I find in any wolde or place
I doon thee reverence as is most meet
To cry thy prayse I nill nat be discreet
Thou hast swich debonairite and grace
Swich gentyl smile thy alderfayrest face
To run thy prayse I ne hold not my feet.
My Lady, tho I ne me hold thee fro
Nor streyve with thee by any game to play
But offer only thee myn own herte reede
I prey by love that thou wilt kindness do
And that thou keep my song by night and day
As shadow blood from myn own herte y-blede.

And a few lines, here and there:

Thou that art sweeter than all orchard's breath
And clearer than the sun gleam after rain...

If any flower mortescent lay in sun-withering dust
If any old forgotten sweetness of a former drink
Naught but stilt fragrance of autumnal flowers
Mnemonic of spring's bloom and parody of powers...

Let light flow about thee
As a cloak of air

,,,and drinks with me the soft wind and the keen.

Such peace as this would make death's self most sweet
Could I but know, Thou maiden of the sun,
That thus thy presence would go forth with me
Unto that shadow land where ages' feet
Have wandered, and where life's dreaming done
Love may dream on unto eternity.

We dwelt, amid the
Ancient boulders
Gods had hewn
And druids runed

And so on it goes. He truly is magnificent, and well worth the time that he will indubitably take.

So, to my faithful reader, I enclose my recipe for a pleasant Saturday evening:

1). Pipe of black cavendish or cherry cavendish with a touch of apple
2). Glass of some red alcoholic beverage (port would do quite nicely, bud-light with food coloring would not. Rum o.k.)
3). A type of soft cheese to be spread upon crackers (crackers permitted, if they behave quietly and with decorum)
4). A pen (twelve is the usual number, but fewer will be accepted)
5). Blank 3x5 notecard used as a bookmark
6). Ezra Pound's poetry
7). For the lucky number, a short, curly-haired honest thief (who knows riddles)

Apply moderately, and as desired.

Blessed Lord's Day to all.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Son to Me

I just finished Peter Leithart's A Son to Me, which is an exposition of 1st and 2nd Samuel (as one book). Very good, very informative, very enlightening. He catches all the things that I usually miss: the respective ages of David and Jonathan, the relationships between Ahithophel and Uriah, the motivations that drove Joab, the strengths of Saul, the decline of the Davidic kingdom tracing to the sin with Bathsheba, etc, etc, etc. He also finds chiasms galore. I would highly recommend this book, and, oddly enough, would recommend reading it the way I did: sandwiched between the Scriptures it refers to.


Notes on Notes

I'm going through N. D. Wilson's Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl for the third time in less than two weeks. The prose owes a lot (as he fully confesses) to Dillard with a nice bit of Wodehouse, as well as sprinkling other, subtler flavors into the mix that has become entirely his own, gratefully indebted to the world, style. The book is very like his Credenda articles (including a couple), just a lot longer, which I like, as my chief complaint against any of his books is that the prose wasn't as inherently delightful as in his articles, and my chief complaint with his articles was that they ended so soon. So I'm happy for a couple weeks, until I start craving Chestnut King again.

Those of you that know me know how I read books: with pen in hand and a 3x5 card for a bookmark, taking down commonplaces, themes, weird phrases and arguments as I go. This book is infuriating: I didn't let myself mark it the first time, and then didn't let myself mark it the second time, and am now thinking maybe I should have restrained myself until the fourth or fifth or fiftieth time. I started a commonplace on page eleven, and didn't realize till chapter three that it should have ended somewhere. It is the best new (past 50 years) book that I have read in a long, long time, and has already taken its place next to Orthodoxy on my shelf. Simply magnificent.

Were I to classify it? Oddly enough, I would call it a world-class poetic apologetic.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No, I'm not dead,

sorry to disappoint. I am in Spokane working for King Marketing selling Comcast door to door (or trying to).

A couple of commonplaces from Alias Shakespeare, a very convincing book positing Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford as the real Willem Shakespere:

"...that last infirmary of ignoble minds, respectability..."

"In the absence of verifiable data, speculation flourishes, biography (like nature) abhorring a vacuum."

and from Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek:

(On the profligacy of nature) "This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic-depressive with limitless capital."

"The whole creation is one lunatic fringe... No claims of any and all revelations could be so far-fetched as a single giraffe."

"We are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus."

"Van Gogh found nerve to call the world 'a study that didn't come off,' but I'm not so sure. Where do I get my standards that I fancy the fixed world of insects doesn't meet? I'm tired of reading; I pick up a book and learn that 'pieces of the leech's body can also swim.' Take a deep breath, Elijah: light your pile. Van Gogh is utterly dead; the world may be fixed, but it never was broken. And shadow itself may resolve into beauty."

some Hopkins:

"I caught this morning's minion, kingdom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon..."

"All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him."

"These things, these things were here, and but the beholder

"...not live this tormented mind
With this tormented mind tormenting yet."

"...Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep."

"I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day..."

then read Carrion Comfort, and to end Hopkins on a slightly less depressing note:

"We are leafwhelmed somewhere with the hood
Of some branchy bunchy bushybowered wood..."

Finally, Dunnett (as is appropriate for the reader of my blog),

"So where has he gone?" Gelis asked.
"There are several possible places," Nicholas said, "if my prayers have been listened to..."

"And by night, to lie at your side, so that I may give her my love, my dear love, ki mon cuer et mon cors a..."

Guds frida veri med ydr.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yet More Wilson

As I'm sure my faithful minions of reader (yes, singular) know, reading Wilson's blog generally accounts for over half of my posts. The rest are occupied with mocking those ridiculous humans who have the tremendous misfortune of being someone "other than me" (or worse yet, someone not "other than me"). Though I particularly delight in gullible evangelicals. After all, I am one.

Anyway, enjoy yet more Wilson.

The Jitney Gods of Washington
Topic: Obama Nation Building
As the Obama saga gets weirder and weirder, Christians shouldn't forget to interpret all the news in the fundamental terms of who we want to be our god, and who wants to be the embodiment of that god. Worship is always the key to everything. And it is not the "key to everything" because we keep repeating that mindlessly like a mantra. It is the key to everything because it explains why so many people, otherwise intelligent, are doing such foolish things.

One of the central reasons why it is so important to insist on the absolute sovereignty of the triune God of Scripture (and for those just joining us, that would be the true God) is because if we dial that sovereignty back (not in reality, but in our fevered dreams) something bad always happens to us. We (also in our fevered dreams) think to step into the void that our imaginations created, the vacant spot recently relinquished by the Maker of heaven and earth. Denial of the true God is the first step of two. It is not that we want no God; it is that we want to replace Him. So the first step is to deny Him. The second step is a necessary one (meaning that it cannot be avoided once the first is taken), and it involves volunteering to pick up the slack created by the divine absence.

Of course, there is not actually a divine absence but rather a divine laughter, as the Lord mocks them to scorn. They do not want Messiah's chains, and so they declare their intention to scatter those chains, as it says in the second psalm from the front (Ps. 2:3). And at the conclusion of the psalter, second from the back, what does God in His kindness give as an honor to all His saints? He enables us through the power of our praise, to bind unbelieving kings with chains (Ps. 149:8).

As it turns out, sovereignty over all things is an inescapable concept. It is not whether someone will foreordain all things, but rather who will foreordain all things. When we cease trusting the God who actually is God, our sinful hearts and minds create a job vacancy. When we deny the God who was God before Calvin or Augustine were born, we wind up with the jitney gods of washington d.c. That sovereignty is claimed, on the one hand, by the God who numbers the hairs on every head, and, on the other hand, the god who doesn't know that you can't refill the pool by taking buckets of water from one end and dumping them in the other.

So whenever you see an outrageous attempt at overreach on the part of our elected solons, ask yourself what divine attribute they are attempting to duplicate. They are doing crazy things, but not because they are unintelligent. Most of them got where they are because they are industrious, intelligent, crafty, and a few other things, perhaps a bit less savory. But when in power they do really foolish things because they are not anywhere near competent to be claiming what they do, and the only alternative is repentance, which would require worshipping the God who created them. Since that is obviously intolerable, they continue on in their folly. And as they continue on, there is an inexorable pressure to fill the divine void. There is no alternative. To paraphrase the great Francis Schaeffer, if there is no God above the state, the state becomes god.

Two quick examples. Proposals to regulate something as complicated as the human economy of any society is clearly an attempt to duplicate the omnis -- omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. But government officials cannot do this. They cannot even approach thinking about what it might be like to be able to do this. As much as they want to be Lord, they cannot be. They are not competent. And when I say they are not competent, I do not mean that they are almost-but-not-quite competent. I do not mean incompetent, but within shouting distance. I mean something like the earthworm you turned up with your spade being annoyed because you interupted his reverie about taking up the violin and wowing sold-out crowds at Carnagie Hall. And even that illustration is giving away too much.

The regulatory state wants to be Lord, and with no veto power hanging over them from above. But the bad news for them is what we Christians call the good news. Christ is Lord. There is no other. And we serve a Lord who was crucified for us, not a lord who wants to crucify others for himself.

Another example of straining towards the divine attributes can be seen in the recent attempts by Obama through the U.S. Treasury to create wealth ex nihilo. But only God can create wealth that way. God spoke the word, and mind-boggling resources were instantly there. And God formed our first parents, and gave them the responsibility for stewarding those resources. That is the authority of the divine -- He speaks, and it is. And blinkered statists want to be able to do that. They should be able to speak, and it is "there." And so they speak, and what was there begins to vanish away. Jezebel brings in the fertility Baal to make Israel lush and green, and the first thing that happens is that Israel turns brown and crispy.

If they could whistle up wealth by fiat, they could save us from us from our poverty. But as much as they want to be Savior, they cannot be. They are not competent. The earthworm keeps dropping the bow. And the violin. And after a few exasperating practices, the earthworm decides that his dreams of glory aren't working because they are being subverted by right-wing extremists who harbor hatred for diversity in their hearts.

In short, Obama is proposing the policies he is because of a religious impulse, pure and simple. He wants the state to be Lord and Savior. We as Christians oppose this, but not because it would be bad if it succeeded. There is no possibility of it succeeding. We oppose it because our Lord and Savior has given us songs of praise with which to bind their dreams of glory.

And You Thought Facebook Was Worthless...

"I Appreciate Christian Pick-up Lines." Wow.

a collection of the best:

1. "nice bible."

2. "is this pew taken?"

3. "i just don't feel called to celibacy."

4. "for you i would slay two Goliaths"

5. "i would go through more than Job for you"

6. "you are perfect, except with all the sin."

8. "you are so unblemished that i would sacrifice you."

9. "what, this here? oh.. thats my study bible - it's a little bigger but i can handle the extra spiritual and physical weight."

10. "shall we tithe?"

11. "at points in my life i have been referred to as Samson"

12. "the word says 'Give drink to those who are thirsty, and feed the hungry'; how about dinner?"

13. "i didnt believe in predestination until tonight."

14. "im not like those other Christ Church guys."

15. "i believe one of my ribs belongs to you."

16. "i know Lachlan Payne."

17. (if no.16 gains no response) "Lachlan Payne knows me"

19. "i can be your Boaz."

20. "my spiritual gift is my good looks... it lifts peoples spirits"

21. "i sacrifice my sunday mornings to look after the creche group. its tough... but i love children."

24. "mark driscoll takes up 35% of my ipod memory."

25. "hey.. i would work 7 years for your sister.. but i would work 7 more years for you."

26. "im kind of a big deal at Koorong"

29. "bible-gateway happens to be my homepage."

47. "how many times do I have to walk around you to make you fall for me?"

49. "if you say no, i will rip out my hair and my beard"

54. "let me remove my sandals before I come any closer.."

55. "lets say, hypothetically, you were married. I would send your husband to the front line against the Amorites"

56. "its obvious to me that you sprouted from the good kinda soil..."

57. "feel free to meet me at the threshing floor."

70. "i arrange the substantial christian section of my bookshelf into alphabetical order. coffee?"

71. "i sit with my mum at church"

72. "let me sell you an indulgence because it's a sin to look as good as you do."

73. "not a big fan of your last name, but thats cool, i can change that."

92. "have you died before? because that looks like a resurrection body to me.."

93. 'all im looking for is a Godly woman. i don't care that you're not attractive.'

98. "i will never give you reason to hammer a tent peg through my skull."

99. "i predicted David over Goliath... now I'm betting on you and me."

100. "if you were staying for the tribulation, i would consider staying too.. but then i would probably leave."

101. "if you were a leper, i would still hold your hand.. even if it wasnt attached."

102. "i would have asked you out to dinner, but i just put all my money in the offetory basket."

103. "Hi, I'm Calvin. You were meant to choose me."

104. "Unlike the Israelites, who forgot the Lord, I will remember your name most of the time."

109. "the perseverance of the saints is well illustrated by the amount of time I spend talking to you."

******************* NEW ********************

111. "If you were my wife, I would never make you pretend to be my sister. That would be too damaging to my reputation."

112. "I would bring your father twelve-hundred Philistine foreskins for just one date with you."

With Great Sorrow...

But with continuing astonishment at the grace and maturity in my new community, I received the news that Doug Jones has resigned his position as an elder of Christ Church, and that after long deliberation, they have accepted.

The reason behind this move? Nothing like the usual sexual infidelity, drunkenness, or secret sins: rather, a difference in opinion upon the central focus of the Lord's Service that would have led to greater division in the future, as "it affects everything from budgets to buildings, and everything in between."

To cap it off? I'll continue to see him in church each week.

This, brothers, is why I'm still in Idaho, still at Christ Church, still so far from home.

For those interested, here is their report and his statement:

On Doug Jones’s Resignation

From: Doug Wilson

The elders of Christ Church recently accepted the offered resignation of Doug Jones from the session of Christ Church, and we did so with grief and great reluctance. The resignation will be effective as of June 1, 2009, and includes Doug’s service on various committees and related ministries. Although this may appear abrupt to many in the congregation, it was actually the end result of years of discussion, debate, reading and study. Scripture says that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed (Amos 3:3), and while we all continue to treasure our fellowship in Christ, and certainly continue to agree in that sense, we nevertheless have come to a foundational disagreement that would disrupt any attempts at coherent leadership together.

As a congregation, and as elders of the church, we all owe a great deal to Doug, and to his family. We continue to be extremely grateful for all the contributions he has brought to our church and community, and we intend to continue to build on those gifts to us. In Doug’s statement about this resignation, he framed it as his new conviction that the Church should be organized and structured around the centrality of the poor and the outcast. We continue to believe that our central priority is worship of the triune God, that being the kind of worship that will flow out into the rest of our lives—including of course ministry to the poor and outcast. To anticipate the objection that this is a trivial difference, it really isn’t—it affects everything from budgets to buildings, and everything in between. So given the fact of these differences, which appear to us to be intractable, we can honestly say that we have conscientiously sought for other ways of resolving this, and have b!
een unable to do so.

We are very grateful that Doug and Paula will be remaining as members of Christ Church, and we ask all of you to fully accept and receive them in that capacity. Please pray for them, and for us, and that God would use this disagreement as much as He used the differences between Paul and Barnabas (Act 15:39).

Cordially in Christ,
Douglas Wilson

Resignation Statement from Doug Jones

On April 30, 2009, the session of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho reviewed a letter of resignation from me as an associate pastor, and, after a time of discussion, they accepted it. Though this might come as a surprise for some, it is actually the result of several years of turnings and discussions. Over a decade ago, I began meditating on the life of Father, Son, and Spirit, and since that time I’ve written numerous articles, given lectures, and counseled church members in terms of the richness and joy I’ve discovered within the Trinity. When the U.S. government invaded two countries after 9-11, I sought to understand these developments, as well, in light of a Trinitarian framework. This rethinking of politics and economics in light of Trinitarian life pushed me in unexpected directions over the ensuing years.

My attempt to understand the Trinity led me to rethink Jesus’ mission and his themes, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk. 6:20) and “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6; Is. 1:11ff; 58:3ff; Mt. 9:13; 12:7). To me and others in this tradition, this places the poor and outcast at the very center of the kingdom, around which the church is to be shaped and prioritized. Defenders of this view can be found in every Christian tradition over the centuries, and in our own Reformed tradition we find it among such folks as Andre Trocme, Jean Lassere, and Jacques Ellul. I have also found myself very sympathetic to such perspectives as found in the work of Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas.

This shift, though, has proven deeper than anticipated. It has turned all my practical priorities upside down. With the result that this shift has backed me into deep and wide divergence with the Christ Church vision. The fault for this is mine, not the session’s. Throughout this time, the elders have been very kind, caring, generous, and thoughtful as I sought to understand where I was. The person I’ve been closest to during this time, Doug Wilson, has been a stellar pastor and kind opponent from the start. In our conversations over the past three years, he has been a gentleman, friend, and brother without fault in my view. I gladly affirm this against his detractors.

Nonetheless, it has become clear that my shift in theological vision produced practical, day-to-day obstacles for me serving as a minister at Christ Church. The majority of elders politely and thoughtfully made it clear that they did not wish to go toward the vision I espoused, and they were understandably obligated to defend the current Christ Church vision. They even repeatedly sought ways for me to continue, but in the end, I determined to resign from the session as well as from my leadership roles at Canon Press, Credenda/Agenda, Sabbath House, and New St. Andrews College (though my ministerial credentials remain in the CREC). In such circumstances, it became a question of how all of us could better redeem the time.

My family and I will continue to attend Christ Church and participate in life and learning at Logos School. I am forever grateful to the elders and members for my time in leadership at Christ Church. It has been a wonderful gift, and I am eternally changed for it. May the Lord continue to bless Christ Church’s work for the kingdom.

Douglas M. Jones

Monday, May 11, 2009


My blog posting will be slowing down (should that be possible within space-time) as I'm moving to a land flowing with milk and gainful employment, but no internet. Any posting that I do will most likely be on Sundays from here on out, when I'm back in Moscow.

So, I leave you with this, courtesy of Doug Wilson:

A Rocking Chair in Heaven
Topic: Jokes I Like to Tell

Once there was a man who had spent many, many years in back breaking work. What he didn't know about the uses of a shovel wasn't worth knowing. One day at the tail end of a hot day and a very long ditch, he paused for a moment to talk with a young man in the ditch with him, the one manning the other shovel.

"Know what I am going to do when I get to Heaven?" he said.

"No, what?" said the young guy.

"I am going to talk to Peter at the gates, and I am going to ask for a mountain cabin by a clear, blue lake. The cabin will need to have a front porch overlooking the lake, and I will request that the porch be equipped with a sturdy and very comfortable rocking chair."

"Really?" said the young guy.

"And," the man continued, "I am going to sit in that rocking chair for ten thousand years."

"Man," his companion said. "That's a long time. Whatcha doing then?"

"Then," said the old man, his eyes narrowing slightly, "I am going to start rockin.'"

and this, courtesy of Valerie:

One morning when Nancy was out of the house running errands, Doug was rooting around in the back of a closet for a pair of boots when he came across a shoebox he'd never seen before. In it were three eggs and about a hundred bucks in one-dollar bills.

Shocked that she would have kept such a stash a secret from him, Doug confronted Nancy when she got home. With a guilty countenance she confessed: "I've had this box since you became a pastor. I'm so sorry I've never told you about it. You see...every time you preach a bad sermon, I put an egg in this box."

Doug was much relieved. After all his years in the ministry, three eggs wasn't so bad, was it? "And what is all the cash for?" he asked.

"Well, dear, every time I get a dozen eggs, I sell them for a dollar!"

Blessings all.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


The next time you get a rejection letter from a hoped-for employer, just send them the following:

To Whom It May Concern:
Thank you for your letter of [date of the rejection letter]. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment at this time. This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals. Despite [Name of the Company]'s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. Therefore, I will initiate employment with your firm immediately. I look forward to working with you. Best of luck in rejecting future candidates.
[Your Name]

Friday, May 1, 2009

Huge Sale

Canon Press, a magnificent company, is having a 1,2,3 dollar sale in order to clear out older stock and make room for new. This really is a huge deal: $8-$20 books are on sale for $1-$3. That's less than you spend on coffee every day (I know of no one like that that reads this). So click on my title, and buy the books.

If you don't want any of them, buy them anyway and give them away. No one will ever know that you're that much of a tightwad. Seriously, when was the last time you got all your Christmas shopping done for ten bucks in May? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Always remember: "veni, emi, legi." That's the nominativus singularis perfectus activus indicativus, and it means "I came, I bought, I read." I hope. Or I'll be at NSA seven years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Doane: Welcome to the Covenant

As some of you know, Darren Doane, who, having his own Wikipedia page must therefore be at least relatively important, recently did a documentary on Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens called Hitchens vs. Wilson: A Collision of Lives, which we will be previewing this Friday.

Well, Mr. Doane (rhymes with "roan" as in the horse) has been up here filming a few commercials or some such moving pictures, if I understand correctly. Here is one that is apparently for covenant child-rearing (click my title).


Torture via Stewart

This is a 3 part video between Mr. Stewart and Mr. May on torture. Overall it's quite good (any parents should preview it before giving it to their kids); May is the more consistent of the two but Stewart is of course funnier.

The primary problem with Stewart's position is that it is based upon the solid foundation of anti-gravity cottage cheese: "the principles of our founding fathers..." Oh good. Like Adams? Madison? Or did you mean Monroe or Franklin? Washington and Jefferson were at polar opposites from banks onward, how do we assume we'll find them singing kum-ba-yah and roasting marshmallows on what constitutes torture?

Also, he doesn't seem to have given much thought to what exactly torture is. He knows it when he sees it, but what if it was ten nights naked and awake instead of eleven? Or ten nights clothed? Nine? He's fine with one night; where's the line? Three nights, two hours and twelve minutes for any male that's 5' 9" or above? We need some definitions.

However, he appears to be an excellent debater, and his form surpasses his content. This is a good example of how the demeanor of those debating can completely engulf and overshadow what's being said. The funnier pastor (shepherd) leads the ovis (sheep) into an ovation, which, as you may have noticed, bears a philological resemblance to "ovis."


This is a link to a video of a chap who volunteered to undergo waterboarding. Some profanity.

Torture via Wilson

Torture and the Sum of All Fears
Topic: Obama Nation Building

This will be one of those posts where I am afraid that I will make no one happy. But . . . oh, well. Torture is much in the news, and so -- to the law and to the testimony.

Let us begin by offending those who are recycling Joseph Fletcher's situation ethics from back in the seventies -- let us call them the Fox News conservatives. When Sean Hannity says that he is in favor of whatever it takes, everything in us should recoil. In his case, the principle of justification is that American flag behind him that he so ostentatiously displays. Whatever defends that is justified; whatever threatens it is not. While it is good to defend your nation and your people, it must always be remembered that defending your nation and people is not the ground of your right to do so.

Whenever the ticking bomb scenario is invoked, this simply reveals that we all ought to have done our Bible study earlier than that. The problem is that the new advocates of situation ethics are deriving their sense of what is appropriate from the mere fact of the ticking bomb (and the suppressed premise that survival is the highest good, which it isn't). "Would you waterboard someone if we were down to the red wire/green wire moment in some Jack Bauer fantasy movie? Hmmm?" And if you wouldn't, then this twisted thinking argues that you are somehow not morally serious. Well, okay, two can play this game -- would you sell your children into prostitution in order to stop Osama? Would you kill and eat the weakest guy in the lifeboat to save the lives of the others? Would you ask your wife to sleep with the warden in order to escape the unjust conviction that placed you on death row? Does anybody think it is odd that those who are advancing these refried situation ethics argument are the traditional values conservatives? What are they conserving exactly?

This is why the effectiveness of the waterboarding that we used is entirely beside the point. If it is morally wrong then we shouldn't do it whether or not it is effective. Those who broke under the waterboarding treatment would almost certainly have also broken if we had pulled out their fingernails, or put them on the rack. Perhaps they would have broken quicker! Those who appeal to the effectiveness of the program are appealing to an idolatrous standard, and if that idol were a car it would have no brakes.

Speaking of irrelevant, it is also irrelevant that four former CIA directors have objected to the release of the memos that Obama has released. Their argument is that we don't want the enemy to know the point past which we will not go. But I want them to know that we are Christians, which means that I want them to know that -- unlike them -- there are things we won't do, and what those things are should be public knowledge. Such things should not be a national security secret. On such issues we should be eager to be at a disadvantage. That kind of secularist pragmatic national security hype just gives me the creeps. And for a third irrelevance, going down the street the other way, we should also dismiss the hyper-hypocritical posturing of the Democrats on the Hill. Prosecution of anybody that just "happens" to break right long partisan lines, and which "happens" to leave out all the Democrats that were briefed on the waterboarding would be a goodish bit more than I am capable of handling. So here is a good working definition of torture -- making me watch hearings on this subject run by the Democrats. Hyper-torture would be if Henry Waxman were the chair. I'd probably break right away and tell them where all the gold is buried.

C.S. Lewis once defended the idea of retribution in punishment (as opposed to "humanitarian" treatment) because retribution is necessarily connected to justice, which means that there are always limits, fixed limits. When someone is handed over to the officials in order to be "cured," how long does the treatment go? Well, until the cure is accomplished, which could be indefinitely, which means that what now happens to the guy is entirely disconnected from justice. Justice is not the point anymore. An identical difficulty applies to "treatments" that accompany interrogations. If the foundational justification for what is happening is the need for information, then how long can it go? What are the limits? Well, until we get that information. Justice isn't the point anymore.

Now to make the other side mad. As I have argued, effectiveness does not justify anything. The only standard we have any business appealing to in situations like this is the standard of Scripture. That said, the efffectiveness of our waterboarding program becomes relevant because effectiveness can be good. Effectiveness is good, provided that the definition of good comes from somewhere other than the effectiveness. Once that is granted, there are serious difficulties with classifying waterboarding as torture. We need to remember that waterboarding is used in the training of our own personnel. I have seen footage of one television journalist getting waterboarded in order to report on the experience. Christopher Hitchens got himself waterboarded in order to write about it.

Torture was not unknown in the biblical world. It is not unknown in the modern world of exegesis either.

"As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16).

The word for wrest is streblao, meaning that in the exegesis of these foolish men, they put the text on the rack and torture it, twisting it out of shape. One of the common places where we twist the text is by pretending that the God of the Bible is limpwristed and effeminate. But, as the late Otto Scott once put it, the God of the Bible is no buttercup. And I can guarantee that virtually everyone in the current debate who has a problem with waterboarding would also have a similar problem with . . .

"But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me" (Luke 19:27).

"Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors [basanistais, torturers], till he should pay all that was due unto him" (Matt. 18:32-34).

"And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain" (Rev. 16:10).

"Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 22:13).

Put all this together, and what do we have? In the Bible, righteous men can dispense some pretty rough treatment. But it is never disconnected from the fixed limits of justice, and those fixed limits are defined by Scripture, and never by the sum of all fears.

"Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee" (Dt. 25:3).

Posted by Douglas Wilson - 4/28/2009 3:27:29 PM | Print this post

Monday, April 27, 2009

An Odd Music...

If you're not doing anything, you may enjoy this. I don't know what the competition is, but if he doesn't win it, I'd like to meet the person that does.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Love Spiders

Spider "Resurrections" Take Scientists by Surprise
Charles Q. Choi
for National Geographic News
April 24, 2009

Spiders in a lab twitched back to life hours after "drowning"—and the scientists were as surprised as anyone.

The bugs, it seems, enter comas to survive for hours underwater, according to a new study. The unexpected discovery was made during investigations of spiders from salt marshes that are regularly flooded with seawater.

A number of spiders and insects have long been known to survive for hours underwater. But submersion experiments typically only test how long the bugs can withstand drowning—not whether they can revive themselves after their seeming deaths.

Scientists at the University of Rennes in France collected three species of wolf spider—two from salt marshes, one from a forest. The team immersed 120 females of each species in seawater, jostling the spiders with brushes every two hours to see if they responded. As expected, all the forest wolf spiders (Pardosa lugubris) apparently died after 24 hours. The two salt marsh-dwelling species took longer—28 hours for Pardosa purbeckensis and 36 hours for Arctosa fulvolineata.

After the "drownings," the researchers, hoping to weigh the spiders later, left them out to dry. That's when things began to get weird.

Hours later, the spiders began twitching and were soon back on their eight feet.

"This is the first time we know of arthropods returning to life from comas after submersion," said lead researcher Julien Pétillon, an arachnologist now at Ghent University in Belgium.

Marsh-dwelling A. fulvolineata, which took longest to "die," typically requires about two hours to recover, the researchers discovered. In the wild, the species doesn't avoid water during flooding, while the other salt marsh species generally climbs onto vegetation to avoid advancing water. The spiders' survival trick depends on a switch to a metabolic process that does not require air, the researchers speculate.

Whatever trick these spiders have mastered, Pétillon said, they may not be alone.

"There could be many other species that could do this that we do not know of yet."

Findings published April 22 in the journal Biology Letters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

All Right, Miss Phelps...

This is a response to Kelsey Phelps' latest blog posting, so direct all virulent hate mail there.

Yes, I agree, Earth Day is kind of a cop-out of a holiday (we'll be celebrating Oxygen Day soon, kids!), but it apparently was recently celebrated. Ask Kelsey. I don't know--since leaving all the hippies in Humboldt County, it's somehow easier to forget that they're out there, and without them celebrating Earth Day, I forget about it too.

But I digress down yet another bunny-trail. Bad bunny. Shoot the bunny. Bang! Now the bunny's dead. Metaphor way too swollen: reel it in.

Okay, here are some photos of my favorite places to be (limited to earth). If you notice a theme, don't be surprised. If you don't notice a theme, don't ever become a snake hunter.

I would love to be here, at home, in Humboldt County:

Or here, with them:

And would I really mind being here? No, I don't think I would.

I loved being here with them:

and here:

I would have loved to have seen this,

and I would greatly love to be here, at home, with her:

Or with her (but preferably both):


and here:

And here with them:

These are some of the places I call home, and some of the people I call family.

Thanks to my Mom

Not entirely sure how much of it I believe, but quite interesting none the less.

In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression, 'Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg.' (Artists know hands and arms are more difficult to paint)

As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October) Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig.' Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.


In the late 1700's, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board.'

Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As=2 0a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's wax.' Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a smile'. In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt . . . Therefore, the expression 'losing face.'


Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in 'straight laced'. . Wore a tightly tied lace.


Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades.' To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead. Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't 'playing with a full deck.'


Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to 'go sip some ale' and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. 'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'

At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the term 'minding your'P's and Q's '

One more and betting you didn't know this!

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons.. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations.

However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled.

Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)

If you don't send this fabulous bit of historic knowledge to any and all your unsuspecting friends, your floppy is going to fall off your hard drive and kill your mouse.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Centipedes vs. Millipedes

To solve the perennial question: millipedes are the cool, friendly looking ones; centipedes have the creepy legs off to the side, poison pinchers and eat cute helpless things.

There is a type of centipede that grows to almost two feet long, climbs the walls of a cave, dangles the front half of its body from the ceiling and snags bats as they flurry in. Apparently looks aren't always deceiving.

If you want to watch it on youtube, here you are.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Chuck Norris

Chuck Norris, Vin Diesel and Arnold Schwarzenegger have all died and are in Heaven. Each of them hope to occupy the seat next to God. God asks Vin Diesel why he thinks he should have the seat and Vin replies, "I believe... I should have the seat because of the virtuosity in my toughness and pride." Arnie says, "I believe... that I should be the one sitting next to you because of all my achievements." God then turns to Chuck Norris, who replies with, "I believe... you are sitting in my seat."

When Chuck Norris sends in his taxes, he sends blank forms and includes only a picture of himself, crouched and ready to attack. Chuck Norris has not had to pay taxes ever.

Chuck Norris died ten years ago, but the Grim Reaper can't get up the courage to tell him.

Chuck Norris once survived a suicide bombing. He was the bomber.

Chuck Norris does not know where you live, but he knows where you will die.

Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

True, I Suppose...

“The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” - Terry Pratchett

Folly of Mine Youth

Well, it's finally up, over a year after its occurrence. Now, anytime that the desire moves trahere me, I can watch myself hurtle across a video screen into 6' 8" and 260 lbs of Patrick Swanson with enough force to dislocate my left shoulder on impact. Then I get blithely brushed aside--it's pretty impressive--as the rest of the team arrives to rat-pack him to the ground. I still am pretty sure he wouldn't have gone down had he managed to step over me instead of trying to step through me, and tripping. But we'll never know now, will we?

Anyway, click on the title if you haven't seen it and want to. As close as I can tell, my shoulder either goes out when I hit him or when he steps, cause it's out by the time I hit the ground.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Collins: Forgetfulness


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins

Monday, April 13, 2009

Wilson's Easter Charge

The Direction of the Offer
Topic: The Lord's Table

In this glorious meal, Jesus Christ is genuinely and truly offered. The divide between historic Protestantism and the Roman Catholic view is not over that—both sides believe that Jesus Christ is truly offered. The difference is not over whether that happens or not. The difference is one of direction, and concerns who receives the offering.

The Roman view is that Jesus Christ is offered again to God, in a repeated (or renewed) sacrifice. Our view is that in this meal God offers Jesus Christ to us. The difference is directional. One view is that Jesus is offered up again, and the other is that Jesus is offered down.

And so, if we were to be asked if we believed in the real presence of Christ, the answer would be that we certainly don’t believe in His real absence. The Lord is present with us, in this meal. He is offered to us, and we partake of Him by faith. And of course, in order to partake of Him by faith, we have to believe that we are doing so. And so we do.

But there are some other important things to note. This is Easter Sunday, and we of course know that we are celebrating the resurrection. But it follows from this that in this Easter communion you are not being offered a dead Christ, but a living Christ. A dead Christ was offered to God so that a living Christ could be offered to you. You are converted. You are now Christians. Why would you want to partake of death any longer? God gave you a death to partake of by faith, so that you might partake of life now, here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Chuck Norris

Most Popular Chuck Norris Facts:

If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more money than you.

There is no 'ctrl' button on Chuck Norris's computer. Chuck Norris is always in control.

Apple pays Chuck Norris 99 cents every time he listens to a song.

Chuck Norris can sneeze with his eyes open.

Chuck Norris can eat just one Lay's potato chip.

Chuck Norris is suing Myspace for taking the name of what he calls everything around you.

Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.

Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

Chuck's Favorites:

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.

Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Chuck Norris.

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

Chuck Norris is the reason why Waldo is hiding.

Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.

There is no chin behind Chuck Norris’ beard. There is only another fist.

When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.

Chuck Norris is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.

Chuck Norris’ hand is the only hand that can beat a Royal Flush.

Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink.

Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch, HE decides what time it is.

Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door.

Chuck Norris does not get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost

Remember the Soviet Union? They decided to quit after watching a DeltaForce marathon on Satellite TV.

Contrary to popular belief, America is not a democracy, it is a Chucktatorship.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Shakespearean Sonnet

This year's (just to be more politically incorrect) fresh men (take that, some political personage) get to suffer the same indignities we were condemned to, all while basking in the helpful criticisms the upperclassmen gently bestow upon them: "Yeah, that's a really bad grade, but I'm surprised he passed you..."; "Mr. Appel was telling me about you at dinner... "; "Yeah. And I thought our class was bad..." and even more edifying remarks. Their classes are way easier, so to create an equilibrium, we create a more hostile environment. Lest they be deprived of the full NSA experience, of course.

Anyway, there was a very impressive, very Shakespearean sonnet produced by Miss Claire Martens, a good friend of mine. She forbade me to post it, but allowed me to link to it, informing me, and I mercilessly (and horrendously) (mis)quote: "Mihi placet. Genua mihi rubri sunt" (or something meaning something like that). So, enjoy the poem in the knowledge that, for your sake, little children, a girl blushed, and you still know nothing of it.

Peter Leithart

A moment of praise for my theology professor, Peter Leithart. He has a library the size "of the state of Texas," which is not much of an exaggeration: floor to ceiling bookshelves on all four walls of his study are deep enough to stack books two deep and about fifteen feet at the tallest points, and are filled, along with books stacked up waist-high on the floor. He literally has a catalogue system like they do in public libraries. And he's read most all of them.

I have no idea how many books he's written, but they are many and their topics vary from a Solomonic approach to postmodernism to a magnificent "theological bricolage" against the corruptions and misconceptions in the Christian church to a lovely book on Jane Austen.

Anyway, here's an article of his.

History: Freeman’s Distortions

Two instances of Freeman’s distortions (these from The Closing of the Western Mind). First, he has a couple of pictures of the Riace warrior statue from Delphi, which “represents man at his most heroic, almost a god in his own right.” On the facing page he says “By the fourth century A.D., such confidence has faded and human beings have become overwhelmed by forces over which they have little control.” To illustrate, he reproduces Grunewald’s depiction of St Anthony (1515) and a twelfth century icon showing devils dragging souls to hell.

Freeman’s leaps and bounds leave me a little dizzy.

For starters, while there is certainly a difference between the Delphi statue and the depictions of Anthony, the difference is not the difference between hero and helpless victim. After all, Anthony was at war with those demons, and victorious. He is a different sort of hero, but not less heroic. Besides, it’s not entirely clear how paintings from the sixteenth and twelfth century respectively are supposed to provide evidence cocncerning the fourth century.

A second distortion: A page after the contrast of the Riace warrior and Anthony, Freeman includes a picture of the head of Constantine from the monumental statue now extant only in fragments, a photo of the arch of Constantine, and a medallion from about 330. He comments, “By the fourth century the emperor has become quasi-divine, as the monumental idealized head of Constantine . . . suggests.”

Well now. “By the fourth century“? Perhaps Freeman isn’t aware that Augustus was already more than quasi-divine, as were his successors. Perhaps he’s never heard of the cult of the emperor, or doesn’t realize that Christians were perseccuted for refusing to offer sacrifice to his genius.

Perhaps he really doesn’t know all this. Revealingly, the only entry for “persecution” in his index refers to a couple of pages describing Augustine’s views on the subject. But he does know. He mentions persecutions in his few pages on Diocletian, but insists that the Romans executed Christians very, very reluctantly, “only after every possible means of making him offer a token sacrifice to the state had been tried.” True enough; the Romans used every “means” they could find, like whipping and burning and flaying and pouring salt and vinegar in wounds. Those patient, patient Romans. Who can blame them?

But, if the emperor only became “quasi-divine” in the fourth century, implicitly with the ascendancy of Constantine, what was that “token sacrifice to the state” all about?

posted by Peter J. Leithart on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 at 1:51 pm

The Silver Chair Bookstore

Thanks to my pastor Doug Wilson ( for the link.

The Silver Chair Bookstore is a delightful little site full of books, pipes, interesting music and all-in-all the great, quirky, homey kind of place one would love to hang out in, complete with a 6' 9" 300 lb. fan of Lewis, Tolkein and Chesterton. I highly recommend stopping by, staying a while, and adding them to your bookmark bar.

Monday, April 6, 2009


I have stood among trees to whom I am but a taste on the air; I have fallen into the sky, timelessly lost among the languorous stars, lightly lowered to earth with the midnight dew. I have walked the lake of moonlit mist with life, flaming, lilting at my side and sullen death skulking behind her mossy eyes. We are naught but a story spoken: let us listen.

Another Blatantly Racist Joke (kind of)

What do you call an Irishman sitting on his front porch? Patio furniture.

Friday, April 3, 2009


I decided to take a hiatus from my usual insect fascination to present a few other interesting things...

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Now that I've finally found out that the "insert photo" button inserts photos, you shall both of you be subjected to more.

You have to love the mantis: what kind of God makes something that absurd?

Of course, not quite so pretty as our monarchs, but still, nothing to sneer at.


This is what happens when you have way too much spare time.

And finally, I added a picture of my house, taken this morning.

Blessings all; I'm off to study Latin.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel)

Simon and Garfunkel's song The Boxer, from their Bridge Over Troubled Water album has a very unusual percussion in the chorus. I just found out why: it's either 1: A heavy chain being slapped against a concrete floor in a warehouse, the mike far enough away to let it echo, or 2: a snare played on a high rise building in 7th avenue in New York.

Go Hal Blaine.

That's Cool, I Guess...

Termites lack the enzyme to digest cellulose (which happens to inhabit wood, if ya didn't know), so they have a symbiont that lives in their guts. It's a member of genusTrichonympha, so we'll call him Trichy. He digests the cellulose that termites eat. So far, so good.

The problem comes when the termite sheds its skin. When it does this, it sheds out the lining of its stomach, which contains poor little Trichy, who presumably dies fairly rapidly. The termite is then left without any means of digesting cellulose, until it feeds off of the anal secretions of other termites, introducing more Trichy into the stomach, and allowing it to eat wood.

"Some primal termite knocked on wood, and tasted it, and found it good,
And that is why your sweet Aunt May fell through the parlor floor today."
--Ogden Nash

Saturday, March 28, 2009

1 John

Wow. I'm doing my theology paper on the book of 1 John, and it has already, on my first night of checking it out, become absurdly complex and delightfully intricate. It reminds me of the snow dance in the Silver Chair. Current tally: eight snowballs connected, two in the face. Four repetitions of "Beloved?" What's with that?

However, there has been a lot of great dodging as well. Definitely chiastic (but confusingly so), light and life references to John, and lots of cool stuff. John is definitely my favorite author, and I cannot wait to have time to delve into the John and Revelation as two halves of the same book theory.

Jesse Broussard


"Lacking a clear consensus from the scholars I have felt free to offer the less scholarly but more entertaining suggestion that Selah is a Philistine expletive that David learned during those hard years when he was banished from Saul's court and knocking around with ruffians and outlaws in the wilderness. He used it whenever he broke a string on his harp." Answering God, 148.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Amazing Tale of the Butterfly-Unicorn-Ballerina-Princess and the Giant Creeping Land Squid

For a tidbit of N. D. Wilson, click on my title.

N. D. Wilson

To read the great epic ballad (not really) of Knox and the Sheep, among other things, click on my title.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Food for Thought

While re-reading The Lord's Service by Jeff Meyers (which everyone that ever darkens the doors of a church should do), I encountered a thought in a dark corner of my mind. Since bringing it into the light, it has grown too large already to be put back, and threatens to write up a lease agreement for the upstairs bedroom.

Could communion be defended as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? All elements seem to be there, and it is there that we eat and drink of our "dying you shall die" type of death.

Anyone with thoughts, feel free to hurl them at me.

A Bit Salty

Wow. I just read through a comment war on one of the articles at World Magazine, and feel compelled to ask: why is it that Christians are the most uncharitable people on the planet, but only towards each other? Why are Calvinists assured that God can change anything but an Arminian's mind, postmillenialists depressed, and paedobaptists bad parents? And when we get into arguments with those who will stand shoulder to shoulder with us before God? We are shrill self-righteous little twits, running in circles throwing things at each other like two irresponsible paedo's kids unsupervised in a nursery.

Now that the vent session is over, why are we so tempted toward the faults we should be the farthest from? "When confronted with a flood, we grab fire extinguishers" as Lewis said (but I'm too lazy to find out where or the exact quote). When God said to let our speech be seasoned with salt, we seem to forget that there was a first half to the verse, forgo the shaker and go for the ten-pound Costco bag.

And Thank You Miss Martens

Claire never metanarrative she didn't like.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thank you Miss Phelps

If only they would accept drawings...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Damage so Far

I have had most of my finals, and am only waiting on my Latin oral and written. I did best in theology (no big surprise), with a second CL on my worksheet, and perhaps a CH to SCH on my oral, but of course I'm not sure. My Natural History was wretched, and I'm awaiting my course grade. Part of the problem was that it was very early in the week, and I had less time to prepare, but most of it was that I had no idea what was expected (which was my own fault), and prepared poorly. My History was on the low side of average, probably a CS-CH, depending upon the way the test was weighted (if at all) and mistakes that I'm not yet aware of (which are indubitably manifold).

I have my Latin oral tomorrow morning, and the written is Thursday afternoon. I don't expect to do very well on the oral, but I may end up surprising myself, and I expect to do decently on the written, with a lot of work ahead of me. Yet, in a time, two times and half a time, I will be on to something else. Probably more school, but that's okay: I enjoy school. I expect to spend ten very happy years getting my Bachelors, and may go for a Ph D, depending on whether I can still hear the lectures by then. No, I actually am having fun, but am very much looking forward to being home.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Thanks a Lot, Digory. Jadis is Great.

Boy Howdy
Topic: Global Swarming

I put my truck in 4-wheel drive this morning to help me get to work . . . in March. Late last week, I was assuming that we were dealing with a spring snow, the kind of thing we have to put up with in Idaho from time to time. But no, this is the real deal, a winter storm that is, as I write, still coming down hard. Of course, I cannot let the moment pass without offering my tribute to the really smart people who believe that the threat of global warming is so real and so pressing that we have to slap all kinds of extra-cost burdens on industry in the middle of a hard recession in order to save us from the perils of having to take our coats off.

I know, I know, somebody is going to say the science is undisputed. And it is undisputed if anyone who disagrees with this naked statist power grab is, by definition, a crank. It is undisputed if you are allowed to exclude from the ranks of respectability everyone who disputes it. The way these global temperatures are measured, they stopped rising ten years ago, and are now in a marked decline. Even some of the fanboys of statist climate salvation are acknowledging this, and have taken to saying that when this current cooling trend ends, boy howdy, then all that pent-up global warming will take off with a vengeance. These people are genuinely religious, and they walk by faith, not by sight. Or, as is more likely, they put their play for power in motion and cannot stop the play until it is whistled dead. When it is whistled dead, it will be for a loss of about twenty yards.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

So Soon

I have finals this week (may God have mercy), and then I go home. I leave Friday morning, stay in Washougal with family, and get home Saturday afternoon/evening (to a wine and poetry night, perhaps?).

What this basically means: in six days, I see my family.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Theology Worksheet #2

Theology Worksheet #2
Second choice: John 9: 1-41

Worksheet #2: Structural Analysis in John’s gospel

In this worksheet, you will analyze the structure of a passage of John’s gospel. You need to perform the various operations that you performed on an OT book last term, to wit: 1) Determine or explain the boundaries of the text; 2) break down the text into its component sections; 3) explain the formal or narrative arrangement of the parts; and 4) explain the purpose or effect of the structure.

First off, thank you for letting us do John: he is my favorite Scriptural author, and my favorite Biblical character (though Phineas and Jehu are not too far behind).

John 9:1-41: I chose this section as nine is the world’s most interesting number, and this section is encapsulated within a really spiffy inclusio:

A: 9:1: Falsely declared sinful because of blindness,
A’: 9:41: Justly declared sinful because of sight.

A quick bit of background: chapters 1-12 of John contain what are commonly seen as his “seven signs,” seven great miracles that John gives (as proof of Christ’s divinity), and this is the sixth of these signs. Also, this is toward the end of John’s section on bread and light: John can be viewed as an entrance into the temple, so the first five chapters deal with water (the ceremonial washing: water into wine, woman at the well, born of water and blood, etc), the second five deal with bread and light (the showbread and Menorah: burning and shining lamp, the feeding of the five-thousand, bread of heaven, bread of life, I am the light of the world, giving light to the blind man), and so on.

There are references (which I will deal with in greater depth later) to creation (a new creation with clay), anointing (with clay, which is interesting in itself), baptism (washing in the pool), discipleship (the Pharisees’ interrogation and his response), and, very interestingly, an elusive Christ that brings to mind your comments in lecture regarding Him being the one “born of the Spirit,” of whom we cannot tell where He is from or where He is going. This theme in particular is capitalized upon in this chapter: “Where is he?” “I do not know.” “He is not from God;” “We do not know where he is from,” “You do not know where he is from,” etc. This cannot be accidental.

A quick throwaway: the clay theme may have something to do with this being the sixth of the seven signs: six is generally viewed as the number of man (made on the sixth day, six days he may work, slavery lasted six years for a Hebrew slave, six cities of refuge for the accidental slaying of a man, etc), and man is made from the dust of the ground. Personally, I would be hesitant to venture much further out on the skinny branches of two man-made hermeneutical tools, but it may bear more fruit upon later study. I found nothing all that apparent save a definite focus upon man’s relationship with man.

Also this section is chiastic: I have made it rougher than it has to be for space considerations (especially points E and E’, which could justifiably be E-R), but it is easily expanded once the basic outline is grasped. Since it is rough, there are a great number of points worth studying that may not even be mentioned, and I am open to many slight changes within this overall chiastic frame. All chapter references are chapter 9 and are omitted, and I have changed the phrasing to make the parallels more obvious.

• A: 1: Jesus and His disciples: he’s blind; is he a sinner? No.
o B: 4-5: Day and night, I am the light of the world…
• C: 6-12: sent, who is he? Receives sight.
• D: 13-16: brought to the Pharisees, not from God, can’t be a sinner.
o E: 17-21: Prophet, blind—sight, parents interrogated, born blind, he is of age, etc.
• F: 22: “they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that he was the Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.”
o E’: 23-29: Disciples of Moses (prophet), blind—see, son interrogated, blind, he is of age, etc.
• D’: 30-34: cast out by the Pharisees, must be from God, God doesn’t hear sinners.
• C’: 35-38: cast out, who is he? You have seen Him.
o B’: 39-40: Seeing and blind, I am the judgment of the world…
• A’: 41: Jesus and the “disciples of Moses:” Are we sinners? You’ve sight; yes.

The overall theme is that of the blind, “sinless” false Israel accusing Christ, the absentee defendant, while the seeing, “sinful” true Israel acts as His advocate. The parents appear to be two cowardly witnesses that, nevertheless, validate the testimony of the true Israel, who is then cast out when he successfully defends the One that sent him out, and sends him out again.

The central point (F) accents an aspect of this trial: two mindsets of the Jewish world. First, there are the captive Jews that fear their captors rather than the Liberator, and out of fear of being cast out of Israel reject Israel for the “synagogue of Satan.” Second, there are their captors, who greatly fear the Liberator and decide to excommunicate anyone that accepts Him (a rather weak threat to anyone that had accepted him, but quite terrible to anyone that was on the fence).

Two verbs in this verse interest me, so far as time is concerned. The Greek συντίθεμαι (had agreed already) is in the pluperfect tense, which is quite rare, and is like a perfect past tense: the meaning is “had once and for all agreed,” and puts one in mind of a covenant. The verb ὁμολογέω(confessed) is in the aorist, and therefore pays no heed to time: past, present, future, it doesn’t matter: the aorist includes them all. The action of this sentence then feels along the lines of “the Jews had irrevocably agreed that if anyone ever confessed Jesus as the Christ, he would be excommunicated.” No big difference is impressed upon the sentence, save perhaps a bit more force.

Another interesting tidbit is how Jesus healed this man. The man was blind from birth, and had apparently done a good deal of work to find a cure (“Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind…”), and being blind from birth was apparently viewed in no favorable light (“Who sinned, this man or his parents…” and “You were steeped in sin in your mother’s womb…”). It is not too much of a stretch to say that this hopeless beggar didn’t suffer from an excess of popularity, and I don’t think I’d be wearing white socks with my exegetical suit were I to posit that he’d been spit on plenty of times. It is of course just like God to take shame and turn it into glory, into an anointing. This may be completely off base, and there is no Scriptural leg to stand on, but I like the interpretation, and will probably keep it around.

Back to solid ground: this is a recreation story, and that without question. Jesus molds clay, anoints a blind man with it, and has him baptized. He emerges from his baptism as a new man. There is division in the “opening” of the man’s eyes, and there is separation in his excommunication from the synagogue. What God had divided, He filled: in this case, with Himself (verse 37). His separation also speaks to John’s ever-present message of light and darkness, which is obviously a pervasive theme in this story.

There are two ways to interpret John’s light vs. dark message: either good verse evil or the New Covenant being rejected by the so-called adherents to the Old. Arguments are made for both, and I think that there are times when both are equally valid. However, his message in John appears to be the latter: “and the darkness comprehended it not…” “He was sent to bear witness to that light…” etc. If this is the case, and it seems to be, then this recreation is yet again a symbol of the new creation being rejected and cast out by the old: the created light (blind man) shines (speaks truth) into the darkness (the truly blind Pharisees), but the darkness comprehended it not, and men loved darkness rather than light.

The verb anoint is a very peculiar choice of word. The translation is good, but why did John use that word? Why is the blind man “anointed” with mud? And why are we told this twice? It is obviously important, but what is important about it?

Several explanations present themselves. First, this is the Sabbath, and John, intentionally or no, sanctifies Christ’s “work” on the Sabbath.

Second, the man was about to be brought before the synagogue, and he hadn’t given any thought to what he would say. So, the image is given that Paul later refers to.

But most likely it is because Jesus says that He is doing the work of His Father just before He anoints the man’s eyes. So this can easily be taken to represent his actions on a larger scale: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me for He has anointed me…” Jesus was going around opening the eyes of the Spiritually blind, and especially in John’s eyes.

We have also seen that the work of the Spirit is portrayed differently in John than in the synoptic Gospels, and this is fitting with that theme. The anointing is what opens the man’s eyes; it is what prepares him to face the Pharisees alone, and it is what enabled him to recognize and worship Christ.

The theme of clay is also interesting, but as I have alluded to it several times already, I will only give it a brief overview here. I believe that it mostly refers to the creation theme: “He formed him out of the dust of the ground…” but it also references the curse. So, the curse is taken and placed upon the blind eyes of the man, and is done so as an anointing? Or the anointing is mixed with the curse? It is unclear, and I don’t think it matters much: the main point that can be drawn is the washing, the cleansing from the curse that is accomplished by baptism, and even this really is a bit of a stretch in my opinion.

One of the most interesting features of this chapter is the absence of Christ from it when He is so central to it. He appears at the beginning and at the end, but is nowhere to be found between his bookending cameos. He is the central figure: He is the one that is on trial (“Give glory to God we know this man is a sinner…”), and it would certainly have removed the pressure from the formerly blind man had He shown up. But He didn’t. He didn’t even wait to be thanked: the blind man first sees Him when Jesus seeks Him out.

First off, I’d just like to comment that this is about as flawless an analogy of conversion as can be made. Blind from birth, anointed and healed by the Spirit of a God we know of but don’t know, baptized into Him, violently and unpleasantly divorced from our idolatry, and then we begin to see Christ as the Son of God as He seeks us.

I think that Christ is absent from the story for one main reason (though I am sure there are others): so we can get a picture of what it is like to serve an absent Master. We are the people that put up that obscene footprints poem on our walls and think nice thoughts about gentle Jesus. We have no concept of the God that spoke to Jeremiah, asking him how he was going to manage to keep up with horses if men wore him out. We have some pagan notion in our minds that God is primarily concerned with out comfort and happiness, when we have nothing of that in Scripture or in life. This is the God that we serve: He does not come when called; He is not a tame Lion. We are to serve Him faithfully anyway.

Wodehousian Fun