Friday, February 13, 2009

The Whimsy of Wodehouse

Volume 11, Issue 4: Verbatim

Quotations on Plum

Plum and Clever Chappies

But anyone who considers a Wodehouse inferior and thinks that he may never read anything other than Marlowe, Goethe, or Vestdijk does not know how to distinguish. The distinction between good and bad does not lie between what is heavier and more serious and what is lighter, but runs right through the genres. There are good and bad books which must be regarded as high literature, and there are also good and bad books which are devoted to the lighter muse.

H.R. Rookmaker

Stilton, who was now a pretty vermilion, came partially out of the ether, uttering odd, strangled noises like a man with no roof to his mouth trying to recite ‘Gunga Din’.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit

She gave a sort of despairing gesture, like a vicar’s daughter who has discovered Erastianism in the village.

Laughing Gas

The Modern Library asked its board of advisors to pick the hundred greatest English-language novels of the twentieth century. We define the assignment differently. P. G. Wodehouse wrote 96 novels; what are the other 4?

National Review

“In the inspired words of Pliny the Younger—”

Bill held up a hand. “Right ho, Jeeves.”

“Very good, m’lord.”

“I’m not interested in Pliny the Younger.”

“No m’lord.”

“As far as I’m concerned, you may take Pliny the Younger and put him where the monkey put the nuts.”

The Return of Jeeves it her opinion that against a woman with a brain like that, Ginger hadn’t the meager chance of a toupee in a high wind.

Jeeves and the Tie that Binds

To inhabit the same world as Mr. Wodehouse is a high privilege; to inhabit the same volume, even as a doorkeeper, is perilous.

Ogden Nash

“Well there it is,” I said, and went into the silence. And as he, too, seemed disinclined for chit-chat, we stood for some moments like a couple of Trappist monks who have run into each other by chance at the dog races.

Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit

In repose, it has a sort of meditative expression, as if she were a pure white soul thinking beautiful thoughts, and, when animated, so dashed animated that it boosts the morale to just look at her. Her eyes are a kind of browny-hazel and her hair rather along the same lines. The general effect is of an angel who eats a lot of yeast.

The Mating Season

The lunches of fifty-seven years had caused his chest to slip down into the mezzanine floor.

Chester Forgets Himself

He trusted neither of them as far as he could spit, and he was a poor spitter, lacking both distance and control.

Money in the Bank

Golf . . . is the infallible test. The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play the ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well.

The Clicking of Cuthbert

The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and forgotten to say ‘when!’

Very Good, Jeeves

I don’t think I have ever seen a Silver Band so nonplussed. It was as though a bevy of expectant wolves had overtaken a sleigh and found no Russian peasant on board.

Uncle Dynamite

For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? Nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.

Deuteronomy 3:11

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

So Many Types of People...

There are only 3 types of people in the world: those who can count, and those who can't.

There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who know binary, and those who don't.

There are only 2 types of people in the world: those who put people in little categories, and those who don't.

Thanks Skip

Here are 16 error messages seen on the computer screens in Japan, where some are written in Haiku. Aren't these better than 'your computer has performed an illegal operation.?'

You step in the stream, but the water has moved on. This page is not here.

The Web site you seek cannot be located, but countless more exist.

Chaos reigns within. Reflect, repent, and reboot. Order shall return.

Program aborting: close all that you have worked on. You ask too much.

Windows NT crashed. I am the Blue Screen of Death. No one hears your screams.

Yesterday it worked. Today it is not working. Windows is like that.

Your file was so big. It might be very useful. But now it is gone.

Stay the patient course. Of little worth is your ire. The network is down.

A crash reduces your expensive computer to a simple stone.

Three things are certain: Death, taxes and lost data. Guess which has occurred.

Out of memory. We wish to hold the whole sky. But we never will.

Having been erased, the document you are seeking must now be retyped.,

Serious error. All shortcuts have disappeared.

Screen. Mond. Both are blank.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


"I myself have been tested, and am entirely NIV-negative."
--Doug Wilson, Blog and Mablog

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Magnificent Greek Site

There is a website that contains the Greek text of the Bible and explains what each word means when you place your cursor over it. It is, or you can click on my title.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Piper and Wright

John Piper wrote a book criticizing NT Wright's position on justification. For those interested in the debate but without the time to actually read everything Wright has written on justification (which includes anyone interested), their debate is being reviewed, and the first installment is in. It is very worthwhile, and has a rather interesting perspective on outflanking in the first paragraph:

The Hinge Upon Which All Turns

Topic: N.T. Wrights and Wrongs

In this book, N.T. Wright hopes to accomplish an "outflanking" maneuver (p. vii) in order to make much of the ongoing controversy over Paul irrelevant. And that is a great idea, if he can pull it off. Outflanking, when it works, can result in a decisive settlement. Outflanking, when it does not work, can be just another exercise in missing the point. Jeb Stuart outflanked the Union army at Gettysburg, which consisted of him riding completely around them -- while the battle was being settled elsewhere.

I should say that at the outset that Wright is vigorous in his response to Piper, but he nevertheless treats him with courtesy and respect. I have some hopes that this will wind up being a fruitful exchange at the end of the day.

What are the main "pressure points" (p. viii) according to Wright? The first has to do with the "nature and scope of salvation" (p. viii). According to Wright, the sweep of God's redemptive plan is much larger than we have a tendency to think. Wright suspects that Piper would agree with this on paper (p. viii), and I know that I do. But while there would seem to be agreement here, Wright suspects that we in the Reformed tradition have not given this insight the free rein it ought to have. "But I do not think they have yet allowed it to affect the way they think about the questions that follow" (p. viii).

The second pressure point has to do with the means of salvation. Wright states what Piper would say about this, which is that "salvation is accomplished by the sovereign grace of God, operating through the death of Jesus Christ in our place and on our behalf, and appropriated through faith alone" (p. viii). Wright agrees with this entirely, but objects with what was left out. "But there is something missing -- or rather, someone missing. Where is the holy spirit?" (p. viii). And, "part of my plea in this book is for the spirit's work to be taken seriously in relation both to Christian faith itself and to the way in which that faith is 'active through love' (Galatians 5.6)" (p. viii).

The third pressure point has to do with what the word justification actually means in Scripture. Wright and Piper agree that justification is a forensic declaration that God's people are "in the right." But "what does that declaration involve? How does it come about" (p. ix)?

"Piper insists that 'justification' means the imputation of the 'righteousness' -- the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ -- to the sinner, clothing him or her with that status from the first moment of faith to the final arrival in heaven" (p. ix).

Wright understands the force of this proposal, and why it gives such assurance to believers. He wants to get to that same kind of assurance. But he says "Paul's way of doing it is not Piper's," and Wright gives four reasons why Paul's doctrine of justification is much richer and more layered than Piper's. First, justification is about the "work of Jesus the Messiah," second, it is about the climax of the covenant made with Abraham (p. ix), third, he says it has a different lawcourt application than Piper wants to give it (p. x), and last, justification is in Paul all bound up with eschatology.

Thus far the preface. What are we to make of all this? Returning to the top, let me say how much I appreciate Wright taking the time to respond in detail to Piper. I believe it will prove to be enormously helpful. I also believe that both men are conducting a model theological disputation, over issues which they know to be of great importance to the gospel, and yet they are doing it without descending into the anathemistic distractions of ecclesiastical fighting words. If for no other reason, a well done to both.

Second, I believe that on a number of the broader contextual points Wright raises, I will be more in agreement with him, and sometimes less so with Piper. And third, notwithstanding this second point, I believe that Piper has correctly identified the hinge upon which all turns, and that Wright has somehow missed it. I will come back to this in my conclusion.

But it should be added that in places where I agree enthusiastically with Wright, it does not follow that he understands how much Piper would agree with him also. It already appears that Wright is going to be long on words that point to "emphases, omissions, appearances, and seemings." In some of these caricatures, I recognize some real people that actually do resemble them -- people who could read the Westminster Confession through a keyhole and use both eyes -- but Piper is not one of them, and there are a host of biblical, theological Reformed scholars who would agree with Piper on this "hinge," and yet who would be prepared to cheerfully grant all the broader contextual issues that Wright has brought up here.

That said, let me cycle quickly through Wright's points. The first pressure point has to do with the nature and scope of God's plan of salvation. On this point, I guess I would chide Piper with FTBP (Failure to be Postmill), but at the same time, it really appears that Wright is unfamiliar with the scope of Piper's passion for missions, and his call to "let the nations be glad." And then there are the many postmill Reformed types who agree with Piper on imputation, and with Wright on the glories to come, and so it appears that this outflanking move is really a Jeb Stuart gallop on a sunny day. I mean, I am a stand-on-the-chair-and-wave-my-hat-over-my-head postmillenialist, to use the technical phrase for it, and although this is currently a minority report, I am not uncommon in the Reformed world. And because Wright is also engaging with the Reformed tradition throughout its history, he should recognize that for most of that history, the majority of the Reformed world held to Piper's view of imputation and Wright's view of the "nature and scope of salvation." Shoot, I am such a postmillenialist that I believe the day is coming when Anglican bishops will understand economics.

His second point was the missing Holy Spirit. First, when Wright gloriously summarizes what he is arguing for (pp. 18-19), he leaves the Holy Spirit out too. You can't say everything every time. Second, Piper and the tradition he represents left the Holy Spirit out in Wright's summary of their position. They didn't leave Him out, Wright did on their behalf. Third, does Wright seriously think that the Spirit is ignored in Reformed soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology? On what basis does he say this? And last, I have to say that it really undercut his point to ask "Where is the holy spirit?" Where I come from, when you want to emphasize the personality of someone, a common courtesy that you extend is to capitalize their name. To be fair, I am informed by someone over here in the UK that this might have been the result of an editorial policy over at SPCK, but then it seems to me that Wright should be taking on the SPCK instead of Piper, who wouldn't dream of doing something as disrespectful as that. I mean, for pity's sake, if you want to urge us all to take "the spirit's work . . . seriously" then by all means do more for Him than you would for the word electricity, and don't do less for Him than you would for Ohm's Law.

The third pressure point has to do with the actual meaning of the word justification, and we will be spending a great deal of time on this in our passage through this book. But this is what is happening . . . or at least this is what it looks like to me here in the cheap seats. Wright wants to emphasize the sweep of the grand story from Abraham on. He wants, rightly, to see the history of Israel integrally involved in all of this. He wants to see the unfolding covenant. He wants the gospels to have an honored place in our telling of the gospel -- he doesn't want us to skip from Malachi to Romans. He wants to ask why (according to him) Piper and his tradition don't really get this grand sweep. This attribution of failure is not exactly accurate as I have pointed out before -- think of Fuller's The Unity of the Bible, and of Piper's relationship to Fuller.

So the hinge that I mentioned earlier is not really "why do Reformed types not see this"? The hinge is "why did Saul of Tarsus not see it?" In order for us moderns to understand the story of Israel rightly, we must understand the biography of Saul rightly. This is what Piper sees, and what Wright does not. This is the hinge upon which everything turns. And so we will return to this theme again and again.

Posted by Douglas Wilson - 2/9/2009 5:59:54 AM

Thanks Ligioner

A conference is on sale (DVD) that looks promising, to say the least. It's called The Power and The Glory, and features fourteen 45-minute messages:

Strange Fire (Ferguson)
I Will Be Your God (Wilson)
The Glory of God (Sproul)
In the Beginning: The Glory of God from Eternity (Mohler)
The Glory of God Through Man (Sproul)
The Glory of the Promise (Ferguson)
The Power of the Promise (Wilson)
The Myth of Influence (part 1) (MacArthur)
Questions & Answers
The Family As a Key to Reformation (Sproul Jr.)
The Glory of the Power (Ferguson)
The Myth of Influence (part 2) (MacArthur)
Questions & Answers
Beholding His Glory (Sproul)

It's selling for $68.00, which is down from $85.00. The link is on my title.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy

Every two years or so, I will run across a book that completely transforms the way that I view Scripture. The list so far includes Easy Chairs, Hard Words by Doug Wilson, Mere Christianity by Lewis, Images of the Spirit by Meredith Kline, The New Testament and the People of God by N. T. Wright (or Not Wright, as he is affectionately known: a common comment is "Leithart doesn't want your answer; he wants the Wright answer"), and, as I got lucky this year, Fruit of Lips by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.

This book is phenomenal. It is comparable to Kline's Images in size: a mere 134 pages, and is staggering. He also appears to have a few problems, and his erudition can at times be difficult: his syntax is elevated, to say it nicely. But the content! The content is simply beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The book is on the four gospels, and why there are four. I think that there are a few "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" problems, but overall, his book is solid gold.

Click on my title to preview it. Then buy it. Then memorize the thing, and your time will not have been wasted.


I have a friend at school (difficult as it may be to believe) that is named Ashley Hoogendam. I took it upon myself to call her Nefarious Dam of the Hoogens, partly because it just made me happy, and partly because she reminds me of a mix of Ashley Menza and my dad when he's drunk: very happy, very sweet, loads of fun, and an absolute joy to be around while being kind of amusing by the very fact of her existence (I'll leave you to figure out which parts go with which), and all of that in the best possible sense. In a word, a really great girl.

Anyway, she decided to come up with a nickname for me. My hopes were not high, and I was rather amused, as no one has yet come up with a nickname for me that has stuck (save H, and hers were hers alone: my brother couldn't exactly call me Luv without generating confusion, mixed emotions and perhaps a crowbar to the head), but Nefarious Dam of the Hoogens has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. I am:


Not My Fault

I have a roommate, see? And he has a family, see? And every once in a while, they tell him something odd which he relates to me and I am ethically obligated to pass it on to you, see? So the following is not my fault: as Michael Scott says, "I'm just the middleman. You wouldn't arrest a guy who's just selling the drugs, would you?"

What is the difference between a Jew and a pizza? (No, it's not that vile answer that you've all heard.)

Pizzas don't hate Jesus.

Thank you Rob Linn, we are all inspired and deeply moved.

Wodehousian Fun