Monthly Archives: June 2007

Putting On My Thinking Cap 24/7


Just a quick update for now. We have been running ourselves ragged. I am cramming greek paradigms into my brain, trying to finish up a paper for my Independent Philosophy Study from spring quarter(cursed and blessed extensions), teaching every week at CPC, and other such awesome things. I love it all, but all of it requires brain power; mine is running low. So I have been strapping on the thinking cap pretty often; thus no real blog posts.

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Actual Link For the Sermon

Here it is (thanks to Brendan Ribera)

When I Grow Up, I Want to Preach

Well, I got an opportunity to preach my first sermon on a Lord’s Day Morning. It went well; many people encouraged me also. If you want to hear it, Covenant Presbyterian Church has link to it on their website. I have been told that it didn’t work, but you may just try. If it doesn’t work send the webmaster an email; its better if you send him one than me!

Hellenization

I have taken the plunge. I am memorizing new paradigms everyday now, and am loving it, (we’ll see how I feel in week 5). It has been some what of a dream come true; I feel like I am finally beginning the process of gaining tools for real academic work. In fact I am enjoying it so much that I am telling every little interesting bit to my wife and sister in law; poor girls.

Other than that, I had an opportunity to preach at CPC recently. I enjoyed it, and I think it went well, though, I didn’t enjoy the massive nervousness that came over me beforehand.

Beth and I (mostly her) have been getting rid of all our stuff, and preparing boxes to send to Jackson, MS for an outgoing container. She hosted a huge give away party for all her girlfriends with a cover charge of donating needed toiletries. It was a big success; now we just have to pack it all.

Well, that is all for now. Back to the Hellenization of my mind….

True to the Calling

My friend John Baek sent this video to me fleshing out the calling to youth ministy….its priceless

Powell’s Top Ten

Happened to be on Powell’s Books web page. I began browsing in the philosophy section and noticed that they had a top ten books for the day. I assume that these are rated by numbers bought by customers. This, besides being sad, is pretty informative of some very general thought patterns in our world:

I guess I am just writing to say that I am glad that “The Five Love Languages…” made it on there…a strong witness against the ludicrous Hitchens book…..right…

Shorter but Equally Great Quotes

I realize that this is a lot of stuff to post, just thought I’d share some of the sweetness.
This time from Ryle in his commentary on John 6:

“[The minister’s] whole business is to receive the bread of life which his Master provides, and to distribute it among the souls among whom he labors. He cannot make men value the bread, or receive it. He cannot make it soul-saving, or life-giving, to any one. This is not his work. For this he is not responsible. His whole business is to be a faithful distributor of the food which his Divine Master has provided; and that done, his office is discharged.”

“There can be no doubt that this was meant to teach the adequacy of Christ’s Gospel to supply the necessities of the whole world. Weak, and feeble, and foolish as it may seem to man, the simple story of the Cross is enough for all the children of Adam in every part of the globe.”

Speaking on 6:14-15 “When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, ‘This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!’ Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself”, Ryle says:
“This example is one which ought to be far more remembered than it is. How common are pride, and ambition and high-mindedness! How rare are humility and lowly-mindedness! How fwe ever refuse greatness when offered to them! How many are continually seeking great things for themselves, and forgetting the injunction — ‘Seek them not!’ (Jer 45:5)”

“Trial, we must distinctly understadn, is part of the diet which all true Christians must expect. It is one of the means by which their grace is proved, and by which they find out what there is in themselves.”

This one is my favorite:
“Learned men talk solemn nonsense sometimes about the eternal fixity of the ‘laws of nature,’ as if they were above God Himself, and could never be suspended.”
(It seems that there is a lot out there that can count as “solemn nonsense”)

“Let us be real, true, and sincere in our religion, whatever else we are. The sinfulness of hypocrisy is very great, but its folly is greater still. It is not hard to deceive ministers, relatives, and friends. A little decent outward profession will often go a long way. But it is impossible to deceive Christ. “His eyes are as a flame of fire.” (Rev. 1:14.) He sees us through and through. Happy are those who can say–“You, Lord, who know all things, know that we love you.” (John 21:17.)”

“Fresh from the mighty miracle of the loaves and fishes, one might have thought they had had a sign sufficient to convince them. Taught by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, one might have expected a greater readiness to believe. But alas! there are no limits to man’s dulness, prejudice, and unbelief in spiritual matters. It is a striking fact that the only thing which our Lord is said to have “marveled” at during His earthly ministry, was man’s “unbelief.” (Mark 6:6.)”

“So long as the heart is naturally proud, worldly, unbelieving, and fond of self-indulgence, if not of sin, so long there will never be lacking people who will say of Christian doctrines and precepts, “These are hard sayings; who can hear them?””

Surpassingly Great Quotes

Well, I realized that I have been reading all this amazing stuff lately, and ought to share some of it. One of the biggest blessings of doing the work of the Church is that you actually are called to study and fill your mind with the word of God and with the counsel of fellow saints throughout the ages. So I get to read a lot of stuff, a lot of which I don’t get to share. So, I am deciding to take this as my opportunity.
From my recently purchased The Hauerwas Reader:
“For even though at a popular level many continue to assume there must be a close connection between religion and morality, this is not the dominant philosophical view. Indeed, the persistence of this popular assumption on testifies how hard it is to kill certain habits of though. For the assumption that there is a strong interdependence between religion and morality is but the remains of the now lost hegemony of Christianity over Western culture. That many still assume religion is essential to motivate us to do the good is an indication, however, that no satisfactory alternative has been found to replace Christianity, as a worldview and cult, in sustaining the ethos of our civilization. We find ourselves in the odd situation in which many of our society’s moral attitudes and practices are based on Jewish and Christian beliefs that are widely thought by many to be irrelevant or false. This situation does not provide an argument for the continued viability of religious practices, but only an indication that as a culture we still have not fully faced the implications of generating a genuine secular morality.”

This reminds me of something my friend Seth Moore said earlier this quarter. We have been taking an ancient ethics course together, and were talking about discussing ethics with unbelievers. He said something like this, ‘I really like talking about ethics with people in the department because they will start saying something and I will say “wait wait wait, you can’t say that. You got that from the Bible!!”‘ What he was getting at was that these people who would wave the flag of man’s independent status in the world, claiming to be unbiased objective sovereign investigators nonetheless rely on beliefs that come directly from a Christian worldview. The point is this; they had not, (and cannot), provided an independent rationale for why such Biblical belief can be held without believing in the God revealed in the Bible.

For the enduring reader, consider what Hauerwas goes on to say:
Our culture’s persistent failure to find an adequate substitute for Christianity has presented theologians with a temptation almost impossible to resist. Even if they cannot demonstrate the truth of theological claims, they can at least show the continued necessity of religious attitudes for the maintenance of our culture. Of course these theologians think it unwise to continue to use the explicit beliefs derived from the particular historic claims associated with Christianity (and Judaism) as the basis of secular morality. Such beliefs bear the marks of being historically relative and contingent. If religion is to deserve our allegiance, so the thinking goes, it must be based on what can be agreed upon universally. Thus, theologians have sought, at least since the Enlightenment, to demonstrate that theological language can be translated into terms that are meaningful and compelling for those who do not share Christianity’s more particularistic beliefs about Jesus of Nazareth. In short, theologians have tried to show that we do not need to speak theologically in order to ‘say something theological,’ as other forms of speech are really implicitly religious. After all, hasn’t talk of God always really been but a way to talk about being human?”
(On Keeping Theological Ethics Theological, 51-52 in The Hauerwas Reader)

So it comes to be that the Church has swallow the idea that there are standards and criteria that are independent of God which can validate His existence, His word, His Character, and His call on His people to be holy. This is such a basic assumption that many of us do not recognize it in ourselves. I would argue that this is exactly where Adam and Eve sin: they trust their judgment that the fruit is good for gaining knowledge of good and evil (apart from God). Thoughts?

Leithart to High Schoolers

I just got done reading an EXCELLENT bit by Peter Leithart. He was speaking to some Juniors and graduating Seniors in High School. Here are some snippets from his post that are a small glimmer of the gold in his work:

1 John 2:15 is relevant here. It tells us not to love the world. What does he mean? He’s not talking about the products of human culture as such. He’s not saying that we should not delight in cheeseburgers and cars and Bach cantatas and cell phones. These too, in themselves, are gifts of God that we should receive with thanksgiving. Though made by human beings, they are still ultimately from God, and not to be rejected.

He’s not talking about the products of culture per se: Godly people throughout the Bible use musical instruments and plows and domesticated animals and other forms of ancient technology. Paul travels by boat, and I have no doubt he would have flown to Rome if he had lived in our day. What John means by “world” is something more subtle and pervasive than the things that technology and human creativity provides, something more subtle and pervasive even than the practices of a society. He’s talking about the way the things of human culture are organized and used, and particularly about the desires that produce these things and practices and the desires that these things and practices evoke. John’s claim that the world is made up not only of “things” (TA EN TO KOSMO, v. 15) but of desires is a rich insight. He doesn’t limit the world merely to the artifacts that are evident in the world, nor to the institutions and practices of the world. The plural reference in verse 15 covers these multiple manifestations of the world, but at the heart of what John calls the world, the source from which the world flows, is desire.

To put it more sociologically, (sinful) human culture – its institutions, practices, products – are all embodiments of evil desire or boastfulness. John hints that we should evaluate the world not only on the basis of what’s done or what things it contains, but on the basis of desire. And desire has a multiple relationship with culture: Desires are the “contents” of culture – culture is made up of embodied dreams, aspirations, lusts; on the other hand, the world is the source of desire, evoking certain kinds of desire. John’s sociology thus encourages us to ask what desires are embodied in roads, buildings, automobiles, iPods, coffee, customs, schools, and so on. John encourages us to seek to penetrate below the surface of cultural life to the desires that are provoking and provoked by the world.

Branding covers everything from the clothes we wear, and the music we listen to, to the soft drinks we prefer, to literal brands that we place on our bodies – tattoos and piercings and various forms of cosmetic surgery. By these markings, we are identifying ourselves, and particularly identifying ourselves with a particular community. In her book, Branded, Alissa Quart describes her own experience: “I knew that Beatrice owned Tropicana (thanks to the chipper synergic advertising jingle tagline of the period ‘By Beatrice!’), that when I wore Converse high tops and listened to Joy Division I was branding myself, putting myself on the ark punk nostalgic ‘college rock’ side of adolescent style. I considered myself in a style war against the ‘normal’ girls, who wore Zazu-colored hair and blue jelly shoes, their Polo by Ralph Lauren logos standing proud and emblematic on their cotton shirts. . . . I carefully scissored the labels off my Levi’s and Guess jeans. I believed the shadowy tell-tale rectangles that remained were an aesthetic of renunciation that would speak for me.”

Quart notices particularly that marketers are targeting younger kids more intensely than ever, in the hope that they can “brand” them in perpetuity. A baby dressed in Baby Gap will be at Old Navy for decades to come. Teen magazines that emerged in the late 1990s – teen versions of People, Vogue, and Elle Girl – are part of this effort: “Today’s teen magazines must have celebrities on their covers, one month Jennifer Lopez, the next James King. The magazines now all push pricey clothes, such as the costumery of Stuart Weitzman, Christian Dior, and DKNY. Teen Vogue details the costly label-fixated clothing tastes of the stars: Liv Tyler in a Jane Mayle dress, Keith Richards’s teen daughter in Frankie B. jeans, Scarlet Johansson squeezed into a ‘Technicolor Dolce’ dress (in deference to the brand Dolce & Gabbana). These magazines construct an unaffordable but palpable world of yearning for girls. We are all too familiar with the negative effects of model body on girls’ self-images, but these new magazines do something new: They help to solidify feelings of economic and taste inadequacy in girls. By introducing very young teens to female celebrity and the dressmakers who help create it, these magazines underline that girls are not complete or competitive if they don’t wear label dresses at their junior high school dances.”