Friday, November 26, 2004

On speaking

I've been reading Jeremiah, and he is alarming. In chapter 23, he says (and he's quoting the Lord directly, so there's no wiggling away from it): "Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: the committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one has turned back from his wickedness."

He smacks down lying as strenuously as adultery. Ouch.

And then there's II Timothy 2, which tells us unequivocally not to "wrangle about words," to avoid "worldly and empty chatter," and to "refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels."

I haven't even mentioned James, either.

From this we may deduce that God cares very much about what pops out of our mouths. This is scary.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Why knights?

I have found a fascinating website which wrestles with the very question that I've been fighting with for the last two weeks: what does a knight look like in modern America? They are apparently a combination historical reenactment group, junior league of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, and martial arts class. It's fascinating to me, because they affirm so completely so much that is Christian, and yet they deny Christianity. It is well worth browsing through what they have up.

I have had questions from several people why I even bother with the knighthood thing. If my ideal for manliness is essentially "Christian virtue," and knighthood takes much defining before it's a useful term, why not just call what I'm talking about "Christian virtue" and have done with it?

I think I would reply that it is because somehow knighthood resonates with people. It's an medium, an analogy or picture if you will, that simply communicates Truth to them. It's like the thesis that every culture has a key to the gospel: a saying or a concept that is a powerful expresser. God also gives individuals their own desires, bents, and things that will communicate to them.

There are also people who don't resonate with knighthood. That's fine. The gospel will just have to get to them another way. :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Shakespeare strikes again

Borachio: Thou knowest that the fashion of a doublet, or a hat, or a cloak, is nothing to a man.
Conrade: Yes, it is apparel.
Borachio: I mean the fashion.
Conrade: Yes, the fashion is the fashion.
Borachio: Tush! I may as well say the fool's the fool. But seest thou not what a deformed thief this fashion is? ...How giddily 'a turns about all the hotbloods between fourteen and five-and-thirty? ...
Conrade: All this I see; and I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man. But art not thou thyself giddy with the fashion too, that thou hast shifted out of thy tale into telling me of the fashion?

So in PBR this morning, Dr. Bates asked why the fool, you know, the guy who says there's no God, is a fool.

It was irresistible. "Because he changed his fashion!"

All right, so it wasn't the greatest joke ever. But it amused me. :-)

Monday, November 15, 2004

Condemned to everlasting redemption

Yesterday at church, Pastor Holman was talking about martyrdom and how as Christians we really have nothing to fear. They can kill our bodies, but then we go be with Jesus, which is good.

I leaned over to Dogberry and quoted one of his lines at him: "We're 'condemned to everlasting redemption'!"

Saturday, November 13, 2004


"There was a time when scientists like famed Laplace idly fancied that if they knew the initial location and momentum of all the particles in the Universe, they could (theoretically at least) foretell the future and retell the past. (This, despite free will and passion, as if your next warm kiss had been set in motion some 15 thousand million years ago when the Universe began.) That's the ultimate in determinism, and however beyond our computational abilities, the logic still disturbs. Though Newtonian theory weaves a deterministic plot where every sigh results from the inexorable confluence of physical law, Quantum Mechanics happily puts a touch of chance in the hatter's clockwork. The future of even one lone electron is quite beyond prediction; the Uncertainty Principle makes it impossible to precisely know its initial conditions. So kiss whomever you like; change your mind however you will; and rest assured that physics, at least, knows that it cannot hope to calculate the future." --my physics text*

The Roman Lucretius, in the first century BC, struggled with the issue of free will and determinism. He believed that all atoms in the universe were falling. But to make room for human freedom, he postulated clinamen, or that as atoms fell, they "swerved."

Lucretius and Hecht hold the same naturalistic idea. Hecht's formulation, at least, is not an argument; it is assumption and assertion. His boldness at picking up such a controversial subject as free will and dealing with it in two paragraphs, without so much as admitting there is a controversy, astounded me. He did not seem to observe any difference between philosophy and science, either.

Lucretius and Hecht do not even leave room for God, much less start their thinking from Him.

*Physics: Algebra and Trig, Eugene Hecht, Thomson Brooks/Cole: Pacific Grove, 2003, pp. 1046-47.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

We should do better

I was disappointed to discover graffiti in Nash today. My brothers, this should not be. We are called to love God and one another (for this is all the law and the prophets), and this includes respecting one another’s property. Why else would God prohibit not only theft but even theft’s root, covetousness? The desks in Nash Auditorium belong to the school, and defacing one of them is a sin against the entire school: against one another, and against the staff, and against those who are gracious and give to us.

I am disappointed that nobody called the culprit on it. Presumably someone saw the word being written on the desk; why was it allowed to continue? I also understand that there have been thefts in one of the wings this semester. I don’t know how this is considered okay. It’s laudable to give to those in need, and laudable to forgive the sinner, but it is profoundly unloving to allow sin to reign unchecked in the heart of a brother. We are no longer slaves to sin. If I love you, I will want your good, and you will not find your good in unrighteousness.

Let us call all things by their true names. Graffiti and theft are evils. My brothers and sisters, please let there be found no evil among you.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


How do you combine knightly ideals with Christianity and contemporary livability?

Quests and Camelot are all very nice, but they fail the Screwtape Letters test of virtue and practice. It's just unlikely a modern guy could ride a horse around, seeking fair maidens to deliver from dragons. Of such tasks are Don Quixotes made.

There's more to chivalry than the coolness of it. It seems to me that knighthood requires serious, well, manliness. True manliness requires a deep, persistent love of God in the hidden person of the heart, and that's hard. But the cool stuff, the "fruit," is easy to see. It's fun to go haring off after the Grail. It's very satisfying to chop off a giant's head. That's the part that has caught modern people's imaginations so they design websites and write novels. I'm tired of modern medieval wannabes. They want the fun of chivalry without the substance.

It's idealistic, yes: but this ideal can be realized, through sinful flesh and the power of the Spirit. I want men about me, men who have to live in the real world, and deal with "enlightened" bossy females and schoolwork and jobs and broken-down cars. Mere fantasy won't cut it.

I think we should reinstate knighthood.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The trail at night

I hadn't been down the trail yet this semester; not that way, the way not into Purcellville. But Megan and I went down there after dinner.

It was quite dark. The moon wasn't up yet, and the stars were out, somewhat. The traffic headlights were more annoying than helpful. First they blinded you, then they deserted you. It was better once we got away from the road.

The night was amazingly warm for November. It felt rather like Bandelier canyon, in New Mexico, in that there would be warmer puffs of air and then cooler puffs. Sometimes your face would be warm and your fingers cold.

We walked as far as the first bridge. We could see the funny landform off to the north, the one in the middle of a field, the one that looks like a muffin-top covered with trees. I couldn't hear or see the stream under the bridge, so I don't know if there was water in it or not. I could smell the water-scent, though. Somewhere near there, things were wet and living.

On the way back, there was a beautiful section where the trees were darkly silhouetted against a purple-gray sky with white pinpricks through it. The sky was not a deep or clear color, just dark. Sometimes night skies look velvety. This one looked like a very low-contrast photo, all dusty. And yet, it too was beautiful.

When we passed the line of trees and looked back at them, they were illuminated by the subdivision lights into the exact shade of gray as the sky, and tree and sky blended together.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Killing the old man for the inheritance

You probably never knew that it was biblical to kill an old man in order to get an inheritance. It is.

I discovered this the other evening while teasing a friend over IM. He wrote, "DIE, OLD MAN! DIE! WRITHE IN PAINFUL AGONY!!! FEEL MY DAGGER THRUSTING TO YOUR VERY HEART!!!"

Well, that was unexpected. I associated his comment with murder mysteries, in which one is always knocking off old men to get inheritances and then being arrested for it, and this friend just generally doesn't do that.

Friend: "Doesn't Paul say something about putting to death the old nature, our 'old man'? Well then."

Why yes, so Paul did. So the mystery references in my subconscious were irrelevant. Only--

Me: "OOH, COOL THOUGHT! It was to get an inheritance: the riches of eternal life!"

And there you have it: sanctification as a divine murder mystery.