06 December 2013
05 December 2013
I am a Protestant. But I don't really feel like I am protesting anything. I'm not likely to burn any papal bulls, or any papists for that matter,
in person or in effigy any time soon. I don't want to picket the local
Roman Catholic church here in Lynchburg. When I became a deacon at my church, I took an exception to the Westminster Confession at 25.6 where the Pope is called the Antichrist. I'm not an iconoclast. Most of my favorite fiction writers (Chesterton, Belloc, Tolkien, Waugh, O'Connor) are Catholic. I love Thomas Aquinas. I have no more antagonism toward Roman Catholicism than I do against Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Lutherans or any other Christian group with which I have doctrinal disagreements. I simply believe that the system of
doctrine taught in Reformed theology is closer to Biblical truth than
that taught in Roman Catholicism.
So I've come to prefer the term "Reformed" to the term "Protestant"just because of the negative connotation of being a perpetual protestor.
But then, I recently learned that the word "Protestant" has nothing to do with protest in the modern sense of the word.The Reformers were not protesting corrupt practices in Rome, false doctrine, shady politics, or immorality. They were protesting the truth.
This is one of those situations in which a word today means almost the opposite of its original meaning. Today we think of people protesting those things they disagree with. According to the original meaning of the word, however, people protested those things they believed. You see, the word "protest" comes from the Latin protestari, which means "declare publicly, testify". The Reformers were called "Protestants", not because of what they were against, but because of what they were for. Thy proclaimed and testified to the truth of Scripture. Now that's a definition of "protestant" that I can get behind.
03 December 2013
"My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs) - or to 'unconsitutional' Monarchy...the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints (who at any rate were at least unwilling to take it on), is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity." -Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, letter no. 52
26 November 2013
Here's the Link
21 November 2013
14 November 2013
One of the most famous love stories in all literature is that of Dido and Aeneas from Virgil’s Aeneid. In his Confessions, Augustine even tells of how this particular story was used as part of his rhetorical education, as the students were taught how to read the story of Dido and make themselves weep. Unfortunately, those people who like to imagine a historic basis for their legends are out of luck on this one. Dido, the founding Queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, the fugitive from Troy’s destruction, could never have met. The traditional date for the founding of Carthage, derived from the Greek historian Timaeus, is 814 B.C. The date of the Trojan War is either 1250 B.C. (according to Herodotus) or around 1184 B.C. (according to Eratosthenes). So unless Aeneas wandered the Mediterranean for about 400 years, there was no chance that he ever met up with Dido.
“Ithobalus, the priest of Astarte…reigned thirty-two years, and lived sixty-eight years: he was succeeded by his son Badezorus, who lived forty-five years, and reigned six years: he was succeeded by Matgenus his son; he lived thirty-two years, and reigned nine years: Pygmalion succeeded him; he lived fifty-six years, and reigned forty-seven years. Now in the seventh year of his reign, his sister fled away from him, and built the city Carthage in Libya.” (Josephus, Against Apion 1.18)
Remember, though, I told you I had a fun, interesting connection for you? Here it is. Ithobaal/Ethbaal was a usurper. He was a priest who killed the king and started a new dynasty. Naturally he would want to ally himself with his neighbors to cement his reign. At the time, one powerful southern neighbor was Israel. King Ahab of Israel (874 – 853) was particularly militaristic and strong. As an aside, we know from other historical records that when Shalmaneser III of Assyria tried to push west, he was opposed by a coalition of twelve kings, which included Ahab. Ahab brought the strongest military force of all the kings, numbering 2,000 chariots and 10,000 infantry. So Ithobaal married his daughter off to Ahab of Israel as we read in 1 Kings 16:31, “…he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians…”
So, in case you haven’t been keeping up, the whole Dido and Aeneas thing is pure fiction with no historical basis whatever: a nice story, but nothing more. However, Dido, founder of Carthage, did have another famous connection, her great-aunt Jezebel of Biblical fame. And if you’re like me, you find that “It’s a Small World After All” vibe to be pretty cool.
12 November 2013
One of life's great miracles is Coffee!
I am certain that most of you already know that. My sister commented on it recently. In fact, Europeans have had their eyes opened (heh) to this fact since the 1720s. Coffeehouses provided a meeting place for people of all social strata: rich and poor, aristocrats and tradesmen. One such coffeehouse, the Zimmerman Café (Zimmermannsche Kaffeehaus) in Leipzig was a popular hangout for Johann Sebastian Bach. That’s right, the famous composer Bach hung out at a coffee house and some evenings he would even play with his band. Doesn’t sound too different from the coffee house culture today.
In honor of his favorite drink, Bach wrote a special cantata. It’s official name is “Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht”, but it is often simply referred to as the “Kaffe Kantate” (Coffee Cantata). In the cantata, the father is at his wits’ end because he cannot keep his wayward daughter from drinking coffee. On her part she says that she cannot imagine living if she cannot have her coffee everyday. Below you can hear Bach’s homage to the wonder and beauty that is coffee. Here’s a link to the English translation if you want to follow along.
I wanted to help the poor but
The government wanted a cut.
"It's really not fair,"
They said with a glare.
"We'll hit you with a rifle butt."
Charity without laws is dead.
At least I think that's what they said.
We'll trust Capitol Hill
Instead of good will
To care for the needy instead.
When Jesus said help those in need,
I'm pretty sure government greed
To fill up their coffers
With lobbyists' offers
Is what we're intended to feed.
I'm not one for pointless contrariety,
But good sense is often a rarity.
Those who think that Christ's maxims
Call for to federal actions
Should learn about subsidiarity.
28 October 2013
Well, it's that time of year again. Only three days until Halloween. As it's been a while since I've done a top five list, I thought I'd share some recommendations for children's books suitable for Halloween time. None of these books are specifically about Halloween or reference Halloween in any way. They just fit the atmosphere. And, while families may differ, there are none of these books that I wouldn't let either my six or eight-year-old read. (In fact, when we finish reading The Graveyard Book out loud this week, I think they will have read all of these except for the Poe book.)
1. The Midnight Folk by John Masefield
This is a classic childrens' book from the poet John Masefield. The story follows Kay Harker who learns from his talking cat, Nibbins, that his house in the country is being used as a meeting place by a coven of witches led by the evil wizard Abner Brown. There is a long-lost family treasure that once belonged to Kay's ancestors that the witches are after. Together with his animal friends, Kay goes on some magical journeys in order to find the treasure before Abner and his witches can get it!
2. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's twist on Kipling's The Jungle Book is wonderful. Imagine The Jungle Book, but instead of his parents being killed by a tiger, a young boy's parents are offed by a supernatural serial killer. As the story takes place in England and not India, the toddler wanders into a graveyard rather than the jungle, and is taken in, not by a wolf pack but by the ghosts that inhabit the cemetery. His guardians are a vampire and a werewolf rather than a panther and a bear. Neil really does some fantastic things with this book and there are many great lessons for kids to learn from the story.
3. The Haunted Mountain by Mollie Hunter
This book was my childhood introduction to Celtic fairy tales. In MacAllister's village, everyone leaves a portion of their fields unplowed for "the good people". (You always must call them "the good people" rather than by their true name, the sidhe, unless you want to face their wrath.) MacAllister openly defies them by plowing his "Goodman's Croft" for, as he says, "There is no need for any Christian man to fear the old magic." However, later in his life he lets his guard down and is captured by the sidhe who are bent on revenge, and MacAllister's son, Fergus, must go and rescue his father from the wicked fairy people on the haunted mountain.
4. Uncle Terrible by Nancy Willard
Uncle Terrible is a friend of the family. He teaches high school Latin, collects comic books and movie memorabilia, and is called Uncle Terrible because he’s so terribly nice. Anatole goes to visit Uncle Terrible in his New York apartment, little suspecting that he will soon be shrinking to the size of a cockroach, meeting Mother Nature, traveling with a skeletal mule, and playing a life-and-death game of checkers with an evil wizard to save his friends.
5. The Raven and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe is one of my favorite authors, and always appropriate for Halloween. This short book, published by Scholastic, contains some of his most famous poems, and is a great introduction to Poe for younger readers.
26 October 2013
"If you are discipling your child and you are doing so apart from baptism, then you are discipling in a vacuum. If you are washing your children in the Word but have not brought them forth to be washed by the waters of baptism, then you are not getting them fully clean. Baptism is essential to discipleship in a similar way that sticking a flag in the ground is essential to conquering a nation. It is a reference point. It is a lasting sign lest we forget whose land we're living on. And we forget far too easily."
(Pure Water: The Beauty and Mystery of Baptism by Chase McMaster, p. 68)