Against a dark background, as a result of an interplay of light and shadow, there stands out a blind, colorless, cold marble and divinely beautiful, proud and majestic body, a statue. And the world is such a statue, and gods are statues; the city-state also, and the heroes, and the myths, and ideas all conceal underneath them this original sculptural intuition…There is no personality, no eyes, no spiritual individuality. There is a “something,” but not a “someone,” an individualized “it,” but no living person with his proper name…There is no one at all. There are bodies, and there are ideas. The spiritual character of the ideas is killed by the body, but the warmth of the body is restrained by the abstract idea. There are here beautiful, but cold and blissfully indifferent statues.
- A.T. Losev
1. The NY Times is reporting that the religious parties have an overwhelming lead in early results from the vote in Iraq. Three cheers for democracy, which leads to the rule of Sharia. Will we now impose secularism at the end of a gun in Iraq? I doubt it. I think we will largely be gone within a year, calling it a victory and going home.
2. A quick view of recent church dynamics: In the early part of the last century fundamentalism emerged with strong hostility to the Roman church carried over from the Reformational past. Catholics veered liberal in the 1960′s, and many individual Catholics left the church for Protestant groups. Mainstream Prot churches gradually lost all connection to their own historical basis, and taught against the RCC on the basis of ‘superstition,’ tradition,’ ‘religion’ and the like. The RCC started swinging back heavily to orthodoxy in the 1990s with the younger orthodox. It is now the faction with the mojo. The bland evangelicals have lost all capability of disagreeing with Rome on anything but superficial grounds. The magesterial Reformation is the only thing left between Rome and intellectual vanity on the part of the Protestants. Some day all the non denom folks are going to wake up and wonder where they came from and where they are going. Rome is beckoning them home with a revitalized orthodoxy. The Dobsons of this world can only stand back and marvel at a history which produces men like Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Santorum while it has Miers and Ralph Reed to offer. EWTN vs. TBN, who would you pick?
3. BSU produces football coaches who look good on paper and fail elsewhere because they play a bunch of nothing teams. Houston Nutt, Dirk Koetter, and now Dan Hawkins all go elsewhere and underwhelm due to their inflated resumes. Playing La Tech and playing real squads every week are two totally different things.
4. If Bush knowingly circumvented and broke the law in this wiretap thing, I hope he gets impeached. The arrogance of war powers that descends from our first tyrant, Lincoln, is what can produce a Caesar in our future. All we have are laws, if they mean nothing, than God help us all.
James Jordan wrote something I had never thought of (no surprise there), especially the last paragraph:
1. Yes, you’re right in your assessment. Of course, Wright is saying that continuance in faith/faithfulness is the condition for persevering to the end. He who began a good work in you will bring it to an end. It’s not a matter of adding works, but of filling out the faith. There’s a certain perversity in those who refuse to hear this, because they’ve been told it often enough.
2. These people hear Wright in a context of the Norman Shepherd conflict at Westminster Seminary in the late 1970s. Shepherd said exactly the same thing, that there was a first and a final justification, and there was a huge row about it. It has continued to this day, and Wright is read by the anti-Shepherdists in that context.
- My advice: Read Numbers 19, consider that being cleansed twice on 3rd and 7th days was something that happened quite often during a person’s life (each time a family member died), and consider how a nation of people shaped by 1500 years of this practice would understand what the NT says about two resurrections, and two justifications.
A physical, body of flesh and bones. A resurrected one, yes. This should not be news to any of us and I don’t think it is. But then again I can’t take it for granted because I am in an argument with some Latter Day Saints and they have told me of the numerous Christians they talk to who are shocked to find out that Jesus has a *real* body in the heavens. I don’t doubt that what these Mormons have heard is the case amongst our sickly American church. So I state it here for all to see. And I thank God for men like N.T. Wright and his Resurrection of the Son of God. As Joel Garver helpfully pointed out to me, the Council of Chalcedon declared:
Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
Every year for as long as I can remember, Christians get all up in arms about some offense against Christmas. It is a tired tradition, we not only gear up for celebrating the Incarnation, we also have to arm against whatever enormous threat is out there. This year, spreading like wildfire over the Christian net, are stories about how megachurches are not going to have church on Christmas Sunday. Is this terrible? Of course it is. Is it surprising? Not really.
But it is tedious that we have to find a new whipping boy every year. It’s like the prayer in school issue, a tired old saw that we have to drag out and revisit to assure ourselves that we are a minority under fire. Enough already, celebrate Christmas and ignore it. Move along, nothing to see here.
Umberto Eco writes a sad review of the modern tendency towards the occult and abandonment of Christianity. He realizes the plight, but has no solution other than:
I was raised as a Catholic, and although I have abandoned the Church, this December, as usual, I will be putting together a Christmas crib for my grandson. We’ll construct it together – as my father did with me when I was a boy. I have profound respect for the Christian traditions – which, as rituals for coping with death, still make more sense than their purely commercial alternatives.
missional – enough of this word, it is so burned out already
impactful – not a word, no matter how many times I hear it
seamless – blah
stakeholder – empty jargon
This was written about scientific writing, but I think it can be applied to theological writing as well:
Over the past fifty years or so, scientists have allowed the conventions of expression available to them to become entirely too confining. The insistence on bland impersonality and the widespread indifference to anything like the display of a unique human author in scientific exposition, have not only transformed the reading of most scientific papers into an act of tedious drudgery, but have also deprived scientists of some powerful tools for enhancing their clarity in communicating matters of great complexity. Scientists wrote beautifully through the 19th century and on into the early 20th. But somewhere after that, coincident with the explosive growth of research, the art of writing science suffered a grave setback, and the stultifying convention descended that the best scientific prose should sound like a non-human author addressing a mechanical reader.
-N. David Mermin