Saturday, February 28, 2009

The aim of noble minds...

...Training the character once more became, in classical fashion, the guiding imperative of education, but now with w twist: union with God was not replaced, but enhanced, by the classical ideals of virtus et fama, virtue and fame. The gentleman who had learned the lessons--moral and stylistic-- that the ancient world had to teach could build upon that capital, not as a huckster hawking his wares, but as an enlightened follower, a knight errant in quest of a lost world...Once more, not originality, but mastery of formal, set tasks was the aim of noble minds. Educated men were known by their ability not only to do the right things, but also to say the right things in the right way. New rules reigned over the court of play. The dimensions had been measured out, the lines chalked, the net raised; it remained to the student to perfect his moves.
~T. L. Simmons, Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin, p.93

Friday, February 27, 2009

Is classical education for everyone? Part I

Schoolmasters taught young people not only the ways of God, but also officiated over their initiation rites into the classics, making the classical inheritance a living presence in the lives of their charges. As the classical scholar R. M. Ogilvie once observed, in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italy, "the merchant class was seeking a new ideal: the ideal of a cultivated lay-man independent of Church or noble birth." To be fed were not clerical scholars only, nor even just the sons and daughters of the nobility, but eventually the children of the burgeoning commercial class. One could begin to escape the disadvantages of lower birth with a thoroughgoing classical education.
~Tracy Lee Simmons, Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin, p.92

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More Miscellany

Ok. This cartoon made me laugh. I don't know why.

And here is an interesting video review on the 50th anniversary of the release of Ben Hur. I've read the book (written by a territorial governor of New Mexico, btw), and seen the movie, but just might have to watch it again.

And this looks like a pretty interesting site for online lectures.

And if all this is too light-hearted for you today, try some of these heavy things. First, a thoughtful post from Al Mohler on the Pornification of our culture. Or, try one of Anthony Esolen's excellent meditations on the nature of evil here, or here. I always find his writing thought-provoking.

And if you're going for really depressing, you might read this.

Otherwise, stick with the first few links.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An economic rant

If you missed this rant by Rick Santelli of CBNC, I encourage you to watch it. It's about time someone talked a little sense...

And after you watch the video, enjoy this.

And while we are talking about Obama policy, D.T. points out a quiet change in policy here. Very interesting.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Before I list some of the fascinating things I have run across recently, in the category of giving praise where praise is due, I must tell you that almost everything I point out to you was pointed out to me by one of the blogs listed in the side-bar. I find them all interesting and worth my time. Check out any you are unfamiliar with!

This morning I came across an interesting article from Business Insider that gave some good perspective on the housing market. I had already planned to post this editorial from Investors Business Daily as my "Non-stimulus piece of the week", so read it, too, if you can stand the depression that will ensue. For another take on the whole mess we are in, see Andrew Kern's thoughtful blog post here.

And speaking of interesting takes on culture, read Carl Trueman's thought-provoking article about Christians and cultural engagement here. This also wins the prize for the most interesting title...

On a different note, I enjoyed this article by John Stackhouse, Jr. in Chritianity Today about music in worship.

And keeping with my "arts" theme, and to end on something funny and light, read Dave Barry here on having an "art attack".

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Steadfastly cleave

Almighty God, Thou shewest Thy glory for us to see, not only in heaven and earth, but also in the law, the prophets, and the Gospel, and hast so intimately revealed Thyself in Thine only begotten Son that we cannot excuse ourselves out of ignorance. Grant that we may advance in this teaching wherewith Thou so kindly invitest us to Thyself, and may thus steadfastly cleave to Thee, that no errors of the world may lead us astray, but may stand firmly fixed in Thy Word, which cannot deceive us, at last reaching heavenly blessedness that we may enjoy Thy glory face to face, conformed completely to Thee. In Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
~A prayer of John Calvin, as quoted by Dr. David Calhoun

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The duty of prayer

I read an excellent resource by John Piper on prayer today (with thanks to JT for pointing it out.) In part, it says:

But the hard truth is that most Christians don’t pray very much. They pray at meals—unless they’re still stuck in the adolescent stage of calling good habits legalism. They whisper prayers before tough meetings. They say something brief as they crawl into bed. But very few set aside set times to pray alone—and fewer still think it is worth it to meet with others to pray. And we wonder why our faith is weak. And our hope is feeble. And our passion for Christ is small.

And meanwhile the devil is whispering all over this room: “The pastor is getting legalistic now. He’s starting to use guilt now. He’s getting out the law now.” To which I say, “To hell with the devil and all of his destructive lies. Be free!” Is it true that intentional, regular, disciplined, earnest, Christ-dependent, God-glorifying, joyful prayer is a duty? Do I go to pray with many of you on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m., and Wednesday at 5:45 p.m., and Friday at 6:30 a.m., and Saturday at 4:45 p.m., and Sunday at 8:15 a.m. out of duty? Is it a discipline?

You can call it that. It’s a duty the way it’s the duty of a scuba diver to put on his air tank before he goes underwater. It’s a duty the way pilots listen to air traffic controllers. It’s a duty the way soldiers in combat clean their rifles and load their guns. It’s a duty the way hungry people eat food. It’s a duty the way thirsty people drink water. It’s a duty the way a deaf man puts in his hearing aid. It’s a duty the way a diabetic takes his insulin. It’s a duty the way Pooh Bear looks for honey. It’s a duty the way pirates look for gold.

I suggest you read the whole thing here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A humble man...

Yesterday I promised to tell a story, so here it is.

When Dave and I were first married, and newly taking the Reformed faith seriously, we attended a wonderful church... Wallace Memorial Presbyterian Church, pastored by Rev. Glen Knecht. At that time, Wallace was a member of the mainline United Presbyterian denomination, though many of her elders were conservative, Reformed folk. Dave and I heard somewhere that the UP had a case pending against a man named Kaseman, who had been admitted at a joint minister between a UP church and a United Church of Christ Church, and there were serious questions about his orthodoxy. This occurred as Dave and I were trying to decide whether to become members at Wallace.

Being the "take the bull by the horns" type that I am, we invited Glen and his lovely wife Betty to our little graduate-married-housing apartment for tea and cookies one evening. They graciously came, and sat on our furniture (all Early Garage-sale styling...)and listened to our concerns carefully.

"Have you heard about this Kaseman case?" I asked bluntly. "We are concerned about joining a church in this denomination when it doesn't seem to care if the Trinity or the virgin birth of Christ, or Christ's substitutionary atonement are affirmed by its pastors."

With a gentle, concerned manner, Pastor Knecht replied that he was aware of this grave situation, and could assure us that the elders at Wallace were watching very carefully and would act to protect the purity of the church to the best of their ability. If the denomination failed to affirm the basic doctrines of the faith, they would take appropriate action. With his gracious assurance, our fears were somewhat relieved, and we went ahead with membership at Wallace.

What Pastor Knecht didn't tell us that evening was that he had spent the previous year in his private study time, studying the person and work of Christ. He had arrived early to the last Presbytery meeting, apparently an unusual thing for him to do, and so was sitting right up front when Mr. Kaseman came forward to be examined. Glen told us later that something in his answers did not quite sound right, and so Glen began asking questions. To make a long story short, it was Glen and the elders of Wallace that had brought the charges to Presbytery, and on to general assembly.

Pastor Knecht could have answered us by saying, "Do I know about it?! I'm the one bringing the charges against him, you daft girl!" But he didn't. He answered our concerns quietly, carefully, and humbly. That is just a little picture of his gentleness and humility! What a blessing Glen has been to the church, for many years. And what a blessing he was to us!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Interesting "stimulus bill" item of the week: this fascinating and slightly horrifying) chart from the Washington Post. And on a related economic note: no time to read the classic Road to Serfdom by Hayek? No worries. Get the illustrated version here! I read somewhere this week a quote that said. "Milton Friedman in dead, and John Maynard Keynes is resurrected. *sigh* For a short explanation of why this is a bad thing, may I recommend Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave?

Interesting cultural items of the week: how about the return of indulgences? And Andy over at IVP blogs about our bad manners and inattentiveness in getting up and leaving while people are speaking. This has often astounded and disturbed me.

Interesting education items of the week: This somewhat lengthy, but fascinating narrative of the experience of a homeschooling family (pointed out by my dil Elsa- thanks!) is worth reading, though the title of the book it comes from is rather frightening. And I've been enjoying the conversation about "worldview" over at the Quiddity blog. Very thought-provoking!

And encouraging item of the week: I ran across this meditation from one of this generation's finest pastors and preachers, Dr. Glen Knecht. He was our pastor in Maryland, and maybe tomorrow I will tell about what a gracious man he is, and how I am able to stick my foot in my mouth no matter who I am talking to. But these words are very encouraging to me, as he writes about healing for our woundedness:
How much we need healing! For we have been wounded by the arrows of our enemy. Stinging words, careless words, events misinterpreted, have lodged in our souls and in our consciences and have caused us to turn away from the love affair of the heart with God. They have crippled us so we can’t dance the wedding song with our beloved Groom.

Our Divine Suitor is saying to us, Come away with Me, you are wonderful, come rejoice with Me.” And our wounds say, “I am not worthy, I am inadequate, I am dirty, I don’t matter.” The wounds within can shape the story line of our lives, rather than the wondrous love of God for us giving shape to our story.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A dirth of virtue

Last week I read an interesting article written by Eastern Carolina University John Stevens in defense of a Great Books education. He says in part:
One ancient argument suggested that if virtue were easy and pleasant, everyone would be virtuous. Virtue is something that requires effort both to understand and to begin to desire. Moral education seems to come about better from books that require active attention, close comparison of patterns of action, and repeated application of critical judgment; that is, engaged reading and re-reading.

The whole story of his faculty wars to include works by dead white males is interesting and encouraging. You can read it here.

This whole idea of the tough work of cultivating virtue has been on my mind lately. I just listened to a fascinating interview on attentiveness in our wired and cyber-driven society on Mars Hill Audio. I wonder if we take seriously our amazing power as educators (both parents and teachers) to instill and call our students to virtue?

Andrew Kern had a challenging short blog post, also last week, where he says in part:
The only thing more dangerous than real education is the illusion of education - to be falsely educated.

Please take a minute to read the whole thing. If we are not educating our students in the real, eternal things, we are leading them astray. It is a healthy challenge in these days of economic and moral crises to step aside from the sound bites and ponder things at a deeper level. The dirth of virtue in our culture is obvious: its remedy is less so.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Old soul

LORD, what I once had done with youthful might,
Had I been from the first true to the truth,
Grant me, now old, to do--with better sight,
And humbler heart, if not the brain of youth;
So wilt thou, in they gentleness and truth,
Lead back thy old soul, by the path of pain,
Round to his best--young eyes and heart and brain.

~George MacDonald from Diary of an Old Soul

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

"Love of the Word has been a prominent feature in the history of all the saints, of whom we know anything, since the days of the Apostles. This is the lamp that Athanasius and Chrysostom and Augustine followed. This is the compass that kept the Vallenses and Albigenses from making shipwreck of the faith. This is the well that was reopened by Wycliffe and Luther, after it had been long stopped up. This is the sword with which Latimer, and Jewell, and Knox won their victories. This is the manna that fed Baxter and Owen, and the noble host of the Puritans, and made them strong in battle. This is the armoury from which Whitefield and Wesley drew their powerful weapons. This is the mine from which Bickersteth and M'Cheyne brought forth rich gold. Differing as these holy men did in some matters, on one point they were all agreed -- they all delighted in the Word."

~J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The desultory state of education

But by 1834...the English headmaster par excellence Thomas Arnold sounded alarms. "Expel Greek and Latin from your schools," he wrote, "and you confine the views of the existing generation to themselves and their immediate predecessors; you will cut off so many centuries of the world's experience, us in the same state as if the human race had come into existence in the year 1500." (If we bear in mind the desultory state of education today, this alternative no longer shocks us: we should be grateful now, and many of us would settle, for a historical memory reaching back so far.)
~Tracy Lee Simmons, Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin, pp.72-73

Friday, February 13, 2009

Non-stimulus item of the day

Thanks to Mrs. Edwards for posting this amazing glimpse at the stimulus package, and today's item of economic discouragement.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A noteworthy sale

Check out the sale over at the Sovereign Grace Store. Some items I particularly recommend:
*Come Weary Saints: my soundtrack for the last months of struggle. Wonderful, uplifting, biblical words to keep your focus where it needs to be.
*Upward: The Bob Kauflin Hymns Project: lovely contemporary arrangements of wonderful hymns.
*Valley of Vision: inspired by the book of Puritan prayers by the same name. Lovely and encouraging.

I plan to add a few more CDs and couple books to my collection!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The captured heart

I had already run across this article when my son, Tim sent a link to it with the word, "Yikes" attached. Yikes indeed. Betsy McCaughey says in part:
On Friday, President Obama called it “inexcusable and irresponsible” for senators to delay passing the stimulus bill. In truth, this bill needs more scrutiny.

The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet the bill treats health care the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry. Imagine limiting growth and innovation in the electronics or auto industry during this downturn. This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the economy.

I could be depressed about all this. It seems to me that we, as a nation, are reaping what we have been sowing, and it is likely things will only get worse. But that doesn't account for the abundant mercy of God. God may bless his people by bringing revival to this land and changing the political and cultural climates. Or he may bring blessing to his people by allowing them to live as a persecuted people and be forced out of their complacency. Either way, God is good, and whatever happens around us, we have a foundation to stand upon that is sure and firm. That should keep us from despair and fill us with real hope rather than the cheap kind being sold by politicians.

I was reminded today about the amazing words of Martin Luther in a pretty tough time during his life. Dr. John Currid reminds us:

When Martin Luther stood before the ecclesiastical rulers of his day -- they who had power to banish him or even to execute him because of his views of the Bible -- the Archbishop of Trier asked him this question: "Do you or do you not repudiate your books and the errors which they contain?"

Luther famously replied, "Since, then, Your Majesty and Your Lordships desire a simply reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason -- I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other -- my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God."

In this day, we need to ask the question, simply, what is it that has captured our hearts?

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. And if you tarry, capture my heart so I will stand for you wherever I stand.

Monday, February 09, 2009


Well, every news outlet is covering the "economic stimulus package" with some kind of bated breath, as if it will answer all our problems. I have felt for some time that it is simply a tyrant (in this case the federal government in bulk: no one person in particular) taking advantage of the fear of the masses to get them to accept things they normally wouldn't. I guess some people agree with me, that it will be counter-productive and wasteful at best, and horrific at worst. There is nothing new under the sun, and this hardly looks like change to me.

And I have been amazed at how blatant the outrage over the octuplets born recently has been. Not that there are not legitimate questions for someone to ask, but I find it amazing that if this woman had killed most of the babies, or left them imprisoned in a refridgerator indefinitely, there would have been no fuss. Are we really getting outraged about the right things? I appreciated Tim Bayly's words:
Listen, if people are angry at the cost of the octuplets and ready to tar and feather the mother...

It won't be long before outrage is spawned by other costly births. Think Spina Bifida. Down Syndrome. Cystic Fibrosis. Hemophilia...

And if one slips through the birth canal, the mother will receive death threats and the government will investigate. Dutifully.

And I was amazed by the report of a botched abortion, where the baby was born before the abortionist arrived, and was allowed to die and was thrown away in a bag. If the abortionist had been there to kill the baby before it breathed, no one would have been reporting it. But if the baby gulped air, then we are horrified. Does this strike anyone else as schizophrenic behavior?

We read that children are a dangerous burden. Our selfishness and lack of other-centeredness is the real problem.

Its enough to make me weep, and wonder at God's restraint in not judging us as a nation.

Or maybe He is...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts

1. When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

3. See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

No pictures, just a post

I am at my parent's today, so I can't do my "Wednesdays without words" post as usual. Look for it later this week.

For today, however, how about one of my favorite places to get a laugh? Go to Scrappleface.

He is conservative, but funny, and pokes at everyone. And his SNN news videos are funny, too. If you've never read Scott ott, give it a try.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The preaching of the word

This is my last nostalgic post about how I came to believe in Reformed theology as the Truth. And it's not really an incident, but a theme that runs throughout my adult (and almost adult) life.

Reading the word of God, the Bible, seriously and over a sustained period of time, and hearing skillful men exposit it over many years. That is how I became Reformed. It started with that youth group bible study (where we actually did more bible study than singing or playing volleyball), and with Tim and Bev walking me through its pages. It continued with the teaching we received at Urbana, and as Dave began leading me through God's word. It continued in Maryland under the amazing preaching of Glen Knecht, and the Sunday School class taught by David Coffin and Ken Myers. It was encouraged by friends, and continued under the faithful ministry of Henry Fernandez.

I once asked my daughter-in-law's father how he came to be Reformed, worshiping as he does in a small Southern Baptist church in Minnesota. His reply was that he studied Scripture seriously, and over time that is where it leads. It is certainly where it led me.

And as I think back, none of this was because I was smart enough to seek out the amazing people who taught me. That was all of grace. God made my path cross with so many amazing men and women over the years that were willing to take the time to teach me. What an over-flow of grace!

Monday, February 02, 2009

More Memories

I have posted a couple of memories about my confrontation with Reformed theology (here and here), spurred on by my reading of Young, Restless, Reformed. Today I thought I'd write about my earliest memories.

Like most everyone in the US, I had been introduced to the Puritans (a pejorative term, mind you) through study of the Salem witch trials, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edwards' sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." All of these were used by various public school teachers to show the ridiculousness of these Reformed folk. For me, "Puritan" was synonymous with "intolerant" or "egocentric prig". That was my assumption when I attended a bible study with my friend M.

M. took me to her youth group, a non-denominational group, loosely overseen by the ministerial group in our small Ohio town, and taught by a couple from the local Presbyterian Church. I cannot remember which bible verses were being considered that night, but Tim and Bev, the leaders, walked us through it. When they came to something that discussed the death of the saints (perhaps even the thief on the cross beside Christ), Tim made the comment, "And when we die, we enter either into God's presence in heaven, or we go immediately to hell." Being the sassy girl that I was, I said, "Unless you're Catholic, in which case you go to purgatory." Tim didn't miss a beat, and said to me, "Purgatory is not biblical, and let me show you why." Well, I never! Didn't he understand this was an interdenominational bible study, and they should be more inclusive than that? I left irate, intending never to return.

The next summer, M. talked me into trying bible study again. "It's different now," she said. "For the summer, these two college guys lead it, and they are really fun and nice. Try it again!" So, I did. One of those fun college guys gave me a copy of Knowing God when I asked him about hell. It was in those pages I understood the work of Christ for the first time. The other college guy has been my husband or the last 28.5 years.

And as for Tim and Bev, I went back to their bible study the next year, to learn this time. They discipled several of us, and lead us through the doctrines of Scripture. Bev is now with the Lord, and I don't know where Tim is. But they did an amazing work with the young people of our town. I will always be grateful for their love for us, and their love for the Lord, not to mention their willingness to speak the truth.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

This morning in worship, we were eloquently reminded of many things, but in an unusual way. The pastor had just fini shed reading to us from Zechariah 12 and 13, and just started his sermon, when one of our elderly sisters, D. who is 84 and has many health problems, had a heart episode. As she slumped in her pew and began to make sounds, two nurses-in-training and two of our elders went to her aid. She was given asprin, and 911 was called. As we waited for the EMTs to arrive, it seemed ridiculous to continue with the sermon. We sang Psalm 100, we prayed, we read Psalms 23 and 24 responsively. Then the Emt's arrived, and we all sat quietly while they did their work. Then the ambulance arrived, and they took D. out on a stretcher. We prayed again. They Pastor Henry took us to Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1:
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn...On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Henry reminded us what a beautiful God we serve, One who will provide a place of healing to us. Then we had the Lord's supper together. It was a sweet time of fellowship.

And Miss D. is home, resting, already this afternoon, praise God!