Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mid-week miscellany

That is what I call my miscellanious post when I miss posting it on Mondays...getting ready for a trip is playing havoc with my schedule here!

~Fun Photos: Check out the storm photos or the award-winners at one of these sites for inspiration.

~Economic Echoes: If the US had a credit score, what would it look like? See here.

~Climate Change Chaos: This is an interesting take on things...

~Dealing with Death: I ran across a couple interesting meditations on death/dying this week. One is about the recent death of Unitarian minister Forrest Church. The other is photos of tombstones in an Anglican graveyard in Nassau.

~And in the avoidance of death category: How about this reminder of good sanitary precautions during flu season?

~And finally, in the weird video of the week category: Check out the video here. I am at a loss for words...really...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

O Jesus, We Adore Thee by Arthur T. Russell, 1851

O Jesus, we adore Thee,
Upon the cross, our King!
We bow our hearts before Thee,
Thy gracious Name we sing.
That Name hath brought salvation,
That Name in life our stay,
Our peace, our consolation,
When life shall fade away.

Yet doth the world disdain Thee,
Still passing by the cross;
Lord, may our hearts retain Thee;
All else we count but loss.
Ah, Lord, our sins arraigned Thee,
And nailed Thee to the tree;
Our pride, our Lord, disdained Thee;
Yet deign our Hope to be.

O glorious King, we bless Thee,
No longer pass Thee by;
O Jesus, we confess Thee
The Son enthroned on high.
Lord, grant to us remission;
Life through Thy death restore;
Yea, grant us fruition
Of life forevermore.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Young eyes and heart and brain...

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 thy 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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Right views, wrong views

“He that wishes to attain right views about Christian holiness, must begin by examining the vast and solemn subject of sin…wrong views about holiness are generally traceable to wrong views about human corruption.
The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of saving Christianity. Without it, such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are ‘words and names which convey no meaning to the mind.’”
~ J.C. Ryle

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday Miscellany

*Economics Item of the week: How about this WSJ article about the lack of effect from the stimulus? So much for having a good reason to ransom future generations.

*Life-issue items of the week: On death before birth, see Al Mohler. On death at the end of life, see this Newsweek article. And for some excellent analysis of the messy side of the sexual revolution, read D'Souza here.

*Healthcare item of the week: Read Andrew's thoughtful post over at the Quiddity blog.

*Silly items of the week: My favorites this week both revolve around popular (and wealthy) novelist Dan Brown. Take your pick here: either you can peruse the 20 all-time worst sentences in Brown's fiction, or you can play around with the Dan Brown plot generator.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

We sang this lovely hymn this morning. We usually sing it at Christmas time, but singing it at another time of year infused it with new life for me!

Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor
Words by Frank Houghton (1894-1972)

1. Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love's sake becomes poor.

2. Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love's sake becamest man.

3. Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book notes

I am thoroughly enjoying my reread of The Hobbit by Tolkien. I have just the battle of the three armies to go, and then Bilbo will be making his way back home.

I am also enjoying listening to the audio version of Isaac Asimov's Foundation (the first book in his famous sci-fi series). However, I must admit that his agenda is painfully clear, at times evenly blatantly so. I find myself chuckiling out loud as he assures us that the only really honest people are the schietists, and replaces expletives that would normally involve the name of God randomly with the word "Space", as in "Only Space knows...", or "Space! How much more do I have to listen to..." I am enjoying the story despite the obvious worldview vehicles.

Last month, I finished off both Home to Holly Springs and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society. They were light, summertime reads, neither great fiction, but both enjoyable and worth the time (each in its own way). They also both suffered from a deplorable amount of overly-convenient resolution, that became almost unbearable by the end. And I threw in My Man Jeeves at the beginning of this month. Everyone needs something as silly as Wodehouse from time to time. It's got to be good for the soul.

I am about a half-hour from finishing off the audio version of Augustine's Confessions. Not only is the man one of the most clever at using figures of speech that I have ever run across, but his prayers, which run with the narrative so seamlessly that you cannot always tell whether he is praying or narrating, are excruciatingly beautiful. Also excruciating at times, though not in the pleasing sense, are his arguments and ponderings about various philosophical ideas. I now know how to understand the quote that Augustine's problem is that he thinks too much. If you need an example, read the chapters that deal with the concept of memory, or the ones contemplating the nature of time. Yikes!

I also continue to chip slowly away at Climbing Parnassus and The Writer's Workshop, though reading for teaching is now taking more of that time, and I'm not getting as much done as I would wish.

And, I am afraid we've been off the wagon on reading Calvin since summer set in. Perhaps, with the coming of dark evenings and quiet schedules, we will resume.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Last Sunday, I wrote on my other blog about the sticky wicket of contentment in our lives. I mentioned Jeremiah Burroughs, the author of the Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, one of my top-three practical theology books. It changed my life upon first reading it, and continues to influence me. It was one of those works that presented the Scriptures so clearly that i could not help but be altered by it, and i have worn out my copy with reading, rereading, and loaning it out to others.

So it is timely to run across this post discussing the trials and tribulations of Burroughs' life, and understand why the man could so persuasively write about contentment: he had, of necessity, had to exercise those disciplines that aid in its formation.

It is true that the areas where we can most effectively minister to others are often those areas we have struggled with ourselves. That struggle gives us depth and understanding, but it is usually no fun to go through. Oh, that I would learn to cooperate with God in His work of turning my heart to Himself in such times...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Miscellany

Global Warming Update: Interesting article here.
Healthcare and Abortion Updates: President Obama has been a bit confusing on the subject of abortion and healthcare, contradicting what he has done with what he recently said. Here is a horrifying story about the meeting place of managed healthcare and life issues. And here is a personal view of a better way. And lest we think only the pro-life movement has wackos, let's remember they exist in the pro-abortion camp as well.
YRR Update: "YRR", for the uninitiated, stands for "Young, Restless and Reformed", coined after the title of the book by Collin Hansen, and documenting the recent growth in Calvinism in what would historically be considered unlikely places. And here are some interesting thoughts on the topic by my favorite theological curmudgeon, Carl Trueman.
Teaching Reminders: A friend posts his reminders to himself for the new school year ahead. (Thanks to DS, and his teaching-alter-ego, Cap'n Salty)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sabbath Sentiments

Arise, My Soul, Arise!
by Charles Wesley, 1742
Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Knowing what I don't know...

Last night I attended a fascinating online lecture given by Dr. David Crabtree on the topic of the Danish Gadfly, Soren Kierkegaard. For the last several years, my eldest ds has told me that Kierkegaard was not a bad guy in theology, but that if I would read him, I would agree with him. So this topic further increased my curiosity, and I was treated to some fascinating ideas.

Dr. Crabtree began by stating that many (including Francis Schaeffer) have perpetuated a mythological understanding of Kierkegaard. He pointed out that K. was not concerned with questions of epistemology (how we know) but he was instead trying to counter a national, cultural, intellectual form of Christianity, and challenge his neighbors to heart-belief.

He also presented existentialism as not so much a worldview as an approach to philosophy that can be taken by people of many different worldviews. I tend to associate existentialism with nihilism and folks like Sartre and Nietzsche. But Dr. Crabtree pointed out that existentialism is a human approach to the philosophical questions, rather than an intellectual approach. In this way, Kierkegaard and his concern for the experience of faith is definitely existential but still coming from a Biblical Christian perspective, while Nietzsche and Sartre are definitely approaching the human problem from a foundation of atheism.

*Sigh* So, here is yet another gaping hole in my education. And I stumble through teaching philosophy and worldviews to high school students! Now I must re-think how I present everything to my students, and try to take more care with my definitions and the way I frame both my questions and my answers to them, and for myself. C. S. Lewis said,
"The surest sign of true intellectual acumen is a student's comprehension of what it is he does not know; not what he does know. It is a spirit of humility that affords us with the best opportunity to grow, mature, and achieve in the life of the mind..."

Well, if it only takes knowing what I don't know, I am surely on my way...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A good teacher

• A good teacher asks himself the hardest questions, works through to answers, and then frames provocative questions for his learners to stimulate their thinking.
• A good teacher analyzes his subject matter into parts and sees relationships and discovers the unity of the whole.
• A good teacher knows the problems learners will have with his subject matter and encourages them and gets them over the humps of discouragement.
• A good teacher foresees objections and thinks them through so that he can answer them intelligently.
• A good teacher can put himself in the place of a variety of learners and therefore explain hard things in terms that are clear from their standpoint.
• A good teacher is concrete, not abstract; specific, not general; precise, not vague; vulnerable, not evasive.
• A good teacher always asks, "So what?" and tries to see how discoveries shape our whole system of thought. He tries to relate discoveries to life and tries to avoid compartmentalizing.
• The goal of a good teacher is the transformation of all of life and thought into a Christ-honoring unity.
~John Piper, “The Marks of a Spiritual Leader”, 1995

Thanks to JT

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mid-week miscellany

Cool podcast of the week: Check out Christianaudio's podcast of Spurgeon's Morning and Evening. It's wonderful, and they will e-mail it to you every day. And while we're talking about Christianaudio, don't forget to check out their monthly free download.
Health Care Reform reading for the week: in honor of the President's upcoming speech tonight, how about some interesting and informative reading? Some of the people I found helpful in the past week or two have been Christopher Tollefsen, David Goldhill, David Brooks, and John Schwenkler.
Words of the week: George Grant has two fun pages of favorite quotes: one from Augustine and one from Chalmers, that are worth perusing. Or how about this nice, concise summary of the five "solas" of the Reformation? Or here is a collection of favorite Spurgeon quotes.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The God whom we believe, adore, and love

“This, then, is of faith, that everything, the very least, or what seems to us great, every change of the seasons, everything which touches us in mind, body, or estate, whether brought about through this outward senseless nature, or by the will of man, good or bad, is overruled to each of us by the all-holy and all-loving will of God. Whatever befalls us, however it befalls us, we must receive as the will of God. If it befalls us through man’s negligence, or ill-will, or anger, still it is, in even the least circumstance, to us the will of God. For if the least thing could happen to us without God’s permission, it would be something out of God’s control. God’s providence or His love would not be what they are. Almighty God Himself would not be the same God; not the God whom we believe, adore, and love.”
~E.B. Pusey (1800-1882)

(thanks to JC)

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sabbath Semtiments

Rock of Ages by Augustus Toplady, 1776

1. Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee;
let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure;
save from wrath and make me pure.

2. Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law's commands;
could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears forever flow,
all for sin could not atone;
thou must save, and thou alone.

3. Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die.

4. While I draw this fleeting breath,
when mine eyes shall close in death,
when I soar to worlds unknown,
see thee on thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
let me hide myself in thee.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Some thoughts on judgement

In a post this morning, Andrew Kern makes some thought provoking statements about judgment. He say in part:
Thus I judge, to conclude this post, though, I trust, not these reflections, that to reduce judgment to the status of an act of intellect only is a reduction against which the intellect will cry out its own judgement that you have committed an act of injustice.

In other words, judging rightly is not merely an intellectual act. It is personal.

To conclude, the path to wisdom begins with attentive perception, climbs the mountains of comparison, and, after painstaking labor, it arrives at the pinnacle of sound judgment, from which it can perceive with the soul all the beauties of the cosmos. To climb this mountain is to absorb its power into oneself.

Read the whole reflection here.

And as an aside: no, I did not misspell judgement here. This is how it is spelled in England still. And it ought to be spelled that way here, in order to explain the soft sound of the "g". So I judge it correct to hold on to this spelling!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Words about words...

How about a few meditations about the word: written, read, or taught?

Here columnist David Ulin laments the loss of the art of reading. And here, Ben Hall reports the explosion of e-books and e-commerce as one more problem for book sellers. And Lachlan Markay reports that Conservative books are once again climbing the best-sellers lists, but being ignored by the media.

Here is an interesting article about the messy business of translating ans recording a language by those who do it best: Wycliffe and SIL.

While here is a thought provoking article by Stanley Fish, who is a rather curmudgeonly professor who is a gadfly to academia (I agree with much of what he says, though not all!) talking about what words should constitute a college education.

And finally, here is an incisive and damning essay on the state of writing in our universities.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Choosing Thomas

A more eloquent statement about the divine nature of life than anything I could write. (Thanks to TC for the link)