Monthly Archives: February 2007

John Frame leading the Reformed out of modernity

In Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, Frame constructed a cogent argument against Charles Hodge’s claim that the task of a theologian was to arrange the facts of Scripture in their “proper” order, like a scientist. That was an important move to give us exodus from modernity.

But almost as important, perhaps just as important, was his passing remark of being puzzled why Dutch Reformed theologians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries spent so much effort arguing over the “place” of a doctrine within an “encyclopedia”–as if it really mattered.

This I think is actually more revealing. Modernity doesn’t so much need to be argued against. People just have to be willing to express how incredible and baseless the entire project now looks.

“Remind me: Why are we writing about this again? Or: “Why are we writing this way? How is it helpful?”

One question and the cards start falling.


Just added Peggy Noonan’s archive to my website links.  I should have been reading her all along for the last few  years.  If I had time I’d link the columns I’ve just run into that make me feel like I’ve robbed myself by not keeping up.  But I don’t have it.

I almost want to compare her effect to reading Ayn Rand when I was in my later teens.  Only rather than wild optimism and courage, Noonan is more honesty in the face of the coming cold.  More like We the Living than Atlas Shrugged. Or something.


Any ideas what happened to this blog? The monthly archives look fine. I can’t tell how this mess is possible.

Part Two

OK, I tried to copy the Jollyblogger by adding the scripts from in my posts.  I experimented with this one.  It stripped out everything but the ending script tag which somehow reached out to the middle of the side column and rammed it into the main column.  I still don’t understand it, but that was the cause.  Fixed now.

Forcing different environments on one place

I continue to be torn as to whether 30boxes or Tasktoy should be my home page. Actually, so far Tasktoy has been the winner, but I keep  second guessing myself.

One of the features on Tasktoy I felt was totally unnecessary was the different “locations” you could pick: work, home, errands, and groceries. It seemed totally useless for the most part because my workplace is my home and vice versa. I don’t need a cookie at my work desktop that tells the site to show me my work tasklist. I’m at the same pc when I’m at home.

I realized this week that I’m thinking too literalistically (if I may coin a word). Instead of thinking of the locations on the screen as dependent on locations in space, I should think of the locations on the screen as creating a transition in space. Flipping from “work” to “home” and seeing work tasks disappear and home tasks appear is a way to mark off boundaries.

When you’re working at home, this can be extremely significant. It is way too easy to end up robbing everyone you live with as you work all hours instead of living. Far from being irrelevant to my situation, the location markers are probably more important than they would be if I had an office outside the home.

So while 30boxes is an amazing calendar program, I am still not using its to-do list. Nor am I using it as my homepage, yet.

The hastening death of the theological journal

On my blog that I refuse to name or link from here any more, I mentioned something I think I can helpfully point out here.

Jandy has a really helpful review of blogging and 18th-century periodicals. What I want to point out is that the technology and the aura of institutional authority go hand in hand. I’m not going to reduce authority to technological monopoly, but I am saying that the technology helps a great deal.

When those 18th-century journals started, they were an amazing revolution in communication and shook up the status quo with the beginning of a new world. But that new world was still one that encouraged centers of authority. Publishing and circulating journals required money and tools. It also required some inherent prestige because no one was going to pay for a subscription to the What-I’m-Thinking-About-During-Breakfast-on-Tuesday Review written and edited by Joe Blow.

In other words, it was still very much a part and reinforcer of modernity. There was the high-culture of literary magazines and then there was the other stuff, bar songs, weirdo opinions that never got published, etc.

When Charles Hodge attacked John Williamson Nevin in the Princeton Review, it took Nevin two years to get together a forum for responding. He wrote an amazing response. I wonder how many who read Hodge in the Princeton Review ever learned of Nevin’s reply.

Can you imagine what would have happened to Hodge today at the hands of Nevin’s Mac and a blogger account? Internet, google, blogs; they spell the end.

We still see people trying to sneer at the blogosphere and favor some sort of academic pedigree. Peer review and all that. But these same persons find themselves forced to blog and go to comments just to keep up. They can’t just tell people to stop listening to any voice but their own monthly output. If they want to be heard, they have to blog. And so they do. And any pretensions of peer review are clearly unfounded.

There is no peer review beyond people telling you what they think of what your wrote. There is no more high culture of the theological academy. It is over. It is done.

We still see some attempts to do “web magazines.” Why? Imitating what was required for the medium of the era of print simply is not a good use of the web.

So all we have is the ghost of modernity where there was an authoritative culture that could decide whether or not to allow you to reply in their pages to someone who attacked you, and tell you who would have the final reply, and dictate to you what your word count must be. The afterimage burned momentarily on our retinas but fading.

This isn’t necessarily a good thing. Would Nevin’s reply have been as amazing if he had been able to respond immediately? The sheer pace expected by the medium is probably conducive to carelessness and second-rate work.

Remember this radio interview with Guy Waters? FM radio shows are still great for local outreach, especially drivers. But if anyone is interested and does some google research, suddenly we have a two-part “radio” interview responding to it. No advertisers. No FCC license. Just some guys wanting to get the truth out with some affordable equipment and a lot of hard work. The mystique of “having a radio show” is still around, but not forever.

I’m hoping there will always be some place for theological journals, but if so, the only ones that survive will be the ones that show they are careful about the truth and will give time to those whom they criticize. Only theological journals that could prosper as blogs will make it.

Outreach and Sacraments

I almost missed this brief entry, but I’m glad I didn’t. It is gold.

What do outreach and the sacraments have to do with one another? In a word: guilt–“us” with two much and “them” with none.

In my opinion part of the none-guilt problem is that the entire Protestant world has developed a centuries-long tradition of “saving” Roman Catholics–saving hypothetical Luther’s suffering terrors of conscience.

If we could build time machines and go back a few centuries to Medieval Europe we might make great Evangelists.

But since God is dragging us, kicking and screaming, into the twenty-first, it might be good to stop addressing people who aren’t alive anymore and actually aim our message at the people who are here with us.

It also may be we are free to acknowledge that, for whatever reason, guilt does not resonate for non-Christians of our culture and time and generation, and that’s okay. We do not need to go to guilt to get to Christ – that is not the only formula or plot line available. To say another way, we do not need to force non-Christians to feel something they do not now feel in order to fix something they never thought they had a problem with until we came along (especially if that is not the route we ourselves followed). Sometimes all we need to do is invite people to come and see, and then watch the story God writes as He moves to set things right.

As to the guilt problem, how can one’s heart not burn within when reading this?:

For Christians, it may be we do not need to believe the Gospel harder, we need affirmed to us that the story of our connection with the Gospel is valid (it is) — and therefore the Good News is for us, too. And our story may have been through relationships and “come and see” experiences, or never knowing a day we did not know Jesus, or something else. (Though I won’t delve into it, I find echoes of the need for one’s story to be validated in Galatians, where Paul affirms the Gentile “come to Jesus”/ “remember how you first came to know God” story and refuses to let the Jewish Christians impose another story on them and try to fit their story in a different mold).


Economic reality for authors

Chris, found this (I guess he checked his feed reader before I did) and it is quite educational.

1999: About $400, from Agent readers
2000: About $1000, from Agent readers
2001: About $1100, from Agent readers and a short story sale at Strange Horizons
2002: About $1000, from Agent readers
2003: About $6000, from Agent readers and from first part of advance for Old Man’s War
2004: About $5000, from Agent readers and from first part of advance for The Android’s Dream
2005: About $15,000, from second part of OMW advance, first part of The Ghost Brigades advance, advance for Agent to the Stars hardcover, and short story sale to Subterranean Press.
2006: About $67,000.

I had already begun to figure out something like this was true because a friend who introduced me to John C. Wright as fantasy writer (I already knew him for space opera), was excited to discover they both work for the same software company.

So remember to keep your day job!