Category Archives: culture & value

Steps to “Enlightenment” unbelief

STEP ONE: pagans worship nature as a chaotic force without rules.  They personify the forces they can distinguish and try to bribe them or manipulate them through offerings and rituals.

STEP TWO: The gospel is preached to pagans and they repent of their false gods and turn to the one true God who has revealed himself in Jesus.

STEP THREE: The Christians learn and internalize over time the idea that God is knowable and that creation can be studied in order to learn about His wisdom.

STEP FOUR: study of creation involve measuring, timing, and hypothesizing rules that describe nature accurately.

STEP FIVE: The Christians learn and internalize that nature is not chaotic but acts in predictable ways that can be described by “rules.”

STEP SIX: A rule governed impersonal mechanism is posited which does not allow miracles.  God is abandoned because “everyone knows” that only witnesses lie; nature never varies.

From Dionysius to Jesus and Paul to Newton to Hume.

But the story is not over.

Time to talk about it

When theological folks dichotomize, they often do it without regard to the reality of time. And this causes no end of trouble.

Given their assumptions about the political dualities of life, the anabaptist impulse to reject infant baptism is a shrewd one, because all these things are connected together. And infant baptism is a statement, among other things, about time. The tangles we get into over visible/invisible church, the City of God/city of man, kingdom of God/kingdom of the devil, heaven/earth all occur because we try to conceive of them all as static realities, and not as categories that exist in various forms of tension or battle over the course of history. Time matters; history matters. An infant you baptize is not the same person who goes to heaven, and yet is very much the same person. There is continuity/discontinuity, and much of it is revealed over time.

Read the rest at When Civilizations Are Baptized in Infancy.

This ends as a stellar response to some people who are 1) mistaken, in my opinion, and 2) acting as if their novel views are the standard of all orthodoxy and they have the right to treat those who disagree with them as unorthodox.

I loved that part.

But really, the words about the importance of time and our historic impulse to not talk about time is really much more profound than that single issue.

Destroying limits is self-destructive

This conversation reminded me of an episode of Buffy.  To be clear, the portrayal of magic on the show is problematic (along with many other things), but I find it interesting that the writers dabbled in similar principles about good and evil in magic.

In this scenario Willow is a powerful magic user who has become psychotic with rage.  (She had attempted to stop using magic because the power was addictive.)  Tara has been murdered and Willow found she could not raise her from the dead.  (Dawn had formerly tried to raise her recently dead mother but, in a “Monkey Paw” scenario, changed her mind and canceled the attempt before something horrible came from the grave.  Warren is Tara’s murderer.

BUFFY: (sighing) We need to find Willow.

XANDER: Yeah, she’s off the wagon big-time. Warren’s a dead man if she finds him.

DAWN: (bitterly) Good.

BUFFY: Dawn, don’t say that.

DAWN: Why not? (the others looking at her) I’d do it myself if I could.

BUFFY: Because you don’t really feel that way.

DAWN: Yes I do. And you should too. He killed Tara, and he nearly killed you. He needs to pay.

XANDER: Out of the mouths of babes.

BUFFY: Xander.

XANDER: I’m just saying he’s … he’s just as bad as any vampire you’ve sent to dustville.

BUFFY: Being a Slayer doesn’t give me a license to kill. Warren’s human.

DAWN: (scoffs) So?

BUFFY: So the human world has its own rules for dealing with people like him.

XANDER: Yeah, we all know how well those rules work.

BUFFY: Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t. We can’t control the universe. If we were supposed to … then the magic wouldn’t change Willow the way it does. And … we’d be able to bring Tara back.

DAWN: (very quietly) And Mom.

BUFFY: There are limits to what we can do. There should be. Willow doesn’t want to believe that. And now she’s messing with forces that want to hurt her. All of us.

via Villains – Transcript Buffy Episode. (emphasis added)

This show, by the way, has multiple moral problems–especially season six in which this episode takes place.  But I thought it was worth mentioning.

Never thought I would think of comparing Doug Wilson to Angel

But Twilight is causing all sorts of weird alignment. Here’s Angel and here’s Doug Wilson, and both seem spot on.

And the strange blond girl is not Stephanie Meyer.

PS: I shouldn’t have to say this but I didn’t have in mind any comparison in the “confrontational style” that get Willow and Xander upset with Angel.  Also, go here to see Doug’s editorials on Twilight.

In The HarshER Light of Day – Buffy Episode 59 Transcript

Cut to Buffy and Willow walking through the campus late at night.

Buffy : So what I’m wondering is, does this always happen? Sleep with a guy and he goes all evil. God, I’m such a fool.

Willow : Well maybe you made a mistake. But that’s okay. Next time – what?

Buffy : Parker said it’s okay to make mistakes. It was sweet.

Willow : No it wasn’t. He was saying that so you would take a chance and sleep with him. He’s a poop head.

Buffy : You’re right. He’s manipulative and shallow. But what about you?  You just said the exact same thing!  You told me that it was okay to make a mistake.  How are you not Parker’s partner in crime?

Willow : Buffy just because we sounded the same one time…

Buffy: It wasn’t just one time.  You told me my “lusty feelings” were okay.

Willow: Are you sure?

Buffy: To be specific, you said about my feelings, quote: “they’re not wrong feelings cause you’re free, you’re both grown-ups. You are free, right?” Unquote.  That was a rhetorical question.  You were giving me exactly the same message as Parker.

Willow: Buffy, are you sure you want to pursue this? I means, our rule for life is that we live without a moral code and then console ourselves when we are victimized by our own lack of standards. It makes us authentic?

Buffy: It does?

Willow: I think so. At least that’s what Joss Whedon promised me.

Buffy: I can’t imagine him saying that at his acceptance speech for promoting female equality.

Willow: No, he usually keeps it strictly in the sub-text.

Buffy: Oh. So I guess I’d better mope for awhile and then go ahead and make the same mistake again.

Willo: I think the network would like that. They’re convinced it helps the ratings.

via In The Harsh Light of Day – Buffy Episode 59 Transcript.

Original text:

Cut to Buffy and Willow walking through the campus late at night.

Buffy : So what I’m wondering is, does this always happen? Sleep with a guy and he goes all evil. God, I’m such a fool.

Willow : Well maybe you made a mistake. But that’s okay. Next time – what?

Buffy : Parker said it’s okay to make mistakes. It was sweet.

Willow : No it wasn’t. He was saying that so you would take a chance and sleep with him. He’s a poop head.

Buffy : You’re right. He’s manipulative and shallow. And why doesn’t he want me. Am I repulsive? If there was something repulsive about me you would tell me, right?

Willow : I’m your friend. I would call you repulsive in a second.

Buffy : Maybe Parker and I could still work it out. Do you think we could still work it out?

Willow : I think you’re missing something about this whole poop head principal.

Buffy : I think I’m gonna take a walk. You go on ahead.

Willow : You sure?

Buffy : Yeah.

She heads off leaving Willow behind. She walks along alone, then we see both Anya and Harmony, all looking downtrodden walking along.

The Ministry of Magic is in charge of Hogwarz

Students were evacuated from Millennial Tech Magnet Middle School in the Chollas View neighborhood Friday afternoon after an 11-year-old student brought a personal science project that he had been making at home to school, authorities said.

Maurice Luque, spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, said the student had been making the device in his home garage. A vice principal saw the student showing it to other students at school about 11:40 a.m. Friday and was concerned that it might be harmful, and San Diego police were notified.

The school, which has about 440 students in grades 6 to 8 and emphasizes technology skills, was initially put on lockdown while authorities responded.

Luque said the project was made of an empty half-liter Gatorade bottle with some wires and other electrical components attached. There was no substance inside.

When police and the Metro Arson Strike Team responded, they also found electrical components in the student’s backpack, Luque said. After talking to the student, it was decided about 1 p.m. to evacuate the school as a precaution while the item was examined. Students were escorted to a nearby playing field, and parents were called and told they could come pick up their children.

A MAST robot took pictures of the device and X-rays were evaluated. About 3 p.m., the device was determined to be harmless, Luque said.

Luque said the project was intended to be a type of motion-detector device.

Both the student and his parents were “very cooperative” with authorities, Luque said. He said fire officials also went to the student’s home and checked the garage to make sure items there were neither harmful nor explosive.

“There was nothing hazardous at the house,” Luque said.

The student will not be prosecuted, but authorities were recommending that he and his parents get counseling, the spokesman said. The student violated school policies, but there was no criminal intent, Luque said.

“There will be no (criminal) charges whatsoever,” Luque said.

Police and fire officials also will not seek to recover costs associated with responding to the incident, the spokesman said.

Luque said both the student and his parents were extremely upset.

“He was very shaken by the whole situation, as were his parents,” Luque said.

The school is located on Carolina Lane near Hilltop Drive.

Adjacent Gompers Charter Middle School was not affected during the incident, police Sgt. Ray Battrick said.

Millennial Middle School opened in fall 2008. It is part of the San Diego Unified School District.

via Science project prompts SD school evacuation – Hat Tip: Boing Boing


  • Thomas Edison would have been jailed long before he invented anything. As a creative force in the world, American culture is dead. Genius will only be defined as deviancy outside the darlings of Liberalism. Fear is being nurtured and promoted and it will choke out creativity.
  • The fact this happened in a magnet school with “Tech” in its name is another fulfilled Orwell prophecy: the name denotes the opposite of what it will actually promote.
  • Notice how every civil tax-feeder took this bizarre suspicion with grave seriousness; you can’t blame this on one idiotic decision-maker.  How can anyone think that an empty container can explode?
  • Note that the story reports on the decision not to file false charges against the victims of harassment, and to not charge them for their ill-treatment, without any sign of how ludicrous it would be to do so.  We live at the mercy of our bureaucratic masters and any time they don’t destroy us, we must see them as magnanimous.
  • There is no fix for the United States.  If people are such idiotic cowards on such a wide scale, there is no way to craft a regulation that will dictate sanity.  The only thing one can do is “be the change one wants to see in the world” and try to teach people disciplines of rationality when they are open to our influence.  I don’t see any quick exit from the coming night.

Go to Haiti and tell me about the “two kingdoms”

I hate admitting it when David Brooks is right, but he is right about Haiti and the impossibility of institutional solutions.

Haiti needs the Great Commission.  Somehow they have been allowed to have a voodoo dystopia.  It needs to end.  And it is going to take the real Great Commission.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Of course, we need it in the financial industry too. And everywhere else.

Between monarchism and anarchism–Tolkien

My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to ‘unconstitutional Monarchy.’ I would arrest anybody who uses the word State (in any sense other than the inanimate realm of England and its inhabitants, a thing that has neither power, rights not mind); and after a chance of recantation, execute them if they remained obstinate! If we could get back to personal names, it would do a lot of good. Government is an abstract noun meaning the art and process of governing and it should be an offence to write it with a capital G or so as to refer to people. If people were in the habit of referring to ‘King George’s council, Winston and his gang,’ it would go a long way to clearing thought, and reducing the frightful landslide into Theyocacy. Anyway the proper study of Man is anything but Man; and the most improper job of any man, even saints… is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity. The mediaevals were only too right in taking nolo episcopari as the best reason a man could give to others for making him a bishop (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, 63-64).

via “The Hands of a Healer”: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Understanding of Kingship by Lauren Calco.

Anabaptists as the impatient ones: a speculative thought

We Reformed all know the anabaptists were wrong, but maybe it is time to consider the ways they were right. All Europe was in the grip of a social order that for 90 percent of the people, if we saw them through a time-portal window, we would identify them as slaves. The issues of the Reformation were settled by the leaders and the rising middle class, which was still microscopic. Everyone else had his life managed by others and got to find out from others whether he would be Protestant or Catholic on Tuesday next week.

The anabaptists were not really new. Peasants had been revolting (yeah, funny pun. haha) for centuries before Luther. It isn’t hard to see that these were essentially slave revolts.

And freedom was coming. We now, even the most covenantal among us Reformed believers, or even the most devout Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodoxy believer in North America, probably has far more of the independent heritage and mentality of the anabaptists than he does of the magisterial Reformers.

Perhaps I am exaggerating, but I doubt it. Focusing on the error of adult-only baptism is, in my opinion, probably a mistake. They were pioneers and prophets of a new social psychology. They just got impatient. In reality, the Protestants fighting against them continued the historical processes that brought about a world more to their liking.

Thinking about the climax of Season 5 of BtVS and Human Nature

In her study of Roman gladiatorial combat and arenas (Blood in the Arena: The Spectacle of Roman Power) Alison Futrell describes the Phoenician practice of human sacrifice transplanted to Carthage: “The young victim was placed in the arms of the bronze image of Ba’al Hammon, arms that sloped downward toward a pit or large brazier filled with burning embers. Once the child had been cremated, the ashes were removed and placed in an urn, which in turn was placed in a pit, sometimes lined with cobbles, and then covered over. A burial marker, a cippus or stela, was often placed above the urn.”

Carthage belies the theory that cultures outgrow this barbarism as they become more educated and sophisticated: “At Carthage . . . expansion of political hegemony, cultural sophistication, and child sacrifice simultaneously peaked, in the fourth and third centuries B.C.” When Syracuse invaded in the early fourth century, “the nobles of Carthage sacrificed some two hundred of their children.”

via Peter J. Leithart » Blog Archive » Carthaginian Tophet.

I watch or read atheists make statements about human nature that look to me for all the world like blind faith.  Are we going to claim that “religion” made otherwise good people burn their children to death?  But that just pushes the question back further.  Why not say, “Screw you, gods. We’re keeping our children no matter what you do to us or don’t do for us.”  I mean, we have these people’s myths.  There’s no way these people had respect for these gods beyond hoping for gifts and fearing curses.  So why not choose to live or die with one’s children

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a really (ne0)pagan show in many ways, but Buffy’s insistence that even if a god was going to eventually kill her sister, at least that last thing she would see was Buffy fighting to protect her, was nothing like these Phoenicians (or many others).