Category Archives: culture & value

The Reformed lead, sadly

One of my major premises in the writing I’m doing these days is that evangelicals have become a movement actually destroying itself.

At no point does that seem more obvious than in the recent evolution of worship within evangelicalism.

Does anyone- I mean, really, seriously- have any idea what is actually happening within the worship culture of evangelicals?

We have, within a matter of 50 years, completely changed the entire concept of what is a worship service. We’ve adopted an approach that demands ridiculous levels of musical, technical and financial commitment and resources.

We have tied ourselves to the Christian music industry and its endless appetite for change and profit. We have accepted that all of our worship leaders are going to be very, very young people. Traditional worship – a la Tenth Presbyterian in Philly- is on the verge of becoming a museum piece.

The reformed- of all people- have led the way in this revolution. I attended a seminar last week where a room full of reformed were instructed in why the optimum worship leadership option was “the band.” Not the choir, the worship team, etc. But “the band.” Does anyone realize what that means for public worship?

Read the rest: » Blog Archive » The Big Worship Goof.

Some things I loved about the movie Fireproof

I have two “deep” criticisms of fireproof that I want to make on this blog at some point.  So first I thought I would say how much I liked it.  Before anything else, if you haven’t read Doug’s post, you should.

My own thoughts:

First off, I thought the tie between boats and pornography was amazingly insightful (I’m not making a general association here; if you saw the movie you know what I mean and if you haven’t then nothing is spoiled for you).  And the vivid way the husband repented was great too.  While self-control is essential, finding satisfaction in what one has so that one isn’t as restless is incredibly important as well.  I was really impressed with the way the movie portrayed this.

Secondly (and more importantly, so these are not really in any order), I understand the movie was made in Albany by a church there.  Well, I have some small but reliable knowledge of what Albany was like during the sixties, and that means that the race relations portrayed exemplified in that movie, and I assume present among the actors and film crew, are more of a miracle than the marital reconciliation portrayed in the movie.  The Obama Administration (assuming for the sake of argument it even aims to go in the same direction) has nothing on the churches of Albany, Georgia.

Third, the excitement and peril was quite riveting.  Nothing surprising but it genuinely had me on the edge of my seat (I was there literally too, if you must know).

Fourth, I thought the way the group participated in saving the person in the car was an amazing rebuke to the husband’s arrogance that he could take care of himself.  But I don’t know if that was intentional or not.

Fifth (and sixth) portrayals of stupid blind husband and grudge-holding, idiot wife were both painfully perfect.

Seventh, the comedy was outstanding.  No grim moralists here.

OK, lovefest over.  Next post(s) on this topic will be scathing attack.  So at least you can be assured that I am really the one writing this stuff.

Off-the-cuff thoughts after reading comments on a Doug Wilson post on the Tiller murder

I’m in the middle of writing this response when I remember there is a character-count restriction… So I’ll just do it here:

A few observations:

  • A random murder of someone who makes a living killing children is not defense or protection unless that stops or at least has a chance of stopping the killing (leaving aside whether such an act is allowable). This wasn’t defense of anything; it was vengeance.
  • Romans doesn’t really have any chapter or verse breaks so:

    Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

    So if defense and protection are not motives, then we are left with vengeance, which is addressed here by God.

  • In a war, one allows others to die all the time.  The enemy attacks your people somewhere and you have to decide whether this is where you should take a stand.  One never sends out soldiers to find bad guys wherever they want and shoot at them.  There is nothing about the “culture war” that makes what happened right.  It was insane.
  • A random killing of someone who ought to be executed does nothing to change (either as in improve or replace) the government that protects him and rules you.  So whether or not it is lawful to use force to do those things is a distraction.  This was just murder.  The American War for Independence is in a different catagory.
  • In many societies aspects of justice are/have been more of a private sector phenomenon.  But they always involved the cooperation or even participation of the wider society.  Has any society been changed for the better by a random act of violence?  Does society just fall into line with the lone gunman’s value system when he decides to innovate in the private sector?  If such an attempt is not covered in Romans 12-13 above, then what is?
  • Reading about colonial America leading up to the Revolutionary War, one finds a system where the able-bodied men who constituted the police force would protect the community by unified action, involving property damage and somewhat brutal tarring and feathering.  These actions were remarkably non-lethal.  They don’t seem anything like a rogue killer who decides to pick one guy because he happens to be notorious.
  • The entire legal culture of past resistance and pressure for independence is entirely missing: no unified culture, no identifiable geography, no established government systems that could independently govern.  There will never be any struggle for independence like before.  So not only is there no reason to bring such history up when discussing a vigilante killing, there is never any reason for anyone in North America to bring up such history for any strategic reason at all.  Won’t happen because it can’t happen.  Like you can’t wave your arms and fly to the moon.  The only thing to do will be to watch the system self-destruct and pray and work to survive the destruction.
  • As things get worse, there will be riots and other forms of civil disobedience.  Those things should come from the fringe.  They should never come from the Church.  We are the ones who should be patient and wait.

OK, these were random thoughts, most of them having little to do with what anyone actually said.  My mind spun off in all sorts of directions.

I completely agree with pastor Wilson.  Lawless people tend to fight and kill one another. Tiller chose to live by the sword and he showed that it can lead to dying by the sword.  This was one zealot attacking another.

Since Tiller was one among many who will continue to commit abortions against babies, there’s really no purpose at all served by his death besides providing fodder for the pro-life movement’s enemies.  We’d be better off if he were alive and practicing.  To the extent that this can be used to further marginalize pro-life efforts, it could easily lead to more dead babies rather than fewer.

Famous entrepreneurs like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar

I just listened to an interview with Roderick Long (haven’t read the article yet), but I wasn’t super impressed.  He argues that if the state does not produce law and order that this provides an incentive for entrepreneurs in the private sector to find ways to produce these things.  Well, duh, they do.  They invent the state.  In a word, tyrants gain control.

Which is what we should expect.  We all know that businessmen try to gain monopolies by government power all the time.  So why wouldn’t someone who started a “law and order” business not try to gain exactly that kind of monopoly?

If it were so simple, then we would never have seen the rise of states in the first place.

I can’t help but like Long, and he had better moments than the one I’m commenting on, but Libertarian intellectuals need to stop living in an obvious fantasy.  Medieval Iceland didn’t get “law and order” from an entrepreneur.  That is like getting language from a business startup.  Icelandic society and customs produced law and order cooperatively, without any “entrepreneur.”  (And, by the way, the Althing was not a legislature. Otherwise, it would not qualify as an anarchist precedent.)

“Death in the gallery”

This past weekend, my husband and I treated ourselves (actually, admission was free) to SLU’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art’s (MOCRA) “Good Friday” exhibit. The exhibit closed Sunday, May 17.

I am a great art admirer. I say “admirer,” not “lover,” because the latter implies knowledge, and I cannot lay claim to much knowledge of art. I am, as Tolkien said of his own relationship to the land of Faerie, “a wandering explorer (or trespasser) in the land, full of wonder but not of information.” [J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy Stories”]

Especially I am attracted to the religious art.

Read the rest: St. Louis Presbyterian Examiner: Death in the gallery.

Individualism v. Freedom from Overreaching State?

Notice I’m trying to avoid questions about how much is overreaching, whether one is in favor of minarchism or not, etc.

What I am noticing is a tendency of people opposed to some level of state intrusiveness (some level of action that they count as intrusive) and present the antidote with the claim that individual human beings are not obligated to one another beyond the obligation to not attack or steal or defraud.

So, in a libertarian society, if Jeff sees Tom mugged by Bill, is he not obligated to help?  What if he knows in advance that his friend Bill plans to mug Tom, is he free from any legal responsibility for the assault and theft?

My hunch is that, in actual history, this sort of ethic has very little in common with societies that have been able to keep the government restrained from intrusion.  And I have very little confidence that this sort of widespread ethic would be conducive to anything like a free, peaceful, and prosperous society.

It seems much more likely that only a society which widely understands that people are responsible for one another would be able to minimize or eliminate the state and be free, peaceful, and prosperous.

A policeman friend of mine told me that most of his time is spent intervening between neighbors who call the police rather than deal with one another.  I’m not sure if there is a faster way to grow a police state.

C. S. Lewis v. Patrick Henry on why we are too good or too bad for tryranny

I don’t have time to analyse the problem, but look at the quotes and see if you recognize how they are opposed to one another:

First, Lewis:

I believe in political equality. But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat. You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice. That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows.

That I believe to be the true ground of democracy. I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world. I believe the authority of parent over child, husband over wife, learned over simple to have been as much a part of the original plan as the authority of man over beast. I believe that if we had not fallen, Filmer would be right, and partiarchal monarchy would be the sole lawful government. But since we have learned sin, we have found, as Lord Acton says, that “all power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The only remedy has been to take away the powers and substitute a legal fiction of equality. The authority of father and husband has been rightly abolished on the legal plane, not because this authority is in itself bad (on the contrary, it is, I hold, divine in origin), but because fathers and husbands are bad. Theocracy has been rightly abolished not because it is bad that learned priests should govern ignorant laymen, but because priests are wicked men like the rest of us. Even the authority of man over beast has had to be interfered with because it is constantly abused. (C.S. Lewis, “Membership,” from The Weight of Glory, pp. 168-7)

And now a much shorter statement from Patrick Henry:

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

See the problem?

Islam, the West, and the role of the US in the next Christendom

YouTube – Muslim Demographics.

Obviously, statistics can be misused and “facts” can be alleged that are exaggerated.  The video inserted above is hardly “sober.”

But then, academic pretensions can be no less manipulative and are no less likely to promote deception.  I think the demographic story here is more true than not, at the very least.

Which leads me to some thoughts:

  • Western Europe is history.  Not so sure about Eastern Europe (and I thought the statement about Russia was rather weaker than the rest; so I want to look into it).
  • This means we will get to see what Islamic culture does to an economy.  My thinking is that, as oil production declines in the MidEast (if that happens) and we see more Islamic economies without oil revenues, we are going to see economies that are even less robust than they are now. It will be a continent-wide object lesson.
  • Opposition to Mexican, Central-, and South-American immigration is a death wish for Evangelical Christians.  Having poverty South of the border may mean lots of discomfort, but the alternatives are far worse.  We need to actively dismantle immigration barriers.  Now.
  • This video doesn’t say anything about the spread of Christianity in South America, Africa, and China.  Inasmuch as viewers are led to believe that Christianity is declining, it is misleading.  Christianity is not declining.  A new Christendom is being born.
  • The US, which does have a viable demographic growth with immigration, has a chance of actually continuing as a force in this new world (by grace alone; certainly it doesn’t deserve such a privilege!)–especially in the South and in the West.  If I was thinking about where to be strategically located right now in the US, I would think that Los Angeles is the best place to be.  California as a political entity will go bankrupt and be replaced, but L. A. will probably continue and be an influence for good and bad.

How do children (or anyone else) learn? How do they think?

Additional Note: By the way, in case anyone wonders, I’m glad that this blog is engaging in a conversation with Doug Wilson about paedocommunion, and appreciate the tone. I didn’t think I needed to spell this out, but I am second-guessing that decision now (for no reason other than my imagination; I have seen no feedback).

I do not think that most 6-year-olds would be able to understand the significance of the Lord’s Supper. Maybe I have seen too many modern-day public school educated 6-year-olds. My daughter is 5 and nowhere near ready, in my opinion, and she will not be publicly educated, at least for the first grades. In fact, to my knowledge, she hasn’t even asked about what the bread and the wine mean yet. We’re still working on what Jesus Christ means, and His sacrifice. After that, we’ll move on to the physical sign He has given us of His Person and work.

via Bread and Generalizations « Green Baggins.

Interesting.  My first son started spontaneously telling me the significance of the bread and wine, as body and blood of our Lord, when he was four, I think.

But my first pastorate was in a practicing paedocommunion church so he had been living this reality for at least a couple of years.  He learned the meaning of the Lord’s supper the same way the Israelites in the wilderness were taught the Sabbath–by eating.

How else would the Lord want to disciple the children of the Church?

There seems to me to be something fundamental that needs to be addressed.  Wittgenstein addressed it when he began Philosophical Investigations with a quotation of Augustine claiming to have learned to speak as an infant by means of ostensive definition.  Wittgenstein dismantles this claim, but not many Christians care about Wittgenstein.

Cartesian Christianity is the default practice of the churches now.