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Friday, September 30, 2005

Morning in America

Today’s piñata of the left is Bill Bennett, which must mean it is a 10% day – the 10% of the days that they do not attempt to piñata President Bush.

All we see is a quote which says that Bill claimed “aborting 100% of black babies will reduce crime”. Never mind that it is true (because aborting 100% of any higher crime group will reduce crime because the crime rate is highest in the black community, which has the highest percentage of urban and poor members – the true indicators of likelihood of crime), or that no one mentions that the abortion rate in the black community is astronomically higher than any other group (which should make the crime rate lower than in other races, right? Whoops.) What is ridiculous, yet typical, is that Bill Bennett was not proposing the idea or even claiming it was reasonable – but the left and the media would have you believe that he was.

A discussion of what was said is here, at the Morning in America website. I actually heard the quote, because I have become more of a fan of Bill Bennett over the past two months. He is always respectful, courteous, and sounds like he is genuinely interested in what the callers talk about, whether it is Beltway politics or their casserole. Plus, he keeps to the “Socratic method of discourse”, which involves candor, courtesy and logic. All three are very appealing to me.

Anyway, the quote. It came from a suggestion about how reducing abortion could raise the GNP because we would have more taxpayers. Bill replied that such logic is faulty – you can no more link abortion to GNP than you could say that aborting 100% of black babies would reduce crime – because neither have any kind of causal relationship. In fact, Bill noted that the idea of trying to credibly link such morally reprehensible nonsense was the subject of a recent book, to demonstrate that logic and reason are seldom the order of the day – along with the lack of morality.

Of course, the left never mentions such context. The Washington Post claims they couldn’t reach Bill, who said on the air today which numbers that the Post has for him, and that they never called. I have linked above to Bennett’s interview on Hannity and Colmes above. Here is the transcript excerpt at Media Matters, which ain’t a right-wing site. Ignore the bold print, and read what isn’t bold. Clearly Bennett is pointing out that the idea is stupid. ABC News also tries to claim it was a racist comment, but at least they posted Bennett’s reply: In an interview with ABC News, Bennett said that anyone who knows him knows he isn't racist. He said he was merely extrapolating from the best-selling book "Freakonomics," which posits the hypothesis that falling crimes rates are related to increased abortion rates decades ago. "It would have worked for, you know, single-parent moms; it would have worked for male babies, black babies," Bennett said.

All of which are true. Duh.

Here’s my proof that the left does not seek to tell the whole story: I’m about to surf over to the Cranky Liberal and see if he has posted on this. I’m sure he has. While he can and often is a reasonable argument presenter, I’ll wager first that he has not put the full context in his post, and second that he has not linked to a full transcript. He likely will leave out the words “That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do” and the final quote “So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky. “ These quotes demonstrate Bill’s own position – that such attempts to connect abortion to GNP or crime are impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible, and out in left field.
My comment will have the results.

What’s the real issue? Only liberals are allowed to discuss race. How silly. The black population has a higher crime rate – it also has a higher rate of babies born to single parents and the highest abortion rate. Why conservatives don’t publicly point these out as problems and what the solutions are – compared to the welfare state that doesn’t work and has made the problems worse – is evident in this episode.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Christian Carnival, 28 September

It's up at In the Spirit of Grace. See what topics of faith are on the cusp this week!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


When the word, “Heresy” is spoken, what comes to mind? For some, it is some old church word no longer used, but they know it is a negative term. For many, myself included, it brings to mind thoughts of the Inquisition and the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc and William Tyndale. These types of attachments to the word "heresy" have essentially removed it from public discourse altogether.

However, it should not be so. A study of the history of the church shows that the struggle against heresy within the church was of prime importance in the second and third century A.D. What makes this a significant note is that the church was suffering its worst years of persecution at the same time. While the government and the populace was oppressing the church physically from without, the primary concern of the church leaders was the internal batlle against heresy. While the edificatory writings of encouragement in the face of persecution were important, it is clear from Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Hippolytus and their contemporaries that the focus of the church had shifted from the apologies of the first century that explained and defended Christianity to the polemical writings of the second and third centuries that aggressively pointed out, revealed, explored and vetted the heresies of the day.

Why is this relevant to today? Heresy is among us, and we do not call it what it is. Because we seek “unity”, we tolerate heresy to avoid looking like fractured political groups to unbelievers. Consider this – how can we present a united body when there are all manner of foreign objects within the body? Isn’t it better to point out the beam in our eye, remove it, and then we can do both better? Consider the words of Irenaeus in 160 A.D.:

"Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in on attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than truth itself." Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.2

An examination of the heresies of the day is in order. What we shall find is that there is truly nothing new under the sun, and that the heresies of today are the heresies of the second and third century. As Irenaeus pointed out, they look attractive and “Christian”, but neither they nor their proponents belong in the community of the faithful. Those who are children of the living God can be corrected by exposing the heresies and their logical conclusions (a favorite tactic of the church fathers) and those who refuse to call their heresy as such will be exposed as the heretics they are – not to be burned at the stake, but to remove their influence over the body.

From the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry:

“Theologically, the Bible teaches condemnation upon false doctrines and false teachers. Gal. 1:8-9 says, "But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed" (NASB). See also 11 Cor. 16:22; 2 Cor. 11:1315; 1 Tim. 1:18-20; Titus 3:10. Why is this taught in the Bible? The reason is simple. Christians are saved by faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. But faith in itself is not enough. Faith is not a substance you can put in a jar. It is belief in something. Faith is only as good as who it is placed in. If you put your faith in a false God, you are lost because a false god cannot save anyone. This is why God says in Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before Me." Faith is not what saves, but faith in the true God is what saves…Heresy has the ability to damn because they have the ability to confuse the gospel sufficiently to make it powerless.

Team Hammer will be conducting a weekly post on heresy – what is, what is not, and how to combat it when we see it. We hope to see you here checking it out and contributing.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Because Some Things are More Important than Football

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Charlie Weis doesn't usually let anyone else call plays on offense. He made an exception for 10-year-old Montana Mazurkiewicz.

The Notre Dame coach met last week with Montana, who had been told by doctors weeks earlier that there was nothing more they could do to stop the spread of his inoperable brain tumor.

"He was a big Notre Dame fan in general, but football especially," said his mother, Cathy Mazurkiewicz.

Weis showed up at the Mazurkiewicz home in Mishawaka, just east of South Bend, and talked with Montana about his tumor and about Weis' 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has global development delay, a rare disorder similar to autism.

He told Montana about some pranks he played on Joe Montana -- whom Montana was named after -- while they were roommates at Notre Dame.

"I gave him a chance to hammer me on the Michigan State loss, which he did very well. He reminded me of my son," said Weis, whose son, Charlie Jr., is 12 years old.

Weis said the meeting was touching.

"He told me about his love for Notre Dame football and how he just wanted to make it through this game this week," Weis said. "He just wanted to be able to live through this game because he knew he wasn't going to live very much longer."

As Weis talked to the boy, Cathy Mazurkiewicz rubbed her son's shoulder trying to ease his pain. Weis said he could tell the boy was trying not to show he was in pain.

His mother told Montana, who had just become paralyzed from the waist down a day earlier because of the tumor, to toss her a football Weis had given him. Montana tried to throw the football, put could barely lift it. So Weis climbed into the reclining chair with him and helped him complete the pass to his mother.

Before leaving, Weis signed the football.

"He wrote, 'Live for today for tomorrow is always another day,"' Mazurkiewicz said.

"He told him: 'You can't worry about tomorrow. Just live today for everything it has and everything you can appreciate,'" she said. "He said: 'If you're (in pain) today you might not necessarily be in pain tomorrow, or it might be worse. But there's always another day.'"

Weis asked Montana if there was something he could do for him. He agreed to let Montana call the first play against Washington on Saturday. He called "pass right."

Montana never got to see the play. He died Friday at his home.

Weis heard about the death and called Mazurkiewicz on Friday night to assure her he would still call Montana's play.

"He said, 'This game is for Montana, and the play still stands,'" she said.

Weis said he told the team about the visit. He said it wasn't a "Win one for the Gipper" speech, because he doesn't believe in using individuals as inspiration. He just wanted the team to know people like Montana are out there.

"That they represent a lot of people that they don't even realize they're representing," Weis said.

When the Irish started on their own 1-yard-line following a fumble recovery, Mazurkiewicz wasn't sure Notre Dame would be able to throw a pass. Weis was concerned about that, too. So was quarterback Brady Quinn.

"He said 'What are we going to do?'" Weis said. "I said 'We have no choice. We're throwing it to the right.'"

Weis called a play where most of the Irish went left, Quinn ran right and looked for tight end Anthony Fasano on the right.

Mazurkiewicz watched with her family.

"I just closed my eyes. I thought, 'There's no way he's going to be able to make that pass. Not from where they're at. He's going to get sacked and Washington's going to get two points,'" she said.

Fasano caught the pass and leapt over a defender for a 13-yard gain.

"It's almost like Montana was willing him to beat that defender and take it to the house," Weis said.

Mazurkiewicz was happy.

"It was an amazing play. Montana would have been very pleased. I was very pleased," she said. "I was just so overwhelmed. I couldn't watch much more."

Weis called her again after the game, a 36-17 victory by the 13th-ranked Fighting Irish, and said he had a game ball signed by the team that he wanted to bring to the family on Sunday.

"He's a very neat man. Very compassionate," she said. "I just thanked him for using that play, no matter the circumstances."

Weis is all class, and a great choice by ND. I don't like how Ty was dismissed, but they made have made up for some of it with Weis.

Peace & Beat Purdue,

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Twin Traps of "Fundamentalism"

First, I should address what is meant by Christian fundamentalism, since there are two prevailing definitions. 1) A group, who call themselves Christians, who emphasize everything but the fundamentals of the faith (clothing, music, Bible version, etc). 2) True Christians, who are united in their belief that the only way to the Kingdom of God is through Jesus Christ.

Defintion #2 is the one used by the mainstream press. Definiton #1 is what I am discussing today.

The first trap of fundamentalism is the obvious one - arrogance in its superior legalistic structure. As fundamentalists have many more rules than a non-fundamentalist church, it is easy to feel that one is better because they are obeying these rules, whereas others who do not have them, and hence, do not obey them, are lesser than ourselves. Indeed, part of the appeal of fundamentalism to some personalities is that the extra rules make it easier to make decisions. For example, what Bible should we use? Instead of doing the work and prayer necessary to discern it, one can simply adopt the version (even down to the specific commentary in the book) that is 'approved'. Easy! Now, once we have our Bible, we can look at others who do not use it as wrong, and somehow less mature than us. However, did we learn that this was the Bible to use through maturity, or did someone tell us to use it? Bingo.

Thus, the legalism of fundamentalism leads to arrogance toward others, believers and non-believers alike. The rules themselves are not the flaw - after all, if a group of people agree that they should give up alcohol, then they should! It is the natural progression of having the extra rules that makes legalism dangerous, especially when it leads to an attitude beyond simply "I am better" to "I am saved, and you are not, because you don't follow these rules."

The second trap of fundamentalism is perhaps worse. The first trap is apparent to those who are without - but it is fundamentalism's impact upon those without that conceals this trap. For this trap is one which catches those who elude the first trap. Confident in our ability to evade fundamentalism's snare, we smile as we walk into the next one.

The second trap is arrogance. It is an arrogance born of a "freedom" from fundamentalism. While any non-fundamentalist can fall into it, it is especially prevalent in those who wereonce snared by fundamentalism, and have decisively left it. It is the arrogance of feeling that we are better than our fundamentalist peers because we don't follow their rules and are not bound by them. Thus, we not only look down our noses at them in arrogance, we reject all of their ideas out of arrogance. We consider that because some have used poor arguments to present a position, that the position is therefore invalid. Beyond that, we tend to assume that not only are the specific positions invalid, but any position held by them must be similarly so.

Consider Christ's words:

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: 10 “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people —greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘O God, turn Your wrath from me —a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14 (HCSB)

The traps of fundamentalism are the same - arrogance. One says, "Thank God I am not like those watered-down Bible, rock-music listening, skirt-wearing people over there." The other is little different. "Thank God I am not like those backward, tradition-bound, legalistic fundamentalists over there/in my old church."

The first trap keeps many souls away. The second leads our souls to corruption through abuse of our 'freedom'. In both cases, we go down to our house unjustified, because exalt we ourselves when we should exalt Christ.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Roberts Round Up

Since I barely have time to answer comments, this post has little Hammertime original thought. I cut some pieces of the transcript of the Roberts' hearing out, and follow it with a piece I found at the Volokh Conspiracy as well as an article from the St. Louis Dispatch. They say it much better than I, anyway. Emphases are mine.


ROBERTS: I had someone ask me in this process -- I don't remember who it was, but somebody asked me, you know, Are you going to be on the side of the little guy? And you obviously want to give an immediate answer, but, as you reflect on it, if the Constitution says that the little guy should win, the little guy's going to win in court before me. But if the Constitution says that the big guy should win, well, then the big guy's going to win, because my obligation is to the Constitution. That's the oath. The oath that a judge takes is not that, I'll look out for particular interests, I'll be on the side of particular interests. The oath is to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. And that's what I would do.
DURBIN: Would you at least concede that you would take into consideration that in our system of justice the race goes to the swift, and the swift are those with the resources, the money, the lawyers, the power in the system? And that many times the powerless, the person who has struggled and clawed their way to your courtroom, went through a wall of adversity which the power never had to face? Is that part of your calculation?
ROBERTS: Absolutely. And it's, again, what's carved above the doors to the Supreme Court: Equal justice under law. And the judicial oath talks about doing justice without regard to persons, to rich and to poor. And that, of course, is critically important. You do have to appreciate that there are going to be interests who, for one reason or another, don't have the same resources as people on the other side. The idea is not to give the case to the side with the best resources, the side with the best lawyers, the side with the most opportunity to prepare it and present it. It is to decide the case according to the law and according to the Constitution. And as case after case in the Supreme Court shows, that's often the prisoner who's sitting in his cell and writes his petition out longhand.
ROBERTS: Sometimes the Constitution is on that person's side and not on the side of the corporation with the fancy printed brief. But the judge's obligation is to appreciate that the rule of law requires that both of those be treated equally under the law.

First, is the question of compassion and humanity. I said on the first days of these hearings it's important to determine not just the quality of your mind but the fullness of your heart, which to I think a good number of us at least on side of the aisle really mean the ability to truly empathize with those who are less fortunate and who often need the protections of the government and the assistance of the law to have any chance at all.

GRAHAM: Your heart -- nobody can question your intellect, because it would be a question of their intellect to question yours...
... so we're down to the heart. And is it all coming down to that?
Well, there are all kind of hearts. There are bleeding hearts and there are hard hearts. And if I wanted to judge Justice Ginsburg on her heart, I might take a hard-hearted view of her and say she's a bleeding heart. She represents the ACLU. She wants the age of consent to be 12. She believes there's a constitutional right to prostitution. What kind of heart is that?
Well, she has a different value system than I do. But that doesn't mean she doesn't have a good heart. And I want this committee to understand that if we go down this road of putting people's hearts in play, and the only way you can have a good heart is, "Adopt my value system", we're doing a great disservice to the judiciary.
Thank you.

From Volokh Conspiracy:

I am struck, watching the hearings, at the complete disconnect between the criticisms of many of those opposing Judge Roberts and a cogent view of the role of the courts. It seems that many of the criticisms are policy based — x or y rulings would lead to bad RESULTS — and make no reference whatsoever regarding whether such results are in fact the correct interpretation of the law (or the Constitution). Judge Roberts's repeated point was that he was committed to the law, and not to a political agenda, yet most of the criticism seems to be that he lacks a particular favored agenda on things like civil rights, the environment, etc. But certainly the critics cannot have it both ways, pissing and moaning that he might reject a substantive conclusion that they favor, yet demand that he not bring his personal views into the judging process. Unless they think that he will misinterpret the law in a way that follows his allegedly retrograde views and opposes their more "enlightened" views, it seems that their criticism should be about the laws as written, or the Constitution itself, and not about the jurist who interprets them faithfully. Demanding a Justice that would distort the laws to serve a particular end, be it civil rights, the environment, or what have you, is basically demanding a jurist who would be dishonest and violate his oath of office. Judge Roberts has naturally refused to be goaded into such silliness. The fact that folks like Kennedy, Schumer and Durbin keep setting that up as the test for their willingness to support him is appalling and speaks to the bankruptcy of their philosophies of government. (Not to be biased, several Republicans also seem to fall into the same exact trap regarding abortion, flag-burning, and the pledge of allegiance. They seem to think that the fact that they do not LIKE the results of various cases has something to do with whether they were rightly decided under the laws and the Constitution, and seem to think that their strong emotions on such issues should have some influence on Judge Roberts's future rulings. They are, of course, mistaken and equally suspect in their philosophies of government.)

In any event, I think Roberts comes out of this looking like the consummate jurist who knows precisely where his duties and loyalties must lie — to the law and the Constitution. Most of his critics come off looking like they are pandering to folks who don't know about or don't care about the proper functioning of the courts, and most of the Senators just come off looking ridiculous. It is particularly ironic to hear the demands of Senators (most notably Specter) that they not be treated like children when they seem so intent on acting like children. If they had the slightest inclination to follow the Constitution on their own accord, and to take seriously the limitations on their powers, they would not need to be rebuked quite so often and perhaps when the Court was forced to overturn some piece of legislation they would get more slack for an honest disagreement or mistake rather than whacked on the wrist for making a power grab.

And from the St. Louis Dispatch:

POINT OF VIEW: A test of principles and ideas
By Amy White

This week's confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court were supposed to be an opportunity for Senate opponents to expose his liabilities. Instead, it has been the Democratic Party's liabilities on full display.

Exhibit One: Citing the flawed response to Hurricane Katrina, Wisconsin Democrat Herbert Kohl noted that it was "those without employment opportunities and educational opportunities" who lacked the means to escape the violent storm and the catastrophic flood that followed. "As you seek the position of chief justice," Kohl asked, "what role would you play in making right the wrongs revealed by Katrina?"

And there it is: the Democrats' dependence on the judicial branch of government to solve society's problems.

In his reply, Roberts endorsed the principle of equal justice under the law but reminded the senator that the court's only obligation is to "uphold the rule of law, which is the key to all rights being meaningful." When Kohl continued to press, the judge offered up a little Civics 101: "We hear cases brought before us. We do not have the authority to execute the law or make the law. Our constitutional authority is to decide the cases presented."

Not one to be out-liberaled, Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts picked up the theme. He asked Roberts if he thought Congress had the power to "pass laws aimed at righting wrongs, ending injustice, eliminating the inequalities we have just witnessed so dramatically and tragically in New Orleans." He then peppered Roberts with questions about the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act and a host of other anti-discrimination laws. Did Roberts agree that the laws are constitutional? Roberts said he did.

Kennedy failed to note the obvious: Despite decades of legislation, there were still poor people in New Orleans lacking opportunity. But the senator continues to dream of more laws to fix societal problems that laws, to date, have failed to remedy.

Senator Diane Feinstein of California predictably asked Roberts several questions about "the right to privacy" in the Roe v. Wade case and the rephrased "right to be left alone" on end-of-life issues. Like Kenendy she missed the obvious: Roe v. Wade denied Americans in the womb any right to be "left alone." Indeed, her advocacy on these issues seem reserved for those slated to die, wanting to die or whose next-of-kin wish them to die.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York read quotes from three prominent religious conservatives suggesting that the federal judiciary poses "more of a threat than terrorists." When Judge Roberts said he disagreed with such comments and would defend the judiciary from personal attacks, the senator asked, "Do you strongly disagree? Don't these turn your insides a little bit?"

Roberts didn't take the bait. "Senator, people from all across the political spectrum have attacked judges." This plain reality was not useful to Schumer, however, who obviously hoped to get the judge to condemn some of the religious conservatives who have supported his nomination to the high court.

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who enjoys being the most charismatic Democrat on a charisma-challenged committee, challenged Roberts on the Violence Against Women Act, debating the judge on the definitions of "heightened scrunity" versus "strict scrunity" in sex discrimination cases. Although it was Biden who had posed the question, he wouldn't wait for an answer. When the committee chairman, Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, admonished Biden to let Roberts speak, Biden replied - in cheerful frustration - "But I have no time left, Mr. Chairman! And I know the answer!"

Biden might as well have been speaking for all congressional Democrats who have protested that the nominee is too conservative, too political and too religious to sit on the Supreme Court. After hours of questioning that only have proved John Roberts' dazzling command of American jurisprudence - and his uncanny ability to evade with sincerity - the Democrats are out of time.

As to what kind of chief justice this man will be, his opponents already know the answer: He will not legislate from the bench what fails to be legislated by the people's elected representatives. He will not seek to right the wrongs of the past, present or future. His only expressed aim is to fulfill his responsibility to "serve the rule of law."

In the years to come under the Roberts court, it will be interesting to see whether a court that serves only the rule of law will advance the Democratic agenda - or obliterate it.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Christian Carnival, 7 September

The Carnival is up. One of our regular visitors, UK John, makes the list, as do some of my semi-regular reads Dadmanly, Penitent Blogger, Psuedo-Polymath (which David of Contrarian Views may find interesting) and Crossroads are on this week's postings as well. Check them out!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Theology Tuesday: Unity and Perspective

Unity. It's always popular to tell the faithful that they should be more unified. Of course, what this unity means is seldom clearly defined. Sometimes it is about letting go of traditional methods in favor of ones that may work better - which makes some sense. Other times it is a desire to abandon doctrinal differences in the name of unity. Still other times it is merely a call to relegate disputes to a sidebar and work together as one Body in Christ.

However, oftentimes it is a call for one party, typically the more conservative one, to abandon one or more doctrines because they are devisive. The idea is that the early church was a lot more "unified" than we are today.

I am studying church history, and have made it into the second century A.D., where some of the early church fathers, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandrea, and Ireneus, for example, penned great works in support of the church. What has given me perspective is not the actual works of any of the church fathers, but the Introduction to "On the Incarnation", by Athanasius. The introduction is written by C.S. Lewis, and is a call for believers to read these works of the early church, which he calls "old books". Essentially, as I have already found, we cannot understand Augustine by reading what John Piper has to say about Augustine. In that case, we just get John Piper's Augustine. Instead, we should read Confessions, or The City of God. To quote Lewis, "if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about "isms" and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said...The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism."

Too true - which is why I am committed to the "old books" for the foreseeable future. However, today's perspective from Lewis is a revelation of what we find in those old books. Hint: it is, and isn't, Unity.

"I myself was first led into reading the Christian classics, almost accidentally, as a result of my English studies. Some, such as Hooker, Herbert, Traherne, Taylor and Bunyan, I read because they themselves are great English writers; others, such as Boethius, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Dante, because they were "influences."...They are, you will note, a mixed bag, representative of many Churches, climates and ages...In those days in which I hated Christianity, I learned to recognize, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying something which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Thomist Dante...It was, of course, varied; and yet - after all - so unmistakably the same; recognizable, not to be evaded, the odour which is death to us until we allow it to become life..."

"We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is truly left intact despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity. I know, for I saw it; and well our enemies know it. That unity any of us can find by going out of his own age. It is not enough, but it is more than you had thought till then. Once you are well soaked in it, if you then venture to speak, you will have an amusing experience. You will be thought a Papist when you are actually reproducing Bunyan, a Pantheist when you are quoting Aquinas, and so forth. For you have now got on to the great level viaduct which crosses the ages and which looks so high from the valleys, so low from the mountains, so narrow compared to the swamps, and so broad compared to the sheep-tracks."

To find this undeniable unity that stretches through the ages, even when some doctrines were more ascendant than at other times, try Aquinas, without commentary. Augustine, Origen (not on hermenuetics, though!), Bunyan, MacDonald, Bonhoeffer, Lewis, Pascal, Traherne. My current selections are The Confessions of St. Augustine and De Principiis by Origen. Selections by Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Aquinas, Anselm, Gregory, Benedict, and Irenaeus will follow. I'll drop a summary when I get a chance for each - but don't take my word, or that of your educators. Read them yourself!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Samaritan's Purse

Samaritan's Purse is doing serious work getting aid to the victims of Katrina.

Stop in, see what they are doing, and give if you can.