Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Commandments Are Not Burdensome

"Speak for yourself, Sparky." That's what you're thinking. And there are times even now when I feel like the worst sinner who ever breathed, because we all have our weak moments. I'm not unfamiliar with Grave Matterville. But I also know mercy. I can hardly speak it to you, I have received so much. As it is written, "And from His fullness we have received grace upon grace." That used to be just words on a page. Now...

Now I understand that every grace is a potential moment of covenant renewal, where God says, "Choose this day whom you will serve." Yet I learn each day how weak I am in my own strength, and yet, paradoxically, how it must be mine in a certain sense to be real. God is not trying to earth the gospel in the abstract; I am the arena for His praise and glory. This life.

I do not want to be reckoned righteous when I am not. That would make God a liar, though it appears to make Him merciful. Grace saves; if it doesn't, it's not grace.

Anyway, sometimes I tremble; my heart does more than the fear and trembling Paul means. I get more afraid than a pious heart should. But it no longer scares me when a priest or wise person asks, "Did you keep the commandments?" Because life with God is a friendship, not a guilt trip. If we have failed, He has never stopped loving us, but we needn't ever fear we are beyond His mercy. Because you can't get beyond it. The only real trouble is to believe you have. This is a special pride the evil one loves, because you get stuck in despair.

In His grace, there is a power that cannot be thwarted; there is Love that will not be held at bay. O Lord, I am but an unprofitable servant, but I do love You!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Is Not A Sex Blog

But this merits some serious consideration.

Never Thought Of It Quite That Way

Good point.

Tony Dungy, Reconsidered

There are two ways to understand this. One obviously is to say Dungy hates "gays," and that one person's tendencies toward certain sins gross him out more than his own. There is obviously another way, and I think it's the right one.

I read Tony's whole statement like this: "I wouldn't want the whole circus, and my lack of enthusiasm for Michael Sam's lifestyle (and your resulting attempts to villify or pity me) to be a distraction to the team."

That's why the activists created the weasel-phrase "sexual orientation" in the first place: If you can make the whole debate about accepting the person, and not about whether a particular class of actions is harmful to people in body and soul, you've won.

Don't let a bunch of foolish people intimidate you. Recognize what's going on.

Monday, July 21, 2014

We Will Add Your Theological And Biological Distinctiveness To Our Own

A certain intellectually lazy cast of mind reacts to the ecumenical moves of Pope Francis with a snide, "Yay, syncretism!" On the contrary; the person who is utterly convinced that--to borrow a phrase--"Jesus is who he says he is" can afford to be magnanimous. Can anything really stand against the love of Christ? To the soft heart and the docile will, the word of Christ is like the choicest food: it is irresistible.

There is nothing true, good, or beautiful that is not already His; the only question is whether you want others to see that for themselves, or to keep it for yourself. If that sounds like a dare, it is.

To love the Truth, we must discern Him from among pretenders; that is true. But we must also celebrate when others meet Him, or are very close to doing so.

5 More Thoughts For Today

5. True wisdom from a rap song: "We need to pray just to make it today."

4. Wisdom from Garth Brooks, or one of his cronies: "Life is not tried, it is merely survived, if you're standing outside the fire."

3. The New Evangelization, with Deon Estus and George Michael: "Heaven help me talk to strangers."

2. The secret to the spiritual life, from Kenny Loggins: "To know what it is to forgive, and be forgiven."

1. Do you think someone has called up Derek Jeter and said, "Please bring me my wine"?

5 Thoughts For Today

5. It's Cardinal Newman vs. Lionel Richie right now, and Lionel is winning.

4. "Hello," the ultimate creeper song. Yeah, you just laughed, but you know it's true.

3. Has there been a more enjoyable song that was more lyrically nonsensical than "Dancing On The Ceiling"?

2. "Ballerina Girl" is about his daughter, Nicole Richie. It's harder to see her so negatively now, isn't it?

1. Hopefully, those recordings of me singing Lionel will never be found.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Allow Me To Elaborate

It is possible to have too close an association between a political agenda, and the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. But the antidote for that is the correct anthropology of man, that corresponds to the reality that God has made. What is man? What is his end? What's his problem?

It becomes "political" when one group or another decides to deny the inherent dignity of the human person, and in that sense, it must be. What has been revealed in Christ is a totalizing reality, and He makes no apologies in that.

But of course, the good news is not a list of "don't's". The truth applied to an issue might sound like this: "Because of what God reveals about marriage and chastity, adultery and pornography are sins against it, and we should flee those things."

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Hug the clergy today.

4. I'm serious. I'm not going out today, so you have to do it for me.

3. If you're Protestant, and uncomfortable that I said, "clergy," well, a little discomfort is good for the soul.

2. Want to sweep the Dodgers? All you have to do is beat Clayton Kershaw.

1. RIP, James Garner.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

It's Not About Sides

You know, I like Dennis Prager, the conservative commentator. He has that way of being right-wing without ruining anyone's day. We still need more of that. I watched a short video of him giving a primer on the Israel-Palestine conflict the other day, and it was persuasive. Then, I just watched a pro-Palestinian one today. Also, very persuasive. Don't you hate it when that happens? Still, I had a few thoughts:

1. A modern state created as a refuge for those fleeing perhaps the most horrific genocide in history, which then becomes an apartheid state against other groups, is tragic and ironic, to say the least.

2. Unjust conduct in war does not invalidate a grievance, but it does not advance it.

3. Territory gained in war--even a defensive one--cannot be licitly held.

4. A free state that maintains ethnic homogeneity by force is by definition not free.

JK's 5 Favorite Albums

5. No Fences, Garth Brooks.

4. Weezer (The Blue Album), Weezer.

3. In Pieces, Garth Brooks.

2. August And Everything After, Counting Crows.

1. In The Life Of Chris Gaines, Garth Brooks.

5 More:

5. Leap Of Faith, Kenny Loggins.

4. House Of Love, Amy Grant.

3. For The Cool In You, Babyface.

2. Affirmation, Savage Garden.

1. Faith, George Michael.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Let's Get Deeper Than Sound-Bites

I really do get it. You look at the Christian landscape, and you see all these allegedly Christian communities going soft on what Michael Liccione calls "the pelvic issues." Even though to fight in the public sphere is all we have when we cannot achieve dogmatic consensus because of the individualist tyranny of Sola Scriptura, still, it's crazy. We're down to Natural Law, basic stuff called into question, essentially because politics and identity trumps the law of God.

At the same time, we've got to define our terms. What do you mean by "gay-affirming"? Really? If I don't have the guts to say that a person even practicing homosexuality is in some sense loved by God, I do not understand the corresponding evil of that sin. I'm going to say that again: You don't understand it, or the love of God, which is denied in it.

There is too much "us vs. them." The activists are completely right about this, even if some of them use it against us and themselves, in order to remain in their sins.

Why are you worried about the "synagogues of Satan," rather than preaching the love of Jesus? It has been too long a false dilemma: You fear that preaching love will lead to antinomianism. What you fail to realize--though you may concede it in your mind--is that a heart gripped by the love of Christ needs no law at all. The kerygma of Christ thrives and lives in the Body of Christ. To be apart from the Church is just as dark as the darkness of perversion, and we are but a clanging cymbal or ringing gong apart from Him, and the sacraments of His love.

The Latest From The Vatican Spin Machine

Not only is this true and wise, it's hilarious. I may be an expert in pope-pologetics and fawning, but I'll tell you what, buddy: I'm not taking my right to prudentially criticize the Holy Father's imprudent (alleged) statements unless and until I'm seeing God in the Beatific Vision. You know why? Because we have too much to do. Also, spiritually, I'm just a kid. We have enough riches in the Sacred Tradition to last us our whole lives. Am I also the only one to notice my lack of being conformed to Christ, and secondarily, the need of our brothers? But we're worried about what Pope Francis says? Prepare yourself.

99.99997% of the time, what the pope says is not directly relevant to our lives. Yes, a Catholic can and should say this. The Church does not stand or fall on Pope Francis. At the same time, I'm not going to repudiate him or his legitimate authority because some of you involved in the grave matter of schism would feel better about yourselves.

I'm sorry. But not.

5 More Thoughts For Today

5. I mean, I really love books. It's getting crazy. I need to have a book-burning, I mean sale, of all my Reformed/Protestant books.* [You are a bad person.--ed.]

4. Maybe I really should renew my library card. It's a little awkward when your 2 favorite hobbies are watching Star Trek (in all incarnations) and buying books. [Dude, you bought those books on W.J. Bryan like a year ago. At this rate, you will not read those until you are 75.--ed.] Patience, my friend. I may not read or work as fast as I'd like, but I'm persistent.

3. I would have linked to Trueman, but it was being obnoxious. Then you can read my thoughts, if you like. [Would you say that is the best he can do?--ed.] That, I can't say. But I'm going to charitably choose to believe he believes what he's written. It doesn't hold water to me, but of course, I'd say that.

2. I do not deny that the subjective experience of various infidelities among professed Catholics is a kind of scandalous "counter-sign" (and barrier to communion) for the claim that the Church is the one Christ founded. But I do and must maintain that the pursuit of the truth is a strictly theological matter. That is, the truth about God is unavoidably bound up with His self-revelation. Thus, it is more than appropriate to ask how a denial of transubstantiation (for example) advances the cause of moral reformation. That is, "Could I be mistaken in that denial, even if my manner of living is more in keeping with the truth than those charged with professing and promulgating it?" Divine truth is not altered by sin; neither does falsehood become true when held by the pure.

1. The only thing crazier than this NBA free agency period is Dr. Alan Noble's hate mail.

*Note: Anything written by Captain Jack, or anything that serves as a legitimate reference tool, is not going to be sold.

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Real baseball returns! Cards tomorrow.

4. I hate re-writing stuff. But humility is a cross called, "Revision."

3. Oh, man, Devin Rose! You think he's the "Cross-Examiner" now? Just wait until he edits your stuff! Buahaha!

2. I admit it: I feel bad for sleeping the last two hours on the way back from Steubenville. Not very manly, when Confirmation Sponsor Guy had to drive the whole way. [On the other hand, he didn't have to hear you talk.--ed.] So true.

1. That awkward moment when reading Numbers 16:1-3 when you realize Korah et al. were saying they wanted to be another "faithful outpost of the (invisible) church catholic."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fred Noltie, For The Win!

I had a few thoughts on this. In the first case, they are likely responding to liberals, or some other "bad people" who disagreed. In the latter case, I suspect it's a set-up, to convince broad evangelicals that they need to be Reformed (and that an appeal to scholarship will settle the interpretive disagreement). But everybody has their Captain Jack. We're back to the original problem. And pointing out the potential problems in the Catholic way of thinking doesn't really do anything against the Noltie Conundrum, which stated essentially is, "What is the doctrine of God on these essential matters of faith, given the fact of interpretive disagreement, in spite of the mutual appeal to the Holy Spirit?" A tie goes to the papists, essentially because the Reformation promised doctrinal and moral certainty and clarity, against the backdrop of the Papacy's "failure," both real and imagined. It doesn't make Catholicism true, but it gives a reasonable person a reason to re-examine the Catholic interpretive paradigm.

Trueman would have us believe that it is foolish to believe the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded because...people are sinners? Really? That's what you're going with, Violin? [You just tweaked Carl Trueman with a "New Girl" reference. I'm so ashamed.--ed.]

The only question that matters is, "What did God say, and to whom has he entrusted that message of salvation?" Once we realize that nothing in the Reformation can actually help us answer that question without begging the question, we are forced to look again to the Church.

There's little point in being an "ecclesial" anything under this Reformation paradigm, because the same suspicion of ecclesiastical authority that gave the movement its driving force could be turned against any of the communities formed subsequently--and this is the point--any of their doctrines. It's a spirit of rebellion and chaos, and it cannot be turned back with ad hoc appeals to consensus or history. If there is no Church--a visible, identifiable community with a rule of faith, then there is, in a sense, no Christ in the world. It's that important. Your choice.

We Live For Each Other

...and for God. I see more clearly each day that I live (when I bother to look) that it's not about me. The world does not revolve around me. The best thing I can do is to point others, in big ways and small, to Him, because it does revolve around Him.

I read this today. Annie doesn't want pity or sympathy, I'm sure, but I have buckets full, if she ever wanted it. It intrigued me that she really wanted to meet Derek Jeter, and got to do it. He's all the talk these days, with this his final season serving as the coronation of a Hall Of Fame career. It struck me again as I watched that commercial "Respect" from the other day that none of these elite athletes understand how much bigger than the games they play they can be. Remember the firefighters who tipped their caps to Jeter? Firefighters. "Heroic" is in the job description, for goodness' sake. And yet, here they are. Why? Because sports are not an escape; they are a mirror. Jeter and others are right to tell them, (or the person with cancer) "I should be thanking you," and yet, there is something dignifying about receiving something like, "The way you play inspires me" and accepting it as the gift it is. Because in a certain sense, we're all in this together. Respecting the game isn't just a cliche; it's understanding that you have a task that may seem small, (and maybe it is) but it's yours.

It's not about you, even if you're Derek Jeter.