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Saturday, February 08, 2014

5 Thoughts On Atheist "Evangelism"

5. I guess we can hardly fault them for mimicking us. You know what they say about imitation...

4. If there is no God, you don't get reward points, like anti-grace, no matter how many people watch your videos.

3. Cool, man. You don't want to read the Bible. What about Plato and Aristotle? They said God must exist. But whatever. They were obviously part of the Jesus Industrial Complex, before the fact.

2. If God doesn't exist, from whence do you get all that moral outrage? Your passion is no more valid than him you oppose. Wake me up when you get out of that Nietzschian nightmare.

1. You certainly do an awful lot of talking about Someone who doesn't exist. You're a lot like a woman, who professes her antipathy over and over. Her smart friends are shopping for deals on wedding invitations.

Friday, February 07, 2014

You Are Beautiful

Do this one time. Go into your bathroom--I'm hopeful you have a big mirror--and just look at yourself. Some clothes or none; doesn't matter. Just do it. Look at yourself, and realize that how God made you is itself beautiful. Perhaps you have done something to harm yourself, or someone has done it to you. Pray to forget, for just some time. Just look. We are living, breathing, glorious miracles, and we forget. We forget the physical part of it. I'm not saying that we're not sinners, because we are. I'm not saying we couldn't change some things, even physically, because we could or might. Just look.

I'm extra-special. If you met me, you'd see the broken right away. People tell me I have a great attitude. Horse manure. I can't speak for everyone, but I think he allowed my broken body to humble me. He knew a proud and rebellious spirit from the get-go. In any case, I swear I don't look enough. I don't see this glory that He made. I saw the lines of my shoulders today, and I almost cried. Heck, I'm crying now.

We're all tied up in awful things; I'm sure you could tell me stories. We can't deny any of those awful things, whatever they happen to be. But maybe a little step forward is to look at yourself. Body and soul, there is no one like you.

I have no simple answers today. Just literally let some light in, and look. In these moments, maybe there is a little grace to see past the self-loathing, however we got it. Do you see an innocence that has been hiding? Does it seem a little less complicated from here?

I only saw that I must be meant for more than the voice of discouragement says. I saw it in the lines of my shoulders.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

5 Thoughts For Today

5. Divine Sense Of Humor Department: Ronald Reagan and Bob Marley share a birthday.

4. Oppose Russia's "anti-gay" laws because the punishments are unduly harsh, not to affirm homosexuality. In fact, if Putin said he was passing these laws because these acts are contrary to the Natural Law, I salute him.

3. This is exactly what I hate about libertarianism. The reality that certain laws would be costly and unproductive to enforce is routinely conflated with "This behavior is socially acceptable, and morally correct."

2. Actually, the problem is that "socially acceptable" and "morally correct" mean the same thing to a libertarian. Legal positivism. We should rightly celebrate the ability we have to change our laws. But justice limits precisely how we change them.

1. Do we dare say that all laws derive not simply their sanction, but also their correspondence with justice, from the consent of the governed?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Stellman, Redux

Good to see I am not totally nuts.

Save Yourself Time

Dr. McKnight. Be received into the Catholic Church. The Church and the Kingdom are the same reality. The reason Paul doesn't fit is because you've been reading Paul through Luther, and not through Jesus. I just need to cut right to the chase.

I Told You So (CCC, 528)

It has been one of my firmest convictions for many years that I've been reading the Bible exactly backwards; that is, if we understood the fullness of (faithful) Israel's longing and expectation for the Messiah, we would die of wonderment and laughter at the faithfulness of God. We Gentiles are the younger son; we are the wild olive branch, and while that should humble us, it should also strengthen us. God kept his word to Israel, though they did not keep theirs. Salvation doesn't come by knowledge alone, by the intellect alone; dare I say, it doesn't come by "faith" alone, and yet, I am encouraged. Just to ponder the sheer majesty of the story of redemption casts away many trembles of the heart. My failures in recent weeks relate to forgetting the obvious: if God could bring the New Covenant out of Israel's faithlessness, can he not order my next steps?

Listen to Nicole. My trouble is, I don't recognize suffering for what it is; I'm not even consciously aware that I'm troubled. And if you're not consciously aware, Satan loves that. If you're not offering things to God, he's stealing them, and giving you lies instead.

I need to pray, "Lord, I might even feel that things are fine, that I'm doing OK. But things are not fine. Things swirl all about me, though I try to shut them out. Let me see the hurt around me, to let myself feel it, so that I may give it to you. My fear and stress unacknowledged tempt me to sin against you. Help me, Lord."


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

I Thought He Was Great

Bruno Mars was great at the Super Bowl halftime show. Everyone kept their clothes on, (well, except the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but they're all guys, and that was horrible anyway) and everyone seemed to have a good time. "Locked Out Of Heaven" isn't going to win any chastity prizes (and neither is Bruno Mars, apparently) but I've seen worse on this halftime show. I'd say have him back next year. Or get John Legend. That guy is incredible. I heard complaints when Bruno was first announced, and Beyonce the year before, and I just have to bring it up: What segment of the Super Bowl viewing public is not comfortable with black people, and black music? Every year that I've heard pre-emptive complaints, it just so happens that the performer is a person of color. One year, one of my friends suggested AC/DC, and I just laughed. They haven't been legitimately popular since, what, 1982?

My generation and certainly the ones after it have listened to pop music that is thoroughly saturated with African-American cultural influence; it's just the norm now. We're post-Thriller, post-MJ, (RIP) post-Cosby Show, and countless other things; we're not going back, nor should we. You need someone with broad-based, multi-racial appeal. An old white band will only cut it if there's a Beatle (Paul McCartney) or they've been the Biggest Band In The World for a good chunk of time. (U2) Just sayin.'


Monday, February 03, 2014

5 Thoughts You May Need

5. Semi-pelagianism: The belief that man in his natural state is able to make the first move toward God, and then after that, God assists. (And not the other way around.) This has always been held to be false by the universal Church, though many great saints held such a view before it was judged heresy.

4. I wouldn't say that various personal difficulties in themselves have much to do with governing a state. Your inhuman agenda might, though.

3. I wouldn't trust a music magazine to accurately represent Catholic teaching. In fact, they aren't that great in their field of "expertise." "August And Everything After" was not an attempt at an iconic album; it is iconic. Rolling Stone is like the dumbest guy in a dorm-room philosophy discussion; everyone is hoping he shuts up and leaves before we all get dumber.

2. I'll say it again: If Pope Francis is a "Marxist," then so am I.

1. I don't have to make judgments about individuals and their habits to say that forced contraception is not only harmful; the manner of its introduction is not in keeping with this nation's long tradition of liberty and tolerance.

Ephesians 2, Galatians 3, Romans 3: Read It Together, Naturally

Ephesians 2:11-22 is maybe my favorite text in the New Testament. I know, that's weird. But this text helped me to see what Paul was really saying, not only here, but in Romans and Galatians, and that helps us break out of the snare that is (Protestant) Reformation theology, to be rather blunt.

Look at verse 11. He tells us he's addressing Gentiles right off the hop, and actually we should read "works" back in verse 10 as a Jewish member of the church would read it: not by the works and ceremonies of the Law I've done my whole life, unlike those poor Gentiles, who never had it. "In the flesh" I think means, "ethnically" here, and as he goes on, it becomes clear. The Judaizers are a concern here also. Verse 12 is a restatement of Isaiah, Jeremiah and the "minor" prophets: Israel's consolation will be the incorporation of the Gentiles into God's People. Actually, this sounds a lot like Acts 2:39 right here, doesn't it, in verse 13? Given the Joel 2 context there, that's pretty exciting. We're on good hermeneutical ground here, then. When Peter and Paul agree, everybody wins. Christ himself is our peace, and you can see how this would be a challenge if you were Jewish at the time: you've been keeping the Law because it was divinely commanded all this time, and these lucky Gentiles get off easy! And they're a little vocal about it, and how happy they are about Messiah coming. I guess we can't fault them for that. "Us both." See that? The abolishing the commandments and ordinances in the flesh of Christ was for the purpose of making one man out of the two, not to poke His people in the eye. So this is why Paul says pastorally all over the place in so many words, "Eat or don't eat, but don't judge each other." (Romans 14, 1 Cor 8-10, etc.) He knows for sure some Jews are going to keep the customs, and that's fine, so long as they allow others freedom and receive them as brothers. This is why St. Paul was so mad at St. Peter, which he recounts at the beginning of Galatians 2: Peter had taken some measure of relief from the food laws and welcomed Gentiles, because he'd seen God work among them, but when certain men came from James, he drew back. It had to be after the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. Otherwise, his anger at Peter wouldn't make sense. Legalism is a concern, but it's only because self-effort and clinging to the past is a natural reaction among those who miss the redemptive-historical boat. If God does something, you gotta go with it.

Look at Galatians 2:15-16. Shoot, man. Verse 15 should convert a Lutheran by itself. "Works of the Law" means the ordinances of the Law given to Moses. Your key verse in Galatians 3 is verse 8, to make the point. Abraham is our father in faith in two ways: To a Jew, he's a father because we all came from him literally. To a Gentile, he's our father because he got the promise to be the father of many nations before he was circumcised. We'd be jazzed about this if we were Gentiles. In fact, St. Paul makes this exact point in Romans 4:9-11. Maybe the Jew-Gentile thing should be in our minds as we read the previous chapter, eh? Ahem.

If you're Catholic, and you attempt to share the glories of holy mother Church with our separated brethren, this will come up. Just trust me on this. But do you see verse 21? I'm sure Uncle Scotty and Curtis Mitsch didn't miss it. There are two uses of the word "law" in this one verse, one "negative" and one "positive," as it were. But now the righteousness of God (not going to play the NIV's "We Hate Catholicism" game by needlessly translating that as "from," though in fairness, it's not ruled out grammatically, as such; I digress) has been manifested apart from the law, ("negative," maybe) although the law and the prophets (2/3 of the Jewish trifecta for what to call the Scriptures: "Law", "Prophets," and "Writings," AKA wisdom literature) bear witness to it (definitely resoundingly positive)." So what is "apart from law"? Apart from the Mosaic Law! Of course, because the Gentiles don't have it. But he's not going to repudiate it, because it served a function; it is definitely good if you're a Jew waiting for its fulfillment. Remember, even the 10 Commandments have their basis, their heart, in the redeeming love of YHWH, shown in the Exodus. They get the Law like 7 chapters after the Exodus, AKA OT redemption. We love because He first loved us. WOOO! The key verse in Romans 3 is 29; it makes the same point as Galatians 2:15-16 we mentioned earlier. "Law" for St. Paul has nothing to do with the relation of faith and works under the New Covenant as such; it's about recognizing what time it is in the story. You're a bitter clinger legalist first and foremost if you reject Jesus. St. Paul seems to spend half his breath giving hope to the Jews in the churches, because it's looked bleak most of the way. But he also tells the Gentiles their time is now. Then he's gotta console the Jews again, because there are now tons of Gentiles; the faithful remnant of Israel is definitely a remnant. I'd be wondering, too, if I were them. This is why Hebrews has to be written by St. Paul; only a guy who wants to cherish the Law's heart, while respecting the Lord Jesus in his fullness could have written it. And isn't this exactly what we've been seeing here? In any era, as I've said, read your Bible like a Jew; you'll be glad you did.