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Theology That Bites Back
Updated: 1 hour 47 min ago

Advent and Abundance

Sat, 05/12/2020 - 16:42
Introduction

A genuine biblical faith is one that knows how to climb mountains, and how to not get lost in the valleys. In the flesh we know how to get used to what happens to us all the time. But it takes a true spirit of Christian character to deal with the fluctuations. Fluctuations are a test of faith and contentment.

The Text

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:11–13).

Summary of the Text

The apostle Paul has come to the point in the letter where he thanks the Philippians for their financial support. He really is grateful, but he wants them to know that he had learned the secret of being contented either way. He did not bring up his thanks because he was falling short in any way (v. 11). He knows how to be abased, and how to abound (v. 12), how to be full and how to be hungry, how to overflow and how to fall short. The “all things” of v. 13 refers to his contentment in all things.

Drive to Contentment

The Advent season also happens to be the season of shopping and sales, and so it is the time when a great deal of material stuff is paraded in front of us. This means that it is the season when a lot of people start lamenting how commercial the whole thing has gotten, what a racket it all is, and so forth.

Now whenever someone is abased, hungry, and suffering need, the carnal response is to drive toward abundance. If only I had more, if only I could get out of this place, if only . . .

But by the same token, when someone is abounding, is full, and has both hands full, there is a strong temptation (and it is a temptation) to drive toward some kind of minimalism. If only we could simplify. If only we could off-load some of these responsibilities . . .

The directive given to us in this passage is that we are not to try to fix our discontents with stuff, whether by accumulating more of it, or unloading all of it. You can’t fix the problem by getting more money, and you can’t fix the problem by getting less of it either. We are charged to drive toward contentment, which is not determined by how much money is in the bank. Rather, it is a matter of how much trust is in the heart. Contentment is a function of relationship, and not a function of wealth. Or, put another way, it is a function of spiritual wealth.

How Faith Handles This World

Faith knows how to play it as it lays. There are those who tell us that the true Christians are the ones who scarcely have a dime to their name, while others tell us that the health and wealth message means that God wants you to have loads of stuff. The Scriptures are not so simplistic. That is not what the Bible says.

“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again [remarkable tone shift here]: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Heb. 11:32–38 (KJV)

The Bible teaches us that when the godly win, they win by faith. The Scriptures teach us that when the godly lose, they lose by faith, thereby winning something much greater. The real winners are not those who have millions. Nor are the winners those who have a measly mite. Some of God’s favorites have won great battles, and others have lost them. God’s champions are those who have true contentment.

What Our Temptations Are Likely to Be

C.S. Lewis once said that when confronted with a flood, we tend to break out the fire extinguishers. We tend to spend a lot of energy resisting the temptations we were least likely to succumb to anyhow. For this congregation, what are our temptations likely to be over the coming generation? We do not know this sort of thing for certain, but my strong suspicion is that we are going to face the temptations that come with being a hard-working and wealthy community. And the Scriptures have a great deal to say about that.

And as Christmas is the time of year when a lot of stuff passes through a lot of hands, we should use this annual boot camp time as a live fire exercise. We are handling the goods. We give a lot away, and we receive a lot. Learn how to do it. This is like a catechism class. These are your exercises. Embrace them.

Cultivating Contentment

Remember that we noted earlier that we are to drive toward contentment, and we are to do it with what we currently have. We must not think that my contentment would magically arrive if only. Banish those words if only.

“Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee: And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the LORD shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee.”

Dt. 28:45-48 (KJV)

There are two stages here, two things to do. Hearken to the voice of the Lord your God. Obey His commandments. Put away the porn. Stop complaining. Work hard. Love your family. Husband your resources. That is the first thing. And the second is this. Rejoice. Celebrate. Set the table. Why did severe judgment fall upon Israel? Because they did not worship the LORD their God with joy, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything.

Christmas is coming. Throw yourself into it.

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Categories: People I don't know

So Stand

Sat, 05/12/2020 - 02:00

“Then I saw sea-cliffs, the shore of the headlands,
Those windswept walls. Wyrd often delivers
The doughty and daring if dauntless he stands.”

Beowulf, p. 26

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Categories: People I don't know

Ecochondriacs [18]

Fri, 04/12/2020 - 18:13

Please note well: In case you were wondering, even though November is over, I will be publishing the rest of this book here, section by section. But if you can’t wait to see how it ends, you can order this book in hard copy, and the link for that is here. In addition, audio chapters are being recorded and released on the new Canon App.

Close Quarters

As they had been spending more and more hours on the run, both Cody and Helen had begun to grow extremely wary, and cagey. They started to park the car a few streets over from any restaurant they decided to visit so as not to have the car possibly spotted by someone, and them sitting inside, thirty seconds away, as vulnerable as you please. And it had also occurred to them that credit card use could probably be tracked, even if they didn’t know yet that it was Cody who had spirited Helen away. So he had hit one ATM downtown, and gotten a couple thousand dollars out of savings. They were then able to pay cash for all their meals and other incidentals.

The evening after they had gotten back from Lynchburg, they had spotted a restaurant they thought looked unobtrusive, and they went and parked the rental three or four blocks away. “And the walking should do us some good,” Cody said, “after driving around all day.”

But after they had walked for a block, and much to their surprise, they came on an abandoned school building, one that had the look of a junior high about it. “Early seventies,” Cody said. “I went to one just like that.” There was a huge parking lot in the middle, with knee-high weeds growing up through the aged asphalt, weeded ball fields off to the left, only identifiable through a sagging chain link backstop, and off to the right was the school. It still looked entirely serviceable, but Cody guessed that an ambitious superintendent had gotten a bond levy passed, and was now tormenting his prisoners at a swankier location.

They got to the restaurant and ordered their meals, and were each silently critical of the other’s dietary choices. Cody had ordered chicken-fried steak, and Helen had ordered a kale salad. Their meal passed in small talk, but when Helen was finishing her salad, she couldn’t resist one comment. “That salad was really good. I am surprised that a place that could make a salad that good would even have something like chicken fried steak, as you call it, on the menu.” As she was talking she noticed that there was a little extra dig in her comment that she tried to fix at the end of the sentence with a little lilt in her laugh.

And Cody didn’t seem to notice anything wrong, because he laughed too, and said, “Well, yeah. And I was surprised that a place that would serve kale salad would know how to make chicken fried steak. But they sure did.” Helen’s jab, which she had decided halfway through shouldn’t have been a jab, had gone whistling over his head. He wasn’t embarrassed about anything at all. How could you be embarrassed about eating a chicken fried steak?

As they were walking back to the car, and were crossing the school grounds again, for some reason Cody felt an odd sensation running up his neck, and he turned around and looked back the way they had come. The back parking lot of the restaurant abutted the property of the old school, and was about the length of a football field away. Two men were climbing out of a car that was facing them. One of them jerked, and pointed at them, and the other one walked around to the front of the car and stepped through the hole in the fence that Cody and Helen had just come through. The other man followed him.

They hadn’t been tailed, Cody was sure of it. This was sheer bad luck. And they had limited choices. If they ran for it, they would probably not make it. There was no place to hide off to their right where the ball fields were. That left the school, which was only twenty yards off to their left. If they ran, it would confirm their identity, but when Cody glanced back again, he saw the two men were already running.

“Come on,” he said, and bolted for the concrete steps that ran up to the front doors. Please, please, don’t be locked, Cody thought. But when they got there he realized the question was immaterial. The window to the right of the main doors had been broken out, and replaced, like ages ago, with a piece of plywood. That piece of plywood had been knocked askew by others who wanted access to the school for some reason, and all Cody had to do was push on it slightly to make a hole large enough for them to step through, first Helen, and then Cody.

There was a fairly large atrium with a bank of what had been the school offices off to the right, and a broad stairway along the left wall. Straight ahead was a passageway that looked as though it emptied into a gym. They stood momentarily. “Our strategy right now is hiding, not fighting,” Cody said. “Where would the best opportunities for hiding be?”

“Upstairs,” they both said at the same moment.

A second later, Cody and Helen were running up the stairs together, with Cody slowing down a few times to wait for her. At the first landing, he extended his hand and she took it, and they dashed up the second flight together. Both of them were panting at the top, and instinctively they both turned down the hallway that went to the right.

It was an old school building, and so they ran past five or six classrooms. At the end of the hall, everything opened out into a broad and well-lit room, one that looked like it had once been used for band practice or something like that. On the far side of the room was a set of double doors, and another set of stairs that went back down to the first floor.

“They will totally expect us to run down there, trying to get to ground level again,” Cody said, still panting.

“Don’t we want to get to ground level again?” Helen asked.

“Sure thing. After they are long gone.” Cody took a few steps back down the hallway, past the girls’ restroom, and pushed on the next door and peered inside. “Hurry!” Helen said behind him.

It was a storeroom, crammed with old desks, blackboards on rolling wheels, audio visual carts, and many other articles that spoke solemnly of the fact that education did indeed cast off detritus. Cody looked down at the floor and along the wall on the right side saw a place he thought they could manage to crawl through.

Along the back wall, he could see a row of rolled up carpets, standing on end, like a line of stiff soldiers.

He turned to Helen, and pointed to the crawl space. “Give me the gun,” he said. “I will come right after you.”

He would not have attempted it had not some enterprising soul unrolled one of the carpets and put it on the floor before stashing all the equipment in there. If the floor had been simply tile, Cody was sure their crawl tracks would have been visible in the dust, and that would have been far too great a risk.

Helen had given him the gun, seeming kind of glad about it, and promptly disappeared. Cody heard one of the two men downstairs kicking the plywood in, and he shut the door of the storeroom partially, got on his hands and knees and followed Helen to the back wall. When he was about four feet in, he hooked his left leg on a desk behind him, and pulled it into their passageway.

When he got to the back of the storeroom, he found Helen standing in the corner where the crawl space ended. He stood up beside her, gingerly, and found that there was scarcely room for the two of them. He turned around cautiously and saw that their heads were both sticking up above the furniture. It was either kneeling down, or getting behind the line of rolled-up carpets. If the bad guys came in to look for them in here, he would much rather be standing up. And behind the carpets he would be in a position to use the gun.

In the distance he heard voices, he thought coming up the main stairs. He put the gun in his belt, and pushed and pulled at the nearest two carpet rolls. With a good deal of effort, he cleared a space where the two of them could stand.

“I will go in first,” he said, “and have my back to the wall. I want to be able to use the gun if I have to, and will need a clear line of sight.” He had that in a two-inch slit between the two carpet rolls he had moved. “Then you come in.”

He scooted around Helen, got his back to the wall, and slid sideways into the space he had made. When he was settled, he reached out his left hand, and drew her in. She was facing him, back to the door, and was leaning heavily on his chest. He got the gun out of the belt, and held it up at the ready.

All the two of them could hear at first was the sound of their own breathing, along with a couple of heartbeats badly out of sync, both of which they thought were making an enormous racket. After their breathing subsided, they could only hear their hearts beating, but not quite as raucous, and then, voices in the hall way outside.

“They could have gone into any of these classrooms,” one of the voices said.

“Why would they do that?” the second man said. “They’s trying to get away.”

“What would you do?” The first voice asked, pushing the storeroom door open with the barrel of a pistol.

“Me? I’m a high-tailer, not a hider . . . damn!” “What?” The first voice said.

“A staircase, over there, running straight back down to God’s green grass. C’mon.” Cody heard footsteps running.

“You sure? . . . oh, never mind.”

But Cody and Helen stood right where they were until the sun went down. Cody’s right leg went completely to sleep, and he started to wonder if he would even be able to crawl out when they finally decided to try. Or if he would do so dragging one leg behind him.

Helen went first, and got out easily. Cody made heavy weather of it. He decided his leg wasn’t actually asleep, but rather in some sort of a coma. When he finally made it to the end of their little crawl tunnel, he tried to stand up, and the only reason he didn’t go completely over was that he hit the wall with his left shoulder. “Mercy,” he said. “We will have to stand here for a bit until my leg joins us again. Unless you want to carry me back to the car.”

Helen laughed at that, and when she was done, the old school returned to complete silence. Cody noticed that Helen didn’t ask for her gun back.

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Categories: People I don't know

I Think That’s Probably Right

Fri, 04/12/2020 - 13:00

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Categories: People I don't know

Covered Courage

Fri, 04/12/2020 - 02:00

“A woven war-short, worked with gold,
Covered my courage, encasing my heart.
A sea-dragon dragged me down to the deep bottom,
Pinned and pinioned, my point finally reached him . . .
My battle blade served me, I bested them all.
My sword-feast, their sorrow, the suffered my blows,
Dark things from the deep who would devour me happily.”

Beowulf, p. 25

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Categories: People I don't know

Book of the Month/December 2020

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 17:27

I read different books in different ways. There is the physical copy route, where I own an actual three-dimensional book, and attack it at various places with my blue highlighter. There is also the Kindle route, where somebody in a cloud somewhere saves all my magic highlights. And then there is the audio route, where you get to listen to somebody, and perhaps even the author, read a book to you. This book, Where I Come From, was an audio read for me, which I recommend, because Rick Bragg’s subject matter and Rick Bragg’s accent paired very nicely. They went together like tomatoes on white bread with mayo.

A good writer is someone who can hold your fascinated interest in his description of something you were not all that interested in . . . or wouldn’t ever be interested in, apart from having heard the author describe it. Rick Bragg is that kind of writer, and because he has a pick-up load of pungent descriptions of pretty much everything he sees, he makes you want to go see it too. Or perhaps, with some of his descriptions, you feel like you don’t need to go see it now because he already showed it to you.

Here is a man who can make you want to go to New Orleans, just to get something to eat. He will ensure that you never look at a skinny dog the same way again. You will find yourself wanting to figure out how you could get to Mobile Bay in such a way as to be able to see a jubilee. This is a book that will feed your innards.

A good friend recommended this book to me, which is the kind of thing good friends do.

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Categories: People I don't know

Ecochondriacs [17]

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 17:04

Please note well: If you order this book in hard copy, it is already shipping. Link here. In addition, audio chapters are being recorded and released on the new Canon App.

Helen Swings and Misses

In their travels together, both Helen and Cody had picked up a medium-sized roller suitcase each, and had purchased, all on Cody’s credit card, enough clothes and toiletries to get them through. “To get us through whatever it is we think we are doing,” Helen had said.

And so it was, at the hard end of the day, around 10:30 pm, they found themselves standing outside their hotel rooms, #106 and #108 respectively, fumbling with their keys. The hotel was not exactly crawling with guests, and the parking lot was nearly empty. They felt entirely alone. The desk clerk had actually cocked an eyebrow when they got two rooms, as much as to tell Cody that if he were traveling around with someone who looked like that, they wouldn’t be getting no two rooms.

And Helen had apparently been thinking along the same lines, despite the tiff they had had earlier in the day. Or perhaps because of the tiff. Right after her door didn’t open for the second time, she gave a little exclamation of frustration, and then, before he got his door open, she stepped across quickly and kissed Cody full on the mouth, as warm and as seductive as she knew how to make it.

He kissed her back for about a second and a half, and then jumped the same way he had once jumped when a waiter had dropped a hot bowl of French onion soup in his lap. “Whoa,” he said. Whoa, whoa, whoa. “Yikes,” he added.

She stood there in mock belligerence, in flirty fight mode. “What?” she said. “I asked you a question. You gonna answer me?”

“Um,” he said, trying to gather up his thoughts, which someone had grabbed and then kicked all over the parking lot. It was probably the devil, and he was doing a lot of kicking.

“I . . . I do owe you an answer,” he said. “And we obviously need to talk. Probably should have talked way before this. Look. We are both grown-ups and, um, given these, um, overtures, we obviously need to speak frankly.”

“Okay, then,” she said. “Speak frankly then. But it wasn’t an overture. It was a kiss.”

“All right, let’s start with this. I am willing to speak with you frankly, but not within fifty yards of a bed. That’s the first frank thing. You drop your stuff off inside, and I’ll do the same, and let’s meet back out here in sixty seconds and go for a walk.”

At the far end of the parking lot a black sedan was parked, tucked away deep in shadows of the corner. Behind the wheel were a couple of Rocco’s operatives, his explosives guys. Their car looked like it had been parked there for a couple weeks, having that deserted feel. But it wasn’t deserted at all, and Oscar and Dante just sat there watching as Cody and Helen went into their rooms. Oscar offered Dante a cinnamon-flavored tooth- pick, and started the engine up.

“Perfect,” Oscar said. They pulled around to the other side of the motel, got out, and opened the trunk of the car, and began working over a duffel bag that was in there, looking for all the world like a couple of travelers messing around with their luggage.

In the meantime, back on the other side of the motel, Cody and Helen came out of their rooms, walked down the sidewalk to the main thoroughfare, turned right, and headed down toward a Denny’s that was located within a block or so. About five minutes after they had disappeared, Oscar and Dante came around the corner, handling the duffel bag like a couple of pros, which they were. The parking lot was still deserted, except for Cody’s car, which was still there, and the lights in both rooms were out. The two had clearly gone to bed.

Meanwhile Cody and Helen had both received their drinks, and Cody, who had been thinking furiously this entire time, said, “Look . . .” He stopped because they both heard a muffled whommppff in the distance, like a distant jet breaking the sound barrier. But nothing followed, and so Cody resumed.

“Look,” he said again. “We are still speaking frankly, right? I am very attracted to you, which you no doubt picked up on, and apparently it is reciprocal. Sorry for flirting with you earlier, by the way. That was way out of line—joking about us dating. So on one level, I would like nothing more than to make love to you. Simple honesty. But there is this other level, and it involves the entirety of my life. I am a Christian, and what we might want to call a romp, God’s law forbids as fornication.”

“Well, look at it from my point of view,” she said. “I had to get over the idea of sex with a Jesus freak myself. We all have to make our little sacrifices.”

Cody laughed. “Right. But from your vantage, these things seem to be like individual quirks or hang ups, entirely personal. For me, apart from not being able to live with my conscience, and not being able to pursue a more serious relationship with you, because a Christian can’t marry a non-Christian . . .”

Marry?” Helen exploded. “Who’s talking about marriage? I didn’t propose, and I certainly didn’t expect you to.”

Cody was pushing his coffee cup back and forth. “It is a basic part of Christian ethics that sex is reserved for marriage.”

Helen just stared at him, still glaring but with no little affection mixed in with it. “Well, I do have to say that this is the weirdest brush-off I have ever gotten.”

Cody smiled, somewhat grimly. “If it is any consolation, this has everything to do with my relationship with Christ, and nothing to do with whether or not I think we would have a lot of fun. We would, and then I would be a total wreck tomorrow. You would probably have to drive.”

“Well, okay. Suit yourself, Galahad. I still think you are making mountains out of molehills.”

“Not exactly. If we did this, and then I tried to tell you something about Jesus tomorrow, who would turn on me with her rapier wit and say, ‘You weren’t thinking about Jesus very much last night though’? And you would be dead right, and I would have no answer.”

“Okay,” Helen said, nodding. “Fair point. I would say something like that, and I can understand why you wouldn’t want something like that to happen.”

The atmosphere warmed up considerably after that, they talked some more, for about half an hour more, and then they both stood up to head back to the motel. As soon as they got up from their booth, Cody leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “Thanks much,” he said.

“You’re welcome,” she said, grateful for the gesture, and yet not sure what he was thanking her for.

They walked slowly back to the motel, but before they turned into the parking lot they noticed an eerie glow extending out into the street. When they turned into the parking lot, they both stopped, flummoxed. The parking lot was jammed with fire engines, and the wing of the motel where their rooms had been was ablaze. Flames were shooting up twenty feet past the roofline, which was already showing signs of collapsing. They could feel the heat from where they stood.

Cody’s car was on fire also, the front end twisted beyond all description. Helen started to walk toward the nearest fire engine, but Cody grabbed her by the arm.

“We have to talk to somebody,” she said.

“No, no, we really don’t. Not unless you want to be scooped right up into police custody, and have your story told on all the news sites. It seems to me that the one thing we do not want is for anybody to know where you got to, or who you are with right now.”

Helen nodded, slowly. “Right. You’re right. So what are we going to do?”

Cody took a deep breath. “First, let’s head back to Denny’s before someone notices us and asks us any questions. You have your purse? The thumb drive and your gun? Good. And I have my wallet and credit cards. Why don’t we go back to the restaurant and call a cab from there? We can have him drive us out to the airport, which isn’t far from here, and we can rent a car there.”

“Well, absent anything better to do, let’s try it.”

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Categories: People I don't know

The Content Cluster Muster (12.03.20)

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 17:00
Hills to Die On (CRF Talk) Listen on the ChristKirk app. Dominion or Ruin Available on Amazon in paperback or in the Mablog store as an ebook. Some Good Work by Some Friends of This Blog

And if you want to check out more, you can go here . . .

This Is Why God Lets Us Have the Internet

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Categories: People I don't know

Chosen Well

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 02:00

“My chain mail, chosen well, was choice for that battle,
Hand-forged, hard-linked, it held up against them.”

Beowulf, p. 25

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Categories: People I don't know

Some November 2020 Game Film

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 16:25
Introduction

Now then, it is time for a little retrospective review, a little encouragement, and a little explanation of what we are all in for. November 2020 being all over now, we may therefore raise the pressing question, “What was that all about?” And no, the point is not to tick people off for no particular reason, but rather to encourage sane people to be able to let their hair down a bit. You know, like an epistemological Mardi Gras.

The Size of the Dent

First some stats. What was the size of the November dent this year? Everything was considerably up from last year, and this registers no complaints about last year. From my little Mablog book shop, we gave away a bit north of 1400 books. This was minor league compared the giveaway last year from Canon Press, which was about 19K books, but you have to remember that Canon Press are the big boys. You know, like the General Motors of reformational outsiders. This year, their giveaway spirit came in a differently wrapped gift package, that being the new Canon App, which has made its very own big splash. Those who sign up get the first month free, and that means there is a lot of free content in there. App audio was played about 13K times, and app video about 12K. So that is roughly comparable to Canon’s giveaways last year.

When people come to the blog, on average they read 2 posts. When they come to listen, it is to listen to three posts. Audio consumption was up about 242%.

And speaking of audio, the big transformation has been in the movement over to audio consumption of blog material. I have been recording my major blog posts for about a year and a half now, and right at the end of November we hit the significant milestone of 2M downloads. That’s an M there, not a K. Not only so, but over 300K of those downloads were within this last November. We had about half that number (150K) viewing the Man Rampant videos.

The three most popular posts by page views were . . . drum roll, please, Authority of a Fraudulent Election, Women’s Ministries as Pestilence, and Pornography for Cuckolds.

The most copied texts were, not surprisingly, about the election. They were:

A political party that stand foursquare behind the dismemberment of unborn children is not going to flinch when it comes to the dismemberment of your right to cast your vote in a process with real integrity. And when it gets there, the corruption will be out in the open.

Me, sometime in November

We have reports that everything is fine and normal. We have reports of voter fraud. We do not know which reports are true. But we do know which reports are censored. And if that doesn’t tell you something, then you are not paying attention.

Me, also in November

And that second quote, the one about censorship, sets up my closing remarks and my call to action. You want lots of November throughout the whole year? You think we might need that? There is a way to help us do it.

The Meaning of the Dent

We are in a very challenging situation. It is now about a month after the election, and nobody has conceded yet, and we don’t know what the outcome is going to be. But whatever it turns out to be, turbulence will likely be a central part of it. During such times of turbulence, believing and thoughtful Christians need to be in constant contact with one another. We need to be communicating in an age of shameless censorship.

The other day a savant, who shall remain nameless, responded to something I had said or done, and I am pretty sure it was about the obviously fraudulent election. Anyhow, he said something helpful like “what an idiotic take.” Now before responding to him, I did my due diligence by clicking on his little icon thingy, thus discovering that he had a sum total of 7 followers. It is generally not a good idea to get into Twitter brawls with people with followings that massive, and so I refrained. But I will say here that this election smells to high heaven, and it is not idiotic to react to that rancid smell, the house seeming as though a large rodent crawled behind the refrigerator to die.

If we are not in constant communication with one another, that kind of gaslighting is likely to have more of an impact than it ought to. Notice that the establishment is not saying anything like “yes, we know that all these electoral anomalies look really bad, but you have to be patient while the experts sort everything out.” No, the official take is that if you have any questions about what is happening to you and to your country, you are a nut, an idiot, a pinhead, dimwit, and a simpleton.

Even if I were on the other side of this dispute (having, say, close friends who were in charge of the vote counts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia, and I knew they were all rocks of integrity), I would freely grant that this whole uproar really looks bad. This fight over the election is not a function of Trump’s personality. Who owns Dominion again?

We are well past the point of whether or not we can vote freely and fairly, and into the middle of whether we can speak about it freely. This is going to be a battle over speech, communication, publishing, interaction, and discussion, as in, whether or not any of that is going to be permitted. We were talking to our grandson Rory last night, and he made an interesting observation. He said that it was truly odd that there were no institutions that were speaking on behalf of half the population.

Let me share a couple of thoughts from Milton, and then conclude with “here’s what you can do.”

“Let her [Truth] and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter? Her confuting is the best and surest suppressing.”

John Milton, Aeropagitica

“Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

John Milton, Aeropagitica

In the year ahead, we hope to release a torrent of content. There are over 500 reviews of the Canon App to date, and it has a 5-star rating for both IOS and Android. Time to check it out. There is a lot available there now, and much more is coming.

We are in the thick of a battle, and the terrain of this particular battle is over our ability to talk with you, to communicate with you. That is the central thing they are wanting to take away from us. And the response will be, “You’re crazy. Nobody’s trying to deny your right to free speech, and you are not allowed to say that someone is trying to deny it. So shut up.”

Your account has been suspended . . .

This is the decisive point in the line right now. This is what cancel culture on the campuses has been all about, this is what Big Tech has been trying to do, this is why the left desperately wants campaign finance “reform,” and all the rest of it.

We are laboring to stay in touch with you. We are most grateful to you as you help us out.

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Categories: People I don't know

170: Losing More Than The Election

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 08:00

The Canon Christmas Sale is here! Get almost any of Doug’s book on sale: https://canonpress.com/

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Categories: People I don't know

Stirred Them Up

Wed, 02/12/2020 - 02:00

“Dark night, deep waters, stirred the deep creatures,
Agitated and angered them, all of them wild.”

Beowulf, 25

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Categories: People I don't know

Ecochondriacs [16]

Tue, 01/12/2020 - 21:41

Please note well: If you order this book in hard copy, it is already shipping. Link here. In addition, audio chapters are being recorded and released on the new Canon App.

Rocco Again

Rocco had connections. He had plants. He had moles. This meant that he had a reliable flow of information coming to him at all times. And he had an organizing kind of mind and an uncanny ability to keep track of many different threads at once. One of his leisure activities was the reading of detective fiction, and then writing up critiques of the discovered culprit afterwards. His mind was really good at finding patterns and assembling clues.

The people who sent all this information to Rocco did not know that they were serving as the ad hoc intelligence agency for a hit man. They just knew that if they shared information with him, apparently harmless information, then a very nice sum of money would appear in their checking account within two business days. They knew they were breaking the rules of whatever establishment employed them, but they didn’t need to inquire about the uses to which the information was put. It most certainly would not be put to nefarious purposes. They were counting on that. Man was basically good, right?

This was an arrangement that Rocco had with more than a handful of individuals at the NSA, the CIA, the IRS, the FBI, numerous metropolitan police departments up and down the east coast, along with state DMVs. Their soft corruption was put to hard uses by him, but nobody expected them to know that.

Hugh was on his list of individuals needing a visitation, but not at the top of it. Maurice and Leon had been different—they had been directly involved in the attempted hit, and could easily spill something valuable to the cops. So once they were out of the way, Rocco’s attention turned to the task of finding Helen. Hugh could wait a bit.

Rocco decided to start with the neighbors, and identifying who had driven Helen away. But rather than doing a little sleuthing of his own, he decided to tap a resource that he had on retainer in the Annapolis Police Department. The name of the person who drove off with Helen Greene that morning? He had the answer in fifteen minutes. Cody Vance. From there he was able to get the license plate number, and from there he had someone who could do a search of all the traffic surveillance cameras in the area, and to give him a map of where Cody and Helen had been. They had apparently been driving around in circles mostly, and with one jaunt down to Lynchburg. They were apparently still down there.

Presumably they were going to be coming back up. They didn’t appear to have any particular plan. So Rocco had men placed at all the on ramps on the northwards side of the toll booths on the main routes north. He had his source with the state police send him a notice pronto when those plates came through the staked toll, and then he could have his man on the scene get on the tollway and drive real slow until he was passed by a black Tahoe. It worked like a charm, and he had a firm tail on Cody and Helen almost right away. Rocco sent out word to his other men on stand by that they were dismissed for the evening, and then sent word to Oscar and Dante that their services would likely be required later on that night.

The man tailing Cody and Helen, whose name was Joaquin, called Rocco up about a half an hour after he made contact. “Real curious thing, boss,” he said. “I was following ’em, standard distance, when this pick-up blows by me, and shoots out their back windshield, and then exits, smooth as hot butter. Probably fake plates, but I got a picture of ’em for ya. Somebody else is in this game.”

“Huh,” Rocco said. “Let me think about that one. Wouldn’t be the first time.”

Rocco had Cody’s credit card numbers, and he also had somebody who could tell him if anybody had used one of them to purchase something, or make a reservation. That answer came back promptly also. Holiday Inn Express in Culpeper. The people he had on retainer liked his meaty approach to bonuses, and that is why he consistently got good results. All those overhead costs were going to be passed along to Steven Lee anyhow.

Culpeper would be perfect. Oscar and Dante weren’t that far away and could get there well before Cody and Helen.

He put his phone down, and starting rubbing his forehead. Who else could be after Helen? He decided to give Steven Lee a call, and give him a little unshirted hell. That might shake something loose.

To think was to act. He probably ought to have called Lee by this point anyhow. He was not wrong—Steven Lee jumped at the call. “Any news?” he said querulously. It sounded like someone was messing with his tremolo knob.

Rocco explained, in his smoothest professional manner, that he had the needed info on them, and that now it was just a matter of time. No worries, all was well in hand. Well in hand. Don’t worry about it. Stop worrying about it.

He then moved smoothly into the purpose of his call, which was to put Steven Lee even further back on his heels, and shake loose any useful information that might fall off him. “So what did you mean by hiring another outfit to deliver the hit? Didn’t you know that that is the way for someone to get badly hurt?” Rocco pulled out his very best, raspy, accusative voice.

The implication was not lost on Lee, and so he quavered a little bit more than previously. “What do you mean? I didn’t hire anybody else. Only you. I mean, I hired that Hugh guy, but that was before I called you. That’s it, honest.”

The quavering had the ring of sincerity, the tremolo levels of truth. Rocco spoke a little more softly. “Well, my man was tailing your two lovebirds earlier today on the freeway, and someone in a pick-up truck drove right by him, as sleek as dammit, and blew out their back windshield.”

As it happened, Steven Lee was an aficionado of action movies, and he saw an immediate problem. Despite his nervousness in talking to Rocco, he couldn’t help himself. This was an area where he had some real expertise. He had even submitted some film reviews to different blog sites under a pseudonym, and two of them had actually been published. “That’s not an attempted hit, is it? That was a warning. I don’t think you should be asking who else is trying to bump them off besides you. You should be asking what the warning is for. I need Helen out of the picture because of something she already did. But a warning is over something that might happen in the future. That’s not Helen. That’s your other guy, that’s Cody. I don’t know what he might do, but it must be pretty ripe.”

Rocco gruffly ended the call, set his phone down, and stared at it malevolently. He was clearly losing a step or two. He swore at himself savagely. Lee of all people.

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Categories: People I don't know

If Letters Were Bottles

Tue, 01/12/2020 - 16:24
Ah, Yes. The Election.

The Trump people appealed their case to the Fed. Appellate Court in Penn. The judge, a Trump appointee wrote: “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have NEITHER here.”

Fred

Fred, sure. And you agree with that. But remember that in the Bush/Gore legal fight over Florida, Bush lost every one until it got to the Supremes. But even then, either side might lose, and we shall have to wait and see.

Dear Mindfog: The 1.8 million figure represents the number of mail-in ballots that Penn reported had been requested by Democrats as of the voter reg. deadline of Oct 19. That figure did not include the hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots requested by Republicans and 3rd parties (approximately 800K).

Notice this issue (as far as I have seen) was not presented in Giuliani’s case to the court.

Fred

Fred, thanks. I am happy to stand corrected — until such time as I am corrected again. But remember what I argued in my piece. What matters is the truth. If there was massive fraud, you should want Trump to prevail in his challenges, right? And if there wasn’t, I should want him not to prevail.

I saw that you repeated Rudy Giuliani’s claim of 1.8 ballots requested, 2.5 million ballots cast in Pennsylvania. A quick google search will reveal that this is not true. This article is from October 19th:

I earlier wrote a comment on one your posts, a post in which you also repeated a factually incorrect claim from Giuliani, that Christians really should stop being so easily duped into believing the latest conspiracy coming from the Trump administration. That remains true. But I also understand, as Simon and Garfunkel sang, that “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

Justin

Justin, on the mail-in ballots numbers, see above. I do stand corrected. On your broader point, it is true that “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” Unfortunately for your thesis, this applies to people on both sides of a dispute. In the arguments I have presented, it is as though I testified that I saw a man in a blue coat with yellow buttons chasing a lady down the street with a meat axe, yelling various forms of mayhem, only to have fact checkers jump in with the observation that the button were more off-white than anything else.

E. Michael Jones and the Jews

I’ve been reading you for a few years now. I’ve read, and been blessed by, many of your books. I find Canon to be doing excellent work in most quarters right now. While I have some theological differences (I’m a Baptist namely) I find we’ve got a lot of common ground. But, a recent observation compelled me to write in to you and ask some questions.

I saw the new trailer for Man Rampant season 2, specifically the episode starring E. Michael Jones. I did a little digging on him and was troubled by the nature of his anti-Semitic rhetoric. Of course he denies being an anti-Semite, but his myopic focus on Judaism being the mono-causal explanation for everything bad in the world seems to betray that his denial is hollow. I looked through your blog and noticed (unsurprisingly) that your interest is not at all in his take on Judaism but rather how he looks at the Western world’s sexual debauchery and enslavement thereto.

So, I’m not trying to write a harangue demanding an apology but rather I was hoping for a good explanation for his presence on Man Rampant. I would venture to say this is not a guy I would want to be associated with in any universe, present or parallel. I don’t doubt he has a good take on the Western world’s licentiousness, but aren’t there others who could fill the role without spreading the foolishness he does about Jewish people?

The positions that men like us hold (especially on family, sexuality, and government) are already explosive enough and for good reason! But we don’t need to bring down empty controversy from associating with conspiracy theorists who come uncomfortably close to defending the Holocaust just because they make some good points. There has to be a line somewhere and I am quite convinced that this ought to be it. Let the gospel be the stumbling block when we speak to Jewish people, a crucified Messiah will be controversy enough I imagine.

Still plan on reading the blog and not interested in cancelling anyone. I probably will watch Man Rampant season 2, but I won’t be watching that episode on principle.

John

John, thanks much. I have read a number of Jones’ books, and have found them truly invaluable. At the same time, I used to subscribe to his magazine, but discontinued it because I found it more than a little tedious to have a nefarious Jew on every cover. I don’t have time for that. But then, again at the same time, I personally have been cancelled enough because of the all too common guilt-by-association game that I do not want to participate in it myself. That means that I can have a conversation with Jones and that is not tantamount to me signing off on any other beliefs of his. So I do not buy Jones’ take on the Semitic peril at all, but his contributions in other areas I have found a valuable ground for discussion. Hope this helps.

Piper and Critical Race Theory

I am waiting with bated breath for a commentary on John Piper’s two-part podcast episode on Critical Race Theory. Would you consider addressing it?

Mallory

Mallory, thanks. Where might I find it? And what is it titled?

Family Getting Along

Thank you so much for your ministry!

I have come to embrace many “unique/unpopular” doctrines such as: 5 Point Calvinism, Young Earth Creation, Patriarchy, Biblical Counseling, Presuppositional Apologetics, General Equity Theonomy, The Regulative Principle of worship, Church membership and Discipline, The Dominion Mandate, Christian Education, Post-Mil Eschatology and real wine at weekly communion!

Does everyone in your family hold these doctrines? Do you have any practical advice as to how to maintain relationships when there is disagreement?

Cheers!

PJ

PJ, yes, in our family we all (more or less) hold to some version of all of those. But the secret to getting along (and I am not trying to be evasive here) is to not wear all those doctrinal positions on your sleeve. The key to broader fellowship is to walk together in the light with anyone who loves Jesus Christ.

The Later Rush

Grateful for your ministry. I’ve noticed a few times you’ve warned against later Rushdoony. I’m curious what are some warnings you’d give people about Rushdoony, Bahnsen, or North? Is there. List that you keep somewhere or some resource you’d recommend?

Tyler

Tyler, when I have recommended the early Rushdoony, it was because of his insight and incisiveness. In my experience, the stuff he wrote later didn’t have that same incisive edge. It wasn’t so much warning people off — although I do believe that Rush did not value the institutional church enough, and elevated the family too much perhaps. And there are other points of disagreement also, of course.

Enneagram Questions

Regarding your thoughts on the Enneagram personality profile (which I read with great interest since all my employees complete an Enneagram profile, and this seems to have helped tremendously with communication and ensuring appropriate roles within the company) . . . how do your thoughts jive with Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians 12 on unique spiritual gifts? Couldn’t one say that we each have unique personalities and character traits that, although alterable in some respects, would tend to make us naturally better or worse at particular tasks (e.g. accounting department vs. sales vs. customer service, etc.?) And couldn’t one furthermore say that having a system to identify those unique personalities and character traits could prove useful in some scenarios, such as hiring for specific business roles?

It just seems to me that this may be a situation in which we can take something that, at least in my experience, seems to produce good fruit and be quite helpful in business, and “claim it for Christ”, despite its origins. It seems like the pros outweigh the cons.

Ben

Ben, I agree entirely with your middle paragraph. Of course people are gifted differently, and of course we should try to hire round pegs for round holes. And yes, we can redeem discoveries made by people with dubious origins. But I think that must be done with eyes wide open. In my experience, Christians who are into the Enneagram are not nearly wary enough — and it is almost as if they don’t care about the occultism, etc.

Regarding The Enneascam. I really appreciate someone with biblical sense addressing this. I was forced to take a senior seminar in college about the Enneagram, and it made me want to barf due to the obvious self centered navel gazing.

What do you think of the other personality tests being used by the vast majority of businesses in order to place people in jobs or adjust management for people’s personality style? Full disclosure, I use a personality test called the DISC to help me get to know people during my hiring process. I’d put the good insights in the glaringly obvious category, and since I unfortunately rarely have access to said person’s grandmother or other life history, the business version of personality tests are a tool we use at the front end of things to find out thinks like, does this person like talking with people all day, or hate it?

Joel

Joel, I don’t think it is a sin to take or to administer a personality test, or to use them in business. But I do think that there is a danger (regardless of what test it is) to treat the results as though they had as much objective validity as a test that can tell your blood type. In addition, the career minded tests just blow right by certain obvious biblical things. When was the last time you heard of a woman taking a test down at HR for Widgets, Inc. and the nice lady there told her that she was best suited to be a wife and mother?

Singleness as Affliction

I have often felt this way about singleness for a time, but I am unsure as to what to do with my situation. I am in my late twenties, live at home, have no debt, but also no steady job. I know beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that I do not have the gift of celibacy. I do not have a record of pornography (at least in the stricter senses) but I do get lonely, and I do sometimes have bad thoughts about girls, so I am not sure that I can live life without falling into some sort of heartbreaking sin. Should I wait until I have a steady job or other steady finance and can afford to move out, or should I seek a wife as I am, and look for work or seek publishing for my writings in the meantime?

Anonymous

Anonymous, I obviously don’t know your complete situation. But with that said, you should not “wait” until you have a job. You should move out an get a job. Don’t “look for work,” get a job, even if it is not ideal. Then find a girl. Don’t worry about publishing anything unless you have at least two kids.

Brilliant work, here.

From pastor to pastor, one thing you did not mention, that I have faced numerous times, is the problem of parents wanting their good Christian children to date (and be pure, of course) for wayyy tooo long. If an 18-20 year old couple meets and connects, the parents want them to keep their hands off of each, aaaand graduate college and start a career before they marry. I gently remind them how insane this is, but they get offended. I then let them know how many marriage counseling sessions I have with (1) couples who did not wait and kept it a secret from their parents and now feel tremendous guilt, and also (2) couples who established their loving bond on a completely asexual plane (because they actually did keep their hands off each other) and now they haven’t had sex in months or years. The blinkered looks I get tell quite the story. Yet, they remain unmoved.

I oppose this with all of my strength, but it seems to be deeply ingrained in our conservative Christian world. Any ideas why?

BJ

BJ, I think it is the result of hidden idols — in this case the idols of respectability and money. The idols of the comfortable middle class.

Re: singleness as affliction. What are your reasons (exegetically) for seeing a gift (ability) of celibacy in 1 Cor 7:7? That verse says that Paul wishes all *were* as he *was*—not that all *had* what he *had*. The language points squarely in the direction that the “gifts” in view were the respective states of singleness and marriage. (Kenneth Berding’s work on spiritual gifts has done a lot of damage to the idea that charismata always means a special ability.)

Furthermore, if Paul thinks his gift is a special *ability* to be single (“one of one kind”), then the parallelism (“one of another”) would suggest an analogous gift, a special ability for marriage. I’ve got lots of miserable wedded folks in my church who would love to have that one.

Paul’s argumentation in the rest of the chapter follows suit, suggesting the benefits of singleness and encouraging people to consider wisely. The clincher for me is v. 40. This widow, having been married and sexually awoken, is told that she’ll be happier if she stays single this time around.

If we don’t assume, out of the gates, that 1 Cor 7:7 is referring to a special ability to be celibate, then I’d suggest that a careful exegesis of the chapter leads us in a very different direction than the one you’ve taken here.

Chris

Chris, thanks for the thoughtful interaction. My exegetical reason for assuming that Paul is talking about a combination of a gift and an ability to use the gift, meaning both the status of being single and contentment with being single, is that he expressly budgets for the people who can’t do it. He even discourages prolonged abstinence within marriage for this reason (1 Cor. 7:5). The clincher for me is v. 9 — it is better to marry than to burn. If they “cannot contain.” If the status of singleness were best regardless, this advice would be unnecessary.

Post: “Singleness as Affliction”

Dear Mr. Wilson, I am a young Christian man (20) from New Orleans. I really appreciate your blog post about “Singleness as Affliction.” Your post is truly a breath of fresh air and truth.

As a young guy, I am tired of being told that I’ll find a Christian wife “in God’s time.” Even though I desire and value to become married relatively soon, I do not foresee myself finding a wife anytime soon.

I know that all things work together for the good of those who love Christ (Romans 8:28). So, I just wonder where marriage falls in terms of human freedom and God’s providence. Is finding a wife more in my control or does God guide that? If you have answer, I would appreciate to hear from you.

Sincerely,

Nathan

Nathan, God oversees every decision we make, including the decisions regarding marriage. We shouldn’t try to figure out how much of it is God’s department, and how much of it is ours. It is all God’s, and all ours. So submit the issue entirely to Him, and then go find her.

Announcing the Modernized Geneva Bible

If the basis for preferring Textus Receptus (TR) translations is that the TR was the source of the Scriptures embraced and openly used by the community of faith, why not prefer the Geneva to the AV? The Geneva was the translation preferred by the more thoroughly Reformed types. The AV was the version favored by the more compromised Church of England. Am I missing something here?

Daniel

Daniel, as it happens . . . look here. Announcing . . .

Eschatology Matters

I was introduced to your podcasts this summer and have been following with great interest. I have started reading your fiction also.

As background , I was raised churchy but did not receive the Lord until I was 28. I traipsed through Church of Christ, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and CMA churches. I always kind of wanted to be a Presbyterian, but infant baptism threw me off because I was also being washed in waves of Moody Radio, listening to boatloads of sermons and teachings. We settled into a Baptist style church with a MBI graduate pastor. So, you can see how my pre-trib pre-miI and believer’s baptism inclination formed . So when I recently read your book When the Man Comes Around my brain started hurting a little.

First question, if we work for Jesus while we’re here, and go to be with him when we die, does eschatology matter a whole lot?

Question 2 Will I become a more optimistic person if I become post-mill? (No Enneagrams for me)

Question 3, what should I read next?

Thank you

Lesa

Lesa, yes, eschatology still matters because it affects the kind of work you will attempt to do. With regard to your second question, yes, generally speaking. And third, try Heaven Misplaced.

Start a New Church?

I’m writing with a simple question: when is it ok to start a church? I’ve attended the same church for the past 7 years but they have fallen prey to this woke culture and to put it bluntly, they have been prostituting the church and trying to make her more presentable to the world, and not to Christ. I have tried to talk to the elders but they have all written me off as haughty or too dogmatic (as if being dogmatic is an inherently bad thing). And when I have sought advice from more ‘like minded’ people they say I should just keep going to the church and try to be a ‘light’ to it. Which seems odd to me for two reasons: number one, I have a family and I don’t feel like I should subject them to poor teachings in hope of some undefined future that the church might change; secondly, I thought evangelism dating was generally a bad idea. Lastly, just to be clear, the idea of starting a church isn’t my first thought. I have looked into other churches in my area and there are none that would fall under the reformed tradition. I would much rather sit under authority than start a church but it seems to me like the latter might be necessary.

Joseph

Joseph, I obviously don’t know all the factors, but from what you describe it looks that way to me too.

What Does the Dog Know?

I have heard many negative things about you from my Reformed Baptist pastor friends, but having read five or six of your books and listening to your sermons, I have concluded that my pastor friends are wrong. I strongly agree with you, but my dog watches t.v. and we were watching a video of you, and you are the first and only person he has ever growled at. That must mean something.

In Christ, bless you,

Bob

Bob, it means your dog needs counseling.

The Ransom Trilogy

I was introduced to the Ransom Trilogy by your talk on Out fo the Silent Planet on the All of Christ for All of Life Podcast, and in a matter of about two weeks after that I had finished all three books! They were absolutely terrific. So thanks for your enthusiasm about the trilogy! You’ve made a huge Lewis fan out of me, and I can’t look up at the heavens the same anymore!

Also, I’m looking forward with great anticipation to Christiana Hale’s Deeper Heaven!

Logan

Logan, thanks very much.

Theistic Evolution and the Downgrade

Totally agree with the warning against theistic evolution teaching. In 1976, after graduating high school, I attended a wonderful,week long course dedicated to creation science (Henry Morris and company) — it helped cement my trust in the biblical account of creation. I recently read John Lennox’s take on Genesis 1. It is NOT supportive, in any way, of macro-evolution, but rather takes a serious look at how the word “day” can be interpreted to account for the (currently accepted) age of the Earth — again without compromising the creation account. I would suggest, for those interested, to view the talk, on youtube, he gave at a “Socrates In The City” event. By the way, I find myself constantly refreshing your blog site to get your thoughts on 1) state of the church 2) state of the country and 3) how Kate, Larry etc are doing in your latest tale. One last thing — as a Canadian — experiencing first hand what Biden and company are planning — your Canon app is fantastic !, just wish there was a way to purchase your books without the shipping cost being through the roof.

Blair

Blair, thanks for the observations. As I said in the article, my problems with slow-motion creationists are in a different category than my objections to every form of common descent.

Dear Pastor Wilson,

I appreciate your thoughts on this text. Two of my children are students through Veritas Scholars Academy. There was quite a bit of uproar when Novare texts and course options were added to the Veritas lineup. However, a number of the squarely young earth teachers at VSA have spoken in favor of Novare’s method, and teach courses with it, while supplementing with young earth resources of their own in the pertinent sections. The also give a caveat in the text description in their catalog.

I would love to know if you (or your brother, Gordon) have personally looked at any of the texts and if so, what you thought of them. I would also love to hear your thoughts on young earth teachers using this resource.

Sarah

Sarah, I have read the justifications for the texts, which I regard as entirely inadequate. But if a young earth creationist uses that text in ways that give the full picture, I don’t object. At the same time, the problem is still there if the teachers don’t need to be such alert young earth creationists. If that is allowed but not required, it remains an unfolding downgrade.

Thankful for your blog. Had a question about the following quote: “All theistic evolutionists hold to an old earth, of necessity, but not all old-earthers believe in evolution. And we also have to factor in people like Milton who, never having heard of Darwin, apparently held to an older cosmos and a young earth. Church history has contained more than a few odd views on this general topic, but enough about Augustine.”

Did Augustine hold some old-earth belief? I thought his (odd) view was that the six days of creation were not six literal days, but in fact all happened in an instant. His point being that God wouldn’t ‘need’ 24 hours to get something done.

Joel

Joel, I was just pointing to Augustine’s creation view as an oddity. He didn’t think God needed six days, and believed in an instantaneous creation.

Would you expand on, or share a resource where I could learn more about the difference between “simplistic” young earth creationist perspective and the Biblical framework of “the world is broken because we broke it”? I’d like to understand this better and didn’t know there was a distinction.

Katie

Katie, sorry. I must have been unclear. My creationist view would be regarded as simplistic by those who think we need to adjust ourselves to the current science. I didn’t mean to make a distinction like that.

Just wondering out your source for Milton’s belief on the ages of the cosmos/earth.

Jeremy

Jeremy, in Paradise Lost, the cosmos is treated as the battleground where Satan fell, and then earth is introduced as something that God just did, recent and fresh.

Pastor Doug, when you get a chance, check out the discovery of soft — not yet fossilized — dinosaur tissue that scientists are finding when cracking open what the Academic community deems “millions of years old” dino bones. Read: something millions of years old would be fossilized to oblivion, not retain soft tissue intact – therefore they must be young. This video is pretty digestible by scientific laymen, but the implications are downright explosive:

It fascinates me that in a time when the biological and molecular sciences continue to furnish greater proof for a young earth and tear down the foolishness of Darwinism, we’re still fighting battles over those in our community seeking respectability with lost academics by paying homage to their nonsense. The Classical Christian movement should be running with the football we now have in the sciences, not bending the knee.

Patrick

Patrick, thanks very much. Exciting discoveries.

Your post about the Coming Downgrade in Classical Christian Education had me in a small spin (which is not an unusual feeling after reading your blog posts).

I went and read a paper that Keller produced at a Biologos event back in 2012 and which I am sure you have referenced before. You spoke disparagingly(?) of the position that nature, in at least Keller’s framework, would be “red in tooth and claw,” yet previously spoke/wrote/blogged about the existence of entropy as a reality before the fall. That does not seem to make sense?

I found Keller’s explanation of Derek Kidner’s postulation somewhat in concert with your view of entropy.

Also, the general view that God’s declaration of creation being “good” does not seem to preclude the existence of a measure of chaos that needs to be ruled (or to have dominion exercised over it). Does it?

The rest of the story, I find so intimidating and vexing that I — as an Anglo-African by birth — would prefer to take the inimitable ostrich-position firmly in the sand.

Thank you for stimulating the evolutionary process of my thinking as always.

Barry

Barry, I do believe that there was (contained) entropy before the falls. Leaves rotted on the forest floors of Eden, and Adam and Eve could digest and break down the fruit they ate. But after the fall, entropy went into flood stage, what Romans describes as bondage to decay. So I believe that before the fall there could not have been agonistic suffering.

Christmas Trees and Jeremiah

Should we apply Jeremiah 10 to Christmas trees? I hope you have a blessed Advent Pastor.

WD

WD, thanks much. I would think Jer. 10:3 applied if people started worshiping it.

American History

Growing more concerned that certain (accurate) resources on American history may soon go the way of the buffalo. Before they do, would you mind offering any good suggestions for purchase to pass on to posterity? Blessings,

KDB

KDB, start with Singer’s A Theological Interpretation of American History.

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Categories: People I don't know

We Dared It

Tue, 01/12/2020 - 02:00

“We dared to defy it, however daunting it was.
With swords to serve us, we shoved off from the beach.
The sea roiled, we rowed, with real steel to protect us
From whale-beasts in winter, from watery monsters.”

Beowulf, p. 24

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Categories: People I don't know

A Grease Spot on the Garage Floor

Mon, 30/11/2020 - 13:00
A Round-Up on Electoral Fraud Introduction

Last Friday, I tweeted this little something:

Pennsylvania reportedly issued 1.8M mail-in ballots, and in the presidential race they took in 2.5M of them. I believe that the conclusion is undeniable, which is that I am doing that white supremacy math thing again.

— Douglas Wilson (@douglaswils) November 27, 2020

My source for this number was testimony before the Pennsylvania legislature last Wednesday, and my tweet was promptly answered in various ways. One observer said that I should do the white supremacy thing of getting my facts straight before opining, another basically said that Rudy Giuliani says a lot of things doesn’t he?, some countered with very different and contradictory numbers on the mail-in ballots, another said that the original source for my correct number had been scrubbed by the state of Pennsylvania, and so on. Now I had known that the thing was going to be disputed, which is why I said reportedly, and the proffered datum was simply my set up for the white supremacy joke anyhow.

But the way this tweet functioned — like chum in the water — does illustrate the serious nature of the situation we are in, and so I want to talk about what it means for an entire population to question and debate the integrity of their electoral system. In addition, I want to offer some suggestions on how you and I might evaluate an election like this from our seat here in the nosebleeds.

As this is a round-up, allow me to refer you to these additional resources, here, here, and here.

What Should Go Without Saying . . .

For my purposes with this first point, we may divide our political population in two broad groups — and I do not mean Trump supporters and Biden supporters. Rather I would divide them into the “win at all costs” group and the “win by any honest means” group. The former group would define a satisfactory election as one in which their guy won, and the latter group sees the integrity of the process as being far more important than their preferred policies being implemented, or their preferred candidate taking office. Another name for these two groups would be partisans and citizens.

There is a partisanship at all costs contingent out there, on both the Trump side and the Biden side. As I observe this, it seems to me that the Trump partisans will believe anything that promises a win, while the Biden partisans will do anything to get to a win. That is where the evidence points.

If the allegations of electoral fraud have any merit, then obviously the Biden all-costers took some massive initiative in this one, and that is what the debate is about. Did massive fraud, from the Biden side, occur? The answer is yes, but lying is lying, whether it is about the votes or about the fraud. But if you allege fraud, in either direction, you shouldn’t expect anyone to take any action on the basis of the allegation alone. It needs to be proven.

In the meantime, there is a temptation that the honest Biden supporters and the honest Trump supporters both share, and that is to relegate honest and reasonable questions from the other side as simply attempts to steal the election. So let’s get all the evidence out on the table, and let’s sort through it.

Honest Biden supporters should say that they don’t want Biden to win if he did it on the basis of fraud. Honest Trump supporters should say the same. If I had a button in front of me that ensured an election with no cheating in it, would I push the button? Regardless of who would win? I would ask everyone involved in this debate to commit to the same.

And over here among genuine conservatives that I read, I have seen a good deal of that kind of honesty. These are people who would appalled by virtually everything a Biden administration would stand for and/or do. Steven Crowder would be a good example, as he is taking a cautious “wait and see” attitude regarding Sidney Powell’s much ballyhooed kraken. And it was from the good conservative folks at Powerline that I learned that the Trump complaint about many Michigan townships had apparently confused numerous. places in Minnesota for places in Michigan. In charity, let us assume a volunteer flown in from Texas who had trouble distinguishing MN from MI, only one letter different, and it all looked like tundra to him.

In the same way, I believe that a Biden administration would be a royal disaster for our country, and yet I would prefer to see him take office than to have Trump remain in office by falsely alleging a rigged election. If Biden is inaugurated because he won, then we should accept that, and pray that God deliver us in some other way.

This commitment to honesty should be the baseline assumption for every upright participant in the debate. But also be aware that this is a debate over electoral fraud that tens of thousands of people are participating in, and which millions are watching. If someone throws out an argument (about say, the number of mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania), to respond to it by alleging gross irresponsibility simply because you read something different somewhere else is a little bit like demanding that the junior high cafeteria food fight you are involved with stop the festivities immediately because someone across from you threw a plastic cup of yogurt that was a week past its expiration date.

I do want the dispute settled honestly, and by the appropriate authorities. If the Pennsylvania legislature re-assumes its prerogative to oversee the appointment of electors, and they are listening to all the arguments, pro and con, I want them to throw out all bogus facts, data, and/or factoids. In such a setting, if Rudy were to say something manifestly false, I think it would be entirely appropriate for him to be answered then and there, and to be regaled with pointed questions about why he said whatever it was. But make sure to listen while he is answering. And don’t say that it was “debunked” because somebody with a different dog in the fight said that it was.

We must always remember Prov. 18:17 in situations like this, but we must also remember that there are sometimes Prov. 18:17 volleys. One side speaks, the other side answers, and then the first side counters.

In the meantime, I do acknowledge that some particular allegations seem more plausible to me because of how I am reading the broader narrative. I am not what they call objective (I don’t think anybody is that), but it is crucial to be honest. For a little bit more on that, see below.

I know that this is the last day of November, and that some might think that I am currently slipping back into my usual practice of qualifying things in my most reasonable manner. But that allegation only works if I am trying to be a Trump hack. If I am a citizen, which I am, then this section is an unqualified attack on the actual hacks from whatever side. If we lose our commitment to the truth, we have lost far more than an election.

In order to track with the points I will make below, you don’t have to be a Pennsylvania poll watcher, peering over somebody’s shoulder in Philly. No. Have a seat, wherever you are, and just consider the following.

You Can Tell the Election was Lopsided Because the Debate About the Election is Lopsided

Let me begin where we are, in the middle of a convoluted debate, and from this place, here is an observation. We can know that there was massive cheating in the election because there is massive cheating in the debate about whether there was cheating in the election. What do I mean? In the massive debate going on about electoral fraud, we are not engaging in this debate on a level playing field, not at all. Let me give you an example involving Erick Erickson, as he weighs in on one side of our ongoing debate.

When you believe Dominion Voter Systems stole the election or more people voted than were registered to vote, both of which are lies, you harm your ability to share the truth of the gospel because one who so easily embraces lies will be treated skeptically.

— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) November 27, 2020

My point here is not to engage with the content of Erick’s argument. Some of my other points later on will address some of the substance of Erick’s claim, but that is not my point here. What I want to point out here is something that will be glaringly obvious as soon as I point it out. And that is the fact that in sending out that tweet, Erick was running absolutely no risk of his tweet being censored by Twitter. He is not going to wind up in Facebook jail for saying anything like that, is he?

But let us say that someone else, a responsible somebody, wanted to reply to him. They wanted to engage with Erick, in order to argue that Dominion Voting Systems is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg, and they wanted to cite facts and figures. The chances run from excellent to outstanding that such a person, no matter who they are, would be bound and gagged and summarily dismissed.

So if you want to persuade a large number of conservative people that the fix is in, all you have to do is behave in exactly the way that Big Tech has behaved throughout this entire political season. But you can’t have the fix be in when it comes to discussions of COVID, or lock downs, or China, or Hunter Biden’s laptop, and then all of a sudden have the trust come flooding back just because we are talking about an election. Especially if you are still running your regime of hard core censorship. Conservatives have been debating in this rigged system of debate for years, and so it doesn’t take very much to persuade us that we are also voting in a rigged system.

Right now the Establishment that is currently running our public discourse has about as much credibility with me as does a grease spot on the garage floor. Why should I take their word on anything?

At the same time, I do not mind someone of Erick’s caliber challenging us. Why would I mind that? I want the truth to come out in all of this. I want Erick to be able to make his point. But I also want Erick to recognize that his opponents no longer share his privileges when it comes to such debates, and this has had a dramatic impact on our perceptions of what is going on.

How could it not? It should affect our perceptions of what is going on.

The only thing left is for people to start calling us election deniers. “You know, like Holocaust deniers,” he helpfully added.

The Biden Campaign

Biden campaigned either like he didn’t want to win, or like he knew he had it in the bag. His campaign was the very definition of “dialing it in.” Some of this was obviously a function of his handlers wanting to keep the Gaffe Machine away from microphones, but why did they think they could afford to do that? Why did they nominate somebody that they knew they would have to carry across the finish line? Why did it not seem to matter to them that they would have to carry him across the finish line?

Because they knew they had the wherewithal to carry him across the finish line. They did have it in the bag. Everything was all lined up beforehand.

And So Then . . . the Biden Performance Proved Them Right

So Biden was the most hopelessly duddy candidate that can be imagined, see above, and yet he outperformed Obama’s 2008 performance by 10 million votes. I have commented on this PHEEnom before. If you remember that shining apotheosis of Obama in 2008, he it was who was going to stop the water from rising, he who was the one he had apparently been waiting for, he who was Hope and Change itself, he who accepted the nomination amidst Greek columns like the glorious Caesar he was going to be, and it was he who was the shooting star across our tawdry little firmament.

And that political Obamanaic lightening bolt was nothing compared to Biden from the Basement, the Victor from the Vault, the Winner from the Wine Cellar, the Juggernaut from the Jug.

The way people try to keep me in the dark, and with the way they keep shoveling manure on top of me, I think they must think I am a mushroom.

The Coattail Conundrum

We have ourselves a situation where the purported winning candidate had no coattails at all, and the purported losing candidate had really strong coattails. This is a political anomaly that requires explanation. We were promised a blue wave election, and that didn’t happen anywhere really. The only place the blue wave happened was in the presidential election, that weird zone of one Anomaly after Another.

Trump swept a bunch of new freshmen Republicans into the House, a solid basket full. That wasn’t supposed to happen. And then there is the small matter of the bellweather counties. There are something like 19 counties that have always gone to the presidential winner, like forever, and Trump won 18 of them. Hmmm.

There are anomalies everywhere. Shoot, I think we are standing on one.

Here’s another one. In the state legislatures, house gains by Republicans were significant: Arkansas (+3), California (+1), Florida (+5), Idaho (+2), Illinois (+1), Indiana (+4), Iowa (+6), Kansas (+3), Kentucky (+14), Maine (+7), Minnesota (+5), Montana (+9), Nevada (+3), New Hampshire (+46), New Mexico (+1), New York (+1), North Carolina (+4), North Dakota (+1). Ohio (+3), Oklahoma (+5), Oregon (+2), Rhode Island (+1), South Carolina (+3), South Dakota (+3), Vermont (+3), West Virginia (+18), and Wyoming (+2).

I am not sure what to call this, but it rhymes with. budblath.

The Democrats lost their veto proof majorities in Nevada and Vermont. And Republicans have veto proof majorities in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio,
Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

In short, it was a great night for Republicans everywhere . . . except for the top of the ticket that was making it happen. Things what make you go huh.

Benford’s Law

Here is a sane and judicious look at how Benford’s Law is used in detecting the possibility of fraud.

It turns out that in their natural habitat, raw numbers behave in a remarkable and predictable way, and it is very different than what numbers do when they are cooked. Accountants who are looking for fraud in large corporations, like they did with Enron, look for variations from Benford’s Law. That doesn’t tell them that fraud has in fact occurred, but it does tell them that it is a very real possibility, and it tells them where to look for the required explanation.

And if you look at the short video above, you will see that one of the places to look for electoral fraud is Pennsylvania. Follow the math.

Are You Kidding Me?

So then, we now conduct our voting by means of machines that are capable of being hooked up to the Internet. The state officials who allowed for this, and who also paid millions for these systems, are either wicked predators of the chumps, or they are themselves a cavalcade of said chumps. Hasn’t anybody around here heard of human nature?

Then there was that banana republic move of stopping the vote count right in the middle of things. A water main broke. Halley’s comet got in my eyes. The grass was wet. We couldn’t keep counting under such dire conditions. And we couldn’t resume counting until the pallets of ballots arrived.

See? That’s the kind of thing some people wish we wouldn’t say. Pallets of ballots indeed. They say that it is reckless to talk that way without proof. Okay. Say that I have a photo of the pallets arriving at 3 am. What should I do, friend? Upload it on Twitter?

Now if you are going to allege fraud, it is a serious thing, and you must have proof before any official action is taken. But you don’t require proof in order to raise reasonable questions. And, I hasten to add, these are all reasonable questions. And so I would say that so many anomalies have stacked up that by this point it is incumbent on those who were appointed to maintain election integrity to demonstrate for us, their boss, the people, that they have done so. These anomalies are not a conviction, simply an indictment. “And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward” (Luke 16:2).

Those in charge of elections in these disputed places have not protected our electoral processes, whether from fraud or from irresponsible allegations of fraud.

I am willing to hear good answers, honestly willing. But shut up, they explained is not a good answer. I find it unsatisfying somehow.

In Sum

So I do not accept the hypothesis that I am a lousy Christian because this whole thing seems more than a little fishy to me. If it is bad for our witness to be taken in by a lie, as per Erick’s thesis above, then let us not be taken in by a lie. Are we allowed to check?

And as we check, are we allowed to look at who has their thumb on the scales in the debate about the election? For perhaps such people would also be willing to put their thumb on the election itself. If the debate is rigged, why wouldn’t the rest of it be?

And then Biden campaigned in the most lackluster way imaginable, like he knew everything was all sewn up. He knew he had reinforcements in the bag. And campaigning in the lackadaisical and anemic way that he did, he still blew past Obama, running backwards effortlessly. And then, defying one political convention after another, he won a record-setting blowout with no coattails for the down ballot Democrats at all. Trump, on the other hand, the losing candidate, swept a bunch of new Republicans into the House. Makes you go huh. So then let us turn to the math guys. They apply Benford’s Law to the results in Pennsylvania, and the conclusion from the auditors is that these results are nuttier than squirrel poo. And then, to crown all of it, we find out that the voting machines in use all over the country are invitingly hackable, frontloadable, scootchable, thumbdriveable, and did I mention that they were invitingly so?

One Last Thing

This is really messy, and really obvious. But the fact that it is so obvious is not going to stop the dispute. And that is because we are no longer in a fight over whose preferred policies will be implemented. We are now in a fight over who is going to go to jail. That will tend to draw the dispute out. Trump’s performance was so unexpectedly strong that lots and lots of votes had to be hauled in quickly, in batches of 4800, or multiples of 4800. My, observe how Biden voters arrived in such disciplined regiments. Now that’s political organization.

So look for the dispute to descend to the level of Monty Python’s dead parrot sketch. “This is a deceased parrot.” “No, it isn’t.”

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Categories: People I don't know

Ecochondriacs [15]

Sun, 29/11/2020 - 22:00

Please note well: If you order this book in hard copy, it is already shipping. Link here. In addition, audio chapters are being recorded and released on the new Canon App.

Helen Blows Up

Helen spun around in her seat, and got up on her knees, peering over the back of her seat. There was only one nondescript car behind them, and it was slowing down to take an exit they were just passing.

“They blew out your back window, and just left!”

Cody continued to drive on, staring at the road, thinking hard. Helen was staring at him. “What are you going to do?”

“I haven’t an earthly,” he said. “Find another windshield repair place probably. We have another two hours to Annapolis, which leaves us plenty of time.”

The car was silent for a moment, except for the sound of rushing wind past the back window. Cody’s phone suddenly chirruped loudly. He pulled it out of his jacket pocket, and handed it to Helen. “What’s it say?”

She fumbled for a few moments, trying to get to his texts, but when she got there, she looked up in amazement. “It just says, ‘Pull the article.’ That blast was a warning for you.”

Cody was scratching his chin, muttering to himself. What he was muttering was “not Sommerville.” He had always considered his boss to be an irascible and unreasonable human being, but he did think of him as a human being. And he also thought of him as a convinced Christian of some order. “Not Sommerville,” he said again.

Helen was glaring at him. Finally she said, “How do you rate?” Cody looked over in surprise. “What?” he said.

“I said, ‘How do you rate?’”

“What do you mean?” He was genuinely startled.

“I mean that threatening you by blowing out your windshield is the lamest thing ever. Over what? Over how many thees and thous were in the original book of Ephesians?”

Cody shook his head, and started to take the bait. “Well, that is a gross simplification of what my article was saying, in the first place . . .”

Helen interrupted him. “And simplified or not, what would it matter?”

Cody’s eyes widened some more, and they had already been wide. “Why, you’re jealous,” he said.

“Am not,” she retorted. “Ridiculous. What would I be jealous of?”

Cody laughed out loud. Everything came into focus. “You’re jealous because you were the one that somebody was trying to kill, and now I have caught up with you. Now somebody has threatened to kill me, and this has radically leveled the playing field. The score is now tied.”

Helen swore at him, and he laughed again, which made her angrier.

“Getting shot at is not some kind of contest, you dope. What kind of sense would that make?”

“It makes no sense at all,” he replied. “It shouldn’t be a contest. So why are you jealous? I was not arguing that it made any kind of sense. I was just saying that you were jealous.”

Helen sputtered for a moment, and then said, “I’m not talking to you anymore. Makes no sense to talk with you if you are going to be like that.”

And so they drove in silence for the next forty-five minutes. Helen was furious for the first ten minutes or so of that forty-five, and then in a state of absolute emotional churn for the thirty minutes after that. She had grown up with three younger brothers who all adored her, and she had a doting father on top of that. And so she had figured out, very early on in her life, that outbursts of temper were the best way to steer things in directions more to her liking. Her mother saw what she was doing, but really didn’t have the wherewithal to stop it. Her father and brothers didn’t have any idea of what was going on. And no one in the family had connected their indulgence of her fits and tempers with the fact that she had walked away from the faith, not to mention the Fremont Bible Chapel, in her first year away at college. She had told herself that it was the rigors of scientific inquiry that did her faith in, but it was actually the fact that she was looking for a wider scope for her passions and piques. She thought her loss of faith was intellectual, but it was almost entirely emotional.

Cody just drove on in silence, eyes on the road. He didn’t seem angry or upset at her at all. He was just driving along, eyes on the road.

When her churn started to subside, she finally—after some hesitation—broke the silence. “No need to fight,” she said.

“I agree,” he replied. “No need.”

“I am sorry for my outburst,” she said after another moment. “Apology accepted, and thank you,” he said.

Another mile marker flashed by.

“Aren’t you going to say you’re sorry?” She asked. This is what had always happened with her brothers. When her behavior had been so egregious that she knew that an apology was needed, she would offer it, and then level things up again afterwards by getting her brothers to apologize also. And they always did. The male Greenes were a species that valued keeping the peace in the household very highly.

Cody, on the other hand, had only done that one time in his life. He had been ten years old, and had gotten into a skirmish with one of the neighbor boys. It was the other kid’s fault entirely, but afterward, the boy had provoked Cody into apologizing also, as a way of settling their peace treaty. Cody’s brother had been a witness to the whole debacle, and when the story came out that night at the dinner table, Cody—to his great astonishment at the time—found himself taken down to the basement and switched. For lying to the neighbor kid.

After the whole thing was over, his father, a gruff concrete worker who went by Hank, took him by both shoulders, looked him straight in the eye and said, “Son, I don’t want you to ever apologize to somebody just because they say to. If you owe them one, don’t make them ask. You should be there ahead of them. And if you don’t owe them one, then your apology is not anything with them. It is trying to put things back together on the foundation of a lie. And lies always collapse under any weight you try to put on them.”

Cody had never forgotten that, and it had become one of the guiding principles of his life. He didn’t know it, but it was the reason why he had refused to pull his article. The roots from that tree his father had planted for him were all over his front yard. And this is why, when Helen asked him if he was going to apologize to her, he shook his head no. “No,” he said. “I don’t think I wronged you in any way. I would be happy to consider whether I did though. I will think and pray about it.”

Helen turned away with a little exclamation, and stared out the window for a time. She felt something going on inside her that mystified and scared her. She was appalled by, and powerfully attracted to, something.

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Categories: People I don't know

The Enneascam

Sun, 29/11/2020 - 00:00
Introduction

There is something deeply alluring about personality tests. On the mild end of the scale, they can be used to heighten self-awareness, which all of us could use a little more of (Rom. 12:3), and on the troubling end of the scale is the marked tendency to adopt the findings of whatever test it is as a source of identity. “I am a fill-in-the-blank, and it explains so much.” Instead of finding our identity in Christ, the Rock of Ages, our identity is located in the tattered cardboard box of lame and carnal categories.

Now we have always known forever that there are different kinds of people in the world, some gloomy and some cheerful. This is the result of people having eyes in their head, and I am not complaining about that. But there is a clear tendency to take this way too far.

The ancients broke it down into four basic types — choleric, melancholic, sanguine, and phlegmatic — this being the result of a different kind of bodily “humor” dominating in each person, making them correspondingly bossy, or introspective, or cheerful, or laid back. A classic Christian adaptation of this can be found in O Hallesby’s Temperament and the Christian Faith. And then a generation or so ago, Tim LaHaye made a lot more lahaye out of this particular scheme, pushing it into all the corners.

Then there is corporate America’s take on personality categories, the Myers-Briggs test (inspired by Jung’s categories), which uses a four-fold grid: introversion/extraversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/ feeling, and judging/perceiving.

And of course, I cannot let this moment pass without referring to my preferred schema, which is Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, and Tigger.

Bringing up the rear, there is the Enneagram, which has recently taken certain parts of the evangelical world by storm. Books touting the Ennegram have been published by former worthies like IVP (The Road Back to You) and Zondervan (The Sacred Ennegram). Back in a previous time, when things were not as they are now, IVP published Knowing God by J.I. Packer and Zondervan published, I don’t know, probably some good things. So if I might, I would like to set my rifle-mounted laser dot quivering on this one, first because of a set of problems it shares with every form of personality typing, and second because of some unique problems that come with the Enneagram.

In order . . .

Who Am I?

In the medieval world, the Christian church had a cautious approach to astrology, and the issues were much the same as what we see with modern personality tests. The church condemned as heresy any sort of astrological determinism or fatalism, meaning that someone could not simply blame their amorousness on the fact that they were born under Venus. The church allowed that such a thing might determine your temptations or proclivities, but taught (rather firmly) that nothing could be considered as settled by the stars. Men and women were still responsible for their decisions and behavior.

And so, in the same way, the fact that you land at such and such a place on the “chart” of this or that personality test should predetermine no behavior, excuse no sin, and settle no issues. That place on the chart is not what you are. At best, it is a description of general and somewhat obvious tendencies. The fact that you are a sanguine does not give you the right to bowl other people over. The fact that you are an INFP does not give you the right to go to parties in order to stand in the corner facing the wall. The fact that you are a #7 Enthusiast does not give you the right to do cartwheels at your aunt’s funeral.

But the illustration of astrology brings in another factor, and that is the science of the thing. It is a reasonable question to ask whether being born under Venus has anything to do with anything. Put another way, personality tests tend to oscillate between pseudoscience and the glaringly obvious. They confirm their scientific bona fides by telling you things about yourself that everyone who knows you has already known for some twenty-odd years. When they tell you genuinely new information about yourself, there are reasonable grounds for doubting the accuracy of it, and when the insight is undoubtedly accurate, it is something that everybody knew already, especially your grandmother.

In short, personality tests are popular because people like talking about themselves, and when it is organized as a group effort, and required in order to work at this or that company, it somehow seems less narcissistic. It is just something we do. We are grateful for an excuse to take them because it grants us license to talk about ourselves. And we read them the same way we read fortune cookies. Why does anybody read fortune cookies?

“If its sketchy origins weren’t enough to spook the mules, there is no scientific evidence that proves the Enneagram is a reliable measurement of personality.”

Richard Rohr and the Ennegram Secret, Loc. 770

In other words, this is an approach that offers you an identity outside of Christ, and then, to add insult to injury, gets that answer wrong. Real self-knowledge is a valuable thing, but it is only possible in Christ, as we look in the mirror of the Word. It is not really possible via this route.

The Deeper Problem

The history of the Enneagram is soaked in modern New Age categories the same way the bread for French toast is soaked in egg batter. This is a problem.

Despite wild claims that its origins can be found in Homer, or in Pythagoras, or in the desert fathers, in reality the Enneagram began in the 20th century with a gent named G.I. Gurdjieff. The Ennegram symbol cannot be traced back any earlier than 1916. And Gurdjieff’s take on it was not even as a personality test, but rather a way of understanding and approaching the face of all truth — a false and idolatrous religion, in other words. The Enneagram functioned as a pathway to the face of God — but for orthodox Christians, Jesus of Nazareth is the only pathway to God.

The personality aspect of the Enneagram was added by a fellow named Naranjo, around 1970, who gained this insight through automatic writing — a common enough occurrence in the world of the occult. You may call me narrow if you like, but I don’t really think that Christians should want demon-writing to serve as their pathway to self-knowledge.

One of the great popularizers of the Ennegram in Christian circles has been a Franciscan priest named Richard Rohr. He is as orthodox as Marcion’s old yellow dog, which is to say, not very.

“Rohr denies the biblical doctrines on man, sin, creation, salvation, and God. Richard Rohr also teaches a false Jesus/Christ. Rohr makes a distinction between Jesus and Christ by saying Jesus was not the “Universal Christ,” who is “bigger” than Jesus. To Richard Rohr, the creation is Christ.”

Richard Rohr and the Ennegram Secret, Loc. 319

In short, Rohr is a panentheist, which is not quite the same as a pantheist. A pantheist teaches that everything is God, and God is everything. The cosmos is identified with God. A panentheist is a variation on this theme. Panentheism holds that the cosmos is a subset of God. God’s “soul” extends beyond the material cosmos, but all that exists is part of God.

So Run, Don’t Walk

Like ancient Gnosticism, the Enneagram religion (and that is what it is, a religion) offers to get you in touch with your own “true self.” The paths to this true self are hidden, occult. The ways are esoteric. And the vocabulary is entirely alien to the grace and peace of the New Testament.

So if you have anything to do with the Enneagram, run, don’t walk. If you have any evangelical popularizations of the Enneagram on your shelf, throw them out. Join the other good citizens of Ephesus down at the bonfire (Acts 19:19), and toss them in.

And walk away free.

Below is a clip of Naranjo (left) explaining that the account of the ancient origins of Enneagram were, shall we say, embellished, and his account of the automatic writing.

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Categories: People I don't know

Advent and Affliction

Sat, 28/11/2020 - 15:10
Introduction

Over time, holidays take on a certain patina. Long usage and custom make this unavoidable and necessary, but it remains our responsibility not to allow such later accretions to overthrow or to reverse the actual import or meaning of the festival. In the case of Christmas, we have, quite obviously, the scriptural story of the birth of the Messiah, but we also have—do we not?—silver bells, softly falling snow, Hallmark movies, caramel popcorn, miracles on 34th street, fireplaces aglow, and various sorts of festive jello dishes. What are we to do with all of that? Well, enjoy them . . . but don’t let them become your teachers.

The Text

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not” (Matt. 2:16–18).

Summary of the Text

There may have been three wise men, we don’t know for sure. We guess at that number because of the three enumerated gifts mentioned—the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh. At any rate, these wise men from the east showed up in Jerusalem and went and asked the king about the newborn king of the Jews These men are called magicians (magi), and were most likely Zoroastrian astrologers. They were from “the east,” most likely Persia (Iran), and they had seen a star in the east that had compelled them to come. Herod found out from them when the star had first appeared (most likely two years before) and he helped the magi out through summoning the chief priests and scribes, who referred the magi to Micah 5:2, which identified Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah. So they went on to Bethlehem, where the star identified the house where Jesus was, and there the magi adored Him, presenting their gifts. The wise men were then warned by God in a dream not to go back to Herod (v. 12). An angel then warned Joseph of what was coming, and so he escaped with his family to Egypt (vv. 13-15), which brings us to our text.

When Herod saw that the magi had made a fool of him, he got extraordinarily angry, and ordered all the young boys in the area of Bethlehem to be slaughtered. This resulted in the fulfillment of a sorrowful prophecy from Jeremiah. The prophet there spoke by addressing the personified figure of Rachel, who lamented the loss of her children. That matriarch had been buried near Bethlehem—Gen. 35:19-20, near the border of Benjamin—1 Sam. 10:2.

Balaam’s Word

I may appear to be changing the subject, but not really, and only for a moment. Balaam was a true prophet, meaning that his gift of prophecy was genuine, but he was a true prophet without being a true man (2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11). He would not curse Israel for the Moabite king Balak, but he did give him some counsel on how to use his women to seduce Israel (Rev. 2:14). But before doing that, he uttered a prophecy that was likely contained within the research findings of the magi.

“I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”

Num. 24:17 (KJV)

Balaam is not a Hebrew, and he lived to the east also, and it seems to me that a record of his utterances could easily have been included in the kind of libraries that the magi would have been accustomed to use.

Christmas and Sin

Now the presence of sin, and the reality of it, and the affliction and distress that sin always brings, is no refutation of the message of Christmas. Rather, Christmas is God’s answer to our sin. Christmas is God’s reply to sin, not His platitude about learning to see the good in people. Jesus took on a human body, the body that Mary suckled, and laid in a manger, in order that He would be able to die. He was born to die, and that death was necessary because of sin. He took up a body so that He would have a body to lay down. He assumed mortality so that He could slay our mortality. And this was in view from the very beginning.

“And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:34–35 (KJV)

When we look at Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, we see that the rebellion of man always wants to reverse the message of righteousness. Here in modern America, we are currently in the grip of the same Herodian delusion, and in our insanity, we also slaughter innocents. Herod, the Edomite king of Israel, turns himself into a Pharaoh, killing young boys for political reasons. Joseph was warned in a dream to flee from the new Egypt, which he did by fleeing to the old Egypt. Out of Egypt I called my Son.

If Israel can turn into Egypt, so can America. In what way has our treatment of the unborn not outdone Herod? Not outdone Pharaoh. We are becoming Charn.

A Hard Headed New Covenant

Now the chapter of Jeremiah that Matthew quotes as he records this awful crime is the same chapter where Jeremiah predicts the coming of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). This glorious prophecy is cited several times in the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 8:8-12, it is quoted in full, and then in Hebrews 10, two key excerpts of it are cited (Heb. 10:16,17). These two citations, these two pull quotes, identify for us the heart and soul of the new covenant. These two tenets are the internalization of the law (Heb. 10:16) and God’s promise that He will remember our sins and iniquities no more (Heb. 10:17). The law of God is now written on our hearts and minds, and we are washed clean of all our iniquity.

And so, encouraged by these words, we return to Rachel, the inconsolable. God is the sovereign God over all things, including every form of all of our sin. He has prepared a covenant, a new covenant, one that takes the perverseness of the human heart fully into account. He has prepared a covenant that can etch the law of God on the adamantine heart of man, and He has also prepared the blood of the everlasting covenant, blood that can cleanse absolutely anything. And so what does the Word of God say to this Rachel? In the very next verses . . .

“Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: For thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; And they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord, that thy children shall come again to their own border . . . Turn thou me, and I shall be turned; For thou art the Lord my God.”

Jer. 31:16–18 (KJV)

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Categories: People I don't know

Ecochondriacs [14]

Fri, 27/11/2020 - 16:33

Please note well: If you order this book in hard copy, it is already shipping. Link here. In addition, audio chapters are being recorded and released on the new Canon App.

Cody Gets Some News

After he and Helen had teamed up in their on-the-run ad hoc arrangement, Cody had managed to take some personal leave. He had accumulated quite a number of vacation days, and when it came to teaching his classes, he was between terms. That was settled easily enough via email. A few of his friends in Lynch- burg had wondered casually if he had fallen off the earth, but he was able to put them off without actually lying about anything. You can lie in a war, but not to your friends. Even so, appealing to “personal time” was much more duddy than saying he was on the lam with a beautiful atheist. But he could tell everybody about that later, he hoped.

He was flipping through his emails on his phone while Helen went into a CVC to get a few personal items, and he was nearing the end of the stack of emails when she opened the door and hopped back in the car.

“Go ahead and finish,” she said. “We are just driving in circles anyway. And we are not in any real hurry to get back here.” Cody got to his last email, read the subject line, suddenly started, and sat up straight. “Oh my,” he said, before catching himself.

“What?” Helen asked.

He started to answer her, and then stopped. He hurriedly opened the email and scanned the first paragraph, grinning widely. He wasn’t sure how he was going to explain it to her. His article on a second-century fragment of the book of Ephesians had cleared the hurdle of peer review and had been accepted by one of the more prestigious journals of textual criticism. That fragment covered a chapter and a half of the epistle, and Cody had sought to demonstrate that the original of this manuscript necessarily belonged to the Byzantine text type, as opposed to the Alexandrian. The fact that the editors of the journal were strong advocates of the anything-but-Byzantine text type meant either that they were feeling unusually charitable, or that the peer reviews came back unusually strong. Or maybe the editors were just trying to demonstrate their even-handedness so they could justify lambasting him and his argument in a future issue. So Cody explained the outline of his article, sort of, and Helen thought she understood most of his explanation, sort of. At least she understood peer review, and the importance of publishing. “Well, that is good news,” she said. “Congratulations.” The news of this acceptance had also been cc’d to Cody’s department head, who had been a thorn in Cody’s side ever since he had arrived at Liberty. It was pressure from him, actually, one Dr. Jerry Sommerville, that had made Cody get serious about writing for publication in the first place. But the congratulatory note that was sent from the journal included at the bottom the abstract of the article Cody had submitted, and this is how it happened that Sommerville took an interest in it for the first time, having read something about it for the first time. And this is why, about fifteen minutes later, Cody’s phone chirruped a new notification at him. It was Sommerville, saying that it was essential that Cody come down from Annapolis at once. They needed to talk. Like, right now.

“Well,” Cody said, turning to Helen. “It is not that far to drive. I don’t think anybody knows for sure that you are with me, and we might as well drive in a straight line as drive in circles in the Washington/Baltimore metroplex. Nobody’s looking for my car, at least that we know of, and I can get the back windshield fixed in Lynchburg. I can talk to Sommerville, allay any concerns he might have, and that will signal to anybody who inquires that my life is still doing its ordinary, somewhat boring, thing.”

“Allay any concerns he might have?” Helen said. “What possible concerns could someone have over an article about an ancient manuscript?”

“Well,” Cody said, “the people who are after you are not trying to kill you because you have a disagreement over how much sunshine all of us are getting. They are coming after you because of money. They have a racket going, and you have some information that threatens that racket.”

“Well, sure. True enough,” she said. “But how does that apply to this?”

“I don’t know that it does,” Cody replied. “But it could. In fact, I have been praying that it would.”

Helen didn’t roll her eyes when he mentioned his prayers, but if we are being frank with ourselves we have to acknowledge that she did think about it. But she was still interested, in spite of herself.

“Yes. But how could it?”

“Well, you see, over 100 million Bibles are printed annually. It is really big business. Most of them are copyrighted translations, and they are translated from a particular manuscript family. If anybody important paid any attention to my article, if it caught fire in any way, a lot of people could be really unhappy. And they will be unhappy to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. But there are lots of ifs in there.”

“But obvious enough that your boss wants to have a heart- to-heart with you?”

“Yeah,” Cody said. “Looks like it.” And he took a moment to write Sommerville back to say that he could be down there the next day, and would 2 pm work? “Yes, it would,” the reply came back a moment later.

* * *

The next day, Cody walked into Jerry Sommerville’s office confidently enough, at 2 pm on the dot, but he was inwardly tentative. He didn’t really know what Sommerville was going to say or do.

“Hi, Jerry,” he said when he came in.

Jerry grunted. He was the kind of gruff character who would grunt, even if he were delighted. He looked like a scholar, or perhaps like a mad scientist. His white hair stuck out from behind his ears, and his goatee was closer to gray than white. The grunt sounded like something in the neighborhood of “sit down,” and so Cody shut the door, and sat down.

Sommerville didn’t mess around. He got straight to the point. He didn’t put any varnish on his words at all. He had apparently been stewing about it all night. And as one of the senior editors of the soon-to-be-released Discipleship Study Bible, he had gone through several very awkward conversations with his publisher the night before. They had gotten wind of the article around the same time that Sommerville had, probably from one of the scholars who had been on the peer review board.

“Cody, you have to pull that article. You need to ask them not to publish it. You need to say that certain critical information has just come to your attention.”

“But it hasn’t,” Cody said. “No critical information has come to my attention.”

“I was referring to the fact that if that article runs, you are out of a job. I would say that was critical information.”

Cody rocked back in his chair. He wasn’t expecting anything like this. “I don’t understand,” he said finally.

“What’s not to understand? Pull the article or get fired. We can’t have a member of our department publishing an article like that on the eve of the release of the Discipleship Study Bible. I am telling you straight up, not going to lie. Of course if you repeat any of this, I will deny it in cold blood, also straight up. In that case, you were fired for insubordination and a few other items in your personnel file that I would rather not go into.”

“But . . . what about academic freedom? . . . what about my arguments? . . . what about the truth?”

“What did you get your doctorate in? Idealism? On hobbits dancing in meadows?”

Cody sat still for a moment, still stunned. Sommerville started up again, not unkindly. “I don’t know how much lead time it would take for you to get the article canceled. But if you were just notified about the acceptance yesterday, I am sure I can give you a day to think about it. But at the end of that day of thinking about it, I need that article deep-sixed.”

Cody looked up at him. “Oh, I don’t need any time to think about it. The article stays right where it is. And the arguments need to be answered. And you wouldn’t need to fire me. I can have a letter to you by tomorrow morning. Whichever you prefer.”

Sommerville sat for a moment, surprised himself at the turn things had taken. After scratching his goatee for a minute, he said, again not unkindly, “I’ll take the letter.”

With that, Cody stood up, half-saluted Sommerville, and headed out. He had left Helen with the car at the Windshield Doctor that was just a few blocks off campus. He would walk back out to the shop, gather everything up, and they could  hit the road again. He found himself smiling to himself as he imagined himself telling Helen about it. “It seems we both have trouble with bosses.”

An hour later, they were back in the car, heading north on 301. They had grabbed some fast food, and were eating as they drove. They had decided some time before that they would have to put everything on Cody’s card, and not Helen’s, because if at some point they found themselves tracked by pros, as it looked like they might be, the bad guys would probably have ways to track any activity that had anything to do with Helen’s accounts. So her accounts had been entirely inactive the last few days, as silent as a really silent grave. But as they pulled out of Burger King this time, Helen felt she had to say something again.

“Remember that I will pay you back, at least fifty/fifty, when this is all over. Promise.”

“That was our deal,” Cody had said, “although I am not worried about it.”

“Well, thanks,” she said. “But I want you to be worried about it.”

“A guy in my position doesn’t get many opportunities to date an evolutionary atheist, and so the least I could do is pick up the tab.” He realized, as soon as the words were out of his mouth, that he was flirting. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Reel it in, Cody.

“These aren’t dates,” she said. “We are on the run from killers, or I am at least, and you are a very nice man who is helping me. That is not what I call a date.”

“I know,” he said. “They can’t be considered dates technically. But I can pretend, can’t I?” Stupid man! Flirting with an atheist? Cody suddenly realized that his internal moral monitor, his robust conscience, was going to wake up any minute and start swearing at him like a machinist mate on a tramp steamer. That would not be good. That would be unsettling. Evangelical consciences usually don’t cuss like that.

Cody promptly decided he needed to change the subject, and then that would keep him from flirting with her anymore. So he trotted out his observation about the trouble they were both having with their bosses. It was the wrong move.

“You really think that getting fired is equivalent to a hit man showing up at your place at dawn in order to shoot you? You really think that?” She had understood at least the beginnings of a flirtation and decided she needed to restore some distance.

He was cute and everything, but he was still a Jesus freak, and he wrote articles about which piece of paper came from where two thousand years ago.

“Well, of course not . . .” he began. He was going to continue with his explanation of his lame attempt at humor when the back windshield, newly installed just that afternoon, exploded. Someone had shot at them again. This time it was on the driver’s side.

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Categories: People I don't know

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