Thursday, August 31, 2006

The U. S. Is A Democracy

Technically it's a republic or a representative democracy, of course, but in support of those who help keep it that way, this blog recommends the political wit and wisdom—and candidate advocacy—of our next Really Smart Guys link Kennedy v. The Machine.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Now With Links to Really Smart Guys!

This blog will now be your entree into the world of people who think and speak more clearly than any of us. Please note the new category on the right.

I'm taking nominations for additions to this list. Who do you think should be there? I of course wield absolute Mosaic authority when it comes to what is finally included. The Blog is not a democracy you know...and remember, there is no Perfect Blog. But do please give me suggestions!

My first choice is Douglas Groothuis, a professor and author from Denver, who in this post regarding 911 and the war on terror demonstrates his qualifications for this important list.

Friday, August 18, 2006

If We Fail to Learn from History...

Here's a little piece of history, described by E.H. Broadbent in his book (oft-quoted on this blog) The Pilgrim Church, Marshall-Pickering 1931, related to the question of what might constitute excessive emphasis on human authority among believers.

"The quest of the Mystics [devout medieval Christians who sought to live personally in authentic New Testament faith, having given up, in a sense, on the Church being reformed—TD] for immediate communion with God, without priestly or other intervention, constantly brought them into conflict with the priests. Suspected of being of this mind, Loyola [Ignatius Loyola b. 1491] was more than once imprisoned by the Inquisition and by the Dominicans, but was always able to show them that he was not what they thought, and to obtain release.

Indeed, though at first so strongly affected by the writings of the Mystics, Loyola evolved a system which was the very contrary of their teaching. Instead of seeking experiences of direct communion with Christ, he placed each member of his Society under the guidance of a man, his confessor, to whom he was pledged to make known the most intimate secrets of his life and to yield implicit obedience. The plan was that of a soldier, each one was subject to the will of one above him, and even the highest was controlled by those appointed to observe evey act and judge every motive.

In the course of years of study and travel, of teaching and charitable activities, during which there were unavailing efforts to get to Jerusalem, and also interviews with the Pope, that company gradually gathered round Loyola, which was organised by him as the 'Company of Jesus' in Paris in 1534. He and six others, including Francis Xavier, took vows of poverty and chastity and of missionary activity, and in 1540 the Pope recognized the 'Society of Jesus', to which the name of 'Jesuit' was first given by Calvin and others, its opponents.

The careful choice and the long and special training of its members, during which they were taught entire submission of their own will to that of their superiors, made of them a weapon by which not only was the Reformation checked, but a 'Counter Reformation' was organized which regained for Rome much that she had lost."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Keen Observers Will Notice...

...that the descriptive header on this blog now includes the name Dorothy Sayers [1893-1957]. She was a British author and playwright known best for her Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories, and also was for a time a member of the Inklings with Lewis, Tolkien and others.

I've read very little of her work, but chanced upon a re-issue of her book of essays called Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine at the public library. I'm just into it, and I like her style and especially her economy of words. She is another voice from the past who can cut through the dense post-modern fog and especially Christian fog.

A couple of samples:

"Official Christianity, of late years, has been having what is known as bad press. We are constantly assured that the churches are empty because preachers insist too much upon doctrine—dull dogma as people call it. The fact is quite the opposite. It is the neglect of dogma that makes for dullness. The Christian faith is the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man—and the dogma is the drama."—from Chapter 1

[I think she's right. But my sense is that a lot of people are tired of what has been offered in place of the "boring" stuff in church and ready for something different. What if you went to church and heard almost nothing about Our Story, Our Experiences, Our Distinctives, Our Building, Our Programs, Our Feelings, Our Journey, Our History, Our Movement, Our Leadership, Our Vision, Our Favorite Topics, Our Authority, and heard almost nothing but dogma—God Revealed in Scripture? Was it Tozer who said "It's very difficult to get people to come to a church where the only attraction is God," or something like that? I think some of us are willing to give it a try.]

"'Any stigma," said a witty tongue, "will do to beat a dogma.'"; and the flails of ridicule have been brandished with such energy of late on the threshing floor of controversy that the true seed of the Word has become well-nigh lost amid the whirling of the chaff. Christ, in His divine innocence, said to the woman of Samaria, 'ye worship ye know not what'—being apparently under the impression that it might be desirable, on the whole, to know what one was worshipping. He thus showed himself sadly out of touch with the twentieth-century mind, for the cry today is: 'Away with the tedious complexities of dogma—let us have the simple spirit of worship; just worship, no matter of what!' The only drawback to this demand for a generalized and undirected worship is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular."—from Chapter 3