LUCAS CRANACH THE ELDER
Posts from the old WORLD site
October 2005-October 2007
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October 26, 2007
CRANACH has a new home
Just as my wife and I have just moved into a new home, so has the Cranach blog. As I said would happen, WORLD's sub-blogs are being kicked out of the nest, which is a good thing. I have my own domain, even, which will make possible my doing other things on the web. Cranach's new address is .
Please bookmark this new site and visit often. This site will still be up for awhile, as the discussions keep going on. It will also take me awhile to move the archives and the blogroll. But do move with us as Cranach goes into its new phase.
Posted by Veith at 09:34 AM
October 25, 2007
The Faith-Based Rockies
The Colorado Rockies are getting criticized for crediting their astonishing ascension to the World Series to God's blessing. To the point that the major league website has censored out the God-talk from an interview with Oklahoma-slugger Matt Holliday. But the Rockies go beyond making the sign of the cross when they go up to bat. As a policy, they have instituted what they term "character" practices:
General Manager Dan O'Dowd, in an interview with USA Today before the streak, said: "You look at some of the moves we made and didn't make. You look at some of the games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this."
The article, parts of which Rockies players said were overstated, reported that the team doesn't allow Playboy in the locker room, players are encouraged to attend chapel on Sunday, and Bible studies on Tuesday nights are packed. The team doesn't listen to obscenity-filled rap music in the locker room like most other teams, either.
The Rockies are the only team in the majors with a paid chaplain on staff. And players share their testimonies with fans after the game on Faith Day, which includes a postgame concert and discounted tickets.
. . . . . . . . . .
Within a single strike of being eliminated from playoff contention a few weeks ago, the Rockies are now headed to the World Series for the first time in the short 14-year history of the franchise. They were in fourth place in the National League West when they began their streak a month ago. They then proceeded to win 13 out of the last 14 regular-season games and didn't lose a game in their postseason series against both the Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks. No team has ever won so many games in a row this late in the season. No team has ever made fewer errors in a season than the Rockies have this year.
"When a player's playing really well, it feels really mysterious. It's like a religious experience," says historian Warren Goldstein, who has written books on both baseball and religion.
The difference between failure and success at the pro level is so minuscule that when things really click for a baseball club, people feel they're in a kind of a zone where the normal rules don't apply. "And that feels to a lot of players as though it's a religious thing, like a religious experience," says Goldstein. "In a way, I'd be astonished if they didn't think they were getting some kind of extra, supernatural help."
The Rockies had their road-to-Damascus conversion three years ago when pitcher Denny Neagle was caught soliciting a prostitute. Rockies Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Charlie Monfort released him three days later, swallowing $16 million of his contract. Monfort's own faith intensified after he was put on probation for driving while impaired, and he changed the way he ran his club.
"We started going after character six or seven years ago, but we didn't follow that like we should have," he told USA Today. "I don't want to offend anyone, but I think character-wise we're stronger than anyone in baseball. I believe God sends signs, and we're seeing those."
I think this is an example of very appropriate piety on the part of the baseball players. We should all praise God when things go well in our lives and our vocations. And here is another and perhaps better way to look at it: Maybe good character and moral self-discipline make for winning athletes.
The usual response to all of this is that God surely doesn't care about mere sports! "Are you saying God loves the Rockies more than the Red Sox? Or that God is judging the Rockies because they were crushed in the first World Series Game 13-1? Or that He has something eternally against the Cubs?" No, not at all. These are mysteries. But why should God care about the fall of a sparrow? Or how many hairs you have on your head? And yet, He does. He seems to be interested in EVERYTHING!
Posted by Veith at 06:31 AM
The scary evangelical is not an evangelical
Have you read any of the stories on Erik Prince, C.E.O. of the Blackwater security company, recently in the news for nefarious deeds in Iraq? One motif of those stories is to associate Mr. Prince with the conservative evangelicals, which have become the boogie-men that secularists like to scare themselves with. The picture of Mr. Prince is of a "theo-con" with a private army, out to take over the world. But, as Mollie Hemingway points out, Mr. Prince is a Roman Catholic! The mainstream media doesn't even understand the difference!
Posted by Veith at 05:57 AM
October 24, 2007
The Eugenics Agenda
James Watson won the Nobel Prize in 1953 for discovering the structure of DNA, a feat he popularized in his book "The Double Helix." Lately, he has been spouting off about how black people are genetically inferior. Michael Gerson gives more details and raises the spector that looms behind such comments, the new biology's penchant for eugenics. Gerson goes on to show that science alone can recognize NO BASIS for equality, human rights, or protecting the weak. For that you need to believe in something "transcendent" :
In 2003, Watson spoke in favor of genetic selection to eliminate ugly women: "People say it would be terrible if we made all girls pretty. I think it would be great." In 2000, he suggested that people with darker skin have stronger libidos. In 1997, Watson contended that parents should be allowed to abort fetuses they found to be gay: "If you could find the gene which determines sexuality and a woman decides she doesn't want a homosexual child, well, let her." In the same interview, he said, "We already accept that most couples don't want a Down child. You would have to be crazy to say you wanted one, because that child has no future."
. . . . . . . .
"If you really are stupid," Watson once contended, "I would call that a disease." What is the name for the disease of a missing conscience?
Watson is not typical of the scientific community when it comes to his extreme social application of genetics. But this controversy illustrates a temptation within science -- and a tension between some scientific views and liberalism.
The temptation is eugenics. Watson is correct that "we already accept" genetic screening and selective breeding when it comes to disabled children. About 90 percent of fetuses found to have Down syndrome are aborted in America. According to a recent study, about 40 percent of unborn children in Europe with one of 11 congenital defects don't make it to birth.
. . . . . . .
British scientist Robert Edwards has argued, "Soon it will be a sin of parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease." A sin. Which leaves disabled children who escape the net of screening -- the result of parental sin -- to be born into a new form of bastardy and prejudice.
. . . . . .
Yuval Levin of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a rising academic analyst of these trends, argues: "Watson is anti-egalitarian in the extreme. Science looks at human beings in their animal aspects. As animals, we are not always equal. It is precisely in the ways we are not simply animals that we are equal. So science, left to itself, poses a serious challenge to egalitarianism."
"The left," Levin continues, "finds itself increasingly disarmed against this challenge, as it grows increasingly uncomfortable with the necessarily transcendent basis of human equality. Part of the case for egalitarianism relies on the assertion of something beyond our animal nature crudely understood, and of a standard science alone will not provide. Defending equality requires tools the left used to possess but seems to have less and less of."
Posted by Veith at 07:12 AM
My favorite sentence in a sports commentary this year is by Dave Sheinin, on the Colorado Rockie's last 22 games: Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, loss. Win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win, win.
Make your World Series predictions here.
Posted by Veith at 06:23 AM
Now a million people have been evacuated due to the wildfires in California, the biggest mass evacuation in California history.
Posted by Veith at 06:08 AM
October 23, 2007
The Christian Right's Candidate?
As I blogged about earlier, leaders of the Christian right met in Washington to try to decide what presidential candidate to rally around. The results of the straw poll, with 5,776 votes cast:
First place: Mitt Romney (1,595)
Second place: Mike Huckabee (1,565)
Rudy Giuliani only won 107 votes, but that was more than John McCain's dead-last showing at 26.
Posted by Veith at 07:15 AM
A new tactic for the Revolution
Still-Communist China is buying a big stake in the major investment bank Bear Stearns. This to go with earlier purchases of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group and the British establishment bank Barclay's.
This is a brilliant tactic that Marx and Lenin never dreamt of! Become the proletariat of the whole world and make so much money that you can just buy the Capitalists!
(Whenever I bring this sort of thing up, some of you maintain that China isn't really Communist any more, that what we are seeing is the victory of capitalism. I'm telling you that China is indeed Communist and that its leaders have simply devised a hybrid of market-based development within an overarching socialist ideology. That is, a Communism that works. Or, more precisely, a National Socialism.)
Posted by Veith at 07:04 AM
Southern California is on fire. A quarter of a million people have been evacuated, the most since Hurricane Katrina. Wildfires are ravaging San Diego, Orange County, Malibu, and many other beautiful places, including Pepperdine University. Hundreds of homes, churches, and other buildings have been destroyed, and one person so far has been killed.
We've got lots of blog readers in those areas. Someone who has been evacuated into some big basement or whose home has been burned down is unlikely to have internet access, so I don't expect first-hand reporting, but I'd like to hear from you if possible about how things are. The rest of us should pray for them and their fellow-Californians.
Posted by Veith at 06:52 AM
October 22, 2007
What do you need in a Pastor?
The North Carolina conference this year was about the Office of the Ministry. I had been asked to approach the topic as a layperson and to suggest what we lay people need from our pastors. I was rather uncomfortable with that assignment, not wanting to be a pastor critic as I've been a movie critic, but I came up with some things to say.
I can't believe I didn't ask this sooner so that I could have used it as research for my presentation, but I'd like to know (especially since the seminary profs there said that I need to convey my message to their students so I might talk about this some more), what do you need in a pastor and what do you not need?
Posted by Veith at 08:20 AM
Last weekend I spoke at the annual Luther Lecture program sponsored by Salem Lutheran church and Mt. Olive Lutheran church in North Carolina. Another one of the speakers was Dr. David Scaer, the renowned theologian and professor at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN.
The organizer of the event, Rev. Ray Ohlendorf, had to high-tail it out of there to get to his grandson's baptism in Wisconsin, so it was left to Dr. Scaer to run the whole Sunday service, beginning with Bible class. Dr. Scaer is an irascible, witty, satirical kind of guy, known for giving individuals a hard time. ("But I just do it for sport," he said as we were driving. "I don't really mean it.") His lecture style is digressive, to say the least, but in the pulpit he was all-business.
But whether he is tormenting someone or off on a tangent lecturing or preaching or telling anecdotes, Dr. Scaer tosses off profound theological insights as if they were afterthoughts. Here are some from the weekend:
Against the common evangelical assumption that very young children, being unable to reason, cannot have faith: Jesus commends the great faith of someone three times--the Syro-Phoenician woman, the centurion, and, as a group, CHILDREN.
On Thanksgiving coming up: To 'thank" is a transitive verb; without saying whom we are thankful TO, just being thankful is an incomplete thought.
On Prayer: God comes to us in His Word and sacraments, but in prayer, we come to HIM.
On Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the LORD: Prayer is hand-to-hand combat.
Do any of you, particularly his students, have memorable Scaerisms of your own?
Posted by Veith at 08:00 AM
October 19, 2007
Michael Gerson observes how his local suburban coffee shop is decorated with left-wing slogans and sells anti-Bush T-shirts and projects this whole bohemian revolutionary kind of vibe. This in fact has become a commercial fashion:
However you judge its authenticity, this brush fire of suburban radicalism is part of a trend. Mall mainstays such as Urban Outfitters have sold shirts sporting the CCCP logo (for the young or forgetful, this was an acronym for the Soviet Union), along with kaffiyehs to show solidarity with the Palestinians. Every store that hawks bath salts seems anxious to prove the connection between long soaks and social sensitivity. Images of Che Guevara adorn bikinis -- more than slightly incongruous for one of the fathers of the Cuban labor camp system. Last year, the actress Cameron Diaz got into trouble in Peru for carrying a purse decorated with a Maoist slogan in a nation that suffered 70,000 deaths from a Maoist insurgency. (She later apologized.)
Marketing experts call this kind of social appeal "emotional branding." Since it is difficult to gain consumer loyalty based on the virtues of clothing produced by the same Chinese manufacturers, companies compete for customers by reflecting their lifestyles and aspirations. People are shopping for "symbolic benefits" such as a feeling of sophistication, not just real benefits such as, well, coffee. And there seems to be a close tie between emotional branding and leftism. In the world of marketing, radical politics seems to be a symbol for rebellion, anger, individuality and artistic self-expression -- the main preoccupations of youth culture. I have never been in a coffeehouse that displayed posters of Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.
There actually was a time when conservatism was fashionable, and it is a bad herald that liberalism has become trendy again. Notice that ideas and arguments do not matter, just the coolness factor.
The irony, though, is that this so-called suburban radicalism, based on displaying one's political righteousness on one's consumer goods, is so capitalist to the core, turning ideologies into commodities to buy and sell in the marketplace. Affluent slaves to fashion who express their political zeal by buying $5 lattes pose NO threat to the established order.
Posted by Veith at 08:08 AM
In an excellent column on Nancy Pelosi's bewildering crusade to pass that resolution condemning Turkey for genocide, Charles Krauthammer sets forth a general principle:
I fall back on Krauthammer's razor (with apologies to Occam): In explaining any puzzling Washington phenomenon, always choose stupidity over conspiracy, incompetence over cunning. Anything else gives them too much credit.
Posted by Veith at 08:03 AM
Woes of the Christian Right
Christian activists are holding a big conclave in Washington today, trying to figure out what to do about the presidential election. I don't understand why they aren't rallying around Mike Huckabee, whom even the secular media is praising as a candidate, and who is not just trying to get the Christian conservative votes but is a Christian conservative himself. The argument that he can't win is ridiculous at the primary stage. Of course he can't win if people who like him won't vote for him because he can't win. Vote for the person you agree with and maybe he will. Some of the same people who think this way about Huckabee are contemplating a Third Party candidate--do they think he can win?
Meanwhile, according to the linked article, Bob Jones III, the fundamentalist and arch-separatist, has endorsed the Mormon Mitt Romney! If Bob Jones can endorse a Mormon, anything can happen.
And while the leaders fret, the folks in the pew--half of them, according to polls--support pro-abortion but tough-on-terrorism Rudy Giuliani. My prediction is that, if abortion is taken off the table, with the choice being between two pro-abortion candidates, many conservative Christians will just revert to their former and in some ways more culturally-natural home in the Democratic party.
What do you think this election will do to Christian political activism?
Posted by Veith at 07:49 AM
October 18, 2007
The Woodstock Generation of politicians
In the earmark orgy, in which Congressmen pad legitimate bills with pork barrel spending of taxpayer money for special interests back home, the Senate is poised to allow Mrs. Clinton to give $1 million to an upstate N.Y. museum commemorating the Woodstock concert. The museum is already funded by a billionaire, but the Senate wants you to fund it too.
Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma congressman who deserves some kind of award for his lonely battle against this sort of thing, has been trying a new strategy, offering bills to take that money instead and use it for causes beloved by Democrats, such as "helping the children," but even that doesn't work.
Posted by Veith at 07:21 AM
Photo IDs for voters
I once wrote a monthly column for a local newspaper. I did a series of pieces on some deplorable racial issues that earned me all kinds of plaudits. Then, after an election marred by voter fraud, I did a column on the necessity of requiring voters to prove their identities with photo ID cards. Then some of the very people who had praised my crusade against racism attacked me, assuming that my desire for clean elections proved that I was a racist after all. So it was with some sense of vindication that I read this column about a court ruling that laws requiring voters to prove their identities are constitutional. The issue was clinched when the litigators arguing about how oppressive the measure is were unable to turn up EVEN ONE individual who would be burdened by this law:
After two years of litigation, neither the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) nor the other organizations who brought the Georgia suit could produce a single individual who did not already have a photo ID or could not easily get one. The claims that large numbers of voters lack a photo ID were dismissed by the court when the plaintiffs were unable to produce evidence.
As the judge noted, "although the Plaintiffs claim to know of people who claim that they lack Photo ID, Plaintiffs have failed to identify those individuals"the failure to identify those individuals 'is particularly acute' in light of plaintiffs' contention that a large number of Georgia voters lack acceptable Photo ID."
The case now goes before the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the arguments and settle the question once and for all.
When an individual can vote more than once in different precincts and claiming different identities, as has been happening, that cancels the vote of rightful citizens of every race. It destroys democracy. All Americans of every party, group, and political persuasion, should support voter identification.
Posted by Veith at 07:04 AM
October 17, 2007
History in a broken plate
Archeologists rummaging around in James Madison's garbage dump at his estate Montpelier have found a broken piece of china that apparently once belonged to the executed French queen Marie Antoinette. The relic, identified by its designer, jibes with oral accounts according to which the Father of our Constitution bought them from another founder James Monroe, who picked up the dishes when he was our diplomatic representative in France. Monroe sold them, among other keepsakes, when, in the absence of expense accounts, he was raising money to go back to France to buy the Louisiana Purchase!
Posted by Veith at 08:47 AM
Truth or Consequences
Congressional democrats are pushing for a non-binding resolution condemning Turkey for genocide against the Armenians. It is true that 1.5 million Christian Armenians were slaughtered in the early part of last century, though Turkey insists that they were largely casualties of starvation, disease, and war, since the Armenians were fighting on the side of the Russians during World War I against their own country.
I am sympathetic with the Armenians, but why pass a resolution now? Turkey, hyper-sensitive about the issue, is threatening to invade the Kurdish region of Iraq, the Kurds (like the Armenians) wanting their own country that includes part of what is now Turkey. The Iraqi Kurds have been sending guerillas--or call them "terrorists"--into Turkey to try to raise a rebellion. (Now Turkey knows how Israel feels.) So what happens if Turkey sends troops into Iraq and they cross our troops? The situation is incendiary.
This kind of feel-good legislation, oblivious to consequences, is what we can look forward to if and when the Democrats finish their takeover. There is a reason the Constitution entrusts the conduct of diplomacy and foreign relations to the Executive Branch.
Or do you think Congress should just go on record about the truth, regardless of the consequences?
Posted by Veith at 08:19 AM
Has there ever been a team as hot as the Colorado Rockies? And I feel good for Cleveland, a Milwaukee-type city. And there is Kenny Lofton, 15 years after a one-season wonder from thke Brewers, Pat Listach, beat him out for Rookie of the Year, still playing well, hitting home runs and stealing bases at the age of 40.
Posted by Veith at 08:12 AM
October 16, 2007
Relativism vs. Islam
Another cultural problem we have in prosecuting the war in Iraq and the larger war against Islamic terrorism--despite our military prowess--is articulated by Mark Steyn in "The Washington Times":
One reason is we're not really comfortable with ideology, either ours or anybody else's. Insofar as we have an ideology, it's a belief in the virtues of "multiculturalism," "tolerance," "celebrate diversity" — a bumper-sticker ideology that is, in effect, an anti-ideology that explicitly rejects the very idea of drawing distinctions between your beliefs and anybody else's.
This was emphatically not the case, Mr. Steyn shows, during the Cold War , when Americans of all stripes--liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans--agreed on a clear ideology arrayed against Communism.
I would add, from remembering those times and from recently watching old Twilight Zone reruns, that this ideology emphasized the values of personal liberty, capitalist economics, and transcendent religion.
Posted by Veith at 07:01 AM
Dignity vs. Democracy
Columnist David Ignatius quoting counter-insurgency expert Lt. Col. David Kilcullen on the cultural divide in our actions in Iraq: "We talk about democracy and human rights. Iraqis talk about justice and honor."
I would add that tribal societies are especially fixated on their honor, which explains why families in such socieites are often willing to kill their own children for violating their family honor in marrying the wrong person, or converting to Christianity, or other transgressions.
Ignatius emphasizes the "dignity" angle, observing, rightly, that our very presence in Iraq violates that people's sense of dignity. This is why occupying powers always have such problems defeating native insurgents and why our problems in Iraq are so intractable.
Posted by Veith at 06:25 AM
In most wars, the press covers the nation's victories, in which the public takes satisfaction. In the Iraq war, coverage is mostly limited to how many of our soldiers got killed. Even when "good news" gets reported, it has to do with our soldiers building schools and helping kids. Not killing the enemy. But here the anti-war "Washington Post" tells a story of note, that our troops, for all of their problems with other factions, have come close to defeating Al-Qaida in Iraq.
Posted by Veith at 06:25 AM
October 15, 2007
No one ever accused "The Washington Post" of being pro-life, but the lead column on Sunday's opinion sections was Charlotte F. Allen's catchily-titled Back Off! I'm Not Dead Yet. It draws on her experience as a cancer patient about how people are subjected to intense pressure in hospitals to sign "Living Wills," giving permission for doctors to start refusing care at various points so the patient can die. While not objecting to the principles behind the Living Wills as such, the author makes the case that in the way they are being promoted, they amount to propaganda and legal cover for euthanasia, which she shows is more common than we realize.
Posted by Veith at 07:12 AM
Hard Times Cafe
I've got to add another restaurant to my list of favorites: The Hard Times Cafe. It's in Alexandria, though I see in the website I just linked there are some other locations. It's modeled after the classic chili parlours of Oklahoma and Texas, but this one features three versions of this delicacy: Texas style, Cincinnati syle (!), and (my favorite) Terlingua Red. Not only that, but it has the best jukebox ever, playing vintage artists like Hank Williams and contemporary artists in that tradition, such as Wayne the Train Hancock and the Jimi Hendrix of country music, Junior Brown. (Also rockabilly and boogie, as well as Elvis and Bob Dylan, who are correctly placed in this overarching genre.) Hard Times also occasionally sponsors Western Swing or Alternative Country bands giving a concert out back in the parking lot.
I've eaten there several times now, underneath a faded Oklahoma flag. Sunday after church my wife had a meeting at her school, so after eating our Frito Pies, I stayed behind to watch the Packers beat the Redskins on the muted TV, with Johnny Cash wailing in the background. It couldn't get much better than that for me.
Posted by Veith at 06:54 AM
It was good to be back at our new church home on Sunday, after a spell, which will resume, of weekend travelling. One thing that struck me was an excerpt from Henry Eyster Jacobs' "Elements of Religion" (1894), which we get from the excellent Scholia resource service and print on the backs of our bulletins:
Every human life that enters this world is that of a redeemed child of God.
He or she is also a child of wrath, Eyster explains, but Christ has died for the sins of the whole world. Therefore, everyone has been redeemed. The child of wrath simply needs to receive that redemption through the means of grace (the Word and Sacraments) and the saving faith in Christ whom they communicate.
Eyster is referring to a neglected teaching of Lutheran orthodoxy: the doctrine of objective justification. Christ has already justified the world. Each person now needs "subjective justification," the personal appropriation of Christ's work. But we can look at each person we see, including non-Christians, as one of Christ's redeemed children.
Calvinists, of course, who believe Jesus died only for the elect, will not agree with this, of course, and I'm not sure how Arminians or other evangelicals take this. But I think this is an important teaching that can help us perceive the lost in a more loving way.
Correct me if I'm misconstruing objective justification or leaving something out. Also, feel free to comment on what YOU learned in church this week.
Posted by Veith at 06:41 AM
October 12, 2007
Terrorist mastermind converts to Christianity?
According to this report, Ramzi Yousef, who organized the first attack on the World Trade Center (not 9/11, but the earlier bombing in the parking garage) claims to have become a Christian. The terrorist, now in a Supermax prison in Colorado, claims this, but the warden accuses him of just playing games. But for a Muslim--who used to pray every hour when he first got there--to even say such a thing would be unthinkable unless it were true. The terrorist and his prison will be featured on this Sunday's "60 Minutes," which will air what the warden says. I suspect the program is missing the full magnitude of this possibility, which, if true, would be dramatic evidence of the grace of God changing a very hardened heart.
Posted by Veith at 07:56 AM
So Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize? For his movie? If there were a Nobel Prize for environmentalism, OK, but what does that have to do with Peace, except in some metaphorical or indirect sense? And Doris Lessing gets the prize for Literature? I cannot speak of the other prizes, though one of the science awards went to the person who pioneered the technology that lets us download music.
Who would YOU nominate for a Nobel prize? (Both serious and satirical candidates are welcome.)
Posted by Veith at 07:44 AM
Bad Principles vs. No Principles
Which is better, or rather the lesser of two evils? A leader with bad principles, who would thus systematically and regardless of consequences enact bad policies? Or one with no principles, who might occasionally do something right out of opportunism, pressure, or self-interest?
Conservative pundit Charles Krautthammer says this about Hillary Clinton:
I could never vote for her, but I (and others of my ideological ilk) could live with her -- precisely because she is so liberated from principle. Her liberalism, like her husband's -- flexible, disciplined, calculated, triangulated -- always leaves open the possibility that she would do the right thing for the blessedly wrong (i.e., self-interested, ambition-serving, politically expedient) reason.
I'm not convinced, despite Mr. Krauthammer's examples that he gives, that Mrs. Clinton is NOT ideologically motivated. But still, what do you think about the philosophical question--which has many applications--that this poses?
Posted by Veith at 07:33 AM
October 11, 2007
Your kind words
In answer to some of your kind words upon my return: The best way to read academic books, such as my out-of-print and now expensive book on George Herbert, is to check it out of a library. Libraries are the custodians for books like that. Most big and university libraries have it already, but any library can get it for you via interlibrary loan. Same with my book on the Hudson River artists. And I actually am toying with someone else on the possiblity of a Herbert collection.
And, yes, I'm a big P.G. Wodehouse fan.
Thanks for your offer, Mark. I'll get back to you, but I must set off for another busy day.
Posted by Veith at 07:14 AM
Hope for Europe and the rest of us
In London the Montgomeries took me to the Evensong service at St. Paul's cathedral. Then in Salisbury I went to morning and evening services in the cathedral there, which is one of the most magnificent of all gothic structures. I had been to both places before as a tourist, but to experience them for the purpose for which they were built was overwhelming. With the ethereal voices of the children's choir chanting the Psalms, the rich Biblical language of the Book of Common Prayer, and the extensive Bible readings, those transcendent structures were filled with the Word of God.
The cathedral services had no sermon, which I considered a good thing, given the current state of Anglican theology. But no one could deny, being in those cathedrals at worship, that Christianity is a formidable, profound, culture-creating religion, with a palpable presence.
Yes, Christianity is in a bad way in the West. Paul McCain reports in Cyberbrethren that ministers are being warned not to wear their clerical collars outside official functions, since there have been so many violent attacks on the clergy. But aren't we told that Christians are BLESSED when we are unpopular, spit upon, and despitefully used? Doesn't cultural hostility always bring out the best in the church, while cultural acceptance always makes the church weaker and less faithful?
My observation from the conference, after meeting many faithful Christians from England and elsewhere around the world, is that in countries where the church is culturally unpopular, ONLY those who are true believers bother to go to church. The intensity of faith increases.
The hope for Christianity in Europe is not in the numbers of people currently in the pews but that the Word of God is there. Europe has the infrastructure for reformation and revival. That the Word of God is still present means that God has not abandoned the West and that its time will come again.
Posted by Veith at 06:52 AM
October 10, 2007