Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some things on Calvinism

Calvinism expose.  I haven't read it all yet.  The beginning looks well reasoned and expressed.

http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/2014/01/09/why-i-stopped-being-a-calvinist-part-1-calvinism-presents-a-dehistoricized-bible/

Sample Quote:

Here’s a case in point: all Calvinists will affirm that during the time of Jeremiah when the people were sacrificing their children to the fires of Molech, this only occurred because it was part of God’s eternal decrees. Yet the Calvinist is also compelled to say that God reveals Himself as being so horrified by the act that, anthropomorphically speaking, He could declare that such a thing had never even entered His mind (Jer. 19:5; 32:35; 7:31). Where does this leave us? It leaves us with a constant discontinuity between God as He is in Himself (i.e., continually decreeing evil) vs. the mode by which God accommodates Himself to us (i.e., continually willing non-evil).
If we dwell on this, it leads to existential problems that can drive a person mad. Calvinists generally recognize this, which is why they continually urge us to bracket off our knowledge of how God really is from How God hasaccommodated Himself to us. In fact, Calvinists have frequently told me not to try to relate to God in terms of what we know to be true with respect to His eternal decrees. For example, even though we know that for everything that happens, nothing could ultimately have been otherwise, we must nevertheless act as if there is an element of real meaningful contingency. Again, we know that the telos of many people is eternal disunion with God, but we must act as if the telos of every person is eternal union with Him. Once again, we know that God does not actually love every person, but we must act as if the statement “He is a good God and loves mankind” applies to everyone. And on and on.
Calvinism thus requires us to constantly suspend belief in order to have a relationship with God. This is especially true when we approach verses like Ephesians 5:1 and Matthew 5:48 about being imitators of God.  A Calvinist believes it would be disastrous to imitate God as He actually is, and urges us only to imitate Him as He accommodates Himself to us.
Again this wouldn’t be problematic if Calvinists were content to say that how God is in Himself is a mystery. The problem arises precisely because the Calvinist does claim to know about God’s so-called ‘hidden will’, namely that it is sometimes opposite to the modes by which God accommodates Himself to us.
What Calvinism teaches about God is thus radically disconsonant with our experience of Him, and a Calvinist can have a meaningful relationship with the Lord only by suspending belief.


http://orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org/2014/01/09/why-i-stopped-being-a-calvinist-part-1-calvinism-presents-a-dehistoricized-bible/

Here’s a case in point: all Calvinists will affirm that during the time of Jeremiah when the people were sacrificing their children to the fires of Molech, this only occurred because it was part of God’s eternal decrees. Yet the Calvinist is also compelled to say that God reveals Himself as being so horrified by the act that, anthropomorphically speaking, He could declare that such a thing had never even entered His mind (Jer. 19:5; 32:35; 7:31). Where does this leave us? It leaves us with a constant discontinuity between God as He is in Himself (i.e., continually decreeing evil) vs. the mode by which God accommodates Himself to us (i.e., continually willing non-evil).
If we dwell on this, it leads to existential problems that can drive a person mad. Calvinists generally recognize this, which is why they continually urge us to bracket off our knowledge of how God really is from How God hasaccommodated Himself to us. In fact, Calvinists have frequently told me not to try to relate to God in terms of what we know to be true with respect to His eternal decrees. For example, even though we know that for everything that happens, nothing could ultimately have been otherwise, we must nevertheless act as if there is an element of real meaningful contingency. Again, we know that the telos of many people is eternal disunion with God, but we must act as if the telos of every person is eternal union with Him. Once again, we know that God does not actually love every person, but we must act as if the statement “He is a good God and loves mankind” applies to everyone. And on and on.
Calvinism thus requires us to constantly suspend belief in order to have a relationship with God. This is especially true when we approach verses like Ephesians 5:1 and Matthew 5:48 about being imitators of God.  A Calvinist believes it would be disastrous to imitate God as He actually is, and urges us only to imitate Him as He accommodates Himself to us.
Again this wouldn’t be problematic if Calvinists were content to say that how God is in Himself is a mystery. The problem arises precisely because the Calvinist does claim to know about God’s so-called ‘hidden will’, namely that it is sometimes opposite to the modes by which God accommodates Himself to us.
What Calvinism teaches about God is thus radically disconsonant with our experience of Him, and a Calvinist can have a meaningful relationship with the Lord only by suspending belief.
Sample:

Here’s a case in point: all Calvinists will affirm that during the time of Jeremiah when the people were sacrificing their children to the fires of Molech, this only occurred because it was part of God’s eternal decrees. Yet the Calvinist is also compelled to say that God reveals Himself as being so horrified by the act that, anthropomorphically speaking, He could declare that such a thing had never even entered His mind (Jer. 19:5; 32:35; 7:31). Where does this leave us? It leaves us with a constant discontinuity between God as He is in Himself (i.e., continually decreeing evil) vs. the mode by which God accommodates Himself to us (i.e., continually willing non-evil).
If we dwell on this, it leads to existential problems that can drive a person mad. Calvinists generally recognize this, which is why they continually urge us to bracket off our knowledge of how God really is from How God hasaccommodated Himself to us. In fact, Calvinists have frequently told me not to try to relate to God in terms of what we know to be true with respect to His eternal decrees. For example, even though we know that for everything that happens, nothing could ultimately have been otherwise, we must nevertheless act as if there is an element of real meaningful contingency. Again, we know that the telos of many people is eternal disunion with God, but we must act as if the telos of every person is eternal union with Him. Once again, we know that God does not actually love every person, but we must act as if the statement “He is a good God and loves mankind” applies to everyone. And on and on.
Calvinism thus requires us to constantly suspend belief in order to have a relationship with God. This is especially true when we approach verses like Ephesians 5:1 and Matthew 5:48 about being imitators of God.  A Calvinist believes it would be disastrous to imitate God as He actually is, and urges us only to imitate Him as He accommodates Himself to us.
Again this wouldn’t be problematic if Calvinists were content to say that how God is in Himself is a mystery. The problem arises precisely because the Calvinist does claim to know about God’s so-called ‘hidden will’, namely that it is sometimes opposite to the modes by which God accommodates Himself to us.
What Calvinism teaches about God is thus radically disconsonant with our experience of Him, and a Calvinist can have a meaningful relationship with the Lord only by suspending belief.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Yale

Ayaan Hirsi Ali brings culture war speech to Yale.

Indeed, what is the matter with us.  When will there be a discussion of the texts of Islam and the content of the faith?  When can we talk about the prophet of Islam and the kinds of things he stood for?

In viewing Islamic apologists on Youtube, we find the same reticence to discuss these subjects.  One of them says:  when Christians come to discuss scripture with you, just leave the Koran on the shelf, it is too holy to enter into such discussions, just demolish their Biblical views.

The Koran is "too holy" to discuss.  We think it must be discussed and dissected.  The real Islam must stand up.  What is it that it teaches?


http://thechristians.com/?q=node%2F1963&utm_source=TheChristians.com+Subscribers&utm_campaign=6e2a99c553-TCH-Issue0363&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e2d8bf6d30-6e2a99c553-61073113

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Rapture Nonsense

http://americanvision.org/11331/finding-cure-rapture-theology-trauma/

http://americanvision.org/4566/life-and-death-and-the-last-days-or-why-eschatology-matters/


When we were in our late teens in Canada, someone tried to indoctrinate us with this in an independent Lutheran church.  Later on came the Left Behind series, and what not.

American creativity has no bounds it seems, to ill effects.  Read the excellent point in the links above. This is not harmless theorizing.  Lives and faiths are ruined by this kind of eschatology.

But God can turn many evil things to good.  One of the best theologians I know, came to the church based on his interest caught by such interpretation.  Since he was a good student of scripture, he soon outgrew the fascination and learned a solid foundation.

Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists, everyone who insists on a creedal Christianity, is amillenial (no millenium).  When Christ comes at the last trumpet, that is the end of time as we know it. We live under him as our king now, as his kingdom is not of this world, as he said.

Please, everyone else, stop the rapture crap.




The 9th Annual Love Life Conference at Concordia University College of Alberta

Please, find the link to the website:  http://lovelife.lccabc.ca/

Joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -- Romans 12:12







This years conference deals with the topic of euthanasia.  Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition will be the keynote speaker.  "Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide:  What is it.  What is it not. And where is it going?"  

Pastor Marv Ziprick will speak on "Being a Paraclete", drawing on his many years in ministry to sick and dying parishioners. 

Dr. Ted Fenske will speak on "Countering Euthanasia with Care." 

Please, feel free to come.  The cost is minimal, the fellowship deep, and pastors and students attend for no fee, at all.  I'll be there and it would be great to meet. 

Meditatio

"You must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears.  But where the heart is idle and the Word does not sound, the devil breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware [Matthew 13:24-30] .  On the other hand, the word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, it is bound never to be without fruit [Isaiah 55:11; Mark 4:20].  It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts [Philippians 4:8].  For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words [Hebrews 4:12]."

(LC 1:100-101)


Yoga Revisited

Since we are in a new term for school and choir and exercise sessions and everything else, including Bible study on Daniel, I just will say that I have switched from Egoscue Yoga to Hatha Yoga, since the Egoscue was driving me crazy (see that post).  Last week, the weather was nice enough for me to bicycle to the class and back--extra bonus for wellness efforts.

In  researching Hatha Yoga online, we find that there is much Hindu philosophy in it, as well as Jungian psychology.  According to the internet, and what can we not all find there, people have a Kundalini effect, which can be problematic for them--an awakening, a higher consciousness, a spiritual crisis--the kind of stuff Jung thrives on.

Alright.  My Hatha Yoga instructor, I think, will go nowhere near that sort of theory.  She did mention certain exercises being good for the kidney, or the clearing of the bowels.  I do find that the kidneys and the bowels tend to work quite well on their own, yoga or no yoga. It always makes one suspicious when the miracles are of the every day sort, and then are hailed as a break-through.  But the exercises were good and appropriate and I am happy with them.

There was a kind of clangy, harpy Eastern style music playing, which was quite innocuous, and fairly pleasant.  I am pretty sure the devil is not in it. It reminded me of a Chinese CD I purchased in San Francisco which I find actually more mesmerizing.  Mesmerizing or not, music is always powerful, and I fairly gladly submit to its influence under most circumstances, not really being a party-goer or otherwise rowdy individual.  I will take a Bach cantata over everything else, but a little Chinese dinner music does not scare me.

And there was a great benefit:  I discovered an exercise that is helping the heel problem acquired when dancing in my kitchen barefoot on the tile.  This is how it goes:  you lie on your back with the leg up and a belt over the ball of the foot.  You stretch all that and then turn the foot in and out.  That was getting at something in the ankle.

Tremendous.  Old age teaches us such new tricks.




See.  Turning the foot in stretched the outside of the leg and ankle.  So, there, that is just a good stretch to me.  Call it Hatha Yoga or not.

There were also the stretches with arms up which seem worshipful, and are supposed to refer you to joy or the sun, or some such thing.  When it seems too worshipful of something unknown, I just say a praise to the Trinity.  "Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost."  And at the end, for the greeting of the divine in me and you,  I just look around and think:  "Jesus loves you."  I will tell everyone that who wants to know, and if they don't like it, they can kick me out of yoga.






Of course, there is the bad in us.  Lots of really bad stuff, and a stretch and a meditation won't deal with that, and the world has never lived in harmony though we keep on trying.  The battle for peace is like the battle of the bulge or a healthy body.  It never ends, until it does end completely through the gift of God and eternal life.

So, I can't get myself to say Namaste, and I probably am not destined for a career in yoga.  But know, that I am whispering "Jesus loves you."  Oh, you little black sheep.  And me.  Let us stretch together, or at least side by side.  It does us good but we won't get a wholesome society from it.  It can help us but it can't save our souls.

Peace in Christ.









Thursday, September 18, 2014

Preschool Prayer




Jesus loves me this I know       
For the Bible tells me so
You made us different, not the same
You even call us all by name
If we run or if we play
We know you care for us each day
So help us Lord, in all we do
So we might always follow you

AMEN


Monday, September 15, 2014

The clutches of self-analysis

The benefit of the eucharistic controversy cannot be overlooked. Faith in the Word of God is essential for overcoming the spiritual-psychological focus on the inwardness of pious communion.  What makes this so significant is that the Enemy, an expert on the single soul,loves individualism.  He can penetrate the psyche and control it.  He can twist and cripple even the believing Christian so that, lost in introspection, he despairs of God and the world.  But there is one thing the Devil cannot do:  he cannot become really present flesh.  The call of the words of institution liberates the Christian from the clutches of self-analysis.
(Oberman, Man between God and the Devil, p. 243)

What is the good side and the bad side of introspection?  We are talking here about being "lost" in introspection, and "liberated" from introspection.  What does that mean?

We need to have the background here of the requirement that all sins be confessed for complete forgiveness, at Luther's time.  The conscience needed to be scoured for every hidden sin.  This was a torture.  And then our attitudes, they are ever so dubious.  We MUST despair of ourselves.--When can we ever be done finding fault with ourselves?  In an honest introspection, we will "lose" ourselves, in fact, we could go insane.  There is no bottom to our circling around ourselves.  We can never be good enough, believe well enough, confess well enough, to be worthy or acceptable for anything, including communion. 

And yet, it seems sometimes, we don't even make a beginning.  How many things have we not thought about?  What do we really understand about ourselves?  Have we penetrated anything that applies to our sin and problems?  

Do we even understand our own feelings, so we can analyze them?  Do we understand our attitudes so we can understand others better?  

Introspection is a double-edged sword.  He hurts and it heals.  It can slay you.  Strike you dead, tie you up in knots, incapacitate the soul.  Or it can awaken you to your need.

The answer lies somewhere else, though.  The answer lies outside ourselves.  The gift comes from beyond me, and is more than spiritual.  It is tangible, edible, solid, hopeful, and true.  The true coin.  The bar of gold.  Test it.  Test it with your teeth.  It is good.  It is the currency.  Take it. 





Sunday, September 14, 2014

Psalm 139 for Preschoolers

Psalm 139 adapted for Preschoolers.  (CPH)


You know who I am. 
(Point to the sky and then yourself.)

You know when I sit,
(Everyone sit down.)

You know when I stand.
(Everyone stand up.)

You know what I think.
(Point to your head.)

You know where I go.
(Run in place.)

You even know when I lie down low.
(Mimic sleeping.)

You know all that I do.
(Spread both hands out wide.)

You know all that I say.
(Push out hands from chin.)

And You show me You love me.
(Point to sky and wrap arms around self in hug.)

Each and every day!
(Point on each word going from left to right.)






A dear friend of mine, likes to read this Psalm to people with their own name inserted.

She has done it for me and I have done it for others.  It is lovely.  Try it with your own name or read it to your friend or spouse...


You have searched Brigitte, Lord,
    and you know her.
You know when she sits and when she rises;
    you perceive her thoughts from afar.






Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer 2014 / What can we glean from this summer?

One more day of holiday, as it is the long weekend, and the full fall schedule is going to come down like a hammer.  The weather is paralleling the mood, by featuring grey skies and cool breezes--time to gather up our resources and fling ourselves into a new life of darker evenings and mornings, and fires, different kind of work, and so on.

There are many things that happened this summer I did not write about, but my favorite events are always meeting one on one with a person and having time to converse in depth.  I have met with several new salespeople, this year, someone who sold and installed security systems, our new property insurance people, an Israeli who sold skin care lotion from the Dead Sea, at the mall.  Some have flattered me, no doubt to help with the sales process, and some were genuinely interested, in that salespeople are often extroverts who really do enjoy other people.  On the other hand, I have hosted other women in my garden for tea and talked about life.  These are satisfying encounters.

Living in this part of the world, you are always dealing with individuals from diverse backgrounds.  There are recent immigrants, there are immigrants from various decades representing various waves.  There are people from Eastern Europe, from Japan, from the Philippines, from India, from Saudi Arabia, and there are also the pioneers, the Quebecois, and the indigenous people. It is really quite a melting pot and Canadians as a whole are very much a tolerant people, sometimes one might think to a fault.  It is a wonderful place to live.  If you don't have a chance to go away and travel, you can always meet a new person in the vicinity.  XO

"Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person;  having neither to weigh thoughts nor to measure words but to pour them all out, just as it is, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keeping what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away."  George Eliot. 

What a beautiful saying.  I didn't know that George Eliot was a women.  It makes some sense.





Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer 2014 / Old Women and Floral Dresses / A Cautionary Tale



When we were in Hawaii, I purchased some pretty, loose, floral dresses to wear on the beach and elsewhere in the hot, humid weather.  Everybody else was doing it, too, with the result that place had a lovely aura of femininity and celebration.

I really owned nothing like it from back home, where even the hot summer days are few and far between, and anyhow, my generation has worn nothing but jeans and t-shirts when relaxed.  My wardrobe investment was not too extensive, but this summer in Alberta was so hot that I could wear the dresses in the house and garden and feel the breeze you can get from a flowing dress.  Wearing them brought back memories of Hawaii and blessed my garden with a tropical sensation, although I am only growing the regular things, climatic zone 3 and under.  My most exotic plant was a new lily which bloomed large and pink and for quite some time.

Well, complete the picture with some new flat sandals from Costco.  They were Joseph Seibel and therefore a good solid footwear, quite flat.  Between the dresses, the sandals, the weight-loss, the garden and the breezes, I felt really happy, mobile and light.  Most of the summer went on like this, but I went bike-riding instead of walking, for exercise.  And Yoga class was out for the summer.

Well, the donkey on the ice, one day I decided that I needed to get back into dancing and aerobics.  I felt as light as a feather, I put on really raucous music and started dancing around the house barefoot.  Well, that did it.  I gave myself a heel spur pain that I have been nursing ever since.

Moral of the story:  you are no faerie any more.  Only do 50%, as my Egoscue Yoga teacher says. Or at least, wear some Birkenstocks, woman, with your floral dress, and look like a proper Bohemian.






Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer 2014 / Television Viewing

Over the last few years my television viewing had nosedived to about zero minutes per week.  I exaggerate only slightly.  There was practically nothing on television worth viewing, it seemed.  Sometimes I watched "Big Bang Theory" with my husband or the odd home improvement show, none of which particularly interested me.  All the various shoot-them-dead shows have never been to my taste, nor the CSI lab investigations.  It was after about year 2000, maybe, that as our television screens good bigger and bigger, the shows also got bloodier, and you could not turn on show without being assaulted by grisly murder and misdemeanors in your very own living room within about a minute or two.  I don't understand people who watch all this violence voluntarily.

We did see a few seasons of "Breaking Bad", of "The Wire", of what's-it-called biker gang in California, "Hell on Wheels", filmed in our own province, and so on, but honestly, after understanding the setting and the main characters and ideas, it just simply was all too horrible for me.  So, I turned to the internet, to CBC radio, to blogging and other bloggers.

Step in the BBC and Netflix.  It has occurred to me that practically all the shows I have enjoyed lately, were BBC productions found on Netflix pretty much exlusively.  And miracle upon miracle:  there are shows my husband and I both love and look forward to seeing TOGETHER!

There are documentaries on Afghanistan, on art and Shakespeare's plays, on Wagner's theatre in Bayreuth (my home turf). There is the newscasting, which could be more in depth and more varied, but the filming on scene is unsurpassed.  And then there are the Series, that you can binge on if you feel like it and watch absolutely no advertising while at it.  My husband has watched all of "Call the Midwife" with me, and now we are working through "Downton Abbey."

We are both drawn to the drama which tries to be either true to a biography or is a historical period piece.  In the shows I mentioned you can learn about the intricacies of the human heart, the problems among the rich or the poor, and how they resolve them realistically.  They give my husband and me something to talk about and let mellow in the brain fruitfully.  It really is a blessing bigger than could be imagined.   TV watching has become fun again, and we have to thank the Brits for it.  Sometimes I am glad that I swore allegiance to the Queen and her descendants, even though it is a strange thing for an immigrant to Canada to submit to.  Then there are also our favorite writers: Chesterton and Tolkien and Lewis, and so many others, that one can be really grateful to have acquired the English language.

Call me an Anglophile.   Only, they should have become proper Lutherans, confessing the Book of Concord.  It is not too late.