Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Logic


Chesterton was a uniquely logical man.  

I've lately met people who claim such universal love for mankind that they hate all religions, even though people are all religious one way or another. 





On the other hand, logic only does so much good.


Since in the Holy Scriptures Christ is called a mystery upon which all heretics dash their heads, we admonish all Christians not to arrogantly indulge their reason in crafty investigations about such mysteries.  With the beloved apostles, they should simply believe.  They should close the eyes of their reason and bring their understanding into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and rejoice without ceasing in the fact that our flesh and blood is placed so high at the right hand of God's majesty and almighty power.  In this way we will certainly find constant consolation in every difficulty and remain well guarded against deadly error.


~BOC, FSD, VIII, 96


Monday, October 28, 2013

Miscellaneous / Philosophers / Writing critically

1.  The weirdest philosophers:

http://www.examiner.com/article/top-7-weirdest-philosophers?cid=db_articles

I have absolutely no idea why such stuff interest me.  Or irks me.  (What is the difference?)  I should focus on important writers not these who have themselves lost in the maze.


2.  On the coffee table still sits the William Zinsser  "On Writing Well.  The classic guide to writing non-fiction".  It is very enjoyable and I love the examples he provides.  They illustrate his points and also some of the non-fiction of life.  Hopefully, it has ever so slightly improved the writing on this blog.  I have attempted to cut out superfluous and extraneous words and thoughts.

But I am only on page 195.  Here I want to quote him because he makes the same point that Chesterton made a few posts back:  a critic should be someone who loves the subject matter.  It also connects to the last post:  someone who hates everything and denounces everything quickly becomes a bore.

Quote:

"Yet I suggest several conditions that apply to both good reviewing and good criticism.  One is that critics should like--or better still, love--the medium they are reviewing.  If you think movies are dumb, don't write about them.  The reader deserves a movie buff who will bring along a reservoir of knowledge, passion and prejudice.  It's not necessary for the critic to like every film;  criticism is only one person's opinion.  But he should go to every movie wanting to like it.  If he is more often disappointed than pleased, it's because the film has failed to live up to its best possibilities.  This is far different from the critic who prides himself on hating everything.  He becomes tiresome faster than you can say 'Kafkaesque.' "

Friday, October 25, 2013

The usefulness or uselessness of rebelling against everything.

"The modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.” - G.K. Chesterton





Rebelling.

I have something of a rebel in me.  We all do.  It's good and it's bad.  Let that be the given.

What is useful rebelling?

When you speak up for those who can't speak and are being victimized. 

When someone tramples on your own human rights.

When someone should be and could be doing better.

All of it implies some sort of standard, that we know what is right and wrong and what is better.


Then there is the rebelling against doing yourself what you know you ought to do, or do better.  This is not good rebelling or a not knowing a standard.

But are there any who don't have a standard written in their hearts?  The "natural law".  

We are so constituted that we adulterate it for our own benefit and justification.

Somewhere in our hearts we generally know that we are doing this -- and we rebel against this knowledge, the best we can.  Sometimes is is not easy to do. We end up talking it over with friends, who confirm us in our wrong understanding.  

Or we end up talking with friends who tell us the truth.

-- What about this picture:  what about rebelling for the sake of rebelling?  And what did Chesterton mean?

I know about Chesterton.  There were Communists, Eugenists, Fabian Society...  everyone trying to break down the fabric of existing society, of marriage as the bedrock, or the church as a meaningful, living community with standards of faith and practice.

We see, now, where their rebellions have led.

We can't get around the standards.
There is only useful rebellion with standards, with law, with a law to keep.

And there is only a useless rebellion with our not caring to keep this law. 

(The Law:  Friend or Enemy?)


Here is some useful protesting.  Indians living in England are protesting the fact that even in Great Britain the caste system persists and discrimination based on being "untouchables" pursues them, in a society which is basically more fair and just than Hindu society. 

I am glad someone is saying something about that.  The fact that millions of people are subjugated based simply on the caste system, is something we are too silent about. 

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/british-indians-seek-legal-protection-from-caste-system-1.2224275




Thursday, October 24, 2013

A little word of Luther on Psalm 6:5

MARTIN LUTHER ON PSALM 6:5 (from The Seven Penitential Psalms)

5. "For in death there is no remembrance of Thee."
That is, the dead do not praise Thee and do not extol Thy mercy; only the living do this, as we read in Ps. 115:17–18:5 “The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any that go down into silence; but we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” Therefore here the psalmist speaks not only of temporal death but also of spiritual death, when the soul is dead. For sin is the death of the soul, and pain is its hell. Both are felt by one who lies in this distress, namely, in sin and in punishment for sin. Therefore he says: “Do not let me remain in death and hell; but according to Thy mercy graciously raise me up, deliver me from hell, and console me.” Thus this verse makes us understand that this tribulation is a door and entrance into eternal sin and punishment, that is, into death and hell, as King Hezekiah says: “I have said in great terror: I must enter the gates of hell in the midst of my days, that is, when I thought I was in the best years of my life” (Is. 38:10).

"In hell who will give Thee thanks?"
Therefore I have said, “for Thy mercy’s sake!” Hell, where Thy mercy does not dwell, does not praise Thee; it really desecrates and blasphemes Thy justice and truth. This is by far the noblest thought which the saints have in their crosses and by which they are also sustained. Otherwise they are in every way like the damned, as we read later in the last of these psalms: “Hide not Thy face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit” (Ps. 143:7). The difference is this, that the saints retain a good will toward God, and that they are more concerned about losing God’s gracious will, praise, and honor than about being damned. For he does not say: “In hell there is no joy and pleasure” but rather: “There is no praise and honor.” Therefore here he inserts the thought that God is well disposed toward no one in hell, and if he goes to hell, he, like the condemned, would be in God’s disfavor. This would be more unwelcome and painful to him than the pain itself. Therefore we read in the Song of Solomon that the love of God is as strong as death and as firm as hell, because it remains even in deathly and hellish pain (8:6). Thus God says through Isaiah: “I will bridle you with My love, that you do not perish” (48:9). That is: “I will grant you a sincerely favorable disposition toward Me in the midst of your suffering, and this will restrain you and keep you. Without this all others perish in their trials.”
Again, in Ps. 18:3: “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.” We must overcome afflictions, death, and hell. However, they will not be overcome by running away or by impatience, but with favor, good will, and love continuing toward God in their presence. These are sharp words for the old Adam, especially if he is still fresh and green; but that does not matter.

Luther's Works, AE, vol. 14, Selected Psalms III, p. 144. Copyright 1958 by Concordia Publishing House.



I have always found it so, that in my afflictions my fervor and love of God have grown.  This is how one is "bridled with his love".   Sing a Paul Gerhardt song and keep going.   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Busy

I've been busy... and can't even seem to get any reading done.  This is the book I'm trying to work on:





(See also Concordia Publishing House.)

It hasn't grabbed me overly much, yet, as far as I've got;  I feel, here and there, that things have been brought in that don't completely pertain or are analogous.  At some point, maybe, we'll quote a bit.

Mostly, I've been living off the "Words of Jesus" app on my cell-phone.  It is a change to not stuff your mind with a lot of reading and just go with Jesus' words plain and simple.  A little can go so far.

Today, there was a quote from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says that the Helper will come and help them remember all the things that he said.

First I thought, hm, the skeptics will say that: yes, yes, of course, John's is the last gospel and this is how he claims that what he writes is true.  The Holy Spirit told him.

But in real life this happens.  We remember the right thing at the right time.  It seems to come out of nowhere.  Or we had a relationship with someone, a relationship that had its ups and downs, but afterward you can only remember the nuggets.  All the dross has been washed away, but that what is pure gold remains and it is lodged somewhere in you, living, growing, giving without loss, shining more brightly with time, becoming more valuable all the time. This is how the Holy Spirit works.  He is there.  He is alive.  He comforts and he brings things to mind. Just so, Jesus words are never lost.   They remembered them, they talked about them, the preached about them, they wrote them down.

As they said with astonishment, he does not teach like their scribes but as one who has authority.  Who can forget?--Unforgettable.





Friday, October 18, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Entitlement

Last night, I was driving home at 8:30 and listened to CBC for about 10 min., but I can't find the broadcast online, just now.

A guest was speaking about his research into entitlement behavior.  He showed that the richer a person is, the more flashy a person's car is, the more he or she has accumulated by chance in a monopoly game, etc. the less honest, moral, and considerate their behavior.  The idea that rich people turn into well-meaning benefactors is faulty.  (Or as others have pointed out, if the billionaire gives away a few million, he's still got a lot left.)

And it was not that it was the ruthless behavior which got a person to become rich and therefore ruthless people are rich.  It was the comparative advantage of the person which made him or her act more entitled and less considerate.

Jesus did say something about the rich and the eye of the needle.  And he did speak about those who give from their plenty.  Ah, yes.  He had a lot to say about it.  Researchers are just getting around to the statistics.

It makes sense to me in a number of different contexts.  I have seen people act impatiently and unkindly with others when they seem to have an advantage over handicapped or newcomers.  I have seen it with university professors, who have a relatively advantaged, cushy and prestigious job over those not in their field or those who must garner their favor, or those who don't have their nose for certain things.  I have seen it with intelligent theologians over those who can't get to church or study as often. --  There are different kinds of riches and advantages.  There are those who are unkind to children, the aged, the vulnerable.

It is running away with me now.  This wasn't all on the program.

In some ways, it explains a lot.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Another woman who inspires: Myrtle

For Myrtle, in her weakness, a great theologienne and anchor :


"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 

The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 

I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken." 

Psalm 16.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Women who Inspire

This week I have thought about two famous women.  One is the young Malala from Pakistan.  What a powerful voice on all levels!  I even like the way she wears her headdress.  We have some modesty, which we could emulate, and even some pretty fabric, which is fun,  but none of the horrible hidden-ness and darkness of other potential garb and insane rules about showing no hair and endless terror. -- To have so much courage in a young person is really something else.  It makes us all look like cowards.

Her story also shows us why the Son of God had to die.  The narrative is not complete or moving without the willingness to suffer and the survival of ghastly attack showcasing both the horror and the valor.

Then there was also Alice Munro, this week.  She won a Nobel prize for literature.  She is the only female Canadian short-story writer whom I have read.  Well, I have really only read three short-story writers;  the other two are Nathaniel Hawthorne and Flannery O'Connor.  I would say that I like Hawthorne the best of the three.  Flannery hits me out of nowhere in ways I find more contrived.  Hawthorne seems more unified and satisfying while also being hard-hitting.

Anyways,  Munro I can't remember hitting me aside from some strange sexual respects, which I did not enjoy and the perverted images are still with me.  What I did enjoy with Munro were the settings because they were familiar Canadian settings.  I guess I don't enjoy the queernesses in some of the short-stories, especially if they seem dragged in by the hair.  All of it makes me want to try and write a short story while reminding me of an old friend/enemy, whom I miss today.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

G.K.Chesterton was a good man

"NOBODY supposes that the best critic of music is the man who talks coldly about music. But there is an idea that a man is a correct judge of religion because he looks down on religions." 

~G.K. Chesterton: ILN, Oct. 10, 1908.

Love Life Conference, Edmonton, Nov. 2, coming up!

We have arranged for a number of speaker for the Love Life Conference, including Scott Klusendorf, well-known debater and equipper of speakers for Life.

Please view the website here.







Monday, October 7, 2013

"The Monster"

Talking about novels: this German-Hungarian author won the German book prize today, announces the German newscasts:  Ter├ęzia Mora

http://www.hr-online.de/website/specials/buchmesse2013/index.jsp?rubrik=79553&key=standard_document_49795391&msg=79553

 The story seems to be about an IT worker who is married and deeply in love with his wife, who is struggling with a psychosis.  Strangely, he knows nothing and understands nothing about her deeper life and struggles.  After her suicide he begins a literal and figurative journey to find her background and understand her better, if only in retrospect.  On the bottom half of the page runs the dairy of his wife, which he reads as he travels along.  So there are two stories running parallel in time and on the page.

"The Ungeheuer", i.e. "The Monster" is the wife's psychosis.  The novel is to show the complete lack of foundation of modern life and said to be very timely for our days. "Bodenlosigkeit" is the German word they use.  Which would mean:  the lack of ground under your feet.

Hm.  If someone gives it to me, I will read it.

A negative reviewer on Amazon found the whole idea preposterous.  How could the husband know nothing of his wife's mental illness and depression.  We could say that this is slightly unrealistic or very much an artistic construct for the purposes of the novel.  It seems neither to me.  I think that many a man has hardly an idea, or even an interest in what is going on with his wife's inner life, or perhaps even his own.  In fact, this inner life may be the very monster he fears.  Talk to me about everything but not your feelings.  Or maybe we all feel like this somehow about our own inner life--always running and hiding from it, as from a charging bear (I could have said "charging bull", but I live in Canada.)

Goodness knows we don't want to know female or anybody's despair.  My husband does not even read my blog and it is not a despairing place, I think.-- No, no, I think the premise of "Das Ungeheuer" works.  I don't even know that any man can know what goes on with a woman, and vice versa.

It might take a woman to understand such a thing as this disconnect. I could be wrong.

Congratulations Terezia!







Changing my mind on "And the Mountains Echoed"

Now that I have vented my frustration in the last post, and have had a chance to think about "And the Mountains Echoed", by Khalid Hosseini and let the characters live in my head for an evening, night and morning, I have to come to see more clearly what I like about the book.  The positive is emerging like shapes coming out of the morning mist.  I am even thinking, it could be read to the husband, after all, with a little editorializing.  Hosseini actually deals gently with issues we all deal with but don't discuss very often because we find them dreary or frightful.  Caregiving, looking after the handicapped and elderly with the attendant  strain on families, as well, as their emotional growth or decline, is not that often brought up.  It is like the underbelly of our existence.  We look for the excitement and health in life, but what happens as we become frail and more "diminished"?

"Diminished" is a word Hosseini used in the interview and the book.  And not "diminished" in a cataclysmic, spectacular going-out, just the gradual, usual way--in a nursing home, for example--step by step "diminishing".  The reunion of the separated siblings is similarly un-spectacular.  Pari can't remember the time before their separation, and Abdullah is demented by the time they meet again.

Several people on Amazon said that they did not even bother to read the last 40 pages.  The climax was not climactic enough, one thinks.  But that was the point.  What can we do?  How do we deal with the losses and the unfulfilled dreams?  How do we receive what we can receive, if it is not what we wanted or expected?  How do we deal with this punctuated novel and its unsatisfactory characters and events?

And then there is the matter of Afghanistan.  Gently, we see a critique of the horrors and the hardness.  Hosseini's  various scenes and stories are just glimpses.  We must take from them what we can.  We must be patient with them, as we must be patient with our lives and our loved-ones and with God.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Family Fiction Reading, not.

I finished a book today, a novel, "And a Mountains Echoed" by Khaled Hosseini.

It has been heavily promoted and is available at Costco.  If was my first book by the author, but Hosseini was familiar to me from hearing the same interview with CBC radio three times.  (It does make you wonder that one could hear this interview this many times.)  However, I had enjoyed the interview with Khaled Hosseini as he made a very good impression for his depth and humanity.   I even thought that I might read it out loud to my husband for bonding.

But I am afraid the book disappointed.  After a few pages I realized it would not make good reading aloud, as I was lost already.  Half the time you are wondering who is the narrator and what is the setting and what on earth is going on.  It was on the strength of the oft-heard interview that I soldiered on.  There was no way that I could subject my husband to it, if I was feeling so impatient.

There were parts to enjoy and lessons and insights to keep.  I even cried like three times. -- I can't remember about what, though.  It's too bad that venturing out into fiction was a bit of a let-down.  In future, in choosing novels,  I will try to stick to classics and prize winners.


Faith Consoles

Until now consciences were plagued with [a false] doctrine of works.  They did not hear consolation from the Gospel.  Some people were driven by conscience into the desert and into monasteries, hoping to merit grace by a monastic life.  Some people came up with other works to merit grace and make satisfaction for sins.  That is why the need was so great for teaching and renewing the doctrine of faith in Christ, so that anxious consciences would not be without consolation but would know that grace, forgiveness of sins, and justification are received by faith in Christ.

People are also warned that the term faith does not mean simply a knowledge of a history, such as the ungodly and devil have [James 2:19].  Rather, it means a faith that believes, not merely the history, but it believes this article:  the forgiveness of sins.  We have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ.

The person who knows that he also has a Father who is gracious to him through Christ truly knows God [John 14:7].  He also knows that God cares for him [1 Peter 5:7], and he calls upon God [Romans 10:13].  In a word, he is not without God, as are the heathen.  For devils and the ungodly are not able to believe this article:  the forgiveness of sins.  Hence they hate God as an enemy [Romans 3:11-12] and expect no good from Him. Augustine also warns his readers about the word faith and teaches that the term is used in the Scriptures, not for the knowledge that is in the ungodly, but for the confidence that consoles and encourages the terrified mind.  (Augsburg Confession XX 19-26)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Luther's Sacristy Prayer / Reformers / Pastors


Luther's prayer:

Lord God, You have appointed me as a pastor in Your Church, but you see how unsuited I am to meet so great and difficult a task. If I had lacked Your help, I would have ruined everything long ago. Therefore, I call upon You: I wish to devote my mouth and my heart to you; I shall teach the people. I myself will learn and ponder diligently upon Your Word. Use me as Your instrument -- but do not forsake me, for if ever I should be on my own, I would easily wreck it all.


In this connection, G.K. Chesterton:

... the unreal reformer sees in front of him one certain future, the future of his fad; while the real reformer sees before him ten or twenty futures among which his country must choose, and may in some dreadful hour choose the wrong one. The true patriot is always doubtful of victory because he knows that he is dealing with a living thing...

~ G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Muscians can spot and correct mistakes more quickly / Singing is Good

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/musicians-spot-mistakes-more-quickly-and-more-accurately-than-nonmusicians-8849068.html

"Why not be cruel?" / 2

 "I want to believe there’s a heaven. But I can’t not believe there’s a hell."

Vince Gilligan's (Creator of "Breaking Bad")  girlfriend. 


“The doctrine of original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.”

Reinhold Niebuhr


On "Breaking Bad".  My husband and I are only wrapping up season 2.  We should be able to catch up in the next winter, presently standing at our door.   Here is an  article on "grace" in "Breaking Bad".  

I have heard "grace" used this way, as in stories where the character is offered a chance to have an insight and chose a more moral course of action.  I think I would call that a "message" or "insight", a call to "repent".     

Grace, in contrast, is the actual forgiveness, the actual pardoning of the fallen.   

Many people, nowadays, are furious just at the mention of punishment or hell, but this is after they have done away completely with the concept of sin, against all reasonableness.  



"Why not be cruel?"


Morality without religion comes down to:  "I like it or I don't like it."

http://nationalreview.com/article/359999/response-richard-dawkins-dennis-prager


But then there is also "religion" or "spirituality" which also comes down to "I like it or I don't like it", especially when its texts are not very great and "spiritualized" out of existence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZv4i3iHfK8



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nietzsche

Yesterday was my errand day and I always drive to CBC radio playing.  The station seems to have been recycling many shows be it summer break or new fall season.  So, amazingly, in the plain middle of the afternoon we got a show on the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche from the IDEAS program.  Usually, IDEAS is on after 8:00 or 9:00 PM.--Well, here I sat in front of Costco, and the radio was in the middle of Nietzsche.  I listened for another ten minutes and took a few notes.  There were three Canadian scholars providing information and discussion.  One was a female French Canadian and I lost my confidence in here when she described Kierkegaard as a Christian (as opposed to Nietzsche).  From what I've seen of Kierkegaard he is the father of existentialism, not a Christian, certainly not in the orthodox sense, which is the only sense to me.  The other one was from the philosophy department of the University of Toronto and I forget the third, another female who brought in a lot about Homer and heroes.

Anyhow, in a way I think that I know already more than enough about Nietzsche from various programs and discussions--more than I really care to know.  But he keeps on coming up, and this program was focusing on his philosophy as in opposition to Christianity, the way he characterized a "slave morality" as something characteristic of Christianity and how impoverishing it is.  We, of course, know that Nietzsche went mad, and we have our theories as to how this happened, my own ideas running with the thought that he directly opposed the "slave morality" and contracted some nasty viruses.

It seems, if one were to decide to read him, that he ought to be read him in German.  Some English speaking friends say that he is unreadable.  But I have read little bits of Nietzsche in German and found those bits quite exquisite.  He did know how to write.   One might read him just for that.

To illustrate the language barrier, one of the professors on the CBC program spoke about a phrase or title of a book "Der tolle Mensch" which is generally translated as "The mad human" , or something implying insanity.  She said that in current German "toll" also means "great", "fantastic".  This is true.  So when you say "Der tolle Mensch", there are a number of interpretations possible and various connotations that will never be caught in English.  So, if I were to read him, I would read him in German.

I did look at I-books.  For $10.00 you can have the collected works in German.  I am thinking about it.  Three bucks, four bucks, yes.  Ten bucks.  I don't know. --Is Nietzsche worth ten bucks to me? -- Probably not.


We can see that you can even get baby clothes with Nietzsche quotes, on Amazon.  Thankfully, the baby is real and the poop in the diaper is, too.  Thankfully, the real world is real. -- Anyone who has ever dreamed of having a baby, "imagined" a baby, and run into the wall of infertility knows very well that the real is much bigger and better than the imaginary.