Friday, July 25, 2014

A Preschool Blog

Nice Preschool blog:

Want to look at it again.  I like that all the songs and raps are planned ahead, communicated and posted, for example.  The teacher has cool reading glasses...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

"Should God really have said?"

Devil questioning God's word.

He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 3

More Angels

"Am Zenith der Zeiten kam sein Sohn zur Welt".
"At the zenith of time, His Son came to the world."

Another beautiful angels picture.

Archangel Gabriel struck Zechariah mute - Alexander Ivanov

Photo: Oh how I wish I could have switched places so that my child could have had a long life..~Susan

When I think about my deceased son in prayer, I draw a blank.  I don't know what to say.
After some silence, I hear:  "I love him even more than you."

I really like this one, because Jesus needs help and comfort, too, in his hour of tribulation.

This is the picture we often see, a kind of German, kitschy thing, if I may say so, but loved.

This one reminds me of my husband and myself.  Surely, we are sometimes a kind of angel to each other.

This one might come in handy one day.  Angels sing the Gospel and praise to God.  It is a lovely thing.
We sometimes talk about joining their chorus.  "Holy, holy, holy..."  In church we join the church everywhere and invisible in heaven.

"Soli Deo gloria", their objective and ours.

As Christians, we can also sing God's praise in grief.  The Lord collects all our tears in a bottle, and the death of his saints is precious to him.  This is comforting, also.

Good works are not repudiated

"Good works are not repudiated, but their aim and direction have been radically 'horizontalized' [through 'sola fide']: they have moved from Heaven to earth; they are no longer done to please God but to serve the world."

 (Oberman:  Luther:  Man between God and the Devil,  p.192.)

Hymn: O God, O Lord of Heaven and Earth

LSB 834

O God, O Lord of heaven and earth,
Thy living finger never wrote that life should be an aimless mote,
A deathward drift from futile birth.
Thy Word meant life triumphant hurled,
In splendor through Thy broken world,
Since light awoke and life began, Thou hast desired Thy life for man.

Our fatal will to equal Thee,
Our rebel will wrought death and night. We seized and used in prideful spite
Thy wondrous gift of liberty.
We housed us in this house of doom,
Where death had royal scope and room
Until Thy servant, Prince of Peace, breached all its walls for our release.

Thou camest to our hall of death,
O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air, to drink for us the dark despair
That strangled our reluctant breath.
How beautiful the feet that trod
The road that leads us back to God! How beautiful the feet that ran
To bring the great good news to man!

O Spirit, who didst once restore
Thy church that it might be again the bringer of good news to men,
Breathe on Thy cloven Church once more,
That in these gray and latter days
There may be those whose life is praise, each life a high doxology
To Father, Son and unto Thee.

-Martin Franzmann

ABC Angel

I am working on a children's ABC and found this picture about Angels from here:  It even has an "A" on the page.  I quite like it for its simplicity and extravagance of color.  It also seems very domestic and peacefully ordered.  The house windows look like stained-glass windows, showing how each home is a little church and each parent a missionary to his/her own children.  The floating mountains of the alps look like kites bringing our gaze up and to the sun.

As our catechism says:  as the Father teaches his household.
And:  let your holy angel be with me that the wicked foe may have no power over me.

The Spirit hovers over it all with his teaching, forgiveness and comfort, in the form of dove.  The waves of baptism cover it all and brings to new life.

Am I going too far with all this?  Focus, Brigitte, focus.  "ABC".

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A proper theologian must have a Devil

"I did not learn my theology at once, but had to seek ever deeper after it.  That is where my spiritual distress led me;  for one can never understand the Holy Scriptures without experience and tribulations... If we do not have such a Devil, then we are nothing but speculative Theologi, who handle their thoughts badly and speculate about everything with their reason, that it must be like this and like that; just like the way of the monks in the monasteries."  

Luther in Oberman, p.185 (Man between God and the Devil)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Are Lutherans catholic?

Very nice piece by Matthew Block.

How to live with this...

Found this taunt below on Al Jazeera Facebook, today.  Unfortunately, there is truth to it.

I was looking for the story of Christians in Mosul told to convert or die, and did not find it, there.
It was reported in various places, but Al Jazeera was supposed to have the story.

What is the solution for Islam?  How can one live with jihad and sharia?

Muslims are not happy
They’re not happy in Gaza
They're not happy in Egypt

They're not happy in Libya
They're not happy in Morocco
They're not happy in Iran
They're not happy in Iraq
They're not happy in Yemen
They're not happy in Afghanistan
They're not happy in Pakistan
They're not happy in Syria
They're not happy in Lebanon
So, where are they happy?
They're happy in Australia
They're happy in England
They're happy in France
They're happy in Italy
They're happy in Germany
They're happy in Sweden
They're happy in the USA & Canada
They're happy in Norway & India
They're happy in almost every country that is not Islamic!
And who do they blame?
Not Islam...
Not their leadership...
Not themselves...
And they want to change the countries they're happy in, to be
like the countries they came from where they were unhappy.
Try to find logic in that !
Jeff Foxworthy on Muslims:
1. If you refine heroin for a living, but you have a moral
objection to liquor...
You are a Muslim
2. If you own a $3,000 machine gun and $5,000 rocket
launcher, but you
can't afford shoes...
You are a Muslim
3. If you have more wives than teeth...
You are a Muslim
4. If you think vests come in two styles: bullet-proof and
You are a Muslim
5. If you can't think of anyone you haven't declared Jihad
You are a Muslim
6. If you consider television dangerous, but routinely carry
explosives in your clothing...
You are a Muslim
7. If you were amazed to discover that cell phones have uses
than setting off roadside bombs...
You are a Muslim
8. If you have nothing against women and think every man
should own at least four...
You are a Muslim
9. If you find this offensive or racist and don't forward it...
You are a Muslim!!
Buddhists living with Hindus = No Problem
Hindus living with Christians = No Problem
Christians living with Shintos = No Problem
Shintos living with Confucians = No Problem
Confusians living with Baha'is = No Problem
Baha'is living with Jews = No Problem
Jews living with Atheists = No Problem
Atheists living with Buddhists = No Problem
Buddhists living with Sikhs = No Problem
Sikhs living with Hindus = No Problem
Hindus living with Baha'is = No Problem
Baha'is living with Christians = No Problem
Christians living with Jews = No Problem
Jews living with Buddhists = No Problem
Buddhists living with Shintos = No Problem
Shintos living with Atheists = No Problem
Atheists living with Confucians = No Problem
Confusians living with Hindus = No Problem
Muslims living with Hindus = Problem
Muslims living with Buddhists = Problem
Muslims living with Christians = Problem
Muslims living with Jews = Problem
Muslims living with Sikhs = Problem
Muslims living with Baha'is = Problem
Muslims living with Shintos = Problem
Muslims living with Atheists = Problem

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Luther and the Wealth of Scripture / Oberman

From Heiko Oberman's book:

"Yet, as Luther pointed out at the beginning of his professional career and at the end of his life, all his discoveries could not exhaust the wealth of the Scriptures.  In his early Psalm lectures he said:  "If you, O human being, cannot grasp some scriptural passage completely and are capable of unveiling the concealed truth only in part--be it as large as it may--then know that there is witness there that points past you and will only be revealed to you or others in the future."  One might assume that this was a beginner exercising the humble restraint befitting a monk and that the expert, the Reformation Luther, would overcome it.  But that was not the case.  A note in Latin was found next to Luther's deathbed;  he wrote it two days before he died:

No one can understand Virgil in his Bucolics and Georgics unless he has spent five years as a shepherd or farmer.  No one understands Cicero in his letters unless he has served under an outstanding government for twenty years.  No one should believe that he has tasted the Holy Scriptures sufficiently unless he has spent one hundred years leading churches with the prophets.  That is why:  1.  John the Baptist, 2.  Christ, 3.  the apostles were a prodigious miracle.  Do not profane this divine Aeneid, but bow to it and honor its vestiges.  

In view of Luther's life-long struggle to clarify the Scriptures in questions crucial to salvation, his "last words" may sound like a confession of resignation.  This, however, is misleading.  The point is rather that to study the Scriptures is like a journey--full of surprising discoveries. 

This is followed by the statement "We are beggars" in German, and in Latin again, "That is true."

A doctor of theology for thirty-four years, practiced in the translation and exegesis of Scripture--notwithstanding all this experience, he had to admit that he was overwhelmed by the depth and wealth of the Scriptures, which no man would ever fathom in a single lifetime.

In view of Luther's life-long struggle to clarify the Scriptures in questions crucial to salvation, his "last words" may sound like a confession of resignation.  This, however, is misleading.  the point is rather that to study the Scriptures is like a journey--full of surprising discoveries.  He once compared his scriptural studies to a walk through a forest:  "There is hardly a tree in this forest that I have not shaken and obtained apples or picked berries from."  Certainly his statement did not lack pride, but neither did it make any claim to his having finished with the Scriptures.   

During his last, ten-year(!) course of lectures on the Book of Genesis (1535-45), Luther took another extended walk through the woods and gathered the fruits of his roamings into concentrated summaries of his theology.  Although these lectures deserve to be used as an introduction to Luther's world of faith, they have nearly fallen into oblivion owing to the prevailing interest in the young Luther as well as to the complex history of how they have come down to us.  

The theme throughout is the wild rage of the Devil, who seeks unceasingly to destroy the Son of God everywhere:  "He is his target," because His birth and death are the agents of divine redemption.  The Devil's battle against Christ makes the "walk through the woods"  necessary and divests it of its arbitrariness.  Luther's single-mindedness is demonstrated in his interpretation of the story of Jacob's ladder.  Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau.  One night he dreamt of a ladder that reached into Heaven, with angels of God ascending and descending it  (Gen. 28.12-14).  Luther was able to illustrate the whole of his Reformation theology by means of Jacob's dream at Bethel:  through God's Word and spirit, Christians are led up to Heaven and, in their faith, united with Christ.  Christ Himself, however, descends to lead Christendom.  The ladder connecting Heaven and earth is the incarnation of God;  it is what the Devil hates most and is perpetually fighting against.  The Devil wants to tear the faithful away from Christ, their ladder to Heaven.  

Luther had long been a master in finding ever new and graphic ways of combining the various realms of god's work--in Christ, in justification, in the Creation--into a single vision.  Now the kingdom of the Devil had received sharp contours as well.  thirty years earlier "sing, world, and Devil" had still formed the traditional medieval phalanx of evil.  To escape the Devil one had had to avoid the world and seek salvation where there was no room for sin--most safely at a monastery.  But now the Devil was the opponent of the world created by God, seeking to destroy all the forces involved in protecting God's creation:  family and economy, state and Church.  Luther's walk had taken him out of the monastery and into the world."

(Luther.  Man between God and the Devil.  Oberman. pp. 166-168)

--I have to say, this quote above helps me understand Luther's lasts words better.  The Bible was for him inexhaustible supply and food for thought.  He did not expect that he could ever fully plum its depths.   Everywhere he found it speaking about his dear Lord Jesus Christ.  We can refresh ourselves from his attitude easily.  He also offers us nourishment, and I am grateful for it.

The commentary on Genesis is available free at I-books.  I have lately peeked into it and was greatly intrigued by it.  Thought the commentaries are 500 years old they are thorough and deep and show forth Luther's great experience in life and in scripture.   They are very worthwhile reading, as Oberman says, though apparently neglected.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sex Ed in Edmonton / Complaint

The most ridiculous thing ever.

The person who mailed me this link said:

"I guess “sluts” are to be celebrated and glorified now in High School sex-ed courses? 
It sounds like this “agnostic” (yeah, right) has an agenda – she already knows what needs to be taught and if it is not done her way, she’ll scream about constitutional rights."

I have heard this talk.  I have trained to give this talk.  I have counseled Crisis Pregnancy with this organization.  I have taught Unit 5 in High School myself.  There is nothing American about it.  We have supported it with donations for years.  It is on my list of automatic monthly deductions.

People are trying to give people information and options.  In return someone choses to be offended and has to launch a frivolous complaint. --  This is a very sick world.  This mother and her daughter are not using their minds.  Who is using them?  Who?

My daughter had a very graphic teacher for this section of her CALM course.  I am glad that she did.  Thank you teacher!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Oberman on Luther / Angels on pins and Augustine as exegete

"The question of how many angels could dance on the head of a pin was soon being cited by the humanists to demonstrate the stupidity of the scholastic. Luther, too, took an interest in this seemingly abstruse problem, not in order to solve it but in order to point out that faith dwelt in a realm of its own.  The question is not as ridiculous as the answer--as with the soul, all we know about angels is what is revealed in Scriptures:  "Everything that is added to faith is certainly only imaginative speculation"--unfounded and thus uncertain, pure invention.

This is an adumbration of the principle of the new Wittenberg theology that Luther would formulate seven year later "against the whole of scholasticism": "The whole of Aristotle is to theology as shadow is to light."  Contemporaries immediately recognized the import of the attack, as Aristotle, who had become academic theology's great authority in the course of the thirteenth century, had provided the terminology and categories used to establish the central concepts of the Holy Scriptures and Church doctrine:  God is the "prime mover"; the soul, as "form," determines the human being;  justification takes place through the "infusion" of "the power of grace"; the sacrament of the mass transforms the "substance" of bread and wine; man is "free" to decide between good and evil.  Gaining a critical grasp of all these basic notions and finding new biblical terms for them was to cost Luther years.

The knowledge that there was an infinite, qualitative distance between Heaven and earth became an established principle for Luther as early as 1509:  all human thought, as noble, effective, and indispensable as it might be to solve problems in the world, does not suffice to fathom salvation because it cannot reach Heaven.  Questions of faith must be resolved through the Word of God or not at all.  The temptation--or compulsion--to sanctify the words of man and believe in them is satanic.  When God is silent, man should not speak;  and what God has put asunder, namely Heaven and earth, man should not join together.

Thus not even Augustine, especially Augustine the neo-Platonist, could become the new, infallible authority, because that would merely have been replacing one philosophy with another, substituting Plato for Aristotle.  Augustine was the exemplary scriptural exegete who since 1509, had given Luther the means to demonstrate the extent to which theology had degenerated into a mouthpiece for Aristotle.

The alternative is clear:  whatever transcends the perception of empirical reality is either based on God's Word or is pure fantasy.  As a nominalist Luther began making a conscious distinction between knowledge of the world and faith in God, but through Augustine he realized that his school lagged far behind its own basic principle:  Scripture was being violated by philosophy."  (Man between God and the Devil. p. 160)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Music Workshop / Met a woman

I was able to attend a workshop with Music Together.  To our surprise and delight our instructor was one of the founders of the movement, Professor Dr. Lilli L., who was fabulous, of course; and the scientific aspects of her lecture were very useful also.  Mostly, I love the music in the curriculum.  The suggestions for use with the family and children were very good.

In addition, however, I had the delight to meet some women from up and down the West-coast, as the Vancouver workshop was oversubscribed and the attendees were keen.  We had lunch at the indoor playground/cafe next door getting acquainted some more, outside of class.  One of the young women quickly became dear to me.  She is a young Christian mother struggling to raise a son with autism disorder.  Autism can mean many things, but in her case the child was born very prematurely.   I happen to know a little bit about the difficulties involved with this sort of situation, as I have a God-child who was born at 745 gr.  (The tiny girl was baptized in the incubator with water that had condensed inside it.)

The woman was very interested to hear my story, in full,  too, and when I recounted my loss of an 18-year-old son, she felt she heard a hardness and unforgiveness in my telling of it.  She proceeded to quoted me  Bible passages and told me to pray on the spot and give things up to the Lord.  She apologized for being so forward, and indeed I thought she was forward.  But I knew she was also speaking from her own difficult situation.  My heart is with her.  She is young and bright and articulate and tied to the rearing of a child with unknown future.  Yet, she thought my situation was the worst she could imagine.  I looked in her eyes across my big coffee cup, held like bit of a shield, and wished her all the same things back, she was wishing me.  We knew she was talking about herself, too.


She also told me about a music ministry, and I just want to paste it hear so I don't lose the link.
I listened to two songs.  The young woman thought they were of better musicality that what we often encounter in contemporary Christian music.  I will have a closer listen, as time permits.  Here is one song:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Aristotle as Devil

Dear Blog:  I have become too lazy and/or busy to blog and I never come to the desk to type anymore.  Sorry.  I wanted to finish blogging through Chesterton's "Heretics" and "Orthodoxy".  And I wanted to blog through Applebaum's book on the Iron Curtain.  And now I am reading Oberman's books on Luther, presently "Luther, Man between God and the Devil".)  So much about all that.  Summer is beautiful now with so much to catch up on.  -- We have rain and we have sunshine.  Everything is green and thriving, and very, very beautiful.  My garden is an oasis and a paradise, even if small. 

A quote from the Oberman re: the training in scholastic disputations.

"According to the traditional curriculum the last two years were to be spent in special seminars and disputations, interpreting and debating important works of Aristotle and dealing with the quadrivium--music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. Demands on the students during these final years were extremely high. They lived together in what might be called university residence hall, under rigorous supervision, and found little time for relaxation during the short breaks in their nearly monastic daily rhythm.  At the age of twenty-one, one year earlier than prescribed by the university statutes, Luther passed his master of arts examination and had now acquired a comprehensive view of the scholarly disciplines."

"But quick-wittedness and rhetorical skills were not enough. Academic training strove to equip students with the general ability to test the proofs and conclusions presented in various areas of scholarship and subject them to systematic scrutiny. Reason, experience, and in theological questions, revelation formed the basis of true knowledge, and all findings were to be ordered intelligibly with the help of logical methods. Thus later work in specialized fields was built on a common educational foundation. The master of arts examination was required for all students except the monks. then came the next step--preparation for one's future profession as a theologian, lawyer, or physician." (Oberman, Man Between God and the Devil, p. 114.)

--What we see is that the foundation of a higher education rested on the training in Aristotle and the quadrivium.  From there one could go on to further studies.  Luther later said that Aristotle, if he had not been a real living man could be seen as the devil himself.   Luther at some point in his early career also taught Aristotle's moral philosophy, as a professor in university.  So we see that he knows very well what he is speaking of.  But I find, at this point, that I don't have a clue as to what he is talking about.  It has also been a long time since I last read the disputation against scholastic theology.  It could be time to review it. 

So much for today.

Front Cover

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Mucking about" Class

Quite recently, a new friend invited me to a class I had already considered attending.  It was held at the local library by a "writer in residence" -- I really could write a lengthy essay about it, as it was quite exciting and worth contemplating.  But I won't do it today.  It is too beautiful out and there is too much to do.  Tomorrow, I have a workshop with Music Together. -- Both classes should serve me with the church preschool, let's just say that.

Here is a picture I drew of my collage of stones, shells and beads for "mucking about" class.  It is a present for Sam.  Humble, I know.  But he is not a despiser of humble presents.  It revealed to me a "borderland", in the spirit of Hyde.  We see how all the treasures and discoveries are at the border between the land and the ocean:  the starfish, the sand dollar, the button with the anchor, the shells:  where the raging waves meet the stable land, etc.  It was supposed to be an exercise to get writing juices moving, though we did no writing, that time.