Thursday, March 24, 2016

Nihilism and Pilate and Me and You

John 18:  
36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

Sometimes we think post-modernism is new.  It obviously is not;  it is part of us.

We like the fog.  We like to do as we please.  We don't need a king besides Ceasar, as we can't avoid him.

But in us is that niggling feeling and thought, that truth actually exists, since we can't actually function without it.  What if we could not trust anybody's words, promises, explanations...  What if we can't trust our own?  What if we can't trust God's words and there is no goodness and mercy at the center of the universe?  What if there is no meaning, not even the one I have manufactured just for myself?
The other day, a young man said to me:  "Among us nihilists there is a saying..." -- I forget the saying.  I just remember he said "ni" as "nye" not "nee".
I would have said "neeheelist".  Whatever.

We both knew what he meant.  Words have meaning.  The saying he quoted (though it be a nihilist saying)  had meaning.  We both knew what he said when he called himself a nihilist.  Obviously, there is a set of doctrine.

Pilate was stressed out that day, torn between his wife, between Ceasar, between the Jews and between Jesus.  "What is truth" was his way out.  The innocent was condemned.

We do it all the time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bach's Easter Cantata, number 4

This is a beautiful performance:

Here is the scrolling score, for singing along:

Here is the text and the English translation:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Introduction to the Gospel of John from the Lutheran Study Bible

Here is the Lutheran Study Bible, by the way:

Luther on John, pp. 1774 and 1775

From the very beginning the evangelist teaches and documents most convincingly the sublime article of our holy Christian faith according to which we believe and confess the one true, almighty, and eternal God.  But he states expressly that three distinct Persons dwell in that same single divine essence, namely, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  The Father begets the Son from eternity, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, etc. Therefore there are three distinct Persons, equal in glory and majesty;  yet there is only one divine essence....The first man to attack the doctrine of the divinity of Christ was the heretic Cerinthus, a contemporary of the apostles.  He presumed to fathom and comprehend this article with his reason.  Therefore he declared that the Word was not God.  And in order to support this view he cited the verse from Deuteronomy (6;4): "The Lord our God is one God"; and also (Deut.5:7):  "You shall have no other gods before Me."  With this sham he worked great harm.  he gained a powerful following.  Many Jews attached themselves to him, even some of those who had believed in Christ.  It must be viewed as a manifestation of divine grace that Cerinthus assailed this article during the lifetime of the apostles;  for this is what prompted John, the foremost of the apostles still living at the time, to write his Gospel.  In it he proves this article conclusively:  that Christ, our Lord and Savior, is true, natural, and eternal God with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  John had a very good reason for basing his proof on Moses, since it was he of whom Cerinthus and his followers had boasted.  Wresting Moses from their hands, mouth, and heart, John now quotes Moses in an attack against their blasphemous heresies and refutes them completely.  This was a veritable masterstroke.

Therefore the evangelist John is a master above all the other evangelists, for he treats of this doctrine of Christ's divinity and His humanity persistently and diligently.  he joins these two natures together.  When Christ becomes man, He speaks to us, performs miracles, and dies according to His humanity.  And then His divinity is also established with plain words.


Early Christian testimony affirms that the apostle John wrote the Fourth gospel.  Yet the Gospel itself never states this directly.  Instead, the author describes himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" and seems to mention other witnesses to the events of the Gospel.  Critics have used these facts to suggest a number of other potential authors, but none of the suggestions are compelling.  The references to the beloved disciple fit well with what we know of John in the other Gospels:  that he was a member of Jesus' inner circle and a close comrade of Simon Peter in Acts;  the other member of that inner circle--John's brother James--was martyred early on;  Ac 12:2.  The reference to other witnesses ("we") also shows up repeatedly in the Letters of John.  Therefore, early Christian testimony appears sound and consistent in affirming John as the writer.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

International Women's Day

I'm not much into "days", but let's give it a shot.

I have been spoiled.  I had a great father and mother, a prosperous upbringing, a good education, a stable marriage, wonderful hobbies, and last but best a faith in Christ that has supported me through a variety of trials.

As a woman, I marvel, though, that after all this time and all the books that are written, that it is still so hard for men to understand women, and probably vice versa.

This comes through even when speaking with LGBT individuals.  When Jenner poses as a dolled up woman and wants to be called a "woman", he has absolutely no idea what he is talking about--just for example.

And this is how I know that the Bible is true.  Even though it was written down by men, it knows what it is about.  That's all I am going to say right now.  I have work to do.

Also look at this:

Monday, March 7, 2016

Shoot the messenger: the hypocrisy in criticizing dissidents from foreign lands for speaking out

The BBC had a story about this last night:  Kamel Daoud of Algeria is criticized by western liberals for calling Islamic sex lives miserable.  He feels their hypocrisy when he writes from Oran whereas they write from their "western cafe's".  I don't have words for this sort of dismissal of brave spokespeople who know what they are talking about.  There are many one could list, and the western intelligentsia does not dare cope with what they have to say.  We only recall the disinviting of Ayaan Hirsi Ali from Brandeis University.  The list is longer.  Houellebecq is in hiding.  How many fatwas... A western chiding of Kamel Daoud in Oran.  It is insane.  If the intelligentsia won't deal with the subject matter, who is surprised at the rise of the Donald Trump and the marches in the street?

Friday, March 4, 2016

Friday morning's quick thought / about the kitchen

Men and Women and Food and Fire, in and out of the kitchen:

Jesus Christ said that he himself is the food, the meal.  In it we have forgiveness of sins and community.  Someone did the cooking and he did serving and foot-washing.

In our days, who precisely does the cooking--has become something of a women's equality issue.  The women who have a raised consciousness have got themselves decidedly out of the kitchen.  We are so busy, we get our food at the drive-through window at McDonald's and we wonder how everyone has got so obese.

On the other hand, when we do have time, we love to have an outdoor BarBQ, with the men usually "manning" and supervising the cooking of the meat.  This has always been mainly men's work.
And this sort of event is the very height of summer, vacation, being happy with friends and family.
When the men cook the meat and the women make the salads and deserts, entertaining is much easier.

No doubt, kitchen work has been a grind in the past.  But I also remember having good chats at the sink doing dishes by hand.  One washed, another dried and a lot of ground got covered while working side by side.  This has been lost, too.  We have dishwashers and we have got no time to do dishes, either, any more.

It can be demeaning, though.  I remember visiting a friend, as a girl, and the father was sitting in the living room watching TV, while the mother worked and brought him beer, as he called for it.  This may not have been as bad as the optics were for me that day, as I gladly bring a cold beer to a tired man, who deserves it at the end of his day, etc.  But certainly, we know of some tyrants who behave very badly, are demanding, rude and insensitive, all the while never returning a favor or serving anyone else.

On the opposite spectrum is the man who does not want anything done for him.  He won't ask a favor and won't thank you for one.  He is an island to himself.  The whole communal thing is not truly for him.  This can be very disappointing for a nurturing soul who has allied herself with him.

Maybe this is why, in the olden days, we spent so much time inculcating good table manners, shared duties, helpfulness and consideration, all around meal preparation, serving and consumption. Flexibility is good, and I myself have gotten a bit too lazy to clean my own lettuce now that you can buy it ready to eat.  Pre-cleaned lettuce, at this point, seems to me the ultimate in indulgence.  One used to make lettuce for a whole family at one time.  Then it was worth the trouble.  Now I can make a salad just for myself in a minute.  Scary in a way.  Comfortable in another.

Sometimes all this even makes you feel guilty for spending time on meal preparation.  Suzy home-maker his wasting her day baking cookies and making coleslaw.  On the other hand, if you are making some gluten-free, superfood and do it with mind-fullness, you now could also call it "meditation".  This would be the epitome of all goodness and worthwhileness, especially if you are doing for yourself.

Which brings us back to Jesus Christ being the food.  There is a spirituality in eating and meal-preparation. Even the smoke of burnt-offerings were pleasing to God.  Abel's sacrifice of blood and meat were accepted by God.

What do we get out of this?--Maybe, spend the time you need to prepare meals of whatever complexity you desire.  Do it with gratitude, joy and meditation.  Remember that the Lord himself is taking care of you, and that he ate, too, not counting himself too high and mighty to lend a hand or provide the food.  On the other hand, also, he told Martha to get out of the kitchen and make the word a priority.   Something for the spirit, something for the body, something for the community, something for God.

Enjoy it, as Solomon said.  And he knew what he was saying.


Thursday, March 3, 2016

A spirit of restlessness amid the greatest calm...

Martin Luther said: “For once a Christian begins to know Christ as his Lord and Savior, through whom he is redeemed from death and brought into His dominion and inheritance, God completely permeates his heart. Now he is eager to help everyone acquire the same benefits.  For his greatest delight is in this treasure, the knowledge of Christ.  Therefore he steps forth boldly, teaches and admonishes others, praises and confesses his treasure before everybody, prays and yearns that they too, may obtain such mercy.  There is a spirit of restlessness amid the greatest calm, that is, in God’s grace and peace.  A Christian cannot be still or idle. He constantly strives and struggles with all his might, as one who has no other object in life than to disseminate God’s honor and glory among the people, that others may also receive such a spirit of grace ….  (Luther’s Works 24:87-88)

Image result for christian witness

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hamed Abdel-Samad

Hamed Abdel-Samad had a fatwa issued against him and has gone into hiding.  He was born in Egypt, memorized the entire Koran as a child, and lives now in Germany. He loves freedom. 

Look at this on Deutsche Welle in English:

And this with English translations:

"Islam has a Birthdefect"--it is not reformable.  But he hopes Muslims themselves are reformable.