Daily Archives: November 22, 2011

Egyptians expect to 'see a lot of bloodshed'

Security forces fought Monday with several thousand protesters in Tahrir Square in the third straight day of violence over demands that the military set a date for turning power over to civilians.

Egypt’s military-backed Cabinet offered its resignation Monday in what the protesters took as a gesture toward addressing their complaints. “God is great!” they shouted upon hearing the news.

Protesters vowed to remain in the streets despite violence that has killed 26 people before parliamentary elections that will begin Nov. 28 and continue for months.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General, Violence

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (IV)–on Love, Hell and Vulnerability

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), pp. 138-139

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE)

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (III)–On Modernity versus the Ancients

“For the wise men of old the cardinal problem had been how to conform the soul to reality, and the solution had been knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of men: the solution is a technique: and both, in the practice of this technique, are ready to do things hitherto regarded as disgusting and impious.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (II)–On the importance of reading old books

”˜There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.
This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology. Wherever you find a little study circle of Christian laity you can be almost certain that they are studying not St. Luke or St. Paul or St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or Hooker or Butler, but M. Berdyaev or M. Maritain or M. Niebuhr or Miss Sayers or even myself.
Now this seems to me topsy-turvy. Naturally, since I myself am a writer, I do not wish the ordinary reader to read no modern books. But if he must read only the new or only the old, I would advise him to read the old. And I would give him this advice precisely because he is an amateur and therefore much less protected than the expert against the dangers of an exclusive contemporary diet. A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light. Often it cannot be fully understood without the knowledge of a good many other modern books. If you join at eleven o’clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said. Remarks which seem to you very ordinary will produce laughter or irritation and you will not see why ”“ the reason, of course, being that the earlier stages of the conversation have given them a special point. In the same way sentences in a modern book which look quite ordinary may be directed at some other book; in this way you may be led to accept what you would have indignantly rejected if you knew its real significance. The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity (“mere Christianity” as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.
Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books. All contemporary writers share to some extent the contemporary outlook ”“ even those, like myself, who seem most opposed to it. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were usually assuming without question a good deal which we should now absolutely deny. They thought that they were as completely opposed as two sides could be, but in fact they were all the time secretly united ”“ united with each other and against earlier and later ages ”“ by a great mass of common assumptions. We may be sure that the characteristic blindness of the twentieth century ”“ the blindness about which posterity will ask, “But how could they have thought that?” ”“ lies where we have never suspected it, and concerns something about which there is untroubled agreement between Hitler and President Roosevelt or between Mr. H. G. Wells and Karl Barth. None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction. To be sure, the books of the future would be just as good a corrective as the books of the past, but unfortunately we cannot get at them.
I myself was first led into reading the Christian classics, almost accidentally, as a result of my English studies. Some, such as Hooker, Herbert, Traherne, Taylor and Bunyan, I read because they are themselves great English writers; others, such as Boethius, St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and Dante, because they were “influences.” George Macdonald I had found for myself at the age of sixteen and never wavered in my allegiance, though I tried for a long time to ignore his Christianity. They are, you will note, a mixed bag, representative of many Churches, climates and ages. And that brings me to yet another reason for reading them. The divisions of Christendom are undeniable and are by some of these writers most fiercely expressed. But if any man is tempted to think ”“ as one might be tempted who read only con- temporaries ”“ that “Christianity” is a word of so many meanings that it means nothing at all, he can learn beyond all doubt, by stepping out of his own century, that this is not so. Measured against the ages “mere Christianity” turns out to be no insipid interdenominational transparency, but something positive, self-consistent, and inexhaustible. I know it, indeed, to my cost. In the days when I still hated Christianity, I learned to recognise, like some all too familiar smell, that almost unvarying something which met me, now in Puritan Bunyan, now in Anglican Hooker, now in Thomist Dante. It was there (honeyed and floral) in Francois de Sales; it was there (grave and homely) in Spenser and Walton; it was there (grim but manful) in Pascal and Johnson; there again, with a mild, frightening, Paradisial flavour, in Vaughan and Boehme and Traherne. In the urban sobriety of the eighteenth century one was not safe ”“ Law and Butler were two lions in the path. The supposed “Paganism” of the Elizabethans could not keep it out; it lay in wait where a man might have supposed himself safest, in the very centre of The Faerie Queene and the Arcadia. It was, of course, varied; and yet ”“ after all ”“ so unmistakably the same; recognisable, not to be evaded, the odour which is death to us until we allow it to become life: “An air that kills From yon far country blows.”
We are all rightly distressed, and ashamed also, at the divisions of Christendom. But those who have always lived within the Christian fold may be too easily dispirited by them. They are bad, but such people do not know what it looks like from without. Seen from there, what is left intact despite all the divisions, still appears (as it truly is) an immensely formidable unity. I know, for I saw it; and well our enemies know it. That unity any of us can find by going out of his own age. It is not enough, but it is more than you had thought till then. Once you are well soaked in it, if you then venture to speak, you will have an amusing experience. You will be thought a Papist when you are actually reproducing Bunyan, a Pantheist when you are quoting Aquinas, and so forth. For you have now got on to the great level viaduct which crosses the ages and which looks so high from the valleys, so low from the mountains, so narrow compared with the swamps, and so broad compared with the sheep-tracks ”¦’.

C.S. Lewis, ”˜Introduction’ in On the Incarnation: the treatise De incarnatione Verbi Dei(Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1993), 3”“7.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE)

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (I)–His description of his own Conversion

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.

–C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), p.228

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE)

A Savannah Morning News Article on the Georgia Supreme Court Decision

“While we were forced to take action when the breakaway congregation deprived the thriving congregation of Christ Church Episcopal of the property we hold in trust for them on Johnson Square, we know that both groups share faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world,” [Bishop Scott] Benhase said.

The continuing Christ Church congregation has been worshiping at another location for four years pending a final outcome of the case.

In a statement released Monday, the Rev. Michael White, rector of Christ Church, said the congregation plans to continue to worship at St. Michael and All Angel’s Episcopal Church on Washington Avenue each Sunday at 5 p.m. while it concludes administrative matters necessary in the transition back to the Johnson Square site.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes

(Christianity Today) Jennifer Marshall–Why 'All the Single Ladies' Shouldn't Give Up on Marriage

In other words, if experience doesn’t match up to the ideal, toss out the ideal.

But should we give up on an ideal just because it hasn’t worked out for us personally? That might make sense if marriage were an ideal simply because the majority, the powerful, or forces such as evolution or economics made it so. The unique status of marriage, however, is timeless. God ordained it as the basic institution for ordering human relations.

To esteem that ideal is not to dismiss singleness as second rate. Kate Bolick’s hunch is right: Our current status isn’t “provisional.” We’ll gain a better perspective on our circumstances, though, not by downgrading marriage, but by taking a higher view of what God is doing both now and in the long run.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Men, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Women

In Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, a church for those who never liked church

As members walk into the movie theater or auditorium for services, the pastor and his wife are in the front row, singing along and pumping their fists to loud pop music, played by a live band featuring electric guitars.

Suburban megachurches, move over. There’s a hipper game in town.

“We know a lot of people have left their mainline churches because it’s boring,” said Tory Farina, 31, lead pastor at High Point Church in Inver Grove Heights. “They felt they were forced to go. We want them to love it….Our Sunday services feel like a concert.”

High Point, which currently meets in an Inver Grove Heights movie theater, is a small portion of an exploding religious movement in the Twin Cities and nationally.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelism and Church Growth, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(BP) Ed Stetzer–The urgent need for biblical literacy

It is critical for church leadership to challenge believers to be in the Word of God, consistently growing in their knowledge of the Scriptures. One way to do that is to teach and encourage study of the Scriptures in the context of the grand narrative of redemption. I try to read the Bible in the way it unfolds. The Bible is not a series of isolated morality tales. Instead, by looking at it as a whole through a Christ-centered lens, I read the Scriptures with the whole story of redemption in mind….

Churches today face some big challenges. One of the greatest is the evangelical angst occurring in North America. Evangelicals in our country are just not sure of who they are or where they’re going.

Perhaps what evangelicals need most right now is a strategy for biblical literacy. We need to reengage the biblical narrative and immerse ourselves in consistent study. It will help us be more gracious and winsome in the way we communicate. It will help us have a clearer view on controversial issues. It will help us to understand and communicate a clear Gospel as laid out in the Scriptures — a Gospel of the cross and of the Kingdom. The Word of God is essential to where we are right now.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Youth Ministry

Robert Samuelson–The Choice on the budget: Squabble or Govern

We haven’t had the robust democratic debate about the role of government that lies at the heart of America’s budget stalemate. The truth is that most Democrats and Republicans want to avoid such a debate because it would force them into positions that, regardless of ideology, would be highly unpopular. This does not mean that the congressional supercommittee, charged with making modest cuts in deficits, need fail. There is a basis for honorable compromise; squandering it would confirm politicians’ preference for fighting over governing.

Contrary to much press coverage, the committee’s Republicans opened the door to compromise by abandoning — as they should have — opposition to tax increases. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania proposed a tax “reform” that would raise income taxes by $250 billion over a decade. First, he would impose across-the-board reductions of most itemized deductions and use the resulting revenue gains to cut all tax rates. Next, he would adjust the rates for the top two brackets so that they’d be high enough to produce the $250 billion. All the tax increase would fall on people in the top brackets….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Tuesday Morning Mental Health Break–Poor Little Bear can't stay Awake

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

A Prayer for the Feast Day of C S Lewis

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, whose blessed Son taught in all honesty the way of life that thou requirest: Grant that we may so live as dutiful and loyal citizens of our earthly country, that we may show ourselves to be members of that heavenly country whereof thou art sovereign Lord and King; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 121

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Alexander Lucie-Smith–The Bishop of London is right about Anglicans using the Roman rite

The Bishop seems to be putting clear blue water between us Catholics and his own flock, perhaps more clearly than he intends. It is clearly wrong for Anglican clergy to use the Roman Missal, from both an Anglican point of view and from our point of view. But I would add this: the Roman Missal, especially in the new translation, reflects a very clear belief in the doctrine of transubstantiation which Anglicans do not hold. Therefore they should not use the Missal. Or if they do hold to the doctrine of transubstantiation, they should come into the Ordinariate.

“Three priests in the Diocese have taken this step. They have followed their consciences,” remarks the Bishop speaking of the Ordinariate. Is there a third way? It would seem not. Dr Chartres, while mentioning canon law and its obligations, nevertheless makes no threats: “There will be no persecution and no creation of ritual martyrs,” he says. But the appeal to conscience and indeed logic is clear in this powerfully argued letter. You cannot be an Anglican and use the Roman Missal. It is one or the other. On that all should agree.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic