Daily Archives: September 30, 2020

(1st Things) Hans Boersma–The Vice of Curiousity

There is a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new.” The new thing is the gospel. The new thing is Jesus, the Christ of God. The new thing is the Spirit of Pentecost. The new thing is the church. The new thing is the kingdom of God. Indeed, the entire curriculum of the new covenant is packed with new things.

Immediately before discussing the vice of curiosity in the Summa Theologiae, Saint Thomas Aquinas deals with the topic of studiousness (ST II-II, q. 166). He treats curiosity as a vice but regards studiousness as a virtue. In other words, it is not knowledge per se, but the immoderate or otherwise wrongful pursuit of knowledge that is the problem. Borrowing the language of Ecclesiastes: Recognition of the gospel as new distinguishes studiousness from curiosity.

Vigilance is required for those wishing to be students of new things, for Herod’s approach is easier than Peter’s and curiosity easier than studiousness. Curiosity is the lustful pursuit of the pleasures of the eyes; studiousness the sacrificial pursuit of things that are unseen (cf. 2 Cor. 4:18). Both Herod’s and Peter’s approaches to knowledge are open to students of Jesus. We are called daily to engage in the fight against curiosity as we explore ever more deeply the one question that truly matters: “Who do you say that I am?”

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Posted in Theology

(CT Pastors) What Pastors See as the ‘New Normal’ for Preaching After the Pandemic

“What I miss the most,” said Rich Villodas, lead pastor of New Life Fellowship in New York City, “is just meeting with people afterwards and hearing how their lives are being impacted by the proclaimed message of God’s Word.” Before the pandemic, he would greet worshipers every week in the church lobby after each service and hear feedback (both positive and negative) on the sermon. At times, worshipers’ after-
service comments caused him to tweak the sermon in a later service. He has also missed seeing and hearing real-time reactions as he preaches a sermon—amens, nods, and hums—that he said “help to unlock [preaching] in the moment.”

Villodas vividly remembers a Sunday before the pandemic when a blind African American man visited his Queens church and reacted verbally throughout the sermon. Vocal encouragement from listeners “happens on a regular basis” in Villodas’s multiethnic congregation, which includes people of 75 different nationalities, but he recalls this visitor because he was particularly vocal in a way that made the sermon better. “There was a cadence to his reactions that actually paced me,” Villodas said.

Resuming in-person worship refreshes preaching, Villodas said, because it puts preachers in contact once again with people like that notable visitor, reminding expositors that the Bible is best interpreted in community with other believers. In a post-COVID-19 world, the return of once-absent nods and amens will draw heightened attention as cues that the pastor’s exegesis is on target.

Michael York, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Ashland, Kentucky, agreed that addressing an empty sanctuary “was probably the biggest challenge” of pandemic preaching. With no amens to affirm his exegesis and no laughs to communicate that jokes resonated, “I had no idea how people were responding,” said York, who pastored First Baptist Church in Salem, Missouri, for most of the pandemic before moving to Kentucky in July.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

(ABC) Alcohol consumption rising sharply during pandemic, especially among women

Joe Dinan felt an anxious pulse in his ears as he walked out of CVS and spotted the liquor store across the street. Having lost his job during the pandemic, he’d had plenty of time to run errands. But he couldn’t shake how hopeless he felt, marooned from his own sense of purpose. And the liquor store was right where he’d left it. A small bottle of vodka won out over his recovery.

In the age of pandemic, uncertainty lingers in the air. Now, new data shows that during the COVID-19 crisis, American adults have sharply increased their consumption of alcohol, drinking on more days per month, and to greater excess. Heavy drinking among women especially has soared.

The study, released Tuesday by the RAND corporation and supported by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), compared adults’ drinking habits from 2019 to now. Surveying 1,540 adults across a nationally representative panel, participants were asked about their shift in consumption between spring 2019 and spring 2020, during the virus’ first peak.

Based on the results, experts say they’re concerned about how people may be choosing to ease the pain and isolation wrought by the pandemic.

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Posted in Alcohol/Drinking, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) A Depressing Debate Spectacle

No one expected a Lincoln-Douglas debate, but did it have to be a World Wrestling Entertainment bout? Which may be unfair to the wrestlers, who are more presidential than either Donald Trump or Joe Biden sounded in their first debate Tuesday night.

The event was a spectacle of insults, interruptions, endless cross-talk, exaggerations and flat-out lies even by the lying standards of current U.S. politics. Our guess is that millions of Americans turned away after 30 minutes, and we would have turned away too if we didn’t do this for a living.

Mr. Trump no doubt wanted to project strength and rattle Mr. Biden, but he did so by interrupting him so much that he wouldn’t let Mr. Biden talk long enough even to make a mistake. The President bounced from subject to subject so frequently that it was hard to figure out what he hoped to say beyond that Joe Biden is controlled by the Democratic left. Even when moderator Chris Wallace asked a question that played to the strengths of his record—such as on the economy—Mr. Trump couldn’t stick to the theme without leaping to attack Mr. Biden.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology

A Rembrandt Etching of Saint Jerome in Prayer for his Feast Day

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Jerome

O Lord, thou God of truth, whose Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give thee thanks for thy servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we beseech thee that thy Holy Spirit may overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, may transform us according to thy righteous will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Henry Newman

Let me ever hold communion with Thee, my hidden but my living God. Thou art in my innermost heart: Thou art the life of my life: every breath I breathe, every thought of my mind, every good desire of my heart, is from the presence within me of the unseen God. By nature and by grace Thou art in me: I see Thee not in the material world except dimly, but I recognize Thy voice in my own intimate consciousness; I turn round and say, Rabboni. O be ever thus with me; and if I am tempted to leave Thee, do not Thou, O my God, leave me.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

After this he went out, and saw a tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he left everything, and rose and followed him.

And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” He told them a parable also: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good.’”

–Luke 5:27-39

Posted in Theology: Scripture