Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Call to Protestant....Medievalism?


I just happened upon a book which has a very interesting and thought provoking premise, which is, that Christians should return to a Medieval culture, as being in opposition to Modernism and Postmodernism. Now, this is not saying that we should go back in time and "wear their funny hats" as is written in chapter one, but that we must recapture the christocentric and family-focused worldview thaht emphasized the "good life" and characterized the Medieval Christians. I haven't read it yet but I plan to get it soon. It's called Angels in the Architecture: A Protestant Vision for Middle Earth by Douglas Wilson, the controversial pastor and author, and it's published by Canon Press. It's worth it to at least read the chapter titles and introduction. It's fascinating. What really grabbed me was the publisher's description:

"Christianity presents a glorious vision of culture, a vision overflowing with truth, beauty, and goodness. It’s a vision that stands in stark conflict with the anemic modern (and postmodern) perspectives that dominate contemporary life. Medieval Christianity began telling a beautiful story about the good life, but it was silenced in mid-sentence. The Reformation rescued truth, but its modern grandchildren have often ignored the importance of a medieval grasp of the good life. But enough about Presbyterianism."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Legacy of Lewis Part 2


Narnian Theology

On Election: "'You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,'" said the Lion."
--The Silver Chair, Chronicles of Narnia

On Faithfulness: "I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."
--The Silver Chair, Chronicles of Narnia

On the Passion: "'When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.'"
--The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Chronicles of Narnia

Other Wisdom

On Morals and Ethics:
"The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of planting a new sun in the sky or a new primary colour in the spectrum..."
--Christian Reflections

"The Moral Law tells us the tune we have to play: our instincts are merely the keys..."
--Mere Christianity

"The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which overarches rulers and ruled alike...Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish."
--Christian Reflections

On Mankind:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
--Mere Christianity

"A creature revolting against a creator is revolting against the source of his own powers--including even his power to revolt...It is like the scent of a flower trying to destroy the flower."
--A Preface to Paradise Lost

"All that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy."
--Mere Christianity

"If you are really a product of a materialistic universe, how is it that you don't feel at home there?"
--Encounter with Light

On Reality:
"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..."
--Mere Christianity

"Really, a young Atheist cannot guard his faith too carefully. Dangers lie in wait for him on every side."
--Surprised by Joy

"Reality, in fact, is always something you couldn't have guessed. That's one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It's a religion you couldn't have guessed."
--The Case for Christianity

(above photo: Magadalen College, Oxford, where Lewis taught.)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Legacy of C.S. Lewis

"Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it." --Lewis, in The World's Last Night

With the new blockbuster premiere of The Chronicles of Narnia film series with "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" coming out Dec. 9 (see trailer) I was hoping that this would be a great opportunity for C.S. Lewis books to start filling up bookstore shelves thus sparking a renewed interest in Lewis. I do think he is the 20th century's greatest apologist straddling the intellectual and popular arenas. Many of his books have the power of silencing anti-Christian ignorance with his sharp and seasoned logic, which is characteristic of a born-again Oxford scholar.
While at Oxford, I had the pleasure of studying at Regent's Park College which is the closest school to the "Eagle & Child" pub, the famous old tavern that hosted the weekly literary meetings of the "Inklings," a fellowship in which C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were key members. In this ancient English pub, the embryonic worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth were developed; a lion, a witch, a wardrobe, hobbits, and a magic ring took shape; Aslan roared in a cloud of pipe smoke while Gollum sipped a pint of ale. The nickname some locals use for the Eagle & Child is the "Bird & Baby." I also spoke to a white-bearded Jesuit priest (fluent in Middle English, i.e. Beowulf-era English) who referred to it as the "Foul & Fetus." Nevertheless, the pub is the same as it was when those brilliant minds sat by the hearth and created a culture.
So... now that I've digressed, I have not seen any other Lewis titles with his Narnia displays. Usually, a bookstore will add related literature to their displays, but his Space Trilogy, Screwtape Letters, etc., etc., aren't anywhere to be seen in the major bookstores-- by "major" I mean the Starbucks-weilding book shops. To be fair, it is still early. The film isn't out yet, there's no Narniamania yet... there's still hope. Has anyone seen any other books on the displays?
I'd like to discuss some specific contributions of Lewis, but for now, I think it's worthwhile to put together a good list of some great C.S. Lewis works. Any of these would be a spiritual and intellectual investment this Christmas for you or for someone else:
AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life (1955)
A Grief Observed (1961)
NONFICTION
The Case for Christianity (1942)
The Abolition of Man (1943)
The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition (1936)
Beyond Personality: The Christian Idea of God (1944)
Mere Christianity (1952)
Christian Behaviour: A Further Series of Broadcast Talks (1943)
The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (1964)
An Experiment in Criticism (1961)
The Four Loves (1960)
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (1964)
Miracles: A Preliminary Study (1947)
The Personal Heresy: A Controversy (1939)
The Problem of Pain (1940)
Reflections on the Psalms (1958)
CHILDREN'S FICTION
The Chronicles of Narnia:
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: A Story for Children (1950)
Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)
The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" (1952)
The Silver Chair (1953)
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
The Magician's Nephew (1955)
The Last Battle: A Story for Children (1956)
ADULT FICTION
"The Dark Tower" and Other Stories (1977)
The Great Divorce: A Drama (1945)
Out of the Silent Planet (1938)
Perelandra: A Novel (1943)
The Pilgrim's Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity (1933)
The Screwtape Letters (1942)
That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups (1945)
Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (1956)
LETTERS
Letters to an American Lady (1967)
Letters to Children (1985)
ESSAY COLLECTIONS
Christian Reflections (1967)
Fern-Seed and Elephants and Other Essays on Christianity (1975)
God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics (1970)
Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (1966)
The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses (1980)
The World's Last Night and Other Essays (1960)
POETRY
Dymer (1926)
Narrative Poems (1969)
Poems (1964)
Spirits in Bondage: A Cycle of Lyrics (1919)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Baby's Growing...11 Weeks Left!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Samaritan... or Levite?

Last night I saw violence.

Hurrying to church where I'm teaching the adult Bible study, I stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just like the cars in front of me. We were all sitting peacefully still behind our wheels. Out of nowhere, the car ahead of me veered rapidly to the right and up onto the sidewalk. Initially, I thought something happened to the driver and it was an accident, but that was just me once again thinking that mankind isn't totally depraved. Two teenage guys jumped out of the way of the car and the car's passenger immediately jumped out and chased them across the traffic and to the other side of the road. Meanwhile I needed to drive through the lane that the death-car was semi-blocking, so I leaned on my horn to get this loser, a girl, to move. She sped off and I was able to continue driving, now with a clear view across the road to see the passenger, an older teenager who had since overtaken one of the pedestrians, repeatedly kicking the fetally positioned kid in the head and stomach. The second victim was long gone.
I could have chased the car and got its plate number. I could have done a U turn and chased the "bully" away. I could have checked on the kid lying on the ground. But I proceeded to church, and prayed for them in my opening prayer (after telling the riveting tale, of course.)
So who am I? In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus explains what it means to love your neighbor. Our neighbors are not abstract beings, like "every person in the world," or some starving child in Africa, though they should be helped. Neighbors are not even friends or fellow Christians. Jesus identifies a neighbor as someone directly in front of you who is in need, whether he be an enemy or friend. In this case a Jew was mugged and beaten on a road, and the pious priest (a Jew) walked by him, and then a holy Levite (priest) walked by him. A Samaritan, enemy to the Jewish people, saw him and "had compassion on him" (v.33).
It is very interesting, now that I am reading this closer, that Jesus actually doesn't say that the beat up Jew was a neighbor. He asks, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" And someone answered, "'He who showed mercy on him.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Go and do likewise.'" Did you catch that? The neighbor in this case is the one who showed mercy, not the one who needed mercy.
Is it possible that Jesus' teaching here, which was in response to the man's question, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" is saying that you must love your neighbor -"neigbor" being the one who shows mercy on you- and that this Neighbor is Christ himself, who alone is the way to eternal life?
Anyway, I digress. I felt like the Levite who passed by the beaten soul in need of comapssion and went off to mention him fleetingly in a prayer. I'm just glad the Lord Jesus Christ didn't learn how to be a Saviour from me...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Passionate Opera


I have been recruited for an opera based on Theodore Dubois's 1860s work, "The Seven Last Words of Christ" ('words' of course meaning 'sentences'.) The opera is being mounted as an international revival being re-entitled, "The Ninth Hour," of which the December 7th production is a pilot performance. It's to go on tour throughout North America and then returning to Dubois's homeland for a Paris premier. Dubois wrote it in Latin, and we're performing it in English, but the French have never heard it in their own language... until now. Now, to clarify, I do not plan to go on the international tour with the opera. But I am committing to the Ottawa area performances as a baritone soloist, specifically the Penitent Thief who sings a desperate duet with Christ as he is being pulled toward hell and pleading that Christ remembers him, until the Lord proclaims his salvation. I will also sing tenor in the chorus. The pilot will be venued at Dominion Chalmers United Church in Ottawa (see pictures), and it is a beautiful musical piece.
The director actually premiered it in Detroit (thus the mostly black cast on the Ninth Hour website) in the early 80s but now plans for the global stage. Because this is not a cantata nor an oratorio like Handel's Messiah, but an opera, we need to be off book so we can move and have emotion.
On the one hand, I've done plenty of Broadway musicals which were memorized and involved simultaneous acting and singing. On the other hand, I've never had to memorize opera music, which isn't quite as predictable as Andrew Lloyd Webber melodies. It should be fun.
Listen to this sample, Jesus' third word, in which he tells Mary to behold her son, John.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A New Blogger

I would like to extend my congratulations to my friend and fellow ABUer Greg Cunningham, "Welcome to the 21st Century!" Greg (aka Johnny Reb, becuase of his Southern roots, as he calls me Billy Yank) will contribute his vast wisdom to the internet, wisdom he has gathered over years of world travel, from growing up in the Alaskan wilderness to visiting mysterious temples in Asia, to wandering the streets of Haiti, to fighting the uncivilized hordes of the third world in French Atlantic Canada. I'm sure we're all in for the ride of a lifetime as we read the (...fanfare...) "Chronicles of Narn--" oh wait... "Chronicles of Cunningham!!"

P.S. Please enter the discussion of the post below. There's a lot to talk about.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Little Altar-cation

Wow. That was a long time without updating. Please forgive me. There's been a lot of stuff going on, bla, bla, bla...
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. There seems to have been an altar-cation between the Protestants, Roman Catholics, Greeks, and anyone else who jumped into the discussion. It's been said that the way to get people to stop reading your blog is not to update as frequently. I hope that isn't the case this time, as I'd like to continue the dialogue. This is the longest I've ever gone without posting.
There are several issues I will take up immediately:
  1. There is a significant difference between a table and an altar in Scripture.
  • Consider firstly, an altar. The word is thusiasterion from thuo (to sacrifice) and thusia (a sacrifice), so a thusiasterion is simply a "place of sacrifice". This is a term used in Mat 23:18-20; Lk 1:11; Lk 11:51; Rom 11:3.
  • It is always used in the New Testament to refer to the altar of the Hebrew temple as a place where something is sacrificed, or to a pagan altar (Acts 17:23), or to heavenly altars in the book of Revelation.
  • It is NEVER used in reference to the Lord's Supper, but is implied by Christ's work on Calvary. I repeat, neither altar nor sacrifice, which are techinical terms, were used in reference to the Eucharist. Try me on this, it's black and white (unless you have a red-letter edition). There is an important place where Paul uses all three terms (altar, sacrifice, table) but we can exegete that in a moment.
  • Next, consider a table. The word, as was pointed out by our Greek friend, is trapeza, not "holy table," just table. The word is found in Mat 15:27; Lk 16:21; Lk 22:21, 30; Lk 22:21, 30; Rom 11:9, etc. It means a dining table. Jesus used it during the Last Supper to refer to the actual physical furniture that they were reclining at, as well as a description of our spiritual communion with him.
  • An altar is necessary for atonement, but the one and only altar recognized by Christ is the one he sacrificed himself on, and that is the Cross. After a sacrifice was made in Israel, the priests would sit and eat the flesh (not drink the blood) of the offering. In this way they were connected to the sacrifice. But the act of sacrifice was complete and done, before they ate it. Christ's sacrifice was once for all time, just as his birth was a one-time historical event (just because we celebrate it annually doesn't mean that a supernatural birth of infant Jesus occurs again), and his baptism, and his ressurection and ascension. Likewise is death was a unique event. He is not dying nor dead any longer, but we remember that event.
  • Let's look at Paul's warning against idolatry in 1 Cor 10:14-22 (ESV):

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

  • We participate in the body and blood of Christ's sacrifice, not in that we are sacrificing him, but because we eat a meal that had been sacrificed on the Cross two millennia ago. When pagans sacrifice to their idols (demons), they sit and eat the meat in a celebration. We come to the Table of the Lord as a celebration of an event, not the event itself.
  • Let me end this post reminding us that communion is never referred to as an altar or sacrifice. The altar was the Cross, the sacrifice was Christ's body and blood. We commemorate that sacrifice at the Lord's Table with bread and wine.
  • I must respond in installments because there is so much to talk about. Don't worry, we'll pick up transustantiation next.
  • Monday, November 07, 2005

    Both Catholics and "DaVinci Code" Proved Wrong

    Read the new post on Deus Artefacta, "Earliest Christian Church Found ." It is amazing that on Reformation Day, Oct. 30-31, when Luther protested Roman Catholic practice, we have discovered on its anniversary in 2005 the oldest Christian church perhaps in the world, and it contradicts Romanistic teaching. See articles and pictures on Deus Artefactica. The church is believed to be 1700 years old and was found by prisoners in a prison at Megiddo, Israel (Armageddon) while they were working to expand the prison. Amid mosaics of the fish symbol and and other things, there are two significant finds that accomplish what I describe in my title. Firstly, there is a table accompanied by a description of folks who donated the table, which was used for celebrating the Lord's Supper. Why is this so significant? Well, it wasn't until the Byzantine period that tables were replaced with altars, which accompanied the unbiblical doctrine that we were not simply remembering Christ's sacrifice with the bread and wine, but we were now actually performing Christ's sacrifice on an altar. This of course is heretical, to repeat the killing of Christ on an altar every day or week for our sins. The Table represents the memory of a one-time, all sufficient atonement. The fact that the oldest church in the world has -not an altar- but a communion Table, proves once again, that the Roman Catholic church is off the mark and inconsistent with apostolic tradition. The other significant artifact is an inscription in a mosaic which says in Greek, "the God Jesus Christ." So? What's so great about that? Christians always believed that Jesus is God. Tell that to most liberal scholars and disciples of the DaVinci Code cult. Dan Brown, in his best-selling novel falsely claims as fact that no one believed Jesus was divine until the 300's when Constantine legalized Christianity, and the deity of Christ popped up out of nowhere. The book says, "Everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false" and that the "greatest story ever told was really the greatest story ever sold." Well, I'm sorry to say that not only do his disciples and Paul proclaim the deity of Christ but the oldest church in the world from the third century, long before Constantine, proclaimed that Jesus Christ was God. And once again, truth triumphs over fantasy when shovels and brushes reveal that both the Catholic Mass and antichrist fiction novels are misinformed.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    CANNOLI...Finally!


    After four years in this country I finally found, for the first time, cannoli - the greatest pastry in the world. In New Brunswick there was nothing Italian, but here in Ottawa I ventured to Preston Street, the city's "Little Italy" and found a pasticceria that sold the beautiful ricotta cream-filled shells. This particular shop uses chocolate chips in their filling and tops the ends off with marascino cherries, a very Sicilian thing to do. Sometimes people put orange peel or other candied fruit. We bought a half dozen for tonight's dessert, so I'll update you on how they were. I expect they're a success. The pastry probably has the most fame from the oft-quoted line from "The Godfather", which took place after a murder on the way home from the bakery.

    Thursday, November 03, 2005

    New Look

    I have taken on a new look with my blog because for reasons unknown to me, the other template was giving me problems. But don't worry, I will still produce quality blogs at low prices.

    Welcome to a New Blogger


    I am pleased to introduce a brand new blogger to blogging culture, my very good friend Mr. David Graves. Formerly a pastor of a Reformed Baptist church in New Brunswick, David is a professor and the Director of Computer Services and Information Security Officer at Atlantic Baptist University. He is the founder of Electronic Christian Media and author of The Scroll, Multimedia Study Bible. The company eGames now produces an edition of the program, calling it The Biblical Scroll and it is distributed in many stores across North America. On this latest version I actually have photograph credits for my pictures of Pompeii! The program is a wondeful tool, equipped with thousands of photos, animated maps, video, sound, background info on the historical, geographical and cultural context to all parts of the Bible, from creation myths to coins. It also includes Matthew Henry's commentary on the Bible and Spurgeon's Catechism and Quiz Game. The Scroll is great for kids and adults and a perfect Christmas gift. I have several copies myself.

    David has been in the news a lot lately as he was recently appointed the Director of Operations for The Archaeological Imaging Research Consortium(ArcImaging), which is planning a scientific expedition to the peak of Mt. Ararat in Turkey. He's doing all of this while currently writing his PhD thesis for the University of Aberdeen (Scotland). But you can read all about these things on his new blog, Deus Artefacta. If you like archaeology and its biblical relevance, and don't mind getting sand in everything, check out the site and join the fun!