Sunday, September 25, 2011

A living sacrifice

It's been a long time since I heard this song. It seems to have gotten left behind in the seventies. But it's a good 'un, even if slightly repetitive.

Found at: FilesTube

St. Paul:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

The Book of Common Prayer:
And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves,
our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living
sacrifice unto thee; humbly beseeching thee that we, and all
others who shall be partakers of this Holy Communion, may
worthily receive the most precious Body and Blood of thy Son
Jesus Christ, be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction,
and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and
we in him.

And although we are unworthy, through our manifold sins,
to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we beseech thee to accept
this our bounden duty and service, not weighing our merits,
but pardoning our offences, through Jesus Christ our Lord;

Monday, September 19, 2011

The writing process

Doctor Jenkins turned from the window and there was an almost imperceptible tautening of his whole frame. The Dean, with a slight smile, pushed aside the papers that littered his counterpane, for they were now coming to business. It always amused him to watch Tom Jenkins turning from man to doctor. A little chat about the weather was the correct thing when he entered the room, and he was hesitant, even a little in awe of his distinguished patient. Then it seemed that something clicked and he moved smoothly into action, concentrated and wholly happy. Something of the same sort of process was familiar to the Dean when he settled down to the writing of a book. A wave of self-loathing, of self-distrust, would go over him at first. Who was he that he should dare to take a pen into his hand? And how puerile was the result when he had done it. He would struggle wearily through a page or two and then forget himself, coming to the surface an hour later knowing that his book was his artifact, and whatever the result he could no more not make it than fail to breathe.
Elizabeth Goudge, The Dean's Watch, pp. 272-273

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My 9/11 Anniversary Post

...will be stolen. See below.

Meanwhile, my gift to Extra Thoughts readers is that I will not give a spiel on where I was and what I was doing when I heard that Muslim terrorists were flying planes into the Twin Towers. It would be boring (let's just say it was a perfectly ordinary morning), and the fact that so many people do it is starting to make it sound like a series of essays from fourth graders on "What I Did On My Summer Vacation." 9/11 was not about me nor about what I was doing that morning.

Please go and read Bill Luse's 9/11 post at W4. Unlike so many other 9/11 posts, perhaps including this one, it doesn't just exist for the sake of the pixels. It has meaning.

For myself, I have nothing particularly original to say this year at the anniversary of 9/11, even though it is the tenth anniversary. My one (somewhat unoriginal) thought is that most people have no idea of how to continue to speak the truth about Muslim terrorism and about what it means to oppose and fight it. Indeed, we have less clarity of speech and thought now than we had ten years ago. Those old enough to have clear memories of the atmosphere before 9/11 will know how much easier it was before that to hear someone on the radio say "Muslim terrorists." It would sound almost naive now--an unthinking ability on the part of someone in the mainstream to speak the truth without hedging it about. We live in a different world now. Even many self-styled conservatives feel that they must speak only of "Muslim extremists," not just of "Muslim terrorists." Somehow the '93 attack on the WTC did not have the muzzling effect that the actual success of Muslim terrorists (in bringing down the WTC) has had. (Apropos of speaking out, perhaps here I should link to a series of posts on Islam and the West that I co-wrote with Jeff Culbreath at W4.)

The ever-controversial Lawrence Auster has said something about 9/11 commemorations so spot-on that I am simply going to quote it for the remainder of my 9/11 anniversary post:

The September 11th attack on America, in which devout Muslim believers carried out the greatest single jihad raid in history, and Muslims around the world cheered and danced in joy over this great blow to the infidel, should have awakened America and the West to the nature of the 1,400 year old warrior religion of Islam. Instead, while triggering a “war against terrorism,” the 9/11 attack inspired liberal America to embrace and approve of Islam much more than it had done before, even as Americans allowed themselves to be placed under permanent and humiliating security measures out of the liberal imperative to avoid the slightest hint of discrimination against Muslims.

These unexpected and devastating outcomes of 9/11 are perhaps the greatest single illustration of Auster’s First Law, which says that the more alien or dangerous a nonwhite or non-Western group reveals itself to be, the more our liberal society approves of it, accommodates itself to it, and forbids any criticism of it. To speak the truth about the unchangeable Islamic command to wage eternal war by violence and stealth against non-Muslims and about Muslims’ 1,400 year long obedience to that command, is to place oneself outside the respectable mainstream. In America you don’t get put in jail for speaking the forbidden truth, you just lose your job and career. This is the reign of fear under which we live.

In sum, the result of 9/11 has not been Western self-defense against Islam, but the prohibition of Western self-defense against Islam. And all the official 9/11 commemorations, notwithstanding their patriotic appearance, will carry that message of American and Western surrender. And that is why they should be avoided.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Only Connect the Prose and the Passion II

A few months ago I wrote this post on the connection between prose and passion in Christianity.

Today I'm thinking about something a bit different--the way that Christianity connects the prose and the passion in the sense of connecting doctrine and emotion.

Last evening I enjoyed myself watching several Youtube videos of the late, immortal Gospel singer Vestal Goodman. Here was one that lifted me up. Vestal's joy is contagious:

If you are, like me, a somewhat cerebral person, it's easy to miss that passion. That's where people like Vestal remind me of what my parents and teachers all taught me when I was little: You have to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's not enough just to have head knowledge. You have to love Jesus; you have to follow Him. You have to be committed to Him.

I sit and watch Vestal sing or talk (and there are many more videos of her out there, as you can see at Youtube) and feel a kind of wonder. What must it to be like to be that filled with joy and love? What is it like to have that kind of confidence and peace, a confidence and peace that obviously come not from mere innocence but rather from suffering and pain?

That wonder of mine is a fruitful wonder. It conveys some of her peace to me just to know that there are people who have that peace, that confidence and joy, that trust that God "doeth all things well," that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well."

Then this morning, I went to church, and we said the Nicene Creed, and for some reason, when we got to "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man..." I thought of Vestal.

What an amazing thing: There is a deep connection between that solemn, even in some sense "dry," theological truth that the Eternal Son was incarnate as a man, incarnate as a baby in the womb, and the excitement, wonder, and love of the Lord Jesus that one sees in a Gospel singer. The two are not at odds. They may seem to be at odds from the perspective of one Christian tradition or the other: To one person, the joy of Vestal Goodman may seem over-the-top, overly emotional, alien. To another, the solemnity of the Anglican liturgy, including the Creed, is dead and has no heart.

It's my opinion that Christianity desperately needs both. We need joy unspeakable and full of glory, and sometimes we need that joy to take the form of hand-clapping and foot-stomping. Not in all times and places, to be sure, but in some times and places. We need Vestal Goodman, with the Light that lightens all men, the Light that shone in darkness, shining in her face, so that we know that the darkness will never overcome it. We need the opportunity to sing with her, cry with her, and lift up our hands.

We also need doctrine. We need the structure, the discipline, the architectonic, the heart-ravishing beauty of the liturgy. We need to say, slowly and deliberately, the things we believe. We need to do it with some frequency and in words that we did not get to make up ourselves. We need to join hands with the men of all ages who have believed these things, in words that, like fine coins, have pased through many hands and have been polished thereby to a high lustre. We need quiet. We need sacred places.

We need all of these things, because there is a sense in which Christianity contains all of these things. And Christianity contains all of these things because Christianity, alone of the religions of the world, connects the prose and the passion.