February 27, 2004

I have 2 PCs in my office now. One is a development server. I'm used to copying files on the network, and watching the little progress bar go without feeling like much is 'happening'.

With the server in my office its (for now) a suprise as I copy a file up to the server and hear off to my right the little drive start whirring.

A little anti-gnostic parable for now I guess: information always is physically instantiated in the created world.

What does it take for a theology to be a merit soteriology?

I think there probably can be bad, non-saving soteriologies that aren't merit soteriologies

February 26, 2004

On Judaism as a religion of merit or not:

1. The traditional view is that the Jews said "look at us, we're saved because we keep the law, without any help from God"

2. The NPP says there isn't any basis for thinking Jews said that. That seems right.

3. Some anti-NPP folks have misinterpreted the NPP as saying "Jews said 'We're saved because we keep the law, but God graciously enables us to do that: we affirm sola gratia'" and the NPP as thinking thats just fine for them.

4. The NPP is actually saying "Jews said 'we're saved by God, and the sign of that is we have a law to keep, even though we're grossly immoral. We can look down on gentiles who don't have the law to keep'"

5. And so the point of romans is to show the Jews who thought they were saved because they were hearers of the law, that they aren't because they are not doers of the law, and that only those in Jesus are true 'doers of the law'

Is that right?

As if I needed another reminder not to go to the disaffected Catholic homosexualist Andrew Sullivan for theology, his comments on The Passion of the Christ say way more about him than the film. As a libertine who peppers his writing with porn references without even noticing any more ('money quote' is getting really tired, Andrew), can do nothing but liken the violence of the flaying scene to a porn film, "reducing all human thought and feeling and personhood to mere flesh"

Sullivan denies the scene (which I haven't seen) has any basis in the gospels, and denies that it emotionally involves the audience, rather promotes "sick fascination". To the latter, that may be part of Gibson's point: note your own "sick fascination" and realize you have such a a capacity within you, and note you own culpability for Jesus death. To the former, well, sure, the gospels don't have the flogging of Jesus all storyboarded out, but I've always heard sermons describe for our edification the kind of horrific jagged metal-laced scourges the Romans used.

As my dad used to say, when Isaiah said "he had no form nor comeliness that we should desire him" we can understand that what Jesus went though you had 'hamburger' hanging on that cross.

But I can pity Sullivan for being so ignorant that he misses the import of a very sensitively theological an biblical point
Toward the end, unsatisfied with showing a man flayed alive, nailed gruesomely to a cross, one eye shut from being smashed in, blood covering his entire body, Gibson has a large crow perch on the neighboring cross and peck another man's eyes out. Why? Because the porn needed yet another money shot.
I suppose Sullivan is unaware of the biblical old testament background to crucifixion, and how it has been interpreted in the understanding of the prophetic need for Christ to be so involved. "Cursed is he who hangeth on a tree" Deuteronomy declares, but there are two forms of this covenantal curse. The one level is being hung on the tree. The deeper level of curse is remaining up there and being eaten by the birds. In displaying the further curse on the thief who doesn't repent, Gibson shows the suffering of Jesus in a context that reminds us of the greater horrors possible for those who reject their suffering savior.

Further references: Genesis 40:19, Deuteronomy 28:26, 1 Samuel 17:46 2 Samuel 21:10, Revelation 19:17-18

February 25, 2004

If/when I see the Passion, it will be partly out of a sense of Christian brotherhood with Mr Gibson. "Hey I made something I think you'll want to see" is a pretty good reason to see something.

Now here's a roleplaying game everyone (except barlow) can enjoy: Paranoia XP

Some marketing materials:
Upgrade to Paranoia XP
It's mandatory!

Failure to upgrade to
Paranoia XP
is a fatal protection error.
For you.

Filesharing is treason.
Listen only to Trusted Music ?.
A public safety announcement from The Computer.

All your rights are belong to us.

You may make up to six clones as personal backups.
All other rights are retained by The Computer.
Copyright violation will be punished by summary execution.
Thank you for your cooperation.

Digital rights management is not necessary.
You have no rights.
The Computer is Your Friend.

Pre-emptive defense is mandatory.
The Commies must die.
The Computer does not lie.

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of silicon and man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one.
After re-education and re-installation of your meatware OS, you will join us
And the whole world will live as one.
Paranoia XP
Happiness is mandatory.

February 24, 2004

Another comment on Lucas. Lucas tries to claim that Leithart is the innovator by saying that Leithart makes a "new (to the Reformed tradition) emphasis upon baptism as the means for entering the church's salvation".

The WCF says that baptism admits the party baptized to the visible church, and says of the visible church
is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation.
Is it a blessing to be in the kingdom? To be in the family of God? To be in the corporate entity that ordinarily is coterminous with the body of the saved?

And even if that all is to radical (or innovative to the Reformed tradition), Leithart's expression of the salvation enetered is particulalry the "church salvation" that accompanies being associted with and in relation with the visible saints and visible redeemed on earth. Is it not from the redemption wrought by Christ that we in the church have gifts and graces for performing "spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification"? Or do I need to be more exclusive in my understanding of WCF XXVI.II, and beleive that until baptized children make a credible profession of faith, I'm not yet bound to maintain holy fellowship with them or extend the communion of the saints to them as of yet.

Diet Coke with Lime is really good.

February 23, 2004

To answer Sullivan's question as to why evangelicals seem content not to campaign against divorce, even though Jesus spoke so strenuously against divorce I offer the following observations:

1. Jesus has set a standard for Christian marriage of men and women together, and that while divorce imperils every soul, it there hardly seems to be much of a point to civilly banning a particular sin that Christians hardly expect non-Christians to ever be able to live up to.

2. Allowing for civil divorce of civil marriage is a far cry from redefining the nature of marriage to encompass same-sexual relationships.

3. Conservative Christians already lost the battle against no-fault divorce long ago, and are more energized to fight a current battle further down the slippery slope.

4. They probably lost that battle because when it was being fought, they were very much more apolitical than now, and in retreat from secular politics. And they lost that battle probably too because protestants have never been as strongly anti-divorce (Milton, Bucer) as Catholics.

5. Is there a credible movement to strengthen divorce regulations? Where do I send my check?

6. Now let me undermine my first point (which is something I've heard from evangelical pulpits). While its true that Jesus sets out a Kingdom ethic, its not true that the ethic is only concerned with the state of the divorced person's soul, considered as some kind of religious doctrine. Jesus teachings on divorce are teaching about the public institution of marriage, and I'm pretty sure that his concern for the weak's mistreatment by the strong (men divorcing women) is incredibly relevant and of general applicability.

Don't try to install the Option Pack for NT server 4.0 (IIS) over Service Pack 6.

Another picture from my walk to work with a digital camera.

Can you tell what it is?

Its probably not too hard

I like the color here, but it makes my picture not count as artsy as garver's.

Why doesn't somebody go down to the San Franscisco courthouse with two sign langauge speaking chimps that have been trained to sign "we want to get marrried". Or two parrots or something.

February 22, 2004

I used to have a U.S. News and World Report subscription, but I dropped it. They always seemed to go out of there way to report the latest in liberal religious scholarship. Time, though secular, never seemed to have such a chip on its shoulder.

I miss John Leo, but I can get him over the web.

Should I get a Time, or Newsweek, or something else (not World)?

Or just read occasional web news.

Or get the atlantic monthly?

Out of Time or Newsweek, who thinks which is better?

KataJohn has some interesting remarks on significant numbers in John.

It hadn't occured to me that the 6 waterpots related to Jesus only having 6 disciples at the time.

If we shouldn't use the Old Testament as "law" for Christian living today, will anything be wrong with me wearing a dress to church next week?

Updates at the Lupine Nuncio


A more humorous response to Lucas

When I first read The Lucas Lexicon's criticism of Peter Leithart's "theological haiku" Against Christianity I was first glad to see someone starting to interact with what Leithart had written. As if by design, Against Christianity (hereafter referred to as AG) seems invulnerable to the analytical takedowns so prevalent in Reformed theology when one opposes someone theologically. First because it requires fairly careful reading. Leithart has told you he's being deliberately provocative. If one were to say "see here: this man says he's against Christianity" it would already all ready signals that the criticism has gone wide of the mark.

Second, the book is so full of questions that any review would try to answer at least a few. To refuse to answer Leithart's many "why not this" and "what about that's" would also leave someone who read the book with a feeling that a reviewer just wasn't interested in dialogue, in absorbing the what the writer is trying to do before answering.

Lucas strangely decide to frame his comments as through Peter Leithart were clearly on some kind of trajectory that could only lead to liberalism (the PCUSA) or Rome, and ends suggesting that he might as well go there, perhaps in the hopes that Leithart would leave people like Lucas alone without challenging them.

On my first read-through of the review I was concerned that perhaps Leithart's expression of favor for ritual had been misheard. So many times Lucas asks "where is faith in all this" as if Leithart's favor for the rituals of the church didn't always already include what for the Reformers and for Leithart was the central "symbol": the reading and preaching of the Word of God. If Leithart's cry for the church to assert her own language and develop a full orbed culture in opposition to the worldly polis then clearly Leithart includes the Words of Holy Scripture and their constant call for faith on the part of the hearer.

Was Lucas so Americanized that the very world "ritual" was like a red cape to a bull: viewed always in opposition to anything that touched in issues of the heart? What was the problem and how can those sympathetic to Leithart better communicate so that questions like "where is faith in all this" don't present themselves.

But rereading the part of AC that Lucas cites as negative examples of Leithart's errors, time and time again I either see incomprehension of what Leithart explains, or gross misrepresentation of Leithart to make him out to be saying only what Lucas expects he must really be saying.
Leithart somehow claims that the church is salvation in its corporate representation and (presumably) to be part of the church is to be saved. This, in turn, leads to a new (to the Reformed tradition) emphasis upon baptism as the means for entering the church?s salvation, which logically leads to the idea that to be baptized is to be saved. As he claimed, "Baptism...is his 'becoming-a-disciple.' It is not a picture of a man being joined in covenant to Christ; it is a man being joined in covenant to Christ"
Wow, sounds like Leithart is some kind of sacerdotalist, huh. Here's what he actually says on page 32
Nor is salvation adjectival merely of individuals. If salvation is the re-creation of man through Christ and the Spirit (which it is), then salvation must be restored relationships and communities as much as individuals. If Christ has not restored human community, if society is not "saved" as much as the individual, then Christ has not restored man as he really is. Salvation must take a social form, and the Church is that social form of salvation, the community that already (though imperfectly) has become the human race as God created it to be the human race that is becoming what God intends it to be.

The Church is neither a reservoir of grace nor an external support for the Christian life [Lucas seems to misquote Leithart as using the term "crutch for grace" here]. The Church is salvation [bold emphasis mine]
Ok, see what's going on here? Leithart is talking about how God isn't just saving individuals merely (the most important theological word according to John Frame) as individuals, but that since man is a social being, God's salvation of him and the cosmos will necessarily have a communitarian manifestation. For Lucas this is a claim that Leithart makes "somehow", and that Leithart is saying that all the individual things that Lucas assumes are predicated of salvation in ordinary reformed language are being postliberally [?] applied to something the church does.

Lucas goes on in his next three paragraphs to cite things that Lucas apparently considers outrageously sacerdotal. Simple examination of the citations in context reveal that Lucas has either failed to understand Leithart's actual distinctions, or that he has irresponsibly misread Leithart.

Lucas citing Leithart "to participate in the Lord's Supper is to participate in the reality (86), seemingly [weasel word alert!] regardless whether one 'mixes' the sign with faith."

[p 85] To say that the [elements] are symbols is not to say that they are without value or power, or that they lack "reality." It is merely to say that whatever power they have is the kind of power symbols have... It is to say that whatever reality they have is the kind of reality that symbols always have...

What is the Supper? It is not just bread and wine, and not just eating of bread and wine. It is eating bread and wine by members of Christ's body at Christ's invitation. Christ's authorization and definition and invitation make all the difference
Its in this context and definition of symbol, reality and the supper that Leithart says that by eating the symbols, we are partaking in the reality. This is saying that somebody who goes to church and partakes in Christ's Supper (as the scriptures define it) is partaking in Christ's Supper. Its virtually speaking of a tautology, but a tautology that evangelicals are apparently terrified of making. We've spent so much time taking about what the faithless person doesn't receive that we can't talk about the fact that even the faithless person who partakes and eats and drinks damnation to himself is getting damnation because he is participating badly in some kind of reality whether he wants to or not.

This misunderstanding of Leithart seems to come from Lucas's incapacity to distinguish the nexus of "social reality" that the supper presents quite apart from anything supposedly supernatural that might be going on.

But then Lucas irresponsibly misquotes Leithart when he says that
faith as most Reformed evangelicals understand it (namely as an individual appropriation of God's gospel of grace in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, whereby an individual is united to Christ, receiving a new status before and power to obey God) is upbraided as "the heresy of Christianity in a nutshell" (78)
Whoa! let's just look at page 78 of AC
Religion is private: this is the heresy of Christianity in a nutshell
Now prior to this statement on p 76, Leithart describes the tendencies that impeded Evangelicals' grasp of the significance of the sacraments. Writing of privatization, Leithart describes the tendency to view "Religion as a matter of belief and personal devotion. Public rituals can be faked, and so those who tie religion to public rituals tempt us to be hypocrites."

That seems like a perfectly obvious and noncontroversial point. And in his attack on "Christianity" is it just as a "religion", something believed inwardly only, with little to no public character: a realm of "personal belief" that has no out-living in the public square. Lucas accuses Leithart of replacing faith with ritual on page 112, as the Church forms the Christian via ritual into the practices and languages of the Church. But on p 112 Leithart says that "Christian myth and ritual shape the people of God, by the power of the Spirit, into conformity to Christ." "Myth" I assume here has the sense of C.S. Lewis' "True Myth", that is, the Christian Gospel. And the formation wrought by myth and ritual is to be exactly the "love, peace, purity, joy, ministry, mission and forgiveness" that he gospel has always been said to produce. Far from advocating a ritual as a for-its-own sake feedback loop, Leithart sees the rituals and stories of the church (the word and sacraments, in other words, as re-forming her people towards unity in her Head, Jesus Christ.

Why does Lucas want to portray Leithart otherwise?

Son sick with croup since thursday night.

Listening to his raspy cough can be so terrifying.

I tried some electrical work on the house last Saturday, and I think I did a pretty good job. The upstairs switch for the downstairs light broke and wouldn't switch on or off. I had a replacement switch which I installed. But it noted at the time that whatever kind of switch I installed wasn't the same type, because it didn't change the state of the light regardless of the state of the downstairs switch.

Just now I noticed something else: some combination of switches on and off make it so that one flick of a downstairs switch turns an upstairs light off or on and the downstairs light the opposite way at the same time.

I do intend to get an electrician in someday this year to take out an old non-code fuse box, and upgrade some other electrical service. I guess I'll get this taken care of then.

February 13, 2004

The new AIM version is cute with the slide-up alerts.

My new pc doesn't have Windows Image Editor, but I don't know why. Is it part of Direct X 9.0?

I would have posted my next "arty" digital photo, but I need that to make a thumbnail.

I've got a new PC at work. HP/Compaq d530 pentium 4 2.39 Mhz, 256 Mb ram. Small footprint, which is nice. Black, with silver trim (also nice). Matches my Bionicle better. Very quiet. Front headphone and USB ports. DVD.


I was looking into these guys (coldfusiontraining.com). They have quite a setup. They do three students, with two teachers, for five days, 8am-7pm. $3,500. The topic list looks good.

February 04, 2004

Here is the Green Line Cafe, 43rd and Baltimore ave, in west philadelphia.

It used to be a flower shop when we first moved into our house, but this is its current incarnation. They really did a nice job on the restoration, restoring some very nice sianed glass on the Baltimore street side (on the right)

Lots of yummy stuff, but small tables. I would sometimes stop on my way in to work (after having eaten breakfast) to grab a nice big blueberry muffin. Not any more.

Its called the Green Line Cafe because the trolley that goes past it is part of the SEPTA "green line" subway/surface trolley.

Hey look: a website!

I was watching some of the Schoolhouse Rock dvd with the family yesterday. I was suprised at how many I had zero (my hero!) recall of. They must nto have put the unpopular (less workable ones) in regular rotation or something.

I was also amazed at how "un PC" some of them were, like the "2" song that was all about Noah's Ark (Daughter: "Its from the Bible Daddy!")

And this:
Nine hungry men had six dollars each. (Aw!)
That's 54 bucks,
But they were outta luck.
'Cause 54 bucks won't buy dinner downtown.
Not for nine.
Then there were six hungry men
They had nine dollars each ( Yeah!)
And they went downtown, and the waiter said "Sit down!"
Oh, it makes a big difference how you spread it around.
Six time nine is 54, nine times six
The nine men all were depicted as working stiffs, and the six were cartoonish industrialists. But that paled with
See that prince over there? (Yeah!)
The one with the fuzzy hair.
He's got six rings on every finger.
He don't wash no dishes,
Not with 60 diamonds.
Six time ten is 60, ten times six

He brought along eleven camels.
Now, ain't that nice? (Ain't that nice)
Each one loaded down with six casks of oil and spice.
Brought quite a price.
Six time eleven is 66, eleven times six

He had twelve wives.
He better be rich.
Each one had six kids - six children each.
Six time twelve is 72, twelve times six
The animation was of an "empowered" black man wearing a daishiki, counting his money from the oil and spice, and the 12 wives all in veils with big doe-eyes.

Nobody would ever get away with that on a kids show today.

So out of curiosity I was trying to check if the Argonath bookends that came with the Felllowship of The Ring Extended DVD were sold seperatly by anyone on ebay.

To my suprise, not only was there a robust market, but they seemed to routinely go for about the same price you pay for the Platinum Edition from amazon.com. This unfortunatly makes it irrational for me to buy a set off ebay. I even tried looking for some cheap misspellings.

I also noted that the extended DVD goes for about $20.

I suppose an enterprising person could buy a bunch of the platinum editions and sell the parts seperately and profit. I've been burned by this kind of scheming in the past though.

De script shun




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