12.31.2005

Botticelli's "Primavera"


The art history courses I took listed Botticelli among the great early Rennaissance painters, but never went into any detail studying his paintings. There are really only 6 major paintings that remain from Alessandro Filipepi (who took the last name Botticelli from the goldsmith he apprenticed around age 14), all of which deal with mythological subject matter.... or do they?

The beauty of Botticelli's paintings is how he uses mythological figures to speak to a modern event, in this case, a wedding in the powerful Medici family of Florence that took 3 years to negotiate. This particular wedding was important to ally the Medici - who were losing favor with the Pope - with another economically strong family who had stakes in iron mining and the all-important favor with the Pope. But you'd never get it from looking at this painting, done for the bride and groom.

Read from right to left, we see a blue guy with puffy cheeks: Zephyrus, the wind. He is overtaking Chloris against her will, who is transformed into the goddess of Spring, Flora (the next figure with the flowered dress). Central is Venus, modestly dressed and beckoning the bride to flourish in her new role as wife and produce offspring for the Medici (note the orange trees in the background, in bloom and with ripe fruit. The orange tree was a symbol of the Medici family). Next to Venus are the 3 Graces, another signal to the bride to be all that Florentine culture required of a wife. And the disinterested guy in red poking a stick in the clouds is Mercury, the guide of Venus and the Graces. He is driving winter away, apparently getting things ready for the wedding. He is said to represent Lorenzo the Magnificent, the "godfather" figure of the Medici family who negotiated the wedding. And flying above is the chubby little putto Amor, blindfolded and shooting his arrow of love at whomever it will hit. He was ever the companion of Venus.

There is a lot more symbolism in this painting; every tree and flower is purposefully painted. That is one of the most misunderstood aspects of art, that painters must put "filler" into their artwork. But Botticelli proves otherwise, and each stroke of his brush was purposefully done to convey the intended message. He drew from several ancient literary sources and contemporary common visual icons to put together this scene of initially disconnected figures. These would all have been readily understood and recognized by the people of the late 1400's, and the message clearly communicated. It was a visual shorthand, of sorts.

More interesting is the story of the painting which hung NEXT to this one in the bride's chamber, and how that one "talked" with this one to complete the story of how the bride should view and understand her new marriage. More on that later.

Sara

12.30.2005

A Humble Confidence

Tim and Ann should read this carefully. Summary: just because we can't know everything, doesn't mean we can't be confident about what God has told us. We don't have to speak tentatively, shuffling our feet, all the time, just because we don't have it all put together. I think there are many times when it is SIN to speak and act so (Joshua 1:6-9; Matthew 28:20; in Acts, the Spirit produces boldness to preach).

12.29.2005

Bible question for you

Let's see how blogs work as Bible studies! Your response sought:

Zechariah 9:7's "he who remains." It seems most commentators, including Calvin, interpret this as all the Jewish remnant.

My question: couldn't this apply to the Messiah, of verse 9?

Verse 8 hints at Messiah, too, with an allusion to John 1:14 (Jesus dwelt or tabernacled among us).

Or am I reading too much in, that's not there?

Criticism and love

My responses on this RCA email list, edited so it makes (sort of) sense to you:

I'm convinced more and more (given evangelical Christians' knee-jerk-reaction claims of ignorance, uncertainty, and a false humility, and given such positive response to writers like Brian McLaren) that Jesus would have been dismissed by 90% of evangelical Christians today for His Matthew 23 confrontational tirade alone. They would have walked away, disgusted that anyone could be so un-Christ-like. Ironic, huh? Now, there's a time and a place for that kind of thing, but there IS a time and a place for it. It's not wholesale verboten. At the same time, I agree that much of the dismissive attitudes and interruption tactics of talk shows is atrocious (though I've never seen O'Reilly). There's a difference between stating truth confidently and running roughshod over people.

Criticism can be done without self-righteousness (Gal 6:1; iron sharpens iron). Conversely, any criticism can be met with a self-righteous, "Don't criticize like that!" The words on the screen/page don't give away the heart attitude as often as we think they do.

Under-handed, satirical criticism is not necessarily self-righteous. Even much more directly done, this can be free of self-righteousness. "Look at 'em walking around in their long robes, big Bibles, long prayers, long faces, saying 'look how holy I am' - fools and blind! Whitewashed tombs!"



And separately, on politics derailing us from Christ's agenda: Let the Bible define your politics, not vice versa. But what does the Bible SAY?

Culture war defense

Had someone on our RCA email list argue against Christians fighting culture wars, since they so polarize us. Here was my response.

How are we to understand 2 Cor 10:3-5, if "culture wars are pointless"?

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

I agree its sad that Christians get divided among themselves; we should be presenting one witness to the world to fulfill this text. But that division requires closer attention to the Text, not withdrawal right where the world needs Gospel Light the most.

A lot of this depends on the issue, I suppose.
- If you're referring to saying "Merry Christmas," I largely agree with you. (A rather unsatisfying victory in the culture war, when I got a "Merry Christmas" from the Barnes&Noble cashier 2 weeks ago; but a serious victory nonetheless - they acknowledged the reason for the season, whether they knew it or not.)
- If you're referring to unjust/immoral laws our nation has passed, I'd have to demur.

Zechariah and repentance

I'm starting a series on Zechariah in the evenings.

Zechariah begins with a call to repentance (pretty safe guess for any prophet!) I came across this on repentance:

"Every repentance, every return unto the Lord is imperfect at best. It is an expression that requires deepening; it must be done more sincerely and thoroughly. In a sense, a godly life consists of perfecting repentance, always doing it more effectually."

Some U2 lyrics - Sunday, Bloody Sunday

The battle's just begun
There's many lost, but tell me who has won?
The trenches dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters
Torn apart.

The real battle just begun
To claim the victory Jesus won
On...

Sunday, bloody Sunday
Sunday, bloody Sunday...

12.28.2005

Between Old and New

Some of the cooler links to the New Testament which I've been finding in the Minor Prophets:

1. The 4 horsemen didn't originate in Revelation 6:1-8, but in Zechariah 6:2-3.

2. The NT teaches (by allusion to the OT) that the Church, the gathering of God's people, is God's new temple. See Zech 4:7-9, then Eph 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:4-7.

3. Zephaniah 3:9 was Pentecost, like a 2x4 between the eyes: "For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord." 3 references to Acts 2, beginning, middle and end: language in vs 4, call on Yahweh vs 21, serving with one accord vs 46.

Little David play on your harp...


A more major buy! This is where some of the Christmas money I got is going...

I had a guitar back in high school, but didn't play too much, and then my little brother took it over. I also got a great Southern Gospel guitar book with songs in the O Brother Where Art Thou genre. I plan on playing some of that, some picking of more classical stuff, learning chords and music theory better, composition of some Psalms, maybe some blues imitation, and some U2 imitation, of course ("I Will Follow" definitely).

I did get a guitar as a gift from a church member, but it turned out to have structural integrity issues - not repairable. (Sorry guys - thanks for the generosity, though!)


Since I'm Yoda now, I thought I'd get into the spirit of things. I figured little harm could be done in 2 extra dollars while at Burger King. Call me crazy...

Two of my favorite Yoda lines:
1. Control, control, you must learn control.
2. No, do or do not do. There is no try.

I continue to be amazed at the moral confusion of parts of Star Wars, though. Especially part III. Obi Wan says at one point that only Siths deal in absolutes. Oh. So only bad people think there is such a thing as Bad. Then later he tries talking Anakin out of the dark side and says, "The emperor is evil." Oh. So is that not an absolute? He must change his mind again later, because when talking to Luke on Degobah he says that Luke must learn that good and evil sometimes look differently, based on one's perspective. Crazy.

But Yoda remains a stalwart champion of the light throughout...

12.27.2005

Remaking Jesus in our gentler image


Again, Doug Wilson on Brian McLaren:

"it is clear that McLaren has a hearing, and many people in evangelical circles are paying attention to him. But because his liberalism and unbelief are so transparent, the fact that otherwise intelligent people are being taken in by him shows that this is a spiritual matter, and not a question of IQ. In the Bible, folly is a moral category, not an intelligence category. This means that anyone who thinks McLaren is "just great" needs to.... just repent. Tell God you're sorry. Humble yourself. Stop staring at the pig food. Just go home.

"[McLaren says:] 'Jesus didn't want to create an in-group which would banish others to an out-group; Jesus wanted to create a come-on in group, one that sought and welcomed everyone' (p. 247). [Wilson:] This is why Jesus talked so much about people being bound hand and foot, and thrown into the 'come-on-in darkness.' Where the worm is friendly, and the fire cozy."

Valley of Vision




I'm reading a page or two of this each day. Each page is a prayer; I try to pray one in the morning and one in the evening. Here's a sample:

"O Savior of sinners.... raise me above the smiles and frowns of the world, regarding it as a light thing to be judged by men; may thy appprobation be my only aim, thy Word my one rule. Make me to abhor that which grieves they Holy Spirit, to suspect consolations of a worldly nature, to shun a careless way of life, to reprove evil, to instruct with meekness those who oppose me, to be gentle and patient towards all men, to be not only a professor but an example of the gospel.

12.26.2005

Update from the Creative Half

All the "crafties" for Christmas got completed on time - barely. Tonight was the last family party, and 3 cowboy boot stockings for relatives in Montana were the last to be wrapped up. OK, they never actually got wrapped, and I was hand-sewing the finishing touches in the car on the ride to the party. And.... one was finished AT the party, but it was for a 10-month old baby who didn't know the difference. Ah, what a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction.... now what?

Here's the run-down of what came from my hands:
  • 1 pair women's socks
  • 1 crocheted flower brooch
  • a whole bunch of biscotti and hot cocoa mix (thanks to Sarah's help!)
  • 3 cowboy boot stockings made from old jeans, bandanas, and misc. bling
  • about 18 of 25 Advent calendar magnets (hey, it's been 2 years in the making anyway...)

Not terribly much, but enough for a busy season with 3 preschoolers "helping." And now, what's in the forecast for my creative mind?

  • finish Saxon braid scarf
  • finish Shetland Tea Shawl
  • Birch leaf lace socks (from "A Gathering of Lace")
  • a couple of shawls
  • baby booties for new niece/nephew
  • logo design for local high school mascot
  • still looking for ideas for hubby - any suggestions?

You know you knit too much when your 18 month old sees you winding linguini onto your fork and says "knit knit knit".

Sara

8th Commandment and Environmentalists

Paul Harvey was working against the Supreme Court's "Eminent Domain" decision today, and how we should find alternative legal ways to protect private property from the government. Amazing what things have come to. Then I came across this critique of Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy over at Doug Wilson's blog:




"What does the seventh commandment prohibit? It prohibits adultery. What does a prohibition of adultery presuppose? It presupposes marriage. What does the eighth commandment prohibit? It prohibits stealing. What does a prohibition of stealing presuppose? It presupposes private property....

"Caesar is capable of breaking any of the Ten Commandments. As God's laws, they are over him. If a king takes his brother's wife, a prophet can come to him and say that it is not lawful for him to have her. And if another king determines to seize Naboth's vineyard, yet another prophet can come and rebuke him. The king can't slip off the point by re-zoning Naboth's vineyard for light industrial only, or calling the whole thing "land reform," or discovering that Naboth's vineyard is home to the last three darter snails in the county.

"But that which is presupposed by God in the Ten Words given to Moses is far too restrictive for McLaren's plans, plans he is cooking up with Caesar. McLaren again: "So I ask, 'Can we imagine other understandings of ownership that acknowledge, whatever land records say, that the earth is the Lord's, and all it contains? Can we imagine an economy based on stewardship rather than exclusive ownership?"(p. 239). Huh. Look what he opposes and sets at odds. Stewardship over here is opposed to exclusive ownership over there. Exclusive ownership must not be stewardship, quoth McLaren. But what is to prevent us from taking the standard biblical and Christian position that the earth is the Lord's and all that it contains, and that He has delegated the stewardship of this land to private owners? What McLaren is doing is trying to accomplish a transfer of authority from one set of stewards (private owners) to another set of stewards (some kind of regulatory eco-fascism), and he is doing this in the name of "stewardship." This is like one man stealing another man's wife because he wants to promote "marriage."

2005 redeemed

After a year of tragedy and controversy, I've found a bright note to wrap it all up here, where my RCA pastor friend reports:

"The second thing I did yesterday was to stand up at a special session of our classis (our Reformed word for presbytery or diocese), and request that a minister who received a call from one of our classis churches repent of his performing marriage ceremonies for gay people, and to promise not to do so in the future. He refused to promise, so our classis refused to allow him to become an installed minister within our bounds. By doing so I reassured old friends, infuriated new friends, and stunned myself..."

Bravo, sir! Here's to another year of more faithfulness from Christ's Bride to her Bridegroom.

Martin Luther on caring for infants

"Now observe that when that clever harlot, our natural reason... , takes a look at married life, she turns up her nose and says, "Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores... ?

"What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels. It says, O God, because I am certain that thou hast created me as a man and hast from my body begotten this child, I also know for a certainty that it meets with thy perfect pleasure. I confess to thee that I am not worthy to rock the little babe or wash its diapers, or to be entrusted with the care of the child and its mother. How is it that I, without any merit, have come to this distinction of being certain that I am serving thy creature and thy most precious will? O how gladly will I do so, though the duties should be even more insignificant and despised. Neither frost nor heat, neither drudgery nor labor, will distress or dissuade me, for I am certain that it is thus pleasing in thy sight...

"God, with all his angels and creatures is smiling--not because the father is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith."

John Calvin on breastfeeding

". . .the Lord does not in vain prepare nutriment for children in their mothers' bosoms, before they are born. But those on whom he confers the honor of mothers, he, in this way, constitutes nurses; and they who deem it a hardship to nourish their own offspring, break, as far as they are able, the sacred bond of nature. If disease, or anything of that kind, is the hindrance, they have a just excuse; but for mothers voluntarily, and for their own pleasure, to avoid the trouble of nursing, and thus to make themselves only half-mothers, is a shameful corruption."

12.23.2005

Overly offended Christians

More great Internet Monk:

"There is a virus of prissiness afoot in evangelicalism; a kind of prissiness that has a strange history indeed, but which being recently energized with the feminization of evangelicalism since the Victorian era, now threatens to transform the Christian faith from a hearty, incarnational faith into an airy, fragile, whining and shrill movement of pushing our “values” on an increasingly resistant mankind.

"evangelicals, distracted into issues of moral reform and away from the gospel, began admiring the virtues of prissiness. It is a particularly feminine interest. It is not the interest of men. Men, largely, are not offended in the same way women are, because they are not sensitive in the way women are. This is not always a good thing, I’ll grant you that quickly. My wife picks up on all sorts of offensive things I do that I never notice and largely don’t care about (”Michael, use utensils when you eat.”) Still, the other side of this difference in the genders is that men are not as inclined to be in a state of offendedness or manifest the need to correct others.

"While it’s good for Johnny to have a mom, and the world needs moms to do their job, the church isn’t called to be a mom to the culture.

"Evangelicals became an offended group when they adopted ideas of “holiness” and “worldliness” that were an effort to preserve a particular kind of culture.... Christians were then told by their leaders (and their mothers) that it was OK to get mad, to be offended, and to do whatever offended people have the right to do, which could be anything from turn around with your nose in the air to vote out the mayor or burn down the saloon.

"When evangelicals decided that the best way to be a good Christian was to abstain from the proper things, oppose the proper things and be offended by everything that didn’t appear in a list you can receive free from Jerry Falwell, they got in a real mess.

"I do not believe Christianity to be prissy, or constantly offended, or trying to save the world by temperance. I believe it is robust, earthy, heartily masculine (as Jesus was) and clear that a witness for Christ is about Christ, not about the current listing of cultural crisis [sic] posted at the American Family Association web site.

"Christianity isn’t about writing letters to the editor, though Christians might choose to do so. It’s not about being offended at the dance routine the dance group at your public school did at halftime, though I agree with you that it’s pretty awful. It’s not about writing books where no one can saying “gosh darn it” without an editor’s approval. It’s not about being more offended than the next guy. It is certainly not about shaking your head at what a poor witness Peggy Noonan turned out to be.

"His followers were the overturners of an empire. They died with their eyes open. They conquered Ireland and gave us the strength of Celtic Christianity.... The Reformers weren’t whiners. They were builders. A man wasn’t ashamed to be around the Puritans. These people didn’t need a men’s group at church to make them feel included in what was a women’s movement. It was their church. Their pastors and bishops weren’t chronically complaining about the shocking nudity down at the brothel. They were preaching the Gospel in the face and to the heart of that culture."

FDR evangelizing



With Churchill visiting the White House for a fortnight, he passes on some interesting observations there, which follow.

After trouble getting the Russians to agree to the phrase "religious freedom" in the Allies' documents, "the President had a long talk with [the Russian ambassador] alone about his soul and the dangers of hell-fire. The accounts which Mr. Roosevelt gave us on several occasions of what he said to the Russian were impressive. Indeed, on one occasion I promised Mr. Roosevelt to recommend him for the position of Archbishop of Canterbury if he should lose the next Presidential election."

Funny how liberals, who so look up to FDR, so criticize the current President for making his faith too public...



"My movements were kept strictly secret, and a noticfication was given from thje White House to the press that all movments by the President or by me were to be regarded as if they were the movements of American battleships. Consequently no word ever appeared."

Can you imagine THIS going over with the modern mainstream press? These days they have a hard enough time even knowing what side they are on...



"Numbers of people greeted me in Florida, and many pressmen and photographers, with whom I had pleasant interchanges, waited outside the entrance to our retreat; but not a trickle ever leaked into print."

More amazing behavior by the press of yesteryear.
Of course, 2nd-tier gov't officials are no better, these days. Today, anyone in the White House who happened to hear that Sir Winston was vacationing in Palm Beach would leak it to the press immediately...

12.21.2005

Hypocritical love

"We are not to mime our way through various loving actions, but we are to love one another deeply. And love means that we live as Christians in our households. If we are unloving, disrespectful, or disobedient there, then all our "kindnesses" elsewhere are manifestations of a hypocritical politeness, and are not love at all....

"The watchword therefore is kindness to those with whom you live -- kindness in the kitchen, kindness in the bedroom, kindness in seeking forgiveness, kindness in extending forgiveness, kindness in letting go of anger, kindness in letting go of bitterness and resentment over the anger of another, kindness in honoring and obeying your parents gladly."

http://dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=1761

12.20.2005

The new Generous Relativism

Doug Wilson's doing a good (though lengthy) review of Brian McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy here.

Here's a short piece that summarizes. Explanation of terms:
- foundationalism = believing in absolutes and certainty, and building beliefs on them
- Cartesian = belief in absolutes and certainty based on individual, mental deduction
- "they" refers to McLaren types, who are trying to accommodate Christianity to the latest philosophies (my take!).

"And for good measure they run away from an authoritative and infallible Bible because it reminds them of a Cartesian idol they saw once. They object to the metaphor of basic beliefs providing a "foundation" with lesser beliefs stacked on top. That concept is being laughed at in all kinds of philosophy departments these days, and so our duty as evangelicals [satire alert] is to act the part of the desperate nerdy kid trying to laugh his way into the inner ring. He doesn't get the jokes but he always knows exactly when he has to laugh.

"So instead of a metaphor that sees knowledge as building blocks, let us use the metaphor of an interlocking network or web. Hmmm? Okay, fine. Just as a mason needs a foundation on which to lay his brick, so a spider needs some fixed branches from which to spin his web. The idol of modernity falsely claimed to be able to fix the starting point, while the triune God of the Bible actually does fix it in Himself and His self-revelation. But it turns out that they don't abhor idolatrous certainty; they abhor certainty period. And the place these people are seeking, a place where there is no traction point, no place to rest, no point to settle, has a name. It is called the outer darkness, a place where there is, at last, no foundationalism of any kind....

"Watching erstwhile evangelicals trying to earn the respect of the philosophical world is just tragedy in slow motion. It is like watching film of somebody giving a couple of glasses of Scotch to a three-year-old, except that the three-year-old might not drink it. You start reading these johnnies, and if you don't watch yourself, after a couple of drinks you start caring what Wittgenstein might have meant by something."

12.19.2005

Narnia: the movie

Overall, a pretty decent rendering of the book.

Pro
1. The Christian Gospel centering on the Stone Table is intact.
2. The delight of imaginative fantasy is well done - of getting to Narnia, the professor at the end (did you stay for the scene after the ending credits began?)
3. The witch, Lucy, Susan, Edmund, and Tumnus were all characterized very well.
4. The unjust treatment of innocent Aslan at the Table was great.
5. Aslan says He was there when the magic was written - reference to His greatness.

Con
1. When Aslan comes back to Susan and Lucy, he refers not to the Deeper Magic, which the witch didn't know about, but says that if the witch had interpreted the magic differently she would have known how things would go. Turns out the difference between good and evil is interpretation, not a rebellious heart...

2. Aslan as King who isn't safe, before whom we can't stand "without our knees knocking," doesn't come across. Yes, he is noble and good and strong. But not the Aslan of the book. Son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea ain't there. This was done because our world has remade God into an image we prefer. When the witch questions His keeping His promise, and He roars, the queen runs for her life in the book. In the movie she just sits down. More modern drama - have to present them as equals till the end - I suppose.

3. Major changing of lines to avoid the women in combat issue - in the Father Christmas scene. The book - and the truth - says: "battles are ugly when women fight."

4. Whole-cloth addition of this river scene, simply for drama. Just like in Lord of the Rings with Aragorn. Gotta have our non-stop action, I guess.

5. The battle scene was overdone, I thought, just like in Lord of the Rings. In fact it started feeling a lot like a cheap knock-off of LoTR after awhile.

6. When the witch accuses Edmund before Aslan and all, Lewis has Edmund not caring, just looking at Aslan with a serenity beyond such accusations. The movie takes this away, making him very uncomfortable and remaining unsure of himself.

7. Peter isn't done very well.
a. He doesn't want to approach the professor at the beginning, saying "we can handle it." Direct opposite of the book, where he is wiser and humbler, right from the beginning. Disney thinks they can tell a better Peter story than Lewis did.
b. He comes across as just as childish as Edmund, even at the beginning.
c. Even halfway through, at the beaver's house, and I think beyond, he says he just wants to get Edmund and go home.

There's probably more, but I don't want to appearing to be ranting. It was fairly good entertainment. Tears were in my eyes at certain points, remembering the book and the Book.

The real Santa Claus

This just in from the good folks at World

"Santa Claus had his origins in St. Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family's daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St. Nicholas to fill. And somehow he transmogrified into Santa Claus, who has become for many people the secular Christmas alternative to Jesus Christ.

"But there is more to the story of Nicholas of Myra. He was also a delegate to the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325, which battled the heretics who denied the deity of Christ. He was thus one of the authors of the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. And unlike his later manifestation, Nicholas was particularly zealous in standing up for Christ.

"During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven."

12.17.2005

Pearl Harbor, belated anniversary remembrance

I'm back to Churchill, and he's looking at Japan's entrance into the war. They were invading China off and on for years, without justification. They were tempted to conquer Holland's, France's, and Great Britain's territories in Indo-China, while those mother countries were occupied with war at home.

"All the great Americans round the President [advisors] and in his confidence felt, as acutely as I did, the awful danger that Japan would attack British or Dutch possessions in the Far East, and would carefully avoid the United States, and that in consequence Congress would not sanction an American declaration of war.. The American leaders understood that this might mean vast Japanese conquests, which, if combined with a German victory over Russia and thereafter an invastion of Great Britain, would leave Amercia alone to face an overwhelming combination of triumphant aggressors.... the very life of the United States, and their people, as yet but half-awakened to theri perils, might be broken.... [The President and his advisors] had writhed under the restraints of a Congress whose House of Representatives had a few months before passed by only a single vote the necessary renewal of [the draft] without which their Army would have been almost disbanded in the midst of the world convulsion.... A Japanese attack upon the United States was a vast simplification of their problems and their duty. How can we wonder that they regarded the actual form of the attack, or even its scale, as incomparably less important than the fact that the whole American nation would be united for its own safety in a righteous cause as never before?"

Hmmm. So there is a sense in which Pearl Harbour was welcomed by Americans who wanted to fight Hitler: it united the country against the Axis powers. Pearl Harbor was the price to pay to gain the American unity needed to fight effectively. But why must it always take such a large price to get people to fight the battle?

It remained a mystery to Churchill why Japan attacked us, instead of the Dutch East Indies. They antagonized a much more powerful enemy. It may have had to do with saving face back home in Japan, when the USA in negotiations with them asked for a complete pull-out from China... Any way it could have gone, thank God for His common grace that brought our force into the war against Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini.

12.16.2005

Narnia - Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe - recap

This is a repost of part one of the series, for clarity's sake.
The series got a little out of hand (17 parts!), and maybe you wouldn't know what "LWW" means, all on its own. Anyway, here's explanation, then the review is below, chapter by chapter...

-----------------------------
We're going to see Narnia tomorrow night, so I decided to give "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" a quick read first. Then I decided, halfway through the first chapter, to keep track of all the biblical allusions or other significant lessons which it seems to me Lewis is trying to convey. See how projects tend to grow on me?

This'll be kind of rough; just quick, off-the-cuff thoughts I'm jotting (typing) as reading. And yes, I'll go through it all, so if you don't want me spoiling the story if you haven't read/seen it yet, reader beware!

By the way, there are TONS of books that do this kind of thing, and good teachers who have teaching series on Narnia. I've seen many of them, but haven't actually read ANY of them. This is all original to me...

12.15.2005

LWW chapter 17

1. Ed redeems himself, taking out the witch's wand. It is sometimes those who were closest to evil, who know best how to fight it.

2. Selfishness continues to rear its ugly head in the most inopportune moments and most unexpected people. Lucy wants to stay by Edmund when others need her life-saving medicine, too. "Must more people die for Edmund?" Will we recrucify Jesus, by continuing in the sin He died for?

3. Interesting side note on Edmund. He's better now than ever since he went down hill going to that wrong school. The result: he could look you in the face again. Wow, is there truth in this one. The vast majority of schoolkids these days do NOT look you in the face. Lewis refers to the character element of education, as in Men without Chests.

4. Aslan provides food for the whole party, "sitting down to the grass," just like Jesus feeding the 5,000.

5. A procession to Cair Paravel, crowning of the new regents, and all creation singing in their honor (Rev 5:13). Rewards given to those doing well (Rev 22:12), a feast for all (Rev 19:9).

6. I might have gotten ahead of myself with the Revelation passages. Aslan leaves, suggesting this is the Ascension, and that the kids reign on the earth, in the present. And now Aslan is gone; but He will come back: "One day you'll see Him, another you won't.... Only you mustn't press Him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion." Jesus is not at our beck and call, like a spiritual vending machine. He is our Lord, not vice versa.

7. This makes speculation into Lewis' eschatology interesting. It looks like he might have had post-millenial convictions. Remnants of the witch's army are progressively and finally stamped out. Then a peaceful reign commences.

8. Edmund becomes wise, "great in council and judgment," called Edmund the Just. This comes from his humility, which comes from remembering his early failings.

9. Don't know what the White Stag is all about. Little help on this one? All I can figure is that it's like the robin at the beginning only in reverse, leading them out of Narnia.

10. The Shakespearean language of the kids appears to symbolize the development of a Christian culture over time.

11. The professor says the same thing Aslan said, independently: "Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen in Narnia."

"They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him" (Rev 20:6).
"And He shall reign forever and ever" (Rev 11:15).

LWW chapter 16

1. Aslan brings the stone statues back to life. A profound amalgamation of Scriptural imagery: Ezekiel 36:26-27: "I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep My laws." John 20:22: "He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." Ezekiel 37:9-10: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet - a vast army." This is also very reminiscent of Jesus going about healing, with crowds thronging Him. And it relates to 1 Peter 3:19 and Psalm 68:18, 20, where Jesus leads captivity captive, recapturing the devil's prisoners for His own Kingdom, preaching to the spirits in prison, plundering the strong man's house (Matt 12:29).

2. We get a surprise with the giant. They're usually on the bad side "in the stories." Susan wonders if it's safe. But there are many surprises in the New Covenant, including tax collectors and prostitutes entering the kingdom ahead of the "righteous."

3. The ensuing battle is over very soon, the witch overthrown in no time (Rev 19:19-20).

LWW chapter 15

1. Now His followers do what they can after the death. Requesting the body, burial, anointing with spices at burial (John 19:39-40), and going to do so again after the Sabbath (Mark 16:1). Susan and Lu are Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, of Matthew 27:61.

2. The big event begins “very early in the morning.” At daybreak, salvation comes. See Isaiah 60:1-2 for one of many allusions to salvation as light streaming in.

3. The Stone Table cracks. Not out of anger at the Israelites worshiping a Golden Calf, but because the curses of the Old Covenant have been overcome (Galatians 3:23-25).

4. They hear a great voice behind them, as John did (Rev 1:10).

5. They wonder if it’s a ghost, and get physical confirmation to the contrary (Luke 24:37-43).

6. Aslan explains the Scriptures to them, the deeper magic, the “different incantation,” “that 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.” START working backwards: 1 Cor 15:20).

7. Beautiful picture of children playing on the very Table instrument of death. Where, O death, is your victory/sting? It’s so harmless, a child can play on it (Isaiah 11:8).

8. Aslan then storms the witch’s castle. The gates of hell won’t prevail against Him.

LWW chapter 14

1. They leave the Stone Table (Jerusalem) for the Fords of Beruna (Kidron Valley and Gethsemane), where they would sleep. Aslan would return to the Stone Table alone, while His followers remain sleeping (or scattered – it’s not an exact parallel) behind.

2. Aslan puts Peter in charge of the whole group. “You must put your centaurs at such and such a place,” complete with battle plans. Jesus equipped His disciples for carrying out the Great Commission and for spiritual warfare.

3. Aslan is preoccupied with what’s coming. Peter does well, thinking they should camp on the far side of the Fords, but Aslan knows it doesn’t matter. Some enemies aren’t fought with worldly wisdom or weapons.

4. Brief mention of a somber last supper, but nothing more indicative there.

5. Now the women come to the foreground. They follow Aslan while the rest sleep or are scattered. Aslan walks back to the Table, a la Via Dolorosa, stumbling along the way, comforted by women (Luke 23:27).

6. A crowd is gathered to do their worst to Aslan. Different factions of wickedness conspired together to kill Him. See Acts 4:27-28.

7. They bind Him and jeer Him, cut off His mane and mock Him as just another cat. “He was despised and rejected…. oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isa 53:3, 7). Also Psalm 22, especially verses 12-21. They muzzle Him, much like the crown of thorns on His head.

8. Lewis highlights here, at the dramatic moment, the substitutionary element: “the previous night… it had been Edmund instead of Aslan.”

9. Jadis thinks she has won. She knows no deeper magic than justice. She knows no more than raw power. Once Aslan is out of the way, who can stop her? She can do whatever she wants… The dramatic irony is supreme: her reveling in the very killing which is her ultimate undoing – and it saves Edmund in the process.

LWW chapter 13

1. Jadis and the dwarf discuss what to do with Ed. I don’t know what to make of wanting to kill him on the Stone Table, since “that’s where it’s always been done.” Maybe a perversion of the righteous Old Covenant law. Sin, taking advantage of its curses, kills those who break it (2 Corinthians 3:3-6, where the letter is represented by tablets of stone, which kills; but the Spirit gives life. Galatians 3:10-25 also relates.)

2. The witch calls out all her allies when she hears her wolf-captain was slain. Revelation 19:19 should be self-explanatory.

3. Ed is almost killed by the witch, with her stone knife. Not Biblical, but I thought of Edwards’ sermon, where he describes the sinner as being dangled over the fire, with nothing sparing him but God’s fingers holding on. Edmund was almost lost, but Aslan rescues him just in time.

4. Edmund is brought to Aslan, they talk, no one knows what is said, but all is set right between Ed and Aslan, Ed and siblings. Here’s that theme of privacy again. When you’ve been sinned against like the siblings have, modern man wants public vindication, restitution – groveling, basically. But a simple, sincere apology should suffice.

5. Aslan and witch meet. All are uncomfy, except those two. Their superior spiritual strength causes this. And the witch not looking Aslan in the eyes reveals another hierarchy.

6. And now we come to that part of the story retelling the core of the Gospel. As with Job, when Aslan and the witch meet, Satan goes into condemnation mode. Ed is a traitor. Aslan’s first rejoinder is that Ed didn’t betray HER. Implied: he betrayed Me; it’s not your place, witch, to charge him. Edmund doesn’t seem to hear her accusations anyway; all he can see is Him – the beauty and grace of our Lord Jesus overwhelm any sin we’ve done. Romans 8:33-34.

7. In an unusual scene, the witch holds Aslan to His own standard of justice. That standard is engraved on the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea’s own scepter. “Every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey, and that for every treachery I have a right to a kill…. His blood is my property…. Unless I have blood, as the Law says, all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.” This Law is the “magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the beginning.” Reading between her lines, she wants to see death on the Table, for death’s own sake. She is hardly interested in high views of justice at this point. She’s playing “gotcha.” She’s trying to claim as many souls as she can for her own kingdom of darkness. But it is true, the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).

8. Susan suggests working something against this to save Ed, Aslan growls quietly – this would be unheard of to work against justice.

9. Edmund wonders if he should say something, but realizes he can only wait. It’s out of his hands. The impasse has come about because of him, but it’s beyond his power and only in Aslan’s hands (Rev 7:10).

10. Great last scene, after their solitary deliberations; Aslan sends the witch running “for her life,” with a great roar, after she questions his sincerity. Jesus sends demons scattering all over the place when He is on this earth, too.

LWW chapter 12

1. The witch knows more about what’s going on than the beavers, though they catch on fast. Satan knows more about spiritual things than us, too, being a spirit. But we aren’t at a loss, if we pay attention, and hurry to Aslan.

2. I wonder if there’s any significance in going east. The Holy of Holies was on the eastern side of the temple. North was the direction of death, where sacrifices went/came from. Ed went north to the witch’s castle from the beavers’ dam.

3. Now it’s going to get thick and heavy with the Scriptural allusions:
Stone Table. 10 commandments, tablets of stone with Law carved on it. Aslan is camped close by it, with the flag of Judah’s lion, just as Israel encamped around the Tabernacle which held the Ark and the Stone Tablets.

4. Probably some minor allusions here, too. Crimson cords (Rahab; Tamar and Zerah of Genesis 38); tentpegs (Jael of Judges 4); ivory (Psalm 45 and Solomon’s throne of 1 Kings 10). Reading too much in, am I? But why would he include strange details like this otherwise? Who cares what color the tent cords and pegs were?

5. Creatures standing around Aslan remind me of Ezekiel’s (chpt 1) and John’s (Rev 4:6-7) visions of 4 living creatures. Lewis covers most of the creatues: bull, eagle, man. The other is lion – Aslan himself.

6. Aslan is good and terrible at the same time. Like Rev 1:13-18. His voice “takes the fidgets out of them,” as Jesus lays His hand on John and says, “Do not be afraid.” Also Daniel 8:18 and 10:10-11.

7. Peter represents the group, and takes responsibility for Edmund’s fall. These are marks of good leadership.

8. Aslan: “All shall be done, but it may be harder than you think.” Then a contemplative silence. Like Jesus alluding to His death, but nobody getting it.

9. A feast is prepared. You feast when the Bridegroom is with you, after all.

10. Peter sees Cair Paravel, like a star on the horizon in the east. Greek word “Anatole,” meaning “rising in the east” appears at Luke 1:78, Zechariah 3:8; 6:12; Isaiah 60:1; Jeremiah 23:5.

11. Peter fights a wolf: “Peter did not feel very brave; indeed, he felt he was going to be sick. But that made no difference to what he had to do.” This is a favorite theme of Lewis’: duty, virtue and right must trump what you want to do.

12. After the wolf is dead, Aslan comes to center stage as commander/general, sending a troop to rescue Edmund, and knighting Peter. Interesting: the first knight’s namesake is Jesus’ leading apostle. All authority belongs to Jesus (Matt 28:19) and He exercises it in different ways. Now behind the scenes, He sends armies to fight Satan (Dan 10:12-14); then more up front, He delegates some authority to His servants (Ephesians 4:11-13).

LWW chapter 11

1. Witch’s treatment of Edmund: here we see what Satan really thinks of us: “human creature,” “brat.” Dry, crusty bread and water for you; nothing I promised you is real.

2. In the witch’s sleigh, Edmund lets the snow accumulate on him, as he saw in her courtyard on the stone statues. He is turning into stone, being on her side.

3. The witch comes upon a party supplied by Father Christmas: “What is the meaning of all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence?” Sounds like some Christians I know, who barely know what side they’re on sometimes…

4. Ed’s redemption begins when he sees the party turned to stone. He pities someone other than himself.

5. The thaw begins. Water falling, green fir needles and grass appear, birds sing, flowers bloom. “This is no thaw. This is Spring. Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you,” says the dwarf. And Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

LWW - redeeming Santa Claus

Chapter 9

1. Ed gets the location where Aslan is, to tell the witch: the Stone Table. Strong link to Judas telling the Jews where Jesus is.

2. “Deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.” He was “suppressing the truth” (Romans 1:18).

3. Ed goes through cold, wind and snow to the witch’s castle. The way of the fool is hard, and that hardship is the reward for evil, as well as fuel for further wickedness. Ed’s hatred grows as he misplaces the blame for his own faults.

Chapter 10

1. Mrs. Beaver prepares for the journey to the Stone Table, not losing her head like everyone else. Each one has a gift to contribute to the Body (1 Cor 12).

2. Turns out the witch IS a counterfeit Santa Claus. Sorry – Father Christmas. Here he is: “you see people of his sort only in Narnia, you see pictures and hear them talked about even in our world – the world on this side of the wardrobe door. But when you really see them in Narnia it is rather different. Some of the pictures of Father Christmas in our world make him look only jolly and funny. But…. He was so big, and so glad, and so real, that they all became quite still. They felt very glad, but also solemn.

3. As Father Christmas dispenses gifts, I think of the Spirit, who equips us with spiritual gifts. And I think of the armor of God; tools of warfare against forces of evil.

4. To Susan: “I do not mean you to fight in the battle…” To Lucy: “battles are ugly when women fight.” We’ll save the women-in-combat issue for another day…

LWW chapter 8

1. “It’s no good YOUR trying to help Tumnus, but now that Aslan is on the move…”
Who’s Aslan? “He’s the King. He’s the Lord of the whole wood…. It is he, not you, who will save Mr. Tumnus.” We are inadequate to set the world right, but Jesus can, when He comes back.

2. Then we get some prophecies about it: “Wrong will be right when Aslan comes in sight…”

3. Aslan is also the “son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea.” Jesus is the Son of the Highest God (Luke 1:35).

4. Susan wants to know if a lion Aslan is safe. Mrs. Beaver: “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most, or else just silly.”
Mr. Beaver: “safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” I think of Revelation 1 every time I remember this line. Jesus appears there, very strong, powerful and good, but definitely NOT safe! Daniel, Belshazzar, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Mary, demons, and many others all knock knees when God or His angels appear to them.

5. Beaver repeats this very often: Aslan is the King. Jadis claimed to be the Queen, but it was not legitimate authority. It’s not really her kingdom. We have to repeat this to ourselves, too. Jesus is the king here, not whoever is claiming my time, family, job, money, etc.

6. Ed already questions this claim, wondering if the witch couldn’t overpower Aslan. No way.

7. Here’s a prophecy for Christmas: “When Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone / sits at Cair Paravel in throne / the evil time will be over and done.” The 2nd Adam come restore humanity and creation.

8. The witch’s origins: from Adam’s first wife, Lilith. I don’t know much about her, but have heard of this myth. A perverted line, something akin to the Genesis 6:1-4 passage. She is a counterfeit human. Beaver’s comment here is amusing: any human counterfeits, “keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet.”

9. Ed sneaks out for the witch. Here we have Judas, leaving the table of disciples, going to the other side, at night. Beaver is wise to the antithesis, knowing he’s betrayed them. The kids’ spiritual naivete comes out: an enemy? Our brother? No! But they realize the truth. See 1 Corinthians 10:20-21.

10. The only way to save Edmund, Tumnus or themselves is to stay away from the witch. Like Joseph with Potiphar’s wife.

11. Lucy: “Can no one help us?”
Mr. Beaver: “Only Aslan.”

12. The witch’s first plan will be to get between the kids and Aslan. Satan’s goal is to keep us from Jesus.

LWW chapter 7

1. Lu: “I think it’s a nice beaver.” Ed: “Yes, but how do we know?”
Devil: “Did God really say?” He likes to introduce doubt. Like today’s relativism creeping into mainstream Christianity.

2. But God accommodates our doubt. He gives us signs/sacraments, to know where Truth is, who is on the right side. The beaver shows Lu’s handkerchief.

3. The kids’ first encounter in Narnia beckons them “further in.” At the end, too, they are invited further up and further in.

4. The mention of Aslan’s name has a different but powerful affect on each. Peter feels brave, Susan feels a delightful smell, Ed feels horror, Lu feels like it’s the beginning of holidays. To some, we are the aroma of life, to others the aroma of death. Again, depending which side you’re on (2 Cor 2:15-16).

5. The goodness of the normal mundane world: beaver’s dam, good cooking, sewing machines, fishing, beer, kettle, bread, plates, hams, oilskins, trowels, spades, draining potatoes, stools, milk, butter, frying pans and marmalade rolls fresh from the oven, pushing back stools from the table, tea and a pipe. “There’s nothing to beat freshwater fish if you eat it when it has been alive half an hour ago and has come out of the pan half a minute ago.” The result of all this is “contentment.” But Ed is discontent, distracted from delighting in genuine goodness by the promise of enchanted Turkish Delight and being king over the others. “You could be so much more. You will be like God, if you do…”

6. “To think that I should ever live to see this day!” says Mrs. Beaver, as the kids come in. Preaching through the Annunciation, Elizabeth’s babe leaping in the womb, Mary’s Magnificat, and Zechariah’s prophecy (Luke 1:26-80), I sense a ton of parallels.

7. They push the stools back after dinner for Beaver to tell the story of what’s been going on, so the kids will understand recent events. Beaver calls this getting down to business, and it is. Family story time is serious business. Telling stories shapes worldviews. The witch already shaped Edmund’s. Beaver shapes the other 3 kids’, thankfully. You could also call this preaching or evangelizing: explaining significant, redemption-related events from God’s view.

LWW chapter 6

1. Edmund wants to get out of the wardrobe after the grownups leave the room, even as the older two realize they’re outdoors in Narnia. He now wants to deny the truth, even as he re-enters it.

2. Peter apologizes immediately, acknowledging a wrong as soon as it’s realized.

3. The kids put on wardrobe coats. They “look like royal robes;” maybe unintentional, but alludes to their Messianic role later on.

4. Ed’s earlier lies are realized. The division between them grows. Silence on the part of the 3; inner resentment and revenge on Ed’s part.

5. Coming on Tumnus’ sacked house and the witch’s KGB’s note, Susan gets really uncomfortable. Some people just don’t like to think of themselves at spiritual war, and having enemies, even though the Bible and reality are both very clear on this.

6. Their sense of justice and responsibility keep the Pevensies (their last name – haven’t seen it yet, wonder where it shows up?) from going home at this point.

7. The robin is a guide, sent to help them.

8. Ed sows seeds of doubt in Peter’s soul. Which is the right side? Peter’s instincts are right on: robins are good in all the stories. These refers largely to the Western canon of classics, which are generally founded on a Christian, western culture. Since these stories are grounded in and spun out of Scriptural soil, certain values can be transferred from them to reality. In other words, sometimes fairy tales tell the Gospel story, in a shrouded sort of way. Since Peter has read the right stories, he has a compass to rely on when he faces brand new situations and worlds where everything is unknown.

LWW chapter 5

1. Ed’s pride and spite make things really bad for Lu, as he lies about the truth, AFTER having experienced it himself. See Hebrews 6:4-6.

2. Lu calls her siblings all beasts for not believing her. Ironic. The Narnian beasts are there, but the true beast is in our denial of the truth and ridicule of those who believe it.

3. Great line when Peter and Susan go to see the Professor: “Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?”

4. Peter’s objection: “But if things are real, they’re there all the time.” Professor: “Are they?”

5. Professor’s final suggestion: “We might all try minding our own business.” Narnia is an analogy to spiritual experience/reality. This suggestion implies that that dimension of life should remain somewhat private. This theme comes up in other Narnia books. Aslan tells one inquisitive child that He tells her no one’s story except her own. This flies right in the face of the spiritual exhibitionism and voyeurism of modern evangelicals, always encouraged to tell others their story (spiritual journey, sometimes). We ARE called to bear each other’s burdens, but this doesn’t mean prying into intimate spiritual moments. Peter and Susan are trying to “figure out” Lu, doing her harm in the process, just because she doesn’t fit into their categories of reality.

6. Theme of intellectual humility in this chapter: Peter goes to the professor, acknowledging the situation is beyond him. Narrator says even the professor knew very little about his house.

7. Perhaps “some magic in the house had come to life and was chasing them into Narnia.”
See these two articles for more on a proper view of magic:
http://www.credenda.org/issues/14-2thema.php
http://www.credenda.org/issues/14-2tohu.php

LWW chapter 4

1. At first it looks like the Witch will turn Ed into stone; then she changes her mind and is nice to him, giving him his favorite food, Turkish Delight. How does the devil deal with us? Blast us to smithereens? No, subtly. And with lots of candy.

2. Questioning Ed and asking him to bring his siblings to her, the “Queen” sounds a lot like Herod, questioning the wise men and asking them to let him know where Jesus is, so he can go and “worship” Him, too.

3. She promises Ed the kingdom, just like Satan promises Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth. She tempts him with power over his siblings. “You’re better than them.” Like (Star Wars alert) the emperor tempts Anakin with pride: “You’re the best Jedi ever; you don’t have to listen to them.”

4. Ed is also like Judas at this point. The witch asks Ed to bring his siblings to her castle. Satan enters Judas to take Jesus’ enemies to where He is and capture Him.

5. Secret thoughts and divisions now spring up, as Lu tells Ed about the Witch and he puts it together. “But he still wanted to taste that Turkish Delight again more than he wanted anything else.” Hm. The world’s desires often overwhelm our knowledge of the truth and the right. Israel wanted to return to Egypt, where they had good food. If that desire didn’t overcome Ed, this could all go differently: tell Lu you just met her and go seek counsel from Peter, Susan, fauns and centaurs.

6. This wasn’t going to be as much fun for Ed as for Lu. That’s for sure.

LWW chapter 3

Chapter 3

1. Susan and Edmund are critical and quickly judge Lucy for her story. Peter gives her the benefit of the doubt, and seeks out counsel before condemning her.

2. There is an antithesis, an opposition, between those who’ve been to Narnia and those who haven’t, and don’t believe it’s there. Peter and Susan belittle Lucy without meaning to; Edmund does it intentionally. Most unbelievers benignly pity Christians; some are spiteful and harsh. Lucy is truthful. She won’t deny what happened just to get along with others. This makes life hard for her, producing lots of personal friction between her and them.

3. That it is silly to shut oneself in a wardrobe is repeated so much, there must be something behind it – or maybe just literary device – I don’t know. Could be a subtle thing saying we shouldn’t get trapped in fantasy worlds; there’s a real world to live and work in, too. Just a guess. Edmund does shut the door the first time he goes in; Lu was always careful not to. Maybe this just tips us off to the relative wisdom of each.

4. Edmund’s first reaction to the new world is fear. Lu’s had been wonder.

5. The witch rides a sleigh pulled by reindeer and a dwarf. Santa Claus, anyone? (Ha!) Apparently, she is patrolling the western frontier of Narnia, after having caught Tumnus and learned of Lucy.

LWW chapter 2

1. Tumnus knows Lucy better than Lucy does. She is a daughter of Eve, most importantly. She goes by her first name.

2. Tumnus’ library includes “Nymphs and their Ways” and “Is Man a Myth?” A nice reversal of our scientistic assumptions. Nymphs are discussed scientifically; man as legend or myth. Modern man doubts the existence of the spiritual; well, fauns, nymphs, satyrs doubt the existence of man.

3. Tumnus is half man, half goat, like the Greek god Pan, who plays a flute. Sure enough, Tumnus hauls out a flute, and goes on about Silenus and Bacchus, to other Greek god/myths associated with Pan.

4. Matthew 2 and Revelation 12 come to mind, regarding the Witch plan to catch any sons or daughters of Adam and Eve that should enter Narnia. The devil/Herod waits to foil the plan right from His birth. Tumnus even takes on Joseph-like qualities in protecting Lucy and getting her to a safe place, as Joseph takes Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

5. 4 thrones at Cair Paravel to be filled. As Daniel is promised one to sit on the throne of David forever. The promise is reiterated at the Annunciation to Mary in Luke 1:32.

6. The handkerchief is the first inkling we get of a sacrament – a connection or tie between the two worlds. This comes up in other books, too, especially the end of Magician’s Nephew.

Narnia - Lion, Witch and Wardrobe (LWW) - chapter 1

We're going to see Narnia tomorrow night, so I decided to give "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" a quick read first. Then I decided, halfway through the first chapter, to keep track of all the biblical allusions or other significant lessons which it seems to me Lewis is trying to convey. See how projects tend to grow on me?

This'll be kind of rough; just quick, off-the-cuff thoughts I'm jotting (typing) as reading. And yes, I'll go through it all, so if you don't want me spoiling the story if you haven't read/seen it yet, reader beware!

By the way, there are TONS of books that do this kind of thing, and good teachers who have teaching series on Narnia. I've seen many of them, but haven't actually read ANY of them. This is all original to me...

Chapter 1
1. Characterization of the 4 siblings
- Susan is high-minded: “Go to bed, Edmund.”
- Edmund is impudent and against authority: “Who are you to tell me to go to bed?”
- Lucy is innocent and wants the whole group together: “Shouldn’t we all go to bed?”
- Peter, the natural leader, leads by example: “I’m going to bed.”
2. Tumnus is Christmas shopping? When the witch has said there is to be no Christmas? Traitor!

The Holy Spirit

And the angel answered and said to [Mary], "The Holy Spirit will come upon you..." Luke 1:35

From JC Ryle's commentary -

"In every step of the great work of man's redemption, we shall find special mention of the work of the Holy Ghost. Did Jesus die to make atonement for our sins? It is written that 'through tht eternal Spirit He offered Himself without spot to God.' (Heb 9:14) Did He rise again for our justification? It is written that He 'was quickened by the Spirit.' (1 Peter 3:18) Does He supply His disciples with comfort betwen the time of His first and second advent? It is written that the Comforter, whom He promised to send is 'the Spirit of truth.' (John 14:17)

"Let us take heed that we give the Holy Ghost the same place in our personal religion, which we find Him occupying in God's word. Let us remember, that all that believers have, and are, and enjoy under the Gospel, they owe to the inward teaching of the Holy Spirit. The work of each of the three Persons of the Trinity is equally and entirely needful to the salvation of every saved soul. The election of God the Father, the blood of God the Son, and the sanctification of God the Spirit, ought never to be separated in our Christianity."

12.14.2005

Christmas Knitting and Beyond

I've been trying really hard to finish all knit Christmas gifts this week. Unfortunately, the list of UFO's is top secret and I can't disclose that information to you. It's looking like I'll be in the clear and actually have some time after the 25th to finish up all my other projects (tea shawl, saxon braid scarf) before the new year.

But since I've added SEWING some gifts onto my list today (hey, I've got 11 days yet!), the crunch is on. I'm on the party-by-party schedule to make sure everything is finished.

But I keep thinking about after the new year...what to knit then?? I've wanted to knit Steve something for a long time. You know, love shown by the fruit of my hands and all that. Any ideas on what to make him? Shall we make it a contest - most creative idea wins?

-Sara

Love not the world

A free CD from RC Sproul, Jr.'s outfit winged its way into our mailbox yesterday. Good stuff. This one hit me:

1. The devil tries to look like an angel, selling his sin to us as happiness.
2. Evangelicals try to look like the world (either out of shame, or to get the world into the church).
3. The true faith is different from the world, and should be. A city on a hill, come out from Babylon and be separate, and all that. It's the differences between believers and the world, more than the similarities, that raise questions for the world, giving us the opportunity to present Christ.

12.13.2005

Quixote

If you're curious, yes we're still reading Don Quixote, and yes, it's been a LONG time. We get about 4 chapters read per week (try 1 per night, but out loud is slow, and some nights are impossible). Given there are scores of chapters in part 2 alone, you see the dilemma.

It's rather Monty Python-esque in parts. In fact, I'm convinced they got a lot of their material from Cervantes. And there is some decent philosophical substance relating to how our dreams and/or ideals relate to reality, and how our reason facilitates that relationship. In other words, our minds both dream up an ideal world and simultaneously cope with reality. Putting the two together can strain the reasoning faculties (often to the point of insanity) and sometimes be, well, quixotic.

No mercy

Hosea 12:14 - "Ephraim provoked [God] to anger most bitterly; therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him, and return his reproach upon him."

This verse pierced into me this morning, bringing out 3 responses:

1. The realization that there are many people in this same boat today. I cry out to God to have mercy on them.

2. The reality that God has mercy on whom He will have mercy (Ex 33:19; Rom 9:15). Many were NOT passed over in Egypt during the 10th plague. Yet God will be glorified (Rom 9:22-23) and just (Rom 3:25-6), through just judgment or through mercy.

3. Overwhelming gratitude at being saved FROM God, BY God - by His mercy and grace. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven!

12.12.2005

Yoda's Wife

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?



Leia is a driven, dedicated individual. She has a forceful, some would say abrasive, personality. She is professional in all respects, but occasionally relaxes her guard to let her strong compassion and quirky sense of humor show. Leia is a petite, fair-skinned human female with brown eyes, and long brown hair that she often wears in an elaborate fashion.

******************

No thought provoking exegesis here. This is pretty accurate, except the petite/brown hair/brown eyes aspect. But can you imagine Yoda and Leia being married?! Welcome to our world!

-Sara

Exegeting Yoda

Which science fiction character are you?

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?


A venerated sage with vast power and knowledge, you gently guide forces around you while serving as a champion of the light.
"Judge me by my size, do you? And well you should not - for my ally is the Force. And a powerful ally it is. Life greets it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us, and binds us. Luminescent beings are we, not this crude matter! You must feel the Force around you, everywhere."

-------------------------------------------------

Ok, terrible theology, but the categories work with some adjusting.
Let's give it a whirl:

- The Force is not an impersonal energy source, but a personal Being. Jesus calls Him the Advocate or Comforter.
- Life doesn't grow the Force; it's the other way around: He gives creatures life.
- We ARE crude matter. What's the point of denying that? All that Buddhist "there is not spoon" stuff is a desperate grasping at another world. But why get to another world by denying this one exists?



And there IS good stuff here:

- Don't judge by size. Stalin scoffed at religion: "how many divisions does the Pope have?" But Stalin's walls fell, eventually.
- The Spirit is a powerful ally, for those bound to the strong name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
- There IS a close link between the Spirit and life. See 2 Corinthians 3:6.
- We ARE more than crude matter. Yoda is right on that many can't see past the material.
- We MUST be more in tune to the Spirit at work around us than we typically are.



By the way, my favorite Yoda line: "fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."

12.09.2005

The sin of Sodom

Can't say how many times I've heard asserted lately that the sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not homosexuality. A lot, though.

I'm reading Jude, and came across this.

God punishes sin: unfaithful Israel after their redemption from Egypt (Jude 5 and Numbers 14:29), the angels who procreated with women (Jude 6 and Gen 6:1-4), and Sodom who gave "themselves over to sexual immorality and [went] after strange [hetero] flesh" (Jude 7 and Gen 19:24).

The last 2 - angels and Sodom - are paralleled in that they both "did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode" (vs 6). This is written of the angels only, but the immediate next example of Sodom fits right in to the principle.

[Tongue in cheek]
But you know narrow-minded Jude, contending for the faith, and all that fundamentalist hogwash... What an embarrassment, right?
[Tongue out of cheek]

Anyway, these are "set forth as an example" (vs 7), and I don't think God means as dialogue partners...



Post-script:
Did a quick check on other Scripture referring to Sodom and found this on its sins:

- Ezekiel 16:49-50 - though rich, she didn't help the poor, and they "committed abomination."

- Lam 4 and Matt 11 - Jeremiah and Jesus both say that Israel's condemnation will be worse than Sodom's.

I have no problem wholeheartedly affirming both of these, but when many deny homosexuality to be a sin in the first place, we need to begin on a different front. Namely, the initial goal is to speak the language of Scripture and refer to it as abomination without embarrassment. But doing so doesn't help dialogue, either...

Funny how we keep bumping up against the Bible while trying to get along in a denomination.

Longings for an era gone by...



We're still buried in snow. And after 2 hours in a photo studio getting the Christmas family pictures taken last night then driving home in a snow storm, I needed to dig up some photos to remember happier times gone by. Remember the color of grass and unclouded skies....

Owen is breaking our house rule about shooting someone else who is unarmed. The damsel in distress was saved by Mom, who was armed with the garden hose. All things are fair in love and war! Raising small children is an art form akin to war.

-Sara

12.08.2005

China - foreign foe or future friend?

Check out the link for more human rights abuses from the Chinese.

I find it hard to keep from thinking China is just the Soviet Union, redux. They have cultivated a softer image, engaged in economic trade with us, etc. But their values are Marxist, fascist and atheistic.

I have several friends who have been to China, short and long term, and they all have seemed hesitant to criticize the government, having had good experiences there. Any comment from you who have been there?

WHy single out this country, of the many that violate rights?
1. They're the biggest and most significant.
2. They're the most interested in good relations with USA.
3. I've heard a great deal through outfits like Voice of the Martyrs of house churches persecuted there.
4. The church there is growing rapidly, and may have a strong influence on its emerging modern culture.

A Hymn to Winter

Temps this morning were around 0 degrees. I can hardly type b/c my fingertips are numb (and I'm indoors!). While this song is about Minnesotans, not Michiganders, there are many things we share with our western neighbors. It will make you smile about the trials of winter, even if you're somewhere warm and sunny right now (you'll just have to stick your head in the freezer for 20 minutes to understand a bit). You read this while I get some hot tea (not to drink, just to hold!).

A HYMN TO WINTER

We've suffered through three months of summer
Endured it without a complaint,
Though we are true Minnesotans
And at 80 degrees we feel faint.
But now that the leaves are falling
Our spirits are on the rebound
Now we wait for that day in November
When we wake up to snow on the ground.

On that morning we'll put on our parkas
And enjoy that first winter day,
The tree limbs stark and dramatic
The sky a cold dark gray.
The wind picks up and we smile
We laugh at the hard freezing rain.
For we are northern people
And we're happier when we're in pain.

Some people complain about winter
The fancy and the effete,
The people who play New Age music
The people who cook with Mesquite
The people who use the word "network"
And I know it's not nice to say
but that is the beauty of winter:
It keeps all those people away.

In summer you get the illusion
That life must be gentle and warm
But wisdom comes to us in winter
When we have to stay home in the storm
When the blizzard comes out of the northwest
You cannot do as you would do
So winter is when nature teaches
That the world is not here to please you

And so we look forward to winter
And setting some new record lows
There's nothing so good for a person
As the sting of cold air in your nose
We enjoy the long hours of darkness
We enjoy being blasted and chilled
The wonderful thing about suffering is:
It helps to relieve our guilt

We're hardy midwestern people,
Not meant for the comfortable life.
We're bred to be stubborn and sturdy
And thrive on struggle and strife.
We're happy with frostbitten faces,
With ice frozen to our eyelash,
With stuff running out of our noses,
And freezing on our moustache.

We stand with our long jumper cables
Dressed in our snowmobile suits,
Wearing our scarves and our mittens
And gigantic double-lined boots.
In summer we're selfish and spoiled,
But winter is good for the heart.
No matter how cold it is, neighbor,
We'll come out and give you a start.

COPYWRIGHT 1996 Garrison Keillor

12.07.2005

Principles of freedom

Churchill drafted a statement for he and Roosevelt to declare jointly. Here are the first 3 of 5 articles in the 1st draft, "they" referring to USA and Great Britain.

"First, their countries seek no aggrandisement, territorial or other.

Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.

Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live. They are only concerned to defend the rights of freedom of speech and thought, without which such choice must be illusory."

Church with Churchill and Roosevelt

Back to Churchill.

Churchill and Roosevelt met personally for the first time in August 1941, on the sea off Newfoundland, to discuss general principles of alliance against Nazism.

"On Sunday morning, August 10, Mr. Roosevelt came aboard H.M.S. Prince of Wales and, with his Staff officers and several hundred representatives of all ranks of the United States Navy and Marines, attended Divine Service on the quarterdeck.... a deeply moving expression of the unity of faith of our two peoples... the symbolism of the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes draped side by side on the pulpit;... the close-packed ranks of British and American sailors, completely intermingled, sharing the same books and joining fervently together in the prayers and hymns familiar to both. I chose the hymns myself - "For Those in Peril on the Sea" and "Onward, Christian Soldiers." We ended with "O God, Our Help in Ages Past."... It was a great hour to live. Nearly half those who sang were soon to die."

Advent and Daniel, part 9

A remarkable convergence of circumstance, yet again.

1. A pastor friend doing a Ph.D. on 2nd temple Judaism.
2. Reading Daniel in my study focusing on other-testamental links.
3. Preaching Luke 1:26-56 (Annunciation and Magnificat).

My friend tipped me off that Jews of Jesus' day (2nd temple) had Daniel very much in mind.

So I'm reading Daniel in my regularly scheduled devotions, and I find all these references to Luke 1:33: "He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Daniel 2:44; 4:3, 34; 6:26; 7:14, 27 all refer to this!

Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man most often, Daniel's title for the Messiah.

After Jesus' birth, what does Mary do? She keeps all these things in her heart (Lk 2:19, 51).
Lo and behold, what does Daniel do after the vision of chpt 7? Keeps these things in his heart (Dan 7:28).

Gabriel shows up in the Bible in 2 places, appearing to only 3 people: Daniel, Zechariah and Mary. Zechariah has been discussed earlier.
Regarding the Annunciation, Gabriel says the same thing to Daniel and to Mary: you are highly favored/blessed.

12.06.2005

No church on Christmas?

No, these days people want a family Christmas instead.

Internet monk is on a roll. This rest of this post is him, responding to many large churches not having church on Christmas (a Sunday) this year, as he puts it, to give "congregations, volunteers, staffs- and thousands of twice a year attenders- the day off to spend with their families:"

This "does play, in my opinion, into one of the primary idolatries of this culture: family. The mega-churches have banked everything on Christ as a MEANS to family success, good parenting, etc. What about Christ’s claim that supercede even family life? Morning worship isn’t the essence of that claim, but there is something important here.

"I’d like to see some evidence that the megachurches are not pandering to the consumeristic, recreational idolatries of the culture, and this is a good place to start.

"the gathered congregation is the Christian’s primary family. Jesus often put his standards of discipleship in terms of choices between himself and family expectations. How do we communicate this to our children?.... opting out of Christmas worship on the Lord’s Day seems to communicate a lot about the relationship of church and family.

"there is a kind of idolatry of family that evangelicals regularly refuse to engage. It appears that when the choice is between honoring Christ in a meaningful tradition that thousands relate to, or giving place to the perceived needs of family life in middle class America, the choice is a very simple one for the megachurches. I believe the family precedes the church in God’s economy, but I do not believe the most basic acts of the gathered congregation should be evaluated primarily as they affect the contemporary idea of family.

"Repentance from promoting a staff environment that causes baby to not recognize daddy doesn’t start with cancelling Christmas. It starts with the whole culture of the megachurch.

"I would gladly assert the liberty of families to decide what they are doing on any Lord’s Day. There would be no lists of those who proved they were traitors.... [But] Make it plain that Christ, not culture, not family, not the agenda of the staff, has preeminence and the place of honor for God’s people."

12.05.2005

Perspective on homosexuality

More Internet Monk...

"Evangelical outrage about homosexuality is about magnifying parts of the Bible in which sin is compared to the law, or to God’s purpose in creation, or the good health of society. Yet, compared to Jesus Christ, homosexuality is simply another matter for which Christ died and rose again. We have no premise to be outraged by it. Christ knows all about it, and bore it in his body on the tree.

"I should say that I am not disagreeing with anything the Bible says about homosexuality, as much as I am saying that like any other sin, we need to place it next to Christ and see the truth of the Gospel. Here is a sin for which Christ died. Does this mean the unrepentant homosexual can be justified? I think God saves sinners who repent imperfectly, but I do not think God saves sinners who knowingly reject Christ and the Gospel. I will leave it to God to sort out the individuals in that situation, but I could not offer any sinner assurance of salvation if their faith did not hear Jesus say “Go and sin no more.”

"Evangelicals have made so many sins political and social matters that they have forgotten the church’s treasure is Christ, not social change."

3 years with Jesus

Turning 30 this week, I've been contemplating the 3 years of Jesus' ministry, roughly from 30-33 yrs of age. Of course, the Spirit was especially at work, anointing Him for this ministry. But I can't help be amazed at how ill-prepared I feel to minister the Gospel at the 30 years of age, after 2 years of experience!

Then I came across this from the Internet Monk.

“If you were to spend three years hanging around with Jesus..."

Some thought-provokers here for you...

“If you were to spend three years hanging around with Jesus as he is presented in the Gospels, do you believe you would come to the conclusion that the primary job of a pastor is to ensure a church gets as large as possible?”

"If you were to spend three years hanging around with Jesus as he is presented in the Gospels, do you believe you would come to the conclusion that without the right kind of music, your church can’t grow?”

"If you were to spend three years hanging around with Jesus as he is presented in the Gospels, do you believe you would come to the conclusion that Jesus is best represented by western, American, middle-class white evangelicalism?”

“…do you believe you would come to the conclusion that a sincere and faithful homosexual should be a leader of the church?”

“…do you believe you would come to the conclusion that the best way to describe the Bible is inerrant?”

“…do you believe you would come to the conclusion that pastoral ministry is primarily about defending our theology from those who differ from us?”

“…do you believe you would promote “family values” and the “culture war” as important causes that represent Jesus?”

“…do you believe you would identify with the Republican or the Democratic parties?”

“… do you believe you would come to the conclusion that you are not one of the rich? Or one of the Pharisees-types?”

“…do you believe you would come to the conclusion that you are, now, a disciple and follower of Jesus? Not a fan, but a follower?”

“…do you believe you would come to the conclusion that your current approach to prayer is similar to Jesus?”

“…do you believe your treatment of people would change?”

“…do you believe you would spend money as you do today?”

"If you spent three years with him, what kind of person would you be? What kind of theologian? Husband? Father? Man?"

12.03.2005

Where did your Christmas lights come from?

From www.thelightsofchristmas.org

"House church pastors in China face arrest, persecution and imprisonment. When imprisoned they are forced to do hard labor – making bricks, mining coal, putting together cigarette lighters...and even assembling Christmas lights.

"The same Christmas lights we use to celebrate the Savior’s birth are being used to punish Chinese pastors who have risked everything to share Jesus to the largest people group on earth – it’s a story that captures everyone’s heart who hears it.

"Instead of boycotting these items, house church leaders in China have asked that we use our Christmas lights as reminders to pray that they have the strength to stand firm for the Savior during their suffering, and for the Lord to protect and care for their families."

Alan Greenspan


Finishing up this book. Good to keep my business degree dusted off mentally - good mental exercise in general, economically.

Bob Woodward is pretty liberal, and some bias comes out. Clinton and Rubin are, of course, such thoughtful perceptive people; Ford, Reagan and Bush had no interest in "working with" the Fed - just a greedy self-interest...

As always, in this kind of book, some good zingers about how the Fed has more influence over the economic markets than Congress or Pennsylvania Avenue.



Here was a good one to balance politically my recent love for U2 and Bono.

When Greenspan was questioned by the House for bailing out a hedge fund for the super-rich investors, a socialist representative said this: "According to the United Nations, Mr. Chairman [Greenspan], the world's richest 225 individuals have a combined wealth of over $1 trillion, equal to the bottom 47 percent of the world's population - 225 people have as much wealth as almost half the world's population. Does that concern you? Do you think that that is just?"

Greenspan: "It is not by any means clear to me that if you were somehow to take these 225 invdividuals and merely indicate to them that they no longer have any wealth, and you put them away on a desert island, that the state of the rest of the world would be improved in the slightest."

Woodward: "Greenspan believed that only structural change, capitalism, the rule of law and the creation of private property ownership would lift up the world's poor."

Greenspan: "I think we ought to, instead of looking at what we have now as some incredibly corrupt, unequal, unethical system, try to look at what the United States has become relative to what used to exist 100, 200, 300 years ago.... The average American is far better off than at any time in our history."



Most of the book wasn't this political, but just revolved around Greenspan's leadership of the Fed - getting the several board members to vote as unanimously as possible with his position, to give the markets confidence that the Fed knew what it was doing.

Anyway, I'm trying to get down to one leisure book and one church/theology/ministry book at a time, and I'm almost there now! This was a good change of pace.

12.01.2005

Queen of the Reformation

Just finished reading "Queen of the Reformation" by Charles Ludwig. It's a fictionalized biography of Katie von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther. The story starts with her wicked stepmother who ships Katie off to a convent at age 16 because she mentioned her dead mother once. While there, she questions God, the Catholic rituals, and her purpose in life. She escapes with 11 other nuns after reading some of Luther's tracts. Once in a safe territory, the nuns live in the Black Cloister, Luther's residence, while studying under him to learn more about Protestantism and the New Testament. Several years later, Luther and Katie are married and the story progresses to tell of his involvement in the Reformation and how Katie supported him through running his home (which contiuously had up to 120 boarders - few of which paid their stay!).

This book will never make the great halls of literature, but it was a quick and entertaining read. The beginning third felt more like a list of historical facts with a weak story woven around them, but the last half was written more smoothly. It was a good refresher on the political situation of the 1400-1500's, with many details of the relationship between the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V, and the Protestant cities/princes. This would be a great book for a middle schooler to read to get a better picture of this time period and how Luther fit into the scheme of history.

-Sara