Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review on Reformation21

My review of The Incarnation in the Gospels is now available on the Reformation21 website.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Street Name Change in Moscow

A street in Moscow renamed for Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has some residents up in arms--they prefer the former name: Big Communist Street. The Guardian has a story with the details.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Toy Jeers

Little Tykes has a line of toys for toddlers (6 months and older) that play songs—so far so good. These trains, mobiles, and toy guitars, drums, and keyboards are part of the “Pop Tunes Big Rocker” line of toys. As the advertising line says, “Plays songs to get kids moving with music that parents can appreciate.” These songs include versions of: “Love Shack” by The B-52's, “Hot Hot Hot” by Buster Poindexter, and “Wild Thing” by The Troggs. These are hardly songs or messages appropriate to toddlers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Quote about Freedeom and the Arts

Jeremy Begbie in Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music

"For the Christian, to be free is not fundamentally to enjoy some supposedly blank space before us, or to increase options, but to be at peace with God and one another and thus at home in a God-given world."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bama 12-0

Anxiously anticipating Saturday's game with Florida. Roll Tide!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Advent Carol

This morning at Parish we will sing the following Advent carol by John Morrison written in 1781. I set the text to the English Folk Tune Kingsfold. It's a wonderful reminder of the prophecy of Isaiah and the hope that we have in the incarnation of Christ and is thus a perfect text to sing on this First Sunday of Advent.

To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is giv’n,
Him shall the tribes of earth obey,
Him all the hosts of Heav’n.

His Name shall be the Prince of Peace,
Forevermore adored,
The Wonderful, the Counselor,
The great and mighty Lord.

His pow’r, increasing, still shall spread,
His reign no end shall know,
Justice shall guard His throne above,
And peace abound below.

To us a Child of hope is born,
To us a Son is giv’n,
The Wonderful, the Counselor,
The mighty Lord of Heav’n.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Psalm of Thanksgiving

This is our Psalm of the Month at Parish for November. We are singing it to a new melody by Henry Owen. Happy Thanksgiving for His steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 111

O give the Lord whole-hearted praise,
To Him thanksgiving I will bring;
With all His people I will raise
My voice and of His glory sing.
His saints delight to search and trace
His mighty works and wondrous ways;
Majestic glory, boundless grace,
And righteousness His work displays.

The wondrous works that God has wrought
His people ever keep in mind;
His works with grace and mercy fraught,
Revealing that the Lord is kind.
God’s promise shall forever stand,
He cares for those who trust His Word;
Upon His saints His mighty hand
The wealth of nations has conferred.

His works are true and just indeed,
His precepts are forever sure;
In truth and righteousness decreed,
They shall forevermore endure.
From Him His saints’ redemption came;
His cov’nant sure no change can know;
Let all revere His holy Name
In Heav’n above and earth below

In reverence and godly fear
Man finds the gate to wisdom’s ways;
The wise His holy Name revere;
Through endless ages sound His praise.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Europeana Crashes

Europeana, the European attempt to create a comprehensive compendium of knowledge, crashed in its first day--because it received 10 million hits an hour. The Guardian has an article about the intent and scope of this endeavor. It's somewhat ironic that this desire for an indestructible Alexandrian-type Library failed its first day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

More Luther Quotes

My heart, which is so full to overflowing, has often been solaced and refreshed by music when sick and weary.

For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.

I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.

Music is the art of the prophets and the gift of God.

Peace if possible, truth at all costs.

To gather with God's people in united adoration of the Father is as necessary to the Christian life as prayer.

If I knew that tomorrow was the end of the world, I would plant an apple tree today! (Possibly not Luther, but too good not to include)

Martin Luther on Music

I, Doctor Martin Luther, wish all lovers of the unshackled art of music grace and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ! I truly desire that all Christians would love and regard as worthy the lovely gift of music, which is a precious, worthy, and costly treasure given to mankind by God. The riches of music are so excellent and so precious that words fail me whenever I attempt to discuss and describe them.... In summa, next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our thoughts, minds, hearts, and spirits... Our dear fathers and prophets did not desire without reason that music be always used in the churches. Hence, we have so many songs and psalms. This precious gift has been given to man alone that he might thereby remind himself that God has created man for the express purpose of praising and extolling God. However, when man's natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace. A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Horton Foote Play

Horton Foote's newest play, Dividing the Estate, is reviewed in USA Today and The New York Times. The 92-year-old Texan playwright exhibits a quiet grace in all of his works that probes relationships, motivations, dreams, and ambitions. A remarkable feat for someone who has written scores of plays and award-winning screen plays. A new work from Foote is always an occasion for rejoicing and reflection.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Oak Beams of New College, Oxford

This is a wonderful story of stewardship, thinking multi-generationally, and laying up an inheritance for future generations.

Modern v. Trinitarian Beauty

Beauty: In Modernity, beauty is at most an accident of power. It derives from survival by power or mutation, and it is an unnatural presence in Modernity’s cosmos, because it doesn’t reflect the conformity and power at the center of that world. But beauty is not efficient; it is superfluous, unnecessary, an overflow, a natural expression of the Trinity’s life. Beauty doesn’t operate by force or power or necessity but by holy seduction, like the Trinity.
—Doug Jones

Monday, November 10, 2008

Current Reading

Tolkien Quote

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
—J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Daniel 2:20-22

Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,
to whom belong wisdom and might.
He changes times and seasons;
he removes kings and sets up kings;
he gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to those who have understanding;
he reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what is in the darkness,
and the light dwells with him.

Psalm 2:10-12

Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Worship Notes: Corporate Confession

Robert G. Rayburn Quote
"One of the serious weaknesses of our modern lives in the fact that we have failed to make clear the inflexible holiness of our God. It is true that he is the God of all grace, that he is infinite in his kindness and mercy towards us, but he is also a God of manifest righteousness who cannot look upon sin. Entirely too many ministers give the impression that all we must do is rest in the lovingkindness of God, knowing that he will always supply the healing and strength that are needed. The Christian life is not as simple as that. The believer must honestly and reverently deal with sin in his life continually day by day. Before we presume to worship God, we must remember the clear teaching of the Word of God, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18). Until we have truly and sincerely confessed our sin before the Lord, our worship will not be acceptable in his sight."

Saturday, November 1, 2008

CA Kindergarten Curriculum

Fox has a story about the use of pledge cards given to 5 year olds to prevent harassment against people of alternative lifestyles. Apparently it's never too early to start defining the thought categories of future citizens.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Roll Tide, 8-0

Current Reading

Music of the Spheres?

Scientists have recently recorded the sound of distant stars. You can hear these "songs" with this BBC article.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thoughts on Religion...

by children's book author, Philip Pullman. His anti-Lewis, anti-Christian trilogy is being made into films, with The Golden Compass (2007) as the first installment.

"My basic objection to religion is not that it isn't true; I like plenty of things that aren't true. It's that religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good."

Decorating on a Dime and Imagination

A Kentucky man transformed the bare walls of his basement with sharpies and imagination. This is worth seeing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Day of Reckoning

Finally someone is willing to tell the art world that the Emperor has no clothes. Robert Hughes takes on Damien Hirst in this article from the Guardian. Hughes is the author of a thoughtful book on modern art, The Shock of the New. Hirst is probably most famous as the artist who slices animals in two and preserves them in glass tanks. His most recent works include a diamond encrusted skull and managing to stay in the public eye as if his art were important. He's become a master of publicity--which is, after all, one of the greatest traits of modern artists.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Life for an Old Violin

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the concertmaster of the of the Milwaukee Symphony was offered the loan of a Stradivarius. In a time when collectors, and not musicians, are the only ones able to afford to own the celebrated instruments, this is indeed a generous gift--but, thankfully, perhaps not as unusual as one would think. After all, great instruments were meant to be played.


What is the use of correct speech if it does not meet with the listener’s understanding? There is no point in speaking at all if our words are not understood by the people to whose understanding our words are directed.
—Augustine, On Christian Teaching

Rhetoric in Defense of Truth

Since rhetoric is used to give conviction to both truth and falsehood, who could dare to maintain that truth, which depends on us for its defense, should stand unarmed in the fight against falsehood? This would mean that those who are trying to give conviction to their falsehoods would know how to use an introduction to make their listeners favorable, interested, and receptive, while we would not; that they would expound falsehoods in descriptions that are succinct, lucid, and convincing, while we would expound the truth in such a way as to bore our listeners, cloud their understanding, and stifle their desire to believe; that they would assail the truth and advocate falsehood with fallacious arguments, while we would be too feeble either to defend what is true or refute what is false; that they, pushing and propelling their listeners’ minds towards error, would speak so as to inspire fear, sadness, and elation, and issue passionate exhortations, while we, in the name of the truth, can only sit idle along sounding dull and indifferent. Who could be so senseless as to find this sensible? No; oratorical ability, so effective a resource to commend either right or wrong, is available to both sides; why then is it not acquired by good and zealous Christians to fight for the truth, if the wicked employ it in the service of iniquity and error, to achieve their perverse and futile purposes?
—Augustine, On Christian Teaching


"Symbols are the natural speech of the soul, a language older and more universal than words."
--Edmund Spenser (1552-99)


“The trouble with me is lack of faith…The irrational dead weight of my old skeptical habits and the spirit of this age and the cares of the day steal away all my lively feeling of the truth, and often when I pray I wonder if I am not posting to a nonexistent address. Mind you, I don’t think so—the whole of my reasonable mind is convinced: but I often feel so.”
—C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Music of the Spheres

Quotes from Jamie James:

There was a time when the universe was believed to cohere, when human life had a meaning and purpose. A person who devoted himself to a lifetime of study, instead of coming out at the end of it the author of a definitive treatise on the pismire, or a catalogue of the references to Norse sagas in Finnigans Wake, would actually have a shot at discovering the key to the universe.

The concepts of the musical universe and the Great Chain of Being originate in the classical bedrock of our culture, flow through the Christian tradition, and remain firmly centered in the Renaissance and the Age of Reason. They are at the core of the culture. It was not until the nineteenth century that the perspective shifted decisively to the earthly, the tangible. Materialism and sensuality, qualities that had been deeply mistrusted throughout most of the Western tradition, emerged ascendant.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Quotes from Augustine's On Christian Teaching

“For we ‘walk by faith and not by sight,’ and faith will falter if the authority of Holy Scripture is shaken; and if faith falters, love itself decays. For if someone lapses in his faith, he inevitably lapses in his love as well, since he cannot love what he does not believe to be true.”

“For it is the instinct of a corrupt mind to covet and claim as its due what is really due to God alone. This kind of self-love is better called hatred. It is unjust because it wants what is beneath it to serve it while refusing to serve what is above it; and it has been very well said that ‘the person who loves injustice hates his own soul’ (Psalm 11:5).”

“For the treatment of human beings God’s wisdom—in itself both doctor and medicine—offered itself in a similar way. Because human beings fell through pride it used humility in healing them. We were deceived by the wisdom of the serpent; we are freed by the foolishness of God. But just as that was wisdom yet was foolishness to those who despised God, so this so-called foolishness is wisdom to those who overcome the devil. We made bad use of immortality, and so we died; Christ made good use of mortality, and so we live.”

Must Read

Pithy, Short. Interesting article.

PS Note the six-word prayers.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pre-Teens and Violent Films

The Los Angeles Times has a disturbing article that cites a study tracking the alarming number of pre and young teens who watch violent films. Considering I never saw an R-rated film until my sophomore year in college, I can only imagine the effect of those images on developing minds. In addition, the article doesn't consider the language and sexual content usually connected with such films.

Reagan on the Economy

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
--Ronald Reagan

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ignoring Music

David Robertson has written an interesting article about the concert experience in the age of music as commodity. While I don't agree with all of his conclusions, he makes some interesting points as well.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

With Reverence and Awe

“The Bible does teach that God has promised to bless the means of grace that he provides in worship in a way that he has not promised to bless anything else…To take the Word, sacraments, and prayer for granted—in other words, to disregard public worship as something to be added on to personal devotions or small-group fellowship—is to trivialize worship and put ourselves at risk…The means of grace are part and parcel of Christian worship. We worship to praise God and to give Him the glory that he alone deserves. And in worship, through the means of grace, God is also at work, extending his blessing to his people, and transforming us into his image.” D.G. Hart and John R. Muether

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Disadvantages of an Elite Education

"Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers.

William Deresiewicz, former professor at Yale, has written an excellent article critiquing the pitfalls and shortcomings of an "elite" education.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Quotes from Children of Men

In The Children of Men, P.D. James describes a particular church as “a place where silence was more than the absence of noise.”

Later, she rightly describes true cultural change:

“No government can act in advance of the moral will of the people.”
Julian said: “Then we will have to change the moral will. We have to change people.”
Theo laughed. “Oh, that’s the kind of rebellion you have in mind? Not the systems but human hearts and minds. You’re the most dangerous revolutionaries of all, or would be if you had the slightest idea how to begin, the slightest chance of succeeding.”
Julian asked, as if seriously interested in his answer: “How would you begin?”
“I wouldn’t. History tells me what happens to people who do. You have one reminder on that chain round your neck.”
She put up her distorted left hand and briefly touched the cross.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quotes by Igor Stravinsky

I know that the twelve notes in each octave and the variety of rhythm offer me opportunities that all of human genius will never exhaust.

To listen is an effort, and just to hear is no merit. A duck hears also.

Sins cannot be undone, only forgiven.

Music is given to us with the sole purpose of establishing an order in things, including, and particularly, the coordination between man and time.

I was born out of due time in the sense that by temperament and talent I should have been more suited for the life of a small Bach, living in anonymity and composing regularly for an established service and for God.

The Church knew what the psalmist knew: Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church and all its decoration; it is the Church's greatest ornament.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Music and Food

The Kansas City Star ran an interesting article on the possible connection between musicians and cooking. You can find the article here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

John Cage Plays One of His "Compositions"

This is long, but the absurdity of what is meant as "music" is worth watching.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Love and Covenant Community

“I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.”
—Vincent van Gogh

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
—Thomas Merton

“I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.”
—Pietro Aretino

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”

Friday, May 2, 2008

Time and Work

There was still a faint smell of pumpkins, though the stock had eaten them all. A woodsy smell came from the pile of beech leaves, and a dry, strawy smell came from the wheat. Outside the wind was screeching and the snow was whirling, but the South-Barn Floor was warm and quiet.

Father and Almanzo unbound several sheaves of wheat and spread them on the clean wooden floor.

Almanzo asked Father why he did not hire the machine that did threshing. Three men had brought it into the country last fall, and Father had gone to see it. It would thresh a man’s whole grain crop in a few days.

“That’s a lazy man’s way to thresh,” Father said. “Haste makes waste, but a lazy man’d rather get his work done fast than to do it himself. That machine chews up the straw till it’s not fit to feed stock, and it scatters grain around and wastes it.

“All it saves is time, son. And what good is time, with nothing to do? You want to sit and twiddle your thumbs, all these stormy winter days?”

“No!” said Almanzo.

—Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Misc. Graham Greene Quotes

It is impossible to go through life without trust: that is to be imprisoned in the worst cell of all, oneself. The Ministry of Fear

My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.

Sentimentality - that's what we call the sentiment we don't share.

Success is more dangerous than failure, the ripples break over a wider coastline.

We are all of us resigned to death: it's life we aren't resigned to.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Vision Questions for Parish Church Architecture

As we think Biblically about architecture and Church construction, here are some salient points to consider:
We’re building a Parish Church not Cathedral.
A building needs to be modest and within financial means—especially for the sake of conserving resources for Church Planting.
We must think multi-generationally and lay plans and foundations now for future additions and buildings.
Beauty, Goodness, and Truth are all essential considerations.

How should the physical facility encourage and support our vision and philosophy as a Church?
As you consider a Biblical worldview application of architecture, what is your overall desire or vision when you think of the new facility?
How should our priorities as a Church family and individual families be reflected in the design and process of building?
What are some specifics that you think should to be taken into consideration?
What are some things typically done in church architecture and building programs that you hope we do not do?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Strangeness of Mercy

You cannot conceive, nor can I, the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God.
—Graham Greene, Brighton Rock

Monday, April 14, 2008

Permanence in Architecture

As the ark of salvation, the Church should literally and theologically convey a sense of safety—both spiritual and physical. The following quotes come from Michael S. Rose.

There are several ways a church can assert its permanence. First, and most obvious, is by its durability. The church, a building that will serve generation after generation, transcending time and culture, must be constructed of durable materials. Mere sticks and stones, shingles and tar won’t do. Typically, one or another type of masonry construction is used, employing the finest materials available.

Related to durability is massing: the church must be of significant mass, built with solid foundations, thick walls, and allowing for generous interior spaces. This massing is another aspect of the architectural language of churches. It’s integral to be verticality (the massing of volumes upward creates verticality) and iconography (the massing of the church helps it convey its iconic meaning, i.e., its massing can make a church look like a church and function like a church).

Architects of future generations need to comprehend the language of church architecture in order to build permanent sacred edifices for their own times and future centuries. No successful church architect can be—or even pretend to be—ignorant of the Church’s historical patrimony. Continuity demands that a successful church design can’t spring from the whims of man or the fashion of the day. The architect who breaks completely with architectural tradition robs his church of the quality of permanence that is essential to any successful church design.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Power and the Glory

Having just finished The Power and the Glory for the second time, I think I can safely say that it is one of the most profound books of the twentieth century—especially dealing with issues of faith, sin, vocation, truth, and suffering. Graham Greene does not always lend himself to easy quotes because so much of the writing is dependent on the situations of the narrative. However, here are a few attempts:

The wall of the burial-ground had fallen in: one or two crosses had been smashed by enthusiasts: an angel had lost one of its stone wings, and what gravestones were left undamaged leant at an acute angle in the long marshy grasses. One image of the Mother of God had lost ears and arms and stood like a pagan Venus over the grave of some rich forgotten timber merchant. It was odd—this fury to deface, because, of course, you could never deface enough. If God had been like a toad, you could have rid the globe of toads, but when God was like yourself, it was no good being content with stone figures—you had to kill yourself among the graves.

This is a keen observation on what has become a culture of death (infanticide, euthanasia, non-sanctity of life) and self mutilation through piercings, tattoos, and even visual art (think of the disfiguring of the image of God in cubist paintings and subsequent “art” movements).

The following quote reveals the main character’s growing realization of the need to move beyond surface piety and into the heart of the Gospel and true faith.

That was another mystery: it sometimes seemed to him that venial sins—impatience, an unimportant lie, pride, a neglected opportunity—cut you off from grace more completely than the worst sins of all. Then, in his innocence, he had felt no love for anyone; now in his corruption he had learnt…

Monday, April 7, 2008

Art and Worship

“People ask what are my intentions with my films — my aims. It is a difficult and dangerous question, and I usually give an evasive answer: I try to tell the truth about the human condition, the truth as I see it. This answer seems to satisfy everyone, but it is not quite correct. I prefer to describe what I would like my aim to be. There is an old story of how the cathedral of Chartres was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Then thousands of people came from all points of the compass, like a giant procession of ants, and together they began to rebuild the cathedral on its old site. They worked until the building was completed — master builders, artists, labourers, clowns, noblemen, priests, burghers. But they all remained anonymous, and no one knows to this day who built the cathedral of Chartres.
Regardless of my own beliefs and my own doubts, which are unimportant in this connection, it is my opinion that art lost its basic creative drive the moment it was separated from worship. It severed an umbilical cord and now lives its own sterile life, generating and degenerating itself. In former days the artist remained unknown and his work was to the glory of God. He lived and died without being more or less important than other artisans; 'eternal values,' 'immortality' and 'masterpiece' were terms not applicable in his case. The ability to create was a gift. In such a world flourished invulnerable assurance and natural humility. Today the individual has become the highest form and the greatest bane of artistic creation.
The smallest wound or pain of the ego is examined under a microscope as if it were of eternal importance. The artist considers his isolation, his subjectivity, his individualism almost holy. Thus we finally gather in one large pen, where we stand and bleat about our loneliness without listening to each other and without realizing that we are smothering each other to death. The individualists stare into each other's eyes and yet deny the existence of each other.
We walk in circles, so limited by our own anxieties that we can no longer distinguish between true and false, between the gangster's whim and the purest ideal. Thus if I am asked what I would like the general purpose of my films to be, I would reply that I want to be one of the artists in the cathedral on the great plain. I want to make a dragon's head, an angel, a devil — or perhaps a saint — out of stone. It does not matter which; it is the sense of satisfaction that counts.
Regardless of whether I believe or not, whether I am a Christian or not, I would play my part in the collective building of the cathedral.” Ingmar Bergman

A Beautiful Thing

Now, first, to define this Lamp, or Spirit, of Sacrifice, clearly. I have said that it prompts us to the offering of precious things, merely because they are precious, not because they are useful or necessary. It is a spirit, for instance, which of two marbles, equally beautiful, applicable and durable, would choose the more costly, because it was so, and of two kinds of decoration, equally effective, would choose the more elaborate because it was so, in order that it might in the same compass present more cost and more thought. It is therefore most unreasoning and enthusiastic, and perhaps best negatively defined, as the opposite of the prevalent feeling of modern times, which desires to produce the largest results at the least cost. John Ruskin

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spreading Benediction

“Every man is a missionary, now and forever, for good or for evil, whether he intends or designs it or not. He may be a blot radiating his dark influence outward to the very circumference of society, or he may be a blessing spreading benediction over the length and breadth of the world.” Thomas Chalmers

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 1

Happy Gowk Hunting!

Loss of an Historic Independent Book Store

Canada's oldest book store is closing after 169 years of business--yet another book retailer is unable to compete in a dot.com book world.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quotes on Architecture

The following quotes on Architectural Theology come from Michal S. Rose.

Church architecture affects the way man worships; the way he worships affects what he believes; and what he believes affects not only his personal relationship with God but how he conducts himself in his daily life.

Architectural theology....simply means that church architecture is more than a matter of taste and more than a matter of tradition: what we build as a house of God should reflect what we believe about God.

One basic tenet that architects have accepted for millennia is that the built environment has the capacity to affect the human person deeply—the way he acts, the way he feels, and the way he is. Church architects of past and present understood that the atmosphere created by the church building affects not only how we worship, but also what we believe. Ultimately, what we believe affects how we live our lives. It’s difficult to separate theology and ecclesiology from the environment for worship, whether it's a traditional church or a modern church.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Music for Good Friday

One of the hymns we'll be singing at our Good Friday service, is this wonderful text by Isaac Watts newly set by Henry Owen.

Not all the blood of beasts On Jewish altars slain

Could give the guilty conscience peace Or wash away the stain.
But Christ, the heav’nly Lamb, Takes all our sins away;

A sacrifice of nobler name And richer blood than they.

My faith would lay her hand On that dear head of Thine,

While, like a penitent, I stand, And there confess my sin.
My soul looks back to see The burdens Thou didst bear

When hanging on the curs├Ęd tree, And hopes her guilt was there.

Not all the blood of beasts On Jewish altars slain

Could give the guilty conscience peace Or wash away the stain.
Believing, we rejoice To see the curse remove;

We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice, And sing His bleeding love.

Text: Isaac Watts, 1709; Music: Henry Owen, 2008.
© 2008 Greyfriars Press, Used by Permission.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NEA and Homeschooling

With the current and various battles raging against home schooling, I found the following quotes from an article posted on the National Education Association website to be quite enlightening:

Home Schools Run By Well-Meaning Amateurs
Schools With Good Teachers Are Best-Suited to Shape Young Minds
By Dave Arnold, Custodian and member of the Illinois Education Association

There's nothing like having the right person with the right experience, skills and tools to accomplish a specific task. Certain jobs are best left to the pros, such as, formal education…

So, why would some parents assume they know enough about every academic subject to home-school their children? You would think that they might leave this—the shaping of their children’s minds, careers, and futures—to trained professionals. That is, to those who have worked steadily at their profession for 10, 20, 30 years! Teachers!...

Don’t most parents have a tough enough job teaching their children social, disciplinary and behavioral skills? They would be wise to help their children and themselves by leaving the responsibility of teaching math, science, art, writing, history, geography and other subjects to those who are knowledgeable, trained and motivated to do the best job possible.

These statements indicate just how far some in the profession of teaching have drifted in their priorities with regard to what is true education.

Easter and Church Flyers

It’s nearing Easter, which means that we start getting the glossy flyers in the mail from non-denominational emergent “churches.” These are generally the gatherings that have slick photos of the husband and wife pastor-team.

“Flipped”—how Jesus flipped the world with his message.

Most of these flyers have an itemized list somewhere of what the assembly is like (note—these are actual quotes):

1. We dress for comfort
2. We have meaningful, moving music (no people in polyester singing sadly)
3. Kids have cool classes
4. Baby gets to hang out in our neat nursery
5. You can worship with real people just like you
6. You will feel wanted & welcomed, but not watched
7. You don’t get beat up

The kicker usually comes in where the flyers announces the core values:

“The Assembly (not the real name) is a new church in your area committed to helping you make real connections with God and other people. We are not into religion, but seek a relationship with God and others that can change the world.

“If you’re looking for a fun, non-nonsense, practical approach to faith, than you owe it to yourself to give the Assembly a try.”

It never ceases to amaze me that people try to package Yahweh, the Creator and Ruler of the universe and Most Holy God, into a neat, practical and fun time for the kids. And that church becomes nothing more than about your comfort, preferences, and ease.

At this time of year when the whole creation ripples with new life, our hearts do soar, but only through the realization of the absolute depravity of our own efforts, our need for a Redeemer—and hence the need for the blood and gore of the cross, AND the glorious Resurrection glory. Sin and death have been conquered and swallowed up in victory! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Modern Parables Interview

CBN did an interview with Modern Parables director and writer, Thomas Purifoy. Thomas talks through the purpose of the film series and how they bring the message of the parables to life in our own times.

Thomas is also offering free iTunes downloads of the six films for a limited time on his website. You can also purchase individual films as well.

Article about Museums and Disputed Art

A Cleveland Newspaper has a fascinating article about the acquisition of ancient art objects and the tactics that some countries are using to force the return of art with disputed ownership.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thomas Chalmers Quote

“In bygone days when God’s covenant people sought to strengthen their piety, to sharpen their effectual intercessions, and give passion to their supplications, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When intent upon seeking the Lord God’s guidance in difficult after-times, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When they were wont to express grief—whether over the consequences of their own sins or the sins of others—they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When they sought deliverance or protection in times of trouble, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. When they desired to express repentance, covenant renewal, and a return to the fold of faith, they partook of the means of grace in all holiness with humble prayer and fasting. Such is the call upon all who would name the Name of Jesus. Such is the ordinary Christian life.”

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Cello Techniques

This article from the San Francisco Chronicle tells of two cellists who have extended the flexibility of the cello through either a curved bow or even two bows played at the same time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coffee Art

Apparently three restaurants in Vancouver have some fun serving coffee.

Panorama Architecture

Check out this site from Columbia University with some great 360 panorama views of the interior and exterior of great buildings from different eras.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Liberal Arts Education

Inside Higher Ed has an interesting article on the state of Liberal Arts colleges and what their future holds. While debunking the common arguments for a liberal arts education, the author posits more worthy reasons. However, even these fall flat without an appropriate theological basis, foundation, and purpose for education. Nonetheless, the author has some interesting insights, statistics, and trends.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Redefining the Music of the Church

I recently ran across an article about Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs. Here is an excerpt:

To sing a psalm is not necessarily the equivalent of singing from the book of Psalms. A psalm is a song. The term psalm, like song, can be used in a general or a specific sense. In the general usage it could include hymns, just as there are hymns included in the book of Psalms. A hymn is certainly a song.

In the specific sense, however, a psalm would contrast with a hymn. Similar to what we today call choruses, a psalm, or song, is generally simpler, shorter, more testimonial and less theological than a hymn. A hymn would usually carry a greater sense of history; a psalm, or chorus, would be more personal. The psalm is also more contemporary and has a shorter life span. The spiritual song is even more a song-of-the-moment than a psalm. The spiritual song, which consists of spontaneous melodies and words, inspired by the Holy Spirit and sung around a chord or slowly moving chord progression, has been referred to as the song of angels because of its mystical, other-worldly quality. Even as the Spirit is the believer's down payment of the future age, the spiritual song must be a foretaste of heavenly worship itself.

According to the author, a psalm is more contemporary, personal, simpler, shorter, and with a shorter life-span than hymns. Nowhere in this paradigm does there appear to be a place for the singing of actual Psalms. The book of Psalms tends to be rooted in the work of God through history, covenantal, employing rich imagery and language, theological, and with a sense of permanence—while also being personal and testimonial.

The definition of a spiritual song as spontaneous melody and words seems to have little or no Biblical precedence. It is interesting to note that when people break forth into praise in Scripture, such as Mary with the magnificat in Luke 1, they do so by quoting the Psalms and the prophets. A “new song” is literally a re-singing of the old songs. The idea that spontaneous singing is the “song of the angels because of its mystical, other-worldly quality” denies the actual words of the song mentioned in the book of Revelation sung by the heavenly hosts—which is in fact a re-singing of the Song of Moses (Rev 15). The foretaste of heavenly worship is weekly and corporately coming before the throne of God with all the great historic clouds of witnesses and singing God’s words back to Him—not stirring up mystical emotions in a transitory moment.

The author suggests that “The evangelical church must learn to sing spiritual songs; the charismatic church must rediscover hymns; and the traditional church must begin to sing a new psalm.” I would suggest that we ought to start with a more Biblical definition of terms and practice.

Friday, February 1, 2008