Thursday, June 20, 2019

3 and Other Numbers in the York Minster East Window

With this being the first week in Trinity season, I thought this a good time to point out something medieval, fun, and slightly nerdy at York Minster.
The main theme of the Great East Window of York Minster is the beginning and the end as indicated by the very tip top where God the Father holds a book with “I am the alpha and the omega” in abbreviated Latin.  At the same time, there is also a strong Trinitarian undercurrent to the window particularly in how it is organized using – you guessed it – the number 3.

The tracery as a whole is, as is common, in a dome shape – one dome.  At the bottom of the tracery is three domes.  Hmmm.  Under that is the bulk of the window, and there are lots of threes and multiples of three.  First, it is organized in three vertical rows dividing each horizontal row of panels in three. Each of these divisions in turn contains three panels.  So 3 x 3 is 9, of course, which is the number of panels in each horizontal row.
At the bottom is one row of worthy bishops and kings – nine panels. Multiply that by 3 and you get 27, which happens to the number of panels dedicated to Creation and the Old Testament. These are the top three rows of the rectangular bulk of the window.  Now multiply by 3 again, and you get 81.  And there are 81 panels dedicated to the Apocalypse of St. John (i. e. the Book of Revelation).
Now here’s where it really gets weird. Multiply 9 x 27 x 81.  You get 19,683.  That points back to the main theme of the window, the beginning and the end, as it is the number of years that some medieval calculations had between Creation and The End.
That is a bit of Trinitarian end-of-the-world fun, is it not?

By the way, if you find the East Window of York Minster the least bit interesting, then I highly recommend The Great East Window of York Minsterby Sarah Brown.  This book is scholarly yet pleasant reading and very well illustrated.  Most of the recently restored window may be viewed in the catalogue which takes up about two-thirds of the book.  Amazingly, it is very affordable as well.
If your church or group would enjoy a presentation of the East Window and its history, taking about an hour, my presentation has been well received, and I may be available.  Feel free to message me in the comments.  (You will need a Google identity.  I do moderate all comments, so I can keep your communication private if you express that wish.) Or you may message my twitter account.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Russell Moore’s Address to the ACNA Provincial Assembly

I have to apologize if I seem a bit disoriented.  I just listened carefully as Russell Moore gave his address to the Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and – you may need to sit down right now – I loved it.
It was edifying, challenging, engaging, digging very relevant truth out of Luke 4:14-30.  Not only did I enjoy it, I will have to watch again for my own edification.  And, no, there wasn’t any of the past annoying stuff, not even any straw men that I can recall. Yes I know, shocking.
I could speculate on what happened. Perhaps, as I recently suggested might be the case, he is toning down the social justice angle.  Perhaps he simply felt there were more important things for ACNA to hear.  I don’t know.  I do have to give credit where credit was due – Moore’s address was excellent.
His main theme was that there are two errant Christian responses to the secularization of culture: 1. Not taking secularism and its effects seriously enough,  2. Or taking secularization as inevitable, which in turn leads to accommodation or outrage.
He advocated a better way – embracing the challenge of proclaiming what has always been a counter-cultural Gospel and of being willing to be distinctive, to “bear our strangeness . . . knowing that the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ is enough.”
I urge not just Anglicans and Baptists, but all Christians to watch for yourselves.  It begins at about 53 minutes.

Yes, I just made a strong recommendation for something from Russell Moore. . . .  I may have to be very Anglican and drink strong ale this evening. 

Yet Another Open Letter to the Dean of King’s College Cambridge

Dear Rev. Dr. Stephen Cherry,
This seems to a time for open letters, does it not?  So I thought I would throw mine in, which I hope you will find more supportive than Dr. Paul B. Rimmer’s.
First, I want to thank you and King’s College for how you have enriched me.  And that not only through Choral Evensong, although that is wonderful enough, but how you all (Sorry. I’m Texan.) have been accommodating far beyond the call of duty in a number of ways.

One example: Some years back, I asked to be able to visit the Chapel to study and photograph the windows as part of my studies.  Not only was permission granted, but the entry fee was waived although I did not ask for that. Further, and this also without my asking, I was invited to visit the College library and study relevant documents there.  In that and other ways through the years, I have found King’s College most hospitable and accommodating.
I say that because I am confident that if Dr. Rimmer would have approached you before that Trinity Sunday, you would have been most glad to make arrangements suitable to his family while still respecting the service and those attending.  I’m sure you would have come up with an excellent experience for the boy and family.  (And I have a special place in my heart for autistic children due to personal experience.)
I am also confident that your staff would not ask anyone to leave Evensong unless disruption was out of hand.
But instead of showing consideration and exercising common courtesy (which is becoming less common nowadays, it is not?), it appears that Dr. Rimmer showed up with his child who, by Rimmer’s own admission, expresses himself in ways that are “often loud and uncontainable.” Further, “there is no realistic way for him to be quiet.”  So he knew frequent disruption was likely, yet he willfully presented you and your staff with a difficult situation anyway – not to mention those attending that Evensong. 
And you have received much undeserved criticism for how that was handled on the spur of the moment.  I cannot help but notice that much of the criticism comes from those who dismiss Evensong at King’s as a concert disguised as worship.  Most of these have never attended.  And, yes, I very much worship when at King’s, and am thankful for that.  Also, many of the critics display contempt for those who attend to worship and/or enjoy the music.  Dr. Rimmer appears to be among the latter with his attitude that he has the right to “[lessen] the satisfaction of certain tourists around the world who attend.” 
I admire your grace to Dr. Rimmer and to others under such undeserved criticism.  At the same time, I urge you not to allow such people, who hardly respect the rich tradition of worship and music at King’s nor respect those who wish to experience it – many at great traveling expense – please do not allow such people to pressure you, your staff or the Director of Music to diminish the worship at King’s, whether that be by allowing frequent disruptions or in other ways.
But you have surely heard enough advice already.  Again, though I come from a slightly different churchmanship, I greatly appreciate you and King’s College.  I hope I am not too forward by thinking this a time to say that openly.
May God bless and guide you and King’s College.
Warm Regards etc.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The New Totalitarians are Targeting Pro-Lifers

I’ve hesitated to write this post.  It has a Captain Obvious quality.  For don’t totalitarians target everyone for banishment or elimination who do not agree with them or at least submit to them 100% once they have enough power?  That’s how totalitarians roll.
Nonetheless, it is important to document and warn of the progress of totalitarians, so . . .
Two chilling events happened recently which, in addition to threats to boycott Georgia and other states that pass laws protecting unborn children, show that totalitarians are now targeting pro-lifers, seeking to exclude them from acceptability and public life.
The first was a statement from New York Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that stated that pro-life views (views against “reproductive freedom” as she stated it – totalitarians just love their euphemisms) are as unacceptable as racist views.

The second was that Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), about as close to a centrist as one gets in politics nowadays, was, due to his pro-life views, suddenly disinvited from being a keynote speaker . . . at the Black Hat cybersecurity conference.  As if cybersecurity and the abortion issue have anything to do with each other.  But, yes, the New Totalitarians think pro-lifers must be banished from all the things.  And this particular banishment speaks volumes on how much or most of high tech industries are now captives of the totalitarians.
Now, of course, these would never admit to being totalitiarians, even to themselves.  But if it walks like a totalitarian and talks like a totalitarian . . .
Face it – we have two choices.  We can defeat these totalitarians again and again, or we can submit to them and that totally.  That may seem stark.  But if we do not thoroughly defeat them, they will makeus submit or else.  In areas of society they control – and those are now ever increasing – they are already getting the policy of submission or banishment they demand.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Old tricks were used to pass Resolution 9 at the SBC.

Not only is the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution 9 endorsing “critical race theory and intersectionality . . . as analytical tools” unacceptable in itself, the manner in which it was passed this week displayed unethical gamesmanship that is all too common at political and church conventions.
This became clear to me in watching this recap of the convention by James White and Tom Buck. (You may want to skip the first 12 minutes to get to the SBC recap).  The first trick is mentioned at roughly 16 minutes -- the resolutions were not published until the morning they were to be voted on.  I’ve seen that before – spring a resolution on a convention at the last minute or close to it so that any possible opposition cannot organize and educate adequately.
I’ve also seen important business rushed through at conventions by leaving it until the end when people have planes to catch or when the reservation for the facility is about to run out or when people just want to get out of there and go eat dinner.  It’s easier to ram stuff through then, don’tcha know.

And, sure enough, Resolution 9 was rushed through when time was short and people wanted to get to dinner or other plans.  (See about minute 36 of the video.) Now I do not know if that was intentional.  And maybe Resolution 9 would have passed anyway. But that is not an ethical way to deal with an important and contested resolution.
But then we should not expect false teachers to be ethical, should we.

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Evangelical Church of What’s Happening Now III: Spiritual Gifts

I’ve mentioned American Evangelicals are prone to fads.  A huge fad in the 80’s was an obsession with spiritual gifts.
The Charismatic movement grew in evangelical churches (and also amongst Catholics and Anglicans) in the 70’s.  And one result is that even churches opposed to the movement saw they needed to pay attention to Biblical teaching on spiritual gifts.
And that was a good thing.  The passages on spiritual gifts had been neglected for . . . , well, for centuries.  But the emphasis on spiritual gifts soon got out of balance in the other direction.  I know.  I was caught up in it.
It wasn’t just that I was taught frequently on spiritual gifts.  I was also given at least one self-administered survey to assist in finding one’s spiritual gift.  Yes, there was much exhortation to find one’s spiritual gift(s) back then. Now, of course, it can be helpful to find out what one is good at as well as what one is not so good at. But usually the best way to do that is to get out there, get involved at a good church, and find out how you can best help out there.  On the other hand, navel gazing such as those spiritual gifts surveys too easily tends towards self-centeredness and self-deception.
And I remember the survey leading me to both – or to be exact, making both those negative qualities in me worse.  I remember concluding from the survey that I had the gift of discernment.  Hoo, boy.  In hindsight, at that time in my life, I did not have much common sense, much less discernment. But I sure thought I did. And that survey fed that inflated self-deception.
What I needed to taught on more was the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22, 23), and that said fruit are more important than spiritual gifts (as indicated by I Corinthians 13).  And I was taught that and knew that.  But I didn’t know it well enough.  So it is probably more accurate to say I should have listened and taken it to heart more intently.  But the navel gazing on spiritual gifts was more alluring and interesting than becoming more mature along the lines of Galatians 5:22, 23.
It ironically stunted my spiritual growth. A teaching of the Tractarians that does not get much attention is that it is wise to exercise reserve in imparting spiritual truth, even scriptural truth.  In other words, you do not feed a big steak to a new born.  There are some teachings, even in the Bible, that many Christians are not yet able to handle well.  Wait until they are mature enough to handle them well.
Accordingly, I suspect spiritual gifts is a subject that should be selectively and carefully taught, not broadcast.  The over-focus on spiritual gifts in the 80’s was not something I handled well.  It was too easy to slip into self-centeredness and self-deception. And there were more important aspects of the spiritual life that called for my attention.  
I am surely not the only one who can say that.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Southern Baptist Convention Passes Resolution 9, The Aftermath

Last night, I did not sleep well.  Part of that was likely being upset. (And if this post seems a bit stream-of-consciousness, I apologize ahead of time.)  But I did sleep on yesterday’s passage on Resolution 9 by the Southern Baptist Convention, and I’m glad I did.  For I now do not see the situation as bad as I did last night.
But it is bad.  There is no getting around it – Resolution 9 endorses the use of “critical race theory and intersectionality . . . as analytical tools” in the church. Yes, they are to be subordinate to scripture and not used “as transcendent ideological frameworks.”  Yes, it is just one resolution from one convention passed after a reportedly rushed debate.  But the fact remains that today the SBC is officially on the record as okaying the use of these racist Leftist ideologies “as analytical tools” in the church.
But read for comprehension the whole resolution for yourself.  (Scroll down.  And, no, I do not yet think “the Southern Baptist Convention is gone” or some of the other conclusions at the source.)
So, as of right now, Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson hold to a better, more biblical view of radical feminist inspired Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory than Southern Baptists.
So what to do now?  First, my free advice for Southern Baptists. It may be worth as much as it costs, but anyway…

First and foremost, being unhappy about this is not enough.  The now dying and dead mainline denominations once had lots of people unhappy about the direction they were going.  But they continued to enable the liberals by continuing to send in their offerings.  Yes, an important start is to stop enabling the social justice cabal with your offerings.  Cut them off and let church leaders know why.  And if your congregation won’t cut off the money spigot to them, then cut off the money to your congregation and perhaps find another church home. The Lord’s money shouldn’t be spent for evil anyway.  So don’t let it.
Second, organize and/or support those who are organizing. And not just for a year or two.  Those old enough, remember the conservative resurgence in the SBC? Maybe I am too optimistic, but I think it can be done again with God’s help.  But it took years.  And it took work.
I do think the Southern Baptists are too important and too committed to scripture to give up on them just yet.  But it will take more than grousing to turn things around.
Resolution 9 also puts us Anglicans in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) in a bad position.  For Russell Moore is on tap to be a keynote speaker at our Provincial Assembly next week.  And he supports Resolution 9 by endorsing all the resolutions passed:

Frankly, I suspect he had a role in drafting it. But that is pure speculation on my part. 
It is that much clearer that inviting Moore to speak was a mistake, but what to do now?  Perhaps, the ACNA College of Bishops should consider disinviting him, but they won’t.  And I am not sure that is now the best way to proceed.  I personally support disinviting him but realize that would likely cause a lot of tumult at this late date.
I would suggest key bishops ask him to stay away from social justice issues during his speech.  But that’s like inviting Trump and asking him not to mention The Wall.
There is one thing the bishops should do for sure – the procedure for selecting speakers at Provincial Assemblies must be changed.  And the bishops should let it be known that it will be changed.  That would nicely and indirectly acknowledge that selecting Moore is a mistake and that efforts will be made to avoid similar mistakes in the future.  And the selection of speakers this year demonstrates the process must be changed anyway.
What about the rest of us in ACNA who oppose critical race theory and other “social justice” madness?  Don’t be quiet about it.  Respectfully but firmly talk to your rectors and bishops. 
And the time may be near to redirect your offerings although I hope it doesn’t get to that point.  If you do at some point find it necessary to withhold funds from ACNA or diocese offices or from other ACNA entities, let church leaders know why.  I have for reasons of conscience in one instance, but I’m not ready to recommend that for others. 
Again just being unhappy doesn’t work.  See The Episcopal Church for how that ends up.

Also, if I were attending the Provincial Assembly, I would likely walk out immediately after Russell Moore begins his speech.  But that’s just me.  Attendees are free to consider doing likewise.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Southern Baptists Battle Over Resolution Endorsing “Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality” UPDATE: RESOLUTION PASSES

The Southern Baptist Convention is just beginning, but already battle lines are drawn over “social justice” issues.  For the Resolutions Committee is offering a resolution endorsing “critical race theory and intersectionality” as “analytical tools.”
Concerns that J.D. Greear’s appointments to the 2019 Resolution’s Committee would promote Social Justice were well founded. The Resolution’s Committee report offers a resolution that promotes Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory.
According to RESOLUTION 9 – ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY AND INTERSECTIONALITY, “WHEREAS, Critical race theory and intersectionality alone are insufficient to diagnose and redress the root causes of the social ills that they identify, which result from sin, yet these analytical tools can aid in evaluating a variety of human experiences.”
And, in the Resolved section,
“RESOLVED, That critical race theory and intersectionality should only be employed as analytical tools subordinate to Scripture—not as transcendent ideological frameworks,” the resolution declares.
Well that is so nice that the resolution subordinates Holy Race Theory and Sacred Intersectionality to scripture. But to endorse these divisive, Leftist, and, yes, racist tools as good for anything in the church is asking for war. . . . which may be what Southern Baptists are getting to about now.
Read more, including sane Christian responses already coming out, at the Capstone Report.

UPDATE:  Bad news.  The resolution passed.  I do not yet know if it was amended or not or any other details.  I may post again when I know more.

Saturday, June 08, 2019

Cardinal Pell Conviction Appeal Proceeds (UPDATED)

After only one of three trials against Cardinal Pell resulted in a conviction, I opined that the one conviction did not pass the smell test.  I am far from alone in that opinion.
So far the appeal of that conviction seems to be going well:

On the first of the two days, Cardinal Pell’s lawyer, Bret Walker, defended the cardinal principally on the grounds that Cardinal Pell’s conviction last year on charges of sexual abuse was unreasonably based on the testimony of one surviving victim and that the trial judge unfairly disallowed defense evidence.
Walker argued that the guilty verdict was returned despite the lack of proof beyond reasonable doubt.
The following day, June 6, prosecutor Christopher Boyce reportedly struggled to answer questions from the three appeals court judges, and accidentally named the alleged victim, which is suppressed in these cases.
Boyce appeared to have difficulty articulating his own arguments, or was lost for words under judicial questioning. One of his arguments was that the alleged victim’s story was too outlandish to be invented.
Prior to the appeal hearing, the three judges visited Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s cathedral, the place where the abuse is alleged to have taken place. The visit, which was apparently unprecedented for the Australian legal system, was to help them understand the evidence that was considered by the jury.
So clearly the three appeals judges are giving this appeal more than the usual consideration.  Their decision is expected this month.  Let us pray it will be just.


UPDATE: Julia Yost has a good summary of the case so far at First Things.  Again, this has several marks of a wrongful conviction.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

D-Day With The Queen

I hesitate to post on the 75thAnniversary of D-Day; so much has already been said.  But I cannot let it pass.
Those who reinvaded Europe on D-Day were amazing and courageous.  And so many of them lost their lives for the freedom of the West.

To have served in World War 2 and to have survived to this day is also amazing.  Few can say that now.  Not many are still living.
But one of them is The Queen.  And she seems able and willing to outlive us all!

I enjoyed her brief speech today, particularly when she said in her typically understated way the equivalent of “I’m still here.”
God bless the souls of those who served and have passed on as well as those few who remain.  And God save The Queen!

Due to a flood of spam comments, I with regret have restricted comments to only google users at least for a time.

I hope a better way to stop the spam arises as I want to post any legitimate comment from anyone.  Advice is welcome.

More Housekeeping: The previous video link went dead, do I posted a better one.

Monday, June 03, 2019

About That Russell Moore Immigration Video

I’ll be honest – when I began watching Russell Moore’s latest on immigration, I braced myself for a rise in blood pressure.  And my temper may have blipped up for a moment when he engaged in his usual practice of turning opponents into straw men and visa versa.
But he only did that briefly and not as obnoxiously as he has in the past.  And he actually made some good points and was somewhat balanced.  He even proclaimed, “Borders are Biblical.” Further, he put that front and center in the accompanying tweet.
Now I do not find his video particularly profound.  But it certainly is an improvement on his past videos and podcasts on topics dear to the “social justice” crowd.  And (I can hardly believe I am saying this.), his video finds more common ground with those wanting to crack down on illegal immigration than it does inflame them.
But see what you think.  I think the best way to watch the video is with Jon Harris’ balanced analysis of it.
Reflecting further on this video, I wonder if Moore has decided to seek to find more common ground with politically conservative and/or Trumpist faithful instead of smearing and alienating them.  Yes, wishing thinking perhaps.  But one can hope.
Since he is a keynote speaker at the ACNA Provincial Assembly, we may find out in about two weeks.