Tuesday, March 30

On the Nightstand

The Victory Song

At the end of The Return of the King, following the defeat of all the powers of evil, J.R.R. Tolkien records this remarkable scene:

The shadow departed, and the Sun was unveiled, and light leaped forth; and the waters of the Anduin shown like silver, and in all the houses of the City men sang for the joy that welled up in their hearts from what source they could not tell. And before the Sun had fallen far from the noon out of the East there came a great Eagle flying, and he bore tidings beyond hope from the Lords of the West, crying:

Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor, for the Realm of Sauron is ended forever, and the Dark Tower is thrown down.
Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard, for your watch hath not been in vain, and the Black Gate is broken, and your King hath passed through, and he is victorious.

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West, for your King shall come again, and he shall dwell among you all the days of your life.

And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed, and he shall plant it in the high places, and the City shall be blessed. Sing all ye people!

And all the people sang in all the ways of the City. The days that followed were golden.

Of course, Tolkien steadfastly refused to admit that his epic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, was an allegory of the Gospel. But he did admit that it was “at least akin to the Gospel.” Thus, may Gondor’s Victory Song be at least akin to our own victory song this Easter.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Sing all ye people, for your King shall come again--and He shall make all things new! All that once was withered shall be renewed! Sing all ye people!

Sunday, March 28

Waving Palms

“A day which began with joy and promise ends with rebuke and judgment. Like the fig tree, which outwardly looked fruitful, Jerusalem had all the outward signs of religious piety, but was inwardly hostile to the purposes of the Lord. Palm Sunday is thus both a promise and a warning echoing across the ages.” Elizabeth Prentiss

“The triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem was the ceremonial capstone of a covenant lawsuit sequence. The King, Judge, and Lawgiver had come to pronounce and execute true justice.” D. Martin Lloyd-Jones

“Everyone who lined the streets of Jerusalem that day so long ago had a different reason for waving those palms. Some were political activists; they'd heard Jesus had supernatural power, and they wanted him to use it to free Israel from Roman rule. Others had loved ones who were sick or dying. They waved branches, hoping for physical healing. Some were onlookers merely looking for something to do, while others were genuine followers who wished Jesus would establish himself as an earthly king. Jesus was the only one in the parade who knew why he was going to Jerusalem--to die. He had a mission, while everyone else had an agenda.” J.I. Packer

Thursday, March 25

How Should We Then Live?

In the midst of the polarizing cultural and political battles of our day, how should we Christians conduct ourselves? Two days ago on my Eleventary Blog I suggested eleven (of course) Biblical Resolves for the post-Health Care Reform environment we now find ourselves in. I was surprised by the response I got--not just from my friends and my small, faithful following, but from a host of inquirers and interviewers from the mainstream media. I declined all the TV interview requests (I do have a job after all), but I did decide to chat with a couple of old friends on the radio. And that just seemed to stir up even more interest and requests. Hmmm.

Today, I'll do a one more interview--a visit with Chris Fabry on his nationwide Moody Radio broadcast from 2-2:30 PM CST.

Here are the resolves that we'll be discussing:

1. Pray more.
"Pray without ceasing." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

2. Listen first.
"Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." James 1:19

3. Work harder.
"Work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." Colossians 3:23

4. Serve others.
"Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

5. Defend life.
"Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter." Proverbs 24:11-12

6. Grumble less.
"Do not grumble against one another; behold, the Judge is standing at the door." James 5:9

7. Do justice.
"Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." Amos 5:24

8. Love mercy.
"He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8

9. Walk humbly.
"The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor." Proverbs 15:33

10. Rejoice always.
"Rejoice always." 1 Thessalonians 5:16

11. Trust Jesus.
"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns." Revelation 19:6

I'm still just a bit taken aback by the response to these seemingly ordinary Christian callings for daily living. But then, I suppose in these peculiar times, nothing ought to surprise us.

Wednesday, March 24

The Kleine Luyden

“The paradox of all faithful reforming, all godly leading, and all Biblical preaching is that our focus must be upon the common folk, the kleine luyden, because the common folk, are not so common after all.” Abraham Kuyper

“There are no little people and no little places.” Francis A. Schaeffer

Monday, March 22

Where Do We Go From Here?

"Our elected representatives have, for reasons best known to themselves, decided to poke an irritated and bilious bear, and to do so with a very short stick." That's how Douglas Wilson describes the current political temper in our Great Republic.

If that is the case, and I believe that it most assuredly is, then all of us "bilious bears" ought now be asking ourselves what we ought best do now. Growling and biting, clawing and roaring certainly have their merits. At certain moments, they are the only sane responses to the madness of our times.

But, to get on with some real productive work in the days ahead, we'll probably need to have more strategic responses in mind. To that end, New College Franklin is sponsoring a very special community-wide Collegium this Friday evening. Please join David Zanotti, President of the American Policy Roundtable and his team of policy experts as they lead us in a discussion about what's next. The program will run about 90 minutes with a time for questions and answers. Please plan on joining us and bringing your family and friends to this free event!

American Policy Roundtable Briefing
Friday, March 26th, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Parish Presbyterian Church
136 3rd Avenue South
Franklin, TN 37064

Reserve your seat today! Contact Allison at: 1-800-522-VOTE ext. 104 or aallen@aproundtable.org

Sunday, March 21

The Executive Order Ruse

The White House has promised a compromise Executive Order on abortion to save its massive "Health Care Reform" boondoggle. But, like so many other political promises these days, this one rings hollow for at least three reasons:

1. An Executive Order can be rescinded any time. The President could quietly reverse it next week, next month, or next year. Should another pro-abortion advocate be elected in the future, it could be rescinded on inauguration day. The "Health Care Reform" bill however has a permanent non-reversal clause protecting it in perpetuity.

2. An Executive Order cannot prevent insurance companies that provide abortion from participating in the new trillion dollar tax exchanges provided for in the bill.

3. Abortion funding in the legislation can be only be removed using the legislative process. An Executive Order not only doesn’t fix the problem, it isn’t needed to fix the problem, and could not stand a legal challenge. If Pro-Life Democrats or the White House were serious about protecting taxpayers from funding abortion in "Health Care Reform," they would have to use the legislative process to fix the problem. it appears that is something they are unwilling to do.

Lord, Have Mercy

Is there a single member of Congress who can actually say that they have read the 2,407-page "Health Care" bill they'll vote on today? It's longer than Moby Dick, War and Peace, and City of God combined and not nearly as well-written.

If HR 3590 were not so stridently pro-abortion, so bureaucratically-encumbered, and so maliciously unconstitutional, this vote would be laughable. As it is though, it is an unmitigated travesty.

May God have mercy on us all.

Thursday, March 11

Where I'm Headed

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country. It is also one of the most diverse. Stretched across nearly 3,000 miles and 18,000 islands, the nation is anchored by it’s sprawling capital, Jakarta. With 24 million people, it is the world’s second largest city behind only Tokyo. Amazingly though, despite its burgeoning population and densely populated cities, Indonesia also has vast areas of jungle wilderness that support one of the world's greatest biodiversity.

Indonesia's motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika,” meaning "Unity in Diversity" (or more literally, "many, yet one"), articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the some of the world's greatest natural biodiversity treasures.

Worldview Matters Most of All

"Those who have not discovered that worldview is the most important thing about a man, as about the men composing a culture, should consider the train of circumstances which have with perfect logic proceeded from this. The denial of universals carries with it the denial of everything transcending experience." Richard Weaver

The Italian Renaissance

The long boot of Italy, where the Renaissance would be born at the end of the fifteenth century, consisted of five principal parts: the kingdom of Naples, the republic of Florence, the dukedom of Milan, the Papal States, and Venice. A hodgepodge of minor city-states--like the Ligurian republic of Genoa--completed the scene. Each of the realms was obstinate, noisy, and vain about its storied ancestry but only Venice actually remained a great power--run by an austere, iron-fisted, and farsighted oligarchy, with overseas possessions along the Adriatic and throughout the Agean. Italy for the most part remained only a shell of its former Roman Imperial self.

But the decline and ultimately the fall of Byzantium brought a flood of learned exiles to the West--with their uninterrupted access to the ancient and patristic classics--suddenly enriching nascent intellectual endeavors with a volatile mixture of ideas, philosophies, and theologies. In the same way that Greek knowledge had given life to the Arab world during the Great Captivity, so it now catalyzed the Latins.

Thus, a large group of Italian geniuses, heirs of that classical legacy, stretched the limits in the fields of geography, philosophy, politics, science, the arts, and music. Christopher Columbus was born on this day in 1451. Botticelli was born six years earlier. Two years before that saw the birth of Lorenzo de Medici and Domenico Ghirlandaio. A year later came the birth of Leonardo da Vinci. Two years later Giuliano de Medici was born. And three years later still, Amerigo Vespucci, Pinturicchio, and Politian were all born. When Columbus was undertaking his first seafaring experiences in the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas, Pico della Mirandola and Machiaavelli were born--in 1463 and 1469 respectively. In the years in which he was thinking up the idea of going west to reach the East, Ariosto in 1474, Michelangelo in 1475, and Titian in 1477, were born. Piero della Francesca died in the same year that the navigator discovered San Salvador. In 1500, when Columbus was seeking the Western Passage in order to circumnavigate the globe, Benvenuto Cellini was born. A year before Columbus' death, Raphael was born. Mantegna and Columbus died in the same year.

If these names were erased from existence, the Renaissance--and all that ultimately produced the modern world of Western Civilization--would vanish into thin air and all of history would be radically and irretrievably altered.