Saturday, December 27, 2003

Resolution #1

I know it's still a few days off from New Years, but I figure a headstart isn't a bad idea. Momentum helps with being resolved. Which is to say that I've decided to revamp this here blog.


Monday, December 22, 2003

Barth: The bottom line

Below I've posted a number of quotes from Dogmatics in Outline by Karl Barth that I wanted to review. The most influential shot I've gotten from Mr. Barth has definitely to do with the identity Barth makes with omnipotence and grace. He says, "The grace of God and the omnipotence of God are identical. We must never understand the one without the other." This places the center of the universe in the person of Christ. His lordship means that the One whom God has chosen is a man who stands for Himself and at the same time is a man who stands for all. And it is for this reason that Barth says we must come to "read the New Testament from the standpoint of this 'for us'." All of God's action from Creation to redemption to consummation are His mighty acts on our behalf; they are his powerful workings for us. Thus, when it comes to man's debt of sin, it is not that God delivers us from His wrath in spite of His righteousness, rather it is because of God's righteousness that He steps in for us. "Righteousness in the Old Testament sense is not the righteousness of the judge who makes the debtor pay, but the action of a judge who in the accused recognises the wretch whom he wishes to help by putting him to rights. That is what rightesouness means. Righteousness means setting right. And that is what God does... God's mercy and God's righteousness are not at variance with each other." And in another chapter he says, "In the Biblical world of thought the judge is not primarily the one who rewards some and punishes the others; he is the man who creates order and restores what has been destoyed."

We often loose sight of the fierceness of God's love in all of our theological terminology. And we get small minded and tidy and cranky. Yes, God is holy, yes God is righteous, and yes, God is just. And it is for those very reasons that He will seek us out, His people. He will overtake us with His kindness, and blow our minds with His brilliance. He is not an unbiased Judge. He is biased, in our favor. And He gives Himself for us.


Barth: Miscellaneous

"The Church is not 'of the opinion', it does not have 'views', convictions, enthusiasms. It believes and confesses, that is it speaks and acts on the basis of the message based on God Himself in Christ."

"God thinks it not robbery to be divine, that is, He does not hold on to the booty like a robber, but God parts with Himself. Such is the glory of His Godhead, that He can be 'selfless', that He can actually forgive Himself something... It is is the depth of the Godhead, the greatness of His glory which is revealed in the very fact that it can also completely hide itself in its sheer opposite, in the profoundest rejection and the greatest misery of the creature... Reconciliation means God taking man's place."

"What then is the meaning of man's life? It means hurrying to the grave. Man is hurrying to meet his past. This past, in which there is no more furture, will be the final thing..."

"The atheist is not aware of what Godlessness is. Godlessness is existence in hell... God's judgment is righteeous--that is, it gives man what he wanted."

"Where men may receive and possess the Holy Spirit, it is of course a human experience and a human act. It is also a matter of the understanding and of the will and, I might indeed say, of the imagination. This too belongs to being a Christian. The whole man, right into the inmost regions of the so-called 'unconscious', is taken in claim. God's relation to man includes the whole of him."

"It [the Church] cannot be formed by men's hands; that is why the zealous, swift founding of Churches, such as took place in America and also sometimes in Holland, is doubtful business. Calvin liked to apply to the Church a military conception, that of la compagnie des fideles. A company usually comes together on the basis of a command and not on that of a free agreement."


Barth: Freedom and Evil

"And creaturely freedom means, finally that there is a contigency of what is, a specific existence of the creature; and this specific existence, at any rate of the human creature, means freedom to decide, ability to act one way or another. But his freedom can only be the freedom appropriate to the creature, which possesses its reality not of itself, and which has its nature in time and space... it is limited by the existence of its fellow creatures, and on the other hand by the sovereignty of God. For if we are free, it is only because our Creator is the infinitely free. All human freedom is but an imperfect mirroring of the divine freedom."

"The creature is threatened by the possibliity of nothingness and of destruction, which is excluded by God--and only by God... I am speaking here now of this, in order to make it clear that this whole realm that we term evil--death, sin, the Devil and hell is not God's creation, but rather what was excluded by God's creation, that to which God has said 'No'... What is not good God did not make; it has no creaturely existence. But if being is to be ascribed to it at all, and we would rather not say that is is non-existent, then it is only the power of the being which arises out of the weight of the divine 'No'."


Barth: Time and Space

"Everything outside God is held constant by God over nothingness. Creaturely nature means existence in time and space, existence with a beginning and an end, existence that becomes, in order to pass away again. Once it was not, and once it will no longer be. And it is not one but many. As there is a once and a now, there is also a here and a there. The world, in this process, is called time, and, in this separateness, space. But God is eternal. That does not meant that there is no time in Him, but it is a different time from ours; for fundamentally we never have presence, and for us spatiality means apartness."

[On Jesus coming as the judge]
"First let me say something about the Christian concept of time. We cannot but realise that here a quite strange light falls upon what in the genuine and proper sense is called real time--time in the light of God's time, eternity. Jesus Christ's having come, all those past tenses, would answer to what we term the past. But how inappropriate it would be to say of that event that it was past. What Jesus suffered and did is certainly not past; it is rather the old that is past, the world of man, the world of disobedience and disorder, the world of misery, sin, and death. Sin has been cancelled, death has been vanquished. Sin and death did exist, and the whole of world history, including that which ran its course post Christum, right down to our day, existed. All that is past in Christ; we can only think back on all that.

But Jesus Christ sitteth beside the Father, as He who has suffered and has risen from the dead. That is the present. Since He is present as God is present, it already admits of being said that He shall come again as the person he once was. He who is today just as He was yesterday, will also be the same tomorrow--Jesus Christ yesterday and today and the same to eternity. Since Jesus Christ exists as the person He was, obviously He is the beginning of a new different time from that which we know, a time in which there is no fading away, but real time which has a yesterday, a today and a tomorrow. But Jesus Christ's yesterday is also His today and His tomorrow. It is not timelessness, not empty eternity that comes in place of His time. His time is not at an end; it continues in the movement from yesterday to today, and into tomorrow. It has not the frightful fleetingness of our present. When Jesus Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father, this existence of His with God, His existence as the possessor and representative of the divine grace and power towards us men, has nothing to with what we are foolishly wont to conceive as eternity--namely, an existence without time. If this existence of Jesus Christ at the right hand of God is real existence and as such the measure of all existence, then it is also existence in time, although in another time than the one we know. If the lordship and rule of Jesus Christ at the Father's right hand is the meaning of what we see as the existence of our world history and our life-history, then this existence of Jesus Christ is not a timeless existence, and eternity is not a timeless eternity. Death is timeless, nothingness is timeless. So we men are timeless when we are without God and without Christ. Then we have no time. But this timelessness He has ovecome. Chrst has time, the fullness of time. He sitteth at the right hand of God as he who has come, who has acted and suffered and triumphed in death. His session at God's right hand is not just the extract of this history; it is the eternal within this history."


Monday, December 15, 2003


I'm fairly sure there were a few comments in the previous posts. Apparently the 'Shout Out' gods have deemed them unworthy of consumption. Many apologies.

But speaking of consumption, if you have not already made Dr. Leithart's blog the object of your daily blog consumption, then you are yet to breathe. Dr. Leithart is the interim pastor of Trinity Reformed Church which is my church, a recent church plant of Christ Church in Moscow. In addition, it should be added that Dr. Leithart wears cardigan sweaters. Word.


Kerr shoots, he scores

Kerr finally got to the goods in the last chapter of Theology after Wittgenstein. And not that the other stuff wasn't worth it. I was just worried he wasn't going to go in for the kill, but he does. Oh, he does.

Perhaps the most striking observation that Kerr makes is that a view of the self that emphasizes the body and community as far more fundamental than some sort of hidden, inner 'I' is one that can defend life more properly, particularly in terms of the imago Dei. Traditionally, the church fathers and reformers alike (to my knowledge) have placed the most emphasis on the image of God as being mental, rational, or logical, though some have gone so far as to say 'creative' albeit, creative in an 'inner energy' sort of way. But if life and the imago Dei in particular are rather seen in more physical terms I.e. the body and community, then an unborn child is a living human being by virtue of these things. The Cartesian ego has been so concerned with backing external reality with mental sensation, that mental sensation has become the standard of relevance. And as Kerr points out, paradoxically, the more animalistic, instinctual, habitual we view human life (as Wittgenstein would assert) the easier it becomes to defend life.

Based on these observations, there are of course other implications particularly for worship and liturgy. The modern fear of repetition or 'mindless' chattering of prayers and responses is completely unfounded. Meaning is not found in our heads. It is found in the world that God made. It is found in our actions and words and interactions with the world and other people. And it is not as though repetition and form prayers can be avoided, it's just a matter of how much thought is going into them, likewise bodily actions and movements. Whether we go to a straight laced old school Presbyterian church or a free-swinging Baptist church, our bodies are intimately involved and as Kerr (via Wittgenstein) would assert those movements, words, interactions are highly influential in creating and molding the people that we are. It's not whether; it's which and what.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

Advent Aroma

The season of Advent is the dinner guest who consistently (unexpectedly) arrives ten minutes early. There we are still licking the turkey off our fingers and finishing the Thanksgiving stuffing when the first Sunday of Advent is upon us unrelenting. I suppose this is a uniquely American dilemma. But alas here I am, as American as they come, and the third Sunday of Advent is on its way to the door.

I'm still trying to get the Advent "feel" down. Advent is not like Epiphany, Lent, Easter, or Trinity seasons which seem to have decided personalities. I know what Advent leads to, I know that all the lights and gifts mean something. But I feel almost joy, a bit of sorrow, nearly hope. Expectation is a word often used to describe Advent. It's the Old Testament in a month, like Greek in a week. It's an explosion in slow motion climaxing with a fury of wrapping paper on Christmas morning. My dog, Porter, doesn't even know how to feel about this whole tree business. Occasionally he's sympathetic lying near it, gnawing at his favorite cow femur. But other days he's outright antagonistic lunging into the Douglas Fir and coming away with a mouthful of needles and ornaments. I have to tell him 'no', but I understand his confusion.

Historically speaking, I understand that our season of Advent is the result of the collision of celebrations in northern and southern Europe. It was in Gaul where the season began as early as the beginning of November (St. Martins on the 11th usually) with a decidedly penitential character. It was a preparatory season, akin to our modern Lent, but it went under the title Quadragesima Sancti Martini which means something like "after this, we get to drink martinis". In the south, however, the mood was quite festive and was limited to the four weeks prior to the Nativity. Apparently, the Gallic Church began its celebrations as early as the Third century, while the Roman Church didn't have an organized tradition until the sixth century. At any rate, by the eighth century the differences in celebration were enough to cause a bit of tension, such that a compromise was struck over the course of the next few centuries, and the four week calendar was adopted from the Roman celebration along with the Roman liturgy, but from the Gallic Church a more penitential observance was added.

This, I would suggest, justifies my inability to come down on the Advent Aroma, the right feel so to speak. Historically, it simply is a time of deep expectation, almost joy, near hope, not quite sorrow. Related to this is also the fact that husbands have never wanted to have more than a full month dedicated to shopping and Christmas music.

So in the spirit of the Advent Season, a season of compromise and colliding ideals, we're seeking to celebrate with those very things in mind. My wife comes from a family that put the tree up and turned the lights on as soon as the last bite of Thanksgiving dinner is off the plate. I come from a family that put the tree up and maybe hung lights on Christmas Eve. We probably did it on Christmas day a few times but I don't remember; I'm scarred and I'm repressing childhood memories. But the short of it is that we're trying to celebrate gradually. We put the tree up for the first Sunday of Advent, but we're adding decorations as we go along. Lights will go up this week, gifts come out on the last Sunday. It adds a little drama to our lives and really makes us long for when we can put the next bits up, but nevertheless something wild and amazing is certainly in the works. I'm enjoying it, but by far the most enthusiastic supporter is the wee Sumpter. I can tell by the way my wife eats.


Wednesday, December 10, 2003

John-Revelation Project

For anybody interested in St. John's Revelation or eschatology in general, I would highly recommend the John-Revelation Project. I've only read a little, but the premises upon which the project is based seem quite sound, and its thesis offers an intriguing and exegetically defensible counter to various other attempts at understanding John's apocalyptic literature. The central attempt has been to shed light on the Revelation of St. John through a study of its literary connections with the Gospel of St. John.

One bit that was of particular interest was a foot note directed at recent attempts to responsibly study the book of Revelation, postmillenialists in particular:

"There have been several valiant attempts by postmillennialists to exposit Revelation. But postmillennialists have largely approached the book with a literary literalism similar to the hermeneutic of the premillennialists, having failed to appreciate the ironic character of the biblical understanding of victory (cf. Paul's claim that "we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us," Rom 8:36-37). This hermeneutical oversight is caused, as we shall argue, by the loss of a classical understanding of the possibilities of irony, the heart of the comedic imagination."

I'm intrigued by this critique. It is a challenge, in my mind, much needed. It is a challenge for a theological aesthetic, for seeing and understanding "the comedic imagination" of God, of which theology is always concerned, but to which theologians are not often quick to admit.


Monday, December 08, 2003

It Makes Us To Dance

With the jihad against Christ Church, Trinity Reformed, New St. Andrews, Bucers, Zume, et cetera showing no signs of abating, it is important to point out that we have been deemed worthy of the attacks. And with the tomatoes coming from every direction, it's probably a good indicator that we're right where we should be. As God boasted of Job to Satan and before the Sons of God, and gave a spirit of joy to Peter and the other disciples who were "counted worthy", so we here in Moscow must rejoice.

We have been counted worthy of slander for the sake of the gospel. What we need now is more celebration, more dancing, more laughter, and more peace. Do your worst; the Triune God deems us worthy.

"Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?" (Job 1:8)

"So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name." (Acts. 5:41)



The bakery has the makings of a website. You can at least see a picture of the dining area. I only go in there when I want to see the Christmas lights. Downtown Moscow is beautiful around this time of the year.


Saturday, December 06, 2003

Global Warming

Imagining for a moment that what they say is true, I'm not so sure it's all that bad of a deal. From all we can tell, the world before the flood was a gigantic tropical rain forest, with moderate to warm temperatures. This climate apparently explains something of the prevelant giantism of the day. Men were large and lived long lives. There appears, if the fossil record is to be believed, to have been any number of supersized animals, both sea monsters, dinosaurs, mammoths, dragons, and just all around really big insects, lizards, birds, and plants. There is no doubt that the flood changed the climate of the world drastically. But what if we're on our way back? If a world wide flood can turn a rain forest into desert, so could YHWH turn our desert into the lush world it once was.

And in fact, that is what He has promised to do. Typologically speaking, rising water means judgment and salvation, as in the case of the flood, the exodus, the river flowing out of Ezekiel's temple, and baptism to which each of those historic/prophetic examples point. But since the rainbow, we fear no flood. God's judgment is our salvation. We have no cause for fear in any case, but the prospects of a warmer world may be just what we want. Perhaps the water levels will rise a bit, perhaps we had all better get used to warmth and humidity. Perhaps there is a hole in the ozone, and maybe God put it there. And maybe it was caused by the Incarnation; it's the scar caused by God breaking in to our freezing, sin filled world.

"Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, And the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, And the fruitful field is counted as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, And righteousness remain in the fruitful field." (Is. 32:15-16)


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Problem of Us

It has been asked, "How could there be a god when there's evil in the world?" "How could there be a god when there's pain and suffering?" As we have pointed out numerous times, these questions are incoherent. The questions, though in the guise of reason and concern, are empty and worthless because they appeal to the standard which they question, a god is being served, so the question deserves no answer.

However in a similar vein, though hopefully with less deceit, Barth turns the question around. How could a good and perfect God, who has no need of anyone or anything, create us? How could eternal Joy and Love be moved to make something outside Himself? "This is the riddle of creation." Why would perfect satisfaction be moved to make something other? How and why would this be possible? If there's any dilemma, it's this one. It's the Problem of Us. How could there be Us when there's a good and perfect God?


Monday, November 24, 2003

World Eye

I have doubts. I get vibes, I get Kantian vibes from the Christian Worldview machine. I realize that most folks simply mean that Christians need to think Christianly. And that's all well and good.

But thought does not create reality. Obviously how a man thinks influences who he is and the manner in which he is in the world, and yes, ideas do have consequences. But ideas are not the sole cause of events in the world, like many (well meaning) Christians claim. Actions are just as determinative as thought if not more so. How we pray and sing and dance and eat are just as important as how we think. We are not required to simply love God with all of our minds, but also with all of our heart, soul, and strength. In short, the history of the world isn't the result of ideas but the result of all of Creation and it's response to its Creator.


I believe in

Barth pointed out that the preposition "in" in the Apostle's Creed does not merely designate the content of our belief or the direction in which we believe (ie. the purpose or object of belief). Rather, the "in" must also include the ground from which we believe. As Christians we have been brought into the fellowship of Father, Son, and Spirit. It is from that status and location that we are even able to begin to say "I believe..." Our faith is not only "in" God in the sense that He is the object of our faith, it is also "in" God in the sense that it is the origin of our faith. The Church confesses its faith from within the Triune communion of God. "In Him we live and move and have our being" and "In Him all things consist".

One implication is simply God's dedication to us. He brings us into his fellowship, into his communion, into his being, and from that place we are taught the words, "I believe..." Like parents bringing a child home from the hospital, we are brought home even before we know the words. We are taught faith from the shadow of his wings.


Sunday, November 23, 2003

Rook Beports

You can't trust the titles I have on that side panel thingy. I read those a while ago. I'm now reading Dogmatics in Outline by Karl Barth, A Primer on Postmodernism by Stanely Grenz, almost done with Theology after Wittgenstein by Fergus Kerr, and I'm teaching and reading L'morte D'arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory. I started Tocqueville's Democracy in America recently, but I suspect it will remain marked on page 50 until Christmas. I also just received The Catholicity of the Reformation ed. by Braaten and Jenson.

A few quick thoughts on the aforementioned titles: Barth. So far I haven't found anything scary, extreme, or really all that controversial. I read a few online reports that range anywhere from "Barth is the greatest theologian since Calvin" to "Barth is a socialist, word twisting, self-deceived, maniacle adulterer". All I know is that Barth is referenced everywhere. Every theologian that has the least bit of relevance has to cite Barth, either in disgust or praise. And of those, so far I'd have to side with the latter. I suspect that Barth was an incredibly honest man. Honest people tell the truth, meaning that they don't make pronouncements about matters which they don't know. And when they do make pronouncements they are usually more general or can be taken in a number of different directions. This scares some people and excites others. Hence the enemy/hero write ups. I like Barth's emphasis on freedom. Freedom is essential to the personality and community of God, and therefore freedom is a significant part in redemption. He argues that faith is freedom, insofaras it is our seeking to live in the life and communion of God.

Kerr on Wittgenstein. What is meant by the pronoun "I"? Wittgenstein says that the pronoun refers to our body. The "I", the "ego", or whathaveyou is the body which thinks, speaks, touches, tastes, breathes, etc. There is no reason to go beyond this. We are living bodies. And this assessment resonates, demands, and pleads with greater furvor for the resurrection of the dead. This insistence on the body as being fundamentally 'who' we are is refreshing, as Kerr points out, particularly as it applies to fellowship and community. The Cartesian Ego places barriers between people and ultimately the Incarnation is not "God with us", it's something like "God a little closer". For Descartes (and his legacy), God may have landed on the earth but he was wearing an astonaut suit like the rest of us. We have not really connected.

Last for tonight: Mallory. Having never read this before, I really don't know much about these tales, but I've been amused, shocked, and informed in a variety of ways in the last week since beginning the read. First the shocked bit. The utter ignobility of Arthur, Uther, Merlin, and everyone else is more than I was prepared for. Maybe that's a little overstated, but the adultery, fornication, murder, etc. makes The Death of Arthur a veritible medieval soap opera. Although, after reading a short bio of Mallory, it all became a bit more clear. This fellow was a regular rouge. He was imprisoned on a number of occasions, escaped twice (once swimming a moat). He was wanted for burglary, assalting an abbott, and seducing a nobleman's wife. He fought on the side of Edward VI in one battle and subsequentally switched sides. His waivering earned him another bit of jail time toward the end of his life. He wrote/compiled these Arthurian tales in the last couple of years of his life, and he died shortly before they were published in 1485. The amusing bit is that this swashbuckling life in Mallory and as displayed by the characters of his tales is punctuated with incredibly devout Christian celebration. The knights regularly attend mass, say prayers, celebrate Christian feasts, proclaim their status as Christians, etc. And this leads to the informative bit, I suspect that this is a very good (albeit simplistic) portrayal of life in the Church prior to the Reformation. Obviously not everyone was as wild (or daring?), but the seemingly earnest marriage of well-meaing devotion and utter ignorance and consequent sinfulness seems to fit the bill... I don't know, just a thought.


Monday, November 10, 2003

Bread to Light

I wake up: It's dark.

I drive in the dark.

There are no lights on inside. The bakery smells like dough. And I take my gloves off and toss them on the table by the door. I usually make a round of the kitchen just to see what's gone on in the last 20 hours of operation. It's dark outside. It's always dark out there. It's always dark until right before the bread is ready. I bake bread for the sun to rise.

There's a heap of croissant dough in a trash can: it was mixed wrong. Three Chocolatines are abandoned on the cooling rack, they were never dipped after bake out. That's why it's dark. The sun knows there's no bread. I pass on to the refrigerator door. Luther posted theses on a church door, we post our worlds on a the cold metal of a cooler. "Please, please, please don't leave the cakes on the counter" pleads one note. Another simply says: "Josh Rocks". The well known scrawl of another gives specifications for a particular order and adds "if you don't get this note, let me know." I open the door. It's dark in there too.

I wander down to the dish pit. It's seen better days. I firmly believe in the existence of only one dishwasher. He is the only one I've ever seen actually washing dishes. There are rumours of others. I say bosh. I arrive at 4am. I arrive when it's dark. I arrive before the bread. If there are such things as "other dishwashers" they most certainly do not wash dishes. They play with dishes. I look at the scene, and I imagine a score of fifteen year old boys with toothy grins flinging plastic containers and mixing bowls with glee. Tomato sauce coats one wall and just above me there is a small stack of dishes acting as though they had been washed and left to dry. I don't even have to look a second time. It's a trap. The mythical "dish players" only wash dishes that can be stacked and arranged in such a way as to create lethal weapons.

The ovens are dark. They are empty and cold. I turn them on. There are four. I don't always turn them on. About half of the time I forget. Then the bread has to wait for the ovens. Then the sun waits for the ovens and the bread. But I'll make the bread.


Thursday, November 06, 2003

Got One In The Oven

In God's kindness, it appears that I'm to be a father in the not so distant future. I've seen the first picture of my offspring, and I'm already thoroughly impressed. The baby, as of a few weeks ago had an energetic heart beat, and it's heart was doing its thing outside its body. Go figure. Jenny is due at the beginning of June, which is just as school is letting out. The other Atlas teacher, Tim Griffith, is also working on becoming a father around the same time. So we're in for some exciting days at the end of the year. Do keep us in you prayers, particularly Jenny and the baby. She's actually doing quite well, just tired and occasionally a bit woozy. But not too bad really. I think the thing that makes her the most sick is thinking about names. That's hard work.


Saturday, November 01, 2003

All Saints & Luther

I've long wondered whether there was any significance to Martin Luther's posting of his 95 theses on the eve of All Saints Day (All Hallows Eve). I still have no conclusive evidence, but I ran across at least the possibility of a more fulfilling story this afternoon while reading Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customs by Francis X. Weiser. All Saints was a feast day established originally by Pope Boniface IV in 606. About two hundred years later, the date was moved from May 1 to November 1 cheifly because of the influx of people to Rome for the feast each year. There was far more food and prosperity at the end of the harvest than in the Spring. At any rate, in addition to this memorial feast, Abbot Father Odilo of Cluny established the celebration of the Faithful Departed or All Souls in 1048 for the Benedictines of his community. The feast was to be held on November 2nd, the day after All Saints. The practice soon spread to other communities of Benedictines and Carthusians, and by the 14th century it was firmly engrained in the fabric of the European church. All Souls, however, was from its inception concerned with those faithfully departed saints particularly in need of our prayers and masses to merit them grace to enter heaven. All Souls has long been concerned for souls in purgatory. Thus the church authorized the issue of special indulgences on All Saints and All Souls, along with various other grave rites and special masses for the souls in purgatory. All that to say, it would make great sense then for Martin Luther to post his theses on the day before All Saints as his concern was rightly directed at the abuses of grace, indulgences, and various other practices and assumptions central to the celebration of All Souls Day. And in God's kindness, Reformation Day is a great precurser to All Saints and All Souls. Luther was instrumental to the renewing and reforming of those feasts of the church, if not in fact, at least in deed. Luther's insistence on the priesthood of all believers (All Saints) and the meritorious work of Christ (All Souls) as central to gospel are a wonderful thematic preface to these historic feasts of the church. By the way, if November 2nd falls on a Sunday (as it does this year) the celebration is postponed until Monday the 3rd which just so happens to be my birthday. So get yourself a German beer or two and have a three day holiday.


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Two wrong, two right

First off, I would just like to say that whoever came up with the "Titanic Slide Ride" is a sick person. Somewhere up in Couer D'alene, along the side of the highway there is some business (I want to say a car dealership) where there is this giant inflated, look-alike Titanic. And it's purposely tilted up so that it appears to be in the last moments above water. You can see a little over half of the ship: the other half, we are made to believe, is submerged already. But this is not a memorial, this is not a museum, this is a slide. People, kids even, can pay money and slide down the decks of the Titanic. It feels just like you were aboard the real thing! That's sick. I think I'm going to go out and start a business of my own: Twin Towers Bungee Jumping. I'm going to have look alike Towers complete with smoking holes from where the planes hit.

Second, in a cutesy, Halmark shop with the name of a cookie (I think). It is now possible to buy your very own bag of bat droppings. If you're from out of town and you'd like a bag, just drop me a note or leave a comment, and I'd be happy to go up and get you one. Seeing as there is such a shortage a bat poop, I'm sure glad these folks are bagging it and making it available for public consumption. This is just a guess, but I bet it makes great Christmas tree decorations.

But First of all, I am moderately pleased that the New York Yankees lost the other day. That means that the Florida Marlins are the World Series Champions. I'm not a big fan of the Marlins, but I'm certainly not a big fan of the Yankees. Thus my moderate enthusiasm. It was also a nice touch for Florida to beat New York in New York. I would have cared more had the Chicago Cups or Boston Red Sox gone to the World Series. Alas. But overall I can consider the defeat of the Yankees a good thing.

And Secondly, I attended the first ever "One Night" at the University of Idaho campus last night. It was a joint service of worship and prayer for all the Christian campus ministries. I'm excited about the prospects of the catholic Church here in the Moscow area. Last night was good for a first start in terms of campus ministry. I haven't sung praise choruses in a long time. And of the 8 or 10 that we sang, I only vaguely remembered one tune. One thing that's nice about the choruses is that they're simple enough to be learned easily. Though as far as I could tell, those of us from Trinity and Christ Church were the only ones who didn't know the songs. But that's ok. I enjoyed the clapping and overall enthusiasm of the worship, a whole area that reformed and presbyterian worship lacks much of the time. And although I hope to one day come to a "One Night" where we sing Psalms and Hymns and pray liturgical prayers together, I also hope one day to attend highly liturgical services at Trinity or Christ Church where the beauty of discipline and order is supplamented by the joy and (biblical) enthusiasm of clapping and dancing.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Trinity Reformed

Some things in life have a strange way of happening in such a way as to seem as though they had never happened but instead had always been, so natural they seem. Being married to my wife is one example, my friendship with the Blues is another. Like other relatives, these too, even at the very first hello, seemed to have always been close, significant parts of my life. So also more recently with Trinity Reformed Church, the new mission church plant in Moscow, pastored by Peter Leithart. Our decision to be apart of that group of people has been with a near thoughtless and careless ease. That is to say: it feels like home after only a few months. Last night an informational meeting was held as a first step in constituting membership for the church. Elder training is in the works, and other community focused ministries are gathering steam. The prospect of having two thriving reformed churches in town is very exciting. It's like waking up one morning only to realize that there you are, having two legs.


Monday, October 20, 2003

Here's to John Barach

After months of putting it off, I purchased Theology after Wittgenstein by Fergus Kerr a couple of weeks ago. I'm a good third to half way through the book and enjoying it immensly. His main project is a deconstruction of Cartesian egocentrism particularly as it manifests itself in theology. Wittgenstein is wound in and out of the discussion as the thematic centerfold so to speak. There are many memorable quotes and stories both from Wittgenstein and others. Some of the best have come from Barth and Wittgenstein's marxist friends. I hope to post some of those in the future. Thanks for the tip-off, John.


Saturday, October 18, 2003

Sir Porter and the Heaters

I have a dog you may have heard. His Porterness is as friendly as a dog can be, as far as I'm concerned. The real deal is that he has a certain keeness for all things foodish. By which is meant he worships his belly. This is why St. Paul referred to the false teachers in Philippi as dogs as far as I can tell. But for the moment the thing that wags his tail the wrong way are the heaters. He has bad dreams about heaters. His hair pricks and his tail droops. He cowers and whines and goes wee wee wee all the way home. And I don't mean anything other that what it sounds like. He brutally attacked and murdered the chord of one of my heaters, and I fear the day he attacks the one in the kitchen. His Porterness has beknighted himself and finds his destiny somehow fulfilled in throttling the dragons inside my heaters. The other thing is that it's getting to be a bit cold here. And that's really the heart of my concern.


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Learning is Giving

“Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (Heb. 5:7-9)

Learning is usually thought of as a kind of getting. We often think an education takes place when a teacher meets in a room with students and a transfer of information ensues: the teacher gives; the students receive information. There are a number of difficulties with this picture, but the primary one is that we must somehow fit the eternal Son of the Father into this scenario. And I'm not sure we can. The Son did not learn in such a way. He was not absent some bit of information that suffering could enlighten Him about.

Our problems with discussing how God learns are tangled up, I believe, in our misconceived notions about what it means to learn. It is the common assumption of modern educators that their magnum opus in the world is something like giving someone a load of firewood to carry inside. “Here’s math, here’s science, here’s history, don’t forget spelling, be careful, don’t drop it.” And the good students dutifully carry their load to the house, and the bad students let the load tumble from their arms leaving a trail of wood behind them. The point being, that we usually think of learning primarily in terms of getting or receiving (or loading, as the case may be). I want to suggest that such a model is antithetical to the pattern we are given in the Scriptures. This sets up the world of education with an incredibly selfish center. Success or failure is measured by what I got instead of what I gave.

By contrast, when we look to Jesus as the example of a perfect student, we see a man whose primary mission is one of giving. Hebrews tells us that Jesus learned by His passion. He offered Himself up to God in prayers and tears and intense sufferings. Our Lord did not come to receive anything from the world. At the most basic level, He didn’t need anything. Rather, God became man in order to give. “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45) Christ’s sufferings were His education. He learned as He gave Himself away. This is not to say that in learning we receive nothing. The Son learned obedience and was given the whole world as His inheritance. Students do receive but only as they give themselves away for others.

As an aside, in Hebrew, verbs change nuance based on what paradigm they are in. The piel paradigm is often used to increase intensity. Thus with the verb 'kill' in the qal becomes 'slaughter' in the piel. Interestingly, the verb 'learn' in the qal becomes 'teach' in the piel. Thus, the Greatest Teacher is not merely giving information, he too is in the middle of an intense learning experience. So too with all who would aspire to such greatness. Learning is much more akin to a dance. A successful classroom is one where a harmonious giving and receiving takes place. And in such a harmony we reflect the triune nature of God.

Central to any Christian philosophy of education must be the concern that students are first and foremost givers. Great learners are those people that give themselves away. “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” (Mk. 10:44) I believe this starting point calls for much reevaluation of 'traditional' educational programs. Testing, grading, teaching, and the overall classroom aroma of most modern education must be reformatted with the purpose of giving and serving others front and center.


Thursday, October 02, 2003


Susan Stewart, in her Poetry and the Fate of the Senses, says that poetry is an attempt on the part humanity to bring finitude to a seemingly infinite world. The base metaphor is that of light and darkness. Darkness, she says, is the presence of eternality and immortality, the limitless uknown. She says, "In the darkness all territory is without bound or name, all lines are crossed, all acts are improvisational in their means and ends..." I have started and re-started this book several times, being side tracked by other demands, but I'm curious as to whether she will fill this our further. Particularly, I wonder about the correlation she draws between darkness and improvisation. Would this suggest a connection between light and correography? Is poetry an attempt at a verbal liturgy?


Tuesday, September 30, 2003


'Khul' is the Hebrew word for dance, spin, or whirl. Interestingly, the word is also used to describe the anguish of childbirth, labor, and birthpangs. 'Khul' is the act of bringing life to the world. It's skin filled with the redness of life and the motion and romance of time.


Woe D'haus & Tea

A friend lent me the 'Weekend Wodehouse' with instructions not to return it until I was a fan. This order I received upon my not so enthusiastic tale of Wodehouse Woe. The book sat, I say calmly and patiently on the far corner of my shelf. I took notice of it about every third week for at least the first six months and then the irregularity increased to about the length of the professional basketball season, which I am told is nearly as long as an elephant's gestation period. By which is meant, I forgot the book existed. Long story even longer, I found the book a few weeks ago. I read several stories, read the introduction by Hilaire Belloc, and I think I'm at the beginning of meaningful relationship. I'll go so far as to say I laughed several times and even tried to read a story to my wife. I must say it's not that I don't want to like him. I liken him to tea. I think tea is a great idea: herbal, hot or cold, cheap, healthy, traditional, stylish, and English... what more might a fellow want in a non-alcoholic drink? The first sip is good, the second ok, and by the third I'm wondering why I didn't order coffee. I've gone so far as to buy my very own Right Ho, Jeeves. I suppose that counts for something, but let's just say I haven't given the book back to my friend yet.


Sunday, September 28, 2003


We live on the mountains
The peaks bear our weight
Driven to these hideaways
We’re surrounded by the slapping ranks.

Buried in thick armor
We walk across their backs
Like elephants we tip-toe—hillside to hillside—
in search of weaknesses or cracks.

By the moon we spy a harness
From the cliffs, we taunt the foe
I’ll throw a rock; you throw another
By morning light we’ll ride you fearless.

And when the waters full recede
And tides retreat their gains
We’ll walk the valleys proudly
We’ll laugh whenever it rains.


Saturday, September 27, 2003

Virgil and the Male

I've been meaning to get a few thoughts down that I had last year. I've finally found a free moment and I thought I'd give it a shot.

I haven't read much scholarly work on Virgil or The Aeneid, so it's quite possible that I'm just rehashing the usual or that I’m completely out to lunch. That said, it struck me last spring when I was teaching through the story that one of the central themes is that of masculinity. At least one of the questions that he is attempting to tackle is 'What does it mean to be a man?'

My thesis is that for Virgil, and perhaps most Romans, the answer was that a man was one who found his identity -as a man- alongside other men, particularly the warlike. Aeneas loses his wife to the flames of Troy, but he finds strength in the wisdom and direction of his father. It is only when his father dies, that he becomes distracted by the wiles of Dido. And this is just as much a commentary on what is feminine. Throughout the story, the goddess Juno is the one harassing Aeneas and bringing trouble and hardship to him. She is the ultimate personification of 'furor', full of irrational and emotionally driven angst. She struggles against Fate, which by this time, seems even more powerful than the king of the gods himself. Consequently, Aeneas must learn 'pietas', that is, true piety which is submission to the impersonal and distant decrees of Fate. Zeus is the god who has the most weight to throw around, but he seems to be in submission to Fate himself. Thus with the matter of Dido, Aeneas is not only ridding himself of 'furor' and submitting to Fate, but he is ridding himself of the feminine and thus becoming more of a man (and godlike). It is only as Aeneas leaves Dido and finds guidance from his Father (in a vision) that he is able to pursue the course set out by Fate. The only other prominent woman in the story is Camilla, the Amazon warrior girl. She is praised and honored, though not surprisingly, because she is a warrior. She fights like a man and dies like one too.

My point being that the pattern of masculinity in the Aeneid is almost the mirror opposite of the pattern given in Scripture. Aeneas leaves the woman that thinks she is his wife and cleaves to his father. It is in this cleaving that he is able to embrace his calling as a warrior and eventual founder of a great city. As a husband he thwarts the fates and is idle and unproductive. True manhood, true masculinity, it would seem, is cleaving to men and finding strength through submission to Fate and swinging a sword. But the Creation pattern paints the picture differently. Men are not good alone, rather they find their fullness in leaving father and mother and cleaving to their wife. This is not to say that some have not been called to celibacy, but the normal pattern is that of a man with his bride. This is true masculinity. Not only is the Aeneid a slap in the face of the high calling given to women, it (again, not surprisingly) falls short of the glory of the gospel. The Son left his Father, and though he has returned, has not returned empty handed, having squandered time and energy for nothing. We have no need to build a funeral pyre, scream curses at our savior, and commit suicide. He has married us and is bringing us into fellowship with His Father. And it is through us that He is building his eternal city.

Finally, it is not surprising that Virgil would have expressed this pattern elsewhere. In his eighth Eclogue, Virgil records two shepherds lamenting the loss of their lovers. The first sings of how the woman he loved left him and will probably never return. The song ends in despair, as he contemplates suicide. The proverbs of Virgil would say that the way of any woman is death. The following song, is said by Virgil to be a reply. At any rate, the second fellow sings of his lover who has “changed his mind”, but this shepherd’s reaction is not despair but rather that of a magic spell and prayers to the gods. Through the course of this short ballad we learn that the lover who has gone is male, and he, whether in response to the charms or not, returns to his lover at the end of the song. It’s quite possible that I’m wrong about my interpretation of this eclogue, maybe there’s a better way to read it. But it does not seem out of place for a Roman to be insinuating the “glory” of male lovers, nor does it seem unfitting for Virgil. The logic of the Aeneid seems to demand homosexuality as true masculinity. The shepherd, like Aeneas, submits to the gods and finds love and manhood in other men.


Tuesday, September 23, 2003


I just started reading the 'Venerable Bede' again. Bede was an amazing man who proves the modern academic notions of the "Dark Ages" completely wrong. Bede lived toward the end of the seventh century and the beginning of the eighth. He was fluent in Latin and wrote with an elegance worth studying. Further, he knew Greek and Hebrew, wrote commentaries on many books of the Bible, and wrote a history of the English people. Perhaps one of the most valuable aspects of Bede as an historian is his insight into the centrality of worship to history. The history is often referred to as an 'Ecclesiastical History', and this is because moderns think he goes a little overboard in his concern for the Church. Although a history that followed political, social, or economic concerns with the same diligence would be considered brilliant by the same. Bede saw the world a little better than we do. He saw the world and its story from the Cross at the center.


Monday, September 22, 2003

David the Humorist

David sings in Psalm 35:6 "Let their way be dark and slippery, and let the angel of Yahweh chase them."


Friday, September 19, 2003

Why Hebrew?

Among other oddities, and there are a few, we study Hebrew at Atlas. Why Hebrew? I tell some people that since we're a boys school, it is important to have the guys making gutteral noises. But honestly the answer is quite simple. We study Hebrew because more than half of our Scriptures were written in that language. A large portion of the Scriptures that we consider inspired are written in Hebrew. If we are to know the God that we serve, it is imperative that we have some working knowledge of the language. It is astounding that for all the fuss and flummoxing we hear regarding Christian education how little of the Bible actually gets studied. Christian worldview is the 'ace' that somehow trumps any need to actually know the Bible. We sprinkle the Word of God into education like a little salt on our meals. And even when there are actual classes that study the Bible, it's offered as a meager meal with hardly any content. Usually the importance of the class is summed up in its status as a 'required elective'. With the amount of time most schools have with students each day for 12 or 13 years, why do we know so little about the Word that is supposed to be our life? Students should not be allowed to graduate until they know all 150 Psalms and have a helpful familiarity with every book of the Bible, Hebrew, Greek, and be able to trace Biblical themes through the Scriptures. Hopefully one day the phrase Christian Education will not mean 'Bible verses sprinkled on top'. Hopefully one day, the Bible will be the backbone of our curriculum, with the study of its languages assumed by all.


Saturday, August 30, 2003

And in other news...

I didn't want to say anything because I feared the neighbors, but as it turns out the transportation administration just keeps getting sillier. About two months ago the road crews came through Potlatch and dumped gravel and tar all over the roads and left, apparently in search of other perfectly good roads to ruin. I was a bit dismayed at the time and had certain choice questions for the joe who decided to mess with our humble Highway 8. At the time I also had my doubts about being in Potlatch. What kind of people pave over perfectly good asphalt with gravel and tar? When I lived in Alaska, it was a prized position to live on or near a paved roadway. It was like the second or third question anyone asked in normal polite conversation, "So you all live on a paved road?" "No." "Yeah, me neither." Every year, the paved roads would extend a few more hundred feet inching their way into the wilderness like glaciers in reverse. What a shame for Alaska when they find out that the trends have changed. It's no longer the 'in' thing to pave roads. Now we gravel and tar. Well, as it turns out the marauding has continued. Just this last week, the same paving prefects made their way up and down the main drag of Moscow. As annoying as it was, I was a bit relieved to be surrounded by other towns doing silly things to their roadways. Being no 'public transportation guru' myself, there may be absolute genius behind these recent moves. I'm just a little puzzled though. Now instead of smooth riding black top, I drive the eternally grizzled face of an old man. And on top of that, the chances of getting rocks in the windshield are probably tripled. Golly, what a deal. On the brighter side, I guess the roadways may offer a bit more traction in the cool and snowy months. But wouldn't Alaskans know something about that?


Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Body Language

Language is in our bodies. Our hands and feet and lips know words. The brain is not a computer full of data that happens to need a few attachments. Our mouths are no mere speakers. In this sense there is no such thing as 'rote memory' as though it is possible to simply download something staight to the grey matter in the noggin. The sci-fi dream of a brain in a bottle is bosh. English is learned through an intricate dance of rhythm and rhyme and melody. All of which require hands, mouths, ears, tongues, eyes, and far more: All language is body language.


Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Just call me Uncle

In God's kindness, my niece was born this morning around 7:30am. Madeline Lois James has added another (much needed) James to the world's population and another descendant of Abraham. Praise God for his mercies to Deacon and Amy. I'm sure Deacon will have more to add in the next day or so.


Friday, August 08, 2003

Answering Pain

I will not deny it. I am a clutz. If there are miscellaneous sharp or blunt objects with any possibility of finding contact with my body all barriers will be overcome. Are there slippery floors? No sign will warn me. Low ceilings? My forehead will find them. Extension chords, puppies, and small children will not be excepted. I will search it out, and I will find pain.

I managed to burn my forearm once again about a week ago. The baker jaket I wear has sleeves that are slightly shorter than my arms, and the mitts only come up so far such that when I reach into ovens or over hot pans there is always a conspicuous display of forearm skin waving about flamboyantly in the bakery world. So over the course of the last few months I have repeatedly burned myself in the same place dozens of times. Ok maybe it was only three times. Seems like more.

But this story is about pain.

I managed to scrape, tear, lacerate, and with all diligence rupture the tender scab that was seeking to work the magic of healing on my arm over the last week or so. On one such occasion I was moving a matress from one room to another and the matress slipped and chewed its way down my arm, not neglecting the burn recovery center midway down. The thing that struck me (right after the grimace and clenched teeth) was the inherent nature of pain as received. It's difficult to separate the phenomenon of pain from its causes, but pain, particularly the physical kind, once occuring is an overwhelming sensation that we receive. We are completely powerless when it comes to pain. We have some influence over the means of pain. But we cannot actually stop pain--apart from various drugs-- but even those take time to do their work and they serve to sever nerve firings and such. We cannot actually touch the pain and yet it is touching us. Like hot, cold, and joy we seek the means to them, but they are bestowed upon us, we cannot take and hold them. Pain too is bestowed in the mysterious packages of blood and tears. The point being, as with all gifts, the only response is thanksgiving. The car door slams, and the finger is throbbing. There is of course the natural removal of the finger from the jaws that bit. But what then? There we stand, a tiny speck in the whirling galaxies, and we have the gift of pain burning like a million stars in our index finger. Unbelief calls it a curse, but faith is the insanity to say Thank You.


Monday, July 28, 2003

Top 10 Things of the Summer (So far)

10. Baking bread and getting paid to do it
9. Live: Throwing Copper
8. N.T. Wright: Paul for Everyone
7. Eating fresh lettuce from our garden
6. Making Book Shelves with the Blues and seeing Mr. Jones (Doug and Lucy's dad) dance to Bela Fleck
5. Doug Wilson: A Serrated Edge
4. Getting a puppy (the same day my wife had a dream that we got one)
3. Peter Leithart: Against Christianity
2. Almost being an Uncle
1. Being married for over three years


Sunday, July 20, 2003

Into the Wild

The wife, dog, and myself are headed up to Spirit Lake for day or so for a camp out. I have through Wednesday off. It should be a few relaxing days before it'll be getting busy again. We're planning on seeing Pirates of the Carribean sometime in there. We hear it's a fun flick. A good Lord's Day to you.


Thursday, July 17, 2003

A Porter Tale

My wife is making me blog about our dog. She says I can't go to sleep until I tell a story about him. So here I am with my Corona in hand to do my duty.

So there we are. It's Sunday afternoon. All is pleasant. All is peaceful. All is serene. As we gaze down upon the wide world of Sunday serenity, there's a particularly quiet block of residential homes that occupy the south hill of a smallish town called Potlatch. And along that very block runs a street called Spruce that humbly stretches a short distance a top that southern hill. And if one wanted, one might take a stroll down such a street and pass the goodly neighbors of Goudimel Parish. There's Magnus, Lucy's lion, chewing on the bloody remains of a deer, Mr. Jones is out on his hands and knees talking to his front lawn, trying to convince it to be happy and green, and then there's my house, a small white dwelling built in the 1920s.

So there we are. It's Sunday afternoon. And the Sumpter home is pleasant and peaceful and serene. Then there is a loud bang that echoes through that quiet block of residential homes. What is that loud bang? It is not the sound of the Atwood boys blowing up a small lizard. Nor is it the sound of Nathaniel Rosendahl running his bike into a tree, and no, it is not the sound of Eric Jones drifting asleep and falling off his chair during family reading. No, it is the sound of Porter, our puppy, helping himself to a two layer cake, cooling on the kitchen counter. Sadly, the story doesn't end there. The poor puppy proceeded to pack his little belly with every crump of cake. The little 14lb puppy had a beer-belly to make me jealous. Of course that's not saying much, but believe me, it was big. And my wife says he looked like Templeton from Charlotte's Web. Needless to say, the dog got sick.

The End


Wednesday, July 16, 2003

In which strong objections are made to a certain musical group and other thoughts manage to surface in this small and (for the most part) silent pond

The other morning (ie. night) my soul was torn out and run through a food processor. Actually someone scandalized my ears with a CD entitled "Apologeti-X". There I was: minding my own business, making bread, when what should happen but Christians should go around being stupid, record the idiocy, and make money for it. The CD consisted of Christians "gospel-a-fying" secular artists including but not limited to Queen, Em&m, Monkees, Limp Bizkit, Van Morison, Linkin Park, Three Doors Down, ah-that's all I can bear. I recognized other radio music but I don't know names. I looked up their website and it turns out they think they're pretty darn funny. They describe themselves as "The Christian Weird Al Yankovic". The banner flashes on the screen "Biblical Parodies of Rock Hits". In the Question section of the website, they answer the question "Are Christian Parodies Sacrilegious?" There they meander through some psuedo-quasi-defense of Rock music and then defend their 'apologetic' by appealing to Paul's description of 'becoming all things to all men'. Right. I bet they've even got the same boxers as Fred Durst.

The thing that sickens me is not that I have any intimate attachment for the music they were imitating/making fun of (read: mutilating). Some of it I like, some of it annoys me, some of it's trash. But my stomach sinks and churns for their lust for the shallow glitz of modern pop music, the stupidity of the lyrics ("I gave it up for the crooked" "This is the story of a squirrel"), and most of all how they turn many of the songs into 'how-to-get-jesus' tracts. Their website continues: "The biggest blessing for us is that people come back to us after a concert or listening to one our tapes or CDs and say: "Now, when I hear the original song, I can't help but think of the new Christian words." The lyricist Jackson adds: "We try to incorporate as many Bible verses, facts and verse numbers into our songs as possible. I am absolutely delighted when people come back to me and tell me that our songs are helping them to memorize scripture." These people obviously don't think about what they're saying. They're doing parodies of "Great Hits" by changing the lyrics to Bible stories and 1-2-3-jesus-is-my-boyfriend-drug. Taking all this together, it sure sounds (and looks) like they are parodying themselves and consequently our Faith. If I'm a pagan, I'm thinking 'hey look! stupid Christians making fun of themselves!' Of course none of this is new. I listened to my fair share of 'Christian' music in high school, and I remember the scene.

So as to not end on a sour note, I must at the same time insist that Christian musicians ought to make the best quality music they possibly can within the genre of their talents. The solution to stupid Christian music is not no Christian music, although the comment of one of my Christian co-worker's: 'I'm not allowed to listen to Christian music' seemed rather inviting at the time. The syrupy and shallow, snuggle-with-the-world-fest of most Christian music is obviously not building the deep culture and glorious Kingdom that we pray for. At the same time, an up-tight, high brow disdain of anything that sounds remotely modern and Christian isn't helpful either. One of my friends, Jamie Soles, does a fun (and fine) job of retelling Bible stories for kids set to music. Obviously this shouldn't replace the psalms and hymns of the Church, but until someone does a better version of some of the most gruesome (and humorous) stories in scripture (Siserah, Jezebel, Ahab, Haman) without the usual Kinkadian glow in every thought, Jamie's my man. So my rant here isn't a universal indictment, rather, a stated aversion to a particularly pointy finger that found its way into my eye. And just to make it clear: Apologeti-X is one of the many children and grandchildren of Charles Hodge, RC Sproul, and Francis Shaeffer, to mention just a few of the names on their reading list. So if you see us at a party and anyone asks, they're with me. And that's why I'm writing this.


Thursday, July 10, 2003


One enjoyable part of my summer has been the opportunity to study the book of Galatians with a friend. We decided to read a couple of commentaries alongside the Pauline puzzle: Luther and Wright. As it turns out, N.T. Wright sometimes goes by the name Tom. His contribution in Paul for Everyone has been very helpful. After reading his other more scholarly titles this seems nearly playful. Both of us have noticed that while Luther is often saying true things, he is more often not as careful with the text. Wright seems more honest in some ways, and while I'm not always convinced, he's at least dealing with the words on the page. Luther, I always enjoy reading; he is vigorous and lively page after page. Sometimes, in his excitement, he just seems to forget the passage in front of him.


Friday, July 04, 2003


As it turns out, we got a puppy this week. He's an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix. We did some checking and heard very good things about the 'Aussies' and mixed reports concerning Border Collies. Some folks said they loved the Border Collie, but we read that they can tend to be a bit high strung. Anyhow, this little feller that we got seems to be about as mellow as we could hope for. He occasionally does puppy type things, like chasing ice cubes and spiders and chewing whatever fits in his mouth, but most of the time he sleeps (which is probably also very puppy-like). But he's very people friendly. He follows either one of us around where ever we go, and he has to be put to bed like a baby, otherwise he cries. Some of the motivation behind getting the pup was company for Jenny when I'm at work all night these days. Thus his name, Porter: keeper of the door, good beer, and juicy steak. Anyway, meet Porter, the newest member of our family.


Thursday, June 26, 2003

Of the Moon and Education

Yipes. It's been a while. If I were someone else, I wouldn't be checking this blog anymore. I have somewhat of a lunar blogger schedule it seems. Meaning, it takes me a while to work up to a full blown post. Most of the time, I'm a rather half-hearted blogger, working through my phases.

Recently, I've been thinking about education and teaching and those sorts of things. I'm currently under the impression that learning is a kind of giving. And despite the fact that we usually think that learning is a kind of receiving. There are several reasons for my credo: First, we have to understand learning in the context of Jesus learning through his sufferings (Heb. 5:8). Second, learning is imitation of a teacher or teachers (Lk. 6:40). Third, and this kind of adds to the previous reason, subjects don't exist. The subject of Latin does not exist. Neither does math or literature or science. What we study are people and their particular takes on the world and aspects of its story. This is primarily true of our faith. Christianity is not a subject to find and study. It's a person to know and imitate (Eph. 4:20ff). And imitation demands giving. We can't receive a 'pure' download of math. We have to imitate someone (in person or in a book) who shows us how to do math.


Monday, June 09, 2003

Whistling in the Dark

One common way people tend to classify themselves is by what time of the day suits them best. My friend Jon is a night owl, and my dad is definitely a morning guy. I suppose there are folks out there who can do either. As it turns out, I'm a morning person. I can stay up late on occasion, but my people skills decrease exponentially after 8pm, as do my card playing skills. But there's a certain amount of ambiguity as to when night ends and morning begins. There is of course the 'technical' am and pm, but as far as my body is concerned 1 am is still night. I've found that I can get up and be at work at 3am with relatively little pain. But the difference two hours makes is really weird. 1am is a completely different story. I physically hurt at 1am. Anyways, that's the most exciting thing in my life right now.


Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Not to Mention the Weather

I am reminded of what an amazing community Mosow is. I have lived in southern California, Alaska, Maryland, and visited just about everywhere in between. Moscow is an amazing place. Of course at the center of the community is Christ Church. Never have I been in a church that overflows with such love and kindness as this one. Never have I been in a church with elders of such stature and wisdom. Never have I experienced such hospitality, friendship, or encouragement. You cannot go anywhere in town (and sometimes out of town!) without running into Kirkers. I have been in large and small churches, and I believe this one is the largest I've ever regularly attended. But the folks here are a family as tight knit as the smallest churches I've been in. And I thought at the outset that moving to Potlatch might be a bit of a 'downgrade', living 20 minutes from the bulk of the church community. But I was nowhere near the truth. The community and hospitality has increased exponentially. What a blessing to be here right now. God has been amazingly kind to this little plot of land in northern Idaho.


Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Bart Loves Jesus

So I've been told and have been led to believe that the Simpsons, apart from being clever, entertaining, and funny, is also the most Christian show on television. Well, my wife bought a DVD player with some graduation money this week, and for our first DVD, purchased the 2nd full season of the Simpsons. After watching just three episodes, I'm convinced that we no longer need Westminster, Dort, or Heidelberg. Whenever a great ecclesiastical pickle arises we ought to call a presbytery meeting and watch a season of the Simpsons.


Life Returns

My wife is home. The world is a better place. This is only the second time I've ever sent her away. The last time I told myself I'd never do it again. Well, this time I mean it. Although, for all the agony it's caused, she brought home a good deal of plunder.


Monday, May 26, 2003


So for all you bread connoisseurs or those aspiring to be such, I thought I'd give you some inside information. There I am. It's 2:15am (give or take a few hours), and I'm waiting for my dough to rise. I decide to be studious and resourceful with my time, and I pull out a fancy looking book on the art of baking fine breads. The key to good bread is timing and temperature. That's not too hard to understand at the beginning, but believe me, it's a whole lot more mysterious once you get started. Anyways, there I am reading my book and trying to get my bread to look and taste as good as the pictures and descriptions they have in the fancy book. I get to the section on temperature. This book is fancy. It has chemical equations and math I haven't seen since high school. The chemicals do magic things, and the book explains this in big words. I keep reading. Depending on the bread, a finished loaf probably ranges from around 180 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. So far so good. The most accurate method of testing the loaf's temperature is with a probe thermometer, but as it turns out, the book explains that the internal temperature can also be accurately detected using the fail-proof thwack method. Yes, that's right. All you have to do is remove the loaf to a cooling rack and turn it on its side. Then thwack the bottom of your loaf, and if it makes a hallow sound, it's done. Who needs digital thermometers when there's the thwack method?


The Shepherd

I'm still thinking about the words to the Live song that I posted a few days ago. I've spoken to Remy about this before, and I think maybe we even talked about this very same song. It's tempting to leave it where it is, in the mouth of an angry man, and shrug our shoulders and say golly, too bad for him. But we serve a God who always turns to good what we mean for ill, whether we ever come to realize it or not. And thus we can't help do the same. So rather than a bitter cry for freedom from God, I see those words as mountains of gratitude to Him. Rather than leaving me to myself, God has been a shepherd who would not leave me alone. He's in my face with his love and mercy: The shepherd of my days. Thanks be to God.


Friday, May 23, 2003

Doubting Rene

I know nothing in deed and all in thought
says Descartes, without a tongue of sense
or a cheek of meaning.
No aspirated syllables or hands with fingers
to write or spell insanity in
Latin words--curses--faceless and disembodied
like smoke to meet the sky.

I'll not believe your matterless musing
until I put my hands through your side
and see your body part to my fingers.
I'll not believe until I know you've rid yourself
of skin and bones forever.


Wednesday, May 21, 2003

It is always stunning to meet or read someone who displays the unbelieving heart without apology. Working at the bakery this morning (early!), I listened to an old Live album, Throwing Copper. Kowalcyk, the lead singer and song writer, I understand grew up in a church, I think I recall some sort of Baptist. There is something haunting and beautiful about the words from the song "Pillar of Davidson":
The shepherd won't leave me alone
he's in my face and I
The shepherd of my days
and I want you here by my heart
and my head, I can't start till I'm dead


Tuesday, May 20, 2003

So I've been really enjoying Plutarch these days. Originally, I had scheduled two weeks on the guy, but I have so thoroughly enjoyed his story telling, I pushed it to four weeks. We're reading his Lives. Theseus, Romulous, Demosthenes, Solon, Cicero, Alexander, Caesar, Pompey, Lycurgus, Antony, Brutus, Artaxerxes are just a few of the well known biographies. The thing that's especially cool about reading Plutarch is the fact that you're getting two history lessons at once. You're getting both the story Plutarch tells and the story that Plutarch is in. Plutarch is not shy about who he likes or what he thinks. That's cool. I like that. It's annoying how 'objective' modern historians try to be. What that really means is a writing style that is as dry as chalk and a little more interesting than reading science journals. There's a very flawed understanding of 'objective' at the bottom of that mess. We're reading 1 Maccabees next week. I'm looking forward to that. I've not read the Apocrypha before.


Saturday, May 17, 2003

So I'm just about finished with my first week at the bakery. As of this week, the bakery has a name: Zume Artisan Breads and Pastries. That's pronounced zoo-may, and for all you linguists out there, it's the Greek word for yeast. Although there's a skateboard shop in the mall called Zumies. We've been getting calls asking if we make blank decks and Venture trucks. Go figure. So anyway, this ain't no slip shod country bakery. The guys who are opening the operation are doing it up right. I get the name brands I want, we got the nice equipment, and the place is really spiffy. For those of you familiar with Moscow, the bakery is on friendship square in downtown where the GTE phone store used to be.

I'm working on having five regular breads right now: Challah, Panitone, Paen Seigle, Sourdough Raisin, and Cracked-whole wheat. There will also be a few 'occasional' varieties that will make their way on to our shelves like a dark and light rye and perhaps my inadvertent pana-challah. The powers have also asked me to come up with some kind of 'health bar'. I made my first attempt at it yesterday, and I was pleased with the result. It was a whole-wheat with raisins, cranberries, almonds, walnuts, and pecans. So that's where I score my creativity points this week. In other news, my sourdough was a complete flop. There was no life in that dough at all. And then once it got in the oven it just messed all over itself. I wanted to just leave them in the oven until they were gone, but the oven vent isn't completely functional yet and I didn't want any attention drawn to it. The Paen Seigle, a light rye-sourdough, was brilliant though. I don't even know how. And check this out: turns out whatever temperature it says in the formula book, always do 25 degrees less. Yeah, well guess who nobody bothered to tell? So I've been doing pretty good baking everything 25 degrees hotter than it should be. Brilliant.

So there's my life. As a bread baker, I have a special job of feeding and caring for my sourdough starter. He's really cute. He bubbles when he's hungry. He's from a french town on the coast of the Mediterranean called Beauleau Mar Sur. Which I've been told means 'Beautiful Eyes By the Sea' by one person and 'Fungus Toes' by another. The biggest problem is that I have no name for my beloved starter. For a while I was considering some obscure saint names, then Bible names, and now maybe I'll just call him Zume and I'll claim they named the bakery after my starter. But I don't know. If you have any suggestions let me know. Lucy said I should offer some kind of reward to anyone who could help me name him. So yeah, maybe I'll do that.


I'm sorry folks. It's been too long. Aunt Lucy graciously confronted me the other day, and this is my first step in repentence.


Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Things are pretty busy these days. I'm currently in the middle of training for a bread baker position at a new bakery opening in Moscow. I'm having a blast.


Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Tuesday is park day at Atlas. We do a little bit of school inside and then we break out into the world. We march through the streets of Moscow with sweater vests and baseball bats. We fear no biker cop. We wear Mariner hats because we'll wear no other. We grip our gloves and scuff the baseballs readying for the field. And as we cross the railroad tracks the boys take off in a full tilt run. They know the liturgy. They love our service of baseball. First we warm up. A sprint to the centerfield fence: remind yourself how far away the fence is. Back on the infield we gasp for air and blindly pick up gloves, pointing to one another, hoping to find a throwing partner. We throw at each other. We aim our shots at our opponent's head and chest. Sometimes we miss. Then the guys take the field, and I hit the ball at them. I rotate them. I hit the ball again. They're not very good at grounders. One of them fears the ball like it was a bee. He only swats and swerves. Others know what baseball looks like. They've seen the pros. They look like pros in their sunglasses and hats, as they bobble grounders and overthrow first base. But they work hard. Their hearts are in the game. I'll hit it to them again and again. And they'll want another and then another. We might divide into teams and scrimmage or I might select a few to run the bases and add a little fun to the infield drilling. Sometimes they turn amazing double plays. 6-4-3 in their sleep, and a grounder goes right between their legs. I love it.


As it turns out, the Anglican church is a grand experiment in lay leadership. I had never really connected all the dots, but the head of the Anglican church is the join rule of king and parliament. How about that.


By the way, for any of you Spokane types out there. "Earnest" will be in Spokane on Thursday at 7pm. I have more details if you need them.


"The Importance of Earnest" is ready to ORDER!

There are two versions:

1) March 2003: Saturday afternoon showing at the Kenworthy
2) April 2003: Friday night showing at the Kenworthy

Prices: VHS - $15 (2 for $25, 3 for $35, etc.)
DVD - $25 (2 for $45, 3 for $65, etc.)

To Order:
Call Rachel McManus at 892-9608 (after 4:30 pm) OR


Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Not much to say today. The sky is blue. The air is cool. Everything is going ahead as planned (with the sun rising and all). I have an interview for a part time job today. I hope this will be the end of my searching.

I am excessively amused by the prophet Micaiah these days. What a mighty blend of courage, piety, and sarcasm. May my sons aspire to such godliness (1 Kgs. 22).


Monday, April 14, 2003

Heard last night at an Indigo Girls' Honor the Earth concert:
"The guy who reminds me the most of Dr. Evil is Dick Chaney." (Winona LaDuke, former vice-president hopeful with Ralph Nader)


Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Atlas School is currently looking to hire a part-time math and science teacher for next fall. Classes would meet for up to 3 hours, two mornings a week. Please inquire for a more detailed job description and see our web site for more information about the school.

All interested parties should contact me.


Some of you will be happy to hear that ever since I posted that story about young Schuler's early scientific exploits, I have had ceaseless banners across the top of my page saying things like "House train your puppy" and "Dog training". I'm a little disturbed.


Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Oh wait. I forgot. Aunt Lucy has a blog now! Go see it here. She'll also be joining the coveted ranks of the sidebar links. Welcome to blogdom, AL.


I'll be on the roof if you need me.


I have a confession to make, and in good male fashion, I intend to shift the blame. The warmer it gets the faster I drive. Serious. I'm not that wild of a driver. I am legitimately embarrassed when I get pulled over... uh... not that it's been very often.. er. But the fact is I love wind in my face. I love its force, its drive, and its smell. It's a thousand memos pouring into my senses. I love playing roller coaster with my hand out the window. I love listening to loud music and barely being able to hear it over the noise of open windows. I love the sun in my face going over the passes as I drive into town in the morning. It's like putting your hands over your eyes for just a moment and wondering what might happen. I love the hills and the turns. I love passing people too. Not because I'm on some kind of impatient power trip. I just like driving fast. I wasn't like this a month ago, honest. It's the sun and day light savings and all the green in my lawn. Spring made me do it.


Saturday, April 05, 2003

Well, the second performance of the play went off without a hitch. We had another very full crowd and fun show.


Grammar is Aesthetics

I realized this week that grammar is aesthetics. As languages develop, somewhere along the line, there is consensus enough concerning the sound (music) and look (art) of word combinations to make up rules to teach to our children. How funny we are.


Thursday, April 03, 2003

Potty Lessons

So yesterday I went over to get a movie (for my wife who's sick) from Lucy Jones. She lives on the other side of the Jones from us. She was just getting home and was letting her puppy (Magnus, a Mastif) out to take care of his 'business'. As it turns out, young Louis Schuler was also hanging around hoping to get a little 'Magnus time' in as well. As I stepped up on to the patio, I was greeted by an overly excited Magnus, whose excitement could hardly be contained. And in fact, was not contained. Magnus began taking care of business all around my leg. Thankfully, he had poor aim and missed me, but Lucy did give some instructions to Magnus about where the proper 'potty place' was. Anyway, as I was escaping into the house on my video expedition, I overheard young Schuler investigating the whole ordeal. He asked with the earnestness of any six year old boy, "Well, what kind of pee was it?" Lucy not knowing what he meant (I assume) neglected to answer. But young Schuler, intent on knowing the truth, persisted, "What kind of pee was it?" On the third refrain, Lucy finally looked down at young Schuler with not a little exasperation in her voice, "The URINE kind, Louis." I'm not sure how satisfied young Schuler was with the response, but I was completely content to leave it there and I continued into the house.


Wednesday, April 02, 2003

The Immortal Dogs

The immortal dogs live across the street. I'm not sure if there is only one or three or six. But they are there. I've seen them. Some days they are cautious and bark from their bunkers behind the house, and other days they run daring missions around my legs. I realized yesterday that the immortal dogs actually 'bark'. I don't mean make annoying barking noises, as in the general dog noise 'bark'. I mean the noise they make is actualy 'bark'. At least one of them is really close. Some dogs say something closer to 'yip', and still others 'ruff'. But the immortal dogs say 'bark'. That's one plus. Although it occured to me on a second pass, that they might actually be saying 'barf' which is quite another thing altogether.


Tuesday, April 01, 2003


I struggle with understanding how Christian educators can offer honest, helpful evalution of student work without capitulating to the mindless numbers and letters of modern academia. We are so in love with the number grades that for as meaningless as they are, they are motivators. It's like our stats, our batting average, and slugging percentage. I grant that number grades can reflect accurately in certain areas, but they run the risk of degrading the work of my students. The value of an essay on 'what it means to be a man' cannot be reduced to a number. And because most work cannot be reduced to a number, when it is, are we being as honest as we can be? At the same time, by refusing to number a student's work, I often find that my evaluations are less effective because writing "this is very poor work" for some reason doesn't get as much of a response as '55%'. How does a teacher remain helpful (ie. truly motivating) and honest in evalutation? And how can a teacher be a servant to students and families (ie. useful transcripts for college) and at the same time encourage growth and development that does not pay homage to the gods of the number? In many ways I prefer greater honesty and hope motivation will grow over time.


Saturday, March 29, 2003

Show time is at 2pm today. Here goes nothing!


Monday, March 24, 2003

And today begins what I believe will be the busiest week of my spring. The play opens Saturday, and it will be a mad dash to the finish line. I love the mad dash though. It's really my favorite part. I get the most done I think when I have a little bit more than I can really do.

I saw in the weekend paper something about the Expos getting the boot from Montreal. I even saw something about Portland, Oregon as a possible destination. That'd be cool. We need more baseball in the Northwest. And particularly Portland, I love that city. Maybe it's because I was born there. But I'm always really impressed with the city life there, and if there was a baseball team, I'd be there more often.


Saturday, March 22, 2003

Simone and the Truman Show

My wife and I watched the movie 'Simone' on Thursday evening, a Peter Weir film, starring Al Pacino and Winona Rider. It was a very interesting movie, and for kicks we decided to rent 'The Truman Show' last night, just for some more Peter Weir. At first glance, both of the movies are interesting just for the fact that they are mirror opposites. Truman is about a real person in a fake world. Simone is about a fake person in the real world. Both are extremely fun ideas for stories. Maybe someone can help me out here, but I can't watch either one of these movies without being convinced that Weir's underlying commentary has to do with the creation of God and man. In Truman, the Creator of the world is a man named Christof, I don't know if it gets more blatant than that. But the point of the story seems to be that the controlled world of Christ[of] is artificial, deceptive, and therefore ultimately malevolent. The story is about the Truman [True Man] who feels the need to escape, sees the inconsistences, and remembers a love beyond the sovereign, Hollywood world. The Christian world is a scam.

In Simone, the story is about the creation of God. Simone is the answer to a major dilemma for one man, and becomes the object of worship for millions around the world. She is a goddess and therefore incapable of doing wrong: self degredation and public humiliation only serve to heighten her beauty in the eyes of her followers. What begins as the lie of one man, is soon the lie of millions claiming they know Simone and that they are on close terms. And when her creator attempts to put her away, it becomes clear that she has taken on a sort of life of her own. Her death is impossible because the world demands a resurrection, and sure enough, her resurrection saves her creator. And as Pacino says at the end, "This is life." God is a scam.

There are elements in both movies that seem so incredibly right, and at points, I almost thought Weir was telling the story right. But I can't make the pieces fit together, so I'm left with the conclusion that he's obviously a brilliant story teller, and at the same time, telling the story wrong.

Correction: While Peter Weir directed Truman Show, the connection with Simone is via the writer, Andrew Niccol, who was also the director of Simone.


Thursday, March 20, 2003

Hi all. It's been a little while. I took a trip down to the Oregon coast with my wife and other friends Jon and Deacon and their wives. It was a wonderful time of relaxing and spending time with good friends. I am incredibly thankful for spring breaks and the legacy our friendships have in Oregon on spring break.

On Monday, my wife and I broke away for a bit to meet up with my folks in Eugene. My dad took us down to a bookstore/coffee house after lunch. As it turns out, the used book store and coffee house are the front of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Wipf and Stock publishes a lot of stuff that has fallen out of publication, of which Jordan's Through New Eyes and Judges are among the better known to me. The books published there are of an amazing variety. I'm very curious as to what these folks are all about. Check out the site and see for yourself.


Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Odysseus and Christ

I've been thinking a little about what I said before about Greek writers telling pre-Christian stories. Think for just a second about all the correlations between Odysseus and Christ: both are story teller/riddlers (crafty), both must be away from their people and tested for a time (albeit in different ways), both have a group of foolish companions who aren't nearly as bright, both must be despised and rejected (particularly, in terms of hospitality), both must descend into Hades before they can return as a king, both do return to their own and their own do not receive them or know who they are. Both Christ and Odysseus return to a bride, whose purity is being challenged by other suitors, both must test the remaining members of their houses for loyalty, both destroy their enemies in connection with a feast (in the Odyssey, the destruction is described as a feast), after the destruction, the word is proclaimed that there is a wedding feast taking place, both are 're-married' to their wives, both are recognized by family and friends by scars, both have old friends dying after they see their return (Jesus: Simeon), both finally return to their father where final skirmishes are put to peace.


Sunday, March 09, 2003

I just watched the movie 'Amistad' tonight. I'm sorry.


Pagan Christians

One of the most intriguing elements of studying ancient pagan (Greek) literature is how Christian it is, or maybe I should say, how pre-Christian it is. I find myself reading Homer and Aeschylus and wondering how they knew about Jesus. C.S. Lewis is one of the most well known Christian writers who saw this reality and explained it as God's preparing the world for the Advent.


Thursday, March 06, 2003

A Kahyil Woman

So here's something cool: As it turns out, the book of Ruth is the story of a Moabite woman named Ruth and her Hebrew mother in-law Naomi. To this point everyone's in the know. But read on. In the course of the story, Ruth approaches Boaz in the middle of the night and asks him to 'spread his wings' over her, that is, to play the part of the kinsman-redeemer and marry her. In the course of this conversation, Boaz praises Ruth and blesses her. He says that Ruth is known among all the city's inhabitants as being a virtuous woman. But the word there for 'virtuous' is the Hebrew word 'kahyil' which is usually used to describe a courageous man of arms, a warrior. Ruth is a valiant warrior-woman. But what's really neat is the fact that in the Hebrew Bible, Ruth comes just a couple of books after Proverbs. And the book of Proverbs ends with the beautiful passage describing the 'virtuous woman'. In fact, the word 'virtuous' is also the word 'kahyil', thus Proverbs ends describing the valiant warrior-woman. At the risk of being too speculative, the order of these books does not seem to be accidental. The book of Proverbs is a basic living guide for young men and ends with what to look for in a wife. Job follows Proverbs and it's a story about a man who has embraced the life laid out in Proverbs. Job is followed by the Song of Songs, the poetry of love between a man and his wife. And Job is followed by Ruth. And Ruth is the story of the 'kahyil' woman, the valiant woman, originally described in Proverbs 31.


Monday, March 03, 2003

Bradbury &tc.

I don't know how many of you have read much Ray Bradbury, but I recently read a story called 'The Veldt' to my class from 'The Illustrated Man' (a collection of short stories). It's an amazing little number exemplifying the proverb that how ever you train up a child, when he is old he will not depart from it (which is not quite the same as it is usually quoted, btw). In our weekly Logic studies at Atlas, we read a chapter from Proverbs, discuss its contents and write short stories attempting to 'bury' various metaphors in our stories. It's cool to see someone doing it so plainly, to say nothing of his intentions.

On a completely different note, I'm thoroughly torn as to whether I should do the Fantasy Baseball thing this year. Honestly I've never done it before, and for that reason it's a bit of a stretch as it is. But I'm so limited in my free time, I wouldn't be able to put much time in. All the same it might be worth a year at the bottom of the dog pile, just to encourage me to keep up with the games and players.

And for one more completely different thought, I thought I'd begin advertising for myself since this is my blog. I'm directing a play right now, 'The Importance of Being Earnest'. If any of you'all are within an hundred miles you should consider coming down/up/over to see a show at the end of this month. We're opening on March 29th, with a matinee at 2pm at the Kenworthy Theatre in downtown Moscow. And tell your friends. Come see Woelke Leithart, Natali Miller, and Mark Beauchamp on stage.


Saturday, March 01, 2003

Last night was the first BonHom Boxing Fight Night. There were 20 fights ranging from the little 50lb boys (like Langston Amos) to the bigger 270lb boys (like Dirk Dewinkle). Each match consisted of three one minute rounds. It was all great fun. Parker Amos was the most impressive of the younger fellows. He out fought a boy 4 years his senior. Mac Jones (my next door neighbor) took care of Caleb Ackley (one of my students), Isaac Grauke met his match in Matt Dion, and David Young was undone by the West-Texan Hicks. Nate Wilson vs. Dirk Dewinkle was the heavy-weight fight of the night, but it only lasted two rounds. Dirk won by TKO: Nate got pretty bloddied in the nose. It was also a great night with Chip Lind as MC. All the boxers got to pick their own entrance music and the place was done up right with a professional ring, spot lights, and concessions. Jerry Owen did the rounds selling popcorn and candy, John Carnahan sold bleacher pads, and there was plenty of flash photography. As Paul Tong said, It was probably the best ever use of the Logos Field house. Everything just looked right. The only thing missing was the betting, but there's always next time... Cheers to the BonHom Boxing Club!


Saturday, February 22, 2003

Atlas School

Some of you have asked about Atlas School and what we do there. Here is a link to the website, if you have not already visited. I've just added a new section to the "mission statement" page, entitled "What We Do and Why". It's a sort of blow by blow of a school day, our curriculum, and the reasoning behind it.