Saturday, February 28, 2004

Check it out.


Saturday, February 21, 2004

A Private Conversation

I've seen the stars every night for the last 9 months. I've watched the hunter sink and rise, and beckon to his comrades in the blackness. I've also learned the moon. I know her phases, guess her path, and miss her when she hides. I also met the fog, his blanket of wet unraveled along my path, a snug companion on many of my drives.

One morning last spring, I was on my way to school before the days of baking bread. It was the hour of the changing of the guard, the ominous nod of night in the direction of the day. I knew the moon was full, but I had not see her pearl face since leaving home and arched my neck and bent my eyes through every hill, hoping she had not yet sunk below the covers of the world. I saw the glow of her face through the trees and suspected her presence right along the edge of the earth. I knew the only chance I had of seeing her was over the first ridge, after which there would not be another clearing for several miles, and even that was doubtful. I sped up the northern face of the ridge, though fog began to mar my course in pockets every fifteen yards or so. Nearing the summit, I plunged into a foamy thickness losing sight of all but a couple of feet in front of each headlight. I was forced to slow down, and I expected the worst: I had entered a fog that I was unlikely to exit until coming down the last hill into Moscow. This was not an uncommon experience. One minute brilliant blue skies, the next buried in cloud. And while I had realized long ago that there was something incredible about driving my car through the clouds, this realization was not as exciting as I was hoping to see the face of the moon. However, seconds later, my car found the world, though I did not know then if it really was the world I had been in only moments before. There below me, stretching into the distance was a world of white, hills and plains enveloped in cloud. It was a shimmering robe and bright with pink weaving throughout. To my right I looked into the full and sorrowful face of the moon, but to the left, the piercing gaze of the sun burned across the plains.

I do not imagine that I will ever be able to forget those few moments as I drove through that enchanted land. It was as though I had come in during a private conversation between a man and his wife. I felt uncomfortable and glad all in an instant. It was then if not soon after that I began to more fully realize the fantasy of Creation. Chesterton and MacDonald were right.

After a refreshing 16 months in Potlatch, we are on our way back into Moscow. It has been a glorious time living in this community. We will miss our neighbors, the quiet streets, and yes, even the drives into town.


Monday, February 16, 2004

Taunting the Enemy

If you own the Cantus Christi and you are in any way musically inclined, I would urge you to look at the chant for Psalm 94. And if you're not musically inclined find someone who is and make them teach it to you. It's really worth it. The text was translated by Jim Jordan, and is an excellent rendition of the Hebrew as would be expected. But the music (which is by someone I don't remember at the moment) fits the text wonderfully. I've only learned 3 or 4 chants so far, but this one easily tops the charts. It is very nearly what I imagine Jordan means when he praises and encourages 'vigorous chanting'. The text and tune are bold and militant, and for a few awful moments the University Inn conference room is transfigured into a battlefield, as we sing our King's praises, taunting the enemy forces.


Sunday, February 15, 2004

Laughing and Loving

Remy posted on love scenes and laughter the other day. As it turns out his Hebrew reflexes are quite good and nearing the level of Jedi Master.

In Hebrew there are a number of kinds of verbs. One such variety is called the Piel. The Piel is usually used to intensify the meaning of a verb. So the regular form of a verb could mean "break apart" and in the Piel it might mean "shatter". Other instances of this actually change the meaning to some extent, usually revealing some hebraic understanding of the world. This is the case with the verb LAMAD which means "he learned". In the Piel, the verb becomes "he taught". A teacher then, would be the intense learner. The one who learns to the utmost, teaches by defalt.

But to the point. In Genesis 26:8, Abimelek has been entertaining Isaac, Rebeccah, and the whole patriarchal kit-n-kiboodle. Of course, being the godly patriarch that he is, Isaac and his wife lie to the pagan king telling him they are just brother and sister in order to protect themselves and set themselves up to plunder the Philistines. At any rate, Abimelek looks out his window one day and sees Isaac making melody to his wife. 'Melody' is of course the Middle English term for making love, having sex. Well the verb used to describe the action that Isaac is performing is the verb TSAKHAQ, which usually means "he laughed". In fact that's where Isaac's name came from (Isaac=YITSKHAQ). However, in this case it is the Piel Participle translated "sporting" in the KJV, "fondling", and "caressing" elsewhere. The context should guide the translation in any case. But the range of meaning is anything from caressing to making melody. Thus laughter in its most intense form is in fact in bed with one's wife.

And so I leave you with a blessing on this Lord's Day, the Sixth Sunday of Epiphany: May our Triune God manifest his playfulness in your marriage bed as it is filled with much laughter.


Saturday, February 14, 2004

The Pirates of DC

I just read Wilson's new children's book Blackthorn Winter published by Veritas Press. It's a fun read and served, in its own small way, to remind me of the current tyranny of the American government. The book isn't about our government; it's about pirates and a courageous boy's adventure with them. But it doesn't take but a couple of well worded sentences, especially in tax season, to remind the most submissive among us that someone not too long ago decided that pirates would do a lot better if they dressed well, showered and shaved, and traded their pointy pieces of steel for a pile of papers and a bureaucrat's smile.


Living Water

Leviticus 14 records the ritual for cleansing a leper and the cleansing of a house with leprosy. A couple observations after translating the passage this week particularly connected to the term "running water" or MAYEEM KHAYEEM, which literally means "living water".

First, the obvious connection to John 4, Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman. Jesus' claim to be able to give "living water" is still enigmatic, but at least on the surface it seems that the literal meaning of his claim would be that he could make Jacob's well work as a fountain. There is of course a mine of meaning in this whole area, but perhaps this offers at least one direction to head in. At least one point may be that the role of Israel is changing from that of a well (refreshment which must be sought out by the nations) to a spring or river (refreshment which seeks the nations). The symbolism is prevalent in the Old Testament particularly in the ministry of the patriarchs. Another example would be Solomon's reign which was that of a glorious well, where the nations sought wisdom and came to enjoy his glory. But the new Well of Jacob, the new Israel is a spring, a geyser that erupts and pours out into the world, an Eden transfigured.

Secondly, the ritual for cleansing a house with leprosy has been connected with Jesus' cleansing of the Temple. I haven't read Jordan on this, but I'm told that he harmonizes the gospel accounts (synoptics vs. John) with at least some reference to this ritual in Leviticus 14. The priest in the ritual, must visit the house that is unclean (or suspected to be) twice. The house is emptied on the first visit, and if upon the second visit (seven days later) the plague has spread, the house is to be broken down. I am told that Jordan posits the difference in accounts due to two cleansings by Christ. The first was an inspection, where the furniture was over turned and the house was declared unclean. The second visit, at the end of his ministry (the end of his week) was to reevaluate the house. The house was found infected again, and the pronouncement was again made concerning its uncleanness. At at this point he declares that he will destroy the house and rebuild it again in three days. This was of course the duty of the priest, to see to it that the infected house was torn down and a new one was erected in its place.

The cleansing of a house (after it had been rebuilt) required two birds: one was killed in a vessel with "living water". The living bird is dipped in the blood of the first bird and in the "living water" and finally released in order to make atonement for the house. The house is also sprinkled seven times with the blood and "living water." The actual sprinkling is done with hyssop, scarlet, and cedar wood of course.

I'm not sure what all that means, but there's obviously a death and resurrection/baptism motif going on. The House of Israel is cleansed by the death of Christ as blood and water flowed from his side. And his resurrection is his own "release" making atonement for the house. Again, atonement effects an exodus out of the city: the bird in Lev. 14, Jesus' "living water" in John 4, the early Christians in Acts, and to the ends of the earth.

Jacob's well has become a spring, and the house of Israel is cleansed.


Friday, February 06, 2004

Belly Buttons

This is of course the weekend of our expectations. The famous and infamous History Conference is finally upon us. The press have shown up to do their part, and the opposition has promised exactly that.

Early reports signal much smoke and little if any fire. In fact the only fire I've seen in the last couple of days was in the bakery this morning when a couple of pizza boxes began the exciting process of combustion. But alas the only foul play seems to have been the people who closed who accidentally put the boxes near the oven. Oh-well. Apparently there were four or five protesters last night doing their protesting thing. This morning there was one, solitary protest being accomplished by one fellow who was holding a sign that said, "History stopped when Wilson touched it." I know that really struck me as I'm sure it is you at this very moment.

Alas. The irony only grows and exponentially increases. We are maligned in the press, our businesses are boycotted, spit upon, and vandalized. We are refused service, declined business opportunities, and our tires are slashed (repeatedly). We are lied about, slandered, and libelled (with names I've never heard in the Bible). And when the lady is asked what the deal is, she says, "We know it's not about slavery, we just don't like your attitude." Obviously we have a bad attitude. They have formed coalitions and associations; they have posted signs and posters and had secret deliberations about how to get rid of us. While we went in to the university to pay an extra fee for security, the university was in the next room planning the protest. Today, the whole lot of them was to gather at five o'clock for their "we really mean it this time, not in our town" march from downtown Friendship Square to the university SUB where the conference is being held. New St. Andrews students will be on hand to give out cookies and hot coffee to the protestors.

'Not in our Town' is their motto, and 'We're too great for Hate' stands as their damning banner of tolerance, freedom, and human rights. And the incoherence of their arguments, "You have a political agenda", "What's your standard is a trick question", "We don't like your attitude" and the rest prove the very fact they so wish they could deny. They are their own reductio ad absurdum.

But we have not resisted to the point of shedding of blood. And our joy is multiplied in the presence of our enemies. Our tables are laden with blessing and gladness. We will dance, we will laugh, and though they should cry "conspiracy! conspiracy!" we will only build snow men with charcoal eyes, carrot noses, and corncob pipes; and if the glee is right, we'll spend a few extra minutes putting buttons on their bellies. And I'll name mine Bill, and you'll name yours Selena.


Monday, February 02, 2004

world eye

there’s a world in my eye
an island spinning round
you and i can’t see the lie
it’s to the mind tight bound.
Round the retina it revolves
and manufactures history
conjures and resolves
interprets imagistic mystery.
this globe in fact pours out
its life and hue and glimmer
on every point about
and cooks it to a simmer.
Then with vegetarian lite
it fills the mental frame
reorders chaos right,
awakens truth the same.
and i upon my throne
and you upon your dais
long we reign alone
and ever truth our bias.

and if you’ve got an ill
politics, culture, art
this rock will be the pill
to cure your every smart.
just lodge it in your eye
it’s christian never fear
there’s no need to die
the truth is ever dear.
there’s no need for Sacraments
hands and knees be gone
all the rest are condiments
with this eye-log on.
watch for the others
no one is without
we’re all eye-mind brothers
thinking leaves no doubt.
we play with material raw
but the forms are in our head
ideas are the law
of the living and the dead.

for as you think it so
so it is as you think
but i’ll not wear the window
nor from this well take drink.
i walk through a world
alive with life throughout
a splendid word unfurled
where even mountains shout.
Creation spurns the world eye
the Son of Mary dies
hands were meant to lift high
Creation groans and cries.
my knees i’ll teach to rule
as bent they search the ground
my hands will go to school
lifted they are crowned.
And tongue and eye and mind
all humbled to the King
minds to taste, tongues to see
and eyes to joyful sing.



I really dig this term: "suspirium". Suspirium is the rhythm and momentum of the language we speak and write about God that passes directly into language spoken and written to God.

Another bit of Barth.


Mo' Barth

A few thoughts triggered by Barth's 1.1 of Church Dogmatics:

1. While Barth isn't married to the idea, he is willing and gives slight blessing to allowing theology (ie. dogmatics) to be labeled a "science". He is sufficiently made ill by the various dangers associated with so doing. He will not afford any other realm of study the bar to which theology must be measured. The protestant liberals of Barth's day, no less than ours, were interested in having the Church and theologians in particular justify themselves before the court of human reason, materialistic science, and logic. Barth will not bow to the gods of the Englightenment Pantheon. Theology must be judged upon its own principles. The Church must study, critique, and reform itself from within.

2. That said, retaining the term "science" for all its baggage could be an insightful tool working to accomplish the very opposite of what we fear. That is, while we do not want the language of the Church (ie. theology) scrutinized by extra-ecclesiological standards, we do want every other sphere held up to the scrutiny of the Church. This is not exhaustive of course, but in general, the methodology of theology should inform the methodology of every other science.


Kah Mints

I don't know what the deal is with the comments. Apparently mine fell into a crevice from whence they are unlikely to return. If there are any other free comment systems out there let me know... I'm not allowed to spend money on this habit.