Evangelical Pope

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During my years at Wheaton I had the honor of going to chapel three times a week. For most Christian schools this is a time to hear local pastors, or other professors, or listen to some ministry experience. At Wheaton we had the odd experience of sitting and listening to the top leaders in the Christian world come and share their wisdom with us. It was an odd point of the day. A little oasis in the middle of an academic life in which the words and hope of Christ were relayed to us by those who exemplified the Christian life in various ways.

The best speaker of all, and he spoke once a year, was John Stott. He has that peculiar British combination of extreme intelligence and wit, while also somehow coming off as an extremely humble and gracious man. His hour was usually spent giving a ten minute speech and then fielding questions from the audience, which always swelled a bit when he was there. His answers were to the point, insightful, and still humble, even as students tried to show their measure by asking what they thought were challenging questions. Others asked questions out of genuine wondering. No matter how the student came off John Stott answered wisely and graciously.

To this day he my model of a scholar/pastor whose heart for ministry is founded on his passionate love for the depths of the faith.

I say this because I was surprised to see David Brooks write on John Stott this morning, in the exact same tone I would use. We would do well to cast off the blowhards and seek those whose life and heart reveal Christ within, rather than vainglorious seeking after personal authority. Oh… an another thing, John Stott is very Pauline in another way. He never married, and so can devote his life to one service.

He’s not only a great leader and wise scholar, he’s a helpful voice to others who have dealt with the curse of singleness in a marrieds only Church. You’d think by his spirituality and his state in life he is Catholic. But he’s as Evangelical, more so, than anyone who claims leadership over that title.

Good man, wonderful man, the kind of man who makes being a Christian an honor and a goal. May he be blessed.

Thanks, David Brooks for telling the world of this man.

Stations of Christ

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If you haven’t checked out the Dualravens Stations of the Cross or Stations of the Resurrection, now is a fine time. It’s the beginning of Advent, the first season of the Church year. As we begin the story it’s always a good thing to know how the story of Jesus on earth ends. For a little while at least.

And, I’ve updated the start page for that section; that’s really the point of all this here.

Spiritual Life

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I’ve long left a section of this website lie fallow. Well, hopefully this will change. The Spiritual Life blossoms once more.

General Thanksgiving

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By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;– to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Centinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

Too heroic?

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A study came out recently that said one can have too good of a role model. They did a study of people and the effects fictional super heroes have on real life responses. Apparently, having a hero who is approachable is better than having a hero who is overwhelmingly super.

Seeing perfection and power is depressing for us mere mortals. Students who thought of superman volunteered less than those who thought about any of the lesser members of the pantheon. In comparing ourselves to perfection we get to wonder what the point is in our even trying.

This is interesting not because of the various influences Marvel or DC comics might have on burgeoning philanthropists but because of how I think this is relevent to a religious conversation.

We have Jesus you see, and above him (practically if not theologically) we have God the Father with his list of various omni’s. Who can measure up? The ideal of grace became an excuse of sorts, saying that we don’t measure up and that’s just fine. Which is right in essence, but often very wrong in how it’s worked out.

You see Jesus and Paul didn’t have the idea that because the goal is difficult we are fine resting on our justified laurels. We are indeed called to make progress in this present life, to pursue holiness, to embrace eternity even if a little bit. What we miss is made up. That we are still called to pursue is a concept inherent to both testaments.

In the Church, then, we set up Jesus precisely as he didn’t set himself up. We create him unapproachable, ethereal, distant and austere. Yet, he was in fact more human than the rest of us. Everything that we do, he did, except for the sin bits. The Gospels portray him as someone everyone, in all parts of society, are comfortable with, a trait that very, very few people can pull off.

The Saints, including Mary, are put into the safe situation. We exalt them, seeking to honor them, but in fact practically do so in order to give us an excuse not to trace their steps. They were people, like us, facing the same realities of life. Yet their choices tended towards God. When ours don’t we don’t want to face the reality there could be anything different. So we separate those who do Right and give ourselves an excuse for not being what we could be.

Or, a modern trend is to break the Saints, emphasizing their weaknesses and trying to shatter the picture so their deeds were nothing more than shadows. Much scholarship has gone into doing this for Jesus. If we reject his goodness then in order to protect our own fragile psyches we have to bring him down to our level. We revel in tossing mud upon our heroes so we are not made to feel like there is anything more to this present life than what we have ourselves. It’s safe.

The fact is that there are people in history who really did pursue God, none more than Jesus himself who revealed God as a man. The fact also is the various saints were real people, who didn’t always make right decisions and took years to find their peace in God. In our setting we are called to become the same kinds of people, something we earnestly try to run away from either through rejection or theologizing.

I think this is interesting because it shows how spiritual warfare can work. We can honor someone too much, and raise someone too high, even Jesus. And, practically, that’s almost as bad as rejecting them completely. A curious though as one studies the history of the Church and society.

Dolphin safe

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They instinctively will protect their young, of course. But what would make a dolphin protect people? Dogs who have developed relationships with people will risk their lives for them, but why would wild dolphins risk their lives for people? There’s certainly a lot more going on in the world than our philosophies can manage or accept.

This reminds me of a great Douglas Adams quote:

…Man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much… the wheel, New York, wars, and so on, whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely the dolphins believed themselves to be more intelligent than man for precisely the same reasons.

Insider Slider

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Once every ten years, eh? Well, that explains all the snow on the ground.

Snow Wave

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Snow Wave


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snow day


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Sunny Day