Renault and Ramadan Go Together

I’m not quite sure how it came about, but somehow I got on the list for a number of spammers in the Gulf States.  In any case, I’m passing along the following, an ad for Renault during Ramadan from Bahrain:

RAMADAN-PROMO-_CAPcvbvTUR_BAHRAIN_Emailer---8It also came in Arabic, but I’ll leave it at this.

Hope the dealership hides the munchies during the day…but note the showroom times: they open at 0900, close at 1300 and open back up at 1930 until 2330, except, of course, on Fridays, when they close at 1130.  The Imam at the mosque better be in top form to compete with his people’s dreams of a new car…

I’ve also seen hotels offer Ramadan feasts after dark.

Don’t Pack Heat When You’re Up for Tenure

Yesterday we, the faculty of the University of Tennessee (and this includes the Instapundit,) received the following from our President, Dr. Joseph dePietro (emphasis mine:)

On July 1, a new state law takes effect that allows Tennessee’s public colleges and universities’ full-time faculty and staff, who have handgun-carry permits, to carry handguns on campus. I want to share information about the law and the new safety policy we have adopted in response.

Safety Policy 0875 addresses how UT applies the many different state laws regarding firearms and clarifies when an employee may and may not legally carry a handgun on University property.

The policy, which also takes effect July 1, expands on the following key provisions of state law:

  • Full-time UT employees with valid Tennessee handgun-carry permits may carry handguns on UT property, if:
    • They are not enrolled as students; and
    • They notify the law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over the UT property on which they will be carrying a handgun
  • Employees must display their handgun-carry permits on request of law enforcement officers
  • Employees must not:
    • Carry a weapon other than a handgun
    • Carry a handgun openly or in any other manner in which the handgun is visible to ordinary observation
    • Carry a handgun at certain times and locations, such as:
      • Stadiums, gymnasiums or auditoriums where University-sponsored events are in progress
      • In meetings regarding disciplinary matters or tenure

I encourage you to review the policy in its entirety and answers to frequently asked questions provided here.

Additional information about implementation efforts will be shared soon by each campus and institute. Questions can be directed to the law enforcement contacts listed within the policy.

I understand strong feelings exist regarding guns on campus and want to assure you of our unwavering commitment to the safety of our faculty, staff and students as we implement this change.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. I appreciate everything you do for the University.

I have to admit that I found the tenure proceeding exclusion a little amusing.  One would like to think that those who were up for this would have some maturity, but one can never assume anything these days.

I’m not sure about the student exclusion either, having spent the last five years as student and faculty at the same time.  I suppose that being a faculty member and student at the same time is so surreal that your mental state cannot be trusted.  I also had a student whose Mother’s Day tribute showed her and her mom at the firing range, so there are some students who could put the hurts on a potential mass shooter.

I’m not completely sold on this, we will have to see.  In the “old days,” if a person did carry on campus and saved someone’s life, the authorities would have been lenient, but we don’t live in that time any more.  But then again we’re coming up on the first anniversary of the Chattanooga shooting, and the perpetrator of that was a UTC Electrical Engineering graduate.

Brexit: Something Tells Me, It’s Time to Go…

Amidst the tragedy of the Orlando massacre earlier this week, we have yet another major event facing us: the “Brexit” vote on 23 June, where the UK’s voters express their wish to stay in the European Union or leave.  The “Establishment” in the UK (and that, sad to say, includes the Church of England) have campaigned to stay in the EU.  But the polls have swung the other way.  Given that the Brits tend to lie about who or what they’re going to vote for (a tradition that’s moving up here,) it could go either way at this point.

It’s frustrating to be a student of history these days, because it seems that all the world has a serious case of collective amnesia about a variety of topics.  Britain’s leaders (such as they are) act like the sun rises and sets on the UK staying in the EU.  But it wasn’t that long ago when things were different, even among Europe’s leadership.

It used to be said that the purpose of the then-Common Market was to “keep the French in, the Germans down, and the British out.”  That philosophy came mostly from Charles de Gaulle, who in turn based his idea on France’s experience in the years leading up to World War II.  Keeping France in kept her engaged and not indifferent or isolated to events around her.  Keeping Germany down was obvious; the failure to do so in the 1930’s lead to Germany’s rearmament, a necessary prerequisite to France’s defeat in 1940.  Keeping Britain out came from France’s sour experience with British appeasement/pro-German feeling.  Chamberlain’s capitulation at Munich was just the last event in a long series of British concessions, explicit and implicit, towards Germany.  That destroyed much of the trust that came out of World War I.

What upset that formula more than anything else was the end of the Cold War.  Germany’s reunification, expensive though it was, made it the key nation in Europe.  France more or less tagged along.  Britain, as always, has its own interests at heart and isn’t shy about pursuing them.  Nothing says that more than Britain’s retention of the pound sterling.

That, however,  was prescient.  The key disaster of the EU is the euro itself.  Putting economies as disparate as the Netherlands and Greece is a recipe for trouble, as NAFTA proved with Mexico.  Putting them on a single currency, with the bull-headed Germans fighting devaluation tooth and nail, pulls the pin on the grenade.  That, in many ways, is Europe’s biggest fear with Brexit: if the Brits can bail, why not the Italians?  Or the Spanish?  The most viable option to keep this rickety chandelier together is to make some concessions to the Brits while spinning places like Italy and Greece out of the eurozone.  (The immigration business is something of a red herring.)

None of this, however, is likely to take place.  Both Europe and the UK would be better off apart than together.  To borrow a Biblical expression, the UK is in Europe but not of it, and has not been since Roman Britain or, at best, the Act of Supremacy.  The Brits will always want to do it their way; for better or worse, they should be allowed to do so.

As far as trade and commerce, it strikes me that one of the main purposes of trade agreements of any kind is to help provincial boobies do international commerce.  It used to be that it took a special kind of person to be successful in international trade. We should work on cultivating such people and not bending the system beyond what is economically beneficial to everyone just to make the boors happy.  The British have been successful traders and financiers for centuries and it’s hard to imagine that they will fall flat on their face without being joined at the hip with those on the Continent.

The biggest immediate question in the wake of a Brexit would be Scotland.  The CW is that Scotland would bolt the Union to join the EU, but the road from Edinburgh to Brussels isn’t as clear as many in the SNP would like for you to think it is.  There’s a positive possibility here: as things stand, power oozes from London in one direction towards Brussels in the EU and towards Edinburgh in devolution.  If the eastward oozing could be stopped, London would be in a better place to devolve more not only to Scotland but also to Wales and Northern Ireland (although it’s hard to imagine a better deal than Ulster has right at the moment.)  To put it another way, leaving the EU might lead to a BU…

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.   It’s hard to accept the apocalyptic view being spread by the current Government in London about a successful Brexit.  The European Union is an undemocratic, Procrustean experiment imposed on a group of nations that at least give lip service to democratic process while at the same time are highly diverse.  There’s no evidence that the UK is better off in such an arrangement.

Something tells me it’s time to go…

Another Anglican Divine Hit the Skids

In the nearly nineteen years this site has been active, I’ve had the opportunity to skewer Anglican and Episcopal “divines” for their strange and unBiblical positions.  My most recent efforts have related to my prep school’s chaplain and John Shelby Spong.

One of the irritating things I’ve run across in the Anglican/Episcopal blogosphere is the concept that revisionism is a relatively new phenomenon, and I try to reach into the Anglican/Episcopal “wayback machine” to cure this idea.  This time I’m going to reach back even further, to the nineteenth century, and the Anglican divine in question is Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901).  Our guide is the Scottish theologian A.B. Bruce, from his work The Humiliation of Christ.  Let’s start with a little introduction, in his discussion of “new” Christologies of that century:

I could not well avoid saying something on a phase of thought which can scarcely be said to have any philosophic basis, and of which the chief interest is its crudity, which is neither orthodox nor heterodox, simply because it stops short of the point at which orthodoxy and heterodoxy diverge. Probably the best representative of this nondescript school in England is the Rev. H. R Haweis, one of the pulpit celebrities of London in connection with the Established Church, and author of several well-known books in which opinions on all manner of present-day topics are very freely expressed; whose popularity as a preacher and as a writer may be accepted as an indication that his way of thinking hits the taste of many.

It’s easy to forget in these days of secular Britain that London in the nineteenth century was the place of many “pulpit celebrities,” the best remembered of which is Charles H. Spurgeon.

Now to his explanation of answered prayer:

In Christ and His apostles the magnetic and spiritual forces culminated. God, who chose to speak to man through the man Christ Jesus, who thus revealed the divine nature under the limitation of humanity, also chose that Jesus Christ should take in the highest degree all the natural powers which were bestowed on humanity, both as regards magnetic force and spiritual receptiveness. Hence the healing miracles; hence also the frequent modus operandi by the use of magnetised substances, as when He made clay and anointed the blind man s eyes, and sighed or breathed hard upon him, another practice well known to magnetic doctors now. Magnetism also explains answers to prayer, whether recorded in the Bible or occurring in Christian experience now; for the magnetic element is the one thing common to those in the flesh and out of the flesh. And by prayer we put ourselves en rapport with disembodied magnetisers, and receive through their magnetic influence the desired blessing, e.g., restored health.

From here we can proceed to Haweis’ concept of Christ:

Christ is the second conception of God realised as a historical fact, an expression of God under the limitations of humanity. But it will be best to give his view in his own words: “When I am asked to define what I mean by Christ, I use such expressions as these. There was something in the nature of the great boundless source of being called God which was capable of sympathy with man. That something found outward expression, and became God expressed under the essential limitations of humanity, in Jesus. That such a revelation was specially necessary to the moral and spiritual development of the human race I believe; that such a revelation of God was actually made to the world I believe. More than this I cannot pledge myself to.”

In a day when seminary academics never seem at a loss for words, Haweis “stumped the chumps” and Bruce has to throw up his hands in bewilderment:

I am at a loss how to classify this Christological speculation. In some respects it reminds one of the kenotic theories of the Incarnation, according to which the Son of God in becoming man denuded Himself of the attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, in order that He might be capable of living the life of a veritable man within the limits of humanity. But in other respects it has no affinity with the views of kenotic Christologists, or indeed with any views that can be characterised as Christian. The incarnation taught by Mr. Haweis has more resemblance to that believed in by the worshippers of Brahma, than to that embodied in the creeds of the Christian Church.

Bruce, however, gets to the bottom of the matter:

That such crude, undigested, and nondescript views should permanently satisfy many earnest minds is not to be expected. The only use they can serve is to be a temporary halting-place to those who, utterly out of sympathy with the formulated doctrines of the Creed, are yet unable to break away from Christianity and its Author. In this respect they are full of interest. It is certainly a striking phenomenon which is presented to our view in this nineteenth century in the person of such a man as Mr. Haweis, a man regarding creeds and dogmatic systems with morbid disgust, and yet compelled by the evangelic records to recognise in Jesus the Son of God in a sense in which the title can be applied to no other man. To some the phenomenon may appear a thing of evil omen, portending the disintegration of the Christian faith, and the ultimate dissolution of the Christian Church. But it has a bright, hopeful side, as well as a dark, discouraging one. It is Christianity renewing its youth, making a new beginning.

We need to stop and consider what happened here, because the “fork in the road” Bruce describes is the one that Christianity (especially in the West) has been presented with over and over again during the last century and into this one.  He makes two contradictory predictions, and in a sense both have happened.

One the one hand, his characterisation of a church of Haweis’ ilk is a “temporary halting-place to those who…are yet unable to break away from Christianity and its author” is pretty much what Main Line churches have been in this country for a long time.  Now that the culture is moving away from Christianity, the “halting-place” is no longer needed and the churches that acted in this way have bled members.  In that respect Haweis’ theology, and that of those like him, was a Faustian bargain whose payment has come due with a vengeance.

On the other hand, his observation that, in spite of his silly theology, Haweis’ recognition of Jesus Christ as extraordinary is worth thinking about.  Conservative Christians have always wondered just how much their liberal counterparts really believed that Jesus was divine, or even worth considering.  That thought came to mind in reading Jürgen Moltmann.  Bruce goes on to note that Haweis’ characterisation of Jesus is similar to the first one the disciples might have experienced.

What was needed—and is still needed today—is a Christianity that combines both a sound credal basis and an experiential one with the risen Saviour.  Bruce’s summary of the morass of Lutheran attempts to resolve the Christological problem in the first half of the nineteenth century should be a caution to a faith based solely on credal assent.  Today a great deal of resurgence of Reformed theology is based on doing just that, and it will fail as it has in the recent past.

But Haweis missed that twin-hulled boat too.  He was an Anglican delegate to the 1893 Chicago Parliament of Religions (at the World’s Fair where my family business exhibited.)  As Harvey Cox pointed out in Fire From Heaven, a little more than a decade later a religious “explosion” of an entirely different kind took place at the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles.  For all of its difficulties Modern Pentecost has cut the Gordian knot of experience and creed, and much of the fuel of the Anglican Revolt that has laboured to reverse the damage of Haweis and his kind has come from its Charismatic wing.

Our greatest challenge, then, is to keep the likes of Haweis out of Pentecostal and Charismatic theology, lest he do the same damage to us that he did to what is now the Anglican/Episcopal world.

Sometimes It Pays to Think

Like in this, from A.B. Bruce’s The humiliation of Christ, about Eutyches, the Monophysite fanatic:

It is plain from those representations that Eutyches had no distinct definite conception of the constitution of our Lord’s person. He felt rather than thought on the subject of Christology. He did not pretend to comprehend the mystery of the Incarnation, but rather gloried in proclaiming its incomprehensibleness. He knew that God and flesh were altogether different things, and he believed that Christ s flesh was real; but the divinity bulked so large in his eye, that the humanity, in comparison, vanished into nothing. And if compelled by fact to admit that the humanity was still there, not drunk up like a drop of honey by the sea of the divinity, he refused, at all events, to regard it as on a level with ordinary humanity: reverence protested against calling Christ s divine body consubstantial with the bodies of common mortals.

The result of this was a mess:

It would have been well had the course of events permitted such a man to pass his life in obscurity. But it was otherwise ordered. Eutyches became the representative of a theory which engaged the attention of three Synods ; being condemned by the first, approved by the second,  and re-condemned and finally disposed of as a heresy by the third, the famous (Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon…)

The criticism Bruce levels against Eutyches has also been directed against the Orthodox in general.  Unfortunately Eutyches’ approach has its counterparts in other parts of Christianity.  And, in this emotionalistic age we live in, even the “rational” places are driven by the same kind of lack of thinking.

Ending the High School “Hall of Shame”

And radically, too:

National Honor Society (NHS) stoles are frequent sight at high school graduation ceremonies around the country, but one Plano Senior High School student is frustrated that he won’t be allowed to wear one when he puts on his cap and gown next month.

According to school practices, students are not allowed to wear NHS regalia.

When my niece and nephew graduated from high school in Houston during the last decade, they had what I called the “Hall of Shame”: the students whose academic record was so far underwater that their actual diploma was delayed.  They received their whatever in their own line after everyone else.  In an age where “everybody gets a trophy” I was shocked.

Evidently their high school administration counterparts in Plano must have read my mind, and they went all out: any honours regalia is prohibited.  (When I graduated from prep school, we didn’t even use academic regalia, which solves even more problems…)

Personally I wouldn’t get upset at this.  It’s the logical conclusion: if everyone gets a trophy, eventually no one will get a trophy because trophies will have lost their meaning.  Sooner or later we’ll wake up to the fact that merit is a vanishing virtue in this country.  Besides, as one friend of mine told me, you’re in bad shape if you peaked in high school.

Academic achievement isn’t the end-all in life.  And that comes from an academic.

My “Journey” with Jürgen Moltmann

Diving for stuff in a discard bin isn’t the classiest way to spend one’s time, but for the academic diving in the free book bin at the used book store can be a true adventure. (Diving in the dumpster may be a necessity for the adjunct academic, and the new overtime rules don’t help a bit.) As I have mentioned from time to time, I count seminary academics as friends, and they have introduced me to authors (especially Protestant ones, although Henri Nouwen keeps coming up) I hadn’t read before. So it was an opportunity when one of those authors—the German Jürgen Moltmann—turned up in the bin. I couldn’t resist picking it up and taking a look.

Moltmann is a Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University Tübingen. But he has also spent time on this side of the pond: he was the Robert W. Woodruff Distinguished Visiting Professor of Systematic Theology at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He studied, however, at Göttingen University.

Göttingen! The name rings clear with people in mathematics and the sciences. It’s hard to conceive of a greater single explosion of scientific brilliance and advancement than that at Göttingen. The names of those who studied or taught there are legendary: Gauss, Riemann, Hilbert, Dirichlet, Born, Oppenheimer, Planck, von Neumann, Pauli, Dedekind, Courant, Dirac, Fermi, Heisenberg, Prantl, Runge, Teller, Weisbach, and so on. The Nazi purge of the place was the beginning of the suicide of the Third Reich. So how does their theology result compare with this one?

The book I found, Religion, Revolution, and the Future, came from another one of his forays onto this continent. Not a true, cover-to-cover monograph, it is a series of his lectures at various institutions in the late 1960’s. This is not meant to be a comprehensive book review or synopsis of the work, but some observations at his idea and how he shows (or more accurately doesn’t) its implementation.

He makes some pithy observations that bear repeating. His thought about revolutions (and by those we’re primarily looking at the Marxist ones) is that they are more about trying to recreate a past ideal and not to create a future reality. That’s not easy to see; it certainly wasn’t when Moltmann delivered these lectures, although those of us who have spent time in such societies got that feeling. He is also aware that these revolutions, far from bringing the freedom that they promised, often ended up with results no more satisfactory than those in capitalist countries. That’s a major concession that needs to be recalled, especially in these days of people “feeling the Bern.”

If there is one idea that he wants to get across, it’s his “theology of hope,” derived from Ernst Bloch. Now you’d think that eternal life in Jesus Christ would be hope enough. But Moltmann doesn’t find this satisfying; indeed, he finds it escapist and decidedly “retro.” What he wants to do is to focus this hope on the improvement of the world, and thus turn the attention of Christians toward the future and away from just the past. To be fair, he’s not the first Christian thinker or theologian to deflect the centre of attention from the eternal goal; N.T. Wright does much the same thing, albeit in a different (and, IMHO, a better but not ideal) context. Although it’s self-focused for its adherents, you could say that prosperity teaching is another way of channeling Christian emphasis on this world. Moltmann isn’t unique in positing that modern (for him, the book comes before the advent of post-modernity) man cannot be swayed solely by eternal reward, it has been the pre-occupation of Christian leaders for a long time now.
The problem comes with Moltmann’s assumption that the Christian focus on hope and improvement for this world would come with Christians cooperating with other, more secular people to achieve the goal. This is one of the key weaknesses of liberal theology, that Christianity is a universal philosophy only to the extent that it meshes with those systems of thought and being around it. What happens is that, the process of this coöperation, Christianity loses its distinctive advantages and purpose. This has resulted in Main Line churches bleeding membership on both sides of the Atlantic; they become waystations for those headed for some form of secularism. In that respect Roman Catholicism, with its own self-contained universality, is in better position to endure this kind of then than Main Line Protestantism, although it’s perfectly capable of throwing away the advantages it has.

He also, to use the Liberation Theology phrase, wants the church to take the “preferential option for the poor” in its life and work. As I’ve discussed before, the “preferential option for the poor” and “preferential option of the poor” aren’t the same, and Moltmann (along with many in his day and even now) is blindly unaware of that fact. In conjunction with that, his world is totally Main Line; he totally ignores the rise of Modern Pentecost, which specialises in the latter. He wasn’t alone; Harvey Cox had to backtrack and write Fire From Heaven: The Rise Of Pentecostal Spirituality And The Reshaping Of Religion In The 21st Century after The Secular City: Secularization and Urbanization in Theological Perspective. Here is a place where Christian social action can be both distinctive and more effective than its secular counterpart.

One place where Moltmann should read his own stuff is the issue of theodicy. On the one hand, he sighs that the terrible wars of the last century have put the issue of theodicy out of reach. That’s been a common sentiment of Europeans who went through these wars; it has been a big push in the decline of Christianity in Europe. In the 1980’s my mother had an English S.O. who became an atheist because of his experience in World War II; the effect was different over here. On the other hand, Moltmann points out that modern man is now the master of his own destiny. Then why did he allow these wars to happen? Why were humans out to lunch on this? This may not answer the theodicy issue to Moltmann’s satisfaction, but it should (usually doesn’t) give humanists pause as to the superiority of their idea.

I think it best to skip a detailed analysis of his theology, which is wanting at many points. Seminary academics are notorious for dense prose of very limited meaning, and Moltmann is certainly up to that task. To be fair, some of his talks are easier to follow than others. One is never sure with such people whether they think they are dealing with objective reality or not, or even whether they fully grasp the difference.

One place where Moltmann’s theology could use some help from the mathematicians is the issue of imminence vs. transcendence, which is a favourite occupation of theologians. Since the days of Dedekind and Cantor (who was inspired by mediaeval theologians) we’ve had reasonable ways of describing the infinite which could be very helpful in this matter. Moltmann is aware of this but is either unable or unwilling to avail himself of this kind of thinking.

Overall, I found going through his talks an education. It made me look at liberal theology in a different way, if not in a more favourable one. As far as Göttingen people are concerned, I’ll stick with the list I gave at the start and leave Moltmann to the liberal seminary academics.

Advice to Graduates: You May End Up Building Their Coffin

It’s that time of year again, when most people who graduate from anything in the U.S. get their diplomas in large, pompous ceremonies.  Since it is as doubtful that I will ever experience another graduation ceremony of my own let alone speak at one, this is a poor substitute.  Hopefully it will enlighten you about what you should be doing after the sheepskin.

My experience in academia, as student and teacher, has been an interesting one, from seeing one program’s fading glory, playing the cards I’m dealt to meeting couples where one did all the talking and the other the thinking.  For the illustration I want to use now, I’m turning to the Middle East, and specifically a story one of my Iranian friends told me.  Middle Eastern storytellers are the best, and the Iranians are the best among them.  The “Arabian Nights” are in reality Persian in origin.

The story comes from the old Persian Empire, when one of the kings under the “king of kings” came to visit a town.  He saw a very beautiful woman; he wanted her for himself.  (Even a Roman like Ammianus Marcellinus noted the beauty of Persian women.)  Problem was, she was married to a carpenter.  He could have killed him and taken her, but he would look like a heel, and even in an autocracy there are limits.  So he devised a plan.

He called the carpenter in an ordered him to build an exquisite dining room set (or “suit” as we say here in TN) complete with tables, chairs and the cabinetry to go with it.  But he stipulated that it had to be done in thirty days.  In those days there were no power tools or easy places to get lumber; the king knew that the carpenter could not complete the task in the appointed time.  The penalty for missing the deadline was death for the carpenter.

So the carpenter, without choice, went to work.  He worked day and night on the project; he about killed himself just trying to finish the job and save his life.  But, as the king anticipated, the job was too big for thirty days.  As the deadline approached he knew he was finished.

On the thirtieth day he looked around his shop, his uncompleted task before him.  He heard a knock on the door; it was the king’s vizier. He answered the door, figuring he was about to be arrested and executed.  The king’s vizier, however, had another order.  The king had died, the vizier said, and he had come to direct the carpenter to build his coffin.

Many of you are going out to do tasks that are, in reality, humanly impossible.  You have been told from your youngest that you can do anything you want and be successful at it, if you believe in yourself (which you have been told to do over and over.)  Unlike the carpenter, you do not know that you are under compulsion, and unlike the carpenter you do not know that the constraints you have been put under–obvious and not so obvious–will make real success impossible.  You do not understand that, except for a few of you, those at the top will drain so much out of society that the rest of you, like Sisyphus, will watch the stone life roll downhill as soon as you push it up.

Worst of all, most of you are unprepared to benefit from the death of the king.  Your skills, by and large, are only good for the bubble you’ve been raised in.  When that bubble bursts, you will be unable to even build its coffin, let alone come out ahead.  A lot of the unrest going on these days is due to people trying to keep the bubble inflated, but that is not possible indefinitely.

The Christians among you who still know the Scriptures will see the similarities between this story and that of David and Bathsheba.  David, wanting Bathsheba for himself, put her husband Uriah in the front line, where he was certain to be killed.  When that came to pass, David thought it was over.  It wasn’t; the prophet Nathan called him out on it, and David’s response was as follows:

Wash me thoroughly from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin. I admit that I am rebellious. My sin is always in front of me. I have sinned against you, especially you. I have done what you consider evil. So you hand down justice when you speak, and you are blameless when you judge.  (Psalms 51:2-4 GW)

David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14.)  Was it because he was morally perfect?  Hardly.  The secret was that, when faced with his own sin, he was sorry and repented.  Our leaders today are just too full of themselves to do such a thing.  You will meet such people all through life; just don’t be one of them.

This isn’t a very cheery message, but these aren’t very cheery times either.  When I started back on my academic adventure, the following verse guided my actions:

Then he told them, “Go, eat rich foods, drink sweet drinks, and send portions to those who cannot provide for themselves. Today is a holy day for the Lord. Don’t be sad because the joy you have in the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10 GW)

May your joy be in his strength also; real joy can be found in no other place.

Pope Francis and Two-Way Ignorance

Pope Francis isn’t much of a fan of things American these days, but his visit to this country was a revelation:

Prior to his election Francis had never set foot in the United States, making him the only pope in the last eighty years other than St. John XXIII who had never been to America before taking office…People close to Francis also say his U.S. trip last year helped him to better distinguish between ordinary Americans and “the system.”

But when another world leader discovered something, the evaluation was different:

Latin Americans also tend to have long memories, and many still recall moments such as Ronald Reagan’s famous reaction upon returning from a 1982 trip to the region: “You’d be surprised … they’re all individual countries.” The fact that national differences could strike a U.S. president as a revelation still rings in Latin American ears as proof of our capacity for condescension.

What I think we’re looking at is two-way ignorance.  There’s a lot that people in the U.S. need to learn about Latin America, but the converse is also true, as we see with His Holiness.

The relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the U.S. has always been a complicated one, from stuff like this to this.   And the rise of obsessively sex-driven liberalism will only make it worse.

What a Difference a Century Makes

While going through some things, ran across this:

973-Old-StyleThe drawing is interesting to technology history buffs, but look at the note in the upper right hand corner:

Superseded by new tracing 8/18/15

Just last year?  No, just last century…

Note: referring to drawings as “tracings” is very old school, but I can remember that terminology being used in the 1970’s.  Drawings like this were usually done on linen with India ink; some of them are real works of art.

Sailing the Last Voyage with Newton and Pascal

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