Making it up on our own

Over the Christmas holiday 1969-70, I attended Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship’s “Urbana 70” Missionary Conference, along with, as I recall, 10,000 or so other young people.

Two episodes at the conference stood out in my memory these 50 years later. One is irrelevant for present purpose.

The other was an epiphanic episode wherein it was first announced that communion would be served to conferees at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall in a New Years Eve service. It made me feel all warm and comfy inside.

Then some spoilsport posed a question that conference organizers felt they must answer: By what authority was a parachurch organization enacting a sacrament of Christ’s Church? The question stunned this low Protestant boy, who had no answer, yet somehow felt that the proposed service was meet and right.

Organizers farmed the question out for answering to the late John R.W. Stott, low church only by the standards of high-church Anglicanism, who invented, live and in front of mostly smart and pious kids, a completely unpersuasive (and thus unmemorable) answer.

The show went on, but I was left pondering a conundrum, whenever that memory came back, until events decades later cut the Gordian knot: The questioner was right: IVCF had no authority to administer sacraments and should not have.

Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship was tacitly Inter-Varsity Low Protestant Fellowship when the rubber met the road, just as Christian Legal Society was really Low Protestant Legal Society. It’s an error it’s easy to make in America, where even the public schools in my childhood were tacitly Protestant.

That episode in my life came back to me as I read the following in a paean to the late Rachel Held Evans:

At every conference she hosted, Communion was served, and the table was always open. She knew how important its tangible reminders were, especially for those told they had no business imbibing the bread and wine.

I crave your forgiveness if it seems too proximate to her death to say anything, but I didn’t go looking for this; RHE’s own friends brought it up to eulogize her, and I’m loathe to let it pass.

I don’t doubt that this felt right to her, and that she meant as well as she knew how to mean. But at this point in my life, it shocks me, as something analogous apparently shocked someone 50 years ago at Urbana 70.

My shock today has little or nothing to do with her table being open, with all that implies in the context of her life, because surely all that was on the open table was “bread and wine,” not the body and blood of Christ. My shock has to do with the scotoma of “sacrament” without church. (Learning the meaning of “one holy catholic and apostolic Church” was part of what cut that Gordian IVCF knot for me.)

Some critical analysis in a long-form piece from 30 months ago, which I just discovered, is highly relevant: Alastair Roberts, The Social Crisis of Distrust and Untruth in America and Evangelicalism. It surprised and delighted me with its insight into how we get anti-vaxxers, President Donald Trump, autodidact super-peers — and, by implication, your Uncle Harry the climate denier (who has “done a lot of research on this hoax”) and churchless sacraments. It’s longish, but joins a very select club of clipped articles I’ve tagged as “important.”

Let he who has ears to hear, hear: This is not about Rachel Held Evans; it is about Church, about rightful authority, about the erosion of trust in rightful authority, and about the unreliability of most of those who, uncredentialed, fill the resultant void.

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All about Christ

When I was in high school, street preachers told me: “The Bible is the word of God. Jesus is the Son of God. And if you accept him as your personal savior, your salvation is 100 percent assured.” It felt like an Amway pitch. I could get saved right on the sidewalk before sixth period—no long, boring catechumenate required.

This concept of an individual with a Bible who stands alone before God versus a person who needs a church and practices to help mediate God’s grace, represents a deep and real divide that has consequences for how evangelicals see themselves relative to more traditional groups …

Eighty percent of the congregation of Holy Theophany Orthodox Church, also in Colorado Springs, are converts from evangelical and Protestant backgrounds. Their priest, the Rev. Anthony Karbo, became a Christian through participation in Young Life, a national evangelical youth organization headquartered in Colorado Springs. He says, “As a Protestant I met Christ. In the Orthodox Church I met the rest of his family, including his mother.” Orthodoxy both challenges and appeals because its liturgy has not changed much since the fourth century and neither have its teachings. Unlike the Catholic Church, it has not tried to seem less pagan, less foreign, less strange. It has stayed weird.

Eric Jewett, a deacon in the Orthodox Church and a former Free Methodist youth pastor, says, “In the ancient church I encountered the fullness of the faith as it had been lived and preserved since the time of Christ and his apostles.”

Deacon Scionka, the former evangelical youth minister, describes falling in love with their style of worship: “My background is Bible-centered, which led me to think that liturgical worship was extra-biblical, but in reality it’s very biblical. The whole service is scriptural, and it centers on our unity in Christ. It floored me.” He tears up describing his first Christmas in the Orthodox Church.

“At the end of the Nativity Vigil, this long beautiful candlelight service, it hit me that this was the first time in my life that I had gone to church for Christmas and it was really celebrating the birth of Christ,” he said. “No big performances. No distractions. Just a dark, beautiful, candlelight service all about Christ.”

Anna Keating, Why Evangelical megachurches are embracing (some) Catholic traditions (emphasis added).

A few comments of my own.

First, the Orthodox Church is a minor part of Anna Keating’s medium-form article, but what she says is accurate and telling.

Second, although I consciously passed some specific doctrinal landmarks on my way from Protestant to Orthodoxy (rejecting the ironically extra-Biblical doctrine of sola scriptura and beginning to take seriously “one holy catholic and apostolic Church”), the further Protestantism fades into the rearview mirror, the more it’s Orthodoxy’s worship that I think really drew me, at the visceral level. I’d been a malcontent on Protestant worship in every church where I had a voice on the subject, pushing for more of the great Protestant hymns (there really are some) and eliminating (not just reducing) gospel songs in worship, since gospel songs are preachy or peppy adminitions to each other, not really worship at all.

I always lost. The trend was ever more vulgar, ever less exalted and Godworthy.

Third, Orthodoxy seems “pagan” only to modern and post-modern crypto-secularists, who have no idea what worship has meant through the Christian ages and are uncomfortable with actual acknowledgement of an actual triune deity who fully merits bows, kneelings and even prostrations, to name three “pagan” practices.

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Posted in Evangelicalism, History, lifeworks, Orthodoxy | 1 Comment

What do you want?

One Kevin Brown, guest writing at Mere Orthodoxy, asks Would Alt-Right Christians Like Heaven?.” Transposed out of a political key, it’s a worthy question for everyone to ask: Putting aside childish ideas of heaven as endless candy, ice cream and entertainment, would I even like heaven (except in contrast to the flammable alternative)?”

Brown distills it best here:

In his book Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl”—N.D. Wilson describes a casual dinner gathering where an atheist student, speaking to her Protestant professor dinner companion, bluntly raises the question or her eternal destiny.

Do you think I’m going to hell?”

Equally blunt, the professor responds. Don’t you want to? … God is who he is. Do you want to be with him?”

The question is equally relevant to us today. Eternity is not simply a matter of what we believe, it is also a matter of what we want.

It’s that basic question (though it had nothing to do with politics), posed to myself 22 years or so ago, that played a big part in my departure from the Protestant world, in which I discerned exceedingly little encouragement to what Brown accurately (in Protestant terms) calls sanctification.” Salvation had been reduced to justification, with sanctification forgotten, and I had bought into that in practice (though I knew better in theory). A tradition so incorrigible about sliding back into antinominanism was not where I wanted to be.

Lots of things besides Alt-Right (or antifa, or [fill-in-the-blank]) politics can become obsessions incompatible with eternity in God’s presence.

Brown is affiliated with Asbury University, a conservative institution of Methodist affiliation. Conservative Methodists, at least doctrinally, have tended to be more heedful of the need for sanctification than Calvinism or mainstream Evangelicalism. And I say that as someone who was never a Methodist or in their general “Arminian” doctrinal family.

But in Orthodoxy, I found the fullness of the Christian faith, not just more complete than parody Calvinism.”

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Rachel Held Evans, R.I.P.


“When I left church at age 29, full of doubt and disillusionment,” she wrote in that piece, “I wasn’t looking for a better-produced Christianity. I was looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity.”

Elizabeth Dias and Sam Roberts, Rachel Held Evans, Voice of the Wandering Evangelical, Dies at 37.

When I paid attention to her, which wasn’t often, I didn’t agree with Rachel Held Evans on much. I was much more a cynic than a fan. But that quote seems to be in the right ballpark (with the caveat that by “church” she meant standard-issue Evangelicalism). Thus,

instead of throwing out God or church, Rachel demonstrated a robust Christian faith outside the bounds of evangelicalism. She showed that that world’s gatekeepers, its voracious “discernment bloggers,” don’t have the final say about one’s standing before Christ.

Katelyn Beaty, Instead of throwing out God or church, Rachel Held Evans demonstrated a robust Christian faith.

She seemed, in her short, controversial life, to illustrate Psalm 139:

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me;
12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

Disillusioned by Evangelicalism, which has a lot to be disillusioned about, she did not give up Christ. Perhaps, as Teilhard de Chardin put it (in an aphorism I once had on my college apartment wall, but cannot now find), for her “… it is blessedly impossible to escape from You.”

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“I am a man of European ancestry ….”

I wondered whether John Earnest really was a white nationalist, white supremacist or one of those weird birds, so I Duck-Duck Go’ed for his actual letter explaining his actions.

Because it has been put under the ban of respectable society, I got it from an execrable anti-semitic website. The Daily Stormer was in the search results, too.

You’re welcome.

I have now reviewed it. It is disgusting.

You’re welcome again. (If that’s all you wanted to know, you can stop now, and I’m trigger-warning you that I’ve got a few actual quotations below.)

But it’s not seductive. If I took in upon myself to watch a notorious porn flick in order to comment on it, I probably would feel at least a slight rise in my Levis at some point, but I found nothing remotely attractive about this letter except one reference to our sham currency.

With all the things wrong in this country, it’s astonishing that he picked, with that one currency exception (and to blame the Jews for sham currency seems sub-simplistic to me), nothing but straw men and delusional complaints to blame on the Jews.

Yes, he is not just an antisemite, but also a white nationalist, white supremacist or one of those weird birds. You don’t need to deconstruct it or listen for dog-whistles. It’s text, not subtext, starting off with his account of his God-blessed European bloodlines: “I am a man of European ancestry ….” (Well, la-de-freakin’-la to that.)

He claims not to be categorically opposed to groups other than Jews, though in his utopia, the races are segregated (“Do they actively hate my race? Yes, I hate them. Are they in my nation but do not hate my race? I do not hate them, but they aren’t staying. Are they out of my nation and do not hate my race? Fine by me.” Emphasis added.).

He is categorically opposed to Jews for the same paranoid, stark-raving reasons as those who rail against “white privilege.” I’m going to quote his most proximately toxic dogma here here.

Every Jew is responsible for the meticulously planned genocide of the European race. They act as a unit, and every Jew plays his part to enslave the other races around him—whether consciously or subconsciously.

(Sorry to beslime you, but I warned you.) I repeat: “the same paranoid, stark-raving reasons as those who rail against ‘white privilege.’” European genocide is a “systemic” feature/bug of Jewishness in his eyes — and I would wager a very substantial amount that he’s not alone in this core dogma — just as racism is systemic to whiteness. Q.E.D.

As he goes along in his explanatory letter, he gets progressively torqued up, scatalogical, and what passes for playful (apparently) on playgrounds like 4-Chan and 8-Chan.

Is he a Christian? Michael Brown, a messianic Jew, has a litmus test of philosemitism, so he says “No.”

I say “He’s got the Calvinist words down pretty well, but I’m not sure the music is in him.” I’ll leave it to his fellow-Calvinists to argue in excruciating detail why “I’m saved anyway, so I’m gonna kill some perfidious Jews” does not compute even within their baptized version of kismet.

But I’ve got benchmarks other than philosemitism:

  • Earnest complains of “race mixing” though the Apostle Paul notes the abolition of racial distinctions in Christ.
  • He calls the stoning of Stephen ” heart-wrenching and rage-inducing,” though Stephen forgave.
  • He refers darkly to obscure sins of Jews that “will never be forgiven,” though the prototype Christian prayer cautions us to forgive or else. (“I will never forgive [X]” is a terrifying self-sentencing to eternal death, it seems to me.)
  • His evasion on “loving my enemies” is a preposterous question-begging tap dance.

He inserts a bunch of “lightning round” question, including:

“Who inspires you?”
Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther, Adolf Hitler, Robert Bowers, Brenton Tarrant, Ludwig van Beethoven, Moon Man, and Pink Guy.

And he avers that he is not insane, though his testimony seems — gosh, I dunno — suspect.

Overall, I think publishing his letter would be a blow to anti-semitism (and to Calvinism), but I’m not Julian Freakin’ Assange, so if you want more than my 40,000 foot overview with very limited quotes, you’ll have to do your own search.

Κúριε δλεηθωμεν!

UPDATE: Veteran religion reporter Joe Carter identifies Earnest’s segregationism as “kinism,” a 2004 (or so) coinage:

The anti-kinist theonomist John Reasnor says:

At its core, kinism is the belief that God specially ordained “races” and that he intends for us to preserve that division to one degree or another. Kinism believes that God ethically and specially ordained the nations and “races.” In short, kinism is a doctrinal conviction of anti-miscegenation. All positions commonly held by kinists flow from this key kinist doctrine.

The term “kinism,” as a self-applied label, appears to have arisen around 2004 to be a “third way” for Christians between racism and anti-racism. Several kinist websites sprung up in the mid-2000s, and their ideas spread quite rapidly as they engaged and fought with Reformed bloggers.

The term—which comes from the word “kin,” such as “kith and kin”—may be of relatively recent vintage, but the beliefs and principles of kinism are ancient. As one kinist website claims, “The same continuum of concept has alternately been called familism, tribal theocracy, theonomic nationalism, or simply, traditional Christianity.” Kinists are obsessed with preserving the “European race” and their twisted form of Calvinism against those who would threaten it—usually African Americans or Jews.

This all comes as news to me, as I left Calvinism roughly seven before this term was coined and this debate joined. But I have no reason to doubt it.

Carter also makes an interesting observation:

Kinism in some form has been a problem within Reformed circles, particularly in Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist churches, since the Civil War. Even as our movement has denounced racism we’ve always seemed to attract racialists—from neo-Confederates to Reconstructionists**—who want to apply an intellectual veneer to their heretical views. But we’re seeing a resurgence in kinist ideology, and it’s far more prevalent than many of us want to admit.

** To understand the connection between kinism and theonomy, see Rushdoony on “Hybridization”: From Genetic Separation to Racial Separation.

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Evangelical and anti-semitic

I learned from George Yancey Tuesday or Wednesday that the murderer at the Chabad of Poway synagogue was the exception that tests the rule: a Church-going Evangelical who commits an ideology-driven crime.

For decades, the commentariat has blamed conservative Christians for heinous crimes, routinely getting way out over their skis on it but never paying a price when it turns out the criminals weren’t regular church-goers, whatever they might have adopted as a religious label.

Still, even a blind pig sometimes finds truffles, and a broken clock is right twice per day. 19-year-old John Earnest was a member of an Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC — not to be confused with the Orthodox Church), his father was an elder and he was well-catechized, as Julie Zaumer reports, at greater length than Yancey, in the Washington Post.

Yet Earnest picked up anti-semitic ideology that managed to co-exist with his Christian beliefs.

I’m passingly familiar with the OPC, and can vouch that anti-semitism is not inculcated there, although philo-semitism isn’t as obligatory there as in the different sort of Evangelicalism in which I sojourned from age 14 through my late 20s (through parental inadvertence — our mutual Christian boarding school choice).

Zaumer does a very good job teasing out several such doctrinal niceties within Evangelicalism, as Washington Post “God Beat” reporters so often do (its Acts of Faith is a daily web stop for me). And there are tantalizingly-unexpected data, such as Earnest’s pastor being “the only African American pastor in the entire OPC denomination,” who gets accused of “Cultural Marxism” when he preaches anything about “social justice” (latter scare-quotes for symmetry).

But here I set up my soapbox.

Evangelicalism is not doctrinally homogenous. It has Churches where love of Jews is taught for the “thanks-but-no-thanks” reason that the modern nation-state of Israel is a sina qua non to an end-times script of lurid battles, a bizarre mass body-snatching by God (“the Rapture”) and such; you also have the OPC, its amillenial position being much closer to historic Christianity. What loosely binds them together as a movement is what Mars Hill Audio Journal‘s Ken Myers calls “orthopathos” (“right feeling”) or, if you want to get geeky about it, the Bebbington Quadrilateral.

A fortiori, and setting aside endless debates about who’s right and who’s wrong (spoiler alert: the Orthodox Church is right — and homogenous in Nicene dogma), Christianity is not homogenous.

Likewise, Islam is not homogenous. There’s Sunni, Shia, Suffi, and probably as many other flavors as there are Imams in the world. It is not homogenous, I submit, for the same reason Protestantism is not homogenous: disparate good- and bad-faith interpretations of a holy text held to be foundational.

If you want to say that John Earnest wasn’t a real Christian, or that his Christianity was tragically tinctured with toxic non-Christian (if not anti-Christian) ideologies, you must be prepared to respectfully entertain the same possibility about “Islamic terrorism.”

Having done so, you may conclude that Islam is more prone to terroristic ideology than Christianity, but I doubt that you could honestly and intelligently claim that Islam is uniformly terroristic, let alone the idiotic trope that it’s “not even a religion.”

I may overhear some of the internal Evangelical discussions about this incident, and can easily imagine revisiting it (the part before the soapbox, too). Already, I’ve seen Alan Jacobs link to this article.

INSTANT UPDATE: I apparently misread Zaumer. Rev. Mika Edmondson, the African-American OPC pastor, was not Earnest’s pastor, though he had preached recently at Earnest’s Chuch. The mistake was one of primacy in the story: the first pastor quoted and referred to as “pastor” and quoted as saying “radicalized into white nationalism from within the very midst of our church,” which I took to mean congregation rather than denomination.

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Posted in Christianity generally, deathworks, Evangelicalism, Islam, Orthopathos, the worst are full of passionate intensity | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Some animals are more equal than others

Legal Scholar Gerard V. Bradley thinks there’s more the just a desire defend the sexual revolution behind the sudden and dramatic American turn against religious freedom.

That “more” is identity politics:

For the first time in American history, it has become respectable to publicly oppose religious liberty and its supreme value in our polity. This unprecedented turn is ominous. It will not only diminish our constitutional law. It will remap our common life, for religious liberty has always been a linchpin of our political culture.

You might think that all of this is just another example of the sexual revolution threatening religious liberty, as it has for decades. Think again …

The sexual revolution may be a necessary part of the gale-force headwind buffeting religious liberty. But sexual freedom itself is not nearly sufficient to threaten it. Only identity politics could do that.

Here are three of many possible illustrations of what I mean when I say that identity politics poses an especially great threat to religious liberty. They stem from three related errors.

The first is that what believers invariably understand themselves to be doing (steering clear of immoral involvement in the bad conduct of another person) is forcibly reconceptualized as an attack the personal status or “identity” of a person self-identifying or presenting as a member of a supposedly vulnerable group …

Compounding this first error is the prevalent notion that where public authority recognizes the religious liberty of someone like Jack Phillips, the state puts its own “imprimatur” on Phillips’s unjust discrimination, and even on his normative premise that marriage between two men or two women is morally impossible …

A third error builds on the first two. Often styled as “dignitary” harm, the idea seems to be that when you are refused a service due to the provider’s moral qualms about assisting you in certain activities, your personhood or identity is “demeaned,” and your “dignity” is attacked.

… It is ever more apparent that, in this context, we are really talking about perceived insult, about a same-sex couple’s feeling that they have been humiliated or demeaned, even though no word has been spoken, no gesture made, that means anything more than “It is against my conscience to participate in this activity.”

… Before sexual identity could emerge as the colossus it is, religion had to be reduced from a set of beliefs and truth-claims about the way the cosmos really is to nothing more than one’s singular expression of ineffable spiritual experiences or of the collective identity of one’s religious tribe. Religion had to first be authoritatively re-described, against the self-understanding of many believers, as experience, or even as raw subjectivity, somehow walled off from the realms of genuine knowledge about reality ….

A key here, which I fear Prof. Bradley did not summarize very well, is that even on identity politics terms, there is at least as great a dignitary harm in telling the religious “accused” that his deepest convictions are contemptible (as a Colorado civil rights commissioner told Jack Phillips in the wedding cake case) as there is in the accused’s sober “It is against my conscience to participate in this activity.”

“That’s not religious freedom, that’s discriminaaaaaaaation!” is the hackneyed and idiotic new convention for remapping our common life, and it’s reinforced every time the New York Times and other idiots put religious freedom in scare quotes (e.g. Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law …).

Some identities are just more equal than others.

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Richard Lugar, R.I.P.

Mr. Lugar was elected to represent Indiana in 1976, after managing a family farm and food-machinery business and serving as the mayor of Indianapolis. He rose to become the leading Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before he was defeated in a 2012 GOP primary by a tea-party-backed insurgent who branded him as insufficiently conservative.

Wall Street Journal

There wasn’t much I could do about it, but that loss was the proof that Indiana had slipped its moorings.

My “Richard Lugar Memory” was a remarkable Lincoln Day Dinner speech in my home county in what must have been the mid-1980s. I was still (and for another 20 years or so) notionally a Republican.

Lugar had just returned from a junket in the Phillipines, was a bit jet-lagged, but spoke brilliantly, mesmerizingly, without notes, for what seemed like forever but not long enough.

Among other things, he warned the assembled Republicans not to believe the propaganda that the opponents of Ferdinand Marcos were a bunch of Communists. Rather, Marcos was supported only by plutocrats with medium and small business and all others in opposition.

The propaganda was pretty consistent with the Republican party line, but Lugar was prophetic, Marcos was ousted in the aftermath of a notoriously corrupt snap election, and the Phillipines were better for it.

I never voted for anyone but Lugar when he was on the ballot thereafter. He wasn’t just one of Indiana’s best, but one of the best, period, full stop.

We didn’t deserve him, the GOP ousted him for a fool (after I had repudiated the party but generally voted in its primaries, as Indiana doesn’t have voter registration by party), and the Republican party paid for that folly by losing the Senate seat to Joe Donnelly, duly replaced 6 years later by another Republican fool (the one of three primary candidates who most convincingly promised slavish fealty to the Überfool in the White House).

I’m glad for him that Richard Lugar did not live to see the denoument of this American tragedy.

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Betrayal, denial, cowardice

(This is Great and Holy Friday in the Orthodox Church.)

Betrayal, denial and cowardice were the hallmark of the Church on Good Friday. But from Christ we hear no blame – if only because He never thought us to be other than we are.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; but Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man (John 2:23–25).

And if we are honest with ourselves and know what is in man, then we can only give thanks for the wondrous irony that, knowing all that, Christ gave Himself for us anyway. It is the very character of love.

Fr. Stephen Freeman, Irony and Belief

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It occurred to me, as I thought about Psalm 50/51, that there may be a good reason why Psalm 138/139 has overtaken it as my favorite.

Psalm 50/51 is the repentant Psalm of a passionate young man who committed adultery, attempted to cover it up and then, failing, had his pregnant mistress’s husband killed. All seemed hunky-dory until God’s foremost prophet of the era pointedly called him on it and pronounced the very tangible coming consequences

Ergo, Psalm 50/51.

Psalm 138/139, in contrast, seems the more subdued repentance of an older man, whose youthful passions are largely gone, who rarely acts in conscious defiance of God’s will, but who appreciates the stunningly capacious scope of hamartia, and is aware of how unaware he is — self-absorbed, thoughtless, petulant at times and in some measure.

When do the sedentary pleasures of retirement become “sloth” (as if it’s easy to work up high dudgeon over sloth), enjoyment of the table “gluttony” (ditto)? When does the now-mostly reflexive appreciation for the female form cease being the “bird flying over the head” and start “nesting in your hair” with your invitation?

Were I a monastic, I might eventually be able to put my finger on things like this, but I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes time for sacramental confession because my “missing the mark” just isn’t all that self-scandalizing. So my priest hears over and over again about my sometimes-foul mouth and vague things and stuff and trying to figure out what cardinal sins are most specifically at play.

Maybe I don’t need to “figure it out”:

Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my ways. See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 138/139:23-24)

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