Tuesday, July 30, 2013

    1. Begging to be Bowdlerized
    2. Who killed Horatio?


The problem comes when we use an anthropopathic term like “wrath” and apply it univocally to the God of eternity. Before long, we have constructed “a god who looks like me,” to use the title of a recent book of feminist theology.  Then caricatures of divine wrath proliferate:  God having a temper tantrum or acting like a big bully who needs to be “appeased” before he can forgive or, as is often alleged with reference to the atonement, practicing cosmic child abuse.

(Timothy George in First Things) I hasten to add that this block quote is not a summary of the piece it’s taken from. Overall, the author is lamenting the redaction of wrath from Protestant song and thought.

Another quote is closer to a distillation:

Without his wrath God simply does not love in the sense that the Bible portrays his love.” God’s love is not sentimental; it is holy. It is tender, but not squishy.  It involves not only compassion, kindness, and mercy beyond measure (what the New Testament calls grace) but also indignation against injustice and unremitting opposition to all that is evil.

I can’t disagree, though in my Calvinist days, I felt no dearth of wrath talk in my immediate environs. Maybe it was just me, but I sure felt, when the scales fell from my eyes, that I’d been postulating a God who has something like temper tantrums.

Lord have mercy! We don’t, any of us, comprehend the Holy Trinity, and must beware oversimplifying. Today, I steep in a tradition I trust, trying to absorb it rather than color it.

It’s a fearful thing to serve on a body like the “Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song,” where one must decide whether to include (in yet another new “hymnal”) a “much-loved song” (that apparently wasn’t written yet when I was a Protestant not all that long ago) that contains the naughty word “wrath,” and thus begs to be Bowdlerized.


Want a Clue? Sprawl killed Horatio Alger in the suburbs with an empty gas tank.

Paul Krugman should know. He’s a Nobel Laureate in economics (even if James Taranto frequently sneers at his “Enron Adviser” credential). And he adduces some possible reasons why sprawl, in places like Atlanta (versus fairly compact places like San Franciso and Boston) could be killing upward mobility.

* * * * *

“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.