The Logic of the Incarnation

I was talking this week to someone who formerly had a socially respectable degree of Christian faith, but seems to have lost it to a socially acceptable degree now. He was patiently alluding, for the benefit of the folks he knew were more robustly religious and needed an analogy to raise their consciousness, to the equal absurdity of all religions:

We laugh at the idea of Joseph Smith finding stainless steel plates and translating them with special glasses and angelic assistance, but a virgin getting pregnant and bearing the Savior of the world seems perfectly logical to us.

Well, actually, no. It doesn’t seem logical at all. The Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity is more scandalous than logical, and is at best a major paradox:

Today He Who holds the whole creation in His hand is born of a Virgin.
He Whose essence none can touch is bound in swaddling-clothes as a mortal man.
God, Who in the beginning fashioned the heavens, lies in a manger.
He who rained manna on His people in the wilderness is fed on milk from His mother’s breast.
The Bridegroom of the Church summons the wise men;
the Son of the Virgin accepts their gifts.
We worship Your birth, O Christ.
We worship Your birth, O Christ.
We worship Your birth, O Christ.
Show us also Your Holy Theophany!

Bah! Humbug! That sort of thing offendeds just about everyone who heards of it. God is god and humanity is humanity and never the twain shall meet in actual history. Everybody knows that. We really prefer it that way. There’s probably even something in the Constitution about it. It’s related to the ease with which we “evicted Him from public schools,” isn’t it?

The earliest pan-heresy, Gnosticism, tried in various ways to make Jesus’ incarnation logical – to take off the rough edges. The Proto-heretic Arius cleaned it up by making Jesus Christ a (mere) creature. Thomas Jefferson made his own spiffy little Bible that took out that parts that offended him.

That’s probably how most heresies start: trying to make things logical, as if we understood God well enough to tidy up after Him. (I owe that insight to Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon.)

So if you think that the event we Christians are celebrating today is logical, you’re probably celebrating some distorted and sanitized version. But if you think it’s shocking, you might just be onto something.

* * * * *

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

  1. Atlantis Found?
  2. John of Damascus on the Incarnation.
  3. Murfreesboro Muslims prevail.
  4. Choose one: self-employment or religious freedom.
  5. Nominalism distilled; drink at your own risk!
  6. Sexualizing Everything.
  7. Good cause, bad argument.
  8. Uncommonly Stupid Product Safety Warnings.

Continue reading “Saturday, August 11, 2012”

Holy Friday thoughts

First, repeated from last Holy Week, some excerpts from the Orthodox services of Great and Holy Friday (from Fordham University), with apologies for formatting and with an inserted video of the beloved, now reposed, Bishop Job singing the 15th Antiphon.

TODAY JUDAS FORSAKES THE MASTER
AND TAKES THE DEVIL AS HIS FRIEND.
HE IS BLINDED BY THE PASSION OF AVARICE.
DARKENED, HE FALLS FROM THE LIGHT.
HE SOLD THE SUN FOR THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER.
HOW THEN, IS HE ABLE TO SEE?
BUT HE WHO SUFFERS FOR THE WORLD HAS RISEN AS THE DAWN FOR US!
TO HIM LET US CRY ALOUD:
YOU SUFFER FOR US AND WITH US: GLORY TO YOU!

TODAY JUDAS COUNTERFEITS PIETY
AND DEPRIVES HIMSELF OF THE GIFT OF GRACE.
THE DISCIPLE BECOMES A BETRAYER.
IN A GESTURE OF FRIENDSHIP HE CONCEALS DECEIT.
HE FOOLISHLY PREFERS THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER TO THE MASTER’S LOVE
AND BECOMES A GUIDE FOR THE LAWLESS ASSEMBLY.
BUT LET US GLORIFY CHRIST, OUR SALVATION!

HE WHO CLOTHES HIMSELF WITH LIGHT AS WITH A GARMENT
STOOD NAKED FOR TRIAL.
HE WAS STRUCK ON THE CHEEK BY HANDS THAT HE HIMSELF HAD FORMED.
A PEOPLE THAT TRANSGRESSED THE LAW
NAILED THE LORD OF GLORY TO THE CROSS.
THEN THE CURTAIN OF THE TEMPLE WAS TORN IN TWO.
THEN THE SUN WAS DARKENED,
UNABLE TO BEAR THE SIGHT OF GOD OUTRAGED,
BEFORE WHOM ALL THINGS TREMBLE.
LET US WORSHIP HIM.

THUS SAYS THE LORD TO THE JEWS:
MY PEOPLE, WHAT HAVE I DONE TO YOU,
OR HOW HAVE I OFFENDED YOU?
TO YOUR BLIND, I GAVE SIGHT, YOUR LEPERS I CLEANSED,
THE PARALYTIC I RAISED FROM HIS BED.
MY PEOPLE, WHAT HAVE I DONE TO YOU,
AND HOW HAVE YOU REPAID ME?
INSTEAD OF MANNA, GALL; INSTEAD OF WATER, VINEGAR;
INSTEAD OF LOVING ME, YOU NAIL ME TO THE CROSS.
I CAN BEAR NO MORE.
I SHALL CALL THE GENTILES MINE.
THEY WILL GLORIFY ME WITH THE FATHER AND THE SPIRIT,
AND I SHALL GIVE THEM LIFE ETERNAL.

TODAY THE CURTAIN OF THE TEMPLE IS TORN IN TWO
TO CONVICT THE TRANSGRESSORS,
AND EVEN THE SUN HIDES HIS RAYS,
SEEING THE MASTER CRUCIFIED.

THE CHOIR OF THE APOSTLES CRIES OUT TO YOU,
O LAWGIVERS OF ISRAEL, SCRIBES AND PHARISEES:
BEHOLD THE TEMPLE WHICH YOU DESTROYED!
BEHOLD THE LAMB WHOM YOU CRUCIFIED!
YOU DELIVERED HIM TO THE TOMB, BUT BY HIS OWN POWER HE AROSE.
DO NOT BE DECEIVED, O JEWS.
HE IT IS THAT SAVED YOU IN THE SEA AND FED YOU IN THE WILDERNESS.
HE IS THE LIFE, THE LIGHT AND THE PEACE OF THE WORLD.

TODAY HE WHO HUNG THE EARTH UPON THE WATERS IS HUNG ON THE TREE.
THE KING OF THE ANGELS IS DECKED WITH A CROWN OF THORNS.
HE WHO WRAPS THE HEAVENS IN CLOUDS IS WRAPPED IN THE PURPLE OF MOCKERY.
HE WHO FREED ADAM IN THE JORDAN IS SLAPPED ON THE FACE.
THE BRIDEGROOM OF THE CHURCH IS AFFIXED TO THE CROSS WITH NAILS.
THE SON OF THE VIRGIN IS PIERCED BY A SPEAR.
WE WORSHIP YOUR PASSION, O CHRIST.
WE WORSHIP YOUR PASSION, O CHRIST.
WE WORSHIP YOUR PASSION, O CHRIST.
SHOW US ALSO YOUR GLORIOUS RESURRECTION.

Beholding her own lamb led to the slaughter, Mary followed with the other women, in distress and crying out: Where do You go, my child?
Why do You run so swift a course? Surely there is not another wedding in Cana to which You now hasten to change water into wine? Shall I
come with You, my child, or shall I wait for You? Give me a word, for You are the Word. Do not pass me by in silence, for You kept me
pure.

Second, an excerpt from another old post that reflects my 20 years as a Calvinist after nearly 30 years as an Evangelical and before I became Orthodox:

Will Campbell, formerly a hero of mine (I’ve not kept up with him), was taunted by a skeptical friend to summarize his “simple Gospel” in ten words or less.Will got tired of the taunts after a while (or maybe he just had to think a while to boil it down) and shot back “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway!”

But I recently encountered a school of theology, the leading proponent of which boiled the Gospel down by another 50%: “The Word became flesh.”

The theologian was John Williamson Nevin, a mid-19th century theologian, who together with his better-known colleague, Philip Schaff (whose name is associated with public domain English translations of the Early Church Fathers), considered himself a true Reformed theologian, in opposition to both Puritanism and Revivalism, then respectively the emeritzed and regnant errors pretending to the “Reformed” title.

But Campbell’s formulation is a relatively revivalist version compared to Nevin’s incarnational version. And the spirit of those two versions is vastly different.

In the revivalist version, The Fall really ticked God off, and the incarnation was merely a set-up; God the Son couldn’t be crucified for our sins, to cure God’s anger problem, until he became human and grew up. The center, the big deal, the only part that matters, is the atonement — viewed as the assuaging of God’s anger — at Calvary.

To Nevin, though, the incarnation is inseparable from the atonement, the “at-one-ment,” of God and humanity, as God the Son even took our glorified human flesh back to heaven with Him at His ascension. We are, in a real sense, united with Christ in His humanity, not just in His divinity — and that union is cemented again and again in the Eucharist, where we partake of His Body and Blood, not merely being reminded, in a heightened sense, of His divinity and His joining us for just long enough to die for us.

There’s little doubt that Nevin was much closer to Catholicism and Orthodoxy than are the Puritan and Revivalist counterfeit Calvinists ….

It would be disingenuous as well as speculative to say that “I would still be Reformed if Nevin had prevailed over [Revivalist Zwinglian Charles] Hodge.” The way I came to Orthodox Christianity doesn’t allow that kind of speculation readily, quite apart from it being based on an imaginary world. I would be more inclined to speculate that “if Nevin had prevailed, Reformed theology would be part of a ‘big tent’ Catholicism/Orthodoxy today.” If that had happened, I think I’d still prefer “Orthodox Orthodoxy” over “Reformed Catholicity.” But a Reformed Catholicity would be nothing to scoff at.

My older brother, by the way, holds to a Lutheran Catholicity that, although I don’t understand it, also is nothing to scoff at.

Finally, a mere link to yet another blog that reflects my Calvinist years: Calvinist Concessions Galore: Why Not Orthodoxy?

* * * * *

Today holds three services for me: Royal Hours at 7 am, Unnailing Vespers at 3 pm, and Lamentations at the Tomb at 6:30 pm. I’ve had a lousy Lent, distracted by many, many things, but despite continuing juggling of responsibilities, Holy Week has been a very great blessing. I’m looking forward to St. John Chrysostom’s Pachal Homily which says, in effect, “even if you’ve had a lousy Lent, it’s now to to celebrate Christ’s glorious Resurrection.”

* * * * *

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Standing advice on enduring themes.

Calvinist Concessions galore – why not Orthodoxy?

I seldom comment critically on Reformed Christianity – Calvinism, my last waystation before Orthodoxy – but a very telling set of concessions from a Calvinist scholar leaves me wondering what thoughtful Calvinists think they stand to lose by

  • giving up on restoring missing elements of balance to Calvinism and
  • returning to the Church that never abandoned those elements.

Continue reading “Calvinist Concessions galore – why not Orthodoxy?”

Is Christianity “a Religion”?

I know the title question will produce “Well, duuuuuh!” from some quarters, but I’ve heard it argued on and off for years that Christianity is not a religion. Yesterday, I read something that seems to frame the question differently. I frame the question as I do because what I read so framed it by calling Christianity “the end of religion.” Continue reading “Is Christianity “a Religion”?”

Ascension Day

We observed Ascension Day “by anticipation” yesterday evening. (Our liturgical day begins at sunset, and we sometimes stretch it a bit, as an evening liturgy is better attended weekdays than a liturgy at, say, 6:30 a.m.)

My former Church, the Christian Reformed, took Ascension Day seriously, as did others in the Reformed tradition. That was on paper, at least. On the ground, the three Reformed Churches of generally Dutch background would typically pool resources, as not one of them could get a credible showing on its own for an Ascension Day service. (I assume it was otherwise a century or so ago.) That puzzles me now, more than ever.

I have noticed for decades the tendency of people to say things like “I grew up in X Church, but I never heard the gospel until my lovely wife Boopsie, then my fiancé, invited me to Y Church.” I may blog on that notion some day, because I have heard it said of the Orthodox Church — of which Church I know such a claim is false. The reason I know it is false is what may be worth blogging.

But as for Ascension, I can say that I grew up evangelical, then spent 2 decades in the Christian Reformed Church, but never apprehended until I was Orthodox that our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ not only sits at the right hand of the Father, from where he intercedes for us, but that He sits there in glorified human flesh!

The incarnation was no mere temporary expedient, so that the Son could take on crucifixion and death for us and thus placate the anger of the great sky bully (His Father) and get us (who actually deserved and were destined for such treatment) off the hook. That view of the Atonement is troubling on many levels.

But perhaps the most decisive proof of its inadequacy is that 40 days after the Resurrection, Christ did not go to the mountain and there shed his body, rising wraithlike to the Father before his disciples’ eyes. No, He rose in the body, taking it with Him.

So the Atonement — frequently broken down into separate word, “at one -ment”— has to do with reconciling humanity, flesh and blood as well as spirit, with the Holy Trinity.

This was the original plan. This was the eventuality of God’s little chats and walks with Adam and Eve in the Garden.  And this original plan is what our Blessed Second Adam has restored.

No wonder we have sacraments and relics as well as prayers and meditations. Salvation is for the whole person, and all persons. Reconciliation at all levels is so important that the Eternal Son, being fully God, humbled and emptied Himself and joined our race for eternity.

A Church that can’t spark interest in Ascension Day must be missing something huge about that.

Conscientious Objector to the Culture Wars

(This may be the most controversial and polemical thing I’ve posted. I’ll tell you in advance, and in conclusion, that I’m disinclined to be dogmatic about most of it. Your mileage may vary.)

* * *

One of the minor irritants in my life is Franky Schaeffer. I’ll go long spells without thinking of him, and then I get a catalogue from his publishing company, or maybe he pops up in the news (having once again found limelight). And I seethe.

But lots of people love limelight. Why does he, of all people, irritate me? Probably because his life is so parallel to mine, through all the twists and turns.

  • Evangelical: Check.
  • Produced the movie Whatever Happened to the Human Race; watched the movie as a turning point.
  • Now Orthodox: Check.
  • Religious Right activist: Check.
  • No longer Religious Right activist: Check.
  • 60-something years old: Check.

But he’s too strident and angry. He’s sort of a Christian James Howard Kunstler (another approximate contemporary of mine) but without Kunstler’s ubiquitous F-Bombs. Kunstler acknowledges that his speeches are a form of theater (listen to Kunstlercast #103 here); I think that’s true of Schaeffer, too, though he’d probably deny it.

I sense, too, that my reasons for dropping out of the culture wars are different than Schaeffer’s. I sense that partly because he seemingly just changed sides, now inveighing against his former friends, writing screeds, kiss and tell books, dubious fiction (his Calvin Becker fiction trilogy was quite calculatedly ambiguous about the extent to which it was autobiographical), paranoid apologies for Barack Obama, and sucking up to media personages who call him things like “a former leader of the anti-choice movement.” (They just love to get some sound-bites from an angry ex-whatever.)

But I really dropped out because:

  1. The culture wars are unwinnable on the present terms.
  2. I suspect that the strident tactics make most things worse rather than better.
  3. I don’t really trust my former allies.
  4. I don’t really trust the candidates we’re supposed to vote for.
  5. I still don’t trust my former adversaries.
  6. If I’m a prominent culture warrior, it will spill over harmfully into other areas.
  7. Maybe I’m just a worn out old hippie pacifist.

1. The culture wars are unwinnable on the present terms. We may get a majority vote for the “right” side on this issue or that, but that will not end the war. There will be other battles. There will be guerilla warfare. There will be no peace, and there’s only a minimal chance for the “Right” to win. Not until the Right’s own culture changes.

Changing culture is the work I’m about now – feeling my way rather than barreling ahead. That’s much subtler work than culture war. I’m not sure how good I am at it. But I’m convinced, to take just one Culture War example, that we won’t stop abortion until we change the toxic combination of unchastity and avarice that gets women pregnant and then justifies aborting the innocent child to maintain prosperity (greater or lesser).

The Right is not with us on that. Fox Radio recently aired an ad, between Glen Beck and Bill O’Reilly, for an online service for married men seeking adulterous affairs. (I didn’t hear it, but read about it from someone who didn’t note the incongruity of this appearing on a putatively conservative news source.)

Whaddya think? I’m betting that the ad wasn’t there for the 13 liberals who were eavesdropping on Fox that day, but for the red-meat, red state regulars.

TownHall.com syndicated columnist pages every day have ads for “conservative” slogan t-shirts draped on attractive young lasses, selling conservative politics, like everything else, with sex. Today there’s a sexy avatar for some video game, too. It’s all a racket.

This could as well go under the caption “I don’t really trust my former allies.” But on present terms I think the idiocy of modern pseudo-conservatives belongs in this “unwinnable” category, if only because their position on the sexual side of the culture wars seems to be “anything goes, so long as it’s not gay.” That’s a losing position long-term as well as being a sign of untrustworthiness.

2. The Culture Wars are unwinnable on present terms partly because stridency and contempt beget stridency, contempt and alienation.

Whichever side of the Culture Wars you’re on, think about the fundraising letters you get. Are you edified by their tone? Do you appreciate the sober, educational emphasis? Do you find yourself walking away with something of substance to ruminate on?

If so, I’ve got bad news for you: you’re an idiot. (Shall I write that slower? You. Are. An. Idiot.)

The groups who used to send me fairly sober letters have gone strident. The groups that used to send me strident letters are now frothing at the mouth. And I’m sure the other side is doing the same. Shrill is the new green.

I don’t care who fired the first volley. That’s lost in the mists of history like the instigation of the Hatfields versus the McCoys. I’d like the shooting to stop. I’d like artificial divisions to end. I suspect there’s more common ground than either side presently will admit because of how things have been framed. Let’s tone it down a bit and then explore what the real divisions are. The more we insult the other side, the more we paint both sides into corners from which dialog, let alone truce, is impossible.

3. The culture wars are unwinnable on the present terms, too, because there’s darned little difference between the two sides on some of the deep presuppositions.

They’re both, ironically, secular. One side is secular because they don’t believe in any divine rules. You know which side I’m talking about. (Hint)

The other side – my side – is mostly secular because they functionally believe that God’s only presence in the world is His rules. They “honor” Him by keeping his rules – sort of the way a rank amateur “paints” by number. That’s why I don’t really trust them. The tranformative significance of the Incarnation: God the Son, Who took on our flesh forever – qui sedes ad dexteram patrem (who sits at the right hand of the Father) in resurrected human flesh – is lost on them. God is up to something more than commandment monitoring and forgiving transgression of the commandments. The incarnation changes everything.

“Love God and do as you will” would strike them as modern relativism. They’re very anti-relativist. Except on Ecclesiology. Then they’re apt to utter Babbitry like “Isn’t it swell that there’s a church for every taste!

At the other end from the relativist “conservatives,” there’s a Protestant Church in my home town that produces a disproportionate share of Religious Right activists. Several of them have been elected to public office. But they’re theonomists, or more specifically Reconstructionists. If they had their way, there would be 18 Old Testament Capital Crimes in our law books – including sassing parents. They’d shut down my Church and desecrate its icons. They might, for all I know, execute me for one of those 18 capital offenses for the icons in my home prayer corner.

“And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of …” the folks I encountered who dreamed of kingdoms, feigned righteousness, broke promises, shot off their mouths, tried to set fires, escaped the edge of euphemisms …. (Cf. Hebrews 11:32-34) These are the folks with whom I’d be a “co-belligerent” (Francis Schaeffer’s coinage to distinguish temporary and unreliable political friends from reliable “allies”) were I to continue in the culture wars. And they outnumber many-fold any well-formed Christians of historical and liturgical bent.

We Orthodox have been here before. After the attempted union with the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Florence (see also here), the Orthodox decided they’d risk rule by Sultan over rule by Pope.

That is not a throw-away line: I’m not so sure a secularist regime would be worse than what Christian Reconstructionists would bring upon me and my fellow Orthodox Christians that I’m willing to be bedfellows with Recontructionists.

4. In the current terms of the Culture War, the highest form of involvement, other than sending money in response to strident or frenzied letters, is to vote for Republicans. Any Republican.

In 2000 and 2004, it was Dubya. He was, we were told, a good Evangelical Christian. He cited Jesus as his favorite philosopher. He talked about America walking humbly in the foreign policy world.

Then 9-11 came, and he turned into a fierce Commander In Chief. And, oddly, Imam-In-Chief, as he assured us that “true Islam is a religion of peace.” (Well I’m glad he cleared that up!)

And then came, too, the second inaugural, when he declared as U.S. policy the eradication of tyranny from the world and the planting of democracy. If you don’t understand how delusional that is, read it again: eradicating tyranny from the world. As national policy.

Many Religious Right figures in 2008 backed Mitt Romney, Mormon and heir of a 50s moderate Republican, George Romney. Mitt was, deep down, one of us – despite his left-leaning administration as governor of Massachusetts – they assured us. Now they’re pushing Sarah Palin, about whom I’ll not say much except that I do not now support her and see no sign that she has the goods to gain my support later. (I don’t even think she’s all that “hot,” for whatever that’s worth.)

I’m not gonna play Charlie Brown the placekicker to the GOP’s Lucy Van Pelt any more.

5. I still believe pretty much what I believed before on what makes for good living and a just society. I’ve even kept a hand in the debates by writing letters to the editor on a few hot-button issues. Those letters are far less demonizing of the opposition than the sort of letters I used to write. But I check the online comboxes and see that the other side has no lack of equally-but-oppositely mad partisans of its own, leveling vitriolic attacks on me, no matter how reasoned my argument, just because I reach conclusions they don’t like.

But even at more elite levels than smalltown cyberpaper comboxes, I’m still convinced that the other side is untrustworthy. One occasionally will catch one of them committing candor, as has Chai Felblum of Georgetown law school. Imagine a constitutional case with this issue:

Whether the inferred right to marry a member of the same sex, which is inferred from the right to engage in homosexual sodomy, which is inferred from the right to privacy, which is inferred from penumbra of he 4th, 9th, 10th, 14th and other consitutional amendments, is of sufficient constitutional gravity to warrant compromise of the explicit constitutional command against laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion?

Chai Feldblum would answer “yes.” I’m not making up her response (though I did make up the highly tendentious – but brutally accurate – faux issue statement). I appreciate her candor.

But her candor tells me that there’s no home for me in the left where Frank Schaeffer has seemingly pitched his tent.

The Orthodox Wedding service includes, for just one example, “grant unto these Your servants …a peaceful life, length of days, chastity, love for one another in a bond of peace, offspring long‑lived, fair fame by reason of their children, and a crown of glory that does not fade away.” You can’t pray that with integrity over a same-sex coupling, whatever you might think of it otherwise.

So while the Chai Feldblums of the world might not smash my icons like the Reconstructionists, they’ll soon enough take away my Church’s tax exemption, or otherwise put on the squeeze, because they’ll consider us a hate group for continuing the two-millennia-long practice of connecting marriage to procreation.

6. If I’m a prominent culture warrior, it will spill over harmfully into other areas of life. I was reminded Sunday how diverse my parish is. We have Romanians and Russians who were born, or even came of age, under communism. We have Greeks who think that 2nd Amendment mania is barbaric (in at least one case with justification that I can’t gainsay – a family member gunned down in cold blood by someone who went postal). We have young people and middle-aged academics who lean left. We have demographically unknown visitors most Sundays. I have something to learn from some of them.

Just as I don’t want someone to ask me “why are you here since you’re not Greek?,” I don’t want people of Right-leaning disposition to come up to me at Church and make some dismissive remark, which they assume I’ll find hilarious or profound, about a Left-leaning idea that may be held by another parishioner within earshot. I don’t want there to be ethnic, racial, socio-economic or political barriers to people. Political trash talk about trifles at Church is apt to drive people away though we have a faith in common and should be together on Sunday.

7. Maybe I should try a bit more empathy. Maybe I’m not angry because, unlike Frank Schaeffer, I have a day job, with a comfortable living, and don’t have to raise a fuss to sell my newest book. Maybe a brain or personality disorder prompted Franky to call Barack Obama’s election “miraculous” and to prophesy epochal political healing on Obama’s watch.

Maybe Frank’s suburban Boston parish (I think he’s in Brookline, Michael Dukakis‘ hometown) has a leftist litmus test and he caved in. Or maybe he’s rebelling against his upbringing in neutral Switzerland as I declare myself a Swiss-like neutral in the Culture Wars.

Or maybe I’m not angry, by and large, because I’m a child of the 60s, a former Conscientious Objector to conventional war, and now old enough that I’m kind of tired of fighting of all sorts – worn out, if you will. Maybe we really need young, testosterone-crazed Christian guys (and gals crazed by whatever crazes women) who still are eager for a fight. I see my role as one to ask questions of any such young hotheads from the perspective six decades gives. Such as the ones implied by what I’ve just written.

* * *

So who am I hangin’ out with these days if not with the Alliance Defense Fund and the acolytes of R.J. Rushdoony? Check the bloglinks to the right* – Especially Front Porch Republic (“Place. Limits. Liberty.”), Distributist Review  (guardedly). Small Is Beautiful has taken on new meaning for me. (My benighted generation got a few things right before we sold out or got complacent – and appreciating E.F. Schumaker was one of them).

I can’t even rule out Father Stephen. Nothing he writes is “about politics,” but everything he writes is about sane, human and humane living, which surely connects up somehow.

Basically, I’m going back and rethinking all things political and cultural. I’m wisdom-hunting. I read Wendell Berry essays and poetry, Bill Kauffman books, Russell Kirk’s Conservative Mind, Matthew Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, Scott Cairns’ Poetry, W.H. Auden (“For the Time Being” is now on my list for every Advent).

My conversion to Orthodox Christianity started it in a way. I soon realized that the Church has not always prevailed, and has produced martyrs in every century. And that’s okay. Better we should lose honorably than win by selling our souls.

  • (Note: When I changed my blog theme, the sidebar went away and anachronistically renamed my blog, which was “Tipsy Teetotaler” when this was written.)

What makes the “environment” worth saving?

Father Andrew Stephen Damick, a bright and well-read young Priest, contrasts conservative and liberal approaches to the “environment” to the Orthodox understanding of “creation” in part 1 of a podcast series titled “This Holy Earth – Ecological Vision In The Cosmic Cathedral.” This is a surprisingly good overview of practical application of an Orthodox mindset, and especially of how the Incarnation changes everything.