Widgets and Weddings

One of the reasons why libertarianism is starting to commend itself to a certain kind of Christian — in ways that it never does in all those manifold areas where libertarianism is correct, e.g. regarding the manufacture, sale, and distribution of all widgets — is that it provides a convenient way of collapsing in the face of homosexual activism, without having seemed to have so collapsed.

Now we can just shrug our shoulders and say that government should not really be in charge of the definition of marriage. This has a major side benefit, in the minds of some, which is that now we don’t really have to stand up to anybody.

The problem is that a government that doesn’t know what marriage is and what marriage is for is also a government that doesn’t know what a government is and what a government is for.

The central engine of prosperity in society is the family, as God designed it, which means that at the center of the family is a man and a woman. This is the central fruitfulness from which all other forms of fruitfulness must come. Such fruitfulness, such prosperity generates property, and the government’s central job is to protect the pursuit of happiness, which, as we have discussed before, is the pursuit of property.

The government’s job is not to confiscate property, but rather to provide a stable environment in which which property can be acquired by the citizenry. A government which does its appropriate job will not lack for funding, but a government of the covetous, for the covetous, and by the covetous, will most certainly perish from the earth. A government which grasps at everything is in the process of losing everything.

Straight to the Meaning

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #168

I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” (1 Cor. 14:18–19).

Paul distinguished praying in tongues for private edification from speaking in tongues in the assembly. He prays in tongues himself more than anybody, but in the church he would rather speak five intelligible words than ten thousand words that are unknown to the rest of the people there. As we will see a few verses down, unintelligible speaking in church is a sign of God’s judgment, not of His blessing. And if you fix that problem by translating what is said, you remove the element of judgment, but you have not removed the middle man. Why not just go straight to the interpretation? Why say something in church that nobody understands, then translate it, when you could just go straight to the meaningful talk?

America in C Major

I do understand there has been some debate over whether America was once a Christian nation. But whether it was or no — and I believe it was — there should be no debate among Christians over whether it was a normal one. Defenders and revolutionaries alike insist that those norms be defended, or smashed, as it suits them, but everybody agrees that the norms were actually there. Twenty years ago, same sex mirage was unthinkable. Now you are an enemy of all mankind if you call the mirage for what it is — a shimmer in the air over the desert sands — instead of what everyone is demanding you call it, which is something that rhymes with carriage. But it also rhymes with disparage, which brings me to my theme.

Rejected New Yorker Cover

Rejected New Yorker Cover

Now there is obviously room for discussion among believing Christians (I use this locution to distinguish them from their counterparts, known to the astute as unbelieving Christians) as to how much these erstwhile societal norms came from the explicit influence of Christianity and how much from a mash up of common grace and natural law. I myself think that a great deal more of it came from gospel preaching than is usually recognized, but we should be able to agree that it was some kind of mix.

But whatever the mix was in helping to establish what used to be normal, I want to insist cannot be reattained apart from a reformation and revival, the kind which impels us to call on the name of Jesus Christ. Not only do I believe this must happen, or we are all lost, but I also believe that we will not be lost. This will happen. It is happening now.

In the meantime we have to deal with the secularist overreach. The fact that they must overreach is to be expected because their entire worldview is based on an inability to say no to their lusts — and this libido dominandi is no different on this score than the other kind of lust.

So, for the present, now that we are no longer in the grip of H8, water is commanded to flow uphill, by order of the Supreme Court, and triangles must have four corners, by order of Congress. On top of that, the president has recently signed an executive order determining that ham and cheese sandwiches may no longer contain ham, or cheese for that matter, and that anyone who, from the date of the issuance of this executive order, makes a ham and cheese sandwich with any ham or cheese in it will be fined five thousand dollars, and remanded to sensitivity training, where trained bureaucrats will pull out his toenails as a way to teach him not to be so hurtful.

In other words, ordinary norms of the sort that would get you yawned at in the Eisenhower years are now officially transgressive. This is why I am thought to be such a bad boy. I continue to maintain that the sky is an azure blue, and that grass is emerald green in the springtime, and so it has happened that reading this blog is something of a guilty pleasure among establishment conservatives. They are not in a real position to say that the sky is blue — bad career move — but they do enjoy watching someone else be naughty.

The most outrageous thing someone can do in our Bosch exhibit version of Night at the Museum is part his hair on the left side, comb it carefully, and smile for the camera — with a cute little blonde wife by his side, and four well-scrubbed and well-loved children, also with their hair combed properly. If those children have also had their noses wiped, this is a clear indication that we need to work even harder to teach our people that hate is not a family value, and that the patriarchy could clearly use a little more smashing.

It is now avant garde jazz played with the fists, but America used to play its songs in C Major. And for those of you who think this is some sort of racist dog whistle for referring to the good old days when it was “all white keys,” we might as well get to that issue now.

Mozart

Mozart: A Life (New York: Viking, 2013)

This was a quick and enjoyable read. Mozart was a phenomenal genius, and this short book — short just like Mozart’s life — gives a marvelous sense of that genius. For those who don’t know much about Mozart’s life, and don’t know whether or not he was a founding member of the Dave Clark Five, this is the book for you. If you know enough about Mozart to think that joke wasn’t funny, this is also a book for you.

Surveying the Text: Matthew

Introduction:

We are now continuing with our plan to work through the Bible, a book at a time. We have considered the first five books of the Scriptures, the Pentateuch, and have now come to the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels. Let us begin, as seems normal, with Matthew.

The Text:

“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying . . ,” (Matt. 5:1–2).

Background to the Gospels:

As you know perfectly well, there are four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew and John were the only two gospel writers who were themselves apostles. Mark got his information (according to early church tradition) from Peter, while Luke tells us that he functioned as a researching historian, getting his information from different eyewitnesses and sources.

The early fathers said that Matthew was the first gospel, while modern scholarship generally thinks that Mark was. A good deal of scholarly consternation has been expended on what is known as the synoptic problem. The first three gospels share many similarities, which is why they are grouped together as the “synoptics.” The word refers to them sharing a “common view” of the life of Christ, with John’s account being very different. But the synoptics are also different from one another in very striking ways. The modern notion is that short means early (and Mark is short), and that Matthew and Luke quarried some material from Mark, and some other material from a source called Q (material that Matthew and Luke share, but which Mark does not). Some folks have even written commentaries on Q, a document that cannot actually be said to exist. Scholarship can be a marvelous thing.

More Than a Warp Spasm of Devotion

The Bible contains different kinds of literature, which means that it also contains different approaches to theology. Because these theologies are ultimately harmonious, it is obviously our task to be students of them all. But part of this task means mastering them on their own terms before the harmonization is attempted.

For example, the psalms of David represent a devotional literature, which means that they shape a devotional theology of personal piety, heart religion. The proverbs of Solomon represent a wisdom literature, which means that they shape a wisdom theology. The two must go together, but they must be themselves in order to go together rightly. Wisdom theology isolated turns into an arid moralism. Devotional theology isolated turns into rationalism and egoism. We must be shaped by the entire Bible, but we do not do this by throwing the entire Bible into a blender, reducing it to biblical molecules. No, Scripture is assembled out of some great blocks of granite, and those blocks must be respected.