Yesterday the president showed defiance on the Obamacare question, although, it must be said, it was an anemic kind of defiance. He said, in a calm and listless sort of way, that Obamacare would not be repealed “as long as [he was] president.” In this, he has, yet again, mistaken the actual position of affairs. The debate is no longer whether the law will be repealed. Rather, we are all wondering how deep the crater is going to be, and how thick the column of smoke will be afterwards.
I keep thinking of another great victory, that time when Napoleon invaded Russia, captured Moscow, and lived in posh surroundings for a considerable number of weeks. What a victory that was! Those were the times!
But let us extend this metaphor a bit, and come up with something to represent health care realities, economic realities, and web site construction realities. Let’s call that cluster of realities something like “Russian winter,” and let us also pretend that the president is (for some reason having to do with the machinations of the Koch brothers) unable to produce an adequate supply line for hundreds of thousands of troops merely by signing an executive order. And we may envision the defeated and humiliated Republicans as pursuing Cossacks, picking off stragglers, and not acting very defeated at all.
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #136
“After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come”” (1 Cor. 11: 25-26).
Jesus picked up the cup in the “same manner” as He had done with the loaf. We have two elements but one sacrament. He said something through the bread, and then He said the same thing again through the wine. The bread and the wine are therefore synonyms—they both refer to Christ sacrificed. The bread represents His body, and the wine represents the life of His body.
“Mary overcame in the way women are called to conquer — by giving birth to conquerors, or by giving birth to daughters who will give birth to conquerors. And this explains how the Magnificat can have been composed by a woman and still be so gloriously militant. Godly child-bearing is militant. The seed of the woman has crushed the dragon’s head” (God Rest Ye Merry, p. 26).
An open letter to black Reformed rappers, in light of the recent dust-up.
I hope you don’t mind receiving a letter like this, coming, as it does, out of the left field bleachers. To begin with a confession of the perfectly obvious, I am not naturally part of that demographic that buys, listens to, or is otherwise conversant in, the work you do. You might say it is not my cup of T. At the same time, I do follow cultural trends widely, and sometimes deeply, and have been aware of your active presence in the Reformed world for some years now. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.
So I want to ask you to think of this letter as the work of an appreciative and affectionate and somewhat distant Dutch uncle . . . although I am not Dutch. I believe you have been called to a very important task, and I want to urge you to honor God in that work. The reason for this letter is that I believe that the importance of your labor is such that it is going to generate a great deal of trouble for you, and I believe that I do know something about handling that, whether we are talking about causes or consequences.
As I observe the work you do, I wanted you to know that there are three things that I am very thankful for, and which I would urge you to guard and protect. There are also four things to be wary of, four traps, four snares.
Let me begin with the positive.
A month or two ago, I got a book recommendation from Nate, of a kind that was worth paying attention to. He had spoken at a conference for Christian artists together with a writer named Leif Enger, and was really impressed with him. As a result he got and read one of Enger’s books titled Peace Like a River. When he was done he told me that he thought I would really like it. So I bought it, read it, and really liked it.
Now this book has been out for more than a decade and has boatloads of critical acclaim, but I had never heard of it. Feel like I have been living in a cardboard box or something. But I have heard of it now, and want any people who are in the same condition of ignorant missing-out-ness that I was in to drop everything and go get it.
Enger’s marvelous prose is shaped on a hand turned lathe. He is descriptive, vivid, gripping, and — hard to do in a book that is not a comedy — laugh-out-loud funny. His metaphors startle you, right before falling into their place with a satisfying click — and he does it over and over again.
In the third chapter of 1 Peter, the apostle Peter says this:
“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (1 Pet. 3:12).
This verse is found right after the section where the apostle Peter taught us about marriage. In the first part of this chapter, he had said that wives ought to honor and respect their husbands fully, and that husbands ought to live with their wives with knowledge, and to do so in a way that honors their wives. While in the verses that follow he has widened the scope of his discussion, what he says here is still immediately relevant to the question of how a Christian man and a Christian woman should live together.
Biblical parenting is much more than a bag of tips and techniques. Techniques are helpful if you are learning to paint-by-numbers, but that is not the kind of thing we are doing when we are bringing up little children. Godly parenting is a function of becoming more like Jesus in the presence of little ones, who are also in the process of becoming more like Jesus.
“For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (1 Cor. 4:15-17).
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
The Lord has prepared a Table for us, and this Table is like all His other works—beyond marvelous. The Table is set simply—red wine and simple bread.
The Lord teaches us that this bread represents His body, broken for us. This wine represents His blood, shed for us. His physical body was broken outside Jerusalem two thousand years ago, but His mystical body is gathered here in this room. We are knit more closely together in that body as we, in love, partake of these elements that are, strictly speaking, not His body. But we are, strictly speaking, His body, and He is the Head of it.
The Bible also teaches that the body and blood of the Lord was a ransom payment (Mark 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6). This payment was made, not to the devil, but rather to the holy wrath of the Father. This is how we were redeemed. “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). So Jesus Christ died as a propitiation, turning aside the wrath that we entirely deserved (1 John 2:1-2).