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 He said, in a calm and listless sort of way, that Obamacare would not be repealed “as long as [he was] president.”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 The debate is no longer whether the law will be repealed.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.
“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.
I am very pleased at the arrival of this new little book, Why Christian Kids Need a Christian Education. Part of the Answers in a Hour series, this is a brief introduction to the very large question of Christian education. It is designed to be the kind of book that schools could use to introduce new parents to the basic concepts of biblical education.
If you glance at the right side bar, you may quickly ascertain that my previous two posts about Doug Philips and Vision Forum are right up there among the most read. This was, in part, driven by some who want to cast me as a defender of things I do not actually defend. If you take the time to scroll through the comments, or look at posts like this one, you may see that some folks got the idea that I was somehow blaming the young lady involved, which was not the case at all. How could I do that? I don’t know the facts. Right now, just about all I know comes from Doug Philips’ public accusation of himself.
When I used the example of Samson and Delilah, I was no more saying that she was being a Delilah than I was saying that Doug Philips was appointed by God as a judge in Israel. My point there was simply that men can be really stupid whenever they think they are bullet proof. That is the only thing I was asserting.
But what my objectors may have been picking up on, in between the lines, is my conviction that such a scenario could have been the case. I really do think any number of things might have happened, and don’t take sides based on the current politicization of sex. Anybody who knows beforehand how they would vote on a jury based on whether the accused is male or female needs to be kept away from juries.
Proverbs 18:17 might someday become my life verse. Until you know what happened, you don’t know what happened. The world being the way it is, Philips might have been a creepy predator, preying on a dazzled and overwhelmed homeschool girl. Or, the world being what it is, she might have been a little vixen who saw her main chance. In short, she may have been a victim, she may have been a co-conspirator, or she may have been any number of other possibilities in between.
There has been a goodish bit of Internet response to this short video. A number of men were asked for their take on Reformed hip hop artists, and their response was overwhelmingly negative.
In that negative response, there were some fair points — the cult of perpetual immaturity that cool always tends to foster, the need to make a clean break with the rebellion that birthed the genre, the truth that musical forms matter, and so on. But surrounding the decent takeaway points, there was an overall failure to make appropriate distinctions, with the end result that the body of the criticism falls flat. A better and more thoughtful interaction by Russell Moore can be found here, which you probably ought to read if you want my comments below to make any sense.
What is rap for? What are the rules of the genre, and what is being attempted? I would argue that the natural form of rap is that of prophetic denunciation — the jeremiad. Now, by prophetic I do not mean the Strange Fire stuff, but rather the William Perkins stuff. As prophetic denunciation, the bulk of it should be apologetic and evangelistic, directed outwards, and not standard fare for believers.
Now, having said this, the fact that there are standards for the genre means that people can fail to meet them, and they can fail to meet them in different ways. If rap excels (if it excels) at the prophetic denunciation, this means that you have to deal with the fact of false prophets — those who denounce all the wrong things, however well they do it. Zedekiah, son of Chenaanah, was a false prophet, but he may have done a really fine job with the horns of iron he made. “And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the Lord, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them” (1 Kings 22:11). Craft competence is not the only issue. I doubt if Micaiah spent any time at all trying to get his pants to droop the way Zedekiah’s did.
If you like to eat what you like to eat, this means that you are a human being. If you are morally indignant about the food choices of others, this means you are well on the way to becoming a food leftist.
Leftism is that impulse that wants to establish coercion and call it community. Apply the coercive impulse to food and farming choices, and you have the food leftist.
And it begins with the indignation. Once the indignation is established, it becomes possible to draw on a hidden premise that too many Americans share — that sins should be crimes — and move from that position to the idea that made up sins should be made into real crimes.