Saturday, January 30, 2010

When I get a little money . . .

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.” So said Desiderius Erasmus, Luther's disputation partner in the free will controversy. I wonder if Erasmus considered *not* buying so many books . . . was his will free in that regard?

For my own part, I think I will side with Luther. Especially when it comes to the buying of many books. Just when I thought we might read nothing more from the pen of Baroness James of Holland Park, here comes the one volume she could have written which I am simply compelled to purchase. Even in hardbound. Even at full retail price.

Talking About Detective Fiction

In a perfect marriage of author and subject, P. D. James—one of the most widely admired writers of detective fiction at work today—gives us a personal, lively, illuminating exploration of the human appetite for mystery and mayhem, and of those writers who have satisfied it.

P. D. James examines the genre from top to bottom, beginning with the mysteries at the hearts of such novels as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and bringing us into the present with such writers as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell. Along the way she writes about Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie (“arch-breaker of rules”), Josephine Tey, Dashiell Hammett, and Peter Lovesey, among many others. She traces their lives into and out of their fiction, clarifies their individual styles, and gives us indelible portraits of the characters they’ve created, from Sherlock Holmes to Sara Paretsky’s sexually liberated female investigator, V. I. Warshawski. She compares British and American Golden Age mystery writing. She discusses detective fiction as social history, the stylistic components of the genre, her own process of writing, how critics have reacted over the years, and what she sees as a renewal of detective fiction—and of the detective hero—in recent years.

There is perhaps no one who could write about this enduring genre of storytelling with equal authority and flair: it is essential reading for every lover of detective fiction.

Course correction

Well, he's not really a saint (officially canonized one, that is), and I do wonder what his reaction would be to a canonization movement. However, Gilbert Keith Chesterton was the most trenchant observer, the most faithfully insightful social commenter in the early 20th century. If Dietrich von Hildebrand is said to be a modern doctor of the church, Chesterton is his "common-man" counterpart. Never failing to get to the heart of the matter in a deceptively simple way, he surprises by always being right just when you begin to think he might be just a little bit off plumb.

Here, courtesy of the American Catholic, is a bit of Chestertonian food for thought in regard to our culture:

The saint is a medicine because he is an antidote. Indeed that is why the saint is often a martyr: he is mistaken for a poison because he is an antidote. He will generally be found restoring the world to sanity by exaggerating whatever the world neglects, which is by no means always the same element in every age . . . It is the paradox of history that each generation is converted by the saint who contradicts it.

That's the problem with conversion, it looks so different. To correct our course, what is sometimes required is an over-correction. I am sure I am not the first one to wonder if we aren't a little too careful about some things, a little too (gasp) legalistic. That may well be, at times, precisely what is required.

One of the things that makes me grin is thinking about who may be sharing a mug of beer with whom up in Heaven right now. Have you ever wondered what an evening with Chesterton and St. Paul would be like? Here's Paul's answer to the problem of course corrections, antidotes and poisons:

4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.

5For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,

6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

7However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

8But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.

9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.

10For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol's temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?

11For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.

12And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.

13Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

-- I Corinthians 8:4-13

Causing a brother (or a sister) to stumble is no small matter. Whether it be wearing a two-piece swimming suit in mixed company at the beach or having a glass of wine with dinner, we must consider whether we are causing a weak brother among us to stumble - or giving a legalist cause to tsk, tsk to his heart's content.

On the other hand, what about the repentant sinner, formerly used to such theological diversions as preacherettes and equal-partnership marriage? Well now, there is where we might see what looks like an over-correction. When the repentant sinner comes home to Christ's church, everything is up for grabs. Jeans in church? May it never be! Skirts and dresses, if you please. Long hair and headcoverings in worship, constant self-reminders about a wife's submission and delighting in things formerly despised are on the daily menu.

It is the repentant among us who are often the most sensitive to appearances, the ones who may be offended by seeing a brother dine in an idol's temple. Not because all the old is cast off and the logs are removed from eyes, but because the old sins leave their marks, their sore spots and sensitivities. The pull of the old, familiar wretchedness can catch at one's heart at the most unexpected moments. Especially when one's gait is unsteady in these new, orthodox shoes.

Perhaps also, because of this, it is the repentant who appear to be the most dangerous poison of all.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Today's menu

Tzatziki sauce - to be used as a raw veggie dip

Asparagus - sauteed in butter served in a sauce of Dijon Mustard and lemon juice

Sauteed Kale with capers

Oven Roasted Root Vegetables - Turnips, Parsnips, Rutabagas and Onions

And, tomorrow:

Polenta with Basil


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Persecution or laughter?

The answer is, ouch.

And We Think We're Modern

Kill me now, Mommy!

Pro-choice baby?

We think abortion will bring judgment upon our nation? No, abortion is the judgment and this is the result.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

But it's only Fiksssshunnn!

The inimitable Doug Wilson on what's wrong with the Twilight series:

Before untangling this wicked snarl, let me put a few background observations on the table. In an earlier post, I described this as "cartoon porn for the emotions." Let me explain what I mean by that. Lust is not a sin that afflicts one half of the human race, leaving the feminine half entirely unaffected. Because men are male and women female, because men are convex and women concave, their desires are correspondingly fitted to their natures. Men want what they want, and women want to be wanted that way. Men desire and women desire to be desired. This is a matter of emphasis, obviously. I am not saying that men don't have a need to be desired, or that women don't desire. These desires are both present in both sexes, and they are both weighted differently. And that weight is different enough to drive men and women into very different forms of personal destruction. Men destroy women very differently than women destroy men. But they both do it, and the recipients of these destructive powers are the hormones with feet that are currently frisking around them.

Now Bella is a perfect screen onto which women can project these sorts of desires. She is nondescript; she is klutzy. She is no great beauty; she is ordinary in the extreme. Now take someone like that, someone who does not appear ever to have been desired in any significant way, and put her in a position where she is all of a sudden desired in every significant way. If a woman can be desired in a particular way, Bella is desired in that way. She is desired that way with no practice in handling it, blam, right out of the blue. She is now desired for sex, she is desired for her blood, she is desired as an object to protect, she is desired as an object to destroy, she is desired for her smell, she is desired by multiple predators and buffoons, and on and on it goes. And right at the center of this maelstrom of cosmic lust is a plain Jane high school girl. Now, three guesses why this whole thing is so popular with needy women.

You can read the rest of the review here. It's part #6 of a series for CredendaAgenda.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The "F" word

I've been pondering this for some time now, wondering if the term, feminism, is redeemable. Wondering if it is helpful and if Christians should repackage it for cultural consumption. Of course, some will say that it already has been in the form of "Christian Feminism", sometimes known as Egalitarianism. The problem with this form of feminism, however, is that it is, at best, heterodox. Being born in anthropological modalism and grown in the fetid soil of gnosticism, it can't provide us with the answers we need. It can't help us determine where or not feminism is redeemable for it has already determined that feminism is no only redeemable, but that it is their variety of feminism which is required to redeem the church.

The problem with feminism, if we take it as an umbrella concept, and not in specific forms such as religious feminism or equity feminism, etc., is that it is beholden to worldly philosophies that are, at base, incompatible with Christianity. The primary philosohpy is Marxism, which in its religious form is known as liberation theology. The trouble with both Marxism and it's barely baptized incarnation as liberation theology is that they are about power, and mostly about personal power in temporal situations. The marxist base upon which religious feminism and liberation theology are built is about power, control and victory over temporal situations.

Because of this, because they are about the here and now -- whether I am given a just wage for my work, whether my husband does his share of the household work, whether my church represses the use of my gifts where I see fit to use them -- we miss the larger liberation. We miss the true liberation in Christ. The liberation Christ offers us does not require a just wage or sexual equity -- Christ's liberty is of the spirit, it frees us from laws of the flesh such as these I have mentioned, it frees us for liberty in the spirit - the things against which there is no law.

It is this freedom, these gifts, the fruit of which we are free to live out in spite of our circumstances.

Baroness Thatcher rather famously pointed out that the problem with Socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people's money. Socialism, like religious feminism, is a game of leveling, playing fair, bringing everyone down to the same meagre level of subsistence. I have not because you have so we must change the rules so we both have, but have in sum, less.

And here we have come to the heart of the matter, the reason Feminism, as a concept, is utterly beyond redemption. It is because Feminism is about leveling. Feminism is a zero-sum game. the only problem with the game is that the total sum ends up being less.

In the case of feminism versus sexual orthodoxy, we have less because we have leveled our differences and denied the opportunity for men to be brave, bold, strong, and lead -- we have denied the chance for men to be men. We have denied the chance for women to be beautiful, strong and yet vulnerable, to shine by their deference and meekness -- we have denied women the opportunity to be women. We have leveled everything to merely human and so we have, in sum, less. Because a zero-sum world of sex denies the opportunity for growth in Christian virtues, in the fruit of the Spirit in a similar way to that in which a socialist, centrally planned economy denies the chance for capitalist entrepreneurship and economic growth.

The problem with feminism is that it is a zero-sum game - a world of grey. And who wants to live like that when we can have the technicolor beauty of sexual orthodoxy? A world of men who are men and women who love them to be men. Where women are women and men cherish and protect all that is vulnerable in them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Better than most sermons

God bless Brit Hume! In this radio interview, he not only defends his comments on Fox News, he goes even further.

It's a sad pity that this is news. More's the pity we don't hear sermons like this in many of our churches.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brand spanking new, the 2010 Blogroll

Baylyblog No surprise there.

ClearNote Fellowship Blog Remind me to tell you sometime what Mr. Foster said in Sunday School that almost had me creating a scene.

Blog and Mablog From the always-challenging Doug Wilson

Inside Catholic Someday you'll get to read the reason in a book dedication

What's Wrong with the World Doesn't the title tell it all?

FirstThings Because, even though they didn't bring one friend on board, they did hire the other friend.

These are the daily reads for 2010