About Steve Macias

http://www.stevemacias.com

Steve Macias is a lay churchman with a spirit of catholicity pursuing Holy Orders. Steve, his wife Sarah, and their son Athanasius are members of Incarnation Anglican Mission in Roseville, California. Follow Steve on Twitter: @SteveMacias

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Why Christians Should Read Virgil

Why Christians Should Read Virgil

The works of Virgil are often associated with painful assigned readings and Latin lessons, but a careful reading of this Roman poetry can help the modern Christian understand the first century context of the Christian Church. The poetry of Virgil’s Eclogues, Georgics, and the Aeneid represents a new shift in classical literature, away from tragedy in the Greek sense and toward the expectation of a new golden age.

Virgil Writing on the Eve of Christ’s Birth

Roman Virgil EcloguesWriting in the period following the death of Julius Caesar (44 BC) and during a time of unrest and civil war, Virgil’s initial poetry longs again for peace. Recognizing that the power of the Caesar was not enough to provide a stable future, the poetry focuses on a greater motif of the goodness of creation and nature. Virgil’s agriculture poetry serves two purposes in that it remains relatable to their common life and points to the perfection of the original creation. In relating to his fellow Romans, Virgil’s pastorally lines about husbandry and agriculture remind us of those used a few decades later by the triumphalist born of a virgin who hailed from the town of Nazareth.

The parables of Virgil and Jesus offer accessible wisdom for a generation caught amidst uncertainty and turmoil – hope for people crushed by the weight of the Roman Empire. The use of pastoral parables by Virgil and Jesus are also aimed at the same goal of bringing forth the image of creation. Both the Yahweh of the Jews and the Jupiter of Olympus offer a perfect garden-city where man ought to return. Restoring paradise or returning to Eden is the cultural lens of these pacific scenes of simple farming life. With a clear common cultural context on this issue, it is no surprise that Western culture has kept Virgil in the realm of their own hagiography.

The Messiah’s Garden-City in Virgil’s Poetry

Virgil’s Eclogues represent the first and prophetic part of the poet’s commentary on the political future of Rome. It is here again that Western thinkers picked up on the more messianic triumphalism of Virgil’s writing. The golden age of Rome, according to Virgil’s fourth Eclogue, was to be brought about by the birth of a savior. The following lines represent a messianic view of the man to come:

Yet do thou at that boy’s birth,

in whom the iron race shall begin to cease,

and the golden to arise over all the world,

holy Lucina, be gracious; now thine own Apollo reigns. (2. 8-11.)

It has been speculated whether Virgil may have been influenced by Jewish or Eastern thinkers in putting forward a prophecy similar to those made by Isaiah. Although there is not evidence to suggest that Virgil interacted with the Hebrew writings or even that the later Gospel writers interacted with Virgil’s poetry. Virgil’s messianic verses have caused Christian thinkers throughout the centuries to consider the poet a type of prophet for Christ. The timing of this prophecy is perhaps one of the reasons Dante Alighieri employs Virgil as a “guide” in his own poetry in the Divine Comedy.

Virgil, Dante and the boatman, Phlegyas

Virgil, Dante and the boatman, Phlegyas

Rome’s Version of “Thy Kingdom Come”

While the prophecy of Isaiah would predict the coming of a Messiah whose, “Kingdom would have no end” (Isaiah 9:7), Virgil’s later work would reveal Jupiter putting forth Rome as the “imperium sine fine” or the endless empire. The hope of Virgil’s triumphalism is the imminent realization of this savior to usher in the new world, albeit through Virgil’s personal identification with Roman patriotism, morality, and heroism.

Expecting that the Golden Age of Rome is at hand, Virgil is called to write his great epic The Aeneid.  The story is again a garden story. The story of noble and perfect beginnings that Rome now longs for under their current emperor. In a triumphalist sense, Aeneas is to Adam what Octavius is to Jesus. The Rome that was once Eden is to be restored to wealth, virtue, and peace under the rule of the endless empire. There is in this climax a certain parallel between the Pax Augustus and Pax Christi.

Hail! King of the Jews!

Their parallels ultimately converge as St. John the Baptist announces the coming of Christ’s Kingdom. Christ’s role as the “Son of God” serves as a direct challenge to the narrative of Virgil with the Roman Emperor as “son of God.” This doctrine coupled with the Christians’ commitment to only worship the true emperor, is the source of the conflict between Rome and the Christian Church. Christ’s imperial reign begins at the edict of Pilate as this title was hung above his dying body: “Jesus Of Nazareth The King Of The Jews.”  The Roman world hungry and ready for the Kingdom of the “Son of God” then follows the Roman Centurion, who at the foot of the cross transferred that title from Rome to Jesus.

Roman Coin Son of God

Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, and subsequent Roman emperors were regularly referred to as “son of God” (divi filius)

Reading Virgil allows us to see how the Romans of the first century would have received Christ’s ministry and understood the reality of his kingdom. A hearty reminder that the sentimental and personalized Jesus born out of our modern age would make little sense to the ancient reader of the Gospels. Christ’s ascension was a clear picture of his enthronement and his reign from the right hand of the Father. The Kingdom really is now. The hope and longing of all of history is realized in the present reality of the reigning King who has and is making all things new.

Recommended Resources for Reading Virgil

  1. Deep Comedy: Trinity, Tragedy, & Hope In Western Literature by Peter Leithart
  2. The Cambridge Companion to Virgil  by Charles Martindale
  3. Virgil’s Gaze: Nation and Poetry in the Aeneid by JD Reed
  4. Virgil: A Study in Civilized Poetry by Brooks Otis
  5. Virgil: Eclogues (Cambridge UP)
  6. Virgil: Georgics (Cambridge UP)
  7. Virgil: The Aeneid (Cambridge UP)
  8. C. S. Lewis’s Lost Aeneid: Arms and the Exile by AT Reyes


Is the Trinity Egalitarian?

Trinity Egalitarian

At Kuyperian Commentary we begin with the Trinity as the starting point for understanding our relationship to God and to one another. In this perspective, our understanding of the Trinity, informs our understanding of salvation (as against the Arian heresy) and our relationships with each other. Kuyperian Commentary’s founder Pastor Uri Brito explored these implication for the family in his book The Trinitarian Father.

Creedal Christianity has traditionally emphasized the equality of the persons of the Trinity through phrases like, “of one Being with the Father” (Nicene Creed) and “And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.” (Athanasian  Creed) In attempting to understand the marriage relationship from a Trinitarian perspective, some scholars have suggested that similar language should be employed in the relationship between husband and wife. The result is a flattened view of the Trinity to emphasize an egalitarian view of marriage.

Recently Peter Leithart (Theopolis Institute) addressed this trend on First Things, identifying what he called, “Gender Arianism.” Leithart explains that:

“Feminists reject the Genesis account of creation as misogynist, but they do so only because they have assumed that to be second is to be subordinate. Whereas Trinitarian theology denies the premise. Eve comes second, not as lesser but as the glory of Adam; Eve is the woman without whom the man is ‘not good.’” (Gender Arianism, FirstThings.com)

RC Sproul Jr. also picked up on this theme on his podcast Jesus Changes Everything. In a short segment on Feminism, RC Jr. explains how the Godhead is understood in both its oneness and diversity, as is true for marriage.

“Now it is true that in the garden Adam and Eve are both made in the image of God; they both are equal in dignity, in value, and importance. But they take different roles. Husbands are called to lead their wives, wives are called to follow their husbands. This does not make husbands more valuable than wives nor wives less valuable than husbands anymore than the fact that God the Son submits to God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit submit to God the Father.

This is no more a denial of the equality of value than the reality that the Father is the authority over the Son and the Spirit. They submit to Him, they proceed from Him, they are equal in power and dignity though they fill different roles. And that is really at the end of the day where we need to come down. We need to recognize the absolute, complete, equal dignity of women. We need to embrace it, we need to celebrate it, and we do need to recognize that men and women are different for God’s glory.” (Feminism, Jesus Changes Everything)

Is marriage modeled after the Trinity egalitarian? As image bearers, our marriages express our view of the Triune God and His faithfulness. In this sense, our marriages are a picture of the Godhead. Husbands who refuse to lead, cherish, and honor their wives create a caricature of the Trinity with their marriages.

St. Patrick’s Day Link Round Up

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’ve collected the best articles about the Apostle to Ireland from around the web…Erin go braugh!

  1. Patrick: Missionary to Ireland by George Grant
    Link: http://grantian.blogspot.com/2015/03/patrick-missionary-to-ireland.html

  2. St. Patrick’s Bad Analogies by Lutheran Satire
    Link: https://youtu.be/KQLfgaUoQCw
  3. Who Was St. Patrick – Christian History Made Easy
    Link: https://youtu.be/x7Ahgnpf3G4
  4. Who was St. Patrick by Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition
    Link: http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2015/03/17/who-was-st-patrick-3/
  5. Patrick’s Day by Steve Wilkins, The Avenue
    Link: https://auburnavenue.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/patricks-day/
  6. Things You May Not Know About St. Patrick, Relevant Magazine
    Link: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/things-you-may-not-know-about-st-patrick
  7. Who was St. Patrick, and Would He Drink Green Beer? – Minister Matters
    Link: http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/5871/who-was-st-patrick-and-would-he-drink-green-beer
  8. The Lorica: St. Patrick’s Breastplate by Steve Bell
    Link: https://soundcloud.com/steve_bell/the-lorica-st-patricks
  9. Saint Patrick’s Confessio
    Link: http://www.confessio.ie/etexts/confessio_english#01
  10. Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin
    Link: http://digitalcollections.tcd.ie/home/

If we missed a good one, post it below in the comments.

When Jesus Saved a Cutter…

Jesus and Cutting

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”

For He said to him, “Come out of the man, unclean spirit!”  Then He asked him, “What is your name?”

 - Gospel of St. Mark 5:1-9

The Cutter: Naked, Alone, and Near Death

We are given an account of a man who is thought to be mad. The Scriptures describe him as a man with “an unclean spirit” and that he was amongst the tombs, crying out, and cutting himself. Rev. Richard Bledsoe, a Presbyterian Minister from Boulder, Colorado, takes this account of Jesus to speak to the representative nature of our sin. “All of life is representative, we all represent other people. A father represents his family, a king represents his Kingdom, we even call one of our branches of government, ‘The House of Representatives.’ All of life is representative.”

Bledsoe posits that this man has become representative of his village. “He has taken everything that is dark and horrible about that village, and it has all been placed on him. The reason he is naked is because everyone since the fall is naked and ashamed, and all of our attempts to clothe ourselves are nothing but fig leaves. We live with nakedness and shame, and the Gadarene madman has taken the nakedness and the shame from the entire community upon himself. Jesus was crucified naked, he didn’t have a nice robe around his private parts, he was naked. Because he bore the shame of the whole world. We are told he lives among the tombs. Life isn’t just symbolic or literal, it is both at once. He is literally living amongst the tombs, but the actual meaning of it is, that he is already dead. He has suffered death for everyone else in the community.”

“Finally we are told that he cut himself with stones. Today, cutting is a big deal in the adolescent world. Why do we cut? The Greek word is autolapsis – what that translates to is that he, “stones himself.” He is actually executing himself. The whole of the pagan world was taken up with ritual executions. You throw someone off a cliff, you would stone them, etc. This man ritually executes himself, day and night he cuts himself with stones. That is what cutting is: a ritual form of self-execution, at least at some level.”

Cutting in our Culture

#DONE! is a micro film written by Rebecca Withey for Project Semicolon, a faith-based movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who struggle with depression, self-injury, and suicide. In the microfilm, Withey reintroduces this gospel narrative in a modern context.

Watch it here:

Jesus offers a Solution to “Cutting”

Bledsoe describes our connection to self-harm as a struggle against change. “Our lives may be miserable and wretched, but at least it’s my life and I am familiar with it. I really don’t want anything to change. Even if it is a thousand demons inside of us.”

“Jesus turns to the man, this man is a thing to the community – he is an object, not a person. He has been entirely depersonalized. This may be the first personal act that has happened in this man’s life in 25 years. Jesus turns to the man and says, ‘What is your name?’

“You can imagine the piercing eyes of Jesus looking in. The man answers, ‘My name is legion for we are many’ and then he begs Jesus, ‘Don’t send them out of the country.’ To the man, at least they are my demons, they are my companions, however horrible they are, they are my friends. He is actually begging Jesus to not change anything.”

“But Jesus, in his mercy, ignores the request, Jesus mercifully doesn’t answer a lot of our prayers, because they are not good prayers.”

A thousand demons hurt, cutting hurts, but with them – things stay can the same. Jesus comes and changes everything, but he starts with changing you. Cutting says, “I am not important.” Jesus asks, “What is your name?” Jesus, the King and creator of the universe, takes an interest in our identity. As Jesus looks into the face of the cutter, he sees his own image. Through cutting we make this image unrecognizable, yet Jesus comes down to us and is ready to remake us in His own image by giving us His own name.

What the Swine represent: 2,000 pigs and 2,000 people

“Jesus sends the demons into the pigs and the pigs will become the mirror image of the village. They represent the people. The pigs are driven mad by the presence of the demons, they rush at once off this cliff. They fall off and into the abyss as they have been sent back to hell.”

“It is only Jesus Christ who can not just displace a demon with another or manipulate them, but actually banish them with great authority. And this is what transpires at this point, they are drowned into the sea… Many now go back to the community and they tell them what happened and they are awestruck. They come out and they see the man. The next statement is the most astonishing.”

“They were afraid and they began to plead with him to depart from their region. They want Jesus to leave. Jesus has not just wrecked a portion of the economy, he has also wrecked the whole social structure of this community. The demon possessed man has been holding this community together by taking all of their demons on to him. He was the one who actually gave cohesion and stability to the community. What if he is gone, How on earth are we going to go on? The community cannot cohere without him. The whole community collapses and falls apart.”

“Finally, you see – this now demon-free man comes to Jesus, ‘Can I go with you?’

“But Jesus says no. He tells him to go back and to tell his story and that this is actually part of his reintegration into society.”

Bledsoe’s Point

“The whole of the western world is very much in the position of this community. Jesus has annihilated the cohesion and stability and the ability to relate in the whole western world. The presence of Jesus has undone all of the ancient world’s ways of relating. It is the Gospel that undid this.”

“We are neurotic, isolated, alone, we do not know how to do marriage, how to have family life, or how to have community because of Jesus Christ.”

“Take two people and what holds them together? They gossip about a third person. Take the third person away, and they don’t know how to relate. That is a small picture of what has happened in the western world.”

Jesus has a plan for this generation of hurting and isolated people. His solution is a new identity based on his death and not on our situation. He asks, “What is your name?” and our story, our identity, begins anew in Him.

A Short Eulogy for Spock – Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

On February 27, 2015 at the age of 83, Leonard Nimoy died in his Bel Air home.

In his memory, the next three sections will serve to honor his legacy, comfort his friends, and to draw from Nimoy’s life the glory of our Lord.

Leonard Nimoy Eulogy Mr. Spock Star Trek

The Legacy of Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

Most notably, we remember Nimoy for his character Mr. Spock from the television series, “Star Trek” and for the phrase, “Live long and prosper” with its equally notable hand gesture. A gesture that pointed back to his roots as a Ukrainian Jew. His childhood in the synagogue had imprinted upon him the priestly blessing of Numbers that would become his famous Vulcan salutation. As a cultural icon and phenomenon, Spock’s influence on Star Trek has been a noted force against anti-Semitism and Nimoy’s success further evidences the potential for immigrants to define American culture. For people of faith, he demonstrated that ancient truths would continue to be relevant to the future to come and despite our advances in technology. Spock’s character remains a testimony that the traditional and intellectual were concepts to be paired together.

For his Family and Friends

Our faith teaches us to pray for Nimoy like this, “Grant rest, O Lord, to Thy servant Leonard.” In his eternal memory, join me in that short prayer. While most of us did not personally know Leonard Nimoy or even have to the opportunity to meet him, there is in his public work a friendship with his personality. Thus we mourn over his death and as St. Paul instructs us, “weep with them who weep.” As we reminisce upon our fondest memories of the half-Vulcan as death has now gripped him, may we be comforted by his long and prosperous life. We can find comfort in knowing that his persona has been indelibly preserved on our memories and on digital media, and because of this, he will never really be gone.

A few days before his death, Nimoy shared this on his Twitter: “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP”

To Boldly Go…

Like Nimoy’s life, the Star Trek series is rife with allusions and pictures of love and redemption. Each episode began with an opening narration that spoke of the mission of the USS Enterprise to, “boldly go where no man has gone before.” As a Christian, I cannot help but think upon this mission and see it in that of Christ’s incarnation.

As we come together this day to mourn, we see our own mortality, we understand that it is appointed once for all men to die. Over the next few weeks, there will be those murmuring about Nimoy’s eternal state and others pointing to his smoking and other habits in relation to his death, don’t join them. Instead think upon our own condition and how our High Priest so greatly condescended to be with us. Christ boldly took on human flesh and was born from the virgin Mary so as to live and dwell among the people He loved. Through his fleshly incarnation he is able to sympathize with our condition and testifies to the pain of death.

In the Gospels, we see Jesus weep over the death of his friend Lazarus. Even today, I expect that Jesus joins us in weeping over Leonard’s death. Yet, through the pain of death we are afforded the oppurtunity to express our love for one another as we mourn together. In weeping, we imitate Christ who sympathized with man to the point of his own death, where he was offered up as the solution to the sting of mortality. Through the crucifixion, death itself loses all power over us. The blood that poured down from a jew upon a roman cross represents Christ’s pity for our human condition. By suffering a human death, he shows us how He can share in all our sorrows.

Imagine with me the raised hands of Christ, palms forward and fingers separated in a Vulcan salute for the world.  Now see him as soldiers drive nails through those same hands. Now imagine after his anguish and death, Christ boldly going where no man has gone before: to death and back. In the resurrection, Christ again salutes his disciples and with outstretch arms, “Put your finger here, and see my hands… Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Leonard Nemoy Eulogy Mr. Spock Star Trek

For our friend Leonard, Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Please feel free to leave your own prayers for Leonard in the comments below.

How the Julie Andrews Oscar Tribute Identified the Biggest Problem with “Christian” Movies

Lady Gaga Tribute to Julie Andrews & “The Sound of Music”

 

In likely one of her most beautiful and memorable performances, pop-star Lady Gaga revisited the 1965 Classic, “The Sound of Music” with an outstanding tribute to Julie Andrews and her musical contributions to the film.

Lady Gaga Tribute to Julie Andrews & “The Sound of Music”

It is worth noting that Gaga is not known for being a ‘lady’ and a great deal of her notoriety is based upon some of the most un-lady-like behavior. Yet here, Lady Gaga offers an elegant and skillful performance that may exceed the artist whom she was paying tribute to. There is nothing in Gaga’s Billboard hit collection that would suggest that she was capable of such a performance and her peculiar stage personality has been eclipsed by the beauty of the original music. Despite a five decade span between the theatrical release and now, this performance refused to enjoin the modern progress of musical artistry.

Can we think of many styles from 1965 that would enjoy such a powerful reception? How is it possible that the “Sound of Music” can remain ‘good art’ even today without adapting to the changing ethos of American artistic expression?

Julie Andrews on Great Music

Following Lady Gaga’s performance she was joined on stage by the original Maria. Julie Andrews thanked Gaga for her beautiful tribute and gave the most eloquent and poignant remarks of the entire night. In her short speech, I believe that Andrews also identified the fundamental problem plaguing a Christian view of the arts.

“Great music does more than enhance a film,” says Andrews “it cements our memories in the film-going experience. I mean, imagine the “Godfather” without its iconic theme… or the wondrous themes in the music of John Williams in “Star Wars.”

The Imagination and Christian Movies

675116-a9f9182e-a8c8-11e4-b4a3-9d4f296075c1I would posit that while classics like the, “Sound of Music” will be respected as time-tested art, much of the Christian material today will be remembered as well as Julie Andrew’s contemporaries like the Brady Bunch. Our dated, irrelevant, and artistically flat modern “chick tract” style Christian movies are destined for the same shelf as the story of a lovely lady and her family in a nine-frame box.

As Christians, we are called to embrace the majesty of God’s creation in its fullness and to use the arts in our attempt to express what is truly great and beautiful. All of art, and especially the cinema for our age, is a call to experience the pleasure of Christ’s goodness and to stretch and renew our mind’s imagination. Art in this sense is not merely an extra, but essential to what it means to give glory to God.

I want to see a generation of filmmakers less concerned about how actors dress, and passionate about how a film’s score is as powerful a testimony of the greatness of God as the script.

As Martin Luther said, “I feel strongly that all the arts, and particularly music, should be placed in the service of Him who has created and given them.”

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Brother Martin of Erfurt

The Morning Prayer Commemoration from the Mission of St. Clare included this wonderful biographical sketch of Martin Luther by James Kiefer.

martin luther monkBrother Martin

I once heard a priest say: “Sometimes in a sermon, I have occasion to quote some comment by Martin Luther which bears on the point I want to make. But there are those in my congregation who would wonder what I was doing quoting a notorious Protestant. So I simply refer to him as Brother Martin of Erfurt, and they smile and nod. He said a lot of remarkably good things.”

German Peasant Stock…

Brother Martin of Erfurt, born in 1483 of German peasant stock, was a monk (more exactly, a regular canon) of the Order of Saint Augustine, and a Doctor of Theology. In his day, the Church was at a spiritual low. Church offices were openly sold to the highest bidder, and not nearly enough was being done to combat the notion that forgiveness of sins was likewise for sale. Indeed, many Christians, both clergy and laity, were most inadequately instructed in Christian doctrine. Startling as it seems to us today, there were then no seminaries for the education of the clergy. There were monastic schools, but they concentrated on the education of their own monks. Parish priests, ordinarily having no monastic background, were in need of instruction themselves, and in no way prepared to instruct their congregations. Brother Martin set out to remedy this. He wrote a simple catechism for the instruction of the laity which is still in use today, as is his translation of the Scriptures into the common tongue. His energy as a writer was prodigious. From 1517, when he first began to write for the public, until his death, he wrote on the average one book a fortnight.

Criticisms and Conflict

Today, his criticisms of the laxness and frequent abuses of his day are generally recognized on all sides as a response to very real problems. It was perhaps inevitable, however, that they should arouse resentment in his own day (Brother Martin, and for that matter many of his opponents, had controversial manners that my high school speech teacher and debate coach would never have tolerated!), and he spent much of his life in conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities. The disputes were complicated by extraneous political considerations on both sides, and, as one of his admirers has observed, each side was at its best when proclaiming what the other side, well considered and in a cool hour, did not really deny.

Salvation as a free gift

Brother Martin, for example, was most ardent in maintaining that salvation was a free gift of God, and that all attempts to earn or deserve it are worse than useless. But he was not alone in holding this. When his followers met in 1540 with Cardinal Contarini, the Papal delegate, in an effort to arrive at an understanding, there was complete agreement on this point. The Cardinal, by a study of the Epistle to the Romans, had arrived in 1511 at the same position as Brother Martin in 1517. So had Cardinal Pole, the Archbishop of Canterbury (who had, ironically, been appointed to combat Brother Martin’s influence). So had the Archbishop of Cologne, and so had many other highly placed Church officials.

Rudiments of the Faith

In Brother Martin’s own judgement, his greatest achievement was his catechism, by the use of which all Christians without exception might be instructed in at least the rudiments of the Faith. Some of his admirers, however, would insist that his greatest achievement was the Council of Trent, which he did not live to see, but which he was arguably the greatest single factor in bringing about. While the Council’s doctrinal pronouncements were not all that Brother Martin would have wished, it did take very much to heart his strictures on financial abuses, and undertook considerable reforms in those areas It banned the sale of indulgences and of church offices, and took steps to provide for the systematic education of the clergy. Putting it another way, if I were arguing with an adherent of the Pope, and I wanted to point out to him that many Popes have been, even by ordinary grading-on-a-curve standards, wicked men, cynically exploiting their office for personal gain, I would have no difficulty in finding examples from the three centuries immediately preceding Brother Martin and the Council of Trent. If I were restricted to the centuries afterward, I should have more of a problem. And this is, under God, due in some measure to Brother Martin’s making himself a nuisance. Thanks be to God for an occasional nuisance at the right time and place.

Behold, Lord
An empty vessel that needs
To be filled.

My Lord, fill it
I am weak in the faith;
Strengthen me.
I am cold in love;
Warm me and make me fervent,
That my love may go out

To my neighbor…
O Lord, help me.
Strengthen my faith and

Trust in you…
With me, there is an

Abundance of sin;
In You is the fullness of

Righteousness.
Therefore I will remain

With You,
O whom I can receive,
But to Whom I may not give.

-Brother Martin Luther of Erfurt (1483-1546)

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Poetry and Potency

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Discourse on Intercourse

The poem is an exercise of animation. A poem is the vivification of words and through laying one word against another, each line upon line, a new idea is given flesh. Poetry is the elevation of mere words to glorified speech. The same words used to fill the instructions for operating a microwave oven are rearranged in a unique Sutra that has the power to penetrate the human pysche and be born anew. Allegorically, poetry serves its purpose in preserving the humanness of speech in discourse. In poetry, words preserve the humanness of speech through intercourse. The most glorious poetry bears new fruit each time the reader sits down to read it.

Literary Intimacy

I am tempted to compare poetry to sex for two reasons; the first is because it is how we receive poetry from God. Whether it is looking toward the Song of Solomon, the Psalms of David, or the poetry that Christ himself would use to compare himself to His beautiful bride, God uses poetry to properly express both a sexual and erotic love. Secondly, I believe that poetry naturally demands virility. As XJ Kennedy points out, “poetry appeals to the mind and arouses feelings,” and demands intimacy beyond any other form of literature. Poetry demands potency.

Many theologians have pointed out that the Song of Solomon is an allegory to the love that God has for humankind, that He chooses sexuality in the marital relationship as the expression of His love. At the same time and significantly, He uses the form of poetry to express this love. Even the language used for the Holy Sacrament of His Body and Blood are described as Holy Communion because they represent the most intimate relationship between two people. In marriage and communion, two become one.

Passion, Prose & Poems

Here we have passion coupled with prose, sex coupled with poem – manliness tied to the form of literature in a way that our modern culture would find foreign. Although the virility of a man is tied to the nature of a poem. For any that consent to be swooned, the poem can ravish them in ways that other words, other pictures, other gestures, will always fail. The poem penetrates our inner being and each interaction with that set of lines brings us closer to their author and yearning to drawn more from our interaction. Our intimacy is intensified with slower, labored readings and subsequent encounters increase our growing appetites.

Virility finds purpose in creation or rather procreation as the idea bears new ideas. The seeds of thought are spoken into newness born, carried, and delivered through love. The potency of masculinity is revealed as the giver finds an ear for his gift. Poetry and reader are complementary like husband and wife: the two interlock in the only way to create new life. Love and intimacy grow in the same way in marriage and poetry, so that the one is no longer room enough to contain it. The two that became one burst like old wineskins and create again. This is poetry.сайты интернет магазинов

C.S. Lewis on Mere Liberty and the Evils of Statism

David J. Theroux, founder and president of The Independent Institute and the C.S. Lewis Society of California, discusses the writings of C.S. Lewis and Lewis’s views on liberty, natural law and statism.

The presentation was the keynote talk at the first annual conference of Christians for Liberty, that was held at St. Edwards University in San Antonio, TX, August 2, 2014.

The talks starts out with:

For decades, many Christians and non-Christians, both “conservative” and “liberal,” have unfortunately embraced an ill-conceived, “progressive” (i.e., authoritarian) vision to wield intrusive government powers as an unquestionable and even sanctified calling for both domestic and international matters, abandoning the Judeo-Christian, natural-law tradition in moral ethics and economics. In contrast, the Oxford/Cambridge scholar and best-selling author C. S. Lewis did not suffer such delusions, despite the gigantic and deeply disturbing advances and conflicts of total war, the total state, and genocides that developed during his lifetime.

Lewis’s aversion to government was clearly revealed in 1951 when Winston Churchill, within weeks after he regained office as prime minister of Great Britain, wrote to Lewis offering to have him knighted as “Commander of the Order of the British Empire.” Lewis flatly declined the honor because he, unlike the “progressives,” was never interested in politics and was deeply skeptical of government power and politicians, as expressed in the first two lines of his poem “Lines during a General Election”: “Their threats are terrible enough, but we could bear / All that; it is their promises that bring despair.”

Lewis had held this view for many years. In 1940, he had written in a letter to his brother Warren, “Could one start a Stagnation Party—which at General Elections would boast that during its term of office no event of the least importance had taken place?” He further stated, “I was by nature ‘against Government.’

See the video here:

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New Book from Rich Lusk: “I Belong to God: A Catechism for Covenant Children”

Our friends at Athanasius Press have announced the publication of an exciting new catechism for our covenant children. Athanasius Press describes the new book as:

“The real heart of catechesis is to form in our children a covenantal identity, a sense of belonging to God and to the church. Our children need to be taught who they are in Christ so they can live faithfully in the church, family, and world. We must train our children in such a way that their whole lives will be a grand Amen to their baptisms.”

While many children’s catechismal tools exist, Lusk’s work is certainly of a wider, more “catholic” breadth, while remaining digestible for our youngest children. Notably, Pastor Lusk emphasizes a clear presuppositional message: “God has saved you; now be loyal to him.”

Pastor Lusk adds, “When we tell our children that God is their Father and that Jesus died for their sins, we are telling them something true and helping them internalize their covenant identity.”

Rich Lusk is the father of four and the Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  He is the author of Paedofaith: A Primer on the Mystery of Infant Salvation and a Handbook for Covenant Parents, as well as a contributing author to The Church Friendly FamilyThe Federal Vision, and The Case for Covenant Communion.

Buy the book from Athanasius Press for just $5 – Click here.

I Belong to God: A Catechism for Covenant Children by Rich Lusk

I Belong to God: A Catechism for Covenant Children
by Rich Lusk

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