Jordan on Pastors

James Jordan says:

Second, by no means are all pastors, teachers, and preachers gifted as exegetes or expositors. Pastors are curates of souls primarily. Teachers often are called to pass on the heritage of the faith, not rework it for modern times. One of the errors I encountered in seminary was the notion that all pastors should develop their sermons out of an in-depth exegesis from the original Hebrew and Greek. Virtually nobody ever does this, of course, but it was held out as an ideal. There is nothing ideal about it, however. Preachers need to pass on the heritage of the church to their people, with a pastoral eye to their psychological and spiritual situation. If they get their homilies by borrowing from Spurgeon, or from other people’s outlines — what’s wrong with that?

Future Digital Conundrums

Watching the unveiling of the iPad today spurred me to reflect on some possible problems that may occur in future years of our digital age. For example, movies, books and software that I have purchased do not reside with me physically, but are located in the cloud (on a server somewhere in the ether). Assuming that Apple still exists when I die, can my descendants continue to use my Apple ID and password to access all of the accumulated music, books and software I have purchased? Will the government charge an inheritance tax on all the music I pass down via my Apple account? Can someone keep my Gmail account active so that my lifetime of correspondence can be accessed by a future family historian?

And think of the intense amounts of work that will be required by future historians. We think of the Civil War as the most documented conflict due to thousands of diaries and letters that historians must consult in addition to official accounts and government documents. But can you imagine what a future writer on anything will have to wade through in terms of e-communication to get a complete account of something? Millions of web pages, blog posts, e-mails, documents and videos. It staggers the mind to contemplate it. Perhaps they will simply give up and selectively cull the information to try and stay sane. Or perhaps our records now are less permanent unless they are printed. Take away electricity and all of it vanishes, whereas scrolls and books lasted a few centuries in the past. So maybe the staggering amounts of data generated right now will all be gone. But just think of the future historian trying to write a history of the 2008 Presidential election. How did the people see it? How did the media see it? What did the candidates think? Imagine poring through millions of e-mail with some sort of search algorithm or index. Reading texts from Barrack Obama’s Blackberry, posts from millions of common-man blogs, news articles from sites all over the world and on and on.The task seems daunting.

Spurgeon on Depression

I am reading a book called Bright Days, Dark Nights on depression which deals with depression from the point of view of the life and writings of Charles Spurgeon. I have only started reading it and have already been impressed with the insights of the author, Elizabeth Skoglund.

Spurgeon struggled mightily with depression. He said:

I am the subject of depressions of spirit so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to, but I always get back again by this–I know I trust Christ. I have no reliance but in him, and if he falls I shall fall with him, but if he does not, I shall not. Because he lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and my downcastings, and get the victory through it; and so may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it. In your most depressed seasons you are to get joy and peace through believing…Do stick to this, dear friends, ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.’

I find the simple fact that Christians can admit to depression to be encouraging. As I mentioned in my post on joy, the ‘right up, right downright happy all the time’ type of Christianity sickens me. The veneer that everything is alright when things are really a grind and a bore is not helping anyone. I thank God for honest Christians and for the Psalms.

Schism and Heresy

In the letters of John Hales to D. Carlton on the Synod of Dort, Hales relates how a member of the Synod defined heresy and schism. A certain Lydius of South-Holland proposed this distinction between schism and heresy:
…For a Schism is only a breach of Charity and Peace of the Church, the Doctrine remaining entire. If there were a separation by reason of Doctrine Heretical (as here he thought there was) it was not to be called a Schism.

A Note Regarding John Edwards

It took a couple years, but Edwards finally owned up to the truth that he cheated on his wife and fathered a child with his mistress. The only thing I want to point out is that the National Enquirer broke this story, and when they did a lot of the reaction was, “You’re going to believe a story from the National Enquirer?!! You can’t be serious!”

Well, yes, I am. The Enquirer also broke the Gary Hart story in 1987. And if not for them, we might never have found out about Edwards. Do you think CNN or the New York Times was going to stake out his hotel and chase him down the hall like the Enquirer did? They did the hard and dirty work that our prestigious outlets can’t stoop to in the case of a leading Democratic figure. I am thankful that the Enquirer is out there.

I’d also add that if anyone wants to know why no one trusts (or should trust) elected officials of either party, this is a great example. Yet another bald-faced liar who lies on TV interviews, in indignant press releases, and so on until the week before a book comes out nailing him to the wall. Just like Bill Clinton, just like Gary Hart, just like many others. Not only do they cheat on their spouses (Republicans too), but they lie and lie and lie until FORCED to tell the truth. So is there any reason to think they aren’t lying about all kinds of other things where they will never be forced to tell the truth? The presumption is that the always lie, unless forced to tell the truth.

New York Times – Goodbye

So the Times is thinking about charging for content again. ┬áThe point at which they do that will be the point at which I stop reading it online. The Wall Street Journal went to a pay system a couple months ago and I promptly yanked it off my iPhone and stopped reading it online. I believe that readers will flow to free sites and ignore paid ones. I will read the BBC, other British papers, or the Moscow Times before I will pay to read any paper online. There will always be a free stream of news out there in our age, and that’s where readers will go. This is just another error from the Times, one that they will probably undo (again) in a year or so.

The News

Like a flock of birds we tend to follow whatever events the culture spews out at us. Somehow, various central powers of observation decide that an event is what we should be thinking about – it might be Pat Robertson this week for example – and when they have determined this, the entire food chain of media pivots and fixates on that event.

Newspapers write articles, bloggers on all sides chip in their take, talk radio rants about it, and TV covers it 24/7. The sources of information that actually follow the beat of their own drum and talk about something else (such as the writing of Borges for example) are few. Most websites and other media, down to Facebook user’s status updates are ALL ABOUT THE SAME STUFF. I tune it out and ignore it. If everyone is talking about Pat Robertson it makes me want to avoid the topic. Why is it like this? Who decided that everything that happens in Washington D.C. needs to be in the news on a daily basis? I could care less at this point. The implicit message of this focus on DC and Hollywood is that they are the places which matter to the exclusion of others. The similar lack of any meaningful coverage of church affairs, for example, implies that what happens in the church is of no import to the broader society, unless of course a Sodomite gets ordained.

Anyway, let’s talk about something other than what the tag cloud of the culture says is important.

Church Government = National Government?

I’m wondering if the church often reflects the governing paradigm of the world-empire that it is situated in. In Roman times this meant the highly-structured governmental organization that mirrored the Imperial government. In America it means a reflection of corporate governance, with the pastor as CEO and maybe a “board” with some other trappings of democracy. My impression is that even in the Catholic Church, democracy has invaded at the local level to a large extent.

James Jordan writes “One of the essential failures of the Protestant Reformation was the forfiture of a truly international ecclesiastical organization, and too close a tie of the church to national interests.”

Steve Ballmer

I just watched the video of Steve Ballmer presenting the HP “slate” tablet PC [note that Ballmer is trying to get ahead of Apple on using the slate name]. I think Microsoft needs a new public face. Ballmer’s voice is grating, he looks like he’s mad and he dresses in a manner that looks uncomfortable and definitely not hip. Half the battle in all things technological is the coolness factor, and Ballmer doesn’t have it. Google has Brin and Page, Apple has Jobs and Ives, and Microsoft has old guys in suits who act like your Principal.

Perhaps the best move Microsoft could make is to put Ballmer out to pasture and hire a new, edgy guy from somewhere unexpected to run the company and shake things up. Because I guarantee that when Apple rolls out iSlate in a few weeks it will make Ballmer’s lame tablet presentation look awful, like it was.

UPDATE: he is more of a lunatic than I thought: