Cosmic Imagery

This post from Doug Wilson is so good that I am going to steal the whole thing:

[Discussing Matt. 24:29-31] “Everywhere there is similar ‘collapsing solar system’ imagery in the Old Testament (see Ezek. 32:7Amos 8:9; and Joel 2:28-32), the reference is always to the same thing — the destruction of nations and cities. There is no scriptural reason to handle such passages differently when they are quoted in the New Testament, especially when they are quoted in response to a question about when Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. Everywhere the Bible uses this kind of language, it is applied to the judgment of God falling on a particular nation or city — Babylon, Edom, Egypt, the northern kingdom of Israel. There is no scriptural reason to think it is any different in Matthew 24″ (Heaven Misplaced, p. 105).

Growing up Dispensationalist, I took all the solar system imagery literally. It has been a gradual process of unlearning for me to read the Bible differently.

Rowan Williams, Arch-Heretic

Rowan Williams resigning is not going to solve anything. The Church of England is as far gone as TEC, and will not suddenly produce a reversal. GAFCON should recognize this and create a new See at the center of a new Communion.

Rowan Williams has embraced abomination for some time, see here and here.



…by the end of the 80’s I had definitely come to the conclusion that scripture was not dealing with the predicament of persons whom we should recognise as homosexual by nature. And many of the arguments assumed by theologians in the Middle Ages and later increasingly seemed to beg questions or to rest on contested grounds. I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.

…realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…

In fact, of course, in a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Sign me up for “an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts.”

St. Augustine wrote:

Therefore shameful acts which are contrary to nature, such as the acts of the Sodomites (Gen 19.5 ff),  are everywhere and always to be detested and punished. Even if all peoples should do them, they would be liable to the same condemnation by divine law; for it has not made men to use one another in this way. Indeed, the social bond which should exist between God and us is violated when the nature of which he is the author is polluted by a perversion of sexual desire.

But when God commands something contrary to the customs or laws of a people, even if that has never been previously done, it has to be done. If it has fallen into disuse, it must be restored. If it has not been established, it must be established…how much more must God, the governor of his creation, be unhesitatingly obeyed in whatever he commands!


Might Have Been Facebooks

Facebook and Twitter are omnipresent platforms that emerged almost out of nowhere to attain their current positions. Five years from now, they may be gone or in decline, but they seem to be going from strength to strength at the moment. So how is it that tech giants like Microsoft, Google and (back then) AOL and Yahoo failed to create Facebook, Twitter or something akin to them?

Consider Flicker, owned by Yahoo. It had a dedicated set of users who loved to share pictures, something that Facebook now dominates in a less aesthetically pleasing way. Instead of charging people for more storage, what if it had made unlimited storage free and done some advertising? Add in a chat capability and you have a proto-Facebook. It wouldn’t have taken many more steps to roll in micro-blogging or what we now know as status updates, presto – Facebook!

Or what about AOL chat? From 2000-2005 or so, it was *the* thing, almost what Twitter is now. How hard would it have been for AOL to give users the ability to publish their IM’s to the wider world if they wanted to, and to follow the updates of other users?  Technically, it seems like it would have been a trivial effort. How did Microsoft, with its vast sums of money, not foresee the coming move to social in the early Oughts?

I  don’t know, but it does show that large companies have a terribly hard time in forecasting the future. Indeed, we all do. Maybe some people out there saw what was coming, but my guess is that it was mostly just time and chance that led to the explosion of Facebook and Twitter. AOL and Yahoo were sitting on potential gold mines, and all the while wondering how to get back their pre dot-com mojo. Maybe it is due to the difficulty of executing on new ideas in a big company. Say I am a software engineer at AOL in 2002 and I have this bright idea to turn AIM into what Twitter is, who do I tell? How do I convince the powers in the company that the future isn’t buying Time Warner and creating portals and front pages, but instead is connecting people to each other via a public AIM with status updates? I probably either get shot down or ignored, and the enterprise certainly isn’t going to do a massive implementation on my idea on its beloved core software.

So innovation like that has to come from somewhere else, probably the proverbial college dorm room or Cupertino garage. The same thing is true in a lot of industries. Big companies simply cannot foster the kind of out of the box thinking that produces a Facebook, instead they have to acquire other companies who do their R&D for them. No matter how much they spend and how hard they try, something about the large organization works against real breakthroughs.

Rev. Steve Breedlove on Anglican 1000

Steve Breedlove has a really excellent letter on the PEAR USA website outlining the relationship of PEAR USA churches to ACNA. It is a hopeful letter, with many salient points. One excerpt:

..many key leaders in the ACNA want us to come in as PEARUSA. The zeal for exploring our identity as an entity, for seeking to be formed as a jurisdiction, was shaped by conversations with ACNA leaders. Early on, rectors of large, mission‐minded ACNA congregations proposed: “Come in as a jurisdiction – as a unit. Bring your best to the table to help us do what we are all committed to do.” Archbishop Duncan himself spoke clearly. Sitting in a restaurant near the provincial office in Pittsburgh in early January, +Terrell Glenn asked, “How do we begin to move into a right relationship with the Anglican Church in North America?” ++Bob’s wisdom was, “Begin by being what you always thought that you were.”

Since that time, many conversations have revealed an eagerness to receive the body of churches that we currently refer to as PEARUSA into ACNA. This is not competition: it is the creative synergy that comes as like‐minded people with much in common help each other do the work of Christ. We are being invited to be a part of the big net.

Severian of Gabala : 2 Testaments, 2 Brothers

Severian of Gabala in his Sermons on Genesis says,

The two Testaments are brothers: they issue from the same father, and that is why they express themselves in similar terms. They have almost exactly the same appearance, the same traits. Just as there many points of similarity between two brothers, whom the same father brought into the world, there is the same close relationship between the two Testaments, whose origin is the same. In the Old Testament, the law appeared first, followed by the prophets ; in the New Grace, the Gospel is first and the apostles follow. Here we find twelve prophets, namely Hosea and others: then the four famous ones, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. In turn the New Testament gives us twelve apostles and four evangelists. It is by brothers that the voice of God in the Old Testament is made known; because Moses and Aaron were the first ones charged to set forth the will of the Lord: similarly, in the Gospel, the first that were called were Peter and Andrew. There was only a regular grace, here a grace two times more precious. There the were two brothers were called Aaron and Moses ; here there are two brothers twice, Peter and Andrew, and James and John. It was the intention of Christ to offer us an image of love in the Holy Spirit, and to make us brothers at the same time by feeling and spirit: in consequence he takes nature as a foundation; he joins to it the tender feelings of humanity, and with that he built the foundations of his Church. In the Old Testament, the first miracle that appears is the changing of the waters from a river into blood ; the first miracle that we see in the New is the changing of water into wine.

I love the bit about Moses, Aaron, Peter, Andrew, James and John. A doubling of the Old Covenant pattern.

Slovenly Moderns

In his book From Dawn to Decadence, Jacques Barzun uses the term “demotic” to describe our era of decline. Demotic means “of the people.” I was struck by his analysis of casual style, and this is an extended excerpt from the book:

Casualness took many forms, and to wear jeans that were torn and stained was casual, but only at the start. When one could go to a shop and buy the jeans ready-made with spots and patches, cut short and unraveled at the edges, a new intention was evident. When young women put on an old sweater, pearls, and evening pumps together, when young men went about in suits of which the sleeves covered their hands and the legs of the trousers were trod underfoot, they made known a rejection of elegance, a denial of feminine allure, and a sympathy for the “disadvantaged.” Such clothes were not cheap; their style was anti-propriety, anti-bourgeois; it implied siding with the poor, whose clothes are hand-me-downs in bad condition. To appear unkempt, undressed, and for perfection unwashed, is the key signature of the whole age. As in earlier times the striving was to look and act like “quality,” whether aristocrat or upper bourgeois, now the effort was to look like one marching along the bottom line of society. The hitherto usual motive behind self-adornment-vanity-had the advantage of concealing physical blemishes, thereby showing regard for the onlookers’ sensibilities. The reverse, the self purposely uncared for, expressed at once demotic anti-snobbery and demotic egotism.

The Unfitting appealed to the young but was not their monopoly. A sample of the casual style among adults had been to sport a business suit at the opera; this expanded into the open collar and no tie or jerseys and T-shirts almost anywhere, even in church. Airport crowds offered a typical fashion show. Where office workers were still required by their employer’s rules to wear business suits, “free Friday” relaxed them to usher in the weekend. In schools, extreme unfitness caused a reversal. Dress codes were enforced despite protests and strikes, so as to put an end to the distraction caused by the bizarre and sometimes indecent garb that the pupils had devised, unchecked by their parents. It turned out that discipline in classes and hallways improved, further evidence that the unfitting was an aspect of the unconditioned life.

Clothing was but the most obvious sign of the demotic style. Other choices expressed the same taste, for example, getting married underground in a subway station or around a pool, in swimming suits. And since unfitness meant freedom, other conventions should be defied, notably those classed as manners. The word was seldom used and the practice highly variable. Business firms and airlines thanked their customers effusively, but civility between persons was scant, especially in cities.

Deference toward women had decreased and was sometimes resented by feminists as condescending. Nor were the elderly entitled to more courtesy than other equals. The curious use of first names soon after acquaintance was a convention that showed the demotic paradox about convention itself.

The need to hurry, real or imagined, had created fast food, available at all hours, and it begot eating and drinking everywhere at any time. Shops, public offices, libraries, and museums had to post “No Eating or Drinking” signs to protect their premises from accidents and the disposal of refuse. The consumer society consumed, and up to a point one can sympathize with the impulse. In a heedless, uncivil world the driven needed to look after their wants as soon as they arose, to pay themselves back, as it were, by self-coddling. The indulgence was after all but the extension of the habit of EMANCIPATION. So many curbs and hindrances to desire had been removed-the legal and conventional by new laws and new conventions, the natural ones by techne with the aid of science-that the practice of permissiveness sprang in fact from the workings of welfare, coupled with the power of doing innumerable things by pushing a button.

Pleasure first and fast in a society that oppressed only unintentionally was bound to make instinctive rebels. At work, criticism or reproof was felt to be intolerable; there is a human right to make mistakes. Observers spoke of the decline of authority, but how could it survive in a company of equals? Distrust attached to anything that retained a shadow of authoritativeness-old people, old ideas, old conceptions of what a leader or a teacher was meant to do.

I realized that my youth came at the tail end of this process, when the last mores were crumbling. The idealization of the Sixties by the media colored my early reality. I sometimes think I will spend my whole life attempting to undo the foolishness I took for truth when I was young.

OT in the NT

Doug Wilson has a short snippet on marking up his Bible:

“When I was first working through this, I bought a Bible I could mark up well. I then spent a few weeks looking up every passage in the Old Testament that is quoted in the New. Many Bibles will mark such cross-references in the New Testament, but it is rarely done in the Old. I highlighted every quotation from the Old Testament in the New Testament, and then I looked it up in the Old Testament and highlighted it there. Then I wrote in the Old Testament margin where in the New Testament this passage was quoted. When I was done, I had sloppily executed The Apostolic Study Bible. When I was reading in the Old Testament, I could immediately tell if Jesus, Peter, or Paul had ever discussed the passage I was currently wondering about. I would then look at what they said, and the striking thing is that they were consistently surprising. They oftensaid the passage I was reading was not about what I had thought it was” (Heaven Misplaced, p. 95).

I did the same thing to my favorite NAS back in the Nineties and it was and is an invaluable aid to study.

Donlon’s Tractarian Parish

Father Kevin Donlon’s parish in Florida has an article on its website called, “Being Anglican, Being Catholic.” It presumably reflects the thinking of this man who is currently the Canon for Ecclesiastical Affairs of the AMiA.  

The article is thoroughly Anglo-Catholic. I searched in vain for the words “Scripture” or “Bible” in this article – they aren’t there. This is not to say that this parish doesn’t hold to Scriptural norms of course, but it is telling that when you write an article outlining what you are about, you don’t see fit to mention the Bible anywhere in it. The article says of the Prayer Book:

This book provided a consistent tool for liturgical worship and formation throughout England that, over time and after the death of Henry and the accession of his son, Edward VI, became much more Protestant in nature than the former king would have tolerated.

Let’s grant for the sake of argument that this comparison of Edward VI and Henry VII is correct, what of it? This statement says nothing of the relative merits of the positions of Edward or Henry, it just puts it out there as if being “more Protestant” is recognizably a bad thing. This is where the Bible might come in handy as a standard to measure liturgical practices against. Who cares if something is more or less Protestant, or more or less Catholic? What matters is if it is more or less Scriptural.

The article says that the term Catholic, “refers to the idea that the fullness of Christian belief is that which is shared by all believers from the birth of the Faith forward. (St. Vincent of Lérins described this view best when he described the Catholic Faith as that which is believed in all places, in all times, and by all people.)”

This standard from St. Vincent is a pleasant sounding canard that is often used to bless all manner of idolatry. As a standard, what does it really mean?  At bottom, it does not end debate, it merely broadens it to untenable proportions. Take the example of icons as an example, St. Epiphanius was entirely against them, writing to John, the Bishop of Jerusalem written in 394 A.D., he condemns images of men or Christ being set up in churches as against the Scriptures:

Moreover, I have heard that certain persons have this grievance against me: When I accompanied you to the holy place called Bethel, there to join you in celebrating the Collect, after the use of the Church, I came to a villa called Anablatha and, as I was passing, saw a lamp burning there. Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loath that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ’s church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person. They, however, murmured, and said that if I made up my mind to tear it, it was only fair that I should give them another curtain in its place. As soon as I heard this, I promised that I would give one, and said that I would send it at once. Since then there has been some little delay, due to the fact that I have been seeking a curtain of the best quality to give to them instead of the former one, and thought it right to send to Cyprus for one. I have now sent the best that I could find, and I beg that you will order the presbyter of the place to take the curtain which I have sent from the hands of the Reader, and that you will afterwards give directions that curtains of the other sort—opposed as they are to our religion—shall not be hung up in any church of Christ. A man of your uprightness should be careful to remove an occasion of offence unworthy alike of the Church of Christ and of those Christians who are committed to your charge.

How does this fit the standard of St. Vincent? Or take St. Augustine, who wrote:

Do not hunt up the numbers of ignorant people, who even in the true religion are superstitious, or are so given up to evil passions as to forget what they have promised to God. I know that there are many worshippers of tombs and pictures. I know that there are many who drink to great excess over the dead, and who, in the feasts which they make for corpses, bury themselves over the buried,and give to their gluttony and drunkenness the name of religion.

Both Epiphanius and Augustine disagree with the Seventh Ecumenical Council; how do we decide which of them is correct? Is St. Vincent’s dictum of any help here? No, it isn’t. Instead, we can agree with St. Gregory of Nyssa, who wrote in “On the Soul and the Resurrection”:

I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings.

And again, we can affirm with St. Cyril who wrote in Glaphyrorum, Genesis, lib. ii.:

That which the holy Scripture has not said, by what means should we receive and account it among those things that be true?

Following the Vicentian canon affirmed by Donlon’s parish, what we end up affirming (if anything) are the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, something that all Classical Anglicans agree with anyway. The article goes on to say this of the Pope:

Where does this leave the Roman Catholic Church? How should we relate to it? There can be no question of the place of the Bishop of Rome within the Western Church; his very title among the great leaders of the Church was, indeed, “Patriarch of the West.”

There can be no question about the position of the Pope? How is this sentiment in any way Anglican? It would be news to Thomas Cranmer, who wrote: “I know none other head but Christ of his catholic church, neither will I acknowledge the bishop of Rome to have any more authority than any other bishop hath, by the word of God, and by the doctrine of the old and pure catholic church four hundred years after Christ.” The church itself realized in times gone by that the supremacy of Rome was due to the supremacy of the Roman Empire, as in the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon:

For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city.

The statement from Donlon’s parish does not elaborate on what our relationship to the Pope should be, but it does say, “ It is vitally important that we recognize the importance of the ministry of the Church of Rome and consider the many spiritual riches they have to offer those seeking to live out the Catholic Faith.” I believe in a degree of receptive ecumenism, which is to say that there are things in Rome that we can learn from. However, this is a church that still holds to Indulgences, Purgatory, prayer to the dead, bowing to inanimate objects, and so on. These are all things universally and correctly rejected by Classical Anglicanism. To embrace them is to reject God’s Word on the subject, and to betray Anglican history.

Finally, the article deals with “Celtic Christianity”, something you hear a lot about from people who like Celtic crosses, St. Patrick’s Day and not being totally submitted to the Pope. Just what is Celtic Christianity? Who knows? Richard Fletcher says:

There never was a ‘Celtic church’. Irish churchmen repeatedly and sincerely professed their Roman allegiances: and if there were divergent practices between Rome and Ireland, well, so there were between Rome and Constantinople – or Alexandria or Carthage or Milan or Toledo. The terms ‘Roman’ and ‘Celtic’ are too monolithic. In terms of custom and practice there were many churches in sixth- and seventh-century Europe, not One Church. Christendom was many-mansioned.

It still is!

You have to wonder why it is that “we” must always be appreciating and gaining from Rome, the East and “Celtic” Christianity, and why they don’t need to accommodate us?

Ultimately, this is a parish that would be more comfortable in the Ordinariate, and I can’t help but wonder if that is where it is headed.

What I find unsettling about this entire article and the position of power that Donlon has been in it that his position is totally opposed to what the AMiA was founded to be. The AMiA’s Solemn Declaration of Principles affirmed the 39 Articles clearly. This declaration was to be re-affirmed annually by every AMiA priest, and initially using these words:

I further affirm the catholic creeds, the  dogmatic definitions of the General Councils of the undivided Church, the Book of  Common Prayer and the Ordinal, 1662, the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of  England in their literal and grammatical sense, and the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888,  since the same are conformable to the Scriptures, and I consequently hold myself bound to teach nothing contrary thereto, therefore I do solemnly engage to conform to the  Doctrines, Discipline and Worship of the Anglican Mission in America.”

Did vows like this mean anything to our modern Tractarians?


If you want to look for a date by which our economy is going to really start feeling the pain, look to 2014, when mandatory entitlement spending for Baby Boomers really starts kicking in. Steven Wieting writes for Citigroup:

The demands of fiscal promises made to the baby boom won’t simply go away.  Instead, away from cyclical forces likely to improve near-term budget deficits,  mandatory spending in entitlement programs in excess of revenue growth merely  begins in calendar 2014 (see Figure 6).

No mainstream U.S. presidential candidate has offered specific proposals to  eliminate the funding gap in U.S. entitlement programs that build continuously in the  calendar years of 2014 and beyond. If for some significant portion of that period,  both low interest rates and high deficits persist, then what can the U.S. expect?

It is much more difficult to measure the effects of “business left undone,” rather than  obvious impact, like the brief surge in U.S. solvency concern. But in a “cold,” crisis,  rather than a conflagration, one should expect trend weakening in U.S. investment,  productivity and wages if unusually large savings flows are directed at federal  deficits, leaving less savings for productive private investment, all else constant.

Yes, with both a strong government credit profile, and private investment  opportunities, the U.S. could be able to import foreign savings, in our view, running
a current account deficit of greater magnitude perhaps than current readings, near  3% of U.S. GDP. However, the degree to which foreign savings failed to be invested  productively during the 2000s housing boom provides a warning. More importantly,  the long duration of worsening in the case of healthcare and retirement entitlements  suggest a build up of liabilities to the external sector of unprecedented magnitude.

Deficit spending — away from short-term stabilizing effects — has the negative  long-term impact of compounding. By the Congressional Budget Offices estimates,  the federal interest share of U.S. GDP would rise from 1.4% in 2011 to 7.2% by  2030 and 15.8% in 2050 in a scenario in which current policy is followed, and  government healthcare costs rise at a somewhat slower pace. This leaves even the  effectiveness of government weakened. But the impact on private investment,  productivity growth and wages would be more pronounced.

Under assumptions in which there are no offsets for reduced flows of savings into  private capital formation, we estimate each 1 percentage point of the primary (noninterest) U.S. budget deficit per GDP would reduce productivity growth by about 0.2  percentage points. This provides an equivalent drag on potential GDP growth and  an estimate of the trend real interest rate.