ENTRY 1535 | THURSDAY,
I am speaking
to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles,
I magnify my ministry in order to make my fellow Jews jealous,
and thus save some of them. For if their rejection means the
reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean
but life from the dead? If the dough offered as first fruits
is holy, so is the whole lump; and if the root is holy, so are
the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and
you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share
the richness of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches.
If you do boast, remember it is not you that support the root,
but the root that supports you. You will say, "Branches were
broken off so that I might be grafted in." That is true. They
were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast
only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will
he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God:
severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to
you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too
will be cut off. And even the others, if they do not persist
in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power
to graft them in again. For if you have been cut from what is
by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature,
into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural
branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.
From St. Paul's
letter to the Romans, chapter 11:13-24,
from today's Orthodox lectionary
See the homiletical thought below. «
diary - life in Northern Ireland
the visit begun yesterday to Ireland's most Northerly point, Malin
Head on the North Atlantic Ocean, besides its geographical interest,
the point has some historical significance and is the site of a pilgrimage
every August 15 to commemorate the Feast of the Assumption.
The ruins of the church seen above date from the 16th century, and
the cave seen to the left in the hillside, known as "the wee
house of Malin," was inhabited by a hermit-monk who always invited
visitors to enter his space and, according to legend, there was always
room for all who came (the cave is barely deeper than it appears in
the photo to be in height). There is also a well nearby, the waters
of which are reputed to have healing powers.
catechism class at St. Ignatius was well attended. Misty weather when
we finished dissuaded Jack Lamb from driving us to a loyalist parade
in Sandy Row, which he wanted me to witness. Parading season is im
full swing here, and though there have been no reported incidents
of violence thus far, there are murmurs of worse things coming, with
the high point of the season being July 12, the day that begins with
the midnight bonfires.
I attended a lunch that Jack hosted at Havana in Bank Square in downtown
Belfast, with Melanie
Grimsley, the survivor of a fire that claimed her sister's life
when they were toddlers. She will give a talk and presentation about
beauty, based on her biographical book Beauty for Ashes, at
Townsend Presbyterian in September. Tonight we plan to attend the
opening of a photo exhibition at Shankill Library. «
to articles on current issues—news and opinion that may signify how
the cultural winds are blowing. Note that most 'news reports' are
not 'objective' and if some are 'neutral' it's because the writers
and editors are disinterested (could care less about the topic). Neither
are 'news reports,' in general, highly accurate or unbiased; try to
discern the bias of any report's source; always read aware and at
your own risk.
Ibrahim says her baby is disabled because she gave birth with her
legs chained while imprisoned in Sudan for being a Christian
Cruz issues new report ennumerating many Obama lawless acts
gets Planned Parenthood award for increasing 'abortion visits'
restores free speech rights of protesters outside abortion clinics
University poll: a majority say Obama is the worst President since
WWII; think Romney would have been better
(This department alternates with Writing
introduction, I resume the discussion of quotable passages from Chapter
5 of Carl Trueman's little book, Republocrat,
Confessions of a Liberal Conservative, with Trueman's text
in italics and my responses in roman type.
Page 80: Why
do those who have a great capacity for subtle thinking in matters
of theology seem to prefer to think in terms of very straightforward,
black-and-white, if not Manichaean, categories when it comes to politics?
I can offer no definitive answer, but I want in this essay to make
a few suggestions.
dualistic; for example, God and Satan are equal; spirit and material
are opposite and opposing forces.
I think he's
close to the answer in saying a few paragraphs later, "Representative
democratic politics . . . is not conducive to subtlety." Which
is so true that I want to restate is as, "it mitigates and militates
against subtlety." The parties both try to reduce their whole
campaigns to common-denominator issues, the biggest of which are economic
considerations, character and, closest to home, "what (if anything)
is in it for me in this candidate's election?" Almost all of
the advertisements that attempt to maximize arguments based on these
core issues are at best half truths and are often outright lies.
Page 82: To
paraphrase Winston Churchill, democracy is a bad system, but it is
better than any of the others that have been tried."
Page 85: Political
debates are not really meant to be debates at all; they are rather
vaudeville sketches that allow the players to make their pitch for
public affection, rather like those balloon debates in school: "I
don't think I should be thrown out of the balloon because my mother
makes the best cookies."
Page 87: It
is surely the case that the positive portrayalin soap operas,
movies, and sitcomsof those pursuing particular sexual lifestyles
that are antithetical both to the Bible's teaching and to traditional
morality has had a more profound impact on how people think about
these things than any argument.
cites this as a basis for the fact that political campaigns always
try to come up with "stories" they can sell in order to
promote their candidates and issues, rather than campaigining on the
"issues," which are usually too complicated for voters who
do little if any reading.
Thus far there
is precious little in this chapter that I think most conservative
Christians would argue with. When he takes up the discussion of the
use of the terms "elite" and "elitists," however,
it seems to me he may be missing the mark.
Page 92: One
might add to this the language that often occurs on conservative talk
radio and elsewhere about "elites"whether Washington,
Hollywood, law schools, or whatever. Indeed, while elite may
in many contexts be a good worddoes anyone, for example, want
a less-than-elite brain surgeon to open his or her skull?in
political discourse on the Right it is used like the dreaded block
spot of the pirates in Treasure Island. Just as in Britain
the language of class always elicits a visceral reaction from the
Left, even when on the lips of a socialist as quintessentially upper-class
as Tony Benn, so use of the e word on the Right in America
has much the same effect on its core constituency. . . .
It seems to
me that Trueman is missing the point, though in his way perhaps he
is admitting that, too. "Elite" is used by conservatives,
virtually always, as ironic: how ironic that the party of "labor,"
the "common people" (the factory workers over against the
main street shop owners which Democrats fashion as "hated capitalists"
while heaping their special favors on the truly wealthy fatcats of
Wall Street and the banking syndicates). Harvard-Yale-Princeton, the
New York Times, the big-four television networks . . . all
of these are hardcare elites, and elites who pretend to be by of and
for "everyday working people"; elite institutions run by
people who attended all the same schools, share the same religion
(secular humanism) and think the same way about every social issue.
Though I am
loathe to quote Rush Limbaugh, he nails it when he said of Bill and
Hillary, "they think they're better than us." And in some
ways, even we think they're better than we are . . . how many of us
have even qualified to apply to Harvard or Yale, much less getting
enrolled there and perhaps earning a degree from one of them? And
a great majority of America's daily newspapers take their cues and
make their obiesance to the New York Times, every midnight
by checking to see how many of their front-page stories are about
the same events and issues that the Times chose for that day.
While claiming to represent "the every-day working class,"
most of them despise the working class. It's Obama's telling his San
Francisco contributors that the unwashed masses in small-town Pennsylvania
"cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't
like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment."
I'm sure it sat well with his elitist crowd in San Francisco, but
it certainly doesn't sound very demo- or Democratic.
shared Trueman's preference that George W. Bushcertainly from
an elite background himself, but not an elitistI would
prefer that he not overplay his "Texas good old boy" personna
. . . but better that than that he play someone who knew what we all
need whether we know it or not, as every Democrat from Adlai Stevenson
(and that's as far back as I go on assessing Democrat candidates)
has done, with partial exceptions going to John F. Kennedy (ironically)
and Jimmy Carter, both of whom I believe tried to be populist.
Page 95: .
. . only one country in the entire industrialized world does not
have some form of universal health care. . .
By which he
means the United States. As an Englishman, I'd think he'd know that
Ireland does not have universal health care (the fact that it does
not is a main reason the United Kingdom is confident that its Northern
Ireland Province will not be uniting with the Republic of Ireland
soon). Maybe he did not consider Ireland "industrialized,"
but that's a word that has changed for most of the world since 1975
or '80. It may be arguable that only China and India are "industrialized"
Page 96: .
. . one suspects that . . . what one might call the sheer power
of the Great Liberal Conspiracy Narrative, as promulgated on a myriad
of talk-radio shows, whereby the fact that certain liberal figures
believe it to be taking place is enough in and of itself to discredit
the whole idea of climate change . . . .
I would not
go that far, but . . . it's certainly legitimate to examine who is
on the latest bandwagon (I wonder if Trueman remembers the days when
the nightly news shows were beating our heads night after night over
climate change resulting from nuclear bomb testing?) and whether they
have ulterior motives that may lead them to skew "scientific
findings," especially when we know for a fact that many of those
findings were intentionally skewed. Certainly liberalsadvocates
of big governments with big spending budgets everywherestand
to benefit in any programs they promote to curb "climate change,"
whether there's any substance to it or not. Be skeptical.
I can't argue
with his main points on page 99: No Christian should parade around
with a picture of the president as the Joker in Batman or associate
with those whose idea of an argument is to scream obscenities at elected
officials from behind a police barricade.
in civic society should set an example to others of what the best
citizen looks like, not simply reinforce stereotypes of what the worst
appears to be. And that applies across the political spectrum.
Trueman's final points and my conclusions. «
point of view