Once upon a time there was a man who was alive.

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States
St. Cuthbert and Disciples in a Boat



Karen at Lent and Beyond has been doing a fine job of gathering links and information on the disaster in South Asia. I can only echo her recommendations to pray and to give. I don't think the full extent of this tragedy has sunk into my head- probably into anyone's head. Thinking about it is numbing.

Lord have mercy.


Diego Garcia

I would like to ask prayers for my dad, who is on his way to the island of Diego Garcia, to serve as the Protestant chaplain to the US troops there. The base is primarily Navy with some Air Force; my dad is a Mississippi Air Guard chaplain. He volunteered earlier in this year to fill any slots that were needed, and Diego Garcia was open. His tour is over at the end of April- not as long as an Army tour would be, but still quite some time to be away from home. The island is quite small, an incredibly long ways from anything. Not all the pastimes, as you may imagine, on the island are exactly wholesome.

The recent devastating tsunami did not affect Diego Garcia at all- it apparently passed well to the north. Still, it's a frightening thought- the highest point on the island is only twenty-two feet above the ocean. But other than that, it's about as safe a place as you can find. Nuclear war could break out and Diego Garcia would probably emerge unscathed, it's so remote.

As of tonight, dad is stuck in Norfolk, VA, in the snow, with no coat! Airlines are wonderful. He's hoping he'll make it to Diego Garcia by Saturday or Sunday- after stops in Naples and Bahrain. My father, the world traveler... He was in the Army Guard for years, but shortly after moving back to Mississippi he enlisted in the Air National Guard. So now, instead of annual training at Ft. Stewart, GA, with alligators and mud holes, he spends his summer vacation, er, duty, in much nicer places. So far he's been to Hawaii, France, and Iceland: terrible, yes, but someone must do it. Diego Garcia isn't quite Hawaii, but it certainly beats Baghdad or Basra!


A Hidden Power

With the weapon of the deceiver the First-born clad Himself, that with the weapon that killed, He might restore to life again! With the tree wherewith he slew us, He delivered us. With the wine which maddened us, with it we were made chaste! With the rib that was drawn out of Adam, the wicked one drew out the heart of Adam. There rose from the Rib a hidden power, which cut off Satan as Dagon: for in that Ark a book was hidden that cried and proclaimed concerning the Conqueror! There was then a mystery revealed, in that Dagon was brought low in his own place of refuge! The accomplishment came after the type, in that the wicked one was brought low in the place in which he trusted! Blessed be He Who came and in Him were accomplished the mysteries of the left hand, and the right hand. Fulfilled was the mystery that was in the Lamb, and fulfilled was the type that was in Dagon. Blessed is He Who by the True Lamb redeemed us, and destroyed our destroyer as He did Dagon! In December when the nights are long, rose unto us the Day, of Whom there is no bound! In winter when all the world is gloomy, forth came the Fair One Who cheered all in the world! In winter that makes the earth barren, virginity learned to bring forth. In December, that causes the travails of the earth to cease, in it were the travails of virginity. The early lamb no one ever used to see before the shepherds: and as for the true Lamb, in the season of His birth, the tidings of Him too hasted unto the shepherds. That old wolf saw the sucking Lamb, and he trembled before Him, though He had concealed himself; for because the wolf had put on sheep’s clothing, the Shepherd of all became a Lamb in the flocks, in order that when the greedy one had been bold against the Meek, the Mighty One might rend that Eater.

St. Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns on the Nativity

All Things in a State of Tumult

'Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown, which were wrought in silence by God. How, then, was He manifested to the world?A star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star, and its light was exceedingly great above them all. And there was agitation felt as to whence this new spectacle came, so unlike to everything else [in the heavens]. Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a beginning which had been prepared by God. Henceforth all things were in a state of tumult, because He meditated the abolition of death.'

St. Ignatius, Epistle to the Ephesians, par. 19

Today the old order of corruption is done away with. Today the world, which we have turned upside down and declared to be right, is turned back. The revolution of heaven against hell, to borrow G. K. Chesterton's words, is joined. Our Saviour, our Champion against our dark enemy, has come, in the most unlikely of ways. Our God, our Saviour, has become man, and is born of the Virgin today, in a dirty cave filled with animals. Herod trembles and fears, and rightly: the old is about to be burnt up. This baby will raze the ruins and send kingdoms crashing down. Dawn is breaking. This is the end. This is the beginning. Our God is come; the silence is broken by a newborn's cries. The abolition of death is upon us.

'Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.'

Zechariah 2:10


On Education III: The Myth of the Group Session

Do you dislike this thing called "breakout sessions" or "group sessions"? Do you cringe at comments like "this would be better if it were more interactive"? Are you one of the ones that audibly groan, indeed, suffer convulsions of nausea, when you hear "Now, let's break into small groups"? Then you'll love this rant.

So, I'm compiling some evaluation surveys of various staff development workshops held last year here at the library. As I compile some of the written statements, I'm running across things like "More group interaction so we know what others are thinking," "More group discussion," and "Be more interactive."

Gag! Cough! Spatter.

Read the rest: Group Sessions and Being More Interactive (How Vomitous!) Not quite the Cappadocians, but brilliant nonetheless and refreshingly honest. My experience as a student is completely concurrent with Clifton's observations.


On Education II

Do not be surprised if to you, who go to school every day, and who, through their writings, associate with the learned men of old, I say that out of my own experience I have evolved something more useful. Now this is my counsel, that you should not unqualifiedly give over your minds to these men, as a ship is surrendered to the rudder, to follow whither they list, but that, while receiving whatever of value they have to offer, you yet recognize what it is wise to ignore. Accordingly, from this point on I shall take up and discuss the pagan writings, and how we are to discriminate among them.

Into the life eternal the Holy Scriptures lead us, which teach us through divine words. But so long as our immaturity forbids our understanding their deep thought, we exercise our spiritual perceptions upon profane writings, which are not altogether different, and in which we perceive the truth as it were in shadows and in mirrors. Thus we imitate those who perform the exercises of military practice, for they acquire skill in gymnastics and in dancing, and then in battle reap the reward of their training. We must needs believe that the greatest of all battles lies before us, in preparation for which we must do and suffer all things to gain power. Consequently we must be conversant with poets, with historians, with orators, indeed with all men who may further our soul's salvation. Just as dyers prepare the cloth before they apply the dye, be it purple or any other color, so indeed must we also, if we would preserve indelible the idea of the true virtue, become first initiated in the pagan lore, then at length give special heed to the sacred and divine teachings, even as we first accustom ourselves to the sun's reflection in the water, and then become able to turn our eyes upon the very sun itself.

For just as bees know how to extract honey from flowers, which to men are agreeable only for their fragrance and color, even so here also those who look for something more than pleasure and enjoyment in such writers may derive profit for their souls. Now, then, altogether after the manner of bees must we use these writings, for the bees do not visit all the flowers without discrimination, nor indeed do they seek to carry away entire those upon which they light, but rather, having taken so much as is adapted to their needs, they let the rest go. So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest. And just as in culling roses we avoid the thorns, from such writings as these we will gather everything useful, and guard against the noxious. So, from the very beginning, we must examine each of their teachings, to harmonize it with our ultimate purpose, according to the Doric proverb, 'testing each stone by the measuring-line.'

St. Basil the Great, Address to the Young Men on the Right Use of Greek Literature


On Education I

I take it as admitted by men of sense, that the first of our advantages is education; and not only this our more noble form of it, which disregards rhetorical ornaments and glory, and holds to salvation, and beauty in the objects of our contemplation: but even that external culture which many Christians ill-judgingly abhor, as treacherous and dangerous, and keeping us afar from God. For as we ought not to neglect the heavens, and earth, and air, and all such things, because some have wrongly seized upon them, and honour God's works instead of God: but to reap what advantage we can from them for our life and enjoyment, while we avoid their dangers; not raising creation, as foolish men do, in revolt against the Creator, but from the works of nature apprehending the Worker, and, as the divine apostle says, bringing into captivity every thought to Christ: and again, as we know that neither fire, nor food, nor iron, nor any other of the elements, is of itself most useful, or most harmful, except according to the will of those who use it; and as we have compounded healthful drugs from certain of the reptiles; so from secular literature we have received principles of enquiry and speculation, while we have rejected their idolatry, terror, and pit of destruction. Nay, even these have aided us in our religion, by our perception of the contrast between what is worse and what is better, and by gaining strength for our doctrine from the weakness of theirs. We must not then dishonour education, because some men are pleased to do so, but rather suppose such men to be boorish and uneducated, desiring all men to be as they themselves are, in order to hide themselves in the general, and escape the detection of their want of culture.

St. Gregory Nazianzen, The Panegyric on St. Basil, Section 11


Apocalyptic Author Showdown

From Agape Press:

LaHaye: New End Times Thriller Teaches 'Ridiculous' ViewsTyndale Defends Choice to Publish Hanegraaff's Preterist Series

Tyndale's decision to publish The Last Disciple came as a total surprise to LaHaye, who has a long history with Tyndale. "I was shocked beyond words, just stunned," he says, "when I saw this from this publisher. See, I was their first writer -- Spirit-Controlled Temper was my first book. And they've held the pre-trib position for 40 years. That's why I went to them."

. . .

The well-known Christian theologian says hearing preterists promote this "nonsense" causes him to respond, "You mean we're living in the millennium? What a shock! Or that Satan is bound? -- Good grief! Can you imagine the surprise of the apostles and others, to think that Satan is bound? Then, who's doing all the mischief in this world?"

My suggestion: Someone out there should write an amillenial end-times thriller, er, novel, or something; a good solid postmillenialist thriller (he he) is also in order. Actually, if I were to pick a good literary metaphor for the end-time (the very end) run of amillenialism (see chart), I think the seige of Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings would be an apt one. The great city is surrounded by enemies upon the plain, her walls are being breached, but just as the darkness seems heaviest, the King comes, unexpected and unlooked for. He drives his enemies before him and raises the seige.

The King is coming back. When He does, everyone will see it: "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God." The horns will sound, and the Church will rise, "beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun, awesome as an army with banners."