Niche Market

As with many of my friends, I am a fan of single-malt scotch. Perhaps it's a kind of a quasi-ethnic religious thing. But recently I ordered a "Presbyterian" (bourbon and ginger) and a friend asked me about the origin of the drink's name. I had no idea. After a little internet research, I still have no idea.

I did learn that the recipe varies, however. The drink may have originated as club soda and whiskey... appearing a bit like ginger ale. Sometimes it calls for rye instead of bourbon. If the name is supposed to imply that Presbies are shy about their liquor consumption, it certainly did not come from theologically orthodox brethren.

I also enjoy a good pipe of the world famous Presbyterian Mixture every once in a while. ...so the weather has been rough and I'm feeling a bit of cabin fever. Must... get... out.


If It's Not Love...

Went out to eat this evening, then planned to hang upstairs at the OttoBar. However, it turned out that downstairs they were putting on the infamous Smiths/Morrissey sing-along. I didn't pick up a mic myself, but enjoyed every song.

In the course of things, there was some conversation about sensus divinitatis. It occurred to me that believers to whom I recommended Clouser's book might also be interested in his comment on hermeneutics.


In The Wake Of King

Following the murder of MLK in April of '68 several nights of rioting, mass looting and arson swept our country's major cities. Baltimore was severely effected and has yet to recover. Besides the loss of life, there was millions of dollars of destruction. The few businesses in rioted areas that survived fled the city for good. Rioters burned down their own communities and left them at an economic dead end.

Ironically Civil Rights achievements made it possible for middle class and upwardly mobile blacks to move to the suburbs, largely stripping the urban black neighborhoods of whatever socio-economic and cultural resources remained. And thus the horrific conditions of the contemporary black urban ghetto took shape.

A pathology of failure, victimization, and despair set in deeply --reinforced by broken families, drugs, violence, and the poverty-perpetuating welfare system. In the midst of this devastation leaders such as H.L. Gates (director of the W.E.B.DuBois Institute) cling to the worn out cliché of more State paternalism. Although testifying* that his own successful orientation and drive was due to an encouraging and stable family life, Gates believes the solution to the many profound difficulties of the black underclass resides in government controlled afterschool programs. So much for the self-determination of DuBois and the virtues of Kwanzaa.

Thankfully, there are yet a few voices in the wilderness. God-fearing men such as Alan Keyes and Kenn Blanchard provide a genuine alternative and real hope.


Respecting Jesus

Once a "yahoogroup," the Philosophers With Faith forum now has their own site. This group evolved out of dissatisfaction with the perceived limitations of the SCP and the EPS.

I wouldn't call PWF Christian, per se. But they provide the rare and important service of "leaving Jesus in" and challenging those who have reactionary prejudice against Him.


Small Solidarity

Always hoping to contribute in the resistance to oppression, I encourage you all to support the little guy.
Christ And Culture Revisited

I've had a few days off of work which (un)fortunately coincided with a period of illness. I think I'm finally feeling better. And although I wasn't in a frame of mind to do any good reading, my thoughts turned to a discussion from my college days.

I was talking-up the culture engaging neoCalvinist worldview as usual, trying to arouse my comrades to arms in the great struggle for societal transformation. One friend in particular never caught the vision. He complained that in God's likely providence none of us would ever gain "power" in this world, and that my rhetoric was earthly and vain.

Of course, I knew he was right in a certain sense. The biblical view of Christian cultural influence doesn't demand that every sincere believer somehow become a CEO, civil magistrate, movie star, or any other kind of cultural "power-broker." But that's not the point at all. I was trying to articulate that even the believing slave is, by his slavery, serving the Lord Jesus. And couldn't my friend see how that changes everything?!

Well, it changed everything for me. And it has been a deepening multi-part harmony to the gospel's melody ever since. I was encouraged to read D.G.Hart articulate this perspective so clearly here.


An End To Evil?

My public policy-buff friends may find interest in a new book by Richard Perle and David Frum. There are interviews available on NPR's Morning Edition and Fresh Air.

My libertarian leanings militate against much of this neoconservatism. I prefer a free and more dangerous society to "efficient" government with every aspect of life under their safe control. At the same time, I don't think that negates everything they have to say.


WhiteTrash Unto Harvest

Recently I visited a friend who is now the director of New Geneva Theological Seminary's Baltimore extension campus. It's southeast... basically Dundalk. That's where the port and docks are... the last stronghold of old time, white catholic blue collar Mob Town culture.

So what exactly is "uncle" Steve trying to do? From what I can gather, he and N.G. have an eye to educating the workaday masses (something RTSdc and the practically defunct ChesapeakeTS are unlikely to do). And it looks like a "build it... and they will come" kind of endeavor. I find their vision refreshing and inspiringly radical. But will graduate level biblical education be viable among the least of our brethren?

Let's pray so.


Piper And Culture

NewYear activities were enjoyable as (if not more domesticated than) usual. But I'm back from a brief hiatus, which justifies a somewhat lengthy post.

Recently several publications have reprinted an article by John Piper entitled "Taking the Swagger Out of Christian Cultural Influence." I find Piper's use of metaphors tortured and lame. But his main point is what bothers me the most. Here is my letter to various editors:

Piper's article does not present sound exegesis or a biblical conclusion. He correctly points out the fact that if something is American, that does not make it Christian, and that Christians must not be selfish or arrogant. However, the article concludes “We (Christians) don't own culture, and we don't rule it.”

This erroneous conclusion is the inevitable outcome of Piper's belief that “Christ died for sinners so that all things might one day belong to his people” (emphasis mine). Piper assumes that all things will belong to God's people only after the consummation. Certainly God's people before the consummation have but a foretaste of their full inheritance in Christ. However, since presently all things belong to Christ, all things belong to those who are in Him right now. This is the clear teaching of Scripture: “all things belong to you” (1 Cor 3:21-23). This is a present reality for everyone in Christ!

Piper's denial of this present reality leads him to advocate a view of Christian cultural influence that amounts to little more than attempts at moral persuasion. However, it is God Himself who commands us to rule, and who created us for that very purpose (Gen 1:28, 2:15). So we are not in the service of American culture (as Piper would have it), but in the service of Jesus Christ.

There is no "winning" or "losing" for Christians in their cultural task. As aliens and strangers in this age, we groan under the temporary subjection to corruption. And we have a heavenly citizenship for which we gladly suffer as we obey our Lord's call to cultivate and keep His creation in all its depth and diversity: from parenting to politics, from art to aerospace, from scholarship to surfing. We must not reduce Christian cultural influence to moral witness.

God has given us culture and the sacred task of ruling it. Culture does belong to us, and we exercise dominion in Jesus' name. Affirming this biblical teaching does not produce “swagger,” and denying it will certainly not encourage biblical piety.