Christmas Afterall?

Went dumpster diving and retrieved a cushy sofa and sturdy coffee table. Props to Nick, my upstairs neighbor and garbage shopper par excellence, for the discovery.

I'm really looking forward to this break for the next couple weeks in Cork. I need to chew the intellectual cud for a bit; let things marinate and distill. I anticipate returning to Amsterdam with renewed vitality. Your prayers for my sake are well appreciated.

I don't intend to post again until I get back around the end of the first week in January.


Total Truth

Various articles and audio pieces by Nancy Pearcey are available here. You can also hear her on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show discuss religion in the public square. I have yet to read the book, but it's received good reviews. You can get excerpts from the book and the entire study guide for free in pdf.

"A Christian worldview is not merely about ideas and arguments. It really begins with dying to the idols in our hearts...
Ask God to conduct a searching examination of your own hidden motivations, to reveal the idols in your heart and then set you free to serve Him alone.


Ice On The Tracks

I waited for over an hour, but the number 5 never came. The 51 was running, and if I took the next one, I could hike twenty blocks and maybe make it in time for after worship coffee. Forget it. I went back to my apartment, made my own coffee, and attended "Laptop Presbyterian." Turned out to be the best service since I've been here.

unlike the photo, we've only got ice. No snow yet.

Here's a selection from the liturgy:

Call To Worship
Hebrews 12:22-24

God our Heavenly Father, we acknowledge and confess our great sinfulness and guilt. Apart from Christ, our whole natures are corrupt, and we are prone to all evil. All our best thoughts, words, and deeds are defiled. We continually break Your holy laws, doing what You forbid, and not doing what You require. We deserve Your condemning judgment, just wrath, and everlasting punishment. In great sorrow for our sin, we humbly repent, and beg for Your mercy and grace. We ask that You would forgive us all our sins, count us as completely righteous, and enable us to live in new obedience, only for the death and merit of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Not Peace, But A Sword [mp3] by Rev. Matt Cotta on Matthew 10:34-38

Hymn [midi]
Day of judgment! day of wonders!
Hear the trumpet's awful sound,
Louder than a thousand thunders,
Shakes the vast creation round.
How the summons will the sinner's heart confound!

See the Judge, our nature wearing,
Yet by Spirit glorified.
You who long for His appearing
Then shall say, this God is mine!
Gracious Savior, own us in that day as Thine.

In that day of resurrection
Righteous judgment He'll employ.
Christ will say, ye faithful, well done;
Enter now your Master's joy.
Cursed ones He will everlastingly destroy.

Under sorrows and reproaches,
May this thought our courage raise!
Promised sure, the day approaches
When the world is set ablaze.
So we'll dwell in vindication by His grace.

original words: John Newton, 1774; revised: Gregory Baus, 2005
music: “St. Aus­tin,” Gre­gor­i­an chant; ar­ranged in the Bris­tol Tune Book, 1876


Drinking With The Son Of Confucius

This evening I went out to the local pub and had a wonderful time of drinking and discussion with Frank, 76th generation descendant of Zi-Kong-Qiu, more commonly known as K'ung Fu-tzu, Latinized as Confucius.

We imbibed in beer and Abraham Kuyper's favorite drink, Jenever. In fact there's a brand of old "dutch gin" called De Kuyper... but I don't think it's related. Anyway, Abe was famous for saying "you can't raise a generation of bold, brash Calvinists on chocolate milk." And we heartily agreed.

We, of course, discussed Li Bai (Li Po), the film of Zhang Yimou, Herman Dooyeweerd, and Chinese Bible translation. A good break from studying before exams.
You And Your Racist Friend

update: for the sake of good taste, I removed my former vulgar invectives and linked the example of typcial racist imagery here.

And you thought the Dutch were enlightened. I wish. I find their social attitudes to be largely provincial, bigoted, and xenophobic. This particularly occurred to me when I was invited to a party celebrating the favorite Dutch holiday, eve of the feast of St. Nicholas (5 Dec), or as they call it "Sinterklaas." Traditionally, celebrants place their shoes out and wait for Saint Nick to leave poems and chocolates, assisted by his picaninny slaveboy, "zwarte Piet" (black Pete). Hundreds of white Netherlanders dress up in red-lipped blackface and parade around town handing out candy. I am frankly repulsed and outraged by this widely-accepted, dehumanizing caricature. So, here's a poem for Sinterklaas celebrators:

It was the loveliest party that I ever attended
If anything was broken I'm sure it could be mended
My head is tired from this bobbing and pretending
Listen to some bullet-head and the bullshit that he's saying

Can't shake the devil's hand and say you're only kidding

This is where the party ends
I can't stand here listening to you and your racist friend
I know politics bore you
But I feel like a hypocrite talking to you and your racist friend



The Orange Hat

I wouldn't say all these pics (scroll down) are worth an entire thousand words each, but perhaps they will add a little something to the hermeneutical context... or not. The idea is to illuminate the text, not to explicate the photo. This post is an obvious exception.

For some reason, in this recent photo, there is a feathery orange hat floating on my head.


Nebuchadnezzar's Dream

Herman Dooyeweerd said on more than one occasion that the vocation of Reformational scholarship is a call to war against the spirit of apostasy. "This warfare," he wrote, "is a struggle even with ourselves, in the power of the Holy Spirit, a struggle which finds its dynamic in a life of prayer." I suspect that this way of scholarship is known to be more than a pious-sounding (if not foolish-sounding) platitude only by those who practice it.

Sometimes the struggle gets mighty emotional (albeit, no more spiritual for all that). Last night I broke into tears of frustration while wrestling through a theoretical problem that was beyond me but crucial to my tentative thesis question. Through the sobs, I begged the Lord to have mercy and open my mind to find a solution. This afternoon, while meditating on a Scripture (Hebrews 2), an answer came to me.

Since special revelation has ceased with the close of the Biblical canon until the Consummation, my insight remains fallible. Whether the insight is a true one or not, whether it serves to obediently answer God's call or not, is yet to be seen. But I know that I cannot be faithful upon my own power.