Educate for 2008
what you don't know about monetary policy is hurting you... terribly

Find out how private bankers (the so-called "Federal Reserve"), irresponsible officials, and corrupt bureaucrats have been robbing you, your family, and other American citizens, causing inflation, devaluing your salary and savings, and driving our government into over $9,000,000,000,000.oo (that's over 9 trillion dollars) of debt at an increase of over a billion dollars each day.

This is one of the most outrageous injustices we suffer today, and RON PAUL * is the only presidential candidate who clearly understands the issue and speaks out for our God-given liberty.

If this weren't enough, Social Security, government medical, and other "entitlement" programs will be bankrupt in our lifetime. See the 60 minutes report with David Walker, U.S. Comptroller General. Glenn Beck explains that the federal government is today $53 trillion in debt (or more) with future entitlement obligations. The socialist system is collapsing and no one in D.C. is willing to be honest with you except Ron Paul.

Ron Paul is [as of summer 2008, Chuck Baldwin is] the only presidential candidate who will uphold the rule of law, reinstate the Constitutional limits on government, restore the Republic, re-establish a just monetary policy, and protect each citizen's life, liberty, and property. Read more on Ron Paul's position on the Federal Reserve, monetary policy, debt, taxes, and economic freedom & prosperity [pdf here].

Update : visit http://www.truthin08.org

Even this ever-increasing "true" debt number looks a little shy compared to more comprehensive estimates. How about $100 trillion?
New flim I.O.U.S.A. is helping to wake some people to the reality (one can only hope). See trailer here.


Thanking Jesus

Thanksgiving was so good, I had two feasts this year.

Brother Jeff came for a visit, and we stopped by to see Nate and "uncle" Steve. Our discussion at Market Cross was just what we all needed.

A thought for the occasion, something I like to read aloud every year after the big meal --The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving, given by the Continental Congress in 1777:
"FOR AS MUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.
Amazing, isn't it?

This year I'm particularly grateful to the Lord for work at the Academy, my pastors Roth and Paul, and my gracious landlord Gordon.


Allegheny Autumn

I was in the car, driving through fall-time beauty, listening to the radio when Supreme Court Justice Breyer said (rhetorically, implying a negative response) "There are 112 treaties where [the United States] submits to international jurisdiction, mostly commercial, like the WTO and NAFTA. Are all these unlawful?" I shouted out loud "YES!, You Tyrannous Flunky!" wanting to somehow reach my arm through the radio and slap him silly with a copy of The Constitution.

Mars Hill Audio offers an mp3 free issue of their new series Dialogues on Justice and Judges. Perhaps Roberts will help improve things. Now, if only we elect someone to the Executive who follows The Constitution too...

P.Robinson draws my attention to a book on our favorite pastimes.

Selected Shorts at Symphony Space finally puts their stories online.

In several entries Lee Irons proposes how Meredith Kline could have revised his earlier work By Oath Consigned according to his mature covenantal thought represented in Kingdom Prologue [pdf]. Kline said to Irons that "the passages [in BOC] on covenant theology were the ones that needed the most extensive revision. [Nevertheless,] he still stood by the main outline of his interpretation of circumcision and baptism, including his case for infant baptism."

Brother Jeffrey introduced me to quinoa (keen-wah), a SouthAmerican sort of grain. It's texture is like couscous, but heartier. And quinoa is rich in protein, essential amino acids, and iron. It's also fast & easy to cook and has a light, pleasant flavor. Does it sound like I'm selling something? Just a recommendation. Maybe I'm feeling a little hungry.


Say Uncle

After the trip to Iowa, I took an unplanned hiatus from blogging just in time to receive a pleasant approbation (#59). Thanks, Joe.

Sometimes I do keep my thoughts to myself, and the past few months occupied me with a heavy load of private thinking. In any case, I have a few stories to share. The first involves a visit with my friends Nathan and John in Harrisburg over a vat of oatmeal that may or may not be transformed into a delicious and healthy beverage at this very moment.

We discovered that (contemporary) beer is rarely, if ever, brewed exclusively with oats because, after the grain is steeped, what little liquid can be leached from them is more akin to cream. Modern oatmeal stouts normally use a maximum proportion of 5% oats. An update on our chemistry project may be forthcoming.

My car died. This made me very sad because, not currently living in the city, my livelihood depends on having one. Happily, brother Jeff decided not to keep his wagon and I flew out to Chicago and drove back. While there, we saw the amazingly superb documentary The King Of Kong *. You really ought to see it, because it's a terribly engaging Millerian anti-tragedy. Interestingly enough, this theme relates to Fukuyama's Kojevean-Hegelian notion of 'thymic' longing for recognition as the engine behind universal historical development. Take that for what it's worth. It's the feel-good film of the year.

As of the 11th I'm a proud uncle to my first nephew, Owen Jasper Rees!

I've moved to a new dwelling, which turns out to be across the street from the house of Nick Coyle, the lead singer of the Nu Metal band The Drama Club, originally of Strangers With Candy. Not kidding. It's not my favorite genre, but they've got melodic hooks and the band seems like friendly people.

This semester I am pleased to be instructing on Apologetics at the Susque Academy in Trout Run, PA. I'm using Roy Clouser's "Knowing With The Heart" as the main text. Perhaps I'll publish a study guide blog when the course is through (with some assistance from S.B.?). Unrelatedly, after class the other day, I went with my students to the historic Bloomsburg Fair. Mulled apple cider means autumn.

Finally, for your further pleasure and edification:

1. Jonathan Chaplin speaks on a Christian view of state and city.

2. Aaron Belz* reads poetry and catalyzes unity and succeeds in his administration.

3. G.K. Beale speaks (mp3) about his book The Temple and The Church's Mission.

4. Lars Brownworth wonderfully educates us about the Byzantine Empire.

5. Frank Key hosts the Hooting Yard in the style of Garrison Keillor's and Douglas Adams' illegitimate child.

6. My friends, the Costanzos, offer a sophisticated guide to finer points of Japanese culture.

7. Radio Lab has an episode on musical language, and introduces David Cope in the last segment.


Somewhere In Middle America

Extraspecial thanks go out to Dr. Roger Henderson and family for their warm hospitality and encouragement to me while here in Sioux Center, Iowa.

In the above video I ask John Muether a few questions. We are at Dordt College for General Assembly. Mr. Muether is an historian, librarian, and editor... and an all-around swell guy.


Doing It Better

Reflecting on the passing of Falwell, while some preferred his (false) gospel to his politics, my sentiments were much the opposite. And I am reminded of what F. A. Schaeffer had to say about Falwell's politics:
"Some of us may perhaps have some questions about the Moral Majority and some of the things they have said... we must realize that regardless of whether we think the Moral Majority has always said the right things or whether we do not, or whether we think they have made some mistakes or whether we do not, they have certainly done one thing right: they have used the freedom we still have in the political arena to stand against [secularism]. They have [sought to bring] the fact that law is king, law is above lawmakers, and God is above the law into this area of life where it always should have been... The Moral Majority has [sought to] draw a line between [a Christian] total view of reality and [non-Christian] total view[s] of reality and [their respective consequences] in government and law. And if you personally do not like some of the details of what they have done, do it better. But you must understand that all Christians have got to do the same kind of thing or you are simply not showing the Lordship of Christ in the totality of life."

A Christian Manifesto, p.56,61

Speaking of which, the John Jay Institute has a podcasted lecture series of Christian Perspectives on Engaging Political Islam. The inaugural lecture by fellow-neocalvinist Paul Marshall is not to be missed.

In other news, it appears that only after about 500 years of reformation, Romanists have finally produced a complete English Psalter? See the "motherload" of biblical psalms in meter in English.

This past month I enjoyed visiting friends in New York City and Philadelphia. Some were celebrating the independence of Mexico, some graduating from school, some merely watching the finale of their favorite tv series. I've also been eating up Escape Pod, a sort of sci-fi audio zine. Happily, the host provides a rating system which I utilize by avoiding anything rated R or worse for sexual content. I really enjoy both the material and format of the shows.


Ponderous Spring

Meredith Kline died. He is one of my favorite theologians, and I was happy to have met him a few years ago. WSCal and the OPC pay tribute. You can find his online writings here, and his books in print here.

Murder is now a little less legal in the U.S. See Joe Carter's posts 1, 2.

Thankfully, the D.C. gun ban was overturned. Administrators at VA-tech should wise-up.

On a less somber note (sorta), Poetry Month is almost over. One of my favorite poems is about hope.


Until The End

I recently viewed the 2004 (exclusive Italian DVD release) full four-and-a-half hour "trilogy-version" of Wim Wenders' (original 1991) film Bis ans Ende der Welt. I think I first saw the film in 1993, and have watched it nearly once every year since. There is perhaps the rare, brief scene here or there that seemed to work better in the cinema released version, but the director's cut significantly restores relevant material to the story. Without qualification I recommend it to you, but you may have a very difficult time finding this newer edition.

Speaking of the world's end, it probably won't come as much of a surprise that I consider it a Christian responsibility to care for the natural environment. However, I have not been convinced of "human-induced" climate change theory. I think it's a lot of hype and politics trying to pass for science. Read on that topic.

I also wanted to draw attention to my old college friend Kjirstin*. She will be returning (safe&sound, we pray) to Alabama this Spring from Baghdad. Interestingly, she's been blogging for Glamour magazine lately. All you writers should pay attention, because her blog runneth-over with experiential fodder for narrative.

Speaking of writers, two friends have each recently finished new works:

Aaron Belz brings you new poetry in The Bird Hoverer.

Eric Simpson brings you memoir and essay in My Salvation.

Moving on from the sublime to the trivial: I've enjoyed this firefox add-on that reads aloud any document or web page (aka text-to-speech). If you don't like ye ole standard computer voice, you can find others here... and even use them for free if you don't mind the constantly interrupting reminder to purchase the licensed copy.


Several Obituaries

On 8 March "Gramps" (Jasper) Correnti died. He was the dear patriarch of my sister's in-laws, in whose town I'm now residing. He will be missed.

That same day, one of my favorite theologians, Herman Ridderbos (not to be confused with his father Jan, or brother Nicolaas --significant reformed theologians in their own right) also died. Born on 13 Feb 1909, he lived 98 years. To tell you the truth, I hadn't even known he was still living, otherwise I would have been tempted to visit him while in the Netherlands. He formerly taught New Testament at Kampen Seminary (not to be confused with the "other" Kampen Seminary). I was pleased to discover he was active in the (Kuyperian) Anti-Revolutionary Party, now known as the Christian Union Party. Thankfully, Ridderbos' masterful works in English are still available.

Back in November Milton Friedman died. You can watch his entire original "Free To Choose" economics series. If you think "socialized/universal" health care, "public" education, or tax-funded welfare for the poor is a good idea, I'll have to insist you watch it. Not joking. Friedman was God's answer to FDR & LBJ.

On that same day in November, D.G. Hart delivered a lecture ("wmv" link may need to be opened in WMP --I have yet to figure how to open it in a firefox tab) on the apparent Evangelical slouching towards the left. 10minute clip of lecture at youtube (HT: Chellis). He mentioned at least two possible inducements. First, Evangelicals are not, according to Confessionalist measure of any tradition, theologically conservative (consider their contemporary 'worship' innovations). Thus, the "progressive" yeast works through the whole lump, as it were. Second, Evangelicals have abandoned their former (pre-WWII) aversion to "mixing" politics and religion. Thus, they confuse cult & culture; church & politics, and seek to immanentize the eschaton.
update : Hart's Leftward Christian Soldiers

Hart may be correct about Evangelicals. But, he has a bad habit of thinking the legitimate alternative concerning religion and culture is a "pre-WWII" sacred/secular dichotomy. Worse yet, Hart reads this bogus split into a neoscholastic notion of two-kingdom social theory, resulting in an embrace of the myth of religious neutrality. A better option, of course, is genuine neocalvinism. Rightly understood, its societal vision is neither tax-based, nor laissez-fair; neither immanentist, nor neutralist. This neocalvinist societal option, requires a high view of the exclusive "spiritual" mission of the institutional church, and an equally high view of societal structural plurality in its normatively differentiated responsibilities.


Dead Horses In Need Of More Beating

I've been thinking about issues I should harp on more, such as the regulative principle of worship, and that I should write more about their implications for an understanding of Christian life. For now, I just leave you with the archived link.

I recently finished D. G. Hart's biography of John Williamson Nevin, and I recommend it. I found the conclusion particularly good (although not in the antikuyperian way Hart intended it, I'm sure), and I will provide a link to an excerpt at some point. The gist is that the success of the church should not be measured by the extent of her influence with those outside her communion in extra-ecclesial matters, but rather by the degree of her faithfulness in administering her ordinances. It might not sound controversial when I put it like that. However, evangelicals operate by contrary "ecclesiastically defining" principles (and so contrary standards of faithfulness) to those of the reformed church.

In a recent email exchange Russ Reeves, associate prof in History at Providence Christian College, offered a concise critique of David VanDrunen's protestant neoscholastic "two-kingdom" theory.
Robert Lotzer styles his own two-kingdom position as "anti-antithesis," confusedly suggesting that the 'antithesis' which he abjures is between special (redemptive) and common (preserving) grace! There is no such antithesis, so this misconception is a tragedy, especially since Klinean theology employeed by VanDrunen, Lotzer, and others is actually anti-scholastic and more conducive to neocalvinist (kuyperian) social theory.
This is a horse for future overflogging.

Monergism has a face lift.

The Reformational Publishing Project is now in motion.


I Still Like Love

Eros and all that jazz.... it's a gift from God*. So, I enthusiastically and sincerely wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. I know it's a "made up" commercial holiday ripped-off from a saintsday on an ecclesiastical calendar that I don't even acknowledge. But that's not the point. I know my own dating life has been fairly lackluster for the past few years. That's not the point either.

The point is that even if romance never comes my way again, I still like love. I enjoy it when people can find some lasting companionship and intimacy. Why would I want to poo-poo that? I'm love's biggest fan, and you should be too. Love is good. If we can't find any for ourselves, that's no reason to be a hater. C'mon, join me in supporting love!

On another note, last night this blog reached 50,000 visits. The fifty-thousandth visitor is apparently from Cedar Rapids, Iowa and uses bloglines. If that was you, leave me a note.

There's lots of snow here in middle PA. It's the multi-layered kind of compacted powder and frozen sleet. The thigh-high street-plow induced drift at the end of the driveway was insane... so I managed half of it, enough to get the car out. If this stuff was a little thicker, you could chop it into blocks and build an igloo.

*The true and living God, that is, YHWH --Creator of all there is who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Not the Greek deity named "Eros".


Sin Shall Have No Dominion*

How does the Christian grow in genuine maturity?
Better yet: how is Christ maturing His church?

Married to Another
the Law and Christocentric sanctification with special reference to Romans 7:1-6
MP3s Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,
Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11
PDF Text of all 11 above

through faith in Christ by the Spirit using the means of grace
mp3 1, pdf Handout 1
mp3 2, pdf Handout 2
mp3 3, pdf Handout 3
Referred to in the above lectures: Walter Marshall's Gospel Mystery of Sanctification
You can purchase a contemporary English version at monergism books, and you'll want to download Fonville's Notes too.

And the God of thy Seed
a biblical case for Infant Baptism and Covenant Nurture
MP3s Intro, pedobaptism 1, pedobaptism 2, pedobaptism 3,
nurture 1, nurture 2, nurture 3, nurture 4


An Honest New Year

I wanted to offer you all a "year-in-review" entry, with month-by-month unblogged trivia from last year. For instance, I might note under January o6 that I started off last year by falling asleep at a complete stranger's house in Ireland with Labyrinth playing in the background. Despite a promising beginning, I couldn't manage to remember enough interesting trivia to make it worthwhile. So, you'll just have to content yourselves with the fact that, via this entry, Jan 07 hasn't gone completely undocumented.

Lately, I enjoyed having brother Gary visit for a spell. I've also been busy with some substituting work at the local Christian school. I attended a Greek Orthodox (bride-to-be) & Irish Catholic (groom-to-be) engagement party, and an all-expenses-paid high class birthday party of a close friend in Baltimore on different weekends.

Thesis progress slowed over the holidays, but is back in gear. This will again be my regular occupation for the next several months, I suspect, as time is running out.

Besides being a lover of metrical psalm singing, and old calvinistic folk hymnody, I have enjoyed shapenote music since early college days. Some friends of friends have just produced an excellent documentary on the subject, entitled Awake My Soul. No one who wants to know about early American music can afford to neglect this on-going tradition. Here's a good link for downloadable audio. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has at least two CDs available. And here's a pdf lesson in shapenote singing for children or adults.

Macht writes one of the best entries on sex I've ever read. Ever.
update: Highly recommended lectures by Lauren Winner author of Real Sex, realplayer audio links --2006, 2007

Steve Bishop begins a Dooyeweerd The Christian Idea Of The State study guide site.

After a year of production, This American Life is finally ready for ShowTime* release in late March. I'll have to get it on DVD someday.