Recent Miscellany

Back in January I visited my brother, Jeff, for a week at Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma. I posted their informational video (Ecce Fiat), so you can see a bit about life there. [ and see latest news article about them here ]

It was mostly below freezing, I had a cold the entire time, and I was only able to hang out and talk with "Br.Anthony" for about an hour a day.  But it was great to see him in person and get a firsthand sense of his environment and routine.  Here's a decent photo of him; he's sitting far left, face down towards book (as always).

I've now added the Epiphany season tune for Te Lucis Ante Terminum to a list of favorites. 

If you haven't checked out my & K's foodblog, give it a look.  We really enjoy documenting the cooking experience this way. For our recent entry I meant to have a photo of my taking a bite, but forgot, because the donuts tasted so good. We will probably include restaurant reviews at some point.

As of this past November, Owen and Lilly have a new baby brother, Daniel; and I'm an uncle a third time over. Love and thanks go out to my sister and bro-in-law for all their labor.

Some time ago, I posted Herman Dooyeweerd's online in-English bibliography.  If you fancy yourself Reformed and academic, and you haven't read any Dooyeweerd, you must.  I recommend beginning with The Secularization of Science.  His most accessible, book-length work is Roots of Western Culture.  In my bib, you'll find a link for the entire original publication of that book in PDF.

Four 2009 articles by Roy Clouser are also online.  [ See, too, Glenn Friesen's response to Clouser's essay on Dooyeweerd's transcendental critique ].  And, finally, a book of Robert Knudsen's * writings has been published.  Now, if only WTS would put his lectures online/iTunesU!

I was glad to see Robert Godfrey's pro-Kuyper/ian presentations in sessions 1 and 6 at Westminster Seminary California's conference Christ, Kingdom, and Culture.

Recently watched the UK independent sci-fi film Moon, and liked it quite a lot.  Hoping that Solomon Kane comes to the US.  I had fun discussing the weaponry with Aaron Larsen.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all, especially to brother Gary and Irish friends here and there.


Bowling For Calvin

Sub-Sabbatarian Myth-Busting
this essay first appeared in the Nicotine Theological Journal, Summer 2009 (volume 13, number 3)

Being a thrifty Calvinist, I couldn't justify the expense of attending the Calvin500 events in Geneva this past July. I wish I could have gone. Among the other things I would liked to have witnessed was the mass of Calvin enthusiasts gathering after Sunday morning worship for a jolly pétanque competition.

In reality, I suspect no such Calvin-inspired game of boules actually occurred. But I wonder how many of the Reformed churchmen who may have luxuriated in the cafés or otherwise recreated that Lordsday afternoon during the conference felt reassured of their orthodoxy in calling to mind the common anecdote about Calvin's habit of "lawn-bowling" on the Sabbath (typically to the consternation of Knox --that silly, overwrought zealot).

I've probably been told the story more times than I've heard the 4th commandment read in worship. In my experience, even among those who hesitate to labor at their regular employment, or to employ others in servicing them at stores and restaurants on Sundays, many bristle against abstaining from recreations. All I need do is turn down an invitation to watch a film, sport, or to play a game on the Lordsday. Without fail I will be told how we are able to fellowship with others and glorify God by enjoying these activities, and inevitably the godly example of Calvin on the public greens comes into it.

The main problem with citing Calvin's Sabbath bowling practice, other than it being used to contravene Presbyterian standards, is that it is entirely unsubstantiated and contradicts Calvin's own stated views on the matter. Over a decade ago, Chris Coldwell (now general editor of the Confessional Presbyterian Journal) researched the legend with some thoroughness. In his essay titled Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Or, Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath? Coldwell surveys the relevant literature and historical record on the question.

An unambiguous conclusion emerges as we are guided back from recent references through prominent sources of preceding centuries to Calvin's own time. Coldwell's essay deserves a read by sabbatarian, sub-sabbatarian, and anti-sabbatarian alike, if only because the story is so persistently popular. I must note, for example, this folklore found its way onto page 342 of R.C. Sproul's Truths We Confess, A Layman's Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Vol. 2 (P&R 2007).

Is there a lesson here that we all should more critically assess received wisdom? Or is it that we should be more critical toward criticism of received wisdom? Or maybe the lesson is that formation of either doctrine or piety by anecdote is neither right nor safe. In any case, this is how Coldwell concludes:
“Calvin should be afforded the courtesy to speak for himself, and the tendency some have toward using the bowling myth to reinterpret him should be abandoned. While some evidence may be found in future to verify the tale, it seems unlikely. But, until such evidence is found, let us take the Reformer at his word that we should 'dedicate that day wholly unto Him so as we may be utterly withdrawn from the world.' 'If we spend the Lord’s day in making good cheer, and in playing and gaming, is that a good honoring of God? Nay, is it not a mockery, yea and a very unhallowing of his name?' ” 

Psalm 105: 1-12 / 1 Chronicles 16:8-19 in Common Meter

suggested tune: Tiverton by Joeseph Grigg (c.1765)
Oh thank the LORD, call on His name. Make known His deeds among
the people.  Sing praises to Him. His wonders tell in song.

And boast now in His holy name. Be glad the hearts of you
who seek the LORD; seek Him, His strength, always seek His face too.

Recall to mind again His works of wonder He has done;
Marvels and judgments from His mouth, His chosen, Jacob's sons.

Oh seed of Israel, His servant, He is the LORD our God;
know that His judgments reach to all the places one may trod.

Remember this: His covenant forever --a thousand
generations are subject to that word of His command.

For this He made with Abraham, an oath to Isaac sworn,
a statute to Jacob confirmed, our cov'nant evermore.

Saying, “To you I'll give the Land; as your inheritance,”
when you were small and very few and still strangers in it.
~ metrical version by Gregory Baus, MARCH 2010
[traditional 1650 version here]