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Archive for September, 2004

From Terry Mattingly here are 20 Ways to Control Television in Your Family’s Life, or at least the ones that struck me:

1 – Have only one television set in the home. . . . Having only one set at least makes the family confront this imaginary [TV] world together.

3 – Children should never watch TV alone. If you stick with this rule, it will have an amazing impact on your whole family.

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The Fatherhood Chronicles XLV

Sofie has begun to be a bit more independent. Right now, this is a good thing.

A couple of examples. On Tuesday, Sofie took a long mid-day nap. Once she woke up, she spent most of the aternoon sitting on the futon next to Anna flipping through one of Anna’s magazines and her own board books. They sat there together for most of the rest of the afternoon. Anna got up and did some odds and ends from time to time. Sofie stayed on the futon “reading.” This would normally be considered unusual. In the recent past, when Anna’s out of sight, Sofie is anxious–if she even let’s Anna get out of sight.

This morning, Sofie got up at her normal time (five-o-dark-hundred). I knew she would be up till I left for work. I had hoped to pray the morning office, but was sure Sofie would demand my focused attention. Then I remembered Anna’s recounting of Tuesday afternoon. So I thought I would try an experiment.

I sat Sofie on the futon with the “book of the morning”–the one she was attentive to today. I then lit the vigil lamp and invoked the Trinity. I crossed myself with the blessing cross and venerated it. Then it occurred to me: I need to include Sofie. So I walked over to the futon, signed her with the blessing cross and offered it to her to kiss, which she did. I then continued with the rest of my prayers.

Sofie didn’t stay on the futon, but she did stay occupied, moving here and there playing with this and that. A couple of times she came up to me, wanting me to pick her up. While I continued to pray, I stroked her hair and signed the cross on her forehead. That seemed to satisfy her and she continued to play. Sofie played noisily, I don’t hesitate to say. And with the need to keep half-an-eye on her to make sure she wasn’t going to climb on or grab something that would result in her being hurt, I also don’t hesitate to say that it wasn’t an instance of the most focused attention I’ve ever given to my prayers. But maybe other parents out there will sympathize with me when I say that since Sofie was born, I don’t often have the luxury of the sort of focused attention in worship that I once did.

Our prayers wound down. Sofie would sing in her own way when I sang the Gloria or other refrains and hymns. When it was over, I venerated our diptych of the Theotokos and the Pantokrator. I brought them over to Sofie where she was playing, and she kissed them, too.

Yes, this sort of independence is good. Call me in a decade and the sort of independence that will be on its way may not feel quite so good.

Thank God for everything.

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The Incarnation and the Resurrection

The bodily Resurrection of Jesus from the dead follows necessarily from the Incarnation. If it was essential to God’s work of accomplishing our salvation that Jesus be fully human and fully divine, that is to say, if it was essential that Jesus have a human body, then the human body is essential to the afterlife. We are not, after all, going to be disembodied spirits in heaven. If our salvation is accomplished bodily, then our resurrection from the dead will be a bodily one. This is borne out in the several resurrection narratives in the New Testament. In Luke 24:39-43, Jesus asks his disciples to “handle him” to see that it is he. He asks them for a piece of broiled fish, which he eats in their presence. In John 20:17, Jesus exhorts Mary Magdalene not to “cling to him” which she could not have done if he were an immaterial spirit. Later in the chapter, at 20:27, he encourages Thomas to put his fingers into the nail marks in his hands, and to place his hand into side. Given Thomas’ reluctance to believe Jesus had risen from the dead without tangible proof, one would be hard pressed to understand Jesus’ words in any other way than to indicate he is, indeed, a bodily presence. We may well question how it was the nail marks and the spear wound remained as tangible signs of the crucifixion in his resurrected body, but this does not take away from the central point: Jesus rose bodily from the dead. Paul himself continues in this tradition, in 1 Corinthians 15, explaining that the resurrection from death is essential to the Christian gospel, and that such a resurrection involves a body, though such a body is a spiritual one, different, if continuous, with our flesh and blood body.

More to the point, without the Incarnation, the Resurrection is a useless and unnecessary addendum. If there were no Incarnation, then either through moral striving, or through noetic enlightenment, or both, we have our salvation. We need no Resurrection because we need no bodily salvation. It is the bodily aspect of the Incarnation that demands a bodily Resurrection, even if that body is of a kind Paul can only describe as spiritual and heavenly.
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More on Christ’s Essential Maleness

Jennifer has an understandable reaction to the following piece from Touchstone’s Mere Comments of 22 September. The author of the post, S M Hutchens writes:

The argument, made in the name of realism by a number of Evangelicals, that English is changing, so reason demands Bible translations must be altered to reflect changing usage, refuses to face head-on the essential question of whether these changes are being forced upon the culture by an anti-Christian ideology to put forward its views, and if so, what should be done about it by Christians. This position reminds me very much of the Christians who were willing to give the Hitler salute because the changing culture demanded it and they didn’t really intend anything unorthodox by it. The question for both is, what do these changes stand for, and what is the Christian response? In our view, the grammatical changes in the TNIV reflect egalitarian ideology, which is not Christian, and is, indeed, the principal heresy the Church has been called upon to deal with and reject in this age. . . .

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The Incarnation and Union with God

The Incarnation is the lynch pin to the Christian understanding of union with God. In some religions, union with God is accomplished through the acceptance of esoteric doctrines regarding God. In other religions, union with God is accomplished by the divesting of the illusion of selfhood and personhood, the melting, as it were, of oneself into the divine and impersonal essence. But in Christianity, union with God is accomplished only through the God-man, Christ. As Christ, himself, declared: No one comes to the Father, except through him (John 14:6). Union with God is accomplished in and through a particular Person.
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Talk Like a Pirate Day (19 September)

Ooops. I missed it. Talk Like a Pirate Day was a week ago Sunday. I first learned about Talk Like a Pirate Day while listening to the radio on my morning commute to work when I lived in Baton Rouge. Unfortunately, I failed to write the date in my planner, and have, ever since, forgotten when Talk Like a Pirate Day was. Well, that, and it hasn’t been marketed by Hallmark yet.

But thanks to a little googling, I came up with Dave Barry’s column on Talk Like a Pirate Day from a couple of years ago. It gives some of the background.

So, I’ll have to give a hearty “ARRRR!” to my mateys out there in the blogosphere and look forward to next year.

Oh, and you can call me:

My pirate name is:
Iron Tom Kidd

A pirate’s life isn’t easy; it takes a tough person. That’s okay with you, though, since you a tough person. Even though you’re not always the traditional swaggering gallant, your steadiness and planning make you a fine, reliable pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from fidius.org.

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The Incarnation and the Trinity

Without the Incarnation, we would have no certain knowledge of the Trinity. We would have hints and indications, for our Christ-centered reading can now see them in the holy texts of the Old Testament. But we would have no clear revelation from God. Only the revelation of God in Christ makes known to us the fact that God is a Trinity of Persons. In the Son, God is revealed as the Father; in the Son we are given the promise of the Pentecostal advent of the Holy Spirit. Christ, himself, testified that he and the Father are one (John 10:30), and took on himself the holy Name, “I AM” (John 8:58). In Christ’s birth, the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin Mary (Luke 1:35). In Christ’s baptism, the Holy Spirit manifested himself with the Father and the Son (Luke 3:21-22). Apart from Christ there is no revelation of the Trinity.
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The Reality of the Incarnation

Let’s be absolutely clear on this: if one does not understand the Incarnation correctly, one will not live correctly other Christian doctrines. If one tends to emphasize the divine attributes of Jesus (and thus in some way to deny the human aspects), in sort of a Gnosticism or adoptionism, then one will emphasize belief over action, inner spiritual-emotional states over the pragmatic struggle of living in the ways Jesus lived, and participating in his life. If one tends to emphasize the human attributes of Jesus (and thus in some way to deny the divine aspects), in a sort of docetism, then one will emphasize the more superficial behavioral states of Christianity, indeed, to steer towards chilianism (the heresy of utopia) over the proper adherence to the Faith once for all delivered to the saints. Only a correct understanding of the Incarnation can keep the human being whole and avoid the anthropic schism which dehumanizes. Of course, being correct on the Incarnation does not guarantee correctness on other doctrines; one may still go wrong in some way. But the centrality of the Incarnation necessitates proper fidelity to God’s revelation in Christ: it is the plumb line of the Christian Faith.

God’s supreme revelation to humankind was not given in a nation, nor in a written text. God’s last word to us is his Son (Hebrews 1.1-4). The fulfillment of his Covenant is the Person of Christ. There is nothing else left for God to do: his final will has been accomplished in Jesus of Nazareth, though it is clear that this accomplishment is even now being worked out in the final consummation of all things.

It is precisely this single ultimate revelation in Christ that is the focal point, the beginning and the end, of all Christian theology. If God did not take on human flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ, then all that Jesus said and did, however we may construe it as noble and exemplary, is empty of meaning and promise. But if Jesus is whom he claimed to be, if the Second Person of the Trinity did, indeed, receive our humanity from Mary, then everything he said and did changes everything we say and do, all our thoughts and inner passions. If Jesus is he who is from everlasting, then every particle of our physical being, all the invisible inner stuff that makes us uniquely who we are, soul and spirit, thought and energy, bone and sinew, every breath and surge of blood, is changed, transfigured in the glory that is his.

The Incarnation matters. On it depends everything that ever was, is, or ever shall be.

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From The Ascetic Life of Fr. Seraphim Rose, by Father Seraphim’s spiritual son, Father Alexey Young:

I had the privilege of knowing him from 1966, around the time of the repose of St. Archbishop John Maximovitch, who was his spiritual father. Fr. Seraphim was a layman at that time–he didn’t even have the famous beard of his later years, yet–, and then he became a Reader in the Cathedal shortly after I first met him.I do not know what his Cell Rule was, nor how many prostrations he did. He never spoke of it. He was a very private man. But I and others who were close to him know that he said The Prayer unceasingly and was probably a full hesychast in his last years. I never saw him without a prayer rope moving through his fingers.

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Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm VI

Annie Dillard ends her meditations with a prayer for Julie.

There is Julie Norwich. Julie Norwich is salted with fire. She is preserved like a salted fillet from all evil, baptized at birth into time and now into eternity, into the bladelike arms of God. For who will love her now, without a face, when women with faces abound, and people are so? People are reasoned, while God is mad. They love only beauty; who knows what God loves? Happy birthday, little one and wise: you got there early, the easy way. The world knew you before you knew the world. The gods in their boyish, brutal games bore you like a torch, a firebrand, recklessly over the heavens, to the glance of the one God, fathomless and mild, dissolving you into the sheets.

You might as well be a nun. You might as well be God’s chaste bride, chased by plunderers to the high caves of solitude, to the hearthless rooms empty of voices, and of warm limbs hooking your heart to the world. Look how he loves you! Are you bandaged now, or loose in a sterilized room? Wait till they hand you a mirror, if you can hold one, and know what it means. That skinlessness, that black shroud of flesh in strips on your skull, is your veil. There are two kinds of nuns, out of the cloister or in. You can serve or you can sing, and wreck your heart in prayer, working the world’s hard work. Forget whistling: you have no lips for that, or for kissing the face of a man or a child. Learn Latin, an it please my Lord, learn the foolish downward look called Custody of the Eyes.

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