The Grateful Christian

Essays, opinions, and works-in-progress by a conservative Lutheran pastor.

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Location: West Michigan, United States

In order of importance, I am a: Husband, father, pastor, hobby programmer, writer. Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust instead
Of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.

--C.S.Lewis, The Apologist's Evening Prayer

Sunday, December 24, 2006

"Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high?"

3. NATIVITIE
Immensitie cloysterd in thy deare wombe,
Now leaves his wellbelov'd imprisonment,
There he hath made himselfe to his intent
Weake enough, now into our world to come;
But Oh, for thee, for him, hath th'Inne no roome?
Yet lay him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Starres, and wisemen will travell to prevent
Th'effect of Herods jealous generall doome,
Seest thou, my Soule, with thy faiths eyes, how he
Which fils all place, yet none holds him, doth lye?
Was not his pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pittied by thee?
Kisse him, and with him into Egypt goe,
With his kinde mother, who partakes thy woe.
John Donne, La Corona, 400 years ago.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

"shutst in little roome"

Note how the last line of each verse becomes the first line of the next. In programming, we would call this a doubly linked list. I suppose Donne would have called it a chain.

2. ANNUNCIATION
Salvation to all that will is nigh.
That All, which alwayes is All every where,
Which cannot sinne, and yet all sinnes must beare,
Which cannot die, yet cannot chuse but die,
Loe, faithfull Virgin, yeelds himselfe to lye
In prison, in thy wombe; and though he there
Can take no sinne, nor thou give, yet he'will weare
Taken from thence, flesh, which deaths force may trie.
Ere by the spheares time was created, thou
Wast in his minde, who is thy Sonne, and Brother,
Whom thou conceiv'st, conceiv'd; yea thou art now
Thy Makers maker, and thy Fathers mother,
Thou'hast light in darke; and shutst in little roome
Immensity cloysterd in thy deare wombe.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"'Tis time that heart and voice be lifted high"

John Donne, La Corona, ca. 1607; offered to you in serial form for your meditation this blessed Adventtide. With two funerals to conduct this week (sandwiched in among the seven other services), I am appreciating Donne's expression of the Christian hope . From DONNE, The Laurel Poetry Series, Richard Wilbur, General Editor. New York: Dell Publishing, 1962.

I. LA CORONA
Deigne at my hands this crown of prayer and praise,
Weav'd in my low devout melancholie,
Thou which of good, hast, yea art treasury,
All changing unchang'd Antient of dayes,
But doe not, with a vile crowne of fraile bayes,
Reward my muses white sincerity,
But what thy thorny crowne gain'd, that give mee,
A crowne of Glory, which doth flower alwayes;
The ends crowne our workes, but thou crown'st our ends,
For, at our end begins our endlesse rest,
This first last end, now zealously possest,
With a strong sober thirst, my soule attends.
'Tis time that heart and voice be lifted high,
Salvation to all that will is nigh.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Atheist Delusion

Hat tip to Dr. Veith for pointing us to this article by Shannon Love, who identifies self as an atheist who is disenchanted with Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. Here's a teaser: Love laments that there is
a form of confirmation bias on the part of atheists. They look into the distant past, see some actions we disapprove of in the modern world, notice that the people who chose the actions had a religious world view, and conclude that the religious world view caused the problem. However, since everybody in the distant past had a religious world view, and no significant decision makers until the very recent past had an atheistic world view, the fact that decision makers in the past were religious tells us about as much about them as the fact that they all breathed oxygen.

Atheists like to single out both the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition as examples of inhumanity that occurred because of religion. (The very fact that we atheists feel compelled to reach back 400-800 years for our kneejerk examples of bad religious behavior should set off warning bells.) Yet both events had significant materialistic or practical drivers that would have created much the same events without any religion being involved.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Strange Bedfellows


Taking a break from the heavy stuff. Here are a couple of fun photos I took while on a visit to the Twin Cities this summer. The one above is not as strange a combination, I think, as the one below. In case it's too hard to read in the photo, the business on the right in the lower photograph is the "Center For Inner Awakening." They offer (according to their window) Meditation, Chanting, Hatha Yoga, Yogic Philosophy...