Monday, March 31, 2003

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Imagine you are walking down a neighborhood street. Not one you walk down everyday, but one that is close enough that you COULD walk on it each day if you needed to. On this street, on a telephone pole, let's say, is a flyer. This flyer annonunces that a meal is being served at an establishment nearby. You walk in, and discover that this is one of the most beautifully appointed buildings you've ever seen. There is a large buffet table set up in the middle, and a sign announcing "Free: Help Yourself". As you approach you notice the table isabsolutely covered in delicacies both familiar and exotic. Taking this food to your table, you savor it in a leisurely fashion, and after finishing, you discuss the various entrees with your friend (you did bring a friend along, didn't you?), noting those you liked more than others. In the middle of the table is a small booklet describing the food you've eaten and the world class chef who prepared it. As you get up to leave, you notice the chef himself standing near the door, and if you are the bold type, you walk over and tell him how much you enjoyed the meal, especially the (whatever was your favorite). The chef graciously thanks you for coming and asks you to come back next time. You think to yourself, "Now why exactly don't I come here more often?"

The scenario above describes pretty well my feelings about my evening tonight. Lenise and I went to an organ concert at Duke Chapel. Absolutely beautiful music in an absolutely beautiful setting and absolutely free. Not to mention they have recitals pretty much all the time. Tonight's concert featured music of Buxtehude, Bach, Reger, Franck and others. Organ music is just so visceral, especially live. I'm personally of the opinion that Buxtehude is perhaps the most underated composer of western music. He had the misfortune of being followed closely by an even better composer (J S Bach), and I think for that reason alone his name is fairly unknown outside of those who study organ music.

Friday, March 28, 2003

On the light side, (in case you missed it before) here's the story that almost killed my wife with laughter. Beware of THE BLIMP OF HORROR

Thursday, March 27, 2003

can't resist this one:

"Umm Qasr is a town similar to Southampton", UK Defence Minister Geoff Hoon told the House of Commons yesterday. "He's either never been to Southampton, or he's never been to Umm Qasr", said one British soldier, informed of this while on patrol in Umm Qasr. Another added: "There's no beer, no prostitutes, and people are shooting at us. It's more like Portsmouth."

I've been thinking ("And it's about time," you say). Specifically I've been thinking about Christian Historiography. As a history major in college, I read a couple books on historiography, the content of each I have largely forgotten. But I do remember thnking about a couple of questions along the lines of how being a Christian would affect the way one would be a historian. I suppose I probably should have spent a bit more time thinking about how being something else would affect how one would study or write history, but it's a bit too late to redo my college papers over, so I'll have to leave that be for now. Anyhow, the questions in my mind at the time were, "Should a Christian historian strive to see the hand of God in history?", and "What is the role of moral judgement by the historian?"

The second of these questions just came back to me today, occasioned by this article by the brilliant Niall Ferguson, author of The Pity of War, which itself is an amazing treatment of the historiography of World War I. For those afraid to click, the article is an assessment of the merits of the Brittish empire, and the lessons that might be useful to the United States. But the question in my mind is, Is it appropriate for the Christian historian to ask of some large even or state "Is it (or was it) a good thing?" I am bypassing the question of evaluating individual people. Certainly the scriptures themselves describe certain historical persons as evil (Ahab comes to mind) and others as good (the description of David as "like an angel of God"). But is it our role to say "The Brittish Empire was a good (or bad) thing"? Or what about the Roman Empire, or the Babylonian? I imagine I have a lot of thinking still to do on this, but my inclination at the moment is to say no. God, in His rulership of the world, works through kings, rulers, states and empires (among other ways certainly). These entities are, despite what rulers themselves might think, His servants. They are, in my opinion, the most obvious driving forces of the course of human events. It seems unquestionable, by way of example, that WWII would by no means have occurred if Hitler was not himself determined towards aggression.

Bringing up WWII of course leads to an obvious criticism of my position. Of course, we would all say, WWII was a horrible thing. Whatever good things may have occured as a consequence (maybe a reduction of violent anti-semitism would be an example), surely they do not outweigh the terrible costs. This does get to the heart of my question, though, of what makes a Christian historian different. I don't know Mr Ferguson's religious persuasion, but his argument in the cited article is a type of utilitarian calculation, jus tas my very simple analysis of WWII is above. Does the good outweigh the bad? I think there are times to ask that sort of question, say in policy analysis or business planning, but I am not convinced that that is the way a Christian should analyze history. If God brings all things to pass accoding to His own plans (rough paraphrase of the Westminster Confession), then we may lament the evil we see, and rejoice in the good, but I think we overstep when we ask "Was it good?", or "Should this have occurred?" I know many would disagree, but I would point towards the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah was, quite rightly, overwhelmed with the estruction of, not only his homeland, but the land God had promised as the inheritance of the Israelites. But Jeremiah never looks to God and says "You should not have done this." God had promised judgement on Israel, and executed it as He saw fit. God's wrath is both terrible and mysterious to us. I think we are right to ask "Why did this happen?" (knowing full well we may not get an answer), and we are right to cry out before God, we cannot ask whether His plans are good ones.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

I think God does move in mysterious, and sometimes not so mysterious, ways, His wonders to perform. Our pastor preached Sunday on conflict within the body of Christ and the steps one should take if your brother offends you. as it turns out, I was wronged by a member of the church this week. I was, frankly, kind of angry. Not only was I wronged, I was wronged by someone I like and respect and worship with weekly. But I knew that I should just speak to the person, and get it over with. I did sit on it overnight, but called today and talked it out very briefly. It wasn't really a HUGE wrong, but it was enough to upset me a bit. My friend apologized and offered to mae it right. I was amazed at how quickly my indignation subsided. I really want my church relationships to not have the baggage of enmity and strife, so I think I was ready to forgive. Plus I knew from Sunday that it was not an option, but what God expects of me.

Sorry if this seems too elementary. I just need to relearn the basics from time to time.

Sunday, March 23, 2003

I realize that all of you who have been looking to me to provide continual updates on the military operations in Iraq have been moderately to serious disappointed. I hope that you will forgive me somewhat after I provide you with this very interesting story. All kidding aside, I found the story to be quite fascinating on more than one level.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Work yesterday took me out to to Wake Forest and its environs. What a lovely city. It is certainly the first city I've been to whose layout was dominated by a seminary. You cannot taake either of the main routes through town without taking part of the cirlce around SE Baptist Sem right there in the middle. The places I actually worked, Youngsville and Rolesville, were less than inspiring.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

This is just my opinion, but I think that this guy, despite what he might or might not "want", needs to grow up.
This is just way to weird to pass by.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Not too much to blog about I suppose. Still preparing for mission trip. Starting to do a little reading about Ukraine. Have my fundraising letter almost ready. More prep meeings next weekend.

Had a customer no-show me today. Hate it when that happens. It certainly shows a disrespect for my time, but the nwhen I talk to the person later, I feel uncomfortable being too confrontational about it. I need to just make up a fee sheet to hand to all my customers saying there will be a $30 fee if appt is cancelled without 24 hr notice. But I'm too lazy at this point.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Why is it that everything seems to go through u s mail pretty quickly execpt my tax refund? Nothing like waiting for money to stir one's soul.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Saturday, March 08, 2003

Just saw Gods and Generals, mostly at my wife's urging, as she was eager to see the parts filmed in Lexington. What a movie; and what a tearjerking ending.

Friday, March 07, 2003

If all hip hop videos were like this one, I would watch a lot more of them (warning--big long video type file).

Monday, March 03, 2003

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Entirely my fault, I assure you. No need to feel guilty on my account. BTW, I did run into possible the most out of control used book store in the western hemisphere. Stevens Book Store in Raleigh has quite an extensive religion section, running from devotionals to academic works and journals. However, at least 4 of the aisles were completely impassible due to the shoulder high stacks of books piled in the middle of the floor. I'm not talking about just a stack here or there. I'm talking about the entire aisle. I'm sure they have lots of good stuff. Somewhere.