Friday, December 23, 2005

Of the devil's party without knowing it


EEEEK!! An Anti-Christian!!!

Has anyone else noticed that the TR blogosphere has got their sanctifed panties in a total major twist over this web site? Golly Gee, there's real anti-Christians out there. Let's mob them with blog posts explaining that, if they would just look at the evidence and think clearly (like a good TR) they would come to Jesus, too.

This from people who supposedly affirm that we all basically have the same attitude, apart from God's gracious intervention. This from the "total depravity" team. Duh. Why are guys like this a threat to Chrstian Certaintists? I mean, the whole first century was like this guy, right? I'll take a dozen of this guy over a bore like Spong.

If I'm not careful, I'll post that I'm worse than Bill Maher again.

Posted by Michael Spencer at 02:09 PM


Blake famously said that Milton was of the Devil’s party without knowing it. By contrast, Blake was knowingly of the Devil’s party.

I haven’t read the Tavernistas for a few days. But a friend has drawn my attention to the fact that they have temporarily interrupted their edifying tabulation of slang words for masturbation long enough to pounce on a couple of Christian bloggers who were critiquing a new atheist website.

The two Christian bloggers I’m aware of who are doing this are Frank Turk and Eric Vestrup. While Turk could be classified as a member of the “TR” blogosphere, Dr. Vestrup is certainly not a Reformed Baptist.

But as recent events have borne out, elementary fact-checking is not one of Spencer’s forte’s.

Spencer then insinuates that these bloggers feel “threatened” by the atheist website.

To begin with, I’m a little surprised that Spencer would psychoanalyze the motives of Turk or Vestrup. After all, I thought that Spencer was very disapproving of this practice when it went in his own direction.

Be that as it may, the obvious reason that Turk and Vestrup are critiquing this website is for the benefit of other Christians. Vestrup is a professional academic while Turk is a Christian bookstore owner. As such, they have resources which the average Christian does not.

For example, Chaz Bufe compares Christianity to Mithraism. Now, among other flaws in Bufe’s methodology is his failure to distinguish between Iranian and Roman Mithraism. But how many Christians are equipped to point that out? Most of us didn’t have a course in Mithraism back in high school or college.

Likewise, while their critique is about the atheist website, it is not necessarily addressed to the atheist website.

BTW, I’ve never met a “Chrstian Certaintists?” I’ve met a number of Christian Certaintists, “but never a Chrstian Certaintist. Is this a new cult?

Spencer then makes the really stupid claim that apologetics (evidence and clear thinking) is contrary to the doctrine of total depravity. Is Spencer really that clueless about Reformed theology?

Total depravity is no more or less of an impediment to apologetics than it is to the preaching of the Gospel.

Apart from the grace of God, you can no more preach a man into the kingdom of God than you can reason him into the kingdom.

That doesn’t mean that reason, evidence, and preaching are useless. Rather, it only means that they are useful in conjunction with the grace of God. As such, they will benefit some, but not others.

Spencer is equating Calvinism with Hyper-Calvinism. That’s pretty dopey for a man of his sophistication.

But, of course, he’s too busy emoting to think straight—too busy lashing out at his “enemies” to lend a helping hand to a struggling believer.

Mind you, if Spencer really believes that the “Truly Reformed” have a monopoly on evidence and clear thinking, then that would go a long ways towards explaining the absence of evidence and clear thinking over at BHT. So who am I to take issue with Spencer’s self-diagnosis?

Still, it’s striking that Spencer has chosen to pounce on Christians who are trying to give other Christians answers to critics of the faith.

It makes you wonder which party Spencer belongs to anymore—Milton’s or Blake’s?

The Pope & the Antichrist

“There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ: nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the church against Christ, and all that is called God” (WCF 25.6).

The prooftexts for this claim are Mt 23:8-10; 2 Thes 2:1-12, and Rev 13. I’ve argued elsewhere that these passages of Scripture cannot be treated as directly prophetic of the papacy because the language is too general and flexible to single out the institution of the papacy in particular.

That doesn’t mean that they are inapplicable to the papacy. Rather, they are applicable to any individual or institution which exemplifies these characteristics.

But one can approach this question from another angle as well. In modern parlance, “anti” means “opposed to,” but in Greek, “anti” means “in place of.”

Now, the NT speaks of the exclusive mediation of Christ. The locus classicus is 1 Tim 2:5-6. The same idea is present in Johannine theology (e.g. Jn 14:6; 1 Jn 2:1-2; 4:14). And the entire argument of Hebrews is devoted to this theme.

But the Pope claims to be the Vicar of Christ. As such, he acts in place of Christ. Indeed, the entire system of Romanism, with its cult of the saints, culminating in Mary as the Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix, as well as a priesthood which dispenses the means of grace, embodies the principle of the Antichrist.

This is not to limit the principle to Catholicism. You have the functional equivalent in Buddhism and Islam and Mormonism, among others.

Thursday, December 22, 2005



Best of the Web Today - December 22, 2005

Dems: Hear No Evil,0,3553632.story

John Schmidt, who served as an assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration, weighs in with a Chicago Tribune op-ed on the wiretapping kerfuffle:

*** QUOTE ***

President Bush's post- Sept. 11, 2001, authorization to the National Security Agency to carry out electronic surveillance into private phone calls and e-mails is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents. . . .

In the Supreme Court's 1972 Keith decision holding that the president does not have inherent authority to order wiretapping without warrants to combat domestic threats, the court said explicitly that it was not questioning the president's authority to take such action in response to threats from abroad.

Four federal courts of appeal subsequently faced the issue squarely and held that the president has inherent authority to authorize wiretapping for foreign intelligence purposes without judicial warrant.

In the most recent judicial statement on the issue, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, composed of three federal appellate court judges, said in 2002 that "All the . . . courts to have decided the issue held that the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence . . . We take for granted that the president does have that authority."

*** END QUOTE ***

John 3:16


Some argue that the term “world” here simply has neutral connotations—the created human world. But the characteristic use of “the world” (ho kosmos) elsewhere in the narrative is with negative overtones—the world in its alienation from and hostility to its creator’s purposes. It makes better sense in a soteriological context to see the latter notion as in view. God loves that which has become hostile to God. The force is not, then, that the world is so vast that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it, but rather that the world has become so alienated from God that it takes an exceedingly great kind of love to love it at all.

A. Lincoln, The Gospel According to St. John (Henrickson 2005), 154.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The quest for certainty

There are many one-time Evangelicals who convert to Rome in a quest for religious certainty. There are many problems with this move, but for now I’ll comment on just one:

The problem with the Catholic convert is that he simply stipulates an artificial standard of certainty, and then he constructs a belief-system around his stipulation.

This is a mistake. Unlike God, we are in no position to stipulate the way things must be or ought to be.

We are only responsible for what God holds us responsible for. Our level of certainty or uncertainty should be calibrated to the level of evidence that God has given us in any particular case.

If God wanted us to be more certain on this or that belief, he would have given us more evidence, or more compelling evidence, for this or that belief.

It isn’t the duty of a Christian to be more certain than God himself has warranted.

One doesn’t begin with some abstract standard of certainty, and then construct a belief-system around that artificial criterion. To do so is to play God.

Rather, we just go with whatever God has told us, whether more or less. We don’t have to be equally clear about everything, because God has not made everything equally clear to us.

We are answerable to God for what God requires of us. We are not answerable to God for what God does not require of us.

Indeed, when we aim for a target that God did not give us, we are not doing God’s will.

Of course, if you don’t believe in God or providence, then you can’t be certain of anything. That’s where transcendental theism comes in.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mark of Cain


Marcus McCain was the talk of the town. In a small town, anybody’s business was everybody’s business.

Loners drifted in and out of Tumbleweed Texas on a regular basis. And Marcus McCain was both a loner and a drifter.

A man of indeterminate age, McCain was a topic of local conversation, not for what he did, but what he didn’t too.

Having purchased an abandoned farm for cash, he never came to town—not even for groceries. He had no phone, utilities or mail. He lived off the land and was only seen from time to time hunting in the woods.


But mischievous boys being what they are, his life as a recluse was an object of mischievous adventure. They would do anything to get a rise out of him—teepee the house or shoot out the windows with a bee bee gun.

A favorite exercise was to see which boy was brave enough to knock on the door, then run for cover before the arms of certain death caught him in its clutches.

One day Timmy O’Brien was peering through the window, propped up by a water barrow, when the barrow tipped over and he sprained his ankle. Ominous footsteps were heard inside the house.

His playmates did what all braves boys do when having to choose between imminent death and rescuing a fallen comrade---they abandoned him to his fate.

Timmy heard the creaky front door open, and the heavy tread of footsteps on the porch, before he saw a forward leaning shadow curve around the porch in his helpless direction.

Jimmy’s life—all nine years and a quarter—passed before his eyes. He mumbled a half-remembered prayer and prepared to meet his Maker.

He fully expected Marcus McCain to be a ten-foot tall hunchback with six-fingers per hand and glowing red eyes. But he was quite unprepared for the full horror of what rounded the porch.

He near ‘bout lost bladder control at the sight. But after a moment of pure frostbitten fear, his lurid imagination adjusted to what his eyes actually beheld, which was a surprisingly well-kept man with a sad and weary, but not unkindly face.

Marcus McCain was, indeed, powerfully built, as if he’d descended from a race of long extinct Nephilim.

Timmy’s breath was caught in his throat as the stranger peered over him from Olympian heights. McCain wordlessly plucked up the young urchin in his arms, carried him inside, and deposited him on the kitchen table.

Timmy was now shaking and quaking like a wet kitten as his eyes darted about the dark corners of the house, for fear of seeing the cool, sharp gleam of stainless steel implements—the better to dismember naughty little boys.

McCain was rummaging through draws and cupboards for something in particular. He came back with a roll of gauze and began to tightly bandage the ankle.

The realization slowly dawned on Timmy that he may have averted death and hellfire for another day.


Through the kitchen window, Molly O’Brien saw a tall stranger, with Timmy in his arms, walk into the front yard. She rushed out of the house.

McCain wordlessly deposited Timmy in her arms, turned around, and walked bacl home.

After she got him inside, Timmy filled her in on the momentous events of his misadventure. There were, to be sure, a few tactical modifications in his account to avoid self-incrimination—modifications which always left his own complicity swathed in enigma. But Molly was used to that.

Timmy had yet another version to tell his playmates—an especially lurid version of steely valor in the face of unspeakable horror as he made his narrow escape from the torture chambers of the unmentionable One.

Every time he retold the tale, he remembered yet another gory detail, yet another proof of his plucky ingenuity.

Before his brush with death, Timmy had held a middling rank in the pecking order of the gang, but his courageous tale was, to his playmates, what the Congressional Medal of Honor was to a wounded soldier.

A boy like Timmy would have been a handful in the best of times, but Molly was a single Mom. Her husband left her for another woman when Timmy was five.


After he got over his limp, Timmy screwed up his courage and went back Marcus McCain’s farmhouse—this time to properly introduce himself and get to know this manly man and mysterious stranger.

It turned out that McCain was quite a storyteller. He had an endless fund of stories—from World War II and World War I to the Civil War and Revolutionary War, through the Crusades and the Black Plague to the Greeks and Romans, Assyrians and Parthians, Babylonians, Sumerians, and before.

Molly O’Brien was a churchgoing woman, and some of is stories sounded like stories that Timmy had heard from the pulpit, but with a lot of incidental detail, as if he wre remembering instead of embellishing.

He also took Timmy on hunting trips and taught him many survival skills, taught him how to be a tracker, taught him the nutritional and medicinal value of various plants.

Timmy was especially intrigued by an interesting looking ring which McCain used to wear. McCain had a story about that as well. He said it was an old heirloom. According to family lore, this was the signet ring which Pharaoh gave to Joseph.


Timmy had never been a very studious student. But under McCain’s tutelage, Timmy excelled in grade school and Sunday school.

When the time came for his confirmation, Timmy asked McCain to be his godfather. McCain did not want to become that involved in the life of the community, but he also did not wish to hurt Timmy’s feelings, so he consented.

After the ceremony, the Rev. Freigeist struck up a conversation with McCain. It turned out that the good parson was broad churchman with enlightened views of the Scriptures. He was especially amused by the “inanities” of the Flood.

At that point, McCain launch into a very detailed description of just how it was possible.

Freigeist could only grimmace. Here he was hoping to have an intelligent conversion. Now he saw his mistake. McCain was clearly just another backwoods Bible-thumper—a breed all to common in these parts. He asked, sarcastically, if McCain had been a stowaway on the ark.


Up until his confirmation, Timmy had been keeping his visits to McCain a secret from his Mom.

After she found out, Molly wasn’t quite approving, but wasn’t quite disapproving. She wasn’t at all sure it was a good thing for Timmy to be under the sway of this strange man. He seemed to be benign, but she knew next to nothing about him, and he was nothing if not eccentric. Who was he, anyway? A fugitive from justice?

Molly worked part time for the local sheriff as a secretary, and she began to do a background check. At first he seemed to be a man without a past. No birthplace or birth certificate or medical records or school records or criminal records.

Yet as she dug deeper and did some cross-checking, McCain suddenly seemed to be a man with more than one life, more than one birthplace or birth certificate—a man who changed identities.

But Molly ran out of leads because the database didn’t go back before a certain point in time. So she turned her research over the local reporter.

He did his own digging, came up with some new leads—or rather—old leads—and then drove over to McCain’s place to interview him for a story he was writing for the paper.

McCain did not appreciate his new-found notoriety, and brusquely turned the reporter away.


Molly forbad Timmy from seeing McCain ever again. But Timmy snuck out of the house that night. McCain told him another story, the story of a man condemned. Of a man guilty of an unspeakable offense. Of a man accursed to wander the earth until the Second Coming.


The next day Timmy went back. He knocked on the door, but no one answered. The door was unlocked, so he went inside. The house was deserted. What personal effects had been there were all gone, except for a signet ring which McCain left on the kitchen table.

The Dream-Drifters


Up until the year 2212, intergalactic travel was thought to be impossible due to the light-speed barrier and the immensity of space. Year after year, ingenious theories of every description were been floated to get around this obstacle, but to no avail.

But in the year 2212, a mnemonics major by the name of Fibert Lyle took the unorthodox approach of saying that the answer lay, not in the problem, but in question. The physical constraints were admittedly insurmountable, but why pose the problem in physical terms?

Mnemonics was the science of directed memory. Way back in the 20C, neurosurgeons had already discovered that cortical stimulation would trigger memories. Not just fuzzy images, but memories so vivid and lifelike that they seemed to recreate the original experience.

For a time, no one pursued this discovery until the entertainment industry took an interest in the recreational possibilities of directed memory—of being able to catalogue all one’s memories, then pull up the most pleasant memories for repeated, interactive viewing. This became quite addictive. Just as VR programs edged out recreational drugs, commercial mnemonics edged out VR programs as the diversion of choice.

One branch of mnemonics was morphetics. This was the science of recovered dream engrams. Just as mnemonics could recover real memories, morphetics could recover forgotten dreams.

Besides its recreational value, it was also a useful tool in penology. Instead of sentencing a convict to prison time, you could sentence him to relive his worst nightmares. Not only was this far more cost effective than imprisonment, but had a definite deterrent value.

Filbert’s study of mnemonics and morphetics led him to investigate the mind/body problem. And this, in turn, led him to investigate medieval mysticism.

In a flash of inspiration, as he was flossing his teeth one morning, it occurred to him that if we couldn’t change the nature of space, we could change the nature of the astronaut.

The mystics often spoke of raptures and astral travel. What if this was more than a figure of speech? What if it was really possible, through the mental discipline of the contemplative life, to detach the mind from the body and project the mind? The mind, unlike the body, was essentially illocal and could “go” anywhere.

Another aspect of parapsychology was telekinesis. I don’t mean the spoon-bending circus tricks. No, what if it was possible for the discarnate soul to reconstitute a body from the raw materials available on another planet?


Filbert combined these revolutionary insights in his doctoral dissertation. It was, by al accounts, a brilliant, ground-breaking thesis.

But his examiners were less than thrilled. One went so far as to call it “metaphysical.”

Not only did he flunk out of the program, but he was blacklisted by the scientific community as a dangerous quack. As a result, Filbert drank himself to death.

Once Filbert was safely dead, there was a renewed interest in his work. Other scientists “independently” came to the same conclusions, but studiously avoided naughty words like “mysticism” and the “soul.”


Astral travel was not without its dangers and impediments. The discarnate soul needed to know where to go. This required a star chart to supply the coordinates. And there were limitations on the mapping of space, for only a fraction of space was visible from our solar system.

But once the discarnate soul reached the first leg of the journey, it could hopscotch from one celestial body to another.

Yet this was not without its perils as well, for without an Ariadne’s thread to retrace its steps, the soul could easily become disoriented and lose its way in the labyrinth of outer space.

In addition, there was a point beyond which the soulless body could not be reanimated. Technically, when the soul left the body, the body was clinically dead. It could be sustained indefinitely on life-support, and the threshold for reanimation had been extended through rigorous physical and psychological conditioning, but it was only within that narrow widow of opportunity that the soul could leave and rejoin the body.

Yet another hazard was the danger of telekinetic revisionism. It was tempting for a mindbender to use his psychic powers to literally reshape parts of his life he was unhappy about. Although a mindbender could not actually go back in time, he could simulate time travel in order to rectify lost opportunities. Yet in altering his surroundings, he would change the world in which he and others lived.

For this reason, candidates for astral travel were rigorously screened and monitored. And there were severe penalties for abusing their powers.

Yet, despite the many dangers, research continued, for nothing was ever allowed to impede the stately progress of science.


John Fisher was a mindbender, assigned to the Astronautica. And yet, like a mathematician who can do quantum geometry in his head, but is helpless to balance a checkbook, Fisher’s psychological insight did nothing to improve his social life. As with so many talented and ambitious men, he was a social misfit, alienated from his father, now deceased, his three wives, now divorced, and his kids from each marriage. Work was an escape from souring social relations, and escapism further curled his already sour social life.

If only he could do it all over again. That’s a question we all ask ourselves. But unlike the rest of us, creaking under the crushing weight of vain regrets, there was a sense in which a mindbender could do it all over again. Could succumb to temptation. If not on earth, for the authorities would detect any psychic contamination, then on another planet. It need not be habitable. For he could make it habitable. Parts of it, at least—like The Little Prince come to life.

To reinvent his past life he’d have to make an irreversible break with life on earth, leaving his body forever behind, along with his everyone he ever knew. But, from his standpoint, he had nothing to lose. Nothing, really, to leave behind but mistakes and heartaches.


And so he terraformed his boyhood home from the raw materials of a minor, unprepossessing planet on the outer fringes of Andromeda.

As a boy he always loved living there, on the lake, with the woods and the mountains. But when he was a teenager, his dad moved the family to the big city, which he always hated.

Fisher decided to synthesize a family reunion. He would synthesize his father, and have the kind of filial relationship he never had with his real dad. He would synthesize his beloved mother and grandmother. When the family moved, they left grandmother behind.
He would synthesize “Justin,” the brother he always wanted as a kid, but never had. He would synthetic Cora, the girl next door, his first crush, his first love, the girl he should have married all along. He would synthesize Austin, his best friend from high school. They had drifted apart after graduation.

True, they would not be real people, but synthetic, physical facsimiles, programmed with his memories. But they were better than real. Whatever was good, he would preserve; whatever was bad, he could improve.

He would bring them together under one roof, in his dream home. He had once been inside a mausoleum with an artificial stream and waterfall running down the middle, with flowers and songbirds, stained glass and fan-vaulting. He always wanted a home like that.

He was, in fact, a seminary dropout. He originally intended to study theology, but decided that he didn’t have the bedside manner for the job. So he went into science instead—his other love. And as time went on he adopted the celebrity lifestyle of a famous astronaut. Yet he had the troubled conscience of a backslider, torn in two.


So there he was, on day, under the clear sunny skies of his artificial world, driving an E-type Jaguar roadster cross-country to his mother’s home to pick her up. After dropping her off at the new house, he drove over to his grandmother’s house. She was gardening in the backyard, as she always did.

One by one he moved them into his dream home on the lake. He went hunting and camping with Austin and Justin, sail boating with his dad. He made a life with Cora. His grandmother continued to garden. There were outdoor barbecues whenever the weather permitted, which was often since the weather was whatever he wanted it to be. For the first time in his life he was free to pursue a number of fun hobbies.

It was, to be sure, a rather confining existence. His synthetic friends and family only knew what he knew, so he was really talking to himself. They never said anything new or unexpected.

He read books, but only what he remembered; listened to music, but only what he remembered; saw movies, but only what he remembered.

But while it was rather routine, it was a better routine than his old life. Predictable, no doubt, but predictably agreeable rather than predictably disagreeable.

Things fell into a natural groove. He lost track of time. There were no clocks or calendars, schedules or deadlines. Just the rhythms of nature.

Would he want to be doing this a hundred years from now? Maybe not, but he’d burn that bridge when he came to it. Everyone got bored sooner or later. But some boredoms were better than others.


Yet something else was beginning to eat away at him. Really, it was always gnawing on the inside. But he had been able to suppress it in his dream world come true.

Theoretically, the synthetic body was immortal. Of course, that proposition had never been put to the test. Forever is a long time, as they say. Yet to all appearances, the synthetic body was ageless.

But back on earth, his old friends and family members were far from ageless. In his effort to recapture lost opportunities, he was losing real opportunities. Even if he were still around several centuries from now, they would be gone beyond recall.

And another nagging thought was tapping him on the shoulder. For while he might be able to cheat the grave, he would not be able to cheat the Day of Judgment. Would God ever forgive him if he abandoned his family for good? If he made no good faith effort to be reconciled with his kids?

Yes, he still believed in God. As a seminarian, the more he tried to think about God, the more he doubted God. But as a backslider, the more he put God out of his mind, the more the thought of snuck in through the back door, pressing him on every side. He was never so mindful of God as when he was leading a godless life. The only effect of pushing God to the far corners of his brain was to flatten it thin like a piece of pizza dough so that it spread around, coating every bare surface.


But what could he do? He wasn’t at all sure he could find his way back to terra firma. And even if he did, what then? In principle, he could synthesize a new body, but that was strictly forbidden. The authorities felt that a class of immortals among mortals would be a recipe for social unrest. Every citizen would demand the same privilege. But not everyone could be a mindbender. You had to have a psychic predisposition. Yet the fear of death was such that every citizen would demand to be tested and trained, just in case. A pitchfork insurrection would result.

For this reason, the incorruptible character of the synthetic body was highly classified. Mindbenders would only permitted to synthesize a body back on earth for training purposes, after which the body was immediately cremated. Mindbenders who broke the rules were ruthlessly hunted down.


But there was one last option. If a man died by drowning or some other cause which left the brain and body intact, a discarnate soul could take possession of the corpse before necrosis set in.

Even so, would his disaffected family forgive him for deserting them these many months and years? Maybe not. But he had to try. He had a duty to perform. He had to seek them out, one-by-one. And so he dematerialized, leaving his synthetic paradise behind.

After he as gone, his adaptive, synthetic family and friends continued their synthetic existence without him, hunting and fishing and weeding the garden.


In the year 2273, another mindbender happened upon the very same planet. As you can well imagine, this was a sensational discovery. Here, at last, was hard, incontrovertible evidence of extra-terrestrial life. Clearly some alien species had studied the earth and then replicated its culture and horticulture in a laboratory experiment.

The only question was, were they friendly or hostile? Was this a prelude to first contact or invasion?

Theories multiplied. Whole histories and competing histories were written about this alien race. Its arts and sciences were meticulously reconstructed from clues and inferences. Every Ivy League university had its own endowed chair of Ufology. Law schools taught courses in exobiological rights.

Political parties took hawkish or dovish sides. Several millennial cults were founded, some of a survivalist mindset, others eager to greet the alien saviors. The entire global economy and educational establishment was redirected to prepare, for better or worse, for the arrival of the little green men. News coverage was saturated with stories of UFOs, contactees, and abductees.


There was one man who knew the truth, but unfortunately, he had died in obscurity several years before, surrounded by a few old friends and family members, taking his secret with him to the grave.

House of Clocks


Ethan was in love with Esmeralda. But was Esmeralda in love with Ethan? That was the burning question. She seemed to like him well enough, but liking and loving were a world apart.

If only he could spend more time with her, he would bring her around—or so he hoped. But trying to pin her down was like trying to make time stand still or stanch a river with your fingers.

Brief, fleeting, fugitive snatches of conservation in the hallway or the bus stop or the cafeteria—before class, between class, and after class.

But every time the conversation took a promising turn, the bus came, the bell rang, and away she went. Every opportune colloquy felt like a race against time—before the clock struck twelve and the gilded carriage reverted to a pumpkin.

Wanting her without having her made the wanting all the more obsessive. There were other girls—pretty girls, perky girls—but they were interchangeable. There was only one Esmeralda—only one girl who reminded him of a river ride on a sunny summer’s day.

So he did what any normal, sensible, lovesick and enterprising boy would do—he resorted to subterfuge. If she wouldn’t come to him, he’d have to go to her.

One day he trailed the school bus in his car, keeping a discreet distance. After she got off, he followed her—followed her until she went into a clock shop.

He parked his car almost out of sight and waited for her come to out, to follow her home, to see where she lived.

He had seen it before—the House of Clocks—seen it out of the corner of his eye, driving by innumerable times, but never really registering its existence in any conscious, memorable way before.

It was a small, rundown building in a small, rundown shopping center, with vacant stores for rent on either side. The only other business was a greasy spoon.

Minutes stretched into quarter hours, then half hours, then hours—until it began to grow dark, and he drove home.


That night he hatched a plan. He would damage his wristwatch and take it in for repairs. Assuming that she worked there or lived there—apparently—he could find out more about this elusive and alluring girl.

Such a natural way to strike up a conversation. He would act surprised to find her there. What a happy coincidence!

This would break the ice, inviting a series of innocent, offhand questions and revealing answers. She’d have to be nice to him since he was, after all, a customer! Not that she wasn’t always nice, but with a distracted air—as if she were flipping through a yearbook or old family photo album.

Once he established contact he could hopefully parlay his initial foot in the door into a casual meeting place and, from there, into a regular trysting place.

Damaging the watch was a delicate operation. If he did too much damage, the watch would be irreparable, and he’d have to buy a new one on the spot. If he did too little, it could also be fixed on the spot.

He wanted to inflict just enough damage that he would have to leave it there and come back. That would give him two bites at the apple instead of one.


The next day, after school was out, he once again trailed the bus, and parked his car at the same spot. This time he wanted for a decent interval to pass before going in lest it look like he was following her—which, of course, he was.

By force of habit he kept glancing at his broken watch. Then he studied the car clock while strumming his fingers.

After forty-minutes had passed he got out of the car and went over to the shop. To his dismay, the door was locked and the windows were dark. He tried to peer inside. He could make out faint tinkling sounds and dim flashes of reflected light, but nothing more.


The day after he repeated the same experiment, to the same effect. He tried again on Saturday, and Sunday, to the same effect. He tried in the morning. He tried again in the afternoon. He tried Monday through Friday. All to the same effect.

Not only was this frustrating, but he began to question his motives. What began as an impulsive gesture had become compulsive. Was this getting out of hand? Lurid news stories of celebrity stalkers, jilted loves, abusive boyfriends, and angry exes ran through his mind.

Yet he wasn’t trying to force himself upon her. She had never rebuffed him. There was no restraining order in place. He was just looking for an opening.

Yes, she was all he thought about. But wasn’t that natural? Wasn’t it normal to be smitten? Wasn’t that part of falling in love? The hunt. The chase. The quest.

The infatuation might pass, but for now he was acting like any healthy and hormonally charged young man might act. No harm done. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Still, his plan had failed, and he had no fallback plan. At the time it seemed like a perfect plan, something that had fallen into his lap by a happy providence.

Still, the trail had gone cold—assuming it was ever warm. Absent a contingency plan, there was nothing left to do except to leave off what he was doing. The only thing he had for all his troubles was broken watch and a broken heart.


Back to the bus stop, back to the cafeteria, back to the hallways. Soon school would be out. Soon they all would graduate. Soon they’d all scatter to the winds to move away, or marry, or study out-of-state.

Weeks later, as he was driving home from the movies, his eye caught sight of lights on inside the House of Clocks. He went around the block and drove into the parking lot.

By now he had a new watch, but the busted watch was in the glove compartment. He went to the door. Tried the door. The door was unlocked. The door opened. He went inside.

The shop seemed oddly larger on the inside than on the outside. The shop was full of clocks—clocks of every kind and description under the sun: cuckoo clocks, grandfather clocks, water clocks, astronomical clocks, figural clocks, Gothic clocks, China clocks, Lyre clocks, Skeleton clocks, sundials, and hourglasses.

The shop was dizzy with ticking and chirping and chiming, as well as the glitter of brass and glass, crystal and silver in perpetual motion and countermotion. It’s as if the whole of history was laid end-to-end, then coiled around like a garden hose and crammed within those four walls—today, tomorrow, and yesterday all in one and all at once.

In his captivation he didn’t see or hear a woman come up behind him until she spoke to him.

“May I help you?” she said.

He spun around, startled. For a moment he thought it was Esmeralda. Indeed, she was, in a way, the spitting image of Esmeralda, but a good deal older. Her mother, no doubt.

He concealed his disappointment at not seeing Esmeralda. Recovering himself he said,
“Yes, I banged up my watch. I’d like to get it repaired.”

“It looks fine to me,” she said, staring at his wristwatch.

“Oh,” he said, slightly embarrassed—still preoccupied by his real mission. “I meant this watch,” pulling the damaged timepiece out of his pocket.

She inspected the item while he inspected her. She was garbed in a rather quaint, Victorian dress—like one of the antique clocks.

“It might cost you more to repair than replace,” she said. “Are you sure you want to have it fixed—seeing as you already have another watch?”

Her lethal logic was rapidly unraveling his well-laid plans.

“I know it’s a cheap watch,” he said, “but it’s a keepsake. My dad gave it to me on my birthday when I was just a kid, so it’s the sentimental value more than anything,” he said, lying through his teeth.

“I see,” she replied. She took it over to the counter and began to fill out a form.

Speaking of time, the transaction was quickly moving to a conclusion before he had a chance to do what he came for. He looked around, half frantically, half surreptitiously, for anything with the proprietor’s last name—a plaque or sheet of letterhead—something he could use as a pretext to ask about Esmeralda.

“If you’d fill out this part of the form,” she said.

He filled in his name, address, and phone number and handed it back to her. That was followed by a hesitant pause as they made eye contact.

“Will that be all?” she said.

“Yes…I mean no…I mean…you remind me of a girl at school” he said. He was always at his most awkward when he pretended to be nonchalant.

“Who’s that?” she answered.

“Esmeralda Zeitlich,” he said, hopefully. Her face remained expressionless.

“I don’t suppose you’re related to her by any chance,” he added.

“You might say that,” she answered. “Anything else?”

“No, that’ll do it,” he answered, flustered by the whole exchange. He thanked her and left.


Right after he got in the car and put the key in the ignition, it suddenly occurred to him that he hadn’t asked when the watch would be ready. So he walked back to the shop, but the door was locked and the lights were out.

That was odd. It was open just a minute ago. But, then, everything was a little odd about Esmeralda and the House of Clocks. That’s part of what made her so bewitching.

He glanced at his new wristwatch. There still time to pick up a bite to eat at his favorite deli before closing time.

He drove over, went up to the door, but found it was locked. He looked through the window. It was dark inside.

He glanced at his watch. It was a little past 10:30. He looked at the closing hours. It wasn’t supposed to close until 11:00.

Maybe they closed early. Or maybe his cheap new watch was slow.

Irritated, he got back in the car and headed home. On the way he glanced at the car clock. It was nearly 2:00 AM.

How was that possible? He was only in the House of Clocks for a short while. How could he lose several hours? It’s as if time passed at a different rate within the House of Clocks—which was absurd.


He went back to the House of Clocks the next day, and the next—day after day. But it was never open.

A few weeks later he received a phone call. The watch was ready to pick up. “I’ll be right down,” he said. The voice on the other end of the phone sounded like Esmeralda’s—but a bit on the shrill side. One of the things he loved about Esmeralda was her soft low speaking voice. Her mother had it too.

He raced down to the shop and rushed in, expectantly. No one was there so he rang the bell.

A young girl came out of the back room. Once again the family resemblance was marked. She appeared to be Esmeralda’s kid sister.

After he paid for the watch, he asked, “Is your sister around?”

“Sister?” she said, giving him a blank stare. Once again he felt foolish and confused.

“Never mind,” he said, between sixes and sevens. After leaving the shop he ambled absent-mindedly to the car, eyes to the ground, sulky and sullen.

Lost in thought, he reached for the door handle, but he hand swept the air. The car was gone! Anger instantly displaced dejection.

He looked up and down both sides of the street. But something was out of place. As he stood there, watching the cars pass by, every car was an older model car—as if he’d been catapulted back into the Eisenhower era.

He walked several miles to his house. Or was it his house? The house paint was a different tint. He went to the door. His key didn’t fit the lock. He rang the doorbell. A strange woman came to the door. He was speechless.


Ethan slowly made his way back to the shop. As usually, it was closed.

He broke a windowpane in the front door and went inside. There was no one in the show room. There was no one in the backroom.

He went back to the entrance, the broken glass crunching underfoot. As he went outside and turned to shut the door, the window was no longer broken. He swung it back and forth. Broken on the inside, unbroken on the outside.

He strolled over to the sidewalk. The greasy spoon was gone. This time the cars looked like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie.


Vivian was in love with Ethan, but was Ethan in love with Vivian? That was the burning question. He was a new student. No one knew much about him excepting that he lived along and had a part-time job at the House of Clocks.



Best of the Web Today - December 20, 2005

A shocking report from the Associated Press:

*** QUOTE ***

Barbie, beware. The iconic plastic doll is often mutilated at the hands of young girls, according to research published Monday by British academics. "The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a 'cool' activity," said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. "The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving."

*** END QUOTE ***

We're sure John McCain is hard at work finding a legislative solution to this outrage. We need to send "a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists," that we are "a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment." If Barbie isn't saved, the terrorists will have won!

Boar's head revisited

I’ve been finishing up some short stories, so I haven’t had time until now to tune into the scintillating developments in the combox or over at BHT.

This will be my very last post on the subject.

At this point, all I can say is that sometimes your critics make your point for you better than you could make it yourself.

Frank Turk famously accused Spencer of being unstable. Now just look at Spencer’s latest meltdown:


Hays and company want me destroyed. They want me off the web. Out of the ministry. They want my family humiliated. They hold me as an enemy of the faith.

They are obsessed. If I were to die in an accident, they would email one another in satisfied wonderment and give God the credit for killing another emergent apostate.

I am a 50 year old ordained minister with my entire reputation a sentence away from being slandered by a seminary student who is young enough to be my son.

That's the example you cited. I am not going to play edit-reedit with Jim. He paid the bills at the BHT for two years and does the tech. His name is on the post. If he was going to reinsert the word after my edit, I wasn't going to waste my time.

So what are we doing? Proving that I'm a liar?

When we talk about pure hatred of me and my blogs, Jus D is exhibit A.

Exactly what are we doing here? Do you need my suicide note to make you all feel better?


Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy! If you wanted evidence straight from the horse’s mouth to validate Frank’s charge, here it is.

If I didn’t think that Spencer was unstable before now, this would be more than enough to establish the point from his own mouth. The guy has the emotional equilibrium of a five-year old.

BTW, I happen to be 46 years of age. If Spencer is old enough to be my dad, then I don’t whether I should envy or censure his sexual precociousness.

Am I trying to prove he’s a liar? I never accused him of being a liar. He accused me of being a liar—repeatedly.

All I did was respond to his repeated demands for evidence. Now he plays the victim.

Spencer is a pitiful man, wallowing in oceans self-pity. He is clearly incapable of rational self-criticism.

Once again, I never equated “his” usage with c.t.’s. In context, it was all about his duties as moderator.

But in that capacity, who said what is a distinction without a moral difference. He responsible for what other people say on his blog.

Meantime, over at BHT, the Tavernistas are advertising slang terms for masturbation and copulation.

They have also busied themselves rehearsing the number of different sentences which can be composed around the ubiquitous S-word.

You only have to view their antics to see that BHT was a sewer hole just waiting for someone to rip the lid off.

They are self-condemned, having supplied the ammo for their own indictment.

Case closed.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Them bleepity-bleep Tavernistas


The BHT has a posted rule of pg-13 language. I have consistently edited according to that rule.

So put up or shut up. Where have we violated the posted rules on our blog regarding language?

# posted by Michael Spencer : 12/18/2005 7:09 PM


I don’t know if the Tavernistas have violated Spencer’s PG-13 rule or not. I suppose that depends on how one defines PG-13 these days.

In any event, this was never part of my original charge. I never accused the Tavernistas of violating BHT protocol.

It does, however, say quite a bit about Spencer’s moral compass that he defends BHT usage by appealing to the rating system of the Hollywood movie industry.


If you cannot see fit to withdraw this baseless charge, or show me where I am wrong, I have to ask myself if this sort of un-Christian argumentation is an inevitable, slippery slope type of result of reformed thinking.

# posted by dan : 12/19/2005 7:41 AM




This is a lie, Mr.Hays. And you should retract it as a matter of honor.

# posted by Michael Spencer : 12/19/2005 9:26 AM

I'm going to call you out as a liar... I'm just telling you straight. You are a liar and a hypocrite.

# posted by Michael Spencer : 12/19/2005 7:21 AM


Come on, Michael, why don’t you tell me how you really feel?


You are completely aware that the language at the BHT is tame. None of the famous "7 words" or anything similar have ever been allowed.



If you Google the famous “7 words” (not something I ordinarily recommend) you’ll find the S-word and the P-word, as in the following BHT-approved examples:

And I'ma confirmed anti-antinomian... Also, that BS call for prayer really saddens me. There's no real evidence of compassion or empathy. ... archives/2005/11/22/13035547.html

As you know, any mention of Wright is poison to many Calvinists, and as I have
learned, Wright's success and scholarship has so pissed off some Calvinists ... archives/2005/04/15/11027963.html –

Yeah, and boy is he pissed off. I've noticed that Calvinists love to launch ...
But, then they get REALLY SUPER PISSED any time someone criticizes their ... archives/2005/05/27/17029158.html


You are aware that the site search at the BHT reveals exactly what language has been used.


Thanks for pointing out that niffty search feature. Speaking of which:

I have just issued myself a Doctorate in Ass-kickery from the Joshua Strodtbeck
School of Awesomeness, a prestigious non-accredited institution. ...


You are aware that Doug Wilson uses a term I have never allowed on the BHT. (see the link in the previous post.) []


See above.


You are slandering me in a public forum, and you are refusing to either provide specifics or to provide the standard I have agree to that allows you to find the fault. I am repeatedly asking for evidence of your slanderous accusations, and none are forthcoming. Why not?

# posted by Michael Spencer : 12/19/2005 1:08 PM


Be careful what you ask for.

Now let’s watch Spencer back-peddle and furiously redefine the terms of his original challenge.

A second-rate evolutionary biologist

Richard Dawkins has published a guest article in Newsweek”

I’ll quote and comment on a few of the things he has to say.

“But a spider doesn't know how to make a web as a fisherman knows how to make a net. Spider genes are a recipe for legs, muscles and spinnerets, together with a brain whose wiring diagram causes it to manipulate muscles in such a way that a web automatically results. The spider presumably knows nothing of webs or flies, any more than you knew how to build yourself during your nine months of unconscious gestation.”

Yes, that’s all true. And how, again, is this an argument against intelligent design?

If it takes personal intelligence for a fisherman to make a net, but it doesn’t take personal intelligence for a spider to make a net, then where is the intelligence coming from?

To take a different comparison, it takes a pilot to pilot a plane. Or the plane can operate on autopilot. But that takes intelligent design. Or you can have a remote-control operated model airplane.

In each case, intelligence is indispensable. It’s just a case of whether the intelligence is proximate or remote.

“Genes literally don't know anything, but in a powerful sense they store knowledge about environments from the ancestral past. They "know" about their environment in the special sense that a key "knows" the lock that it uniquely fits.”

Except that both the key and the lock were designed to intermesh.

“This coded information fosters the illusion that organisms were designed precisely for their environments. Think of the uncanny resemblance of camouflaged insects to the background on which they sit.”

It takes an intelligent observer to appreciate the survival advantage of camouflage.

“Several factors conspire to make the natural illusion of design persuasive, complex and often beautiful. ‘Arms races’ between predators and prey, or parasites and hosts, drive the perfection of evolutionary adaptation to spectacular heights.”

This is the second time in as many paragraphs that he has used the word “illusion.”

“Above all, the illusion of design depends upon the gradual accumulation of small improvements, escalating to levels of complexity and elegance that could not conceivably be achieved in a single lucky step. We are rightly incredulous of any suggestion that biological complexity could spring suddenly from primordial simplicity in one generation. But it is easy if each step of a gradual progression is derived from its immediate predecessor which it closely resembles. That, in a phrase, is why evolution can so brilliantly explain life, where neither chance nor design can.”

i) This is the third time in three consecutive paragraphs that he has used the word “illusion.” When a creationist appeals to the illusion of apparent age, he is accused of special-pleading.

ii) Neither the young-earth creationist nor the ID-theorist is imputing to evolutionary theory a quantum leap from primordial soup to biological complexity in a single generation.

iii) It is easy “if” each step of a gradual progression is derived from its immediate processor.


a) Does the fossil record present a stepwise progression from primordial soup to biological complexity?

b) Have lab experiments been able to replicate a stepwise progression from primordial soup to biological complexity?

Even if they had, that would be cheating. It would require intelligent design.

c) What about the evolution of interdependent systems?

“Disingenuously, intelligent-design advocates try to disguise their religious motives by claiming that the designer's identity is left open.”

Do they? I thought the ID-theorist treated the intelligent designer as an inference from the data rather than a presupposition.

“Intelligent design works as a short-term proximal explanation of cameras and cars, prize roses and poodles. But it is fatally flawed as an ultimate explanation for anything, because it miserably fails to answer the $64,000 question: who designed the designer? That is not a frivolous debating point. It looms menacingly and fatally over the case—such as it is—for intelligent design.”

“You can roll the regress back if you wish, to a designer of the designer. But sooner or later you are going to have to forswear what the philosopher Daniel Dennett calls "skyhooks," and employ a solidly founded crane. The only natural crane we know is natural selection, and I have no doubt that if life exists elsewhere in the universe it will turn out to be, in the broad sense, Darwinian.”

“To the extent that creationists allow their un-evolved supernatural designer to have sprung into existence ab initio, they should allow natural agents the same dubious privilege. Intelligent design is not only bad science; it is bad logic, bad philosophy and even—as my theologian friends point out—bad theology.”

i) Why does appealing to God invite a vicious regress, but appealing to natural selection does not invite an infinite regress?

ii) Natural selection presupposes life, does it not? Natural selection is not an explanation for the origin of life, is it?

iii) In classic Christian theology, God did not come into being. Dawkins is trying to compare a timeless state of being (the existence of God) with a contingent process of becoming (the event of life on earth). They are disanalogous at the fundamental point of comparison.

“A second-rate mathematician, a mediocre biochemist, a born-again retired lawyer and a Moonie have somehow succeeded in elevating themselves, in the eyes of influential but ignorant politicians, rich benefactors and duped laymen, to near parity with the entire National Academy.”

i) If the ID-theorist is both mistaken and incompetent, then it should be a simple matter for Dawkins to prove him wrong.

ii) Is Dawkins a first-rate scientist? He’s not a Nobel Laureate. He’s not even a working scientist, that I’m aware of.

Instead, he’s the “Professor of the Public Understanding of Science.”

So he doesn’t do science, he merely writes about it.

Liar! Liar!


Mr. Hays,

I'm going to call you out as a liar... I'm just telling you straight. You are a liar and a hypocrite.

You are completely aware that the language at the BHT is tame. None of the famous "7 words" or anything similar have ever been allowed.

You are aware that the site search at the BHT reveals exactly what language has been used.

You are aware that c.t. uses the "f-word" and other terrible language that I have never used.

You are aware that Doug Wilson uses a term I have never allowed on the BHT. (see the link in the previous post.)You are aware that Wilson and Frank Turk in Wilson's comments use the same crude terms ("a" word) that you condemn me for.

You are aware that you are lying, and you know better.

You're a common liar, Mr. Hays. I have no problem being truthful about the language at the BHT. It's considerably better than Paul's vocabulary in Galatians. You have to lie every time you post on this.

Your insinuation that I am a corruptor of the young is about 5 feet away from slander.

Bill Mackinnon at the BHT tagged this fracas perfectly: "The one common theme amongst our detractors is a pathological hatred of the unlike. That's why a truly heterogeneous group blog mystifies them. If there isn't a theoblogical hierarchy with someone at the top (iMonk) then it is beyond their ability to understand. The fact that we are allowed to disagree with Michael and each other without some sort of "correction" is outside of their experience, and they don't know what to do with it other than attack. That we have a tavern motif infuriates them. That we give Catholics and Lutherans equal time with Baptists is outrageous. That we consider them Christians is unforgivable."

Now go ahead and delete this because it's true.

You are a liar, Mr. Hays.
Posted by Michael Spencer at December 19, 2005 09:25 AM


A few elementary points:

1.I have no intention of deleting Spencer’s comments, as anyone can see. Commenters are always free to criticize me to their heart’s content. Just spend some time in the archive.

2. Due to the steady coarsening of public discourse, what used to be R-rated speech is now PG-13 rated speech.

Both Spencer and I have been around long enough to be aware of the decline.

The fact that Spencer has become so jaded that he edits out R-rated vulgarity, but allows PG-rated vulgarity to slide on by is symptomatic of personal decadence which parallels the cultural decadence.

3. In addition, Spencer also allows R-rated vulgarity to be posted as long it is thinly disguised under the transparent ploy of wink-wink abbreviations.

BTW, if I were the moderator of a group-blog, and I had to keep editing out the R-rated language of my junior bloggers, I would take that as a pretty good indication that they were too immature to be blogging on a Christian weblog in the first place.

4.In the meantime, I also notice that the Tavernistas have tried to place exclusive emphasis on the charge of vulgarity to deflect attention away from the companion charge of heterodoxy.

5.The veiled threat of legal action is an empty threat which only a sissy would make. It’s also a diversionary tactic. Spare us the bravado.

6.The charge of hypocrisy is silly on several levels.

i) Even if the charge were true, moral equivalence does nothing to justify your own conduct.

ii) There were many sins by many individuals that Jesus never singled out for attack. Does that make Jesus a hypocrite?

iii) I rarely read Wilson’s blog.

iv) As I recall, Turk only used vulgarity in quoting one of his critics. As I made clear in my original, qualified statement, my objection is not to the usage of vulgarity (obscenity/profanity) under any and all circumstances, but where it is used in a worldly, braggadocio fashion.

v) You, Mr. Spencer, chose to come over to my blog an initiate a fight with c.t. You’re welcome to post comments here, but I reserve the right to pronounce a pox on both your houses.

It is not a double standard for me to respond to comments posted on my own blog without my having to respond to what other bloggers say and do on their own blog.

vi) I never said anything about Spencer's own usage.

Circular excuses


1) I am a moderator. I moderate a conversation between adults. These adults are not my students or my children or my "flock."
2) I am not a policeman. I am an equal. I do pay the bills, and I am responsible, but no one asked to be part of this in order to have me telling them what to say or think. I am certainly not "responsible" to Mr. Hays version of Reformed orthodoxy, any more than anyone else on the net is.
3) This blog is not "policed." Fellows are free to post as they wish, in accordance with the guidelines/rules. Is this concept just too difficult to understand?
4) The confessional requirements of this blog are minimal, and are stated in the rules. Apparently, a few people who read the BHT think we all subscribe to the Second London Confession or something.
5) I am not a shepherd of people at the BHT. I do not have pastoral relationship with them at all. If Mr. Hays imagines himself a pastor or a professor to his readers, that's nice. I don't. If someone on here thinks I am their pastor, they are mistaken, if not somewhat deluded.
6) The charge of "corrupting the young" comes pretty close to a legal slander.

All in all, ask yourself what the person who writes this is thinking of their own blog and their own role in the blogosphere. Now...why are they thinking these same things about MY blog? Am I compelled to have these same- I'm sorry- delusions?

Really, it's sad. These are people who live in an atmosphere where there are constant boundaries of what you can say and think, and if you cross these (translation: go outside their version of reformed baptist fundamentalism) you are a threat who must be policed.

The guy writing this is a seminary student who knows this about me: I'm not like him, so here's the hemlock. He knows less about the BHT than he does about html.

Posted by Michael Spencer at 10:37 PM


All that Spencer does here is to appeal to his own policy to justify his own policy, which begs the question.

“I’m a bank-robber. I rob banks for a living. That’s my policy. I have a stated policy of bank-robbing. I’ve posted my policy in the public domain. To my knowledge, I have never violated my policy of robbing banks. How dare you say mean things about my lifestyle!”

Sunday, December 18, 2005

c.t. & imonkery

Once again I have to step in. I was actually working on a few new short stories. But now I have to waste good time on unnecessary necessities.

Posting comments is a privilege, not a right. I don’t have time to moderate the combox. I give commenters a pretty long leash, but if they abuse the privilege, they lose it.

Which brings me to c.t. It’s a pity about c.t. He’s bright and articulate. And he happens to be right about some central truths of the faith.

But along with that is a violently reactionary streak and a foul mouth.

C.T. has a pattern where Triablogue is concerned. He comes back under a new alias. When he begins, he’s on his best behavior. He uses flattery to ingratiate himself. Having got a foot in the door he begins to take over the combox, to become the de facto moderator, to become abusive to other commenters.

He poaches on my blog because I have far more traffic than he does on his blog.

Some of his comments are perfectly acceptable. But I don’t have the time to winnow the wheat from the chaff. That’s not my responsibility. And I have better things to do with my time.

While we’re on the subject, I also want to say something about language. Now there are worse things in the world that using blue language. And it’s possible to be legalistic about this.

My problem with c.t. and the Tavernistas is the way they flaunt obscenity. They go out of their way to use profanity and obscenity just too prove, I guess, how cool it is to be brazenly shameless; to prove that they are not inhibited by all those uptight Victorian hang-ups over holiness and consecration.

And where the Tavernistas are concerned, their verbal daring dovetails with their theological daring. They are constantly pushing the envelope.

This is symptomatic of heart-disease—of a heart clotted with spiritual insolence and defiant impiety. Let’s thumb our nose at God and see if we’ll be struck by lightning.

And that’s where Spencer comes in. Spencer is to pastoral ministry what Margaret Mead was to free sex and Timothy Leary was to acid.

Naturally he has a ferocious following. Young people generally prefer titular grown-ups who give them permission to dabble in sin with the blessing of an authority-figure. What you end up with is a symbiosis of evil: a gentleman’s agreement in which each party looks the other way at the other party’s misdeeds.

As the moderator of the BHT, Spencer is responsible for policing what is posted by his junior bloggers. But instead of acting as a conscientious shepherd who guides his flock in the ways of sanctification and the mortification of sin, Spencer is a corrupter of the young.

The plurality of blogs

I see that Sean Choi has started a new blog:

This is one to bookmark and keep your eye on.

Since I began blogging a couple of years ago, a lot of new talent has come online.