Saturday, February 19, 2011

The chickens come home to roost


written by Francis Beckwith, February 18, 2011 

WJ: I'm suggesting is that in the two passages of Scripture what we find is a third option, namely, intentionally telling a falsehood to another when telling the truth, refusing to answer or employing causistry will not likely sufficiently impede one's cooperation in killing innocents.
 
What I have found fascinating (and a bit shocking) in this discussion is how it does not seem to occur to any of the Catholic participants that Scripture may have something to say about moral theology.
 
This is not to say that the CCC, Aquinas, and Augustine, and a host of others, may not provide guidance on such matters. But, for example, when I read Aquinas' and Augustine's accounts of the Hebrew midwives, they leave much to be desired. The CCC is not very helpful either, since it relies on Augustine's definition of a lie--"A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving"--which is both too broad and too narrow. It is too broad insofar as it would include the two OT cases, which were not condemned by Scripture as immoral (Augustine's less than persuasive hermeneutic not withstanding). And it is too narrow since there are ways that one could lie without speaking. No one would claim, for example, that mute people can't lie because they can't speak.

http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2011/live-action-and-telling-falsehoods.html 


Well, Francis, maybe your Catholic coreligionists feel that way because Catholic epologists like you keep badmouthing the sufficiency of Scripture. So, predictably enough, Scripture is the very last place they look for moral guidance

"Yes, People Can Have Good Memories"

http://www.denverseminary.edu/craig-blombergs-blog-new-testament-musings/yes-people-can-have-good-memories/

The Council of Jerusalem


Catholic and Orthodox epologists often cite the “Council of Jerusalem” (Act 15) as a template for ecumenical councils. They also cite it to illustrate the insufficiency of Scripture. But that’s out-of-context.

i) What's the problem which this meeting was intended to resolve? The problem was an apparent disagreement within the leadership of the NT church. In the nature of the case, only the leadership can resolve a disagreement within its own ranks.

If you have a disagreement between two or more leaders, then that’s something they can only settle among themselves. That’s not about the relationship of the “hierarchy” to the “laity.”

ii) At issue were the Judaizers, who took issue with the Pauline mission. And this raised two issues:

a) Did their views accurately reflect the views of James and the Jerusalem church?

b) Did they accurately report back to James and the Jerusalem church the views of Paul and the Pauline missionaries?

iii) To some extent, consultation with the church in Jerusalem was a fact-finding mission. It would give the principal parties an opportunity to learn firsthand each other’s position

That would also serve to show whether or not there really was a fundamental disagreement between the principal parties.

iv) It’s also striking that this conference was held in open session. Indeed, the laity had a hand in formulating the policy.

v) In addition, the final policy was a temporary pragmatic compromise. 

Orthodox polity

Perry Robinson has backed himself into a corner on Orthodox polity. Let's see if he can make good on his claims.


#140 Perry Robinson:
“I deny your assertion that the scriptures you mentioned are consistent with ordination by others than bishops. I deny it because your claim depends on the assumption that ordaining presbyters were equivalent with the Reformation notion of a presbyter. I don’t think they are. And I don’t think the Scriptures or the tradition support such a claim. And I don’t think you can provide a demonstration to that effect either.”
Didache 15: “Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers.” This statement refutes your position.
“Further, I think there is textual evidence that Timothy and such were presbyter/bishops who alone could ordain, distinct from other presbyters. And I think we know they were bishops from some of the same sources that inform us that Matthew was written by Matthew the apostle.”
Only your presupposition leads to your exclusive position. Acts 20, 1 Timothy 3, 5, and Titus 1 make no distinction between presbyters and bishops [episcopoi]. Please provide documentation to support your position.
“Second, if we are limited to the scriptures in the way you and KM employ them, we have to suppose that the biblical teaching of presbyters being an ordaining source was lost well before the end of the 2nd century as we have no substantial evidence of mere presbyterial ordination at that time or beyond. This isn’t even taking into consideration the Ignatian epistles which are quite monarchial or the Didache, Ireneaus, Polycarp, Tertullian and Hippolytus.”
Your conclusion does not follow. The New Testament, Didache, and other early sources indicate that Apostles as well as laymen “laid hands” on their presbyters/bishops. What does the Holy Spirit say to the men in Acts 13?
“Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.”
Please note that Saul and Barnabas were “ordained” by Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen – none of whom are identified as bishops (they were “prophets” and “teachers”). Subsequently, Barnabas is called an Apostle (Acts 14:4, 14). As for Ignatius, which Apostle endorsed his novel interpretation? It wouldn’t have been either Peter or Paul whose teaching is in sharp contrast with Ignatius’ teaching that Caesar must be subject to the bishop! (cf. Rom. 13:1ff; 2 Pet. 2:13). Note that Paul says “every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities” – and that includes bishops within the jurisdiction of Caesar.
“Third, laying on of hands is not essential to ordination by Reformed lights, which is why the Presbyterians forbade it for a clean century to make sure the idea of a transfer of divine power died out. Even if succession came through the presbyterate, the Presbyterians lost it long ago.”
Presbyterians do not claim apostolic succession, so it is not an issue for them. 


http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/02/keith-mathisons-reply/#comment-15490

Francis Beckwith on creeds


I was not writing about the Protestant confessions, since they are not creeds. Confessions are, well, confessions; they express the beliefs that a community agrees to believe. Creeds, on the other hand, are expressions of belief that the community ought to believe because the appropriate authority issued them.

Really? Would it not be more reasonable to say the community ought to believe a creed because the creed is true?

This, it seems to me, puts Protestants in a particularly difficult quandry.

It might be a quandary if, like Beckwith, you miscast the issue.

I suspect that each Protestant community that publishes a confession thinks that it is issuing normative guidelines of belief that depend on certain truths. In that case, from the perspective of the Reformed, anyone who denies any aspect of the Westminster Confession is in fact a heretic. But that means that a confession is more than just a summary of biblical doctrine, rather, it is a brief against heresy issued by a body with the authority to prosecute and convict. In that case, the confession has become a creed. And now we have the equivalent of a conciliar pronouncement with real teeth. But that would require a living magisterium, if there was real historical continuity between those that penned and published the WC and their successors. But there does not seem to be. Is it the PCUSA, PSA, RCA, or OPC, etc.?

i) Well that’s rather silly. For instance, a denomination can use a creed as doctrinal standard for church officers or laymen. In that respect, the creed also functions as an accountability mechanism in church discipline.

Church officers and laymen agree to the accountability system as a condition of ordination or membership. The creed will then be interpreted and applied for disciplinary purposes.

So what is Beckwith’s objection, exactly? Is it that Protestants lack an infallible magisterium? But how many cases of church discipline in his own denomination involve an infallible verdict regarding the guilt or innocence of the defendant? How many cases involve an infallible punishment?

So, it’s merely a confession after all, a literary relic from the past that people choose to believe today. For this reason, they can amend it, taking out the parts that offend contemporary sensibilities, not unlike removing the ‘N’ word from Mark Twain novels.

Of course, the Roman church amends older “creeds” by conveniently reinterpreting them via the doctrine of development. And, in the process, it eliminates things offensive to contemporary sensibilities.

And it’s not as if the Roman church systematically excommunicates members who defy its teachings. Indeed, the Roman church is exceedingly lax. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Resources on OT ethics


1. Walter C. Kaiser, Toward Old Testament Ethics


2. Gordon J. Wenham, Story as Torah: Reading Old Testament Narrative Ethically


3. Christopher J. H. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God


4. Mark Rooker, The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century


5. James K. Hoffmeier, The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible

http://tinyurl.com/4b5o8wk

The Ten Commandments

Mark F. Rooker. The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century (B&H Academic, 2010), 234 pages.

We live in lawless times. We are not surprised that the unbelieving world has no time for God’s holy Law. But it’s extremely troubling when so many professing Christians have neither interest in nor love for God’s law.

Mark F. Rooker. The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century.
Mark Rooker is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. He begins his book with an introductory chapter on the influence, significance, enumeration, divisions, background, context and addressees of the Ten Commandments. He then looks at each commandment from five angles:
The ancient Near Eastern background
The original meaning of the commandment
The way the commandments was observed or disobeyed in the Old Testament
The New Testament use of the commandment
Contemporary significance and application
The concluding chapter deals with the interrelationship of the Ten Commandments, the Mosaic Covenant, Israel and the law, the church and the law, the New Testament and the law, and the place of the law in the Christian life.
Strengths
First, this is a fine example of premier evangelical scholarship. Rooker thoroughly exegetes the Hebrew text, and also interacts with both ancient and modern Christian and Jewish scholarship.
Second, this volume presents an excellent biblical theology of the Ten Commandments. Rooker does not just explain the commandments as originally given, and then jump to today. After explaining the historical and cultural background to each commandment, he traces the commandment through the Old and New Testaments. Following this biblical trajectory is hugely helpful when it comes to understanding and applying the commandments today.
Third, Rooker explains the Ten Commandments in their redemptive context, as a response to God’s gracious redemptive acts, not as a means of redemption. Towards the end of the book, he has an excellent section on Old Testament salvation by grace through faith (180), although it does seem to be somewhat contradicted on page 190 when Rooker says that while God demanded obedience from Israel, he did not provide the means or ability to obey.


http://tgcreviews.com/reviews/the-ten-commandments/

The law is not of faith

http://www.opc.org/os.html?article_id=199

A Confessional Critique of Kline and Karlberg

http://patrickspensees.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/in-defense-of-moses.pdf

HT: Paul Manata

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Ship of Theseus

http://aporeticchristianity.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/confessionalism-and-the-ship-of-theseus/

What is atheism?

Infidel action figure (brain not included)



Daryl was obviously a sociopath, like roughly 5% of the general population (though the vast majority of sociopaths enever kill). I commend a reading of Martha Stout's The Sociopath Next Door for those interested in this kind of behavior.

Daryl is a calculating rationalist. He begins with a popular secular premise, then conducts himself accordingly.

Premise: This life is all there is, so make the most of it.

So he’s prepared to lie, cheat, steal, and kill to achieve that objective so long as he can get away with it.

But if you wish to treat atheism as synonymous with psychopathology and sociopathology, who am I to differ?

What can an atheist say to convince Daryl that he did anything truly and objectively evil? Well, most of us (i.e. the non-sociopaths) would tell him that what he did was nasty. But the key is that we would be making our own moral judgment based on our evolved instincts and learned moral judgments.

i) Evolutionary ethics is fraught with philosophical problems:


ii) At best, evolutionary psychology fosters the illusion of right and wrong:


What you Bibleists fail to realize is that even if you decide to follow the moral precepts of some holy book or priest, you are still making your own judgments. Each individual has inevitably to rely on their own individual moral compass - their own sense of right and wrong - in weighing up to whom they should listen and whether to accept the moral advice they are given: Law (ibid, p. 79).

I already dealt with that objection in my review of The Christian Delusion, where Hector Avalos trots out the same lame argument. Try again.

I don't not profess to have any expertise in Calvinism but Maharashi Rauser wrote on his blog today that: Not only did God predispose human persons to behave in certain ways, but he is the primary cause of their acting the way they do. based on this view, Daryl should either blame lordy for his nasty predispositions or, better yet, just sincerely repent on his deathbed and receive a metaphysical "get out of jail free" card.

I’ve frequently dealt with moralistic objections to predestination. Either present a counterargument or shut up.

Also, don’t bother to come back here unless and until to you can tackle the problems with evolutionary ethics in the linked material. No free lunch for infidels.

My Heterodox Eschatology

When the Lord comes back he will uproot the Marxist city-state of Madison, Wisconsin, and throw it into Lake Michigan for the purgation of this once great state. Then the New Jerusalem will descend from the sky and hover over Lambeau field where the Green Bay Packers will win the Super Bowl every year for one thousand years.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110217/ap_on_re_us/us_wisconsin_budget_unions

Selective confessionalism


Scott Clark grudgingly admits that a Baptist can be a Calvinist, but he can't be "Reformed." And he can't be "Reformed" because Baptist theology is (allegedly) out of kilter with the 16-17 Reformed confessions, catechisms, &c., at key points. 

Traditionally, Reformed theology, especially the Presbyterian variety, involves a hermeneutic of continuity, in contrast to Anabaptism, with its hermeneutic of discontinuity. And, of course, that’s what grounds the Presbyterian practice of infant baptism.

Other positions range somewhere within that continuum. The Baptist theology of the LBCF lays more emphasis on continuity, whereas NCT lays more emphasis on discontinuity. 

WCF>LBCF>NCT>Anabaptism/Dispensationalism

However, the covenant theology of Kline, which underwrites 2k, and rewrites traditional covenant theology, involves a hermeneutic of discontinuity. It's the polar opposite of the WCF, and other suchlike. 

Yet covenant theology is a central feature of traditional Reformed theology. And that differentiates 17C Presbyterianism (and its Dutch counterparts) from those "un-Reformed" 5-point Baptists. 

So isn't Clark's core position pulling in diametrically opposite directions at this juncture?

Lies for lives


I’m going to repost some comments left on a thread at Justin Taylor’s blog.

steve hays February 15, 2011 at 11:42 am
Some helpful analysis by John Frame:

Must We Always Tell the Truth?

John M. Frame

The third and ninth commandments, especially, commend the truth to us, as do many other teachings of Scripture. God is a God of truth. He doesn’t lie (Tit. 1:2, Heb. 6:17-18, Num. 23:19). He wants us to image him in that as in other ways. Note the biblical polemic against lying in such passages as Psm. 31:18, 63:11, 101:7, 119:29, 163, Prov. 6:17, 12:22, 19:5, 9, Zech. 8:16, Eph. 4:25, 1 John 2:21, Rev. 21:27, 22:15. Satan is the father of lies, John 8:44, and sinners are dominated by lies, Rom. 1:25, 3:8-18, 2 Cor. 4:2-4, 2 Thess. 2:9-12. Scripture condemns false prophets, who tell lies about God, Deut. 13:1-18.

But there are other passages in which people mislead other people without incurring biblical condemnation. Note:

1. Ex. 1:15-21, the Israelite midwives in Egypt.

2. Josh. 2:4-6, 6:17, 25, Heb. 11:31, James 2:25, Rahab’s deception. Note that apart from what Rahab told her countrymen, even hiding the spies amounted to a deception.

3. Josh. 8:3-8, the ambush at Ai. As John Murray recognizes, God himself authorized this deception.

4. Judg. 4:18-21, 5:24-27, Jael and Sisera.

5. 1 Sam. 16:1-5, Samuel misleads Saul as to the reason for his mission.

6. 1 Sam. 19:12-17, Michal deceives her father’s troops.

7. 1 Sam. 20:6, David’s counsel to Jonathan.

8. 1 Sam. 21:13, David feigns madness.

9. 1 Sam. 27:10, David lies to Achish.

10. 2 Sam. 5:22-25, another military deceit.

11. 2 Sam. 15:34, Hushai counseled to lie to Absalom.

12. 2 Sam. 17:19-20, women deceive Absalom’s men.

13. 1 Kings 22:19-23, God sends a lying spirit against Ahab.

14. 2 Kings 16:14-20, Elisha misleads the Syrian troops.

15. Jer. 38:24-28, Jeremiah lies to the princes.

16. Luke 24:28, Jesus acts as if he intends to go further.

17. 2 Thess. 2:11, God sends powerful delusion so that his enemies will believe a lie.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Living life to the max


Daryl Dobbins was a bright, enterprising young man. A boy preacher in the First Church of the Fire Baptized. But one fateful day he succumbed to temptation and read a library book entitled The God Delusion. Then he read another book entitled god is not Great.

After that double whammy his faith lay in a heap of rubble. He now knew the afterlife was a lie, concocted by greedy, power-hungry churchmen to keep the teaming masses obsequious and barefoot.

Since this life is all there is, he had to make the most of his four-score and ten. Live life to the fullest. And to do that, he needed to move up the ladder.

His ambition was to graduate valedictorian, which would, in turn, ensure him a full scholarship to the Ivy League school of his choice. He then needed to graduate first in his class at law school. After that he could pretty much write his own ticket.

To get the most out of life, you had to have a plan. However, certain obstacles lay in the way of his dream–starting with Billy-Bob Nelson. For Billy-Bob was well on the way to being the high school valedictorian.

So Daryl offered to take Billy-Bob fishing on a secluded little lake nearby. Did I mention that Billy-Bob was a lousy swimmer?

Their rowboat “accidentally” capsized, and despite Daryl’s very best efforts to resuscitate his dear friend, it was curtains for Billy-Bob. Daryl offered a tearful eulogy at the funeral.

Daryl was an excellent student at Harvard law school, but competition was fierce. So he cultivated the reputation of an ace hacker. Not that he was a hacker, much less an ace hacker, but he did an excellent impersonation of an ace hacker. When time for finals rolled around, Daryl was the go-to guy (for a price) to obtain the test key.

Only there was this little catch. He generated the test key by flipping a coin for each answer.

His fellow students flunked the exam, but they couldn’t very well turn him in without turning themselves in.

After landing a top job at a Fortune 500 company, Daryl discovered the perfect wife. Well, almost. There was one small snag. She was married.

But, quite unexpected, she became available a few weeks later on the heels a transaction involving a callgirl, a hotel room, her husband, and a hidden camera.

You just had to know how to get the most out of life.

Where have all the "33,000" denominations gone?

What happens if the all-time favorite argument among Catholic epologists were to implode?

http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424052748703437304576120690548462776-lMyQjAxMTAxMDAwNDEwNDQyWj.html

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Now they tell us!



Of course, it is impossible to prove that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded, preserved whole and intact for all time (inclusive of the 16th century). It is also impossible to prove that this Church, gathered in ecumenical council, is so divinely assisted in her definitions of doctrine that she cannot teach error. So, in a sense, it is impossible to prove that Trent 13, Canon 2 is true.


http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2011/02/son-of-a-tu-quoque/#comment-15166

2k grifters


Jeffrey BrannenFebruary 15, 2011 at 9:40 am

Is it possible that a 2 Kingdoms approach here would help make some sense of the matter?
 
In the Common Kingdom, deception (spying, undercover operations, etc.) are part of the tools of the civil government to catch those who are harmful to the state.
 
In the Redemptive Kingdom, deception is out.
 
What do y’all think?


That’s an excellent question. 2 kingdoms>2 moralities.

Just like in Islam it’s wrong to lie to a fellow Muslim, but okay to lie to an infidel. Or like it’s wrong to steal from a fellow grifter, but okay to steal from outsiders. Or like the Omertà.

Of course, that does raise the question of whether 2k proponents can generally be trusted to honor their contractual agreements. A handshake in church is binding, but a handshake on the sidewalk is not. Something like that.

2k hyper-Calvinism

My biggest criticism is reserved for what [Scott] Clark says here: "Do I need exhortation? Sure, I need the law. It doesn’t produce perfection in me or even godliness, but it does drive me to Christ, who was and remains perfect for me. When the law and my sins accuse me righteously I confess but I also say, “If Christ is for us, who can be against us?”" As a preface let me say that Clark believes we should try to be better Christians and he rightly recognizes that Spirit and gospel are the instruments that achieve this in the Christian life. No disagreement here. Much like N.T. Wright the problem is not what he affirms, but in what he denies. If I read him correctly, Clark denies that exhortations in the OT/NT actually inspire us or drive us to do good. Now Imagine preaching through the Sermon on the Mount with this view. If I may caricature: "Don't worry folks, Jesus' doesn't actually expect any of you to do this stuff, he just said it to make you realize what rotten sinners you are and understand how much you need his imputed righteousness." Or imagine, preaching through James with this view. Hear again the fictive voice: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to believe more deeply in the doctrines of grace" (Jas 1:27 HPR [Hyper-Reformed Version]). Who could preach Matthew 5-7 or James 1:27 this way and get away with it?

http://euangelizomai.blogspot.com/2011/01/antinomian-wars-continued.html

Living dinosaurs


HUMAN APE SAID:

I have no problem with people who disagree with me, but I have a big problem with people who are stupid enough to believe people lived at the same time as dinosaurs. They ARE insane.
 
Every educated person knows dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago, and our ancestors didn't start looking like modern humans until between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.
 
To be wrong by 65 million years, that's pure out-of-control stupidity and a serious mental illness.


On Saturday Jack Conrad will show that New York is filled with dinosaurs: they roam the streets, hover over your roof, swoop down from trees, nibble on your garbage. “You can go in Central Park and feed the dinosaurs,” Dr. Conrad said. “That is, if you want to.”
 
Dr. Conrad is neither a crackpot nor a star in a new release in the “Jurassic Park” franchise. A research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, he will present a program there that demonstrates what he and his fellow paleontologists have learned over the last 15 years: Birds are dinosaurs.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/04/arts/04bkids.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print

Into Eden

Derek Apted was dying. Alone, in a hospital bed. In the final stages of a long degenerative illness. He was only 54.

During lucid moments he reviewed his life. So many regrets. So many lost opportunities. If only he knew then what he knew now. If only he could repeat his life with the benefit of hindsight.

Then an angel appeared to him in his hospital room. Or maybe it was just a hallucination. Hard to say in his often delirious state of mind.

The angel asked him if he wanted anything. Derek asked the angel for a chance to repeat his life, but with his memories intact.

In a flash, Derek found himself back in kindergarten. On the outside, a little boy. On the inside, a middle-aged man with a college degree and decades of experience.

He quickly established himself as a wunderkind. His teachers and parents were amazed at this precocious little boy. So mature for his years!

One of the first things Derek did was to talk his dad into making some prescient investments in some fledgling companies which would one day become Fortune 500 companies.

Derek wanted to be independently wealthy, not because he craved a rich man’s lifestyle, but because it would give him more control over his circumstances.

By the time he graduated from high school, and took ownership of his fortune, Derek was one of the world’s richest men. Yet only his tax attorneys and portfolio managers knew the extent of his fortune.

Outwardly, Derek maintained a fairly modest, middle class lifestyle. He never wanted much more than what he had. His problem lay in losing what he used to have. Derek had a happy boyhood and adolescence.  He wanted to maintain as much of his past intact as possible. That’s where the money went.

Sure, there were a few indulgences along the way. Like a nice sports car in high school.

His friends were dimly aware of the fact that even though he wore what they wore, ate what they ate, he seemed to have bottomless pockets. Although he never worked a job, he could always afford whatever he needed or wanted. Always picked up the tab at the restaurant, or movies, or whatever.

Derek knew that his intellectual reputation was a perishable commodity. A 5-year-old with an adult IQ is a genius. And adult with an adult IQ is merely average. As he got older he had to coast on his reputation. Bluff his way through conversations with fellow students who were truly gifted.

He was offered full scholarships to Harvard and MIT, but he turned them down. He didn’t need the Ivy League education. He didn’t need a college education. He already had one. And, in any case, he didn’t need a job to pay the bills. More to the point, he couldn’t sustain his intellectual reputation in that company.

Derek’s ambitions were very unambitious. Down to earth. Close to home. He wanted to preserve his past, and redeem some lost opportunities.

His home was a beach cabin on the lake. His parents bought the property for a modest sum, before the area became so gentrified. Later they were priced off the land by ever increasing property taxes.

Derek always resented that. He was hoping to inherit the property. To be cheated out of it by the taxman was galling.

And now, of course, that wasn’t a problem. In fact, he bought some other neighborhood homes. He lived in one while his parents lived in his old home.

He moved his grandmother and his elderly aunt into another home nearby. In her old age, his grandmother lived alone until a house-burglar broke into her home and attacked her. She never recovered from that incident.

But Derek, with an eye to the future, could now prevent that from happening. Indeed, that’s one of the reasons he was repeating his life. To protect his loved ones from harm.

He also knew that his aunt would come down with a degenerative illness. Indeed, it ran in the family. She spent her final years in a nursing home.

Derek regretted that. And now he could do better. When the disease began to take hold, he could keep her close by, in the house next door. Provide her with a live-in nurse. Whatever she needed.

And he took the opportunity to have all the conversations with his aunt and his grandmother that he thought about having after they died, when it was too late to ask.

As a boy, Derek had a dog. He loved his dog. Indeed, after the dog died, he never wanted another dog. He remembered the day he had to put her to sleep. And he never quite got over that. He still missed his own dog.

So this time around he was more attentive to her physical needs. Had her groomed regularly. Scheduled regular check-ups with the vet.

Derek was also sorry that he never tried out for the football team. He missed the camaraderie. The opportunity to befriend certain students. Maintain lifelong friendships.

And now he had a chance to make up for that. Even though he wasn’t very good at football, he made the team. The athletic dept. could always use more money for equipment. All it took was a private little chap with Coach O’Brien, and Derek had his jersey.

After they graduated from high school, Derek hired his friends to keep them close. Found jobs for them to keep them in the area. Rented out his houses to them for a nominal sum.

One of the best things about repeating the past was his opportunity to date a couple of girls he let slip away the last time around. At the time there were two girls in high school who caught his fancy. He wasn’t sure which one he preferred, for he never got around to dating either one. Now he could get to know them both, and decide which one to marry.

Life was better this time around. Much better. At least in some respects.

And yet he couldn’t shake a certain lingering sadness. It’s something of a curse to know the future unless you can also control the future, or change the future. A bit fatalistic, really.

He could use his wealth and foresight to extend the lives of his loved ones. Enhance their quality of life. But in the end, he couldn’t really save them. They’d still age, sicken, and die.

He could take a different route this time, but all routes had the same destination. You just got there sooner or later, that’s all.

Indeed, life was rather anticlimactic. He often knew just what to expect. Pleasures were less pleasant when you could see them coming a mile away.

And he was filled with foreboding. Instead of outliving loved ones once, he’d have to outlive them twice.

And then there was the nagging fear that his friends loved him for his money. The first time round, when all of them were hard up for money, and only had each other, wasn’t friendship more meaningful? What comes easily, goes easily.

Moreover, he could do nothing to prevent the onset of his own degenerative illness. Once again he felt the clockwork progression of the old familiar symptoms.

There was only so much this life had to offer. He needed something more. Something this autumnal world could never provide.